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

Another Look at Those Statistics
The statistical report from Annual Council looks impressive, but you need to tell the whole story.

According to the report of Annual Council on your website, “World church membership stands at 15,433,470 as of June 30,” [General Conference secretary Matthew] Bediako said, “with the church having added 2,859 people daily during the reporting period.”
The world has 200 nations. That means we are baptizing an average of 10 people per day in each country.
Albert Dittes
Portland, Tennessee

Standing Up to Compromise
The editorial, The Copycat With the Green Crayon” by Kimberly Luste Maran (Sept. 13, 2007), warmed the heart of this 80-year old, longtime Adventist. For some time I have been grieving over the creeping compromise (sometimes it seems like galloping compromise) in my beloved Adventist church. I will savor this message for a long time. Especially satisfying was that this article was not from some gray-haired old fogy, but from one of our young people. May your tribe increase.
Donald E. Casebolt

Questioning God’s Sovereignty
The article, The Day the Sky Fell” (Sept. 13, 1007), asked the question “If God could save some, why wasn’t everyone miraculously preserved?" The real question involves a desire to know what’s in God’s mind.

We do not know God’s mind, and it is impossible to understand why God does as He does. When tragedy does strike we must concentrate our faith on what we know.

The real tragedy did not occur on September 11, 2001. The real tragedy is yet to occur. Of those who died on September 11, 2001 one thing is certain: some will be saved and some will not. The real tragedy is the loss of those souls to our Savior who died to save all.

September 11 should remind us all that when we dedicate our lives to the Lord we must stand ready at all times. For as the author of Ecclesiastes wrote: “For man also knoweth not his time: as the fishes that are taken in an evil net, and as the birds that are caught in the snare; so are the sons of men snared in an evil time, when it falleth suddenly upon them” (Eccl. 9:12, KJV).

We must pray that if this ever happens to us, God will save us from the second death--a tragedy far greater.
Steve Vance

I have several issues with what appear to have been the underlying premises of the article, “The Day the Sky Fell.” In discussing the events of 9/11 and the experience of Job, author Jon Paulien grapples with (what I understood him to be saying) God’s apparent “arbitrariness” (if not "capriciousness"). He raises the issue of why some were saved and others weren’t, and the fact that the difference between death and survival can often seem completely random.

The gist of his discussion seems to be that we cannot understand God and, therefore, cannot understand why God allows the various calamities that beset humanity. He ultimately concludes that “perhaps the best news in the book of Job is that underserved suffering does not last forever.” His basic premise seems to be that “innocent” humans—particularly those who believe in and worship God—don’t deserve to suffer. I take exception to this notion.

The idea of undeserved suffering stems from the myth of the “good” person. Jesus said, “No one is good—except God” (Luke 18:19, NIV). All humans are inherently evil. We must be careful not to appropriate God’s goodness to ourselves. Any good that is found in us is put there by God through His grace; it is not original or intrinsic. The only thing we deserve is death and annihilation. Each and every breath we draw is an act of mercy and due to the grace of God.

Were it not for the shielding grace of God, our entire lives would consist of continuous suffering, because that is what sin causes and brings. We must never make the mistake of thinking that the lives we lead on this sin-filled planet are either natural or normal. We are all continually shielded from the horrific consequences of sin by the grace of God. Every moment without pain or suffering is an act of mercy.

Too often we make the mistake of feeling we have the right to expect God to make sin palatable. Sin creates cruelty, suffering, brutality, inhumanity, and every mean and hateful thing. God partially shields us from the consequences of sin because of His love for us and His desire to give us the opportunity to know Him and accept the salvation He has prepared for us. But that is not something we deserve or have a right to. If, because of His omniscience, He sees that it is best for whatever reason to withdraw a portion of His protection at a particular time, we simply have to trust Him, knowing that He sees the big picture and that He loves us and will only do what is best for all concerned.

Moreover, the Bible teaches that if we do not know or listen to the voice of God, we can through our own actions place ourselves in dangerous places God would not have us be (i.e. the “man of God” that cursed the altar set up by Jeroboam).

The bottom line is that if through the providence of God we are saved out of this madness, and if even our untimely death influences others to seek God and the truth, in a million years what will it matter? The events of this life will have sunk into insignificance as we spend eternity praising and thanking God for His mercy, grace, and the unspeakable gift of Jesus Christ, our Savior.

Milton R. Mills


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