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Sunday, September 11, 2011

Angel of Light (Part 2)

This is the second and concluding reproduction of the Maurice Roberts essay in the December 1988 edition of the Banner of Truth journal.


We do not always at first sight detect the difference between the real doctrine and its imitation any more than we do between real gold and cheap alloy which looks the same. The nineteenth-century apostasy took place under the noses of ten thousand theologians, who confused scholarship with infidelity. Professing themselves to be pioneers of a deeper knowledge of the gospel, they all but destroyed the gospel. The key of Higher Criticism did not unlock the door of the treasure-house but effectively shut, bolted and barred it to men

This method of blinding us to truth by 'look-alike' substitutes is an age-old invention of Satan and deserves to be called the 'joker' in his pack. What mirth hell has had with it!

In the fourth century, the true doctrine of Christ's person differed from the false by no more than one iota. He is 'homoousios' (of one essence with) the Father, not merely homoiousios (of similar essence), as the Arians of the day asserted. These 'look-alikes' of Satan have cropped up over and over again in first one and then another department of church doctrine: faith, the Lord's Supper, the ministry, authority, the treatment due to 'heretics'. Church and State, theories of Atonement.

The needle of truth needs only to be pushed a little to this side or to that and it becomes generically different. Justification pushed to one side becomes Antinomianism; pushed to the other, it is legalism. Faith, when overdone, is fancy or fanaticism; when immature, it is bare notion or bald supposition. The Reformed view of the Lord's Supper lies in the mean between the Romish and the Zwinglian, so-called.

Long and hard has hell laboured to rob the church of blessing by such substitutions! Satan lays his cuckoo's egg in the nest and waits to see how his bastard doctrine confounds God's people. How else can we account for the way Calvinism became Hyper-Calvinism so quickly in some circles? Or true Ecumenism the false ecumenism of the World Council of Churches?

Our fathers enjoyed true revivals. But they did not all recognise that the Revivalism of some American theologians is a serious error. 'Revival' is something that man 'can do', said C. G. Finney, in his lectures entitled Revivals of Religion. It is 'the right use of the appropriate means'. Between this theory which we call 'Revivalism' and true revival there lies a world of difference. Much that claims to be a resurgence of the supernatural in the modern church is really nothing but Mediaeval superstition under a new disguise.


The strength of churches is their orthodoxy coupled with their spirituality. Orthodoxy will not save churches from decline if spirituality is lost. 'Hold on to your orthodoxy' is advice which Satan will find no fault with provided we can be induced to grow steadily weaker in the love of our orthodoxy.

There are groups which venerate 'the Reformation', 'the Glorious Revolution' and 'the Westminster Confession' and yet whose adherents are virtual strangers to heart-religion, repentance and a holy life.

Every great movement tends to expire with some orthodox breath upon its lips. The Mediaeval church revered Augustine, while it systematically denied Augustine's creed. Methodism expired with the names of its great founders still nominally cherished and yet their high view of Scripture abandoned. The term 'Disruption' still held for Scottish ears a ring of glory long after the central theology of the Disruption forefathers had been watered down into Liberalism.

The same is fast becoming true of the phrase 'the new birth'. As doctrine, the devil detests it; as slogan, it is as harmless to his kingdom as a dead lion.

The trouble is that we are generally two or three generations into a state of declension before we wake up to the fact that we have taken our orthodoxy for granted. We did not see that we had slidden imperceptibly into greater and greater nominalism. Once let our creed be taken with a pinch of salt and we can be as orthodox as we like. Satan will have won the contest with us. The rising generation of young Christians will then not deny the great doctrines of the faith. They will pay lip-service to them—and wink with amusement at the stricter way of life which once went with them.

Truth and spirituality wear out as good carpets do. The pattern is still seen when the pile is gone. Provided there is still some pattern visible we flatter ourselves that the carpet is not worn out. Thus truth is trodden by the foot of complacency until it is threadbare. Truth is reduced to a shadow of its former self It has become a slogan. What began as a living force has degenerated into a dead form.


A common piece of duplicity found in the armoury of the angel of light is the alteration of names. This is a trick of Satan's which much resembles the second point made above but which is worthy of distinct and separate treatment. A man will drink paraquat for lemonade if the label is suitably changed and he will pay the penalty for his mistake. Such is man's gullibility, that he commonly allows himself to be deceived by Satan through the switching of ethical and spiritual labels.

No words are more respectable than the famous church words 'Orthodox' and 'Catholic', for example. Orthodoxy refers to soundness in doctrine. Catholicity to our relationship with all the members of Christ upon earth. Could two more wholesome words possibly be found to describe true Christians everywhere and in all ages? But the angel of light early stamped them with connotations all their own. They first became party-words and then developed meanings the very reverse of their original sense. Historically the 'Orthodox' have sadly embraced much heterodoxy and the term 'Catholicism' has all too often been synonymous with the most narrow bigotry.

More recently, the term 'Neo-Orthodox' has been minted to describe a certain type of attitude to the Bible. But it is by no means the old orthodoxy of the Apostles and Reformers. The poison is there as before. All that has changed is the label.

Infidelity never presents itself as such. It comes to mankind packaged as 'Science'. Sodomy is not now to be thought of as the old sin which the Lord punished with fire and brimstone as a warning ever after to mankind. It is something quite harmless and 'gay'. Ministers and church people who commit it are 'gay Christians'. They are nice, harmless persons, presumably, who will go to heaven the same as others, and to whom the New Testament warnings have no relevance. O! poor, blind humanity whom Satan so easily deceives by no more clever trick than a change of label! We cannot too often be reminded that God is not mocked although man may be. 'Science', if it contradicts Scripture, is not science but a species of blasphemy. Human behaviour, if it conforms to forbidden patterns, is not excusable because 'gay', any more than that of the men of Gomorrah. And for a modern preacher to arrogate to himself the title of 'Apostle' is not to wield apostolic power but merely to rob words of their meaning and to confuse the church of God.

There is a stern judgment threatened by the Almighty against all those who change the labels and thereby spread confusion among God's people: 'Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!' [Isa. 5:20]. It is our wisdom to call things by their proper names, in religion and in ethics, as in all else.

Lovers of Christ's gospel everywhere must be aware of the mists of false charity which envelop them. Men hold out to us the right hand of fellowship. But the price is always the compromise of some truth or Other. The angel of light invites good men to swallow first one hoof and then another, in the hope they will eventually swallow the entire camel. Truth is lost by littles if men are not careful. God has drawn the lines of true religion m the holy Scriptures. We are not free to rub out those lines and redraw them. Our consciences are captive.

Written more than twenty years ago, Roberts' article bears reproduction as a warning to the Church to be alert to the working of the Angel of Light. Theistic Evolutionists, for one, should abandon the one who has led them into compromising the Word of God with the prevailing world view on Origins.

Sam Drucker

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