The Current Scene

The Current Scene

Edwin Fesche

Middle East

This area of the world continues to be a powder keg. Every way the U.S. acts to keep the peace in this troubled portion of the globe is fraught with dangers. An example are the pros and cons that came forward in deciding whether to sell AWAC spy plans to the Saudis. Both arguments were persuasive — a bless you if you do, and a bless you if you don’t. Then there was the assassination of Anwar Sadat, and all the well laid plans and calculations of this ruler of moderation could be in jeopardy. A resurgence of Islam is popularizing its fanatics. Also, there is the madman, Kaddafi, drunk with petro dollars, who has no hidden designs and one with which all Arabs agree — eliminate Israel. America’s self-interest is to assure the security of Israel, our only reliable ally in the Near East, and to keep the oil flowing to the West. Without the oil the West is crippled, especially Europe. All of this should not surprise the student of Bible prophecy. The centre of world interests is to be Jerusalem, “for I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle” (Zech. 14:2). The whole world has a stake in Eastern oil and would fight to insure that interest. The advanced world seems to have all its eggs in one basket. Its economy is dependent upon energy and for the present it comes mainly from oil. Those who have its control could blackmail the have-nots. Certainly the 13th chapter of the Revelation presents a beast — a man that has acquired international power, and is Devil-inspired, holding the world in an economic bind. Never is such a situation so possible as at the present.

Armaments

Another dilemma is what to do about Russia’s formidable accummulation of the most modern weaponry. Now there are credible allegations that they are using “yellow rain” in Afghanistan and Cambodia. This is a new poison derived from contaminated grain. Also, poison gas from artillery shells is rumored. Just as the Spanish Civil War of the 30’s was a try out for Hitler’s new armaments, so Russia is testing some new horror devices. The agreement to ban such weapons is ignored by those who have designs on successful conquest.

Western Europe and many in this country feel that if the U.S. limits her armaments so will the Russians. A quotation from the Wall Street Journal makes sense, “It seems to us that this development has some rather stark and ugly implications for those who think arms control is something to be worked out among nice guys, if only our guys try a little harder.” We can appreciate Europe’s concern over America triggering off a war with Russia. They would be between the anvil and the hammer.

Russia is reported to have three to one tanks stationed on her Western frontier. This is not a defense posture; but one of advance. When fighting Napoleon and Hitler, she retreated into her homeland and then counterattacked. Now she intends to fight on other territory. Our Secretary of Defense, Casper Weinberger, warned, “We have to move very rapidly to correct the imbalances, and regain our strength.”

If the nations are not heading for Armageddon, it is certainly the next thing to it. How could there be a greater tribulation than the Third World War will be? The pacificists are dreamers. We live in a fallen world. One can deny the Edenic story, but not the facts that come out of it. The hearts of unconverted men are good play-things for a personal Devil. The silence of an Almighty God poses the biggest enigma. Faced with this problem the believer says with Abraham, “Shall not the judge of all the earth do right?” Atheism has no answers or solutions. Faced with such realisms, and worse if we knew the contents of the “White Papers” in the possession of the President and his advisers, the unbeliever could well be tempted to recite, “Out of the night that covers me; Black as the pit from pole to pole, my head may be bloodied, but I’ll keep it unbowed.” Christianity instills confidence, consolation and hope in God’s providence and the assurance of heaven. Outside of this there is only ultimate hopelessness; just make the best of the present.

Reaganomics

We are hearing it said that President Reagan’s honeymoon is over. It is not unusual for a President to come into office with fanfare and a fusion of new hope instilled into the. nation. The President has vowed to shoot Santa Claus. This means cutting the nation’s budget down to the bone. As another has said, “There are no free rides for the sin of overspending.” Unfortunately a generous welfare has spawned a large segment of the population which feeds from the government trough. It is right to care for the poor and underprivileged, but the nation’s generosity has taken the money that should have gone into the private sector which in turn would produce gainful employment, so billions of dollares have been spent with no compensations. Consequently, bridges are in desrepair, roads need maintenance, and there is no money for sorely wanted housing. The test is now beginning to be felt. Is the medicine worse than the disease? Can a modern democracy stick with a given policy long enough to give it a fair trial?

So far we are witnessing a bloodless revolution. Unlike most which rises up from the bottom of the social heap, this one is intended to give the advantages to those who are supposed to be able to create jobs. One searches in vain for the Bible sanction on any particular economic or political system. Those under democracy and capitalism are probably faring better than those under other systems. Reagan is for reinstating the old Protestant ethic, work and thrift. One thing is certain, “the poor ye have always with you” (John 12:8). For those who are unable to cope, the President promises a “safety net.”

Another look at the economic situation, and this includes the whole civilized world, leads one to wonder if there is such a thing as a solution. The millions of unemployed are the achilles heel of the industrial nations. This problem and others piling upon it are beyond any system of government. Tighten the money supply to curb inflation and interest rates soar and growth is curtailed. Loosen the money supply and double digit inflation is soon felt. Isaiah likens man’s dilemma to a man on a too short bed and the covering is too narrow (Isa. 28:20). Whichever way he turns or stretches he is uncomfortable. If this is the only heaven there is, then we are of all men most miserable. No, there is a heaven to win and a hell to shun. The calamities that befall us down here are the blessings if they turn our eyes Christward and heavenward.

Their Day

It would appear that the liberal World Council of Churches has had its day. This at least since the smashing victory of President Reagan over the government “do it all” concept set in motion almost 50 years ago with the election of President F. D. Roosevelt. The so-called “social gospel” has enjoyed a long inning. The W.C.C. has championed socialism, at times little more than a hair from communism. Heady with its gains on the home front, it accused America of being an oppressor nation and it developed a liberation theology. This, in their view, justified giving aid and comfort to Marxist forces to overcome white supremacy and capitalism in parts of the third world. Last year the Salvation Army served notice of its withdrawal from the W.C.C. It could not continue with an organization that had supported guerillas who had killed missionaries and destroyed their premises. As if violence could beget goodness! What about the other cheek? Or, slaves submit yourselves to your masters (Col. 3:22). Our Lord, the Prince of Peace, “when He was reviled, reviled not again.” Peter tells us He has left us an example. Most of the mainline denominations are wedded to their commitments, but a considerable portion of their membership is voting with its feet and seeking the comfort of an evangelical testimony.

The program of the W.C.C. has shunned the Christian creeds and is blind and unsympathetic to God’s stated purpose for this age to call out “a people for his name,” which would be, “in the world, but not of it.” When the disciples wanted to call down fire from heaven on a Samaritan village, as did Elijah, because it had rejected them, the response to their indignation was, “But He turned and rebuked them, and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of” (Luke 9:55). Christianity is not commissioned to change a fallen world. To the contrary it predicts a world where “the mystery of iniquity doth already work” (2 Thess. 2:7) and will continue until headed up in “the man of sin.”

A natural recoil and rebuttal to the W.C.C. has now come from the evangelical side of Christendom. It has taken the name of Moral Majority. Although not limited to conservative Protestants, such, however, are certainly its organizers. This religious right, no doubt, played a big role in the election of the present President. Here again, we are interferring with a fallen world. In this connection a principle is stated, “He that killeth with the sword must be killed with the sword” (Rev. 13:10). Obviously, they have taken themselves out of the Lord’s protective hand. We might paraphrase the above quotation, “He that puts himself in the political arena will be a target for political mudslinging.”

We are certainly not contradicting that Christians are “the salt of the earth.” To move, however, from expressing moralism from our preaching and other church activities to actual political involvement is another matter. It distorts the Scriptural view of the Church — a called out assembly, and in the long run will fail just as miserably as the W.C.C. It is like whipping a dead horse. The W.C.C. followed its natural tendencies and wound up Marxist. The Moral Majority could progress to the far right and amalgamate with some strange bedfellows. The path of the faithful is, “Come out from among them and be ye separate” (2 Cor. 6:17) .