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
Children of Two Cultures
I was fascinated with Wilona Karimabadi’s cover story, “Their Church, or My Church
” (Nov. 17, 2011).
At camp meeting some years ago the Hispanic coordinator of the Texico Conference told me about the leadership problems he faced. Young people left to join the larger, mainstream churches until they were rejected by their friends’ parents as marriage partners; then returned to the foreign-language church without the language and leadership skills they would have acquired had they stayed.
The article also reminded me of my own experience as a missionaries’ kid, and the decisions I later faced as a missionary parent regarding the education of our own children in a bi-cultural setting. My brother and I had family worship with our parents in English, and home-schooling to grade 4, but grew up playing with each other and with our friends in Portuguese and Spanish and attending local denominational schools in the language of the country.
Later as a missionary parent, how could I preach about Christian education if the school I was in charge of wasn’t good enough for my own children?
I became aware of special schools for missionaries’ children in very recently still colonial countries in East Asia, India, and Africa, and the concern that led another missionary parent to write his doctoral dissertation about missionaries kids when they returned to finish their education in the “homeland:” outstanding success for boys, rejection by social cliques in the case of girls.
Keep up the good work in the Review, applying Christian principles to real-life problems!
--Charles R. Taylor
A Good Man Gone
Regarding “George Atiga, 83, Passes to His Rest
“A Chinese, a Filipino, and an Indonesian . . .” This familiar line often began a sermon by George Atiga. He was a man full of humor and a positive attitude; an individual who was dedicated to God and the Seventh-day Adventist Church, for which he served so many years.
The Asian community in the Pacific Union Conference will always have a special place in its heart for Atiga. He will be remembered as someone who was there to celebrate with churches at their high moments and grieve with them during the sad times. His kindness and constant support will always be alive in our hearts.
As we grieve with the many others whose lives have been touched by Atiga, let’s keep his memory burning within us by living our lives with the same positive attitude and good humor he had.
Regarding “Process, Timetable to Review Theology of Ordination
” (Nov. 17, 2011): I am gratified to see this issue being dealt with.
I am nearly 84 years old, a Seventh-day Adventist for 13 years, with nearly 40 years of varied and pastoral service in Christian churches. As I have witnessed this in practice it appears that ordination has been more of a test of organizational loyalty and a reward toward a “higher” calling.
I don’t find ordination commonly discussed in the Scriptures, but it does appear to be used as a spiritually strengthening practice for sending out workers to special needs and assignments. It carries more spiritual significance in my point of view.
Ordination as I have observed it in the Seventh-day Adventist Church does not impress me, and has appeared to be an occasion for pride, worldly esteem, and a public rite of passage. So I am most pleased to see it revisited in a serious study.
--Virginia E. Meyers
I read with great interest the article “‘Variance’ for North America, Trans-European Division Constitutions Fails Annual Council Vote” regarding the request by the North American and Trans-European Divisions to allow commissioned ministers to serve as conference leaders (Nov. 10, 2011). It was fascinating and disturbing to see who opposed the request.
On the same day that issue arrived, the November Adventist World also arrived. The cover story, “More than Skin-deep,” dealt with how Helderberg College handled apartheid.
The two articles appear to have a great deal in common. The norms of society then (Helderberg) and now (vote against “variance”) were allowed to determine policy. Two of the sentences in the Helderberg article are striking: “I believe our education should prepare us to be agents of change, instead of merely responding to change,” and, “the influence of leadership cannot be overestimated.”
Let’s push for the revival of the December 20, 1881 action taken at the Business Proceedings at the General Conference: “Resolved, That females possessing the necessary qualifications to fill that position, may with perfect propriety, be set apart by ordination to the work of the Christian ministry.” Come to think of it, that would involve reformation as well. That goes beyond the request for “variance” because the resolution requested only that commissioned ministers be allowed to be conference leaders. The 1881 resolution agreed to allow women to be ordained.
It is time for revival and reformation.
Friend Gibson is correct in his observation that this item was discussed at the 1881 General Conference session. But the action was to refer it to the General Conference Committee where no further action was taken.--Editors
Tradition and Process
I am responding to the “Church Trends
” that appeared in the November 10, 2011, Adventist Review.
I am a multi-generational Seventh-day Adventist. I grew up in the mission field between 1947 and 1963 in China, India, Pakistan, Burma, and other places. I was educated in the Adventist system from grade school through university. I left the Seventh-day Adventist church for more than 30 years before returning to the church in 2005. During the 30-plus years of not professing to be a Seventh-day Adventist, I attended services at churches of other denominations, becoming a member of one of them.
In that article Monte Sahlin asked, What do the numbers mean? For some people at least part of the answer is implied in the same issue of Adventist Review
, “‘Variance’ . . . Fails Annual Council Vote.”
Attitudes toward subsets of the human race, whether based on gender, skin color, or anything else, affect us all. Adventists, like the rest of the human race, can have flawed beliefs and attitudes. Maybe we should take a serious look at: “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:28).
Maybe we have to take that verse, and others that bear the same message, to heart. Maybe we have to be a little more honest with ourselves. Maybe doing the right thing is more important than conforming to the way our parents thought or did things, or the way the church thought or did things before us; even if it means breaking church tradition, even if it seems difficult, even if it makes us uncomfortable to think that people we think of as less than ourselves are all equal in God’s sight. Who knows change could be wrought?
What we are doing now doesn’t seem to be working, especially among our young people. We may be good at fooling ourselves; we are less good at fooling our children.
No Nudging Needed
In “Nudging Helps
” (Oct. 20, 2011), Thomas Lobitz erred in analogizing what happens in an evangelistic meeting to what is being suggested by Cass Sunstein and Richard Thaler in their book Nudge
. Not a small error: the two situations are 180-degrees different.
In an evangelistic meeting, Lobitz says, “evangelists make an appeal at the end of a sermon and ask for decisions.” However, in their book Thaler and Sunstein suggest that citizens will be “more willing to become organ donors when they have to expressly refuse to be donors rather than overtly seek to do this.”
There is no “invitation” in Nudge. The government simply signs every citizen up to be an organ donor, and anyone who has a different opinion must say, “No thanks”. How could this be more different than the evangelistic meeting? Were we to run evangelism according to Nudge, everyone entering the tent would be signed up for Bible studies. If they decided they didn’t want them after all, they’d have to drop by the booth afterward and take their name off the list.
Government is coercion. Christianity is the opposite.
--Earl M. J. Aagaard
Old Versus New
For the last two months I have debated whether I should write this letter. It concerns “Oakwood Taps three Veteran Educators for Administrative Posts
” (Sept. 15, 2011):
We spend hundreds of thousands of dollars educating our young people to take their place in the working church. Then we bring individuals out of retirement to take positions, not just in education but elsewhere.
I realize these individuals have a lot of experience, and I don’t doubt their sincerity, or their desire to help in education or any other position. However, this denomination started with young people. Unless our young people with degrees in hand are given a chance to work in the church, for the church, dedicated to the Lord and His work, we will lose them, and all their love, ambition, and expertise will fade away.
--Mary Ann Bailey