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The Downward Slippage
The Downward Slippage

By Dave Breese

All who keep an eye on the developments of our time are aware of a well-known, regressive situation in institutional Christianity. That regrettable, fading condition of the Ecclesiastical establishment of our time could well be called, “the downward slippage.” We now know that this condition, with the exceptions of some powerful pulpits, has become endemic in the religious establishments of our time. It is as if the leaders of the large denominations and the conductors of formerly significant Christian enterprises had never read the advice that says, “Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip” (Heb. 2:1). They have experienced the downward slippage almost to the point of extinction. Why is this the case? Why the slippage? We suggest that it can be traced to a sequence of conditions which can be enumerated. Among them are the following:

1. Inattention to the Word of God. There is a marvelous and uncomplicated activity that will continue to refresh the soul, enlighten the mind and keep us close to Christ. What is that? It is the daily reading of the Word of God. It is attention to Holy Scripture and an advanced commitment to read and do what it clearly says. When one stops reading the Bible the result is predictable. It is spiritual deterioration.

2. A lowered view of Scripture. One of the clear distinctions of Protestant Christianity has been the assertion that “the Bible is our only rule for faith and practice.” How sad now to notice that human ideas, secular philosophies and “new religious concepts” have been raised to the level of Scripture while the Bible has been lowered from its previously high position. When other voices beside the Word of God become authoritative, the institution that so believes is beginning to drift away.

3. Perfunctory prayer. The Bible says, “Men ought always to pray, and not to faint (Luke 18:1). The Scripture promises us that the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. Serious daily prayer will therefore be the key to divine blessing and godly stimulus to the inner man. The neglect of prayer is dangerous irresponsibility.

4. A light attitude toward sin. Sin was once an offense to the holiness of God that needed to be cleansed by the blood of Christ and forgiven by God. Now sin is an uncooperative attitude for which someone else is responsible. The idea of sin is now a joke, but the Bible teaches that it is a world of iniquity.

5. The denial of the need for redemption. If sin is not sin but merely a “cultural lag,” then what need is there for redemption through the work of Calvary? Redemption, therefore, has almost ceased to be a major point of Christian theology. In the liberal camp, the wicked need understanding, not redemption.

6. The elevating of social Christianity. When the spiritual element disappears from our Christian thinking, social Christianity, the social Gospel becomes very plausible. “We are to help people and not waste our time on abstractions such as true Christian theology.” Today the Church has virtually impoverished itself by doing social things while neglecting spiritual things.

7. A new comity with the world. The notion that “the whole word lies in wickedness” is now virtually forgotten. Christians are being trained to be friends with this world, in violation of the principle that they thereby become enemies of God.

8. Invention of a new image of Christ. The biblical teaching of Christ as the only Savior and finally, the Judge of the universe is rarely heard. Christ is a friend, a buddy, rather than “very God of very God.” The end of real Christianity will be in the denial of the essential deity of Christ.

9. The call for religious modernity, for relevance. Time was when the word relevance was totally unconnected with the preaching of the Gospel, and modernity was as well. The Gospel was proclaimed no matter who listened or who thought what. Now Christianity must be modern, relevant and accomodational. Christianity is not fashioned, it is “delivered.”

10. A resentment of those who truly believe. Remaining Christians who insist on the Bible alone and salvation by faith alone are now smiled at. Those who insist that Christianity is the only true faith are accused of detachment from “the living, accomodational present.”

11. An outright hostility to the Christian faith. A Christian leader recently said, “with the way things are going, it soon may be illegal to be a Christian.” Anti—Christianity is rising in our present time. It is more than often espoused by the sons or the grandsons of yesterday’s Christian leaders.

12. Persecution of believers. Christ warned of this, saying, “Blessed are you when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for My sake. Rejoice, and be exceedingly glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you” (Matt.5:11,12). Tom White of The Voice of The Martyrs tells how “Christians in many nations are mocked, endure cruel laughter and misunderstandings, lose their jobs, and are taken before courts of justice...” for their witness for Christ. Many thousands are even killed every year. Could this soon be happening in America?

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