One who indulges in judging, and in selfish and narrow criticism, is usually actuated by spiritual pride. The Pharisees "came forth filled with spiritual pride, and their theme was, 'Myself, my feelings, my knowledge, my ways.' Their own attainments became the standard by which they judged others."—"Mount of Blessing," p. 178.
A holier-than-thou spirit is characteristic of those who judge. A glance backward at our history as a denomination will reveal the fact that all workers who have apostatized from the truth were affected by a superiority complex. In their egotism they could not understand why other people could not see the "new light" as they saw it; and hence they often looked with disdain upon their fellow workers. Many brilliant men in our message have lost their hold upon God, and their light has gone out in obscurity, because they made shipwreck on the rock of spiritual pride. Some of these men were forceful preachers, even orators. Perhaps their talent in this respect stimulated their pride, which became the cause of their downfall. This might have been avoided if they had followed the advice given to us in "Mount of Blessing:"
"Do not set yourself up as a standard. Do not make your opinions, your views of duty, your interpretations of Scripture, a criterion for others, and in your heart condemn them if they do not come up to your ideal. Do not criticize others, conjecturing as to their motives, and passing judgment upon them."—Ibid.
There is another group of critics who might be designated as cranks. These fail to see the great outstanding truths of the Bible, and in their meager comprehension of truth they magnify unimportant things. In all this, spiritual pride may be observed.
Spiritual pride causes a worker to find fault with his brethren, and with the way the work is conducted. Eventually his criticism becomes centered on the men who occupy the more important positions in our work, often culminating in criticism of the General Conference president.
Then, too, the little inconsistencies, as they think, in the writings of the Spirit of prophecy become the subject of criticism. And the next step is that the servant of God herself is criticized and even maligned.
Look back over the history of those who have departed from this message, and you will usually find in them three outstanding characteristics,--a disposition to magnify unimportant things, criticism of the brethren, and criticism of the writings of the Spirit of prophecy. Those who indulge in this spirit feed greedily upon little contradictions, as they interpret them, and endeavor to nullify all the wonderful and helpful teachings of the Spirit of prophecy. They do not understand that there are two great functions of the Spirit of prophecy: one is to teach truth, and thus to illuminate the teachings of the Scripture; the other is to furnish guidance in the conduct of the message as it pertains to institutional work, and to the general principles which should guide in the conduct and maintenance of our work throughout the world.
Our work would have fallen into very great perplexity on many occasions if it had not been for this guidance in administration. And so these critics say that of course Sister White was a wonderful woman, and she taught advanced spiritual truths; but they fail, by their criticism, to understand that her work was equally valuable in the administrative features of our work.
Those who make the great mistake of narrow criticism of workers and leaders, and of the work of the Spirit of prophecy, are soon shorn of their power as far as the third angel's message is concerned. Review the lives of the men who have pursued this course, and discover if you can one of them, even one, who has ever found his way back. Ungenerous criticism leads to spiritual atrophy.
Washington, D. C.