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
God bless Bill Knott for his editorial, “Reclaiming the Library”
(Mar. 14, 2013), and for his bold, courageous call to a faithful, thoughtful Adventism. It is my honor to serve on a Seventh-day Adventist college campus of nearly 2,000 students, the vast majority of whom are dedicated Christians, loyal Adventists, and serious scholars. Knott’s prophetic urging that we might “reclaim the library” (for and with God) should be shared with collegians far and wide (“must reading,” perhaps, for all incoming freshmen.)
The rich tradition of Adventist education has always drawn on sources far and wide, for God’s voice is not easily bound (Ps. 19:1-4). Perhaps the “school song” for the whole Adventist school system should be “This Is My Father’s World,” a confession of God as Creator; a claiming of this earth as His revelation.
College Place, Washington
Thank you for the editorial “Reclaiming the Library.” It is easy for any of us to fall into the trap of spiritual self-centeredness.
It begins with a drift toward self-containment. It is always easier and more comfortable to spend time with people and ideas that we agree with. When we have unique beliefs and lifestyle practices, we are tempted to self-exclude ourselves from social and ideological situations that challenge us and our beliefs. This reinforces our sense of special identity, limits our recognition of so much that we have in common with others, and can become a self-affirming, looping thought process.
When we fall into this way of thinking, it is easy to think that we have everything we need for every situation. Having cut ourselves off from the questions and challenges beyond our walls, as well as the spiritual resources and insight of others, it is easy to tell ourselves that what we have is unquestionably best. After all, it is never questioned, and more than enough for any need we
have. The greater our self-containment, the greater is our sense of self-sufficiency (consider Rev. 3:17).
Of course, these temptations are equally applicable no matter what one’s set of beliefs or practices. Whether conservative or liberal, traditional or progressive—or whatever anyone else might label us—we are all tempted to associate only with people, books, and ideas with which we agree, thus risking our own kind of self-containment, self-sufficiency, and self-centeredness.
Calling us out of this trap is something that has to be done on a regular basis. Thanks for sounding that call.
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Thank you for Bill Knott’s eloquent, timely, thoughtful, and provocative editorial. I have seen the obstruction of fringe members who have a mistaken view of our publications’ ministry. In repeated constituency meetings someone always complains that the Adventist Book Center (ABC) of the respective conference was selling non-Adventist books.
They don’t seem to understand that our ABCs are ministries through which non-Adventists can become acquainted with our publications and health products when they seek a non-Adventist book they have heard or read about.
We don’t have a monopoly on Christian books worth reading, and the ABCs that only sell our publications are myopic and don’t have the vision of reaching the world; they see their mission as only to serve our church members. How unfortunate!
I pray that the message of this editorial may reach church leaders and an official statement be issued clearly denying the validity of the activities and message of that small fringe group. May our leaders not be timid in upholding an intelligent, well-informed openness to non-Adventist Christian publications, in our ABCs, educational institutions, and publishing ministries.
I wholehearted agree with “Reclaiming the Library,” Bill Knott’s assessment that we cannot let the “fringes” of Adventism enforce an anti-intellectual approach to faith. He certainly is correct in stating that there is much to learn from non-Adventist sources, and we should not be afraid of engaging the wider world. . . .
Grand Terrace, California
No Better Way
I’m writing to thank Wilona Karimabadi for her article about the importance of beginners Sabbath school, “It Starts Here”
(Mar. 2013). It is here that children first learn to love Sabbath school. I frequently have parents tell me how much their little ones look forward to that time each week. There’s no better way to train children in the way they should go than to have them in Sabbath school each week where they can blossom and grow as they learn to know Jesus as their best friend.
I wish all church members, especially the parents of young children, would read this article and take it to heart by supporting this important arm of children’s ministry.
Guns and Other Weapons
“Do I Need a Gun?”
(Mar. 14, 2013) is an interesting article that raises some great questions, especially now that guns are a hot commodity. I have been a gun owner for many years, and I enjoy shooting.
The article discussed using a gun as a means of self-defense or as a weapon. Many Adventists find it perfectly reasonable to have a hammer, bat, crowbar, or other potentially lethal weapon at their disposal to protect themselves or their family in the event that a bad guy might come calling.
Guns were created as a tool to kill things. But so were bows and arrows, spears, swords, slingshots, and numerous other items widely accepted by Adventists. Archery, even tomahawk throwing, is taught at our camps and in our Pathfinder clubs. Yet I suppose because guns are loud and scary and have incredible power, many Adventists, and Christians for that matter, are quick to demonize them. I have spoken to Adventists who find handguns and semi-automatic large caliber rifles and shotguns appalling. Yet they and their families own bb guns and small caliber rifles like .22s.
A larger question is whether or not it is right and biblical to protect ones self, family, and other innocents.
Guns are definitely a timely topic for individuals to develop an opinion about. My hope is that the media, unsubstantiated fears, and an ignorance of firearms, will not be factors in forming those opinions.
Charlotte, North Carolina
I was shocked and saddened to see the article “Do I Need a Gun?” (Mar. 14, 2013). I am a fourth generation Seventh-day Adventist and have grown up hunting and target-shooting. I am also a lifetime member of National Rifle Association.
We recently had a mall shooting in our area in which two people were killed. When the shooter was confronted by an armed citizen, the shooter stopped, ran, and, sadly, took his own life. If that man had not been there with a licensed handgun many more may have died.
The author has the right to his opinion. However, he should present both sides of the issue. This article is clearly anti-gun, which is blatantly political. Politics are personal and have no place in a church publication, or coming from the pulpit. This subject can be divisive to our church, and frankly is not a point of salvation. It is a personal choice. Even James White owned a gun.
In 1982 I attended the funeral of a beloved Adventist missionary doctor in Northwest Thailand. She was shot by thieves just inside the door of her home on the mission compound. I might be able to write an emotion-filled article on what might have happened if this doctor had owned a gun. I’m not suggesting that she had any interest in guns, nor that she would have used one.
I pastor the Adventist Church in Herkimer, New York, the site of our country’s latest murder spree. I have to say that I am disappointed in the Review
for presenting this one-sided article. As a missionary, I, too, know the fear of the threat from misguided attackers. But with all due respect to Claude Richli and the suffering he, his family, and his colleagues went through, the article was written with little thought as to the biblical foundation about whether one may want to own a gun or not. It was based on emotion, in the same way political arguments are made from either end of the spectrum.
The redeeming factor was the sidebar with thought questions. Still, isn’t it more important to know what God thinks? While the author was sharing a personal experience and view, should not the publisher consider giving us a “thus says the Lord,” instead of what may be seen as a political piece.
Please, let’s not condemn those who “cling to their Bibles and their guns,” as do some who express their own opinions for political gain.
Whitesboro, New York