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
Roy Adams is onto something important in his editorial on the remnant and Laodicea, “Thinking Aloud About Laodicea” (Aug. 28, 2008). Jesus said, “Other sheep I have, which are not of this fold” (John 10:16, KJV). The people of God are not all in Adventism, not even all within the Christian church. “Remnant,” of course, refers to what is left of an original piece of cloth. What was the remnant in Jesus’ day? Was it not those Jews who were looking for the Messiah, i.e., Anna, Simeon, and a few others? It would seem that the remnant today would be those faithful to Christ in the whole Christian church.
The Remnant and Its Mission
As I understand the role of Adventism today, we are like the Jews, called out and placed at the crossroads of the world as a special people; special in the sense of having a special message to deliver to the world and nothing more. The Advent movement must be a movement within the greater Christian world, proclaiming a warning and invitation to the world regarding the judgment and the return of Jesus. We are a special people for a function, not because we are better than any others. Were we to recognize this and live it, we would not be smug about ourselves and see ourselves either as exclusive or in need of flagellation, but as a people with a message. I suspect the rest of the world would then stand up and take note.
Roy Adams’ editorial is provocative, challenging, even “confrontational.” I never knew of E. G. White’s statement regarding a broader application of Laodicea to the larger Christian community.
What I appreciate perhaps most is Adams’ examination of some Adventists tendency to believe their own press, as did Israel of old. I was raised an Adventist, I felt as if I was part of an exclusive club or holy clique. I felt that just by being part of this church I had secured heavenly brownie points.
Unfortunately, despite all our studying and church-going, it is still a common practice for many to brag about the “remnant” title that only Adventists could rightfully claim; only Adventists could possibly fit the bill.
Of course, one consequence of this trend is the proliferation of pride and arrogance. Jesus’ indictment of the Laodicean church was addressed to those who professed to be His followers living in these last days.
May God help us to concentrate on those things that will qualify us to be entrusted with eternal life in a world free of artificial and oppressive hierarchies.
Victor R. Pond
Protectors of the Planet
Though I have long believed that Psalm 24:1 is the greatest text regarding ecology and accountability in all the Bible, it took Jo Ann Davidson’s superb article, “And It Was Good” (Aug. 21, 2008), to provide the practical and realistic insights and structure to what I thought only I believed.
She has such a gentle, but purposeful, way of sharpening both our individual and collective accountability for how we treat other human beings on this planet, as well as other creatures, and the vast resources our loving Creator has provided.
That’s why I believe Psalm 24:1 is the “Hallelujah Chorus” to what she had to say.
“The earth is the Lord’s”: He created it, He redeemed it, and He will soon reclaim it!
“And the fullness thereof:” All that emerges from the earth by His creating hand--the trees, the plants, the abundant minerals.
“The world”: The marvels of a global environment He provided to assure that we might live.
“And they that dwell therein”: Humanity, animals, and a host of other creatures too vast to grasp. All of this for us to gratefully love, care for, and preserve--until He comes.
Many years ago my six-year old grandson, Mike Blinci, went to Loma Linda Elementary School. On his own initiative he urged the need for a recycling program. The San Bernardino Sun ran a feature story about it. They were impressed that a first grader would have such a concern. As Christians, shouldn’t we all? Some of my practices have already changed, thanks to Davidson’s article.
H. H. Hill
“And It Was Good” is a timely article. God does expect us to take care of this earth. Pollution is a problem everywhere. The only thing that stood out as misleading is her statement, “In Genesis 1 and 2 we find that both humans and animals were created by God’s own hands from the dust of the earth and given the breath of life.”
Where does the Bible say animals were “created from the dust of the earth”? Genesis 2:7 says “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” Nowhere can I find that animals were created from the dust of the earth. “For He spake and it was done” (Ps. 33:9).
We frequently read similar articles in church publications, all of them good. But occasionally the idea creeps in that humans can reverse global warming, reduce carbon dioxide levels, etc.
I maintain that we can fix things globally as effectively as we can control a local rain storm. It’s too late, and humanly impossible. So let’s keep our environment clean, be judicious in our use of resources, and leave the global solution to God by continuing to empower our spiritual mandate: Taking the gospel to all the world.
Ponoka, Alberta, Canada
The Thing We Call Worship
Thank you for the excellent editorial about worship (“Unholy Bypass,” Aug. 14, 2008). I totally agree that we who have spent our lives in classical music may unwittingly introduce distracting elements into a public worship service, particularly if it’s the main worship service on a Sabbath morning. We need to be reminded that worship’s central purpose must always be kept uppermost in our minds. If what I do in a church service brings a generous round of applause, I should think twice about what I just did.
Professor of Music, Emeritus
Union College, Lincoln, Nebraska
Bill Knott hit the nail on the head. I would add only one point regarding music: Most people using newer kinds of music drown out the singer, who is the one we need to hear most so that we can benefit from the message of the song. They should remember they are only to accompany the singer and stay in the background. I prefer the musical accompanist to play more than random chords; I wish to hear the melody.
I enjoyed Michael D. Peabody’s article, “Sundae Laws” (Jul. 24, 2008). Even though I have followed the subject of Sunday laws with interest for many years, I found a lot of interesting information that was new to me. I am concerned, however, that readers might reach the wrong conclusion if they read too much into Peabody’s remark, “Most Sunday Laws are no longer enforced and are generally viewed as anachronistic.”
For years I also have been saying, “Nobody is interested in Sunday laws but Adventists.” But that is no longer true. The reality is that a renewed climate favorable to Sunday laws has been developing quietly. Two examples: In its August 2, 2004 issue, Time Magazine featured a column by Nancy Gibbs titled “And on the Seventh Day We Rested,” which nostalgically eulogized Sunday Laws. In 2006, Christianity Today, one of the most
prestigious religious periodicals in the country, also ran a column contending that Sunday laws would correct the ills of society.
While Sunday laws are not a center of focus for most people today, the climate of our culture is definitely becoming a fertile seedbed for their rebirth.
Religious Liberty director
Greater New York Conference
Manhasset, New York
Revisiting ‘The Obama Message’
I, too, want to add some words after reading Calvin Rock’s piece, “Revisiting ‘The Obama Message’” (Jul. 14, 2008), a reply to Fredrick Russell’s column, “The Obama Message” (Feb. 21, 2008).
Rock quoted Ellen White: “The relation of the two races has been a matter hard to deal with, and I fear that it will ever remain a most perplexing problem” (The Southern Work, p. 84). Does this mean it will be so until the Second Coming of Christ, or for (in her thinking) the foreseeable future? Was she talking primarily about society, or the church?
Each time we see or hear something, we all interpret it through the filter of our past and/or present experience. That’s why we have such strong responses to this Obama column. But regardless of the history of why regional conferences were established, and whatever negative effects come from changing the status quo, does that mean that it must remain as it is forever?
I’m from a Latin American country (though I’m not Latino), where the conference operates as one. It isn’t perfect, because people aren’t perfect. But most of the time our fears never materialize, even fears that come with change.
No one has talked about regional conferences being the continued will of God, or how they enhance His kingdom. Are we to claim that the thing He has allowed has become His will?
I often meet relatively new Adventists who are shocked to discover that we are in a separate conference, and the history and rationale has to be explained to them. I, for one, don’t expect it to change. Not because it cannot, but because people--leaders in the Church, for example--believe it more expedient to maintain the status quo than to step out in faith and let God lead.