Unified!—If a unified plan could be devised whereby men seeking a doctorate degree could be led to choose fields of research that would form part of an integrated master plan, great service would be rendered the cause of God. If those working in the field of history, for example, were to choose projects agreeable to personal preference but fitting into an over-all plan covering vital questions that would aid in better understanding of history in relation to the divine plan of the ages and the prophetic outlines, much would be gained. The multiple results accruing could then be pooled, forming a library of priceless worth for reference in our college libraries and editorial offices and for our forward-looking teachers and preachers. The same principle could be extended to other fields. Personal liberty of choice would not be surrendered, but haphazard and sometimes misguided choices, which are wasteful of effort in a unified cause such as ours, would be avoided. Here are possibilities and advantages that should be explored and exploited. Such a plan would be too vital to be sponsored by only one department or small- group. A broad plan would need to be laid, and executed by a representative group. In modified form the Ministerial Association has fostered the writing of special Reading Course books by experts to build up a distinctive worker library. The plan suggested would be a further step in a wholesome direction.
Unethical!—No minister has an ethical right to exploit his public opportunities and prestige to promote his own pecuniary interests. It is unseemly, for example, for a minister to exploit his prestige as a preacher or a teacher by capitalizing on his appearances before the public as opportunities to promote or -to sell literature from which he receives a personal benefit through royalties or commissions. This has plagued us through the years, and it is undoubtedly unethical. It merits and receives severe criticism, both from our laity and from our ministry as a whole.
One-Sided!—Many of our people are thirsting for the living waters of personal salvation that alone can quench the drought of the soul. Many are hungering for the satisfying bread of life that alone can provide the nutriment necessary for spiritual health and strength. We have too often substituted a one-sided and impoverished diet. Doctrine, prophecy, activity, service, and sacrifice have not been counterbalanced by the simple, sustaining provisions of God's saving grace and keeping power. We have produced many a doctrinary convert who does not know the first principles of enabling grace and triumphant living. May not this be the secret of much of the powerlessness and barrenness of spiritual life among our people ? Of all ministers on the face of the earth we should be the most powerful preachers of the basic provisions of the gospel. This should stand out as a towering mountain peak in our evangelistic presentation to the world.
Sensationalism!—The sensational press, with its flaring headlines, built upon exaggeration, partial truths, or unconfirmed reports, is in sharp contrast to the conservative newspaper that painstakingly checks its stories and sifts its news to present a fair and reliable picture for its readers. These well typify two different types of preaching. One lays hold of anything that sounds good, irrespective of accuracy or reliability. Allowing fancy to enlarge relatively commonplace items, this type of paper blossoms forth as a thriller. Built to sell—like the tabloid on the street—but not taken at face value or counted as reliable, such preaching cheapens the good name of this message and lowers the spokesman in public esteem. But more than that, it thrusts the shadow of a question mark over every sound statement, bringing our pulpit utterances into question. Happy the newspaper of which it can be truthfully said, "When you see it in the ______________ , it is true." Surely the same ought to be said of every Seventh-day Adventist sermon, oral or printed, and of every piece of advertising. "When you hear it at the auditorium (or tent), it is true." Our good name is at stake. We are individual guardians of that name. Let us not fail in this responsibility.
Records!—The exactness with which some can repeat year after year the same evangelistic sermon—or whole series of sermons—is astonishing, to put it mildly. When these themes are repeated in a wholly different community, they appear fresh to the hearers, irrespective of the effect upon the evangelist and his company. But when a second series is held in the same place, with titles, sequence, advertising, and the sermons themselves repeated almost verbatim, one almost wonders why, under such a policy, mere recordings could not be used. Ours is a living, expanding message. Conditions are never twice the same. Our presentations should be adapted, improved, and strengthened each time they are given. We tend to become mechanical, stilted, and professional through rigid repetition. We begin to stagnate when we cease growing, developing, and enlaiging. We have the most vivid, varied, and powerful message in the world. Let us strengthen our every presentation.
L. E. F.