My dad was testifying in a court case. He told his perspective of what had happened. After he finished, the lawyer asked him why his story was different than the other person’s involved in the case. My dad said that the other man was mistaken. The lawyer then asked, “Why would you say he is mistaken?” My dad looked at him and plainly said, “Because I don’t want to call him a liar.” This took the wind out of the sails of the lawyer and the case against my dad was dismissed.
I remember sitting in the courtroom hearing my dad. I could not help but laugh. Dad had a way with pointing out the obvious. Even the lawyer was trying to stifle a chuckle. I know the judge laughed.
In ministry, I have found two situations where I would use the same language as my dad. One is when a missionary is presenting his desired ministry somewhere in the West or Alaska. A few will use the phrase that there is no gospel preaching church in the area where they want to go. I travel the West and Alaska. I know of churches that preach the gospel in the communities the missionary is describing. To hear them say there is none makes me cringe. Either they have not researched the area or they missed something. They are mistaken when they say there is no gospel preaching churches in the community.
Another situation is when a pastoral candidate is being interviewed by a church. The prospective candidate is asked whether or not he agrees with the doctrinal statement of the church. Some have said yes. Later the church sees the new pastor leading them away from their articles of faith. I would say that the pastoral candidate did not do his homework. He must not have read the Articles or thought it was not a big enough difference to express. If there is any difference at all, the pastor is mistaken when he says he agrees with their doctrinal statement. This has caused many church problems.
I do not want to give excuses for such practices. I would say they are mistaken. The reason I would say that is the same as my dad’s.