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Sunday, April 8, 2012

Contending With the Spirit of the Age.

Many have written about authors of significant influence on Western Culture in the late Nineteenth Century. These works maintain influence today. These are the authors of novels (fiction) whose world view they impressed either discretely or overtly upon their works and came to change the moral standard of Great Britain and, ultimately, Western Culture. Surely, the 'spirit of the age' alone would guide such a purposeful and collective outcome.

Some key influences were Robert Louis Stevenson, Thomas Hardy, H. G. Wells, George Bernard Shaw, Bertrand Russell, Lytton Strachey, Virginia Woolf and others such as Leonard Woolf, Leslie Stephen and Edmund Gosse.

It is amazing to observe the close Christian influence several of these people had yet it was to no avail in preventing them pursuing a path of unbelief - Leslie Stephen, father of Virginia Woolf, had been an ordained Clergyman before renouncing Holy Orders; R L Stevenson's father was a pious Christian man who constantly appealed to his son for change; Hardy's parents were regular church attenders and Hardy spent many years under the influence of Henry Moule, Vicar of Fordington when, in 1875, an 'Awakening' broke out in the parish; contrary to what Gosse wrote about his father in Father and Son there is credible evidence elsewhere to show his father was a pious and gentle Christian man. Weeds arise in the best kept gardens as unbelief arises amid the best of opportunities.

Dr Wilbur Smith, speaking at Westminster Chapel in 1952, said:

"A few months ago, the New York Times issued a fifty-page brochure, four columns to a page, entitled 'A Century of Books', in which the editors gathered together reviews, appearing in this distinguished paper from 1851 to 1951, of one hundred and thirteen notable books, some of which continue to have world-wide influence, and a few, influence over millions. In carefully studying these pages, I am again impressed with the antichristian or non-christian position of the majority of these authors, in fact, apart from Hawthorne, I could not recognize one writer, man or woman, who could be called a believing Christian; and not one book among all those referred to here was written to extol Christian virtues, to honour the Lord Jesus, or to expound the Word of God. What can be the result of allowing these volumes to determine one's values but a hardening of the hearts of men against the Christian faith."

Writing some years earlier in A Study of Religious Thought in England" (1933) Clement C. J. Webb said:

"The true enemy of religion in the modern world is not philosophy or science; it is purely the secular habit of mind."

Such views need to be borne in mind when Biblical Creationists present the Acts 17 approach to evangelism. Yes, there are plenty of instances of the presentation of the Creator and consequent argument against evolution which has paved the way to presenting, and a person receiving, Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour. But be prepared. There are many non-believers for whom the argument for evolution is just part of their defence for unbelief. The root cause is a secular habit of mind and no matter the strength of the case for a Creator these people will not believe. In each instance of you demolishing a particular aspect of their argument from science they sidestep to another aspect and on it goes. Their secular habit of mind is the driving force and this itself under influence of the spirit of the age.

This is not meant to discourage what some call "Creation Evangelism" for, as I have said, it does bear fruit. I simply want Biblical Creationists to be mindful it is not a 'cure all' and to be mindful of what is in play.

Sam Drucker

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