The Paradox of Our Politics
Thanks for the fine article about Warren G. Harding and the Adventist Connection (The Nearly Adventist President, Jan. 26, 2006). The concluding paragraphs were most apropos and much appreciated.
As one who has a tendency to partisanship, the message was a worthy reminder of the need for us choose our causes and our politicians very carefully--and to keep our beloved church out of the process.
I have often wondered at the paradox of the churchs official support for prohibition while it simultaneously supported separation of church and state, and individual freedom of conscience. Consistency hasnt always been one of our virtues. How about an article on this paradox and a discussion about a churchs appropriate participation the formulation of national policy?
J. R. Becraft
You may wish to see the article, Drying Up the Stream (Jan 22, 2004), about the churchs history with attempts to prohibit the sale of alcohol in the United States during Prohibition. --Editors
I was saddened and deeply distressed at the politically partisan news commentary by Timothy G. Standish, The Question of Torture (Jan. 26, 2006). It is a blatant slam at the current Bush administration, but more baseless than some that appear in the secular media. Please consider the following:
1) Partisan politics is a divisive and questionable subject for the Adventist Review to indulge in. It is getting noticeably more frequent, and predominately left-wing. This article implies that the Bush administration condones torture, even though it has stated repeatedly that it does not condone it anywhere in the world.
2) Standish, by quoting Jesus in Luke 6:27, is apparently saying that doing good to your enemies, and those who hate you is the obligation of the Christian, even when that person is a terrorist or criminal.
3) Standish says everybody has inalienable rights. A criminal--lets say a murderer or rapist of a 10-year old girl--cannot have his rights taken away. So, putting such a one in prison, which denies his right to freedom, is wrong.
And of course, stressfully interrogating a terrorist to learn when and where his buddies are going to bomb the next unarmed people would be inhumane and degrading treatment. Standish is saying he rules out any interrogation involving more than loving your enemy and doing them good, even though innocent lives may be at stake. To him, it is wrong even though perceived greater good might result.
4) So, in Standishs view, Christians are obligated to see terrorists and good citizens alike as having the same rights. That view has never been advocated or practiced by God or any society God set up. In fact, God abridged the rights of rebellious angels, making war on them and denying their right to inhabit heaven. And the rebels had not yet hurt or killed anyone--it was over an idea of how God should rule the universe. God also prescribed capital punishment for murderers.
5) Finally, Standish cannot separate the legitimate rights of law abiding citizens and the withdrawing of rights for the lawless--by putting them in prison, to protect society. He conflates the issues of justice and rights in the typical manner of the liberal pacifist.
What distresses me is that the Review gives such ideas the space and the ink.
Junction City, Oregon
At last! Nothing could be more appropriate and timely than a monthly issue about discipleship. This is what Jesus asked us to do in the Great Commission of Matthew 28. Whats taken us so long?
As I have studied this topic, I have come to the conclusion that we know how to study with people and make them Adventists, but Im not sure we know what to do to make them disciples. The Lord has led you at the Review. Thanks a million.
John Day, Oregon
The article, Would Someone Please Tell Me What a Blog Is? (Jan. 19, 2006), was very informational. I didnt know what a blog was, and I wanted to know, having heard the term on the Internet. Coming across this article was very helpful to me. I can now relate to anyone who talks about blogging.
Adventists and Alcohol
When I saw on the cover of the Adventist Review the title, To Drink, or Not to Drink, I fully expected to find an article that would rehash biblical arguments to prove that drinking even one glass of wine or beer is sinful. I was happily surprised when I read the section that dealt with the moderate use of alcohol.
I believe many (in particular, young) members increasingly wonder whether the biblical arguments that have traditionally been presented for total abstinence from alcohol stand up to close scrutiny. And this may well lead them to ask whether some other doctrinal views may be just as shaky! It has always been my conviction that, while it is clear that the Bible condemns alcohol abuse, it is impossible to conclude from the biblical evidence that any moderate use of alcohol is a sin.
Yet, it would be a great loss if the Seventh-day Adventist Church followed the example of some other denominations, that in their past used to champion the cause of total abstinence, in abandoning its traditional position. Alcohol causes so much havoc in our world that staying away from it 100 percent is the only safe platform for those who want to warn against its dangers.
But if we want to convince our members that it would be a shame to give up on our teetotaling heritage, we must make sure to use convincing arguments. We must be willing to discuss the issues with an open mind and not be afraid to cite evidence that appears to contradict our standpoint. The approach taken in this issue of the Adventist Review is a laudable step in that direction. It is the only way in which we can convince thinking, critical, postmodern Adventists that saying no to every form of alcohol remains the best option for Christians who want to make a difference in todays world.
Reinder Bruinsma, president
Netherlands Union Conference
Ignored, Or Not
In Roy Adams editorial, Why Do They Ignore Us (Jan. 12, 2006), he observes, Its as if we dont exist. The central message or theme of our church has never been the good news that Jesus came to save us, and that this wonderful salvation is a free gift from God.
A few years ago Adventists had a float in the Pasadena [California] Rose Parade for about five years in a row. If you had never heard of Adventists you would have thought we were a philanthropic organization that was for animal rights and children. Unfortunately, there was no mention of Jesus, or the gospel, or His wonderful salvation. At the same time another church sponsored a float that spoke of Jesus and His great love.
Adams asks, Or might the problem be partly with us? The word partly could have been left out. Yes, the problem lies with us. Lets lift up Jesus Christ in our life and let the world know that He is the reason for our existence. He is the reason we preach, teach, and live joyful lives.
More Basic Education
Kathy Beagles column, Are Gods Children Getting a Proper Education? (Jan. 19, 2006), touches on a key issue facing the church today. A prophecy/doctrinal seminar may bring seekers into the church, but the work of teaching should start from there.
Many new Christians know little or nothing about the Bible. Our children in Kindergarten Sabbath school often know more about the stories of the Bible. With the largest growth of the North American church occurring among ethnic and lower income populations, we need to communicate in common language.
What if we created an adult course of study that follows the general outline of the Cradle Roll lessons--introducing the major stories of the Bible as they relate to Gods love for us? What if we created an adult course of Bible study--not doctrinal study--that is written for those without a college-level vocabulary? Many Christian churches talk about the Bible; we should be teaching all the Bible, not just the doctrinal proofs of our faith.
Our churchs associate pastor is a full-time prison chaplain. He needs materials for teaching inmates with little education. Many people in our rural area have never finished high school. They need Bible study helps they can understand. One of my church-going friends didnt know the difference between Abraham, Noah, and Moses, and has missed the rich lessons from each mans life and story.
My mother runs the Bible Correspondence School for our church but finds that after students have completed the doctrinal/prophecy lessons, there are no other resources available to help these students continue to study the Bible. Several graduates are attending church but the only teaching they get is through preaching. The Adult Sabbath School lesson is too in-depth focused--often about Adventist-isms--to teach those who dont even have a rudimentary knowledge of Scripture.
Please, can we do this? Ill help.
A Message for Our Times
It took courage to write the editorial, Goodbye to 2005 (Dec. 22, 2005). But no one in the Adventist Church should have to say, Wake Up!
Ellen White wrote that all of us should be in a waiting watching mode; not asleep but waiting and watching. This mode of waiting and watching will keep us from getting entangled in worldly things and the cares of this world. If anything matters to us today, this does.
Read what Ellen White wrote in Testimonies for the Church, vol. 2, pp. 191-199. Let me quote this one small part: I hope, my dear brethren and sisters, that you will not pass your eye over these words without thoroughly considering their import. This is my prayer for all of us.
Debbie J. Cain
Good News, Not Good Advice
Thanks for devoting an issue to the importance of studying the Scriptures (Dec. 15, 2005). It is so timely.
Cheryl Davisons fears, frustration, and years of sorrow in her pursuit of perfection were so unnecessary and so sad (Set Free). It saddened me to think that a fellow Adventist should go through this.
Perfectionism is a curse; the bane of too many of us. What is the answer?
I am just one of thousands of Adventists who have come to learn of and love the gospel that tells us that a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe (Rom. 3:21, 22, NIV). We have decided to agree with Paul in these matters.
We believe that we have been saved by grace (Eph. 2:5-8). We believe that eternal life is the gift of God (Rom. 6:23), a gracious act of a compassionate God who understands our predicament. We believe that nothing will be able to separate us from His love (Rom. 8:39).
Unfortunately, as long as we fail to disseminate the truth about justification by faith and explain that our standing before God is not determined by either our failures (which are inevitable) or our successes (which are intermittent), but rather by our faith in the Savior, there will be more Adventists who will, like Davison, experience personal crises and unfortunately be shaken--out of our church. Despite a million sermons to the contrary, the gospel is not good advice but good news.
In conclusion, may I echo Derek Morriss line, Why didnt someone tell me that before?
Rathmines, New South Wales