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
Let’s Get Started
I appreciated Calvin Rock’s response, “Revisiting “The Obama Message” (Jul. 24, 2008), to Fredrick Russell’s column, “The Obama Message” (Feb. 21, 1008). However, I don’t think either Russell or Rock hit the mark. We cannot quickly change the system of racially-based, separate conferences. Regional conferences have existed for 64 years because the church was unwilling to share leadership with people of color. Many churches were not even willing to worship beside those of another race. This is a grave mark of shame on the church I love. While it is true that things have improved, we still have a long way to go. We dare not, however, make excuses for our racism and accept the status quo.
I am a White 56-year old Adventist pastor. I have been “nudging” this subject since I was in my teens. But God has been “nudging” it since the Day of Pentecost. Read Acts 2, 8, and 10. God was bringing diversity into His Church from its beginning. Study also the calling of William E. Foy and Ellen G. White. God was teaching His Adventist Church about diversity even then. God does not want a divided church; He wants us to be united in Jesus.
Change takes time, but not moving in the direction of change is wrong. In some areas of the United States it may take more time to bring ethnic groups together, but there are other areas where this can, and should, take place. We should have groups meeting on the conference, union conference, and division levels on a regular basis to suggest ways we can work together. This should include multi-ethnic leadership as well.
I know this can work. I work in the Southern California Conference. Our president is Caucasian, the vice president is African American, the secretary is Hispanic and the treasurer is Asian. My local congregation has rich ethnic diversity at every level of leadership. We can make steps toward unity rather than justifying our separateness.
Help for Home Schools
As a mother of three young children, I read the article, “Back to Our Future” (Jul. 24, 2008) with interest. It strikes me that perhaps we should take a cue from other Christian denominations and become more involved in support of home schools. Many of us cringe at the thought of public school, yet we also live too far from, or cannot afford a primary or secondary Adventist education for our children. It would seem advantageous to not only develop accessible, affordable homeschooling curricula, but bolster support of homeschooling for Seventh-day Adventist families.
When my family began our homeschooling journey, we were hard-pressed to find a curriculum that did not teach doctrine contrary to our beliefs. Many “satellite” or “umbrella” schools are needed in many states to handle records, testing, diplomas, and graduation ceremonies. These schools require a detailed “statement of faith.” These statements often ask us to subscribe to theological concepts such as a belief in eternal torment, a non-biblical rapture, a belief that all animals have been “made clean,” and an adherence to a Sunday Sabbath. The student must also keep to and be tested over the satellite school’s curriculum and doctrine.
It behooves our church to become involved in the homeschooling movement. It is neither new, nor a fad; it is a viable, wonderful option for many of us. I would like to see Adventist curricula packages that include church history, churches hosting home school support and co-ops, and even childcare, so that parents who must work or are going back to school may continue to give their children a moral, godly education.
I pray that our church body will continue to grow in its dedication to our children’s education and ministry.
Ellen White says of Mary, the mother of Jesus, “With delight she sought to encourage that bright, receptive mind” (The Desire of Ages, p. 69). Those of us who are parents know that delight, and take pride in encouraging our own gifts from the Lord.
Let’s Do It
“Another Form of Legalism,” by Roy Adams (July 24, 2008) is thought-provoking. While there are more respected sources for the kind of surveys questioned (such as Christian Smith’s research), our own answers to ValueGenesis 1 and 2 reveal the same things. Adventist young people do not know they are saved! Consistent family worship, grace-based churches, and active community service are three factors that could begin to change that, according to own surveys. But how many Adventist churches are unapologetically emphasizing these three things?
So in addition to artificial surveys and contrived questions, let’s also do away with blaming others when they confirm what we already know to be true.
Let’s Stay Ready
I fully subscribe to Stephen Chavez’ point that we need to walk with Jesus today, regardless of our proximity to Christ’s coming. (See “Eveready,” July 17, 2008). Chavez speaks of those who “get all excited” over some prophetic scenario or natural disaster, and then after a few weeks or months, as he puts it, “life goes on.” Appropriately, he warns against mere crisis-induced spirituality.
As I reflect on Chavez’ editorial, I can’t help thinking of another class of believers who get all excited about fulfilling prophecy. As I see it, these people want to follow the Lord’s instruction as any true disciple would. They want Him to do His work in them. They want to help spread the message for our time. And they want to see Jesus coming in the clouds.
Unlike some, perhaps, these folk are not “discombobulated” over news stories that ring of end-time events. While they sympathize with the suffering each catastrophe brings, their hearts sing when they perceive the evidence that their Lord is coming soon!
And Credit to All!
You can imagine my surprise when I discovered the article “Howard Was Here” (July 17, 2008). After a moment of incredulity, I realized this was about my parents, Howard and Betty Knowlton! Kudos to Michelle Sabo Kendall for telling it like it really is; to Terry Crews for the real-to-life illustration, and to all the other unknown heroes who go about their daily lives wearing their sermon in shoes.
Martha Knowlton Newbold
Walla Walla, Washington
It’s the Economy
Bill Knott made a compelling argument for choosing Seventh-day Adventist schools over government schools, and I would not debate him on that point. Sending young children to a public school is like throwing them to the sharks. But he completely failed to address the major reasons that many church members send their kids elsewhere: finances.
The cost of an education in an Adventist school has become prohibitive for many--maybe most—Seventh-day Adventists. I graduated from Rio Lindo Academy, then Pacific Union College. Tuition at that time was about $1,600 per year at RLA and around $1,900 at PUC. Grants and low-interest loans were readily available for college. But today, I could not afford to attend either school, with yearly tuition costs nearly $14,000 at RLA, and nearly $30,000 at PUC (neither can we afford to send our kids there).
I don’t know any Adventist who has that kind of money. I’m sure they’re out there, but nobody in my local church does. We home-schooled both our children for this very reason.
These tuition rates have risen more than the rate of inflation in the past 40 years. Where have we failed? Why does it cost 15 times as much to go to college as it did 40 years ago, while according to the latest government statistics, based on the inflation rate over that period of time, it should only cost me between six and seven times as much? Someone has to get a handle on this, or we will continue to lose students, in more ways than one.
Choose Your Text
At the table for the evening meal I was so attracted by the title of the article, “Still People of the Book?” by Mark Kellner (June 19, 2008) that I said to my wife and our adult son, “Wanna hear something good?”
I read the title and subtitle and was about to read the first paragraph when I was interrupted by my son. “We’ve never been people of the Book. We’ve only been people of the text, the proof text.”
I have to agree. When I began my theological studies at Avondale College in 1962, one of my first classes was in Daniel and Revelation. I will always remember the lecturer asking us to take a sheet of paper and number it 1 through 12 down the left-hand side. Having done that he asked us to give a brief summary of each of the 12 chapters of the Book of Daniel.
How would we score today? Ask any Seventh-day Adventist today to do something like that. Then we will know whether they are people of the Book, or people of the proof text.
Rathmines, New South Wales
Mark Kellner’s article, “Still People of the Book?” was refreshing! How sad that of late I hear statements such as, “What we need to hear is Jesus and God’s love, not the 28 Fundamental beliefs.” I’ve even heard ministers belittle the 28 Fundamentals from the pulpit. This hurts me deeply. Our pioneers dug these truths out of the Word with untiring effort amid much criticism.
According to Scripture we are heading into times of great deception and God’s truths in Jesus will hold us fast. To love truth is to love Jesus (See John 14:6).
Ellen White wrote: “All the great truths of the Scripture center in Christ; rightly understood, all lad to Him” (Evangelism, p. 485).
She also wrote: “Christ, His character and work, is the center and circumference of all truth, he is the chain upon which the jewels of doctrine are linked. In him is found the complete system of truth” (Review and Herald, Aug. 15, 1893).
And Jesus said, “Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom You have sent” (John 17:3).
To know Jesus from personal fellowship with Him is essential. To know Him from the study of the four Gospels and reading The Desire of Ages is thrilling. But to know Him in the Sabbath, the state of the dead, the law of God, and the other 28 Fundamentals completes our knowledge of Him. We receive so much more when we are with Him in person.
Joel O. Tompkins, Sr.
Real Life Situations
Kimberly Luste Maran’s editorial, “Life Matters” (May 15, 2008), was thought-provoking and indirectly addressed several areas not usually written about in Adventist publications: 1) early education for pre-school children, 2) working mothers of preschool children, 3) a child’s understanding of death, 4) support for children and families dealing with grief, 5) support for families dealing with divorce, and 6) spousal and child abuse.
Thank you for writing about the world in which we and our children live.