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

Growing Leaders
A. Allan Martin’s article “Transcending Talk With Tithe” (Dec. 22, 2011) is long overdue. My job is to promote within our church the importance of evangelizing children. Our interest in children is growing, but it has been painfully absent—and these children grow to be young adults—the same young adults who are trying to find their place in our church community today.

Martin is right on target with the concept of tithing our talents and other abilities. It’s time to focus on children, youth, and young adults. If we want to be viable in the next 10 years, we have to start investing our time and energies into this group.

At the very least, I hope this article causes each of us to stop and evaluate how we are responding to the young people around us. If they aren’t receiving--at the very least--a tenth of our time, talents, and mentoring, we are failing them and failing the Lord.
Thank you for printing this article and creating this dialogue. It’s about time.

--Candy DeVore
Hagerstown, Maryland

This excellent article provides an innovative approach to the whole topic of engaging our young people in church life.

When I read the word tithe I immediately considered the monetary aspect. I totally get Martin’s thinking behind giving a tenth of our time, resources, skills, and abilities to nurture and engage our young people. Too often young people either become disillusioned by church life, which is partly because the wider church has not tapped into the skills and abilities they have.

We have to insure that we leaders not only focus our efforts on spiritual leadership, but that we are creative and innovative in our approach so that our young people don’t get left out in the cold!

--Deslynne Roberts
London, England

Santa: Pro and Con
Regarding “The Man in the Red Suit or the Humble Shepherd” (Dec. 15, 2011): The myth of Santa Claus has minimized the story of Jesus Christ for many generations. Santa has become the main focus of the holiday. If we continue to encourage a belief in Santa our children will become more confused and will not be able to tell the difference between truth and error.
I never taught my children about Santa; from the beginning they knew that Santa was fictional and Jesus is real. Today, at the ages of 8 and 10, both children have observed that there’s so much focus on Santa and very little on Jesus. They’re not too happy about that.

--Solange Sanchez

I agree with the students polled in the article that children should never be taught that Santa Claus is real. However, I would take it one step further and propose that for just about every good thing God gives us, Satan has a counterfeit. I believe that Santa is the counterfeit for the Christ of Christmas. He comes from the sky; he knows all about us; he brings love, good will, and cheer. The list could go on.

For this reason we should have nothing to do with Santa, but focus the season on Jesus alone.

--Dixie Strong
Moore, South Carolina

I don’t believe that Santa Claus’ authenticity should be kept from children. I was brought up in a Muslim environment, where there was no mention of that mythical character during my childhood. As a youth I was shocked when I came to the United States and witnessed all the fuss made over Santa when we were really supposed to celebrate Jesus’ birth. I couldn’t relate one to the other in my mind.

At first I thought it was sacrilegious. As time went on I got used to the inevitable: Santa Claus is part of the Christmas celebration. It doesn’t bother me much anymore. But a lie is a lie no matter what form it takes. Benevolence and other altruistic behaviors can be taught to children without resorting to Santa Claus as a crutch or excuse.

--Laurice Kafrouni Durrant
Keene, Texas

There is room for Santa at Christmas, since Christmas is full of traditions not linked to the birth of Jesus.

As a child I enjoyed hanging my stocking on Christmas Eve and visiting a few mall Santas. However, not once did I believe Santa was real, and I don’t think any child should be told he is. He was a nice but clearly imaginary idea I enjoyed, much the same as talking animals in books.

Santa Claus presented in this way is fairly harmless and does not take away from the true reason for the season, which is Jesus.

--Christina Waller
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

A Minor Clarification
In the beautifully written piece “Genesis” by Lael Caesar (Dec. 15, 2011), one sentence requires comment.

Caesar writes, “Before Genesis 1:1 there was only God.” A literal translation of Genesis 1:1 is “In the beginning God created the sky (shamayim) and the earth.” Adventists hold that our world was inserted into a pre-existing universe, where “the sons of God shouted with joy” (Job 38:7) at the birth of our planet. Moreover, Lucifer’s rebellion and the great “war in heaven” also preceded our beginnings.

Therefore, there had to be an earlier Genesis, which gave rise to time, space, and the universe. Prior to that, there was only the triune godhead.

--George Javor
New Leipzig, North Dakota

Two Covenants
Regarding “If the Creation Account Isn’t True . . .” (Dec. 8, 2011): I am a scientist, and I very much believe in God’s creation; but not necessarily in a literal six-day creation week. How dare we believe that God is sharing in the book of Genesis a scientific record of His power. What matters is what He tried to teach us: that working six days and resting on His Sabbath is the punch line of the creation story.

God gave us two covenants in Eden: marriage and the Sabbath. And we humans have messed up both! I am writing a book, Back to Eden: God of Two Covenants. By the grace of God it will be used as a witness of God’s grace and truth in these last days.

--Maria A. Hernandez

In his editorial Mark Kellner writes, “One of the more popular fallacies being floated these days is that the Creation account found in Genesis is an allegory, a ‘celebration,’ much in the way the ancient Hebrews took seven days to mark the inauguration of a temple.”

I’m not sure one can dismiss the temple dedication from being a part of Genesis 1 in such a facile way.

I agree with Kellner’s assessment that Genesis 1 is not an allegory. An allegory is a story of an event that never really happened. On the other hand, a celebration, such as a national day of independence, marks the reality of an event that actually happened. Adventists cannot divorce Genesis 1 from reality; neither should we separate Creation from tabernacle/temple construction.

--Warren H. Johns
Loma Linda, California

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