Swift to Hear - Slow to Speak
Like the author of Ecclesiastes, the apostle James exhorted his readers to be swift to hear and slow to speak (James 1:19). This is especially applicable when we make fallible deductions and then declare them to be scriptural truths. For instance, nowhere does the Bible say that the sun goes around the earth. Yet, misguided 16th-century churchmen threatened the astronomer Copernicus with excommunication when he scientifically exploded their geocentric theory. And during World War II, certain Bible teachers had to “eat their words” because they erroneously declared that the Italian dictator Mussolini was the Antichrist.
A similar blunder was made by a bishop in 1870. While visiting the president of a small denominational college, he expressed his firm biblical conviction that nothing new could be invented. The educator, of course, disagreed. “Why, in 50 years I believe it may be possible for men to soar through the air like birds!” he said. The bishop was shocked. “Flight is strictly reserved for the angels,” he insisted, “and I beg you not to repeat your suggestion lest you be guilty of blasphemy!”
Ironically, that mistaken bishop was none other than Milton Wright, the father of Orville and Wilbur. Only 33 years later, those two brothers made their first flight in a heavier-than-air machinethe forerunner of the many planes that now dot our skies. - H.G.B.