The appeal for dignity in evangelism certainly applies to our advertising matter. Cheap, light, blatant advertising misrepresents this movement and the message it is bearing to the world. It is not necessary to give illustrations of questionable advertising. It will be sufficient merely to point to what all must have observed, that there is a tendency among us to flaunt, in our advertising, the snappy catch phrases of high-pressure salesmanship such as are in use in the commercial world; the smart, nonchalant, blasé repartee which may be heard on the college athletic field; the tawdry, cheap clap-trap of the theater and the circus. There is a feverish endeavor to dress our subjects up in the vernacular of the street, even descending sometimes to the use of slang. This not only offends good taste, but disgraces our God-given work and discredits our ministry.
This appeal is for us to set our faces sternly against this evil thing, and to resolve to use only the choicest and purest of language with which to frame our announcements and set forth our subjects. Only such language becomes the noble and lofty work which God has called us to do.
The themes which Adventist evangelists have to present to the world are of the most exalted character, the most serious import, and of the most profound concern to our hearers. They should be announced in such a way as to create an impression of their seriousness and importance.
We cannot do this by borrowing the glib catchwords of the world. We are not entertainers, nor are we engaged in a work of entertainment. We are about serious business, and in all that we do there should be an atmosphere of serious earnestness.
Our work is that of human salvation. We are dealing with the eternal destiny of human beings. We are endeavoring to have them turn away from this world, and fix their hearts on the world to come. In presenting the message of salvation, and seeking to win lost souls to accept it, we should never adopt worldly practices or methods.
As there is a worldliness in education, in commerce, in social life, in religion, against which we should be on our guard, so there is a worldliness in preaching, in advertising, in religious work, against which we must steadfastly set our faces.
This worldliness manifests itself in every method which is used for attracting attention to the human agent, to disclose his smartness, his ability, his brilliance, his up-to-dateness, rather than directing attention in all he does to the divine Saviour.
In all this world there is no more serious business, in every aspect of it, than preaching the gospel of Christ. It has as its object nothing less than that men should not perish, but have everlasting life. Certainly an enterprise which is the divinely designated means for such a sublime result must assuredly, in gravity and importance, hold the highest rank among the doings of mortals.
And the man who engages in this work, called as he is of God, should without question study to do the work in God's way. Realizing that his business in the pulpit is nothing less than the salvation of men, his heart will be sober, his message will be weighty, his manner will be grave. He will not forget that if he fails in his preaching, or uses "strange fire," or feeds the people chaff instead of wheat, the most disastrous consequences may result; and his mind will anticipate the account he must one day render to God.
Consequently his subjects will all be serious, chosen in order to bring men to God. His method of announcing them will be serious. His manner of discussing them will be earnest. He will avoid all careless words and expressions, all lightness of speech, all mere witticisms, all illustrations which only raise a laugh. His voice, his actions, his manner, his conduct, his language, will be far removed from everything like vanity, or display, or desire for applause. He will do his work as a chosen instrument bringing life to dying men.
The trouble with us is, I think, that we have looked to the world for our methods rather than to the Bible. It is the atmosphere of the Bible which we should breathe, in which we should live, and from which we should draw our methods of labor. As we live in the world of the Bible, do our traveling in it, explore its vastness, discover its wonders, behold its God and His angels, ponder its eternal history of man, see its striking array of mighty men, its sublime scenery, astonishing events, enchanting visions, listen as its truth falls on our ears by every appropriate manner of presentation, observe its profound reasonings, its moral maxims, its plain and pithy precepts, its formal creations, its poetry of every kind, its high degree of excellence, its familiar letters, its private journals, its history and biography, together with every other mode of communication and presentation of truth, we shall not need to go to the broken cisterns of this world for help.
As we become men of the Bible, we shall find in the endless variety of that great Source Book all that is profitable, not only for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, but also for everything that is needful in order that the man of God, and particularly the evangelist, may be perfect—"furnished completely unto every good work."
In this way, brethren, we may learn, and from the highest possible authority, all the various pertinent, proper, and successful modes of preaching the glorious gospel, all the efficient ways of announcing and advertising it to the people. In this way we shall become qualified for every necessary adaptation of it to particular needs, whether in public or private teaching. Our minds will thus be made rich, Scriptural, scripturally balanced, and fruitful for the work we have to do. And in our preaching and advertising, and in all we do, we shall thus reflect the inspired subjects, forms, methods of holy instruction, warning, and consolation.
The man of the Bible is an able minister, an apt teacher, a successful preacher, a well-instructed scribe, a wise builder, a skillful advertiser, an efficient soul winner.
Let us, then, become men of one Book,—Bible teachers, Bible evangelists, Bible advertisers. This will remedy every defect, and lift us to the highest plane of efficiency.
Battle Creek, Mich.