Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Vending Machine of Dreams

Thanks to The Cartoonist

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

Reviewing the Adventist Review

General Conference Bulletins 1-8
June 25-July 8


Well, gentle reader, I’ve read every word—the magazine info, business meeting reports, online church manual minutes and Ted Wilson’s inaugural sermon. What follows is a sample of what I found interesting, illuminating, funny, sad, pompous, moving, and comforting. I’ll end with a bit of humor and a paragraph from Nathan Brown’s blog on Adventist Today along and two reactions to his essay, Self-contained, Self-sufficient and Self-centered. Those sentiments go a long way toward summarizing my intellectual and emotional reactions to what I experienced during my self-appointed assignment, i.e., to post this Review of the proceedings.

Note: the following excerpts are verbatim accounts; however, they do not always appear as they were originally transcribed. Bolded paragraphs are quotes from Ted Wilson’s inaugural sermon.


Signs of Christ’s coming are increasing in frequency and intensity every day. Destructive events in nature, the great confusion of world politics, the pervasive and compromising activities of ecumenism, the dramatic increase and influence of spiritualism, the deterioration of world economies, the disintegration of societal and family values, the disbelief in the absolute authority of God’s Holy Word and the ten commandments, rampant crime and moral decay, wars and rumors of war, on and on. All point unmistakably to the climax of earth’s history and the Lord’s return to take us on the final journey home to heaven.

Wilson began his church career as a pastor in 1974 in the church's Greater New York Conference. He served as an assistant director and then director of Metropolitan Ministries there from 1976 to 1981. He went on to serve in the church's then Africa-Indian Ocean Division, based in Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire, until 1990. There he served as a departmental director and later as executive secretary, the second highest officer.

Following his post in West Africa, he served at the church's world headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland, United States, as an associate secretary for two years before accepting the position of president of the church's Euro-Asia Division in Moscow, Russia, from 1992 to 1996. Wilson then came back to the United States to serve as president of the Review and Herald Publishing Association in Hagerstown, Maryland, until his election as a General Conference vice president in 2000.

An ordained minister, Wilson holds a doctorate degree in religious education from New York University, a master of divinity degree from Andrews University and a master of science degree in public health from Loma Linda University's School of Public Health.

But that which the Lord in His mercy has given to us in clear language to be taken as fact simply because He said so must not be shrouded in skepticism. Don’t go backwards to misinterpret the first eleven chapters of Genesis or other areas of Scripture as allegorical or merely symbolic. As just this week we have once again affirmed in an overwhelming manner, the Seventh-day Adventist Church both teaches and believes in the biblical record of creation which took place recently; in six literal, consecutive, contiguous 24 hour days. The Seventh-day Adventist Church will never change its stand or belief in that foundational doctrine. If God did not create this world in six literal days and then blessed the Sabbath day, why are we worshipping Him today on this seventh-day Sabbath as SEVENTH-DAY Adventists? To misunderstand or to misinterpret this doctrine is to deny God’s Word and to deny the very purpose of the Seventh-day Adventist movement as the remnant church of God called to proclaim the three angels’ messages with Holy Spirit power.

The church triples in membership, from 5 million to 15 million. In Africa the increase is fivefold, to more than 5 million. The North American Division shrinks to only about 5 percent of world membership…The General Conference sessions change as the church changes. No longer are they dominated by the North American Division. They become livelier, more difficult to handle, more difficult to predict…But two constants remain: mission and unity. These quinquennial convocations do not go the way of the World Council of Churches, with demonstrations and power struggles. Adventists remain one in hope, one in mission. William G. Johnsson

The observance of the Sabbath is not only a sign of His creatorship in the beginning but will be THE sign of God’s people in the last days in contrast to those with the mark of the beast representing an attempt to keep holy a day which God has not set apart as holy…The third angel [of Revelation] announces that “If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives his mark on his forehead or on his hand” he or she will be tormented or destroyed with fire and brimstone. If you worship the beast and his image you are rejecting THE one sign God has proclaimed as His test of allegiance...the seventh-day Sabbath.

RAY ROENNFELDT: I’m concerned just a little that we are adding a lot of material from Ellen White. Now, I highly value Ellen White as a guide for the church. But we are people of the Book…

Let us read the Spirit of Prophecy, follow the Spirit of Prophecy and share the Spirit of Prophecy. There are so many wonderful books to share including the one book Ellen White indicated she wished distributed more than any other, ”The Great Controversy.” Thank the Lord for the religious freedom in this and other countries that allows us to share truth. The Spirit of Prophecy is one of the identifying marks of God’s last-day people and is just as applicable today as ever before because it was given to us by heaven itself. As God’s faithful remnant, may we never make of none effect the precious light given us in the writings of Ellen G. White.

HOMER TRECARTIN: Mr. Chairman, it has to do with use of tithe. On page 114, line 31, there is an addition clarifying that there are some exceptions spelled out in General Conference Working Policy. It’s talking about the use of tithe.

I don’t know what barriers you are facing today. I don’t know what barriers you think the church is facing today. Whatever they are, God has a way through.

HOMER TRECARTIN: Whereas I thoroughly sympathize with our brother from Norway for bringing the point, and it could be simply inserted, I think we need the proper counsel of the Church Manual Committee on this matter, since the text recommended came from the New International Version. We have some folk in my conference who have broken off because they do not want the NIV quoted in Adventist literature. We will seek to give them guidance; but for all these reasons we do well to respect the process that has been established and not to depart from it for now.

During the business sessions of this General Conference, you have been pleading for revival and reformation, for the Holy Spirit and the latter rain. Brothers and sisters, it is time…the Lord is coming soon! He wants to use His remnant church in a most powerful way.

ARMANDO MIRANDA: “Music is one of the highest arts. Good music not only gives us pleasure but elevates our minds and cultivates our finest qualities. God often has used spiritual songs to touch the hearts of sinners and lead to repentance. On the contrary, debased music breaks down morality and draws us away from our relationship with God.” Mr. Chairman, I move the recommendation.

Go forward, not backward! Use Christ-centered, Bible-based worship and music practices in church services. While we understand that worship services and cultures vary throughout the world, don’t go backwards into confusing pagan settings where music and worship become so focused on emotion and experience that you lose the central focus on the Word of God.

JEROEN TUINSTRA: I believe the text at hand, as we have it here, is too much open for abuse. In the development of this General Conference session, in which we have taken statements on sexual abuse of children and the abuse in general of women and children, I believe the text at hand is too much open. The text here leaves it open for child marriages and marriages that are forced. I believe this is an open church, not a closed church. We’re creating an atmosphere in which we close our Church Manual to people. I would like to move an amendment that will read as follows: “Marriage, thus instituted by God, is a monogamous, loving relationship between two mutually consenting adults.” [The amendment failed to pass.]

Historical-Biblical method of understanding scripture, allowing the Bible to interpret itself; line upon line, precept upon precept. However, one of the most sinister attacks against the Bible is from those who believe in the Historical-Critical method of explaining the Bible. This unbiblical approach of “higher criticism” is a deadly enemy of our theology and mission. This approach puts a scholar or individual above the plain approach of the scriptures and gives inappropriate license to decide what he or she perceives as truth based on the resources and education of the critic.

In order that enemies of the Church may not gain access to our pulpits, no one should be allowed to speak to any congregation unless he/she presents a current denominational credential or license. It is recognized, however, that there are times when congregations may be addressed by government officials or civic leaders; but all unauthorized persons should be excluded from the pulpit. (See p. XX.)

The cloud held back the Egyptians while the Israelites went forward in faith across the Red Sea. Can you imagine the excitement of more than a million people walking down into the sea on a dry road? Imagine the thrill as children saw fish swimming as if in an aquarium?

RACHELLE CHAPMAN: I would like to say that I understand the difficulty and why more major changes haven’t been made to the manual. But some of the more sensitive issues haven’t been adjusted. The sections I’m referring to are on youth, dress, music, recreation, and entertainment. I believe that what is contained in those sections is based on sound biblical principles. But I think some of the specific examples have become culturally irrelevant…I also question the validity of us voting on chapters as a whole…Is it valid for us to vote on whole chapters if we are not permitted to question anything other than the highlighted sections?

Just as the Bible is not outdated or irrelevant, neither is the testimony of God’s end-time messenger. God used Ellen G White as a humble servant to provide inspired insight about Scripture, prophecy, health, education, relationships, mission, families, and so many more topics.

PARDON K. MWANSA: Before it is seconded, I see a point of order is being raised. I would like to encourage the delegates to ask yourselves, before you raise a point of order, “Is it a point of order, or is it something that really is a discussion item?” In other words, I’m expecting that something has happened that should interrupt the meeting. That would be a point of order that would help us do the business of the Lord. Much of what is being raised as points of order is in fact discussion. I appreciate your help on that.

Stay away from non-biblical spiritual disciplines or methods of spiritual formation that are rooted in mysticism such as contemplative prayer, centering prayer, and the emerging church movement in which they are promoted. Look WITHIN the Seventh-day Adventist Church to humble pastors, evangelists, Biblical scholars, leaders, and departmental directors who can provide evangelistic methods and programs that are based on solid Biblical principles and “The Great Controversy Theme”

“Those who indulge the habit of racing through an exciting story are simply crippling their mental strength, and disqualifying their minds for vigorous thought and research.”—CT 135. Along with other evil results from the habit of reading fiction, we are told that “it unfits the soul to contemplate the great problems of duty and destiny” and “creates a distaste for life’s practical duties.”—CT 383.

When we, in all humility, lean completely on the everlasting arms of our Lord, He will work through us in a mighty way to give the final message of mercy to a dying world.

After consultation with the General Conference and division officers, it was recommended that the General Conference accept this extraordinary tithe for the worldwide work of the church. This extraordinary tithe received by the General Conference totaled more than $106 million…Guidelines were developed for the use of these funds. More than 85 percent has been allocated to various initiatives and projects, many of which target the 10/40 window area and will be used over a five- to seven-year period for spreading the gospel. The unallocated remainder will be assigned after evaluating the long-term viability of these initiatives and projects.

There has been a major shift in recent years toward more project giving, which has helped stimulate interest in missions and has been a great blessing in many areas. Various ministries and groups have taken on projects and have thus helped to strengthen the work. We praise the Lord for this! However, one of the drawbacks of excessive reliance on project giving is that attention spans can often be short. When there is greater need or more promotion in another area, most of the support is shifted to the new area, often leaving the local organization (if there is one) to carry on the project or outreach without sufficient resources. Sometimes all the progress that has been made is lost. The need for a strong mission-offering program that can sustain major long-term initiatives is doubly important as we focus on the 10/40 
window area. GC treasurer Robert E. Lemon.

Members of God’s remnant church, God is telling us as we come to the end of time, “Go Forward.” Go Forward in lifting up Christ and proclaiming God’s grace; Go forward in presenting the three angels’ messages; Go forward in pleading for revival and reformation; Go forward in following the Bible as it reads; Go forward in reading and adhering to the counsel of the Spirit of Prophecy; Go forward in proclaiming to the world the good news of salvation and the imminent second coming of Jesus Christ.

Following the 2000 General Conference session, most divisions began to look carefully at their church membership books. The resulting audits, which continue to this time, have greatly enhanced the credibility of our current world membership totals. At the same time, however, the diminishing of our church rolls through the auditing process has had a negative impact on our quinquennial growth rate as well as on our accession-to-loss ratios. Although our membership grew from 13,936,932 at the end of 2004 to 16,307,880 by the end of 2009, the resulting growth rate of 3.19 percent is the lowest within the 50-year period we have surveyed. Archives and Statistics Director Bert Haloviak

Our success in finishing this work depends on our submissiveness to the Word of God and the leading of the Holy Spirit.

The elective side of General Conference sessions is their most interesting part. All other business comes to a halt when representatives from the Nominating Committee appear on the platform with the latest slate of recommendations of new leaders. Those selected by the committee appear before the assembly to be introduced as their names are read. Nothing, or almost nothing, is said concerning those who vanish from the limelight. The session returns to its business. I think we can do better. I think I ought to do better.

So, on behalf of all of us, delegates and visitors at the fifty-ninth General Conference session, let me say a word to anyone who right now is feeling a bit down—or way down—as a result of the elective process. We love you; we appreciate you. Thank you! William G. Johnsson


A few months ago I stood in the midst of a group of Adventists in the Dutch city of Delft. Five years ago we had no functioning church in this thoroughly secular city. Today, there is a thriving congregation of some 150 members. Why? Because a small group of Adventists chose this place to establish the “Alivio Foundation”—an organization that helps unwed teenage mothers among the Antillean immigrant community…For me, this phenomenal story represents a truth I’ve seen borne out many times: our response to the “stranger among us” is an unfailing litmus test for the health of our community. William G. Johnson

Paul and Martha Mawela, a South African pastor and his wife, went to retire in an unentered area. Still full of zeal, they put up a tent to do evangelism, but hardly anybody came. They realized that they needed a change 
in strategy.

Today, this couple and their team take care of 794 orphans, giving them one meal per day at seven different locations. They also support 90 child-led families in which orphans, some 
as young as 12 years old, take care of their siblings. At three different centers 78 elderly people are also fed daily; they are given spiritual food as well. Caregivers go out into the community daily, and people are also taught crafts and skills so that they can earn their own money. A tent is pitched, food is cooked, and the community is taught about tuberculosis, malaria, and HIV/AIDS.

The church has grown so much that a larger church will soon be built on land donated by the chief of the area.

Between November 1, 2008, and September 19, 2009, I engaged all the union conferences within the territory in a series of seven strategic dialogues called “Facing the Issues.” The union conferences were grouped according to language and geographical location, and each program was comprised of inspirational music and frank dialogues.

Participants at each setting represented an intergenerational group of members that included children (aged 8 to 14), young people (aged 15 to 30), and adults (aged 31 and older). The objectives of “Facing the Issues” were to:
  • Provide members of local churches with an opportunity to share their vision with respect to the decision-making process of the church at the highest level within the division;
  • Provide a forum for members to offer feedback about current programs, activities, and initiatives;
  • Provide a forum for officers and departmental directors of the IAD to clarify, where necessary, the shared vision of the division;
  • Provide an opportunity for dialogue on the strategic issues of the division with a view to deepen ideas or redefine the strategic emphases within the division;
  • Promote networking and team spirit, which are essential outgrowths of unity, one of the strategic values of the division.
President Bruno Vertallier reports on the work of the Adventist Church in the Euro-Africa Division

Women’s Ministries has initiated adult literacy programs in a number of places in different parts of India. Over the past five years 1,003 centers received the benefit of adult literacy education, which has benefited more than 22,000 women.

Women’s Ministries also assists in training women to support themselves in microbusinesses: weaving, basket-making, making pottery, growing livestock, selling fruit and vegetables. More than 650 families have benefited from this service.

Women’s Ministries initiated and conducted 2,408 evangelistic meetings during the quinquennium. As a result, 18,624 people accepted the Adventist message through the efforts of women in the church.

President John Rathinaraj reports on the Adventist Church's work in the Southern Asia Division.


Readers, what I have tried to do is give you a sense of the dynamic interplay of ideas and concerns in words other than mine. What is missing here are the sights and sounds, pageantry and dynamism of a world church in General Conference. I wasn’t there, and I hope that those of you who were will add a comment or two to set the record straight and/or share your experience with the rest of us.

In conclusion, I offer a bit of humor…
When time became an issue, the following comments were recorded after the Chair attempted to end an extended discussion prior to a pro forma vote approving the Associate Directors of the General Conference.

Gideon Chimaeze Nwaogwugwu
I am a little surprised that many of the people who have spoken against the motion are members of the Executive Committee. This church has operated on a system whereby an Executive Committee represents the entire church. If this gathering has lost confidence in the Executive Committee, we are in trouble.

Richard Osborn
I’ve often thought that in terms of the processes, we take more time to choose an elementary school teacher than we do the top leadership of the church.

and the words of three other Adventist onlookers.

Nathan Brown
Even our efforts to reach out evangelistically and practically became about [producing] evidence of our faithfulness, finishing our mission, so we are proved worthy and Jesus will return to take us to heaven. In this attitude, the souls of this world are merely cannon fodder in our war with the devil to salvage some to join us and affirm our rightness and faithfulness. The self-centeredness of this is as subtle as it is astounding.

ivanmirchev comments:
I'm not an american and dont think to come live there. The live is not only a money. I can only smile when the progressive adventists are associated with the communists. As a bulgarian who know the mentality of the communist very well I find the american conservative adventism more close to the authoritarian comunism.

I'm not progressive but I was offended by the sermon of Ted Wilson, it was as shooting with submachine gun. Very agressive. The chaire was used for beating the enemies. I didn't see any vision (a image for the future church). I saw a "sweet" memories from the past.

To go back in the past with the beliefs is OK, but not for some 20-30 years but for 2000 years.

Doctorf comments:
I have been in administrative meetings where "new leadership" is discussed and chosen. However, looking at the outcomes I am quite certain that despite our prayers to God for "guidance" these prayers either bounced off the ceiling or were unheard by the power brokers that vote on such matters. Many times the political die is cast before a prayer for guidance is ever spoken. I suspect that the choosing of a GC President, (or a Pope for that matter), although necessary, is a well orchestrated event, deeply political, motivated by many interests and does not represent a proceeding that involves "Gods guidance."

The Second Coming, Imminent in 1944

I wonder if Ted Wilson, in his inaugural sermon, might have been less inclined to proclaim the imminent Second Coming if he had reviewed the following article by W. H. Branson.

by W. H. Branson
Vice-President of the General Conference

The leaders [of nations] denied God and the masses forgot Him That is how we have come to the present state of affairs...(Pilinakoff, Europe in the Fourth Dimension, p. 57)

Thus the apostasy is here in full bloom. And it serves as a clarion call to those who still fear God to prepare to meet Christ Jesus at His second coming. That great event is now at hand.

Other Great Signs
As the various Bible prophets were shown the conditions that were to exist in the world just prior to the return of Jesus, they recorded these in order that those who would be living at the time would recognize them as science of the end. Our space will permit only a brief and passing mention of these.
  1. There would be signs and the heavens. Matthew 24: 29 These predictions were fulfilled in the dark day of 1780 and the falling of the stars in 1833.
  2. There would be changes in the physical world. Hebrews 1:10-12, Luke 21:23-27.
  3. Men would beget up to revelry and drunkenness, and would ignore the call to repentance. Luke 17: 26-30.
  4. Many would amass great riches while others would be poor and hungry. James 5:1-8; Isaiah 8: 21, 22, R. V.
  5. Knowledge would be increased. Daniel 12:4.
  6. Spiritualism would lead man to depart from the true faith. 1 Timothy 4:1-3; Revelation 13:13-16.
  7. A terrible fear would fill the hearts of men. Luke 21:25-27.
  8. A great wave of crime would sweep over the earth, and the courts of justice would be impotent to deal with the situation. Isaiah 59:4-8, 14, 15; 2 Timothy 3:13.
  9. Influenced by apostasy, men would scoff at those who declared these conditions to be signs of the coming Jesus. 2 Peter 3:3, 4.
  10. The Papacy would be revived and would again persecute those who keep the commandments and have the faith of Jesus. Revelation 13:11-18.
Today these things are no longer matters of prophecy only. They stand revealed before our astonished eyes in all their completeness. They constitute the signs of the coming of the Son of man, and they speak to the world in clarion tones that His coming is now even at the door. The zero hour is at hand.

The Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, Centennial Special, 1844 - 1944, p. 35.

Looking Ahead

Comic modified from Frazz, by Jef Mallett
(click image to enlarge)

Charts of Interest

(click images to enlarge)

His name is Ted.

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

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Pacific Union Evangelism

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

Reviewing Five Years of Progress

A report presented by the North American Division President Don Schneider on Saturday, June 26, 2010

Adventist Review
Bulletin 2
June 27, 2010


Ironically, a church that was founded in North America because of a “Great Disappointment” has grown exponentially. Only the blessing and direction of God could explain the success of the Seventh-day Adventist movement worldwide.

It’s not surprising that Don Schneider begins his report with these words about the world church because under his leadership, NAD has become just a corporation that employs Adventists. The leadership is hiding that fact behind a smokescreen of ineffective evangelism.

For decades the church in North America has grown steadily. The North American Division (NAD) closed the decade with a major effort to “share the hope” of Jesus by setting a goal of a 10 percent membership increase [during 2009].

What is important to notice in this second introductory paragraph is that Schneider talks about a “goal”. The 10 percent increase in membership didn’t happen in 2009 despite reported General Conference injections of millions of dollars of “extraordinary tithe”, huge evangelistic campaigns supported by local and divisional media, and local pastors and parishioners that were “challenged” to hold two local evangelistic efforts.


In 2006 there were 1,012,238 members and 5,080 churches.
In 2007 there were 1,030,361 members and 5,118 churches
In 2008 there were 1,050,210 members and 5,172 churches
In 2009 there were 1,069,898 members and 5,196 churches
Currently there are 1,090,217 members and 5,243 churches

According to Schneider, 194,486 people were baptized or joined by profession of faith in the last 5 years. He neglects to mention that the increase in membership was only 84,979. (It is assumed that this number includes the Adventist immigrants who joined the church.)

Why has there been such anemic growth in membership when

9 Conferences

12 Division Ministries

39 Division Ministries and Services

NAD Evangelism Institute

Division Wide Evangelistic Campaigns
  • Share the Hope - the “largest, boldest divisionwide soul-winning initiative in the NAD’s history” according to Schneider
  • NET Events - making it possible for congregations with limited budgets to host quality public meetings.
Information technology services behind a strong suite of Web programs including
  • The Adventist Channel - the first 24-7 inspirational global broadband digital network

Why has there been such anemic growth in membership when

15 colleges and universities, in addition to 2 closely aligned colleges

Over 1000 elementary and secondary schools

Adventist Health System: 37 hospitals, 50,000 employees

28 Adventist Radio Broadcast Association Stations (ARBA)

Major television evangelistic programming
  • The Hope Channel
  • It Is Written
  • Amazing Facts
  • Faith for Today
  • “Discoveries ’08”
  • La Reds
  • The North American Division Hispanic NET


First and foremost, the NAD audience isn’t buying what NAD is selling.

The Church’s pick-and-choose literal interpretation of the Bible, that includes the notion that earth was created about 6 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.

The idea that Adventists are God’s REMNANT PEOPLE who alone, correctly understand the Gospel message

The Church’s misogynistic tendencies and homophobia

The hypocrisy of “strict” Sabbath observance that forbids anything that “Adventists in good standing” define as “work” or “pleasure”

Food, drink, and dress requirements

Second, NAD’s leadership is insensitive to the emotional and intellectual needs of its members.

Members are made to feel irresponsible when they make organizational suggestions and raise theological issues.

Young people are not valued for their ideas or as leaders.

Orthodoxy is regarded as religious, and dialogue, dangerous.

The beasts of Daniel and Revelation and end-of-the-world scenarios that picture God as cruel and judgmental make thoughtful potential members cringe.

The editorial policies of the Adventist Review, NAD’S “flagship journal”, make it a boring read, as evidence by its anemic circulation. There is a steady diet of party-line editorials, kosher theology, heartfelt devotional pieces, and snippets of Adventist history that even when well written, become predictable and irrelevant for most readers. Instead of a vibrant, intellectually challenging educational publication that stimulates personal participation in the life of the Division, it puts the intellect to sleep, along with the desire to evangelize.


The cure is obvious, particularly when the General Conference exposes NAD to the evangelistic tactics that are working so brilliantly in the other divisions of the church. Namely, living the Gospel of Mathew 25:31-36.

Open the doors of Adventist churches in the North American Division to the hungry for acceptance, the thirsty for kindness, the stranger to love, the naked to the clothes of compassion, the sick to the healing of the spirit, and the prisoner to the arms of a family.

Or, speaking plainly, reduce the bureaucracy, end the evangelistic campaigns, and do what we as Adventists can do superbly. Establish free medical clinics, shelters, and food banks where they are needed. Open charter schools in the inner cities. Preach kindness and compassion and love. Only when those we serve ask us who we are, should we mention that we are Seventh-day Adventists.

In addition, it wouldn’t hurt for Adventist officials to march in Earth Day parades and anti-war demonstrations, and get politically active as champions of the poor and dispossessed. It would be righteous if the Adventist Review was a magazine where science and religion were respected partners in the healing of the nations and in the unfettered search for TRUTH, i.e., the way things really are.

The End of the Road for A Really Motivated Convert

From the comic Bizarro by Dan Piraro.
(click to enlarge)

The Adventist Dilemma

Comic from Pickles, by Brian Crane
(click image to enlarge)

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Whatever Floats the Political Boat

Modified from the comic Non Sequitur, by Wiley
(click to enlarge)

Reviewing the Adventist Review

July 17, 2010
Vol. 187, No. 17

Two articles deserve special attention in this issue. SAVORING THE WORD, information about the newly released Andrews Study Bible; and ADVENTIST LEADERSHIP. And don’t miss Andrew McChesney’s essay, PRESENCE, and the reflection, TRUST AND THE TEARS OF GOD.

In light of Ted Wilson’s ordination sermon, Ric Tryon’s letter is prescient.

“I hope we are on the way to owning the reality that there is not, nor ever has been, a stereotypical Adventist. When we have attempted to impose cookie-cutter patterns for an ‘ideal’ Adventist on our membership, personality textures inevitably result that are staid, exclusive, judgmental, and ultimately unappealing. Church growth is stifled and the brilliance of the gospel tarnished.”

Pastor Lenin Avila Cortez and Deacon Javier Zavala Rodriguez were killed in a “mistaken identity” shooting in Juarez, Chihuahua, in north Mexico.

Jan Paulsen fielded questions from North American pastors in an online discussion. Before retiring, Mark Finley led a Chicago area evangelistic campaign, and readers learned how GC conference delegates were selected to reflect the Church’s diversity.

In his editorial, BEING PART OF SOMETHING GREAT, Gerald Klingbeil comments on the new Andrews University Study Bible.

“For quite some time Andrews University Press had been thinking about a unique study Bible. Now they were ready—and invited me to join a group of select Adventist biblical scholars who would write the notes and introductions.”

HE KNOWS WHAT’S BEST. Wilona Karimabadi is happy that she is the parent of just one child, not the twins she had hoped for a teenager.

“But God knew that all along. My life lesson has been, and will continue to be, trusting that He knows exactly what we can handle, and being grateful for the way He turns life out.”

BLESSING NOT CURSING by Whitney Von Hopler makes the case that the words we say really make a difference.

“Our words aren’t just casual expressions that don’t really affect those around us. Words have incredible power. They can either build up or destroy nations, families, churches, careers, or businesses. While negative words can hurt other people and dishonor God, positive words can bless others and honor God.”

Fredrick Russell shares his perspective on "real" worship in AIMING FOR HIS PRESENCE.

“God desires to be with us in church. But sometimes we miss Him in our effort to be so highly structured and efficient that we have not learned the value of praying for, waiting for, and aiming for His presence. That is best done in a worship environment I call planned spontaneity. That is, we plan the worship services well, but we intentionally leave room for the working of the Holy Spirit.”

THE PRESCRIPTION is Andrew McChesney’s account of “entertaining angels”.

SAVORING THE WORD by Gerald Klingbeil introduces the new Andrews Study Bible.

“More than three years in the making, the recently published Andrews Study Bible marks a milestone in Adventist publication. Under the leadership of Andrews University president Niels-Erik Andreasen and the Andrews University Press, the project moved from vision to reality in record time—especially considering the complexity of working with an international team of contributors, as well as numerous editors, designers, and proofreaders. Jon Dybdahl, Ph.D., professor of biblical studies emeritus of Walla Walla University, served as the general editor, guiding the team of contributors efficiently. Members of the church’s Biblical Research Institute, as well as several church vice presidents, widened the circle of scholarship and support for this pathbreaking project.”

“The Andrews Study Bible does not offer a new or an ‘Adventist’ translation of the Bible text…We used the New King James Version because there was a sense that, among English versions, it probably still has the widest appeal and acceptance among those who would want an Andrews Study Bible, particularly in North America.”

“From the outset the editorial team was given an important challenge: produce a study Bible that is academically credible, theologically sound, and practical in size and cost for mass distribution in public evangelism. While not designed as a Bible commentary, the ample study notes, introductory materials, charts, and maps in the Andrews Study Bible open a window on the biblical world.”

JESUS AND THE SABBATH by Kim Papaioannou shares a fresh perspective on John 5:18.

“I believe that thus properly translated and understood John 5:18 encapsulates the essence of Jesus’ relation to the Sabbath. He did not attempt to destroy it or go around disregarding it. How could He when He elsewhere upheld the Ten Commandments? But He labored to set it free from misguided casuistry and place it in a more positive perspective so that it could indeed be a delight—as originally intended (Isa. 58:13).”

A HIGHER CALLING is the story of a former freedom fighter that became an ambassador for Christ. This is the story of Jevana Ben Maseko as recounted by Loron Wade.

Jevana Ben Maseko was a leader in Zimbabwe’s struggle for independence. After his retirement from the armed forces he became a deputy minister, a provincial governor, and later served his country as ambassador to Algeria and Russia. He was appointed as Zimbabwe’s ambassador to Cuba in 2001.

In TRUST—AND THE TEARS OF GOD Rick Nelson shares what he's learned about trusting God.

“Finally, they were called upstairs to get ready. The gown and the identification bracelet were put on. The “sleepy medicine” was taken. They waited for it to take effect. Then the moment of truth came. The nurses had come to take him away. Isaac’s eyes filled with tears. In almost a whisper he said again, “I’m scared, Mommy.” But he was so brave. He didn’t panic. He didn’t throw a fit. He let them take him without a fight. He trusted us. He really didn’t understand why this was happening, but he trusted us. Debbie managed to hold her emotions in check until Isaac was gone—then she cried.

“They were the tears of one who knows that life is not always fair to children. They were the tears of one who knows that a beloved child simply does not understand the pain and the fear they feel. They were the tears of a proud parent whose child clings to trust through an unknown future. They were the tears of God.”

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding” (Prov. 3:5).

Puppet Required

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

Thanks Ted!

The “outing” of undesirables has already begun. Check out this anonymously edited website whose purpose is as stated.

Our Purpose
This site and ministry exists to hold Adventist leaders of all stripes "accountable to the highest standards of belief based on a literal understanding of Scripture" as called for by newly elected President Dr Ted Norman Clair Wilson at GC Session 2010. We call on faithful Adventist [sic] worldwide to point out persons in positions and organizations of leadership and influence who are undermining the church.

"Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences [sp] contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them (Rom 16:17 [KJV])."

Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Women’s Ordination Bridge

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

Reviewing Spectrum

Spring 2010
Vol. 38, Issue 2

Note to Readers: This review does not begin to provide details of the amazing evening of speeches, song, and dance. These are highlights only, with apologies to those speakers and entertainers not mentioned. Let me assure you, every performance was memorable.

The first two pages of the Spring Edition of Spectrum Magazine were handed to patrons at the door. The Magazine itself was sold at tables at the rear of the auditorium, along with modestly priced magazine subscriptions.


THE EVENING WITH SPECTRUM began with a thirty second, big screen YouTube video that has already received over 1,000,000 hits. In it, women with fiery torches of truth and common sense drive the medieval monks who establish Adventist church policy back into their medieval monastery at Silver Spring.

After a full 3 minutes of laughter, cheers, and dancing in the aisles, Bonnie Dwyer took the stage and proclaimed that the evening’s entertainment would emphatically and conclusively establish the fact that denying Adventist women ordination is a denial of Christ's life and teaching, fundamentally lacking biblical authority, misogynistic, foolish, shortsighted, and divisive. She went on to say that the entertainment we were about to experience would destroy the myth that the worldwide membership of the church would suffer if women were ordained. Her introduction was entitled, UNITY IN THE CHURCH. She greeted the assembled Adventist congregation with these words:

"Ever since the church's official studies of ordination concluded that there is no biblical reason not to ordain women (see Women in Ministry: Biblical and Historical Perspectives 1998, Andrews University Press), the concept of world church unity has been used as a reason to deny women ordination. And yet, a more divisive policy cannot be imagined. Despite our official agreement on the openness of scripture to the ordination of women, we persist in shutting more than fifty percent of members out of leadership roles."

Charles Scriven quieted the applause with his bravado tenor solo, WILL WE PERISH FOR LACK OF VISION?

“But the wonder of the gift the Pioneers past on cannot hide the way it has been abused. Through all of Ellen White's lifetime, she and other pioneers changed and grew. They rejected what they had formally accepted; they adopted what they had formerly opposed. But from the 1920s to the 1950s, Spirit-led dynamism gave way to something less daring and less faithful. Instead of searching for new vision and deeper authenticity, church leaders (despite explicit warnings from the pioneers) tried to freeze conviction into statements of official belief. They became comfortable with a look-alike Adventism, where you'd nod in agreement instead of daring to challenge convention. The Bible was less than an eye-opening story then a compendium of proof-texts. The church stumbled toward religious fundamentalism.”

THE SOUTHEASTERN CALIFORNIA CONFERENCE EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE CHOIR RESPONDED TO DOUG BATCHELOR’s ill mannered and sophomoric review with the brilliantly conceived concerto, Failures and Fabrications. Each movement’s fiery intensity was anticipated by their titles: Failure to Show a Spirit of Grace, Failure to Respect Colleagues and Church Authority, Failure to Use Responsible Principles of Biblical Interpretation, and Failure to Hold to Strict Canons of Logic

The words of Chris Oberg lovely mezzo soprano solo, APAULED, was one more brilliant response to another Batchelor tone deaf review.

“It is an ugly fact that Pauline texts have been interpreted to justify a variety of beliefs and behaviors which not only destroy relationships, but actually ‘slay the Gospel.’”

Beverly G. Beem and Ginger Hanks Harwood sang WHAT ABOUT PAUL? EARLY ADVENTISTS AND THE PREACHING OF “THE MARYS”. The words made the following verses of historic Adventist hymns as contemporary as tomorrow:

“Appeals to women to exercise their spiritual gifts and take a more active and vocal role in the churches appeared frequently during the formative period of the Adventist Church.”

“Adventist scholars found biblical precedents where God used women in a multitude of tasks, providing ample and powerful support for the preaching and public testimony of women. . .”

“James White is a prime example of Adventist insistence that Scripture be read for understanding and interpreted in a thoughtful, sound, and logical manner.”

“Adventist leaders. . . exhorted their sisters in the faith to exercise their gifts in spite of the condemnation they might receive from society.”

Donna J. Haerich quoted freely from a celebrated critic and a former president in her essay, IT SHALL NOT BE SO AMONG YOU.

Nicholas Kristof: “Religions derive their power and popularity in part from the ethical compass they offer. So why do so many faiths help perpetuate something that most of us regard as profoundly un ethical: the oppression of women?" He then went on to charge that abuse rises ‘out of a social context in which women are, often, second-class citizens. That's a context that religions have helped shape and not pushed hard to change'.”

Jimmy Carter, in a keynote address before the Parliament of the World's Religions in Melbourne, Australia: “It is ironic that women are now welcomed into all major professions and other positions of authority but are branded as inferior and deprived of the equal right to serve God in positions of religious leadership. The plight of abused women is made more acceptable by the mandated subservience of women by religious leaders.' He then went on to say, 'the truth is that male religious leaders have had—and still have—an option to interpret holy teachings either to exalt or subjugate women. They have for their own selfish ends, overwhelmingly chosen the latter.”

“While the Christian Church has never condoned domestic violence, by stressing female submission and male headship, it has. . . perpetuated abuse.”

Alita Byrd then brought the crowd to their feet with her rendition of the internationally acclaimed anthem of freedom, FROM NORWAY TO SUDAN: WOMEN PASTORS AFFIRMED.

“In about ten percent of Trans-European churches, trained women pastors are preaching sermons, visiting members, presiding over weddings, and baptizing new converts.”

Before the cheering ended, Rebekah Wang Scriven spoke and destroyed forever the myth that Adventist women cannot lead our church without official support from GC and Division leadership. STRONG GOSPEL, STRONG CHINA, STRONG WOMEN PASTORS brought the cheering crowd to their feet once again.

“Today, in 2010, despite lacking an educational system, formal governance, or funding for over 50 years, the indigenous Adventist Church is probably stronger now than ever before. What accounts for the estimated 400,000 Adventist meeting in 4000 congregations that range from 10 to 20 members in homes to 5000 in beautiful mega-churches? After visiting members and churches in early 2010 with my sister-in-law Betty Wang, I believe three factors may explain the rise of a fervent faithful church. 1) a contextualized Chinese Adventism which is a communal rather than individualistic, 2) congregational governance, and 3) women pastors.”

Kimberly Osborne Kim sang ORDAINED BY GOD IN AFRICA. When she finished, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. The song was sung to the tune of Shall We Gather at the River

“The women I met in Kenya changed my assumptions about self-determination for African women and the inevitable chauvinism inherent to African men. Perhaps more than anything, they challenged my assumption that one must fight for women's ordination in order to support it.”

The entertainment finale began with a crash that rattled the walls and shook the ceiling. Simulated glass shards rained down on the platform as six women stormed the stage. A banner unfurled behind them with the words: ABOVE THE GLASS CEILING: LESSONS IN LEADERSHIP FROM PRESIDENTS OF SDA COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES, WITH A GUEST APPEARANCE BY THE FORMER CEO OF LOMA LINDA UNIVERSITY. Myrna Costa, Antillean Adventist University; Esther Diaz, Cuba Adventist Seminary; Heather Knight, Pacific Union College; Jane Sabes, Newbold College; Andrea Luxton, Canadian University College, and Lynn Behrens, former president and chief executive officer of Loma Linda University Adventist Health Sciences Center waved to the assembly, stood shoulder to shoulder, and did a credible Rockettes high kick routine to Roll Back the Stone.

Needless to say, the place went crazy!

Transitioning at Silver Spring

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

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Ricardo and I Get Flamed

I’ve recently received passionate responses to material that has appeared in the Spectrum blog: one to Ricardo Graham’s editorial that first appeared in the July, 2010, Pacific Union Recorder, and one to a review of a Mark Kellner editorial that I had written.

Eric’s response to Ricardo Graham came out of the blue. As he reports, the Pacific Union Recorder he receives is usually “filed” unopened. Since Eric is a friend and a brilliant university scientist, and since he knows I read the Recorder and post on the Spectrum blog, I received the following email. It’s posted here with Eric’s permission.

Graham’s editorial appeared on the Spectrum blog and can be read there in its entirety.

If I check the mailbox, the Pacific Union Recorder gets filed alongside fundraising letters from Sarah Palin, but Kristi checked the mail today and accidentally opened our copy. Once I rescued her from a sudden coughing fit, I glanced at the cause... Did you guys happen to catch the July editorial by Ricardo Graham?

"My views of science are informed by my faith in God's Word, not the other way around."

"As a true university, LSU will always be on the cutting edge of science as well as other disciplines."

"... LSU will be a school where the biblical account of a recent six-day creation will be respected and supported, and where the faith of our students will be encouraged and strengthened while their knowledge of science develops."

What an ignoramus. Science is a process, not a collection of facts. If you pollute that process by introducing "facts" from sources other than repeatable/verifiable observation, it's not science anymore. All you're left with are the "facts" you've chosen to believe, cloaked in a thin veneer of pseudo-scientific twaddle in a vain attempt to differentiate the SDAs from the Moonies. Why pretend --- just believe whatever you want!

"... I believe in academic freedom, but I also believe that no one who teaches in any SDA school, including a university, has the freedom to teach as fact things that contradict or undermine the beliefs of the church."

Translation: "You scientists can dig out whatever truth you want, as long as it doesn't interfere with what I already believe."

Is there a conscious effort among the SDA leadership to remove from the church anyone with a scientific education? They've certainly succeeded in my case!

Sorry to dump on you guys, but you're the only ones I know who either read this rag or teach science ---BIOLOGY, even!--- at an SDA school. I'll go file it with Palin now -- I'm afraid to turn the page.

I don't work for them any more happy happy joy joy,

In my review of Mark Kellner’s editorial, THIS IS NOT “MY” CHURCH, I called it an “exercise of sophisticated name-calling” and used two Ellen White quotes to support the notion that an ongoing critical review of Adventist doctrine is healthy, and progressive thinkers are friends of the church rather than its detractors. My psychologist friend, Rob, thought I let Kellner off too lightly!

Your response to Kellner helped me see again how my Christian conditioning scared me for so long from thinking out loud about religious ‘truths’. I’m no longer so scared.

Matters of doctrine, the matter of authority, this matter of which god and whose god, the public square where these matters get what often amounts to superficial treatment are very evocative to me. The first commandment of any Christian denomination appears to be this: Do not challenge the party line. I don’t find that kind of theology very interesting. So I no longer care much about what the 'big voices', or their mouthpieces like Kellner, in any church have to say about 'god'. When a ‘little voice’ dares to think twice about what they have been trained to believe about the real meaning of scripture, big voices use their authority or leverage to drown them out as irrelevant, or to damn them as dangers.

The 1000 protestant denominations you mention in your response to Kellner represent only a tiny fraction of the myriad interpretations of god, and most of them are little voices trying to find their way. You and I know that every voice is an individual story composed of pain and pleasure and hope and confusion about how to make sense of the meaning of life. Kellner and those like him, find it easy to turn our search into a march straight to hell.

I think who is right about 'god' is not even close to the essential question that humans have to consider. We have too much to learn about our own house (our own consciousness) before we try to arrange the furniture in god's house. I agree with Freud and all those others damned for thinking, and for thinking out loud, that when it comes to looking at who we really are, churches are factories of denial. Amid all that clanking is the implicit freedom churches have to not grow up their beliefs. You may want to argue here, as you often do, for the exceptions.

I now believe that anything I'm blind to in my own consciousness is going to get projected onto 'god' or scripture, or the agreed upon enemies of either. This is not a new idea but inside the four walls of doctrine, it is still a dangerous one. And then there is the matter of mystical encounters, which are often I think just deeper encounters with ourselves. These experiences don’t seem to happen much for Seventh-day Adventists in general. They have their prophet, but they have no mystical tradition and thus seem to be missing a whole range of experience from which to consider 'god'. They have a theology that is part conveniently organic (we’ll change it when it suits us) and part rigor mortis (we ain’t changing even if our children outgrow us). Reason confined to the defense of doctrine seems to be the real god here.

So now I come to your response to Kellner. I agree that Kellner’s essay was neither thoughtful nor faithful; he just pushed the party line. When you then call on Ellen White to respond to those who think like Kellner, you may make some Seventh-day Adventists more receptive to reading through your argument, but it takes away from the intelligence that has helped you see that in your church many things are amiss in the teaching about god. Of course you have good intentions that come through to those who publish your words. And how we are conditioned to appeal to those gatekeepers and the audiences they say they protect. But when it comes to the very serious matter of speaking up to religious blind spots, I think you are too conventionally polite to Kellner. You're appropriate to a particular public square. If that were a street fight, you’d have your hands in your pockets. So hold your own here. What I've seen you write about these matters is never as interesting or eloquent or tough as what I've heard you say out loud, across the table from me, the check sitting on your side.

with love

Thursday, July 1, 2010


What did you get out of the GC “expectation crusher”? I got a hat, but I’m not as excited about it as Pig.

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

Reviewing the Adventist Review

June 10, 2010
Vol. 187. No, 16

This issue breaks no new theological ground nor challenges traditional Adventist thought. It is, however, informative—World News and Perspectives and reader reaction to the La Sierra creation/evolution controversy— and inspiring—the biographical account of Paul Watson’s life. I’ll conclude this review with some questions for Cliff Goldstein regarding his book review.

Roy Adams’ editorial, THE EMERGING CHURCH—WHAT IS THIS? doesn’t “intend. . .to present the last word on the subject, but to provide readers a handle on what may still be—no pun intended—an emerging phenomenon. 

RADICAL COMPASSION is a reminder by Carlos Medley that “there’s no telling how many people are touched by one act of kindness.

GLOW: A SIMPLE OUTREACH PROGRAM WITH BIG RESULTS “is not [a project] about literature sales; rather, it’s based on the simple concept of church members carrying Adventist literature with them wherever they go and handing it out—free of charge—at every opportunity.

THE EMERGING CHURCH by Fernando Canale provides a thoughtful definition of the modern theological movement some have labeled The Emerging Church and why this movement should matter to Adventists.

“We might describe the emerging church as a movement within evangelical churches, engaged in adapting worship styles and practices to postmodern culture, with the aim of attracting postmodern secular young adults, believers, and nonbelievers to Sunday worship.”

“To fulfill their mission, Adventists should stop playing follow the leader after the postmodern reformation of Evangelicalism and become the leaders of a biblical reformation.”

THE EMERGING CHURCH—A PRACTICAL ASSESSMENT by James Coffin provides another description and a critical assessment.

Even innovative nondenominational experiments such as Willow Creek have had to perpetually reinvent themselves as they grow, as they become more institutionalized, as they move into the second and third generation of existence, as they have more ecclesiastical history with which they must deal. These facts don’t negate the usefulness of such ventures. But they do remind us that with growth and the passage of time certain sociological phenomena come into play. These inevitable changes and challenges need to be anticipated as much as possible and factored into the “cost to benefit” analysis before we proceed with our innovation.

Hyveth Williams uses the words of E. M. Bounds to combat THE AWKWARDNESS WITHIN all of us when we are challenged by new situations.

“Faith is not an abstract belief in the Word of God, nor a mere mental credence, nor a simple assent of the understanding and will; nor is it a passive acceptance of facts, however sacred or thorough. Faith is an operation of God, a divine illumination, a holy energy implanted by the Word of God and the Spirit in the human soul—a spiritual, divine principle which takes of the supernatural and makes it a thing apprehendable by the faculties of time and sense.”

JUST A NAME—OR A REGISTERED TRADEMARK is Sandra Blackmer’s conversation with the GC’s general counsel Karnik Doukmetzian and associate general counsel Dionne A. Parker about legalities associated with our official name. Her findings boil down to the following:

“The names “Seventh-day Adventist” and “Adventist,” and the church logo, are all registered trademarks. The acronym “SDA” is used with what’s called common-law rights, meaning that the Adventist Church has been using it for a long period of time as a name that identifies our organization. So we have rights with that, as well.”

SAVED TO SERVE is the life story of Paul Watson recounted by Lillian Guild. Paul survived a life threatening attack of polio at age five to become an outstanding teacher and administrator whose intelligence, dedication, and hard work saved the Phuket Adventist hospital in Thailand.

Etc.—CHURCH TRENDS is another important resource for local church leaders. Monte Sahlin reviews “the new study, entitled Adventist Families in North America. . .available from the Center for Creative Ministry, (Family Ministries Department or 800-272-4664.)

Other recommended resources include: Planbook (available from your local conference Family Ministries director, AdventSource or 800-328-0525); Quick Start Guide for Family Ministries (www. or 800-328-0525); and scores of discussion guides for small groups, seminar kits, evangelistic sermon series, DVD seminars, and how-to books in the area of family ministries published by the Adventist Church and available at your Adventist Book Center. 

WHAT WE LEAVE BEHIND by Kimberly Luste Maran reveals what it means for a wife and mother to leave home for two weeks at the General Conference. She reflects on the joy of never having to leave a heavenly home.

“Leaving the comforts of home is tough for me. I enjoy seeing new places and meeting new people, but at the end of the day I like being home. I like my bed, my exercise machine, my refrigerator, my sofa, my books. Leaving these things behind is no pleasure. And while a few hours away from noisy children is nice, I like (and love) my family—leaving them behind is not bliss.”

In SEVENTH-DAY DARWINIANS, REDUX, Clifford Goldstein reviews Physics and Cosmology (Nancey Murphy, Robert John Russell, William R. Stoeger, SJ, editors; Vatican City State, Vatican Observatory Foundation: 2007), and finds confirmation of a long held belief.

“Physics and Cosmology powerfully reinforces what I’ve been saying for years: Seventh-day Darwinism isn’t about “academic freedom” or “tolerance” of divergent views, but is a full-frontal assault on Adventist beliefs and should be treated as such.”

If Seventh-day Darwinism, i.e., deism, is “a full-frontal assault on Adventist beliefs”, how should deism be “treated”? Is exorcism possible? Should deists be disfellowshiped? Is a Seventh-day Darwin someone who doesn’t believe in a literal interpretation of the Bible? What if a member of the Adventist Church believes that neither the Bible nor science can satisfactorily explain evil or the origins of the life forms that once existed, or live in and on and around us today?

What if an Adventist who was baptized at twelve, thirty-eight years before there was an official statement of beliefs just says, “I’m a church member, and I’m a follower of Christ. That means that I do my best to love everyone (even my enemies), feed the hungry, give water to people who are thirsty, make strangers welcome, give clothes to those who need them, care for the sick, and visit prisoners. What I believe in addition to that is only the concern of religious busybodies.”

The Required Resume

Modified from the comic Bizarro by Dan Piraro.
(click to enlarge)