Friday, April 25, 2008

Reviewing Adventist World: NAD Edition

April 2008

This issue contains an exposition of the ninth of the twenty-eight fundamental doctrines of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. This is a belief that we share with most evangelical Christians. Unfortunately, this doctrine is pernicious, not supported by Jesus’ own testimony, and presumes the worst kind of pagan deity. More about this later.

Fulfilling a Mother’s Dream
Samuel Neves tells the story of a “miracle” child named Samuel who was born in Brazil, met his future wife in Stanborough School, returned to Brazil, returned to England, attended Newbold College, and married his “dream lady”. He is currently a youth pastor at the Holloway Adventist Church in North London.

My Jordan Stones
Stephen Dunbar reflects on the Jordan River “stones my church has left me. Our legacy of healthful living, our hospitals, our schools, and agencies that care for people in need. . .They all remind me of the dreams and experiences others have had, not simply in growing a denomination, but in sharing a unique message of hope and freedom”.

Spirited Faith in Tsunami Country
Caroline V. Katemba Tobing reports that while Adventist believers in Pangandaran, Indonesia, “do not yet have a church in which to meet on Sabbaths . . . their inadequate facilities don't dim the flame of their faith and their zeal to tell others about the Jesus they love and serve”.

In Step for Life
Don Hall, Dr.P.H. makes a convincing argument that good health pays big dividends. He also mentioned some good news for smokers. “Smokers who can't stop smoking can still cut their risk of dying in half by becoming physically active.”

Arthur W. Spalding, the much admired Adventist educator, author, and editor (1877-1953) tells a story from a life of Joseph Bates, the oldest of the three founders of the Adventist Church in which faith was rewarded. As a result, “the message of the Sabbath went over the land”.

The Life, Death, and Resurrection of Christ
Elias Brasil de Souza describes a God who required “substitutionary atonement and reconciliation with God on our behalf”. Furthermore, Christ’s death on the cross “was a public expression of His [God’s] entire satisfaction in the atoning work. He accepted the sacrifice that Jesus had made on our behalf. It was everything that God required, perfect and complete”.

This interpretation of Scripture demeans the life and teaching of Christ and pictures a pagan god who can only be appeased by the torture and death of his own son. We humans crucified Jesus. God had nothing to do with it.

We need only remember that Adventists are Trinitarians to realize how silly and irrational this “satisfaction theory” is. We also have the words of Jesus in John 16: 25-27. “The hour is coming when I shall no longer speak to you in veiled language but tell you about the Father in plain words. When that day comes you will ask in my name; and I do NOT say that I shall pray to the Father for you, because the Father himself loves you for loving me and believing that I came from God.”

Regarding Fundamental Belief # 9, nothing in Christian theology trumps the words of Christ. Ellen White reminds us of that fact. “Christ declared, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life’. His followers must be as near like Him as possible. . .We are to erect no false lights, present no heresies for truth. We must know that every position we take can be sustained by the Word of God.”

Editor’s Pen
Bill Knott strikes a reassuring and refreshing note with these words: “So if you worship with only a few—as millions of Adventists around the world do—take heart—and stop apologizing. You already have all the audience you need.”

World Report
Church auditors meet for in-service training and “spiritual nourishment” in Thailand. Jan Paulsen urges young adult involvement in local churches in the first “Let’s Talk” broadcasts in Asia. 600,000 Kenyan Adventists are playing an important role in bringing peace.

In 1994 11,000 Adventists lived in Cuba. Six years later church membership more than doubled, and today many congregations have outgrown their facilities.

World Vista
William G. Johnsson reports that Christian leaders from more than 70 nations came together in Limura, Kenya. The evangelical movement has become a global force, and growing even more rapidly are the Pentecostal churches. There are now 100 million Christians that belong to African Instituted Churches.

Wherever possible, Adventists make common cause in ecumenical endeavors, reports Johnsson. However “for us, a sense of divinely ordained mission to the entire world cannot be weakened or compromised. . .Further, our understanding of history and prophecy makes us wary of Christian coalitions”.

Allen R. Handysides and Peter N. Landless discuss the risk of heart attack and the treatment of fibroids with their usual medical insight and practical advice.

Fighting Violence, by Angel Manuel Rodriguez, is an excellent Biblically based response to the question, “How should a follower of Christ behave in a violent world. His answer: Christ's followers “should avoid becoming the object of violence by acting nonviolently. We should do all we can to give to the needy and to the one who may not be able to repay. These are some of the ways violence is overcome in society and in our lives. This is the way of love. . .The cycle of violence can be broken by not retaliating, by serving others, and by fleeing from a violent environment”.

Mark A. Finley’s Bible study discusses Jesus’ admonitions regarding Sabbath keeping. We learn that it is a time to be merciful and to do good. (It should be noted that Jesus did not legalistically define the word “good”. I have always wondered why our Church has found that necessary.) It is also a day to praise, worship, and fellowship.

Letters, The Place of Prayer, Exchange of Ideas, and NAD Letters are reminders that all of us are members of a world church. Our stories, ideas, hopes, comments, questions, and dreams are evidence of our shared humanity and our united determination to remain faithful members of Christ's Kingdom.

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