Fitness!—Faith has no fear of scholarship. Yet its successful propagation does not depend upon human learning, and is sometimes greatly injured thereby. Remember the twelve disciples. Of course this point is sometimes unwisely stressed; for there was Luke, and later Paul with his unapproachable contributions. Often there comes a self-sufficiency and an egotism of scholarship which hinder that simple, full dependence on God and reliance on Christ that is the foundation of all successful ministry. By talents, training, experience, and the direct endowments of His Spirit, God fits men who permit it for specific tasks and places. Happy the man who is in his appointed place.
Shams!—There are numberless types of shams abroad in the world—scientific, social, political, ad infinitum. But the most detestable and excuseless of all is the religious sham. No, we are not alluding to notorious sects with their religious hokum; rather, we refer to inconsistencies of life and practice that sometimes come closer home,—instances of high profession sullied by sordid manipulations; or high-sounding loyalty, for example, to the Spirit of prophecy, strangely accompanied by the flaunting of those same counsels when they run counter to pet practices or indulgences. Genuine honesty and loyalty are demanded now as never before.
Temperance!—Temperance reform has, in the minds of many, become confused or even identified with the prohibition experiment. Such would imply cessation of activity with the passing of prohibition. But this is a regrettable misconception. Temperance reform is a changeless and integral part of our world-round gospel message. Prohibition, on the other hand, is a secular matter, varying with time, locality, and circumstance. Prohibition is a legitimate effort on the part of civil government to proscribe the sale of intoxicants, for the protection of society; and as citizens we have a civil duty to perform through casting our influence by "vote," as well as by "pen" and "voice," against the legalized sale of alcoholic drinks when the issue is before us. But as Christians we have a changeless commission to agitate, educate, and appeal by moral suasion against their use by our fellow man, and this wholly irrespective of their status in civil law. The greater the legal sanctions existent, the greater is our responsibility to press true temperance reform upon the consciences of men. Let us awake to our responsibility, and discharge our bounden duty.
Deterrents!—Fidelity to fact is one of the prime requisites of a herald of truth. The very nature and content of his message demands it, and he should exercise greatest care upon this point. All overstatements and misstatements of details of an otherwise unassailable general truth constitute serious deterrents to acceptance, by the informed and discerning, of the larger truth involved. For example, in order to establish confidence in the Spirit of prophecy, it is neither necessary nor right, proper nor wise, to assign to this gift the initial introduction of the distinctive truths of the third angel's message—the Sabbath and the sanctuary. Such is indeed contrary to historic fact. The gift was exercised in the design and providence of God when division, abandonment of truth, or extremism impended. But it was God's purpose and procedure to have these truths dug out originally from the Word and brought before the church upon that basis. Nor does it harmonize with factual truth to state that the principles of health reform and of the rational treatment of disease among us as a people—or presented by us to the world—were initiated by the Spirit of prophecy. On the contrary, they were preexisting principles, already recognized and proclaimed by earnest men, but approved, and enforced by this spiritual gift just at the time of need. Such an understanding honors and exalts truth, and strengthens the unique position of the Spirit of prophecy.
Teachers! —We incline to rate workers by their ability as organizers, pulpiteers, publicists, financiers, and propagandists. But Jesus, in His matchless ministry, was known preeminently as a teacher of truth. We need today to throw emphasis on a teaching ministry. We need giants of the Word. We should rightly be known as the preeminent students and teachers of the Word in the world today, rather than as merely unique commentators on world conditions. The crushing pressure of our multiple tasks, and the relentless march of the clock hands, militate against such a realization. Men must resolutely set themselves to this task, if it is to be achieved. It will call for determination and redistribution of time, and of some responsibilities. Frankly, it is easier to raise money, to lead a campaign, to flood a community with literature, to expatiate on world conditions, to recite mission experiences. But it is the Word that builds for spiritual life and character. For our own soul's sake, and for the sake of those under our charge or influence, let us more seriously study and teach the Scriptures.
L. E. F.