Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.
Galatians 3:24–25 (NKJV)
How should we react when we strongly disagree with what someone says, or teaches or even preaches? James 1:19 (NKJV) says, "So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath".
The above passage in Galatians 3:24-25 was an occasion for a sharp theological disagreement at the 1886 General Conference, and sowed the seeds for what would happen in 1888. The point of disagreement was about whether these verses included the moral law, as well as the ceremonial law, in being our tutor that leads us to Christ. The debate was not about whether the moral law applies today, of course we believe it does. But that point was lost in the debate, as including the moral law in Galatians 3:24-25 was seen by some as undermining the Adventist message, especially on the Fourth Commandment.
The Apostle Paul says it best in Romans 7:7, "What shall we say then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! On the contrary, I would not have known sin except through the law. For I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said, “You shall not covet.” The moral law does indeed tutor us and lead us to Christ, as Christ is the only one who kept it perfectly. He imputes that righteousness or right standing before God to us by the cross through our faith in Him. Then Christ leads us back to His commandments and says, follow me and keep them if you love me.
The big issue in 1886 was not who was right theologically. The General Conference committee appointed to decide the matter was split 50/50. Rather, as Mrs White wrote later after reflecting on how disturbed she was with the harshness, disrespect and want of sympathetic love of "brother toward brother" in the debate, so "Jesus was grieved and bruised in the person of His saints" The Ellen G. White 1888 Materials
. (p. 179). Remarkable, and yet can this sometimes be true today!
When are we wrong in being right? When do we loose the argument in winning it? I repeat what the Apostle James says, "So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath".
To be continued...