This is part two of this article. Please click here to read part one.
Sinful compromise is not hard to discern and avoid. Those who are careful to please the Lord and, “That tremble at His Word,” (Isaiah 66:5) will recognize such compromise when they ask certain questions about the issues at hand and the changes that are being made by many.
1. Is There a Scriptural Principle Involved in the Issue?
Were the old-timers wrong about the issue? Did they misconstrue or even wrest the Scriptures in order to come to their conclusions? If they were right in their interpretation and application of Bible teaching, how can the change be right?
In examining the foundational principles of an issue, we must make sure that we understand the strongest reasons for the old view before making a judgment. We must not let somebody knock down a “straw man” in order to convince us to change. The money going to Hollywood was not the best reason for staying out of the movie theater. Tradition was not the best reason for not going to the beach (I was told that Southern Christians condemned mixed bathing but Northern Christians do not). The word melody in Ephesians 5:19 is not the best reason for using church music that emphasizes the melody rather than the beat.
There are much stronger scriptural reasons for maintaining the old standards in those areas. Find out what they are by studying the issue thoroughly from a biblical point of view, and even by consulting old-timers before you make a change.
Don’t make a decision to make a change based on a change in your interpretation of Scripture until you are willing to say that the leaders of the past who affirmed the old position were wrong. Men of any era can be wrong, but we must be sure that our differences with men of the past result from the fact that they were mistaken. If you don’t think that Bob Jones Sr., Beauchamp Vick, John Rice, Bob Ketchum, or Lee Roberson were actually wrong about the issue, why are you changing? Is it because the old position is more unpopular today than it was years ago? If that is the reason, you are compromising with the heathen.
Changing times are not a good reason for changing practices soundly based on biblical principles.
2. Is Your Decision to Change Being Influenced by a Trend in the Thinking of Your Peers?
Some pastors, both young and old, are dropping standards because they have decided that “the battle is already lost.” In other words, in the debate over dress or music or Bible versions, the other side has already won the day. Nobody holds to the old view any more. If this were true, would it be reason enough to abandon the scriptural position? Moses said, “Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil” (Exodus 23:2).
If everyone justified the worship of Baal alongside the worship of Jehovah, should the prophet go along with it? Is the new direction taken by even a majority of fundamentalists a good reason for you to go that direction? Of course, it is not. To do so for that reason would be to trim your way for the sake of love. It is the wrong kind of compromise!
3. Is the Possibility of Damage to the Ministry a Significant Factor in the Temptation to Change?
We are told that churches with high standards are losing members to contemporary-style churches. Is that a reason to change? Will the long-enforced standards of conduct and dress drain the student body of the Christian school? Will it be hard to pay the bills if we maintain the same positions we have always held?
When Christian leaders begin to think this way, they are already justifying the claim that every man has his price. What do the stories of Balaam and Naboth say about this concept? “If Balak would give me his house full of silver and gold, I cannot go beyond the word of the LORD my God, to do less or more” (Numbers 22:18). “The LORD forbid it me, that I should give the inheritance of my fathers unto thee” (1 Kings 21:3).
How much money or how many members or how much support are you willing to lose before you will change your position on a scriptural issue? If any threat can move us from our stand on the Word of God, we are already corrupted. The only difference between one such compromiser and another is the price that must be paid to buy him.
4. Is the Change Being Considered a Matter of Applying the Bible to a Changed Situation, or Does it Really Involve Forsaking a Biblical Principle?
Is the new acceptance of “moderate” drinking really a more accurate application of what the Bible teaches than the old total-abstinence position? Were the ill effects of alcoholic beverages so much more in the early and middle twentieth century than they are now, that a no-drinking standard was necessary for Christians then but is unnecessary now? The truth is that the Bible’s warnings against intoxication warrant the abstinence policy in any century. The Bible’s condemnation of nakedness and commendation of modesty warrant the covering of the body in any century. The Bible’s description of the nature of our God speaks against the use of art forms (including music) in association with worship that is contrary to His nature, no matter what the year is.
God’s church must stand where God does on every issue and not be swayed by the, “Way of the heathen” (Jeremiah 10:2). Where the Bible speaks, we have no option but to say what it says and to follow its principles. To pretend that certain Bible teachings are not there is to engage in the worst kind of compromise with evil.
These are not the times for compromise with evil. When falsehood challenges the truth, human beings are always tempted to compromise their principles and practices out of fer, or the desire to be accepted. But this kind of compromise puts them at odds with the God they love, and they cannot engage in it.
Most of the changes advocated by those who want to change fundamentalist ministries today are wrong and amount to compromising with the darkness around us. Clear-thinking men and women will be guided by the Spirit of truth to uphold the right and to stand successfully against the wrong of this evil day through the blessing of the Lord.