Thursday, December 23, 2010

Reviewing the Adventist Review

December 9, 2010
Vol. 187, No. 38
www.adventistreview.org/issue_toc.php?issue=2010-1539

GENERAL COMMENTS

In this issue, I comment on an article that illustrates the kind of careless theology that would be called into question if the words uttered had not been familiar clich├ęs, delivered to an audience of church leaders, and published in a “friendly” publication.

COMMENT

In LIFT UP THE TRUMPET, Alberto R. Timm quotes Booton Herndon’s comment concerning the literal interpretation of Matthew 24:14. It is unclear whether the “gospel” referred to in this passage is the peculiar “gospel” message of the Adventist Church, or a universal Christian gospel delivered in partnership with Christians of other faiths. It is also unclear what is meant by “every single living person”.

“The Seventh-day Adventist Church is a mission-driven denomination, motivated by the promise of Matthew 24:14: “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come” (KJV). According to the non-Adventist author Booton Herndon: “Surely no other twenty-five words [namely, Matt. 24:14] have had such a direct impact on so many of the world’s peoples. The Seventh-day Adventists accept this message literally. To them it means this: when every single living person in the world has been told the good news of the coming of Christ, then the world will end, Christ will come again, and the righteous shall live in happiness forever.” *

“No human endeavor could have a more glorious goal, and to hasten that day when the last man on earth shall have been told the gospel, Seventh-day Adventists have gone forth into ‘all the world’.”

Booton Herndon, The Seventh Day: The Story of the Seventh-day Adventists (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1960), p. 23.

If Timm’s presentation at the Annual Council meetings reflects official Adventist doctrine and is not just emotional hyperbole, it raises the following questions: What does “a witness unto all nations” mean? Should the Adventist Church establish ecumenical relationships with other Christian fellowship groups? What principles should guide SDA evangelistic philosophy and practice? What will “the last man on earth [who] shall have been told the gospel” been told and by whom; and is telling him [her, child over 12] enough? Does the “telling” by a radio or television broadcast count? And finally, can the efforts of human beings determine “the day and the hour” of the Second Advent?

REVIEWS

John asked Mark A Finley, HOW LONG DO YOU PRAY? His answer: “My prayer life is not measured in minutes or hours; it is determined by my relationship with God. The goal of my devotional life is to enter the presence of God daily. Each day I want to know that I have fellowship with Jesus. On some days I spend a longer time with God than others. The critical question is not How long have you spent praying today? It is Have you met God today?”

HAVE YOU HEARD SINGING? is a reminder by Chavez reminds us that “Christ comes to each of us individually, often unexpectedly. It’s not enough for our leaders to tell us how glorious the angels sound; we must each hear the music for ourselves.”

Our intrepid Moscow reporter, Andrew McChesney, experienced A REAL-LIFE CHRISTMAS PARABLE (WITH NACHOS) on a memorable Christmas Day when he and his friend, Andrea invited “14 church friends who celebrate Christmas [to dinner] on December 25. Most Russians observe Christmas on January 7, as prescribed by the old Julian calendar…All the guests accepted months in advance…

(It turned out that all the invited guests had forgotten or made excuses for not showing up.)

“As the clock struck 6:00 Andrea and I looked at each other. We were the only people present for Christmas dinner. We wondered what to do with all the food.”

(If you guess the parable, you’ll know what happened to the food.)

PRAYER AT 37,000 FEET by Elfriede Volk about events that made it possible for a Jew to pray “for two Gentiles who had been born in a country that had been responsible for the deaths of millions of his people.”

In the cover feature, AND ALL GOD’S PEOPLE SAID…, Bill Knott reported on AMEN. It’s an organization “reviving Adventism’s historic understanding of combining medical care and spiritual health on a scale not seen in North America for at least four decades…“The Adventist Medical Evangelism Network (AMEN) exists to motivate, train, and equip Seventh-day Adventist physicians and dentists to become effective medical evangelists.”

AMEN sponsors The Life and Health Network (Galaxy 19 satellite, and www.lifeandhealthnetwork.org) that “offers both television and Web-based video programming that focuses on depression recovery; diabetes; vegetarian cooking; childhood obesity; and health and fitness, among other topics.”

I’M A RECOVERING LAODICEAN is Fredrick A. Russell’s reminder that “What God’s kingdom needs now, more than ever, is some recovering Laodiceans; believers who are willing to answer the call to step out of their personal space of comfort—prepared to become committed followers of Christ.”

DUAL CITIZENSHIP by Lowell C. Cooper is a discussion of character—what it is and how it’s developed. “One might think that character is developed in the crisis moments of life. However, crisis doesn’t build character so much as it reveals character. Careful cultivation of Christian values in life is important because in the crucial moments of choice, most of the choosing has already been done—determined to a large degree by seemingly lesser choices made in the quiet private moments of our lives.”

BOOKMARK reviews two cook books: Naturally Gourmet is for anyone who wants to cut down on refined grains and sugars (but still may be hoping for some compliments!). This cookbook is an easy-to-follow collection of vegan recipes with an emphasis on fiber. The Full Plate Diet builds a convincing case for the whole-food approach. Extra helps such as a start-up diary, an activity journal, and a book for those with type 2 diabetes are also available for an additional cost.

THE LOVE OF GOD is the testimony of 21-year-old Dena Rucker. The morning she decided to kill herself, a knock on the door and a picture saved her life.

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