Resisting The Drift Away From Truth
By Talmadge French
Although the scriptural imperative has always been “perfecting holiness in the fear of God,” the vast majority of all holiness groups have succumbed over time to the onslaught of worldliness (2 Corinthians 7:1). But why? One of the central reasons seems to be the rationalization of what is sometimes called “religious drift.” What “drift” amounts to is much the same as a boat which slowly moves according to the irresistible waves around it. The only way to get out of drift is to resist it by keeping a chartered course by means of effort. Jude said, “It was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith” (Jude 3). Here we see the emphatic word which means to exert great effort, or to do all that one can do, to defend the truth and resist sin.
Sadly, drift is often not merely the result of unsuspecting souls moving away from holiness, but is rather orchestrated by those who wish to see changes which they do not perceive at the moment for their full potential. Many of the Trinitarian churches which were once strong holiness advocates began a move away from holiness many years ago, and the drift always took place incrementally. That is, they would take tiny steps away from the previous position, but not all at once, and almost imperceptible for some, and always easier to accept. They wouldn’t have been able to have obtained their goals had they tried to change holiness positions all at once, for too much resistance would have resulted once the move was seen for what it really represented.
My former denomination, a major Trinitarian Pentecostal organization, began to drift away from its strong position on uncut hair for women almost a generation ago. Today it is easy to chart the course of the incremental movement away from the Biblical truth concerning hair to the culturally acceptable view within that movement. Slowly, over time, efforts continued to alter the historic, written position of the church, but in stages and not all at once. First, the manual was changed to allow for trimming of the hair, and then on and on, until the position was taken that women simply couldn’t cut their hair extremely short. But, in the end, by the late 1980’s, that organization finally reached the end of the drift, and totally removed all restrictions from their manual on the hair question. And, of course, they will never recapture the beauty of holiness which they once espoused.
Sometimes it is overlooked that a move away from holiness is actually a move away from doctrine, for holiness is a Biblical doctrine. Perhaps we should remind ourselves that any move away from positions of doctrine once held by a movement may very well endanger all doctrines. Such is certainly the case with the holiness churches which compromised their first love for the world. Today they continue to erode doctrines of the church which were once thought to be their bedrock beliefs. But the younger generation, learning from their elders that beliefs could be discarded slowly over time, came to discard other fundamental truths as well. In recent years, a Methodist bishop proudly marched in the Chicago gay parade and the Episcopal Church stunned its own members by ordaining a homosexual Bishop. Only a sovereign move of God will ever bring such religious peoples back to truth, once they’ve so emphatically rejected the Word of God.
Let’s not forget that this process of accommodation is not mere upward mobility and flowing with the times. It’s the process of backsliding! And every generation has to face it and resist it with the power of the Holy Ghost. If any people should have the power to confront the pressures of compromise, it should be the Jesus’ Name, Spirit filled church which is unashamed to declare the full counsel of God and Deity of Jesus Christ. While our Trinitarian counterparts have reached the point where they’re wrestling with whether or not to continue even believing in speaking in tongues, or that tongues are the initial evidence of Spirit baptism, the Oneness churches have the awesome opportunity to stand firmly for the truth and demonstrate that God is indeed in our midst. “Grant unto Thy servants, that will all boldness they may speak Thy Word” (Acts 4:29).
Article “Resisting The Drift Away From Truth” written by Talmadge French is taken from Indiana Apostolic Trumpet the 2006 September edition.
This article may not be written by an Apostolic author, but it contains many excellent principles and concepts that can be adapted to most churches. As the old saying goes, “Eat the meat. Throw away the bones.”