Friday, February 26, 2010

The literal seven-day creation week is to die for?

Comic from Tundra, by Chad Carpenter
(click to enlarge)

Reviewing Adventist World

February 2010
Vol. 6, No. 2

Adventist World is free online. For that reason, I only review or comment on articles and editorials that I believe to be of special interest.

Reporter Sandra Blackmer provides an extensive update about the General Conference’s program, CONNECTING WITH JESUS. “It’s part of the GC’s overall quinquennial evangelistic plan, ‘Tell the World’. The project’s objective is to print and distribute 2 million sets of 10 Spirit of Prophecy books in major world languages at a price affordable to Adventists—particularly new members—in every division. Study guides and a Bible reading plan are included with each set of books” for $10.

The 10 Ellen G. White books included in the Connecting With Jesus initiative are:
The Acts of the Apostles, Christian Service, Counsels for the Church, Counsels on Stewardship, The Desire of Ages, The Great Controversy, The Ministry of Healing, Patriarchs and Prophets, Prophets and Kings, and Steps to Christ

This program also provides ”downloadable audio versions, in contemporary language (1) and narrated by professional book readers, of the first three books of the Conflict of the Ages Series. Plans are in place to complete the last two books of the series, along with Education, The Ministry of Healing, and Steps to Christ.”

“In North America we have about a 17 percent reader population for the Spirit of Prophecy books, and most of those readers are over the age of 65,” Kibble, an NAD vice president, explains. James Nix, White Estate Director, told Adventist World, “If new members are not oriented as to why we’re Seventh-day Adventists and what motivates us as a church, if they don’t understand the great controversy theme, if they don’t see the emphasis that God has given us through the writings of Ellen White—then we’re going to have a lot of people who don’t totally understand why they’re Seventh-day Adventists and who may not be fully prepared to stand true to God in the last days.” (2)

In ADVENTIST AND MUSLIMS: FIVE CONVICTIONS, William G. Johnsson presents convincing evidence that “Seventh-day Adventists are uniquely positioned to bring the gospel to Muslims.”

Norman R. Gulley makes the case for the Trinity in 1+1+1=ONE. However, when he argues that the books of the Old Testament confirm the Trinitarian position, he weakens his argument.

Andrew King reports that Adventists are RESPONDING TO NEEDS, medical and educational, in Burundi and Rwanda.

Jan Paulsen is in favor of SHAREING OUR MESSAGE ON YouTube.

There are amazing BENEFITS OF BREASTFEEDING according to Allan R. Handysides and Peter N. Landless.

In BODY PARTSAND HEART RELIGION, Angel Manuel Rodriguez does a nice job of describing what Old Testament writers meant when they used body parts to describe human emotions. “The psalmist has nothing to hide, so he says to the Lord, “Test me, O Lord, and try me, examine my heart [kidneys] and my mind [lēb, ‘heart’]” (26:2). By examining the kidneys God can identify the wicked and bring to an end their violence (Ps. 7:9). The combination of kidneys and heart in the phrase indicates that God examines the totality of the person.”

STEADY HOPE IN HIS BLOOD by Rosse Mesa Diaz, concludes his piece with the following quote from Corinthians: “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Cor. 6:9-11).

It’s noteworthy that the sins mentioned here are the failings of human beings. Only homosexuals are singled out for being what they are. Paul, you aren’t admitting to be a “reviler” are you? Did you really intend to make “an abusive, unqualified verbal attack” on members of this group? Did you, Rosse Mesa Diaz? I didn’t think so.

(1) White Estate assistant director Darryl Thompson is responsible for preparing and editing the books.

(2) I guess sola scriptura isn’t getting the job done.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Please? Say It Ain’t So!

From Non Sequitur, by Wiley
(click image to enlarge)

Reviewing the Adventist Review

January 28, 2010
Vol. 187, No. 3

If you like a Review that is potentially more inspirational than thought provoking, this is your issue. However, I am going to do my best to get you to rip the lid off the theological monologue that accompanies the cover article, SIFTING THROUGH THE PAST, and sober up the saccharine manikins posing for the cover shot.

OPEN DOORS, Gerald Klingbeil uses open and closed doors as metaphors for the Christian life.

BELLA AND TARA: BFF (Best Friends Forever) is a love story about Bella, the dog, and Tara, an elephant. Wilona Karimabadi reminds us that their relationship is a foretaste of Heaven.

I GAVE GOD MY BROKEN HEART by Pauline Beaulieu chronicles her journey from grief to peace after the death of her daughter, Debra.

SIFTING THROUGH THE PAST by Michael Campbell glosses over what happened at the 1919 Bible Conference as a discussion of Adventist hermeneutics and eschatology. He downplays the scandal that attended the discovery of two packages that contained some 2,400 typewritten pages transcribed from the official stenographic notes taken at the meetings. They were discovered on December of 1974, when Dr. F. Donald Yost found them wrapped in paper in a vault at the General Conference.

According to Sidney Cleaveland,* “GC President A. G. Daniells requested that the official, verbatim transcripts of the meeting be locked up for the next fifty years.”

The following exchange illustrates why Daniells was concerned that the minutes of this meeting, if shared with church members, might brand the group as heretics and seriously damage their credibility as Adventist leaders.

H. C. Lacey: Religion Teacher at Foreign Mission Seminary
“In our estimate of the spirit of prophecy, isn't its value to us more in the spiritual light it throws into our own hearts and lives than in the intellectual accuracy in historical and theological matters. Ought we not to take those writings as the voice of the Spirit of our hearts, instead of as the voice of the teacher to our heads? And isn't the final proof of the spirit of prophesy its spiritual value rather than its historical accuracy?

A. G. Daniells: President of the General Conference
“Yes, I think so.”

Minutes of the Conference can be found here.

INSPIRED BY THE GREAT “I AM”, Ellen G. White encourages Biblical scholarship. “Simplicity and plain utterance are comprehended by the illiterate, by the peasant, and the child as well as by the full-grown man or the giant in intellect. If the individual is possessed of large talents of mental powers, he will find in the oracles of God treasures of truth, beautiful and valuable, which he can appropriate. He will also find difficulties, and secrets and wonders which will give him the highest satisfaction to study during a long lifetime, and yet there is an infinity beyond.”

GOING 80 by Beatrice Neall is a gas! “It’s a lot better than being 70. At 70, people begin to notice things about you—you forget where you laid your glasses; you keep asking, “What did you say your name was?”; you miss appointments, or even get there on the wrong day. But when you are 80, people just say, “Oh, well, she’s 80,” and make allowances. Your Asian friends no longer call you “Sister,” or “Auntie,” or “Mom,” but now it’s “Grandma.” People help you out of the car and rush to open doors and carry things for you.”

HELP IS ON THE WAY is Jimmy Phillips message for young adults everywhere.
“If you’re not a young adult, share this with one in your life. Friends, if you know personally the solitude and hopelessness I’m talking about, take solace in this: From October 19 to 22, Adventist leaders from throughout the world took time off from family and community responsibilities. They traveled by plane, train, and automobile to Andrews University for the 180 Symposium. They came to figure out how the church can better support you financially, academically, and spiritually.”

A LAMENT is Clifford Goldstein’s translation of Job 31, and he proves that a “millennia of translating Scripture have not diminished the impact and freshness that a new translation can communicate. Unfamiliar words can cause us to pause and take note. The powerful images and sheer emotion found in the lament of Job 31 can surely stop us in our tracks and cause us to listen and talk (again) to our Creator and Savior.”—Editors (Job’s monologue also provides irresistible motivation to read “the rest of the story”.)

WHAT LIES AHEAD is another astonishing, fresh, brash, wonderful MUST READ story by Andrew McChesney. Russian journalism will never be the same.

“The publisher—a Russian who had been appointed to the post just before the crisis hit—voiced surprise when I told her that I had an explanation for the jump in ads. I shared that I had been worried about the ads at the start of the previous month—a time of year when ad sales traditionally sink—so I had added them to my daily prayer for extra guidance.

“The publisher asked if I really believed that my prayers had made the difference. When I assured her I did, she said she could never pray for ads. ‘I could pray for my children and my husband. But advertising is my responsibility at work. I couldn’t pray for that,’ she said.

“But she asked me to keep praying.”

IN THE LAND OF NOT by Bruce Manners reminds us that our lives in the Land of Not Yet mean the best is yet to come.

The GC treasurer reports more budget support from developing countries. Jan Paulsen marks his eleventh year of service with the declaration that “people are the “most important asset”.

Lester Merklin “Takes Helm” at Church's Muslim Study Center. And Emmanuel Mulbah, an eighteen-year-old Liberian kid with a million dollar smile, has recorded his story of faith with the help of radio UNICEF.

* Sydney Cleveland was a fourth generation Seventh-day Adventist, and served as an ordained pastor in the SDA church for ten years. He began to see many inconsistencies in relating the writings of Ellen G. White to the Bible and left the church in 1990. He is the author of “White Out”.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Encouragement is Often Misunderstood!

Comic from Frank & Ernest by Thaves
(click to enlarge)

Reviewing the Adventist Review

January 21, 2010
Vol. 186, No, 2

I’m loving the reviewing the Review. This issue is not only exceptional, it’s personally, very special.

Roy Adams’ Editorial advocates anchoring both religious and scientific beliefs on common ground. “Christians might admit that we also believe things that others could consider fantastic—the Incarnation, for example. But we openly anchor our belief on the biblical revelation and admit that those things have no scientific warrant to support them. How much it would clear the air if scientists also would openly admit that much of what they believe about origins is simply that: belief!”

GEARING UP WITH GOD is important for Kimberly Luste Maran as she fights to establish Christian values in her young children. “I still have my own struggles; now I also feel as if I’m at a corner—and turning back is not an option. Will I have to gear up and fight as offerings of the predominant culture threaten to flatten me and run rampant around my family?”

PASTORS: UNSUNG HEROES OF THE CHURCH are celebrated by Fredrick Russell. Their job description is daunting! “Pastors serve in contexts in which they have massive responsibility but very little formal authority. . .They have to lead from a basis of moral authority and the power of their ideas. . .Pastors have no choice as to whom they will work with. . .Pastors often get squeezed between the expectations of the conference and the expectations of their congregation. . .Pastors see people at their best and they see them at their worst. They are with their people in times of celebration, and they are with their people when they are bowed with grief.”

THE DECISION THAT NO ONE WANTS TO MAKE is the MUST READ Cover Feature by Gina Wahlen. “Dealing with aging, incapacitated parents can be heartwrenching, particularly when dementia/Alzheimer’s is involved. While not everyone experiences such traumatic situations, sooner or later most will face the question of how best to care for parents who, for a variety of reasons, are no longer able to be as independent as they once were.

“And the challenge is growing rapidly. In 2000 an estimated 420 million people around the globe were older than 65 years. By 2030 it’s expected that 973 million people worldwide will be over the age of 65.2. In the U.S.A. 35 million people were over 65 in 2000, and 9.3 million were over 80 years. By 2030, 71 million are expected to be over age 65, and 19.5 million over the age of 80.3.”

FAWN—THE DOG WITH THE BIG HEART is the MUST READ story of hospital chaplain Phil Johnson’s shelter dog, Fawn, a retired racing greyhound. “Fawn has gained nearly total access to the hospital. As the months have passed and word has gotten out about the beautiful greyhound from the chaplain’s office, he’s been invited to see patients in both short-stay surgery and the emergency department, units I first had thought too high-stress to venture into. Each week it takes us longer and longer to complete our rounds as staff and visiting family members stop to give Fawn a pat.

“Every year about 20,000 retired greyhounds are available for adoption in North America. Perhaps there’s room in your life for one of these gentle animals. From my experience, you will gain not only a new friend but an invaluable partner in a real ministry to your community.” To find out more about greyhound adoption in your area, go to or

Rebecca de Graaf reminds readers that WHEN YOU ARE ALONE WITH GOD you are never alone even as an ADRA manager of a health project located in one of the most remote areas of Afghanistan, the central highlands of Bamyan Province. This is a MUST READ.

As a recently retired professor who taught at Cal State University Chico for thirty-five years, I’m delighted that the Review has sent public universities a little love! IT’S NOT AS SCARY AS YOU THINK is the story of what happened when Bonnie McLean chose a public university for her postgraduate program.

Before enrolling, Bonnie “believed that drugs and alcohol abounded”. However, beginning with “an acceptance letter in March and a second in April disclosing a full scholarship and teaching assistantship at Western Michigan University”. She arrived on campus in August, not knowing what to expect. Four months later, she realized that God wanted her there.

“No one harassed me at social gatherings because I didn’t drink alcohol. . .My religious background has been recognized as a valuable source of knowledge. . .Vegetarians thrive at academic institutions. . .The adage “You find what you’re looking for” rings true. . .Sometimes, witnessing means not saying a word about Christ. I prayed that I would be a blessing to my students, and the end-of-semester reflection they handed in demonstrated that I did make a difference to many of them. I wanted to show them Christ’s love, but not force it down their throats. I hope they saw Christ through me.”

This article is a MUST READ. The picture included with LIVING HISTORY by Oliver Jacques now has an honored place in my wife, Claudia’s heritage album. The additional picture was taken at the funeral of Grandpa Isaac, Claudia’s great grandfather. It was taken in Alexandrodar, Russia, shortly before Claudia’s grandfather, Leonhard Penner sold his business and brought his extended family to the United States in 1913. The little boy in this picture is the John, my wife’s father, who is mentioned in the Review Article. (See the story of our family, Journey to Christmas, posted on December, 22, 2009.)

Oliver Jacques’ is the son of the John Godfrey Jacque, the author of the book, Escape from Siberian Exile, now available in paperback from Flipkart. The following are Oliver’s words.

“Looking at the [Review] photo, I studied the honest faces of the hardworking believers who, nearly a century ago, worshipped in Alexandrodar. I wondered how many survived the persecution of the empire’s long-suffering nonconformist Christians; persecution accelerated and intensified by Rasputin. . .who initiated the pogrom intended to send my dad to die in the northernmost exile camp in western Siberia; the pogrom that drove some members of the congregation to seek freedom to worship and serve their church in America.

“How many survived the relentless genocides conducted by Lenin and Stalin? My precious, bighearted grandparents, charged with being ‘rich kulaks’, were dragged from their comfortable home, only to die of typhus after two weeks in the stinking hell of a Communist prison. George, Dad’s only brother, died after five years of slave labor in the gulag.

“I peered into the sweet face of Marie, the gentle girl who was to have married Dad. What became of her? The well-behaved, innocent children, what happened to them?”

FILTHY RAGS by Yvonne M. White recounts her experience when confronted by a homeless woman at the door of her church. The woman called her “‘Mommy’. She hugged me tight, not letting me go, and I began to feel nauseated from the stench of urine and vomit permeating from the drenched, filthy rags clinging to her frail body. Her breath was strong with the odor of alcohol and tobacco. I tried to push her away, but she wouldn’t let me go.

“I used to believe that Communion service was only for those who had offended a church member, giving us an opportunity to wash one another’s feet and ask for forgiveness. Before this experience I felt I didn’t really need my feet washed. But now, every time I participate in the Communion service, I do so with great contrition of heart as I reflect on that cold, rainy November night when the Lord stopped by our church in the person of that homeless woman to reveal to me the true condition of my soul.”

CHURCH NEWS AND PERSPECTIVES includes the following: An update from Haiti. NOTA an Adventist a capella singing group wins an NBC-TV Sing-off. Jan Paulsen believes that the environment is a “Christian Issue”. A Russian proposal may restrict missionary activity. ADRA’s global Antiviolence Campaign in support of women has gone global. (In Malawi, ENDITNOW, has received national support.) And the Traveling Bible Project is a hit in Jamaica.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

There's no telling what might happen otherwise!

Comic from Frank & Ernest by Thaves
(click to enlarge)

Reviewing Adventist World, NAD Edition

January 2009
Vol. 6, No. 1

Adventist World is free online. For that reason, I only review or comment on articles and editorials that I believe to be of special interest.

This issue has some fascinating articles. Two others left me scratching my head, and there is a shockingly advertisement!

The cover story, BABEL UNDONE, by Marcos Paseggi is the MUST READ account of how Adventist translators help to advance the mission of the church. Their task requires more than a word-for-word translation. This article may come as a surprise to those who believe that only one translation of anything, the Bible included, is authoritative.

“Every language is a world in itself, involving its own grammatical rules and a particular system of punctuation, wording, and phrasing. In most cases there is no way a literal rendering can match up to a similar phrase in the target language. Translation implies looking for a “dynamic equivalence,” where the original meaning is both kept and “re-created” into a new phrase that somehow communicates what the original said in the first place. This often implies a change in word order, sentence or paragraph structure, or even leaving aside the first and second choices and starting to rewrite from scratch. It requires mastering the target language so as to “process” the use of idioms, figures of speech, and metaphors.

“Finally, in every language there are some “untranslatable” terms and cultural references that must be somehow explained or “interpreted” in order to be correctly understood by the target audience. As Lars Hoem, English-Norwegian translator for the Adventist Norwegian Publishing House, puts it. . .“How would you explain the concept ‘Lamb of God’ to an Inuit who has never seen a lamb in his entire life? What is the best conceivable equivalent for ‘innocence’ to an Inuit? Perhaps a baby seal?”

NORTH AMERICAN CHURCH FINANCES HOLD IN SPITE OF TITHE DECLINE. “Seventh-day Adventists in North America returned $893.1 million in tithe during the economically challenged year of 2008, $3.4 million less than was received in the previous year, division officials reported November 6, 2009. An additional $23.6 million in mission offerings were furnished by parishioners, a drop of $405,000 from 2008.”

“A variety of economic circumstances are affecting donations to Seventh-day Adventist congregations, among them being the state of the overall economy; downward adjustments in housing prices; the banking collapse; and continued volatility in the stock market.” (I wonder where the money came from to play the market, err, I mean invest in stocks?)

SOUTH AFRICAN COURT RULING FAVORS ADVENTIST CHURCH. Other informing the reader that this court ruling created “an environment for church unity, improved growth, and more efficient operations” which removed “any real or perceived structure of discrimination that may be a barrier toward church unity”, no further information regarding the lawsuit is provided. My attempt to read the litigation statement provided by the Southern Africa Union conference website, was not permitted.

WHAT HAPPENS TO THE WANDERERS? by Kari Paulsen is a MUST READ short biography of Kari Paulsen. The pictures of the youthful Paulsen family are not to be missed.

MINNEAPOLIS, 1888: AN ADVENTIST WATERSHED by Gerhard Pfandl is an authoritative account of A. T. Jones and E. J. Waggoner’s theological bombshell, righteousness by faith. It’s a MUST READ!

PREACHER COMFORTS by Bernadine Delafield tells the story of how a tiny congregation in Kulm, North Dakota, consistently hosts Adventism’s best-known preachers. Check out Adventist Preaching DVDs.

CAN A HIATAL HERNIA END IN CANCER? by Allan R. Handysides and Peter N. Landless once come through with a clear explanation of medical risks and treatments.

WHAT GOD DO YOU SERVE by Mike Ryan is a mission story you won’t want to miss.

OLYMPIC MEDALIST IS WINNING SOULS FOR CHRIST by Tihomir Zestic is the story of Eugenia Tovstogan “a professional handball player who once performed for the Soviet Union national team. With her club Spartak, based in Kiev, Ukraine, she won many titles. Today Tovstogan is retired from this professional sport. She lives in Israel and works as a volunteer to produce radio health programs for AWR’s FM broadcasts.”

NAD LETTERS includes a thoughtful observation by Doug Schmidt. “We insult the spirituality of young people [who leave the church] when we focus exclusively on practical solutions—attitudes, approaches, programs—without addressing the probability that the real underlying problem might be a lack of spiritual power in the church. Young people are leaving today because they haven’t met Jesus. Jesus said, “And I, if I be lifted up. . .will draw all. . .unto me (John 12:32, KJV)”

CAN WE ALWAYS COUNT ON GOD’S PROTECTION? J. Stanley McCluskey asserts that, “The angel of the Lord does encamp round about those who fear Him, and does deliver us from any lasting harm, according to the plan of our loving God (see Ps. 34:7; Jer. 29:11). The eternal God surely is our refuge “and underneath are the everlasting arms” (Deut. 33:27).” Stan, how do you account for the following?

Barbara Ann Norton Kay reports the death of Bob and Neiba Norton, Gladys, a child and his mother, and a young girl in need of emergency surgery when Bob’s Cessna 182 crashed during a humanitarian flight in Venezuela in LIVING GOD’S LOVE.

Check out WHAT IS APOSTASY? by Angel Manuel Rodriguez. If you don’t want to screw up and torch a heretic rather than an apostate, Dr. Rodriguez, Director of the Biblical Research Institute of the General Conference, is the authorized Inquisitor.

What an inspiring offer! I’m signing up for the free three months of Premium Movie Channels! Thanks Mark!