Sophistication!—If we become wise in our own wisdom and self-dependent upon our own attainments, if we drift from the simplicities of the faith and the fervor of our divinely given distinctive message into the reservations, sophistications, confusions, and uncertainties of modern scholasticism, God will be compelled to do as He has forewarned—call men of simple fidelity from the plow and other humble walks of life to do, under the impulse of the Holy Spirit, that which highly trained professional men could no longer do. Such utilization of unsophisticated laymen would be more than a mere layman awakening. It would signalize God's turning from the wisdom of this world—which has been infiltrating steadily into our ranks through subtle university attitudes adopted by an ever-increasing number of students—to those still available for simple witness.
Courtesy!!—Common courtesy to our fellow preachers is an integral part of ministerial ethics. When another man is preaching, even if we do not think he is doing a very good job of it—not nearly as good as we could—let us be civil enough not to show our lack of interest by looking bored, talking to another surreptitiously (or openly), looking at our watches, etc. This is both for his sake and for the influence upon the congregation. Let's apply the golden rule to the case in point. We like to have the eyes of our congregation when we speak. Let us not, therefore, look disinterestedly down our noses, out of the window, or at some paper, while a fellow minister is preaching. We can obtain a blessing out of virtually every sermon, if we do not have a hypercritical superiority complex. Let us give the same courteous attention to others that we desire for ourselves.
Awesome!—The infinite power and majesty of God, in contrast to the puny might of man, is borne home with irresistible force as one views the awesome grandeur of such beauty pots as Bryce and Zion National Parks, the Grand Canyon, Yosemite, and Yellowstone. The divine veracity of the Inspired Word that tells of the origin of this world, its pollution by sin, its overthrow by the flood, its course through the subsequent centuries, its testing at the bar of God, and its ultimate destiny, well-nigh overwhelms. The soul of man is subdued, and his heart goes out in responsive love and surrender and fidelity to Him who loved man and made him His child through redemption. Aye, more! Who gave him a task and made him a partner in heralding to the world the meaning of life, of redemption, of eternal issues, of impending judgment, and of the ultimate and imminent triumph of righteousness, truth, grace, and law. In reverent surrender, we respond to the message of God's unwritten, companion word—the book of nature, that speaks the message of God to all mankind.
Pictures!—Powerful forces in the form of pictured truth are at the disposal of the heralds of the message today. The effect upon the mind of beautiful, artistic pictures, conveyed through blended eye-andear channels, is tremendous. Contrariwise, some of the crude daubs sometimes employed, the loud coloring, or the smeary slides, misrepresent the sublime character of this message and dishonor the majesty of truth. We have no right to cheapen, distort, or caricature the present truth of God. Let us develop the latent possibilities of pictured truth—remembering that this is a picture age, with all mankind accustomed to professional excellence in pictures, and apathetic toward amateurish crudities that only bore or disgust. Only the best is good enough to use for God.
Snipers!—Apostate critics are usually those whose personal inclinations, sins, or ambitions have been countered by the counsels of the Spirit of prophecy. Instead of yielding to its admonitions, they resist its counsels, and begin to question its divine origin, place, and character. They start to fight its reproofs, and seek to vindicate their own attitude by attacking its validity, usually by carping criticisms of fancied inaccuracies of early days—allegations that collapse to their secret discomfort when the full, unbiased facts are assembled. Theirs is identically the same work—only more crudely done and usually without scholarship—that has been pursued by destructive higher critics of the Old and New Testament Scriptures. Denying the divine origin of the message, they hunt with brazen boldness for fancied faults, inconsistencies, and contradictions, in an endeavor to prove the purely human character of these writings. Such individuals catalogue themselves by their unholy work. It is less heinous to commit crimes against man than to be guilty of sacrilege against God.
L. E. F.