Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The lifeguard’s retirement plan is all he’s concerned about.

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

Reviewing the Adventist Review in partnership with Adventist World

Vol. 187, No. 18
June 24, 2010
This issue is not available online.

This issue of the Adventist Review lists 24 General Conference Departments and 9 General Conference Institutions. The accomplishments listed in this 61 page magazine are remarkable. However, this impressive public image has theological feet of clay.

The Seventh-day Adventist Church was begun as a progressive movement, idealistic in its belief in present truth and committed to fearlessly following theological truth wherever it led. Hence the emphasis on bible study and an abhorrence of creedal statements.

Initially, Advent believers believed that the Heavenly portals had been closed to nonbelievers. Consequently, personal preparation for translation was doctrine. Then the Great Disappointment of 1844 required that that doctrinal teaching be revised.

These revised beliefs were hammered into Adventist theology by our church fathers in 23 sessions in which ideas of a number of religious denominations were discussed and incorporated into a systematic dogma that became the statement of beliefs upon which the Seventh-day Adventist Church was founded in 1863. (It is important to note that, by choice, Ellen White was not a member of this group.)

These early Seventh-day Adventist believers believed, taught, and preached that the Second Coming was eminent and would be preceded by the Great Tribulation described in Revelation. Consequently, Ellen White, along with church leaders, believed that two years of religious education beyond high school was all that was required to prepare believers to become effective evangelists.

Talk of secular college or university training was discouraged because time was short. The notion of educational accreditation, along with buying things on long-term credit, demonstrated a of lack of faith. The saving message of Present Truth was uncomplicated, and the biblical support for that message was based on authoritative key texts that were easy to memorize and present. Believe it, act according to that belief, and prepare to meet Jesus in the air.

World War One was the Apocalypse. Poison gas, tanks, airplanes, and the machine gun were the ultimate weapons of war and clearly signaled the approaching End of Time. When Jesus didn't arrive after the war ended, it was time to again revise Adventist theology.

The 20th century was the century of missionaries and mission fields. Even World War II didn't seriously renew the apocalyptic language of the previous World War. "Once burned, twice shy." The Adventist Church had discovered the "world field", and there was work to be done. The the guiding theological idea became, "Jesus will come again when the Adventist brand of the Gospel had been preached to all the world".

Along with the discovery of the "world field" and stubborn heathen religious practices, came the realization that the "medical work" and education were effective "entering wedges" for Adventist mission work. And since Adventists had been preaching the Health Message for 30 years and Ellen White had given the go ahead for the creation of an accredited School of Medicine in Loma Linda, California, it was no longer seen as exhibiting a "lack of faith" if Adventist parents wanted their kids to have a college education that would equip them to quickly and efficiently "finish the work" as preachers, medical professionals, teachers, and conference workers.

And if Adventist parents were footing the bill, they wanted this tertiary education to be in Adventist colleges. It was also important that these colleges be officially recognized as legitimate institutions of higher learning in the states in which they existed. That meant accreditation. That meant at least a foundational liberal arts curriculum. That meant that the Adventist students attending these schools would be exposed to at least a smattering of secular literature, science, philosophy, and history.

"Katie bar the door!"

Up until this time, only lip service had been paid to Ellen White's statements about the value of critical thinking as opposed to "thinking other men's thoughts". Now, Adventists were developing a taste for biblical scholarship and scientific research in fields like geology and biology and physics and anthropology. When this happened, it became apparent to a few shrewd Adventist leaders that it was again time to revise Adventist theology.

An attempt was made, but it was crushed. Before 1980, Adventist beliefs were informally "summarized" in 1889 and again in 1914. In 1980, 27 official statements of belief were defended as The Truth, not withstanding the words of the authors that they had not written Seventh-day Adventist Believe "to serve as a creed a statement of beliefs set in theological concrete". (A 28th statement of belief was added in 2005.) Although it became apparent that some of these beliefs could not be supported either by existing biblical scholarship or scientific inquiry, Adventist leaders decided that evidence could be discovered that would vindicate church dogma.

What was needed was literary and historical proof that book of Daniel was not an historical novel, scientific proof that earth was created about 6 to 10 thousand years ago in six literal 24 hour days, and that Noah's flood was a factual account of a universal event that destroyed all but eight humans and every animal not on board a wooden boat 450 feet long, 75 feet wide and 45 feet high. To accomplish this task, the Biblical Research Institute and the Geoscience Research Institute were commissioned.

Responsible theologians and scientists quit or were fired for raising legitimate questions about the impossibility of their task. Those who chose to remain employed learned not to speak truth to power. In the case of the theologians employed by the Biblical Research Institute, no attempt has been made to make public serious questions about the literal interpretation of key doctrinal passages of the Bible, particularly those found in the Old Testament. The scientists employed by the Geoscience Institute continue to equivocate about the age of the Earth; a literal six-day creation that involved the sun, moon, and stars; the universal flood; the geologic column; dinosaurs; tectonic plates; microbial and parasitic life; and an ancient ecological cycle based on death and regeneration.

This failure to confront the issues raised by modern biblical scholarship and scientific inquiry as left the Adventist Church in a precarious situation. The progressive institution founded by the fathers and mother of the Church, whose personal integrity was a test of leadership and an educated, rational defense of biblically based Truth was expected of every Adventist preacher, has found itself in a situation where the integrity of its leadership and the rationality of its theology has been seriously undermined.

Because of the Adventist Church's dogmatic position regarding some selective literal interpretations of biblical events and admonitions, educated Adventist young people, particularly graduates from Adventist colleges and universities, are leaving the Church in droves. Currently, the Institutes of Biblical Research and Geological Research do not assist Adventists in understanding the issues raised by modern scientific inquiry. Asking Adventists to support a religious organization that requires religious beliefs that fly in the face of reason and common sense is suicidal.

Let’s treasure our 28 doctrines. In their clumsy way they have prepared us to love, heal, and educate worldwide. This Gospel that Jesus lived and died to make real is the solid foundation upon which Christian Adventists can light up the world and glorify the Great God of the Universe. Let’s treasure the 28 as traditional beliefs, not distracting, petty, legalistic, and dogmatic assertions.

Adventist Geoscientists at Work

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

Thursday, June 17, 2010

If the Hammer Fits: An SDA Administrative Metaphor

Comic from Pearls Before Swine, by Stephan Pastis.
(click to enlarge)

Reviewing the Adventist Review

May 27, 2010
Vol. 187, No. 15

This issue of the Adventist Review contains information about the workings of the upcoming General Conference and the amazing expansion of the Hope Channel’s evangelistic wizardry. There are devotional pieces and a nature story without a happy ending, unless you’re partial to house sparrows. And a reader and Mark Kellner rattled my cage.

In COUNTDOWN TO ATLANTA, we learn how church leaders are elected.

Pacific Union College and Washington Adventist universities install Presidents Heather J. Knight and Weymouth Spense.

The Church’s risk management unit restructures, and the Riverside, California office is closed. “The plan calls for eliminating the positions and titles of director, associate director, and assistant director.”

Jim Ayer, former drug user, now the vice president for advancement at Adventist World Radio, tells his story in the book, Second Chance.

In his editorial, LOOKING BACK TO THE FUTURE, Gerald Klingbeil writes about what it meant to him, his family, the Adventist Church, and all of Europe, when the Berlin Wall came down on November 9, 1989.
BREAKING DOWN BARRIERS by James H. Park discusses the parallel, dual visions of Ananias and Peter in Acts 9 and 10, and his discovery that, “Overcoming the internal barriers in others demands that my own internal barriers also be dealt with by the same Spirit who worked within the hearts of Ananias and Peter. This requires grace, courage, and wisdom. It is a call to deeper personal conversion with our risen Lord that enables us to go and make disciples of all the nations until He comes.”

Andrew McChesney is at it again. If you’re not a subscriber to the Review, you’re missing the adventures of the intrepid Moscow reporter. WHAT’S IN YOUR HANDBAG? is the story of Yelena Verenchuk and the gangster.

“The gangster’s mouth dropped open. For a moment he didn’t say anything. The Kalashnikov, still in his hands, now looked like a child’s plastic toy as he relaxed his grip.”
OPENING THE DOORS OF HOPE is Sandra Blackmer's report on how the church's global TV network reaches millions with a message of hope.

“Today, Hope Channel has grown into a 24-7 international organization of 65 media centers throughout the world broadcasting in nearly two dozen languages potentially to about 98 percent of the world population. “The only areas not covered by Hope Channel are Greenland, Antarctica, the Arctic portions of Canada, and a slice of West Africa."

“Along with English and Portuguese, the network’s major languages include Spanish, German, Romanian, Russian, and Ukrainian. It is developing Chinese, Indian, and Middle Eastern channels “in the common languages and cultures of those areas,” Thorp explains. Other languages, such as Czech, Norwegian, and Bulgarian, have Internet rather than satellite channels.”
In MISUNDERSTANDING MEEKNESS Jimmy Phillips makes the case for meekness. “In the heat of battle—whether you’re on the court or in the office—genuine meekness is the personification of true strength.”
Wesley Youngberg explains how DIET, EXERCISE, AND WEIGHT LOSS work together to help us shed extra pounds and live healthier lives.

SHEEP AND THEIR SHEPHERDS by Homer Trecartin is the story of the heartbreak, joy, and selflessness required of all shepherds, and his thankfulness that “we serve a Good Shepherd, One who loves us enough to rescue us again and again without condemning us for what the process has done to Him.”

BUSH, Francis
DRAKE, Loretta P.
DOUGLAS, Kae (Esther)
FOWLER, Annabell I.
MAXWELL, Spencer Lawrence
ROWE, Kermise Eugene
RUE, Grace
STEINER, Nellie G.
SYMMONDS, Charles (Chuck)

A BATTLE OF THE BIRDS doesn’t have a happy ending, and Jill Morikone is left to ponder the cruel lessons in nature and the blessing of our Christian hope.

Editors, what is accomplished by publishing of inflammatory letters to the editor? In this issue, Frank Hardy likens the “creation/evolution problem at La Sierra University” to holding “a knife to the church’s jugular vein.”

In his editorial, THIS IS NOT “MY” CHURCH, Mark Kellner uses the words, “tropes” and “solipsistic license” in this exercise of sophisticated name-calling.

Kellner creates and condemns the following “straw men”: “Those in the pews…who expect, even demand, the church bend its teaching to fit our whims, or the mores of the moment.” “People…who claim affiliation with and fidelity to the Seventh-day Adventist Church [and then] turn around and proclaim this church ‘must’ embrace teachings and practices that are at odds with our historic faith and the clear statements of God’s Word.” Members who are busy “junking our core beliefs after a season, to then fit the fashion of the times.” Members that claim “the right to their own facts”.

While it’s true that “for Seventh-day Adventists, our facts and our faith are found in the Bible”, it is also true that there are over 1000 Protestant denominations that also make that claim.

Kellner’s definition of Adventism as “our historic faith and the clear statements of God’s Word” needs some fleshing out if readers are to understand what he means. Is our “historic faith” the 28 Fundamental Doctrines whose authors insisted were not “to serve as a creed, a statement of beliefs set in theological concrete”? Or is he referring to all of Christian history? And to which “clear statements of God’s Word” is he referring? Both Old and New Testament contain clear admonitions that Adventists routinely and rationally ignore.

Kellner ridicules calls for change if, in his opinion, they represent “whims, or mores of the moment”. Should members look to him as authoritative?

In response, I offer the words of Ellen White.

“But as the real spiritual life declines, it has ever been the tendency to cease to advance in the knowledge of the truth. Men rest satisfied with the light already received for God’s word and discourage any further investigation of the Scriptures. They become conservative and seek to avoid discussion.

“The fact that there is no controversy or agitation among God’s people should not be regarded as conclusive evidence that they are holding fast to sound doctrine. There is reason to fear that they may not be clearly discriminating between truth and error. When no new questions are started by investigation of the Scriptures, when no difference of opinion arises which will set men to searching the Bible for themselves to make sure that they have the truth, there will be many now, as in ancient times, who will hold to tradition and worship they know not what.” [Testimonies, vol. 5, pp. 706-707 (1889); GW 297, 298; CWE 39]

“There is no excuse for any one in taking the position that there is no more truth to be revealed, and that all our expositions of Scripture are without an error. The fact that certain doctrines have been held as truth for many years by our people is not a proof that our ideas are infallible. Age will not make error into truth, and truth can afford to be fair. No true doctrine will lose anything by close investigation.” [Review and Herald, Dec. 20, 1892 (2RH 623:1:1); CWE 35]

A Budding Adventist Scientist Discovers the Road to Success

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

Playing the Numbers Game

Modified from the comic Dilbert, by Scott Adams
(click to enlarge)

Monday, June 14, 2010

Reviewing Adventist World, NAD Edition

June 2010
Vol. 6, No. 6

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

This issue is generally informative. As usual, CHURCH WORKS is an important information source. I was disappointed that there was no attempt to inform readers as to the business and theological issues to be discussed at the General Conference session. There is, however, one smart phone issue that is "troubling", and Ellen White has an opinion about who is best equipped to make decisions in times of crisis.

Seventh-day Adventist Church officials voted April 6 to accept a proposal from the World Health Organization (WHO) that seeks the denomination’s partnership with the United Nations’ agency in a program to reduce maternal and infant mortality. The approval paves the way for expanding the church’s fledgling alliance with the WHO in helping to implement public health initiatives.

According to Bertil Wiklander, President of the Trans-European Division, “There is something very flawed about a church where members just attend meetings, listen to sermons, and give tithes and offerings,” he said, adding that "some churches stress intellectualism over spirituality, doctrine over relationships, and have grown 'too holy,' emphasizing 'exclusiveness at the expense of compassion.'”

Lowell C. Cooper, General Vice President of the General Conference leaves no doubt about the importance of the health ministry of the Church.

"Seventh-day Adventists are engaged in health education and health care, in disaster relief and development, because these activities reflect the ministry of Jesus. He wanted people to experience the fullness of God’s will for them. He ministered to them at the point of their pressing need. His interest in them encompassed their physical and spiritual needs, yet He did not heal them as a pretext for gaining their discipleship.

"No ministry should be judged inferior or incomplete simply because it does not yield visible commitment to God and His work on the earth. Inordinate attention to measures of success (that is, baptisms) can lead to a preoccupation with short-term goals and the “success” of programming rather than the quality of service in the name of Jesus."

Find out what's happening at the General Conference. Review subscribers will receive a daily printed record of the session in addition to emailed Bulletins. The Adventist News Network (ATN) will provide news as it happens through its Web portal, Beginning June 23, at 6:30 p.m. (EDT) The Hope Channel will begin broadcasting a daily a 30 minute live newscast.

Although technology will allow members unprecedented access to official proceedings, steps will be taken "to keep sensitive discussions...from being broadcast live via technology available on the latest smart phones."

Accidental Poisoning
Allan R. Handysides and Peter N. Landless provide life-sving advice.

"If a person swallows something poisonous, it’s vital to call a local medical emergency number immediately. Make sure you can give the person’s age, the name of the substance ingested, how much was taken, when it was swallowed, whether the person has vomited, and how long it will take to get to the nearest medical facility.
"In the United States a call to 1-800-222-1222 will reach the regional poison control center; a call to 9-1-1 will connect you to emergency services. Be aware of your region’s poison control center, and keep contact information readily available. Follow the instructions of the poison control center. They have much more precise information at their fingertips than does the average family doctor."

Small Things Can Lead to Great Results
Ellen G. White wasn't shy about proclaiming that women were at least the equal of men when it came to making decisions in times of crisis.

"The Lord has a work for women, as well as for men. They may take their places in his work at this crisis, and he will work through them. If they are imbued with a sense of their duty, and labor under the influence of the Holy Spirit, they will have just the self-possession required for this time. The Saviour will reflect upon these self-sacrificing women the light of his countenance, and will give them a power that exceeds that of men. They can do in families a work that men cannot do, a work that reaches the inner life. They can come close to the hearts of those whom men cannot reach. Their labor is needed."

Thursday, June 10, 2010

That’s a big load.

Comic modified from Beetle Bailey, by Mort & Greg Walker
(click to enlarge)

Reviewing the Adventist Review

May 20, 2010
Vol. 187. No. 14

Is can’t work up much enthusiasm for this issue of the Review. I guess I was expecting a more issue-oriented publication, given the anticipation generated by the fast approaching General Conference session in Atlanta.

For instance, I believe readers of the Adventist Review magazine would be interested in the Pacific Union Conference’s official Commitment to Women’s Ordination, voted August 30, 1995 and reaffirmed May 12, 2010. (See: Recorder, June 2010); and the “evolving” evolution/creation story at La Sierra University. (See: Spectrum Blog, Citing Apostasy, Michigan Conference Removes La Sierra University From Employee Subsidy)

As usual, the World News & Perspectives section keeps readers informed about what’s happening in Adventist circles worldwide. Monte Sahlin does his usual thoughtful review of books designed to promote the spiritual life of the Church, and there is a lovely reflection about GRACE on the inside back cover.

The Review and Herald Publishing Association is undergoing a “management shift” designed to improve its financial situation.

Jan Paulsen, speaking in Haiti, encourages a continued humanitarian response to the earthquake that killed 230,000 and left millions without homes.

Nick Miller received the 2010 John Highbarger Memorial Dissertation Award from Notre Dame University for his doctoral dissertation about the “traditional understandings of the separation of church and state”.

Griggs International University is contemplating a move to Andrews University for financial reasons and improved technical support.

There are 9 THINGS THAT BUG ME. Roy Adams gets personal about his pet peeves.
In her editorial, THEIR LOVE, Sandra Blackmer reminds us that first and foremost, Christians are all about love.
GIVE ME THE BIBLE is Fredrick A. Russell’s statement of traditional belief and a protest against “religious pluralism”.
In the cover feature, Kimberly Luste Maran tells the story of JUST A REGULAR GUY who works for NBC as a motion graphics designer.
HUMAN BEING, OR HUMAN DOING is Emily Simmons’ essay on ways to avoid distractions and focus on God, even when hiking the Appalachian Trail.
Sometimes you neeed to START A REVOLUTION to STOP HATING YOURSELF, according to Healther Bohlender, a college student who wants to change the world.

A LETTER TO THE CHRISTIANS IN ATLANTA is an admonition from Marcos Paseggi, a professional translator, to the delegates at the General Conference: prepare yourselves to “wait for His call. Because you know He will call, and I want you to be ready”.
Ellen G. White reminded church members, “When men place themselves in a position where they can work out God’s purposes, he stands at their right hand, to open ways of advance for them.” So TRUST THEM.
THROUGH THE FIRE by Connie Stanton is a story of prayer, a remote cabin spared by fire, and how to survive a personnel time of trouble.
TOOLS OF THE TRADE by Monte Sahlin is always “good value”. In this issue he recommends three books, Footprints—for small group ministries, Strengthening Marriages in Your Church—a DVD seminar, and Parenting Boot Camp—basic training for parenting responsible kids. Footpriints and Strengthening Marriages are available from AdventSource at or (800) 328-0525. Parenting Boot Camp is available at your local Adventist Book Center at or by calling (800) 765-6955.

GRACE by Heather Vanden Hoven is a moving account of what it means to love your neighbor.

Which God do you serve?

Comic modified from Rubes, by Leigh Rubin.
(click for enlarged image)

A Common Misperception

Modified from the comic Dilbert, by Scott Adams
(click to enlarge)

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Bible School or University?

Comic modified from Pearls Before Swine, by Stephan Pastis.
(click to enlarge)

Reviewing Adventist World, NAD Edition

May, 2010
Vol. 6, No. 5

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.

Don’t skip over the CHURCH WORKS section of this issue. The FOCUS ON LEADERSHIP meetings held in Beijing, China, are of particular interest in that the women pastors of China, whose leadership and evangelistic skills are legendary, were not even mentioned. (Pastors Lu and Xu are the only ordained female pastors in the Adventist Church.)
(See: Strong Gospel, Strong China, Strong Women Pastors by Rebekah Wang Scriven, Spectrum Magazine, Spring, 2010)

BREAT CNACER SCREENING by Allan R. Handysides and Peter N. Landless makes the case that it is a vital preventative.

BEGINNING TO “ENDITNOW” is a MUST READ. Heather-Dawn Small, director of Women's Ministries for the General Conference, and Charles Sandefur, president of Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA), speak about a new worldwide initiative to counteract violence against women.

“The numbers are frightening: an estimated one third of women around the world will be beaten, raped, or abused in one form or another. In some countries the percentages are even higher. In the United States alone, a woman is abused every 15 seconds. Whether sold into sexual slavery, raped in battle zones, or beaten by a boy-friend or spouse—women the world over are at risk of some form of violence.

“This ugly problem manifests itself in numerous ways: sex trafficking in Asia, often including girls as young as 10 or 11; domestic abuse in so-called ‘developed’ nations; military rape in battle zones throughout Asia and Africa; female genital mutilation in some cultures that leaves millions of young girls scarred and damaged.

“The Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) and the General Conference Women’s Ministries Department have launched a worldwide campaign, ‘enditnow,’ not just to help bring awareness of this terrible problem but to—end it now. The plan isn’t just to talk about it, to bemoan it, to hold workshops and focus groups about it. The purpose is to end it now. Both these global ministries of the Seventh-day Adventist Church have witnessed firsthand the horrible results of this scourge: both are determined to muster all available resources to, well, end it now.

“To sign the ‘enditnow’ petition, print out pledge cards, view an informative video, find resources to host a community event, or make a financial contribution to this campaign, go to E-mail the campaign at Send print enquiries for resources and information to:
“enditnow Campaign
ADRA International/Women’s Ministries
General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists
12501 Old Columbia Pike
Silver Spring, MD 20904

According to DelI Johnson, Administer of the North American Division‘s Retirement Plan, IF THE LORD DELAYS HIS COMING, retirement planning does not demonstrate a lack of faith.

SPIRITUAL PERILS: SUBTLE (AND NOT SO SUBTLE) INROADS INTO THE INTEGRITY OF OUR FAITH by Roy Adams takes some shots at Wm. Paul Young, author of The Shack. My comments are in bold type.

A summary of the plot appears on the book’s back cover: “Mackenzie Allen Philips’s youngest daughter, Missy, has been abducted during a family vacation and evidence that she must have been brutally murdered is found in an abandoned shack deep in the Oregon wilderness. Four years later, in the midst of his Great Sadness, Mack receives a suspicious note, apparently from God, inviting him back to that shack for a weekend. Against his better judgment he arrives at the shack on a wintry afternoon and walks back into his darkest nightmare. What he finds there will change Mack’s world forever.”

“One thing we should never do is underestimate the power of fiction. And what we have here is fiction with an agenda—a theological agenda. This “book” was written for Paul’s children at the urging of his wife. It was the story of his eleven-year attempt to deal with the Great Sadness in his own life written as a kind of fable. There were originally 15 duplicated copies made for his children, relatives, and friends. At the urging of family and friends, he self-published this fable as a book. It is now a worldwide best seller. In the isolated shack Mack encounters the three members of the Deity, and discovers that God is all about “relationships”—a popular word in Christian circles today. Perhaps if we Adventists stressed loving relationships rather than doctrinal bickering and a quasi-literal interpretation of the Bible, i.e. a pick and choose key text approach, NAD membership and the Adventist Review readership would skyrocket, too! (As it happened, I was into the book of Jeremiah while reading the novel, and I couldn’t help noticing the huge contrast between the God of The Shack and the God of Jeremiah. For sure! No wussy “relationship” references from that Old Testament prophet!* Incidentally, it’s a convivial God we find here—one who needs his morning coffee, goes after alcoholic beverages, and downs the bacon.) It’s Paul Young’s fable. His God isn’t an Adventist!

“Whether through fictional or (supposedly) real-life narratives. . .there’s a lot of “soft-sell” going on out there—a subtle approach to the mind every advertiser understands. Paul is not an “advertiser”. Guilt by association is not argument. It’s important that we not overreact to every incident that occurs in society, but confusion about what happens when we die is not an inconsequential issue. I agree. It can serve as a springboard to spiritualism, a perilous development predicted to play a critical role in the final crisis. Looking down the centuries to our times, John saw “three unclean spirits like frogs coming out of the mouth of the dragon … the beast, and … the false prophet.” They are, he said, “spirits of demons, performing signs, which go out to the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty” (Rev. 16:13, 14). Wow! Reading the Shack makes “unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon … the beast, and … the false prophet.”?

“As Adventists, we have a special mission. And sometimes out of naiveté, sometimes from an inferiority complex, we can sabotage our own ‘brand.’ And boy, is our Christian “brand” all-important! I think I will always be captivated by the music of Ave Maria, Roy, beware of the slippery slope! You may, though the “captivating” power of music, decide to pray to the Virgin Mary! but to recommend and endorse the piece to others would be wrong. Roy, for you it would be wrong, and that’s cool. I may be impressed by the literary brilliance of The Shack, identify emotionally with the tragedy that led William Young to write it, and even assign the book to my class for academic reading. Sounds reasonable. But to use it as a substitute for the Bible Study guide or endorse it to Adventist students would be to cross a line. Sounds reasonable. Given the biblical issues involved and the uncanny power of fiction, Scary! it would be as irresponsible as introducing them to Ouija Boards and tarot cards. But you said you might “assign the book to my class for academic reading”!

“For many on the edge, this work, however well-intentioned, could well serve as a segue into the occult.” Roy, the Bible has been “segueing” people “into the occult” ever since it was written. Must we protect the “many on the edge” from reading it?

* Jeremiah 51:20-24 (New International Version)
You are my war club,
my weapon for battle—
with you I shatter nations,
with you I destroy kingdoms,
with you I shatter horse and rider,
with you I shatter chariot and driver,
with you I shatter man and woman,
with you I shatter old man and youth,
with you I shatter young man and maiden,
with you I shatter shepherd and flock,
with you I shatter farmer and oxen,
with you I shatter governors and officials.
Before your eyes I will repay Babylon and all who live in Babylonia for all the wrong they have done in Zion," declares the LORD.

JAKOB ERZBERGER: THE FORGOTTEN PIONEER by Daniel Heinz chronicles the story of an exemplary pastor. It’s a MUST READ for Adventist history buffs.

In 1870 Jakob Erzberger “became the first ordained European Seventh-day Adventist pastor. In reality, he was a type of circuit preacher for all of Switzerland and Germany. A humble man, Erzberger was happy to stand in the shadow of Czechowski, Andrews, and Conradi, who came to be seen as the founding fathers of European Adventism. In a sense, Erzberger was the ‘first fruit’ of Czechowski’s mission work in Europe. He often followed up on the evangelistic efforts of the other pioneers as a faithful pastor to the newly established churches and was the one to provide pastoral care and establish new believers in the faith after the other pioneers moved on to new challenging areas”.

THE ELLEN G. WHITE ESTATE does lots more than protecting original manuscripts in a vault, according to Tim Poirer.

“Though Ellen White did not specify it in her will, the church has asked the White Estate to take the lead in acquainting church members about Adventist heritage in general, as well as the prophetic ministry of Ellen White in particular. The Estate uses a variety of means in this effort, such as its own Web site, seminars, workshops, articles, books (such as Messenger of the Lord), CD-ROMs, Visionary—an online magazine designed for children (, guided Adventist history tours, and programming (such as “Gift of Light”) on the church’s Hope Channel.

“Free Web Resources. The White Estate Web site has much more than the 75,000 pages of Ellen White’s published writings to study and browse. Click to download a free study guide or dramatized pioneer story. Subscribe to the e-mailed “Thought for the Day.” If you’re a K-12 teacher, check out the resources available at Maybe your church is considering renting its facility to another denomination and wonders whether Ellen White has given any counsel on this question. Suppose you want to learn something about the Pitcairn missionary ship, see photographs of our early health institutions, or find what letters still exist from S. N. Haskell or A. T. Jones. You can find answers to all these interests—and much more—on the Estate’s Web site.”

MORE THAN A FISH TALE by Angel Manuel Rodríguez is an attempt to answer the question: I’ve heard people say that the story of Jonah is only a parable. What do you think?

Rodriguez responds: “If we accept the biblical text at face value, it would not be difficult to conclude that it is a prophetic book in the form of a narrative. In other words the narrative contains a prophetic message; and the one does not exclude the reliability of the other. This was how the book was read until about 200 years ago, when biblical authority was replaced by human reason. This modern approach left no room for divine intervention in human history.”

I would have responded, “The fish episode is true but not real. God works in miraculous ways to save the lives of human beings of all religious persuasions, and he has only us, unworthy, untrustworthy, cowardly, and egocentric human beings, like Jonah, to get the job done. When we are successful, it’s a greater miracle than being transported by a fish to where we are needed.”

The Adventist Theological Society isn’t confused!

Comic from Doonesbury, by Garry Trudeau
(click to enlarge)


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