In the pioneer days of this movement m e n were refreshingly candid and courageous. They were forthright, and dealt with each other frankly and fearlessly. They did not fear to discuss differences and reach definite conclusions. They were hewing out the foundation stones of God's great temple of last-day reformatory truth—a work of far-reaching import, of which they were well aware—yet they were not afraid to declare themselves orally or in writing, or to take a clean-cut stand on fundamental issues.
Their conclusions were reached through intensive study and free discussion. They did not hesitate to grip and to solve key problems. They did not fear to define doctrinal positions and to take a firm stand on vital questions. Those were the good old days. And we enjoy the fruit of the labors of those days.
But a major change in attitude has come in recent decades. We of today have all too often become hesitant, fearful, and uncertain. We have exploited caution to the place where we have oftentimes become timid about clear-cut statements of belief. We fear to enunciate warning or reproof, lest we offend. We shrink from declaring ourselves, lest our utterances may not be quite perfect, lest they may be misunderstood, or prove injurious to someone somewhere. We are so afraid of discussion that we have practically excluded it from our church papers today. We are so concerned lest we make a mistake, that we often incline to do nothing—thus making the greatest mistake of all. We speciously think that sufficient time will automatically solve our problems, and so we let them ride along, waiting for that better day.
We have not today the certainties our forefathers had. One reason is that we do not study things through as they did. If they had hesitated, as we often do now, there would have been few of those historic pronouncements upon which we now lean or build. Had they taken counsel of their fears, or been deterred by lack of precedent, there would have been no corporate body of Adventist faith, no comprehensive system of prophetic interpretation. It is well that all this was established back there.
Let us thank God for those men. of courage, conviction, and vision. Then let us search our own souls and see if we do not need someone or something to jar us out of our spinelessness, indifference, and timidity for the defense and consummation of what our spiritual forefathers began.
Courage does not mean foolhardiness, nor does it involve blundering rashness. But it does involve a positive message in a negative world that has tragically lost its bearings. It means sound, sane, Scriptural convictions that lie back of positive attitudes and courses of action. Let us shake off the curse of accommodation and timidity that seeks to throttle us today. Let us take decided action. Let us meet the issues that confront us. Let us consummate the work of those good old days in the spirit and godly fear of our spiritual forefathers.
L. E. F.