THE VALUE OF COUNTERFEIT RELIGIONS
T. PIERCE BROWN
There is little question in the minds of those who are committed to pure New Testament Christianity that untold damage has been done by all the false systems masquerading under the name of Christianity. However, as I meditated on this subject, I remembered Psalm 76:10, “Surely the wrath of man shall praise thee.” Surely no student of the Bible can doubt that God has used ungodly men and situations to work for good to those who love Him. Let us consider some values of counterfeit religions.
Strange as it may seem at first glance, the tremendous amount of evil that has been produced by false religions from the original apostate church on down to her present children and grandchildren should call attention to the careful student to the glory, good and wonder of the true gospel. This was first impressed on me while in a doctor’s office. The doctor was berating what she called “the Christian religion” but kept referring to the practices of Catholic and Protestant churches. I said to her, “I have no apology to make, nor desire to uphold the things you are criticizing. What do you find wrong with Christ or His teaching?” She replied, “Nothing.” Then she kept me in her office for an hour while her waiting room filled up. I made another appointment to see her at home where I would not feel guilty for keeping her patients waiting. Most of the criticism I have heard directly from skeptics, agnostics and avowed atheists has not been directed so much at Christ and His teaching as at the perversions. When such a person is honest, the contrast between the purity and salutary effects of the pure gospel in contrast with the foolishness and evils of counterfeits can be very impressive.
Closely connected with that is this truth: The value of the true system of Christianity can be estimated by the number of counterfeits. That which is not thought to be valuable is seldom if ever counterfeited. Did you ever hear of a person who would try to duplicate or imitate a little rock found in the bed of a stream? A diamond, however, is a different matter.
There is a third value of a false religion that we may admit, even if it ultimately causes millions to be lost. That is, even though a religion is false, it may have enough truth in it to cause a person to begin to examine the Word of God for himself and get beyond that which is false. We may illustrate both the danger and value if we think of a coming flood. The water will rise twenty feet above its present level. The only ladder that will get you to a place of safety will be one, which will enable you to get up to a safe perch twenty feet above where the level now is. Men come selling six-foot ladders. Is there any value in your spending money for it? If you depend on it for salvation from the flood, the answer is, “No.” However, in some cases, it may enable you to be saved from the flood long enough to obtain another ladder or another means to get above the floodwaters.
We need not fear to express gratitude to Martin Luther, John Wesley, or any other person for anything they did to enable man to rise above the flood of sin and depravity to any degree. The tragic thing is that many, instead of using what those men and others taught to get back to the original pure gospel which is able to save souls, stopped and depended on a ladder that was too short.