Thursday, August 26, 2010

Reviewing the Adventist Review

August 19, 2010
Vol. 187, No. 27

This issue is classic Review. It’s got thoughtful advice, inspirational stories, religious insight, and questionable “clear biblical teaching”.

Gerald Klingbeil has some advice for all Adventists with “do-it-yourself attitudes who believe WE CAN FIX IT, no matter what crisis the Church faces, all by ourselves. He recommends “more humility and less swaggering”.

“At the end of the day, it is God’s Spirit and His guidance that we need, not do-it-yourself attitudes and another seminar on strategic thinking. In a time of utmost national crisis following the exile in Babylon, the best antidote against the we-can-fix-it mind-set can be found in the words of the prophet Zechariah: “‘Not by might nor  by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the Lord of hosts” Zech. 4:6

LOSS OF CIVILITY is not the only loss that concerns of Sandra Blackmer
“Along with other obviously harmful and even destructive aspects—such as easy access to pornographic and other immoral sites, the loss of privacy, and rampant deceit—I see the lack of civility as a leading Internet causality…Criticisms and accusations often include no credible verification—but great damage is done in spite of this, even if the “cause” is noble. Tragically, having the label “Christian” doesn’t always appear to make much difference either.

“When Jesus in John 13:35 said that others will recognize Christians “if you love one another,” I can’t help but believe He’s largely referring not to how we treat those who love and agree with us, but rather, those who don’t.
Nana Boyde offers LET US PLAY AND PRAY as a realistic assessment of what constitutes healthy Sabbath keeping.

“The process of deciding how to spend Sabbath effectively requires some intentional effort on the part of couples. It begins with having a discussion about what kinds of activities each partner experiences as “’prayful play’—how they feel most connected to each other and God...We all bring our own experiences, biases, and expectations to what Sabbath should or should not look like. It can be challenging to find common ground, but well worth the effort.

“It is only in a state of rest that we are able to appreciate ourselves and those around us for who we are rather than for what we do…Sabbath allows us to view each other outside of our roles. We are given the space in time to focus on who God created us specifically to be.”

Andy Nash fails to reference Romans 14:5, 6 in his discussion of THE SABBATH AND COLOSSIANS 2. He might have done so in light of his statement: “When people are taking a hard look at the Sabbath, it’s important that we provide clear biblical teaching”. He then argues that Colossians 2:16, 17 does not “challenge to the perpetuity of the seventh-day Sabbath”.

Because there is scholarly confusion as to whether or not the “Sabbath” referred to in Colossians 2 is ceremonial or weekly, is it possible that Paul might have explained himself more clearly in Romans 14: 5, 6? Here are the passages.

“Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.” Colossians 2: 16, 17

One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. He who regards one day as special, does so to the Lord. Romans 14: 5, 6

TO FORGIVE OR NOT TO FORGIVE, that is the question posed by Karen Green. She makes the case for forgiveness, and once you have made that decision, “how you go about doing this is as varied as each unique situation”.

Hyveth Williams asks, WHERE IS THE LOVE on the internet?
“This revolutionary convenience that we should be using to shower the world with our magnificent message as the leaves of autumn is being used to destroy reputations and sully characters, especially when it comes to doctrinal orthodoxy and practice. Godly men and women, professors, preachers, and teachers are bludgeoned in blogs by careless criticism, unchecked facts, or alleged character flaws that have no basis in fact. Some statements parlayed in e-mails are downright lies, words deliberately taken out of context and spun to fit the acerbic thoughts of the sender, often under the guise of Christian concern. And this, even before the accused is contacted according to Jesus’ prescription for dealing with differences described in Matthew 18.”

LESSONS FROM LIFE’S HARD KNOCKS is Michael Stango’s account of what happened when he prayed, “Jesus, You lead and I will follow.”
Michael Yancey encountered a HIGHWAY SAMARITAN when he and his wife found themselves “sitting off the highway in our car with a tree branch protruding through the rear passenger window, right behind my wife.
CHURCH TRENDS, ETC. is Monte Sahlin’s latest report on “the current attitude toward Adventist Christian education among Seventh-day Adventist parents in North America. Some voices would have you believe it’s negative, or at least slipping—but real data from surveys present a different picture…In the average congregation four out of five parents are already convinced and have remained convinced over the past two decades.

“The new study, entitled Adventist Families in North America, is available from the Center for Creative Ministry, which conducted the research for the Family Ministries Department. You can get a copy at or (800) 272-4664. If you send me an e-mail request, I will share with you the 2004 report on attitudes toward Christian education. Also, your local conference Office of Education is available to meet with a group of parents in your congregation or to provide a facilitator for serious, long-range planning on this topic with your church board or school board.
“Most important is to be clear about the mission of Adventist schools. They cannot thrive if that mission is seen in a self-centered way, if it is about only “my” children and not all  God’s children.”

Monte Sahlin is a director of research and special projects for the Ohio Conference. You can suggest resources to him at or (800) 272-4664.

Dick Rentfro assures us that WE ARE GOD’S MATERPIECES.

“God loves each of us more deeply than we can begin to imagine. Some people mistakenly believe that God the Father is austere and unapproachable, and that Jesus’ role is constantly to placate His wrath. This is not what the Bible teaches. When the disciples asked Jesus to tell them what God was like, His simple answer was: ‘Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father’” (John 14:9).

No Joke

Thanks to The Cartoonist

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

Learning Submission: Illustration Accompanying Chapter 3, Pastoral Training Manual, Review and Hearald Press, 2010.

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

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Ted, Anything Will Help

Thanks to The Cartoonist

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

Reviewing the Adventist Review

August 12, 2010
Vol. 187, No. 26

This is an Adventist-Layman’s Services & Industries (ASI) issue. Check out their webpage. The projects mentioned by Sandra Blackmer in SHARING CHRIST IN THE MARKETPLACE can be contacted via their site. JANET’S CHILDREN reported by Conna Bond is a MUST READ. (If you are not a subscriber, I’ve linked my review to the Eden Valley Foster Care Mission web page.) Mark Finley’s description of the medieval church seems shockingly modern, and Cliff Goldstein’s newfound humility and admirable writing skills are turning me into a fan.

Bill Knott’s editorial, SCOPE AND SCALE is a hymn to Christian service that seems to make room even for progressives.

“In a million places unobserved by us, the kingdom’s seed grows secretly, watered by kind words from an Adventist neighbor, enriched by sacrificial gifts that never get recorded by the church’s accountants. Orphans are fed, minds are changed, HIV/AIDS victims are touched and loved with fearless kindness—all seen by Heaven but only rarely by the church. Hundreds of supporting ministries staffed by tens of thousands of Adventists who will never be found on the church’s payroll push out the boundaries of God’s kingdom seven days a week, 24 hours a day—all in the service of that Day when “time shall be no more.”
“And you, reader, are part of that movement of destiny, God’s remnant people, whatever you may think of your skills or assets or bank account. Jesus designs that your gifts, your words, and your acts of love will enlarge the boundaries of His kingdom, whatever your vocation, wherever your location. Multiplication has always been His favorite ministry—loaves and fishes, spiritual gifts, and Spirit-filled disciples.”
In PRESSING TOGETHER, Norm Reitz offers a forward-looking description of ASI.

“As an organization of laypersons, ASI’s primary goal is to empower members of local churches to minister to others. ASI member ministries provide resources and visit local churches and camp meetings to train and educate local church members in evangelism and outreach techniques. A growing roster of ASI ministries and the services they offer is available on the ASI Web site ( and from the national ASI office.”

Mark Finley’s RECAPTURING THE PASSION is an unwitting critique of today’s Adventist organization and ethos.

“One of Satan’s greatest deceptions is that soulwinning, witnessing, and evangelism are the work of a few highly trained clergy specialists. This falsehood has its roots in the Middle Ages when various heresies compromised the church. In that era, the clergy were elevated far above the laity. Their standing before God was sharply divided from that of their congregations. The clergy were considered to be spiritually strong and the laity spiritually weak. The clergy were thought to have special privileges as dispensers of the sacraments and interpreters of Scripture.

“As a result, the laity remained spiritually dependent on the clergy. The clergy had a spiritual calling for the work of God, and the laity a secular calling. And according to the theology of the day, in heaven the clergy would occupy special positions close to God that ordinary believers could not enjoy. We might summarize the medieval understanding of clergy and laity this way: the clergy were spiritually strong and the laity were spiritually weak. The clergy had a spiritual calling and the laity a secular calling. The clergy would receive a special reward in heaven and the laity would receive an ordinary reward.”
In FROM WORSHIP TO REVIVAL, Dan Houghton underlines “the power of art in worship and praise”.
Sandra Blackmer features eight ASI projects in SHARING CHRIST IN THE MARKETPLACE: VIDA International Honduras; Riverside Farm Institute, Kafue, Zambia; Riverside Farm Institute Kafue, Zambia; An orphanage village in Tanzania built by Global Vessels Inc,; Reel Inspirations in movie making; Wings Over Nicaragua Mission; Anchor Point Films; Outpost Centers International, and WIN! Wellness.
JANET’S CHILDREN, reported by Conna Bond is an inspirational MUST READ. Here is a taste. If you don’t have a subscription, and even if you do, check out the Eden Valley Foster Care website.

“These young girls [from Kafue, Zambia] were leaving the villages,” she recalls. “They were going out into the big cities, getting pregnant, getting HIV, and coming home with a baby—another one for the grandmother to care for. And boys, they would come home terribly sick, and then they would die. They used to blow a trumpet when somebody died in the village, and that trumpet used to blow almost daily.”

No trumpets blew while I was visiting Mago village. New medicines prolong the existence of HIV/AIDS sufferers, but that doesn’t make their lives easy. They must find a way to make a living.

“I saw that we needed to do something for these young people,” said Janet, “so that when they were finished with school, they would have some way to support their families other than being at the end of a garden hoe all day. So we decided to start a sewing and carpentry school for the youth. The local school was generous enough to give us two classrooms where we started a carpentry school and a nursery school for the little ones. We rented another building and started our sewing school. We started with just maybe 6 sewing machines and kept adding until we had 7, then 10, then 12, then 15 or so sewing machines. But it seemed that maybe we were teaching them too little, and so the vision grew. There was still something lacking, and more was needed.”

Soon the villages were vying for where Janet would live. She was given a large piece of prime property overlooking the valley, and she recently received an imposing container from ASI with 37 One-Day Church structure kits in it. She now has a house and a little church with a baptismal tank. A four-classroom block, a carpentry and mechanic shop, and a cafeteria are in place. Soon she will begin accepting students for yearlong courses in mechanics and advanced tailoring. She has a full-time assistant and three Bible workers who share her vision and her smile.

Even though no one has all the answers, Cliff Goldstein’s SEND ANNIE THE CARBON is a courageous essay that confronts the evil in the world with clear eyes and Christian confidence. Here is a paragraph.

“The great controversy, though, can’t explain every instance of evil. To explain it would be to justify it, and we never want to do that. The great controversy can reveal the grand issues behind evil; the motif tells us little, if anything, about each instance of it. The closest to any answer is the cross, where the Lord Himself “took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows” (Isa. 53:4). All the pain, all the sorrow that we experience only as individuals—and never more than as individuals—Christ experienced corporately, at once, forever revealing that no one has suffered from sin, from evil, more than our Lord Himself. It’s not an answer to every specific woe; it’s only the assurance that God has felt each instance of it.”

Who says God doesn't have a sense of humor?

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

Noah told him to come back with his girlfriend.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Another Unfortunate Truth

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

Reviewing Adventist World

August 2010
Vol. 6, No. 8

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.

As usual, I suggest glancing at WORLD REPORT and WORLD VIEW for a quick check of what’s happening around the world. I found INTO POLAND by Hans Olson of particular interest.

ABOUT HERNIAS AND THE HOLY SPIRIT by Marvin Atchison is a fascinating informational read and a thoughtful metaphor.

"Hernias, like sin, are common to humanity and found in all ages, genders, locales, and peoples of the world. There are myriad subtypes of hernias, yet most occur in rather customary sites—in areas of congenital or acquired weakness, such as the groin, the navel, and surgical scars. Despite their differences, all hernias carry the same potentially fatal risk of incarceration and subsequent strangulation, the involved organ becoming trapped in the hernia and then having 
its blood supply compromised, respectively.

"While all analogies fail eventually, let us in closing extend this one step further, looking beyond our own navels to consider God’s lost children. Rather than sitting in judgment and condemnation as the supposedly righteous are prone, let us approach sinners as we would our loved ones with hernias. “We must set ourselves against sin, as we do against sickness and diseases, by showing ourselves tender and compassionate to the sick and diseased. Then we can be emissaries of grace to the fallen, not driving them away, but drawing them toward the Great Surgeon."

WHAT IS THE EARTH TELLING US? Is an account of what happened during the Haiti earthquake by a survivor. Jerry Jean shares his story.

"The Earthquake Hits
A deathly silence descended on the auditorium. Then, as if a battle tank had broken into the building, I heard a terrible conflagration. I did not understand what was going on. Everyone else fled while I stood there, riveted to the platform. I looked up and saw the ceiling—supported by strong steel beams—open up to reveal a deep-blue sky. Stunned, I watched as it closed again, moved as if by a gentle hand. The 18-foot wall behind the platform looked as if it was made of cardboard, trembling as if ready to crash down on me. But instead of dashing for safety, I stayed where I was, transfixed.

"The slats in the windows had been blown away, leaving a trail of whitish smoke behind. The cables connecting the speakers sparked as if to warn me of greater danger still to come.

"During the entire 35 seconds of the quake, I couldn’t stop wondering what was going on. As I watched the stupendous scene unfold, I thought how foolish it would be to run down the center aisle toward the exit, only to be hit by a crashing piece of the building. I then noticed two theology students prostrate on their knees praying. They later told me they thought this would be the best position to be in when facing death.

"Desolation and Destruction
Once the first shock subsided, I collected the satchel I had left at my seat and calmly walked toward the exit. It was only when I came close to the stairwell supporting the bleachers that I realized it was cracked and soon would collapse. I hurried out.

"Once outside, I was met with desolation everywhere: two thirds of the seminary building had been destroyed, as well as a great portion of the men’s and women’s dormitories and the publishing house and its shipping annex. The university bookstore and the wall protecting the campus had collapsed. Students were lying on the ground sobbing, unable to stand on their feet, overwhelmed by their feelings. Praise songs tumbled out of their quivering lips as they thanked a merciful God for sparing their lives. With knees shaking and unable to speak more than a few words, I asked for a cell phone to call my wife, only to discover there was no signal. My mind now racing with anguish, I thought of her and our children. All the students who were inside the auditorium were alive, but what about my family? Thank God, I later learned that He had spared their lives!"

Michael W. Campbell makes a telling, if inadvertent, argument for women’s ordination in ELLEN G. WHITE AS MODEL EVANGELIST.

"Ellen White deserves to be recognized with some of the most influential evangelists in Seventh-day Adventist history. While it is certainly true that her prophetic ministry was significant and continues to exert a considerable influence within Adventism, her ministry was firmly rooted in her own personal relationship with Jesus Christ. She passionately wanted to share Jesus Christ with people. At first she resisted attempts to speak in public, but her desire to share Jesus overcame her initial hesitancy. Whether in public or private Ellen White was an effective evangelist because she shared Jesus Christ with those around her."

IS SOY SAFE by Allan R. Handysides and Peter N. Landless is a common sense appraisal of soy protein.

"For the vegetarian, mixing grains with legumes and nuts provides a full spectrum of amino acids that is totally satisfying to all kinds of people—athlete, growing adolescent, or even the pregnant mother-to-be. This means that soy products, as good as they are, do not have to be a part of the vegetarian diet for it to be satisfactory…whole soy products such as soy milk, tofu, the whole bean, or miso (a traditional Japanese seasoning) appear to confer an advantage to female breast cancer survivors."

PALM TREES by Robert G. Wearner provides everything you need to know about date palms. He was inspired to write this piece by the following verses. The righteous will flourish like a palm tree….They will still bear fruit in old age, they stay fresh and green” (Ps. 92:12-14, NIV).

Angel Manuel Rodriguez weighs in on the following question: Don’t you think that the killing of animals as Old Testament sacrifices was a type of animal cruelty? In THE WAGES OF SIN he answers the question after discussing animal sacrifice as an expression of religious feelings, dietary significance, and atonement and sacrifice.

"The sacrificial killing of animals brought with it pain and suffering. We don’t know how animals were slaughtered, but it has been suggested that the Hebrew verb shachat, “to slaughter,” really means to “slit the throat.” In that case the only pain was the cut that drained the blood and soon rendered the animal unconscious. The divine intention was to reduce suffering to a minimum, thus showing God’s concern for animals. Later Jewish traditions required that the knife used be sharp and smooth to avoid inflicting unnecessary pain to the victim."

In “SPIRITUAL PERILS” REVISITED, Roy Adams shares positive and negative responses to his editorial review of The Shack by Wm. Paul Young in the May, 2010, Adventist World. If you wish to review my comment, it's in my review of the May, 2010, NAD Edition of Adventist World here at Adventist Perspective.

Same Old Terror Tactics

(click to enlarge)

The Way It Works

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

Thursday, August 5, 2010

That Explains What Happened in Atlanta!

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

Post 2010 GC

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

Reviewing Adventist Today

Summer 2010
Vol. 18, No. 3

This issue is a definite improvement over the past several. There is an appropriate balance of illustration and information, and there are five contributions that are definitely worth reading, and that includes Adventist Man’s best effort to date!

I’ll introduce the following pieces, but I’ll allow the authors speak for themselves.

WANTED: A THEOLOGY OF ORDINATION by J. David Newman suggests a reasonable solution to the ordination of women dilemma.

“We should be like the early church. When we appoint leaders in the church, let us have a commissioning service with laying on of hands but give no grade to these ceremonies. The same ceremony is used for any church leader. There really is little difference between the pastor and elder except that one is full time while the other is voluntary. The Seventh-day Adventist Church Manual indicates that in the absence of the pastor, the elder fulfills all the roles of the pastor even to the administering of the Lord’s Supper and, with the permission of the conference, can baptize as well.

“It is time for the church take to heart the caution of Ellen White, accept that our current theology of ordination is inadequate, and develop a true and biblical theology of ordination.”

WOMEN IN MINISTRY by Mike Tucker puts Paul’s admonitions to women in context.

“How are we to understand the passages that tell women to remain silent in church? First of all, we must interpret those verses in light of what we have just established—that there were women in leadership positions of the church. Obviously, Paul is addressing another issue entirely.

“In his letter to the church at Corinth, Paul dealt with that church’s chaotic worship services. Men were seated on one side of the church, while the women and children were seated on the opposite side. The women of that day were generally uneducated, while men were more likely to have benefited from an education. Since women did not sit with their husbands, they would often shout across the room to ask their husbands to explain the sermon.

“Paul was simply telling women to wait until they got home to ask about the sermon. Obviously this issue does not exist everywhere, so his word to the first-century women of Corinth is to be viewed as a “local absolute” and not a ‘universal absolute.’

“When Paul wrote to Timothy, he gave a similar directive regarding women. In 1 Timothy, Paul was addressing heresies and false teachings that came from the worship of the pagan goddess, Diana, including the suggestion that women were authoritative over men and had higher access to spiritual knowledge than men did.

“In both of these cases, we can see that Paul is dealing with specific incidents in local churches. Sound hermeneutics will not allow us to turn the counsel Paul shared for a particular place and time into a global ‘commandment.’”

MY HOPES FOR THE 2010 GENERAL CONFERENCVE SESSION by Monte Sahlin is what is now a backward look at what actually happened. However, I wish that this superbly informed insider had had more than one of his “hopes” fulfilled.

“For the first time in decades, I am not going to General Conference as a delegate or staff member. Frankly, I am glad to stay home! If I were able to make myself heard among the 2,400 delegates, I would suggest four things:

“1. If Dr. Paulsen is retiring (or when he retires), elect a person of color as president. It is long overdue! We have division officers from the Southern Hemisphere with earned doctorates and good administrative track records… Quit playing games of white control and let the people of God emerge in the rainbow he created.

“2. Ignore the issue of women’s ordination…It has become a confused mass of some of ugliest thinking in the history of the movement. Ordination itself is not one of the 28 fundamentals of our faith. We could switch to only commissioned ministers and not lose a jot or a tittle of the Three Angels messages. Ordination is a post-Biblical relic for the papacy to defend, not a crucial issue to the cause of Christ.

“3. Have the courage to act on the Challenges papers presented five years ago in St. Louis. Vote specific strategic goals for urbanization, social concern, and the dropout problem. Take seriously the fact that as more people “come on board” the Adventist message, it is becoming more and more marginalized and irrelevant to the average woman/man on the globe…It is essential that we remain unapologetically Christ-centered and engaged with the mainstream of the real world in our contemporary context.

“4. Focus on the basic values of the Adventist movement. Don’t let reactionary, fearful voices lead us off to fight over details…

I’ve included David’s entire letter. It deserves to be read as written.

Death Before Sin
“I applaud Ole Olesen for taking on the controversial question of death before sin (Spring 2010). It seems to me that this is another issue on which church theologians and administrators would disagree somewhat with church science teachers. It would be easy as a theologian to say that death must come after sin. If not, then several well-constructed “house of cards” doctrines could come tumbling down. However, if you rigidly state that there was no death of plants or animals of any kind, then the poor science teacher goes home scratching his head.

“When Adam or Eve ate fruit or vegetables, were the plant cells not dying as they were digested? Did every seed become a plant, and did every plant live forever? How can you have rich, dark soil in the garden without decay of some kind? What about insects? How could every ant and beetle live forever without overcrowding the earth?

“What about rapidly reproducing animals like mice and rabbits? Was their reproductive cycle different back then?

“Today we see finely tuned killing machines like mountain lions and great white sharks. Explanations for these creatures can border on the bizarre, with theories about Satan doing genetic manipulation or supernatural crossbreeding. And don’t even get me started on the subject of dinosaurs...

“The Bible is not a science book. It focuses on the human condition and God’s intervening to save us. It would behoove us to be very careful what lines we draw in the sand when it comes to doctrines. And I would hope our scientists and theologians and administrators would admist that some some questions just can’t be answered completely right now and that’s OK. Open-mindedness and honest discussion are always appreciated, as well as thought provoking articles like Ole Olesen’s.

David Borecky
Escondido, California

ADVANTIST MAN has once again proved to be a super hero. Here’s proof.

What is the difference between the
“ordaining” and “commissioning” of ministers
in the Seventh-day Adventist Church?

A Y chromosome.

Feeling Successful at NAD

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