Thursday, November 8, 2012

Reviewing the Anventist Review

October 11, 2012
Vol. 189, No.28

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.

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.

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