Friday, October 30, 2009

Reviewing Adventist World, NAD Edition

October, 2009
Vol. 5, No. 10

This issue is thoughtful, informative, and worth reading. As usual, I have some critical comments along with some MUST READ endorsements. (A quick reminder. Because Adventist World is free to the online audience, there are a number of excellent pieces that I will not review. There are, unfortunately, important articles in the print Adventist World that do not appear online. STILL FISHING by Eldyn Karr, a Voice of Prophecy biography, along with some great early pictures, is one of them. Also not available online is THE PLACE OF PRAYER, prayers from around the world that regularly break my heart.)

Keeping youth and young adults engaged in the church must be one of our highest priorities, according to .Jan Paulsen. WHY DO THEY WALK AWAY? Is a very important MUST READ.

“Many teenagers choose to leave the church primarily because they feel “picked on.” They are made to feel unworthy; they have no useful role; they have no safe place within the church to work through those questions of behavior and standards with which they and their peers struggle.”

“Function and trust. Young adults and professionals also walk away because they are filled with ideas, opinions, and energy, and yet find no room to release this within the church. It’s not that they believe the church is irrelevant to them, but rather they believe they’re irrelevant to the church! So they may stay on for a while—for family or social reasons—but they’ve already ‘checked out.’”

THE GROWING CONCERN ABOUT FOOD ALLERGIES by Allan R. Handysides and Peter N. Landless once again deliver the goods. This is a MUST READ if a child or young person you know might be allergic to something in their diet.

In BETWEEN NATIONS AND THE KINGDOM, Ellen G. White issues a [timeless] warning in Basel, Switzerland, on September 24, 1885.

“Though some are decidedly French, others decidedly German, and others decidedly American, they will be just as decidedly Christlike.”

“I warn you, brethren and sisters, not to build up a wall of partition between different nationalities. On the contrary, seek to break it down wherever it exists. We should endeavor to bring all into the harmony that there is in Jesus, laboring for the one object, the salvation of our fellow men.”

George T. Javor’s CELEBRATING CREATION makes the case that,
“God’s work is beyond fantastic, beyond incredible!” I agree. However, in our biosphere, in this “very good creation”, life can only be sustained by death. Javor does not deal with this troubling theological question.

“The ingenuity, resourcefulness, and sheer elegance of the way the living world is put together are beyond the human capacity to describe. Its contemplation forces the beholder to put their hand on the mouth (see Job 40:4); for whatever could be said would be unworthy and amount to a trivialization of this grand subject. Silence here is eloquence.

“Is it possible ever to doubt the goodness, love, and wisdom of the Being responsible for this vast, magnificent, and ‘very good’ creation? The answer can only be a resounding NO!”

WHY I DON’T DRINK ALCHOHOL by Tom Shepherd is a thoughtful attempt to justify Fundamental Doctrine 22 of the Adventist Church. His most convincing argument is “The Moral Imperative”. However, Shepherd’s biblical argument for abstinence is a bust. It’s pouring new wine into an old Adventist wineskin.

Is Abstinence a Moral Imperative?
“Some may concede that, given these explanations, one could logically support the value of a Christian life devoid of alcoholic beverages. But is it a moral imperative? Several lines of evidence combine to suggest that it is. First, World Health Organization statistics present the heavy toll alcohol produces. It accounts for approximately 1.8 million worldwide deaths annually (3.2 percent of total deaths) and 58.3 million disability-adjusted life years (4.0 percent of the total). It accounts for 20 to 30 percent of worldwide deaths from esophageal cancer, liver cancer, cirrhosis of the liver, homicide, epilepsy, and motor vehicle accidents. Its consumption is on the rise in developing countries with mostly no infrastructure for prevention and treatment of the problems associated with alcohol’s effects. If for no other reason than Christian concern for our neighbors, we have a moral responsibility to preach and teach total abstinence from alcohol.”

Is Abstinence Biblical?
There are 183 references to wine in the Old Testament and 32 in the New, and while the Bible condemns drunkenness, it hardly demonizes alcoholic beverages.

Melchizedek king of Salem, priest of God Most High served wine. (Genesis 14:18) It was counted a blessing from God. (Genesis 27:28) Along with the offering of a lamb, wine created “an aroma pleasing to the Lord”. (Numbers 15: 4-7) It could be given alone as a freewill offering (Deuteronomy 12:17) or a tithe (Deuteronomy 14:23) It was a ceremonial party drink. (Deuteronomy 14:26) Wine was to be given to the priests in Jerusalem upon request. (Ezra 6:9) Ester drank it (Ester 5:6) as did Job’s sons and daughters. (Job 1:13)

Wine “gladdens the heart of man”. (Psalms 104:15) The honored wife served it (Proverbs 9:2) and wise men recommend giving “beer to those who are perishing, wine to those who are in anguish”. (Proverbs 31:6) Solomon counseled “drink your wine with a joyful heart, (Ecclesiastes 9:7) it makes life merry. (Ecclesiastes 10:19) He also considered it a potent love potion. (Song of Solomon 7:9) Isaiah, Jeremiah, Amos, and Zechariah include wine in their celebration of the coming utopian kingdom of Israel. (Isaiah 25:6, Jeremiah 31:12, Amos 9:14, Zechariah 9:17)

In the New Testament, Jesus creates wine, (John 2) Paul counsels Timothy to “stop drinking only water, and use a little wine because of your stomach and your frequent illnesses”, (1 Timothy 5:23) and the “living creatures” of Revelation warn: “Do not damage the oil and the wine!” (Revelation 6:6)

SALVATION BY CHILDBEARING? is a tortured attempt to make Paul politically correct. Angel Manuel Rodriguez fails miserably when he attempts to answer the question, “What did Paul mean when he wrote: ‘Women will be saved through childbearing?’” (1 Tim. 2:15)

“If that [my] reading of the text is correct, it would be better to take the preposition ‘through’ to mean ‘despite,’ describing the circumstances under which salvation takes place (cf. 1 Cor. 3:15). The woman will be saved despite the fact that she continues to experience pain in childbearing—a reminder of her sin. That salvation is not through childbearing is indicated by the use of the passive verb (‘she will be saved’), implying that God is the One who saves (the implied subject of the action). Fourth, the last part of the verse states that ‘they’ will be saved ‘if they continue [persevere] in faith, love and holiness with propriety’” (2:15b, NIV).

1 comment:

The Kilted Clergyman said...


Thanks for your thoughts on the "Why I Don't Drink Acohol" article. You're right, scripture takes a far more accepting stance on moderate use of alcohol, while condemning drunkenness. I wish we SDAs could be honest about this, while still finding valid reasons for avoiding the use of alcohol. Perhaps that reason might be the "Christian concern for our neighbors" with out making it a "moral imperative.

This is probably one of the weakest articles on abstinence from alcohol I've read. I was especially dismayed considering that Shepherd is a New Testament scholar. I was hoping for a stronger, more thoughtful, and insightful article.

The weaknesses were many. Probably the worst line of reasoning came toward the end of the article when he was discussing the alcoholic content of beverages in biblical times.

To quote "Furthermore, their alcoholic content would not be greater than 10 to 15 percent in the case of wine (only 4 to 6 percent for beer)...."

This is essentially the same alcohol content that you find in these beverages today (yes you can find stronger beers) but the averages are similar.

But then he continues "The situation is vastly different in today's world, in which alcohol is much more readily available and at much higher concentrations in distilled spirits (commonly 40 to 60 percent."

Now we are no longer comparing "apples to apples." He makes a leap and now compares "apples and oranges."

It's a faulty line of reasoning. I expect my church publications to do better than this.