Thursday, May 19, 2011

Reviewing Adventist Today

Spring, 2011
Vol. 19, No. 2

Sadly, the only article in this issue that deserves a serious read is Larry Downing’s WHERE IS TED WILSON LEADING US? Jonathan Gallagher’s, DR. A. GRAHAM MAXWELL: A THEOLOGICAL PERSPECTIVE provides a comprehensive review of Maxwell’s theology. However, the “perspective” it seems to promise regarding the impact of his biblical exegeses on Adventist theology is missing. Still it’s worth reading. However, the rest of the articles

SCIENCE IS NOT ENOUGH by J. David Newman concludes, “There are some things that science cannot tell us. It cannot tell us there is a God. It cannot tell us that we are sinners. It cannot tell us that God came as a man to save us. Science does not tell us that we are saved through the blood of Jesus. Science does not tell us the meaning of life.” OBVIOUS

Des Ford’s esoteric response to an abstruse critique of his book on Revelation by Jon Paulien gets two columns. IRRELEVANT

DR. A. GRAHAM MAXWELL: A THEOLOGICAL PERSPECTIVE by Jonathan Gallagher reviews the theology that made Graham beloved and revered.

“ ‘God is a friendly God, and He will save all friendly people. Why only friendly people? I think it’s just because heaven is a friendly place, and God is a friendly God who presides over the universe.’ ”

“ ‘You can force people to be your servants. But you cannot compel them to be your friends. … Which one of us would have dared to approach God with the incredible idea of John l5:l5? ‘We are no longer willing to be called your servants. We insist that from now on we be addressed as friends!’… I believe it is a great honor to be God’s servant, and especially to be regarded as a faithful one. It is also a high privilege to be called God’s child. But most of all, I’d rather be His friend. A trusting and trusted friend.’ ”

“These concepts Maxwell embodied in life. For him God is friendly and loves us—even to dying on the cross for us. God values nothing higher than our freedom and wishes to heal us, remake us, and spend eternity together with his trusted friends.”

WHERE IS TED WILSON LEADING US? By Lawrence G. Downing is a MUST READ. Downing uses Wilson’s own words to outline his theological beliefs. They include the following: an unequivocally claims that Adventists are the remnant people, as evidenced by seventh-day Sabbath keeping; Ellen White was a prophetic interpreter of scripture; these are “really” end times; the entire Bible, including the first eleven chapters, must be interpreted literally; Jesus is currently in the Heavenly Sanctuary securing the salvation of the elect; Adventist theology, i.e., the 28 Fundamental Beliefs, is TRUE and trumps scientific evidence and rational thought; that the spiritual reformation and revival of the Adventist Church is a necessary condition for the Second Advent.

Downing concludes his article with the following questions:

“The call for revival and renewal is a hallmark of churches or groups that are seeking to find new life or a renewed purpose. The faithful will offer their Amen, and others will shrug and await further developments. Left unanswered is whether Wilson’s pronouncements will promote unity within the church or contribute to further polarization. Will youth, young adults, and those whose views may differ from Wilson’s find assurance they are valued and welcomed in their church? Or will they find in his statements further evidence that they must look elsewhere for a spiritual home? Will his administration model inclusiveness and acceptance, or will it promote exclusiveness and uniformity? The next five years will provide answers to these and other questions.”

In light of Ted Wilson’s theology and his present control of every governing body in the General Conference, five years are not required to answer Downing’s questions. Wilson’s pronouncements will foment further polarization, and educated young people whose views differ from Wilson’s will increasingly “look elsewhere for a spiritual home”. Wilson’s radically conservative administration is based on “exclusiveness and uniformity”, and his dogmatism alienates thoughtful members of every stripe, especially teachers and professors in Adventist educational institutions.

In Julius Nam’s interview of Keith Lockhart that appeared in “Seeking the Sanctuary”, Spectrum Blog, September 21, March 2011, there is evidence that Lockhart and I seem to be reading the same religion page. He contends that a byproduct of tertiary education is skepticism of religious claims, based solely on “faith”, that appear to be with odds with social mores and rational processes.

JN: “You’ve written about the “revolving door” syndrome in Adventism where younger generations are leaving the church after attaining upward mobility through the church’s educational and health systems. If you were hired as a consultant to the North American Division, what advice would you give to halt, slow down, or reverse this trend?”

KL: “A good friend of mine at Newbold recently asked me if I would offer any advice. I was reluctant to get involved. However, for what it is worth, the answer is contained in your own question. You could bring the revolving door to a juddering halt by shutting down all Adventist educational institutions, especially the medical ones. You would prevent upward mobility then at a stroke, and you would probably be able to keep more members. But if that happened Adventism wouldn’t be Adventism, would it? So I don’t think that bulldozing Adventist institutions is a viable solution, nor am I recommending it!”

SOCIAL (IN) JUSTICE? by William F. Noel is a RECYCLED Republican rant.

“Is the modern concept of “social justice,” with taxpayer-funded programs designed to benefit minorities, God’s model for charity and something the church should support? Only if you enjoy disobeying God.”

“This system neither compelled giving nor taxed producers to help those in need. No group was considered “entitled” to receive because they had less than someone else. Specific acts of charity were the choices of individuals whose hearts were moved by awareness of need, with no government involvement. Recipients were expected to take what opportunity they had to work and to preserve their dignity as they returned to self-sufficiency. This is why the Apostle Paul ordered: “If a man will not work, he shall not eat” (2 Thess. 3:10, NIV).

“This contrasts sharply with the popular concept of social justice, which is based in liberal-socialist philosophy and hijacks the biblical model to promise an end to poverty after enough is taken from the rich. The path to this socialist utopia and total government control of life follows many action paths.”

DESMOND FORD AND HISTORICISM by Darrel Lindensmith is unreadable and IRRELEVANT.

PILLARS OF THE EARTH by Jeff Carlson is OBVIOUS. He’s a name-caller but wants to stay employed. I could admire this guy IF he named some of the punks! “Airtight theology” indeed!

“But I couldn’t be a Lutheran or Calvinist or any other type of Christian. There is no space in those churches for my theology. Parts of it, yes—but not the whole or even the majority. My theology fits in the Adventist Church. But how can many churches, which have such clear pieces of the practical character of Christ, be so deficit in biblical theology as I see it? And how can my denomination, with its airtight theology, be so full of punks? I feel like Peter saying, “Lord, where else would I go?” But honestly, I don’t like being here a lot of the time.”

Truth Decay: A Call for Accountability & Transparency by Albert Koppel is a RECYCLED critique of the secretive money allocating practices of the Adventist Church.

“Although my book, and others like it, has arrested the attention of the Church in North America, there is apparently a fear that the call for financial forthrightness in the world field will somehow produce an unmanageable backlash. Strong forces seem to oppose a climate of openness and transparency in the Church, preferring closed-door meetings and filtered statements.”

THE INFAMOUS FLEECE IS WOOL: THE 5 WORST REASONS TO ASK GOD FOR SIGNS by Vanesa Pizzuto has a catchy title but the ideas are RECYCLED.

“Reducing God’s will to a “destination,” rather than the process of getting to know him better and tuning our souls to the Holy Spirit, is a big mistake. It turns Christianity into a superstitious and shallow practice. We need first an intimate relationship with God. Then God may choose to talk to us through the Bible, through a friend, using circumstances or, yes, even a sign. And in all these ways we will be able to recognize his voice, because we will be accustomed to it.”

THE DAUGHTERS OF ADAM WHO WERE THEY? by Harold Frey is poorly written and unquestionably IRRELEVANT.

“We really don’t know very much, and that is why my most important question is this: What do the Genesis stories and the Bible as a whole intend to teach us?”

DON’T “GET IN TOO GREAT A HURRY AND EXPECT TOO MUCH OF DARKENED MINDS” is Alden Thompson’s attempt to apply this principle to “current attitudes toward Ellen White”. That seems an OBVIOUS tactic.

In 1874 Ellen White wrote, “ ‘cultivate a good temper—kindly, cheerful, buoyant, generous, pitiful, courteous, compassionate traits of character…Don’t get in too great a hurry and expect too much of darkened minds’…God saves people like us. Patience, time, and gentle energy can bring light to darkened minds.”

7 QUESTIONSFOR…ELDER TED N.C. WILSON were submitted by J. David Newman, editor of Adventist Today. Wilson’s assistant, Orville Parchment, sent J. David this reply: “Elder Wilson does not wish to answer these questions directly.” What could be more OBVIOUS?
  1. Our readers would like know the human side of their world leader. What would you like to share about yourself in 200 words?
  2. You are making revival and reformation a hallmark of your administration. Why is this so important?
  3. The 1976 Annual Council called for a similar revival and reformation. How does this call build on the previous call?
  4. Since the 1976 call did not bring its desired results, what lessons can we learn that will make a difference in this call?
  5. Are there limits to theological diversity in the Adventist Church? If the answer is yes, how do we determine those limits?
  6. Apart from the need for revival and reformation, what other major challenges does the Adventist Church face?
  7. How do you build consensus among the wide diversity of leaders at the General Conference, Division, Union, and Conference levels?
ADVENTIST MAN is now IRRELEVANT. In his place is a cartoonist named Heinrich. Please, editors, bring back the Masked Man of Mystery.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Ted Wilson may be conservative but he is compromising big time on Sunday-keeping in the Pacific. After stating clearly in Adventist World (SPD Edition): "A created being cannot honor His Creator while defying the command to keep Saturday, the Sabbath, the seventh day of the week holy," this came from Orville Parchment, his PA: "Recently, Pastor Wilson provided an article to "Adventist World" which talked about the wonderful subject of the Sabbath. It is a core belief of the church. However, some have unfortunately misused that article to imply that perhaps Pastor Wilson could have been referring to the Sabbath subject discussion in certain islands of the South Pacific where the International Date Line has changed. In a conversation with Pastor Wilson, he indicated that there was absolutely no intent on his part to connect that article with any discussions that may be taking place. Anyone trying to draw a direct connection is misusing the material."
I requested a copy with Ted Wilson's signature but Parchment simply replied that Wilson has read the statement and agrees with it.
John Wallace