Much has been made of the orbital flight of John H. Glenn Jr. And without question, from a scientific viewpoint, it was a tremendous accomplishment. Much has also been made of his faith. The nation and the Church have hailed him as an outstanding example of “quiet, steely courage” and humble Christian life.
What is his faith?
Recently John Glenn preached in his Presbyterian Church, the Little Falls United Presbyterian Church of Arlington, Virginia. His sermon was printed in Parade, a supplement of the Detroit Free Press. It is not necessary to quote the entire sermon; the first part deals with the evidence of the existence of God which can be found in space. The last few paragraphs deal with Christ and read as follows:
But what was this man Christ like whom we’re going to follow?
He’s revealed to us in the Bible. As far as physical characteristics go, we don’t know too much about Him. My impression of Christ physically is not the popular impression, I’m afraid. Somehow the idea of Christ the weakling, Christ, the One on whom everybody heaped abuse, has never been an appealing one.
The emaciated Christ we see in the pictures is not my idea of Christ. I think He was a real man’s man. I think He’s someone we’d all be proud to follow. I read an article in which some place in the Bible said that Christ led His disciples from one spot to another spot in a day’s time. They had measured this distance, and it turned out this was some 32 miles, I believe it was, in a day’s time. How many of us could start out this morning and walk 32 miles by tomorrow morning, leading a group of men? I doubt if I could do it. I think Christ was a real man’s man. He was someone really to follow.
This is borne out to a degree, too, in one of my favorite passages. The Jewish Passover was approaching, and Jesus made the journey up to Jerusalem. In the temple, He discovered cattle and sheep dealers and pigeon sellers, as well as money changers sitting at their tables. So He made a rough whip out of rope and drove the whole lot of them, sheep and cattle as well, out of the temple. He sent the coins of the money changers flying and turned their tables upside down.
The important thing is not the physical strength that Jesus used in this example. The important thing is that Jesus had His beliefs, and He had the courage of His convictions to act upon them, to live by them. He believed, and He acted. These guidelines guided Christ in His everyday life when He was here on earth. The guidelines He used are available to us today, and they are just as timeless today as they were in Jesus’ time.
These guidelines apply just as much to one business as they do to another. But the choice is ours. We are the ones who have to make the choice. God hasn’t said, “You will do this.” We have been placed here as free agents to decide whether we will or will not live by these guidelines. The choice is ours.
Whether Mr. Glenn likes it or not, Christ was surely one upon whom everyone heaped abuse. Jesus Himself spoke of this. And indeed this was because He was the perfect Son of God Who came into our flesh to bear our sins upon Himself. All men hated and despised Him, for all men are wicked.
But more important, it seems even a dubitable point whether John Glenn believes in the divinity of Christ. Surely he makes no mention of the cross as the vicarious atonement for sin, but speaks instead of a Christ Who is nothing more than an example which we do well to follow. This is not the Christ of Scripture, nor is this the Christ in Whom believers put their trust.
In Kenya, Africa, another fossil discovery has led scientists to believe that another link has been found in the development of man from the ape. Two British archeologists, Dr. and Mrs. L.S.B. Leakey found two halves of a palate and one lower tooth. The potassium-argon method of radioactivity (similar to the Carbon-14 method although supposedly capable of dating much farther back—H.H.) applied to the volcanic ash in which these fossils were imbedded set their age at 14 million years. The “find” was hailed as filling a major gap in the story of human evolution. The National Geographic Society which sponsored the two discoverers and awarded them a medal for their find said that “the fossil teeth (were) of a unique creature with manlike characteristics”; while Dr. Leakey added, “the fossil primate is emphatically not like man today. It would seem to be heading toward man, but it is not man.”
Every time a piece of bone is uncovered somewhere that seems to be somewhat ancient, scientists hail the discovery of some further proof of their pet views of the evolutionary development of man. Many times these discoveries have been proved to be wrong or even hoaxes, but that does not prevent men from finding more proof for their erroneous views. And yet, it is not the mere fact that evolutionism can be “proved” to be wrong on the basis of their own silly theories that convinces the Christian that man did not come from the ape; it is the unchangeable truth of God Himself that He revealed. Man was created by the Word of God’s power; created in the image of God, created as king over the entire creation. This truth men hate. It is not ignorance that leads them to speculate vainly over a few fragments of bone; it is willful hatred of the truth of God. With all their remarkable powers of intelligence and scientific endeavor, how silly and foolish they must appear before the simple yet beautiful truth of the Word of God. God puts to naught the wisdom of the wise.
In a recent issue of The Banner the question is asked whether a false religion is worse than no religion at all. The questioner met the quotation: “To have no religion is bad. False religion is worse. To observe merely the forms of the true religion is perhaps worst of all.” The answer given to this question is, in part:
This is an attempted scale of evils, and any comparison of them is not without its hazards.
From the point of view of destiny, the fact is inescapable that irreligion, false religion, and formalism are equally fatal. In that sense there is no distinguishable difference between them . . .
From the viewpoint of history, however, the situation is quite different. We have more regard for the man who acknowledges belief in God than for one who does not. And rightly so. Belief in a supreme deity to whom men feel responsible gives a set of moral values that an irreligious man does not have.
The pledged word, for instance, bears more of a sacred character. There is much more possibility of mutual trust and understanding where there is this common acknowledgment. Human relations bid fair to be far more tolerable where there is a sense of obligation to a higher being. And since all religions have within them some idealism, and try to implant aspirations for more acceptable living, I would consider the religious man (irrespective of what religion he espouses) far preferable to the irreligious.
This is, of course, no condoning of false religions. Our first concern is not that man be religious. Man has that innate inclination. . . .
This position is surely debatable. It is, of course, true that “irreligion, false religion, and formalism are equally fatal.” But Christ Himself makes a distinction between sins. He says in Matthew 11:20-24: “Then began he to upbraid the cities wherein most of his mighty works were done, because they repented not: Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you. And thou, Capernaum, which are exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee.” Or again, the Lord says in Luke 12:47, 48: “And that servant, which knew his lord’s will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.”
These texts and others teach that where there is more knowledge of God and of the truth of the gospel, there also is a more terrible manifestation of sin. The closer one comes to the revelation of God, the greater is the sin which men commit. The Jews, to whom had been committed the oracles of God also crucified the Christ.
Then it is also true that the punishment of those who know the truth but corrupt it, who have a form of godliness, but deny the power thereof, shall be punished the more severely. They shall be beaten with double stripes. In the judgment Sodom and Gomorrah shall condemn them. This is entirely within the scope of the justice of God.
In connection with a recent article in Time which dealt with the elevation of ten new cardinals, a brief description was given of some aspects of the government of the Romish Church, as it pertains to the work of cardinals.
53 cardinals serve abroad as papal ambassadors; 34 cardinals work in Rome as the papal cabinet. The government of the Church consists of twelve congregations, three tribunals and five separate offices. Some of the most important are:
The Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office. “Founded in the 13th century to combat heresy, the Holy Office ran the Inquisition, still edits the Index of Forbidden Books, preserves Catholic dogma from error, sets the terms of marriage for Catholics who wed non-Catholics. Operating under security rules that would do credit to the CIA, the Holy Office keeps its files under lock and key forever; anyone who spills its secrets is subject to automatic excommunication, revocable only by the Pope himself.”
The Sacred Consistorial Congregation. Its duties include supervision of boundary lines between dioceses, advising the Pope on naming new bishops, receiving stewardship reports from bishops, watching out for the welfare of sailors and immigrants. The Sacred Congregation for the Oriental Church. This congregation supervises the liturgical practices and canon law of 11 million Catholics belonging to the eastern part of the Church.
The Sacred Congregation for Propagating the Faith. This congregation is the missionary arm of the Church and watches over 35 million Catholics in Asia, Africa and much of Latin America.
The Secretariat of State. Because the Church still maintains its temporal power as well as ecclesiastical power, this branch functions as the Vatican’s Foreign Ministry.
The Secretariat for Christian Unity. One of the newest of Vatican Bureaus, this branch handles all matters that relate to communication between Rome and non-Catholic churchmen. In this day of ecumenicism, this has become one of the most influential branches of the Church.
With all its streamlined bureaucracy, the Church of Rome is still the Church that persecuted the saints, apostatized from the truth, necessitated the Reformation, and still seeks world domination.