Tact and Fidelity
Specific statements from the Spirit of prophecy, as, for example, on health reform, should be presented to the world as substantiating witness to facts first disclosed from unassailable scientific authorities, rather than as the primary basis for authoritative belief and acceptance. We must not create the impression that these principles are true simply because the Spirit of prophecy declares them so to be; but rather that the divinely indited Spirit of prophecy declares them to be, because they are intrinsically so. God, the Author of both the word and the principles of true science, never contradicts Himself. For us, an unscientific statement from such a source is consequently inconceivable. And for us, an excerpt from that source may be quite sufficient. But with the world, which does not understand, we must not reverse our approach. Such a procedure is unwise, illogical, and indefensible. Tact and fidelity are not at variance, but are true partners and collaborators. Let us take a course that is unassailable.
L. E. F.
A Case of Ethics
Many are acquainted with the pointed story of the veteran lawyer who with his younger partner had been engaged to defend a client. The opposition lawyer had made some telling points, and the prospects for successful defense were not very bright. Leaning over to his junior associate who was about to make the defense speech, the old, experienced lawyer said, "No case. Abuse the plaintiff's attorney."
Sometimes a similar course is followed by some religious propagandists who, with a weak case and collapsing evidence, are still determined to carry their point, and have recourse to ridicule and indulgence in personalities instead of fair discussion of the actual merits or demerits of the case. And often the ruse succeeds, and the attention is cleverly diverted to matters beside the point. But such a course is unworthy and dishonorable in a Christian minister. Such a procedure may be legitimate(?) in the legal world, but it is positively wrong in Christian endeavor. We are not seeking to win a case, but to establish truth and equity and to find the light. He who invokes such a tricky plan is dishonest with his auditors, and is unchristian in his tactics.
L. E. F.
Loyalty and Light
Stick to the movement and you will go through all right, is the essence of an expression often made, or at least strongly inferred. Those who use it doubtless mean well, and the thought does have an aspect of truth. But it is not the whole truth. A man may nominally belong to the true church, and assent to or proclaim its doctrines, yet never be initially nor ultimately saved. Outward membership is not our passport to heaven. That idea smacks of Catholicism. It is the soul's inner relation to God that determines one's eternal destiny.
But that relation has, as a prime factor, one's relation to light. For one who has known truth to turn from the faith would surely be to turn from God and light to darkness eternal.
Yet withal we must never forget that one is not saved simply because of corporate union with, or conformity to, the external movement. Therefore let us not, in seeking to forestall defections or to correct heresy, take positions that are unsound and unfortunate. The fact that this is God's truth and God's message is unassailable. It arose at the appointed time. It has manifested to the world the designated truths foretold. It has followed its outlined course, and is destined to triumph gloriously. Of that there can be no reasonable doubt. Let us triumph with it, but ever in right relationship to both loyalty and light.
L. E. F.
The Majesty of Truth
Truth never suppresses inquiry; rather, she courts the most merciless scrutiny. Only error dreads exposure, and resorts to secretive force. Truth has nothing to fear, for eternal facts and unassailable principles are hers, else she would not be Truth. Therefore her foundations are unassailable. And, consequently, Truth but shines the brighter and stands the stronger because of the assaults of her enemies. She scorns every species of subterfuge. She disdains all shady arguments and shoddy supports. She stands out fearlessly in the open. She welcomes all honest examination, but is unwilling to be deflected from her appointed task by spending her time as carping critics may dictate.
No one with the spirit of an apostle of Truth can consistently refuse the searchlight of sincere investigation of her positions. He who would prevent proper investigation is unworthy the name of an adherent of Truth. Rather, he is but a champion of an espoused position from which he fears he may be dislodged. Furthermore, sound champions of Truth will always distinguish between a basic truth and some argument that may have been sincerely but mistakenly used in its propagation or defense. And the adherent of Truth will never cling to a faulty argument when discovered; otherwise he could never have the respect of himself nor the support of his own conscience. Thank God for Truth and its sovereignty.
L. E. F.
Both Spirit and Letter
The eternal principles of stewardship undergird all relations of creature to Creator. And the practice of these principles is incumbent upon every one of us. Yet we can practice their technical letter and utterly violate and prostitute their spirit and intent. Thus did the Jews, who tithed even the tiny garden seeds, but who raped and prostituted every rightful relationship between God and man, —the weightier matters of the law, love, mercy, judgment, et cetera. We must beware against any repetition of their fatal course. Tithe paying becomes but a pious cant and a hypocritical self-deception when it is but an old covenant conscience easer, and is regarded as the full payment of a monetary debt that releases the payee from further responsibility and obligation.
God does not want our money apart from ourselves, nor in lieu of ourselves. Let these principles be made crystal clear in all our presentations and practices. Then will stewardship come into its rightful place. Then will it become the sign of God's own possession of the life. Such tithe money God can bless to its fullest capacity. Otherwise we live but an old covenant life of salvation by works.
L. E. F.