M O R A L R E - A R M A M E N T The "New Look" of an Old System By .Louis T. Talbot, D.D.
F ALSE religious systems have a sub tle way of spreading their propa ganda by appearing from time to time under different names. When dis credited under one designation, they take another. The Jehovah’s Witnesses is a good example of this sort o f ' deception, who in times past have made a play for “ converts” under the names of Z ion’s Watch Tower, Millennial Dawn, Interna >- tioml Bible Students’ Association, Brook lyn Tabernacle, The People’s Pulpit, and The Metropolitan Pulpit. This device for concealing identity has been adopted by the system which first began as the First Century Christian Fellowship, was changed to The Oxford Group Movement, and since 1938, has operated as Moral Re - armament, or M.R.A. Gladly would we have linked hands with Dr. Prank Buchman, founder of this movement, if by changing the name he had abandoned his erroneous teaching and had begun ’ to preach the gospel of the grace of God. But we have not seen ☆ ☆ “ Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not. For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect” (Matt. 24:23, 24). The great prophecies contained in the Olivet discourse were uttered by our Lord just prior to His crucifixion on Cal vary. As He sat on the Mount of Olives, where in the future His feet shall stand in the day of His manifestation, He prophesied the destruction of the magnif icent temple building. His disciples ques tioned Him, saying, “ Tell us when shall these things be? And what shall be the sign of thy coming and of the end of the age?” In answer to that question, our Lord cast His all-seeing eye down the age to its close and pointed out to His people certain unmistakable signs by which they might know when the age was drawing to an end. As He looked into the future, He saw kingdom rising against kingdom, and nation against nation. He heard the sound of war and rumors of war. He saw pestilence and earthquake, Bolshevism, Communism, anarchy, lawlessness. He saw a time of trouble, the like of which has never been known, a time which He called “ the great tribulation.” He spoke plainly of these things for the instruc- Page Twelve
or heard any indication of such a change. For this reason, I feel led to reprint herewith a sermon which I preached to over three thousand persons in the Church of the Open Door of Los An geles on February 26, 1933, at which time the Oxford Group Movement . was attracting wide attention. In the interim occurred World War II during which time the popularity of the Oxford Group Movement, or Moral Re-armament, as it was then known, declined, due to difficul ties about deferment and draft, and par ticularly Dr. Buchman’s widely-pub licized statement: “ I thank heaven for a man like Adolph Hitler who built a front line of defense against the Anti- Christ of Communism,1’ etc. (See Time, June 14, 1948). But .now, with great fanfare, M.R.A. has been revived; re cently 10,000 persons celebrated Dr. Buchman’s seventieth birthday in the Hollywood Bowl. So this message which I delivered fifteen years ago applies to this system as well today as it did then, in spite of its “ new look,” and I trust it will be helpful to God’s people. ☆ tion of believers in every age. Among other things, the Lord warned His disciples of the religious condition that would prevail in the end time. “ False Christs, and false prophets, shall arise,” He declared. So great will be the delusions at that time that “ if it were pos sible, they shall deceive the very elect.” The inspired writers of the Epistles, Paul, Peter, and James, echo the same note of warning. To Timothy was writ ten, “ In the latter times some shall de part from the faith, giving heed to seduc ing spirits, and doctrines of devils.” (1 Tim. 4:1). Peter warns against false prophets who shall “ deny the Lord that bought them” (2 Pet. 2:1). Jude urges that we “ contend earnestly for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.” John adds a word of exhorta tion, as well as of warning, that we “try the spirits whether they are of God; be cause many false prophets are gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1). In view of these and other Scriptures, no pastor should be charged with a lack of charity who examines the theological position of those who come to be the teachers and the guides of the church of Jesus Christ. There was never a day when it was so important to require leaders to furnish their credentials as it is today. The Church of the Open Door was or
ganized about nineteen years ago [ state ment made in 193S~\. Its first pastor was Dr. R. A. Torrey, of blessed memory. Through all the years, this church has taken an uncompromising stand for “ the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.” In view of this, it is not to be wondered at that in the present hour, many people should turn to this church, seeking light and guidance in regard to the movement that bears the name, “ The Oxford Movement.” In answer to these queries and many others on the same subject, after a study of the theological position of this Movement, in the light of the Word of God, we pass on the fol lowing impressions. God has given us a standard by which we may measure the Scriptural position of movements and men. “ To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not ac cording to this word, it is because there is no light in them” (Isa. 8:20). The way to put any Movement to the test and discover its worth or worthlessness is to bring it under the lens of Holy Writ. In the Church of the Open Door, we believe that the Bible is the Word of God; that it is the supreme authority, and the only court of appeal. We shall not examine the Oxford Movement, or any other movement, in the light of our interpretations of the Bible, but rather in the light of those principles that all evangelical Christians throughout the ages have recognized as fundamental to saving faith. These principles are four in number: First, the Eternal Deity of the Lord Jesus Christ (John 1:1-3. Micah 5:2). Jesus Christ is co-equal, and co-eternal with God. His humanity was perfect, as was also His Deity. He is the second member of the Trinity. Second, the Atoning Nature of the Death of Jesus Christ. If there is one thing in the Word of God that is em phasized above everything else, it is that the blood of Jesus Christ alone can bring a man into right relationship with God; that sin is so black, so abhorrent to God that nothing but the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ can atone for it (Col. 1:20. Heb. 10:19. Rev. 7:14, 15). Third, Regeneration by the Holy Spirit. Man needs not only forgiveness through the blood, but also a new life which is wrought by the regenerating work of the Spirit of God (John 3 :7). This change is inward as well as outward. Fourth, the Resurrection of the Body of Christ. The resurrection of His body is our assurance that one day we, too, shall be changed physically. “ Because I live, ye shall live also” (John 14:19. 1 Cor. 15). These are the standards by which to measure the Scriptural position of those who present themselves as teachers and T H E K I N G ' S B U S I N E S S
Z Jh e O x fo r d (jro u t? ^Y lfjovem ent Is It of Sod or Is It an Anglo-Catholic Movement?
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