Having reviewed this work in final preparations for publication, it appears as a whole to be a bare skeleton of the entire account of the departure of American religion from the old-fashioned spiritual principles of Christianity. Many more examples from history could have been cited to help prove the arguments included. Very many examples of contemporary testimony given by people who have been converted, after having been deceived for a period of time by the errors exposed herein, have been omitted. Many excellent parables and logical arguments have been reserved for some other occasion. All of this omission has been thought necessary in order to keep the book from being of burdensome volume to the average reader. It is hoped that such interest will be stirred in the minds of the readers as to cause them to pursue the investigation far enough to be convinced of the truths of these matters. No doubt, any honest and diligent search will quickly convince the enquirer beyond any reasonable doubt of the truth of these conclusions.
I earnestly believe and certainly hope that no improper motive has crept into any of the lines here written. It has not been desire but rather compulsion which has stirred this effort – such compulsion as caused Elihu to speak to Job and drove Jeremiah to resume his prophesying – the discovery of truth. It has not been a desire to convince others of our doctrine, but rather a heart-breaking compassion toward those who seek to be saved by obeying the Christian message only to be deceived by a cleverly disguised substitute. Such compassion and compulsion has made this work necessary. It is something that had to be done. It is done with no malice toward anyone.
Long before God called me to preach the Gospel and to become a pastor and leader among his people I was haunted by a puzzling question. Many elderly saints testified of a day when all Baptists had dwelled together in blessed harmony regarding their evangelistic efforts. They were also able to cooperate with Methodists and others at times to bring souls to Christ because of close similarity in methods of dealing with lost people. From the time of my first awareness of the religions and religious practices of other people, I easily understood that there existed no such harmony as these old-timers so fondly remembered. There seemed to be an preparable division between our society and other “Baptists” as well as between us and other denominations. It was not a desirable division, nor was it based on jealousy, envy, or petty differences. It was a necessary separation based on convictions regarding life-and-death issues. Eternal salvation was at stake. Thus we were becoming separated from others for the word of God and for His sake. Being a studious young preacher with an obsession for historical facts I soon learned that the history of the modernized groups of “Baptists” was the same as ours until recent times. I also learned that in the preceding century, beliefs and practices regarding salvation of the soul of several other denominations were almost identical to ours. As I pondered our present loneliness in the world I was stricken forcefully with the incredibility of it. For the most part, the descendants of those groups which had left their heritage for a new way were not interested in learning about what they had forsaken. Most of them seemed to think that they had bettered themselves by the change and viewed with much contempt the ways which we maintained. I noticed that their book stores contained very few Baptist books for popular reading which had been written earlier than 1950. The libraries of their institutions of learning were full of evidence of their departure from the ways of old, but that evidence sat unused as if archived, and was virtually untouched by the eyes of their students. Instead, their students read and often quoted the works of such men as D. L. Moody and Billy Sunday, and seemed inspired and awe-stricken by every method and mannerism of that rising star of mass evangelism whom they labored to imitate, Billy Graham. I knew that Mr. Graham claimed to be a Baptist. For a number of years I naturally assumed, in error, that Moody and Sunday had claimed that name also, because these two men were so obviously the very apostles of that “Christianity” which many modern “Baptists” and others were following.
After I had labored in the ministry for a decade I had gained much experience in dealing with deceived souls. By that time, many of the people whom I had seen saved had been previously deceived by this modernized form of evangelism.
Many of our church members in some localities had been won over to these new beliefs. I comprehended what had happened on this religious scene since the beginning of the twentieth century, as incredible as it seemed. I could not imagine how such an extensive apostasy could have occurred. I felt I must know!
My mind was full of hypotheses which were based on what I knew to be true, but I lacked the documentation to confirm my theories and could not find adequate time for extensive research. It was at that time that I met a studious young preacher. Brother Darrell Hicks and I seemed to be drawn toward one another by common interests. He had his mind set on religious education and after a time chose a college of “Fundamental Baptist” variety to pursue his goals. I never believed that he would be able to abide there because of an unavoidable conflict of convictions, and so it proved to be, but the Lord had a purpose in his going that was not immediately apparent. In half of one year he was able to learn a great deal about the thinking of that society. Following that experience, he and I were together on the same field of labor for two years. During the fellowship of those two years, the knowledge which I had acquired and that which he had acquired began falling together like the pieces of a puzzle in a most amazing fashion. The answer to that haunting question which had puzzled me for twenty years began to emerge. One by one I expounded to Brother Hicks my carefully reasoned hypotheses and they would seem to strike a familiar note with him. He would return to his extensive library and employ his superb research ability to find much of the documented proof of what I had proposed. In this manner we learned much. We began to see the channel by which the great fortress of old-time religion had been infiltrated, undermined, and overthrown by an enemy so deceptive and clever that very few people ever realized that any significant change was occurring. It is an amazing story that deserves to be told. Perhaps our evidence is only a skeleton of the truth which lies buried beneath our notice and some of that evidence is perhaps gone forever. Some of our readers will have already discovered corroborating evidence unknown to us, which will clearly fit as other pieces into this mysterious puzzle. To uncover the truth is our aim. Although some may not like our report, knowing it is the truth, we will be peacefully satisfied.
It is with a conviction that an accurate knowledge of the past and the wisdom gained from putting history in perspective will help many to correct their future course that this work is humbly set forth. May the blessed enlightening power of the Holy Spirit use it to the glory of God! The peace of God through our Savior Jesus Christ be with you. Amen!
Jerry A. Reynolds
December 14, 1982
Many years have passed since the foregoing preface was written. A few additions have been made because of newly discovered writings which seemed to confirm our findings. This the reader may perceive by comparing dates. Volume 1 is being sent forth in hope of future completion. To it I add the name of my fellow researcher in this quest. While the writing in this volume is mine, much of the research is his.
Jerry A. Reynolds