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Dogmatic Religions Finished?

Christian News, Sept. 1, 1980 presents a report of the “First Global Conference on the Future.” This conference, meeting at Toronto, dealt with the subject also of religion. It presented a religion which can only be characterized as antichristian. It ought to serve as warning concerning things to come, and make one aware of the trends evident today. The article reports:

According to Hinduistic mystic Charlotte Waterlow, “Dogmatic religions are finished.”

According to former Roman Catholic Howard Didsbury, following Alfred North Whitehead, “we’re moving toward” a less divisive “God as process.” 

And Evangelical Christian theologian Ted Peters agrees with Didsbury that division is deplorable. 

The three were on the panel for “Religion in a Technological World,” a session at the. First Global Conference on the Future. 

Introduced as “exciting” by Peters, Waterlow, director of the New England Branch of World Federalists, said that she was an evolutionist. She said that a return to religion was necessary. 

However, she did contend that, be they Christianity, Judaism or Islam, “Dogmatic religions are finished.” She explained, “Divisive dogmas can’t survive in a world that respects human rights.” 

Waterlow maintained that a heaven on earth was possible and said she agreed with Jesus that religion should be judged by its fruits. 

She said she sees a religious awakening happening now and stated that “today it’s embarrassing to talk about God, not sex.” 

“We should try to make man as he should be in the image of God,” Waterlow concluded. 

. . . “Toleration achieved in the course of centuries of dedication and sacrifice is jeopardized by the rebirth of such movements of religious fanaticism. The fanatic regards tolerance not as a positive good but as a necessary evil. The Righteous, were he in power, would espouse intolerance. In former times, behind the unctuous utterances of concern for the wayward, the Righteous had the dungeon, the rack and the block to ensure compliance!” 

Didsbury also stated that “interfaith dialogue may be the future of the ecumenical movement,” adding that this “would probably shock…” the audience.

Increasingly one hears of “interfaith dialogue.” The thrust is that all religions have “truth”. None can exclude others. None ought to condemn others. Surely this is all of that old lie of the devil who would persuade men to determine for themselves the good and the evil.

Rock ‘N Roll

Another report in Christian News, Sept. 8, 1980, tells of a group of young people who destroyed thousands of dollars of rock and roll records when they came to realize what a sinful investment they had made. The action came after hearing a speech from. “Tony Dyer, minister. of youths at the First Baptist Church of Winter Park, Florida.” The report of his speech was:

Mr. Dyer talked about what rock musicians have said about themselves in magazines such as Rolling Stone, Circus, Billboard and People, according to Don Witzel, Calvary’s minister of youths. He also examined the words to various hit songs. 

“It’s not the type of music, nor the beat” that’s most disconcerting about rock music, Mr. Witzel summarized. “It’s the musicians themselves and their lifestyles and the actual lyrics of their music, . . .lyrics which are often pornographic in nature.” Mr. Dyer’s approach was “not sensational at all,” Mr. Witzel continued. “He just asked them to listen, to form their own opinions. He just gave the information and the sources from which it came.'” 

Mr. Witzel said he’ didn’t learn that the youths wanted to destroy their records until they asked him about it Sunday morning. 

In a telephone interview, Mr. Dyer said his message was prepared this summer from more than a hundred hours of reading, plus reflections on the four years he spent in a rock band before his 1969 conversion to Christianity. 

He recounted a number of examples of wayward rock “n rollers from his reading: Kiss, and Earth, Wind and Fire engage in Satan worship. Several members of the Beach Boys have dabbled in the occult, as has Robin Gibb of the Bee Gees, who has also ventured into, ESP. And for a hobby, Mr. Gibb does pornographic drawings…. Linda Ronstadt was quoted as saying, “I sing better after shooting smack (heroin) in both arms.” Among those killed due to drug abuse have been Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones, Keith Moon of the Who, Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin. 

“I don’t know of any rock group that doesn’t use drugs,” Mr. Dyer said. “In what rock musicians say and do, you’ve got the greatest argument” against their music. 

Today’s growing decadence, Mr. Dyer said, was “born 15 years ago” in heightened drug and sex oriented music. “And if you look back through history, when a country gets caught in perversion, sex and drugs, they’ve gone down the tubes eventually,” he said.

The message comes through loudly and clearly. Young people can often plead that there is some music, produced by the above “musicians” which appeals to them. Yet if this music and the musicians are what the above speaker claims, there is absolutely no place for this in our lives. Light and darkness may never mix. It is a terrible thing if, in the church, there are those infected by the same evil passions as revealed in this rapidly degenerating world. 

The “Soft Line” on Hell

One final article is of interest in Christian News, Sept. 22, 1980. It gives a review of the book, Unconditional Good News: Toward an Understanding of Biblical Universalism, written by Rev. Neal Punt, pastor of Evergreen Park Christian Reformed Church in Illinois. Punt appears to minimize the terrible reality of hell. The title of the book already suggests something amiss. C.N. reports:

Reformed theologian Alexander De Jong comments on Punt’s book in the Forward: “Punt writes with restraint. He patiently probes the position of those with whom he disagrees, and gently nudges forward those whom he considers too narrow of vision to see the broad sweep of biblical universalism. In this book the reader finds no strident language or impatient argumentation. The author does not imply that the Reformed community needs to be verbally chastised for its narrow predestinarian vision.” 

. . . “Unconditional Good News” is not easy for the layman to understand. Its thesis is perhaps best summarized on the back cover: 

“In this stimulating scriptural study, Neal Punt suggests that these texts (in the Bible which refer salvation to ‘all men’) create a problem because most Christians try to fit them into a theology which presupposes that all persons are outside of Christ except those the Bible declares to be saved. Salvation then is the exception, not the rule. Punt wants to turn this around, and work from the presupposition that all persons are elect in Christ except those expressly declared by the Bible to be lost. This, he believes, does far more justice to the positive, world-embracing, universal dimensions of the gospel.” 

Unlike what he calls the “absolute universalists,” Punt does not believe that all people will eventually go to heaven. He says it is unscriptural to say that no one will experience God’s eternal wrath. Punt’s novelty seems to be his contention that everyone is saved unless he consciously rejects Christ; therefore, to warn people about the danger of eternal damnation is wrong. 

On p. 134 Punt says, “To say that our first purpose in bringing the Word is to make the hearers tremble before the wrath of God is sub-Christian. God’s grace is the loud accent of the message of Scripture, and God’s wrath is threatened so men may accept His overture of grace.” 

Also on p. 130, “Biblical universalism necessarily implies that we may never propagate or cultivate the point of separation between belief and unbelief (the antithesis) simply to make that division become apparent to everyone. God’s Word is not intended to engender opposition or to arouse hostility.”

The Christian News then comments:

The Punt book seems to be part of a theological trend suggesting that all are bound for glory on a train to heaven. In the April U.S. Catholic, author Robert Short boldly declared. that “hell is not real” and demanded that the Christian Church teach that God is letting every human being who has ever lived (including Charles Manson and Adolf Hitler) into His everlasting paradise. . . . 

. . .Some Christians have been wondering why few professional theologians and writers have been trying to combat universalistic trends and standing up for what Christ taught about hell….

It would appear, from the review, that another step is taken from that Scriptural truth of predestination. Where reprobation is denied, soon all must be “elect.” Then too one must question the existence of hell and insist at least that it be not mentioned too prominently in the preaching of the Word. The writer of C.N. has good reason for his concern.