26th September 2012

The New Dark Ages

“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.”
1 Peter 5:8-9 (NKJV)

I had been doing some work in an original Authorised Version Bible that I used up into the 1950s. Even though the pages are well worn, the paper and presentation are wonderful. It’s an old story. Up until the 1950s or so, most King James Bibles, especially the wide-margin ones, which many favour to make copious ‘inspired notes’ in the margin, were printed on India Bible Paper.

No doubt most Encyclopædia, even the on-line ones, will tell you that this was a special paper made with a high rag content, no longer available. Most Bible papers of today feel soapy to me, flimsy in the extreme, and do not wear well, often very difficult to turn to the next page. It is another example of the advances we make, which are no advances at all. Rather they are a considerable step back.

Our society seems to move in that direction more and more. I’m unsure whether it’s a factor of advancing age or just having a longer perspective in considering things, but I see few advances in our society in recent years. Oh, plenty of material advances. I probably wouldn’t survive without the microwave oven, and we certainly couldn’t present you with this material if it were not for the internet and modern communications. So I don’t despise or dispute material advances.

But with all our so-called advancement, we are actually forever slipping backward. Take common Bible knowledge. Not the tricky stuff the theologians like to wrestle with, but just ordinary knowledge. Fewer and fewer people can list the first five books of the Bible in order, or even name the four Gospels, let alone put them into an order. I heard one story recently where a child, old enough to have known better, was asked who Jesus was. He thought for a moment and then claimed that he was a German football club manager.

As Christians, we need to take care that we neither slip backwards in our following God’s way, or that we move ahead when the advance is really moving backwards.  The only way for a Christian to move forwards is to stick to Christ, stick to the Word of God, and to be on guard.

Most merciful Father, it is so easy to go to the left or the right, to go astray from your path, set out for us. Help us to keep close to you, Father, because that way lies our success, and your glory. In Jesus’ name we pray.

Study by John Stettaford

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