A Truthful Ministry
By L.H. Christian
We say we preach the Truth, and we may spell it with a capital " T." That is all right, but we should also have the truth that is spelled with an ordinary " t." What do I mean by that? I mean that we should not only be truthful, as we say, but especially should we avoid exaggeration. You have all heard of the preacher who was greatly given to exaggerating. It was decided that the bishop should admonish him, and request him to make an apology. The guilty preacher got up greatly moved, and said, " Brethren, I am sorry. I repent of my weakness; indeed, when I think of it, I am so sorry that I could shed barrels of tears." That man was incorrigible, and was adjudged as such. Exaggerated statements in our sermons or conversation, whether statistical or otherwise, hurt our influence with the people and hinder the work.
We need to exercise most painstaking care that in all our teaching and sermons we present the word of God simply and truthfully. Some have a habit of drawing far-fetched conclusions or of choosing unusual texts. For instance, I have a number of times heard preachers speak on such texts as the seven women of Isaiah 4: I. In each case they wrested the word of God in such a way as to do plain violence to a clear and not difficult statement.
We must never forget the fundamental rule of Bible exegesis,— that every scripture is to be taken in its literal sense, unless the context makes it plain that it is figurative or symbolic. We should not force scriptures to speak of this age when they refer to some other time or to all time. We should beware of pressing the allegorical interpretation of scripture, as it is very dangerous, being usually an expression of the speaker's own imagination or prejudice. We are warned not to handle " the word of God deceitfully," but to commend ourselves " to every man's conscience in the sight of God; " " for we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ."
Religious Liberty Jottings
By H.H. Votaw
While it is doubtless true that the passage of the Lankford bill would bring persecution to Seventh-day Adventists in the District of Columbia, and while 'it seems clear to those of us who have watched the efforts made to secure its passage at the nation's capital that it is intended as a model for other places and that favorable action by the Federal Congress upon the measure will be urged by its proponents as a reason for the enforcement of Sunday laws which are already on State statute books, the poorest excuse we can offer for opposing it is that we would suffer because of it. In standing for the great principles of liberty enunciated by Jesus Christ and embodied in the Constitution of our country, we are surely to be moved by a higher motive than self-interest. As Christians, we should give first thought to others, and not to self. We can never be worthy followers of Jesus Christ until we have caught the spirit of the One who said He " came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many."
Fines, confiscation of property, even the loss of life itself, have not the power to separate us from God; but persecution darkens the vision and dries up the spirituality of the persecutor. It is as much our duty to seek to save men from falling into the terrible sin of judging their fellow men and persecuting them for differing in matters of conscience, as it is for us to endeavor to save them from any other sin.
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When Mr. Lankford announced just before the close of the session in 1927 that though he knew that his bill in the Sixty-ninth Congress was doomed, yet he proposed reintroducing it in the Seventieth Congress, his statement was accepted as a challenge by lovers of liberty all over the country. Our people have done admirably in circulating literature and securing signers to petitions protesting against this religious measure. Thousands of Seventh-day Adventists have prayed and worked that the tide of persecution might be stemmed so that we may warn our neighbors and friends. God has graciously heard, and up to the present time the committee has not even granted hearings on the Lankford bill. Our prayers have been answered, and yet many are disappointed. Hardly a day passes but some one asks whether there has really been any danger, or if a few men have been alarmed without cause. Letters come in from various parts of the field, suggesting that there has been a cry of " Wolf, wolf," when there has been no wolf.
Isn't it strange, brethren? The statement of Christ that the children of the world are wiser in their generation than the children of light, might seem to apply at this time concerning some of our folk. As an example, this brief word from an editorial in the Chicago Tribune of March 8, 1928, is striking:
"The intent of the [Lankford] bill is to compel uniform Sunday behavior by law." Referring to the proponents, this is added: " They are pounding Congress with vigor in the belief that their opportunity was never better." " The District being governed by Congress is helpless if the lobby back of the Sabbatarian bill can prevail with timid Congressmen. It is the guinea pig of reform legislation, intended to begin there and then sweep the country."
Since God has graciously given us additional time in which to work, let us thank Him, take new courage, and pledge ourselves afresh to the task of educating men and women concerning the evils of religious legislation. We need the conviction of duty and privilege rather than the excitement of immediate danger, to provoke us to good works. The wise mariner heeds the storm signals, and prepares his ship before the storm breaks.
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Besides its being necessary for every Representative and at least one third of the Senators to run for office in 1928, it is also Presidential election year. Owing to the agitation which has stirred the country because of the religious belief of one of the men who is prominently mentioned as a Presidential candidate, many of the members of Congress who would naturally support the Lankford bill, feel that no further religious complications should be injected into the struggle. Without being able to state positively that the conditions above referred to have worked in our behalf, I am convinced in my own mind that they have. It should be remembered that though Congress may close without any further attention being given to the Lankford bill, it will nevertheless be on the calendar for consideration when the session opens in December, 1928. There can be no possible excuse for our lessening our activities.
Two of the members of our Palo Alto (Calif.) church took a petition to the Leland Stanford University, and secured the signatures of Dr. David Starr Jordan, the president emeritus, and his wife; Dr. R. L. Wilbur, the president of the University; Dr. Leonard Ely, professor of surgery, and his wife, who is a daughter of President Wilbur; Prof. M. R. Kirkwood, dean of the law school; C. B. Whittier, professor of law, and his wife; J. E. Brenner, law librarian, and his wife; C. G. Vernier, and his wife; Sydney D. Townley, professor of mathematics; Henry W. Stewart, associate professor of political science, and his wife; John K. Branner, son of a former president of the university; Casey A. 'Wood, lecturer in zoology; and others connected with the faculty of this great school.
Washington, D. C.
Blasting at the Foundations
BY J. F. Simon
We here continue the discussion begun in the March MINISTRY in the article, " Snipers in the Christian Camp." In their attempt to make clear the reason for Christian missions, the university students gathered with Dr. Soper, of Duke University, raised a very timely question, namely, " Is Jesus Christ a way, or the way? " Addresses given in the Student Volunteer Convention, of which Dr. Soper's discussion group was a part, led to this inquiry.
If Jesus is the way, then all men must be led to Him. If He is a way, then there are other ways, and it only remains to be defined whether the way of Jesus is better than the way of Buddha, Confucius, or other leaders.
While several students expressed their belief that Jesus is the only way, none seemed willing to accept the logical conclusion of such a position,—that without a knowledge of Christ all men would be lost. The illustration of many roads leading to a city, the only difference being the condition of the roads, seemed to meet general approval in its application to the religions of the world, Christianity taking its place among all the highways of religion as the best, because it is the easiest way.
And here was involved the motive for missions. We should preach the gospel to the heathen because we know an easier way than they are traveling, seemed to be the prevailing opinion. It was pointed out, however, that they will all " get there " anyway, though their way be dark and very difficult.
But what is this way? To what does it lead? Christ is the way to what? Some one suggested that He is a way to heaven, but the existence of a heaven was denied. It occurred to some one to mention redemption as an answer to the question, but this involved insurmountable difficulties. How can there be a process of redemption from sin when there is no sin? Life starts as a narrow existence, limited by our understanding. Truth enlarges our vision, and through self-effort and the dynamic afforded by the Christian religion we develop from a narrow to a larger life. Christ, it was asserted, is a way to a larger life, being, if not the greatest, one of the greatest teachers of truth! Christ makes the life more complete. What does He add to the life that cannot be gotten in any other way? The rules of Buddhism, Confucianism, and Christianity are equally good. But Christ gives moral dynamic to His teaching.
With such a conception of Christianity in their minds, I was not surprised to find students very much in doubt about the 'call to foreign missions. Many were asking their leader how one may know the real truth about it all. The answer of Dr. Soper will be given in the next article.
The Missionary's Wife
By Arabella J. Moore
"The Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a help meet for him." God, therefore, designed that a man's wife should be his helper, should inspire him to better and greater things, and with him strive to conquer life's problems. Together they should plan and work to win the battles that confront them.
When I visited the Hall of Fame in the Capitol in Washington, D. C., I found just one statue of a woman,—Frances E. Willard of Illinois. But one can never know how many monuments of men were there because of the good home-making influence, the encouragement, the help and counsel, of some wife or mother. Many a man has been either a success or a failure because of the part his wife played in his life. Surely this principle holds true in the mission field. Our missionaries' wives may be a great help to their husbands, or a hindrance and a detriment.
A short time ago a young lady of a church we were visiting, in bidding us farewell, as we were soon to return to Brazil, said, " I envy you your trip. Every time a missionary goes out I feel like going along, for they do not have the temptations of style and dress with which to contend."
Alas! how sadly she was mistaken! One need not think that he can run away from temptations that are about him by going to a foreign mission field. Those temptations must be conquered in the homeland, for they are just as strong in the mission field as anywhere else. Let us take the experience of one young couple called to mission work:
The young wife, who loved to dress in a worldly fashion, was only too glad to go because she thought that when she was away from her old friends she would not be tempted to dress elaborately or in the latest style. But to her sorrow she discovered when she reached the mission field that they were one of a small group of American families. The other American wives, not being of missionary families, had husbands in business who were in the foreign land to make money, and they dressed accordingly. This young missionary found that she wanted to dress in the mission field just as much as at home, if not even more. To make a long story short, the young girl finally left the truth and pulled her talented husband out of the Lord's work and message. Their mission experience had a very sad ending, largely because of the love of dress and the fallacy of thinking one can run to a mission field and thereby escape temptation. We missionary wives need to guard carefully our example and influence and our manner of dress.
The minister's wife is sent out by the Mission Board the same as her husband, and in a sense has a Christian obligation to prepare herself for efficient service. She may be a wonderful help in the church, but only when she knows the language of the natives. It is through the medium of speech alone that one becomes fully acquainted with those about him; and so to work patiently for those in the mission field, one must be able to speak to them. To learn to love and appreciate them and see their viewpoint, one must acquire a knowledge of their medium of expression. For this reason the missionary's wife should not be content with just understanding the language more or less, but should aim at acquiring a knowledge that will enable her to converse intelligently in it. In order to do this, one must have more than a mere grammatical knowledge of the language; one must become acquainted with the history of the country and people, as well as their literature, and keep up to date with the trend of their national development.
A missionary's wife is called upon to do many things outside her home that are not expected from one in the homeland. It takes time and patience to do the extra things, but they do help to win hearts and souls to Christ. With a true love for souls the most difficult task becomes a pleasure, and brings joy and satisfaction to one such as ease and creature comforts can never give.
To illustrate: I was treasurer in a large church in Brazil. I had a small table in the back part of the auditorium, where I received the envelopes containing tithes and offerings. I was always there from twenty minutes to one half hour before Sabbath school began, and many times I had to fill out the tithe slips because many of our members did not know how to write. I handled about $10,000 a year, and at the same time acted as organist for the Sabbath school and church, as well as playing five nights a week for a tent effort during that season. I had a little girl about two years old to care for, as well as my other home duties. One has to serve patiently those for whom he labors, loving them, winning their confidence by kindly dealing and setting the proper example.
When a member of another church, I endeavored to build up the children's department in the Sabbath school. The tiny tots had nothing to make Sabbath school interesting. We ordered some sand boxes made. With the help of my teachers we cut out figures of people, animals, birds, and houses from magazines to use in the sand boxes. We had no memory verse cards at that time, so we spent many hours each week cutting out flowers or pictures of children or something in color from magazines, and pasting these on slips of paper, on which we also wrote the memory verse for the following week. I wish the people in the homeland could have seen how eager the children were to get those crude little memory verse cards. It is needless to say that our attendance and our offerings for missions increased wonderfully in this department. Our feeble efforts were greatly appreciated by all.
And a missionary's wife can be a great help if she has some medical knowledge, such as the nurses' training, or special preparation and experience along the line of obstetrics. There is a great field open to the one who can aid in physical emergencies and teach authoritatively our health principles, as well as spiritual truths. We have had a few Adventist missionary nurses in our mission field, and their services have been greatly appreciated, being a blessing to those they were able to help.
Sao Paulo, Brazil.
(To be concluded)