Barkless Dogs

Phil Shuler

Frontline • January/February 2000

Editor’s note: This article, as you can see by the header above, was published some time ago. In light of the turmoil of today it seems timely. May God move us to revival in our churches!

Why is our society so morally and spiritually out of control today? Why have we swung from an honorable society to a society of crime, sex, and humanism? Why has America accepted the loss of prayer at our social functions? Shall we blame politicians? Does the finger point solely at public school administration? How about Hollywood?

If we are going to be honest, we must admit as fact that the culprit is none other than the pastors who have lost their bark in the pulpit! When I was growing up in El Monte, California, about 90 percent of the churches had revivals twice a year. These were not just Baptist churches. In Los Angeles, where my father pastored Trinity Methodist Church, revivals were held in Congregational, Nazarene, Assembly of God, Presbyterian, and almost every other church in town. I even remember seeing a revival sign outside of an Episcopal church in 1950. A great majority of pulpits in that day thundered against sin and lifted Jesus Christ high as sin’s only remedy. And the result of the great revivals under the Wesley crowd showed in their day a much more godly, moral, Christian influenced society than we see today. What happened?

The moral and spiritual health of our nation, without question, rises or falls on the message from our pulpits. Why don’t we witness spiritual and moral soundness today? To this preacher, the answer is evident. The educational departments in many once sound schools are placing a question mark over many of the cardinal truths found in our Bible and attempting to explain away the very message that the Holy Spirit sealed—the message of original sin, the substitutionary atonement of Christ on the cross, and the guarantee of eternal life for those who have been born again. And with this one and only means of salvation comes the obligation to sever our relationship with the god of this world and all of his sinful ways. Outside of the fundamental, Bible-believing churches, where do you hear such preaching today?

A shepherd’s best aid is his dog. He herds the sheep and guards them from predators. Isaiah was aware of this when he wrote: “The watchmen are blind: they are all ignorant, they are all dumb dogs, they cannot bark; sleeping, lying down, loving to slumber” (56:10).

The watchmen are blind. When you have unsaved teachers training ministerial students, you have blind sergeants training the soldiers how to fire at the bullseye. These soldiers are going to follow their trainers. Thus, upon completion of their training, these soldiers are not going to be able to hit the enemy. Their training is wrong.

How can a blind watchman warn the city of peril when he can’t see it coming? Within time, he will lose the city! This has been the plight of the Methodist church of my youth as well as other great denominational churches. Education that teaches unbelief produces death to the church that “hires” the graduate to fill their pulpit.

They are all ignorant. Graduate students come out with their minds chock full of information, but little that corresponds to the message of the Bible. Faith has given way to education, fact has given way to doubt, and success in education is measured by the word and agenda of an unbelieving professor in some university.

They are all dumb dogs. They have lost their bark! I was in a home once where they had a dog that surgically had its “bark” removed. It gave no warning of approaching visitors. It opened his mouth and you could see the stomach move, but no sound came from its mouth.

A great number of our pulpits are being supplied by these dumb dogs. They open their mouths and you see movement in their body language, but, when it comes to the trends of our day that cause the church to slip from its moorings, they are silent. It will cost them if they speak. The congregation wants a nice man of high education who will not make waves! And dumb dogs fit the bill. So, they preach a harmless sermon Sunday morning. Even if some of the old-timers in his church ask the pastor to consider having revival meetings in the church, he fears such a prospect, for this will go against his expensive training!

Our generation of Fundamentalists have a most important job to do. That job is to proclaim with full voice the message of salvation and separation from sin. If we don’t, our great-grandchildren will have to read in history books about a day when some of us dogs did bark, and the warning was given to a generation headed for hell.

The late Dr. Phil Shuler was an evangelist based in Rocky Mount, North Carolina.

(Originally published in FrontLine • January/February 2000. Click here to subscribe to the magazine.)