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
Concerned and Thoughtful
The words: “You need to have further testing” do have a way of making time stand still. My thanks to Andy Nash for his article “Further Testing”
(Feb. 21, 2013), and for putting his experiences, which are ours also, into words. He does that well.
I’ve been there more than once. I’ve thought the very thoughts Nash describes—when all the things that should matter most, really do matter most to me right now. Yet sometimes the temporal is closer to the surface of my heart--where I perceive it more strongly--than the eternal. I suppose this is why Solomon says that the day of death is better than the day of birth (Eccl. 7:1, 2). Introspection—thinking with perspective--is better than a day of unthinking celebration.
The anxiety that comes when we face a potential crisis is not all bad; the short term anxiety that is a survival function embedded into our central nervous systems has a way of honing our thoughts and forcing us to focus. Though Solomon doesn’t elaborate on the topic, I believe the value in the “day of death” scenario is that it causes us to push through the rubble crowding our lives, and gives us a sudden ability to focus. There’s no value at all in sadness for sadness’ sake, or in being stuck in introspection. Those words go a fair way toward describing depression.
However, a sudden encounter with potential sadness in a busy life forces a bigger perspective to come to us when it might not otherwise. To be truly valuable, the perspective gained should be taken, as Nash reminded us, into the rest of life; to the joys and happiness of mundane life. The standpoint of eternity can indeed help us enjoy the simple and satisfying pleasures of life more acutely and purposefully.
I think that is the “take-away” from the book of Ecclesiastes, with its various enigmatic verses about enjoying what God has given. Solomon seems to present the options of enjoying life blindly (Eccl. 2: 24), versus enjoying life with purpose, mindfully, and with eternity in focus (chap. 9:7).
I hope Nash received news that the potential problem was truly “nothing.” The problem with being so honest about life and his personal experience is that we, his readers, become invested in his experience.
Thank you for printing a column by Clifford Goldstein every month. He always makes me think (perhaps with a dictionary in hand, which is good). I always search for his column when I receive the Review.
Strengths and Weaknesses
“After the Flood”
by Bill Knott (Feb. 14, 2013) brought to mind what my father, also a minister, used to say when pastoral or administrative leadership changed.
Never critical, he explained that these moves happened to supply what was needed in a congregation: “One pastor may be strong in his ability to relate to the young people, another pastor may be stronger in his ability to deal with those who are older, another may be more suited to dealing with the administrative problems in a church,” he would say.
But over all, these changes seemed to provide what was needed in a congregation at that particular time, and over the years provided a more well-rounded pattern of service.
It helped me realize that none of us should brag about any of our accomplishments. In the changes of pastors or administrators the Lord may be providing what we need most at any given time. If we have talents or abilities and are chosen to lead in a certain location, perhaps the Lord is using our strengths during our short tenure to help build up the group as He feels it should be strengthened. Not because we have anything we should brag about later, but because that is what a congregation needs. If we expect the Lord to lead in our affairs, why would He do any less when pastoral or regional administrative selections are chosen?
Someday we may look back and think, Yes, I was that little cog who took over when the group needed my special ability. I thank the Lord I could be useful somehow in His work.
After all, He is the Divine Planner. It is not that we have done something unusual; He only uses us to help execute part of His long-range plan.
I enjoyed reading the article “Moving in the Same Direction”
by Gerhard Phandl (Feb. 14, 2013), for he touched on the core problems of disunity in our midst: (1) The pressure of culture, (2) independent, critical ministries, (3) congregational and ecumenical tendencies; and let me add a fourth, politics, keep politics out of the church.
Here is my dilemma with this article:
Pfandl writes, “The election of Israel was an election not for salvation but of service. Similarly the Adventist Church has been chosen to serve humanity in the time of the end, proclaiming God’s message to a dying world. We are saved as individuals, not by belonging to a particular race or church.”
I may be reading him incorrectly, but from my studies of Israel, there is no question that Israel was elected for the purpose of salvation of the world. Ellen White wrote, “Yet God had chosen Israel. He called them to preserve among man the knowledge of the law and the symbols and prophecies that pointed to the Savior. He desired them to be as wells of salvation to the world” (The Desire of Ages, p. 27).
While reading Gerhard Pfandl’s excellent, well-balanced, and articulate article, “Moving in the Same Direction,” I just had to check my list of members of the Theology of Ordination Committee to see if he was on it (Adventist Review, Jan. 10, 2013). I’m glad to see that he is. This kind of clear thinking is exactly what is needed on the committee. Have you noticed that the most compassionate, understanding, balanced, and Christ-like voices come from people who have lived, worked, and/or traveled in multiple countries?
By the way, following the example of a fellow Adventist we read about, my husband and I have committed to praying for every member of the committee by name over the next few weeks. We hope our church family in the North American Division will join us.
Palm Coast, Florida
Does God Kill?
After carefully reading the article “Divine Assassin?” (Jan. 17, 2013), Martin Proebstle left me dealing with my own analysis that God does not kill. If He did, could we trust Him? When is my time coming? After all, I’m a sinner who deserves death.
We are told that the Ten Commandments are a transcript of God’s character for “those who keep God’s commands and hold fast their testimony about Jesus” (Rev. 12:17). Would God regard the sixth commandment as less important than the other nine?
I read the kill list and, of course, remember reading all the incidents that led to God passing judgment on individuals and groups.
The writer wrote, “God opens a window of opportunity in which humans could act.” If we refuse, then judgment is God’s only recourse.
Jesus said, “There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; the very words I have spoken will comdemn them at the last day” (John 12:48).
When we consider how Abraham pleaded for those in Sodom, and how Moses wanted to be taken out of the Book of Life if God would not relent in destroying the people in the wilderness because it might destroy God’s reputation, is evidence enough as to the acts of God as judge, not assassin.
I don’t discount Proebstle’s study; I just see it a little differently.
Not Creepy, Just Mysterious
Regarding “What Is a Mystic?” by Eric Anderson (Jan. 10, 2013):
Mysticism is creepy, and always will be. The mystery of Christ isn’t creepy, but it remains a mystery.
We should adore Christ first, as the article said. But that doesn’t make us “Christian mystics.” It is an attribute of being a Christian, Christians being those who “keep hold of the deep truths of the faith with a clear conscience” (1 Tim. 3:9).