For me the most significant statement in the article, “Disagreeing Faithfully
” (June 28, 2007) is: “When we review, or challenge our understanding of origins we cannot do so in isolation from other Bible teachings. Our view of origins carries with it implications about other realities such as sin and salvation.”
As a beginning pastor 55 years ago, I thought I would emphasize Jesus and the New Testament and leave out Genesis. It didn’t take long for me to realize that the same ideas of science that would negate creation, also negates the Bible’s claims about Jesus, His virgin birth, angel visits to Mary and Joseph, and the resurrection of Jesus, etc.
Today’s scientific mood is that information in any field is to be understood according to the evolutionary viewpoint; to do otherwise is not science.
The first angel’s message unites the “eternal gospel” with God as Creator. Why is this?
God’s acts in creation and salvation cannot be separated.
I was intrigued by the article, “Keeping the Sabbath
” by Roy Adams (June 21, 2007). It brought back fond memories of past Sabbaths, restful Friday evenings, and inspirational days.
As one who used to work in a hospital, I had to confront the meaning of Sabbath even as I had to work Sabbath shifts and take call for patients in crisis. Our church has allowed this type of work, following Jesus’ example, as Adams pointed out. I was still troubled, because I would often make more money on Sabbath calls. This resulted in me looking forward to on-call Sabbaths for rather self-serving reasons. My solution was to donate my Sabbath wages to various projects, allowing me to regard my Sabbath work as completely unselfish.
I now travel internationally and am confronted with different interpretations of Sabbath keeping among our own church members. The interpretation of appropriate work can be rather complex.
I think of a woman who lived near one of our hospitals in Africa. She lived in a small hut with her two remaining sons, having lost her other children and husband to AIDS. She went out to cut wood each day, took her heavy bundle to the nearby market place and sold it for about 50 cents. Then she took the money and bought food for her family. When there were national holidays and the market place was empty, they went without food. Storing enough food for Sabbath was a non-issue because there was never that much food. What is appropriate Sabbath observance for them? If they only had manna.
My wife and I live next door to a long-time neighbor who had a stroke several years ago. Often on Sabbath we take her breakfast and watch worship services on Adventist television networks with her. Sabbath is a time we can spend together. Often she wants to do something special for us, so she takes us out to eat for Sabbath lunch. It is her gift to us and additional time to spend socializing. It is also our gift to her--our mutual sharing of love and caring. I’m convinced it’s part of our Sabbath day’s blessing to each other.
My point is not to challenge the specific activities that are appropriate on Sabbath, but rather to question our approach. I was intrigued by the text box regarding the fear of taking Sabbath for granted and eventually keeping Sabbath the same as other Christians keep Sunday. I was struck with the Adventist dilemma of defining our Sabbath keeping according to how different it is from others. The article started by drawing a distinction between Adventist interpretations and modern Orthodox Jews, then continued to look at the Jews of Jesus’ time. We seem to have an issue of wanting to make sure we are different. When we are similar, fear springs up--believe me, I feel this every now and again (I was raised an Adventist). I’m not sure those texts that call us to be different should guide our standard of measurement. I would rather suggest that we continue to explore the real meaning and purpose of the Sabbath and encourage all in their personal journey toward the beautiful blessings that await all who meet with our heavenly Father and engage in special acts of worship and loving interaction on this special, holy day.
Adventists and War
I’m writing in response to one of the ideas quoted in the article, “Young Adventists in a World of War”
(June 14, 2007). It has to do with the quote ascribed to Felipe Vielman that he does not believe that [military] combatancy actually conflicts with Adventist values, continuing with “For me, it was more of an issue of duty to God and country, [I got a] sense through the Bible that God always had an army; God always had a group of committed people ready to stand up for what is right.”
Duty to God and country in the sense of military combat is a generally accepted concept in some Christian circles, but it is founded on human tradition and not on any biblical injunction. This teaching would justify armed Christians from one nationalistic grouping seeking out their counterparts from another in order to kill them from a sense of “duty to God and country.” Not that it has never happened, but those who do it have no justification in claiming that they are doing it out of loyalty to Christ. It is a blatant disregard for the stand of the Founder of Christianity who said, “My kingdom is not of this world, if it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest” (John 18:36), and “Put your sword back in its place, . . . for all who draw the sword will die by the sword” (Matt. 26:52, NIV).
If the army “God always had” is a reference to those of Israel, there are two problems of biblical interpretation in comparing modern national armies to it. The first is that there is no modern nation with a Messianic relationship to God as that of the descendants of Abraham; no nation receiving direct commands from God to act on His behalf. The second is that the armies conscripted by the leaders of Israel were prophetically described to act in violation of God’s will (1 Samuel 8:10-12).
It is difficult to understand how some who choose militarily to “stand up for what is right” in God’s name can feel free to exterminate those who oppose their sense of rightness and deny them the opportunity to repent.
Compliments to Elizabeth Lechleitner for a scholarly review of how the Adventist church has gradually abandoned its position on non-combatancy since World War II.
Hundreds of Adventist young men refused to bear arms in that war. The position of a religious organization that the killing of other men is now just “a matter of individual conscience” is troubling.
Imagine the dismay if the church were to proclaim that the keeping of the seventh day as the Sabbath was a matter of individual conscience.
Larry Roth is quoted: “With near zero training on the subject and very few ‘experts’ in the church available to counsel those youth who raise the issue, it is fully understandable why today very few of our youth see combatancy as an issue.” It seems a troubling failure of the priesthood to know right from wrong.
Bringing Them Back
I was blessed by the news article, “Back in the Fold
” (June 28, 2007), about Operation Reconnect, Mike Jones’ outreach ministry to former Adventists.
I was caught off guard by Jones’ comment that he does a lot of apologizing for the church, because I rarely hear that expressed publicly. Too often I see church members offended by the idea that perhaps the church should apologize for something done in the past. We prefer to concentrate on justifying past actions, because that makes us feel better than to confess our negligence toward the people affected by those actions. How much healing do we miss when our attitude is so self-centered? I applaud Jones for his courage to model a healthier, more mature approach.
Did I overlook information about how to subscribe to his newsletter? I would think this should have been somewhere in big, bold print in order to reach more than 1.5 percent (15,000) of the estimated 1 million former Adventists. It was also not clear how the newsletter is funded. Many of us know and care about a long list of former Adventists. I imagine donations might come pouring in, along with names, if an address could be provided for that purpose.
Thank you for informing us about lesser known ministries such as Operation Reconnect.
Let’s Go, Men
While I’m neither single nor male, it is a phenomenon I have observed and was curious about. The article did a good job of answering some of the questions about Christian single dating habits that to some may seem very different from their own dating experiences.
It helped to understand our singles. I also think, with more research, the same behavior can be observed in their female counterparts, although not, perhaps, to the same extent. In many cases, men are more eager ones to settle down and women are the ones holding out.
I think you would find, however, the same reasons apply for either gender.
It’s Good to Be Green
Thank you for Sari Fordham’s thoughtful column, “Why Green?”
(June 14, 2007).
As a parent, teacher, and volunteer with Sabbath School and Adventurers in my local church, I’m glad our denomination is starting to realize the amazing opportunity we have to witness not only to our own children, but to those around us with the way we choose to honor God’s creation.
While our family’s journey toward living “green” continues to be a process, our choices to eat organic, healthy foods and practice living habits that respect the earth have enabled us to share our Creator with families in our community that are not Christian, or who have had negative experiences with organized religion. It is a joy when friendships and conversations lead to exploration of deeper biblical truths.
But we often find ourselves in a dilemma when wanting to invite our friends to church. We recently invited a family to join us in attending a Vacation Bible School. The child’s mother, who became interested in what Adventist believe because of our common interest in a healthy diet, was appalled when the snack that evening consisted of artificially-dyed blue punch and iced cookies.
I dream of a day when our hospitals and church potluck tables have local organic foods and healthier desserts; when natural proteins replace the genetically-modified, highly synthetic “health” foods; where non-toxic cleaning supplies are used; and recycling bins are the norm. I long to see our churches more involved in environmental issues and teaching our young people useful skills of sustainable living that are becoming a lost art of stewardship.
These simple choices would go far in promoting and maintaining our own health and cleaner immediate environment. As Fordham pointed out, our actions have a world-wide impact. We Adventists have such a beautiful emphasis on health, family, and community, for which many in the secular world today are longing.
While I do not believe that someone’s dietary/lifestyle choices are central to their salvation, we should keep foremost in our thoughts this connecting point that demonstrates God’s desire for us to enjoy the blessings of good health. Let’s continue the dialog about what we can do personally, and as a church organization. God will bless our humble efforts.
Kimberly Dixon Mazone
I always enjoy and am blessed by Sari Fordham’s columns, but I personally thank her for her column expressing her love for our Creator, respect for His creation, and for reminding us of our Lord’s instruction to “dress it and to keep it.” It is a bit puzzling and a bit of a concern that past responses to this topic have been mostly negative, so I want to make sure this time she gets the encouragement she deserves.
Her point about being an environmentalist providing opportunities to witness has proven true in my own life. When I started my job four years ago my boss was a bit distressed when he found out just a few days after he hired me that I am a Christian, a Seventh-day Adventist no less! He had many erroneous preconceived ideas about what Christians believe and how we behave. Our common interest in the environment has proven to be one of the factors that has convinced him that Christians can be thoughtful, educated people who care about their world and their communities.
This experience has taught me that people are watching us to see if our walk and our talk coincide. As a people who believe in and “talk” about Creation, we need to show by our “walk” that we recognize our Creator-given responsibility to take care of our environment.
Mt. Bethel, Pennsylvania
Evidence For Evolution?
I’m amused that evolutionists continue to claim and teach others that evolution is science. In Clyde Davidson’s letter responding to Clifford Goldstein’s column about Theology, Evolution, and Darwin
(May 24, 2007), he claims, “Today the scientific theory of evolution is one of the most supported theories in science.”
Really? Evolution is basically two claims: that life developed from simple to complex forms (common descent), and that these developments happened gradually and randomly (natural selection). Is there any shred of modern or old empirical scientific evidence for these claims?
None! Not even the “Nebraska Man,” which was rebuilt from a single tooth (later found to be from a pig); nor the “Peking Man,” whose bones were later reclassified to be that of a normal human being; nor the “Neanderthal Man,” whose skull was later determined to be that of a normal human being and his stooped posture because he had a spinal disease; prove the existence of Evolution. G. K. Chesterton was right when he said: “Evolutionists seem to know everything about the missing link except the fact that it is missing.”
Atheist Sir Arthur Keith, in his foreword to the one hundredth edition of Darwin’s work, Origin of the Species, was honest enough to admit: “Evolution is unproved and unprovable.” T.N. Tahmisian, of the U. S. Atomic Energy Commission, rightly says: “Scientists who go about teaching that evolution is a fact of life are great con-men, and the story they are telling may be the greatest hoax ever. In explaining evolution, we do not have one iota of fact.” Similarly, Professor Louis Bounoure, director of research at the National Center of Scientific Research, writes: “Evolution is a fairy tale for grown-ups. This theory has helped nothing in the progress of science.”
A belief that’s unsupported by empirical evidence and requires faith because it’s improvable is science?
Claiming that evolution is science is a delusion. Explaining why he continued to believe in evolution despite the fact that it’s unproved and improvable, Sir Arthur Keith explained: “We believe it only because the only alternative is special creation, and that is unthinkable.”
Belief in evolution is, therefore, not a matter of evidence or reason, but a matter of preference. Atheists simply do not like the thought of God, despite the fact that modern evidence in science such as, among others, the Anthropic Principle and Irreducible Complexity point to a Creator.
In his mature years Darwin himself lamented: “I was a young man with unformed ideas. I threw out queries, suggestions, wondering all the time over everything [such as, as Goldstein mentioned, if there’s a God, why are there parasites?]; and to my astonishment the ideas took like wildfire. People made a religion out of them!”
And it is a bigoted religion because it doesn’t entertain other possibilities of reality, despite evidence to the contrary. It is the only religion allowed by our Christian government to be taught in public schools under the garb and vocabulary of science--at taxpayers’ expense!
Supporting Those Who Sacrifice All
We are grateful the Review was kind enough to mention Amistad International’s website (www.amistadinternational.org). Possibly some readers who do not have computers would like to contact us about volunteering or helping in some other way. Our street address is: Amistad International, 1657 Edgewood Drive, Palo Alto, California 94303
Thank you again for your interest in publishing this beautiful story of courage.
Karen Kotoske, executive director