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
I’m writing in response to the three articles under the heading “Current Issues” (Oct. 23, 2008). I appreciate and support the efforts of students at our colleges and universities to become active in trying to improve their local communities, our nation, and the world. I encourage all students to volunteer for efforts, such as student missions, mission trips, and “Habitat for Humanity” projects that better the lives of people.
However, I am concerned when our students--acting under the banner of our institutions--engage in public demonstrations and other forms of social activism. It seems as though such activism in secular society is becoming ever more confrontational, even violent. Are students and faculties at our schools so desirous of being accepted by their non-Adventist peers that they wish to follow in their footsteps?
I noticed that the students at Oakwood University approach activism in a different manner. To them, the number one purpose of student activism is to bring people to Christ. The article by Blake refers to Luke 4, in which Jesus quoted Isaiah 61, which includes the phrase “to set at liberty those who are oppressed.” Jesus gave a new twist to this phrase when He said, “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32). Like the students at Oakwood, I believe the primary goal of students at our colleges and universities should be to bring about “spiritual” liberty.
Richard A. Wright
Huntington Park, California
John’s Questions, and Ours
I have two comments on Ed Dickerson’s article, “Do We Look for Another?” (Oct. 23, 2008). The first in defense of John the Baptist: The article states, “For a time, based on them [his expectations], he’d been led to question the messiahship of Jesus.”
Ellen White wrote: “John would not discuss his doubts and anxieties with his companions. He determined to send a message of inquiry to Jesus. This he entrusted to two of his disciples, hoping that an interview with the Saviour would confirm their faith, and bring assurance to their brethren” (The Desire of Ages, p. 216).
Although his expectations of the type and nature of Christ’s mission had to be changed and clarified, John did not ever lose his faith in Christ as the Promised one.
I also disagree with the author’s statement regarding knowing the exact progression of events and that this “is not our proper role. Rather than building faith in God, such an approach seeks to replace faith with knowledge.” To the contrary, God has revealed, through Christ Himself, in the book of Revelation details regarding the coming events in order to increase our faith in Him and to trust God more fully as we see the fulfillment occurring as He said it would. If God revealed it, it is relevant. “Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand” (Rev. 1:3).
We are on earth to proclaim a specific, important message of warning to the world. Wouldn’t this message be diluted if we only vaguely point to some nebulous “time of tribulation”? How much more effective would we be if we could give some structure and “meat” to our warning; pointing people to a Jesus we can trust and love, a God who loves us enough to reveal future events to us.
The basic premise of the article is still valid--we cannot lose hope because we don’t fully understand the details of prophecy. Our only surety and hope is to trust and follow Jesus, and completely surrender to Him all the way.
What Can We Do?
I’ve been a reader of the Review for many years, and composed many letters to the editor in my mind. But this one I must send.
As I read the article, “The World’s Third Largest Illegal Trade” (Oct. 9, 2008), I wondered why it appeared at this time. Some years ago the issue was brought to our attention, thanks in large degree to the leadership of the General Conference’s Women’s Ministries Department and a Review article about prevention efforts on behalf of young girls in rural Thailand (or was it Burma?).
So why now, again? Is it that we listened, sighed, shook our heads, and settled back again into life as usual without doing something or increasing our efforts to help? This morning, the Dr. Phil program was dedicated to this very issue; a huge, tragic problem that is very much alive around the world and in rural and urban United States. Many people “of the word” are involved in helping, and various suggestions about how we can help were given. (If you missed it, you can watch it on the Dr Phil website.) A musical documentary about the child victims in San Francisco will soon be released. Anyone not convinced of the enormity and urgency of the problem should watch it.
So I ask myself: OK, now what? Do I faithfully continue with my daily devotional time, attendance at church and Sabbath school to ensure that my relationship with God grows, and clarify those important theological understandings? I think I hear Jesus saying: “These things you ought to do but not leave the others undone” (see Matt. 23:23).
Gloria Brown Wright
What We Leave Behind
I enjoyed Clifford Goldstein’s column, “The Evanescence of Us” (Oct. 9, 2008). The three illustrations all dealt with people who did their jobs well; a person who built a fine building, a ruler who conquered many, and an editor who wrote a lot. Buildings, articles, and battles fought do not remember the people in charge; only people remember.
So when we spend our days shuffling papers, digging ditches, assembling cars, or programming computers and leave out people (our neighbors), we, too, will end up as those in these three illustrations. The ditch is filled in, the next person in line for the paper edits, and the program is done. No relationship is established with the paper, the shovel, the car, or the keyboard.
Paul did the same things (sort of) as these three people. He wrote part of the Bible, he was a tentmaker, and he fought in the most important battle there is. The difference is that he did it with people. He wrote letters to people in the churches he established. We get a lot of the Bible from those letters. He did tent making to support his missionary work. The battle he fought was the one against Satan and for God. God does not forget those who fight for Him.
Retirement is not a word God uses. We do not retire from being God’s child. We do not retire from the battle with evil. Perhaps after we die, we will be less known to the world than even the king in this article, but we will never be unknown to God. He will call us by name and we will spend our life with Him forever.
I Love It!
I just finished the roll-out edition of the new Review. Great job! [It has] wonderful layout, great content, and some wonderful new features.
Thanks for your hard work and dedication.
Walpole, New Hampshire
A Tragedy? Or a Trend?
While I appreciate and respect the points Benjamin Baker makes in the online article, “The Tragedy of Church Hopping: No Tragedy at All,” I encourage every Adventist to encourage young people who attend other churches to continue. We shouldn’t make them feel bad about visiting other churches.
Let’s stay positive with regard to church attendance. People don’t have to be made to feel bad or disloyal to the church because they enjoy visiting other Adventist congregations.
In Benjamin Baker’s article on church hopping he stated an obvious untruth.
Throughout the Bible there are examples of those in the Christian church visiting other churches. As a matter of fact, Jesus visited Capernaum on many occasions. Christians during the Acts era visited other churches as well.
Baker stated some reasons why singles or others should avoid church hopping, but I see these as only a cop out. The Adventist Church has become notorious for not meeting the needs of its members and carrying on with its own agenda. People go where they are fed and made to feel comfortable. Apparently they move around because they are attracted to what’s going on at other churches.
Relevance is needed in our church today, from the General Conference to the small company in a dark territory. If church A is not meeting the needs of its members, the members will get their needs met, or at least seek to get them met, elsewhere.
The lack of organic growth in the Americas, with the exception of some ethnic churches, is due to the same. Because members find no relevance in the services during the week or on Sabbath, they have nothing to witness about to others concerning their church. Many church services only address the needs of the select, instead of the entire membership.
Our church has become so reactionary. We should return to being proactive. Instead of responding to Left Behind, The Passion of the Christ, and every other false distraction that creeps up, we should be out proclaiming messages the Lord has given us. FOX, CNN, and the world at large should be reacting to, and commenting about, what we say and do.
When our church goes back to reading and studying the Word for ourselves, the fruit of the Spirit will be manifest and bring about changes that will address the needs of its members.