Never in the long history of national and international affairs have the nations of this earth faced a situation comparable to that which prevails in this century.
Because this is true, it is axiomatic that those whose decisions determine national policy and govern international relationships have a responsibility without parallel in previous generations. Never before was there an age or a situation in which so much hinged on the wisdom of national leadership and on the integrity of nations whose influence in world affairs can tip the scales for either good or ill.
To appreciate the magnitude of this new individual and national responsibility, we must take cognizance of the two major factors responsible for creating the present set of circumstances.
THE EXTENSION OF SCIENCE
The first is the cumulative knowledge man has acquired in the fields of physical science. In ancient times peoples and nations were separated one from the other by the natural barriers of time and space. What happened in one area of the globe was unknown to those of other areas until long afterward, if ever. As long as the barriers of time and distance remained unbridged, what the people of one tribe or nation did or how they lived or what they thought made little or no difference to the people beyond the limited sphere of their influence and interests.
Even after the more attractive land surfaces became populated and the people of those areas were thrown into closer association, the oceans remained effective barriers between continents. When conflicts did arise, they were limited in scope and the destruction occasioned by an entire war, fought with bows and arrows and spears, was insignificant compared to the devastation wrought by one modern bomb.
With the onward march of time all this has changed. Scientific knowledge has pyramided with the passing years until in this twentieth century we witness not only the amazing results of this accumulated knowledge but an acceleration in the rate of progress in the fields of physical science that staggers the imagination when we try to contemplate what the future holds.
The new set of circumstances, which the application of this scientific knowledge has produced in world affairs, has become a matter of gravest international concern. Gone are the ancient natural barriers of distance, time, and space. Modern methods of transportation and communication have reduced this once big world to a small orb on which peoples and nations, once far removed from each other’s influence, now are thrown together in a close and inescapable association fraught with new problems and unprecedented dangers
World news encircles the globe in a matter of seconds. Modern air transportation ignores oceans and brings each nation within quick and easy access of all others. Guided missiles probe the secrets of the stratosphere and herald an age in which no area of the globe is beyond the reach of any modern nation bent on the destruction of another.
Over all is the shadow of a mushroom cloud that has become the symbol of the atomic age and of man’s ability to release destructive forces so great that the annihilation of civilization at last has been brought within the realm of possibility.
In this new set of circumstances, the decisions, the actions, and even the philosophy of the people of each nation are of vital concern to all others. The position and integrity of each nation are no longer matters of mere national import but have become of fundamental importance to civilization as a whole.
THE ACCUMULATION OF DEPRAVITY
The second factor responsible for the existing situation in human affairs is of even greater significance but unfortunately is less readily acknowledged and accepted. It has to do with human nature itself. To many it is repugnant to be told that in this twentieth century mankind is reaping not only the results of his accumulated scientific knowledge but also the accumulative consequences of six thousand years of human depravity. Nevertheless, the fact is irrefutable and must be acknowledged and faced before we can hope to make realistic progress toward a solution of the problems it presents.
The biblical record of the event through which man acquired a nature prone to evil is clear and definite. God had created the original parents of the human race in His own image and righteousness and placed them in the Edenic paradise to enjoy fellowship and communion with their Creator and the glories of the earth which He had prepared to be their home. Of their own free will, they chose to violate God’s expressed will and through their fall not only become separated from God by their sin but were rendered sinful by nature, which condition by the universal law of heredity they transmitted to their descendants. The consequences of their spiritual death and of the sinful nature they and their descendants acquired through their fall have pyramided with each successive generation until in this twentieth century they have reached crisis proportions on a world-wide scale.
NEED OF SPIRITUAL RENEWAL
Whether we like it or not, the fact is that beneath and behind every individual problem and every national and international problem in the field of human relationships lies the bigger basic problem of man’s severed relationship with God and of the evil tendencies of the fallen nature of what the Bible describes as the “natural man.” Every effort toward moral reformation is a tacit acknowledgment that there is something fundamentally wrong with human nature. All religion, pagan or otherwise, stems from man’s inherent consciousness of his separation from God. The very word “religion” is made up of the prefix “re” meaning “again” or “to return to a previous state” and the root “ligio” implying “to bend or to turn back.” The word “religion,” therefore, presupposes that man has become separated from God and is in need of a way by which he again can turn back to his original state.
Unfortunately, in analyzing our problems, we are prone to focus our attention on the effect rather than the cause. We view with consternation innumerable acts of selfishness and deception and violence on the part of men, and acts of subterfuge and aggression on the part of nations, and we conclude that such actions should and can be prevented by physical deterrents. Our conclusions would be different if we would look beneath the surface and recognize the basic evil tendencies in human nature that are responsible for evil thoughts, evil desires, and evil philosophies that in turn express themselves in the individual and national and international attitudes and actions we deplore.
SUMMARY OF PRESENT SITUATION
Taking these fundamental facts into account, we may summarize the situation presently confronting men and nations under three conclusions:
First, man’s accumulated knowledge in the fields of physical science has created a new set of world circumstances in which peoples and nations no longer are separated by the natural barriers of time and space and in which man possesses powers of destruction so devastating that any nation aggressively inclined is a threat to the security and even the survival of other nations.
Second, these new physical circumstances are reasons for international tensions and concern not because they are dangerous in themselves but because of the evil tendencies inherent in human nature, which cause both individuals and nations to incline to evil rather than to good.
Third, integrity requires that individuals and nations face and acknowledge the facts responsible for the growing crisis in human affairs and then act rightly and decisively in accordance with what those facts dictate.
PRESENT COURSE INADEQUATE
As a starting point, we must try to define clearly the present course, which is to do everything humanly possible to avert world conflict and the catastrophe of a global war in an age when war means possible annihilation.
To that end, nations desirous of preserving peace are feverishly building up more and more military might as a deterrent to would-be aggressors.
They are working ceaselessly to ease world tensions through the channels of international diplomacy and seeking to neutralize disruptive propaganda and create a better understanding between nations by the free exchange of factual information and by mutual aid and other gestures of good will.
Realism requires us to acknowledge that the results of all these far-reaching efforts make two conclusions inescapable.
The first is that all these efforts have at best resulted in a deferment of a world crisis rather than a solution to the basic problems with which we are faced. The world situation as it appears on the surface fluctuates from week to week and year to year but beneath the surface, despite all the efforts that have been made, the human attitudes and philosophies responsible for the existing international tensions have undergone no fundamental change nor is there any reason to believe that they will be changed by further efforts along the same line.
DIVINE INTERVENTION NEEDED
We, therefore, are forced to a second conclusion. If the existing situation is to be changed and a world crisis averted rather than merely deferred, some entirely new factor potent enough to be effective must be discovered and introduced into individual and national and international affairs.
Such a factor is available to all men and nations if they are prepared to recognize and accept it and meet the requirements of its effective application. That factor is the divine intervention of God.
Surely such a statement should not sound fantastic to the people of nations that are professedly Christian. The fact that many dismiss it as absurd and impractical is evidence of how wide has become the gap between our professed Christianity and our knowledge of God’s sovereign grace and power from the standpoint of personal, spiritual experience. The time has come when not only our individual peace and security but national and international peace and security hinge primarily on our willingness to restore realism to our Christian profession.
GOD’S CONCERN WITH NATIONS
The testimony of Holy Writ is explicit. The God of the Bible is not one of a number of competing deities. He is supreme, the only true God, eternal and self-existent, omnipotent, omniscient and immutable, and indescribably holy. The magnitude of His love and mercy and divine grace is beyond the measure of our finite minds.
It is the testimony of Scripture that “by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: and he is before all things, and by him all things consist.” He is concerned with the present welfare as well as with the eternal destiny of men. That He is concerned with the affairs of nations is evidenced by the declaration of Scripture that He “hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; that they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us: for in him we live and move and have our being.”
PROVISION FOR MAN’S RECOVERY
The greatest proof of God’s concern for mankind is the divine provision he has made for man’s recovery from the position into which he fell through his willful violation of God’s expressed will. God has provided not only a way by which men can be delivered from the cumulative consequences of human depravity but a supernatural spiritual new birth through which men are enabled to become possessors of a new spiritual nature that delights in good rather than evil.
To that end, God sent his pre-existent Son, Jesus Christ, into the world to become a substitute sin bearer in the place of guilty men. “God sent not his son into the world to condemn the world but that the world through him might be saved.” It is the record of infallible Scripture that Christ bore the sins of all mankind in His body on the Cross and that He shed His divine blood in atonement for the sins of the world. Through His substitutionary death and vicarious atonement, He satisfied every demand of the eternal laws of divine justice and opened the way for guilty men to be granted divine forgiveness and restored to eternal fellowship and communion with God.
It is a world tragedy in this age, when all the evidence points to man’s utter hopelessness apart from divine intervention, that man’s concept of Christianity has become so distorted that multitudes, even in so-called Christian lands, have no knowledge of the fundamental difference between supernatural spiritual regeneration and a mere religious profession or mental assent to a religious philosophy of life that they mistakenly think entitles them to call themselves Christian.
The supernatural spiritual new birth, which is the heart of true biblical Christianity and the starting point of all genuine spiritual life, is something much greater than any mere religious philosophy of life. It is the divine intervention of God into the life of an individual resulting in a personal, spiritual experience that not only restores him to fellowship and communion with God but creates within him a new spiritual nature that changes his entire attitude of mind and outlook on life. Men in ignorance and spiritual blindness may scoff at the idea of the lives and thoughts and attitudes of men being altered and lifted to a new and higher plane by a literal spiritual “conversion,” but the fact remains that not in all this world is there a material power or earthly influence known to man that can remotely compare with the transforming power which genuine supernatural spiritual regeneration exerts in the souls and minds and lives of those thus born again from above.
URGENCY OF INDIVIDUAL DECISION
It is the good news of the Christian Gospel that this divine regeneration is available to all men who will receive it as a gift from God. It is not bestowed on the grounds of merit but of grace. It is an integral part of a present and eternal redemption purchased for mankind by Jesus Christ through His death on the Cross in man’s stead. Man cannot appropriate it through reformation or profession or earn it by good works. It can be his only by receiving the living Christ into his heart and life as his personal Saviour and divine Lord. In the words of Scripture, “As many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believed on his name.”
The Scriptures emphasize the individual and personal nature of man’s acceptance of Jesus Christ and of the spiritual new birth that accompanies a genuine acceptance. God’s mercy and forgiveness and redemption are not extended to mankind collectively but to each individual. Each is held personally accountable to God for his acceptance or rejection of Jesus Christ. In the life of each individual who receives Him as Saviour and Lord, the supernatural spiritual new birth is a sacred personal experience. This divine recognition of each individual is in striking contrast to the doctrines of collectivism so widely advocated and accepted in this twentieth century. It underscores the fundamental difference between God’s approach and man’s approach to the issues responsible for the developing world crisis. It indicates the key to the solution of our problems.
MYTH OF COLLECTIVE SECURITY
Nations have become imbued with the philosophy of man-made collective security. The individual has been relegated to a less and less significant position as man’s approach to the problems of life has become more and more universal in scope. We have come at last to the place where, having expanded our collective human efforts to the greatest dimensions to which they can be enlarged, we stand amid the growing evidences of our failure to solve the real problems confronting us and ask where we should go from here.
In the light of our experience and the eternal facts of life revealed in Holy Writ, it is folly to continue further on our present course.
It remains to be seen if men and nations will recognize before it is too late that there can be no effective solution apart from the divine intervention of an omnipotent and merciful God.
That divine intervention comes through the spiritual regeneration of individual men and women. If sought and accepted by individuals, it will reflect itself in the attitudes and actions of nations. This is the road down which the solution to our problems can be found.
GOD AND MODERN GOMORRAH
It is not a matter of all men being converted before the impact of God’s divine intervention will be felt in national and international affairs. God delights in mercy and He is the same today as when He was willing to spare the entire civilization of Sodom and Gomorrah if even ten righteous were found within their borders.
The immediate need is twofold. The first is for individual men and women to respond to the invitation of God’s grace and yield themselves unreservedly to Jesus Christ. The second is for professing Christian nations to restore realism to their profession by placing allegiance to Almighty God ahead of human judgment, and obedience to His divine council ahead of surrender to the pressures of expediency. When this is done, the dubious rationalizing now so frequently employed to justify surrender to such pressures will give place to firm new standards of national integrity based on the absolutes of divine revelation and the immutable principles of eternal truth.
ERNEST C. MANNING