Thursday, December 29, 2011

Cha-Ch’ing Time on 3ABN

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

Reviewing Adventist World, NAD Edition

December, 2011
Vol. 7, No. 12

Adventist World is free online. For that reason, I only review or comment on articles that I believe to be of special interest. This includes editorials, special supplements, and NAD features not available online.

Check out the left-hand column of the World’s home page. Ted Wilson’s face and refrain, “Revival and Reformation” are the banner headline. These have become ubiquitous reminders that big brother is watching over his flock, and his essays unfailingly remind us who we are.

“It is gratifying to know that there are many, many faithful church members who are longing to see Jesus come, believe that the Seventh-day Adventist Church is God’s remnant church, wish to be very much a part of the world family of Seventh-day Adventists, accept the Bible as it reads, cherish the Spirit of Prophecy, and are participating in the worldwide mission of the Advent movement proclaiming the three angels’ messages.”

On the other hand, PLACE OF PRAYER is a reminder that Adventists, worldwide, are individual human beings who may or may not understand or even believe Ted’s “defining doctrines”, but know that they belong to a worldwide Christian family that cares about them. Very cool!

Angel Manuel Rodríguez’ cautionary remarks in THE LORD IS WONDERFUL earns kudos for his discussion of the elephant in the room when it comes to immigrant and Third World converts. Here is his response to the following questions posed by Gerald Klingbeil:

Are there theological issues arising out of the tremendous church growth we are seeing?
“What I think is probably one of the most important issues has to do with new converts. You see, the growth is so rapid that it’s very difficult even to keep up with it. Because of the speed, we need to really think for a moment about the dangers. And the danger I’m going to mention is a real one. It’s the danger of baptizing individuals coming from a different Christian tradition, or a non-Christian background, who are not well informed about the biblical message. They receive a brief introduction to the Adventist message, and they’re baptized. There is little follow-up. These people are Adventists—based on the little they’ve come to understand. They retain some of the ideas they brought in with them. There is almost an element of syncretism, because they’ve never understood Adventism well. Doctrinal and theological diversity is finding a place within the local congregation.

“Not long ago we blamed the theologians. They were the ones creating theological and doctrinal polarization. There is truth in that, I cannot deny that. But this is a new phenomenon because often the new converts do not really understand what Adventism is about.”

So, you are concerned about biblical discipleship?
“That’s correct. It’s not simply ‘Oh, yes, I’m emotional; I want to be baptized.’ No, this is about that which is important, teaching the person to understand the message and to be able to go and share the message with others.

ADVENTISTS AND ALCOHOL by Peter N. Landless is a MUST READ. He supports the following 6 reasons not to drink with persuasive scientific evidence.
  1. Alcohol is a toxin and damages the human body.
  2. Alcohol is potentially addictive.
  3. Alcohol is a proven carcinogen—
it causes various cancers.
  4. There is no safe level of alcohol intake to avoid its many serious side effects and consequences.
  5. Any purported benefit to heart health (coronary artery disease, specifically) is neutralized and eclipsed by the dangerous and proven harms associated with 
alcohol use.
  6. The global consequences of alcohol use are growing, and the Seventh-day Adventist Church has the opportunity and responsibility to educate, foster, promote resilience, and play a leading role in advocacy against alcohol use.
In OF SERPENTS AND SERAPHIM Angel Manuel Rodríguez reverts to his usual confusing silliness as he attempts to answer the burning question: “What were seraphim?”

They are “a symbol of evil that could stand for demonic powers operating within history. This may suggest that Lucifer was supported by seraphim.

“On the positive side, think about the reverence and humility displayed by seraphim, who, glorious in appearance, choose to cover their bodies in order to proclaim that only the One sitting on the throne deserves all glory.”

No Comfort

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

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Why is the Biblical Flood a continuing source of amusement?

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

Reviewing the Adventist Review

November 24, 2011
Vol. 188, No. 33

Most of what interested me in this issue was in the INBOX and WORLD NEWS AND PERSPECTIVES. However, GOOD STEWARDS OF GOOD PLANET EARTH by Joseph Sesay is a MUST READ, and TOO SWEET FOR YOU? by Docs Handsides and Landless is an excellent discussion of sugar and its place in a healthful diet. Andrew McChesney is always a fun read, and FRIENDSHIP AND GOD is a thoughtful piece by Kimberly Luste Maran that’s worth prayerful reflection. In addition I have a comment on Lael Caesar’s writing and theology in GIVER GOD.

Thumbs up for Chris Patterson comment: “While we're often encouraged to give to this ministry or that, perhaps we could have the greatest impact by rolling up our sleeves, getting to know our neighbors, and being involved in some project that benefits us all.”

Another thumbs up for Arlene Jessop: “I read the article “No Fear” with a feeling of déjà vu. Like the author, I grew up in an Adventist home, and I also was haunted by images of sinister forces determined to persecute God's people (Adventists) for worshiping on Sabbath rather than on Sunday. I now regret all those years spent worrying about the future, and looking with suspicion at the Christians of other denominations as potential persecutors.

Thumbs down for the conspiracy promoter Dennis Priebe: “One more point of information should be on the table–a question that was not asked during the interview. For the courses taught by the [seminary] teachers interviewed, what are the non-Adventist books required or recommended? Without straightforward answers to this question, doubts and questions will continue to feed rumor mills.”

Thumbs down for fear brokers Lorna Wagner and Sandra Hayesenflug: “ If we don't recognize these deceptions for what they are, we will be swept into the camp of the enemy. None of us is safe unless we recognize our own fallibility and heed the message is given to our people to secure us from Satan's cleverly disguised deceptions.” (LW) “Our church has to wake up before it's too late.” (SH)

‘Women in Leadership’ Motion Voted in both the Trans-European and North American Divisions. Both unions have decided it is time to “promote women as pastors and leaders”.

According to Bertil Wiklander, TED president, "What works best for the TED at this time is to let all know where we stand and what we want regarding women in leadership, while doing all we can to promote women as pastors and leaders in our church within the working policy. We will continue to work with our unions to see how we can support and enable the many women who the Holy Spirit has clearly called to leadership.”

Arnold Trujillo, Vice President of the Pacific Union Conference, spoke for NAD. “We were not designed to be a monolithic organization, but one were dynamic tension is allowed to exist. We need freedom to be different, without compromising our mission. We sing in harmony, not in unison.”

Guam and Micronesia are now part of the North American Division.

Loma Linda Medical School accepted 11 medical students following the closure of their former school in Puerto Rico.

GOOD STEWARDS OF GOOD PLANET EARTH by Joseph Sesay is a MUST READ. It’s loaded with facts and figures that made me weep.

“Even in the midst of recent global economic challenges, 2010 world gross domestic product (GDP) was more than US$63 trillion.2 GDP is a measure of economic output within a year. And $63 trillion is enough to give each of the 6.9 billion people on earth $9,000 worth of food, shelter, health care, clean water, and everything that makes life relatively comfortable.3 Not an overwhelming amount, you may think, given that the U.S. Census Bureau’s poverty threshold for 2010 was more than $11,000.4 However, that $9,000 level of living remains beyond the dreams of billions.

“So while we ask where God is in the midst of earth’s suffering, maybe we should be asking where are the good stewards who will connect humanity to the resources God has provided. For ever since Adam and Eve were created, there has been enough, and still is, for everyone to enjoy good living.”

CHOSEN TO BE LOVED is a reminder that November is adoption awareness month. “God gave explicit commands about our duties and responsibilities to the disenfranchised, including orphans: ‘Bring all the tithes of that year’s produce and store it in your towns, so that the Levites (who have no allotment or inheritance of their own) and the foreigners, the fatherless and the widows who live in your towns may come and eat and be satisfied’ (Deut. 14:28, 29).”

Sugar isn’t necessarily the enemy, according to Docs Handysides and Landless. It doesn’t have to be TOO SWEET FOR YOU.

Andrew McChesney found THE PERFECT VIDEO PROJECTOR for a friend in need under circumstances that another friend called, “almost too perfect”.

According to Kimberly Luste Maran, Thanksgiving is a time to celebrate FRIENDSHIP AND GOD. It’s also a time to remember the following deaths: E. Jeane De Haven, George Virley Fuller, Robert C. Goransson, and J. Martin Peterson.

I find it hard to equate “Associate Editor” with the written work of Lael Caesar. (I suspect that English may be his second language.) In GIVER GOD his theology is as tortured as his prose.

“The answer is as straightforward as it is unfathomable: God made Jesus ‘who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him’ (2 Cor. 5:21). Simply, and inexplicably told, Jesus did not merely take victims’ places. He incarnated their toxic venom. Believing the cross, we understand that when God's wrath destroyed Jesus on the cross, he destroyed sin, for Jesus became the curse and by God's destruction obliterated the curse, to give us the blessing (Gal. 3:13, 14)”

Nightmare Scenario

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

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Good Question!

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

Reviewing the Adventist Review

November 17, 2011
Vol. 188, No. 32

This review has something for everyone:

A letter by Lyle Bennett regarding a comment in the July 14 issue that criticized the music of “kids today”. “I don’t feel that this clever put-down…has any place in the Review. I’m personally glad that my grand-kids even bother to go to church and sing anything at all.”

A promise that a membership audit is in the offing, an “action” agenda for reviewing “ordination’s biblical origins—“If voted, material is to be placed on the 2015 General Conference session agenda."

A document is “undergoing a final revision” that will “change the culture and the way we (the Adventist Church) do business…We cannot assume that those who are spiritual are also ethical and moral”. (This reading seems to define “spiritual” in a whole new way!)

A technological breakthrough that “brings Adventist Scholarship to your hand”.

An essay from Cliff Goldstein on the term, “theodicy”, that will take a MILLENNIUM to comprehend. (Cliff thoughtfully provides Cliffs Notes.)

A definition of THE ONLY GROUP JESUS DIDN’T HAVE TIME FOR, according to Andy Nash. “People who want to be religious thought leaders apart from the Scriptures or the power of God.” (Definitions not provided. I guess it’s assumed you know who you are.)

The rest of the issue is pretty standard stuff, with the exception of a thoughtful attempt by Wilona Karimabadi to answer the question, “Are the cultural/language-based churches of their parents filling the spiritual needs of second-generation immigrants? THEIR CHURCH, OR MY CHURCH concludes:

“There is no right or wrong direction for everyone, and as many aspects of religious life, this one is a matter of personal preference.”

"No worries! I have decided that that only ordained men can be conference and division presidents."

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

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Learning the Difference

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

Reviewing the Adventist Review

November 10, 2011
Vol. 188, No. 31

There is one article that upsets me, another deserves an inspirational “thumbs up”, and another suggests a shortsighted and uneconomic solution to an important problem. The rest of the issue is standard fare.

CHURCH TRENDS by Monte Sahlin must be regarded as a dead canary in the mine of leadership in the North American Division.

“It's really a simple question. It was asked of pastors and lay leaders in a random sample of more than 11,000 congregations of all faiths across America last year: ‘would you agree? Our congregation is spiritually vital and alive.’

“The leaders are responded to the survey could pick one of 5 answers from ‘strongly agree’ to ‘strongly disagree.’ Overall, just 28% gave the most positive response. And among Seventh-day Adventist churches it was only 16%.

“Adventist data also show fewer local (Adventist) churches involved in all areas of community ministry, except public evangelism.”

AN ANGEL’S GIFT by Dixil Rodriguez is a heartwarming story of a very sick little girl and her very real angel.

INCLUSIVE WORSHIP AND LEARNING: EMBRACING SPECIAL-NEEDS CHILDREN IN OUR CHURCHES AND SCHOOLS by Addison Hudgins is an important reminder that children with special needs should feel comfortable attending a Seventh-day Adventist church. Hudgins goes on to suggest that Adventist schools should become places where the educational needs of these children should be met.

This idea, though well intentioned, is impractical and uneconomic. These specialized programs can only be adequately funded by public education. It would make far more sense for Adventist churches and schools to publicly support the special education programs in their communities.


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

Thursday, November 24, 2011

“If that's all there is my friends, then let's keep dancing.”

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

Reviewing Adventist World, NAD Edition

November, 2011
Vol. 7, No. 11

Adventist World is free online. For that reason, I only review or comment on articles that I believe to be of special interest. This includes editorials, special supplements, and NAD features not available online.

Ted Wilson uses World to actively promote his vision for the worldwide church. GERMAN TRIP CONNECTS ADVENTIST LEADERS, LAITY, PASTORS IN REVIVAL FOCUS provides the opportunity for him to promote his personal theology in the context of a previously reported trip to Germany. (see October, 2011, Adventist World). ONE YEAR TO CHANGE THE WORLD is a preview of his youth evangelism project.


The LOMA LINDA REPORT (cutting edge information on the treatment of breast cancer) and REACHING NATIVE AMERICANS (the past and present history of Adventist mission work on North American reservations) are not available online. Both are worth special attention.

One Can Only Hope

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

Thursday, November 17, 2011


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

Reviewing Adventist Today

Fall, 2011
Vol. 19, No. 4

I’m happy to report that this issue justifies the cover price. That’s not saying that every contribution is noteworthy, but the improvement over previous issues is obvious and significant. The graphic design elements are impressive, and contribute to a thoughtful understanding of the text. However, editorial judgment continues to be a problem.

In his editorial, IS THERE A MYSTERY ABOUT THE SABBATH WE HAVEN’T YET DISCOVERED? J. David Newman makes the following request.

“Why, after Adventists have been preaching the Sabbath for some 160 years, have there been no converts from the ranks of large church pastors and theologians? Have they all been rejecting the convicting power of the Holy Spirit? Please, I would like to hear your answers to these perplexing questions. What do you think?”

I sent an email to Newman with the following answer:

“It is for the following reasons: factual, biblical, reasoned, and fundamentally Christian, that there “have been no converts from the ranks of large church pastors and theologians”.

“For most Christian theologians “The Lord’s Day”, Sunday, rather than the Jewish “Feast of Creation, is the Christian Sabbath.

‘Sunday… was adopted by the early Christians as a day of worship.. . Sunday was emphatically the weekly feast of the resurrection of Christ, as the Jewish Sabbath was the feast of creation. It was called the Lords day, and upon it the primitive church assembled to break bread. No regulations for its observance are laid down in the New Testament nor, indeed, is its observance even enjoined. Yet Christian feeling led to the universal adoption of the day, in imitation of the apostolic precedence. In the second century its observance was universal.’ (Schaff- Herzog Encyclopedia of religious knowledge 1891 Ed., vol.4 Article on Sunday)*

“There is a biblical reason why ‘no prominent no-Adventists pastors or theologians have supported a seventh day Sabbath’.

‘One person considers one day more sacred than another; another considers every day alike. Each of them should be fully convinced in their own mind. Whoever regards one day as special does so to the Lord.’ (Romans 14: 5 & 6)

“There are rational reasons why ‘no prominent no-Adventists pastors or theologians have supported a seventh day Sabbath’.

We live on a round planet. Consequently, a man-made dateline determines days of the week. In addition, days must be determined by arbitrary 24-hour periods in places near the North and South poles. In these localities, the Sabbath, of necessity, is an arbitrarily determined 24 hours.

“There are profoundly Christian reasons why ‘no prominent non-Adventists pastors or theologians have supported a seventh day Sabbath’.

The attempt by Adventists to persuade other Christians to become ‘Sabbath-keepers’ upon threat of eternal condemnation is anathema. The Christian community must ‘stop passing judgment on one another’, must ‘not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister’, must ‘make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification’. (from Romans 14)

* Didache 80-90 A.D. "And on the day of our lords resurrection, which is the Lord’s day meet more diligently."

Ignatius 110 A.D. wrote in his epistle to the Magnesians 9…" If they who were concerned in old things, arrived at a newness of hope, no longer observing the Sabbath, but living according to the Lord’s day, by which our life sprung from him and by his death (whom certain persons deny)…we have been made his disciples, let us live according to Christianity."

Barnabas 120A..D. "Wherefore, also, we keep the eighth day with joyfulness, the day, also, on which Jesus rose again from the dead"

Justin Martyr 140 A..D. "Sunday is the day on which we all hold our common assembly, because it is the first day on which God, having wrought a change in the darkness, made the world; and Jesus Christ our savior, on the same day rose from the dead."

Note: Scholarly references from

In HOW DO WE KNOW? John McClarty questions the official Adventist claim to know “the whole truth”, morally and scientifically.

“Continuing to insist that our doctrines and public theology are shaped by the Bible and Bible only implies that all of our present doctrine and public theology is as infallible as the Bible itself. Thus any change would be a denial of the authority of the Bible. This fixity of doctrine, however, is contradicted by the preamble of our statement of beliefs and the history of our theological development.

“It’s time to recognize the variety of authorities and influences that shape our doctrine. It’s time for a serious exploration of the proper role of church authority in defining truth. How do we properly account for the different roles of formal church structures and the whole people of God? What is the proper role of pastors, scientists, and historians in correcting the work of theologians and exegetes? What should the church do when the Bible and experience contradict?”

Note to Editors: The RESPONSE FROM A NITPICKER by Richard Coffen is longer than McClarty’s essay and aptly named

HOMOSEXUALITY IN THE FIRST THREE CENTURIES by David W. T. Brattston raises thoughtful questions and provides some interesting information. Unfortunately, this piece needs a great deal of editorial help. To present such a controversial subject in such a linguistic muddle does a disservice to the author and readers. However, one paragraph managed to escape the verbal chaos.

“In addition to how restrictive an interpretation is to be given to “men lying with men as with a woman,” there is the issue of whether this prohibition is binding in our day. It would not apply if its sinful nature were rooted in social/ cultural factors rather than eternal anatomical differences. In the world of the Bible and the early Church, women occupied a position subordinate to males, with a status little different from slaves or animals. Thus, treating a man sexually as if he were a woman may have been forbidden only because it meant subjecting him to an inferior status, thus abusing and defiling him psychologically and socially in that culture. If so, the ban was not aimed at same-gender sensual gratification as an evil in itself and thus might not apply in an age of equality between the sexes.”

The thesis of Nathan Brown’s essay, THE CREATOR DIED, is summed up in the following words:

“Contrary to what has been assumed throughout much of Christian history and theology, the Bible is clear that the ultimate purpose of salvation is re-creation. God’s plan is for the world to be restored to its original goodness…This has significant implications for how we understand our role in God’s salvation and our relationship to the created world in which we have been created and re-created: ‘We are not saved from the world of creation, but saved for the world of creation (Rom. 8:18-26). Humans were made to take care of God’s wonderful world, and it is not too strong to say that the reason God saves humans is not simply that he loves them for themselves but that he loves them for what they truly are—his pro-creators, his stewards, his vice-regents over creation.’”

Bob Erwin believes that Adventists should regard ADVENTIST DIVERSITY AS AN ASSET. The following chart is his take on our different views of reality. Whether or not all of us can abide “Living Under The Big Tent Of Adventism” remains to be seen.

HOLDING THE GENERAL CONFERENCE PRESIDENT ACCOUNTABLE for his isolationist position regarding other Christian fellowships is a tall order, but Eric Webster makes a strong case for “prayerfully and discreetly bringing our attitude toward other Christians into harmony with Fundamental Belief No. 12 and with our practice of the Lord’s Supper”.

Jim Brauer reminds readers that fundamental values need not be abandoned in his prose poem, HOW TO MANAGE IF THE CHURCH SPLITS.

CONDITIONAL PROPHECY AND LAST-DAY EVENTS by Alden Thompson is a rambling, disjointed essay, that, in his own words, “is supposed to be about ‘conditional prophecy’. But it’s such a scary topic that we will ease into it with a much-too-long preamble.”

Editors, this preamble preceding The Preamble is a plea for help. I know that Alden is an SDA icon and a regular contributor, but he’s asking IN PRINT for editorial guidance that wasn’t forthcoming. Consequently, the piece ends with a plea to “honor it (the Sabbath) when all around us people are eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage”.

Kenley D. Hall reviews THE OMEGA REBELLION: WHAT EVERY ADVENTIST NEEDS TO KNOW…NOW. Editors, why you chose to review a book by Rick Howard is a mystery to me. Why the reviewer, Kenley D. Hall, was allocated 10% of the contents of the magazine is another mystery.

Adventist Man’s contribution to the issue is as advertised: a funny, satirical look at Adventist life.

A Pictorial Paraphrase from the Clear Word Babble

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

Thursday, November 10, 2011

It’s official. There is probably nothing to fear but fear.

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

Reviewing the Adventist Review

October 27, 2011
Vol. 188, No. 28

“In this special issue of Adventist Review you’ll explore biblical principles of family relationships, methods of inculcating values from parents to children, unexpected benefits of simply eating family meals together, and connections between the use of social media and contemporary societal challenges such as childhood obesity, sleep deprivation, and academic achievement. Bible- and research-based studies will provide you with food for thought, ammunition to effect change, and springboards to further study.” Sandra Blackmer

I’ve included excerpts from my favorite contributions.

by Linda Mei Lin Koh

“Media have eaten up our precious time for interacting with our children. On average, children spend about 30 minutes with their father during the week, but 20 hours with the television. Gentile’s latest study of nearly 2,500 youth found that video games are indeed effective teaching tools. Students who played multiple violent video games actually learned through those games to produce greater hostile actions and aggressive behaviors over a span of six months.3 It’s therefore imperative that parents who want their children to grow up with strong Christian values must be intentional in teaching these values to them. This can’t be left to chance.”

by Gary L. Hopkins, Duane Mcbride, Shelley Bacon, Daniel D. Saugh, And Julie Weslake’

“Family meals can help guard our children’s health, improve their emotional well-being, increase their academic status, reduce their chances of engaging in risky behaviors, and strengthen their walk of faith—even in the twenty-first century.”

by Fred Hardinge, Allan R. Handysides, Gary L. Hopkins, And Duane Mc Bride

“There is sufficient evidence linking electronic media use to obesity that when considering the severe potential health consequences of obesity among adolescents, it seems prudent for parents to monitor their children’s electronic media use very carefully. God has called us to care for our children’s physical, emotional, and spiritual needs. Monitoring their use of electronic media and helping them to use that time to participate in wholesome, healthful activities will certainly make a positive difference in their lives today and into adulthood.”

by Duane McBride, Gary L. Hopkins, Peter N. Landless, Romulus Chelbegean, and Alina Baltazar

“Parents can pass on many blessings to their children, one of which is good sleep habits. Too little sleep can have significant health implications for youngsters, affecting how they think, process information, make sound moral judgments, and reason. The general status of healthful well-being also can be affected by too little sleep, as can academic performance and much more.”

WORLD NEWS is available online, as well as two online exclusives: 2011 NAD Year-end Meeting and A Special video Message from Pastor Shawn Brace.

Don’t Listen to the Dog!

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

Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Interview

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

Reviewing the Adventist Review

October 20, 2011
Vol. 188, No. 27

For the most part, this issue is a lullaby. Read it when insomnia threatens. That said, two contributions require comments.

The one bright spot is LIVING WITH DISAPPOINTMENT, an editorial by Stephen Chavez.

“We can’t merely be disappointed that we’re still here some 2,000 years since Jesus ascended to heaven. We have to be proactive, not only about preaching the gospel, but also about reflecting in our lives and ministries the character of Christ. It’s sad that in a world so often buffeted by tragedies and heartaches, disasters and disappointments, the response of many is to turn inward and indulge in passive self-examination, as if God cares only that they are ready for Christ’s return.”

Existential dread is the subject of SUB SPECIE AETERNITATIS by Clifford Goldstein. A psychiatrist might speculate on Cliff’s obsession with sub specie aeternitatis and the unhappy lives of certain atheist philosophers.

“Nagel had what? He turned to, of all things, “irony” (irony?)—as if the irony of our situation solved the dilemma of its absurdity. An ironic life is, I suppose, better than an absurd one, though I’m not quite sure that solves anything.” (Nagel, volume 68, number 20, pages 716-727)

Come on Cliff, lighten up. Sing all the verses of “Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam”, and you’ll feel better. I’ve provided a link to the words and music.

World News is available online.

Adventist No Longer

I received this email from a friend. It’s sad that the current “revival and reformation” mantra requires conscientious Adventist members to sacrifice science and reason on the alter of blind, irrational belief.

“It's official: I'm no longer an Adventist. It took a surprising amount of persistence to get this done, but I'll admit to feeling a bit nostalgic now that I've actually succeeded! One does not abandon an entire upbringing easily, I guess. "Abandon" is too strong a word, really... "Release" might be better.

“I harbor no resentment against Adventism, no bitterness about the way I was raised. Being raised as part of this church gave me much that I greatly value. A strong sense of morality, and a reasonably healthy lifestyle, and a deep knowledge of the most significant literary work in Western civilization. A low tolerance for caffeine and red meat. The love of my life, who I met at PUC. The training to become a pretty good teacher, and the drive to always learn more. And, ironically, it gave me the foundation for the rationality ---perhaps excessive rationality--- that eventually brought me out.

“When I look at the discussion boards at sites like the people there don't seem particularly rational. Or content. I see no need, as they and many others do, to define myself by what I am not. Nor have I found it particularly productive to reform Adventism from within. Kudos to those of you still trying, but such a reformation would require that a lot of people make changes to something that works fine for them as it is. Perhaps it's just laziness on my part, but I've come to accept that it's not really my problem.

“So I'm out. Keep in touch, though, you who are my SDA family and friends. I'm still the same person, just not officially Adventist any more.”


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

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Security at Silver Spring escorted me from the building.

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

Reviewing the Adventist Review

October 13, 2011
Vol. 188, No.27

All but one of the essays and editorials in this issue reflect the upside of being an Adventist. SWEENEY’S GARDEN, OF AIRPORTS AND PHARMACIES, and GETTING BEYOND PAIN are inspiring and spiritually uplifting, and CHURCH TRENDS provides authoritative answers to often asked questions regarding SDA demographics. Unfortunately, NO FEAR, is frightening in its attempt to reassure.

Kimberly Luste Maran interviews Rustin and Stacy Sweeney, who moved “across the tracks” to share their lives with the residents of a poverty stricken and crime ridden neighborhood. SWEENEY'S GARDEN is more than the story about a garden. Their community garden symbolizes Rustin and Stacy’s willingness to share what they have, materially and spiritually, with their neighbors.

In OF AIRPORTS AND PHARMACIES, Dixil Rodriguez discovers that the waiting room in a pharmacy can be a place to provide others with help and healing.

R. Steven Norman III reports on his visit to Vad Vashem, the Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem. GETTING BEYOND PAIN that visit entailed, resulted in a “rebirth, renewal, and a life recommitted to love”. It’s a MUST READ.

In CHURCH TRENDS, Monte Sahlin supplies the answers to three commonly asked questions regarding membership in the North American Division: How many active members? What is the average age? Is the Adventist Church growing?

Lelis Souza de Silva argues that there are five reasons why Adventists should not be afraid of end-time trouble. Unfortunately, NO FEAR is simply a recounting of terrifying events followed by timeworn bromides that offer the assurance that Adventists might escape torture and death if they survive until the actual Second Coming.

World News is available online.

An Eye-opening Experience

Modified from the comic Non Sequitur, by Wiley
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Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Truth!

Modified from the comic Non Sequitur, by Wiley
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Reviewing Adventist World, NAD Edition

October, 2011
Vol. 7, No. 10

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

THIS ISSUE discusses the need for effective evangelistic work in cities and Adventist standards of thought and behavior. As usual, I have supplied my recommended reading and a comment or two.

QUOTE OF THE MONTH from “The People’s Place”
“True mission 
work is meeting people where they are and responding to their plight.”—Pastor Busi Khumalo, director for Youth and Adventist Chaplaincy Ministries in the Southern Africa Indian Ocean Division

TOO MUCH TV? by Allan R. Handysides and Peter N. Landless

In BIG CITIES—BIGGER VISION Ted Wilson emphasizes the importance of evangelistic work in cities, even though he doesn’t recommend living in one. He recommends Ellen White’s idea of “’outpost centers’—including training schools, lifestyle health facilities, and missionary homes—would be established just on the edge of urban areas. A cycle of outreach moves the missionary into the city to engage with people on the level of their need, inviting responsive persons out to the outpost center for rehabilitation and recovery, and then returning with them to continue the cycle of witness. This in-out movement is essential for this special work, because God never intended believers to spend all of their lives in dense, overstimulated urban areas of the modern world.”
--I wonder if Ellen White would have considered Silver Spring a “big city”.

On his GERMAN TRIP Wilson discussed the danger in “friendly relationships with other faiths...These must not substitute for the core of Christian activity, that of sharing the gospel and three angels’ messages with those who need to hear. During our trip in Germany, emphasis was placed on the need to focus on the distinctive biblical truths of Seventh-day Adventists and not to focus on ecumenical activities”. He also condemned the “intellectual attacks on the veracity of Scripture…even as pressure builds from the academic world of higher criticism to recommend new and more subjective methods of interpretation that conflict with the accepted Seventh-day Adventist approach to biblical interpretation. Seventh-day Adventists endorse the historical-biblical or historical-grammatical approach, which allows the Bible to interpret itself.”
--For Ted, Matthew 7:11-13 just isn’t enough.

FUNDAMENTAL BELIEF NUMBER 14 is thoughtfully illuminated by Cheryl Doss. –However, I prefer the wording of the belief itself. As far as I am concerned, the other 27 are superfluous or off-putting.

“The church is one body with many members, called from every nation, kindred, tongue, and people. In Christ we are a new creation; distinctions of race, culture, learning, and nationality, and differences between high and low, rich and poor, male and female, must not be divisive among us. We are all equal in Christ, who by one Spirit has bonded us into one fellowship with Him and with one another; we are to serve and be served without partiality or reservation. Through the revelation of Jesus Christ in the Scriptures we share the same faith and hope, and reach out in one witness to all. This unity has its source in the oneness of the triune God, who has adopted us as His children. (Rom. 12:4, 5; 1 Cor. 12:12-14; Matt. 28:19, 20; Ps. 133:1; 2 Cor. 5:16, 17; Acts 17:26, 27; Gal. 3:27, 29; Col. 3:10-15; Eph. 4:14-16; 4:1-6; John 17:20-23.”

In FOR THE GLORY OF GOD, Angel Manuel Rodríguez uncharacteristically attempts a response to the important question: “What is the purpose of church standards?” Characteristically he bungles his answer and leaves nonAdventist readers under the impression that all drugs are forbidden!

Superstar Ignored

Comic modified from Pearls Before Swine, by Stephan Pastis.
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Thursday, October 13, 2011

Alternate Science

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

Reviewing the Adventist Review

September 15, 2011
Vol. 188, No. 26

This issue had some happy surprises and one report by Ted Wilson that should prove cautionary as he circumnavigates the world with his revival and reformation sermons. His GERMAN TRIP designed to connect Adventist Leaders, Laity, Pastors in Revival Focus provoked questions that required Ted to reaffirm that “There is no part of the Bible or of our fundamental beliefs that is not important.” His fundamentalist views were questioned pretty directly.

Sandra Blackmer’s report on THE FULL PLATE DIET described a diet that has every chance of producing “A Paradigm Shift” in the way Americans, even omnivorous ones, go about dieting.

In MY CHURCH SAVED ME, Emily Carlson makes the case for not giving up on Adventism even though she doesn’t know how to fix the problems she enumerates. Listing the problems from a young member’s perspective can be a first step in their solution. Officialdom, are you listening?


Carlos Medley’s REST FOR THE WEARY is a very practical defense of the Sabbath.

Reviewing the Adventist Review
September 22, 2011
Vol. 188, No. 27

This is the WEEK OF PRAYER ISSUE and contains daily devotionals for adults and children. Ted Wilson, William Johnson, and Ellen White are the authors for the adults. Charles Mills authors THE CHILDREN’S READINGS.

World News is available online.

Ted Ignores Good Advice

Modified from the comic Non Sequitur, by Wiley
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Thursday, October 6, 2011


To be continued...

Modified from the comic Non Sequitur, by Wiley
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Reviewing the Adventist Review

September 8, 2011
Vol. 188, No. 25

This issue is definitely worth skimming it from cover to cover. If you don’t have that kind of time, I have provided an introduction to the pieces I was impressed with. If World News interests you, it’s available online.

WHAT ARE THEY THINKING is a cautionary editorial by my favorite editor, Stephen Chavez.
“As the enemies of Christianity become more strident, apparently it’s not enough to guard against heresy; we also have to guard against stupidity done in the name of Christianity.”

TEN YEARS AFTER THE SKY FELL, Shawn Boonstra reflects on the event that changed our lives in America.
He tells the story of two young Adventist women, Nichele Nelson and Valerie Silver-Ellis, who died in the World Trade Center and the courage of their surviving loved ones. In a story inset, GO FORWARD IN FAITH, Kimberly Luste Maran reminds us that LeRoy Homer, the husband of a Mount Holly, New Jersey church member, was the pilot of the plane that crashed in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

RELIGION THAT IS PURE by Carol Nash Jordan is a plea to make a difference in the lives of children without parents.
“The movement for churches to establish orphan ministries is growing. Consider organizing a small group—
perhaps your Sabbath school class—to serve as an orphan support ministry. There are many possibilities, but whatever you are led to do, expect to be changed.”

In SILENT SERVICE, Dixil Rodriguez tells the story of a mysterious fellow traveler.
“He has the ability to find people in hidden places and gives them something from the backpack. I watch him approach the homeless, hiding among street signs, huddled in corners on hard cobblestone. Who is he?

Monte Sahlin is a contributor who doesn’t disappoint. The four books he recommends: Experiencing the Joy, The Reason for God, I Am Persuaded, and A Student Missionary Story are indeed TOOLS OF THE TRADE.

Finely, don’t miss CARRYING OTHERS' BURDENS, a reflection by Heather Vandenhoven. Readers will discover why she could make the following improbable statement: “My clothes were now soaked, my eyelashes dripped with rain, my hair was showered with water, but the rain no longer rushed me. I stood, enjoying the freshness of the air.”

The GLOW (Giving Light to Our World) lay ministry has come to my neck-of-the-woods. However, their evangelistic series didn’t work out so well in Orland. Even after members canvassed the entire small town, it was reported that only one non-Adventist showed up for one meeting. Perhaps it had something to with the advertising. Looks kind of cultic/Aztec don’t you think?

Planning for Our Future Benefit

Modified from the comic Dilbert, by Scott Adams
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Thursday, September 29, 2011

Educating Adventist Theologians

Modified from the comic Non Sequitur, by Wiley
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Reviewing Adventist World, NAD Edition

September, 2011
Vol. 7, No. 8

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

This issue of World does a good job of informing members and nonmembers around the world of current Adventist beliefs and practices. That said, in addition to recommended reading, I have my usual comments and questions.

SNACKING AND HYPOGLYCEMIA by Allan R. Handysides and Peter N. Landless
NEW BODIES by Edna Olsen Regester

Ted Wilson continues to expound his recipe for “biblical” worship music and “the integrity of Seventh-day Adventist preaching as a component of true worship” in WHAT MAKES WORSHIP “ADVENTIST”?
–Surely the Adventist Church is confronted by more pressing problems.

MEET THE FUTURE by Kimberly Luste Maran is an account of her conversations with young General Conference delegates from around the world. The piece is fresh and informative. There was, however, the following exchange that suggests that SDA converts in developing countries may “join the church” for reasons other than agreement with or even understanding of the 28 Fundamental Doctrines.

“You all seem to feel that the church has good leadership. So this is a bit of a pointed question: What do you all think the church is doing right? What could it do better?”

“We have to be careful about how we prepare members to be Adventists, and when we baptize them. New members are more than numbers—they have to know who we are as a church and whom we stand for.

“Here’s what happened to me during an outreach event at my church. We were dispensing medicine for those in need. At one point I was writing down a woman’s name, and there was a friend of mine just next to me. My friend very nicely asked the woman, “So how did you learn about Jesus?”

“The woman responded, ‘Who is Jesus?’ She really did not know—and she had just been baptized! I can’t imagine a person who is baptized not knowing. But it was true.” (Alice Danla, a delegate from India)
--If I were a poverty stricken villager in a remote province of India, I would be first in line to be dunked, if clean water, literacy, education, medical assistance, and possibly a job were offered to me on condition of baptism!

WONDERFUL WORDS OF LIFE, by Paul Peterson is an explication of Fundamental Belief Number 10. While Peterson’s words obfuscate rather than illuminate the belief itself, the actual “The Experience of Salvation”, is included on the second page. It begins with these words: “In infinite love and mercy God made Christ, who knew no sin, to be sin for us, so that in Him we might be made the righteousness of God…”
--God turned Christ into sin? Maybe, in spite of our protestations, Adventists are a sect after all. In addition, these words smack of Arian heresy.

Finally, in CHOICE OR COERCION? Angel Manuel Rodríguez gets entangled in his own rhetoric once again as he attempts to answer the crucial theological question, “Why did God harden
 Pharaoh’s heart?”
--Editors, have you given this guy a carte blanche pass? Does he have a BRI contract?

Goldstein Agonisties

Modified from the comic Dilbert, by Scott Adams
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Thursday, September 22, 2011

Ted meets himself on the island sometime in the next 30 years.

Modified from the comic Non Sequitur, by Wiley
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Reviewing Spectrum

Summer, 2011
Volume 39, Issue 3

This issue has two outstanding editorials and one MUST READ report. If you, gentle reader, are pressed for time, here’s what not to miss: ACCREDITATION BLUES and MISUNDERSTANDINGS MULTIPLY: LA SIERRA EMPLOYEES FILE SUIT; WASC ISSUES FORMAL NOTICE OF CONCERN by Bonnie Dwyer and THE FALLACY OF HIERARCHY by Charles Scriven.

From Accreditation Blues:
“La Sierra, like all Adventist institutions of higher education, needs the approval of both the regional and the Adventist accreditors. Students cannot get loans for unaccredited colleges. Graduate and professional schools—such as Loma Linda University—cannot accept students with degrees from unaccredited colleges. To lose WASC accreditation would be the end of LSU.”

From Misunderstandings Multiply
“With site visits from both WASC and AAA teams, the accreditation processes have dominated administrative life at La Sierra for the past two years. Self-study reports have been prepared, response to the consulting letter developed and delivered. And while both accrediting bodies recognize the importance and significance of what the other agency does, sometimes it has seemed as though the university was caught between the requirements of the two.

“WASC’s latest concern over the structure of the Board of Trustees is sure to create a different set of concerns with the church administration.

“And while La Sierra attends to these concerns, the issue that prompted the soap opera atmosphere of the past two years continues to challenge the entire denomination, as well as other conservative Christians. Solving the creation-evolution debate is not a La Sierra issue, but until the denomination finds some level of peace with that discussion, misunderstandings are bound to continue.”

From The Fallacy of Hierarchy
“The New Testament thus has, after Jesus, no teacher-masters; it has no ‘magisterium,’ no official teaching authority. Leaders and theologians, traditions and creeds, matter for their persuasive influence; they deserve attention and respect. But they have no coercive authority. (In 1 Corinthians, Paul treated the question of food offered to idols differently than the Jerusalem Council did.)

“Behind all of this is the premise, as John Howard Yoder writes, of ‘simple trust that God himself, as spirit, is at work to motivate and to monitor his own’ through ‘disciplined human discourse.’ So from this standpoint, the Hierarchy Principle, with its assumption that top-down control is a necessary bulwark, gives expression to lack of trust.

“Our leaders seem oblivious to this. And to the degree that the rest of us go along, or lapse into funks of resignation, so do we. I do not assign blame. The tide of hierarchy came in before most of us were born. But I do want to assign credit where it is due. In 1872, for the benefit of non-members and for the first time ever, Adventist leaders published a statement, or ‘synopsis,’ of their faith. The first paragraph said that it was not to have ‘any authority with our people,’ nor was it meant to “secure uniformity among them, as a system of faith.”

“The statement was not, in other words, an instrument of top-down control. The pioneers of Adventism still knew what it was to trust.”

The NOTEWORTHY section features old news, and BIBLE ISSUES is a tired recapitulation of Atonement Theories and Science and Creation apologies. The featured, RACE, IMMIGRATION & THE CHURCH, is so poorly written that it fails to deliver the relationships the title promises.

UNIVERSITIES & THE CHURCH is introduced by a lengthy, esoteric, and irrelevant piece by Gottfried Oosterwal, but Bonnie’s account of the LSU situation is authoritative and brilliant! Finally, I was disappointed by the POETRY selected from the SDA college and university literary journals. Sorry kids.

This issue, particularly, is a reminder that Spectrum now lives on the blog and is on life support in print.

One can only hope!

Modified from the comic Non Sequitur, by Wiley
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Thursday, September 15, 2011

Therefore Endangered?

Modified from the comic Bizarro by Dan Piraro.
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Reviewing the Adventist Review

Vol. 188, No. 23
August 18, 2011

This issue’s cover, GOD’S PSYCHOLOGY: HEALTH FOR BODY, MIND, AND SOUL, was a profound disappointment! The official psychological information provided was little more than sermonizing! Only a 350 word piece by Jill Carlson, THE STIGMA OF MENTAL ILLNESS AND ITS TREATMENT IN THE CONTEXT OF A CHRISTIAN BELIEF SYSTEM, (which wasn’t even cited on the Feature Page) provided helpful clinical information!

If you’re busy, this is the issue to skip. If World News interests you, it’s available online.

Vol. 188, No. 24
August 25, 2011

I had trouble concen-trating on this review when I read that ADRA GIVES $1 MILLION TO MARANATHA. According to Ted Wilson, “this move symbolizes cooperation between the world church and lay ministries”. In this Haiti project, Maranatha is in partnership with Missionary Ventures International, another Christian NGO.

ADRA's credibility as a nonsectarian relief organization should now be called into question. It should now be assumed that direct contributions to ADRA will be directed to SDA lay ministries like Maranantha!

THE RELUCTANT SCHOOLTEACHER, by Stanley D. Hickerson is a MUST READ. Alma McKibbin didn't want to be a schoolteacher. But she was the first person to create a school curriculum for Adventist elementary students.

Drs. Landless and Handysides weigh in on the good and the bad about tea and coffee drinking in TEA AND COFFEE REVISITED.

In HEALTHY HEARTS, Molly Geddis introduces us to a community-based health outreach that yields church-based results.

Not to worry, that “someone” is Ted!

Comic from F Minus, by Tony Carrillo.
(Click to enlarge)