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
First Things First
After reading and rereading the well-written article, “Sifting Through the Past” (Jan. 28, 2010), I feel compelled to send the thoughts that are crowding my mind about the never-ending debate over Adventist hermeneutics and inspiration. It’s like going back to the short ministry of Jesus while the Pharisees and Sadducees plotted His death. Though the two groups were often in disagreement about their beliefs, they stubbornly clung to their preconceived ideas and joined together against Jesus.
I pray that Adventist theologians will realize that history is repeating itself. They should set hermeneutics aside and look to Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith. In preparation for His Second Coming, instead of concern about dates being correct, or the nature and authority of Ellen White’s writings, it is most important to be born again, as Jesus told Nicodemus.
Let’s follow the example of Jesus and glorify our Father in heaven.
Connecting With the Church
Thanks to Jimmy Phillips for highlighting the 180 Symposium and its goal of supporting Adventist students who do not attend Adventist schools in his article, “Help Is on the Way” (Jan. 28, 2010).
Here’s one simple way of helping these students feel valued: I have been in many worship services where a pastor or elder prays, “Bless the children at our church school,” or “Be with all the young people away at academy,” with no mention of the young people who don’t attend church schools, who are in the majority in many congregations. After five years in homeschool and six in public high school and university, I know from experience the message that comes through loud and clear: My church doesn’t care enough about me to pray for me. They don’t even recognize that I exist.
Praying a more inclusive prayer for the church’s children and youth would affirm them without devaluing Adventist education.
Age and Experience
The recent editorial, “The Spirit of the Pioneers” by Stephen Chavez (Jan. 14, 2010), started me thinking about our church, its history, and its present condition. His comment was about the age of the early leaders of our church, and seemed to be against the current age of the majority of our church leaders. I’ve seen other comments with similar conclusions. It seems that these people are ignoring the retired sea captain, Joseph Bates, who was also an early leader in the establishment of our church.
Another significant factor is the difference in the present-day Adventist church and our early years. When the young people, specifically James and Ellen White and Uriah Smith, were the major leaders in the church, it consisted of a small number of people in a rather localized portion of the eastern United States. The present church consists of more than 16 million members in more than 200 countries world wide. To administer this larger entity requires a different caliber of leadership. Some would apparently like to see young adults in the most influential positions. It would be unfortunate to expect a recently graduated young person to take the helm of this much larger and more sophisticated group of believers.
It might be all right to give some of these young people assistant positions, in order to give them sufficient experience and knowledge of the working of this much larger organization; however, the funding for this type of on-the-job training would take away a significant portion of the mission funds the church needs to spread the message God has given us to take to all the world.
A Difficult Decision
Dealing with aging parents is incredibly complex, and no two cases are alike. Each family has to face its own situation and seek God’s guidance about what to do. It is a private, family matter, and decisions can only be made by those who are actually involved. Well meaning church members should be sensitive to families who face this situation and let the family decide how best to deal with these situations. They don’t know all the details and complexities involved in the decision.
In my own case, I was hurt by church members who were critical of the decisions my family made. They could not understand why my mother is not in a Seventh-day Adventist nursing facility. My family agrees that we did what is best, what God would have us do. My mother is in a Christian environment, I am able to see her every day, and I pray with her every day.
There are no easy answers. But God does have the answers, all we need to do is seek His guidance and follow as he leads us.
Supporting Our Unsung Heroes
Fredrick Russell’s column, “Pastors: Unsung Heroes of the Church” (Jan. 21, 2010) was dead on. I have recently been reading those same blogs of accusations, since my son is a theology major at La Sierra University. It was disappointing to see how disrespectfully this particular blogger regarded those who are called by God to do His work. I certainly hope that my son, who had the freedom to choose any career, but felt called to become a pastor, would be supported and affirmed by members of this church.
I could not agree more with the author when he ended his column: “Right now is a great moment to lift our pastors in prayer. They are the sentinels on the walls of Zion, watching over and protecting the people of God.” Let’s stop this infighting and focus on supporting those who are there in the front lines. If it was not for these pastors, where would that disrespectful blogger be?
A Letter from Home
I always page through the Review as soon as my husband brings the treasured magazine in from the mailbox. Seeing the cover story, “Waldenses in America?” (Jan. 14, 2010), I thought about the many times I had taught about the faithful Waldenses in church school Bible classes, or in junior or youth Sabbath schools through the years. How surprised I was to find that a group of these brave folk live in North Carolina, and see the photos of historic items relating to their years of persecution.
I agree with Stephen Chavez (page 7) about his faith in our younger generation, and I look forward to the time when we put them in more responsible positions in our church. I hope that will be soon, maybe even during the General Conference session in June!
Being a stamp collector (for interest’s sake, rather than investment), I was surprised to see the “Giving and Sharing” stamp, for which Milton Murray had lobbied so long (pages 8, 9). That particular stamp in my collection will mean a lot more to me, now that I know the story!
Then just below the article about Milton Murray, was a picture and story about Adrian Westney (pages 9, 10), a friend from many years ago when I taught in Lake Erie Junior Academy in Erie, Pennsylvania. It was good to see him at teachers’ conventions throughout the Columbia Union Conference and learn from his messages. His big smile could win anyone’s heart!
That particular copy of the Review held still another surprise: The article about Virginia-Gene Rittenhouse and her courage as she fought to overcome a problem with her shoulder that kept her from playing her beloved violin (pages 11, 12). The story of this lovely woman, who is known all over the world because of her abilities and her work with the New England Youth Conservatory, takes me back to my days at Atlantic Union College. Her father, George Shankel, was dean of the college and taught several courses in history. As a history major I was privileged to have him for a teacher; but more importantly for a dear friend. As he told me of his work in South Africa, I was impressed more and more that I would one day receive a call to work in Africa as a missionary teacher. Four years after I graduated, I was on my way to Rhodesia, where, by the way, I met my husband, Dale, whose parents had been missionaries in Africa for many years.
How very thankful I am that we are really part of the great Adventist family working around the world to take the message that Jesus is coming soon to “every kindred, tongue and people.”
Thank you for all of the good news the Review brings us each week, and for keeping us in touch with each other!
Pleasant Hill, Missouri