When the Church Falls in Love with the World: A Review of W. S. Harris’ MR. WORLD AND MISS CHURCH MEMBER

Published in 1901, 304 pages. You can buy a reprint from a local church, or listen to an audio review of the book.

Summary

  1. On the road marked the “King’s Highway” the gracious Miss Church Member carried her Bible and walked happily onward to Heaven.
  2. At one point, the King’s Highway drew near to the Broad Highway and a handsome young man named Mr. World spoke to Miss Church Member.
  3. He assured her that he desired to travel on her path yet he needed to prepare himself, and this would best be done if she joined him briefly.
  4. “Will you not, [Miss Church Member], do the work of a good missionary and, like Christ, adapt yourself to my level, that I may, by your uplifting influence, be drawn into a nobler life, and even have your companionship as I go up to the Highway of your King?”
  5. Though her conscience troubled her, she stepped out of the narrow road and joined him with the hopes that he would soon be converted.
  6. “She justified her own course by what she was aiming to do.”
  7. As they journeyed along the Broad Way, men and women would at times suddenly fall into pits of fire screaming, but a servant of Satan would instantly cover the hole.
  8. Miss Church Member tries to warn someone about to fall, but the woman replies, “What right have you to judge me since you also are on this Broad Highway?”
  9. “Along the way were so many things to attract the attention that the farther Miss Church Member journeyed with Mr. World, the less frequently she looked toward the King’s Highway.”
  10. At last they reached a path that would lead to the King’s Highway, but Mr. World refuses to turn to it.
  11. When Miss Church Member threatens to leave, Mr. World warns that she will have no more of his help.
  12. His friends promise her that she is doing good and that he is changing, and with that encouragement, she walks on with him “in closer fellowship than ever.”
  13. In time she even expresses her respect to him.
  14. They enter the Devil’s Optical College where Miss Church Member fails an eye exam.
  15. She cannot see Heaven at the end of the Broad Highway or errors in the Bible.
  16. Instead she sees judgment and sin and the need to suffer for righteousness.
  17. Mr. World offers to pay for her surgery and eyeglasses.
  18. Now Miss Church Member begins to see the goodness of the Broad Highway and the value of this world while at the same time Heaven fades from her view.
  19. The doctors order her not to read her Bible “until her eyes were fully adjusted to the new lenses.”
  20. When she does read, she constantly looks up at the world and turns quickly from chapter to chapter without fixing her attention on any single portion.
  21. They next find a shop that can exchange her robes of righteousness for a dress of conceit, vanity, and liberty.
  22. Miss Church Member however, would not pawn her Bible because it had become a souvenir.
  23. “Thus I saw how some worshiped the Bible who did not worship God.”
  24. Soon, Miss Church Member was moving happily along the Broad Way with Mr. World until they overtook Mr. Deacon and Mr. Pastor from the same church to which Church Member belonged.
  25. “How came you to adopt this dress and be in such close fellowship with Mr. World?” asked Mr. Deacon. “I am now in the midst of my missionary work…” replied Miss Church Member.
  26. The church leaders made their way to the Broad Way by trying the Narrow Way first. However, when one came to the pass marked Holiness and the other to the pass marked Sacrifice, neither could fit through. Suddenly they saw a sign marking a new path, “To Heaven Without Sacrifice.”
  27. Both of these men were rebuked by other church members but they simply responded, “Judge not that you be not judged.” Mr. World praised them for being “champions in the use of Bible truth.”
  28. Miss Church Member and Mr. World reach the Hill of Remorse where she considers rejoining the King’s Highway, but by urging her to wait a little longer, they climb to the top where the pains of conscience end.
  29. Upon reaching the top of the mountain, they rest in the resort of Apathy where she forgets her guilt.
  30. There at the resort, she relaxes with art, music, romance, and sports.
  31. A woman preacher speaks to a crowd about “The True Peace of the World” and they sing a hymn with these words:
    Sweet world, so bright and fair,
    We would thy pleasures share,
    While days pass on.
    Thou art our truest friend,
    On thee our souls depend,
    Till life is gone.
  32. “She looked into the eyes of Mr. World with more than poetry in her glance, for her heart was now thrilled with the first touches of true love for him.”
  33. They enter now the valley of Temptation where both roads run parallel.
  34. The servants of Satan throw a hook baited with money to the King’s Highway, and very gently reel in Christians to the Broad Road so slowly that they never realize what is happening.
  35. Another snare were buildings named “Bureaus of Information” where intelligent men could have deep questions answered. These buildings had an entrance near the King’s Highway, but their rear door entered the Devil’s College which was positioned firmly on the other road.
  36. From a tall tower in the valley, they were able to see the greatness of the world and roughness of the King’s Highway.
  37. Next they visit the Devil’s Schools of Literature.
  38. Here they find every kind of book with no discernment between good and bad except for personal taste.
  39. Miss Church Member enters a hall where she is taught to enjoy sensual stories and talk.
  40. They see that most of the authors in the world from every country are trained in the Devil’s school.
  41. Ten Commandments were posted that authors might know how to write books that would win the favor of the world. Among them: “Novelty is the winning feature.” “Cater to the tastes and wishes of the majority.”
  42. The deception is so complete that Miss Church Member “now claimed to be a more faithful Christian than ever before.”
  43. Within the colleges of literature were seven levels of Theaters.
  44. In Satan’s theaters, he tries to tempt the best talent away from the King’s Highway. “Thus Satan seems to encourage morality in order to carry out his deeply laid schemes of moral pollution.”
  45. “The hearts of these people are so seared and their ears so dull, that they have no desire for the music of celestial choirs.”
  46. “The money flowing from the entire seven grades fell into one treasury, so that they who moved in the supposed moral atmosphere of the first and second grades, were, nevertheless patrons of the whole iniquitous business.”
  47. “It is no more a mystery why such churches have lost their holy influence, and their warmth of spiritual life, while worldliness flourishes from the pew to the pulpit.”
  48. Mr. World encourages Miss Church Member to attend the theater—since so many other Christians were doing the same—on the same day that she had been used to going to the prayer meeting.
  49. While the two were in the theater, a conference of demons was being held on the same topic.
  50. One announced that the theater is “fast winning the church.”
  51. One said, “We are careful to give [church members] enough immoral and sensual bait to draw them further.” (Wild applause [from the demons])
  52. Another demon spoke about church music: “Of course, we do not oppose the use of religious words, if we cannot induce them to sing our selections. We are aiming to create a taste for the up-to-date novelties in music [rather than old hymns].”
  53. When they visit the inventor’s city, they find scientists trying to bring machinery into the church.
  54. The inventors have created an “angelette” which is a machine that will sing continuously.
  55. Machines were made to help the prayer meeting, but since Miss Church Member had lost interest in prayer, she went elsewhere.
  56. Next, the couple, for now they are a couple truly in love, visits the church festival which is a fund raising event for the churches very near to the King’s Highway.
  57. When Miss Church Member visits with some young ladies, Mr. World takes a walk with Satan.
  58. “Are you [Satan] not afraid that you will lose pilgrims to the Narrow Road and even raise money for their causes?” Mr. World asked.
  59. “Not in the least,” Satan replied, “for at such places as this I gain more subjects than I lose. So I expect to encourage forever sacred-merchandizing all along my route. The churches are glad to use this ground even though it belongs to me, for I concede to them all the money. Naturally, I prefer souls to money.”
  60. Satan explained to Mr. World his plans to destroy the discipline of Christian giving. Simply put, get them focused on raising money for missions through fund raisers and businesses rather than focusing much on Heaven and sacrificial generosity.
  61. “The church must feel the necessity of resorting to business. … I [Satan] hope the day will soon come when the church will have still less of the spiritual nonsense, and more of these up-to-date methods to secure funds for its support.”
  62. They next visit Satan’s Missionary Colleges where they learn that even without the gospel the Heathen are happy, safe, and getting better. Further, Americans should not be missionaries when there is so much sin still in America.
  63. As they travel on, Mr. World is delighted at how similar they both are. Miss Church Member is embarrassed when she thinks back to her old positions.
  64. At this point, they pass a church in Miss Church Member’s denomination. She carefully adjusts her glasses before entering.
  65. The man prays fervently and preaches a like a Puritan, yet she could scarcely believe that she ever attended such a place.
  66. Mr. World then invites her to visit his church where “your conscience is not always pricked, and you can do many innocent things without being called a sinner.”
  67. After the sermon, the minister announces that they have a fund raiser and the prayer meeting will be cancelled for two weeks for music practice.
  68. The church, pastor, and sermon are marked by efforts to soothe people into comfort without any pangs of conviction.
  69. In order to join his church, they have a church covenant with 10 points.
    a. Point #2: Try to look good in the eyes of the world. Do not wear plain clothing.
    b. Point #7: Do not get angry unless someone judges you or criticizes your church.
    c. Point #9: Attend church services faithfully unless sick or disinterested.
  70. The pastor tells her as she leaves, “There are millions who belong to my church in spirit, but who hold visible connection with some radical church of the King’s Highway.”
  71. On the side of the road is an auction taking place where useless trinkets are up for sale.
  72. One man offers an hour, but the next man wins the auction by offering a whole day to some foolish trinket.
  73. After hearing a field preacher, Miss Church Member suddenly has pains in her heart.
  74. In short time, they arrive at the hospital where the surgeon announces that it is simply a case of conviction that he can treat by dulling the nerves.
  75. They have also built clinics along the King’s Highway to treat travelers over there who feel faint.
  76. One man went to the Devil’s hospital who had been eating sermons and books without doing any work.
  77. Another woman came to the hospital who had been accused of skipping church services.
  78. The doctors in this hospital often manipulate their remedies so that the patient cannot completely recover.
  79. Many cases from both the King’s Road and the Broad Road come to the Devil’s hospital.
  80. While Miss Church Member recovers, Mr. World visits a deep cave where sinners suffer the effects of their sins.
  81. One final warning comes to Miss Church Member but she is so full of her own confidence that she brushes it off with “Judge not!”
  82. As they enter the Valley of the Shadow of Death, Miss Church Member begins to be frightened.
  83. Mr. World tries to cheer her, but shortly he too has lost all comfort as they struggle on in growing darkness.
  84. Now her folly becomes apparent, but it is too late. Her long years of sinning against light stack up, end against end, until the mercy of God is entirely blocked.
  85. Finally, amidst their screams, an evil monster pushes them both into the river of death.
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