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
Love and Unity
I’m writing to thank Hyveth Williams for her column “Where Is the Love? (Aug. 19, 2010). She wrote that the principle of love “is almost always linked with the keeping of the commandments.” I would add to that Matthew 22:37-40, where Jesus called love the very concept from which hangs all the law (the transcript of God’s character) and the prophets. I wonder if we actually think about how we would like to “be loved” before we “love” others that way.
A friend recently shared this wonderful quotation with me. Ellen White wrote: “He in whose heart Christ abides recognizes Christ abiding in the heart of his brother. Christ never wars against Christ. Christ never exerts an influence against Christ. Christians are to do their work, whatever it may be, in the unity of the Spirit, for the perfecting of the whole body. . . . There is a vast power in the church when the energies of the members are under the control of the Spirit, gathering good from every source, educating, training, and disciplining self. Thus is presented to God a powerful organization through which He can work for the conversion of sinners” (Signs of the Times, Feb. 7, 1900).
Berrien Springs, Michigan
What I Learned by Growing
While I was “growing up Adventist,” my parents provided me with regular opportunities (sometimes forced) to participate in daily family worship; Adventist education (K-16); Wednesday evening prayer meeting; Friday evening vespers; Sabbath school, and church programs (every week, and reverence was expected); Sabbath lunch with friends in their homes or ours, or somewhere in nature (all conversation to be Sabbath-appropriate); Sabbath afternoon hymn-sings, Bible studies, nature hikes, drives along the coast, or Junior Missionary Volunteers; Sabbath evening socials at church; Sunday morning pancake and waffle breakfasts, or Pathfinder Club meetings; camp meetings.
During my formative years I might have described these activities as ranging from mundane or boring on one extreme to fun and exciting on the other. I could never have imagined, realized, understood, or appreciated that in adulthood the memories of these occasions would comfort, strengthen, encourage, and sustain me in difficult times.
As a responsible parent, how could I not undertake to engage my daughter (a sixth-generation Adventist) in similar activities every possible opportunity I have, so that when principalities, powers, rulers of darkness, and spiritual wickedness (Eph. 6:12, KJV) confront her, she will have a foundation of strength to sustain her, and fodder for a letter to the Adventist Review describing what “growing up Adventist” means to her.
Considering Colossians 2
In his column “The Sabbath and Colossians 2
” (Aug. 19, 2010), Andy Nash makes a good point about the formula “a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day” having primary reference to sacrifices that point forward to the Messiah.
But another point that could be added regarding Colossians 2 and the Sabbath is that this text is not dealing with the end of something--it is dealing with the abuse of something. In this case it is dealing with the problem of judging others. Paul wrote: “Therefore no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day things which are a mere shadow of what is to come” (verses 16, 17, NASB). Clearly, Paul is dealing with the issue of judging others.
Christ Himself condemned the behavior that needlessly judges others in Matthew 7:1 by saying “Judge not that you be not judged.” The problem of judging others is not unique to the New Testament, so God condemned that abusive behavior in both Old Testament pre-cross times and in New Testament post-cross times. (Yet in both Matthew 7 and Colossians 2 there is a lot of judging going on regarding false teachers who do not bear the fruit of the gospel).
If we are looking for a text talking about the end of the ceremonial law, we would be talking about Hebrews 10, where we find that Christ put a stop to “sacrifices and offerings” (as Daniel 9 predicted about the Messiah). By ending those offerings, the ceremonial system based on animal sacrifices was ended as well.
Dealing With Unbelief
Regarding “Pastors Who Don’t Believe
”: My faith is not based on my pastor, but on my personal relationship with God. I take that faith leap, ask Him to reveal Himself to me, and He does. Daniel Dennett merely revises Voltaire by saying, “Since God does not exist it was necessary for early man to invent Him in order for life to have meaning.” I have to take the same view of this life; that it makes sense only when God is the foundation.
But the starting point is different. I start with God to help make sense of this life. Dennett seems to suggest that we start with this life and add back only the belief system, not actually God, and gain a false sense of meaning.
And that’s where these pastors seem to have their problem: They’re not starting with God then explaining life; they’re starting with life and attempting to use God to explain it. And they can’t. For them, it seems, the glass is still a little dark.
God is not responsible for this life, Satan is. The Jewish leaders of Christ’s time didn’t get it either. They thought it was all about this life and their triumph over the Romans.
If we see anything about this life these days, it’s the failure of Satan’s way. Natural disasters are happening with greater frequency. Humans are in conflict in every corner of the earth. No political philosophy is working, from capitalism to communism. People are becoming less accepting of differences, rather than more.
So I choose to believe in God and His way, rather than accept this life and the hopelessness inherent in it. I would hope that my pastor would make the same choice.