Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
November 25, 1954

Objective Study

Leslie Diestelkamp. Brookfield. Illinois

It is quite common for Christians to urge people to study the Bible objectively. That is, we usually tell them, "If you will just study this matter without prejudice, it will be easy to learn the truth." And, it is certainly true that the Bible may be understood if we will just study it impersonally — without consideration for anything but TRUTH. We need to continue to urge sinners to search the scriptures without bias. Religiously mistaken people must be urged to search the Bible for truth, not for arguments to uphold what they believe.

However, the purpose of this article is to beg that we, as Christians, practice what we preach. Let us as gospel preachers and other Christians, be willing to investigate a belief or a practice without prejudice.

Such objective study on the part of Christians will have some drastic results. It may force us to reverse ourselves. That is hard to do. It is our human desire to want to be consistent with what we have been. Sometimes we may be forced, by objective study, to cease to be consistent, and be RIGHT instead. Let us be humble enough to acknowledge that we were wrong, sometimes, and correct our mistakes instead of trying to justify them. It is no disgrace to be wrong, but it is a shame to stay wrong just to be consistent. Saul of Tarsus did some objective thinking, and as a result he completely reversed himself. (Acts 9.) He could have refused to hear the Lord, for certainly he recognized the terrible reversal he would have to make.

To study objectively, and thus sometimes be forced to change our beliefs, our teaching and our practice, may cause one to be "branded" today, among our brethren, as a "Johnny Come Lately." Fear of such a "brand" may stifle real impersonal study. Brethren, let us be brave enough to search the Bible for TRUTH, even if it does cause some to think we are "turncoats." Almost everyone who has left a denomination, has had to face such attacks. We admonish a sectarian to forget earthly ties, to ignore criticism and to accept the truth regardless of earthly consequences. Let us likewise give no heed to brands that may be attached to us and face the issues fairly.

Such objective study may cause us to spend some sleepless nights in real self-investigation. It will certainly cause us to look upon every activity we engage in with much scrutiny. It will force us to quit accepting something just because it is popular among the brethren. As individual Christians, we may be driven, by real, unprejudiced study, to quit many recreational practices. Usually those who uphold dancing do so without making a FAIR study of it. To them it is fun, they like it, and they will not investigate its dangers. Many who uphold dancing do so because they do not object to the adultery, either in thought or in practice, to which it usually leads. When a preacher teaches against immodest clothing, social drinking, etc., it is quite common to hear some Christian say, "Why, I never heard of such a thing. I don't see anything wrong with it."

One of the gravest problems before the church today. I believe, is the problem of getting the TRUTH on issues before us, rather than getting the opinion Of the pioneers or the practice of the majority of the congregations When we consider mission work, benevolent work or any other activity, we must not only ask, "Will it do good?" but also, and perhaps first, let us ask, "Is it right?" And, it is very difficult to see that a thing may be "good" — that is, that good as we think of it, may be thus accomplished — and yet not be God's will. But it is high time that brethren everywhere begin to objectively study such things as institutionalism, centralization, etc. Take the Orphan Home issue: For many years such institutions were used without significant criticism except from extremists. They were just ACCEPTED without much question. Huge expenditures that have been made, and years and years of regular contributions that have been given may easily cause us to be blind to the real need and to the really right way to meet that need.

Another illustration may be gospel preaching via radio and television. Oh, the need is so great! Millions are being lost daily because they have not heard the truth. Millions of these will not be reached easily except by radio or television. But let us not allow a GREAT NEED to blind us to truth. The end accomplished is still not worthwhile if we have not obeyed God. Saul knew it was right to make a sacrifice. He knew the need was great for such a sacrifice. Saul said, "The Philistines will come down upon me to Gilgal, and I have not made supplication unto the Lord: I forced myself, therefore, and offered a burnt offering." (1 Sam. 13:12.) But the next verse gives the sad verdict of God's prophet, Samuel, "Thou hast done foolishly: thou hast not kept the commandment of the Lord ..."

Let us be sure that we, as the ancient Bereans, search the scriptures daily, to see if these things be so to really investigate our beliefs and practices, rather than just to uphold them.