On January 13 of this year, the cruise ship Costa Condordia ran aground and wrecked off the coast of Italy near the island of Giglio. The details of what caused the wreck are still being sorted out, but strong evidence points to extreme carelessness on the part of the ship's captain, Francesco Schettino. Over 3200 passengers and in excess of 1000 crew members were on board at the time of the disaster. To date, fifteen persons have been confirmed dead and seventeen are still missing. Captain Schittino is under house arrest, charged with manslaughter, abandoning ship, and causing a shipwreck.
Paul, the great missionary apostle, traveled extensively—including by sea—on behalf of the kingdom ofGod and in the proclamation of the gospel. Paul suffered greatly for the Cause of Christ, and at times was led to recount some of his sufferings. On one occasion he wrote: "three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I have been in the deep . . . (II Corinthians 11:25). In the following verse he mentioned experiencing "perils in the sea." One of the shipwrecks he experienced is recorded in Acts 27 where he and all the passengers and crew members survived the wreck and wound up stranded for three months on the Island of Malta in the Mediterranean.
The New Testament speaks of another kind of shipwreck—that of one's faith. Paul urged the young preacher Timothy to hold to "faith and a good conscience, which some having rejected, concerning the faith have made shipwreck…." (I Timothy 1:19). While a physical shipwreck can be disastrous where human life is concerned, such does not begin to compare with the tragedy of a shipwrecked faith. But the pages of both biblical and post-biblical religious history are filled with countless instances of such spiritual shipwrecks.
A perceptive Christian scholar and professor has written: "Infidelity comes today under many cloaks—atheism, agnosticism, higher criticism, free speech, free thinking, evolution—but they are all infidelity. Its advocates have been bold, but never more so than now. Their onslaught has never been better organized nor more malignant and vicious. Their manner of attack has never been more dangerous. The infidel teachings are filling the pulpits, theological seminaries, magazines, newspapers, school books, school rooms, and college halls. It is doing its deadly work in discrediting in the eyes of youth the statements of the word of God. It is the more deceptive as it comes under the guise of education. One noted evolutionist recently said: 'Give us the children, and we will change the thought of the world in one generation.' "
What is amazing about the above is that it was written over eighty years ago by a devout man of God, Arvy Glenn Freed! The only difference between Freed's day and our day is that the advocates of those matters that result in infidelity (the shipwreck of biblical faith and morals) are more vocal, more widespread, more sophisticated, and now infest almost every facet of society, including the omni-present entertainment and news media.
That great apostle who frequently suffered literal shipwrecks and who by the inspiration of God's Holy Spirit wrote almost half of the New Testament warned Christians with the following words: "Beware lest anyone take you captive through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the traditions of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ" (Colossians 2:8).
The shipwreck of the Costa Condordia is a tragedy. But it pales in comparison to the shipwreck of one's Christian faith and biblical convictions.
January 31, 2012