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

A Nuanced Discussion
I began reading “Religious Freedom in America” by Nicholas P. Miller (Jan. 17, 2013) with more than a little skepticism, especially when he spent the first 20 percent of the article dredging up “red flags.”

But into the second page he began “putting it all together” with an impeccable discussion of “moral philosophy” and the “dissenting (free church) position” in opposition to both right-wing Christian republicans and left-wing liberals.

Miller gives a nuanced discussion of a rational approach to current “football” issues--a rationale more Adventists should study. It places these issues within a framework of weighted factors, resulting in a fine-tuned balance. It avoids extremes and protects against future suppression of the minority religious view. If understood, Miller’s approach would minimize much of the polarization we find on many issues within our church and nation.
Connie Dahlke
Walla Walla, Washington

Thanks for the Reminder
My thanks to Andrew McChesney for reminding us that God wants Christians to avoid the ways of the world in his article “Taking the Hint” (Jan. 24, 2013). The way we talk, act, and dress speaks volumes for good or evil!
Pam Cross
Altamont, Tennessee

Stories Trump TV
The article “God’s Peddler” (Jan. 10, 2013) caught my attention and awakened some dormant cells in my memory bank.

I had been working as a rocket scientist at the California Institute of Technology during World War II. When the war ended and the project folded in 1948 I was without a job. I got married and started looking for a teaching job, but there were none available at the time. In desperation I decided to try my hand as a literature evangelist. Selling door-to-door is rigorous and often discouraging work; then something would happen to encourage me to keep going.

I vividly remember one of those events. At the time I was selling The Bible Story by “uncle” Arthur Maxwell, and as I approached a humble cottage, I prayed that God would give me a sale. I knocked on the screen door, and when the woman of the house appeared I explained that I was selling children’s Bible stories.

As we talked I could see through the door a small child watching TV, from which came very loud music. The woman informed me that her son was so addicted to TV that he wouldn’t listen to a Bible story. I asked if I could read a story to her, and she agreed. So I started reading to her through the screen door. Pretty soon the boy was there beside her, listening.

When I finished reading, I asked the boy if he would like for his mother to read some stories to him. He said, “yes.” The surprised mother bought a set on the spot for cash. What a lift to know that Bible stories trumped TV.
John McConnell
Via E-mail

What Is a Christian?
I was thrilled beyond words to find Eric Anderson’s article, “What Is a Mystic” in the Review (Jan. 10, 2013). It was water to parched ground for me when he shared his journey with a group I attended. This is just what church members need. The beauty of the Seventh-day Adventist message is wonderful, but the key piece is to know and adore Jesus.

I love to read Steps to Christ to help get my spiritual juices going, but Anderson has called our attention to many giants of faith throughout history who say many of the same things in different words.
Thank you for publishing this article.
Sandi Reynolds
Via E-mail

Regarding the article “What Is a Mystic?: Seeking Companionship with Christ”: I would suggest that the word “mystic” has connotations that precludes using it to define seeking a relationship with God, i.e. its connection with the darkness Satan wishes us to experience. Jesus said His followers are to be “children of light” (John 12:36; see Eph. 5:8 and 1 Thess. 5:5).

Webster’s Dictionary (11th Edition) defines “mystic” as a “follower . . . of a mystical way of life.” “Mystical” is defined as “having a spiritual meaning or reality that is neither apparent to the senses nor obvious to the intelligence,” “subjective communion with God or ultimate reality (experience of the inner light).”

Our relationship to God is not to be based on subjective experience, but on the Word of God and our willing submission to Him in faith and love (John 4:22, 23).

Ellen White wrote, “The mystic voices that spoke at Endor and at Ephesus are still by their lying words misleading the children of men” (The Acts of the Apostles, p. 290). A “mystical” experience may come from the demonic, and may be a bridge to “spiritual formation” and worshiping the wrong God. (See Early Writings, p. 56). “God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship him in the Spirit and in truth” (John 4:24).

May the Lord help each of us to have true worship and communion with Him based on submission, deepening repentance, faith, love, and cheerful obedience to all He reveals to us.
Frances Foster
Colville, Washington

As much as I like Bill Knott, and loved his editorial “The Blood-dimmed Tide,” I am left wondering how an article such as “What Is Mystic” could have passed the scrutiny of Christian, God-fearing men such as him.

Eric Anderson has attempted to substitute the words mystic and mysticism for spiritual. We all know there are spiritual beings, including us. But as the Bible points out, there are both good and evil spiritual entities. Mysticism and mystics have historically been associated on the side of spiritualism and Gnosticism. To dumb down, dilute, sanitize, minimize, and redefine this word raises big, red flags. Satan, “to deceive, if possible, even the elect” (Matt. 24:24) must deliver his deceit in a near perfect truth package.

To be brief I will read between the lines of just one sentence. Anderson wrote, “To be as clear as possible, a Christian mystic practices companionship with Christ.” Reading between the lines defined by the spiritual disciplines he alludes to, a Christian mystic practices deeper levels of experience through emptying ones mind, cloaked as companionship with Christ. (Italics mine) I wish it read, “a spiritual Christian abides in Christ.”
David Eichman
Roseburg Oregon

Violence in Society
Grateful thanks to Bill Knott for his starkly beautiful statement of what is in our own troubled hearts in “The Blood-dimmed Tide” (Jan. 10, 2013).

Indeed, the center cannot or will not hold. Our emasculated lawmakers, after weeks and months, will come up with an answer to the pandemic violence in this country that will be so anemic as to satisfy no one and effect no change.

The real answer is in our own homes where parents permit their impressionable children three to four hours of video each day, racking up as many kills as possible, then wonder why the “gentle Jesus, meek and mild” has no appeal whatsoever.
If that element is changed we have a chance.
Ernest Stevenson
Orlando, Florida

Hope for the Discouraged
I’m writing to thank Stephanie Knight for her article, “My Miracle” (Dec. 13, 2012). Not only was the story encouraging, but her vulnerability in talking about her battle with depression is refreshing and humble.

So many Seventh-day Adventists are ashamed of their battle with depression, but it is as real among our people as with any others. Praise God for His light in this dark world, and His love and perseverance when we get depressed and discouraged. Faith is the victory.

May the little miracles in our lives give us faith to hold onto Jesus in our darkest hours.
Janine Ross
Mill City, Oregon

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