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 16

Rejected Revelation

Despite the effort of some to promote the idea that God is dead, all of the Christian religions still accept the fact of God's existence. They may vary greatly in their concept of God but they do agree concerning his existence. Having accepted the fact of the existence of God, it is logical to expect that God would communicate with man and again there is a degree of unity. Nearly all of the different Christian religions accept the Bible as a written revelation from God. The Bible repeatedly makes the claim that it is "the word of the Lord" and it has to be accepted as such or be rejected as fraudulent.

The Bible presents a difficulty to most religionists. They have to find a way to accept the Bible as the word of God and yet not be bound too closely by the teachings of the Bible. To pay homage to the Bible as the word of God and at the same time ignore what it teaches requires some tricky devices.

One of the most widely used methods to accomplish the task of simultaneously accepting and ignoring the Bible is simply to keep adding to its content. Continually adding to the Bible makes it comparatively easy to keep it soft and pliable ... easily interpreted to fit each generation's ideas concerning religion. Adding to the Bible is not too complicated a task. Religion just simply writes additional books; long standing traditions can also be accepted as inspired. Finally the accumulated additions and traditions can be interpreted to apply any way desired. The original truths are easily buried under these additions and traditions. To see how widely this method is used, one only has to look at today's elaborate religious forms, rituals, and teachings and then try to find anything similar in the Bible as it was originally given. Most of these have been added on later.

Another method used to enable one to accept the Bible while ignoring it is to acknowledge that the Bible only contains the word of God. In reality this means that the Bible is not to be accepted in its entirety as the word of God but that in the writings of the Bible can be found the word of God. This is very convenient. Any parts of the Bible the individual finds easy to accept can be interpreted as God's word and the parts he does not want to obey can be rejected as not being God's word. This is widely used. Each generation, by using this method, is only bound to accept those parts of the Bible which do not interfere with their own plans and ideas concerning religion.

It may be noticed that there are a number of new translations of the Bible available. This is probably a good thing but it also obviously has been used to an advantage by those who want a Bible but do not want to obey its teaching. Translations can easily become interpretations where original writings are re-interpreted to meet the whims of the translators. If the desire is to ignore a truth it seems a simple thing to change its meaning in translation.

Another method is to think of the Bible only in symbolic and allegorical terms which need to be interpreted as to their real meaning. Of course, the interpretation is always one that can be fitted into the established way of life without too much inconvenience.

Christians have always expressed a willingness to attribute many things to the Jewish people. This fact is revealed in the way some Christians interpret their Bible. When they find an unwanted truth it is cast aside by explaining that God was talking to the Jews and has no application to Gentile Christians. This enables the Gentile to accept all the easy truth and leave the difficult things for the Jewish people.

There are those in each generation who will say the Bible is to be accepted but only to the extent that it agrees with man's reason and intellect. Anything in the Bible that does not agree with the reasoning of man is rejected.

One of the chief skills the modern minister must master is to preach the Bible in a way that the truths which the people might find offensive are carefully confined to the eloquence of the sermon and never reach any real application to life. All this is pitiful but worse yet is to accept the Bible as the divine, written, revelation from God, and at the same time ignore it without even making any excuse.

The Bible makes hundreds of promises, instructions, and commands known in simple and concise language. Consider a few of these and compare them with the actual practice of the average church-goer.

"Happy is that people, whose God is the Lord." Ps. 146:5

This is a plain stated fact. Compare this description with the average reluctant church goer twisting uncomfortably in spiritual surroundings as he attends worship services one hour a week. The only time some church goers ever really look happy is when they are talking about something they did before they became church goers. "I was glad when they said unto me, let us go into the house of the Lord." Ps. 122:1

This would hardly describe the reaction a wife gets when she suggests to her husband that they should attend church. Look at the effort the church and pastor must expend to get people to appear glad in the house of the Lord ... when they are not!

"Serve the Lord with gladness." Ps. 100.2

This is what the Bible says! Look at the expression on the face of Mr. Average Church-goer when the Pastor asks him to perform some service for the Lord. If this is gladness then sadness must indeed be horrible!

The Bible says that those who trust in the Lord will be happy. They will sing and make melody in their hearts unto the Lord. They will always be glad to attend church and will serve the Lord with gladness. That all of this is not a reality is very apparent. Church members have lost their song, their gladness, and their joy. They may attend God's house but the praise is gone. They sing with their lips but not with their hearts. Service is a dull chore and it all becomes a pretense.

Consider some other things the Bible says.

". . . for God loveth a cheerful giver." III Cor. 9:7

The Bible teaches that those who love will also cheerfully give unto the Lord. "Cheerful giver" would seldom describe Mr. Average Church goer. He slips each of his children a nickel to put in the offering while, grudgingly, he drops in as much as a whole dollar . . . and then spends the rest of the week wondering if he had been too religious.

"Pray without ceasing." I Thess. 5:17

This is another direct command from the Bible yet the average church finds it impossible even to have a prayer meeting. It is a very rare thing to find any of today's religionists giving any time to prayer.

Hundreds of plain, simple, easy to understand statements such as these are made in the Bible. Yet the great majority of church goers simply ignore them while, at the same time, saying they are God's word. If the Bible is what we say then we are bound to accept and obey its teachings. If it is not we ought to be honest enough to reject it and stop the pretense.

One of the most widely used passages from the Bible is called the Lord's Prayer. All Christian religions make great use of this prayer and it is universally used as a part of the worship services of the churches. The congregation generally stands and chants in unison. Let us listen.

"Our Father which art in heaven."

The Bible teaches that if God is our Father we will love Him. It will be our desire to worship and serve Him. We will obey Him in the manner of children obeying their parents. We are taught that those who are in the family of God will bear a resemblance to their heavenly Father. Look at the congregation as they recite this prayer. Is this a reality with them? Are their hearts filled with love and worship? Are they obeying? Do they bear any resemblance to their Father? Or is it mostly just a dull, humdrum of routine? A pretense?

"Hallowed be thy name."

Is God's name hallowed and sacred? It must be recognized that too many can pray this prayer on Sunday morning and use God's name in vain on Monday.

"Thy kingdom come."

Many of these praying "thy kingdom come" can hardly bear to tear themselves away long enough to worship God one hour a week and then have the gall to pretend they are joyfully anticipating a time of eternal worship and praise in His kingdom.

"Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven."

The Bible reveals the will of God and yet people living in direct rebellion against this revealed will of God can pray, "Thy will be done" and experience no shame.

"Give us this day our daily bread."

In America we are not giving thanks because God provides our daily bread. We are too busy filling our pocket with another product we call "bread" . . . money.

"And forgive us our debts."

This phrase in the Lord's Prayer is an expression of the sinner's desire to have his sins forgiven. It involves a recognition of sin and repentance. Somehow this just doesn't seem to fit our average congregation. To be downright repentant for sins is a lost experience.

"As we forgive our debtors."

If God is forgiving us in the manner we forgive each other, we are in bad shape ... yet this is what we pray.

"And lead us not into temptation."

This does make sense. God doesn't have to lead us into temptation ... that path we easily find ourself.

"But deliver us from evil."

A congregation will pray "deliver us from evil" and then dare the Pastor or anyone else to try to do it.

"For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, forever! Amen."

This wonderful expression of praise coming from our average congregation reminds one of another phrase in the Bible which says there are those that, "Honoureth me with their lips but their heart is far from me."

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!