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The Signs of the Times, vol. 13

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    “Mr. Moody’s ‘Bible’ School” The Signs of the Times 13, 39, pp. 616, 617.

    A SHORT time ago we gave a specimen of the teaching that is given in Mr. Moody’s Bible school. Since writing that another specimen has come to hand. If these two speciments form any criterion at all we are justified in concluding that the Northfield Summer School is anything but a Bible school. The following is from an official report of one of Mr. Moody’s addresses to the Bible students at his school:—SITI October 6, 1887, page 616.1

    “If you had gone into Sodom, and asked about Lot they would have told you he was the most prosperous man in all Sodom; he owned the best property in Sodom—he owned the best corner lots. His family moved in the very highest circles—at the very top. He wasn’t too religious. He wasn’t like his uncle, Abraham. They thought Abraham a very narrow-minded man. But Lot was a noble man—he was just the kind of a man the Sodomites liked. They liked that kind of Christianity. He was their style of a man. If there had been a railroad running from Sodom to Jerusalem, he would have been a prominent director in it. He believed in all modern improvements. He was getting along amazingly well. Bear in mind, Lot is a typical character. He represents the professing Christians of to-day who don’t want to be too religious. They just want to get into Heaven. They keep their religion as a sort of fire-escape. They don’t want to be too religious—peculiar—narrow-minded. Lot wasn’t too religious. He didn’t belong to that class. He was ‘a noble man.’ But God knew about him; and when he came to investigate him, he found a rotten state of things. Lot had been there twenty years and hadn’t any family altar—been there twenty-years and hadn’t got a convert—been there twenty years and not one man had been made better in all Sodom. God he said: ‘Lot has been there twenty years. Certainly he has got some converts.’ But there wasn’t a convert, and all Sodom suffered one fate. Young men say: ‘Let us make the best of both worlds.’ That is what you hear now. Well; Lot tried that, and he came to a miserable end.”SITI October 6, 1887, page 616.2

    Now as this was an address to Bible students, in a school professedly devoted particularly to Bible study, it is but natural to suppose that the ideas and instruction of the chief instructors would be almost entirely biblical. It is therefore but fair to inquire whereabouts in the Bible did Mr. Moody learn all these particulars in relation to Lot? Here he has given a long series of statements, all given in a tone of supercilious criticism, in regard to a person named several times in the Bible, and there is hardly one statement in the whole account that is according to the truth of the Bible, and not one of the criticisms that is justified by the word of God. The tone of the whole tirade is such, and only such, as to set forth Lot as a man who used the profession of godliness only as a cloak, and only as a stepping-stone to worldly prosperity—in short to show him up as a systematic hypocrite, only keeping “his religion as a sort of fire-escape.” And, by the way, if Mr. Moody be right, that is certainly a most excellent thing to do, for it is certain that God sent his angels personally to see that Lot should escape the fire that destroyed Sodom. If it be indeed that Lot, as described by Mr. Moody, was “a typical character,” then those who pattern after him most assuredly have all the encouragement that could be given to continue in their pernicious ways, seeing that, hypocrite though he was, God sent his angels to deliver him from the destruction of the place where he dwelt.SITI October 6, 1887, page 616.3

    But the truth is, the Bible truth too, that Lot was no such person at all as is here set forth in this display of Mr. Moody’s extra-biblical wisdom. The word of God calls him “just Lot,” and “that righteous man.” But in the character drawn by Mr. Moody there is no element of righteousness. The word of God says of Lot and of his conduct in Sodom, that God “delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked; for that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds” (2 Peter 2:7, 8); while Mr. Moody’s whole sketch conveys the idea that he was a familiar associate, and a hail fellow well met, among the Sodomites. But the same angels who condescended to associate with Abraham, and to share his hospitality, also associated with Lot and shared his hospitality. The same holy beings who counted Abraham worthy to entertain them, also counted Lot worthy to entertain them. Abraham sat in his tent door, and when he saw the angels “he ran to meet them from the tent door, and bowed himself toward the ground, and said, My Lord, if not I have found favor in thy sight, pass not away, I pray thee, from thy servant; let a little water, it pray you, be fetched, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree; and I will fetch a morsel of bread, and comfort ye your hearts; after that ye shall pass on .... And they said, So do, as thou hast said.... And he took butter, and milk, and the calf which he had dressed, and set it before them; and he stood by them under the tree, and they did eat.” Lot sat in the gate of Sodom, and when two of the same angels came to Sodom at even, “Lot seeing them rose up to meet them; and he bowed himself with his face toward the ground; and he said, Behold now, my lords, turn in, I pray you, into your servant’s house, and tarry all night, and wash your feet, and ye shall rise up early, and go on your ways. And they said, Nay; but we will abide in the street all night. And he pressed upon the greatly; and they turned in unto him, and entered into his house; and he made them a feast, and did bake unleavened bread, and they did eat.” Genesis 18:1-8; 19:1-3. Now when the angels of God treated these two men so nearly alike, and when the word of God shows them so nearly alike in their hospitality to the angels; we question Mr. Moody’s right to draw so wide a distinction between them as he has done here, and we seriously question both the propriety, and the reverence of Mr. Moody’s laying such hypocrisy to the charge of God’s elect.SITI October 6, 1887, page 616.4

    Mr. Moody says, “Lot had been there twenty years, and hadn’t any family altar.” How does he know? God calls Lot a “righteous man,” and the Lord is not in the habit of calling men righteous who are his family from his fury poured out upon Sodom. But instead of so delivering the families that call not upon his name, the Word is “Pour out thy fury upon ... the families that call not on thy name.” Jeremiah 10:25. Therefore we are free to say that we think the idea that he had a family altar is a good deal nearer in harmony with the word of God, than is Mr. Moody’s statement that he “hadn’t.”SITI October 6, 1887, page 616.5

    Mr. Moody says, Lot had “been there twenty years and hadn’t got a convert.” And “I have no doubt when Abraham was pleading with God he said: ‘Lot has been there twenty years. Certainly he has got some converts.’ But there wasn’t a convert, and all Sodom suffered one fate.” Well Noah was there a hundred and twenty years, and he didn’t get a convert in all the world. There “wasn’t a convert,” and all the world “suffered one fate”—drowned by the flood. And yet God has not laid this to the charge of either Lot or Noah. It has remained for Mr. Moody to go beyond the Lord and usurp the authority to perform that extra-judicial service. It is altogether likely however that both “just Lot” and “righteous” Noah were more concerned in getting men to live righteous lives before God, than they were in getting “converts.”SITI October 6, 1887, page 616.6

    Then at last, this extra-biblical teacher says: “Young men say, ‘Let us make the best of both worlds.’ That is what we hear now. Well, Lot tried that, and he came to a miserable end.” Lot did not try that Mr. Moody. For “whosoever will be the friend of the world, is the enemy of God” (James 4:4), and “just Lot” “that righteous man” was not the enemy of God. But the fitting climax to this whole piece of Bible (?) teaching is the statement that Lot “came to a miserable end”! To what miserable end did Lot come? Does Mr. Moody think that Lot came to the same miserable end that Sodom did? Is that a part of his Bible teaching? How does Mr. Moody know to what end Lot came, whether miserable or otherwise? The Bible nowhere tells. We may therefore very properly suppose that Mr. Moody got this remarkable piece of information, where he got all the rest of this intelligence that he has given us about Lot—that is, outside of the Bible. And that is the sort of Bible study and Bible teaching, that they have at Mr. Moody’s Bible school! We most devoutly wish that that Bible school may become a Bible school indeed, and that at last both teachers and students may come to the same “miserable end” that “that righteous man,” “just Lot,” will. Amen.SITI October 6, 1887, page 616.7