Muggeridge and Me
Who in heart not ever kneels/Neither sin nor Saviour feels.
George Herbert, The Temple.
Dear DBO reader:
Permit me, if you will, to engage in a little introspection for a moment. Whether in fact I am following the truth of Christianity I must leave in God’s hands to judge. But I try to follow it, and if He somehow were gracious enough to think that I am doing so, I would be delighted. But the main question is always, Shall I walk humbly with my God, and go wherever He leads?
C. S. Lewis noted in his Transposition and Other Essays: “The work of a Beethoven, and the work of a charwoman, become spiritual on precisely the same condition, that of being offered to God, of being humble ‘as to the Lord.’” My brief time on this earth (52 years so far) has made me realize just how little I know and how important it is to be humble “as to the Lord.” It has also made me keenly aware of the difference between our man-made Gardens of Eden and the true Heaven. Christians have always been rightly suspicious of utopias, but the tendency is to fall for them when things get really bad.
I have never been as concerned about the state of the church as I am today. And so I have begun to write a new book to be called Unleashing the Church: A Call for Radical Obedience. I know perfectly well that I do not have all the answers to the problems that are plaguing our churches today. The only thing I know for sure is that the Scriptures are God’s Word and are therefore sufficient for us to know His design for His beloved Bride. And I must say that the more I read the New Testament – and I read it quite a lot – the more I’m struck by its clarity and simplicity – two virtues that, I sense, the modern church is in danger of losing. Through the New Testament alone we know God’s plan for the church, and therefore it is the only source of knowledge that we have.
Each time I read the Book of Acts it seems to be more enriching. The extraordinary wisdom of our God about His church! John Bunyan, in his Pilgrim’s Progress, described it beautifully:
Pliable: “Come neighbor Christian, tell me now further what the things are, and how to be enjoyed, whither we are going?”
Christian: “I can better conceive of them with my mind, than speak of them with my tongue: but yet since you are desirous to know, I will read of them in my Book.”
Pliable: “And do you think that the words of your book are certainly true?”
Christian: Yes, verily, for it was made by him that cannot lie.”
I intend in my little volume, then, to be true to this Book that cannot lie, trying to be fair to differing viewpoints whenever they clash. Unlike my autobiographical Why I Stopped Listening to Rush: Confessions of a Recovering Neocon, a book that reflects my deeply held convictions about civil government, this book will be an exegesis of the Scriptures, and I will undoubtedly sound like a fanatic to some because I will seek to defend the doctrines of the apostles (again, as I understand them) against all human notions of “doing church.” As an incurable Muggerophile, I will attempt to question traditional concepts at every turn. I do so not because I have become soured on life. Malcolm could be acid-tongued, but he was no kill-joy. He laughed a lot, and his love of the truth never turned him into a grumpy ascetic. But he cared deeply for the truth and trounced anyone who dared to corrupt it. Simply put, he was never prepared to sacrifice truth on the altar of charity.
In ten lifetimes I could never be the sage that Malcolm Muggeridge was, but I have learned from him that to be a pilgrim though this confused and wonderful world one must often take risks, must occasionally stray into controversy, and, above all, must be willing to walk humbly with God, wherever He leads.
Might I request, then, your prayers for me as I begin this new journey? However oddly I might express myself (from the point of view of accepted formulations), I pray that I might articulate the central truths of Christianity in such a way that will edify the church and, more than anything, bring glory and praise to the great author and subject of the New Testament, Jesus Christ.
I have never before made this sort of request of an audience prior to publishing a book, but I suppose that had I done so, my previous writings would have been far better. For what it is worth, I can only place on record the tremendous relief a writer feels when he knows that his work is being supported by the prayers of God’s people.
God bless you, and thanks for all you do for Christ and His Kingdom.
P.S. If you do decide to pray for me, perhaps you would let me know in an email. Thank you.
January 18, 2005
David Alan Black is the editor of www.daveblackonline.com.