In desiring to enter the space of contemporary Christian conversation with biblical perspective, sometimes I find that a voice from our past has already said best what I could only hope to convey. So it is with current trends of religious warfare among brothers and sisters in Christ, kindly and concisely corrected in a notable voice from our Baptist past.
“No spirit is more destructive than the spirit of censorious or belittling criticism… Ridicule is a poor weapon in religious warfare.”Tweet
– I.J. Van Ness, The Baptist Spirit (1914)
“We must always maintain toward others an attitude of respect… No spirit is more destructive than the spirit of censorious or belittling criticism. Even when we cannot comprehend how certain beliefs can hold sway over the hearts of men, we must needs respect those who hold these convictions. There may be times when we suspect selfishness and self-interest as impelling some of the teachers of truth. We must be slow to believe this, and when we do believe it we shall have to turn away in a spirit of sorrow…Ridicule is a poor weapon in religious warfare. This respectful attitude to others grows out of our doctrine of soul-liberty… and not from indifference toward the welfare of truth.”
Grace and Peace,
I. J. Van Ness
Corresponding Secretary of the Baptist Sunday School Board
The Baptist Spirit (1914), pgs. 73-74.