Editorial

Disarming Prejudice

The change of attitude on the part of many leaders of other Christian communions should inspire our workers.

R.A.A. is the editor of the Ministry. 

Many items of unusual interest have been coming to our desk during recent months. The favorable publicity we have been receiv­ing in the religious press is having tremendous effect. Letters from friends, and some from even erstwhile critics, are helping us to real­ize that the Lord has been going before us. The following portion of a letter from a min­ister of another denomination expresses what many others have said:

I have had a keen interest in Seventh-day Advent­ism in recent months, as I have carefully noted your excellent work over the world. A year ago, while a chaplain with the U.S. Army in Korea, it was my privilege to help one of your Korean orphanages, and I became acquainted with some of your splendid doctors and staff at your hospital at the capital, Seoul. While I am not always in agreement with every point of your doctrine, . . . I have felt for a long time that the booklets, brochures, books, and pamphlets written about your group by others out­side your movement, were not really fair, and were either extremely prejudicial or unfair. That seas ss-hy I appreciated Dr. Martin's articles in Eternity, articles that at last gave a more fair and unprej­udiced picture of your work to the evangelical world.

This is more than an item of interest; it represents a new challenge to Adventism and to our workers in particular. The change of attitude on the part of so many leaders of other Christian communions should inspire our workers everywhere to measure up to their expectations of us. But something else is vitally important: We must be particularly careful when stating our beliefs that we leave no room for misunderstanding. Through the years we have taken too much for granted. The fact that we had expressed our doctrines in language that we ourselves could understand seemed all that was necessary. But in that we have all too often been unwise. Things understandable to us are not always understandable to others.

Recently we have been privileged to work at close range with outstanding leaders of evangelical Christianity. They were eager to have us explain just what we believe; but more, they wanted us to state it in language that would convey exactly what we mean. At first sight that might appear easy, but we have dis­covered many things as we have worked on this heavy assignment. All too long we have been unconscious of the fact that through the years we have developed what might be called an Adventist vocabulary, and things perfectly clear to us are not clear to others. Certain theological expressions convey quite different meanings to different Christian groups.

That being so, it certainly behooves us to be more tolerant and less dogmatic. This does not mean that truth should be suppressed or muffled, nor that we should condone error. Far from it. But it does mean that in our proclama­tion of the precious truth of God, kindness and sympathetic understanding must mark our de­meanor. And such an attitude is in harmony with the clearest counsel from the messenger of the Lord. Note these words of wisdom:

We are not to pass judgment on those who have not had the opportunities and privileges we have had. Some of these will go into heaven before those who have had great light but have not lived up to the light.

If we wish to convince unbelievers that we have the truth that sanctifies the soul and transforms the character, we must not vehemently charge them with their errors. Thus we force them to the con­clusion that the truth does not make us kind and courteous, but coarse and rough.—Evangelism, p. 173.

Let every minister learn to wear the gospel shoes. He who is shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace will walk as Christ walked. He will be able to speak right words, and to speak them in love. He will not try to drive home God's message of truth. He will deal tenderly with every heart, realizing that the Spirit will impress the truth on those who are susceptible to divine impressions. Never will he be vehement in his manner. Every word spoken will have a softening, subduing influence.—Ibid., p. 174.

Of all the people in the world, reformers should be the most unselfish, the kindest, the most cour­teous, learning Christ's ways and words and works.—Ibid., p. 303.

R. A. A.

 

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R.A.A. is the editor of the Ministry. 

April 1957

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