Lessons!—Certain lessons of the war in the world about us should not be lost upon us as a church. That the advantage is always with those who are on the aggressive, and can take the offensive, is too tragically patent to need comment. We, too, have spent too much time and effort in defensive warfare, and the results show it. Governmental employment of new tactics and daring plans, determination to weed out ultraconservatism, and to put vigorous, clear-visioned leaders to the forefront, is likewise worth noting. What may pass in peacetime will never do in war. Hesitancy, lack of training, inadequate experience, and lack of initiative cannot be tolerated—except at peril of disaster. Physical vigor, and superior fighting, training, and leading ability have demanded changes that have been unhesitatingly made. Earthly governments have adjusted their personnel so as to bring those best fitted for particular posts to key positions—irrespective of what adjustments are necessary, and what personal feelings or preferences may be involved. Some are fitted into a more suitable post ; others are retired. Many in the prime of vigor are advanced to crucial responsibilities —and the results justify the changes. The good of the service and the winning of the war are the supreme criteria. We of the church need seriously to ponder these principles.
Egotism!—Discount heavily the worker who claims or intimates that the denomination as a whole, or its leading ministry, has slipped up on some point, such as its stand upon divorce, and that he alone maintains the true position. Such a contention is usually the extreme position of an egotist. It may properly be remembered in this connection that such persons hold their credentials from the selfsame organization that they criticize, and have no moral or ethical right to assume a "holier-than-thou" attitude toward the organization whose papers they bear and whose public representatives they are. They are to voice the positions of the movement and to reflect its attitude, not their own.
Discussion!—Do we weaken confidence in our work in our institutions through candid discussion of weaknesses that need study and adjustment? Nay, rather, we strengthen the foundations of the cause we love by fostering study of situations that have developed, or attitudes or practices that have established themselves, but which have not been thought through to sound conclusions. Fear of, or attempted repression of, legitimate discussion is a sign of weakness, not an evidence of strength. The time was, in the rugged days of the upbuilding of this cause, when forthright discussion characterized our periodicals. Now that we have established ourselves and our policies, the tendency is to restrict all examination of the status quo. That is not a healthy attitude. Weaknesses thus become fixed, and indispensable progress is retarded. Right and truth have nothing to fear, but unwholesome restraint may lead to eruption. Dispassionate discussion is a wholesome safety valve. Let openness of mind and candor of study prevail. Then are we safe.
Politics!—Adventist preachers who become political agitators have surely lost their bearings. They have veered from the clearly marked highway of ministerial endeavor onto a bypath fraught with subtle danger. We are not called, ordained, or sustained to be political preachers or agitators. When once a man is diverted onto such a tangent, he usually adopts the methods and the expedients of the politician. He resorts to lobbying and agitation, and usually has recourse to the tricks of the political orator, with humor, flattery, sarcasm, ridicule, and invective as means to achieve his end. Such strange-fire methods are foreign to true ministry for God. They are injurious to the cause we serve, and jeopardize a man's usefulness as a minister of the gospel. His vision of values, objectives, and methods becomes warped. Let us resolutely keep to our God-given task—the preaching of the Word of life and truth, and the winning of souls for God and His message.
Compromise!—Is it not a bit singular that other religious groups, rather than Adventists, have suffered persecution at the hands of intolerant nations, both in Europe and in the Orient, and that such groups hay.e been objects of mob action? In times or pressure, persecution is the inevitable accompaniment of loyalty to unpopular principle and fidelity to conscientious conviction. Can it be that we have toned down our positions and compromised our principles ? We must not lower our colors. We must not forbear to give the unpopular call to come out of the apostasies of Babylon. We must teach and exemplify submission to suffering, rather than compromise principle. As never before we must watch our steps.
L. E. F.