What Has Happened to the Old Time Religion of the Cross of Christ?

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Written by Jimmie Burroughs- Email this article to a friend

 As far back as 2,000 years ago, the Apostle Paul was concerned about preserving the Old Time Religion; he charged his son in the ministry, Timothy, to be watchful of a false religion that did not include the preaching of the full truth of the Holy Bible and the proclamation of the gospel of the cross.

Little do most church people realize today that the marching orders for the new age religion, that is so prominent in the church today, comes directly from the first paragraphs of the humanism manifesto written by a Unitarian minister, James Bragg, back in 1933. It was Bragg’s purpose to try to create a new and improved religion. He wrote:Today man’s larger understanding of the universe, his scientific achievements, and deeper appreciation of brotherhood, have created a situation which requires a new statement of the means and purposes of religion. Such a vital, fearless, and frank religion capable of furnishing adequate social goals and personal satisfaction may appear to many people as a complete break with the past.”

Yes, indeed, it is a complete break from the old time religion of the past. It was what the Apostle Paul warned about nearly 2,000 years ago, and today we see it happening right before our eyes.

Paul said, “I charge thee, therefore, before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.”  II Tim 4:1-5

When Billy Graham’s early Crusade in Los Angeles was coming to a close, Time magazine (September 6, 1963) published an article by an Episcopalian rector, he said, and I quote, “His  ministry has set the church back 50 years.”  Dr. Graham, who generally never responds to his critics, referred to the remark at the minister’s breakfast the closing week of the crusade. With humor and kindness he said, “I’m afraid I’ve failed. I had hoped to put the church back 2,000 years.”

In 1929, Billy Sunday preached a message entitled “A warning for America”. He said, “What America needs is a tidal wave of the Old time Religion.” I wonder what he would think today, 83 years later, when the church has moved ever so close to the world, so much, in fact, that it is difficult to tell the difference anymore between the believers and the unbelievers. They look alike; they talk alike; they do the same things, and go to the same places.

There has been a big change today because of the move away from the old time religion:

  • It has changed our nation
  • It has changed the church
  • It has changed people

It has changed our nation:

America has drifted away from God and the moral ethics of the Bible. An amazing story appeared in the news; sometime ago, concerning a statement Rush Limbaugh made on his talk show. This is an amazing story and is a strong indication of how far America has drifted from its roots.  I make it clear that I am not a Rush Limbaugh fan and do not listen to his talk show. I believe Limbaugh was wrong in calling a young law student co-ed a slut. I’m against name calling and don’t do it, but is this just another matter of being politically correct when it comes to conservative talk show host? There was a time in the history of this country when promiscuity was morally wrong and would never be embraced by the media let alone the president of the United States. So have things changed so much morally in this country until it is now accepted as proper for a young woman to need $3,000 dollars worth of contraception in a three-year course of law school and request taxpayers to foot the bill? That is the point Limbaugh is making from what I understand.

I don’t know Sandra Fluke and certainly don’t know her character, but to request the lawmakers to include $3,000 worth of assistance for each college female for contraception for sex outside of marriage on the grounds of preventing unwanted pregnancies seems to me to try to right one wrong with another, which makes no sense. And since when is it too much to expect young women, to take the responsibility for their own health by avoiding sexual activity that put them in harm’s way of contacting sexually transmitted disease and unwanted pregnancies.

The question asked, “Is a woman a slut because she takes birth control pills?” Of course not, unless she is planning to have illicit sex outside of marriage and even then under the new morality she would not be considered a slut. However, regardless of the liberal media and liberal politicians, the moral code of ethics has not changed lest the American culture has become agonistic.

There are still some in our society who hold to the moral ethics of the Bible, and for them it does not go down well to be forced to pay the bill for promiscuity; it is an intrusion on religious freedom. It needs to be said also that it is not a matter of trying to force anyone to accept any moral code, but instead refusing to accept the responsibility of financing a moral code that is unacceptable according to Christian beliefs. How Miss Fluke decides to live her life is her business, but it becomes my business if I am asked to uphold and sponsor any actions I deem immoral.

America has also become a Liberal nation much unlike its conservative roots. Values have changed. Integrity of our ancestors is found missing today in most of politics. When you consider Washington DC today, it makes you wonder who is in charge of the Zoo, the keepers or the monkeys. According to one presidential candidate, the old time religion is under attack by the administration and the media. How different that is from the time when our Forefathers and diplomats depended on God for the guidance of this nation.

Ungodly organizations like ACLU have raised up to defy the very principles this nation was founded upon, using the separation of church and state as their reference in such a way never intended by our Forefathers. The move away from any reference to God, the removal of the Bible or prayer in our schools or on government property has had a devastating effect. It has taken us form a time when the greatest problem in the schools was throwing paper wads to having police officers on campus and metal detectors to protect the students and teachers from being injured or killed, but ironically with all the efforts school is still a dangerous place. In many places, teachers live in fear of being accosted by the students.

 It has changed the church:

The emphasis,today,is on the new age gospel “The prosperity Gospel.” I for one am not against prosperity, but I am against substituting the prosperity gospel for the old time gospel of the cross of Christ and blood redemption through the death of Jesus on the cross. The eternal welfare of the soul is being exchanged for the present welfare of health and wealth.

Instead of remaining steadfast, the church has tried to compromise and become more attractive to the world. Rick warren influenced the direction of the church more than any man alive, even across denominational lines, calls it just modernizing the church. However, it is much more than that; it is a complete change from the old time religion of the book of Acts.

David Clowd In his article “A visit to Saddleback church” describes the three different services he attended on one Sunday morning. He classified the music a pure Rock and Roll. He said the dress was like the kind you would see at a sporting event, shorts, short skirts and tight fitting pants, which he termed immodest. Below are some excerpts of his observation of the worship service:

“The message, entitledThe Potential of a Single Life,’ was witty and a motivational challenge to single people to dedicate themselves to God. Rick Warren said, ‘You are as happy as you choose to be. … You can waste your life on vanities, spend your life on yourself, or invest your life for God. Mother Teresa was used as an example with no warning about her false gospel. There was no specific mention of the hard things of God’s Word such as sin, separation, judgment, hell, or repentance. These were replaced with general and vague references to biblical truth. No clear gospel message was given. Some of the things that were stated were good, but the error lay chiefly in what was not stated. This hallmark of the New Evangelicalism, characterized not so much by the heresy but by the truth that is neglected in an effort to present the Bible in a more positive light.”

According to Clowd, everything about Saddleback is shallow. Clowd says, “Truth has been boiled down to such a low common denominator that not much is left. For example, the Saddleback Statement of Faith has six simple points. Note the following statement on salvation, which we are quoting in full: “Salvation is a gift from God to mankind. We can never make up for our sin by self-improvement or good works. Only by trusting in Jesus Christ as God’s offer of forgiveness are we saved from sin’s penalty. Eternal life begins the moment we receive Jesus Christ into our life by faith.”

Note that the gospel is not actually given in this statement. There is nothing about Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection, nothing about His shed blood and atonement. Sinners are exhorted to trust Christ, but that is not explained in any sense whatsoever.

Rick Warren claims that he has not compromised the Word of God with his principles and methods that he has only modernized them, but when I look into the book of Acts and the Epistles I see a different kind of Christianity, a different kind of church there, than the one that Rick Warren has devised. Thus, I must reject Warren’s Purpose Driven methods, and I must warn those who have an ear to hear, regardless of how small that crowd may be that they do not heed the siren call of the contemporary church growth gurus. It is fearful that this church is influencing thousands around the world.” You can read the complete article here http://www.inplainsite.org/html/saddleback_church.html.

In his book “The dark side of the purpose driven, church,” Rev Noah W. Hutchings says, “There are several things that Rick Warren claims needs to be done to build a great church today.” The following are some that he listed:

  1. Change the music to a contemporary rock style
  2. Remove all hymn books and eliminate the choir as well
  3. Change Sunday evening services and Wednesday prayer meetings or even eliminate them.
  4. The word church can often be removed, and the church may be called a campus. Denominational names may also be removed.
  5. Crosses and other traditional symbols may be removed from both inside and outside of the church buildings. The pulpit may also be removed.
  6. Eliminate words like the unsaved, saved, sin, heaven and hell, use rather the churched and the unchurched as distinctions.

It has changed people:

Preachers departed from the preaching of the old time religion, and the result is many churches have become no more than social clubs teaching the health and wealth gospel and ignoring the weightier matters of the eternal welfare of the soul.

Preachers quit preaching on sin, hell and the cross of Christ, and people began to change their morals and become more acceptable of the world and its pleasures. Consequently, today it is hard in many cases to tell the believers from the unbelievers. They dress alike, talk alike and go to the same places. The old time religion teaches that we should keep ourselves unspotted from the world. Christians are to live holy lives.

Many folks,today,are concerned about unemployment, the economy, inflation, and ever-increasing tension around the world, the devaluation of money and a whole slew of other things. However, the greatest concern for America should be that it has departed from its faith in God. The only hope and salvation for America and its woes is a return to the old time religion that was taught and believed by our Forefathers, and also was first delivered unto the saints in the New Testament times.

Paul writing to Young Timothy, II Timothy 4:1-5, said For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.” I believe Paul was talking about the last days. I am sure if Paul were here today he would say that this is the time I referred to nearly 2,000 years ago.

Things today are a million light years from the time I grew up when the old time religion was ailing, but still alive. When I was 3 years old, my parents moved into a 2-room vacant country store building; 2 years later, they moved into a nearby 3-room bungalow. There was no electricity or running water. The rent was $7 a month. Dad had no car and worked for himself picking up little carpenter jobs, farm work, or whatever. I was a happy kid who had nothing as far as material wealth. I did not know what it meant to be poor because I had no point of reference or anything for comparison, in my little world.

Ironically, the most common word used by the youth of today, who do have access to plenty, “I’m bored.” that word was not even a word that I knew and of course never used and still don’t use it even until this day.

When I was 13 years old, they had a revival a block down the street in a little two-room schoolhouse where I attended grades 1-6. The preacher’s name was Rev. Gilbert Morris, and he was an old time religion preacher. The Lord spoke to me that night in my spirit, and I went forward at the invitation and received Jesus as my savior. I have never regretted that decision, nor has it ever failed to influence my life in a positive way.

Today many would laugh at the way I grew up and think it to be a terrible way to live. Whoever needs the old time religion anyhow, they say? How wrong they are! I would not exchange my childhood experience for any kind of the so-called modern ways kids grow up today; nor would I exchange my relationship with God for all the world’s wealth and fame. We have lost our way in America and have been drawn into the idea, by Satan himself, that the good life is determined by how many gadgets a person can buy and how much money they can hoard. I read that, in the last 20 years, there has been a huge movement in this country toward secularism away from any hint of the old time religion. Today many think they are too educated, too intelligent and sophisticated to be concerned with a horse and buggy religion of the type our grandfathers and grandmothers trusted in to take them smoothly through life, even in the most difficult times.

Man’s sinful nature has not changed, even if man has visited space and traveled thousands of miles per hour, and live in mansions costing millions of dollars.  Man has a sinful nature and has a need of the gospel of Jesus Christ and his promise of forgiveness and redemption through his shed blood on the cross. That is the purpose of the old time religion.

Sin is still the curse of humanity, the author of all wars, crime, murders, abuse, sickness and death. Moreover, the old time religion is the only cure. Our need,today,has not changed; it is still the very same as always. Sin is Satan’s enticement to destroy every good thing in our lives. On the other hand, the Bible teaches how to love our neighbors and ourselves more than things and how to live in peace. It centers in Jesus Christ who is the same yesterday, today and forever. It is rooted in:

  • “His virgin birth” – “A virgin shall conceive and bear a son” (Matthew 1:23).
  • “His virtuous life” – “He was at all points tempted, yet without Sin” (Hebrews 4:15).
  • “His vicarious death” - “Christ died for our sins” (Corinthians 15:3).
  • “His victorious resurrection” – “He is not here; he is risen” (Luke 24:6).
  • “His visible return” - “Behold he cometh … and every eye shall see him” (Rev. 1: 7).

Jesus is the central glory of the Old Time Religion. Paul said in Galatians verse one and chapter eight “If we or an angel from heaven preach any other gospel unto you let him be accursed.” Without Jesus, there is no old time religion, no forgiveness, no deliverance and no victory over sin. There is no gospel (Good News) without the cross of Christ.

Somewhere along the way America has lost its soul…what America needs today can only be found in the old time religion. Our philosophy seems to be, “If it feels good, do it; if you get caught, blame someone else.” Like the old hymn says:

“Give me that old time religion

Give me that old time religion

Give me that old time religion

It’s good enough for me

It was good for the prophet Daniel

It was good for the fiery furnace

It was good for Paul and Silas

It was good for our mothers

And it’s good enough for me.

Some would like to complicate the simplicity of the old time religion. W.A. Criswell, that famous old gospel preacher of yesteryear, tells an experience that happened to him which shows God’s simple way of salvation:

He told of a time when the little country church he pastored was having a prayer meeting, and on this occasion, the men went out into a grove beside the meeting place. Dr Criswell said, “I have never heard such testimonies. One man got up and said I was plowing in the field and a fireball came from heaven and knocked me to the ground. I don’t know how long I lay there. When he became conscious, he told how the plow and the mule and everything looked. Another man stood up and said, One day God sent an angel form heaven that told me how to be saved.”

Dr Criswell thought to himself. “I must not be saved because I never saw anything like that.” Therefore, he began to pray every day that God would send him evidence that he was a Christian. Therefore, one day God sent a miracle.

Dr Criswell had a dream that he was in a large crowd approaching the pearly gates of heaven when the Lord stopped him and said, “Why should you enter my heaven and walk on my streets of Gold?” Dr Creswell said, “I know I’m saved because a fireball came from heaven and knocked me to the ground.” Satan was there, and he laughed ha, ha, ha; “I sent that fire ball to deceive you.” Moreover, he took hold of him and dragged him down into the fire and brimstone of hell.

Again, Dr. Criswell found himself walking toward the gates of New Jerusalem, and the Lord stopped him and said, “Why should I allow you to enter and walk upon my streets of gold?” Dr. Criswell said, “I know I’m saved because an angel of light came from heaven and told me how to be saved.” In addition, Satan was there, and he laughed, and said, “I transformed myself into angel of light to deceive you.” And he took hold of him and dragged him down into a spiraling sheet of flames.

Once again, Dr Criswell found himself approaching heavens gates, and the Lord stopped him and said, “Why should I let you enter and walk on my streets of gold?” Dr. Creswell said, “One day I was in worship service when a gospel invitation was given, and my dear mother turned to me and said, ‘Son why don’t you accept the Lord Jesus as your savior today.’ And I did with all my heart and now I trust you to keep your word, and the Lord said, “Enter in thy good and faithful servant.”


“Eternity is too long to be wrong.” With all that is going on in the world today, it is easy to become distracted and overlook that which is most important. The welfare of your eternal soul counts forever, while all else is only temporal. I invite you to consider what the old time religion can do for your hope and your life. Jesus said, “I am come to give you life and give it to you more abundantly.” Learn how you can have a relationship with God.

About the author: Jimmie Burroughs is a motivational speaker and author who has been involved in teaching Christian Personal Development for more than 30 years. There are hundreds of articles to help you on this website (Website Contents) in your personal growth.


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