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
A Fine Balance
Michael Peabody gets it, though he doesn’t say it in so many words. In the article, “Balancing Ends and Means” (Apr. 24, 2008), he lets us know that as much as we may disagree on non-salvation issues, the ultimate goal given by Jesus Christ is soul-winning.
A pastor friend of mine said that if a group is not working toward soul-winning, they are wasting time and resources. I’ve seen many of what some might call “fringe groups” and “offshoots.” In every case I’ve seen they want to “reform” the church to their ideas or receive money to support their non-evangelistic programs.
As we come to know Jesus it will be our passion to share Him with others. I may not be able to do much, but love for Jesus will be the motivating factor.
Regarding: “Is Church Discipline Still Needed?” (Apr. 17, 2008): I’ve been clerk of our church for 14 years. In years past it was my privilege to work in a local conference office and in the office of the executive secretary, so I have some experience in the membership issue.
One of our biggest problems is consistency. Each church board and clerk interprets membership guidelines differently, and not always incorrectly. In our little church the saddest problem with losing members is not disciplining those who publicly violate their baptismal vows, but the growing number who just drift away and don’t respond to urgings to reconnect with the church. It seems more benign to drop them as “missing” (which they are in a very real sense, even when we know their address) than it is to upset their still-attending families if we drop them under the heading of “apostasy.” Many times our votes on names to be considered reflect the degree of opposition from family members who equate church membership with salvation.
I don’t have any suggestions about the sad procedure of dropping names. As long as local church goals are based on membership, we are getting a mixed message--the bottom line of any pastor’s success is numbers (baptisms)--but when actual supporting members number less than 50 percent of the names “on the books,” there is strong motivation to “weed out the dead wood,” which can be a sad and un-Christlike situation.
What Is a Family?
In “An Empty Glass Made Full”(Apr. 10, 2008) an otherwise excellent and sensitive article about infertility, one choice of words troubled me. The interviewer referred to other women in church being pregnant and “new families being formed constantly.”
This is not my understanding of the meaning of “family.” Families are not formed when a couple has a child. Families are formed when a couple marries. The couple is every bit a family whether or not children ever join them.
My wife and I are a fully formed family now. If one day we have a child, we’ll be no more a family than we are now; just a busier one.
Blessed By the Beatitudes
I appreciated the issue, “The Beatitudes Project 2” (undated special issue), which included many young writers, specifically those from our Adventist colleges and universities.
I especially appreciated the inclusion of Juan-Jose Garza, who I know is doing many positive things on his campus at Columbia Union College. I enjoyed his article and was glad to see that he was recognized in this magazine.
Silver Spring, Maryland
Make It Real
I’m writing to thank Kimberly Maran for her reflection, “Zeal for Real” (Apr. 17, 2008). I, too, read in our magazines and hear on Adventist TV channels, stories of how people are inspired to do amazing things in missions. I am happy for them, but I feel worthless and useless in my life and wonder what I’m missing. It’s encouraging to know that “zeal can be for real” in quiet ways also.
Since the Lord has blessed me to see my eighty-second birthday, I’m no stranger to the deaths of those close to me. So I really appreciated the article, “From Mourning to Morning” (Apr. 10, 2008).
Once, years ago, while I was employed at Oakwood College, a sister with a humble job lost her husband unexpectedly. My late wife, Mabel, sent her a card some time after the funeral. This dear sister told my wife she really appreciated her card, because it came after other people had moved on and had seemingly forgotten her.
Since then, Mabel sent cards, etc. some time after the funeral, and I have done the same since she died 10 years ago. When a card comes in the mail long after others have stopped arriving, and the phone had stopped ringing, it is appreciated much more when the bereaved realize somebody still remembers and cares.
Thanks again for this helpful article.
Richard S. Norman
Stephen Chavez’s editorial, “Call Me Christian” is a very thought-provoking article. His statement: “Today most of [Jesus’] followers practice exclusion. . . . You have to live like us, look like us, listen to the music we listen to, wear the clothes we wear, if you want to be like us. In so doing we risk creating disciples in our own image, rather than the image of Christ. . . . When our lives reflect the values Jesus taught and lived, then, and only then, can we call ourselves Christians.”
Keep these good Reviews coming.