How to Treat Those Who Differ With Us On Some Points of Truth

“Suppose a brother held a view that differed from yours, and he should come to you, proposing that you sit down with him and make an investigation of that point in the Scriptures; should you rise up, filled with prejudice, and condemn his ideas, while refusing to give him a candid hearing? The only right way would be to sit down as Christians, and investigate the position presented, in the light of God’s word, which will reveal truth and unmask error. To ridicule his ideas would not weaken his position in the least if it were false, or strengthen your position if it were true. If the pillar of our faith will not stand the test of investigation, it is time that we knew it. There must be no spirit of Phariseeism cherished among us. When Christ came to his own, his own received him not; and it is a matter of solemn interest to us that we should not pursue a similar course in refusing light from heaven.” — Review and Herald, June 18, 1889 par. 5 – EGW

“Suppose a brother should come to us, and present some matter to us in a different light from that in which we had ever looked at it before, should we come together with those who agree with us, to make sarcastic remarks, to ridicule his position, and to form a confederacy to misrepresent his arguments and ideas? Should we manifest a bitter spirit toward him, while neglecting to seek wisdom of God in earnest prayer,–while failing to seek counsel of Heaven? Would you think you were keeping the commandments of God while pursuing such a course toward your brother? Would you be in a condition to recognize the bright beams of heaven’s light should it be flashed upon your pathway? Would your heart be ready to receive divine illumination?–No; you would not recognize the light. All this spirit of bigotry and intolerance must be taken away, and the meekness and lowliness of Christ must take its place before the Spirit of God can impress your minds with divine truth. We should come right down to the root of the matter presented, and should not be in a position where we shall have no love for our brother because his ideas differ from our views. If you do take this position, you say by your attitude that you consider your own opinion perfection, and your brother’s erroneous.” — Review and Herald, August 27, 1889 par. 5 – EGW

“To hold yourselves aloof from an investigation of truth is not the way to carry out the Saviour’s injunction to “search the Scriptures.” Is it digging for hidden treasures to call the result’s of some one’s labor a mass of rubbish, and make no critical examination to see whether or not there are precious jewels of truth in the collection of thought which you condemn? Will those who have almost everything to learn keep themselves away from every meeting where there is an opportunity to investigate the messages that come to the people, simply because they imagine the views held by the teachers of the truth may be out of harmony with what they have conceived as truth? Thus it was that the Jews did in the days of Christ, and we are warned not to do as they did, and be led to choose darkness rather than light, because there was in them an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God. No one of those who imagine that they know it all is too old or too intelligent to learn from the humblest of the messengers of the living God.” — S. S. W., June, 1892. {TSS 65.2} – EGW

“We are on dangerous ground when we cannot meet together like Christians, and courteously examine controverted points. I feel like fleeing from the place lest I receive the mold of those who cannot candidly investigate the doctrines of the Bible.” — Selected Messages, Vol. 1, p. 411.1 – EGW

 

But when unpopular Bible truths are presented, many refuse to make this investigation. Though unable to controvert the plain teachings of Scripture, they yet manifest the utmost reluctance to study the evidences offered. Some assume that even if these doctrines are indeed true, it matters little whether or not they accept the new light, and they cling to pleasing fables which the enemy uses to lead souls astray. Thus their minds are blinded by error, and they become separated from heaven.  {AA 232.1}

 

Not to Be Suspected.–When a doctrine is presented that does not meet our minds, we should go to the word of God, seek the Lord in prayer, and give no place for the enemy to come in with suspicion and prejudice. We should never permit the spirit to be manifested that arraigned the priests and rulers against the Redeemer of the world. They complained that He disturbed the people, and they wished He would let them alone; for He caused perplexity and dissension. The Lord sends light to us to prove what manner of spirit we are of. We are not to deceive ourselves.  {CW 43.1}

 

In 1844, when anything came to our attention that we did not understand, we kneeled down and asked God to help us take the right position; and then we were able to come to a right understanding and see eye to eye. There was no dissension, no enmity, no evil-surmising, no misjudging of our brethren. If we but knew the evil of the spirit of intolerance, how carefully would we shun it!–Gospel Workers, pp. 301, 302. (1915.)  {CW 43.2}

 

The Test of New Light.–Our brethren should be willing to investigate in a candid way every point of controversy. If a brother is teaching error, those who are in responsible positions ought to know it; and if he is teaching truth, they ought to take their stand at his side. We should all know what is being taught among us; for if it is truth, we need it. We are all under obligation to God to know what He sends us. He has given directions by which we may test every doctrine,–“To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” If the light presented meets this test, we are not to refuse to accept it because it does not agree with our ideas.–Gospel Workers, pp. 300, 301.  {CW 43.3}

 

Examination of New Views.–Truth is eternal, and conflict with error will only make manifest its strength. We should never refuse to examine the Scriptures with those who, we have reason to believe, desire to know what is truth as much as we do.  Suppose a brother held a view that differed from yours, and he should come to you, proposing that you sit down with him and make an investigation of that point in the Scriptures; should you rise up, filled with prejudice, and condemn his ideas, while refusing to give him a candid hearing?  The only right way would be to sit down as Christians and investigate the position presented, in the light of God’s word, which will reveal truth and unmask error. To ridicule his ideas would not weaken his position in the least if it were false, or strengthen your position if it were true. If the pillars of our faith will not stand the test of investigation, it is time that we knew it. There must be no spirit of pharisaism cherished among us. When Christ came to His own, His own received Him not; and it is a matter of solemn interest to us that we should not pursue a similar course in refusing light from heaven.  {CW 44.1, 2}

Submit New Light to Experienced Brethren. –There are a thousand temptations in disguise prepared for those who have the light of truth; and the only safety for any of us is in receiving no new doctrine, no new interpretation of the Scriptures, without first submitting it to brethren of experience. Lay it before them in a humble, teachable spirit, with earnest prayer; and if they see no light in it, yield to their judgment; for “in the multitude of counselors there is safety.”–Testimonies, Vol. 5, pp. 291-293. (1885.)  {CW 47.1}

 

Attitude to Those Claiming to Have New Light.–Cling close to your Bible, for its sacred truths can purify, ennoble, and sanctify the soul. You must hold the truth and teach it as it is in Jesus, else it is of no value to you. Before the light of God’s truth let human opinions and ideas and human wisdom appear as they are in the sight of God,–as foolishness. . . .  {CW 50.1}

 

If a brother differ with you on some points of truth, do not stoop to ridicule, do not place him in a false light, or misconstrue his words, making sport of them; do not misinterpret his words and wrest them of their true meaning. This is not conscientious argument. Do not present him before others as a heretic, when you have not with him investigated his positions, taking the Scriptures text by text in the spirit of Christ to show him what is truth. You do not yourself really know the evidence he has for his faith, and you cannot really clearly define your own position. Take your Bible, and in a kindly spirit weigh every argument that he presents and show him by the Scriptures if he is in error. When you do this without unkind feelings, you will do only that which is your duty and the duty of every minister of Jesus Christ.– Letter 21, 1888.  {CW 50.2}

 

Hear Before You Condemn.–When new light is presented to the church, it is perilous to shut yourselves away from it. Refusing to hear because you are prejudiced against the message or the messenger will not make your case excusable before God. To condemn that which you have not heard and do not understand will not exalt your wisdom in the eyes of those who are candid in their investigations of truth. And to speak with contempt of those whom God has sent with a message of truth, is folly and madness. If our youth are seeking to educate themselves to be workers in His cause, they should learn the way of the Lord, and live by every word that proceedeth out of His mouth. They are not to make up their minds that the whole truth has been unfolded, and that the Infinite One has no more light for His people. If they entrench themselves in the belief that the whole truth has been revealed, they will be in danger of discarding precious jewels of truth that shall be discovered as men turn their attention to the searching of the rich mine of God’s word.–Counsels on Sabbath School Work, pp. 32, 33. (1892.)  {CW 51.1}

 

The momentous issues at stake through neglect of the word of God should be carefully considered. The study of the Bible is worthy of the best mental effort, the most sanctified ability. When new light is presented to the church, it is perilous to shut yourselves away from it. Refusing to hear because you are prejudiced against the message to the messenger will not make your case excusable before God. To condemn that which you have not heard and do not understand will not exalt your wisdom in the eyes of those who are candid in their investigations of truth. And to speak with contempt of those whom God has sent with a message of truth, is folly and madness. If our youth are seeking to educate themselves to be workers in His cause, they should learn the way of the Lord, and live by every word that proceedeth out of His mouth. They are not to make up their minds that the whole truth has been unfolded, and that the Infinite One has no more light for His people. If they entrench themselves in the belief that the whole truth has been revealed, they will be in danger of discarding precious jewels of truth that shall be discovered as men turn their attention to the searching of the rich mine of God’s word.  {CSW 32.1}

 

Sometimes one or two of the brethren would stubbornly set themselves against the view presented, and would act out the natural feelings of the heart; but when this disposition appeared, we suspended our investigations and adjourned our meeting, that each one might have an opportunity to go to God in prayer and, without conversation with others, study the point of difference, asking light from heaven. With expressions of friendliness we parted, to meet again as soon as possible for further investigation. At times the power of God came upon us in a marked manner, and when clear light revealed the points of truth, we would weep and rejoice together. We loved Jesus; we loved one another.  {TM 25.3}

 

When a brother receives new light upon the Scriptures, he should frankly explain his position, and every minister should search the Scriptures with the spirit of candor to see if the points presented can be substantiated by the Inspired Word. “The servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth.” 2 Timothy 2:24, 25.  {TM 30.3}

 

The time has come when those who are rooted and grounded in the truth may manifest their firmness and decision, may make known the fact that they are unmoved by the sophistry, maxims, or fables of the ignorant and wavering. Without foundation men will make statements with all the positiveness of truth; but it is of no use to argue with them concerning their spurious assertions. The best way to deal with error is to present the truth, and leave wild ideas to die out for want of notice. Contrasted with truth, the weakness of error is made apparent to every intelligent mind. The more the erroneous assertions of opposers, and of those who rise up among us to deceive souls, are repeated, the better the cause of error is served. The more publicity is given to the suggestions of Satan, the better pleased is his satanic majesty; for unsanctified hearts will be prepared to receive the chaff that he provides for them. We shall have to meet difficulties of this order even in the church. Men will make a world of an atom and an atom of a world.  {TM 165.1}

 

The best way to deal with error is to present the truth, and leave wild ideas to die for want of notice. Contrasted with truth, the weakness of error is made apparent to every intelligent mind. The more the erroneous assertions of opposers, and of those who rise up among us to deceive souls, are repeated, the better the cause of error is served. The more publicity is given to the suggestions of Satan, the better pleased is his satanic majesty.– Testimonies to Ministers, p. 165. (1892)  {Ev 166.1}

 

There must be no duplicity, no crookedness, in the life of the worker. While error even when held in sincerity, is dangerous to anyone, insincerity in the truth is fatal.–Medical Missionary, January, 1891.  {Ev 632.3}

 

The first-day Adventists as a class are the most difficult to reach. They generally reject the truth, as did the Jews. We should, as far as possible, go forward as though there were not such a people in existence. They are the elements of confusion, and immoralities exist among them to a fearful extent. It would be the greatest calamity to have many of their number embrace the truth. They would have to unlearn everything and learn anew, or they would cause us great trouble. There are occasions where their glaring misrepresentations will have to be met. When this is the case, it should be done promptly and briefly, and we should then pass on to our work. The plan of Christ’s teaching should be ours. He was plain and simple, striking directly at the root of the matter, and the minds of all were met.  {3T 37.2}

 

If God abhors one sin above another, of which His people are guilty, it is doing nothing in case of an emergency. Indifference and neutrality in a religious crisis is regarded of God as a grievous crime and equal to the very worst type of hostility against God.  {3T 280.3}

 

When men endanger the work and cause of God by their own wrong course of action, shall they hear no voice of reproof? If the wrongdoer only were concerned, and the work reached no farther than him, he alone should have the words of warning; but when his course of action is doing positive harm to the cause of truth, and souls are imperiled, God requires that the warning be as broad as the injury done. {2SM 152.4}

 

We have our Bibles. We have our experience, attested to by the miraculous working of the Holy Spirit. We have a truth that admits of no compromise. Shall we not repudiate everything that is not in harmony with this truth?  {1SM 205.1}

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