By N. H. KINZER, Director, Atlantic Colombia Mission, S.A.
I have just read "Acts of the Apostles," by Mrs. E. G. White, with the purpose of obtaining a better knowledge of how the apostles carried on evangelism among the Jews. The same methods of tact should, I believe, be employed in evangelism among those of other religious convictions, especially Catholics. This fundamental principle is set forth:
"An important lesson for every minister of Christ to learn, is that of adapting his labors to the condition of those whom he seeks to benefit. Tenderness, patience, decision, and firmness are alike needful; but these are to be exercised with proper discrimination. To deal wisely with different classes of minds, under varied circumstances and conditions, is a work requiring wisdom and judgment enlightened and sanctified by the Spirit of God."—"Acts of the Apostles," p. 386.
Notice Paul's tact in evangelism in Corinth. "When the apostle took up his work in Corinth, he realized that he must introduce most carefully the great truths he wished to teach. . . . As he endeavored to lead souls to the foot of the cross, Paul did not venture to rebuke, directly, those who were licentious, or to show how heinous was their sin in the sight of a holy God. Rather he set before them the true object of life, and tried to impress upon their minds the lessons of the divine Teacher, which, if received, would lift them from worldliness and sin to purity and righteousness.—Id., p. 272.
It is not necessary that the evangelist first show his hearers the defects in their religious beliefs; rather he should show them something superior, more elevating, than that which they already possess. If the hearers are truly religiously inclined, they will respond to teachings that dwell "especially upon practical godliness, and the holiness to which those must attain who shall be accounted worthy of a place in God's kingdom."—Ibid.
I have found it imperative to refrain from irritating my Catholic hearers by calling their attention to their "saints," endeavoring to make evident that they are idolaters. Many times it falls to our lot in these Catholic countries to hold public efforts in fanatical cities where Seventh-day Adventism is scarcely known. We must exercise tact to its utmost; otherwise we shall be in danger of arousing the anger of the people and the governmental authorities. Note Paul's experience on Mars' Hill.
"He was in a position where he might easily have said that which would have irritated his proud listeners, and brought himself into difficulty. Had his oration been a direct attack upon their gods and the great men of the city, he would have been in danger of meeting the fate of Socrates. But with a tact born of divine love, he carefully drew their minds away from heathen deities, by revealing to them the true God, who was to them unknown."—Id., p. 241.
Paul often became as a Jew in order to win Jews; i Cor. 9:59-21. Even in his own life he put this principle into practice, not because he felt it obligatory to salvation, but in order to win souls. It was a matter of tact on his part. And he advised Timothy to do as he had done. "As a precautionary measure, Paul wisely advised Timothy to be circumcised—not that God required it, but in order to remove from the minds of the Jews that which might be an objection to Timothy's ministration." Otherwise "his work might be greatly hindered by the prejudice and bigotry of the Jews--I.d., p. p. 204.
Recently, while preparing to hold public meetings in a fanatical Catholic city in Colombia, we were told that plans were being made to attack us with stones and clubs. My Bible worker and I decided to attend the next early-morning mass. We did, and after mass we remained to observe the different saints that decorated the four walls of the great cathedral. We respected our neighbors' belief by taking our hats off, by refraining from talking and laughing, and in every manner possible manifested a deep respect for their convictions. During our meetings, we were not disturbed in any manner whatsoever. What the priest had told his people regarding us was refuted by our actions.
In their approach to the Jews, the ancient apostles were very tactful in presenting the Messiah. As a general practice, they would first refer to the history of Israel or the ancient patriarchs.
"When Stephen was questioned as to the truth of the charges against him, . . . he proceeded to rehearse the history of the chosen people of God. He showed a thorough knowledge of the Jewish economy. . . . He repeated the words of Moses.. . He made plain his own loyalty to God and to the Jewish faith... He referred to the building of the temple by Solomon."—Id., p. 99.
This was pleasing music to the ears of the Jewish listeners. Thus Stephen "connected Jesus Christ with all the Jewish history."
When the opportune time comes to present that portion of our doctrine that opposes the Catholic belief, we shall by that time have the friendship and confidence of our hearers. But even then it is still important that we weave into our lectures points of faith upon which Catholics agree with us. I find it profitable at times to show a slide of the birthplace of Jesus, or even of the virgin Mary, and to refer to her as "the blessed among women." Then often, I throw the Catholic creed on the screen, and refer to certain phases of it. This, I find, is very helpful in retaining the more fanatical hearers, and gaining the friendship and confidence of all. I often refer to the fact that the virgin Mary kept the holy Sabbath, or that Saint Peter says so and so.
The thought is to meet the Catholics on their own ground, using the terms and concepts which they use and with which they are acquainted. Paul was careful "not to drive his hearers to despair." I am convinced that if our evangelists use tact and divine wisdom, the most fanatical Catholics can be won to this message.
Oftentimes, I endeavor to show that the truth as taught in our meetings would produce law-abiding citizens, and uplift the morals and order of the city. "They could but acknowledge that the teachings of Paul and Barnabas tended to make men virtuous, law-abiding citizens, and that the morals and order of the city would improve if the truths taught by the apostles were accepted."—Id., p. 178. It is well to pray publicly for the national, state, and municipal government, making mention of the city mayor's name.
Many times the fanatical population of a city fears to enter a Protestant church building, in spite of the fact that they desire to know "what this new doctrine is." In such cases it is advisable to rent a hall isolated from the church building, introducing, at first, doctrines that will not tend to arouse prejudice. While preaching in Philippi, "acting upon the instruction given by Christ, the apostles would not urge their presence where it was not desired."—Id., p. 218.
* In the letter accompanying this article, these illuminating sentences appear : "I feel that some of us have made a mistake in our evangelistic work among the Catholics. After almost twelve years of experience in work among them, I have come to the conclusions brought out in the accompanying article. For the last three years I have been putting this method into practice, and the Lord has blessed."—Editor.
Utilize Public Officials
By A. A. LEISKE, Evangelist, Boulder, Colorado
A banquet at the Boulder-Colorado Sanitarium at five-thirty, at which our evangelistic party acted as hosts, preceded the Sunday-night religious liberty program. The occasion was publicized in the papers as a countywide mass meeting in the new high-school auditorium. The choir, the gospel singers, and the orchestra all appeared on the musical program which began at seven o'clock. Preceding the address of Governor Teller Ammons, I spoke on the necessity of keeping church and state separate, of safeguarding the right of freedom of speech as given by the Federal Constitution, quoting the Bible frequently.
We have for some time followed the practice of having prominent men participate in our evangelistic program in this way, as it adds prestige and news value to our work in general. We seldom run a newspaper advertisement, preferring rather to expend money and energy in creating news which will give us stronger publicity through editorial and reportorial comment and in pictures printed of the officials associated with us. A feature of this kind gives the public greater confidence in our work and dispels the impression that ours is just an overnight affair.
We plan a mass meeting for religious liberty night some eight or nine weeks in advance of the scheduled date. A local official or prominent man of the vicinity usually assists us in making arrangements with a Senator or the governor to make an appearance and address at our meeting. Our approach for securing these men as guest speakers is through stressing our interest in better, cleaner government, and for the education of the general public as to its own responsibility in protecting the inalienable rights of man.
We allow about half an hour to introduce the guest official, during which time we outline the Scriptural position on the church-and-state issue and try to make an adequate presentation of God's program. Thus we open the way for the speaker to express himself freely without jeopardizing his high office. I find that at the close of a meeting of this kind, a warm feeling toward our work obtains in the heart of the governor or other official.
By our having these civic leaders take part on the program, they themselves become better acquainted with our religious liberty principles and work. In order for them to make a speech, they usually compass considerable reading in the Liberty magazine edited by our religious liberty leaders. Thus they familiarize themselves with our work. They are favorably impressed when they come to our meeting hall and find that we have such large audiences. They are usually in full harmony with the evangelist on the question of separation of church and state, and this makes for a bond of sympathy.
I have found, too, that these good-will contacts help when it comes to voicing protests against unfavorable bills scheduled for consideration. At one time a bill was about to be passed while I was working in Missouri, and I was influential in defeating the measure by appealing to certain public officials who had assisted in one of my evangelistic efforts. I have always made it a point to keep in touch with some of the high officials of the State in which I labor, and to utilize them whenever possible for the advancement of the cause of God. When our evangelistic company moves from one city to another, we have men of influence—editors and the like—wire or write ahead to the civic leaders in that city that the Leiske Evangelistic Party will open a campaign in their city, and that this group will be of value to them in a spiritual and a civic way.
In arranging for a religious liberty night, I plan for it to come after all the essential points of our message have been presented. Thus it can be announced under our denominational name, and adds prestige not only to our individual campaign, but to our organization as a whole. This sort of publicity also inspires confidence among new believers in a movement that is sweeping the world.
Accountability for Baptisms—No. 2
By E. L. CARDEY, Evangelist, Baltimore, Maryland
It has always been a custom among us in the A transfer of members' names from one church to another for a letter to be granted only after a second reading before the church. How much more important it is that new members' names be handled with equal care and precaution. In my own work I have followed the plan for years of having all candidates' names passed upon by my church board before baptism.
The Bible admonition to "lay hands suddenly on no man" applies equally well to baptizing "suddenly" no man. This denomination stands for certain definite and testing truths. Many of these require not only much study to get a proper understanding, but much sacrifice to obey. The basic line of truth as revealed in the sanctuary question, leading up to the judgment at the end of the twenty-three hundred days; the testing truth of the commandments of God and the Spirit of prophecy, which was to be an inseparable part of the remnant church; the health reform message, and the call for godly living to be ready to meet Christ in His soon-coming kingdom—all these and more should find a firm place in the hearts and lives of those whom we baptize and bring into fellowship.
And may we go farther and say that every minister and evangelist who lowers the standard in accepting persons into this fellowship does an injustice to his fellow ministers and to the entire church of the advent hope? Better far to bring fewer into the church, well instructed and tested by weeks or months of fellowship and service, than to swell the list with larger numbers who soon drop out because of disobedience to the truth.
As a people, we are using many new methods in evangelism, and rightly so. We must advance in our methods of approach in order to secure the ear of large numbers of people. But we must not copy the methods of the popular evangelist who proclaims he has many converts—simply because people raise their hands or sign cards to follow Christ. I believe in using the altar call in our public evangelistic meetings, and began using it twenty-five years ago. But I have never believed that much permanent good can be accomplished when people are led to believe that they have made a complete surrender merely by taking this first step. All the truths of the message, and their reception, will determine the measure of one's surrender and fitness for the final step in the Christian pathway—baptism and church fellowship.
As our work has expanded through the years, there are now to be found many thousands of people who have a distinctly Seventh-day Adventist background. Possibly they were brought up in Adventist homes, have been at our institutions, or have attended a series of evangelistic lectures earlier in life. Such will quickly grasp the points of our faith, and will often be ready for baptism within a few brief weeks. But for those who have been reached with our message for the first time, who have spent years in other churches or in no church at all, and who must unlearn much that they may now fully learn the richness of this glorious message—these, we believe should experience months of acquaintance with our regular Sabbath school and church services in order that both they and others may know that this new truth has indeed "changed things" for them.
Of course, there are exceptions to this rule. But let us not make the exception the rule of our practice in dealing with these cases. If these methods were followed, we believe that not over ten or twelve per cent of such baptized converts would finally drop out from among us. Heavy losses are a reproach to an evangelist, and are an imposition upon the church. When we bring people only halfway to an understanding of the full message and then baptize them, we are really confirming them in sins of which they may at that time be ignorant. Is it not an injustice to such a person to lead him to think that he is accepted of God, when every Seventh-day Adventist minister knows that he is not, unless he accepts the entire third angel's message as it is revealed to this people?
The greater the care we exercise in instructing and accepting members into our churches, the greater will be the strength of the entire movement as we enter the conflicts of the last days of the world work. This, then, is our task—to make Seventh-day Adventist "disciples of all nations." And to this end, and this alone, our highest endeavors must be dedicated.