An address by the late Rev. Charles D. Alexander, of Liverpool, at Caxton Hall, Westminster, organised by the National Union of Protestants, under the chairmanship of the Rt. Hon. Earl Alexander of Hillsborough, LL.D., P.C., C.H.
Protestantism is more than just a protest against the pretensions of Rome: it is a positive assertion of the truth. Its divine calling is not merely to denounce Rome and its errors, but to assert and reassert the truth of the Word of God, especially concerning the times through which we are passing.
The present Vatican Council looks to be going the same way as the last. It is over 100 years since the last Vatican Council met to define the dogma of the Infallibility of the Pope, and broke up in disorder to the accompaniment of terrifying signs of God’s judgments in heaven and on earth. As the Cardinals and Bishops gave their individual assent to the blasphemy, there was a violent thunderstorm; the vast auditorium was reduced to candlelight, and as each obedient formula of assent was repeated by the subservient prelates, it was punctuated from heaven by hot thunderbolts and the clash of thunder. Then war was declared between France and Prussia, and the rickety regime of Napoleon III, on whose bayonets the temporal power of the papacy was held up, came crashing to the ground.
The council of 1962 has since broken up without agreement, and no one knows if these prelates will ever meet again to resume their debates.
Meanwhile, all is not well at home with us, and we are facing the effects of the frightful Protestant landslide – about which more a little later on.
CRAZE FOR UNITY
The present craze for Church Unity is completely fallacious in its conceptions. Denominational divisions are not the evil they are made out to be. They are the ordinance of God for the preservation of truth and liberty. The divine strategy is the reverse of man’s. Military strategy divides in order to destroy. God divides in order to preserve, and to create a true mystical unity. He hates monopoly and uniformity, for in this very imperfect world, monopoly always spells tyranny. God will not tolerate a universal rule on earth; that is why there is no danger that a Soviet Russia, or a Hitler, will ever be able to dominate the earth. The Lord reigns! Let the earth keep silence before Him. In the Second Psalm it is revealed that the nations of the world have been given to the Son of God for the working out of the purposes of redemption, and when it pleases Him, He dashes them to pieces like a potter’s vessel, and He rules them with a rod of iron.
Denominations are necessary the one to the other, to keep human pride within bounds, so that the corruptibility of man even in his best state may not banish truth from the earth. Hence the ecumenical movement is bound to fail, for its very success would be its own destruction. The creation of a universal church today, would be followed tomorrow by the rise of a new nonconformity. Enthusiasts for ecumenicalism forget that the experiment of a universal church has already been tried, and has proved a ghastly failure. Let them read the story of Rome.
Two things stand against the ‘unity’ of the churches so far as the evangelical is concerned. One is, THE FACT OF ROME; the other, THE STATE OF PROTESTANTISM.
ROME’S BLOODY RECORD
Why is it that in this land we instinctively shrink from the very idea of collaboration with the Church of Rome? Is it not because of the effect upon the national consciousness of three things: Rome’s History; her Doctrine; her place in the Bible?
It is certainly no exaggeration to say that her history constitutes the most frightful chapter of lust, violence, cruelty, hate and greed in the entire story of mankind. If ever there was an institution of which it could be said with justice that the gates of hell had prevailed against it, that institution is the Church of Rome. She is the greatest blight that ever fell upon the human mind. Consider how full she is of the blood of the saints and of all the martyrs who have witnessed for the truth. Here is part of the programme:
1. Pope Julian was responsible for the deaths of 200,000 victims;
2. The Bartholomew massacre in France slew 100,000 Protestants;
3. The Waldensian massacres over the period of six centuries accounted for at least one million innocent victims.
4. In their first 40 years, up to 1580, the Jesuits slew 900,000;
5. In the Low Countries the Duke of Alva, by the hangman alone, slew 36,000 Protestants;
6. The Holy Inquisition in 30 years slew 150,000 Christians and Jews.
In the Irish uprising a few years before Cromwell’s divine mission of vengeance, there were piked to death, burned, driven in nakedness into the cold sea in the depth of winter and drowned, a Protestant population numbering anything up to 300,000 victims, men, women and children.
We hear much of the so-called massacre of Drogheda, when Cromwell’s men put to the sword two or three thousand fighting men who had refused honourable terms of surrender, but our history books are ominously silent about the foul extermination of Protestantism over much of Ireland in the frightful atrocities of the Great Massacre. Cromwell, that good and gracious man, when he had it in his power to wreak a just vengeance against all who had played a part therein, declared that none should be punished except the ringleaders of the crime. The rest were to be left in peace and not disturbed.
Cromwell! Who under God made this country the last citadel of evangelical light against the satanic conspiracy of Rome!
Cromwell! The greatest Englishman who ever lived, whose body was torn from its resting place in Westminster Abbey by the minions of that foul monarch Charles II and whose noble remains were desecrated, and the man whom they feared in life became the subject of a cowards triumph in death. Cromwell! That earnest and enlightened man, whom now in spite and in ignorance is only remembered to be foully slandered. But we must not complain. They do the same with the apostle Paul, but as Dean Inge said (a man with whom we do not usually agree, but who occasionally touched greatness in his verdicts): “There are very few men who, after 2.000 years, are alive enough to be hated! And did not they do the same with the Lord of Glory Himself?— “Behold, an evil man and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners.”
THE VILENESS OF IT!
We shrink from Rome because of her false and antichristian doctrine. We are horrified by her worship of Mary. On earth Rome has put a man in the place of God, and in heaven a woman in the place of the one Mediator and Redeemer. Oh, the vileness of it!
Instead of One God in the Mystery of the Three Persons, Rome has established an entire Pantheon of major and minor deities, gods and goddesses, suspiciously resembling the paganism which Papal Rome supplanted. Only the names are changed. We shrink from the enormity of the Mass, and the scandal of the Confessional and priestly Absolution. We shrink too from Rome’s denial of free grace and justifying faith; her mingling of human merit with the former, and dead works with the latter, and we are not surprised in view of this overthrow of the very basis of the gospel, that there is no room in the Roman dogma for evangelical assurance of salvation.
Likewise we shrink from Rome because of her place in the Bible. If ever an historic system in its special character and history has been portrayed in the Sacred Pages of Inspiration, that system is the Church of Rome. Some evangelicals, with a peculiar system of interpretation which throws all prophetic events into the yet unreached future, may imagine that the events of 2 Thessalonians 2, and of Revelation chapters 13 to 18, will arise suddenly, and as suddenly be terminated in the space of some three and a half years (or seven at the outside), in some coming day when the Christian Church may not even be here to witness it, but our fathers would have laughed at such an “unexampled period of tribulation”; they had to suffer the cruelty and tyranny of Rome for a whole lifetime. Rome did not take a mere three years to develop its antichristian character; it took six centuries for the devil himself to create this masterpiece of religious subterfuge and colossal deceit; and—we say it reverently—if God had not warned us about it somewhere in His Word, then He ought to have done so.
In fact God has done so, but where, if not in those passages already referred to, which many of our friends, who have never had to live with Rome’s intolerance and persecution on their doorstep, are pleased to relegate to the vague and problematic future? No wonder Rome is not recognised today for what she is. It does not seem to occur to some of our friends that there just isn’t time, in their system, for the entire tyranny of antichrist and the rule of the Man of Sin to develop and pass through its prophetic phases in the ridiculous period of three and a half years. The pathetic theory topples and falls under its own weight.
When the French bayonets were removed in 1870, and the Papal temporal power fell before the Risorgimento of Garibaldi and Victor Emmanuel; when to the tumultuous applause and delight of its inhabitants, the triple-crowned and mitred head of those Papal States (described even by sober historians of the time as “the worst-governed states in Europe”—for it is a settled principle of both political and ecclesiastical rule, that ‘Satan cannot cast out Satan,’ and therefore Vatican rule never was anything else but monstrous)—when, as we say, that wretched and scandalous temporal rule of the Pope came to an end in 1870, a point in prophecy was reached, of surpassing significance. In that hour 1260 years of horrid pride and Satanic usurpation came to an ignominious end. The mystery of iniquity which was to endure for a time, times, and the dividing of time surrendered the crown of paganism which it had wrested twelve centuries before from the head of the Caesars, and conceded the dominion of the antichristian cause to that last and ultimate phase of Satan’s warfare against the Cross, that naked and open Rationalism which is now in process of devouring both Rome and its natural enemy, Protestantism, from the tail upwards. So comes into being that last limited season of Satan’s unloosing, when the deceived world, like a riderless horse, plunges headlong into the very paganism from which it was once delivered by the power of the gospel.
The Age of Faith passes into the Age of Reason, and THIS CRUMBLING AGE NOW RACES AT BREAKNECK SPEED TO THE CONCLUSION OF ALL THINGS AT THE GREAT JUDGMENT SEAT.
PROTESTANTISM IS SICK
Nothing can hide the fact that Protestantism is sick. To transform its denominational divisions into an ecumenical lump of figs and slap it on the boil will not raise Hezekiah from the bed he now lies on. A united carcass may present, by the art of sepulture, a pretty picture in death, but divided life in the mystical unity of the Spirit is better than the calm inertia of a decorated corpse.
The world and the Church face a new thing, which has never been known before, no, not since the foundation of the earth.
It is the enthronement of Unbelief in the very centre and heart of the Church Visible; the setting up of the last Great Baal of Rationalism n the House of Almighty God. This they begin to do, and now nothing will be withheld from them—and they ask us to unite with THIS THING! Let us be very sure of this, that he who begins by denying the sacredness of the Bible, and in place of its divine inerrancy in every particular sets up his own standard of judgment as to what is or is not true, is on the highroad to complete and final atheism or of invincible doubt. Let the state of some of our nonconformist colleges answer for that. We have reached the stage when a young man scarcely dare venture foot within those precincts once dedicated to solemn preparation for the Ministry of the Divine Word, without danger of losing what faith he may have had before the evil day when the seminary doors closed with him on the inside.
A prophet of their own choosing, Professor C. H. Dodd, of “New English Bible” ill fame, is the spokesman for them all when he speaks in his book. “The Authority of the Bible,” of ‘the outworn morality of parts of the Old Testament.’ and of the traditional evangelical view of the Holy Scriptures becoming ‘a danger to religion and public morals.’ Moses is a ‘Medicine Man,’ Jacob has a night of terror at a haunted ford, Ezekiel displays definite symptoms of abnormality; some of the sayings of Jesus are either not true or are unacceptable to conscience or reason; Jesus Himself had views regarding the Old Testament which we cannot accept without violence to our sense of truth.
Having thus made themselves wiser than God and more righteous than His Law, it is not surprising that leading exponents of this upsurge of rationalistic revolt in the very vitals of the Christian Church, should openly advocate the blue-penciling of the Bible so as to excoriate the Sacred Volume of everything which makes it unique, and which raises it above the level of mere human documents.
Satan is waxing bold. Never since the Garden of Eden has he been in such a paradise. He has the ear of humanity, and no lie, no conceit, and no daring blasphemy is now withheld from a generation which in other fields beside that of religion exhibits the most alarming symptoms that humanity has lost its soul. The Age of Faith had its triumphs in every field of human culture, as it spread its beneficent influence over the minds of men and created a climate in which beauty and harmony were raised to the highest pitch in human history.
But for over a century the Western World has been departing from the ground of faith. What Rationalism has done for Protestantism, its twin, Materialism, has done for science and culture. We have a creation without a Creator, and a universe without a meaning, purpose or plan. Evolutionary hypotheses explain all—all, that is except the two most vital facts of all— LIFE itself, and the SOUL OF MAN. Political science finds its logical exponent in the poor communist with his dialectical materialism, who only trades in the market which has been opened for him by materialistic science and humanistic theology.
ART IN THE DITCH
Even art and music is now degraded and brought down to the ditch of heathenism by the fading of the light of faith in the soul of man. The air vibrates with the rhythm of the tom-tom, and the endless cacophony and discord of a jungle culture. The frightful daubs and meaningless twisted and distorted forms which are purveyed in the salons of the Western world at enormous prices, indicate a condition in the minds of men which can only have arisen as the heathenish spirit moves into the vacuum created by the agnosticism of the age. Poetry and literature have gone the same way. We have few great writers, and of those few the majority has no reverence for the Christian revelation or Christian morality. Poetry is written for the most part to shock and injure the purity of the mind, as the ‘poet’ in search of inspiration dredges the sewers of human depravity for words and thoughts deemed sufficient to display the cult of anti-art. Greatness has gone out of painting and musical composition. The soul of man has become dumb.
OUR EVANGELICAL NAKEDNESS
Alas for our beloved evangelicalism. We too have suffered in this darkening of the mind. Protestantism has become inarticulate. We have no voice. As a community we no longer count. Press and radio treat us with contempt except when we can furnish them with sensations. Time was when governments shook at the pronouncement of some nonconformist divine, but since British nonconformity became a Temple of Unitarianism, the Moderator of the Free Church Federal Council limps along a lame third to the Archbishop and the Cardinal.
Our evangelical forces are scattered, and harrowed by evangelistic techniques, and superficial sermonising at which Satan himself must often laugh, and angels weep. It is generally agreed amongst us that an evangelical revival is needed, but it is not so readily recognised that the conditions do not exist for such a revival in England today. Why? Because of the lack of expository power in the preaching of the Word of God. How can there be a revival without great and sound preaching? Yet we live in a time when we have no great theologians, while the number of men in the land who can preach with the expository power regarded as the usual and not the unique in the days of the former divines, may be numbered on the fingers of one hand. Oh, the nakedness of our evangelicalism today!
But the cause is not yet lost though the hour is late. There is time yet to rouse the latent evangelical forces of our beloved land for the last great conflict with the powers of darkness brooding over us. But that time is short, for it is to be feared that He who judges the nations may in righteousness abandon to the evils they have chosen, and to the gods their own hands have made, nations like our own which have despised their evangelical inheritance and sold out to the devil.
So let it be in our day. Let us strike one last blow on behalf of the Crown Rights of our glorious Redeemer; and let us look for one last demonstration of the Sovereign Power and Saving Grace of Him who is fairer than all the sons of men, to whom be all our fealty and worship, our adoration and exulting praise:
They call Him the sweet Rose of Sharon;
They call Him the Lily so fair;
They call Him the blest Rock of Ages;
They call Him the Bright Morning Star.
He’s Prophet and Priest and Redeemer;
As King of all kings He shall reign;
He’s coming in power and in glory!