The Religion Racket
by Norman H. Wells
Former Pastor, Central Baptist Church, Cincinnati
Now With The Lord
© 2005 James H. Dearmore/Gospelweb.net

The Late Dr. Norman H. Wells

[GospelWeb.net Globe]

Printer Friendly Page.

Chapter 14

By Popular Demand

Instead of meeting the demands of God, religion has been changed to meet the demands of the public. It seems that religion is back ... by popular demand. This has resulted in religion being diluted, stream-lined, whipped up, condensed, smoothed, and made palatable to the religious tastes of the public. This kind of religion has become popular. It is sweeping the country. Jukeboxes grind out the latest popular gospel tunes. Movie magazines carry news of the religious activities of the movie stars. More money is coming into religious treasuries than ever before and great new church buildings continually are being built. A greater percentage of folks belong to churches than ever before in history. Tremendous evangelistic campaigns are regularly held with thousands in attendance and great numbers of decisions are recorded. Quite regularly the current best seller is a book on religion. The newspapers and magazines carry regular columns by religious writers and the radio and television carry religious programs. Religious colleges, universities, high schools, and elementary schools are multiplying by leaps and bounds. This type of religion is booming. The cry of "revival" is heard over and over again.

In the haste to get everybody aboard the "bandwagon" a carnival spirit has developed. The bands are playing, the flags are flying and everyone is invited to a hayride of happiness... a religious romp. Popcorn, peanuts, and paper hats! Our religious boom today is a little like cotton candy and bubble gum. It seems big and beautiful until you get your teeth into it and find it dissolves into nothing. When it breaks it leaves behind nothing more than a sticky mess.

The popularity religion enjoys has been purchased at a terrific price. The desire to please man has supplanted the desire to please God. "What do I get out of it?" is the approach made to this religion by popular demand. When the services are entertaining and make the participants feel good they are stamped as successful. The world's methods and manners are "religionized" and brought into religion and finances and figures have been made the test of success. A big crowd and a lot of money are interpreted as a sure sign of the blessings of God and it is considered sacrilege to question the doctrines or ethics of anyone who has been successful in gathering a large crowd and abundant cash.

In view of this seeming boom it would be well to consider what has happened to religion. What little religion is preached is of such a shallow, frothy nature it should bring a response of disgust ... but it doesn't. The strength of true religion has been so diluted it has lost its effectiveness. Cheap, sentimental appeals have been substituted for true sledgehammer messages. What a change! What a come-down!

True religion has always offended but today's religion prides itself in the fact it does not offend. The guilty sinner is not offended but rather feels very comfortable with religion. Wayward Christians are not offended because in today's religion the question of sin is dealt with in such generalities it is almost impossible to determine who is guilty. Repentance has become a forgotten doctrine confined to the yellowing pages of neglected articles of faith. What used to mean "Godly sorrow" doesn't even involve mild embarrassment. The crowds have never responded very well to true repentance so modem religion, by popular demand, has it discarded.

Contrast today's religion by popular demand with the reality of facts. Consider the moral condition of our country. The figures have been published often and do not need to be reprinted. Crime is at an all time high. Juvenile delinquency increases every year. Divorce rates climb every year. Jail houses, penitentiaries, and detention homes are packed to overflowing. Drunkenness and dope addiction mounts with each passing day. Illegitimate births and abortions continually increase in numbers. Our headlines scream of murder, rape, suicide, and robbery. Sex mad and whisky soaked, the nation reels down the path of the pursuit of pleasure. The material in the popular books, songs, movies, radio and television programs, etc., give an idea of what appeals to America. Popular religion would have us to believe we can have all this and still be religious. Who's kidding who?

True religion will check the flood tides of sin and depravity but this has not happened in today's religious boom. The religious boom is a spiritual bust. Religion is failing but makes a desperate attempt to appear successful. This is accomplished by using the "numbers racket." It measures everything by "how big" and "how many." Numbers have been made the criterion of success and the church with the most statistics in its favor is judged the most favored of God. The world and religion now use the same standard of success ... finance and figures.

In reading the great number of church papers, bulletins, magazines, etc., it would be easy to come to the conclusion that religion is out to produce one thing ... numbers. Church services are judged a success if there is a large crowd and the value of an evangelistic campaign is determined by "how many" were persuaded to make some kind of "decision." The average church has its whole organization geared to bring about one thing ... an increase in numbers and everything else is secondary.

A great number of religious papers have been reduced to nothing more than numerical reports exploiting cheap, number producing, promotional schemes. This thing has been carried so far the average preacher feels that since numbers are the sole indication of God's blessings ... numbers he must have or he has utterly failed. How many young preachers have given up in discouragement simply because they did not produce numbers? Numbers can indicate the Lord's blessings ... they can also indicate a lot of other things. Great numbers can indicate that religion has become popular by compromising the great truths of religion. Great numbers can also indicate a religion has a good program of entertainment that appeals to the un-religious.

If you have comments about these pages of Bro. Norman Wells works, you may send them through the Webmaster: E-Mail , Webmaster, or send directly to David Wells, as you may wish!