Dt. 11:19 π Psa. 14:1 π Prov. 3:5 π Prov. 20:3 π Isa. 58:6-7 π Dan. 2:44 π Hos. 4:6a π Hos. 4:6b π Mal. 2:11 π Mt. 12:25 π Mt. 13:38 π Mt. 16:18 π Mt. 20:25-26 π Mt. 23:9 π Mt. 25:40 π Mt. 25:45 π Mk. 7:9 π Lk. 4:41 π Lk. 20:25 π Jn. 3:19 π Jn. 8:44 π Jn. 10:10 π Jn. 14:6 π Jn. 17:21 π Acts 2:1-4 π Acts 15:22 π Acts 15:25 π Acts 16:16-17 π Rom. 8:14 π Rom. 8:28 π Rom. 13:4 π Rom. 14:1 π Rom. 14:4 π 1 Cor. 3:3-4 π 1 Cor. 5:10 π 1 Cor. 11:19 π 1 Cor. 12:24-25 π 2 Cor. 6:16-7:1 π Gal. 5:19 π Gal. 5:21 π Eph. 4:11-13 π Eph. 5:27; 2nd π Eph. 6:12 π Phlp. 3:14-18 π Phlp. 3:15 π 2 Ths. 2:3; 2nd π 1 Tim. 4:1 π 1 Tim. 4:3 π 1 Tim. 5:20 π 2 Tim. 4:3-4 π Jas. 1:27 π Jas. 3:1 π 2 Pet. 2:1 π 1 Jn. 2:21 π Rev. 2:6 π Rev. 2:15 π Rev. 13:11 π Rev. 19:15Greek Words Mentioned in This Article
Heresies, sects – hairesis –  π Divisions, Dissensions – dichostasia –  π Assembly, “Church” (KJV) – Ekklesia – 
All quotes by Charles Colson are from Against the Night; Living in the New Dark Ages, 1989.
“No lie is of the truth,” John wrote. ( 1 Jn. 2:21 ) When we recognize that Jesus, as He Himself claimed, is the truth ( Jn. 14:6 ), we can finally grasp the idea that any deception or distortion cannot possibly be a genuine part of our life in Christ – but is instead the work of the devil who is the father of all lies. ( Jn. 8:44; top ) This is clearly portrayed in the Scriptures but it remains a scarcely embraced tenet of the Christian faith.
Charles Colson’s book, Against the Night, is an excellent political and philosophical analysis of the effects of individualism and relativism on our society that has aged rather well. Overall, the book is an excellent source of ideas and quotes. However, Colson’s own spiritual presuppositions occasionally come to the surface and mar an otherwise well-done work of research and application.
“God has ordained three institutions for the ordering of society: the family for the propagation of life, the state for the preservation of life, and the church for the proclamation of the gospel. These are not just voluntary associations that people can join or not as they see fit; they are organic sources of authority for restraining evil and humanizing society. And the family, state, and church, as well as the closely related institution of education, have all been assaulted and penetrated by the new barbarians.” (p. 69 – emphasis added)
Colson uses the phrase “new barbarians” here to refer to those who have embraced the secular idea of individualism (utilitarian – i.e., John Stuart Mill – or experiential – i.e., Jean Jacques Rousseau) and relativism (the philosophy that says, as Colson puts it so well, “There is no universal truth, no absolute code of conduct; there is only truth for you and truth for me.” – p. 43) He uses the term “barbarians,” not because they are uncivilized people but because they are comparable to the historical “barbarian hordes” outside of Rome who would plunge Europe into the dark ages for centuries.
“Today’s barbarians are ladies and gentlemen. Yet behind their pleasant, civilized veneer lurks an unpleasant intolerance that threatens the very processes of pluralism and freedom they claim to defend. …the prevailing secular [view is] that moral and religious absolutists have no right to advocate their views in our relativistic public square. [This] attitude, shared by many otherwise sensible people, demands that everyone has a right to express his or her own views – as long as those views do not contain any suggestion of absolutes that would compete with the prevailing standard of relativism.” (p. 46-47)
This description of the “new barbarians” (oddly similar to Gary Allen’s “insiders” of None Dare Call It Conspiracy - a book written about the same time that Colson was participating in his Watergate crimes) comes on the heels of a quote from C.S. Lewis:
“The greatest evil is not done in those sordid ‘dens of crime’ that Dickens loved to paint…it is conceived and…moved, seconded, carried, and minuted…in clean, carpeted, warmed, and well-lighted offices, by quiet men with white collars and cut fingernails and smooth-shaven cheeks who do not need to raise their voices.” (p. 46 - Original quote from The Screwtape letters, C.S. Lewis’ allegorical treatment of spiritual warfare.)
With this understanding of who Colson means by “the new barbarians” held firmly, let us examine his presuppositions in light of what the Scriptures say. Colson wrote, “God has ordained three institutions for the ordering of society: the family…the state…and the church” and then he speaks of “…the closely related institution of education…” (p. 69) If we look up the word “institution” in an exhaustive concordance of the New King James version of the Bible, we find that the word occurs only once in the Bible, in a reference to marriage that is used as a means to denounce Judah’s spiritual infidelity against God. ( Mal. 2:11; top ) Upon closer examination of that one text, we find that the word “institution” was actually inserted (as is indicated by the italics in the NKJV) by the translators as their best guess as to what the author was trying to convey. So here, Colson takes a word that literally has no place in the Bible and expects us to simply believe that what he says is true. I have no doubt that Colson sincerely believes his statements to be true – and probably has never really considered his presuppositions, his paradigm, in this light before. That light being that there is little or no Scriptural basis whatsoever for any of these four institutions as being “ordained” (a word clouded in confusion itself!) or designed by God. Let us examine each “institution” in the light of what Scriptures do say.
Colson writes that the “institution” of the family was “for the propagation of life.” The family (in the original sense of husband and wife and then children) is not an institution – it is the order which God designed for producing offspring and transferring righteousness to the next generation(s). To call this order an “institution” (a difference that perhaps seems to be only semantical when discussing the family but which will become clearer when we examine Colson’s other three “institutions”) is to add something to what God has designed as “the family.” This addition is similar in kind but different in degree to the additional (and sometimes bizarre) meanings which individualism and relativism have attached to the definition of “family.”
Colson writes that the “God-ordained institution” of the state was “for the preservation of life.” On its face, this statement is close enough to Paul’s statement that the state, as “the governing authority” is “…God’s servant, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil.” ( Rom. 13:4 ) It is true that God has appointed authorities to restrain evil doers until such time as His Son returns to rule the earth with a rod of iron. ( Rev. 19:15 ) But does God really ordain particular institutions among men? This is the error of the “religious right” – that America, even though born in rebellion against the king of England and its history is rife with injustice (particularly racial) and imperial greed, is still somehow the next “city on God’s hill,” some kind of “promised land” that God is required to bless no matter what we do or how we live. Actually, America more resembles a “horn” that looks like a lamb but speaks like a dragon. ( Rev. 13:11 ) We still must render to “Caesar” what is due to the governing authority ( Lk. 20:25 ) but we must not confuse “Caesar” with God and inadvertently disobey God. To deceive us into obeying the state at the cost of subtly disobeying God is the work of the principalities against whom we should be spiritually wrestling. ( Eph. 6:12; top )
Colson wrote that “the church [is] for the proclamation of the gospel.” Here is where deception really sets in. Yes, Colson realizes clearly that the true Church (Greek – ekklesia [ 1577 ]) is something spiritual. He even writes, “The true church cleaves to the absolute standards of Scripture and is infused with the work of the Holy Spirit to guide it.” (p. 134) Yet on the same page, he again refers to the church as “the one institution in society that still has the capability to challenge culture by bearing witness to God’s transcendent standards of absolute justice and righteousness.” (p. 134) The church “cleaves” to God’s absolute standards, Colson says, but is an institution, a thing which cannot be found anywhere in Scripture! This is the clever deception the enemy has led many “church” men into. The truth is that the institutional “church” is a cleverly-devised counterfeit of the real ekklesia and it will house the great falling away from the faith that happens before Christ’s return. ( 2 Ths. 2:3 ) Only those who purify themselves from all “Christian” idolatry will be the spotless, blameless, holy and clean bride. (see 2 Cor. 6:16-7:1 , 1 Cor. 5:10 , Eph. 5:27; top )
Colson says that the institution of education is closely related to the other “institutions” of family, state and church. In this, he is more accurate than he intends. The educational system and institution has many of its roots in the synagogue – the Jewish school that was formed in Babylon to “preserve” the Jewish and Mosaic traditions. Though the synagogue had these lofty goals, it was in reality simple disobedience to God who had commanded parents to teach the word of God and Moses to their children! ( Dt. 11:19; top ) The synagogue, in contrast to its lofty goals, mainly produced teachers competing against one another for followers, a vast body of literature that “clarified” the law of Moses, and laid the foundation upon which the scribes, Pharisees and Sadducees could place more emphasis on the traditions of men than on the word of God and thus they crucified the real Messiah. What a legacy!
The educational system and institution – which Colson recognizes as having departed from even Plato’s goal that education should make good men capable of acting nobly (p. 82) and as being under “a new regime” that requires universities to “be scrupulously agnostic about the nature of human good and [they] must communicate this commitment to those in [the educational system’s] care.” (p. 83-84) – no longer (if it ever did) belongs to Christ. Public schooling has always been a secondary concession on God’s part (who is able to make all things work together for the good of His called-out ones who love Him – Rom. 8:28; top ) but it is not His highest and best plan for our children. To say that the educational system was ordained by God is a complete departure from the absolute standards written down in the Scriptures.
Life – which Christ came to give in abundance ( Jn. 10:10; top ) – cannot be institutionalized without changing or diluting something of its essential characteristics.
Colson adds one more glaring error to his book when he writes,
“This is not to say that denominational differences are not important. I, for one, would not want an ecumenism that achieved its goals by watering down traditional doctrinal distinctions. Convictions concerning eschatology, ecclesiology, and the sacraments are worth our passionate commitment.
Though we must not abandon our distinctives, we can celebrate our common faith contained in the Scriptures, defined and transmitted in separate but ultimately related traditions of orthodox confession. We can confidently, vigorously, and boldly defend Christian dogma in an exercise that can draw us together in unity even as we acknowledge our differences.” (p. 154)
What a tangled web Colson has woven here! First, denominations must be seen as beneficial, permissible and even God-ordained in the institutional “church.” But the institutional “church” is the apostasy! Thus all of Colson’s conclusions, which each contain elements of truth, are skewed.
First, Colson’s tolerance here is not much different than the relativism that he exposes so well throughout his book. What he is really propagating here is only relativistic theology! Under this tolerant approach – which is shared by many “church” leaders – any teaching that is supposedly Christocentric and kerygmatic is to be accepted and deemed acceptable as “the gospel” that is the duty of the ekklesia to proclaim. Unfortunately, the gospel the “church” most often preaches is the gospel of the “church.” But if we were to check the New Testament closely, we would find that Jesus only spoke of the ekklesia (the Church) in two verses – the gospel that He preached was “the gospel of the kingdom.” Those are two very different gospels!
Let us dissect this matter even further by applying Colson’s theories to some specific applications:
- A Catholic priest, Father Jones, believes that the sacraments actually become the blood and body of Christ. Colson would say that this man’s convictions about the sacraments do not disqualify him from the faith because the doctrine of transubstantiation is within traditional doctrinal distinctions within an orthodox confession. But did the Spirit of truth lead Father Jones to embrace this concept? And did the Spirit of truth lead Father Jones to disobey Jesus’ commands to “…call no man father.”? (see Mt. 23:9; top )
- Nazarene, Assembly of God and Catholic “Christian” co-workers label a sister struggling to find the truth of Christ as being anti-christ because she does not attend a “church” or submit to a “pastor” but instead practices home fellowship as best she is able in her rural, sparsely populated region. The doctrines and practices of clergy are clearly accepted and practiced in the Nazarene, Assembly of God and Catholic sects but are clearly condemned in Scriptures as Nicolaitan and hated by God. ( Rev. 2:6 , 15 , Mt. 20:25-26 , etc.; top) Did the Spirit of truth lead these sects to practice lording over their congregations?
Paul wrote, “As many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.” ( Rom. 8:14 ) In these two examples above, the Catholic priest and the leaders and practitioners of these denominational sects were not led by the Spirit of truth but led by the spirit of error. One has to question (while yet withholding final judgment) whether these are even genuine sons of God or, in reality, tares (the sons of the devil – Mt. 13:38; top ) sown among the wheat. Unless, that is, we want to take a poll of a group of Bible “scholars,” asking them to hold up red, pink or black slips of paper to see how many of them believe Paul actually wrote that, let alone whether he meant what he said! (A process which Colson rightly denounces – p. 149-150) If we are going to view the Scriptures as our absolute standard, then how do we explain this away? We cannot. We must simply recognize, admit and confess our guilt before God and seek to find and obey His truth.
But these “distinctives” are the backbone of the institutional “church,” some will protest. Indeed they are – but they have no place in the kingdom of God, that place/time/environment where God’s will is sought and done. Jesus said, “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand.” ( Mt. 12:25 - emphasis added) Jesus’ kingdom, which was established among men at the outpouring of His Holy Spirit ( Acts 2:1-4 ), is a kingdom “which shall never be destroyed.” ( Dan. 2:44; top ) If Jesus’ kingdom really is the fractured, splintered, denominational “church,” then either Jesus must have been wrong about the inevitable fall of divided kingdoms, cities and houses or we must conclude that Christ’s indestructible kingdom is something other than the institutional, denominational, highly corrupted and corruptible “church.” These are our only logical, rational choices.
Paul wrote, “The works of the flesh are evident… Those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” ( Gal. 5:19 , 21; top ) Embedded between those two statements is a list. That list contains things many societies have held to be criminal; others are demonic and others are sins against God’s order for family and society in general. But there are two words in that list that should stop every denominationalist cold because they are sins against God’s order for His ekklesia, His body.
One of these words is rendered “heresies.” The Greek word here is “hairesis” [ 139 ] and it has several meanings. It can refer to the act of taking or capturing, as in storming a city or capturing one’s attentions or beliefs. It can refer to choosing, the choice or that which is chosen when one decides what is right to believe. It can refer to a body of men following their own tenets (a sect or party like the Sadducees, Pharisees or even Christians). Or it can refer to dissension arising from diversity of opinions and aims. Only in modern usage has the word “heresy” come to refer almost exclusively to cultic, anti-Christ or anti-Scriptural error. The original meaning in the New Testament is to allow one’s beliefs to be held or captured by something other than the Spirit of truth, to choose to believe what one wants to believe and/or to gather a following or grouping around those core ideas. This is the essence of denominational doctrinal distinctives and it has kept the “church” from inheriting (experiencing) the kingdom of God since the time of Constantine and the Romish Catholic sect!
The second of these words is rendered “dissensions.” The Greek word here is “dichostasia” [ 1370 ]. Its literal meaning is “twice standing.” It is the taking of a snapshot in time, as it were, of one’s spiritual understanding, then gathering a following around those core ideas and excluding those who believe differently. It is expressed – sometimes blatantly in “ministry” training classrooms! – as “Believe as we believe or go wherever they do believe like you do.” This is the cornerstone of many denominational structures (even the so-called “non-denominational” denominations!) and it too prevents the “church” from experiencing the kingdom of God where His will – and not our own spiritual presuppositions and paradigms - is sought and done.
Thus when Colson says, “…we must not abandon our distinctions…” (p. 154), he speaks in contradiction to the absolute standards of Scripture. When Colson says, “I, for one, would not want an ecumenism that achieved its goals [of Christian solidarity and unity] by watering down traditional doctrinal distinctions,” (p. 154), he steps into the trap of promoting divisions and sects that are built upon traditions of men that wage war with the word that comes from God’s mouth. ( Mk. 7:9; top ) He also steps right into the trap of practicing lawlessness (doing what is right in one’s own eyes, a practice Colson himself denounces – p. 92) as he advocates against an ecumenism which he would not want or find acceptable.
But let us consider what Christian solidarity and union would look like if it were based, not on tolerance of the differing, often-conflicting denominational traditions of men, but based only on truths taught and implemented by the Spirit of truth. It would resemble the book of Acts where all the believers of one city acted together in one accord – that is, total, perfect unanimity. (see Acts 15:22 , 25 for example) What is that “one accord”? The will of God! When we have our priorities right – God’s will above every man’s will – we will progressively resemble the spotless, wrinkle-free, holy and without blemish bride. (see Eph. 5:27 ) This is God’s “program,” His agenda. Those who are not in accord with His agenda for unity (also see Jn. 17:21 ) are operating outside of His order for the body – “God composed the body…[so] that there should be no schism [division, sect] in the body.” ( 1 Cor. 12:24-25 - emphasis added; top) – and these denominationalists can only bring in dissension and heresy.
Paul rebuked the Corinthians for their carnal divisions according to their favorite teachers. ( 1 Cor. 3:3-4 ) The evidence of factions among the people was the existence of “recognized” leaders! ( 1 Cor. 11:19 ) And Paul told Timothy, “The time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.” ( 2 Tim. 4:3-4 ) The truth is a Spirit to be followed and any rendering of stories – even factual Bible stories and “truths” devoid of that Spirit of truth – makes it a fable! The truth can be proclaimed by demonic spirits. ( Lk. 4:41 , Acts 16:16-17; top ) Those who think the demonic can’t find a way to influence and/or control the man behind the pulpit are naive and deceived.
Peter wrote, “There will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them…” ( 2 Pet. 2:1 ) What are the “secret” divisions that teachers have foisted on the body of Christ? Denominations. These divisions are as “secret” as the “secret” destructive work of Colson’s “new barbarians” and Gary Allen’s “insiders” in preparing the world for the advent of the man of lawlessness. ( 2 Ths. 2:3; top ) Right alongside this man stands the fallen, divided “church” that is incapable of preaching the gospel of Christ’s kingdom precisely because they have denied His Lordship over their institution, their sect.
Colson writes, “Convictions concerning eschatology, ecclesiology, and the sacraments are worth our passionate commitment.” (p. 154) But they are not a basis for separation is his inference. I would like to give Colson credit for basing his opinions on the Scriptures – but he does not say where he gets these ideas from. Thus I cannot say for certain but I suspect that he leans heavily on two passages.
The first is from Paul who wrote, “Receive one who is weak in the faith, but not to disputes over doubtful things.” ( Rom. 14:1 ) This passage is often used to promote tolerance of doctrinal differences. Apparently, if this is the passage Colson is leaning upon, eschatology (the study of future events as revealed in Biblical prophecy), ecclesiology (the study of historical authority structures and forms used by people claiming to follow Christ) and the sacraments (the how to’s and particulars of serving the bread and wine Christ said to do often in remembrance of Him) would then be doubtful or debatable things. This is a very slippery slope to step out onto. Any fool – any person who denies God or His right to rule over His people, whether done deliberately or inadvertently – can argue. (see Prov. 20:3 , Psa. 14:1; top ) If our standard is merely whether or not someone can successfully argue about a given precept, we are right back out on the same slope of relativism! No! We must recover being unanimously in one accord with the will of God!
Is eschatology doubtful or disputable? Certainly no one can know for certain, apart from divine revelation, the exact application of prophecies about end-time events. Those say they do know but are subsequently shown to be in error ought to be summarily dismissed from the public arena of ekklesia leadership but the “church” promotes them to even higher positions of leadership and makes their books best sellers! Certain elements of eschatology are thus not really disputable and if we simply tolerate everyone whose end-time prognostications fit within some traditional orthodox framework, we are going to, to one degree or another, open ourselves to some teaching of the demonic ( 1 Tim. 4:1; top ) simply because we have embraced some tradition of men and rejected the leading of the Spirit of truth.
Is ecclesiology disputable? Is there no clear New Testament pattern for assembly – a pattern which the “church” clearly violates? Perhaps if we would just take Jesus at His word when He said the He would build His ekklesia ( Mt. 16:18; top ), we wouldn’t feel the need to attempt to accomplish that task on our own or according to our own understanding – and we wouldn’t have the fragmented, botched up mess called Christen-dumb of today!
Are the sacraments debatable? Since Christ only said to do this “often,” I suppose one could debate it. But if Christ, who is supposed to dwell in our hearts by His Spirit, were really our King and Lord – the main tenet of the gospel of the kingdom being that the King is come – He would tell us when and how and who with to take the sacraments. And we would actually be obeying Him instead of obeying some tradition of men about the sacraments!
But Romans 14 is not about eschatology, ecclesiology and sacraments. It is about diets (meats vs. veggies) and calendar appointments (days of the week). It’s about not letting the trivial circumvent the essential, which is agape love. “Church,” which lives by the calendar, is routinely expert at circumventing the essential by exalting the trivial. At the height of the apostasy, the “church” will be more concerned with food than Christ ( 1 Tim. 4:3; top ) – and some “churches” are already fulfilling this Scripture!
The second passage Colson might rely on is also from Paul. A phrase relied upon by some who preach this gospel of doctrinal tolerance as Colson does here, is Paul’s statement, “If in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you.” ( Phlp. 3:15 ) And the inference is that, so long as one is not too far out of bounds, (Scripturally speaking), we should not judge that one but simply tolerate him and overlook all flaws and errors he’s teaching because, after all, who are we to “judge another man’s servant”? (see Rom. 14:4; top ) God will take care of this one – it’s not our job.
All this is simply Scripture taken out of context and misapplied. Let us consider all that Paul said here. He wrote,
“I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Therefore, let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you. Nevertheless, to the degree that we have already attained, let us be of the same mind. Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern. For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ.” ( Phlp. 3:14-18; top )
This is very different from blind tolerance! First, Paul has an attitude of pressing on to attain to everything that God has in mind for him in Christ. It is this underlying attitude of needing and desiring God above all else that makes other matters (like the diets and calendars of Romans 14) simply non-issues not worth destroying a weak brother over. Second, only the spiritually mature – those who have lived this life of pressing into God for some time – are to have this forbearing (looking ahead to when the spiritual immaturities of others fade way) attitude. Third, those who do not have this attitude of pressing into God are to be noted as the enemies of the cross of Christ! In addition, this forbearance (as is Romans 14) is applicable to those who have weak faith and are spiritually immature. Teachers (who are held to a higher standard – Jas. 3:1 ) and elders (who are to be held to an even higher standard – 1 Tim. 5:20; top ) are not to be weak in the faith nor spiritually immature – those “leaders” who are weak and immature in the faith are, in reality, only enemies of the cross of Christ, that instrument whereby we put aside sin and self so as to be able to display the transcendent nature of Christ from within.
Colson’s emphasis on the need for repentance as the church’s way of life is precisely accurate. Colson wrote,
“If the church today is to be the church, it must diligently protect its spiritual integrity. This begins with what the Greeks called metanoia, which means a ‘change of mind’ and is translated in the New Testament as ‘repentance.’
“Repentance is commonly thought of as simply an acknowledgement and confession of sin. Surely we as individuals need to repent of our disunity, our moral laxity, our hard hearts – indeed, we need to repent of the sins of the society of which we are a part. But the repentance God desires of us is not just contrition over particular sins; it is also a daily attitude, a perspective.
“Repentance is the process by which we see ourselves, day by day, as we really are: sinful, needy, dependent people. It is the process by which we see God as He is: awesome, majestic, and holy. It is the essential manifestation of regeneration that sets us straight in our relationship to God and so radically alters our perspectives that we begin to see the world through God’s eyes, not our own. Repentance is the ultimate surrender of self.” (p. 140)
It is very difficult to improve on that! If we would simply obey the call to repent and believe, many of today’s problems would be soon resolve! But we don’t repent of all of our sins – only those sins we find disagreeable and distasteful. We don’t completely surrender ourself to God – we pick and choose what seems right and good (in our own eyes) and then practice that in His name. We don’t rely on the absolute standards of the Scriptures as the Holy Spirit explains and reveals them to us – we read the Bible and rely on our own understanding of it (see Prov. 3:5; top ) and practice the tenets of our preferred denomination more faithfully than we follow the Spirit of truth!
Colson quotes Richard Niehaus:
“The Christian needs the church to be a zone of truth in a world of mendacity [that is, being often unintentionally misleading or deceptive], to be a community in which our sin need not be disguised, but can be honestly faced and plainly confessed because we know that the worst word about us as sinners is not the last word. The last word is about us as sinners forgiven.” (original quote from a speech at Congress on the Bible, 1987)
Fine. Let us confess the sins of Nicolaitanism (“pastors” and “fathers” over the people), of diverting the people (laity) and their resources away from the real needs around them and the service God requires of us all (see Jas. 1:27 , Mt. 25:40 , 45 , Isa. 58:6-7 ), of changing the meanings of various Scriptures and therefore departing from the methods God uses to mature His people. ( Eph. 4:11-13 as but one prime example; top)
Colson also quotes C.S. Lewis:
“A world of nice people, content in their own niceness, looking no further, turned away from God, would be just as desperately in need of salvation as a miserable world – and might even be more difficult to save.” (p. 139, original quote in Mere Christianity.)
The sin we most need to repent of is the sin called “church.” The Lord said to the prophet Hosea, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.” ( Hos. 4:6a ) Most people who know this verse assume this is ignorance, the simple absence of knowledge, insight and wisdom through no fault of their own. However the Lord continues, “Because you have rejected knowledge…[and] because you have forgotten the laws of your God…” “This is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil [having been done apart from God].” ( Jn. 3:19 ) As a result of rejecting and forgetting God, the Lord promised the people, “Because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you from being priest for Me; because you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children.” ( Hos. 4:6b; top )
Let us close with a quote from Chrysostom that Colson used in his book:
“Like men with sore eyes: they find the light painful while the darkness, which permits them to see nothing, is restful and agreeable.” (p. 43, original quote 11th Discourse)
The more things change, the more they are still the same underneath the outside layers.
Let he who has ears hear.
I’d love to hear comments and/or questions from you! Email me!