Note: Your comments and constructive criticisms are invited. Whether it be praise or disapproval, our only requirement is that it be done in the framework of a Christian spirit. All items under this heading reflect the personal views of the respective writers and not necessarily those of this journal or the denomination at large.—Editors.
But we should guard against another LP point. In the past the Lord showed Ellen G. White certain places in which certain institutions could be built. Some of these places were abroad and some in America. At one time Mrs. White, after viewing one area, exclaimed that she had been shown that place in vision. These words from God's servant gave our denominational leaders confidence that the land purchased had God's approval.
Location Alone Not Only Factor
Now, here lurks another danger. Shall we take this statement of Mrs. White to mean that the Lord approved the location of land for the erection of a certain type and size of institution, or shall we interpret that to mean that we are hereby permitted to erect on that land an institution of any size of our own preference? In other words, Now that we are sure that the location is right, would that necessarily mean that anything we erect on it must consequently be also right? These are vital questions. Indeed, the same God who was gracious to point out certain locations for our institutions was also gracious to give us light concerning the size and the purpose of the institutions that should be erected on them.
If we fail to carry out God's instruction with reference to the erection of these institutions, the fact that we erected them on God's specified locations will not atone for such a failure. God's counsel is clear, "Buildings will give character to My work only when those who erect them follow My instruction in regard to the establishment of iristitutions."—Testimonies, vol. 7, p. 101. Of course, it is a known fact that God chose Shiloh and Jerusalem both, and He forsook them both. He forsook them not because of their locations but because of what was carried out on these locations.
Now, one more point needs our attention. At one time the servant of the Lord said, "There should be no cramping of the sanitarium work at ___________ ." How should we interpret this statement? Can we interpret this to mean that we are permitted to carry out a continual expansion program, at least with reference to this one sanitarium? Hardly!
A study of this statement will reveal that it was written in May of 1907 (see Ms. 55, May 30, 1907). A few days prior (and not after) this particular sanitarium opened its doors. Since then, this sanitarium has added various buildings in 1909, 1918, 1920, 1940, 1950. Now, can we today, just to cite an example, be justified were we to advocate further expansion of this particular sanitarium? And if so, can we base our justification of such an expansion on this statement, that was given prior to all the subsequent expansions here mentioned and even prior to the opening of the sanitarium itself? A more appropriate question would be, How could we then be able to know when to stop expansion? Further, how are we to know when we would be "in danger of setting the medical missionary work first, making it the body instead of the arm" (Medical Ministry, p. 159)? Are we ever likely to reach the place where God's counsel "Break up the large centers" could apply to us as it did to the pioneers a few decades ago? Certainly God gave His people enough light to protect them from any wrong step.
Break Up the Large Centers
It is indeed a staggering thought just to imagine a leader having to carry out an instruction of this kind, for we usually think of progress in terms of expansion, not of breaking up. It is even a more staggering thought to imagine the kind of cooperation such a leader might receive were he to try to "break up the large centers." One thing is sure that God's leaders throughout the ages were often called upon to do most undesirable tasks.
We as a people are proud of our heritage and rightly so. The early Adventist leaders were mighty men of God. They were men of faith, courage, and vision. But we like to forget that they made mistakes. Often God sent to them not only words of counsel but words of reproof. At times, when the messenger of the Lord "saw that the frown of God was upon His people" (Testimonies, vol. 5, p. 64), she urged them to reform, because God never sanctions wrong. Paradoxically enough however, although we always think of the early pioneers as better than we are, we hardly ever think that we could repeat any of their failures. Because of our loyalty to the cause and to its leadership, and our love for the brethren, we never think that our actions today could bear an influence for wrong on those carrying responsibilities. But that could happen. It has happened in the past and it could happen now. The facts of the case are that we know that it will happen. For "the days of purification of the church are hastening on apace. God will have a people pure and true. In the mighty sifting soon to take place we shall be better able to measure the strength of Israel. . . Those who have trusted to intellect, genius, or talent will not then stand at the head of rank and file. They did not keep pace with the light. Those who have proved themselves unfaithful will not then be entrusted with the flock. In the last solemn work few great men will be engaged." Ibid., p. 80. (Italics supplied.)
May the Lord help us to support our great men, for they are among us. May we hold up the hands of our leaders that their plans for reform may not be hindered, remembering the counsel of one of our General Conference presidents who recently wrote: "As we increase in numbers and our institutions grow in both numbers and size, there comes the tendency to drift, following the trend of Christian institutions that have preceded us and have drifted far from the purposes of their Christian founders. This must not happen to us. Not only must we be loyal personally to the principles of our faith, our institutions of every type and our work generally must remain so."—R. R. FIGUHR, in Review and Herald, Sept. 29, 1966, p. 18.
May God help us to expand His work far and wide by establishing many small centers and "never, never" by erecting large centers in any place.