There is a new drug being used experimentally which is supposed to give most wonderful and awesome experiences. A former professor of psychology in Harvard University has been giving these drugs to volunteers. About 1,000 people were used in at least 150 experiments. Men from all walks of life, including college deans, a divinity school president, three university chaplains, an executive of a religious foundation, a prominent religious editor, several philosophers, have been used. These men include also 69 full-time religious professionals from Christian, Jewish, and Eastern religions.
The drug is supposed to give an intense religious experience and certain revelations that are the deepest religious experiences of their life.
The professor is so gratified with the results that he insists that “it is hard to see how these results can be disregarded by those who are concerned with spiritual growth and religious development.”
One wonders what is coming next.
Is the deep, subjective experience of salvation in the child of God to be worked now by drugs instead of by the operation of the Holy Spirit?
What kind of experiences are these? Nobody seems willing to say exactly. Is it just some emotional kicks? The experience of the child of God worked by the Spirit of Christ is always in harmony with the truth of Scripture. It is the calm assurance of salvation, the conviction of sin and forgiveness in the blood of the cross, the hope of everlasting life in heaven. It is intelligent and reasonable, so that the people of God are able to give an answer to those who ask them concerning their hope. The professor, however, describes the experiences which his drugs bring on as seeing “for a second a fragment of the energy dance, the life power”—whatever that nonsense is supposed to mean.
How wicked men become in their tamperings with things holy!
In a recent editorial in Christianity Today, the editor discusses the Council of Trent and the dogmas of Roman Catholicism, in order to point out the wide breach that still exists between Evangelicals and the Church of Rome.
Anyone at all acquainted with church history will recall that the Council of Trent was called soon after the Reformation (this council met in three distinct periods: 1545-1549; 1551-1552; 1562-1563) with a threefold purpose: I ) it was called to correct abuses in the Roman Catholic Church—particularly the abuse of immorality among the clergy; 2) it was called to try to stem the tide of the Reformation; 3) it was called to set forth the doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church over against the truths propounded by the Reformers.
This editorial points out the dogmas which the council adopted, adding that they have never been. repudiated, that they never will be, and that, therefore, union with Rome remains an impossibility for those who maintain the truth of Scripture.
At a time when there is a great deal of talk in the air about this possible union with Rome (both in the Vatican Council which is now meeting in St. Peter’s cathedral, and among Protestants who are vying with each other to return in the quickest possible way) and so near the date when the Church commemorates again the Reformation of the 16th Century, it is good to be reminded of this.
The editor first makes a summary of the doctrines which the Council set forth as the teaching of the Church: the doctrines of the canonicity of the apocryphal books, justification by faith and works, the sacramental character of the seven sacraments, the sacrifice of the mass, transubstantiation, the practice of withholding the cup of wine from the laity, purgatory, the prayers to saints, the worship of relics, and the efficacy of indulgences.
Against all those who denied these doctrines, the council (approved by the pope) hurled its anathemas.
Since that time the Church of Rome has added more dogmas, equally as repulsive as those set forth by the council of Trent. The editor mentions a few. First of all, there was the doctrine of the immaculate conception of Mary. Pope Pius solemnly declared that Mary had been conceived and born without sin. The Roman Breviary says, “She (Mary) will always find grace, and it is grace alone by which we are saved. Let us seek grace, and let us seek it through Mary.” Then, in 1950, the doctrine of Mary’s assumption into heaven without dying was set forth as official doctrine by the authority of the pope.
In 1870, the Vatican Council that then met set forth the doctrine of papal infallibility. This doctrine taught that the pope cannot err when he makes any pronouncement as the supreme teacher of all Christians because he possesses supreme apostolic authority.
Furthermore, in 1864, Pope Pius IX wrote a syllabus in which he maintained that the teachings of the Church included such doctrines as: 1) that only the Roman Catholic Church had the right to be recognized by any civil authorities; 2) that the principles of civil and religious liberty, as well as the freedom of religion, were not in keeping with Romish theology; 3) that any other religion but Roman Catholicism was unlawful; 4) that the Roman hierarchy (its priests, bishops, archbishops and cardinals) had complete independence; 5) that the Roman Catholic Church had the right to coerce and enforce its supreme control over public education, science, and literature.
You can readily see how wide the breach between the Church of Christ and Rome really is. And it has been growing down the centuries. There are those who speak of different winds blowing in the Romish Church that are making the breach less narrow. But not one of these doctrines has been repudiated by Rome up until today. The Reformation was surely a sovereign work of God whereby He preserved the Church of Christ for ages to come and restored to that Church the truth of the gospel.
The trouble is that much of the Church world has already itself compromised these principles of the Reformation. The doctrines of an infallible Bible, of the sole authority of Scripture, of justification by faith alone, of particular atonement, of sovereign predestination, and others have long been discarded or watered down. This is true even in Reformed circles who have but recently commemorated the Reformation. But to compromise the truths of the Reformation is, inevitably, to move closer to the false church of Rome.
Although the Jews now have their own country to which they can return at any time, there are many who maintain that Israeli is only for Jews and that other religions should not be permitted residence there.
This was emphasized once again recently when bands of students belonging to the ultra-orthodox Jews made attacks on three Protestant schools in three Jewish cities—Jerusalem, Haifa, and Tel Aviv-Jaffa.
In Jaffa the students attacked a Scottish Presbyterian school, smashed windows and chairs, broke tables and desks, beat up the smaller children and hit the teachers.
In Jerusalem the zealots broke into a Catholic convent from which they had to be removed by force. They also attacked a Finnish Protestant school in that city.
There have been similar incidents of one kind or another. Earlier last summer, students stoned a bus load of tourists on the Sabbath, beat a man with his own crutches for driving in a forbidden area on the Sabbath, stoned buses carrying young people back from a Baptist World Alliance Youth Conference that had recently met in Beirut, Lebanon.
The reasons given for all these attacks were that the Protestants were carrying on missionary work among the Jewish people—especially the Jewish children. The government seemed to condone this deep resentment against Protestant missionary work, although it condemned the raiders for their violence. Yet this has been the pattern of government action ever since Israeli became a nation. The government has always taken a dim view of any kind of missionary endeavor.
The most interesting and yet also terrible part of it is that after the attacks on the schools, pamphlets were distributed entitled, “The Cross Completes What the Swastika Left Unfinished.” Evidently these Jews consider the cross of Christ to be as grave a threat as the terrible atrocities of Hitler and the Third Reich.
In a sense this is true. The cross surely means the destruction of the nation of Israel—unless they repent and believe in Christ. But if they do, they become part of the Church of Christ, and are no longer Jews.
One by one nations close their doors to missionaries. This is especially true of the nations of Asia and Africa.
Recently, the country of. Nepal passed a new law which forbids anyone inside her borders who has come for the purpose of preaching the gospel. The penalty is three years in jail and banishment from the kingdom. And it was only ten years ago that missionaries were permitted into this country. So Nepal is now added to a growing list that forbids or places limitations on missionary work—a list that includes Red China, Ceylon, North Viet Nam, Cambodia, India, and others.
There are two points that ought to be made: 1) while the missionaries and their sending churches are inclined to be disturbed by this because, as they express it, “There will now be many who could have been saved who will be lost,” nevertheless, God sees to it that His elect are gathered; if missionaries are completely barred from a country, it is only because God’s elect are gathered from that country. 2) The Lord never intended that the gospel should have the “national” influence on these countries of Asia and Africa that it had in the countries of the West. To a considerable extent the “nations that are on the four corners of the earth” are destined to remain in darkness. The sin of the nations of the West is that they apostatize from the revelation of God in Scripture; the sin of the heathen nations is one of rebellion against the revelation of God in creation. It seems as if we are coming ever nearer the time when, according to God’s purpose, the gospel has run its course in the world. But this is a sure sign of the nearness of the end—perhaps the clearest sign of all.
There have always been those (notably the Christian Scientists) who have refused hospital treatment because of their religious beliefs.
Recently, in England a girl of 16 died because the beliefs of the family conflicted with any type of medical aid. The only aid she received was prayer. She was injured in a riding accident and died three weeks later from a skull fracture. Her mother testified at the inquest that, although the girl was made comfortable after the accident, the only treatment allowed her was the treatment of the prayers of the family.
In another case, this time in Washington, D.C., the court intervened and ordered an emergency blood transfusion for a 22-year-old woman who was bleeding from an ulcer. She was brought to a hospital emergency room in the Georgetown University Hospital. Doctors said her only hope of survival was in immediately receiving blood transfusions. But she and her family refused on religious grounds. They were both members of the Jehovah’s Witnesses sect, and they maintained that to receive a blood transfusion would violate the Scriptural injunction that forbade the eating of blood. The hospital asked a U.S. Circuit Court judge (Judge J. Skelly) to order a transfusion. A hearing was conducted that same evening in the patient’s room. The judge heard arguments from the doctors and from the woman’s husband, and then ordered a transfusion to be given.
Some are wondering whether this is not another infringement on our religious liberty.