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

Seventh-day Adventists and Other Churches
A dominant message heard from church leadership in recent years has been that Adventists should not listen to speakers who are not of our faith, should not invite them to address our gatherings, or read their publications. In that context it was refreshing to find “Seventh-day Adventists and Other Churches” published in the Review (Jun. 20, 2013)! We applaud the efforts of those who are initiating and engaging in these formal conversations with various faith communities.

These interactions can be “the never-ending quest for understanding” (as the subtitle on page 16 reads) only if we remain open to learning from those of other faiths as we hope they would be to us. Much of who we are as a church has been learned, adopted, and adapted over the decades from the teachings and practices of other churches.

William Johnsson’s claim that “we ourselves have become less exclusive, more open to work with and learn from other agencies that the Lord is using” is undoubtedly true for some. It needs to become more so at all segments of the church.
--Raj Attiken
Columbus, Ohio
I was interested in “A School Grows in Alaska” by Stephen Chavez Jun. 20, 2013).

I was a teacher in our Seventh-day Adventist schools in the late 1950s and have been involved with children in our church and schools ever since. I don’t think we should be concerned about having too many non-Adventist students. We get many of our church members from our schools, and we should not be afraid of using evangelism money to build better schools.
--Bonnie Isakson Blythe
Palo Alto, California
It’s bad enough in the “civilian” world that there are so many “frivolous” lawsuits, but it’s doubly ridiculous that a cleric would file such a lawsuit ("Appeals Court OK's Pastor Suit Against Oklahoma License Plate," June 24, 2013)  – it just makes Christians in general look more stupid than the world thinks we are already…  Does Cressman really think this is enabling his Christian cause ??? Puh-lease.  Everyone in that state has the same plate – no one is going to know – or care – that he’s opposing the image.
--Viki Tucker


Memorable Day
A hearty “Amen!” for “A Day to Remember” (May 23, 2013), in which Helga Pedzy suggests that we commemorate the day that we are baptized.

This is a practice I adopted beginning with my first anniversary, and have continued it throughout the years. Each year I try to do something to honor Jesus. Often I donate blood. Jesus shed His blood that I might have life; I give mine that others might live.

Other times I have taken a homeless person out to lunch, and on special anniversaries (10, 20, etc.) I take the day off to spend it with Jesus.

One other thing I recommend is that when someone is baptized, the church present them with a hymnal. Most people already have a Bible at the time of their baptism (at least in the U.S.), but few have a hymnal. This gift has proven a great blessing for me as I include two or three hymns as part of my morning devotions, and they often encourage me throughout the day.
--John Baxter
Berrien Springs, Michigan

Five Stars
The May 16, 2013 Adventist Review is five-Star issue. The articles, editorials, and short essays all excellent reading for mind and soul. The expression, “a picture is worth a thousand words,” adds a must-read element to the article, “The Problem With the Agenda” (page 15).

The Adventist Review brings encouragement, smiles, counsel, biblical study, and information of the world church family. Your recent graphic design says it well: “It’s what ties us together.”
--Natalie Dodd
Centerville, Ohio

I am writing in response to the cover story “Christ or Kona?” (May l6, 2013). I congratulate Alicia Trott on her decision to obey God by keeping His Sabbath holy instead of competing in the Iron Man Triathlon at Kona, Hawaii. It surely took courage and deep loyalty to make such a decision.

But before we take her as a model, let’s ask, “Is allowing the preparation to compete in a sports event to become such a major part of one’s life really the way to go? The whole story raises questions that deserve thoughtful, prayerful study.

The character trait of competitiveness, so highly valued in today’s culture, is simply the desire to exalt self. It is the wish to demonstrate and prove that one is stronger, faster, or more skillful than the rest of the field. And we all know what Jesus said about the one who exalts himself versus the one who humbles himself (Luke l4:11).

Ellen White deplored “the lamentable spirit of rivalry (The Adventist Home p. l5l), her word for competition.

The winning Christian athlete may say in all sincerity, “To God be the glory.” But how many fans of a sports idol think or say, “He must have a great and powerful God to enable him to win against such stiff competition”? The on-lookers give glory to the athlete, not to the God who empowers him.

When does the goal to win, or even participate in, a particular sporting event become so all-absorbing, so painful to give up, that it becomes an idol?

There is also a question about the use of time, not to mention the cost. Does spending many hours a day in rigorous training, month after month, fit into the Christian’s program? I’m all for physical fitness, but is it possible to be intemperate and go to extremes?

In my younger days I relished hiking, mountain climbing, cycling, swimming, and ice skating, all non-competitively. Yes, I sometimes took part in competitive games, but I have come to deplore the competitive spirit that still lurks in the recesses of my fallen nature. It is possible to play some simple games like volley ball or tennis or badminton non-competitively. I used to tell my students that if you find yourself forgetting to keep score, you may be playing for fun, exercise, and fellowship rather than to exalt self by winning.

I know that condemning competition in today’s culture is like attacking motherhood and apple pie. We have to ask ourselves, “Is it truly in harmony with the real meaning of Christianity?”
One ultimate question: “Is there away to channel the drive to excel, which so many of us possess, into an equally compulsive drive to serve?”

I know Trott loves her Lord and wants to do His will. I pray she will be guided by divine wisdom as she makes plans for her future.
--Irene Wakeham Lee
Coalmont, Tennessee

Believe It 
In reference to Andy Nash’s article “Beyond Belief” (Mar. 21, 2013) about former members who have problems with Ellen White and doctrines: If they know enough about Ellen White and our doctrines to have problems with them, then what would attract them to our churches? Haystacks?

Was there ever a prophet who was popular? In His mercy, God gave us a last day prophet to prepare us for last-day events, and to be ready for what will come upon the world as an overwhelming surprise. Maybe we should read the Bible and her books and get rid of TVs and novels.

And what’s wrong with our doctrines? Do we misunderstand about the Sabbath, or the state of the Dead? Or could it be about Jesus in the sanctuary above and judgment in heaven? If these dear folk have been reading the popular books about grace and justification only, then hear Seventh-day Adventists teach about obedience and sanctification, that may seem harsh. Then again, sipping the wine of Babylon does cause confusion.

When did the disciples stop arguing about who was the greatest? It was after 10 days of fasting, confessing their sins, and praying for the Spirit of Jesus. Then they truly loved one another and could call each other brother and sister and mean it.

Hey! Let’s try that! Maybe then, when the Holy Spirit brings people to our churches, we could genuinely love them and treat them with patience and kindness--like family. Isn’t that what Jesus would do?
--John Materne
Kettle Falls, Washington


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