February 1982


Robert F. Turner

When brethren objectively appraise differences among "us," and discuss the means of unity, we hear repeatedly of the need for "communication." Everyone seems to understand there can be no working together, no getting to the bottom of "issues", no righting of wrongs, without communication. But do we desire communication strongly enough to do what it takes to achieve it?

To communicate, we must speak TO one another, not AT one another. The "other" party must be treated as a person — if you can take the truth — must be treated as you would like to be treated (Matt. 7:12).

We must listen in order to effectively communicate; and listen for something more than some "slip" by which we can form a polemic trap and polish our ego. We must understand the other's point of view — to teach him the truth we have, or (must I say it?) to learn the truth he has.

We must distinguish between our convictions, and absolute TRUTH. My concepts are NOT the divine standard. TRUTH is absolute, and all who know truth know the same things; but my convictions are based upon my relative knowledge of truth. I must learn to act upon my convictions, while continuing to study the truth standard higher than man. Strength, not weakness, makes one seek for more truth.

Communication that will produce Bible unity is not a conference of men, hammering out a position acceptable to all delegates. It is a pooling of minds that look to God's word for HIS "position" stated in inspired revelation. Both "sides" must be seeking TRUTH — something higher than and apart from both. I cannot ask you to come to me; you must not ask me to come to you. We must both be of the disposition to go to God.

And communication requires TRUST. That grows slowly, once a break has been made. It is rebuilt with small pieces of fairness, objectivity, and considerate treatment of one another. It must begin with self-examination — a willingness to see our own weakness. We must trust one another when we are convinced the other trusts in God.