The beliefs and sentiments expressed by those whose letters appear here are not necessarily shared by the Adventist Review or its editorial staff. These letters have been edited for clarity and length. -- Editors

Ready or Not
In the online article about Internet evangelism, the question was asked: Where is the Internet taking the church? The implication to this question is that the Internet is so pervasive that it will take the denomination someplace with or without our cooperation. That is reality.

The power of the Internet to present the Seventh-day Adventist Church to the public does not depend upon the knowledge and cooperation of the organization. Few people realize the magnitude of material about us that is openly available to the public. Some of this material is available in a manner that its author did not intend at the time of posting. Specialized and general purpose Internet search engines send out computer programs called “bots” that search the Internet and classify posted material for future access by the public.

I once wanted a list of Seventh-day Adventist Junior High and High School principals, I obtained one by using a specialized public search engine. I once plugged my name in to a general purpose search engine and came up with a number of posts I had made on a controversial issue in Adventism. Those posts had been made in specialized forum and in a section that was not open to the general public. But those posts were available to the general public through that search engine.

Several years ago the General Conference ran a forum that allowed somewhat free discussions of Adventism and its issues. That forum closed due to changes in administration, questions about its focus, and probably financial issues. Its closure resulted in the birth of a number of Internet forums attempting to take its place. People who search the Internet for places to discuss Seventh-day Adventists can find a number of them. They differ in their relationship to the denomination. They may appeal to liberal, moderate, conservative, fundamentalist, or historic Seventh-day Adventists. Some are dedicated to challenging Seventh-day Adventist life and practice. Others are dedicated to supporting it. Some are highly secret, and require vetting before one is given access to the forum. A few are set up in a manner that they are effectively reachable by millions of people. Their memberships may range from mostly Seventh-day Adventists to mostly people who are not affiliated with us. Whatever the face of these forums, and the size of their audience, they are presenting the face of Adventism to members of the general public. In many cases they are molding the beliefs and orientation to the Seventh-day Adventist Church of those already affiliated with us, as well as those seeking information about us.

Our exposure on the Internet has been mixed. At the high end the Ellen G. White Estate has made a great amount of material freely available to the general public, and has equipped its website with a search engine that allows people to find the material for which they are looking. At the other end lie local churches, some of which use the Internet very well, and others that do not use it at all. Then there are those discussion forums. They generally operate with little to no supervision of church leadership.

I will not attempt to predict where the Internet is taking the Seventh-day Adventist Church. But it is taking this denomination on a journey. Where the Internet takes us may depend in part upon the extent to which the organized church gets involved in the Internet.

Gregory Matthews
Denver, Colorado

When to Say, “We’re Sorry”
I am sitting at my computer, amazed at what I am reading 60-plus years after the fact. On one hand I’m wondering why it took 60 years, realizing that the genocide in Rwanda is fresh in the history books and the genocide in Darfur is ongoing.

Will it take another 60 years before we speak up against the horrible atrocities of genocide? Can’t someone speak up about Sudan now? Or do we wait for time and public opinion to concur that genocide was indeed genocide before we dare speak? Innocent human beingsmothers, wives, daughters, sons, fathers, husbandsare being systematically wiped out every single day.

God help us and forgive us!

Kay Mason
Montrose, Colorado

The humble, frank apology by the German and Austrian churches for the inadequate response of our church to the Jewish population during World War II is commendable and courageous. It is a turning point; one that I frankly did not expect to see.

For too many years and in too many instances we have proclaimed the “truth” yet failed to see the truth of our silence, indifference, and complicity with regard to social injustice within the communities we serve. Often our church’s corporate policies have mirrored the policies of the “world,” rather than provide an example of Christian deportment toward humanity.

I am encouraged to see that perhaps this trend may be ending. I hope to see more apologies.

Tamara McKethan
Aiken, South Carolina

This is an interesting look at where we, as a church, have come from. The genocide in Rwanda should make it clear that we will see this problem again in the future. Rather than “sin and repent till Jesus comes,” what proactive steps can we take to spot such issues early enough to take the right course of action? Knowing what we know about the future, at what point should we distance ourselves from the “Christian reformers” seeking to correct the moral decline in America?

James Wilson
Brookings, Oregon

Telling It Like It Is

Yippee! How refreshing to read Carl Haffner’s column, “Politically Carrot?” I look forward to reading him each month in Adventist Review Online. Thank you, and amen!

Jean Kellner
Rockville, Maryland

Thank you for the courage to start a column for those of us who are up to our noses in political correctness, which is another way to say nothing with as many words as possible.

Pastor Karl Haffner sounds good to me. But then, I’m just a little “red necked,” and would rather say what is, rather then using smooth words to try to keep from directly confronting the issue.

We should always speak the truth in love, but we have to speak the truth.

David Lapham

I enjoyed Karl Haffner’s new column. Political correctness and truth are “dual” concepts, and there could often be a “duel” between them.

Karl Konrad
Keene, Texas

Christianity’s Cost

Well done, Sung Kwon, for the article, “The Cost of Being a Christian” (Aug. 2005).

In every church there are usually a small number of people who are community workers, and will presumably be among those “few” chosen in Matthew 22:14. This text is seldom used in either church sermons or in our magazines, which leads to the majority of our members feeling secure of their salvation. Prayer and Bible study would help them see the folly of this belief, as it is only by loving our neighbors that we can show our love for our Savior.

My home church is possibly typical of our North American churches. We have a prison ministry, s soup kitchen ministry, a Community Services ministry serving ADRA, a singing bands ministry to serve nursing homes, plus friendly members who invite strangers to their homes on Sabbath.

So the church is fulfilling the needs of those listed in Matthew 25. But, unfortunately, only a small number are involved in each ministry. We must pray that Kwon’s article will somehow inspire the church’s inactive majority into joining the “few that are called.”

David Gale
Burnaby, British Columbia

I read with great disappointment the devotional by Sung Kwon. It perpetuates the misconception held by many Seventh-Day Adventists that we need to “secure our eternal salvation.”

The Bible is very clear that the blood of Jesus shed on the cross guarantees our salvation, if only we believe. If there is more to be paid to secure our salvation, then His sacrifice was not only in vain, but incomplete. Christians feed, clothe, visit, and shelter those in need because they are motivated by love for their neighbors. Serving others is not out of duty to earn a “golden crown” or to “save others,” but, rather, an essential part of growing as a Christian. Contrary to the popular notion that “Christianity is about what we do,” it is about love.

We need to teach that Jesus has paid the entire price for our salvation, or else we will continue to mislead others.

David Sinclair, M. D.
Weston, Florida

The Ultimate Divide?
I find articles in the Adventist Review both interesting and informative. However, after reading the online feature, “Modern Versus Postmodern Adventism: The Ultimate Divide”, I am concerned about some of the wording used. I am a fairly well-read, educated person, but I found that several of the words used in the article were literally “Greek” to me. I had to refer to a dictionary several times just to be able to understand what was being said.

I fear that most people will either just ignore the words they don’t understand (in which case the meaning of and about the articles will be lost), or just stop reading the articles altogether. Let’s face it: most people aren’t going to read something they don’t understand. That’s why most people don’t read directions on packages.

A lot of people in this world have trouble understanding simple language. The use of words that require one to sit with a dictionary in hand would seem counter productive.

Edward A. Miller
Harrison, Michigan

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