DUMB DOGS THAT DON’T DO THEIR DUTY
In the 19th century pastor, university president and evangelist, Charles Grandison Finney was the most
popular preacher in America. Addressing a large assembly of ministers, he echoed the sentiments held by America’s ministers since the colonial period; sentiments with which all honest people, well educated in the Bible and in America’s history, will agree. His words lay fairly on the line who deserves at least most of the blame for the ongoing moral and political collapse of America:
Brethren, our preaching will bear its legitimate fruits.
If immorality prevails in the land, the fault is ours in a great degree.
If there is a decay of conscience, the pulpit is responsible for it.
If the public press lacks moral discrimination, the pulpit is responsible for it.
If the church is degenerate and worldly, the pulpit is responsible for it.
If the world loses its interest in religion, the pulpit is responsible for it.
If Satan rules in our halls of legislation, the pulpit is responsible for it.
If our politics become so corrupt that the very foundations of our government
are ready to fall away, the pulpit is responsible for it.
Let us not ignore this fact, my dear brethren; but let us lay it to heart, and be
thoroughly awake to our responsibility in respect to the morals of this nation.
—The Rev. Charles G. Finney (1792- 1875)
Finney suggested seven scenarios that could take place in America if the pulpits (that is, the pastors) of our land became irresponsible. Pastors, on a huge scale. have been irresponsible, and the seven scenarios pictured by Finney are all now realities – on steroids! America has become the rotten, stinking, noxious fruit of a ministry that by and large has not only failed for decades to stand for truth, but has busied itself in helping throw truth into the street.
“For our transgressions are multiplied before thee, and our sins testify against us:
for our transgressions are with us; and as for our iniquities, we know them; In
transgressing and lying against the Lord, and departing away from our God, speaking oppression and revolt, conceiving and uttering from the heart words of falsehood. And judgment is turned away backward, and justice standeth afar off: for truth is fallen in
the street, and equity cannot enter.”
As Finney said, pastors must bear the brunt of the guilt for what has happened to our country. For decades they have not taken their work seriously enough. Instead of saying what God wanted said from their pulpits, they have said what they wanted to say. Many of them have become, as I said in a previous post, “clowns in the pulpit, doing whatever it takes to be liked.” Others no doubt, have acted out a secret yen to be a secular entertainer. Others have busied themselves in religious politics or focused too much of their attention on rung-climbing from one pastorate to another. They fit the description of those errant ministers described in Isaiah’s day:
“His watchmen are blind: they are all ignorant, they are all dumb dogs, they
cannot bark; sleeping, lying down, loving to slumber. Yea, they are greedy dogs
which can never have enough, and they are shepherds that cannot understand:
they all look to their own way, every one for his gain, from his quarter.
—Isa. 56:10, 11
A person can't be a good shepherd to sheep without being a good steward of the place where the sheep dwell. Too many shepherds haven’t understood this. Too many pastors have thought, and think, that keeping the land conducive for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness isn’t part of their job description. But this is terribly wrong; wrong biblically and wrong in terms of violating simple common sense. You can’t take care of sheep and be totally indifferent to whatever might happen to, on, or with the land the sheep walk on. There is no defense, biblically or historically, for pastors who look with a nervous eye on our moral collapse and on our government steadily morphing itself into a tyrannical monster, yet have a a “not-my-job” attitude towards what goes on politically or socially in this country.
So, yes. Finney was right. And here we are. The good news is that dumb dogs can start barking again; they can snap out of their slumber, they can stop being selfish. Those who don’t understand now what their duty is, can come to their senses.