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

“Unreal” (May 9, 2013) is a powerfully clear analysis of truth in our own backyard. Yes, it’s time to remind our youth to read their Bibles to understand an unambiguous lifetime commitment to Christ. Anything less can lead to blind duplicity and stunted faith.

Shane Anderson’s call for purpose driven worship for our youth resonates for those Adventists who can remember when all church members contributed to Sabbath worship. We were not at church to be entertained. Member numbers were smaller. People knew each other as extended family members. There were many possibilities for involvement, from oh-so-cute toddlers who could recite Bible verses to budding musicians cranking out a tune with a few bum notes. We could feel genuine love from participants “giving it a go.”

Choices about how to worship are an essential part of teaching our youth how to be involved. Media in itself in not evil; how it is used makes the difference. Reality TV and documentary films about the world we live in are important for growing up in Christian belief, just as much as understanding Adventist doctrines. The challenge of applying the Bible’s principles of living in our world allows young people to actively learn real Christian lifestyle values. Church life is about “getting it sorted” among friends so that Christian values are meaningful for the whole of their lives.

Chickens leave the nest, and so should our children who are born and raised in Adventism. Cocooning our children to supposedly ensure eternal life by socializing within Adventist churches gives false optimism when values are compromised by non-involvement in spiritual learning. . . .

A call for our youth to be more hands-on in a return to reality is appropriate. The Bible was written as our prime source of truth throughout all ages. Parental wisdom is supplied in these words: “For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 3:11), plus “So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow” (verse 7). This is genuine-real.
--Libby Beament
Stanhope Gardens, New South Wales, Australia

Shane Anderson’s article “Un-Real” had a refreshing perspective on challenges young people face. I agree that warning about legalism simply results in driving youth to relativism and secularism. I also rejoice that the author was bold enough to point out the negative impact media has on our young people—a desperate issue in the church that is largely ignored.

However, while I love Ravi Zacharias, I wouldn’t emphasize apologetics. It’s not going to reach nearly as many young (or old) people as the simple revelation of Jesus in Scripture when enlightened by the Holy Spirit. This was the emphasis of the early Christian church. Also, authors like George Barna and Frank Viola in their recent books supporting home churches, have missed the fact that the early Christian church did have structure. It was patterned after Jewish synagogue worship, which had Scripture reading at its core (with some exposition).

Protestantism has moved away from reading Scripture. Our worship services have to be reformed; small group interaction is needed. But we must be exceedingly careful not to let them turn into social gatherings devoid of powerful scriptural orientation that exalts Jesus and His sacrifice. The Word is powerful. Anderson supports personal Bible reading, but let’s also see a revival of Scripture reading as part of our church worship services as well.
--Sharon Crews
Silver Spring, Maryland

Omnitarian Recipes
In the article about Helen’s Kitchen ("In the Kitchen With Helen", Apr. 25, 2013)  I was surprised to learn that some of the recipes involve a mixture of vegetables and meat. This is a step backward for our Seventh-day Adventist health message. Many studies have proven a vegetarian diet is healthier.

According to Genesis, the original diet did not include meat. So we should make food that does not include animal products. There will be no killing in heaven, so no meat will be served there.

I know that some meat is considered clean in the Bible, but I don’t think any meat is clean any more. Consider how animals are raised, and the chemicals they put into animals and their feed, etc. It’s hard even to find good vegetables these days, but it’s still safer than resorting to meat sources.

Our church must stop compromising our standards or we will not be needed in this world any more; we’ll just be like the world. So who needs the Seventh-day Adventist Church?

Do we believe we have a unique message, or are we going to water it down so the world will accept it? A question we’d better consider before we make any concessions.
--Herb Spair
Trenton, New Jersey

Another Look at Weapons

Regarding “Do I Need a Gun?” (Mar. 14, 2013): Whether to use guns for self-defense is a personal question, and the second amendment of the United States Constitution gives us that right if we so choose.

The Bible and our Lord Jesus gave some advice to His disciples regarding this question, which I have never seen before an article I read “America’s First Freedom” in the National Rifle Association’s magazine.

“When Jesus sent out his disciples, he asked them, ‘When I sent you without purse, bag, or sandals, did you lack anything?’

“‘Nothing,’ they answered.

“He said to them, ‘But now, if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one. It is written: ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors’; . . .

“The disciples said, ‘See, Lord, here are two swords.”

“That’s enough,’ he replied” (Luke 22:35-38).

They had no guns in Jesus’ day, but we could substitute the word “sword” with “gun” without adding to or changing the meaning of the verses. As Brent Thomas wrote, “Lots of people have not thought much about killing, murder, and self-defense. I feel that I cannot use force when defending my religious belief, but I have a right to defend myself, my family, and anyone else who needs help to prevent a criminal from doing bodily harm to me, my family, or others who may need defending. I feel responsible as a person with a legal CCW permit to protect. A person does not have to carry a means of self-defense, but we have a right at the present time.”

We may soon lose that right. We will lose our first amendment right to worship as we choose.
--Howard M. Bryant, Jr.
El Dorado, California

Living on a farm I owned three rifles. I didn’t buy them to defend myself; it was just a “man thing.”

Target practice was a game. The thought of shooting another person was a completely foreign idea. At 18 I was drafted into the army as a noncombatant. With Jesus, His teaching, and His promises I do not need a gun.

When the mob came to attack Jesus, Peter took his sword to defend Him, just as many gun owners plan to do if attacked. “‘Put your sword back in its place,’ Jesus said to him, ‘for all who draw the sword will die by the sword’” (Matt. 26:52).

“Thou shalt not kill” (Ex. 20:13, KJV). These words from God’s law guided Desmond Doss. We have to see more of the faith that Doss lived. His life conformed to the faith of Jesus. We choose and plan what we will do and the words, “According to your faith let it be done to you” (Matt. 9:29) works out in our lives. I choose to put my faith in God’s promises.
--David Manzano
Harriman, Tennessee

I missed the article, but I feel I must respond to the letters. I have read the Bible through many times and I am familiar with the writings of Ellen White, but I don’t recall reading anything that indicated I should be concerned about protecting myself. But, I do find many promises of God’s protection.

I’m sick of hearing these “what if” hypotheses. What has happened to our church? Has it come to the place that we can’t trust God anymore? Do we understand what it means to “enter God’s rest” (Heb. 4)? Do we not remember that “the angel of the Lord encamps about those who fear the him, and he delivers them” (Psalm 34:7)?

Any Christian who purchases a gun to defend him or herself should re-examine their relationship with Jesus.

When I accepted Jesus as my Savior, God pledged to take care of me. It brings me much peace to believe that He will protect me from evil. I don’t have to worry about protecting myself. I’d rather die than to stain my hands with the blood of one of God’s children, even in self-defense.

As for me and my house, we will trust the Lord.
--Lynn Hayner
Onaway, Michigan


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