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

I enjoyed Norman Gulley’s article about the many contradictions and difficulties in predestinationist beliefs in Who Does the Choosing?” (Apr. 28, 2011). His conclusion about Jesus’ sacrifice as the best evidence of God’s love for everyone and His will us all to be saved was beautiful.

But [I believe] Gulley is mistaken in one statement. He wrote, “[God] foreknew that Esau would despise his birthright,” and that, plus several other faults were the reason why Romans 9:11-13 says that God hated Esau. This is incorrect for two reasons.
First, and most important, is that the main point of the argument in Romans is that God’s choice for Jacob over Esau was not because of anything either of those men did, but was due instead to His own purpose. This is explicitly stated in verse 11, that they “were not yet born, and had not done anything good or bad” (NASV). God had his own purpose in making His statement, as Gulley correctly wrote, but it had nothing to do with the works of either one.

The second reason is that God did not hate Esau before Esau was born. “God hated Esau” is a quote from Malachi 1:2, 3, where it occurs as the result of Esau’s life choices, not as a decree or prediction in advance of his life.

None of the scriptures cited in the article support the statement that God knew ahead of time that Esau’s life would go badly. Esau and his descendants were predicted to serve those of his slightly younger brother. That did not mean they would necessarily become a wicked nation. As the article says, Jacob’s election over Esau was to a particular mission, not a difference in righteousness and salvation.

Thank you for publishing Gulley’s article. I hope to see more on that subject in the future.

--Dennis Murphy
Morgantown, West Virginia

All-round Wonderful
The Adventist Review of April 21, 2011 was outstanding! Every article from Perhaps . . . by Martin Proebstle to “The Fit of the Dress” by Wilona Karimabadi was exceptional. Thank you for some inspiring Sabbath reading.

I was especially taken by A Checklist for Christians by Mike Jones. I plan to adapt and adopt “My Personal Checklist,” including the texts listed. It’s an excellent way to start the day.

I appreciated Jones’ reference to The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande. He is leading the way for hospitals to use checklists, which are helping to catch missed medications, other problems, or previous surgeries; thereby reducing and eliminating infections and deaths. Every time I read in our local obituaries that a patient “died unexpectedly” in a local hospital, I have to wonder what happened.

Four years ago, as the result of a fall, I had partial shoulder replacement surgery in our local hospital. My daughter took a break after being with me all day, and returned to my room late in the evening. She found eight medical personnel in my room. They explained that because of undiagnosed sleep apnea I had stopped breathing. Too much pain killer had caused my body’s automatic “restart” mechanism to malfunction, and my oxygen level had dropped to 40 percent. They counteracted the pain killer and put me on an oxygen monitor all night. By the next morning I was back to normal. That is as close to a “near death” experience as I ever want!

I think I’ll take a copy of this article to my family doctor and get it into “the system,” so this will never happen to me again.

--Beatrice E. Green
Midland, Michigan

Understanding the Reality of Some
Thank you for the recent articles having to do with serious, yet all too common, mental health issues. The first was No More Hope (Apr. 14, 2011) by Dan Appel, about the Bible’s view of suicide. It was so informative and will go a long way in educating many in the Adventist church and beyond regarding this delicate subject.

Just two issues later the wonderful editorial, Sweet to the Soul by Kimberly Luste Maran (Apr. 28, 2011), accurately commented on some of the “frighteningly sad” aspects of American actor Charlie Sheen’s situation. I also admired and appreciated the way Maran candidly shared her experience with a mentally ill friend.

Individuals with mental illness have to see Jesus’ love through our actions toward them. One of those loving actions should be to help them connect with mental health treatment and support them in that endeavor. There is still much prejudice and ignorance in our church as a whole, and in society in general, regarding psychiatric disease and its treatment. Accurate information presented in our church paper will, I hope, continue to shed much needed light on these subjects.

--Joyce Smolarski
Ocala, Florida

Damage Control
Thank you for Bill Knott’s editorial Passing the Poison (Apr. 14, 2011).

As a church we have too often been held hostage by small groups or individuals that rush from one imagined conspiracy to another. I wish I was exaggerating, but I have actually seen churches stop doing the work of the kingdom by obscure accusations of idolatry over children’s decorations, judgments of paganism in gymnasium decorations, and even international, e-mail attacks accusing a pastor of “spiritually channeling dead Levites” because he called the musical leaders of the church to model their work after the musicians in the biblical sanctuary.

We must never forsake the powerful, biblical truths that God has given us to share with the world. However, the enemy of heaven would have us abandon the call of the kingdom and become distracted by “every wind of doctrine.” We should heed the whole warning of Galatians 5:19-21. It’s easy to spend our time identifying immorality, idolatry, sorcery and such while leaping with both feet into the traps of enmities, strife, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, etc.
May we all “live by the Spirit” and “walk by the Spirit” (Gal. 5:25).

--Scott Begley
Bristol, Virginia

Bill Knott’s editorial, “Passing the Poison,” stated it well: “We have enough to be concerned about without adding rumor-mongering to the mix.”

For years now I’ve been reading a chapter from Proverbs each day of the month. I’ve now learned, “The mouth of the righteous brings forth wisdom, but a perverse tongue will be cut out. The lips of the righteous know what is fitting, but the mouth of the wicked only what is perverse” (Prov. 10:31, 32).

Lately, I ran into a book Proverbs for Graduates--The Future, by Brent D. Earles. The book has 31 chapters. Each chapter centers on a thought from one of the chapters in Proverbs. Chapter 10 deals with “Words.” Here’s a line from the chapter: “Gossip is the art of saying nothing in a way that leaves nothing unsaid.”

\Thanks for reminding us of the damage gossip causes.

--D. L. (Eb) Ebenezer
Detroit, Michigan

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