The Christian Leaven -- By: Albert Howe Lybyer

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 073:292 (Oct 1916)
Article: The Christian Leaven
Author: Albert Howe Lybyer

The Christian Leaven

Albert Howe Lybyer, Ph.D.

In the familiar parable of the leaven (Matt. 13:33) Jesus Christ seems to teach that in the course of time the whole world will become in some degree Christian. The phrase “kingdom of heaven” is used by Him often to denote His own and God’s moral and religious power in the world, or to include those persons, whether organized into a church or not, who acknowledge His supremacy. For in the “kingdom of heaven “it is He who is to be King. But not a king of the ordinary sort with crown and scepter, government and army. “My kingdom,” He told Pilate, “is not of this world.” Nevertheless, though His kingdom is not “of this world,” it is in this world, like the good seed that is sown, and grows up mixed with tares. Again, it begins as a small thing, a grain of mustard seed, and grows into a great plant. And in the parable of the leaven the promise is indicated, that the small amount of the leaven of the kingdom, though hidden in a large quantity of meal, will leaven it all.

Now this may not be the exact meaning of the parable. Many interpretations have been given to some of the sayings of Jesus. Do the facts of Christian history and experience, for nearly nineteen centuries, give good evidence that the Christian leaven will cause the whole world to rise?

It is rather the fashion now, even among church people, to

take the negative side of this question. Many books and other writings of late years have discussed defects in our civilization, weaknesses in the churches, and vices in humanity, to a previously unheard-of extent, while the outbreak of the Great War has led to some expressions of utter pessimism. Many individuals have suffered disillusionment in passing from youth to mature life, in regard to the general conditions of our time and country. They have perhaps thought at one time that in America political ideals and practice had reached their ultimate perfection, that decency, honesty, and truth had forever driven away their opposites, that pure religion and undefiled was the belief and practice of all people of any worth, high or low; and they have perhaps read pityingly of the evils and injustices of days long past, or lands far away — of Assyrian cruelty and Roman venality, of Chinese corruption and African lawlessness; and then perhaps they have learned gradually that the supposedly old and faraway evils appear one by one in our own land, that among our hundred millions of people are some who practice any vice, some who are capable of any crime, some who shrink not from inflicting any wrong, that ever stained humanity from the beginning of time: and it may b...

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