By: David Norris of the UK

You must have heard of them. They have penetrated every area of our lives. In the street we see them, they cannot be missed in their 'designer' clothes, rushing about, clasping a mobile phone as though an ear would drop off without it. At work we meet them, they appear on television. You find them in industry, politics, education, everywhere.

Who are they? They are the 'modernisers'. They speak in 'sound bytes', care desperately about 'image', and their 'doctors' deal in 'spin' not health. They surround themselves with 'enforcers' to keep everyone 'on-message', and are obsessive in their agendas, objectives, strategy. With religious zeal they proclaim their message, the old must go, the new is here! These people are addicted to change as an end in itself. Intoxicated, they cannot get enough change. Change is the cure-all, the panacea for all ills.

Sad to say, a similar scourge has invaded circles where once the authentic biblical Gospel was once consistently and fear-lessly preached. What happens in the world at large soon finds its counterpart in the professing Church. The leaders of groups of Churches that once bore clear testimony to the authentic biblical Gospel have jumped aboard this crazy carousel. Dizzy with exhilaration they drive out everything deemed by them to be past its sell-by date. If it is old it must go. New forms of worship with music that apes the godless sensuality of pop music are introduced to prevent youngsters show-ing the church a clean pair of heels; the Gospel, or what is left of it, is to be 'communicated' no longer proclaimed; old standards have long since been aban-doned along with words like 'worldliness'; the old and trusted Authorised Version has suddenly and inexplicably become incomprehensible to everyone, although it has served God's people well for nigh on 400 years; long-held views of Genesis 1-3 have been jettisoned in order to gain access and respect in academic circles. 'Traditionalists', and all who seek to retain the trusted basic beliefs of their forefathers, who speak about the 'old Gospel', who retain the ancient land-marks, are often seen as obstacles to progress, spiritual Luddites, dinosaurs, obstinate, ignorant, narrow-minded and intolerant bigots.

Were this trend just a matter of words and customs, there would be no real argument. Such discussion would dis-appear as quickly as it arose, it would evaporate as the mist of early morning. Tradition for the sake of tradition is not the argument, anymore than is change for the sake of change. There is often little point in bringing reasoned argu-ment, minds are already closed. The modernisers among us are not simply up-dating an outmoded approach, casting off a worn-out garment, but they are making changes that re-define the Christian Gospel. They have an agenda which they are determined to push through at any cost. This movement is at this moment changing the character of denominations and church associations that have long been the bastions of Gospel truth, places where one could at one time always be sure to find food for the soul. Serious cause for concern are the quiet doctrinal changes implied and the unsound assumptions underlying this lemming rush over the cliffs of change.

No change in practice or behaviour takes place that is not precisely reflected in a change of belief at some point.

In the name of modernity, relevance, a gentle and almost imperceptible drift is underway - it cannot be done quickly lest someone notice what is going on! At first the old creeds and confessions remain, but in the end doctrine catches up with practice and within the space of a generation apostasy will have replaced truth. Wake up! Wake up, if you are asleep in the pew, what is going on in your pulpit? Ashamed of the old truths, old lies are being dressed in contemp-orary garb - take care to look at the label before you buy! We are facing a movement in the direction of two distinct definitions of the Gospel. The sooner this is recognised the better, for then we can all go our separate ways.

When leaders, pastors, and elders look on helplessly as the young forsake them for the more exciting world of charismatics and neo-evangelicals, they realise something must be done to stem the flow of what is their life-blood. Changes are made on the basis, if you cannot beat them, join them. They use a new Bible, then so must we, but one that is not too perverse! They have new song book, then we must have one that is similar, but one our more staid members will still be able to stomach. Devoid of the spiritual power that wakens the dead, lacking the eye-salve that makes blind eyes to see, other ways and means must be sought to make the Gospel attractive and relevant to outsiders. Whilst the goats are entertained to death on the road to hell, the sheep remain unfed on the pathway to heaven. But then, this is nothing new:
"If the gospel does not attract men, nothing will; I mean, nothing which can do them good. Personally, I have no reason to doubt the attractiveness of the old, old gospel; but I am assured that some of my brethren, who faithfully preach the gospel of Christ, do not find the people flocking about them. ...Why is this? Whence this distaste for the ordinary services of the sanctuary? I believe that the answer, in some measure, lies in a direction little suspected. There has been a growing pandering to sensationalism; and, as this wretched appetite increases in fury the more it is gratified, it is at last found to be impossible to meet its demands. Those who have introduced all sorts of attractions into their services have themselves to blame if people forsake their more sober teachings, and demand more and more of the noisy and the singular." from C.H. Spurgeon's lecture 'The Evils of the Present Time' in An All-Round Ministry.

What is the matter? Is the beauty of the Lord Jesus no longer enough to attract? Do men no longer see Christ in those who profess His Name? Those who have looked full in His wonderful face will indeed find the things of earth growing strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace. This seems to have been reversed and perverted, are then the things of this world to be introduced to attract men to Christ? This is unbelievable treachery. Let us be ever mindful that only those whose consciences have been awakened to the awfulness of personal sin and guilt will repent and turn, only those whose hearts God has touched will find beauty enough in Christ to trust Him alone, to love Him, and become His forever.

What is required of those who preach the Gospel to the lost is not innovation but faithfulness to God's Word and a life that reflects the glory and grace of our Saviour.

One of the main reasons given for change is that the language of our Authorised Version (King James) of the Bible and of many traditional hymns is said to be antiquated and difficult to understand. Whilst the initiated may understand it, outsiders do not. This is said to hinder their understanding of the Gospel and give an impression of an irrelevant and outmoded message. These are usually lame excuses, often repeatedly babbled by those who have never stopped to consider seriously what it is they are saying. One gets the same answer every time the 'replay' button is pressed. Expressed in today's accessible English, this means we need to improve our 'communication skills' and review our 'client image'! English is becoming so difficult, all these new words! Sentences with no verb! Youngsters who facetiously claim they need an English degree in order to understand the Authorised Version of the Bible and our beautiful English hymns, despite laying claim to a string of GCSE's and A-levels, are either being a little less than candid or have genuine reason to sue their local education authority. To suggest this form of English belongs to a bygone era and is no longer intelligible to the young, still less relevant, is to insult them.

What is particularly disturbing is the spirit in which some of these criticisms are being made. Some hymns have unquestionably outlived their usefulness and have quietly and thankfully disappeared. No one need sing hymns with which they do not feel comfortable, for whatever reason; but the vicious debunking of the authors of some of our best-loved hymns is quite another matter. The sheer arrogance of some of the scorn is at times breathtaking. It would almost seem that there are those who, like naughty boys looking for rude words in the dictionary, flick through the pages of the old hymn books for the next amusing line. "Here is a good one - 'Let some droppings fall on me, ho, ho, ho!'" It is intolerable that so many giants of the faith who have bequeathed to us such a rich legacy in music and hymns should now be made the targets of mockery and figures of fun by spiritual pygmies. Lines about 'droppings falling', 'failing waters from broken cisterns', 'parting asunder giving inward pain', are trivialities that can easily, and indeed have been tastefully remedied in some hymnbooks. In the case of hymns, we are not dealing with holy writ. Nevertheless, this is not really what the discussion is all about, hence the fatuous arguments. Even more reprehensible is the doctrinal mutilation and literary butchery wrought upon many of our well-loved hymns. What have they done to the lovely hymn 'Just as I am'? The first line 'But that Thy blood was shed for me' now reads 'But that You died to set me free'. No one can seriously be expected to believe that the omission of reference to the blood of Christ is done solely in the interest of removing 'thee and thou'. These rabid iconoclasts should take note of what the Scriptures say about the scornful and mockers.
"Every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgement" Matthew 12:36

In keeping with the mood and drift of the modernising movement, the introduction here in the UK of Mission Praise and its imitations shows a preference for mediocrity, and the noise and emptiness of the world. Whilst some of the older hymns are still to be found there, the new introductions demonstrate all the monotonous banality of a TV commercial ditty - anyone for cornflakes? Some of these pseudo pop songs are plainly pretentious rubbish, - as for example 'When I feel the touch' - bad music, devoid of any Gospel, just trashy. It seems gone are the days when a congregation could raise the roof with Cwm Rhonnda. What Church can still manage to sing in four part harmony these days? Screech to the happy-clappy sound of guitar chords over a walking bass and that is appealing to the young on their own terms. The Gospel has its own demands, those who would find God come on His terms not on their own. Surely this reveals why this new mood is very much a new Gospel?

Many things are conveniently forgotten when considering the nature and usage of modern English. Everyday language can be full of trendy vocabulary understood only by the initiated, full of confusing jargon and incomprehensible idioms. There is the specialist language belonging to a particular trade, profe-ssion, or area of knowledge. What a range of new words has grown up around the computer, with few complaints! One should not assume that, because the language is modern, it is necessarily easier to understand. Anyone in the least acquainted with modern literature will know that much of it is notoriously difficult to read and the language is often anything but beautiful. It is also strangely paradoxical that the more a language is simplified, the less clear it can become. Clarity gives place to ambiguity and imprecision. Part of the wonder of the Authorised Version is its simplicity, precision, and clarity. It is more than a touch arrogant, and not supported by experience, to suppose that 17th century English, or that of the AV, is beyond the linguistic ability of the young or even foreign readers of English.

Click here to go to:OUT WITH THE OLD, IN WITH THE NEW!(Part TWO)

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