THE SEEDS OF DISINTEGRATION
by Rev. Arnold Reimer
Apostasy, “the falling away from what one once believed”, (Webster) rarely occurs in dramatic ways. It usually happens subtly and incrementally. It often starts with well-meaning intentions. However it happens, it is always deadly for it undermines truth, and though it may come in the form of reason it ultimately warps or blinds it.
In the first century, guided by the Holy Spirit, the Apostle Paul (Galatians) and the Apostle John (Revelation) addressed apostasy. By the third century the Roman Catholic Church was already a far cry from the simplicity that was found in Christ Jesus. For the most part, time has only made things worse for them. Sadly, from the start the Protestant Reformation suffered the curse of apostasy, in spite of the theological corrections it bought with blood. Multiple fractures and endless, fresh starts have preserved some semblance of purity here and there, but the overall record is not good in the Protestant tradition.
The evidence of history is painfully clear, “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately sick, who can understand it? I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind, even to give to each man according to his ways, according to the results of his deeds.” (Jer. 17:9-10 NASB) The results of the Fall have left few things untouched.
In 2012 the Christian and Missionary Alliance celebrates 125 years since its official birth. My parents joined the Alliance 75 years ago and faithfully served its cause. Five of their eight children entered the ministry, three with the Alliance here or abroad having graduated from our school in Regina. It would be difficult to describe the wholesome, spiritual impact of this denomination upon us and, by the grace of God, through us. Our memories are many and rich. But something has happened and I am compelled to address it.
The seeds of disintegration are being sown which will seriously hurt us if we fail to acknowledge or correct what is happening. The oft repeated history of other groups brings little comfort other than to remind us of Dr. Arnold Cooks’ relevant warning about historical drift.
The Apostle’s warning (Galatians 6:7-9) could not be more relevant to our denomination: “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh shall from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit shall from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we shall reap if we do not grow weary.” That principle applies corporately and personally.
Our “struggle is not against flesh and blood . . . but against the world forces of darkness.” That tells us how very, very careful we need to be when decisions are taken that appear to tamper with revealed truth and historical, biblical precedence. We are not in a game to please personal ambition or to appease cultural demands. The battle in which we struggle is other worldly. The weapons of our warfare are “divine” and only work when every thought is “captive to the obedience of Christ”. That is awesome and directive!
God raised up the Alliance and gave a clear mandate to preach the uniqueness and sufficiency of Christ, the provision of the Spirit’s fullness for holy living and the privilege of sacrificial service to reach the lost, especially where Christ has not been named. Those were the distinguishing features that kept us single minded, united and humbly dependent upon divine motivation and enabling. The work was beyond natural ability or desire. It demands supernatural involvement! That spirit drew into our fellowship people who were hungry for God, spiritually focused and committed to biblical orthodoxy. Too much of that is gone!
The roots of this tragedy (A new view of Scripture?) seem hard to discern, but not its fruit:
1. The reduced oversight of our training institutions.
2. The infatuation with Willow Creek – its focus and rituals.
3. The re-evaluation and down-grading of behaviour and spiritual discipline
4. The surrender to divorce and re-marriage
5. The acceptance of women elders
6. The distraction of social justice issues
7. The adoption of egalitarianism aligning us with liberalism
In thirty years we have moved a long way from our initial values, motivations and reputation. Is it possible that we have become like the apostate Samson who awoke hairless and powerless from a carnally induced sleep saying: “’I will go out as at other times and shake myself free.’ But he did not know that the Lord had departed from him.”?
Never have we needed to reconsider the Lord’s admonition more than now: “If I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or if I command the locust to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among My people, and My people who are called by My name shall humble themselves and pray, and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. Now My eyes shall be open and My ears attentive to the prayer offered in this place.” (II Chronicles 7: 13-15) I see little hope for us outside of this!
Arnold Reimer, July 22, 2012