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Those "Out of Touch, Old Fashioned, Religious Puritans"!

I was smiling as I read this, because I instantly thought about some of the younger generation of Christians who are speaking out against "formalized" religion. This was written by a guy named J.C. Philpot, who lived over 200 years ago, and saw the same problems that you see with organized, formalized, duty-filled, religion.

The neat thing is, that he preached this from a pulpit (dressed like a stuffy legalistic formalist) to his congregation which would have been comprised of a good deal of very proper "church ladies" and self-righteous clean cut conservative "religious" men. You are not seeing anything new and you have "brothers" who can totally relate to how you are feeling. They just happen to be "dead" and didn't play an electric guitar. Read their stuff! You might find yourself realizing that how you feel and what you say is nothing new and that should encourage you. I imagine, back in that day (200 years ago), you could have heard I pin drop.

"For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness,
has shined in our hearts,
to give the light of the knowledge of
the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ."
2 Cor. 4:6

Until this supernatural light of God enters into the soul, a man has no saving knowledge of Jehovah. He may . . . say his prayers, read his Bible, attend preaching, observe ordinances, bestow all his goods to feed the poor, or give his body to be burned; but he is as ignorant of God as the cattle that graze in the fields!

He may—call himself a Christian, and be thought such by others—talk much about Jesus Christ, hold a sound creed—maintain a consistent profession—pray at a prayer meeting with fluency and apparent feeling, stand up in a pulpit and contend earnestly for the doctrines of grace—excel hundreds of God's children in zeal, knowledge and conversation.And yet, if this ray of supernatural light has never shone into his soul—he is only twofold more the child of hell than those who make no profession!

[I can almost picture some of the people sitting in the pews, thinking to themselves, "Well, I never. Who does he think he is "We are all Christians here."]

He goes on:

Man would teach religion as he teaches arithmetic or mathematics. This rule is to be learned and followed, this sum is to be done, this problem is to be understood, this difficulty is to be overcome, and thus progress is to be made. The fire is to be kindled, the bellows to be blown, the steam to be gotten up, the engine to be set to work, the prescribed task to be done.

Religion, according to the received creed, is something which a man must be urged into. He must be made religious somehow or other. He must either be driven or drawn, wheedled or threatened, enticed or whipped into it, by human arguments or human persuasions. Religion is set before him as a river between his soul and heaven.

Into this river he is persuaded, invited, exhorted, entreated to jump. He must leap in, or be pushed in. His feelings are wrought upon, and he takes the prescribed spring. He becomes a professor. He hears, he reads, he prays, he supports the cause; he attends the Sunday School; he models his garb according to the regimentals of the party to which he belongs; he discards shirt collars, combs his hair smooth, and trims off his whiskers; he furnishes his mind with the creed of the sect which he has joined, talks as it talks, believes as it believes, and acts as it acts.

And all this is called "conversion" and "decided piety," when all this time there is not an atom of grace, a grain of spiritual faith, or a spark of divine life in the poor wretch's soul.

REFORMATION is not REGENERATION, neither is a change of life the same thing as a change of heart. There may be abundance of zeal, devotedness, consistency, studying of the Bible, private and family prayer, hearing of the gospel, religious conversation, attention to the ordinances of the New Testament, and a great show of outward piety and holiness, where there is not a spark of divine life in the soul.

Man's religion is to build up the creature in good works, in piety, in hearing the word, in reading religious authors, in activity, in all the busy ferment and excitement of societies and schools.

God's religion is to throw the creature down into the dust of self-abasement and self-abhorrence and then raise Him up to freedom in Christ!


Mel said…
Praise the Lord! May His glory shine and be recognized and celebrated by all of Creation!

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