Vol.VIII No.IX Pg.4
November 1971


Robert F. Turner

The papers discuss reaction politics, and brethren talk about reaction sermons — usually when they do not like direct application of principles to current problems — and reaction to reaction has become a popular pastime these days. There is validity in warnings about over-reacting — and capitalizing on reaction to further personal ends.

A philosophy or pattern of conduct that is wholly reaction has certain weaknesses. It is completely negative, having no positive goals for sustained motivation. It is unstable, rushing here and there to meet various foes; and if things get dull, it has a tendency to imagine foes. And, reaction framed in the heat of battle sometimes offers a frying pan to the fire solution.

Much of our preaching on fundamentals of the gospel has been in reaction to error, and has deprived us of the rich, positive understanding of truth sorely needed in our lives. The denominations abuse the subject of Grace, so — we react by gloriously exposing their error, and never get around to savoring the depth and sweetness of Gods Grace positively. Reaction to faith only has been so strong that many can scarcely read a passage on salvation by faith and enjoy and appreciate what it DOES say. We are too busy telling what it does NOT mean. We know conscience is NOT the standard of truth; but how many appreciate this moral governor for its legitimate role in our lives, or realize the necessity of heeding it?

When our study and thinking is done chiefly in reaction to a specific practice or statement we may pick at words, or formulate arguments to meet immediate needs, and be drawn off -side of the basic principle. A steady diet of such reaction preaching may saddle a church with a long list of scattered arguments that grow stale as issues change and their relevance fades — and no universally sound principles by which to meet the issues of the coming generation.

But we must not discredit all reaction. Response to stimuli is a sign of life. We have no praise for the saint, or body of saints, so devoid of spirit that they can not be moved to action. As each new day has its own evils, we must shift our weight here and there, keeping balance, and striking Satan at every opportunity. Perhaps keeping balance is the real key to a successful fight in the long run. The reaction fighter throws himself off balance with his hay- maker and lacks the stability to endure blows from another direction.

Sometimes over-reaction is proof of weakness, a blind striking out under the influence of fear. But men who love the truth will fight for it, and strength of conviction may have a lot to do with the nature of the action. There are young men today who are hypercritical of the reaction preachers of yesterday — who feast on advantages of truth they would never have had except for the labor of the men they criticize. Much truth is found and proven in the trial of fire.

And pity those who lack courage, and faint for fear of reaction.