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
Playing for Keeps
As I read the article “The Devil Doesn’t Play Games
” (Oct. 28, 2010), it brought back memories of years gone by. When I was a young woman raising two children, one of my girlfriends called and said she wanted to come over and bring a game to play. We sat on chairs facing each other with the game on our laps. It had the word “Ouija” on it. I had never seen or played with one and knew nothing about it.
My girlfriend began asking the board questions and the part we had our fingertips on moved, spelling out answers. I laughingly accused her of moving it; she laughed and said she wasn’t.
I decided to buy one for laughs. I brought it home and my daughter, about 12 years old, asked if she and her younger brother could play with it. I let them. Soon she came into the kitchen and said, “Mommy, whenever we ask the board questions it spells out swear words. I know it’s not my brother because he doesn’t know how to spell.”
I felt the hair on my arms stand up and I had goose bumps all over me. The Holy Spirit was letting me know it was of the devil. I wasn’t leading a Christian life, but I believed in God and we went to a Lutheran church. I knew I didn’t want to play games with the devil. I took the game and told my children we would never play with it again.
Years later that same girlfriend told me that she had gotten into reading her horoscope, so much so that whatever it told her to do, she did it. Eventually she found out the devil was behind it and gave it up; but it wasn’t easy.
Once you start playing games with the devil, he plays for keeps and gets you in deeper and deeper. It isn’t easy to break away from him. It can be impossible to do it on your own; we need God's power. Our children need our guidance and protection because Ouija Boards are still being sold, along with other games of the occult. God led in our lives, we are now all Adventists.
Chance, Science, and Faith
I found Clifford Goldstein’s column about “Paul the Octopus
” (Oct. 21, 2010) quite interesting. Unfortunately, Goldstein’s description of the experiment doesn’t give sufficient information to evaluate whether the “statistics are tricky” or not.
For example, it’s hard to know what is meant by the sentence “Paul, the ‘psychic cephalopod,’ chose the flag of the team that did, eventually, win.” The meaning of the word “eventually” and a more complete description of the experiment would, of course, affect how one computes the probability of the octopus choosing all eight winners correctly, and determine how amazing/accurate (or not) the octopus’ predictions truly were.
Thus, it is probably more accurate to say that “statistics appear tricky/problematic to those who don’t understand them”; and so it is with science and theology. Science changes over time as our understanding/knowledge increases and changes. Theology also changes over on time, depending on the people who are considering the issues and their understanding/knowledge. Examples of change for religion in general are: the Protestant Reformation and the development of multiple denominations over time, each of which has their beliefs/understandings of theological issues. Examples in the Seventh-day Adventist Church are: the 1843 (with the zero year) and 1844 (without the zero year) sanctuary doctrine and righteousness by faith, both of which changed over time and are still open to discussion (especially the former).
Thus, our knowledge of statistics, science, and theology continues to grow. I hope we will benefit from this knowledge and not insist that our “perfect/unchangeable” knowledge of theology trumps all other knowledge.
--Kenneth E. James
Responding to Fear
To not be controlled by fear is good. Yet in Hyveth Williams’s column, “No Fear” (Oct. 28, 2010), the words “the gospel truth is that we don’t have to belong to anyone but Jesus,” raises questions. If we limit the meaning of “belong” as, “to be owned by,” the statement is correct. However, “belong” understood in its wider usage makes the statement untrue.
Husband and wife belong to each other. They are “one.”
A person in Christ is part of His body, the church (1 Cor. 12:12-26). Such a person, like the Godhead, lives in community, not as a separate individual (see John 17:22, 23). Humans are a family. Cain’s response to the Lord regarding his brother was incorrect.
The extreme emphasis on individuality in North America hinders us from understanding this gospel truth. I fear that a person who refuses to recognize this will finally hear Christ say, “I don’t know you.”
In an otherwise excellent article, Sally Lam-Phoon’s “Mind Renewal
” (Oct. 21, 2010) creates a probably unanticipated impression by selecting only part of what Ellen G. White wrote. That quotation is out of context with the entirety of her statement. That quotation states that humans cannot control their thoughts, impulses, or affections. However, in the remainder of the article Lam-Phoon indicates that humans can use their thoughts to align themselves to Christ.
Can our thoughts be used to align ourselves with Christ, or are we unable to control our actions based on our thoughts? If we have no control of our thoughts and impulses, how can we be held responsible for our actions that result from those thoughts and impulses? We humans are not robots.
By quoting the entire paragraph, the context would have been maintained. The paragraph states: “God has given us the power of choice; it is ours to exercise. We cannot change our hearts, we cannot control our thoughts, our impulses, our affections. We cannot make ourselves pure, fit for God’s service. But we can choose to serve God, we can give Him our will; then He will work in us to will and to do according to His good pleasure. Thus our whole nature will be brought under the control of Christ” (Mind, Character, and Personality, vol. 2, p. 420).
Here Ellen White specifically states we have choice, and it is ours to exercise. Choice requires thought. The choices we make are our responsibility. Honesty requires care be taken when using quotations so the original thought is not changed.
Responding to a Crisis
Hidden on a single page of the October 14, 2010 issue is the article “Our Biggest NAD Crisis Isn’t Theological—It’s Relational
,” describing the decline of church membership in smaller congregations. As the son of a Seventh-day Adventist minister I have sat in the pews of both large and small churches, some having only a handful of members. Many members have spent a lifetime in these churches, yet they are the ones who may least understand why they are an “endangered species.”
Because they can be isolated geographically from mainstream church cultural, educational, and theological centers, they often become islands with their own identities. Sadly, pews have been emptied as a result of those wanting to maintain the purity of the church. Monitoring and critiquing takes place on many levels, including Sabbath observance, dietary and health habits, jewelry and dress standards, divorce, as well as fundamental biblical beliefs.
The apostle Peter gave some advice about how to talk to people about our beliefs. He said to “give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15, NIV). The Great Commission plainly calls for Jesus’ followers to become fishers of humanity. There is no provision to clean the fish, too.
A topic this important, to keep churches from extinction, should have been on the front page.
--Gerald L. Maize
Franklin, North Carolina
I agree with Roy Adams’ article “Term Limits
” (Oct. 21, 2010). While there are many reasons not to have term limits, I believe the benefits outweigh the risks. Those in certain leadership positions for long periods of time may subconsciously feel that they become bigger than their office. Having term limits reduces that risk.
I do have one question about the article: Adams mentioned the Allegheny East Conference elections in 2000. He talked about then-Columbia Union Conference president Harold Lee introducing outgoing Allegheny East Conference president Alvin Kibble and his wife, and mentioning Kibble’s accomplishments. Then Adams marveled at how there was no ill-will.
I know it probably was beyond the scope of the article, but I would’ve liked to have gotten some context of that occasion. If I remember correctly, the reason Kibble left the Allegheny East Conference was because he was elected a vice president for the North American Division in 2000. If that’s the case, why would there be ill will from the Kibbles to that conference when he probably wasn’t voted out of office?
Avon Park, Florida