Clergy Philosophers Void the Bible
AWAY from the churches have parishioners streamed in droves. Despite swollen sectarian membership rolls, attendance has steadily fallen off and popular support of clergy functions has waned. Religion in Christendom seems on the decline. Why? One obvious reason appears in the idle philosophy the clergy have pattered in exchange for their pay. Consider, for instance, the following from the Portland, Oregon, Oregonian of March 25, 1952. Discussing a conference of clergymen in the city, the paper alluded to the position taken by Dr. Richard Steiner of the First Unitarian Church, who acknowledged that religion often leads to emotional instability, but did not condemn this. Rather he said:
“Most cultural progress has been made by people who could be classed as neurotics. This business of striving for emotional stability can be dangerous. The absolutely stable person is like a rock on the beach—he can’t be moved and he doesn’t want to move. I have no use for maturity. Anyone who is mature is ready to die.”
As usual, there is no explanation, no proof, no logic, no evidence of “cultural progress” his neurotics have brought forth, no sign of danger lurking behind the desire to be stable. No wonder, for such empty reasoning collides head-on with the Bible, source of divine wisdom and knowledge. What is so wrong with a rock on a beach, firm so that the slightest turbulence does not wash it away? Is this trait not good in a man? Jesus thought it good, saying: “Everyone that hears these sayings of mine and does them will be likened to a discreet man, who built his house upon the rock-mass. And the rain poured down and the floods came and the winds blew and lashed against that house, but it did not cave in, for it had been founded upon the rock-mass.” But those who ignored his sayings he likened to a man building his house on sand, a house that washed away with the first storm. (Matt. 7:24-27, NW) The unstable and unsteady ones may be Steiner’s ideals, but they are not God’s, whose Word says: “He who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven by the wind and blown about. In fact, let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from Jehovah; he is an indecisive man, unsteady in all his ways.”—Jas. 1:6-8, NW.
“I have no use for maturity,” announced Dr. Steiner. “Anyone who is mature is ready to die,” he droned. Would he dare apply his principle to Christian faith? Would he be willing to match logic with the apostle Paul, whose forceful letter to the Hebrews concludes its Heb fifth chapter by likening spiritually immature Christians to physical babes yet feeding on milk? This is not a desirable condition in which to remain, for he adds: “But solid food belongs to mature people, to those who through use have their perceptive powers trained to distinguish both right and wrong. For this reason, now that we have left the elementary doctrine about the Christ, let us press on to maturity, not laying a foundation again.”—Heb. 5:11-14; 6:1, NW.
Far from death, the apostle refers to mature persons as those productive of fruitful good things for which the knowledge they were given was intended. “The ground that drinks in the rain which often comes upon it and that then brings forth vegetation suitable to those for whom it is also cultivated, receives in return a blessing from God. But if it produces thorns and thistles, it is rejected and is near to being cursed, and it ends up with being burned.”—Heb. 6:7, 8, NW.
With this as a base Paul argued fervently to guard against being swept away by ‘various strange teachings’ and to make the heart firm instead through God’s expressed undeserved kindness. (Heb. 13:9, NW) And as for Dr. Steiner’s neurotic world-beaters, James has this ego-lowering advice: “Come, now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will travel to this city and will spend a year there, and we will engage in business and make profits,’ whereas you do not know what your life will be tomorrow. For you are a mist appearing for a little while and then disappearing. . . . now you take pride in your self-assuming brags. All such taking of pride is wicked.”—Jas. 4:13-16, NW.
The poverty of true wisdom now gripping the world Paul foretold: “There will be a period of time when they will not put up with the healthful teaching, but, in accord with their own desires, they will accumulate teachers for themselves to have their ears tickled, and they will turn their ears away from the truth, whereas they will be turned aside to false stories.” So what should a Christian do? Shun stability as dangerous and deadly, develop a neurosis and contribute to the “progress” of this ear-tickling vanity? Not according to Paul: “You, though, keep your balance in all things, suffer evil, do missionary work, thoroughly accomplish your ministry.”—2 Tim. 4:3-5, NW.
Can any deny that Satan the Devil, the fallen covering cherub who deserted his high and trusted office as earth’s overseer in Eden, introduced immaturity and instability to the universe? (Ezek. 28:13-16) Will the false religious philosophers pretend that God backs him up in this? Will they likewise say divine favor rested on the conceit of murderer Cain, the rebellion of Korah, Balaam’s lust for hire that led him to set a price on his blessings and curses, vain Absalom’s vicious treason or Judas’ betrayal of Jesus? No, they will not follow their sophistry this far, not if they have read the least bit of God’s Word, not if they have seen Jude’s warning: “These are the rocks hidden below water in your love feasts while they feast with you, shepherds that feed themselves without concern for others; waterless clouds carried this way and that by winds; trees in autumn time, but fruitless, having died twice, having been uprooted; wild waves of the sea that foam up their own disgraces; stars with no set course, for which the blackness of darkness stands reserved forever.”—Jude 11-13, NW.
Another clergyman present at the conference previously mentioned suggested getting a foothold “through psychiatry, or in some other manner”. It is his privilege to turn to psychiatry just as it is ours to turn to Jehovah, “the fountain of life,” and His Word. (Ps. 36:9) More and more persons of good will are doing just that, leaving the clergy philosophers alone with their psychiatry, their neuroses, their uncertainty and instability which they profess to love. Better to leave while the way is open, for “blind guides is what they are. If, then, a blind man guides a blind man, both will fall into a pit”.—Matt. 15:14, NW.