Rev. T.F. Tenney – Louisiana District Supt., Tioga, LA
That would depend on what you mean by labels. For instance, truth can be a label; conviction can be a label; doctrine can be a label, and these labels are not bad. But labels such as liberal, conservative, moderate, and so on, are most definitely unhealthy. Every man is right in his own eyes. Jesus said if you call your brother a fool, you are in danger of hell fire. You must be careful what you call people, especially if it degrades them.
We need to remember that to criticize is the smallest of sizes. I don’t care what you call yourself, if what you are doing drives people away from God, then it does not please Him.
Where our organization now finds itself is nothing new. We have been here before. The very purpose of the first Jerusalem council in Acts 15 was over liberal-conservative tension. But they learned a valuable lesson that we need to learn: that everyone must be willing to give and take. Compromise is not necessarily a bad thing and it is sometimes necessary. Any man who says he has never compromised is either a liar or not married.
Perhaps the words of Augustine would apply: “In essentials, let us have unity; in non-essentials, let us have liberty; and in all things, let us have charity.” I pray that God gives us a baptism of love.
Rev. J.R. Ensey – President of Texas Bible College, Houston, TX.
Labels are inevitable. Virtually every Jewish or Christian leader in the Bible was “labeled.” Inherently, labels are not good or bad. However, it is unethical when they are used with a calculated effort to injure one’s character or impugn one’s motives.
Jesus labeled the extremist of His day as “vipers, hypocrites, thieves, white sepulchers.” Paul railed against Judaizers and Gnostics, warning Christians of “the concision…[and] dogs.” Such references allowed their hearers and readers to identify those who were off the doctrinal track so they could avoid them. The prophets also used labels in speaking of those who manifested little or no commitment to truth.
We’re all glad that Pharmacies have labels on medicine. They reveal what’s inside. Else, how would we know whether it’s what we need or what the dosage is? And if music had no labels, one may not know whether he was buying pop, rock, country, or gospel until he took it home. Labels often serve a similar purpose among Christians. Ideally, we should all preach the same fundamental doctrine and ethic. But alas, it is not so.
Usually, only those who are fearful of others knowing what they really are disdain labels. As an ancient philosopher once implored: “Open thy mouth that I may see thee.”
Rev. V. Arlen Guidroz – Pastor, Dallas, TX
There is too much emphasis on the labeling of people. It creates an elite group, and they try to become the judges of us all. They feel that they alone are right. I was raised in a moderate home where people were accepted and could put up with some differences. We have to leave room for different views.
Rev. Randy G. Keyes – Pastor, Modesto, CA
No, I don’t think so. I feel that we have moved away from the original convictions for which we used to stand. I fear that too often convictions are coming just because we preach them, not because there has been a true change of heart. We need to be more Word oriented and look for those things which truly please God.
Rev. Daryl Rash – Asian Pastor, C.L.C, Stockton, CA
Absolutely. A person is labeled as liberal if he even tries to help somebody who is a liberal. And this has led to gossip and character assassination. We need to be more like Christ and keep our eyes off one another.
Rev. Edwin S. Harper – Pastor, Huntington, WV
Yes. I think we have gotten so wrapped up in hanging some kind of label on folks that we have neglected our true purpose. If we will get the world to fall in love with Jesus, they will accept our doctrine and standards.
Rev. G.R. Travis – Mississippi District Supt., Raymond, MS
I resent the fact that people are labeled as liberal or conservative. If we are truly Bible believing Christians and we have obeyed the message of the plan of salvation, and are living clean, holy lives, that should suffice and labels would not be needed. But, if someone had to label me, I would rather be labeled a conservative.
Rev. L.E. Westburg – Pastor & Dist. Supt., Junction City, Kansas
I think we probably are. I don’t like the term liberal or conservative. It should be that if a man’s doctrine is right, he’s accepted, if it’s not, he disqualifies himself. But you can only be tolerant to a degree. When someone crosses that biblical line, you have to stand for what’s right. I just cannot fellowship with those that have.