The Life-Force of the Seeker-Friendly Church

imagesYou enter a great mill driven by steam or water-power…

All the machinery is in motion, and what an incessant clatter it makes! It is whiz, whiz, dank, dank, until your sense of hearing is deadened by the confused din. The wheels revolve, the pistons play, the shuttles dart to and fro with lightning-like speed, the hammers descend with their thud, thud, or make the anvil ring, as the case may be. Now all that deafening noise and bewildering movement are produced by the pressure of an external force on lifeless things.

Step outside, and what a contrast presents itself!

The water glides smoothly along, the fish sport noiselessly in the stream; the cattle lounge peacefully in the meadow, the trees spread out their leaves to catch the showers or the sunbeams. No clatter or bustle here like as in the scene you have just left. And yet they are living things here, and dead things yonder.

These living things are also operated on by external forces.

But the living things have power to resist the external forces as the dead things have not. And the result is, that while the dead things are moved as the external powers determine, the living, in spite of them, are moved by an internal power in accordance with their own law of development.

So is it sometimes with churches…

They are full of noise and bustle which are signs of death rather than life. Their movements are those of a galvanized corpse. They are the result of an external pressure which they have not life and strength enough to resist They are produced by startling sights and sounds, and show no more life than when dead leaves are tossed about by the blasts of autumn, or your house is shaken to its foundation by the concussion of the thunder-peal.”

–Dr. William Landels, D. D.

A few words about the author as a Christian and part of your Christian heritage taken from the preface of, “A Memoir” written by his son in 1900: We see the real Landels, the Christian, the preacher, the pastor, the denominational statesman, the father, the man of God. The partiality of the son betrays itself, only in restrained praise and qualified admiration, never in estimates that outrun the facts, or in over-eager applause. He succeeds in laying bare his father s fervor and charm, his need of combat, his passion for intellectual adventure, the grasp and lucidity of his mental conceptions; his love of controversy, and his greater love of men; his devotion to the Church of his choice and his greater devotion to the catholic [universal]  faith, to social justice, to brotherhood, and to the universal instincts of the spiritual life.

In this hurrying age it is a good service to detain amongst us, if we can, the memorials of those who have served their generation according to the will of God. It reminds us of our debts. It rebukes the vanity that credits itself with the creation of the fulness of life in the modern world. It feeds the humility that recognizes the ever-working God; shows us we have not made ourselves or our world ; and traces before our eyes the processes by which God builds.

Baptists at this juncture in our history [1900] will specially welcome this book, for it contains an integral part of the narrative of our development. Dr. Landels has left an ineffaceable mark upon the Baptist denomination, upon its thought and spirit, and upon its organization and service. His influence will long survive him. Even those who thought him a dangerous “heretic” came to see and rejoice in the importance of his work, and to displace the thorns of the martyr by the aureole of the saint.