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By Roger Salter
Special to Virtueonline
June 1, 2023

The deservedly eminent and appealingly eloquent expert in Old Testament Theology, Walther Eichrodt, alluded to the prophetic polemic and combative attitude of the Lord's appointed spokesmen to the nation he had chosen, the guardians of "the spiritual character of Israel's religious faith." The prophetic lineage was faithful and resolute in maintaining and declaring the essential "spiritual attitude rooted in the very heart" of Israel's faith. Their "whole emphasis. . . falls on the personal spiritual intercourse of man with God" [Theology of the Old Testament, Vol 1, SCM Press, pages 118-9]. Those faithful to their electing God, prophets and members of the general populace, were ever in the minority in Israel and were termed "the remnant". Historically, religion thrived in Israel and was highly active in various forms, and often grossly infected with the thought, devotion, practices and casual displays of superstitious and superficial false piety strongly blended with odious influences of paganism.

Isaiah sorrowfully witnessed this sordid tendency of base and vile contempt for God strongly prevalent in his own time: "When you come to appear before me, who has asked this of you, this trampling of my courts . . . I will hide my eyes from you: even if you offer many prayers, I will not listen . . . See how the faithful city has become a harlot! She was once full of justice; righteousness used to dwell in her -- but now murderers!" The horrendous decadence of the people of God was overwhelmingly plain to see. Apostasy, grimy and glaring, was the disorder of the day. ( Isaiah from chapter 1 ; 12, 21, 15)

And so it is in our time.

Apostasy in the church. Rank and rancid diabolical forces at work in our culture and every human enterprise. An all-round review seems to suggest that the societies of the present world are irredeemable, lost to recovery and reclamation. Can human rebellion against the Lord exceed the boldness and brazen openness of moral offensiveness witnessed in our generation? The slime covers and disfigures the form of mankind in the most repulsive manner.

And look at the ceaseless stubborn effort and gleefulness in sin present at every level of human life and self-expression in every venture and aspect of our miserable existence. And there is a terrifying greed abroad to plunge us further and more deeply into the mire - the thick, gooey sludge of repulsive depravity. And much of the so-called visible (and misnamed) church is complicit in the universal swoop to damnable and divine eradication.

How much are we Christians willing to take up the prophetic polemic and combative attitude of our forefathers in our most holy faith? Anglicans in particular are too muddled to mind or care or arm themselves for the fray. We seem to be under permanent sedation when the battle cry is necessary to sound loudly and forcefully. "Name the sin" said Archbishop William Temple.

We always find polite and tame excuses to sit on our hands and opt out of the spiritual fight for truth, the honor of God, and exert ourselves in the bold rescue of the perishing persons that we abandon to the enemy of souls. Anglicanism is generally wimpish. But that was not the case with our men of the Bible and the Reformation across the eras of our history. We were born out of the blood of the martyrs. Now we dribble our tea and butter our crumpets and speak pious drivel to each other in shelters of Gothic stone and under dreamy spires, a softly cooing choir harmonizing in the distant twilight.

We are seeing more than the twilight of Anglicanism. We see it cunningly tweaked and gradually and guilefully fatally rearranged and fashioned into catholic and liberal aberrations from God's own precious and powerful revelation. The wrecking crew is among us and to avoid detection they walk softly, softly, and speak plausibly in our midst in the guise of Christlike comrades. We must be exceedingly watchful moving deftly against the tide of devilish hostility of those who seek to undermine the cause of our lovely Lord Jesus and the sweet intimations of his sovereign and tender grace.

Rancor and violence, revenge and bitterness are not our weapons of response. We are to testify in truth and integrity to the Gospel grounded in the wholeness and continuity of the entire spread of Holy Writ from Moses to John the Revelator - the complete canon of Scripture consistently and carefully applied in reverence and respect toward our fellow worms before the Deity. We were originally hatched in the same filth of nature and wondrously brought out solely by redemptive mercy and power.

The Prophetic Polemic! The wielding of divine and converting gospel truth! The faithfulness and fealty to the Word of God. These are essential to our vocation of enunciating the Way of Life.

"Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints. For certain men whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change the grace of our God into license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord. Jude 3-4

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