The Dearth of Conversions - Andrew Murray - ebook
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THE British Weekly of 10th December had a leading article with the title, “Mark Rutherford on the Dearth of Modern Conversions.”After quoting from the novelist, the writer endorses his opinion that conversions of the old fashioned type are becoming rarer: “In churches that are both prosperous and enterprising, and whose praise is in all the land, conversions, of the old order at least, are unknown.”In answer to the question, “Can any explanation be rendered of the fact?” he reminds us of the influence of the Christian home, as leading men into the Christian life without any abrupt transition. He speaks of the shadow of Darwin resting upon the messenger of peace, and leading men to expect more from slow evolution than from a sudden change. “The spiritual expectations of the Christian Church are restrained by the accepted idea, or at least the expectations, of those who give the keynote to the temper and religious enterprise of our times.” Materialistic views of sin have a share in hindering both effort and expectation.

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The Dearth of Conversions

by

Rev. ANDREW MURRAY,

Author of “Abide in Christ,”

“Absolute Surrender,”

“The Holiest of All,”

“Humility,”

&c.

London:

Marshall Brothers, Keswick House, Paternoster Row.

Edinburgh:

The Christian Literature Co., 108 Lothian Road.

Hope. Inspiration. Trust.

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Contents

I.—THE EVIL

A Word of Caution

The Higher Criticism

What a Terrible Contrast!

God’s Voice of Warning

III.—THE CAUSE

It is This We Need to Know

Proofs of the Presence of a Worldly Spirit

Makes Strong Christians

Not Training Men for Direct Gospel Preaching

IV.—THE CURE

The Solidarity of the Body

The One Great Sorrow of His People?

That Church Will Have Conversions

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theDEARTH OF CONVERSIONS1

I.—THE EVIL

THE British Weekly of 10th December had a leading article with the title, “Mark Rutherford on the Dearth of Modern Conversions.”

After quoting from the novelist, the writer endorses his opinion that conversions of the old fashioned type are becoming rarer: “In churches that are both prosperous and enterprising, and whose praise is in all the land, conversions, of the old order at least, are unknown.”

In answer to the question, “Can any explanation be rendered of the fact?” he reminds us of the influence of the Christian home, as leading men into the Christian life without any abrupt transition. He speaks of the shadow of Darwin resting upon the messenger of peace, and leading men to expect more from slow evolution than from a sudden change. “The spiritual expectations of the Christian Church are restrained by the accepted idea, or at least the expectations, of those who give the keynote to the temper and religious enterprise of our times.” Materialistic views of sin have a share in hindering both effort and expectation.

Above all, the questions of the hour, and the desire to be perfectly fair in his statement of the old doctrines, paralyse many a preacher. “The result is that he is often found carrying upon his aching heart problems in criticism and theology, rather than what his forefathers called the burden of souls. There is scarcely any place left in his thoughts for the growth of that faith which realised those frequent and striking conversions which were the glory of the last generation. The very soul of the present-day teacher seems to evaporate in the attempt to present candid, painfully balanced, delicately conceived statements of the truth. And such statements, however necessary, never seem to stir profoundly the hearts of their hearers.” “The zeal, self-denial, straining expectation which have been the co-operant human factors in that great evangelical movement, do seem to have exhausted themselves for the time.”

The writer concludes: “If the modern dearth of conversions is to be arrested, the revival movements of the past will need a fresh replenishment from the Divine spring which gave them birth.”

A week later there appeared in The Christian a letter from Mr Moody to The New York Independent on the same subject, though from a very different standpoint. It is a reference to a statement in a previous issue of that paper, “that there were over three thousand churches in the Congregational and Presbyterian bodies in the United States that did not report a single member added by profession of faith during the year.” Mr Moody writes: “Can this be true? The thought has taken such hold of me that I cannot get it out of my mind. It is enough almost to send a thrill of horror through the soul of every true Christian. Are we all going to sit still and let this thing continue? Should we not lift up our voice like a trumpet about this matter? What must the Son of God think of such a result of our labour as this?”

In a leader on Mr. Moody’s communication, The Independent explains that some allowance must be made for the new churches founded within the year, from which no report could be expected, for small churches without a pastorate, and for those that have failed to send up any report. It expresses its disagreement with what Mr Moody had said in his letter about the modern criticism, the labour talks, and the politics that have found their way into the pulpit. It does not believe that these are the causes. And then it proceeds: “But with all this true, … Mr Moody does well to be astonished and pained at the thousands of churches which reported not a single member added by profession of faith last year. It is enough to send a thrill of pain through the soul of every true Christian.”

On this there followed A Call to Prayer and Work, by Mr Moody. After referring to what has been stated above, he writes: “During the remaining days of the year, let us all wait upon our Master for a special preparation for the coming winter; and when the New Year comes, why should not every Christian Church in America and England begin the season with a thirty-days’ series of Gospel meetings?… If every church will but answer to this appeal with open doors and hearty response; if every pastor will exert himself to spend and be spent in the Master’s service at this special season; if every officer will give his sympathy and co-operation to the work, the Church will have cause to remember January 1897, both in time and through eternity.”

I have been surprised that these papers have not met with more response. In The British Weekly of 24th December there appeared two letters, with a short sub-leader on the subject. In the following number of The Christian there were four or five letters. I know not what may have followed; but one would have thought that the terrible revelation would have mused many to lift up their voice. The matter appears to me to be one of such vital and tremendous interest, that I feel urged to take up my pen and ask my fellow-believers to join me in considering what these statements mean, and how they are to be dealt with, if any deliverance is to be expected.

Let me begin with

A Word Of Caution

One great danger appears to me to be, that we do not take time to realise the extent and the depth of the evil