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
Thinking of Others
This morning I thumbed through the July 28, 2011 Adventist Review
, picking out a few, short articles I could read in a hurry. I was very impressed with two items: Andrew McChesney’s column “Facing the Music
” and Julia Peter’s sidebar “Foot-washing, Fun?
Most of us would not have had the patience McChesney showed in being so kind to the noise-makers during the middle of the night. Such a wonderful lesson in Christian forbearance! And what a positive result as he let the Lord use him!
And I loved Julia Peters’ thought, specifically that the Lord would lead her to someone she could help during communion. This takes away the self-consciousness some of us feel when walking into a group of women, some of whom are quite reverent, and others who are not.
While we know this is not a time for thinking of oneself, it is still often human nature to do so. I loved the approach of praying for whatever partner the Lord would provide, and feeling the unselfishness that results from that kind of outlook. This is a wonderful way to get a real blessing from the communion service.
In “Law and Freedom
” (July 21, 2011), Clifford Goldstein did his usually good job explaining the law and freedom that challenges a society that teaches there is no absolute moral authority and makes the task of secular institutions seem, therefore, Sisyphean. One of my graduate professors was wont to say when a student made a claim, “Who says so.” Well, Goldstein makes it plain: God says so!
“Slavery and the War” by Ellen White also has a timely imperative for us today. She states therein, “Many of those who are placed high in command to fill responsible stations have but little conscience or nobility of soul . . .” This tells me that high position does not auto-correlate to high ethics and morals. Coupled with, “God is punishing this nation for the high crime of slavery. He has the destiny of the nation in his hands,” which tells me that contrary to much naïve sentiment today, God does, and will, continue to look down on us as a nation and observe our course of action. We have suffered in the past collectively, and might well suffer again for turning a blind eye to the practical areas of the affairs of our nation.
Even hindsight is not 20/20; and past is not always prologue. Our challenge today is to examine the winds of ideologically driven social and economic change that our generation may have to give account for. I could opine on what I believe they are, but that is not my intent here and would excuse the readers from not doing their own homework.
--David W. Haley
Hooray for Adventist Education
Three cheers, no, 1,000 cheers, for Larry Blackmer’s article “Adventist Education: Alive and Well
” (July 14, 2011). Having been an educator for many years, mostly in Adventist academies, I know first-hand that what he says is true--Adventist education is the best, in spite of its faults.
At one academy I was director of the testing program, and I noted that, even though at this school students didn’t seem to have the interest in the scholastic or the religious aspects of the programs as the students had at another academy I had been at before, they still scored well above the average for all other schools in the state. At the time I remember thinking, even though these students didn’t seem all that interested, the Spirit of God was still there, and, as in ancient Israel, they still received a definite blessing from Him.
A Father’s Tears
Thank you to Thomas A. Green for his article “My Father Cries Like I Do
” (July 14, 2011).
I have a 5-year old boy who has Down Syndrome. When he was born I felt a black cloud descend over me. I fearfully looked ahead down the path I did not choose and grieved the loss of the child I had imagined I would have. When I was pregnant with my son I felt very close to God. I enjoyed His presence and I heard His reassurance regarding the birth of our new baby.
Two weeks after my son’s birth I cried out to God, “Where are you Lord? Why are you silent?” God spoke to me in the most beautiful way. I saw an image of Jesus in my mind. He was sitting on a chair, his head in His hands, crying.
My son is a precious gift from God, but many days raising him are not easy. I am often reminded--as I was when I read Green’s article--that God cries with us. This world is not His plan for us and one day we are going home.
I was thrilled to read Kim Papaioannou’s article “The ‘Sons of God’ and Biblical Cosmology
” (July 14, 2011).
I have long believed and taught in my seminars for many years this very thing using primarily Job 38 and Revelation 8:12.
The key being that the stars of heaven “angels” and “sons of God” are separate beings. The “sons of God,” as Papaioannou suggests are “human like” in that they were without sin, and they sang as they watched the earth being created. Obviously, there were no humans watching the earth being created since they had not yet been created.
Papaioannou, however, suggests that “the heavenly cosmos is populated by heavenly . . . ‘human’ beings, . . . who unlike their earthly counterparts, have never sinned. . . .”
We must remember, however that the Spirit of Prophecy tells us that human beings were created a “new and distinct order of beings.” If the professor is indicating that the “sons of God” are only “human like” because of sinlessness, we could wholeheartedly agree with him. There is a major difference, however, between being human like solely because of sinlessness and “human like” because they were created human but did not sin.
Southampton, New Jersey
Kim Papaioannou makes a good case for an inhabited universe, but his approach would have been more effective had he not introduced an element of doubt in the first paragraph. He wrote: “Adventists . . . believe that there might be life on other planets.” I don’t mean to be a nit-picker, but words have meaning; and in this context the word “might” implies doubt.
It also calls into question the inspiration of Ellen White, who clearly states (based on visions she had, not on personal opinion) that there is life on other planets, which she calls the “unfallen worlds.”
It may not have been necessary, for his purposes, to include her statements on extraterrestrial life in his article, but it would have been much better if he had simply stated that Adventists, in contrast to many other Christians, believe that there is life on other planets.
Bringing Back the Past
Recent articles on the need for the study of Adventist history struck a responsive chord in me. For years I have bemoaned the loss of Adventist Heritage magazine. It was an outstanding periodical about Adventist history, but it never had a huge subscription list, and it was not cheap to publish because of its inherent need for lots of pictures. Thus it did not survive. Today our church needs it more than ever, because we have such a large influx of new members, people who know practically nothing about our history.
However, some of the denomination’s leading historians here at Andrews University, along with a few others, have been willing and able to revive it; but they need start-up money and a healthy subscription list. Would churches perhaps be willing to give a year’s subscription of such a periodical to every new member? If that is too much for an active church, perhaps it would like to have a subscription for its church library. Forward-thinking individuals will realize the practical truth that greater retention of new members (which an understanding of our history will help to promote) would also bring in more offerings long-term to help pay for these subscriptions. What will it take to get this magazine, or one like it, published again within our ranks?
Recent discussions about correctly pronouncing “Seventh-day Adventist” prompt me to mention another concern of mine: that we also have to spell it correctly. More and more I see the public media, which ought to know better—and even church members, who apparently need to learn better—capitalizing the “d” in “day.” The official spelling of the name does not capitalize it, and this indeed is in keeping with the rules of capitalization and hyphenation in the English language. If, in a title or name, the second word of a hyphenated pair is not otherwise of itself a proper noun, it should begin with a lower-case letter; if, however, it is normally capitalized when standing alone, because it is a proper noun, then it remains capitalized when following the hyphen.
--Madeline S. Johnston
Berrien Center, Michigan
Our Literature Works
The column containing GLOW Stories (Giving Light to Our World) is an interesting and needed addition to the magazine. We could all do more to share our faith.
My father, Philip Beale, who lived just a few days shy of 90 years old, always carried a supply of magazines and small books, such as Steps to Christ, in his car to give away. Who knows what kind of hope it might have inspired, or who may have been encouraged to read the Bible?
--Phyllis E. DeLise
Deptford, New Jersey