Remove the Obstructions

It may seem absurd or at least short sighted. But it is true. Many of our brethren in other churches still do not know that Adventists are Christians at all. Some are actually startled when we tell them that ours is a fundamentalist, evangelical Protestant faith. They often believe that we live only to proselyte, seldom to love. . .

It may seem absurd or at least short sighted. But it is true. Many of our brethren in other churches still do not know that Adventists are Christians at all. Some are actually startled when we tell them that ours is a fundamentalist, evangelical Protestant faith. They often believe that we live only to proselyte, seldom to love.

Others who know that ours is a Protestant creed still regard us as legalists. They rank us pretty close to the Pharisees of 30 A.D. Thus we are in fact more offensive to some than if we were not Christians at all.

Why don't we set about to change this? There are several things we can do:

1. We can retort that these critics are bigots.

2. We can keep self-righteously silent and go on our traditional way; or

3. We can recognize that we may have indeed supplied reasons for these criticisms and set about to make a genuinely constructive change.

The third is the only course a wise and Spirit-filled Christian can take if he is ever to disarm such critics and to live for his church.

We must face at least two facts:

1. While our church principles are not legalistic, many of our people are.

2. Even though other members are not legalists they leave a clear impression that they are.

There is reason to believe that many of our ministers are aware of this condition and are doing something about it. Others have not recognized its seriousness or have not found a remedy.

There must be many simple, practical solutions. We suggest only four:

1. Continually stress in our church bulletins the implicit truth that the love of Christ, His grace, His righteousness, and blood are the first and foremost of our beliefs; that they are basic to our entire creed, and that all of our doctrines flow naturally from them. On their back pages many of our bulletins nicely summarize all our beliefs except the basic faith in Christ's love and righteousness. No list of doctrines should omit this salient truth. Rather it should be placed first, at flag level, or printed in bold-face type.

2. Bring this truth into every sermon, for every Adventist belief owes its strength to the love and grace of Christ.

3. Organize and ensure that our members become acquainted with all their neighbors. Let these people sec that we arc not isolationists, legalists, but are concerned Christians. Many people have recently become surprised and attracted to our church through the Five-Day Plan and other health efforts that attached no creedal rider.

4. Prayerfully re-examine our hearts to ensure that we do place the love of Christ as our firm base, our greatest motive.

This is no social gospel, placing the do-good deed itself as our goal. But rather this reaches down to the solid rock of truth and high to the glory of the cross from which conic highest motivation for the glory of God and the welfare of our neighbor. Only the love of Christ does this. Once it is established in our lives and has the priority in our communication with others, our doctrines will flow naturally and beautifully unobstructed by charges of legalism into their hearts.

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February 1970

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