Manuscript Releases, vol. 8 [Nos. 526-663]


MR No. 536—Debating and the Ministry

I was led from room to room occupied by our brethren at that meeting [the 1888 G.C. Session at Minneapolis], and heard that of which every one will one day be terribly ashamed, if it is not until the judgment, when every work will appear in its true light. In the room occupied by you there was a Witness, and in the rooms of others there was a Witness to every remark made,—the ungodly jest, the satire, the sarcasm, the wit; the Lord God of heaven was displeased with you, and with every one who shared in the merriment, and in the hard, unimpressible spirit. An influence was exerted that was Satanic. Some souls will be lost in consequence.—Letter 61, 1893, pp. 3, 4. (To Elder I. D. Van Horn, January 20, 1893.) 8MR 23.1

The enemies of the truth know that they have not strong arguments to sustain their position; therefore they will try the mettle of the one who presents the truth. In the position where you are placed to vindicate the truth, keep self out of sight, make no boast of knowledge, place your feet upon the Word, the eternal Word of truth. Make no reference to any sly thrusts of your opponent. Do not manifest a spirit of retaliation. But ever maintain the gentleness of Christ. Put on Christ. Your physical infirmities urge you to hasty feelings and hasty words, which give your opponent an advantage. Abide in Christ. For the truth's sake, for Christ's sake, preserve the dignity, the elevated and ennobling character of the truth. Your zeal will need to be controlled by the Holy Spirit of God, lest it quicken into impatience as you see the Scriptures wrested and fables and human assertions presented as truth. Men who know that they have the truth can have power only as they present the truth as it is in Jesus.... 8MR 23.2

Dwell as little as possible upon your opponents’ objections, but press in the truth, new and convincing, arguments to cut away and undermine error. Keep your own spirit ever calm, even against personal abuse. Never retaliate. Let the spirit of kindness, Christian courtesy, rule your every action. The Holy Spirit will help your infirmities. People will pass judgment upon the men. Those in error have learned that their strength is to maintain self-control, while the fires of hell may be stirring every fiber of the being. 8MR 24.1

Your opponent will say words which will irritate a sensitive mind. Pass these by unheeded. Do not once forget that you are speaking for God's truth. Your spirit, if kept gentle under provocation, will speak louder than any force of argument. Do not imperil the truth by an unwise word. Remember how, when provoked, Moses once spoke unadvisedly, and dishonored God. You need larger experience as a student in the school of Christ, in copying His meekness and lowliness.—Letter 9a, 1894, pp. 2, 4. (To Elder J. O. Corliss, December 8, 1894.) 8MR 24.2

We are praying for you that the Lord may give you largely of His Holy Spirit, and that as His human agent you may represent the likeness of Christ's character, by manifesting the practical power of the truth in the manner in which you treat your opponent. Give him not the least semblance of an excuse to become irritated over any personal thrusts that may be given in the debate. On this occasion you are representing the Author of truth. You are to show that the truth is sacred, and not to be made a scourge to those who oppose it. In handling the words of the infinite God, you are not to manifest a sharp, cruel spirit. The Lord will be your teacher and enable you to carry the controversy through with Christ-like dignity. Your opponent will seek to make the truth appear unimportant, but to many he will not be successful in this design. You are Christ's instrumentality, and should clothe your words with sacred, reverential dignity. This attitude will not be without effect on human minds.—Letter 113, 1894, pp. 2, 3. (To Elder J. O. Corliss, December 16, 1894.) 8MR 24.3

They [J. O. Corliss's opponents] were resolved at all hazards to stir you up, and make capital of your hastily uttered words; for they wanted to find occasion against you. The desire on their part for a discussion was not a desire to obtain light, but to evade the light and to confuse those who were ignorant of the Scriptures.—Letter 21a, 1895, p. 2. (To Elder J. O. Corliss, August 20, 1895.) 8MR 25.1

Unless we know that we have a commission from on high, we are to refuse to enter into controversy with any one, because this is not our work.—Letter 96, 1900, pp. 1, 2. (To Elder and Mrs. S. N. Haskell, July 5, 1900.) 8MR 25.2

Released May 20, 1977.