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
Don’t Pass the Poison
Bill Knott’s piece “Passing the Poison”
(Apr. 14, 2011) is very timely for me. It addressed a practical issue I encounter regularly, and one that, frankly, disturbs me.
I have read remarks on Facebook regarding sermons, church leaders, and the church at large, written by Seventh-day Adventists, that amount to an “own goal” (in football terms) or “friendly fire” (in military terms). They are so insidious in nature that they could easily discourage non-Adventists against God’s church.
Poisonous remarks are often advanced by church members with little or no basis, fueled by conjecture and innuendo. Sermons or leaders’ words are taken out of context and blatantly distorted. Unfortunately, in our zeal to be “watchmen on the walls of Zion,” we often end up doing more harm than good to the cause of the gospel.
In this era of Twitter and Facebook, the problem is compounded even further because it’s so easy for (mis)information to spread in cyberspace. It takes just a member or two whose energies are focused on negative themes to sow undesirable seeds.
If we are faithfully serving the Lord, we shouldn’t worry too much about such things. Jesus Himself labored under similar conditions: misunderstood by many, including His own brothers (the sons of Joseph) as they collaborated with the establishment (see The Desire of Ages, chap. 9). For those engaged in passing the poison, intentionally or unintentionally, may the love of Christ become your watchword, influencing everything you do or say.
If there are any real issues to deal with, well-meaning believers will use more appropriate ways rather than resort to washing dirty laundry in cyberspace.
Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom
I completely agree with Bill Knott in his editorial “Passing the Poison.” My walk with Jesus brought me to the Seventh-day Adventist Church 22 years ago, and I completely believe the message we have gleaned from the Bible.
The past few years have been discouraging as I continue to hear from leaders and members the very things Knott’s article talks about. The discouragement that I cannot trust our leaders and pastors to be putting forth the correct message of the gospel has me confused and led me to search for a better place to worship. We have a unique Bible message for these end-days; therefore the question: Where to go?
The continued shaking in the church will not be over until Jesus comes. However, it drives people like me to the corner concerning the church.
I pray for balance, and hope people will read this editorial and realize that we have to stay focused on the Shepherd, not on the confusion.
Greenville, South Carolina
Regarding Bill Knott’s editorial “Passing the Poison”: Thank you for a most important point that cannot be repeated too often.
In 1964, in an Andrews University seminary class, Studies in the Sanctuary, Edward Heppenstall stated, “The mark of a mature person is one who will withhold judgment until all the facts are in.” Who of us can honestly declare that we actually have all of the facts on any topic?
When I have applied this, it has proved to be a great blessing to me.
Days Creek, Oregon
Thank you very much for the article “Reaching the Unreached
” (Apr. 14, 2011). The layout, editing, and photos looked great. I was especially thankful that the Tibetan young man was on the cover, as that was what I had prayed would be chosen to appear there. Please extend my gratitude to the entire team that was responsible for putting this together. May God continue to bless you, your families, and your ministry.
Berrien Springs, Michigan
Adventures in Accreditation
It’s good to see that the Adventist Accrediting Association has taken some substantive action regarding La Sierra University
. It is the first definitive formal action of the Seventh-day Adventist Church that I have seen related to this issue, and it is long overdue.
After years of warning, the administrators admit to having a problem. Unfortunately, their delaying tactics have brought shame on our church and have caused untold damage to many students. Yet to this day they continue in their roles at La Sierra University. Doesn’t anyone take ownership and responsibility for what has happened and may still be happening?
Support for Leaders
I am relieved to know that we have absolutely the best leadership in the Adventist world church. God is clearly leading us through Ted N. C. Wilson. It was an extremely uplifting sermon (Wilson Sermon Opens Spring Meeting With a Call to Christ's Righteousness
) that he delivered, and yet timely when he called the membership to the Lord. His understanding and belief in righteousness by faith in Christ alone (www.adventistreview.org/article.php?id=4302) was music to my ears. We are in desperate need of the realization that salvation comes no other way.
My prayer is that our pastors get on the bandwagon, and that those who don’t understand it will pray for God’s Spirit to enlighten them.
Our prayers are with Wilson. He holds a crucial position.
Thank you for Jason Canfield’s article, “Preaching the Everlasting Gospel to All the Earth”
(Feb. 24, 2011). It is timely and long overdue. What a journey to have someone who grew up Mormon grow up in Jesus and become a Seventh-day Adventist minister!
My own love for Mormons began a few decades ago during a summer as a literature evangelist in Ogden, Utah, selling the Bible Pageant series. It was a heartwarming experience to connect with these good people, whose friendliness was so evident, whether in their homes, or camping by Bear Lake, and subsequently being invited to spend a weekend with a Latter-day Saints family in Salt Lake City, during which we attended a stake meeting in Temple Square Assembly Hall next to the famous Seagull Monument.
Our Mormon friends are far from a lost cause, not only because God loves them more than we do, but also because through friendship evangelism it is possible to reach them. Our health message offers a very effective way to make friends with Latter-day Saints. That has always been true, but within the past year the Lord has opened another effective doorway to connect their prophetic health message (Word of Wisdom) with the Adventist health message as presented in the Coronary Health Improvement Project (CHIP). We now have a special DVD to share with them, Modern Words of Wisdom, with a powerful testimony from a Mormon couple in Paradise, California, who credit God for bringing them to CHIP. They share how CHIP has changed their lives, lowering their blood pressure, helping them lose weight, and reducing their need for medications. They are downright evangelistic about wanting fellow Mormons and everybody to enjoy the benefits of the CHIP lifestyle.
So our health message offers a focused opportunity for connecting with our Mormon friends. Their Word of Wisdom prohibits the use of wine, strong drinks, tobacco, and caffeinated drinks, while it encourages the use of plant foods and says that flesh foods should be used sparingly. So the Adventist emphasis on plant foods and practical instruction on how to live a vegetarian lifestyle fits right in with core Mormon beliefs. CHIP is about learning to live the Word of Wisdom; not just the don’ts, but also the do’s!
Again to a major point in Canfield’s article: friendship is foundational. I pray this article may stimulate all Adventists to reach out in genuine friendship to our Mormon friends, especially through our health message. Perhaps when they see a clearer picture of Jesus through our other-centered friendship there will be opportunities to explore the full biblical picture of who Jesus really is.
--Harold O. Burden
From the Heart
I can relate to the struggles and concerns of today’s Adventist churches mentioned in Andrew Kerbs’ article, “Rekindling Our Purpose”
(Jan. 20, 2011). But I was alarmed at the finger-pointing aimed at today’s youth. I agree that “biblical truth and understanding should never be compromised, regardless of what those around us are (or aren’t) doing,” but it’s important to reach out in new ways.
Statements that declare our Adventist schools are losing the true meaning of our church are simply matters of opinion. I’ve attended Adventist schools throughout my life. The Adventist school system taught me not only how to live like Jesus, but how to love Jesus--something I strongly support and hope my children will one day be able to gain from our schools.
The article asked, “Is it about Christ-centered worship or religious consumerism?” It’s a valid question. But who knows the hearts of today’s young people? Everyone’s worship style is different, and this is obviously a controversial subject in the Adventist Church. It’s more important to get to know our youth than to put them all in the category of being “biblically uneducated.”
In the article where it discusses the friend wanting to “tone it down” and be “less judgmental,” the author proceeds to group those young people together as knowing nothing about the church. I don’t understand why they can’t be both. This article, without directly saying it, suggests the two stereotypical groups in the church: “liberal” and “conservative.” I like to think of myself as a balance between the two, but this article does not suggest that an individual could be both educated about church and enjoying contemporary Christian music.
God is a complex being who is not confined by labels. Although I believe the author’s intentions were good, I encourage us to have an open mind toward today’s youth and the spiritual journeys they’re embarking on.
Candler, North Carolina