1938 Synod Convention Essay
“Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the Lord.” Jer. 17:5.
While unbelief and the away-from-God movement are found in every age of the world’s history, yet these sins show themselves in various forms in the different ages. In our age the peculiar tendency is to secularize everything under the materialistic philosophy which is prevalent, and which would lead man to make flesh his arm in depending upon the strength of men. This may well be called The Curse of our in-love-with-the-world age. There is hardly a phase of our life that is not affected by this trend, and it is well that the Church consider this momentous question of the day.
To begin with, even the Church, which should stand in the gap against this materialistic philosophy, tends to become secularized in our day. This secularization in the Church may be either in the field of doctrine or in the field of church-life as practised by the members. That doctrine is spiritual which is gleaned from God’s Word; but any doctrine not gleaned from the Word is of the world, worldly.
The so-called “social gospel” with its emphasis on this life as the main, if not the only, end of man’s existence, has made inroads into the church. The trend that runs through Federal Council pronouncements and through resolutions of ministerial alliances, of assemblies and conferences is: “Let us think less of the hereafter and more of the present.” “Let us establish a right kind of society here.” “Instead of getting men ready for heaven, let us get them ready for earth.” “Instead of talking about a holy city on high, let us make a sanitary city here.” “And let us declare only such a Church as worthy of our support as will seek to bring about a more abundant life here below.” (Proceedings of the English District of the Missouri Synod, 1937, pages 24 and 25.)
The report of the President’s Research Committee on Social Trends in the United States, published in 1933, speaks of “the recent decline of strict orthodoxy in the church” (Vol. II, page 1014), of “a lessening of emphasis upon religious dogma among Protestants” (Vol. II, p. 1013), and of how “Churchmen have found it increasingly necessary to square their teachings with the findings of scientific inquiry.” (P. 1010).
Dean Flritz, in an essay on “The Changed Conditions in the World and the Church’s Obligation,” Report of Southern Neb. Dist. of the Mo. Synod, 1937, says the following: “The breakdown of the Churches during the last forty to fifty years presents the most serious situation of all; it is, in fact, at the bottom of all our serious troubles. In the course of the last forty to fifty years the visible Church has undergone some very marked changes. While formerly our large church denominations taught certain false doctrines, they were still decidedly Christian inasmuch as they still preached salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, although not always preaching this doctrine in its entire purity. As a result these churches gave us Christian men and women for our homes, our places of business, our schools, our legislatures, and our congress, and for society generally. In the course of years many of these churches have gotten away, some far away, some altogether away, from the Bible and its Gospel of salvation, in indifferentism toward doctrine, leading to unionism and to modernism and to worldliness. There has been a decided lack of Biblical indoctrination and of the application of the Word of God and, therefore, a lack of a virile Christianity. Many sermons that are preached in many pulpits today are of a moralizing nature and many make social problems, such as prohibition, and political problems, the topics of their discussion. It is a rather happy indication that many of these churches have of late been aroused to their failure and have openly admitted their spiritual bankruptcy and are, in their way, making a small effort to remedy a sad situation. However, their efforts are not any too hopeful as yet. They are not ready fully 100 per cent to accept the teachings of the Bible and to apply them to the lives of men. Even the so-called fundamentalists are not asserting themselves as they ought to; there is still too much soft-pedaling and compromise.”
On the other hand, if the doctrine is allowed to remain unimpaired, the enemy of the church, the devil, who is the father of this secularization, may attack the church life as practiced by individual members. Jesus had to complain that some sought Him, not because they saw the miracles, but because they did eat of the loaves and were filled. John 6:26. We must beware lest we in our church membership are looking, not for the miracle of conversion and sanctification, but for the loaves of the social life of the church, and lest the delicacies for the body often served there be more dear to us than the delicacies for the soul. We are not against genuine sociability in the church; but this must never be allowed to be made the chief end of our church membership. The worship of God in sincerity and in truth must ever be our chief concern.
Indifferentism as regards doctrine and Christian life is one of the greatest enemies the Church has to combat today. The line of demarcation between the Church and the world tends to be obliterated. Church members are found to conform their ways to the evil ways of the world, running with them “to the same excess of riot,” I Peter 4:4. But Jesus says: “He that is not with Me is against Me; and he that gathereth not with Me scattereth abroad.” Matt. 12:30.
That the educational system of our country is secular and must of necessity be such we readily admit. But then we are faced with the fact that the influence exerted by this educational system must also be secular. Where God and His Word are and must be omitted from the curriculum it cannot be otherwise than that “a materialistic philosophy of life is being taught in our schools.” A secular institution can but beget secular-minded children.
And not only is the secular educational system of our country without positive influence to God-ward in the true Christian sense, but, sad to say, it is sometimes definitely inimical to true religion. As Dan Gilbert points out in his recent book “Poison Peddlers,” there is at times definite scoffing at God, the Bible, the home and the Ten Commandments in some of our state universities. Even in grade schools text books are being used which throughout take the evolution theory for granted.
And it is not only the formal education in institutions of learning which contributes toward the general education of the individual and of the nation. We are influenced, and hence are being educated, by all the contacts that we make. The newspapers and magazines we read have a great influence upon us. To read the detailed accounts which appear daily in our newspapers of the latest crimes against every commandment of God and man does not tend to elevate us. We become so accustomed to accounts of wickedness that we have difficulty in maintaining a conscience that is horrified at such things. To have such things constantly paraded before us as food for thought is quite the contrary of the injunction of the Word of God: “Whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” Phil. 4:8.
Concerning our magazines, Dan Gilbert says: “While there are notable exceptions, on the whole, secular magazines — even the ‘mass circulation’ and ‘women’s’ magazines, as well as the ‘intellectual’ periodicals in use in our universities — are rapidly becoming a menace to the moral standards of the American people. — Unless Americans who still hold to Christian moral standards assert themselves and demand a proper respect for Christian morality on the part of motion picture producers and magazine publishers, these mediums of propaganda will continue to lower the moral tone of our people.”
And, furthermore, recent investigations in the field of our magazines show that there is a great increase of antagonism in them over toward the Bible and the church. Ex-President Hoover’s Research Committee on Social Trends found that, in periodicals listed in the Reader’s Guide, the percentage of articles indicating an “approving attitude” toward “traditional” Christianity declined from seventy-eight in 1905 to thirty-three in 1930.
Christian people do well to be informed as to the evils so often found in the nation’s magazines so that they may not swallow all that is handed out on the hook of journalism, but read cautiously and avoid the evil. Especially must Christian parents beware of allowing the minds of their adolescent children to become poisoned by the rot in some of our magazines. A single immoral idea impressed upon an immature mind can wreck a human life. And ought not we Christians to voice our protest to the publishers of magazines when we find filth between the covers of their publication and thereby show that there are still those in our land who do not want this stuff? If the enemies of Christianity are active on their side, must not we Christians rise to stem the tide and exert our influence, in an orderly and tactful way, to put a stop to the inroads of poison?
Also our homes today tend to become secularized. In our business of high-speed living from day to day little time, if any, is taken for the reading and study of God’s Word. The family altar often is neglected and the conversation is simply worldly. Dean Fritz says: “The family residence in the cities is becoming more and more the place where one sleeps. People today must be on the go, they must be going somewhere. The family circle does not form the compact unit which it formerly did. Families are kept smaller. Parental authority no longer asserts itself as it ought to.”
Assistant Attorney-General McMahon of the United States Department of Justice said in a radio address: “What our country needs most in the present hour is homes in which God is venerated and adored. If our children are not trained to obey the Law of God, how will they obey the law of man?” (Quoted by Dr. Theo. Graebner in “Christian Citizenship”).
But now, to come to the economic and social sphere, — here, too, we find in our day a pronounced tendency toward secularization, An editorial in the Christian Century of January 10, 1938, characterizes our civilization as follows: “Our civilization is a scientific civilization, not a religious civilization in any Christian sense. Christianity maintains hardly more than a vestigial existence in the Western world. The place formerly occupied by Christianity has been taken by science, which sets the effective patterns of Western culture. Science has become the common denominator of civilization. The end which scientists pursue is ‘control’ over nature. Science spells human egoism; it underwrites the self-sufficiency of man; it puts power in man’s hands, who imagines that he bends the vast power of nature to the satisfaction of his own finite ends. Science has made man ill. In the delirium of his egoism he goes forth into his world of skyscrapers, telescopes and radios and airplanes and machine industry and medicine and exclaims, ‘Behold great Babylon that I have builded!’”
“A mighty spiritual process has been active during the past seventy-five years. Like other great movements, that process has come silently — so silently that its results have been achieved before the plain man was even aware of what was taking place. Nevertheless, despite all superficial continuity, a remarkable change has come about within the last seventy-five years. The change is nothing less than the substitution of paganism for Christianity as the dominant view of life. Seventy-five years ago, Western civilization, despite inconsistencies, was still predominantly Christian; today it is predominantly pagan.” (Machen, “Christianity and Liberalism”, quoted in “God and the Cosmos”.)
In “The Clash”, by Dr. Paul H. Andreen, we find the following characterization of the age: “The modern attitude to life is somewhat like this: Conscious life, as man knows it, is but for a few brief years; there is no eternity save in the perpetuation of the race; and therefore man demands that life be lived in all its fullness now. Man lives but once, they say. Consequently, he must take society by storm, break all shackles that restrain his desires, and grasp what is wanted, if he is to enjoy his present moment. Eternity for the modern man is compressed into the fugitive “Now”. It becomes his heaven and hell, his sole hope, his fleeting goal. Tomorrow is oblivion. Therefore today becomes his field of labor; the social order is his only chance. “To him as he faces only a few years of self conscious life — a momentary flash of light in a universe of everlasting darkness — comes Communism or Fascism or Humanism and tells him that his happiness and security depend upon his building up a good environment today. New laws are to be passed, old landmarks are to be torn down, cooperative theories are to be changed into social facts, as the moral discipline imposed by Christ is to be abolished for a new freedom. Then man will be made secure for the days of his earthly sojourn.”
And to get the view of the modernist preacher of today we quote from the introduction to “New Churches for Old” by John Haynes Holmes, minister of the Community Church of New York, as follows: “Humanism, not theism, is the basis of our thought. Man, not God, is the center of our faith and the object of our hope and love. We have a new religion, which, like St. John’s ‘tabernacle of God’, is ‘with men’, but, unlike that tabernacle, descends not ‘out of heaven’, but builds itself stone by stone upon the earth.” (Quoted in “Theologische Quartalschrift”, Oct., 1935, p. 252.)
People, in general, today want a great deal of worldly goods and consider them necessary, so that it has been well said, we are not suffering from the high cost of living, but rather from the cost of high living. Luxuries have become necessities. “It is reported that a century ago seventy-two different things constituted the wants of the average American and of this number only sixteen were actual necessities, while today, Mr. and Mrs. Average American wants 484 of which not more than ninety-four are really necessary. This likewise makes a difference in man’s interpretation of ‘all these things’ promised in Matthew 6:33.” (Lutheran Standard, May 15, 1937, quoted by Dean Fritz.)
Our age is a pleasure-mad age. Men are “lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God,” II Tim. 3:4. And this love of pleasure and the mistaken idea that one must have much in order to live, bring with them other evils, one of which is the deliberate setting aside of the privilege of parenthood. Indeed, it is becoming the spirit of our times that “only the ignorant and imbecile have large families any more.” In the selfishness of this paganized age children are too much trouble and too expensive. It is not a question of what God’s will is, but the question is what their own perverted and misled heart desires.
That the times have been difficult economically the last few years is most apparent and admitted on every hand. However, the fault has not been with the Lord, for He has bestowed the necessities of life in abundance; but the fault has been with man that he has failed to distribute God’s gifts properly. There has been legislation passed which has aimed at bringing about social security-notably the Social Security Act, passed in 1935, which is calculated to assist the states in caring for the aged and for the poor. It includes such things as unemployment compensation, old-age assistance and old-age benefits, security for children, etc. It is concerned with “safeguards against misfortunes which cannot be wholly eliminated in this man-made world of ours.” It has been characterized as “one of the greatest pieces of social legislation of the 20th century.” Such legislation may, indeed, be good in itself, and we rejoice when such legislation brings about an improvement in economic matters. But let us be on our guard lest we follow the materialistic philosophy of the age and put our confidence in such man-made legislation for security and forget God to Whom alone, as the first cause, we must look for the necessities of life. If we are sick we may use the ministrations of a physician, but at the same time our trust must be in God to heal us. So also as regards such things as old-age pensions, unemployment security, federal aid, and such like. While we may use them when honestly entitled to them, we must not place our trust in them for our daily bread, but in the living God who may employ such things as His mediums through which to support us. Such things may then be regarded as God’s ravens to bring us “bread and flesh.” I Kings 17:6. But when Christians view such statements as, “Only through the advancing forces of wealth, of human welfare, of plenty, of education, and of science can insecurity and its causes be destroyed,” and, “Life insurance is the American way to security,” Christians rightly ask, Where, then, does God come into consideration, from Whom every good gift cometh? (The quotations are from an address on “America’s Prospect of True Security” by O.J. Arnold, President of the Northwestern National Life Insurance Co. of Minneapolis, at the 48th annual convention of the National Association of Life Underwriters, at Denver, Colo., Aug. 26, 1937, reported in “Vital Speeches” for Oct. 1, 1937.)
Enough has been said, we believe, to show the away-from-God movement and the in-love-with-this-world spirit and tendency of our times. Man wants to be sufficient in himself, yes, we might say, to deify himself, as did the prince of Tyrus whose heart was lifted up to say, “I am a God, I sit in the seat of God,” puffed up with an idea of his own pretended wisdom, business ability and riches.” Ezek. 28:2f. It is but a manifestation of that ancient innate enmity of the heart of man against God, which says in the words of Ps. 2: “Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.”
And let us not think that we church people are exempt from the temptations which beset us in this materialistic age. Having the propaganda about us on every hand, it is going to tell on us if we are not diligently on our guard. One of the tragedies of the age is the ease with which propaganda is accepted as truth. We tend to forget the Scriptural injunction to “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good,” I Thess. 5:21. We have flesh and the Old Adam, too; and these are ready and willing to place confidence in self, in men instead of in God. Our mind is by nature inclined to accept the philosophies of men, while it is inimical to God’s instruction; for “the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” I Cor. 2:14.
In our day the away-from-God movement is perhaps more subtle, more veiled than it has been in other ages. Our age knows how to invent nice names for heinous sins. The methods of the enemy are often refined in outward appearance. And they promise security and happiness. But all the while the right foundation is omitted when Christ is omitted, for “other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” I Cor. 3:11. We must, indeed, “beware lest any man spoil us through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.” Col. 2:8.
We need not be in doubt as to whither such forgetfulness of God will lead. The Word of God and history tell us.
The times of the Prophet Jeremiah were much like our own. The people of God had turned from the altars of Jehovah. There were parties, each one offering a panacea for the nation’s ills. The Prophet Jeremiah came preaching doom by the Word of God. “Fear ye not Me? saith the Lord; will ye not tremble at My presence? — But this people hath a revolting and a rebellious heart; they are revolted and gone. Neither say they in their heart, Let us now fear the Lord our God, that giveth rain, both the former and the latter, in His season. — Shall I not visit for these things? saith the Lord : shall not My soul be avenged on such a nation as this?” Jer. 5:22–24.29. But God’s warnings went unheeded and the doom came. Judah was carried away into captivity in Babylon.
Concerning Jerusalem of His day Jesus said: “If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! But now they are hid from thine eyesand they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation.” Luke 19:42.44. “Sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.” James 1:15.
This is the epitaph written on the past. “Separate human destiny from God and hell is let loose.” God is the Source of prosperity and happiness. Leave Him out of consideration, forget the First Commandment, and turmoil, insecurity, unrest and unhappiness follow. They may not come at once, for God is the God of all patience; He is “slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy.” Ps. 103:8. But when God’s hour comes, His wrath falls upon the impenitent. “God’s mills grind slowly, but they grind exceedingly fine.”
There is but one cure for the ills of our age, even as of every age, namely, the Gospel of Christ which is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth. The Gospel changes the heart of man and makes him a spiritual being, a child of God and an heir of heaven. To the world Christ crucified is a stumblingblock and foolishness. But the world errs; for Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God. It is only when we first have sought the Kingdom of God and His righteousness that the problem is solved as to all the other things that we need; for then we have the promise of the almighty and faithful Creator that all these things shall be added unto us. Man may pass legislation calculated to bring about stability and prosperity; but only when the right relation between man and God has been established by the cross of Calvary will all these things be guided into the proper channels and bring peace and wellbeing to the peoples of the nations. Strange as it may sound, it is only when we have straightened out our affairs of eternity that we shall be able to handle the affairs of earth successfully. “A religion of another world is the only workable religion for this world. … It is only because men have forgotten heaven (and hell) that they are helpless on earth. … We need a few men and women whose feet are on the streets of the city fair and high while they walk the streets of earth. … The solution for those of the world’s problems which God will permit us to solve lies in speaking heaven, loving heaven, living heaven. What do you think happens to hate and fear and lust and ambition and greed when man remembers heaven? Can they possibly look important? Suddenly-in the lightning of heaven — they are seen as they are — incredibly and stupidly mean, sordid, and small.” Cresset, May, 1938, p. 10.
We must become as children and go to God through simple and childlike faith in Christ’s redemption. As one man has put it: “We have nowhere to go but to God.” And another man, a cynical worldling, said: “Such phrases annoy me. I resent them. They make me feel that I haven’t grown up; that, despite all I’ve learned, I’m just where I started. I keep hearing those words about having to be like a little child before you can enter the kingdom of heaven, and they make me mad. I’m not a little child. I’m a tough old codger. But where has it got me? I seem to have been in the wrong school, and the thought of having to go back to kindergarten annoys me. At the same time I’ve got a sneaking suspicion that that’s just what I’ve got to do.” Cresset, June, 1938, p. 11.
Natural man is never satisfied with his material possessions. No matter how much he has he still wants more. But faith in the Gospel of Christ will bring about the spirit that can cry with Job in the midst of misery: “The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord,” Job 1:21; and can say with Paul: “I have learned, in whatsoever state I am therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased and how to abound. … I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” Phil. 4:11–13.
The Christian recognizes God as the Giver of all and glorifies Him in connection with all that he possesses. He has the sure promise: “My God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” Phil. 4:19. While he makes use of second causes his trust is in the first Cause. Confidently he can say with the psalmist: “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth,” Ps. 121:1. 2; and again: “The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want.” Ps. 23:1.
Ways and means under circumstances may be hidden from the eye of man. Things may look impossible to the human eye. But God’s hand is not shortened that it cannot save. He who fed His people forty years in the wilderness, He who granted deliverance to King Hezekiah from the vast army of Sennacherib, He who fed the five thousand in the wilderness with five loaves and two small fishes, is still the Help and Stay of them that put their trust in Him. “He is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think.” Eph. 3:20. And the Christian’s prayer, from out a thankful heart, is:
“O may this bounteous God,
Through all our life be near us,
With ever joyful hearts,
And blessed peace to cheer us;
And keep us in His grace,
And guide us when perplexed,
And free us from all ills,
In this world and the next.”
It is only when we thus are sanctified unto the Lord with all that we have that we are strong. Remember Samson’s strength as long as his Nazarite vow was yet unbroken!
We know full well that we shall never be able to bring about a Utopia here on earth, so that there shall no longer be any poverty or misery. Did not Jesus say: “The poor always ye have with you,” John 12:8, “In the world ye shall have tribulation,” John 16:33. We know that we shall never bring about an order of society that is definitely Christian. On the contrary, Scripture says that at the end of the world there shall be few believers.
But this does not mean that we shall not strive toward the ideal; nor does it mean that we shall not warn those who exercise oppression and who are tempted to put their trust in Mammon. Witness how the prophets of the Old Testament preached against oppression and all the social evils of the day. Note how Paul exhorts Timothy to charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not high-minded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God who giveth us richly all things to enjoy; note how James hurls his invectives against those who withheld from the labourers the wages due unto them. Remember how the avaricious man was to our Lord simply “Thou fool.” We have the marching orders of our Lord: “Go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature.” Mark 16:15.
And we must never leave that command unheeded whether on the field at home or abroad. And we must beware of losing sight of the power of that Gospel.
We are by no means advocating a union between Church and State. The God-given principle of separation of Church and State must be upheld. Neither are we advocating a form of government that would legislate in matters coming under the first table of the law, namely, man’s relation toward God; for the sphere of the government is to take care of the relation of man toward man. Nor are we advocating that the Church try to propose to the State some solution for the economic question. “The business of the Church is to proclaim the Gospel of salvation of souls from sin and not from economic depression.” But as Christian citizens we are interested in having in office men of integrity and sincerity of purpose.
The times may be difficult for the Church. Affairs in the world about us may look very discouraging. But we must not give way to the spirit of defeatism in the Church. God’s Kingdom shall continue in this world, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. There shall always be a remnant of God’s people. Things certainly looked discouraging for God’s Kingdom in the days of Jeremiah; but five times the Lord says through Jeremiah: “Yet will I not make a full end.” Christ shall continue to rule forever, yea, in the midst of His enemies, Ps. 110:2.
In our own life as individuals, Christ’s Gospel (including the Lord’s Supper) must ever remain our constant companion, for through it alone shall God’s power to save be exerted upon us. Our homes must ever be pervaded with the Christian spirit, the Word of God and prayer being on the calendar for each day. “Of what blessings are large volumes of high-minded legislation, if, in the homes, sin, ‘a reproach to any people’, remains unchecked? Of what permanent help are the most far-sighted programs and the best laid plans, if in American family life the basic principles of honesty, truth, purity, morality are willfully fractured? On the other hand we have the definite assurance that if our land is enriched with Christ-centered homes we will have a nation of law-abiding, industrious, frugal, hardworking citizens whose civic virtues bring their own rewards.” Walther League Messenger, Feb., 1938.
And then, as regards the school, it must be evident to every thinking Christian that the efforts of the Christian home must be supplemented by the influence of the Christian school. Christians should seek the Christian school for the education of their children from the alphabet to the telescope. The best insurance you can give your children is thorough Christian instruction and training at home and in school. Moth and rust may corrupt and thieves break through and steal the financial security you may be planning for them; but teach them to lay up treasures in heaven and you will give them a security which no man can take from them.
Dr. Cornelius Van Til of Westminster Seminary, Philadelphia, a Presbyterian, said recently: “Our children will certainly attend the grade school for several years, and that for five days a week. In Sunday school our child has learned the Nineteenth Psalm. As he goes to school those beautiful words ‘The heavens declare the glory of God’ still reverberate through his mind. But when he enters the schoolroom, all this has suddenly changed. There the ‘starry universe above’ somehow operates quite independently of God. And what is true of ‘the heavens above’ is true of everything else. At home the child is taught that, ‘whether we eat or drink or do anything else,’ we must do all to the glory of God because everything has been created by God and everything is sustained by God. In school the child is taught that everything has come of itself and sustains itself. … Is it not a great sin for Christian parents to have their children taught for five days a week by competent teachers that nature and history have nothing to do with God? We have no moral right to expect anything but that our children will accept that in which they have been most thoroughly instructed and will ignore that about which they hear only intermittently. And are not our children ‘born and conceived in sin’? Will they not naturally accept that which is false rather than that which is true? Nor is the instruction by any means always ‘neutral’. The influence of John Dewey on American primary education is proverbial; and John Dewey is a murderer of Christianity. If we Christian parents think of all this, is it not really amazing that we have so sadly neglected the Christian training of our children? We take excellent care of the bodies of our children. We are becoming ‘vitamin-minded’. We ask how much of the valuable vitamin D content is in this food or in that. Why, then, do we allow our children to have daily meals of spiritual food which has no vitamin D? Do we not care if they develop spiritual rickets? Do we not worry if they are spiritually underfed? ‘Thou shalt not tempt the Lord, thy God’. Humanly speaking, >then, one cannot honestly be enthusiastic about the future of the Presbyterian Church of America unless its people will realize that a new and far more intense policy will have to be adopted in the field of Christian education. The existing agencies are woefully insufficient for the work that must be done. In obedience to our covenant God we shall have to bring up our children ‘in the fear and admonition of the Lord’.” (Quoted by Dr. Theo. Graebner in “Christian Citizenship”.)
And finally, in these troublous times, the Church must stand firm. The Church has a battle to fight against the false philosophy of the world, which (and that is the most dangerous) threatens to make inroads into the Church itself. Only the Church which stands firmly and uncompromisingly on the Word of Jesus can expect to fulfill the task for which Jesus placed it in the world, and it alone shall be truly successful. Let the Church be supported by well-informed, active and zealous church members, not the kind of church members who have a wheelbarrow religion which goes only when shoved. And let us not forget the power of prayer. Through Christian prayer “the Word of the Lord has free course,” II Thess. 3:1, and Christians “lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty,” I Tim. 2:1–2.
Luther writes on this point (St. L., VIII, 350ff): “We must not separate the Head from its members, that is, Christ from His apostles and all Christians. Every single Christian is such a one as the Lord Jesus Christ Himself was while He was upon earth, and he accomplishes such great things that he can rule the world in divine things, help and profit every one, and do the greatest works that are done upon earth. For he is regarded higher by God than the whole world, so that for his sake God gives and sustains to the world all things that it has; indeed, if no Christians would be upon earth, no city and no country would have peace; then surely on a single day all things that are upon earth would be destroyed by the devil. That grain grows in the field and the people prosper, enjoy food, peace, and protection, for all this they must thank us Christians. For while it is true that we are poor beggars, as St. Paul writes, II Cor. 6:10, we are nevertheless such as make many rich; as possessing nothing and yet possessing all things. In short, it is true, what kings, princes, lords, citizens, and peasants have in the world, they have not because of their golden hair, but because of Christ and His disciples. Therefore the Christians are truly helpers and saviors, yes, lords and gods of the world, as also God said to Moses, Ex. 7:1: ‘I have made thee a god to Pharaoh’.” (Christian Dogmatics, p. 432.)