Deterrents to Truth
The stressing to extremes of any essential truth, so often followed by disastrous consequences to those urging it, makes the proper and balanced proclamation of that truth much more difficult thereafter. Prejudice is almost inevitably created by such a course, militating against a favorable and unbiased consideration, and often seriously retarding its reception.
A notable example within the scope of this movement stands on record in the late eighties and early nineties. Two prominent ministers were burdened to see the divine truth of righteousness by faith more fully received and emphasized throughout our ranks. They had the strong and continuous personal support of Ellen G. White for their teachings at the time. Indeed, she stood almost alone with them at one critical juncture, so marked was the apathy of some and the opposition of others.
Strange as it may seem to us today, when this truth is generally recognized, many who had battled in pioneer days for the Sabbath and the law, feared that the stressing of righteousness by faith would neutralize the basic principle of obedience to God, and jeopardize its inseparable corollary—corresponding works. But the story is clearly told in the book, "Christ Our Righteousness." And the declarations of the Spirit of prophecy therein cited take the episode outside the realm of challenge as to fact. This affords guidance for our attitude.
But the later deflection of those two principal exponents has made all subsequent presentations of this truth in its normal, balanced form more difficult because of the pitiful slip of those two champions. To this day some still look askance at any who proclaim with solemn earnestness this truth bearing the signet of Heaven, wondering if its present exponents will not go the way of those prominent heralds of several decades ago.
But such a conclusion does not necessarily nor logically follow. The validity and the claims of truth are unaffected by either the constancy or the disaffection of its earlier exponents. A careful scanning of our denominational history discloses the fact that from 1844 onward many a stalwart who had either introduced or urged the sanctuary truth, the Sabbath, conditional immortality, health reform, religious liberty, or some other fundamental and impregnable doctrinal truth, left us to walk no more with us. But man's disloyalty in no way disannuls God's truth, which marches on through the years, claiming the allegiance of every honest heart.
Here, then, is the lesson: Woe to him who through the unwisdom of his course creates prejudice against heavenly truth, and so frustrates, or rather retards, God's design for the upbuilding of His children and His church by its promulgation. He who has genuine reverence for the sanctity and sovereignty of truth will carefully watch his own steps, lest any be caused to stumble thereby.
Transgressions of Artistry
The pictorial illustration of a thought makes its impress vastly more vivid and lasting. It is this visual enforcement that causes devotees of the stereopticon to regard their slides an invaluable asset in evangelism. But where slides are used, if the lecturer does not himself have an artistic sense or training, then for the sake of the many in every audience who do, he should studiously avoid everything crude or inconsistent in form, color, or fidelity to fact. Glaring daubs and clashing disharmonies of color distress those who sense the eternal fitness of such things. The public is today extremely "picture conscious" because of the artistry of the movies. It is likewise "color conscious" through the artistic colored posters greeting the eye on every highway and entering every home via the magazine "ad" and illustration route.
When billowy clouds attending Christ's return are pictured, they should be atmospheric, —not solid, giving one the impression of rolling hills. The New Jerusalem walls of translucent jasper should not resemble the enclosing stone-block wall of a medieval fortress; nor the toppling buildings of the Lisbon earthquake be made to appear like towering twentieth-century skyscrapers. Simply pictures will not suffice. They should be appropriate and true. Especially should figures of heavenly beings be stately and appealing, and preeminently portrayals of Christ. Glaring inconsistencies with fact or gross transgressions of artistry make slides a deterrent instead of an aid. They give occasion for scoffing, and hence are a handicap to a substantial group in the audience, who will naturally judge the truth presented in the light of the grotesque similitudes that accompany. Let those who use slides demand quality workmanship of those who produce them.
L. E. F.