A Lesson in Seasoning
Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his saltness, wherewith will ye season it? Have salt in yourselves, and have peace one with another, Mark 9:50.
To my chagrin I found out the other day that I had been misquoting Mark 9:50 for almost 40 years. I was looking for the verse and typed in the word "saltiness" to my bible search program and it came back empty. The King James Bible word is "saltness". Saltiness did not become a popular word until later in the 17th century.
Jesus Christ makes a similar reference in two other places. Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men, Matthew 5:13; and Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be seasoned? Luke 13:44. In the last two verses he uses the word "savour" instead of "saltness".
There are a number of definitions of "savour" in the Oxford English Dictionary. Only a few of them treat it as a noun and only one of those definitions makes sense in the context. Character, type; a characteristic quality, esp. a slight admixture of such a quality; a hint, trace, or tinge of something. If salt loses its characteristic quality, that hint, that tinge, or that trace of something that makes the person tasting something to know that it has been salted, Jesus wondered aloud how it could itself be seasoned.
Salt that has lost its saltness cannot affect that with which it has been mixed. For us to say that something is salty is to say that we can taste salt in it. In most foods that is a mistake. Ideally, a food imbued with salt does not taste salty. It just tastes good. A food without salt tastes bland and far less pleasant. For years, American institutions that were not overtly Christian tasted better to those sampling them because the Christians within those organizations salted them. Like the Boy Scouts, they were not overtly Christian organizations and a Jew or Muslim joining them could be comfortable, but nevertheless their codes of conduct were consistent with Christian behavior.
The utter breakdown of the Christian character of Western Civilization cannot be laid at the feet of socialists, Jesuits, Communists or modernists. It must be laid at the feet of a generation that lost its saltness, a generation whose character could no longer affect the taste of its surroundings. There are few things more pitiful than to attend a meeting of Fundamental King James Baptist pastors and listen to them rail on the institutions around them. It is like watching the salt curse the meat for its blandness, and yet have no hope of salting it.
They take turns beating their chests, making bold statements (behind closed doors to each other), exude testosterone, and generally decry the failures of our time, and yet the plagues of our time have surrounded and permeated their communities and they have been powerless to stop them. They go into their local convenience store, pay a clerk who has facial tattoos, facial piercings and gothic hair, but they have no idea how to salvage that person's life through the gospel of Jesus Christ. Instead, they go behind closed doors and mock.
Some years ago, a friend of mine was traveling with Dr. Sammy Allen of Resaca, Georgia. At a gas station in Dr. Allen's county a rough hewn long haired man drove up in a beat up pick up truck and called out to Dr. Allen, "would you pray for me?" Dr. Allen walked over, put his hand through the window and took the man's hand. He prayed aloud for the man and the man thanked him. My friend remarked that in that county, the rough and tumble people knew who the man of God was. I wonder if we were to ask the down and outers throughout the Western world if they knew who the man of God was in their community if they would identify the local fundamental pastor?
The greatest single blow to the saltness of modern Christianity has been the attack on the bible itself by scholars from within Christian organizations. The second greatest blow has been the watering down of the gospel. There are few things sweeter in a church than a family that is new to attending church. In their first few years, they wrestle with their commitment to attendance, their willingness to give, and their separation from hurtful things. They learn the wonders of psalms and hymns and the joy of fellowship. I personally doubt that one in twenty Fundamental Baptist Churches have such a family attending. We have lost our saltness.