Back of the sentimental, scientific, and statistical sides of the drink problem are the basic principles at stake. These are the aspects of supreme concern to the worker in this cause. True temperance is an integral part of our message to men. It should be part of every evangelistic series and inwrought into every series of Bible studies in the homes of the people. This article is the first of a number of important discussions by William A. Scharff enberg on the issues involved in the drink question.—EDITOR.
Seventh-day Adventists have, from the very beginning of their history, taken their stand for total abstinence. They believe that total abstinence is the only platform on which Christians can conscientiously stand, and that so-called moderate drinking is the school in which men are educated for the drunkard's career.
It will be the purpose of this article, and others to follow, to point out the reasons (a) why we as a denomination believe that total abstinence is the only platform upon which God's people can conscientiously stand ; and (b) why as workers and lay members we must exert our influence by precept and example, by voice, by pen, and by vote, in favor of prohibition and total abstinence.
If the curtain were pulled aside and our workers could catch a glimpse of the part that alcohol is playing, especially in these closing days, in the great controversy between Christ and Satan, we are confident that they would launch a mighty revival of the temperance issue among us as a people everywhere.
As we near the end of time, Satan will do all in his power to befuddle and stupefy men's minds, and thus secure full control of the human race. The idea of utilizing alcoholic beverages as a means to attaining this great objective—the enslavement of the entire human family—originated with Satan himself.
If we were interested in studying the history of the manufacture, distribution, sale, and consumption of alcoholic beverages, we would secure every available text and source book on the subject. We would endeavor to trace the origin of alcohol. Such a study would finally direct us to the man who first discovered the science of fermentation. The study of all such source materials would fail, however, to take us back far enough into the past to the moment when the idea of converting the fruit of the vine and the grains of the field into intoxicating beverages first entered Satan's mind. To discover the origin of this diabolical scheme, the purpose of which was to enslave the human race, turn to an article that appeared in the Review and Herald of April 16, 1901. This article takes us back into the distant past, long before man ever thought of concocting and manufacturing the stuff that makes men mad.
"Satan gathered the fallen angels together to devise some way of doing the most possible evil to the human family. One proposition after another was made, till finally Satan himself thought of a plan. He would take the fruit of the vine, also wheat, and other things given by God as food, and would convert them into poisons, which would ruin man's physical, mental, and moral powers, and so overcome the senses that Satan should have full control. Under the influence of liquor, men would be led to commit crimes of all kinds. Through perverted appetite the world would be made corrupt. By leading men to drink alcohol, Satan would cause them to descend lower and lower in the scale." —Review and Herald, April 16, 1901.
Shortly after Satan and the fallen angels were cast out of heaven, he called a great meeting—a committee meeting—to which all the fallen angels were invited. The main purpose of the meeting was "to devise" ways and means "of doing the most possible evil to the human family." That appeared to be the only item on the agenda. Satan apparently gave the fallen angels an opportunity to suggest ways and means of enslaving and destroying mankind.
Their suggestions, however, did not appear to meet with approval, for we are informed that "finally Satan himself thought of a plan." The proposal was that they "take the fruit of the vine, also wheat, and other things given by God as food, and convert them into poisons." As men would take these poisonous products into their systems, they would ruin their "physical, mental, and moral powers." Satan well knew that if he succeeded in overcoming their senses, he would have no difficulty in securing control of their minds, for under the influence of liquor he could readily lead them to commit all manner of crimes, and thus he would succeed in causing them "to descend lower and lower in the scale."
The destruction of Christ and the enslavement of the human race was Satan's goal. He -planned to secure control of the entire universe. He lost his battle with Christ and is now concentrating his entire efforts on the human race. The stakes in this conflict between Christ and Satan are terrific. Since man was created by God, and since fallen man was redeemed by Christ, Satan is determined that not one soul will ever be saved in the kingdom of God. His plan calls for nothing less than the complete destruction of the race. Such an act today is called genocide.
Genocide is an act of destruction—not of material possessions, property, or the like, but of a group of human beings. The implication is that the group to be destroyed is of no further benefit to humanity, and hence should be wiped out, massacred on a wholesale scale. The massacre may be inspired by racial, religious, cultural, or political fanaticisms. The means of massacre may vary. Any plan to liquidate a particular group of men, women, or children on a wholesale scale may be called genocide.
Efforts to destroy entire groups is no new thing. It has been attempted again and again. The massacre that preceded the destruction of Carthage, the efforts to destroy the Waldenses, the Christians under the Ottoman Empire, the Armenians, and more recently the Jews in Europe—all these are examples of genocide, the wholesale massacre of racial, religious, cultural, or political groups.
Genocide is the most heinous of crimes. It is the crime of crimes ; and according to recent actions of the general assembly of the United Nations, and of the Nurnberg Tribunal, is a crime punishable under international law. The massacre of the Carthaginians, of the Waldenses, and more recently of the Jews was limited to a particular group of people. Satan's plan calls for the destruction of the entire human race. He is cunning, clever, ruthless, and unmerciful. He has but one desire, and that is to enslave and destroy all mankind. Satan is the greatest criminal in all history.
There are three basic phases in the development of the individual—the physical, the mental, and the moral. Any person, any organization, or any government that deliberately plots to weaken the physical powers of any group of people may be charged with attempted "physical genocide." Anyone who deliberately plots to weaken the mental powers, to prevent the normal development of these powers, or to keep certain facts and information from a particular group can be charged with attempted "cultural genocide." Those who deliberately plot to curtail, restrict, or prevent the development of the spiritual or moral powers of any particular group of people can be charged with attempted "spiritual or moral genocide."
Satan is not content with merely weakening the physical powers ; he is striking at all three. His purpose is to ruin the physical, the mental, and the moral powers, not of one individual or group of individuals, but of the entire human race.
Satan's proposal to convert the fruit of the vine, wheat, and other grains that God has given to man for food, into poisons, was a diabolical scheme to ruin man's physical, mental, and moral powers. He knew that if man would take these poisons in the form of alcoholic beverages, his physical powers would be weakened, his mental powers would be impaired, and his moral powers would be ruined. He knew that under the influence of intoxicating beverages men, women, and children could readily be led to commit all manner of crimes. Satan glories in crime, and the more crimes he can lead men to commit, the sooner his goal will be reached.
As we near the end of time Satan will do his utmost to enlist his agents, not only in manufacturing, distributing, and selling alcoholic beverages of all kinds, but in promoting their consumption on a large scale. His objective seems to be to make this world liquor conscious—a world of drinking men, drinking women, drinking boys, and drinking girls. As the manufacture, distribution, sale, and consumption of alcoholic beverages increase, crimes will increase, and men will sink lower and lower.
Surely the time has come when, as a people, we must make our influence felt in a more decided and positive manner in favor of prohibition and total abstinence, and do all in our power to hold back the forces of evil that are attempting to tear men down.
"How important it is that God's messengers shall call the attention of statesmen, of editors, of thinking men everywhere, to the deep significance of the drunkenness and the violence now filling the land with desolation and death ! As faithful co-laborers with God, we must bear a clear, decided testimony on the temperance question."—Review and Herald, Oct. 25, 1906.