Thursday, April 28, 2011

Reviewing the Adventist Review

April 14, 2011
Vol. 188, No.11

Dan Appel has written an MUST READ essay on suicide, Allan R. Handysides and Peter N. Landless provide an informative prescription for constipation, Sandra Blackmer has contributed an informational piece on the importance of forests, and Karen Brown has written a lovely reflection on what it means to live with a caring God.

This issue also highlights the schizophrenic messages of the official Adventist Church. My comment follows the reviews.

Accountability in administration was stressed by General Conference President, Ted Wilson, during the April 10 Spring Meeting Session.

The Adventist Church has intensified its earthquake and tsunami relief effort in Japan.

Randall Wisbey, President of La Sierra University vows not to "ensure that all biology students discuss key documents relating to our Adventist belief regarding origins including Fundamental Belief 6 and the 2004 Annual Council Reaffirmation of Creation, and Genesis 1 and 2." This is one of 14 measures adopted in the attempt to satisfy the requirements of the Adventist Accrediting Association.

On March 14, J. Wayne McFarland, the Adventist Doctor who’s Five-Day Plan helped millions quit smoking, died in Loma Linda, California. He was 97.

PASSING THE POISON is a Bill Knott editorial about what happens when members engage in “rumormongering that fastens on first one and then another church institution, leader, or pastor”.

INSTRUMENT-RATED CHRISTIANS by Gina Wahlen is a reminder that
you will touch down on your intended runway, in spite of stormy weather, if you rely on “God’s trustworthy instrument—the Bible”.

Fred Chileshe makes some unusual claims.

“Christ is the foundation of every doctrine we hold, whether it is the Sabbath, the state of the dead, health practices, or the prophecies of Daniel and Revelation.”

“A good Bible student should be able to preach the gospel even from a seemingly dull Bible book such as Leviticus. These types of books may have different approaches, but they all contain the gospel.”

CONSTIPATION is a common problem, particularly with us older folks. Allan R. Handysides and Peter N. Landless can be trusted to provide relief.

LOST AND FOUND by Dixil Rodriguez reflects on the surprising ways we can be “found” by old friends and acquaintances on the Internet. For her it’s “like a big cosmic sign shouting to our hardened ears: ‘I found you, and I want to contact you; send Me an e-mail. Here is my address: Calvary.’ Signed, Jesus.”

REACHING THE UNREACHED by John Baxter reports the challenges faced by the Adventist Church.

“In Matthew 24 and other places in Scripture we read about all sorts of signs that will be seen before the second advent of Jesus. So when we look around today, what do we see? We see those same signs: wars, famines, selfishness, violence, sexual promiscuity, earthquakes, addictions, and others.”

“All these are signs of the times—signs of our times. Most are signs that Jesus said we should expect just prior to His second advent. Yet there is one sign—the sharing of the good news of salvation—that we can help to fulfill: ‘And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come” (Matt. 24:14, NKJV).’”

However, according to Baxter, the vast majority of 4.4 billion people—“almost two thirds of the world’s population—are unevangelized. More than 2 billion people worldwide have not had the opportunity to hear the gospel message”.

“This is a paradox for the church. The ‘groaning’ of the earth and the accompanying signs boldly proclaim the nearness of the coming of Jesus. Yet there are still literally billions of people who have not yet had an opportunity to hear the everlasting gospel. Jesus said these people must have a chance to hear before He returns.” But “out of every dollar of Christian mission offerings, only one half of one percent goes toward reaching the unreached”.

The Central California Conference supplied the two GLOW STORIES recounted here. GLOW stands for Giving Light to Our World by literature evangelism. To find out more about GLOW, go to

NO MORE HOPE? Is a MUST READ compassionate and careful examination of what the Bible says about suicide. This essay alone is worth the price of the year’s subscription.

"Consciously choosing to lay down one’s life is not in itself a sin. It is very often a very poor choice, though not always. It is sometimes a choice that is made when we are not in control of our faculties; sometimes it is made out of the very best rationale; and sometimes it is chosen for the worst of reasons. It all comes down to motive. It is not the act itself that determines right or wrong; it is the reason for the act that is the determining factor.

“As humans, we judge from outward appearances; God, on the other hand, looks at the heart. And, because man cannot read the human heart, we are in no position to judge in general or in the specific case whether this act is a sin or not.

“What we can know is that the God who was willing to die to make every provision to save us will bend over backwards to make the right (and just) decision. And when someone like my young friend, who loved God with all of her heart, in the darkest moments of her mental illness chooses to lay down her life, I will believe that the love of the God who died for her is big enough to do whatever is necessary to offer her eternal life.”

In REDEEMING THE PAST Andrew McChesney is asked to “play God”. His response is illuminating and wise.

The ongoing destruction of many of earth’s natural resources is fast becoming an urgent matter to people not only in North America but in scores of countries worldwide. Not the least of these resources is forests—vital to sustaining life on this planet…

Few people understand better the important role forests play in maintaining a healthy environment than does Richard Guldin, director of Quantitative Sciences for the United States Forest Service, Research and Development. Guldin, also an associate head elder of the Spencerville Seventh-day Adventist Church in Maryland, recently talked with Adventist Review features editor Sandra Blackmer

According to Guldin,“Forests take 40 to 60 years to grow, and in some cases 150 years or more to reach maturity. Sustainable forest management is about carefully balancing what you take from the forest today and what you leave to produce benefits for future generations.”

SAFE IN HIS CARE is the story of Karen Brown’s encounter with a fledgling sparrow in a car wash at the end of a hectic day. It’s a beautifully written look into the mind of a women secure in the love of God.

As I said before, this issue highlights three of the schizophrenic messages of official Adventism.

On the one hand, we are living in end times as evidenced by “wars, famines, selfishness, violence, sexual promiscuity, earthquakes, addictions” according to John Baxter. On the other hand, the church actively encourages retirement planning and Richard Guilden argues for the conservation of forests that “take 40 to 60 years to grow, and in some cases 150 years or more to reach maturity”. This is done “to produce benefits for future generations”.

Is the Second Coming predicated on the reformation and revival of current members, a la Ted Wilson, or evangelizing the “billions of people who have not yet had an opportunity to hear the everlasting gospel…before Jesus returns”?

One would think that the financial support of evangelism would be our leaders’ top priority “in the last moments of earth’s history”, yet Adventism’s much larger and continuing investment in official, brand-name institutions suggests that the church is engaged in long term institutional planning and growth.

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