Monday, February 16, 2009

Reviewing Adventist World, NAD Edition

February 2009
Vol. 5, No. 2

This edition of Adventist World has something for everybody, including: Five Reasons Why I Rest Well at Night, an essay by Jan Paulsen that confirms his place as one of the Adventist Church’s greatest presidents; worldwide news—some deeply disturbing—some encouraging; a piece by Handysides and Landless, Treating Macular Degeneration, that I found of particular interest since I’ve got it; the suggestion by Fred Kinsey, Speaker/Director for the Voice of Prophecy, that In a World of Chaos “we’re seeing signs that indicate the coming of Jesus is near”; and Mark Finley’s assurance that, “ One overriding principle in discerning God’s will is the willingness to do whatever it leads us to do.”

That said, I want to comment on the lead article, I Choose the Sabbath, in which a student, Daniel Lisulo, a scholarship student from Lusaka, Zambia, risked being sent home from the People’s Friendship University in Moscow by refusing to attend a Russian language class on the Sabbath.

The issue of Sabbath observance by Adventists is a complex one. If one were unacquainted with “Sabbath keeping” as practiced by Adventist Church, Andrew McChesney’s article would suggest that Adventists, worldwide, observe the Sabbath like Orthodox Jews. Actually, the only thing these two religious groups have in common is Sabbath “time”, sundown Friday to sundown Saturday. Depending where Adventists live, swimming and skiing and soccer and baseball and mountain climbing and boating are perfectly permissible. If one works for or is employed by an Adventist institution, cooking, cleaning, policing, nursing, doctoring, dispensing, piloting, preaching, counseling, video taping, and teaching are all honorable Sabbath activities. Adventists attend Sabbath “school”. Adventists serve in the armed forces on Sabbath. Adventists eat food that was picked and processed on the Sabbath. Adventists employ workers when they “go out to eat” on the Sabbath, use phones on the Sabbath, gas up their cars on the Sabbath, and produce musical events and television shows on the Sabbath.

Why is it then that Adventist students are made to feel that they are in some way desecrating the Sabbath if they attend a class and take an examination? When I read about a student who has to give up a career because he or she has been taught that to take a final examination on Sabbath is an unpardonable sin, I want to scream. Our Church should formally abandon its official Sabbath keeping mantra and allow individual members to make reasonable decisions with regard to Sabbath observance. Making that change might be easier if Adventist church members, teachers, preachers, administrators, and theologians read Romans 14 once again and prayerfully considered “Sabbath keeping” in the context of Paul’s admonition.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

My reading of Hebrew history indicates that the original meaning of 'no work on the Sabbath day' meant not to do the work for which you are paid money, your Sunday through Friday job.

The Jews kept adding Sabbath prohibitions, pages and pages and pages of them.