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Mind, Character and Personality, volume 1

Chapter 5

The Fanatical Mind

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[Note: Webster defines fanaticism as "excessive enthusiasm" or "unreasoning zeal."-Compilers.]

Fanatics and Fanaticism Will Press In.-We are living in a time when every phase of fanaticism will press its way in among believers and unbelievers. Satan will come in, speaking lies in hypocrisy. Everything that he can invent to deceive men and women will be brought forward.-Lt 121, 1901. (.)

How Satan Does It.-We have found in our experience that if Satan cannot keep souls bound in the ice of indifference, he will try to push them into the fire of fanaticism. When the Spirit of the Lord comes among His people, the enemy seizes his opportunity to work also upon different minds and lead them to mingle their own peculiar traits of character with the work of God. Thus there is always danger that they may allow their own spirit to mingle with the work and that unwise moves may be made. Many carry on a work of their own devising that is not prompted by God.-Lt 34, 1889. (Similar to Testimonies for the Church 5:644.)

Result of Cherishing Defective Tendencies.-There are some who will not hear. So long have they chosen to follow their own way and their own wisdom, so long have they cherished defective hereditary and cultivated tendencies of character, that they are blind and cannot see afar off. By them, principles are perverted, false standards are raised, tests are made that bear not the signature of Heaven.... Some of these very ones make their boasts in the Lord as a people who do righteousness and forsake not the ordinances of their God.-MS 138, 1902.

Bereft of a Healthy Mental Attitude.-Those taken in Satan's snare have not yet come to a healthy mental attitude. They are dazed, self-important, self-sufficient. Oh, with what sorrow the Lord looks upon them and hears their great swelling words of vanity. They are puffed up with pride. The enemy is looking on with surprise at their being taken captive so easily.-Lt. 126, 1906.

Spurious Humility.-Much fitful, spurious humility is seen among professed Christians. Some, determined to conquer self, place themselves as low as possible; but they try only in their own strength, and the next wave of praise or flattery carries them up out of sight. They are not willing to submit wholly to God, and He cannot work through them.

Take no glory whatever to yourself. Do not work with a divided mind, trying to serve God and self at the same time. Keep self out of sight. Let your words lead the weary and heavy-laden to Jesus, the compassionate Saviour. Work as seeing Him who is at your right hand, ready to give you strength for service. Your only safety is in entire dependence upon Christ.-The Review and Herald, May 11, 1897.

Too Much Made of a Happy Flight of Feeling.-Some are not satisfied with a meeting unless they have a powerful and happy time. They work for this and get up an excitement of feeling. But the influence of such meetings is not beneficial. When the happy flight of feeling is gone, they sink lower than before the meeting because their happiness did not come from the right source. The most profitable meetings for spiritual advancement are those which are characterized with solemnity and deep searching of heart; each seeking to know himself and earnestly, and in deep humility, seeking to learn of Christ.-Testimonies for the Church 1:412 (1864).

Strange Exercises.-By such fanaticism as we have lately had among us in California in peculiar exercises and the claim of power to cast out devils, Satan is seeking to deceive if possible the very elect. These persons, claiming to have a special message for our people, would charge one and another with being possessed of an evil spirit. Then after praying with them they would declare the devil cast out. The result of their work testified of its character. I was bidden to say to our people that the Lord was not in these strange exercises but that such exhibitions would deceive souls to their ruin unless they were warned, and Bible truth would be perverted.-Lt 12, 1909.

Naturally Combative.-Some are naturally combative. They do not care whether they harmonize with their brethren or not. They would like to enter into controversy, would like to fight for their particular ideas; but they should lay this aside, for it is not developing the Christian graces. Work with all your power to answer the prayer of Christ, that His disciples may be one, as He is one with the Father. Not a soul of us is safe unless we learn of Christ daily, His meekness and lowliness.

In your labor do not be dictatorial, do not be severe, do not be antagonistic. Preach the love of Christ, and this will melt and subdue hearts. Seek to be of one mind and one judgment with your brethren and to speak the same things. This talking about divisions because all do not have the same ideas as present themselves to your mind is not the work of God but of the enemy. Talk the simple truth wherein you can agree. Talk of unity; do not become narrow and conceited; let your mind broaden.-MS 111, 1894.

Following a Self-established Standard.-Many, many are trusting to their own righteousness. They set up a standard for themselves and do not submit to the will of Christ and allow Him to clothe them with the robe of His righteousness. They form characters according to their own will and pleasure. Satan is well pleased with their religion. They misrepresent the perfect character-the righteousness-of Christ. Themselves deceived, they deceive others. They are not accepted of God. They are liable to lead other souls into false paths. They will at last receive their reward with the great deceiver-Satan.-MS 138, 1902.

Reaction of a Fanatic.-A few years since, a man named N, of Red Bluff, California, came to me to deliver his message.... He thought God had passed all the leading workers and given him the message. I attempted to show him that he was mistaken.... When we told him our reasons and set the matter before him, that he was in error, he had great power come upon him, and he certainly gave a loud cry.... We had much trouble with him; his mind became unbalanced, and he had to be placed in the insane asylum.-Lt 16, 1893. (Selected Messages 2:64.)

How to Meet the Fanatic.-God calls upon His servants to study His mind and will. Then when men come with their curiously invented theories, enter not into controversy with them, but affirm what you know. "It is written" is to be your weapon. There are men who will try to spin out their fine threads of false theories. Thank God that there are those also who have been taught of Him and who know what is truth.-Lt 191, 1905.

Guard Expressions and Attitudes.-This is a time when we need to be very watchful and to guard carefully the character of the work done. Some will seek to bring in false theories and will come with false messages. Satan will stir human minds to create fanaticism in our ranks. We have seen something of this in the year 1908. The Lord desires His people to move carefully, guarding the expressions and even the attitude. Satan will use peculiarities of attitude and voice to cause excitement and to work on human minds to deceive.-Lt 12, 1909.

Avoid Tests of Human Invention.-New and strange things will continually arise to lead God's people into false excitement, religious revivals, and curious developments; but our people should not be subjected to any tests of human invention that will create controversy in any line.-MS 167, 1897.

Beware of "New." "Wonderful," So-called Advanced Light.-My soul is much burdened, for I know what is before us. Every conceivable deception will be brought to bear upon those who have not a daily, living connection with God. Satan's angels are wise to do evil, and they will create that which some will claim to be advanced light and will proclaim it as new and wonderful; yet while in some respects the message may be truth, it will be mingled with human inventions and will teach for doctrine the commandments of men. If there was ever a time when we should watch and pray in real earnest, it is now.

Many apparently good things will need to be carefully considered with much prayer; for they are specious devices of the enemy to lead souls in a path which lies so close to the path of truth that it will be scarcely distinguishable from it. But the eye of faith may discern that it is diverging, though almost imperceptibly, from the right path. At first it may be thought positively right, but after a while it is seen to be widely divergent from the way which leads to holiness and heaven. My brethren, I warn you to make straight paths for your feet, lest the lame be turned out of the way.-MS 82, 1894.

Fanaticism Hard to Quench.-Fanaticism, once started and left unchecked, is as hard to quench as a fire which has obtained hold of a building. Those who have entered into and sustained this fanaticism [holy flesh] might far better be engaged in secular labor, for by their inconsistent course of action they are dishonoring the Lord and imperiling His people. Many such movements will arise at this time when the Lord's work should stand elevated, pure, unadulterated with superstition and fables. We need to be on our guard, to maintain a close connection with Christ, that we be not deceived by Satan's devices.-The General Conference Bulletin, April 23, 1901. (Selected Messages 2:35.)

Fine-drawn Theories That Fill the Mind.-Satan is working in many ways that the very men who ought to preach the message may be occupied with fine-drawn theories which he will cause to appear of such magnitude and importance as to fill the whole mind; and while they think they are making wonderful strides in experience, they are idolizing a few ideas, and their influence is injured and tells but little on the Lord's side.

Let every minister make earnest efforts to ascertain what is the mind of Christ. There are those who pick out from the Word of God, and also from the Testimonies, detached paragraphs or sentences that may be interpreted to suit their ideas, and they dwell upon these and build themselves up in their own positions, when God is not leading them. Now all this pleases the enemy. We should not needlessly take a course that will make differences or cause dissension. We should not give the impression that if our particular ideas are not followed, it is because the ministers are lacking in comprehension.

There are in the lessons of Christ subjects in abundance that you can speak upon, and mysteries which neither you nor your hearers can understand or explain might better be left alone. Give the Lord Jesus Christ Himself room to teach; let Him by the influence of His Spirit open to the understanding the wonderful plan of salvation.-MS 111, 1894.

Turn Away From the Negative Side (counsel to a minister).-If you could see the result of always occupying the negative side, as you have done for years to a greater or less extent, you would have a better understanding of the words of the Saviour, recorded in the eighteenth chapter of Matthew. The disciples came to Jesus with the question, "Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? And Jesus called a little child unto Him, and set him in the midst of them, and said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoso shall receive one such little child in My name receiveth Me. But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in Me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe unto the world because of offenses! for it must needs be that offenses come; but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh!" (Matthew 18:1-7).

My brother, cast away all evil thinking. Humble your heart before God. Then, your eyes being opened, you will no longer stand on the negative side. "If thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire" (Matthew 18:8). Cut away your defective attributes, however painful to human nature it may be to do this. "And if thine eye"-so sharp to see something to criticize or oppose-"offend thee, pluck it out, and cast if from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire" (verse 9).-Lt 93, 1901.

Faith Overcomes Negativism.-We shall have success if we move forward in faith, determined to do the work of God intelligently. We must not allow ourselves to be hindered by men who love to stand on the negative side, showing very little faith. God's missionary work is to be carried forward by men of much faith and is steadily to grow in force and efficiency.-Lt 233, 1904.

The Peril of Individual Independence.-There have ever been in the church those who are constantly inclined toward individual independence. They seem unable to realize that independence of spirit is liable to lead the human agent to have too much confidence in himself and to trust in his own judgment rather than to respect the counsel and highly esteem the judgment of his brethren, especially of those in the offices that God has appointed for the leadership of His people. God has invested His church with special authority and power which no one can be justified in disregarding and despising, for he who does this despises the voice of God.-The Acts of the Apostles, 163, 164 (1911).

Peace Found in Cherishing Meekness.-The soul finds rest only in cherishing meekness and lowliness of heart. The peace of Christ is never found where selfishness reigns. The soul cannot grow in grace when it is self-centered and proud. Jesus assumed the position that man must take in order that the peace of Christ may abide in the heart. Those who have offered themselves to Christ to become His disciples must deny self daily, must lift up the cross and follow in the footsteps of Jesus. They must go where His example leads the way.-Lt 28, 1888.

The Virtue of Christian Courtesy.-Paul, though firm as a rock to principle, yet ever preserved his courtesy. He was zealous for the vital points and was not regardless of the grace and politeness due to social life. The man of God did not absorb the man of humanity.-Lt 25, 1870. (HC 236.)

Some persons speak in a harsh, uncourteous manner that wounds the feelings of others, and then they justify themselves by saying, "It is my way; I always tell just what I think"; and they exalt this wicked trait of character as a virtue. Their uncourteous deportment should be firmly rebuked.-The Review and Herald, September 1, 1885. (HC 229.)

The Author Called to Meet Every Phase of Fanaticism.-In 1844 we had to meet fanaticism on every hand, but always the word came to me: A great wave of excitement is an injury to the work. Keep your feet in the footprints of Christ. I was given a message to meet every phase of fanaticism. I was instructed to show the people that under a wave of excitement a strange work is done. There are those who improve the opportunity to bring in superstitions. Thus the door is closed to the promulgation of sound doctrine.-Lt 17, 1902.

An Impending Danger.-As the end draws near, the enemy will work with all his power to bring in fanaticism among us. He would rejoice to see Seventh-day Adventists going to such extremes that they would be branded by the world as a body of fanatics. Against this danger I am bidden to warn ministers and lay members. Our work is to teach men and women to build on a true foundation, to plant their feet on a plain "Thus saith the Lord."-Gospel Workers, 316 (1915).

Mind Control One Form of Fanaticism.-I have spoken distinctly regarding the dangerous science which says that one person shall give up his mind to the control of another. This science is the devil's own.

This is the character of the fanaticism we had to meet in 1845. I did not then know what it meant, but I was called upon to bear a most decided testimony against anything of the kind.-Lt 130 1/2, 1901.

Cherish an Impartial, Optimistic Outlook.-There is no reason for us to fix our eyes upon error, to grieve and complain, and lose precious time and opportunities in lamenting the faults of others.... Would it not be more pleasing to God to take an impartial outlook and see how many souls are serving God and resisting temptation and glorifying and honoring Him with their talents of means and intellect? Would it not be better to consider the wonderful, miracle-working power of God in the transformation of poor, degraded sinners, who have been full of moral pollution, who become so transformed that they are Christlike in character?-Lt 63, 1893. (HC 248.)