“All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name” is the church’s national anthem and the cross is her official flag, but in the week-by-week services of the church and the day-by-day conduct of her members someone else, not Christ, makes the decisions. Under proper circumstances Christ is allowed to say “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened” or “Do not let your hearts be troubled,” but when the speech is finished someone else takes over.
Not only does Christ have little or no authority; His influence also is becoming less and less. What we do is this: We accept the Christianity of our group as being identical with that of Christ and His apostles. The beliefs, the practices, the ethics, the activities of our group are equated with the Christianity of the New Testament. Whatever the group thinks or says or does is scriptural, no questions asked. It is assumed that all our Lord expects of us is that we busy ourselves with the activities of the group. In so doing we are keeping the commandments of Christ.
What Christian when faced with a moral problem goes straight to the Sermon on the Mount or other New Testament Scripture for the authoritative answer? Who lets the words of Christ be final on bringing up of a family, personal habits, tithing, entertainment, buying, selling and other such important matters? The major cause of this is the power of custom, precedent and tradition within the older religious groups.
Our evangelical faith is being attacked these days from many different directions. In the Western world the enemy has forsworn violence. He comes against us no more by sword; he now comes smiling, bearing gifts. He raises his eyes to heaven and swears that he too believes in the faith of our fathers, but his real purpose is to destroy that faith, or at least to modify it to such an extent that it is no longer the supernatural thing it once was. With sweet reasonableness he urges us to rethink our historic position, to be less rigid, more tolerant, more broadly understanding.
What, then, are we to do? Each one of us must decide, and there are at least two possible choices. One is to nod in general agreement with what is written here but take comfort in the fact that there are exceptions and we are among the exceptions. The other is to go down in meek humility and confess that we have grieved the Spirit and dishonored our Lord in failing to give Him the place His Father has given Him as Head and Lord of the Church.