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
Creative Ways to Communicate
The article about “Hell and Mr. Fudge
” (Sept. 20, 2012) is so inspiring! Praise God for always finding another way to get the truth out to more and new people. May this bring many hopeless and despairing souls to the loving arms of the Father and Son.
I’m writing to express my deep appreciation to Bill Knott for his editorial “Holy Disagreements
” (Sept. 13, 2012). I was especially captivated by his lead statement: “If two people are always in agreement, one of them is not necessary.” Suddenly the depression I had been experiencing from all the negativity about the ordination of women was lifted by a smile of affirmation. I read it four times!
I also appreciated the guest editorial by Heather Knight with a slightly different perspective, yet full of hope for the future. Next were the readers’ comments in the In Box section, especially the one by Judith Warren Hawkins, with the question: Why does the call for unity require everyone to conform? Many of the letters verified the Bible text in Proverbs 24:6, which states that there is safety (and wisdom) in a multitude of counselors.
My mother was a contemporary of Ellen White, one of the founders of our faith. I was baptized into the church when I was 12 years old, and am a product of the Seventh-day Adventist school system from first grade through college. I have been a subscriber to the Adventist Review for many years, and have witnessed the church go through a number of intense conflicts, each of which has resulted in new growth and a stronger and more committed fellowship. May God always remain at the helm of this great movement.
--Carol E. Mayes
As I scanned the September 13, 2012 Adventist Review
, the article by Darold Bigger, "Memories and Lessons from September 11
,” caught my attention. I found it most interesting and profound.
The compassion and understanding Bigger had on that occasion are God’s gifts to him as the result of the grief that he and his family have experienced themselves. The six lessons at the conclusion of the article come from an experienced counselor and theologian.
I wish every Adventist could read the article.
South Lancaster, Massachusetts
Wondering without Wandering
Mark Finley’s article, “Biblical Spirituality: Rediscovering our Biblical Roots, or Embracing the East?
” (Aug. 23, 2012) is a well-balanced examination of the threat and opportunity within the contemporary practice of spiritual formation.
As a Christian and professional psychologist who tracked with interest the growth of this phenomenon within our church during the past couple decades, I wondered if the use of the phrase “spiritual formation” was more an attempt to update our “church-speak,” reminiscent of our contemporizing “colporteur” with “literature evangelist,” SAWS with ADRA, and Missionary Volunteer with Adventist Youth Society—than wholesale abandonment or a creeping compromise of historic Adventism.
For example, I find the following statement by Ellen White adds clarity to the whole “should Adventists” or “should Adventists not” polemic. “We should meditate upon the Scriptures, thinking soberly and candidly upon the things that pertain to our eternal salvation. The infinite mercy and love of Jesus, the sacrifice made in our behalf, call for most serious and solemn reflection. We should dwell upon the character of our dear Redeemer and Intercessor. We should seek to comprehend the meaning of the plan of salvation. We should meditate upon the mission of Him who came to save His people from their sins. By constantly contemplating heavenly themes our faith and love will grow stronger” (Mind, Character, and Personality,
In the above quote, I am struck by the repetition of “should” and its pairing with the words “meditate,” “solemn reflection,” “dwell upon,” and “contemplating.” The Spirit of Prophecy’s imperative language implies it is not whether to contemplate or not, but rather the object of the reflection. We seek not a release from, or silence of reason, but by an exercise of the will an increased focus on Christ. Instead of spiritual formation being a nebulous building of meaning and emotional calm, we promulgate practices that systematically form within us a decidedly Christian character; one after the similitude of the Jesus, whose return is so imminent.
Thanks for helping us remain within the biblical injunction to daily cultivate wonder at His presence in our lives, and the protective caution of the Spirit of Prophecy to avoid wandering onto the enchanted territory of Christianity’s arch enemy.
Charlotte, North Carolina
Those who are conversant with the concept of “spiritual formation” as proposed by Dallas Willard around a decade ago, and explored since then by Paul Pettit, Klaus Issler, and their associates, will, no doubt, be very disappointed with the discussion specific to spiritual formation in part 2 of Mark Finley’s article “Biblical Spirituality, Part 2” (Aug. 23, 2012).
The disappointment is not so much what was said about spiritual formation, but what wasn’t said. I certainly agree that Adventists should be wary of the inroads being made by eastern religion and reject such proposals as biblically unsustainable. But that is not the character of spiritual formation in the writings of the forenamed scholars. The two parts of Mark Finley’s paper were headed “Rediscovering Our Biblical Roots.” In my own experience in critically examining this literature over the last decade, that is exactly what has happened: rediscovery. My life as an Adventist has been enriched through their thoroughly biblical and scholarly examination of the sanctified life, its growth and maturation over time, and factors that contribute to that growth. Though not from an Adventist source originally, their views are consistent with Adventist theology, the writings of Ellen White, and as expressed in Fundamental Belief No. 11, “Growing in Christ.” The value in further consideration and critique of this literature is the potential to enhance our understanding of “growing in Christ,” and should not be lightly disregarded. If, because of the stymied and misrepresented view provided in the article, we do so, I suggest we are all the poorer.
Cooranbong, New South Wales
Mark A. Finley is right in giving the truth about “Biblical Spirituality” (Aug. 16, 23, 2012).
I have to admit that I was ignorant of the teaching about contemplative spirituality, spiritual formation, and meditation until recent weeks.
Greensboro, North Carolina
What About the Wife and Kids?
I have a comment about Andrew McChesney’s article, “A Pastor’s Big Mistake
” (July 26, 2012):
I am aware that the entire issue was education-centered, emphasizing the importance of Adventist education and keeping our children in our Christian schools. And I agree with that.
However, how can the story be told with the slant that “Pavel’s” wife and children are a “big mistake”? They seemed to have had a functional, happy marriage until Pavel wanted to go to a dangerous country to work; and his wife didn’t want to go.
Wouldn’t it have been wiser and kinder to discuss the issue with his wife, so they could agree and plan together?
Deptford, New Jersey