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THE ROBIN AND THE DAFFODILS
The Song of the Bird
Allegory in Motion
Reality on Earth
The ROAR DEAL!
You could see him quite clearly. He was rather effervescent, hopping, flitting, rarely quiet, now here, now there, in the midst of a tree, on a lower branch, on the ground, whirling about, looking beautiful, a whirl of wings, a deft dash here or there, disappearing, re-appearing: the robin red-breast. What a delight of wing and colour, motion and winged fantasy that had this, this great addition, almost unbelievably, it was REAL!
I watched in delight.
After a while, he came near.
You see how it has gone.
What was that ? I enquired, looking about me, having thought myself alone.
Well don't you ? he asked.
There was this bird, quick in movement and apparently likewise in word and thought.
How, I asked, seeking not to disturb the avine gentleman by appearing in the least surprised, how has it gone ?
On inspection, I thought him rather older than I had realised, and he had an air which it was difficult to pinpoint, but a rather abstracted air, which, for all that, was quick and pertinent.
Gone! he echoed. You must know how it has gone.
How has it gone ? I enquired, with a suppressed feeling of mirth vying with a delight in his assurance.
First there was the World Council of Churches felt for in 1910, started in 1948, formed in this sort of way:
"I say, you fellows, it is all very well for you to talk yourselves hoarse with every kind of distinction and to make denominations. WE on the mission field have WORK to do; we are practical people. Look, you just can't have a whole lot of competitive looking bodies called churches or denominations or what have you, stalking about and criticising each other, when the field, the natives don't you see, have a need to see ONE THING! Now let us be sensible people and get together, at least at the cutting edge, at the interface with the world, where the field is.
"So let's have this Edinburgh Conference of 1910, DO something to the point."
But it did not stop there, but a subversive appearance began to be added.
"Now then, it's 1948, and
we need a form, a formula! Oh no! Don't be dizzy. It is NOT, let us repeat
that, it is NOT a super-church. It is merely a practical thing, but a good,
let us say it again, a thoroughly benevolent expression of core Christianity
and don't you see, a concession to Christ in making us all one. You DO remember
that, don't you, you know in John 17 about all being one. Let's then up and
I do - came my rather stunned reply. Yes of course.
I remember that hoax, when the people WHO WERE TO BE ONE WERE THOSE WHO HAD
RECEIVED HIS WORD as in John 17:8, the part they left out in practice, and
on which they did not in fact act! Clever subversion, in the end.
Then, he continued, slightly nodding with assent, then by degrees it ascended into some cloud, until the giving of the SPIRITIST sermon from some 'worthy' (don't you see, now ALL one) cause, being given the conference pulpit in Vancouver, let it go! Then of course Liberation Theology and any other which, whether at the COMMUNIST STOOGE stage, as revealed categorically when the air and light of perestroika and glasnost came in with the man -what was his name, now, you know the one whose name was being chanted as he toured Europe in triumph, breaking down walls and all that sort of thing .... ?
Gorbachev ? I asked.
Yes, that's the one. It was he who wanted something better, something at least able to have enough financial savvy to keep going, and looked for something a little more to the point, even when indicating his extreme fealty to Lenin and all that type of substitute for thinking, so popular in the nihilist irrationalist days of yore (that is, 1930's to 1990).
Of course it was all very proper in phrasing. HOW could we possibly (we are not a super-church, you know) exercise DISCIPLINE and all that, when our people are purely volunteers. You khnow the line. So if some of them do not believe in the deity of Christ (unitarians, that sort of thing) and if some do not believe the Bible, and if some wed the Bible to communism and make social parodies of Christianity and even socialist ones, and have humanism on top, who are we to stop them! It was not perhaps as explicit as that, but this was the underlying theme.
So it went to anywhere faster and faster, until it has become another name for end of the Age apostasy.
That, I interrupted, that is rich. Here in the name of integrity, realism and unity they forge an apostasy!
Certainly it is rich, but little is so poor as the nouveau riche who displays his feathers without decorum and with mere pride of place! he opined.
Doubtless, I continued, there is something more than the merely human behind all this ?
Behind it! he exclaimed, doing a little side flit which was really quite charming, in his vigour of thought and of life. He was really such a penetrating little flitter that he became fascinating to watch.
Meanwhile, he continued, looking more grave than I had so far seen him ... meanwhile Satan who is nothing if not a general of decay and a prince of corruption, set about more works of darkness, which is his own particular venue and environment.
How then was this done ? I asked, interested in his growing coverage.
Individual denominations, he chirruped with just a touch of sorrow in his twittering, already getting an ascendancy for liberal and radical theology, in which the bottom line was missing, but filled in from time to time when the biro was working well enough, TOOK TO ORGANIC EVOLUTION LIKE BEES TO HONEY, and to literary criticism, which is another name for subjectivist invasion from philosophy on terms varying with the decade in question; and to new christs as if they had become a manufacturing plant for gods, and then to various ground of being inversions, not of temperature, but of intemperance, until the very clouds were too low and they went into space, where various things might be happening, and really -
I could not help interrupting here, and added for him:
as we asked earlier, so again,
When the church is in the world as a kindred, and the world is in the church as a sofa, where in the world is the church!
Where is it ? he asked.
It is still where Christ put it! I replied. These ecclesiastical diseases cease to be that when the parent bodies depart from the faith. Then the bodies become inhabitants of spiritual mortuaries. Perhaps having loved this present world, like the Demas who left Paul when his fate seemed sealed, maybe, and who had no time for what is born to suffer, works to overcome without force, spiritual vision based on the Lord in a world of fleshly pursuits, they just go and become something else.
But as for Paul in the past, so for the Christian church in the present, not thus is it moved, but rather is it activated by the love of the God who took the trouble to make us in the first place, and to offer redemption at infinite cost in the second, prescribing precisely what is His will in the third.
He eyed me sagely, nodded abruptly once or twice and continued.
The actual church, he declared, it went on of course. IT is not moved.
Yes, I concurred, and this is because it RESTS on Him who is immovable, the only rock of the church, Jesus Christ (Psalm 62, 18:31). GOD ? He does not change, and His ways are the same (Malachi 3:6, Habakkuk 3:6 - fascinating that these two theme verses are the same in this way don’t you think ?).
Yes, to a point, he nodded judiciously.
Then, he pursued his theme without wavering, there were the LOYALTY SPECIALISTS who HAD TO, don't you see, had to fulfil a certain sort of fellow feeling, despite the movement in the way of damnation and all that. The sort of thing you got, well, this sort of word: Too bad these people are going that way, and we will not go with them, but we will just accompany them, and let them teach our young ministers and all that really. It was ... he positively glowed in the sunshine and his eye matched it, it was not a pretty sight.
Oh yes, we shall have a new Primate (sounds almost like evolution: it is certainly change!) and SOLIDARITY prevents us from DOING anything which would CLEAR OUR NAMES in our associations, and so on; and the INTERNATIONAL BODY of Lutherans says these things, and it is all very much ONE and all that; or there is this authority structure in the church which is so important; and so it went. Meanwhile, the Presbyterians went off in droves to the Uniting Church which did not even claim the infallibility of the Bible; and so on and on; but that was not all.
You would have thought that would have warned Bible believing people, wouldn't you ? I asked.
Faith has legs, he exclaimed. But he did not add to that.
Then, he proceeded, the interdenominational bodies having to deal with all sorts of novel christian modes from their denominational feeder units, began to say things like this, Oh yes we can have Roman Catholics in our midst, in our prayers, as workers, all that and more, so long as they are BORN AGAIN. In this way, this phrase, in fatal opposition to the scriptural one in which the WORD OF GOD (as in I Peter) is the very agent of birth and is as indispensable as air to the human lungs, became a new WCC type of aerial loftiness, of cloud support for departure from the faith.
A new thing came, then. IF YOU did not agree, kept the Bible, there were various MEANS to DEAL with you. First you were a biblicist, which was reputed not to be very nice, and not a thing to be, so that dealt with you. What if you however said really obstructive things, such as this:
I do not worship the Bible, but from the Bible; I do not supplant the Bible, but believe it the word of God; I do not mutilate the Bible, but believe it given from God by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit so that he who obeys the LEAST of these commands, and believes them, as IT says is great in the kingdom of heaven, while the greatest on other grounds, who does not is in a somewhat vanishing position*1.
If you kept your ground, then there were OTHER MEANS.
Thus, if you did not approve and agree and travel with them on their train, you had NO IDEA of being loyal to the fellowship (of whatever people it was said to be, but the name Christian seemed to circulate for some reason or other - these were not great on definition, you see). This was a bad thing and ought not to be done. Also, you were divisive, obstructive perhaps, militant, disruptive, dispersive, invasive or any other number of other words, which might occur to the experts in denunciation.
If, however, THIS did not subdue you, at least it might curtail you to the point that in church meetings you either were so OBVIOUSLY disadvantaged spiritually, or were MADE to be disadvantaged ecclesiastically, that not too much trouble should come for the proponents of change. EVEN IF it did, and there still could be the odd church which would not bow, if necessary and the thing could not be prevented, perhaps it would get out, preferably without the property its members had in much or in all contributed, and so the main steam roller effect would not be lost.
So it went.
His words were very forceful and made me think. I watched him soar - well he was not great on height but could rise very quickly to the appointed location and then dash off again, lost in the wonder of the woods, and it was quite some little time before he re-appeared.
Fascinating! I noted. But was that all ? There is much in this, from many quarters, and the world mimicking Babel is of a vast complexity!
I was going, he exclaimed, to come to that. Of course if you are not interested, I have a worm in sight right now ...
No, no, I exclaimed. There are other worms to dig just now, let us hear it all.
He eyed me appraisingly.
The suddenly, he continued.
Now into this sink of corruption, he declaimed, there were many more streams to pour and in various ways ...
Ways such as those mentioned in references in the previous chapter, I mused quietly.
... these WERE poured in, he continued.
They could come from civic, academic, political or even defence areas, from cultural unions and international bodies, and there could be all sorts of humanism, idealism, illusory realism, adventurism, unionism of a social kind, community-ism and world spirit-ism, spirit of the age, New Age, whatever you like, they are all there: these could be added like salt or insult to taste for the consumer.
And he ? The devil is cooking. Do you not expect him to wish to eat it ? Do you recall C.S. Lewis in his brilliant Screwtape Letters, talking about the devil having a real affection for his junior worker, Screwtape, who was busy trying to subvert young Christians ? It became RAVENOUS!
I marvelled at what a bird could read; but then, it is best not to intrude into things you do not understand, and it was after all, quite diverting and not a little to the point.
There are, I concurred, many
ways to eat up, to consume and to dispose of the human spirit, the deviousness
of which is good match for its own twistings and turnings.
I was tempted to add, On you flit! but it was fortunately apparent to me that his might not be this sort of humour, and could indeed be misunderstood, so I desisted from speaking this.
It is hard always with a robin to tell when he blushes, because you see, that red breast is there in any case, but at all events, he paused and looked out on the world for a while. Then quickly glanced an assessing glance at me, and continued.
The devil, he throated, is Biblically described in this way: he is like a roaring lion going about seeking whom he may devour*2. He went first of course, his name that is, it was dismissed, then the Bible, hell, Christ followed, and then God and heaven, virgin birth a throw in (ask the Crystal Palace people), and other things could go. It was NECESSARY that SOMETHING should come.
For this: Who better than our dear old selves (you remember the 'old man' in Romans 7 and Colossians and Ephesians, that dear, drudge of unspirituality whose will and way is SO important ... to him); and though these were being tugged along as normal, by the Evil One, yet still, we are so very familiar with them. THEY became increasingly familiar with the 'church' (that is, this sort of decayed body which for want of a better name, perhaps, still misleadingly uses this term).
IT (that is, this body with the inverted commas) became increasingly familiar with IT (that is, the old man), and between them, a great friendship developed, like comrades in arms. The question was at last increasingly put, WHOSE arms ? However, this was not regarded as disarming talk, and indeed the armoury of words had to be consulted to deal with those mavericks who did NOT, repeat NOT, go along with this marvellous glissade down hill to some place or other, which really, it was not quite polite to investigate.
These various international bodies like the UN, and the WCC, and these many seminaries who specialised on the whole, on being one of THE sound ones, in order it seems, to become very soon one of the MOST UNSOUND ones, so that everybody as far as possible might be confused, they went on like streams in flood, pouring their wares into the reservoir of the 'churches' until of course the dams filled up, and the whole river of sludge and mud just swept out to sea, and that, you see, is what became of the still waters of Psalm 23. These were not in the 'churches' any more; but nevertheless and notwithstanding all these things, they DID remain where the Christians were.
Yes, yes, I concurred, now really moved to solidarity with his developing case. You are right, you are right. It is so confusing for those who do not simply believe in God, receive the living Christ and follow His words. So you get the UN pouring out its morals without foundation, omitting God, and all the other cultural concepts of religion which bruise the Lord in impact as before in the flesh, and reject Him as Lord, as at the crucifixion, and without reason or reality, invent themselves the moral arbiters, making all things one*3 - one total, depraved, almost unimaginably contorted mess.
He seemed almost to laugh. It was extraordinary, but he evidently relished it, like a worm, and his cheepings, twitterings, twiggy little noises seemed to come like a mini-orchestration. I sometimes wonder if it was laughter, but if so, it was more like glee.
He nodded his head several times in agreement, thinking.
That I thought, is something we touched on in Repent or Perish Ch. 7.
Meanwhile, I felt that now we were coming to the emphasis we ourselves have been making earlier in this volume as in such places as Acme, Alpha and Omega: Jesus Christ Ch. 8 and so on, in the area of sects and allied departures.
What then of the sects ? I therefore asked, delighted to find a fellow traveller in the ways of God.
Meanwhile, he continued without so much as lifting his eyes to me (but they seemed to be in many places, perhaps planning the next meal - it seemed almost automatic, and not at all to divert him from his thoughts), the SECTS had their way. They were not on the same path as the others, at first, but eventually their paths intersected - you see, the path from the churches once believing the Bible, met the path of those who were for so long were KNOWN to be adversaries of Biblical Christianity, of Christ, of God.
They were both going in the same direction, so that there could be a certain degree of togetherness now on the road between both sets: sects like the Seventh Day Adventists, and your local Council of Churches, all one in some undefinable way. They were all ,increasingly and often formally, together with sectaries such as the Roman religion which started the thing early, but not at the very first, because the Arians were long before them, you know those people who are represented in specialised ways these days, by such as the Christadelphians and the Jehovah's Witnesses and the Mormons and so on.
There was some glorious, or rather inglorious rush of these waters together, for while there is a certain togetherness, in all that is not in fact unified, there is always a certain tension when it pretends to be, or imagines that what is not, in fact is.
Speaking of togetherness, I must admit my thoughts wandered for a moment, he actually hopped up onto my shoulder and began tweeting ? twittering ? at all events communicating more directly with my ear.
I could hardly resist the impulse to respond, so I simply moved my lips together as if considering, and said, "Well, we must all shoulder the burden!"
Now it is still a question with me whether he had a direct and simple sense of humour, and this seemed at the time a good chance to investigate this point. However, he gave nothing away to me in this, and musing, as if looking at the precise dimensions of some worm, replied thus:
Above the shoulder is the head: it is time to think!
This was at least some concession. I smiled gently while he continued.
Thus the sects, he added, were giving splendid examples of departure from the faith, and it is only natural that provided some of their ways are not a positive embarrassment that they will tend, at the least, to indicate the sort of way you leave the faith without saying you are doing it, and at the most, become actually accepted. Why not ? They are all doing precisely the same thing now.
With all this flood material, there is naturally inundation, and what is being inundated increasingly is the establishment of many centuries of sound churches, being denominationally betrayed by leaders, misled by teachers and slipped into the rush of waters by career diplomats and others of the quasi-spiritual line of things, people with good mouths and often incomes as well, who can help out when there are any sticking points.
What is left ?
Christians and the Christian church are left; and Christ is still in their midst! I replied. After all, this whole festooning with fraud is something predicted in the most stringent terms in II Peter and II Timothy 3, not to mention I Timothy and Matthew 24.
Quite! he agreed.
What is to be done ?
This brings us back where I had in mind when I began, he exclaimed.
It is necessary to leave ALL this sort of thing and to UNITE with those who follow the word of God, and the God of the word, and do not talk about disobedience as if it were dirty finger nails at a party (so unpleasant, my dear, but a wonderful personality), but as if it were a plague, and do not talk about restoring a person who in fact falls as if it were impossible either, but speak in the way prescribed, graciously and realise that they too may fall at some point as even King David did; but NOT FOR LONG!
People need to form and foster increasingly this very active point: you must UNITE about the distinctly declared word of God, about the Christ of redemption, the God of creation and of power, who raised Christ bodily: you must be TOGETHER, you must be REASONABLE and SCRIPTURAL and GRACIOUS indeed, but also BOLD IN FAITH, FEARLESS for the word of God. You must even read Revelation 12:11:
"And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death," a literal death in this case, but one which was preceded by the practice of DYING DAILY as in Romans 8. You must read this, and then act on it.
I nodded in acquiescence.
I exclaimed, you are absolutely right. There are things
to which one must give... the bird.
It cannot be otherwise. Momentum is not spirituality, any more than a ship simply careering on to the wharf is not in danger of utter destruction. You need STEERING, not to act as if you are steerage, borne wherever the ship is going, as if hypnotised, a mere part of its bulk. WHICH ship are you on! this is the question. SHOULD you be on it ? If not, then off it.
Do you not agree ? I asked the brilliant bird.
I would never plan to be a worm, he declared, cocking his head appealingly, and looking with such an effusion of sharpness and tenderness as quite startled me.
This means you do not have fellowship with these various follies, nor do you heed their voices, because YOU ARE THERE. You are where Christ commands you to be, instead; in HIS CHURCH.
Then he was gone.
Just like that.
Then I saw him at a distance, a little later, in one of those marvels of God's creation, daffodils, spread about in profusion, sometimes in little clusters, sometimes one, two or three odd ones looking as if beauty were poured out like water, sometimes in dear little groups, as if conferring with the wind, and as free. He seemed to belong among the daffodils, I thought, watching him; in the beauties of holiness, where God has set out His ways. For us, I reflected, it means words and of these, His in control. He has not left us without a witness.
Woe, I thought, to those who ignore it as if God does not matter,
You do not re-write your author, whatever the UN, the WCC or the other fathers of philosophy may desire.
You do not ?
But do YOU!
THAT, that is the question.
The answer to that is far
more worthy of thought than the question of the next meal, where it is coming
from. As Christ put it, "SEEK FIRST THE
KINGDOM OF GOD AND HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS" - (yes
HIS); "AND ALL THESE THINGS WILL BE ADDED TO
"IF therefore," He also declared, "the light that is in you be darkness, how great is that darkness!"
the things of the flesh first is like building a tower without foundation.
Naturally, it will fall.
As to the wrong foundation, it moves, with predictable results. It is, in fact, constantly moving.
For the bird's point here, see SMR Appendix D, where these things are expounded from scripture.
Hence our sub-title: the ROAR DEAL.
An interesting supplement to our review of the UN, often found on these pages, is discovered in New Life, 21 September, 2000, p. 2. As this matter leads to extensive considerations, it will be placed in the Epilogue, to follow in this volume.