Should An Evangelist Attack Other Churches?

Should An Evangelist Attack Other Churches?
 

In some of our outreach meetings some evangelists are minded to attack other churches, especially the Roman Catholic Church. And given certain perceived prophetic interpretations as well as misplaced Spirit of Prophecy quotes, it would seem that there is some degree of justification. However, for this week’s weekly I ask, “Is it necessary?” “Should we attack other churches?” In my attempt to respond, I will once again reference the book 101 Questions Adventists Ask, by Beach and Graz.
 
Attacks Are Likely to Bring on Attacks
Religious Liberty specialists Beach and Graz observe that while an evangelist “probably has the legal religious liberty right to do so, the question is, should he or she?  Is it wise and productive to get involved in scathing wars of words and launching flamboyant cannonades against other denominations?  Every militant attack invites a proportionate counterattack.”  Nevertheless, as we know and have possibly witnessed some persons “thrive in controversy and spoil for a fight – or at least a debate where they can publicly undress the other side.” However, is this the most effective way in reaching others with the “truth”? Was this the practice of Jesus? Can we be faithful to Bible prophecy and yet not attack?
 
The Privilege of Being An Evangelist
Undeniably, the call to evangelism is a great one; and as such, carries significant responsibility.  “There is no higher calling” than to call men and women to accept Christ.  What an honor to bring the good news of salvation and hope to others!  Beach and Graz note, “The Good News, in its time-of-the-end setting, is so wonderful, convicting, and heartwarming that it does not need a pugnacious presentation that inevitably lessens its spiritual impact.  Honey attracts the bees – and the bears for that matter; vinegar is not a pleasant drink.”  Ellen White states that in our outreach, we need to present “the truth…as it is in Jesus” (Counsels to Writers and Editors, p. 60).  She adds, “Let not those who write for our papers make unkind thrusts and allusions that will certainly do harm, and that will hedge up the way and hinder us from doing the work that we should do in order to reach all classes, the Catholics included” (Ibid).
 
The Results of Unnecessary Attacks
We can recall the after effects of some evangelists who employed a confrontational approach. During the campaign they become “the talk of the town, arouse much controversy and conflict, turn people and churches against each other, get some baptisms, and then leave town disliked by most people, never to return.” Unfortunately, pastors, elders and members are left to clean up and still live among these people, neighbors, working colleagues and family members. Are there no better ways? Ellen White contends, “All sharp thrusts will come back upon us in double measure when the power is in the hands of those who can exercise it for our injury. Over and over the message has been given to me that we are not to say one word, not to publish one sentence, especially by way of personalities, unless positively essential in vindicating the truth, that will stir up our enemies against us, and arouse their passions to a white heat. Our work will soon be closed up, and soon the time of trouble, such as never was, will come upon us, of which we have but little idea” (Ibid). Our role is to proclaim Christ, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and remember to be wise as serpents and harmless as doves- never compromising and always mindful that He will do the drawing. Next week, I will address the other side of this week’s weekly: “Do we need to restrict the truth?”