My dear friend,
The 1950s magazine article “…is our religious revival real?” confirms my belief...most church members and church leaders aren't true Christians. The church pews and pulpits were filled with hypocrites in the 1950s, and the church pews and pulpits are filled with hypocrites today.
I’m going to discuss the first part of the article this month and conclude next month. I don’t know the name of the magazine or the year it was published. It was ripped out of the magazine many years ago and given to me recently. However, it mentions a book review in The New York Times in 1954; the article was probably published shortly thereafter.
The article “…is our religious revival real?” states there was a religious revival. But the heading questions if the revival was real:
Since 1940, thirty million Americans have joined churches – Protestant, Catholic and Jewish. This is considerably more than the population growth during the same period of time. In 1850, only 16 per cent of the country’s citizens were church members. Today, 60 per cent are. Why, then, are so many of our religious leaders asking
our religious revival real?
The article's statement that in 1850 only 16 per cent of the country’s citizens were church members is wrong. On the contrary, by 1850 about three-fourths of the 23 million Americans attended church on a regular basis. That's a far cry from their assertion that only 16 per cent of the citizens were church members.
The article begins by quoting Billy Graham:
is interested in the quality of converts, not quantity.”
So said Billy Graham, the young evangelist, in a recent television
interview. And in so saying echoed an increasing number of our leading
clergymen who are taking a searching look at the present religious revival
in this country.
So, dear friend, are you thinking what I’m thinking? Nothing has changed! The church is still concerned with the quantity of converts, not quality. The problem of false Christians filling the church pews existed in the 1950s - and it goes on today!
The writer continues…
this so-called “mid-century spiritual renaissance” only a “new
look” in the national fashion?
…Song writers are finding it to their advantage to feature religious themes – ‘I Believe,’ ‘Are You Friends With the King of Friends?’ are samples. Film producers are more than ever aware of the box-office appeal of religious drama.
songs and movies that feature religious themes are popular.
But, alas, professing Christians do not care if these are
Biblical…just so long as they are entertaining.
Many church spokesmen recognize the paradox inherent in the increase in church membership at a time when the nation is constantly warned of the increase in crime, juvenile delinquency and immorality. One spokesman for an interdenominational group of churches said that more and more the churches are being forced to face the fact that the new interest in religion does not seem to be exerting enough moral impact on society at large.
isn’t this just like today? There is a “new interest in religion,”
but it doesn’t exert a moral impact on society.
In fact, like in the 1950s, there is an increase in crime,
juvenile delinquency and immorality.
Charles B. Templeton asserts that: “Many a church member has matured in
every area of life except his religious beliefs.
Many mature persons continue to hold concepts about the nature and
the will of God that they learned in Sunday School.
The church is
a cherished American institution but – while there are notable
exceptions – it wields little direct influence upon the thinking of
millions in its membership.
Years ago, holiness used to be preached in our churches. But the modern church no longer preaches holiness - repentance and righteousness. The modern church preaches the hippie gospel: If it feels good, do it. And the hippie gospel wields a huge direct influence upon the thinking of millions in its membership. Hedonistic Christians justify abortion, fornication, drunkenness, pornography, smoking pot, and other sins falsely claiming that we are no longer under moral law, we’re under grace. But God's moral law is eternal and universal.
Bromley Oxnam, Bishop of the Methodist Church, states: “Religion, in
some quarters, is being identified with the
cult of success, and prayer
as but a means to promotion to the presidency of the company. This is not a worthy approach to the
Friend, you know people who only attend church for social and business networking. And there are others who believe they can earn success and financial favor with God by attending church and doing other good works. They do good works such as “mission” trips, feeding freeloaders, and other works to make them look good - and feel good.
Truthfully, only a faithful remnant in the church pews and pulpits is truly concerned with godly living – holiness. The majority of congregants attend church for personal and selfish reasons... just like in the 1950s.
nation as a unit seems to be rediscovering religion.
As one clergyman suggested not long ago, “The fact that President
Eisenhower has been a regular church attendant on Sunday makes it
impossible for any man to say he’s too busy to go to church.
has made churchgoing fashionable again.”
Today, Rick Warren and others have made churchgoing fashionable again by making church fun. You can shop around for a church that offers your style of entertainment: a cowboy church, a rock n’ roll church, and so forth. There is a church to please every man’s taste. Yes, today it’s fashionable and fun to attend church.
Senate has installed a new prayer room.
There are “prayer breakfasts” for legislators and government
officials in Washington. Proposals
have been made to put “God” into the Constitution, to print “In God
We Trust” on stamps as well as coins and to rewrite the pledge of
allegiance to the flag to include the words “under God.”
Few politicians end their speeches without some allusion to the
Well, friend, needless to say, this is wholly contrary to modern America! Today, false Christians try to take “God” out of government in the interest of “religious diversity.” And few politicians end their speeches with an allusion to the Almighty fearing it will offend the Muslims, Hindus, atheists, agnostics, and other infidels.
In sum, like the 1950s, churchgoing has become fashionable again. There is a revival of interest in religion. But that’s all it is…an interest. This interest in religion has no moral impact on the individual or society. And our churches are flooded with religious pretenders – hypocrites – who have been deceived by Warren and others with a false gospel of an easy and broad way to Heaven. Warren and others boast of the large numbers attending their churches pretending these false Christians will enter the gates of heaven.
But Warren and the other church leaders contradict Christ.
Jesus Christ proclaims...
ye in at the strait gate:
wide is the gate,
broad is the way,
leadeth to destruction,
many there be which go in thereat:
strait is the gate,
narrow is the way,
leadeth unto life,
few there be that find it.
of false prophets
come to you in sheep’s clothing,
inwardly they are ravening wolves.
Jesus warns us about false prophets like Warren who are greedy for large statistics and make churchgoing fashionable and fun. False preachers proclaim a false gospel of a broad Christianity to satisfy their appetite for ambition, greed, and power. Beware, my dear friend. And warn others!
These false preachers assert many will find eternal life by walking a broad way. But Jesus makes it perfectly clear that the way to eternal life is narrow…and few will find it. The way to eternal life is not merely an interest in religion. The way to eternal life is conversion and regeneration. Put another way, the way to eternal life is repentance and sanctification.
The way of holiness is the only way to heaven.
Matthew Henry comments on Matthew 7:13-15…
Here is an account given us of the way of holiness.[1.] What there is in
it that frightens many from it; let us know the worst of it, that we may
sit down and count the cost. Christ deals faithfully with us, and tells
us, First, That the gate is strait. Conversion and regeneration are the
gate, by which we enter into this way, in which we begin a life of faith
and serious godliness; out of a state of sin into a state of grace we must
pass, by the new birth, Jn. 3:3,
Jn. 3:5 .
This is a strait gate, hard to find, and hard to get through; like a
passage between two rocks, 1
Sa. 14:4 . There must be a new heart, and a new spirit, and old
things must pass away. The bent of the soul must be changed, corrupt
habits and customs broken off; what we have been doing all our days must
be undone again. We must swim against the stream; much opposition must be
struggled with, and broken through, from without, and from within. It is
easier to set a man against all the world than against himself, and yet
this must be in conversion. It is a strait gate, for we must stoop, or we
cannot go in at it; we must become as little children; high thoughts must
be brought down; nay, we must strip, must deny ourselves, put off the
world, put off the old man; we must be willing to forsake all for our
interest in Christ. The gate is strait to all, but to some straiter than
others; as to the rich, to some that have been long prejudiced against
religion. The gate is strait; blessed be God, it is not shut up, nor
locked against us, nor kept with a flaming sword, as it will be shortly, ch. 25:10
That the way is narrow. We are not in heaven as soon as we have got
through the strait gate, nor in Canaan as soon as we have got through the
Red Sea; no, we must go through a wilderness, must travel a narrow way,
hedged in by the divine law, which is exceedingly broad, and that makes
the way narrow; self must be denied, the body kept under, corruptions
mortified, that are as a right eye and a right hand; daily temptations
must be resisted; duties must be done that are against our inclination. We
must endure hardness, must wrestle and be in an agony, must watch in all
things, and walk with care and circumspection. We must go through much
tribulation. It is hodos tethlimmene —an afflicted way, a way hedged
about with thorns; blessed be God, it is not hedged up. The bodies we
carry about with us, and the corruptions remaining in us, make the way of
our duty difficult; but, as the understanding and will grow more and more
sound, it will open and enlarge, and grow more and more pleasant.
The gate being so strait and the way so narrow, it is not strange that
there are but few that find it, and choose it. Many pass it by, through
carelessness; they will not be at the pains to find it; they are well as
they are, and see no need to change their way. Others look upon it, but
shun it; they like not to be so limited and restrained. Those that are
going to heaven are but few, compared to those that are going to hell; a
remnant, a little flock, like the grape-gleanings of the vintage; as the
eight that were saved in the ark, 1
Pt. 3:20 . In vitia alter alterum trudimus; Quomodo ad salutem
revocari potest, quum nullus retrahit, et populus impellit— In the ways
of vice men urge each other onward: how shall any one be restored to the
path of safety, when impelled forwards by the multitude, without any
counteracting influence? Seneca, Epist. 29. This discourages many: they
are loth to be singular, to be solitary; but instead of stumbling at this,
say rather, If so few are going to heaven, there shall be one the more for
Let us see what there is in this way, which, notwithstanding this, should
invite us all to it; it leads to life, to present comfort in the favour of
God, which is the life of the soul; to eternal bliss, the hope of which,
at the end of our way, should reconcile us to all the difficulties and
inconveniences of the road. Life and godliness are put together (2
Pt. 1:3 ); The gate is strait and the way narrow and up-hill, but
one hour in heaven will make amends for it.2. The great concern and duty
of every one of us, in consideration of all this; Enter ye in at the
strait gate. The matter is fairly stated; life and death, good and evil,
are set before us; both the ways, and both the ends: now let the matter be
taken entire, and considered impartially, and then choose you this day
which you will walk in; nay, the matter determines itself, and will not
admit of a debate. No man, in his wits, would choose to go to the gallows,
because it is a smooth, pleasant way to it, nor refuse the offer of a
palace and a throne, because it is a rough, dirty way to it; yet such
absurdities as these are men guilty of, in the concerns of their souls.
Delay not, therefore; deliberate not any longer, but enter ye in at the
strait gate; knock at it by sincere and constant prayers and endeavors,
and it shall be opened; nay, a wide door shall be opened, and an effectual
one. It is true, we can neither go in, nor go on, without the assistance
of divine grace; but it is as true, that grace is freely offered, and
shall not be wanting to those that seek it, and submit to it. Conversion
is hard work, but it is needful, and, blessed be God, it is not impossible
if we strive, Lu. 13:24
Henry explains: “There
must be a new heart, and a new spirit, and old things must pass away. The
bent of the soul must be changed, corrupt habits and customs broken off;
what we have been doing all our days must be undone again.”
Simply put, we must be born again.
Alas, there are few true Christians in the church pews and pulpits. But there are many false Christians who merely have an “interest in religion.” They are deceived. They are doomed to eternal damnation. They must be born again.
must be born again.
Grace and peace,
Karen Pansler-Lam, J.D.