THE AMBULANCE DOWN IN THE VALLEY
Twas a dangerous cliff, as they frankly confessed,
Though to walk near its crest was so pleasant;
But over its terrible edge there had slipped
A duke and full many a peasant.
So the people said something would have to be done,
But their projects did not all tally;
Some said, “Put a fence ’round the edge of the cliff”;
Some, “Put an ambulance down in the valley.”
Well, the cry for the ambulance carried the day,
For it spread through the neighboring city;
A fence may be useful or not, so they say,
But each heart became brimful of pity
For those who have slipped over the dangerous cliff;
And dwellers on highway and in alley,
Gave pound and pence, not to put up a fence,
But an ambulance down in the valley.
“For the cliff is alright, if you’re careful,” they said,
“And even if folks slip and are dropping,
It isn’t the slip that hurts them so much
As the shock down below when they’re stopping.”
So day after day, as those mishaps occurred,
Quick forth would the rescuers sally
To pick up the victims who fell off the cliff
With their ambulance down in the valley.
Then an old sage remarked, “Tis a marvel to me
That people give far more attention
To repairing results than to stopping the cause,
When they’d much better aim at prevention.
Let us stop this mischief at its source,” cried he,
“Come neighbors and friends, let us rally;
If the cliff we would fence, we could almost dispense
With the ambulance down in the valley”.
“Oh, he’s a fanatic,” the others rejoined;
“Dispense with the ambulance? Never!
He’d dispense with all charity, too, if he could;
No! No! We’ll support them forever.
Aren’t we picking up people as fast as they fall?
Shall this man dictate to us–shall he?
Why should people with sense stop to put up a fence
While an ambulance waits in the valley?”
We chuckle at the apparent idiocy of the logic, or lack thereof, in the foregoing scenario. However, it is not nearly so comical when we realize that the same scene is being played out regularly in the day to day affairs of our nation. One has only to look at the burgeoning crime statistics and the massive amount of funds being spent on the “ambulance in the valley”–over $600 billion in the past year, according to a recent tabulation of costs related to crime. Though there is much talk about crime prevention, it is usually in terms of education which would merely give us better educated criminals! In fact, the educational system contributes to the malady by continuing to propagate the dogma of secular humanism which intentionally subverts any attempt to inculcate traditional values upon which our nation was founded. Values clarification and the promotion of “politically correct” agenda serve to deepen the rift between values based on absolutes and those fostered by the Humanist Manifesto. Any mention of getting to the heart of the matter, which is changing the heart of man, is greeted with hostility and threats of litigation if Christian values are inculcated. The “do your own thing” mentality and situation ethics fostered by secular humanism is directly responsible for the rampant violence, abortion, and sexual immorality which plagues our nation. Obviously, any solutions they might offer are based on the same rationale that created the problem! Added to this is the fact that the schools are not even doing a good job of turning out scholars which are steeped in humanism! Many high school graduates are functionally illiterate, and those who are not are out of touch with the values on which our nation was founded due to revisionist history, not to mention the stringent avoidance of absolutes.
Another area that is fraught with difficulty is that of the mental health field where billions are squandered each year on approaches which have a modicum of results at best. As in the criminal justice system, the emphasis is on the psychological and behavioral symptoms rather than getting to root causes which will invariably involve the spiritual aspects of the person.
Though some forms of therapy will give a nod of the head toward spiritual things, it tends to be a generic “one size fits all” such as is utilized in the ubiquitous 12-step programs which have come to be known as the recovery movement. One rarely hears of a person who has recovered, but one always hears of those who are recovering addicts of some kind after years and years of such treatment.
Research studies tend to emphasize all of the variables except the spiritual dimension of man. Such an irrational approach to research into human behavior is mute testimony to the fact that the researchers are out of touch with traditional values that produced solid citizens or they intentionally and assiduously avoid facing such foundational information because it would force them to deal with absolutes.
Whether in the field of criminal justice, the mental health programs, the political and economic situation in the country, or in foreign affairs, it is always throwing money at the symptoms with no attempt to ferret out and resolve root problems. The country has been bankrupted by buying “ambulances”, many of which will not even run! While those in positions of authority continue to recommend bigger and better “ambulances”, those “going over the cliff” are now in avalanche proportions, such that “stop-gap” measures will no longer avail.
Since our whole economy is based on building “ambulances”, it is sheer folly to propose that the source of the problem be addressed until such time that the “ambulances” can no longer provide “quality of life” by administering first-aid to the victims; that time is now upon us! However, the transition to dealing with real issues is likely to leave much devastation in its wake.
The church is the only institution that can offer an answer that will work for time and eternity; however, the church of the 20th century has all too frequently invested heavily in the “ambulance” industry and must get back to basics if it is to have any credibility with believers and the empowering to “turn the world upside down”. Since many pastors have become “ambulance drivers”, it will necessitate some massive retraining.
Getting back to basics means that judgment must begin at the house of God. Only Holy Spirit revival will avail to bring about the sweeping changes necessary to effect social reform in our country and in the world. Those who have fallen off the cliff must refuse the “ambulance ride” and lose their lives in order to save them. Only as they die to the answers proffered by the world system will they know the power of resurrection life and experience revival that will transform their lives and make them instruments of transformation in the lives of others.
THE FENCE ON THE CLIFF
by Charles R. Solomon
The view from the cliff is enchanting,
And most will come under its spell;
Humanism promises heaven on Earth,
But its teachings send one to Hell.
It’s obvious our country’s in trouble, but
With man’s answers we continue to dally;
The heads of state can only relate
To the ambulance down in the valley.
To see the fence requires some sense
Which only our Lord can give;
Those lacking Light will have no sight
As for pleasure they continue to live.
Blinded by sin and slaves to its power,
For lust’s fulfillment they do rally;
But when sin’s reign results in pain,
They clamor for the ambulance in the valley.
The hope implied by the ambulance ride
Has destruction built in its roots;
With pain relieved, man is deceived–
Not being grounded in absolutes.
The ambulance takes a circuitous route
Through highway, street and alley;
With Truth spurned, not having learned,
Over the cliff goes the ambulance to the valley!
The Fence on the Cliff is already in place
For those who will receive God’s Word;
Since the Cross on a cliff called Calvary,
There’s been salvation in our risen Lord.
Our sovereign Head, His Blood He shed;
Shall we yield to His Lordship; shall we?
As His Word we heed, there’ll be no need
For an ambulance down in the valley.
THE CHURCH SCENE AT THE BEGINNING OF THE 21ST CENTURY
I don’t think most Christians will disagree with the conclusions reached in A NATION UNDER SEIGE. However, some of the same traits are appearing in the church and related institutions. The area of soul care has undergone a radical shift in the last 5 decades, and it is this area that I would like to address as we are precipitously close to the advent of the new millennium.
I believe I have paid my dues and have the right to make a few observations that may not seem friendly to the church. A quarter century of counseling with people from a broad range of denominational and non-denominational backgrounds provides a view to the broad spectrum of beliefs and practices in present-day Christianity.
One of the main points of consideration is the infiltration of secular viewpoints into the broad area of soul care which I entered through counseling. However, my entry did not take the customary channels. I did not go to academia to learn their approach to soul care but went there with one that God had called me to pioneer. Therefore, I was swimming upstream from the “git-go”; and Christians were wont to challenge my position that I would take a spiritual as opposed to a psychological stance. Those Christians who went to academia to learn how to do soul care were soon indoctrinated with the Christian psychology approach which has been accepted with minor adjustments in the Christian institutions of higher learning.
I was once asked by a leader in Christian education where I placed myself on a tree of the various approaches to Christian psychology; my reply was that I was on a different tree! That is to say that most soul care taught today in Christian educational institutions is primarily in the psychological camp while God has led me to pioneer a spiritual approach which hearkens back to those who did spiritual direction about 3 centuries ago. Since this area has been ceded to the psychological camp, at least by default, the secularists now deem soul care to be their turf; and those who would venture into this arena with a spiritual approach are considered to be intruders! I found in my masters and doctoral work that many Christians have found it convenient to cast their vote with the majority–the paucity of permanent results notwithstanding. In fact, the mainline seminaries are now granting degrees which enable graduates to be licensed by the state in a primarily psychological discipline. This despite the fact that ministers do not require state licensure since spiritual ministry is taught and authorized by the church. Again, the church has knuckled under to the primacy of the state in soul care and, at least by default, allows the state to call the shots and determine the minor role it will allow the church to take. Rather than taking its rightful place as the conscience of the nation, the church finds itself acceding to a role which is accorded by the state akin to that of a chaplain in a psychiatric hospital playing second fiddle to the “professionals” who take the lead in treating those who may have a malady that is primarily spiritual. The church finds itself on the defensive when we should take the stance that the best defense is a good offense, while letting the world try the defensive position for a change. I found that this worked very well in the academic system controlled by the state. In doing so, I found that atheists, agnostics and those of Jewish persuasion tended to be my allies where Christians defended psychology and took an opposition stance.
One can readily see that you can’t reform a system by adopting or adapting its tenets and, essentially, playing on the same team! It is high time that we brought the light of the gospel to bear in soul care and not restrict it to those who are yet living in sin. It is my position based on a quarter century that most of the ailments presently treated as psychological or psychiatric maladies respond readily to soul care that is done in the power of the Holy Spirit. The small percentage that is truly organic would be the domain of the health professionals; even these would yet need spiritual direction in cooperation with those treating the organic problems.
Those who would go against the flow of the Christian establishment must be certain that they have something better to offer than another trumped up Christian psychology approach. The discipline of psychology has many vested interests and does not take well to those who would dare question the majority opinion. I have taken the brunt of that defense during my time of active ministry and still do when I come to grips with what is going on in the field.
Since we are at the point that revival is our only hope, it is about time we preached the Cross since it is the power of God. The only revival prompted by the field of psychology is the revival of self-centeredness which is not likely to point the way to self-sacrifice nor put an end to the self-serving it promotes.
The message of the Cross cuts across selfishness in all its forms, including that found in the psychology departments of Christian institutions of higher learning. Those in leadership positions will have to come to grips with the fact that those who would assay to do spiritual counseling must first be broken by the Cross. Advanced degrees can become a liability instead of an asset when they are relied upon rather than submitting to the authority of scripture in the arena of soul care. Dr. Robertson McQuilken has written an excellent article, “The Behavioral Sciences Under the Authority of Scripture” (1978) which accurately shows that which is needed in this arena.
The Christian establishment has accepted the mind set that psychological symptoms are psychological problems to be treated by psychologists just as a bone problem is to be treated by a orthopedic physician. Such secular thinking has resulted in that position being accepted by those setting the pace for Christian education. In the same vein, most psychological research omits the spiritual dimension, except for church attendance and other external acts, skew the results toward a decidedly psychological bias. A control group receiving purely spiritual counseling where the Cross is central would throw the whole research paradigm into a cocked hat!
The hour is late, but it is still possible, though not politically correct, to call sin sin and prescribe a scriptural answer and see lives transformed by the Holy Spirit. I am challenging those who are on the Lord’s side to cut loose from the moorings of humanistic thinking and anchor their thinking in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ–not just for salvation but for life transformation of those desperately in need of soul care. When we cast our lot with the Holy Spirit Who is the only One making miraculous changes in lives today, we can be sure of revival; all it will cost is our lives! But, then, we lost our lives when we were saved; we are just making it official and having a funeral. Only so can we live on the resurrection side of the Cross and see miracles in the lives of those with whom we minister and they, in turn in the lives of those around them. May God hasten the day that this can be the rule rather than the exception! Amen.