William Ward Ayer
This editorial speaks to the condition of the church in former days, but it sounds contemporary in many ways.
Millions of God’s people are now aware of the deep apostasy that has taken over much of Christendom. Unfortunately, only the discerning have discovered a condition which may be even more deadly: the new “sweetness and light” preaching in churches, conferences, assemblies, and on radio and television which is preventing a virile gospel from reaching the lost. This lullaby message tries to be “buddy·buddy” with both God and· men, and is vague and unoffending in its’ content.
Such lullaby preaching and teaching from hush-a-by pulpits are creating ‘comfortable pews where God’s people may spend an hour consuming detached and inconsequential “lotus sermons” ‘and, like their ancient Greek counterparts who were lotus eaters, become indolent, dreamy, forgetful, and self-satisfied.
The species is marked by a proud spiritual sophistication, born of much adulation from their undisturbed hearers, and a shining-faced indifference to the world about them. They wear soft raiment and speak soft, languor-creating phrases.
Only by proxy are they interested in the millions of the lost who are travelling on in sin, without hope, to a black eternity.
A perverted but delightful “Keswickism,” in which “the prophets prophesy falsely … and my people love to have it so” (Jeremiah 5:31), is becoming a blight upon what were formerly strong, compassionate, bright-faced, expectant, concerned, and yearning pastors who could not rest when sinners were not saved in their services. Rarely do we hear, even in so-called “Bible” churches, the Spirit-anointed pulpit voice in sin’s condemnation, like Nathan’s pointed accusation of King David, “Thou art the man.” Because of this silence it is rare and startling to hear in our churches anything akin to David’s reply, “I have sinned.”
Pulpit directness has vanished into mists of sweet homilies that warm people to God’s grace, but fail to drive them to their knees with an inward weeping and earnest repentance. America at this C hour needs major surgery, for the malignancy is growing even in our best churches.
While the sermonic scalpel must be bathed in God’s love, the pulpit must not fear to thunder forth God’s searching, condemning Truth, no matter who sits in its presence. Away with lullaby religion in hush-a-by pulpits! God give us a generation of pulpit prophets who will cry aloud and spare not; who will “show my people their transgressions, and the house of Jacob their sins.” (Isaiah 58:1).
William Ward Ayer was the pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in New York City from 1936-1949. The church grew during his tenure from 400 to 1600 members. He was a “Fervent fundamentalist, but warned against being ‘too contentious.’” [source: Wikipedia]
This editorial appeared in Faith for the Family, July/August 1973 and is republished here by permission.