Vol.XIX No.V Pg.1
July 1982

Am I Wrong About This?

Robert F. Turner

Most of us have known a "know it all" who delights in catching errors and showing off his superiority. That is not a likable trait. But all of us do make mistakes — and what is our attitude toward someone who would like to help us correct them?

I once wrote, "Erroneous teaching and practice will always be present" — only, I had an "i" in the place of the second "e". Then I wrote, "I do not claim infallibility" — but I had only one "I" in the second syllable. The printer caught both spelling errors; and what was my excuse? I said this only proved that both of those statements were correct — veritable gems of wisdom. And I add, it takes a smart man to turn defeat into victory.

Yes, we are reluctant to accept correction, even when it could help us know God's word, or even save our soul. How sad that pride can keep us from improving our own lot. We cut off our nose to spite our face. Proverbs 13:16 says, "Every prudent man worketh with knowledge, but a fool flaunteth his folly." Again, "A fool despiseth his father's correction; But he that regardeth reproof getteth prudence" (15:5). There is a true correlation between wisdom and one's willingness to hear and evaluate responsible criticism. Even when the rebuke is without foundation, we learn how our work looks to others; and a moment of self-inspection is useful.

I am convinced we cripple our own growth and development by failing to fairly evaluate adverse criticism. It is absurdly egotistic to think no one could understand as well as ourselves, or that we know as much or more than anyone else about any matter. And when our conclusions are borrowed or "swallowed" from others anyhow, we may be showing real sectarian bias.

It is practically a clich — but Truth has nothing to fear from investigation." Wouldn't it be wonderful if brethren who differ could honestly investigate each others criticisms, openly study the scriptures together? If "debate" could be a genuine endeavor to test conclusions in the light of truth, by men who wanted truth more than they wanted to "win"? If we want it that way, we can have it so.