Editorial Keynotes

Doctrinal Councils Intesify Division

L.E.F. is editor of the Ministry. 

Howsoever desirable and advantageous they may ap­pear at first thought, doctrinal councils have, nevertheless, often but widened existing dif­ferences and intensified already established feelings. To have a doctrinal council of any practical value that could ever hope to draw together strong, differing groups of thought, the major exponents of the divergent viewpoints would of necessity have to be present and be permitted to present their variant conceptions. There would, of course, be no hope of unity springing from such a council without the lead­ing parties concerned being present. But the very presence of these strong, opposing per­sonalities would almost surely eventuate into the taking of sides, and result in a mental brac­ing against what the opposition would present. Usually, under such circumstances, the ma­jority of such participants simply entrench themselves in their former positions. This has happened before, and it would likely happen again. Under such conditions, ,men's minds usually become impervious to all contrary or even modifying evidence, irrespective of its merits. Much as with a debating team, men do not, under those circumstances, hear with a view to accepting light that may appear. Rather, they seek to find the vulnerable spot in the opponent's line of argument, and to counter his reasonings and discount his evi­dence. They go away still more entrenched in their former belief and even more antago­nistic to those who differ with them.

As we all know, human pride shrinks from admitting personal fallacy of reasoning, error of fact, or inadequacy of data from which con­clusions have already been drawn, or upon which a position has been taken. Preconceived opinion, belief in the rightness of one's own po­sition, innate dislike for admitting error, dis­taste for instruction by another who differs, and a fatal pride of reputation—especially if one is holding a rather prominent position or is reputed to be somewhat of a scholar—make any change of view exceedingly difficult. Un­der such conditions, the grace of God and the spirit of Christ can alone effect the necessary changes.

Better are informal group meetings for the study of problems or truths. To sit down quietly as brethren and talk things over and study them through, each contributing his bit, to learn from each other, to think out loud—though imperfectly and subject to revision—and not be misunderstood, misjudged, or misquoted, is a privilege for which many long, but few are permitted to enjoy. Under such pro­cedure, there are no commitments to defend, no personal honor or prestige to maintain, no hu­miliating confessions or revokements to make. A drawing together thus becomes natural, easy, almost inevitable.

To the cocksure, doctrinarian die-hard, such a procedure is a new and questionable method of approach. He has already settled every­thing to his own satisfaction. He comes to declare and to defend his own position and to oppose and attack all who differ, for truth—as he conceives it—is at stake. But it is such an attitude of spiritual bigotry that really perpetu­ates differences. Unless we come in a spirit of prayer, humility, and submission, we shall never draw unity from study-group councils, nor blend into that oneness of the faith yearn­ingly desired by our Saviour and desperately needed by us as a ministerial fraternity. We face an increasingly hostile world. But that hostility will prove effective only as we are di­vided among ourselves. This is the hour to draw together through informal group study.

L. E. F.

Ministry reserves the right to approve, disapprove, and delete comments at our discretion and will not be able to respond to inquiries about these comments. Please ensure that your words are respectful, courteous, and relevant.

comments powered by Disqus

L.E.F. is editor of the Ministry. 

June 1941

Download PDF
Ministry Cover

More Articles In This Issue

We Must not be "Bumblers"

We must not be bumblers in this crisis hour.

When Christ's Mediatorial Ministry Began

Biblical Exposition and Homiletic Helps

Cherish the Freedom to Educate

Lessons learned too late are of little value.

Shall We Engage in Public Debates?

As a denomination, we are one of the few who, in present practice, do not advocate the holding of public debates as a means of finding the truth or settling controversies.

The Heart of True Evangelism

Hearts everywhere are yearning for love and sympathy, and this can be imparted not only through the public address, but through the personal touch as well.

The Ideal Quarterly Service

Conducting the quarterly ordinance service is one of the most sacred duties a minister is called upon to perform.

How to Speak in Public

Reprint suggested by Elder H. A. Vandeman, of Minneapolis, Minn. Copyrighted, 1940. by the Kings-way Press, Incorporated, New York City. Reprinted by permission.

Establishing New Converts

Paying careful attention to the care of souls.

Prophetic Guidance in Early Days

The fifth part of our series on the influence of the Spirit of Prophecy examines how the early time-setting dangers were met.

Principles of Gospel Salesmanship

Our monthly larger outlook column.

View All Issue Contents

Digital delivery

If you're a print subscriber, we'll complement your print copy of Ministry with an electronic version.

Sign up

Recent issues

See All