Thursday, January 14, 2010

Reviewing Spectrum

Fall, 2009
Vol. 37, No. 4

Alexander Carpenter provides an excellent overview of each of the editorials and articles in the current Spectrum Magazine in his Spectrum Journal Discussion Club. In addition, he invited critiques from readers. Most are thoughtful and worth reading. If you are not a subscriber, I suggest you check out Carpenter’s post before continuing, as my “review” is really an editorial response to the content of this issue.

First off, the editorials by Bonnie Dwyer and Charles Scriven and Dwyer’s interview of La Sierra University President Randal Wisbey are world class. Unfortunately, the rest of the issue doesn’t come close. Articles need to be carefully edited for length, focus, clarity, and punctuation. Relevance is also a problem.

Science writing is almost always second-rate when written by amateurs. Ronald E. Reece’s piece, 21st Century Challenges to God in His created Cosmos is no exception. And when the title of an article poses a question, the reader expects an answer. Jared Wright doesn’t supply one in Does Adventism Still Need the Geoscience Research Institute?

Bryan Ness teaches biology at Pacific Union College and even his defense of teaching “about” evolution may get him into trouble. Never the less, his tentative defense of his turf is a disappointment. On the other hand, Ness’ poetry is more philosophically daring. I particularly liked Design Theory, his poem on the back cover. It’s rhythm, partial rhyme scheme, and ten syllable lines add melody and richness to his message. That rhythm is disconcertingly broken in a last line that contains twelve syllables. (Bryan, please excuse an old English teacher for the following suggestion: substitute the word “creation” for “in execution”.)

While bothersome, these editorial failings are not as disturbing as a continuing attempt to dance around, rather than confront, the screwy fundamentalist theology that threatens to destroy the credibility of the Adventist church and its educational system.

The insistence that the world, not to mention the rest of the universe, was created in seven 24-hour days is as ludicrous as the belief in a universal flood and a “young earth”. (Yes Dorothy, there were dinosaurs and a geologic column exists.)

The belief that an Investigative Judgment began in Heaven in 1844, supported only by a prophecy mentioned in an Old Testament historical novel and a Hiram Edson revelation, is certainly problematic.

The belief that a kind of orthodox sundown-to-sundown seventh-day Sabbath keeping is the final “seal” of God’s remnant people has no biblical support. And it’s illogical because the world is round and the Adventist Church supports the notion of 24-hour days and recognizes man made time zones. And Paul argued that Sabbath observance was a personal issue. See Romans 14.

The Adventist Church’s health message has been elevated to fundamental belief status even though Jesus commented that it isn’t what goes into your body that defiles you, it’s what comes out of your mouth.

It is for these reasons and others that our Fundamental Beliefs need to be downgraded to Traditional Beliefs if the Adventist Church is to survive in a modern world. Our individual salvation and Adventism’s relevancy depends on whether we proclaim and live by the words of Jesus in Mathew 25:31 or squabble over the words of our 28 Fundamental Beliefs.

Matthew 25:31-46 (New International Version)

When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

Then the King will say to those on his right, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.”

Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?”

The King will reply, “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.”


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