THE WAY OF CHRIST IS STILL NARROW
A. W. Tozer
We who follow Christ in these perilous times are engaged in a war that has many fronts.
Action ebbs in one sector only to flare up in another, or two, or ten others. The enemy is everywhere, assuming many forms and taking at any given time whatever shape best serves his evil purposes, and he is for that reason often mistaken for a friend.
Traditionally, fighting men have proudly worn the uniform of their country, and could be identified as far as they could be seen. In World War II the Nazis sometimes donned the uniform of Allied soldiers, and thus managed to destroy some who would have otherwise been on the defensive against them. But this trick was no Nazi invention. It dates back to that hour when the devil in the guise of a friend won the confidence of mother Eve and brought about the downfall of the race.
Deception has always been an effective weapon and is deadliest when used in the field of religion. Our Lord warned against this when He said, ‘Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves’. These words have been turned into a proverb known around the world, and still we continue to be taken in by the wolves.
There was a time, no longer ago than the twenties and thirties, when a Christian knew, or at least could know, where he stood. The words of Christ were taken seriously. A man either was or was not a believer in New Testament doctrine. Clear, sharp categories existed. Black stood in sharp contrast to white; light was separated from darkness; it was possible to distinguish right from wrong, truth from error, a true believer from an unbeliever. Christians knew that they must forsake the world, and there was for the most part remarkable agreement about what was meant by the world. It was that simple.
But over the last score of years a quiet revolution has taken place. The whole religious picture has changed. Without denying a single doctrine of the faith, multitudes of Christians have nevertheless forsaken the faith and are as far astray as the Modernists, who were at least honest enough to repudiate the Scriptures before they began to violate them.
Many of our best-known preachers and teachers have developed ventriloquial tongues, and can now make their voices come from any direction. They have surrendered the traditional categories of religious thought. For them there is no black or white, there is only grey. Anyone who makes a claim to having ‘accepted Christ’ is admitted at once into the godly fellowship of the prophets and the glorious company of the apostles regardless of the worldliness of his life or the vagueness of his doctrinal beliefs.
I have listened to certain speakers and have recognised the ingredients that went to make up their teachings. A bit of Freud, a dash of Emile Coue, a lot of watered-down humanism, tender chunks of Emersonian transcendentalism, auto-suggestion a la Dale Carnegie, plenty of hopefulness and religious sentimentality, but nothing hard and sharp and specific. Nothing of the either/or of Christ and Peter and Paul. None of the ‘Who is on the Lord’s side’ of Moses, or the ‘Choose you this day whom ye will serve’ of Joshua; just tender pleadings to ‘take Jesus and let Him solve your problems’.
If such as I here describe were cultists or liberals of one strip or another, I would say nothing more about it, but many of them are professed evangelicals. Press them and they will insist that they believe the Scriptures and accept every tenet of the historic Christian faith, but listen to them teach and you are left wondering. They are building upon sand; the rock of sound theology is not under them.
The notion is now pretty well disseminated throughout the ranks of current evangelism, that love is really all that matters, and for that reason we ought to receive everyone whose intention is right, regardless of his doctrinal position, granted of course that he is ready to read the Scriptures, trust Jesus, and pray. The unregenerate sympathies of the fallen human heart adopt this foggy creed eagerly. The trouble is that the Holy Scriptures teach nothing of the kind.
The apostle Paul warned against what he called ‘profane and vain babblings’, as for instance that of Hymenaeus and Philetus, stating that their words would eat as doth a canker and overthrow the faith of some. And what was their error? They merely taught a spiritual resurrection instead of a physical one.
‘If a man hath the mind to get the start of other sinners and be in hell before them,’ said an old divine, ‘he need do no more than open his sails to the winds of heretical doctrine, and he is likely to make a short voyage to hell; for these bring upon their maintainers a swift destruction’.
This is nearer to Paul’s view than is that of the new evangelical latitudinarians. The way of the cross is still narrow.