ATTITUDES — Both in learning and UNlearning the attitude that one takes towards the subjects and the teachers is one of the great essentials. Anyone may take one of the following:
1. Neutral. For us who have been taught from youth in certain doctrines, supposedly biblical, this is the hardest attitude to maintain. We are sure that we "know whereof we speak" and the inclination is to refuse to listen to any evidence that seems to go contrary to what we have been taught. Too many are totally incapable to listen to such evidence. They will not tolerate it. Anything that does not harmonize with what they know (think they know) must not be admitted into their mind. This is the most positive barrier against normal progress. It is what we call PREJUDICE, which means before-judging. Forming conclusions before evidence has been heard.
2. DEFENSIVE. Prejudice brings one to take a defensive attitude immediately when meeting with something that does not agree with pre-conceived conception. Those who have failed to train themselves in having a neutral attitude, which is simply being fair and open-minded, will automatically commence to defend their theories. Ordinarily, with such one cannot get in a word crosswise as soon as they have fired the first gun. To drown the opponent in an avalanche of words is the method they put their full confidence in. The opponent must not be given a fraction of a chance to state what he believes. If he does, this is, for such a "defender," to invite disaster for his side. Incessant fire from his "big guns" is his only hope for victory for his "truth." If he succeeds in smothering every expression by his opponent he considers that the victory is his.
3. OFFENSIVE. comparatively few individuals have natural aggressiveness to carry on sustained "attacks" to gain ground for their convictions, but there are a few of that type. Wish there were more of them. It is too bad that those whom the Lord has graced with an unusual clarity of conception and a great fund of knowledge do not have more, and exercise more, of this trait. We should take a hint from Adventists, Jehovah's Witnesses, etc. They have been trained to take the offensive and — it works. They gain ground and that not only by the yard, but by the mile and by the millions.
4. THE IDEAL ATTITUDE?
No, I would not say that this last one is. — What is it then?
It is a combination of all the three mentioned above.
In all who really love the Lord and His truth there is a desire to make known to others what they hold to be divine truth. They desire to share, which is to fellowship. This is a divine trait, or virtue. God has ordained that all of His should thus share what He has given. It is the major means of edification. It is vitally necessary for growth and development.
But this involves the necessity of both giving and receiving. Each one must be willing to reciprocate.
It is clear then that when one refuses to listen to and to consider what another has to give he is committing an injustice to the one thus refused. And if he at the same time tries to force upon his brother what he believes without giving the other an opportunity to analyse, to try and to test it according as he understands the Word of God, he is committing a double injustice. In order to avoid such injustice I must practice the neutral attitude while listening to the other.
When my brother has then had the opportunity to present what he believes to be the divine truth he should assume the neutral attitude while I, if the matter is such that I deem it to be proper, assume the defensive attitude and try to show him that he is wrong.
Thus the ideal way is to use the offensive in bringing up a matter. Then from there on let fairness and justice have its way in discussion. Let each one accord the other what he would like to have granted to himself, and the benefits from discussions will be impossible to measure. The Lord likes that kind of fellowship. Mal. 3:16.
E. A. L.Last updated 9.10.2008