Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Reviewing Adventist Today

March/April 2008

GENERAL COMMENTS
The graphics are excellent, and the three major articles are timely and informative. (I'm hoping that the extra pages, 13-16, were not included in the entire print run.) However, more editorial attention needs to be given to problems of syntax and economy of expression.

EDITORIAL
I particularly appreciated Andy Nash's editorial, BALANCING SABBATH, when he writes, "The Sabbath is about rest, not church. No matter what you might have been taught, the simple fact is that the Sabbath commandment is heavily focused on resting from work, not on worship per se. So then, can you rest on Sabbath and go to church on Sunday? Yes, of course you can. I think corporate worship is a natural part of the Sabbath experience." The premise underlying this argument is that we are Christians first and Adventists second.

Andy's editorial reminded me of something that happened when my brother and his family moved to a very small town in Northern California. The town's nondenominational church was boarded up because there were too few members to support a minister. Three Adventist families did what was necessary to reopen the church. The Adventist men preached on both Saturday and Sunday. The town was grateful, and the free will offerings of both congregations were enough to keep the church heated and in good repair. The church became the social center of the town as well as a place for Bible study and Christian fellowship. All went well until the Adventist members asked that their efforts the recognized and supported by the Northern California Conference. For a variety of reasons, including the use of the words, Seventh-day Adventist, that request was denied, and the church ceased to exist.

A family that I know moved to a Midwestern town where the Adventist Church is dying. The church does not have a phone number, and the retired pastor will really retire in a few months. Before this family arrived, the regular membership was about twelve. The average age of the members was seventy plus. There was no children’s Sabbath school. When I suggested that the newcomers "rest" on the Sabbath and worship at a Sunday church, they rejected the idea. For this family, worshiping on Sunday with non-Adventists is tantamount to leaving the Adventist Church.

LETTERS
Once again readers play an important role in determining the relevance and editorial tone of the magazine. I particularly applaud Jim Schelling's exasperated response to the following Goldstein comment in his debate with Ervin Taylor in the January/February edition: "One can be an Adventist and believe in and do a lot of wrong things. (After all, look at how many voted for George W. Bush—twice! and for Hitler.)” While it is true that the majority of Adventists in Germany, with initial support of the General Conference, voted for the National Socialist German Workers Party in 1933, Goldstein's flippant sarcasm needs to be called to account. His response is classic Cliff. "I was just joking, brother—that's all. Please, give me a little credit. Though I consider Bush a doofus who should not have been elected, it was never my intent to make a moral equation between the two. Remember, too, this is Adventist Today, so we can be a little irreverent, right?"

NEWS AND ANALYSIS
Folkenberg’s New Deal, as reported by Vanessa Sanders, is “ShareHim”, a packaged evangelistic program that gives "people with no preaching experience—college students, teachers, social workers, and accountants—the opportunity to travel to churches in the United States or abroad and preach an evangelistic series". Critics call it "evangelistic tourism". Carlos Martin, Director of the Evangelistic Research Center at Southern Adventist University "acknowledges that while some may volunteer to preach for the adventure, many go to do something for God. 'We don't go to relax, we go to participate in the preview of the latter rain.’"

David Person reports that there's trouble in Orlando, Florida. "When the Church Fights" is a sketchy account "of the controversy that enveloped the Guilgal Seventh-day Adventist Church of Orlando, Florida." Unfortunately, I was not able to check out some of the sources Person mentions to the article. You can read more about the situation and the involvement of the Southeastern Conference by reading one account on "www.hatiansda.com", Past Articles #17, "The Debacle of the Guilgal SDA Church". I'm checking out the story, and if it "has legs" and it is possible to contact an unbiased observer and sources that are not anonymous, AT will keep you informed.

MY NOMINATIONS FOR SHEEP, HYBRIDS, AND GOATS
Sheep—Us
Hybrids—Us
Goats—The rest of us

SHOULD I SEND MY 14-YEAR-OLD TO A BOARDING ACADEMY?
This article might also be titled, Everything You Want to Know About SDA Boarding Academies But Were Afraid to Ask. Melanie Eddlemon delivers the goods. Students, parents, teachers, and administrators talk candidly about the pros and cons. On a personal note, both my sons attended Monterey Bay Academy as juniors and seniors. It was a great experience for everyone.

WHO SHOULD WORK ON SABBATH?
This article raises important questions about the Adventist Church's do’s and don'ts of Sabbath keeping. Dan MacArthur raises questions about Sabbath work that many Adventists have not thoughtfully considered. Angela Baerg discusses Sabbath keeping from both a Jewish and Puritan perspective. I'm surprised that many Adventists need to be reminded that we lucky few can "keep the Sabbath" because millions of other Americans are busy working to provide for our health and welfare 24/7.

WHY ELLEN WHITE AND LEADERSHIP DIDN’T GET ALONG
Ciro Sepulveda doesn't come right out and say it, but his well researched article makes it clear that Ellen White's priority was an end-time message, while the priority of the men in church leadership positions was establishing the institutions of the Church. It is ironic that Ellen White's name is prominently displayed on the grounds of SDA university buildings and libraries. She advocated a two-year tertiary education designed to create lay evangelists.

AMERICAN GUY
Alex King provides a thoughtful reminder that America is an island in a world of poverty. In our frantic quest to avoid boredom, it's easy to forget the difficult living conditions of others, particularly those in developing countries.

A BRIEF MOMENT WHEN GOD’S PEOPLE ACTUALLY HAD THEIR ACT TOGETHER reflects Alden Thompson’s optimistic view that what happened at the Questions on Doctrine Conference in October may be a portent of things to come. Alden, just because Angel Rodriguez, George Knight, and Colin Standish stand side-by-side for a photograph at a communion table doesn't indicate that God's people actually had their act together. It means that three Adventist preachers and theologians, vastly different in personality, temperament, and theology can make nice. What that means for the rest of us has yet to be determined.

7 QUESTIONS FOR ED DICKERSON
Marcel Schwantes asked Ed Dickerson seven good questions about his book, "Grounds for Belief" and his hope to establish Grounds for Belief Cafes around the country. What I found most enlightening was Dickinson's response to the question, "What's the greatest obstacle to reaching generations X&Y?"

"Many Adventists . . . treated the Advent Movement as if it was a sprint to the finish—hurry, hurry, hurry. Others have treated it as a marathon—keep going, keep going, keep going. We have failed to see it as a multigenerational relay. And relay teams practice passing the baton more then any other part of the race, because it is impossible to finish the race if you fail to pass the baton."

PSALMS, PROVERBS, ECCLESIASTES provides and solicits memorable statements from Adventist writers. I suggest any essay written by Roy Adams or Stephen Chavez.

ADVENTIST MAN has yet to find a completely credible voice, but progress is being made.

4 comments:

Johnny Workentine said...

The Sabbath day of rest can be really necessary:

http://adventistsnotcult.blogspot.com/2008/02/why-adventists-really-need-sabbath.html

and should be regarded as something special.

Jeff Crocombe said...

Ciro Sepulveda is most definitely a he rather than a she!

Andy Hanson said...

Thanks Jeff. Gender operation a success. Andy

Anonymous said...

I think that we have become a little confused and what Sabbath is about. It is the day that God hallowed and sanctified and He asked us not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together. Perhaps if we were less "busy" trying to make money and buy things in this world (those of us who are pastors and those of us who are lay people) we wouldn't be to tired on Sabbath to attend church. Perhaps if church was more like the early church and less like a business, church workers wouldn't be so tired on Sabbath. We are Adventists for the purpose of sounding an alarm, not being comfortable. We would do well to remember that.