Thursday, February 24, 2011

Reviewing the Adventist Review

February 10, 2011
Vol. 188, No. 4

This issue one you can feel reasonably comfortable sharing with your friends. The contributions of four writers are exceptional: Dixil Rodriguez’ A CHILD, A MOTHER, AND THE SPIRIT; “NOT AFRAID TO GO ALONE”, the story of Georgia Burrus, the first woman missionary to India; Monte Sahlin’s thoughtful critique of religious trends; and 1,096 DAYS by Marilyn Petersen, a wheelchair bound commentator on life and living.

The INBOX contains two critical letters! I hope this encourages the editors to publish more thoughtful responses that aren’t just congratulatory. Stanley V. Maxwell is critical of the contributions of Drs. Handysides and Landless, and Jeanne Henriksen provides a cautionary coda to Fredrick Russell’s December 9 editorial that seems to her to deemphasize planning and orderliness in worship.

REVIVAL FOR WHAT? is Mark A. Finley’s take on what revival means. I only wish these words were reflected in the sermonizing of our GC President, Ted Wilson. *

“Any so-called revival that focuses on “my spiritual experience” alone also misses the mark. If it develops attitudes critical of those who may not measure up to “my standard of holiness,” it’s certainly not genuine spirituality. If the emphasis of revival is merely to change external behavior rather than to experience a change of heart, something is wrong.”

* See GOD'S SOLID WORD IN A CHAOTIC WORLD in the February 2011 Adventist World.

PLANKS, JUDGES, AND JESUS by Kimberly Luste Maran is an affirmation that “in the plan of salvation there’s no such thing as self-
righteousness. No room for smugness”.

"NOT AFRAID TO GO ALONE" by Gordon E. Christo is the story of Georgia Burrus, the first woman missionary to India. Because of her decision to learn Bengali immediately upon arrival, she was able to assist the missionaries that followed to establish a school for girls and further her mission to educate the women of Bengali speaking India.

NOT BUSINESS AS USUAL by Gerald Klingbeil urges readers to step out of their comfort zones, so long as their ”comfort zones” don’t rock the official Adventist boat. Sad.

GOD RULES--BUT HOW? by Thomas Lobitz is heartfelt but his tennis simile leaves me with these questions, “Why are we still citizens of Earth? How can God have “won” the match if humankind is still suffering?”

“But the [Great Controversy] battle is not over. It is a bit like a Davis Cup tennis tournament: five matches are played. The winning team is the one who is the first to win three matches; however, the tournament is not over until all five matches have been played. In the remaining matches the losing team plays hard in order to win as much fan support as possible. Satan, God’s opponent, has already lost, but continues to try to keep as many as possible away from God (see 1 Peter 5:8).”

A CHILD, A MOTHER, AND THE SPIRIT by Dixil Rodriguez is a story in which she “was made conscious of the obvious: there is always a need to help one another”.

1,096 DAYS by Marilyn Petersen offers a perspective all of us need to respect.

“Have you ever considered your church from the perspective of a wheelchair user—or any individual with a disability? My home church was built decades ago, and even though a ramp to the church door has been installed, the bathrooms are downstairs, making my attendance there challenging. This is not unique, as almost all the Adventist churches in my area are multilevel. Restrooms are usually inaccessible. Fellowship halls and pianos in the sanctuary are too. For wheelchair users who attend churches where restrooms are downstairs, this means either not attending church services or dehydrating (limited or no liquids beginning Friday evening) in order to make it through the four hours of a morning service. While this is often the fault of old architecture, it’s something I had never thought of before needing a wheelchair.

“The church I attend more regularly now is all on one level and has a pull-up drop-off point at the door, which is very nice. But I used to play the piano for Sabbath school, and because the sanctuary piano is up on a separate level, it’s no longer accessible to me. Several of the church aisles are too narrow for my wheelchair. No church that I’ve attended has designated seating for those with disabilities. Often there are only one or two places a wheelchair can fit and thus enable the person to sit with family. A member of my family or I have to move quickly each Sabbath to assure the appropriate seat isn’t taken by another church member. While I’m sure they would move if asked, it makes the situation awkward and uncomfortable.”

WAKE-UP CALL by Jimmy Phillips asks the question, “Why would I want to start my day with the rubbish of man when I have the opportunity to first fill my heart and mind with the words of God?”

CHURCH TRENDS reported by Monte Sahlin should make all Christians more aware of the secular world.

“Adventist evangelism—as we have practiced it from the very beginning of our movement in America—has always assumed that our audience already believes in God, accepts the Bible as the Word of God, and is prepared to listen to texts and logic that undergird the unique Adventist teachings. But the growing numbers of secular Americans are unprepared to hear or understand our conventional evangelistic messages. In order to reach these individuals we must start at an earlier point in the logic of evangelism and address more basic concepts that we have always assumed to be already accepted.

“In most Adventist churches in metropolitan areas in the U.S. you will find that some of these secular people are already attending your church. Fellowship often develops long before belief in doctrines, and you cannot use some of the typical indicators such as vegetarian diet and simple dress, because many secular people accept those values without any Bible basis.

“How do you move from friendship to Bible study, while retaining the friendship?” Sahlin suggests the following:

Reaching and Winning New Agers—available from AdventSource at or (800) 328-0525.

Jon Paulien, dean of the School of Religion at Loma Linda University, has written several books on this topic.

iFollow discipleship curriculum resources—published by the North American Division Church Resource Center and available in the Meeting With Jesus section under Lessons at and in the iFollow Pastor’s Edition, which is being distributed to pastors on DVD.

LIFE AND DEATH IN THE SAME FRAME by Loren Seibold describes a day in which he spent time with the parents of newborn twins and sat by the bedside of a dying parishioner, and “feeling a little like those old Russian writers, Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky, who in their novels and stories placed life and death, happiness and sadness, achievement and failure, joy and gloom, all in the same frame, part of the same picture, never completely carefree nor entirely despondent about this mortal span, but more honest for portraying a chiaroscuro of failure and redemption.”

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