Don't Disgrace Evangelistic Brotherhood
In the very beginning of the greater evangelism advance, which is so heartily and generally approved throughout our worker ranks, it is well to pause a bit and seriously ponder the spirit and method of evangelism that God approves, that rightly represents this cause, that high-minded Adventist laymen will support, and that the great majority of our careful yet aggressive and successful gospel workers believe in and follow.
It is likewise desirable to tarry a moment longer to think over in contrast, those methods which Heaven disapproves, which misrepresent our cause, and which our high-minded laity and worker body deplore and protest. Then we should deliberately and unitedly tread the path that God approves, and shun the one He condemns.
The vast majority of our evangelists lead exemplary lives. They conduct their public work on such a high plane as to reflect credit upon the cause whose credentials they bear, and whose moral and material support they receive. These men and women are wholesome in influence, and representative in method and personal conduct. But regrettably there are a few, comparatively, who resort to unrepresentative, sensational methods, distressing their ministerial brethren, and bringing discredit upon our common cause. They . bring odium upon the fair name of this movement, as they flout the explicit instructions of the Spirit of prophecy, and thrust aside the counsels and protests of our appointed leaders. The favor of God cannot rest upon such practices. Such an attitude presents a serious obstacle to that united advance called for today. And it is a deterrent to the reception of God's supreme blessing, which He is waiting to bestow.
Tuts worker journal represents the wholesome majority group of our workers. And it here gives voice to their abhorrence of the sensational, careless, unrepresentative methods of speech and conduct of these few. It protests against travesties that are a violation of the, spirit of this message, that do violence to the canons of good taste, and that disappoint the rightful expectation of the public for exemplary ministerial conduct on the part of the public representatives of the highest, most searching message God ever committed to man.
See Spirit of prophecy counsels on page 21.
Some of our evangelists seemingly seek to ape the sensational evangelists of the world. But this is wholly inconsistent. The evangelist of the world is a free lance. So we cannot with propriety copy him. Usually he represents no one but himself. He is not a spokesman for a world movement. To succeed, he must be popular. And to be popular, he resorts to methods of the world. He draws his support from his collections. Therefore the larger the crowd, the greater his income. If he wishes to play the buffoon, he can do so—if the local church or community likes it, or will tolerate it—for he is not accountable to an organized movement.
But with us, the situation is entirely different. We are a closely knit organization. The evangelist does not represent himself, but a world movement. He is supported from its central funds, not by his own offerings, be they large or small. The Adventist Church is held accountable for what he says and does. And by him, as its public representative, the church is judged. He is subject to the counsel and the discipline of the church. His moves are directed by the local conference committee, and his transfers are arranged through the General Conference Committee. He is not a free andI independent lance. He is subject to his brethren.Our ministers must never forget their representative character, and their relationship to the church and to its entire ministry. The cheap, the tawdry, the bizarre, the trifling, the crude, the suggestive, and the gross are all in direct contradiction and opposition to the most exalted, the most solemn and spiritual, reformatory message ever sent from God to man. It must sanctify the life of the exponent, and elevate the level of all his representations and approaches. The expedients, stunts, and tricks of the world do not mix with the principles and practices of our church. Beelzebub and the Holy Spirit are never found working together. When one is in the ascendant, the other is absent. The evangelist must choose with which spirit he will align himself.
Protest is registered by our most representative evangelists against those periodic infractions of the clear, sound principles of evangelistic procedure. The voice of rebuke should follow the flouting of the appeal and counsel of our leaders. The moral weight of worker disapproval should be felt by persistent infractors. The movement should not be disgraced and stigmatized by the parading of sacrificial goats on the sacred platform, dramatization of the nativity, simulation of the devil, and the like. These antics must be loathsome to God, and are certainly misrepresentative of His ochurch. If some wish to resort to such, let them go to the vaudeville stage, where dramatic antics belong, and not degrade and disgrace the sacred platform by turning it into a show house. The principle is clear, and the issue is sharp and distinctive. The great majority stand clearly on the right side. Let us make it unanimous.
L. E. F.
Phenomenal Character of Spirit of Prophecy
phenomenal character of the Spirit of prophecy, which can be explained only through an inspired origin, is impressively attested by a systematic survey of widely diversified and highly specialized fields of knowledge and instruction. Yet each reveals such vastness of concept, such comprehensiveness of treatment, such accuracy of detail, and such authoritative handling as could be expected only from a life specialist in each particular field, if it were of purely human origin.
Think of just a few of the multiple fields—prophetic interpretation, Biblical exposition, the vast range and philosophy of history, Biblical antiquities, Jewish customs, the basic principles of science, the fundamentals of education, the obligations of missions, the principles of health, the treatment of disease, dietetics, temperance, the home, parenthood, morals and ethics, finance, organization, and gospel music. A search through a hundred topics will yield really phenomenal results, providing wise guidance and rounded-out treatment in each.
Our greatest specialists in scores of diversified fields have made exhaustive study of the writings of the gift, each in his own field; and each has marveled at the grasp, the scope, the symmetry, the depth of knowledge, and the meticulous accuracy of statement revealed, as touching his own field. Yea, more, a vastness of concept and sweep of vision is revealed 'way beyond their own individual study. There is no other possible explanation save that of divine origin.
Favored, then, are the people blessed with such a gift ! And solemnly accountable are we for heeding the counsels of that gift, for therein the Spirit of God speaks in guidance and direction, in warning and reproof, certifying the right and true, and exposing the false and misleading. Truly, the writings of the Spirit of prophecy are indited of God.
L. E. F.
In our swing away from the careless, informal, and sometimes unrepresentative type of church music that too often has characterized our past, we must beware lest we swerve to the other extreme, and ape the ritualistic trends and vogues of nominal Protestantism. This, in turn, as is well known, is often patterned more or less after Catholic music, with its singing processionals, recessionals, introits, responses, antiphonies, and the like. We quite properly give over the special music of the church to the choir, reserving only the opening and closing hymns for the congregation. But in some regrettable instances the ritualistic tendency has gone so far as to have the choir chant the offertory prayer and even the benediction, which is the clear prerogative and responsibility of the minister. Such is plainly a back-to-Babylon trend that needs not only to be watched, but to be rebuked.
There are influences seeking entrance into our music ranks that bode only ill. Returning from advanced study in the world's schools of music, a few of our musicians are introducing into our schools and churches the methods and vogues of worldly churches, including the aesthetic, messageless music characteristic of Babylon. If our pioneers could come back, and hear and see certain present developments, they would cry out in dismay. Such changes as are now taking place should be very carefully studied.
This journal is not opposed to choir robes as such. They are preferable to a motley array of colors. But with the robes, alas, often needlessly and wrongly, encroachments that are fraught with peril have been brought in. And if certain musicians had their way, adventism would gradually adopt the formalism and liturgy of the nominal churches about us, patterned after the conservatory instruction which has profoundly shaped their concepts.
Although there should be the closest co-operation between pastor and choir leader, and delegation of proper responsibility, nevertheless every portion of the worship of the church should remain in the ultimate control of the gospel ministry. The theory that the music of the church belongs to the professional musician, and should be controlled by him, is specious. Any such contention is fraught with inherent peril, and would be ruinous were it to prevail. We know of one case in which a church was split through such an attempt. And the end is not yet.
God holds the ministry definitely accountable for the conduct of the church, and for the purity and separateness of all phases of its worship. That is a responsibility that cannot be evaded or delegated. Here is a problem meriting the closest study, and a safeguarding / course of action.