A Well-Balanced Mind

A Well-Balanced Mind

The perils of fanaticism as illustrated in World War I.

By LEWIS H. CHRISTIAN, Vice-President of the General Conference

God gives His children the spirit of a sound mind. (2 Tim. 1:7.) That means the kind of thinking which does not go too slow or run too fast. It turns neither to the right nor to the left. To have a balanced mind, however, is not to be weak, compromising, neutral, or indifferent as to live issues. While a balanced mind is thought­ful and considerate, it is also strong, keen, and brave in defense of the truth of God. It is never quick to condemn or to cause separation, but even in times of crisis remains quiet, considerate, tol­erant, and fair.

We are living in a day of hasty decisions and snap judgments. False propaganda and unsound rumors thrive. In days of war there is too much excitement. People jump to conclusions and are quick to think evil of others. The fact is that loose, crooked, or frenzied thinking is a real peril at this time. This is true concerning not only pol­itics or national issues, but religion and churches as well. In such days as these the faith of some seems to turn to a fanaticism that lays waste like a prairie fire.

I saw some of these extreme people and their fruitage in the first World War. Some who made high claims as reformers became not only a nui­sance but at times a positive peril. Instead of helping the remnant church they tried to split it, and instead of leading God's children into deeper love and unity they became smiters of the breth­ren. There are still a few of these misnamed re­formed Adventists with us, and their efforts to undermine faith and create suspicion in our churches emphasize the importance of the thought­ful judgment of a well-balanced mind.

I remember well how these things started in 1914. One of our members in Berlin, known as an extremist, chose to go to prison rather than per­mit himself to be vaccinated. He claimed to be directed in this by divine "visions," and he wanted the Adventist Church to print his so-called revela­tions. One of his visions was that the Lord would come just about New Year's, 1915. Another one, in Switzerland, at the same time endorsed what the first one had written, only alleging that he had had a "vision" that the end of the world would occur in April, 1915. These men, with other fanatics, stirred up our churches and tried to create turmoil and dissatisfaction. They were so ultraradical in their views that they even called the service of the Red Cross the service of the devil. In many places they preached desertion and defeatism. They scattered thousands of little pamphlets, and before long they called the Advent­ist people Babylon, and organized a church of their own. Soon, however, they split up among themselves and began to disfellowship one an­other. We still have these folks to perplex us, and their great stock in trade is that the Adventists during World War I did not take the right stand in Central Europe.

That our workers may have the facts, I will give further details. In 5920 I attended the large Gen­eral Conference Council in Friedensau, where these misguided people asked A. G. Daniells four ques­tions. I have the stenographic report of that meeting. Elder Daniells, in an able, kind, and convincing manner, answered every query. He emphasized four points:

I. The war came as a great surprise to our peo­ple in Europe. In the excitement of those days some brethren had written things that were not helpful, but they had confessed their mistakes, and had asked the Adventist Church to forgive them. This we did, and it was clear that their labors were blessed of God.

2. The second question had to do with the bear­ing of arms. Elder Daniells' answer to this was that the General Conference had held the same position on this in the World War that had just dosed, as had been taken from the very first, in 1864-65. His statement was true to fact in 1920, and it is true today.

3. The third question dealt with the faith of the General Conference in the Testimonies. Elder Daniells emphasized and proved that this church believes in the Spirit of prophecy the same as it has from the beginning. His words were a great help to our people overseas. I was in Central Europe in 1939, just before the present war be­gan, and attended a series of meetings in the lead­ing cities there. I found that at every conference the people studied the Testimonies, and believed them to be light from the Lord.

4. In reply to the fourth question, as to whether the advent movement is national or international, Elder Daniells' answer was that our message is not for any. one nation alone. It belongs to, and is being presented to, every nation, kindred, tongue, and people. Our present large, world­wide work proves that his answer was right.

After Elder Daniells had clearly replied to these four questions he urged these re­bellious brethren not to leave the remnant church of God. He pointed out to them that they had made a great mistake in starting an organization of their own, in collecting money, in trying to break up our churches, and in printing literature to prove that the advent church was not the peo­ple of God. He emphasized that this was utterly out of harmony with the Bible and the Spirit of prophecy, and added that his experience led him to say that God would never bless them in their efforts. Time has certainly proved that his an­swers were correct, for the story of these so-called reform folks is one of disappointment and con­fusion.

We mention this as an illustration of the need of careful, balanced, godly thinking. It is not in overseas divisions only that we find extremists. A few weeks ago, down in Texas, as we were driving along a road, someone told me that near by, on a certain hill, were a large number of Seventh-day Adventists. I was surprised at her statement and we drove in to see about it. We did find quite an establishment there, but its members cer­tainly were not Adventists. Some years ago a man from across the sea, who in his foolish pride thought he was a prophet like Elijah, gathered a considerable number of deluded followers. Their writings are utter confusion. They have no light on the Bible, and they are not in harmony with the Spirit of prophecy. Their crude codes and whimsical pictures lay bare a befuddled mind darkened by unholy ambitions. They have, how­ever, succeeded in getting money from some weak members. The thing is really a religious "racket," and wise people have no part in it. These reli­gious groups or colonies claiming to have all things in common, have proved to be a fraud, which brings sorrow and poverty to both parents and children, especially children.

We as workers should help the people of God to shun fads and notions, and always to build on confidence and solid experience. The Spirit of the Lord leads us in harmony with His Word and gives us wisdom and grace to shun the extreme views and plans of foolish people. The mind of Christ was balanced, and that mind is our great need today.

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By LEWIS H. CHRISTIAN, Vice-President of the General Conference

March 1945

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