Where Did We Come From?
In his thoughtful column, “Homage to the Stork
” (Feb. 28, 2008), Clifford Goldstein raises an interesting question: “Who--believing creation required billions of years, instead of six days--will actually risk persecution for the seventh-day Sabbath as opposed to ‘the mark of the beast?’” His question seemed rhetorical, but I think there is a real answer.
Whether God used six literal days of Genesis to create the earth, or took billions of years and a process of accumulated, gradual changes, the bottom line remains the same: God said plainly in His fourth commandment to remember the seventh-day Sabbath as a memorial to Him as our Creator. It may be hard for some to understand why God might choose a weekly Sabbath to commemorate a creation process that took eons (if it did), but our understanding is not the determining factor.
When the great test comes, the ones who honor God’s seventh-day Sabbath will be those who choose to live by faith in what God has said, regardless of what they do or don’t understand about creation, evolution, and God’s choice of symbols. One can still accept God’s plain command about the Sabbath and honor it, even if one believes the six-day story in Genesis is not a literal description of Creation.
This is not to argue against the six-day Creation story, I just wish we would draw our line in the sand a little farther out for the sake of Christians who believe they are being intellectually honest in accepting a long evolutionary Creation period.
The key, and the real issue for accepting or rejecting Christianity, might be in Goldstein’s specific qualification of “Darwinian” evolution that implies only random chemical and genetic accidents as the cause of all life on earth. Christians who believe in an evolutionary type of Creation recognize that God must be involved in that process; that solely natural means are inadequate to explain the origin and development of life.
Goldstein mentioned a number of theological and philosophical problems with a long, evolutionary Creation, but he may be incorrect in how he reasons about them. I say that as one who shares his belief in the literal Creation story. There are difficult issues with the literal, six-day story, too.
Twice in recent months I’ve heard Adventist preachers announce that one can’t be a genuine, Bible-believing Christian without accepting the literal six-day Creation story. I hope I don’t hear it again. The real dividing line is between those who believe in God as the active Agent in Creation versus purely natural processes. All who believe in God as Creator, regardless of how long we think He took to create, can accept His commands and obey them in faith.
Morgantown, West Virginia
Clifford Goldstein never answered a vital question: In what time frame did the Genesis deluge happen?
For Christians, creation, Adam and Eve’s fall, Noah’s ark, Christ’s incarnation and His resurrection have to be true. These events have traditionally been viewed as physical events in space and time, intimately intertwined into Adventist theology. Since Christianity is a historically-based religion, the events depicted in the Scriptures must all be historically verifiable, correct?
Can Goldstein give any evidence that a worldwide biblical deluge ever happened in the last 10,000 years? If so, please provide a time frame for the year-long deluge to have happened.
Will You Be My Neighbor?
Bravo for the “Into Our Neighborhoods”
editorial by Steve Chavez (Feb. 21, 2008)! I pray that mindset will be the norm for all Seventh-day Adventist Christians; an important part of what it means to be Adventist.
In these end times it is more urgent than ever that our neighborhoods and communities see, hear, and experience the everlasting gospel flowing from our churches through its members. That gospel includes living out the ministry of Jesus by becoming personally connected with the people in our communities, assessing their needs so that our ministries will be relevant, and tangibly meeting those needs—thus showing caring and compassion as we share the gospel. Often that could mean doing community projects with the people “out there”—becoming “insiders” with the “outsiders.”
For example, like Chavez, I am happily a member of a Rotary Club, an international network of 1.2 million members who volunteer their time and talent to further the Rotary motto, “Service Above Self.”
We must come to our communities as Jesus would, winning their trust and unstopping their ears before we can effectively “Tell the World” of His Second Coming. Try it; it will bring a joy to your life beyond compare! May our churches be like the church portrayed in Ezekiel 47--with a river flowing out from it that brings healing, transformation, and abundant life wherever it flows.
Silver Spring, Maryland
Race, Culture, and Religion
The February issues of the Review that emphasized Black history and “diversity” were both positive and negative for me. I suppose the most negative thing for me is that we do not focus on Asians, Mexicans, Cubans, Caucasians, or Russians, but single out Black Americans for prominence, although truthfully I don’t think we should single out any group. Our culture thinks it fine that we have all-Black schools, all-Black scholarships, and a host of other things to help solely the Black community.
I suppose such things exist to right old wrongs, but I wish we would get away from emphasizing one race over another and instead focus on that which unites us.
In his column, “The Obama Message
” (Feb. 21, 2008), Fredrick Russell applauded President Bush for having people of “other” races in positions of responsibility. That type of thinking is what separates our country into race camps, which then have to be represented in order to have “diversity.” And that in itself leads to more division. Anyway, who are we as a church to speak of diversity when we have a number of segregated conferences?
The good thing on this topic was also written by Russell when he spoke of the racially defined conferences in the North American Division. That we as a church still tolerate this division I find repugnant and wish that some way we could merge together our conferences in such a manner that all parties would be at least somewhat satisfied. “The Obama Message,” despite a few political overtones, called for a bold rethinking of our current racially structured conferences, thus leading to integration. I applaud this and recommend that our church work toward that goal.
Parkersburg, West Virginia
Fredrick Russell’s column was timely, but it points to a much bigger problem. What we are facing is not a cultural problem but a theological problem that will not be solved even if we were to integrate our conferences tomorrow. Racial integration of our conferences will only transfer the problem to other arenas. We have to bite the bullet and realize that despite what we say out loud, our theology teaches the fundamental error that the entire human race does not belong to the God we serve.
We don’t really believe that God loved the world (see John 3:16). We believe God was attracted to the world and that attraction caused Him to come to earth to recruit us to His side. And as long as we erroneously believe that some people belong to God and the others don’t, we will always end up with divisions, trying to put asunder what God created as one.
Darius A. Lecointe
The Church and Justice
Roy Adams’ article, “Nine Children Face an Angry Town
” (Feb. 21, 2008), and his interview with Terrence Roberts, one of the “Little Rock Nine” was informative and interesting. If the Adventist Review
was a journal for some historical society this article would probably win a prize. But should the focus of questioning not have been about how Roberts perceived, in his words, the church fall[ing] short in the critical areas of human justice? Since he describes the church in Los Angeles, where there is no regional conference, I wonder just what brought him to his conclusion. Will we ever discuss the real issues?
Rest and Justice
After reading the article, “The Jade Belt Bridge
” (Jan 10, 2008), I must share how much I agree with Rebecca Brillhart.
Rest is one of the most important things God gave us when He created the Sabbath, and this article shows just how much we need to claim and share it.
As a teen growing up in today’s busy world, I realize the importance of claiming God’s rest and peace. If we don’t, our bodies shut down, as do our minds. That is no way to prepare ourselves to share Jesus’ good news!
So thank you for showing us how much we need His grace, rest, and peace in every aspect of our lives.
Now Is Better
I was delighted to read the article, “The Life and Times of Kenneth H. Wood”
(Jan. 24, 2008). How nice to read good and honorable things about one who is still alive. We usually wait until someone is deceased before printing such articles. It’s refreshing to enjoy this piece while Wood is still alive and active at 90 years old. Bravo.