Reputation!—The often unconscious urge to maintain or enhance one's reputation frequently leads to regrettable lengths and unfortunate results. It may be the reputation of being a successful evangelist, a shrewd financier, a sagacious counselor, an
able executive, a ready writer, a fluent speaker, or a learned scholar. The consciousness of that reputation sometimes grows upon one until it profoundly affects his entire outlook, motives, and work. To live up to the reputation gained becomes an unwitting part of all he does, and sometimes supersedes that disinterested love to God and man that underlies all acceptable service for either. Such is the tyranny of a dominating reputation.
Distinct!—Ours is a movement—not merely a church—just as distinct and revolutionary in the religious world today as was the great Protestant Reformation of the sixteenth century. In fact, ours is but the completion of the arrested reformation of that time. But in the final reformation movement, there is involved not only the reaffirmation of all terms of the everlasting gospel, and the paralleling exposure of papal departures and corruptions, but exposure of apostate Protestantism as well. Our movement is consequently a thing apart and distinct from the entire professed Christian world about and in direct and inescapable conflict with all its compromises and deviations. Its divine commission is a restatement of the changeless gospel for a passing world, in the setting of the impending end of the age.
Check!—Every reform movement of history, after the passing of years, drifted from its founding platform and early principles. It has forgotten its originating purpose after it has grown to large proportions, and its founding fathers have passed out of the picture. A new generation with new leadership came into power who neither knew personally the struggles of the formative years, nor had inwrought into the very fiber of their beings the determining principles that made those founders giants in spiritual power. The tendency among us today is to modify our own founding principles and to accommodate ourselves to the changing standards about us. There is real peril here that must be counter-met. We must check frequently with the old landmarks, lest we lose our bearings. We must not go the way of all others before us.
Consummation!—Has not the hour fully come to address ourselves as individuals, as groups, and as a people, to the one supreme objective of our existence as a movement on earth? We have been raised up for one purpose only. We have been called into being to be God's living appeal to mankind, His final witness on earth in the midst of universal apostasy and the abandonment of all spiritual truth and verity. We are now to finish the work God has given us to do. We are to prepare a people to be taken out of this collapsing world. Our charter, our constitution, and our by-laws are all set forth in Revelation 14. A tremendous and solemn responsibility is here disclosed, calling for discernment of the deep forces and movements behind a complex world situation with its swift crosscurrents and swirling eddies all about us. The hour has arrived for action commensurate with our commission.
Limitations!—He who knows the least about a given subject is often the most voluble and cocksure in his statements thereupon, turning from one intricate question to another with infinite ease. The specialist realizes the marked limitations of his knowledge even in the field of his specialty, and is particularly cautious in realms outside his specialization. His is the scientific attitude. But the superficialist rushes in where wise men fear to tread, making disappointing display of his ignorance. 0 that our workers would all be more modest about dispensing wisdom on every subject! We are not paragons of omniscience. There is no humiliation or loss of prestige in acknowledging one's limitations. The more men really know, the more careful and restrained are their public utterances. We know only in part; let us prophesy only in part. Dogmatism is not the earmark of wisdom.
Gullible!—"The tragedy of gullibility" may appropriately denominate the willingness of some to take whatever others have taught just because they taught it, without personal investigation of and conviction by evidence. We need to scrutinize every point, for if true it will obviously stand every test ; if there are weaknesses, they will be revealed and can be adjusted; and if there be mistaken details, the actuality can be substituted, thus harmonizing with all other truth. Such an attitude is at once both loyal and constructive, sane and Scriptural.
L. E. F.