[This has been crossposted from Street Prophets - where it was a joint contribution that was part of a weekly discussion of different faiths represented by folks who regularly post there]
This is the combined work of JCHFleetguy (Evangelical Christian), quarkstomper (Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod), and vesticular (Evangelical Christian). The final editing was done by JCHFleetguy.
I think Evangelicals are one of the most diverse religious segments within Christianity - in certain ways. Within any given church that would consider itself part of this movement, what they believe and do is probably crystal clear - however there is huge diversity of doctrinal beliefs as a whole.quarkstomper:
If you want to understand what I believe - ask me. If you want to understand Evangelicalism as a movement - study. I am hopefully going to give you the beginnings of that research project.
I was raised in the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod and I identify myself as a member of that church. In researching my answers to the questions, I found some points where I'm not exactly comfortable with my church's positions; but I believe in the doctrinal principles that led my church to arrive at those positions. Maybe that means I really belong in ELCA instead.vesticular:
Nah. Lutherans are also stubborn.
It’s probably safe to say that most of the community, especially the long-time members, are familiar with Fleetguy’s beliefs, based on the sheer volume of conversation everyone has engaged in. To that I will add that I seldom find myself disagreeing with him on doctrinal positions.
It’s possible that I may lean more slightly toward affirming the five points of Calvinism, but I do so cautiously and with little certainty. Even that is based not on any extensive knowledge of the Scripture that the Arminians [JCHFleetguy: I would fall into the Arminian camp] and Calvinists have wrestled over—rather it is just based on my own subjective experiences. C.S. Lewis is my intellectual standard-bearer, so to speak, and he was not a Calvinist.
I know the previous paragraph probably bored everyone to tears, but I thought I’d piggyback on Uncle John to get the “What Doctrine I Hold” question out of the way if/until someone expresses more interest.
I. Where and when did we start?:
From "Defining Evangelicalism" [with a little structural revision]:quarkstomper:There are three senses in which the term "evangelical" is used today as we enter the 21st-century.For most non-Evangelicals reading this, it is the last group you consider to be "what Evangelicals are" - and more importantly, if you have a political orientation, it is probably more related to the Christian Coalition, Focus on the Family (and their political arm - Family Research Council), or Sojourners, etc.
- to see as "evangelical" all Christians who affirm a few key doctrines and practical emphases. British historian David Bebbington approaches evangelicalism from this direction and notes four specific hallmarks of evangelical religion:
- conversionism, the belief that lives need to be changed;
- activism, the expression of the gospel in effort;
- Biblicism [a word I wouldn't use], a particular regard for the Bible;
- crucicentrism, a stress on the sacrifice of Christ on the cross
- to look at evangelicalism as an organic group of movements and religious tradition. Within this context "evangelical" denotes a style as much as a set of beliefs. As a result, groups as disparate as black Baptists and Dutch Reformed Churches, Mennonites and Pentecostals, Catholic charismatics and Southern Baptists all come under the evangelical umbrella-demonstrating just how diverse the movement really is.
- as the self-ascribed label for a coalition that arose during the Second World War. This group came into being as a reaction against the perceived anti-intellectual, separatist, belligerent nature of the fundamentalist movement in the 1920s and 1930s. Importantly, its core personalities (like Harold John Ockenga and Billy Graham), institutions (for instance, Moody Bible Institute and Wheaton College), and organizations (such as the National Association of Evangelicals and Youth for Christ) have played a pivotal role in giving the wider movement a sense of cohesion that extends beyond these "card-carrying" evangelicals.
I would give some blended definition of #1 and #3. Number one is the closest to a theological definition of both Evangelicalism - and "theologically conservative" - and in my opinion is anchored right in the 1st century and pre-Nicene church. By that sense, we began at the Cross (or more accurately at Pentecost - which is when the followers of Christ was bathed in the spirit and became the Body of Christ).
Definition #3 really gives the only organizational anchor for Evangelicalism - and the only way to talk about its origins in any modern sense. From that: the split between the Evangelicals and the Fundamentalists started in the mid-1900's - and exploded post-World War I. Evangelicalism really got going when the Scopes trial made Fundamentalists look foolish and they withdrew into the woodwork.
A 16th Century monk named Martin Luther was plagued by doubts about his own salvation and feelings of unworthiness before God. He found his answer in the writings of Paul, emphasizing salvation by Faith. But this doctrine was at odds with certain practices and teachings of the Catholic Church, most notably the selling of Indulgences. He criticized the Church, the Church pushed back and before you can say “excommunication” he was at the head of a theological revolt.The commonality: the rejection of Enlightenment-inspired, antisupernaturalist biblical scholarship and the liberal theology that arose from it.
There had been other reform movements in the Middle Ages, most notably that of John Hus, but several factors helped Luther’s. For one thing, the invention of the printing press helped spread Luther’s ideas far beyond his native Saxony. For another, by Luther’s time German nationalism was beginning to take hold and the princes of the region had both the desire to gain some independence from Rome and the power to make it stick.
Other reformers arrived in Luther’s wake, some of whom Luther quarreled with as much as he quarreled with the Pope; and Christendom wasn’t reformed as much as it was shattered into dozens of different sects. In response, the Lutherans eventually compiled the Book of Concord, which set out the essential Lutheran teachings of doctrine.
Decades of bloody religious wars followed, resulting in a theological patchwork in which the official church of any given state, duchy or principality was determined by the religion of its ruler. It also resulted in the Enlightenment, which in many ways was a reaction against all religion.
The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod began, like many other groups, because some people were dissatisfied with the church in their home country and came to America to worship they way they wanted to. In this case, it was a group of German Lutherans in Saxony in the early 1800s that were unhappy with their state church. They felt that the church was becoming too influenced by Enlightenment rationalism and was bending towards non-Lutheran practices and teachings. So in 1847, a group of them came to America and settled in Perry County, Missouri. Under the leadership of C.F.W. Walther, they joined with other like-minded Lutherans to form “The German Evangelical Lutheran Synod of Missouri, Ohio and Other States” (later abbreviated to “Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod)
Many other American churches of the Nineteenth Century experienced a similar reaction against the Enlightenment and the series of documents known as The Fundamentals were written to express the core Christian beliefs they wanted to return to. The Lutherans already had their version of The Fundamentals : The Book of Concord .
The LCMS remained predominantly German until the First World War, when anti-German sentiment in America encouraged the church to switch to performing services in English. In the South Wisconsin District of the Synod, official business was still transacted in German as late as 1940.
In the mid-1970s the Synod underwent a crisis when Jacob Preus, the newly-elected Synod president, instituted a crackdown at its St. Louis seminary against teaching of “false doctrine”, specifically the historical-critical method of biblical scholarship and liberal theology. This resulted in a good chunk of the faculty and students walking out and establishing their own seminary: the “Concordia Seminary in Exile” or “Seminex”. Although Seminex lasted little more than a decade, the schism hardened the conservatism of an already conservative church and the more liberal theologians and pastors we lost eventually became a part of ELCA, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, which was formed in 1988 from the mergers of the American Lutheran Church, the Lutheran Church in America, and the Association of Evangelical Lutheran Churches. ELCA is now the largest Lutheran denomination in America. Not that we’re jealous. No, we’re not.
II. What are our basic tenets/dogma/creeds/etc?:
We all agree these things are central to both our beliefs and the beliefs of our churches:
- an orthodox Christology and emphasis on Christ's atoning work and bodily Resurrection;
- the belief that salvation is the result of God's grace through Christ rather than any human works;
- the authority and inspiration of Scripture, usually holding to the inerrancy of the original autographs [see "Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy"];
- an emphasis on biblical preaching and teaching; and
- an emphasis on evangelism and the importance of mission work.
- Lutherans confess the Triune God: the Father, Creator of all things; Jesus Christ the Son, who became human to walk among us, whose sufferings and death paid the ransom of sin for all people and whose resurrection opens the gate of life everlasting for all; and the Holy Spirit, who quickens faith in the hearts of people through God’s Word and the Sacraments.
- There are three core principles at the heart of Lutheran doctrine:
- Sola Gratia - Grace Alone: The salvation and the blessings we receive from God are not due to any merit on our part but solely because of God’s undeserved love.
- Sola Fide - Faith Alone: Christ did everything that was necessary to win our salvation. We don’t have to perform any additional actions to earn it. Faith in him is sufficient.
- Sola Scriptura - Scripture Alone: The Bible is God’s Word in which he reveals his Law and the Gospel of Salvation. It is the sole source of Christian teaching.
- Oh yeah, we talk about that Luther guy a lot, but we emphasize those teachings of his that have grounding in the Scriptures.
- The central teachings of the Lutheran Church can be found in the Book of Concord, a compilation of creeds and doctrinal statements compiled shortly after Luther’s death to try to unify the various branches of Lutheranism. These are:
- The Three Ecumenical Creeds: The Apostle’s Creed, the Nicene Creed and the Athanasian Creed
- The Augsburg Confession and the Apology to (Defense of) the Augsburg Confession: intended to clarify the points of agreement between the Lutherans and the Catholic Church and to justify the points of disagreement
- Luther’s Large and Small Catechism: Luther’s explanations of the core elements of Christian teaching: The Ten Commandments, the Lord’s Prayer, the Apostle’s Creed and the Sacraments. The Small Catechism is used to instruct the young in Lutheran teachings; the Large Catechism is an expanded version.
- The Smalcald Articles: a document Luther wrote delineating Lutheran teachings for an ecumenical council of other Protestant groups
- Treatise on the Power and the Primacy of the Pope: Because it just wouldn’t be Lutheran if we didn’t diss the Pope somewhere.
- The Formulas of Concord: Restates and ties it all together.
- First, from quarkstomper's list
- Trinity: check
- The Solas: check . . . with a caveat. There is a division, reflected in this belief of my church
We believe that some gifts of the Holy Spirit such as speaking in tongues and miraculous healings were temporary. We believe that speaking in tongues was never the common or necessary sign of the baptism nor of the filling of the Spirit, and that the deliverance of the body from sickness or death awaits the consummation of our salvation in the resurrection (Acts 4:8, 31; Rom. 8:23; 1 Cor. 13:8).on the ministry of the Holy Spirit that relates directly to "Scripture Alone". As my previous pastor pointed out, this standing away from the charismatic gifts of the spirit has led some to step away from the Spirit's ministry to the Body of Christ when it comes to scripture and revelation. I would re-word this:
Scripture, as led by the Holy Spirit; and the Holy Spirit, as checked against scripture.I am not sure even most Evangelicals would trust that phrasing.
- Everything else, even the Creeds: not really. Not to say we do not believe in the content of the creeds - we just do not profess them.
- The other two Solas of the Reformation:
- Sola Christus - Christ alone: Our sole mediator and intercessor before God.
- Soli Deo gloria - to God alone the glory.
- an emphasis on the conversion experience, typically referred to as being "born again" or experiencing a "new birth". Both vesticular and myself know the dates of our "spiritual birthdays": his is May 11th , 2004 (he hadn't thought of it in those terms until I asked) and mine is today - April 9th, 1995
- So, what does a creedal statement look like for Evangelicalism of the third sort. So, my church's "short version":
- Trinity: yep
- Bible: inerrant
- Man: By man, we mean male and female. Man is created in the image of God, which means that ALL persons have value. We were created innocent, but we have all sinned in Adam when he sinned at the Fall in the Garden of Eden. As such, we are naturally separated from God and need to be redeemed.
- Salvation: Salvation is a free gift of God, offered by grace through the death of his only Son, Jesus Christ. Because man is fallen, we are unable to obtain salvation by our own merit. We believe that God first calls us to Himself, enabling us to respond in faith to Him. Our faith is in the risen Christ, who now lives in heaven with the Father.
and the full expression. Note that the doctrinal statements reference no creeds - ancient or otherwise - and are intentionally rooted in scripture for their support.
III. Our view on other religions and on alternative viewpoints internal to Christianity:
The commonality is, that within Christianity itself, the Catholic Church still is the doctrinal opposite of conservative Protestant theology. That is interesting, since the Catholic church is equally conservative doctrinally - if not even more conservative. The short list of those differences:
- Hierarchal leadership - we have mostly congregational polities
- Position of the Pope
- Position of saints and Mary
- The usefulness of intercessors other than Christ
- Indeed, any of the five Solas are aimed at the Catholic Church
Is it not frightfully unfair that this new life should be confined to people who have heard of Christ and been able to believe in Him? But the truth is God has not told us what His arrangements about the other people are. We do know that no man can be saved except through Christ; we do not know that only those who know Him can be saved through Him.as have the Catholics - a doctrine I can also follow - but we are thinking that, whoever Christ chooses to let into Heaven, He will indeed act as gatekeeper for everyone. However, we cannot in good conscience affirm to someone that their "alternate road to God" is going to bring them to a position of being "saved through Christ". We know what has been revealed to us as a sure way - everybody else is taking their chances. Oh, and we all believe both Heaven and Hell exist.
They’re wrong and we’re right. That isn’t very helpful, is it.JCHFleetguy:
We recognize other denominations that confess the Trinitarian Creeds as fellow Christians, although we may differ in other points of doctrine. Some of these points are:
- Baptism: Like other Lutheran churches, the LCMS follows the traditional practice of infant baptism. We cite a few proof passages from Scripture to justify this, but I think the real reason ties into our view of Justification. Faith is kindled by the Holy Spirit and is not dependent upon anything that we ourselves do; therefore it is not necessary for a person to make a conscious Decision for Jesus before he can experience the benefits of the Holy Spirit.
Or maybe we kept the practice because the Catholic Church accused Luther of being a heretical Anabaptist and Luther said “No, I’m not!”
- The Lord’s Supper: We practice what is called Close Communion; (sometimes referred to as “Closed Communion”); meaning that we limit the celebration of the Lord’s Supper to those who share the same beliefs about it that we do. Which excludes practically everybody. But Lutheran understanding of Holy Communion differs from both Roman Catholic Doctrine and most mainline Protestant denominations. Luther rejected the Catholic doctrine of Transubstantiation, that the bread and wine of the Sacrament are actually transformed into Christ’s Body and Blood, and the view that the Sacrament actually re-enacts Christ’s sacrifice on the cross; he also rejected the view of Zwingli and the Swiss reformers that the bread and the wine of Communion only symbolize the Body and Blood. Luther taught that “Bread is bread”, but that the communicant also receives the True Body and Blood “in, with, and under” the physical bread and wine of the Sacrament.
LCMS goes further and excludes from Communion even other Lutheran churches if they do not follow our strict view of Close Communion. That’s the official policy, but I’ve never been in a church where visitors were required to state their views of the Sacrament before they were permitted to come to the altar. In every church I’ve been in, if a person comes to the Lord’s Table desiring the Sacrament, he gets it.
- Justification by Faith: Justification by Faith is a biggie. Not too long ago, the Catholic Church and several Lutheran Churches signed a joint statement of agreement on the subject of Justification that was hailed as some as a breakthrough between the two churches. The LCMS refused to sign the statement, on the grounds that the document never actually defined what the Catholics mean by Justification, therefore the agreement is meaningless. (And if you ask, no, I can’t give a good definition of Justification either).
What it comes down to is that Salvation is not something we earn by saying enough Hail Mary’s or by Deciding to Let Christ into Our Life; rather it is a gift, freely given by God without any merit or worthiness on our part. This was important to Luther because he was acutely aware of his own unworthiness and struggled long and hard with feelings of guilt and despair.
Our emphasis on Grace, that is, Undeserved Love, makes us suspicious of anything that smells like “Works Righteousness”, the doctrine that we have to do something before we can achieve Salvation. (Once in college I went ‘round and ‘round with an earnest Born Again on this issue; he kept talking about Letting Jesus into One’s Heart and my Lutheran instincts kept saying “Works Righteousness!”)
- Doctrinal conformity: The LCMS has a high regard for conformity. The word “synod” means “walking together” and the whole purpose of the Formula of Concord was to be a formal statement of what we all agree on; so it’s generally assumed that within our church body everybody’s going to be on the same page, doctrinally speaking. The church holds the power to excommunicate members who stray from orthodoxy, but stresses that this should be a rare action used as a last resort. And if a person differs with the church teaching that much, he generally quits on his own.
The Synod insists that its pastors, and the teaching staff of its seminaries, subscribe to the church’s doctrines. (This insistence, as I mentioned, is what led to the Seminex split). Things are a little more relaxed at the parish level. We have a congregational rather than an episcopal structure, meaning that local churches are run by the congregations themselves rather than by a hierarchy of bishops. This isn’t a doctrinal thing; it’s just The Way We’ve Always Done It. The pastor is not the ruler of the congregation, but an employee hired to preach and perform other pastoral duties. To a certain extent this dilutes the Synod’s power to enforce Doctrinal Purity on its members, relying instead on deference to the pastor on matters spiritual and the inertia of tradition.
I was once a member of a church whose pastor supported the idea of women in the clergy, contrary to official LCMS position. He retired about the same time as we joined, so I don’t know how outspoken he was on this subject or if he ever got into trouble because of it. That congregation was a fairly liberal one, for an LCMS church, so that might have had something to do with it.
Outside the general things above, there is not much more for me to say. There are some disagreements in this section between myself and Quarkstomper. I understand the idea that the Holy Spirit can inhabit who He wills to inhabit regardless of our decision, but infant baptism just doesn't cut it for my herd of ilk. Even then, that is a parental decision/action or a church decision/action - especially since there is no sign of a changed life in an infant. That idea of that the moment of rebirth will be an inward change that brings outward change is too central to us. Indeed, the conversion story, or testimony, where one shows the way they have changed in Christ are foundational. We have commitment ceremonies where the parents commit to raising their children in a Godly way. We do not see the "decision for Christ" as our action:We believe that God first calls us to Himself, enabling us to respond in faith to Him.Indeed, no sacrament imbues life - none is a "means of grace":no baptism or other ordinance however administered, can help the sinner to take even one step toward heaven; but a new nature imparted from above, a new life implanted by the Holy Spirit through the Word, is absolutely essential to salvation,Communion as well is simply, as Christ said, something we do in remembrance of Him until He comes again
IV. A few general social or political issues considered important by us and why?:
To deal with the social conservative hot buttons, all of our churches are pro-life. None of our churches would marry a gay couple; and we believe homosexuality is a sin. From our general practice at Street Prophets, it is clear that we all agree with this statement:
We should always approach judgment and/or condemnation of people based on scripture with "fear and trembling" - or better yet just leave this job to God. We think the wisest thing for Christians to do about homosexuality is to love the sinner; and hate the sin - but keep their mouth shut about the second part in most cases.and this from C.S. Lewis:
The sins of the flesh are bad, but they are the least bad of all sins. All the worst pleasures are purely spiritual: the pleasure of putting other people in the wrong, of bossing and patronizing and spoiling sport, and back-biting; the pleasures of power, of hatred. For there are two things inside me, competing with the human self which I must try to become. They are the Animal self, and the Diabolical self. The Diabolical self is the worse of the two. That is why a cold, self-righteous prig who goes regularly to church may be far nearer to hell than a prostitute. But, of course, it is better to be neither.None of us are opposed to at least some form of state recognition of some kind of gay marriage and/or civil union, and we do not think the way to end abortion is by making it illegal. Our churchs of attendance do not take positions on what secular society should do on those issues; and, most likely, if they did would not agree with us as individuals.
When the LCMS was first formed, it declined to support the Abolitionists on the issue of Slavery because the Bible did not give a clear command, pro or con, on the matter. (Those of us who compare Roe v. Wade to the Dred Scott Decision might want to keep that in mind). Generally speaking, the LCMS does not make official doctrinal statements about political issues.JCHFleetguy:
Most Lutheran Churches, especially in the LCMS, are Pro-Life. The LCMS’s official position condemns abortion, but recognizes that there are cases where it is necessary to save the mother’s life. Official policy permits forms of birth control that do not prevent the implantation of fertilized ova, (IUDs are recognized as a grey area), but prefers they be used by married couples who are already “fruitful” and admonishes against using birth control as an excuse for indiscriminate sex.
On the subject of war, the LCMS subscribes to the Just War Doctrine established by Augustine and Thomas Aquinas. Although a lot of us are politically conservative and have backed the Bush war, the LCMS has no official position as to whether the Iraq Invasion and Occupation meets the criteria for a Just War.
The LCMS officially endorses Creationism, which is not surprising given our emphasis on the infallibility of Scripture; but does not require acceptance of Creationism as a requirement for membership.
Like many other churches, the LCMS puts a lot of emphasis on social ministry like schools, counseling programs, and poverty and disaster relief, often working with other Lutheran churches. This isn’t preached from the pulpit, though, as much as it is performed through auxiliary organizations such as the LWML, the Lutheran Layman’s League and Lutheran World Relief.
From "Defining Evangelicals":During most of the 20th-century, American evangelicalism as a movement was generally reticent about politics because its sights were focused on what seemed more important tasks: evangelism, missions, and nurturing the faithful. All that seemed to change, however, in the 1970s when evangelicals "re-entered" the national spotlight with the rise of Democratic presidential candidate Jimmy Carter, a devout Southern Baptist layman who unabashedly claimed to be "born again." But the most visible aspect of this new political sensibility was the appearance of right-wing organizations like the Moral Majority and Concerned Women for America. This new "Religious Right" was credited with playing a major role in the "Reagan Revolution" of 1980 (and the ironic ouster of the evangelical President Carter, for the much-less obviously pious Reagan). In retrospect, it now seems clear that the part these organizations played in this outcome was not as great as either the news media or conservative evangelicals once believed. Unarguably, however, there was a new evangelical interest in political participation, which subsequently gave birth to a new generation of "Religious Right" organizations, such as the Christian Coalition.Lately, of course, committees organized by the National Association of Evangelicals have been involved in environmental work and come out strongly against the use of torture by the US government. Also, it seems to be theologically conservative Christians in the forefront of the efforts to end the genocide in Darfur; and the international trafficking in slaves - the vast majority of which are children and women pressed into sexual bondage. Willow Creek Association and folks affiliated with Rick Warren have been very active recently in working on the AIDS epidemic and poverty in Africa.
The reasons for this resurgence are many, including: a natural desire to have a positive impact on culture and society (a subtle indication, perhaps, of the decline of some types of evangelical prophetic interpretations that emphasized an imminent Second Coming); concern over abortion and changing sexual mores in society; and dissatisfaction with the content, direction and power of the mass media and popular culture. However, what seems to have been the single overarching factor has been the post-WWII expansion of the Federal Government into areas and responsibilities that were previously the domain of the state and local government, the individual, the family, and the church. Yet, it must be made clear that there is no monolithic consensus among evangelicals on politics, any more than there is on theological matters. While the movement is conservative in many regards, there are many evangelicals who would identify their political orientation as liberal and some, like the Sojourners community in Washington D.C., which are leftist in nature. In terms of party affiliation, the movement has been traditionally perceived as Republican. This impression, however, reflects a bias that centers on the Northern, midwestern evangelicals of the NAE "card-carrying" variety. When the huge numbers of Southern white and black evangelicals are factored in, it is probably more accurate to say that in the years before 1970 the "average" evangelical was more likely to be a Democrat. With the defection of large numbers of white Southerners to the Republicans in recent decades, the political make-up of evangelicalism has changed. Today the overall political tenor of the movement could be described as moderately conservative and predominantly Republican
My own churches have had strong social ministries: missions, the poor, community service, etc. My last church continues sending work crews, and providing money, to the Katrina area. They have not been political from the pulpit; and there has been the availability of politically-conservative voters' guides in the lobby. The churches have not been involved in anti-abortion demonstrations (although I know members probably are); and the church has supported positive organizations like Pregnancy Resource Centers.
V. What do you most like and most want to change?
Most of all, I like the music. Unlike some of the Swiss reformers who felt that music in the church distracted from the Word of God, Luther loved music and considered it, along with flinging inkpots and the occasional fart, to be the best way to drive out the Devil. Luther left us a singing church and we are richer for it. (Oh, and J.S. Bach had a bit to do with it too).JCHFleetguy:
As for what I’d change, I think I’d most like to moderate our knee-jerk antipathy towards ecumenicalism. I don’t think we should ignore the doctrinal differences we have with other denominations, but at the same time neither should we forget what we have in common, nor should we avoid opportunities to join with our fellow Christians from other parts of the Body of Christ.
I also wish we could be more flexible on gender issues. This is largely why my wife doesn’t go to church anymore. On the whole, I think our emphasis on the Bible as the true and faithful Word of God is one of our strengths, but our strict interpretation of certain verses about the role of women and about homosexuality clash with the greater message of the Gospel. I don’t know how this contradiction can be reconciled, but I want to believe it must be possible.
The big one is epitomized by this quote from A.W. Tozer from The Pursuit of God:Current evangelicalism has (to change the figure) laid the altar and divided the sacrifice into parts, but now seems satisfied to count the stones and rearrange the pieces with never a care that there is not a sign of fire upon the top of lofty Carmel. [See 1 Kings 18 for the allusions.-ccp] But God be thanked that there are a few who care. They are those who, while they love the altar and delight in the sacrifice, are yet unable to reconcile themselves to the continued absence of fire. They desire God above all. They are athirst to taste for themselves the `piercing sweetness' of the love of Christ about Whom all the holy prophets did write and the psalmists did sing.All the little ones flow from there.
There is today no lack of Bible teachers to set forth correctly the principles of the doctrines of Christ, but too many of these seem satisfied to teach the fundamentals of the faith year after year, strangely unaware that there is in their ministry no manifest Presence, nor anything unusual in their personal lives.