HOLY LOVE: A PERSONAL TESTIMONY
Maurice M Johnson
How do you do my friends. I'm going to speak at this time more or less definitely on the subject, "Holy Love", "Holy Love". I got a letter this last week from a polished gentleman. As I remember him several years ago, he was rather immaculately dressed, very dignified, charming, denominational evangelist preacher. He addressed this letter to me, "Sourpuss Maurice Johnson". He quoted that loving description of me, quote "Sourpuss" end quote Maurice Johnson. I presume in his desire to win souls, because he was getting after me for having departed from my former position, and he tooted my horn pretty well. He gave me a reputation that I never deserved in the past, you see; he referred to my past. But in his ... and he was getting after me severely for being what he said was a "sourpuss!', and jealous, and envious, and not being like I used to be, and so forth.
Well, I can say that by the grace of God, I am not like I used to be in some respects. When I took a public stand years ago, the denomination that I had been more or less physically born in, I wrote a tract exposing the thinly veneered infidelity in the Sunday School literature, and succeeding in getting all (that is, I was a leader in it), getting all but one of the Sunday School teachers in the church organization in which I was local pastor, succeeded in getting all of the Sunday School pastors but one to agree with me to put out, kick out, the official graded literature in that big denomination. I was sooner or later called on the carpet ecclesiastically, and was given a comparatively notorious trial. The Los Angeles papers (Los Angeles Times, Herald Express), the San Francisco, Berkeley, Oakland papers, and the Glendale paper where I was then living, gave front page, not because I was worthy of such publicity, because of any position I had except my relationship in the past to the very widely known "Fighting Bob Shuler", as he was often described (Bob Shuler Sr).
And it was at the time, back in 1924, when the Fundamentalist - Modernist fight in organized Protestant churchanity was quite a fight. William Jennings Bryan had recently championed the cause of the Northern Presbyterians. in their fight to put Harry Emerson Fosdick out of the pastorate of the Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church of New York City because of his modernism. And the Fundamentalists at that session of the Philadelphia convention, or the General Assembly, Presbyterian Assembly, the Fundamentalists had won. And so the Fundamentalist - Modernist fight was good copy for the newspapers. So I had got a lot of unsolicited newspaper publicity.
While I was still at the annual conference of the denomination, and being dealt with, the Southern California Premillennial and Prophetic Association, that had their meeting once a month in the Bible Institute of Los Angeles building, elected me the vice president of that, the largest Premillennial prophetic association of ministers and Bible teachers in the country, I understand. I was also given a unanimous call to be assistant pastor to the Church of the Open Door. I got a letter from Daddy Horton's adult men's Bible class commending me, expressing (and I have that letter), expressing themselves as thanking God for my stand for the fundamentals. I got a letter from Bible class of the First Presbyterian in Glendale taught by the late Keith I Brooks, unanimous vote, and the letter expressing their appreciation of my stand for Fundamentalism. And I was invited to be one of the speakers with the late R.A. Torrey at the annual Los Angeles County Bible Conference of the Brethren Church convening that year in Whittier in the First Brethren Church of Whittier. I did get, and I was given an unanimous call three different times to be assistant pastor under Stewart P MacLennon of the First Presbyterian Church of Hollywood.
l did enjoy a measure of popularity. But the more I studied the Word of God, the more I began to humbly obey the divine command found in I Thessalonians 5, "Prove all things", the more I became convinced that I knew little or nothing about suffering for Christ's sake. And I began to appreciate as I never had before (I said I began to appreciate as I never had before) what the Lord Jesus Christ meant when He said, "Is the servant greater than his lord? If they hated Me, they will hate you also." I began to believe as I never had before that that glorious and severe passage in Hebrews 13 really meant something. Now here it is, "Now Jesus, that He might sanctify" or separate "the people with His own blood, suffered outside the gate. Therefore, let us go unto Him outside the camp bearing His reproach." I began to believe as I never had before that I had better heed Paul's inspired statement found in Timothy, "All that will live godly in Christ Jesus, shall suffer persecution."
Verses like this began to search my heart and trouble my conscience, at least so that I didn't want to be at ease in Zion, figuratively speaking. Listen,
Hast thou no scar?
No hidden scar on foot, or side, or hand?
I hear thee sung as mighty in the land,
I hear them hail thy bright ascendant star,
Hast thou no scar?
Hast thou no wound?
Yet I was wounded by the archers, spent,
Leaned Me against a tree to die; and rent
By ravening wolves that compassed Me, I swooned;
Hast thou no wound?
No wound, no scar?
Yet, as the Master shall the servant be,
And pierced are the feet that follow Me;
But thine are whole; can ye have followed far
Who hath no wound nor scar?
It wasn't very long after I took a fairly intelligent and a very definite stand against denominational churchanity and began to feel the sneers and the jeers, the cold shoulders., the isolation from and by my former Fundamentalist friends, that I wrote these words as my own personal testimony:
I've less to lean on, Lord, today
Than ever I've had -- less of clay.
I'm lonelier, Lord, than ever I've been,
With less of friendship -- less of men.
I'm weaker, Lord, with some alarm.
My strength is going -- the strength of arm.
I'm wearier, Lord, of heart and hand.
I have less command -- my command.
But, with less of clay, men, friends and might,
I have more of Thee, Lord -- more joy, more light.
Lord, let me suffer, so much I need
To mortally wound my pride and greed.
I long to know, Thou Savior, Dear,
Thy loneliness and burning tear.
I want to feel with flesh laid bare
The tauts and jeers Thou sufferedst there.
Oh may I feel this world's scorn
Till yearnings celestial in me are born!
Detach me, Lord, I fain would be
Closer drawn and joined to Thee.
Allow no comforts, no friends, no fame
To supplant for a moment Thine own dear name.
If earth-born ties too taut have grown,
Break them, Lord, I'm Thine alone.
It's been well over forty years since I withdrew from everything in religion that a man can join. I thank God that I'm growing more delighted every day. Not only satisfied with Christ as my fire escape (and I speak reverently), not only satisfied with Christ as the bruised sin-bearing lamb, but as my glorified lord, head over all things to the church which is His body. And I'm more convinced now than I was thirty-six years ago. Now ...
By the way I said something like this a few weeks ago, and I got a letter from a fellow that writes me usually without signing his name. There are marks of identification however that enable me to know who it is that's writing, but this time he signed his name, and he enclosed some copies of some advertising matter that I got out in Glendale after the date that I referred to as the time I repudiated denominationalism. I didn't mean to lie, I didn't lie. I'm not endeavoring to do a thing in the world that can be furthered by false statements.
I don't mean to say that when I first saw the headship of Christ over His church as a beautiful holy Bible doctrine and a reality for those who love Him, I don't mean to say when I first saw that and when I actually withdrew my name, had it withdrawn from the denominational organization in which I'd been for years, that I then and there saw all the truth regarding the church which is Christ's body, the headship of Christ, our completeness in Him, the sufficiency of the Word of God, and therefore the sin of sectarianism. I didn't see it all back there, I don't see it all now. But I did take a stand, though I wasn't yet clear on a good many things, I did take a definite stand something over forty years ago. And I thank God for that. Standing unalterably by the grace of God opposed to human inventions in religion.
Return to Navigation