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)