Thursday, December 20, 2012

GOODBYE


This is the last edition of Adventist Perspective. It’s been an interesting adventure. However, I’m tired of reviewing Adventist periodicals on a regular basis. If you enjoyed the cartoons, 521 of them remain. The Perspective Magazine contains, among other things, an unpublished book by Sakae Kubo and Jane Spear’s stories of a childhood spent as the daughter of missionary parents in Ethiopia before WWII.

I will continue as moderator of Reinventing the Adventist Wheel and blog at Adventist Today.

Adventist Perspective is a window into my world. I hope you consider me a humorist and loyal critic rather than a blasphemer. I’ve tried to be honest about who I am and what I believe. That isn’t always easy to think through much less put into words, but it’s the challenge I leave with you.


As a going away present, I’ve included Christmas cartoons along with others that I like for personal reasons. They include my all-time favorite Noah’s Ark sendup.

Love and best wishes for a Merry Christmas and a happy and healthy New Year!

Andy

Cartoons




































Thursday, December 13, 2012

A Timely Reminder






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

Reviewing Adventist Today


October-December, 2012
Vol. 20, No. 5
WWW.ATODAY.ORG

GENERAL COMMENTS
J. David Newman’s editorial, WHY THE CHURCH NEEDS ADVENTIST TODAY AND OTHER NEWS SERVICES, makes a strong case for the “need for dissenting voices” when it comes to Adventist dogma.

LETTERS to Adventist Today are few and far between, according to AT editors. And Ariel A. Roth is to be congratulated in taking the time to write a lengthy response to “A Quantum Paradox of Time and Providence: Death Before Sin and Man’s Fall” by Darrel Lindensmith (September-October 2012). Unfortunately, his attempt to mix Biblical allusions with scientific evidence fails to support his conclusion.

One does not have to give up scientific integrity in order to believe in the biblical account of beginnings. There is significant data from nature that is hard to explain without the context of creation and the Flood.

AESTHETIS AND INTELLIGENT DESIGN by Bernard Brandstater fails to make the case that beauty is the signature of God, his unique identifier. An Ebola virus is “beautiful,” as is the mushroom cloud produced by a hydrogen bomb.

It is always enlightening to read the transcript of a speech that has a direct influence on Adventist church policy. SCRIPTURE, POLICY, AND UNITY is Randy Roberts’ brilliant argument for women’s ordination delivered on Aug. 19, 2012, the day the Pacific Union Conference constituency decided, by a vote of 79 percent to 21 percent, to ordain candidates to the pastoral ministry without regard to gender.

I authored an article in this issue. IS PROTECTING THE DENOMINATION’S NAME IMPORTANT ENOUGH TO SEND PEOPLE TO JAIL? My personal answer is a resounding “No”!

There is one piece of information that came to light after the publication date that I would like to include here. Walter “Chick” McGill was almost murdered while in jail because a number of violent inmates assumed he was a child molester because he could not provide a document explaining the reason for his incarceration. He remained in danger until newspaper stories proved his explanation. I had no idea that my press alert may have saved his life.

Unfortunately, the Adventist Church continues to litigate this case. As Luke Chartier told me, “They don’t seem to be satisfied with a beating; they want a crucifixion.”

HOW HISTORICAL DIVERSITY DIVIDES US by Albert C. Koppel documents the fact that failure to believe any or all of the 28 Fundamental beliefs can arguably be said not to be a test of one’s fellowship.

The world has changed a great deal since Civil War times, and “present truth” will certainly call for some adaptations in the way we allocate funds and articulate the tests of fellowship. But if we mismanage this process, we could find ourselves trying to fence up to 50 percent of our current membership out of Adventism, even as we make the path into  Adventism too narrow.

CHRIST IN US by Don Watson is a devotional piece that concludes: Jesus explained the simple one-step process to receive the Holy Spirit. “If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him! ” (Luke 11:13, NIV)

THE 1901 GENERAL CONFERENCE—THE REST OF THE STORY by Alden Thompson has gone a long way to further my respect for the man. He has the audacity to quote Ellen White giving the brethren a tongue-lashing. Her words made it clear that she was not in awe of church authorities when they overstepped their authority.

“At times, when a small group of men entrusted with the general management of the work have, in the name of the General Conference, sought to carry out unwise plans and to restrict God’s work, I have said that I could no longer regard the voice of the General Conference, represented by these few men, as the voice of God…”

Thompson concludes: Our task today is to do all in our power to ensure that the General Conference Session is “representative.” When it is, it deserves the confidence of the church.

In his own inimitable way, ADVENTIST MAN tackles the do’s and don’ts of ingesting meat substitutes and diluted coffee. Take his timeless advice and you will never again be “Bewildered at The ABC.”

The Ordination Study Committee Member’s Lament






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

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Dateline Shift Confuses South Pacific Division President





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

Reviewing the Adventist Reviews of November


November 8, 15, 22
Vol. 189, Numbers 31, 32, 33
http://www.adventistreview.org/index.php?issue=2012-1531
http://www.adventistreview.org/index.php?issue=2012-1532
http://www.adventistreview.org/index.php?issue=2012-1533

NOTE TO READERS:
WORLD NEWS AND PERSPECTIVES is an important section of each magazine. I don’t usually report on its contents because it is available at the online address I provide with every review.

GENERAL COMMENTS
When I tried to work up the enthusiasm to review single issues, I couldn’t. Perhaps I’m becoming jaded or bored, but I felt overwhelmed by devotional pieces that seemed to smother my desire to be a better Adventist. Consequently, this is a Review trifecta in which I give props to those writers that engaged me intellectually.

In the November 8 Review I learned that the ADVENTIST CHURCH MEMBERSHIP IS GROWING OUTSIDE OF NORTH AMERICA, EUROPE AND SOON OVERSEAS TITHE WILL ECLIPSE GIVING FROM NORTH AMERICA. The reporter was Edwin Manuel Garcia from the Adventist News Network.

Tithe that originates in the North American Division has long provided most of the Seventh-day Adventist world budget, but a dramatic membership surge in Africa, Asia, and Latin America is reversing that decades-old trend.

If the religious landscape continues its rapid population shift, funding provided by countries in the so-called Global South will likely overtake the amount given by the Global North within five years.

“Europe and the United States 
are no longer at the epicenter of the Christian world, because the majority of Christians now reside outside of these two continents,” secretary G. T. Ng told about 350 delegates.

The implications for Adventism are potentially far-reaching, Ng suggested, ranging from a redistribution of church funding to a “reverse missionary movement,” where the notions of “sending country” and “receiving country” are tossed aside.

In 1960 the Adventist Church sent out 490 long-term missionaries, and about 90 percent of them originated from North America, Europe, and Australia, known as the Global North. But in 2010 the Global North’s share of missionaries dropped to 54 percent, because of an increase in missionaries sent from the Southern Asia-Pacific Division, South American Division, and Inter-American Division.

“The paradigm,” Ng said, “highlights the potential for the Global South to evangelize the Global North.”

The explosive growth in Africa, Asia, and Latin America coincides with slow and stagnant growth in Europe and the United States, in part because of an aging membership, Ng said. All of the 15 union conferences whose membership declined between 2000 and 2010 were in the three European divisions.

In 1960 the church in the Global South had a membership of 675,000, or 54 percent of world membership. A half century later, by 2010, membership in the Global South had climbed to 16 million, or 91.5 percent of world membership.

The Global North, meanwhile, had 570,000 members in 1960 and reached 1.5 million, or just 8.5 percent of total world membership, in 2010.

* * *

LETTER TO A MISSIONARY DENTIST by Doyle Nick in the November 15 Review was a gem. It’s a MUST READ for potential mission dentists. The following is a sample of the advice offered.

Identify as quickly as you can the features of your adopted culture that are superior; there will be several. Embrace them, incorporating them permanently into your personal and family culture. This will enrich your life, make it possible for you to better appreciate your adopted home, and allow you to work on equal footing with those around you…

You must care for your practice and your profession. In some parts of the world, church leaders have considered dental clinics to be little more than a source of cash, and some clinics have been destroyed because all resources were drained, starving the business and depleting professional effectiveness. Educate those around you and resist this. Your practice must have modern equipment, current materials, and cutting-edge techniques. Anything less misrepresents our mission and our God. Likewise, be sure that you invest adequate time and money into your own professional development, knowledge, and skill. Take care of the staff members on your dental team, and be sure that while they are held accountable, they are also secure, well trained, and respected.

STRANDED! by Brittany Harwood provided the following arresting quote.

Spanish writer Miguel de Unamuno wrote, “Those who believe they believe in God, but without passion in the heart, without anguish of mind, without uncertainty, without doubt, and even at times without despair, believe only in the idea of God, and not God Himself.”

* * *

The November 22 Issue included medical advice from my favorite duo of docs, Allan R. Handysides and Peter N. Landless. As usual, they provide invaluable information about common medical conditions. For PSORIASIS sufferers, this is a MUST READ.

Creation Science






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

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Mythunderstandings






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

Reviewing Adventist World, NAD Edition


November, 2012
Vol. 8, No. 11
http://www.adventistworld.org/

Adventist World is free online. For that reason, I only review or comment on articles that I believe to be of special interest. Online readers can now read the entire print edition. Just click on the cover in the bottom left of the home page, and every page of the entire magazine is yours! Editors, way to go!

GENERAL COMMENTS
Check out World on line by clicking on the cover in the bottom left of the home page. It’s magical! High-resolution computer screens produce every page in vibrant, high definition color as you turn the pages in the virtual magazine.

This issue is an enjoyable read. Articles as written so the reader can determine his/her interest level in the first or second paragraph. However, if you are indecisive about taking the time to read the entire piece, check out the last paragraph.

RECOMMENDATIONS
Don’t miss 100 YEARS OF GIVING by Gina Wahlen, CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASE by Handysides and Landless, and TRANSLATOR OF THE WORD.  Mikhail Kulakov, Jr., leads a team of scholars in translating a new version of the Bible into modern Russian.

Never Mind








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

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Adventist Entertainment Channels












According to independent research, this is a singularly ineffective form of evangelism.

Reviewing the Adventist Review

October 25, 2012
Vol. 189, No. 30
http://www.adventistreview.org/index.php?issue=2012-1530

NOTE TO READERS:
WORLD NEWS AND PERSPECTIVES is an important section of each magazine. I don’t usually report on its contents because it is available at the online address I provide with every review.

COMMENTS
DIVERSITY IN THE CHURCH: WHAT WE ARE DOING TO EMBRACE IT featuring red, black, green, blue, and yellow M&M’s is the promise on the cover page.

Five diversity issues were discussed at the October 31 Diversity Celebration Summit at Silver Spring: gender, disability, age, race, and culture. Ann Roda, Richard Mouzon, Andrew W. Kerbs, Calvin Rock, and Jimmy Shwe presented the issues and, with the exception of Ann Roda (gender diversity), provided the context in which it was discussed.

There was no mention of when the findings of this conference would be reported or the weight given to their recommendations. For these reasons, I smell a PR stunt rather than a serious attempt to discover the advantages and problems inherent in an increasingly diverse membership. I hope I’m wrong.

It’s too bad than Kimberly Luste Maran felt the need to counsel Jessica how to dress when “checking out” Adventist churches in her area, so that she would experience A GOOD VISIT.

It continues to be unfortunate that there is no middle ground in the creation issue. Uncertainty is not an Adventist option. Delbert W. Baker makes that crystal clear in ORIGINS: BELIEFS HAVE IMPLICATIONS, PART 2. Creation truth is interrelated with salvation truth.

Deleise Cole-Wilson is a theologian that certainly doesn’t speak for me in her essay, and our ideas about God would make it impossible for us to be TOGETHER PERFECT! In our lives we know how much we each deserve death for all of the things we constantly do wrong. If we had been around when bears ate people for being disobedient or disrespectful, many of us would not be here.

I emailed Andrew McChesney regarding his inability to “witness” to a Russian government official when Andrew asked him, WHAT BOOK ARE YOU READING? And the man replied, “I’m reading a book called About Prayer.” Our correspondence follows:

Andy Hanson
Upon reflection, did it occur to you that it was the government official that brought God into the conversation? Were you so busy thinking about how you could "witness" that you missed the fact that the official might have been witnessing to you? God is at work in the world.

Andy McChesney
I wholeheartedly concur with you! Warm regards.

Clifford Goldstein has written his first play. Shadow Men: A Play (Warburton, Victoria: Signs Publishing Company, 2012), 108 pages, A$14.95. The setting is Death Row. Chantal Klingbeil gives it a positive review.

There is a MUST READ article in this issue. MISSION FOCUSED LEARNING by Richard H. Hart provides an outstanding blueprint for effective teaching and learning in today’s world.

With the information explosion now all around us, this paradigm is fundamentally changing. Educators are being urged to create “learning environments” in which students can explore in their own way, at their own speed, driven by their own desire to learn and understand. To be effective, these learning environments require careful planning and orchestrating. Ultimately they will build the foundation for lifelong learning—an approach to education that becomes a pattern for life. It recognizes the broad spectrum of learning styles that we all have and lets students develop and maximize their own pathway to discovery and understanding.

Leadership 101





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

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Just Asking





Comic modified from Frank & Ernest by Thaves
(click to enlarge)

Reviewing the Adventist Review

October 18, 2012
Vol. 189, No.29
http://www.adventistreview.org/index.php?issue=2012-1529

NOTE TO READERS:
WORLD NEWS AND PERSPECTIVES is an important section of each magazine. I don’t usually report on its contents because it is available at the online address I provide with every review.

GENERAL COMMENTS
This issue leaves the reader with a positive feeling that there will be greater honesty and generosity in the way we as Adventists conduct ourselves.

Bill Knott begins things with his editorial, HOLY CONVERSATIONS.

The way forward for an Advent people too easily divided by our differences in culture, language, history, and opinion is also inescapably dialogical, even when good dialogue requires the services of a translator or a mediator. A candid self-examination reminds me that not every preference of mine should be doctrine for my sister. Some ideas, however much I like them, are not central to the faith of Jesus. They must correctly be identified as in the negotiable margins that allow two different individuals to hold a civil conversation, talk about their common truths, and even agree to respectfully differ when necessary. Any faith community in which every opinion is sacralized ceases to be holy—or wholly Christ’s.

On the next page, Sandra Blackmer echoes Knott’s concerns.

We each choose how to respond to less-than-ideal circumstances, to criticism, to controversy. We determine whether to become defensive, to lash back, to make excuses, or to try to see the situation from the other person’s perspective and ask ourselves if there’s something we can do to improve things.

Joanne Davis, speaking at the GLOBAL MEDIA COMMUNICATIONS SUMMIT, argued:
Now is the time to make every change necessary to reach the world. And Greg Dunn echoed the refrain: “If ever there was a time to break out of the mold and to step up our game, it is now.”

Education, not doctrine, is celebrated with the LAUNCH OF THE CHURCH’S FIFTH MEDICAL SCHOOL IN PERU.

Clearly Cedric Vine was LISTENING TO THE SPIRIT when he wrote the following:

It is the theologians and administrators who play catch-up, seeking to interpret and understand the acts of the Spirit in light of Scripture…The preamble to the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s Statement of Fundamental Beliefs captures nicely the dynamic role of the Spirit in guiding the church: “These beliefs…constitute the church’s understanding and expression of the teachings of Scripture. Revision of these statements may be expected at a General Conference session when the church is led by the Holy Spirit to a fuller understanding of Bible truth or finds better language in which to express the teachings of God’s Holy Word… While Scripture remains a constant, our interpretation of Scripture may require further growth and development. This truth requires that as a church, whatever procedures we use to deal with internal issues, we must always surrender to the dynamic leadership of the Holy Spirit. He will lead us into “all truth” (John 16:13)—if we are willing to be led.

Honesty and humility triumph as Cliff describes the death of his parents in a DEATH IN THE FAMILY.

My father died this summer. He shot his wife in the head, crawled into bed next to her, put the gun in his mouth, and shot himself. He was 86, almost blind, had leukemia, emphysema (the man had smoked for 72 years), and such terrible shakes that he could barely put food in his mouth. (He had joked with his brother-in-law a few weeks before their deaths, “If I don’t do this soon, I’m going to miss.”) His wife of 34 years had, among other things, kidney failure, severe osteoporosis, and spinal cancer. Life had become miserable, even worse…

My dad’s ending wasn't an Adventist one. But he wasn't an Adventist, so what did I expect? How glad I am, though, that a loving God, with a compassion I can’t conceive, is judge, and that I will be able to say, “Yes, Lord God Almighty, true and just are your judgments” (Rev. 16:7), whatever His judgment on my father is.

RESPONDING TO THE CALL OF MINISTRY by Ashley Batiste. It is a MUST READ account of Christian service that is the definition of worldwide Gospel Ministry. The National Association for the Prevention of Starvation (NAPS) ministry doesn't stop at responding to national disasters. Instead, it goes beyond to bringing hope, love, and support to remote, less-known places.

Andy Nash asks an important question in MAX LUCADO’S CONFESSION: Would my own church leaders feel safe being this honest with their congregations—with their colleagues? Or is this honesty only for someone else?

It pains me to report that there is a canker in the rose of this excellent, generously Christian issue. THE INCOMPLETE GOSPEL by Andrew W. Kerbs discounts the life and teachings of Christ and is shockingly parochial. His argument: Without the fuller understanding of the work accomplished in the sanctuary, what happened at Calvary would be little more than a moving story of another murdered prophet.

It’s just a “colorful opinion.”





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

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Warning!





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

Reviewing the Anventist Review


October 11, 2012
Vol. 189, No.28
http://www.adventistreview.org/index.php?issue=2012-1526

NOTE TO READERS:
WORLD NEWS AND PERSPECTIVES is an important section of each magazine. I don’t usually report on its contents because it is available at the online address I provide with every review.

GENERAL COMMENTS
There is a fascinating juxtaposition of theological differences in the editorials that appear across from each other on pages 6 and 7. On page 6, Mark Kellner argues that LOVE ISN’T ALL YOU NEED. On page 7, Stephen Chavez opines that EVEN OUR ADVERSARIES will know that we are followers of Christ by the way we love and serve each other.

This theological difference of opinion raises an important question. Are Adventists Seventh-day Adventist Christians or Christian Seventh-day Adventists? In other words, which is more important, being a Seventh-day Adventist or being a Christian? How important is our trademarked “brand” of Christianity when it comes to issues of community welfare and self-renouncing love?

When FLORIDA ADVENTST HOSPITAL’S COLLEGE BECAME THE NEWEST DENOMINATIONAL UNIVERSITY, university officials said that they added the word “Adventist” to enhance the school’s reputation as one with a Christian mission. One has to wonder about the efficacy of this “official” reasoning given that the Adventist hospitals in Florida, part of the Adventist Health System, face an impending federal lawsuit contending that routine billing fraud occurred in the emergency departments from 2001 to 2008 and possibly longer…This new allegation "fits like a glove” with the original complaint…filed in July 2010, claiming that Florida Hospital used improper coding from 1995 to 2009 to overbill Medicare, Medicaid and Tricare, all federal government payers, for radiology services.
The suit also alleges that the hospital routinely overbilled for a drug — octreotide — used to enhance MRI scans by billing for larger doses than were actually administered. It also alleges that bills were issued for computer-aided-detection analyses that were never performed. Orlando Sentinel, Wed. Oct. 17, 2012

In THE GIRL WITH DIRTY BLOND HAIR, Jimmy Phillips puts “Christian” before “Seventh-day Adventist.” I don’t know about you, but my ultimate goal is not to further a political agenda. My mission is not just to win friends, but to win people for the kingdom. Lately I’ve realized that criticizing others and creating controversy—even when I’m technically right—doesn’t work toward that end.

“TRUST IS THE FOUNDATION OF UNITY” is clearly a “Seventh-day Adventist” before “Christian” piece. Bill Knott’s interview with Artur Stele, along with an historical review of Adventist policy regarding the ordination of women, is informative but nowhere in the four-page spread do the words “Christ” or “Christian” appear. “God” is also a nonexistent word.

Lael Caeser’s “FIGURING OUT CHRISTIAN” is a poorly written, jingoistic definition of “Christian” that seems to place “Christian” before “Seventh-day Adventist,” but his willingness to lump people living in regions of the United States and members of other faiths as somehow inferior of character and intellect, challenges the usual definition of the word.

"Christian” is not so because sociologists apply it as a label. Nor is it so because interviewees so self-identify. Jesus, recorded and reported in the Word, Jesus, reproduced in the witness of word and life among His followers—that is Christian. “Christian” has no further need of definition.

Against today’s cringing apology for the weakness of the gospel before New York’s materialism, or California’s narcissism, or India’s mysticism, or Tibet’s Buddhism, Aristides contends that there is no way of missing the gospel’s power.

PROVIDENCE by Dixil Rodriquez is a magical story of faith restored in an embittered old woman. It’s definitely in the “Christian” before “Seventh-day Adventist” category.

Sandra Blakmer’s BULLYING IN ADVENTIST SCHOOLS? is clearly a “Christian” before “Seventh-day Adventist” interview with Debra Pershing, and a MUST READ for everyone working with young people in Adventist schools.

The INBOX features letters to the editor regarding Herbert Blomstedt’s essay on appropriate church music “Present Truth in Music" (July 12, 2012) and Andy Nash’s “The Missing Story in ‘Seventh-Gay Adventists,’ ” (July 19, 2012). The Review is to be congratulated for encouraging a dialog on these controversial issues.

Finally, a personal suggestion. The Review’s paid readership averaged 22,600 for the past 12 months. (p. 25) This is the “flagship journal” for 1.1 million Adventist members in the North American Division. This means that less than 3% of NAD members subscribe. The question is, “Why?” Editors, researching this question might prove instructive.

Situational Evangelism









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

Thursday, November 1, 2012

The Reason for Division Presidents





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

Reviewing Adventist World, NAD Edition


October, 2012
Vol. 8, No. 10
http://www.adventistworld.org/

Adventist World is free online. For that reason, I only review or comment on articles that I believe to be of special interest. Online readers can now read the entire print edition. Just click on the cover in the bottom left of the home page, and every page of the entire magazine is yours! Editors, way to go!

GENERAL COMMENTS
I’m confused! A United Nation’s representative reports that CONGOLESE ADVENTIST REFUGEES ARE STREAMING INTO RWANDA, but many are refusing transport on Saturday! What are these members being taught about Sabbath keeping?

Ted N. C. Wilson will contest to the bitter end the right of individual Divisions to ordain women. And he may stake his presidency on his conviction that all the Divisions of the church must agree to ordain women before official church policy can be changed. To that end, Wilson is advancing what he calls “Following the Biblical Way.” WORKING THROUGH OUR DIFFERENCES is an administrative, tour-de-force designed to give him the ability to call the shots as the President of the Executive Committee that meets between General Conference sessions.

Docs Handysides and Landless demystify PARKINSON’S DISEASE.

Unfortunately, THE POWERFUL BREATH, Frank M. Hasel’s riff on Fundamental Doctrine #5, is cliché riddled, poorly written, and more confusing than enlightening.

FOR PEOPLE BY PEOPLE: A VISION FOR MEDICAL EVANGELISM reported by Chantal and Gerald Kingbeil is a MUST READ for anyone interested an evangelistic project that showcases Adventist community outreach at its very best.

Nathan Gordon Thomas is interested in obscure church history. PART II: MICHAEL BELINA CZECHOWSKI chronicles the European saga of this American born evangelist that preached The Three Angel’s Message in the 1860’s after he lost the official sponsorship of the church.

Telling Power to Truth





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

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Taken For a Ride






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

Reviewing Spectrum


Summer, 2012
Volume 40, Issue 3
http://spectrummagazine.org/

GENERAL COMMENTS
I’m tired of listening to defenders of women’s ordination, LGBT rights, and higher criticism, ruthlessly parse biblical texts and explain historical perspectives. If you aren’t, then this issue might be a page-turner. For me, getting through it was a chore.

There were two articles that justified time spent: LOOKING FOR LESSONS IN THE ADRA LEADERSHIP CHANGE by Alltia Byrd and “WE WISH TO INFORM YOU”: BAPTISM AND GENOCIDE IN RWANDA by Andrew Howe.

On the other hand, Ivan T. Blazen’s BIBLICAL TEXTS AND HOMOSEXUAL PRACTICES was eight excruciating pages of muddy homiletics, punctuated by Greek vocabulary, references to anal sex, and mention of a vertical exchange with the true God [that] is mirrored in the horizontal exchange of their (?) true sexuality.

Don’t judge philosophical discourse by Abi Koukhan’s ELLEN WHITE AND THE LOVE OF WISDOM or LEGITIMIZATION, ARTICULATION, AND CRITIQUE: ADVENTISM AND THE THREE MODES OF PHILOSOPHY by Zane Yi.

As long as I’m at it, I’ll mention an ongoing pet peeve. Comments following blog articles, such as ADVENTISM AND THE INTERSEX PROBLEM by Rich Hannon, are set in such tiny font size that they are almost unreadable.

Nightmare







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

Thursday, October 18, 2012

SAVED!





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

Reviewing the Adventist Review


September 27, 2012
Vol. 189, No.27
http://www.adventistreview.org/index.php?issue=2012-1527

GENERAL COMMENTS
This is the revival issue. It’s not often I quote an author as extensively as I am about to do. Ted Wilson’s notion of current “revival” could be lifted out of a 19th century Adventist pamphlet describing the Second Coming, a description of the righteous saved, and the magical power bestowed upon those who uncritically read and contemplate the Word in light of the Sacred 28. Ted’s long quote will be followed by excerpts from other contributors who echo Wilson’s sentiments and a story about how a CD of Christian songs expelled an evil spirit.

Finally, I’ll include a quote from Ellen White that seems to me to provide a cautionary historical footnote to these current proclamations about end-time events. (Since she wrote those words, there have been World Wars I & II, Korea, Viet Nam, Rwanda, and various other horrific genocides.)

QUOTATIONS
Ted Wilson: REVIVAL AND THE WORD
The Truth as It Is in Jesus
As we live in this momentous time of earth’s history it is particularly important that we understand how all of our doctrines are centered in Jesus.

Soon end-time events will be upon us. Soon Christ will return and ultimately place the final penalty on Satan. The blood of Jesus Christ, our sacrifice, on the cross and the ministry of our high priest, Jesus Christ, in the heavenly sanctuary have one purpose—that you and I and all who submit to Him, confessing our sins and accepting Him as our Savior, may be made right with God and have eternal life through Christ’s all-encompassing ministry. We do not have to fear the judgment if we know the Lamb—if we know the High Priest and our coming King.

The Coming King
It is important to understand the sequence of what will happen in the near future. When Christ comes at His second coming, all eyes shall see Him. This will be the blessed hope that we are waiting for and that I believe is to take place very soon. We see even now that things around us are falling apart. Matthew 24 tells us of the signs of His coming. We have only to look around us at the economic upheaval, political instability, devastating illnesses, and social and moral decay to see these signs being fulfilled. There already are ecumenical movements aimed at creating a unified religious system that will oppose the worship of God on the seventh-day Sabbath and ultimately eliminate religious liberty and promote a substitute day of worship.

When He does come that second time, His feet will not touch this earth, but we will rise up into the heavenly cloud “to meet the Lord in the air” (1 Thess. 4:17). Prior to His glorious return, however, Satan will seek to “deceive the very elect,” as the King James Version of Matthew 24:24 tells us. Satan will attempt to transform himself into an “angel of light” (2 Cor. 11:14) and will try to impersonate Christ. How will you and I know this impostor from the real Christ? Imagine the frenzied media coverage that will supposedly “prove” to all that this “christ” is real. “Satan, surrounded by evil angels, and claiming to be God, will work miracles of all kinds, to deceive, if possible, the very elect.”4 We will not be able to trust our physical senses. We will have to have our spiritual eyes renewed by the Holy Spirit. We will need to be so in tune with our Savior, so familiar with His voice in the Word, that we will be able to “live by faith” (Rom. 1:17) in earth’s darkest hour.

Near the Finish Line
I believe that God’s dream of a finished work will soon be realized. I am confident that as we seek to know Jesus better, God will pour out His Holy Spirit without measure. He will use us to proclaim His truth, and “the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea” (Hab. 2:14, NKJV). The work of God on earth will be completed. Jesus will come as the Mighty Deliverer. He will come as the King of kings and Lord of lords to take His children home.

Angel Manuel Rodríguez: MAKING GOD’S WORD OUR OWN
God’s Word and Me
We are the addressed of the Word of God. He speaks to us as Creator and Redeemer because we have to know His plan and His will for us. We have to come out of our existential darkness into the light of a meaningful life.

Bonita Joyner Shields: HEART AND SOIL
Good Soil, Good Harvest
What is your heart made of? Do you value God’s Word? Are you rooted in His Word so that you can withstand the temptations of the enemy? Do you want Him to calm your anxious heart? Whatever the condition of your heart, God is willing and able to plant His seeds of life within it.

Pray for a pure heart. Hear, understand, accept, and obey His Word. Abide in Him, looking to Him for growth. He will accomplish it—even in the most unlikely places.

Galina Stele: REVIVED—AND READY TO CROSS
Lessons for the Promised Land
As world history rushes to its end we are standing again as a church at the border of the Promised Land. Sometimes we forget this, especially when the valleys of acacias are in blossom.

Jerry Page: A CALL TO LEADERSHIP
Accepting God’s Call 
We are living on the edge of eternity. Solemn and frightening days threaten our safety. How the angels must weep as they see the condition of the Laodicean church—a people who are blind to their needs and the dangerous times.

Ekkehardt Mueller: THE RICHNESS OF THE WORD
Voiced With Sincerity
True new light must be distinguished from the so-called new light of heresy. We do this by checking Scripture. The Holy Spirit will not contradict Himself in what He teaches. We also check with the community of true believers. On a personal level, we study broadly and avoid hobby horses.

Derek J. Morris: SINGING THE SCRIPTURES
A Practical Suggestion
Some years ago a pastor received a phone call asking if he could come and pray a blessing of God over someone’s house. Apparently a woman named Glenda had recently been widowed, and the superstition of her culture had taught that her dead husband’s spirit would come to visit the house for 40 days after his death. About a week after his death she began to hear rapping sounds in the part of the house in which he had died. Glenda was an educated woman, but she didn’t know how to handle this supernatural phenomenon. As the pastor prepared to go to Glenda’s house, he was impressed to take a CD of Scripture songs with him. He encouraged Glenda to play it in her home and to hide God’s words in her heart. The next morning Glenda called excitedly: “The rapping is gone!” The evil spirit harassing Glenda had been expelled from her house by the power of the Word of God! Glenda experienced the revitalizing power of God’s Word, and her life was transformed.

Ellen G. White: REVIVAL AND MISSION
Revival Fuels Mission—and Mission Revival
This article has been excerpted from a piece first published in The Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, March 13, 1888. Seventh-day Adventists believe that Ellen G. White (1827-1915) exercised the biblical gift of prophecy during more than 70 years of public ministry.

The law of God is being trampled underfoot, the blood of the covenant is being despised; and can we fold our hands and say that we have nothing to do? Let us arouse! The battle is waging. Truth and Error are nearing their final conflict. Let us march under the bloodstained banner of Prince Emmanuel, and fight the good fight of faith, and win eternal honors; for the truth will triumph, and we may be more than conquerors through Him who has loved us. The precious hours of probation are closing. Let us make sure work for eternal life, that we may glorify our heavenly Father, and be the means of saving souls for whom Christ died.

Out of touch with the real world? Consult a theologian.





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

Thursday, October 11, 2012

FAST FOOD AND PHILOSOPHY AT THE GC






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

Reviewing the Adventist Review


September 20, 2012
Vol. 189, No.26
http://www.adventistreview.org/index.php?issue=2012-1526

NOTE TO READERS:
WORLD NEWS AND PERSPECTIVES is an important section of each magazine. I don’t usually report on its contents because it is available at the online address I provide with every review.

GENERAL COMMENTS
This edition of the Review admits that a number of traditional Adventist doctrines and statements of policy are being questioned by members and leaders. The fact that these differences are not condemned out of hand must be seen as a positive step toward unity within a larger “doctrinal tent.” However, this issue also includes articles that make it seem that unity without conformity is an almost impossible dream.

GETTING NOWHERE FAST by Gerald Klingbeil specifically lists some of the major issues that divide members, but he goes on to suggest that these differences need not divide us or impede our efforts to work together.

My wife and I immediately thought about our church with its millions of members, thousands of churches, pastors, teachers, and administrators that face every day the pull of many directions. Think of some of the hot spots in contemporary Seventh-day Adventism. Some feel we should change our stance on creation and definitely tone down our position regarding the remnant; others feel strongly about the ordination of women and justice; there are some (though fewer) who are concerned about our position on homosexuality. What about those who fear that our current engagement with contemporary culture has transformed us into Babylon, or others who feel that we have come to de-emphasize sanctification over justification?

Klingbeil directs the reader to advice from Ellen White.

When self shall be hidden in Christ, it will not be brought to the surface so frequently. . . . It is only when we are careful to carry out the Master’s orders without leaving our stamp and identity upon the work that we work efficiently and harmoniously.

STANDING TOGETHER, by Lael Caesar, is another ray of hope for those of us that believe unity can be achieved without uniformity.

God’s people, engaged in God’s work, need a common, mutual, and respectful faith in who we are and what we all do. This approach doesn’t alter our fundamental commitments to Christ, nor does it disqualify us from what we’re doing. Standing together and working together in the Spirit with Ezra and Nehemiah, we may show how saints of radically different and contrasting mind-sets, temperaments, and methods can finish God’s assignment together and celebrate at last—together—on the walls of the New Jerusalem. 

HOMOSEXUALITY, MARRIAGE, AND THE CHURCH, a book issued by the Andrews University Press, argues that homosexuals have been lured down a dangerous spiritual path by charming but false arguments from Scripture and political history. This is an example of why unity without conformity seems to be an unrealizable dream.

Ronald Knott, director of Andrews University Press, notes that along with the biblical and religious liberty issues, the book makes a passionate case for the highest level of pastoral love and support for those Christians who, he said, “may have been lured down a dangerous spiritual path by charming but false arguments from Scripture and political history, coming from outside and inside the church.”

THE FUNDAMENTALIST, Cliff Goldstein’s review of Alex Rosenbergs’s book, “The Atheist’s Guide to Reality,” is illuminating and thoughtful, and should be required reading for anyone who is an atheist or thinking about adopting that philosophical position.

HEALING OLD WOUNDS provides practical advice about successful human relationships. It also includes lists of supporting books and web sites.

Charlos Medley’s STARK REMINDER, argues that religious freedom is a fundamental Adventist tenant, and cites Todd McFarland, a GC attorney, as an admirable advocate for this position. In my view, McFarland is more hired gun than idealistic defender of religious freedom. Case in point:

MORE THAN A NAME by Benjamin D. Schoun, a General VP of the GC, rationalizes the persecution of the Creation Seventh Day Adventist Church because more than anything, when people hear the name Seventh-day Adventist we hope they think of good neighbors—kind, helpful, loving people who are an asset to their communities.

It is important to know something about the Creation Seventh Day Adventist Church before judging the validity of Schoun’s protection of copyright argument. First, note that the church title includes “Creation” and the unhyphenated “Day.” In addition, the CSDA church never advertised itself as an SDA church, and by all accounts it was a Christian influence in the small town of Guys, Tennessee, and in a village in Rwanda where it sponsored a school and medical clinic.

CSDA lost the legal case to keep their name by a two to one opinion in an appellate court, and the case would have been argued in the US Supreme Court if CSDA’s final appeal had been granted.

In an attempt to discover the cost of this copyright infringement case, I contacted Todd McFarland, the lead GC attorney in this litigation. I received the following email response:

It was good to talk to you earlier today.  During our conversation you asked what the total expenditures in the Creation SDA trademark case.  As I indicated on the phone, I did not have that number at my immediate disposal.  Further I was not authorized to release it.  After discussions with leadership that is not a figure we are ready to release publicly.  While the church strives to be transparent in its dealings, there are some topics such as litigation that we do not discuss in detail.  This request falls within that category.  

During our call you intimated that if not given the cost figure you would have to estimate and that the estimate would be in the "millions of dollars."  While you are free to use any estimate you would like.

The legal estimate I received from an attorney friend was $500,000 minimum.

I am far from convinced that whatever it cost for the GC to litigate this case, it was a waste of money and a refutation of the church’s position on religious freedom. Furthermore, it resulted in the imprisonment of Walter McGill and Lucan Chartier, peace-loving men of principle. The negative publicity generated was embarrassing enough to require Schoun’s defense in this issue of the Adventist Review.

For the record, here is an authorized brief history of the CSDA Church and the beliefs of its members.

The Creation Seventh Day Adventists broke away from the official Adventist Church in 1988, because of doctrinal disagreements; specifically, as a response to the acquisition and enforcing of a trademark regarding the name "Seventh-day Adventist" on other believers outside of the denominational umbrella. The United States congregation is pastored by Walter McGill, and located in Guys, Tennessee. In 2003, McGill opened a school on the Guys property.

The taking of that name “Creation Seventh Day Adventist” was based upon a divine revelation received by both Brother Danny Smith and Pastor Walter McGill. Then, in the Fall, at a meeting held in Plant City, Florida, the official Creation Seventh Day Adventist Church was organized as an association of like believers.

The group holds to certain mainstream beliefs, such as the observance of the seventh day Sabbath, avoiding unclean meats, the investigative judgment, and an imminent Second Coming of Christ. 

However, The CSDA Church rejects the doctrine of the Trinity as an extra-Biblical error. They believe that the Father and Son are two distinct and separate beings which each may be referred to by the Hebrew term “El,” translated as “God” in the Old Testament, or collectively by the plural term “Elohim,” also translated as “God.” They reject the idea of the Holy Spirit as a person in the same sense as the Father and Son, believing it to be the shared essence, power, characteristics, presence, and life of those two. 

The CSDA Church believes in a complete separation of Church and State (i.e., a rejection of the idea that governmental agencies possess the authority to intrude upon freedom of religion), and religious accountability for a church's actions. 

The CSDA Church believes that the name Seventh-day Adventist was given by God to describe the faith of Seventh-day Adventism, and that as a result, those who accept the beliefs of Adventism must use the name in identifying themselves and their organizations. They consider this to be a matter of conscience equivalent to denying or affirming the name “Christian” based on several quotes from Ellen G. White regarding the adoption and use of the name being Divinely commissioned. 

The CSDA Church holds strict views on church membership, claiming that once one has come into unity with Christ, unity with His Church (which they hold to be themselves) will be the natural result, with one not being valid while rejecting the other. 

The CSDA church observes New Moons monthly during the conjunction phase of the lunar cycle. Also referred to in their writings as the “New Moon Festival of Humility,” it is the day on which they partake of the communion meal, foot washing, and a meal called the agape feast in which they eat fresh fruits and nuts in anticipation of the marriage supper of the lamb after the return of Christ. They observe New Moons in a similar fashion to weekly Sabbaths in that secular work and trade are prohibited.

Timing is everything!





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

Thursday, October 4, 2012

World travel can be dangerous!





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

Reviewing the Adventist Review


September 13, 2012
Vol. 189, No.25
http://www.adventistreview.org/index.php?issue=2012-1525

NOTE TO READERS:
WORLD NEWS AND PERSPECTIVES is an important section of each magazine. I don’t usually report on its contents because it is available at the online address I provide with every review.

GENERAL COMMENTS
Bill Knott’s editorial, HOLLY DISAGREEMENTS, is his best effort in a long time. It would be exciting if Adventist traditions, and even practical theology, were discussed, even debated, in ye goode olde Review. Here’s hoping for that bright new day!

Fortunately, the disagreements between believers are usually over more substantial things than chocolate. Though we are loath to admit it, we read the Word through the lens of our own experiences with God; we tell our stories of how grace works with grateful enthusiasm, even as we listen to another’s very different story and wonder how it came to be. The most vital facts of the life we are called to live together are the respect we show to those who “know” differently and our mutual surrender to the authority of God’s Word that ought to be more important than our own life stories and opinions…

In the coming weeks this magazine will highlight numerous articles and insights under the banner “Called Together.” These interviews, letters, features, and editorials are specifically designed “for such a time as this” (Esther 4:14, NKJV), a time when the vigor of our disagreements over the appropriateness of ordaining women to gospel ministry and the process to follow in making that decision have threatened our ability to stay in civil conversation with each other. 

I am encouraged by the report in “World News & Perspectives” that THOUSANDS OF NEW ADVENTISTS BAPTIZED IN A SINGLE DAY. That means that lots of people believe that membership in the Adventist Church is a good thing. I also like the fact that membership in our Christian fellowship, at least in Papua New Guinea is not limited to those whose theological purity regarding the 28 Fundamental Beliefs is a determining factor in church membership. It would be thrilling if such were the case in North America and Europe. Sabbath school and church services might then be devoted to an open discussion of doctrinal issues.

There were two things that bother me in Sandra Blackmer’s report of the events that transpired at the North American Division’s Teacher’s Convention. MOVING HEARTS AND MINDS UPWARD is an admirable goal. However, Carlton Byrd’s remark,  “If you don’t believe in the Adventist message, you shouldn’t be teaching in the Adventist school system” sounded scary to me. My question: “Who is it that decides what the ‘Adventist message’ is?” This comment leaves the door open for individual teacher persecution by church members whose definition of the “Adventist message” is in conflict with the teacher’s.

In addition, the photograph and caption identifying NAD Prayer Ministry’s Stanley Ponniah as walking past all 6,800 chairs in the auditorium and praying for the people who will be sitting in them smacks of an irrational, almost occult, notion of spiritual influence.

Dixil Rodriquez does not disappoint. In GOD’S STARS she watches early morning stars with a little girl from a cancer ward and reflects that we are all patients of sorts. Jesus identified Himself with the suffering of humanity to provide the final solution. Looking after one another, this we do as we witness the consummation of the work of deliverance He has initiated.

MEMORIES AND LESSONS FROM SEPTEMBER 11 is a MUST READ. Darold Digger was a Chaplain who was at his desk in the Navy Annex near the Pentagon on September 11, 2001. His story is easily worth the price of a Review subscription.

CAN HUMANS KNOW THE FUTURE? is a schizophrenic piece that cautions members not to get hooked on predictions of the end. But then, Ranko Stefanovic predicts it anyway!

Christ’s second coming will be biblical prophecy’s ultimate fulfillment. But although this event opens the door to the end of sin and the beginning of God’s eternal kingdom of wholeness, joy, and justice, we must shun speculations about its date, and the sequential events preceding it. At the same time, Jesus identified signs that will show He is near (Matt. 24:4-14), signs that will be evident in all spheres: natural, political/social, moral, and religious (see Rev. 13-16).

The intensification of these signs in today’s physically, morally, and religiously deteriorating conditions, in context of the astonishing advance of worldwide proclamation of the gospel, are a clear indication of the imminence of Christ’s coming.

Monte Sahlin reports on Adventist CHURCH TRENDS. Did you know that the 2010 U.S. Religion Census shows that 88 percent of Adventists belong to a church located in a metropolitan area? Other research suggests that as many as one fifth of these may actually live outside the boundaries of the metro area and commute to church, but that would still mean that 70 percent of Adventists live in metro areas and that fewer than one third live in small towns and rural areas. This is a very significant shift over the past quarter century.

Alternate Science






















From the comic Doonesbury, by Gary Trudeau
(click to enlarge)

Thursday, September 27, 2012

A HERO AT THE ALAMORON





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

Reviewing Adventist World, NAD Edition


September, 2012
Vol. 8, No. 9
http://www.adventistworld.org/

Adventist World is free online. For that reason, I only review or comment on articles that I believe to be of special interest. Online readers can now read the entire print edition. Just click on the cover in the bottom left of the home page, and every page of the entire magazine is yours! Editors, way to go!

GENERAL COMMENTS
This issue is dedicated to Adventist families. I’ll summarize. Be good Adventist adults, good Adventist parents, send your children to Adventist schools, pray that they marry good heterosexual Adventists (But be nice to people who have had the misfortune to marry nonAdventists), attend church regularly, have daily Bible study, pray earnestly, and do everything you can to keep your family from being influenced by the world outside the Adventist bubble. I have just two other irreverent comments.

ONE WHOLE HUMANITY: Third International Bible Conference Focuses On Biblical Anthropology as reported by Mark Kellner, was held in Israel. It might just as well have been held in Silver Spring. For Adventist theologians and so called “anthropologists”, the ancient world is anathema. For them, Ancient Middle East settings are 4000-year-old Biblical props.

Ted was there, of course, to make sure that Delegates to the 10-day conference strongly affirmed the president’s 
challenge.

Wilson called on educators to lead a positive revolution on your campuses—a revolution back to the Bible with an historicist position and with an historical-biblical approach. His message also stressed the importance of the Adventist understanding of the sanctuary service, which, he said, holds the ultimate answer to the two distortions of Christian belief, legalism and ‘cheap grace.’

And then there is Fundamental Belief Number 23.

Marriage was divinely established in Eden and affirmed by Jesus to be a lifelong union between a man and a woman in loving companionship. For the Christian a marriage commitment is to God as well as to the spouse, and should be entered into only between partners who share a common faith. Mutual love, honor, respect, and responsibility are the fabric of this relationship, which is to reflect the love, sanctity, closeness, and permanence of the relationship between Christ and His church. Regarding divorce, Jesus taught that the person who divorces a spouse, except for fornication, and marries another, commits adultery. Although some family relationships may fall short of the ideal, marriage partners who fully commit themselves to each other in Christ may achieve loving unity through the guidance of the Spirit and the nurture of the church…

Number 23 needs a rewrite, and I’d be glad to offer some corrective help!

  1. Marriage is not discussed in either of the creation stories found in Genesis.
  2. No two persons share “a common faith.”
  3. There are a number of good reasons why divorce is a good idea.
  4. Marriage partners, straight or LGBT, can’t always “achieve loving unity” no matter what help and assistance is provided, temporal or spiritual.
  5. Second marriages, by definition, are not adulterous.