Many theologians today are leading people to believe that the Bible is made up of myths and religious folk tales. Christ is stripped of His deity and becomes a special and gifted teacher. Some still describe themselves as Christians, because they identify with the cause of this good man, Jesus of Nazareth.

There should be no doubt of the influence of these theologians. In a letter to the Afrikaans newspaper, Beeld, on 23 December 2010, someone wrote about why he does not attend Christmas services anymore, the reasons ranging from long drawn-out to irrelevant sermons. But then he ends by calling for understanding from the pulpit that the virgin birth and other stories about the birth of Jesus are simply myths and they should be acknowledged and preached in that fashion. Considering how church doctrines have been changing to a so-called post-modernist side over the last decades, I could not suppress a wry smile when I read the following story on the same day the letter above was published:

"Some years ago a fearful railroad wreck took a dreadful toll of life and limb in an eastern state. A train, loaded with young people returning from school, was stalled on a suburban track because of what is known as a ‘hot-box’. The limited was soon due, but a flagman was sent back to warn the engineer in order to avert a rear-end collision. Thinking all was well, the crowd laughed and chatted while the train-hands worked on in fancied security. Suddenly the whistle of the limited was heard and on came the heavy train and crashed into the local, with horrible effect.

The engineer of the limited saved his own life by jumping, and some days afterwards was hauled into court to account for his part in the calamity. And now a curious discrepancy in testimony occurred. He was asked, “Did you not see the flagman warning you to stop? ”He replied, “I saw him, but he waved a yellow flag, and I took it for granted all was well, and so went on, through slowing down.”

 The flagman was called, “What flag did you wave? “A red flag, but he went by me like a shot.” “Are you sure it was red?” “Absolutely.” Both insisted on the correctness of their testimony, and it was demonstrated that neither was colorblind. Finally the man was asked to produce the flag itself as evidence. After some delay he was able to do so, and then the mystery was explained. It had been red, but it had been exposed to the weather so long that all the red was bleached out, and it was but a dirty yellow!” (H. A. Ironside).

Ironside observed that people are sent to their doom with all kinds of false theories instead of being stopped in their downward journey.

When our sports teams are on a losing streak it seems that everyone cries out, “Back to basics!” Is it not high time that the institutional church with its many thousands of denominations go back to the basics and start again to rightly divide the Word of truth, stripping it of all the philosophies that have polluted it over decades, even centuries?

Would that not be rightfully honouring the One whose destiny was a Cross on Golgotha, but whose purpose was the reconciliation of humankind and its Creator?

Gerrie Malan

[Published 29 August 2014]

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