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
In addition to what Bill Knott so clearly and magnificently listed as his wishes for an Adventist education for his son (“What I Expect,” [Sept. 20, 2009]), I suggest his education clearly defend, clarify, and uphold our church’s stated belief in a literal six-day creation, the role of Ellen White’s ministry, and the Three Angels’ Messages.
We may have to look at the views of those who oppose our positions and know clearly how to answer them. I still remember a seminary teacher had us read a Catholic book. But the teacher gave us answers that helped us see the loopholes in its arguments, and thus our faith was strengthened.
“We are the Pathfinders strong,” was the first thought that came to mind as I read the beautiful, excellent issue of the Oshkosh Camporee. I congratulate the staff for this fantastic coverage of the Camporee.
I was thrilled to read about the adventures of the 36,000 in attendance. Paulina Carvalho, member of the San Diego Club was my representative. She is not an Adventist, but she came back with news of the great time she had. Her stepfather, my brother, passed away last year and she has found new joy in Pathfinders.
We thank God and the leadership of Ron Whitehead, Japhet de Oliveira and their team for this great event--the biggest in the history of the church. Erton Kohler, president of the South American Division said that there were more than 200 from his field.
Thank God for the vision of our pioneers who started Pathfinders. As a young theology student in Brazil, I remember our first Youth Congress in 1952. Larry Skinner was our first leader. I never knew that some day I would take his place and follow our founder, John Hancock. I rejoice with the growth of this great agency to keep our young people in the church and to mold their characters for the future!
While at the Pathfinder Camporee at Oshkosh, all 40,000 Pathfinders were in the middle of singing praise songs to our awesome God when a huge cross suddenly appeared in clouds of the sky. Pathfinder director, Ron Whitehead, came to the podium and said, “Let’s show our VIP, the Main Guest at our Camporee, how pleased we are,” and we gave God the loudest standing ovation we could muster. It was such an awesome experience! A lot of us were so overcome with emotion we wept.
This is such a puny planet. Sometimes I wonder why God even cares about it. But then He sends us something like this, a sign that says, “Hey, I’m here, and I appreciate that you are here. I love your songs to me, and here, once again, I will show you my great power.”
Appropriately, our follow-up song was “Lord, We Lift Your Name on High.” We were truly blessed by this experience.
Van Nuys, California
Unity in the Word
In the aftermath of the recent Evangelical Lutheran Church of America decision, Lutheran church leaders are begging for unity among their constituents. What they forget is that unity must be based on scriptural teachings. This is something we also need to remember.
Speaking of “the unity for which Christ prayed” (John 17), Ellen White wrote: “We cannot surrender the truth in order to accomplish this union; for the very means by which it is to be gained is sanctification through the truth. Human wisdom would change all this, thinking this basis of union too narrow. Men would effect a union through conformity to popular opinions, through a compromise with the world. But truth is God’s basis for the unity of His people” (Gospel Workers , p. 391).
Walla Walla, Washington
I, along with Roy Adams (“Singing Our Songs,” Aug. 20, 2009) decry the fact that numerous beautiful hymns are not being used by many of our congregations. I, too, believe that we should know the majority of the hymns in our hymnal well enough to sing them.
However, there are almost 700 songs in that book! How will the congregation learn the songs they don’t know when, because of the scores of songs available, our song leaders and accompanists do not know all of them? And even if they know the songs, those who don’t use musical scores must figure out which chords to play!
Since the ’85 hymnal came out, it has fallen into declining use in my home church; the preferred genre becoming increasing contemporary songs/music, likely because that music is already chorded and ready to play.
I recently learned that a new hymnal is being considered, and that those working on it have already decided against including chord names. If we want a new church hymnal to be perceived as a necessary replacement for the present one, we must make it user friendly for all potential users. If, because of the current economy, a new hymnal is decided against, it might be wise to consider how to make the present hymnal more useable to a wider audience than it fits now.
The key driving the issuing of any hymnal should be, Why aren’t people using many of the hymns in our current hymnal? Perhaps we should consider a different approach if we want people to sing “our songs” better than they do now. These “songs of substance” are the ones that we want our congregations to know, love, and sing. Let’s make that easier.
I was thrilled to read the article by Roy Adams about what we sing in church. The power of uplifting songs sends messages right to our hearts and minds. What we sing greatly impacts the soul with spiritual value.
I live where one would think music flows in the air. Unfortunately, it is not so, especially in church. My husband is a musician and was greatly involved in writing some of his best compositions for the church on issues so dear to us Adventists.
He was baptized in 2000, but was practically shaken out of the church by people who had a lot to say about new songs for the church and closed their eyes to a newly baptized member who needed to be loved, accepted into the church and spiritually guided into growing a stronger member. Perhaps it was preferable to hear the kind of music that makes your feet tap and work up emotions, rather than music that lifts you up to the throne of God in worship. He’s been out of the church for several years now, and has weakened in those beliefs that were once his pride.
There is power in church music. I have long left the problem up to the Lord, but with great suffering as you can imagine and still hope that my husband is not getting too old to decide to turn back once more.
If musicians allowed the Lord to inspire them with His Spirit, our churches would truly worship with great joy and in humilty before His throne, and the words sung would stick in our minds to return when the Spirit wants to give us a message.
Name and location withheld
Dismantling The Shack
Thank you so much for publishing such a fine and concise review of the book The Shack (Aug. 30, 2009). This dangerously popular book needed to be unmasked, and the Adventist Review has certainly come through. Cindy Tutsch has done a great job in summarizing its content. Thank you so much.
Having recently analyzed this book (the one I read said there are 3 million in print, and, yes, the paging seems to be different from the one Tutsch read), I found that beneath the layers of philosophy and tragedy lay a definite aversion and abhorrence to the law of God that The Shack attacks behind a mask and in the name of “relationship.”
This book brings up the Ten Commandments and portrays “god” saying, “Jesus laid the demand of the law to rest; it no longer has any power to accuse or command” (p. 203). To the direct question: “Are you saying I don’t have to follow the rules?” the answer from this “voice” is also direct and unambiguous: “Yes. In Jesus you are not under any law. All things are lawful” (p. 203). It adds, “Both evil and darkness can only be understood in relation to light and good; they do not have any actual existence” (p. 136). It is truly amazing how these statements fulfill prophecy to the letter (see The Great Controversy, p. 558).
Olga A. Sanchez
San Diego, California
I recently read the review of the book, The Shack by William Paul Young. I’m not sure why it was reviewed so harshly, as it was not targeting Seventh-day Adventists, nor probably converted Christians. It was written for a secular audience for the purpose of introducing them to a God who loves. It was not meant to be a theological treatise.
In our world, human beings have a distorted view of God as arbitrary and even mean--if they think He exists at all. This author did an excellent job of showing how God comes to us where we are.
I was blessed by the concept, but, like other church members, I realized it is a parable (as is the story of the rich man and Lazarus in the New Testament). I’m sure John Bunyan didn’t have our theological perspective, yet Ellen White singled him out as writing a deep, inspirational story that “guided many feet into the path of life” (The Great Controversy, p. 252).
Ella M. Rydzewski