Adventist Media Response and Conversation

Sunday, September 01, 2019

Spectrum refuses to be accurate

In a recent article by the editor of Spectrum I noticed conflicting quotes attributed to President Ted Wilson. The article: Secrecy: The Adventist Experience used as it's example a supposed quote from the October 9 2017 GC meeting which was given as (emphasis added):
"Gener­al Conference President Ted Wilson about how the recom­mendation had come to the committee, noting that the vote of the General Conference and Division Officers (GCDO) had included (forbidden) proxy votes. “You weren’t supposed to know that,” Wilson said, as he began his explanation about a vote of the committee taken while GCDO was traveling and when some members had left to handle crises in their home territories..."
The specific quote being  “You weren’t supposed to know that,”. I commented on the Spectrum Website comments section that the link the article gave to the report did not say “You weren’t supposed to know that,”. Using the article linked to the quote was: 

The discussions were very positive on getting to an appropriate goal. We canvassed those there and those who were not there. A very few who said they did not want to vote because they had not seen the document. The results are what you indicated. The vote that you mentioned. The fact you mentioned was only known to a very few people. There have been leaks. People have misused information that has caused this to be very flammable. Private information has been taken and misused again. One final thing, the chair did not vote.”
So in the  comments, I commented a second time:

I guess I need to make this clearer. Which quote is real and which quote is not? Or are they both wrong. “You weren’t supposed to know that,” or “The fact you mentioned was only known to a very few people” Those are not the same! I think inaccurate quotes are very poor journalism.
The powers that be did nothing, no attempt to answer, no attempt to correct the original article and then it occurred to me that these articles are not meant to be accurate they are meant to please a certain group of people, When the cause is more important than truth, accuracy is of little importance. No other commenters addressed the quotation. This even though that quote was the very foundation of the supposed secrecy in the article. The secrecy of the SDA church is not my concern it it is truth and accuracy. If you don't have either of those two things, articles are really useless for information purposes. They may serve well for propaganda or emotional arguments to people who already feel the way the author does but little else.  I have noticed this more and more in the Progressive Adventist media mainly Adventist Today and Spectrum. Facts are a minor concern to their ideological agenda. Frankly, the errors are so numerous I could not possibly find the time to point them all out. But I wanted to point this journalistic malfeasance out before I actually completely wean myself off of reading these websites. If I can't trust the information and especially if I can't trust things that are stated as actual quotes of people. There is little point in spending the time to read them.

Since the editor would not correct the problem I decided to research and see which quote was accurate. The linked quote is more accurate but it is not in itself accurate. Possibly it was from notes taken at the meeting as the article was published the day after the meeting Bonnie Dwyer did not have the full recording to get the quote right. That, however, is not the case for an article written 2 years later, the video of the meeting is available on Youtube you can find it here starting at 2:32:40 and going until about 2:40. When you hear the recording you see that those few people mentioned were the handful that were tallying the votes. When you have leaks from people who are supposed to tally votes that is not a good in any situation.

The following is my transcription without the pauses and false starts of live impromptu speech from the video 2:38:29:

"Now the interesting thing to me is and I think this is a very highly sensitive situation. that first of all the vote which you mentioned as being a vote which did not approve of those who were in the presence of our meeting. That was only known by a very small handful of people who are counting the votes. We then immediately indicated that there were votes that had come in from those that had been surveyed, and that was the vote announced to the group. I announced it in two different buses, It's very curious to me that information has been leaked..."

Anyway, that is pretty far away from you weren't supposed to know that. Just to be clear here he is addressing the last part of Randy Roberts statement as recorded in Spectrum that was:
“But there is actually something that concerns me even more, and that is my  understanding that a previous vote on the matter actually lost by a count of 29-26, following which several who were not in attendance, some of whom had not been able to read the document, were asked to vote. It was that vote, then, that passed by a count of 36-35.
There may be skullduggery afoot here but you will never prove or even make a good case if you can't provide accurate information.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Adventist Today presents foolish article on separation of church and state

Adventist Today has brought to us a very powerful example of what Pastors should not do. In the article entitled Can a PastorCall Evil by Name—Even If It’s Political? By Reinder Bruinsma.   He begins by asking the question: “…the question of how pastors in their preaching might address some of the moral dilemmas that are currently hotly debated at all levels in the United States. How might they do this in a way that respects the separation between church and state?”  At this point, it should be pointed out that “Reinder Bruinsma lives in the Netherlands”.  So notable he is not any kind of authority on the United States Constitution.  It does appear from his article that he does not know that the term separation of church and state is not found in the US Constitution but it is a term Thomas Jefferson used in a letter in 1802. The  states: “ The letter contains the phrase "wall of separation between church and state," which led to the short-hand for the Establishment Clause that we use today: "Separation of church and state."

So Pastor Bruinsma begins with a false premise as it matters little how the church respects the separation between church and state. The Establishment Clause found in the Constitution is directed at the government. That is why it says: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.Amendment 1 

He continues by saying: “Americans will often claim that their country has realized a full separation between church and state, but looking at this as a European I am not so sure. Whenever I visit a church across the big pond, I see, to my amazement, a national flag on the podium. And I wonder why there is no protest when the president ends his speeches with the words: “God bless America!” And how is it that American leaders will host “prayer breakfasts” and that the Senate has a “chaplain”? I could mention many more things that make me wonder…”

He wonders also: “ I have been utterly amazed to find, for example, even among well-informed Adventist friends whom I highly respect, a lot of resistance against a type of universal health care coverage that, for a considerable time, has proven to function quite well in a number of European countries (among those, my own country). When this approach is labeled “socialist” it surely betrays a definition of socialism that differs significantly from that of most people in western Europe. 

It is termed socialized medicine because the government is the main provider of medical care  In a socialist government the state controls the means of production. In socialized medicine, the state controls the medical care. It fits the definition of socialism quite well when applied to medical care as opposed to general state socialism. But if you incorrectly define something at the beginning it is easy to continue with more errors to prove a point that was never a fact in the first place. But to return to the other incorrect definition, separation of church and state.

The Establishment Clause gives the freedom of churches to have or not have flags on the podium The Federal Government cannot tell a church to put a flag on the podium. The restriction is to be on the government telling churches what they can or can’t do. Though admittedly after years of political Progressive politics we have seen the government interfering much more than ever before with religious freedoms in the US. The Senate does indeed have a chaplain. In Thomas Jefferson’s day they had church services held in the US Capital building and George Washington and a host of other Presidents publically prayed.

Incredibly looking at the comments about this article no one on Facebook has even realized that the author of the article does not even understand the history or application of the United States of America’s constitutional rights.  I don’t expect a guy from the Netherlands to be very conversant with the US Constitution but somehow this kind of foolishness is readily posted on Adventist Today. Possibly with their extreme leftist views, they themselves have no concept of the US Constitution.

But there is an important point to make here Bruinsma says: “My interest here is the prophetic role of the pastor in the pulpit. “ That is my concern as well. What do we do with Pastors from the pulpit who don’t know what they are talking about?  It happens far too often that Pastors think that their limited knowledge is good enough to comment on political issues.  To determine what political issues are good and what is evil.  Bruinsma offers us no real guidance but hopes that Pastors will have courage and wisdom from on high. I, however, would offer a more substantial bit of guidance. I would say that Pastors have a duty to research their subjects thoroughly before they make presentations. That means that they don’t just give one side of a political idea even if it is popular in the Leftist media. Instead be knowledgeable about both sides of the question, problem or solution.  We don’t see this a lot on Adventist Media anymore but it is not too late for local church pastors to actually take some accountability even if the Adventist media refuses to.

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Adventist Today article decries fictional Christian persecution in America.

A recent article on Adventist Today begins with this:A spate of recent books, articles, and public statements by prominent personalities has claimed that Christians in the United States are being persecuted for their faithThe author Raj Attiken Persecution—Realand Imagined   then precedes to not give us one quote or the name of one article to support his claim! “Instead he focuses on the Vice President’s address at Liberty University. Again not quoting anything or even giving the reader a linkto the transcript of the address . You can read it for yourself

When you do read it you see that when Pence talks about persecution he is not talking about persecution in the United States. In the United States he talks about loss of religious freedom. He said:

 The truth is, we live in a time when the freedom of religion is under assault.  Yesterday, I was informed by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom that today Christians suffer more persecution around the world than any other religion.  In fact, the United Kingdom released a report just last week that said persecution of Christians worldwide is “near genocide levels.”
In the last few months, we’ve seen unspeakable attacks on people of faith — on Jewish synagogues in Pennsylvania and California, on mosques in New Zealand, Christian churches in Sri Lanka, and on three historically black churches in Louisiana.
No one should ever fear for their safety in a place of worship, and these attacks on people of faith must stop.”  (Applause.)
When Vice President Pence speaks to the students about life in the United States he says the following:
“But my message to all of you in the Class of 2019 is — derives of the moment that we’re living in today.  You know, throughout most of American history, it’s been pretty easy to call yourself Christian.  It didn’t even occur to people that you might be shunned or ridiculed for defending the teachings of the Bible.
But things are different now.  Some of the loudest voices for tolerance today have little tolerance for traditional Christian beliefs.  So as you go about your daily life, just be ready.  Because you’re going to be asked not just to tolerate things that violate your faith; you’re going to be asked to endorse them.  You’re going to be asked to bow down to the idols of the popular culture.
So you need to prepare your minds for action, men and women.  You need to show that we can love God and love our neighbor at the same time through words and deeds.  (Applause.)  And you need to be prepared to meet opposition.
As the founder of this university often said, quote, “No one ever achieved greatness without experiencing opposition.”
The sad part about this is the author probably never even read or listened to Pence’s speech. He likely just took his que from the leftist media. As the author says: “Some called the speech a display of the “evangelical persecution complex.”” (The Atlantic, The Washington Post, Sojourners etc)  The author then reinforces his thesis by saying:
“While it is a fact that religious minorities are being persecuted in parts of the world, it would be a far stretch of the imagination to claim such persecutions in America, though some make that claim and are surprised that it isn’t obvious to everyone. I find these claims of persecution of Christians in America to be hyperbolic at best, and fictitious at worst. Segments of the Christian community often overplay the persecution card. 
The author completes is circular reasoning by again not giving any quote or reference to anyone actually saying there is Christion persecution in the United States. But having built the straw man he firmly knocks it down by saying it is hyperbolic or fictitious. Well yes having giving us no actual facts it is pretty clearly fictitious. He then brutally asks why Christians need to identify themselves as victims of religious persecution. He even adds the Adventist faith community to this claim of current persecution. Even though in Adventism  has not been talking about current persecution but claim to religious persecution at some future unknown date. Often termed prophetic expectations.
Dr. Attkien is a Professor of religion at Kettering College and former President of the Seventh Day Adventist Ohio Conference. This is strange that an educator cannot be bothered to give us any sources for his claims or is incapable of accurately relating the information from a public speech by the Vice President of the United States, who I would think Dr. Attkien would know that all of those speeches are transcribed and made public. It is very likely that this is simply the reactionary tendency of the political leftist to try and make the current administration look foolish. With the added bonus of the Intersectional trends of the leftist movement to denigrate white Christian men…the top of the intersectionaldespised pyramid. In any case the article is pretty much wrong from beginning to end other than the part where it talks about real persecution out the in the world, like Pence said in his speech.

Friday, July 12, 2019

Adventist Today tries to defend its leftist politics

I was noticing when I was reading some comments on the Adventist Today Facebook page, the only place you can comment…well not me but those people who are not banned for disagreeing with Adventist Today.  It was very enlightening to read what Adventist today had to say for themselves when it was pointed out that they are pretty leftist in their articles. Here is the comment:

Pastor Tom Hughes Will Adventist today ever get back to theology, spiritual issues, Church issues and stop force-feeding us with liberal politics? Adventist Today Tom Hughes
1) This piece is one of ten (and counting) published this week—even during a holiday week. We don’t have to “get back to theology, spiritual issues, church issues” since we haven’t stopped covering them. Given your social media posts espousing political stances (not just theology, spiritual and church issues), your partisanship is well-known and your disagreement with this piece unsurprising. Those are your right. What are problematic are the consequent inconsistencies in your criticisms here of AT, for example, claiming that what you do is politically balanced and neutral, denying AT the freedom you assert you can exercise, and complaining about suppression of disagreement despite your multiple comments on this thread. Neither do we mischaracterize your promotion of your views as “force-feeding” those who choose to read them. 

2. Please clarify this comment:
“it has been discussed many times but the black conferences want to keep things the way they are so that they can make sure they have female soccer tuna tees for there pastors to serve.”

This is really a  very telling comment. After all, I very much agree with Pastor Tom Hughes assessment that Adventist Today is mainly posting Liberal politic articles.  Now AT starts out with a rather strange statement about the number of articles posted in a week. As if that has anything to do with things. Let’s say that 8 of the 10 articles were by social justice warriors, how would the number of articles refute Pastor Tom Hughes' statement? It would not at all. If one were to refute the accusation they could point to the numerous political conservative articles or writers posting on Adventist Today. That they don’t, because they don’t have any is a very telling fact that Pastor Tom Hughes is correct about the liberal politics of the articles and writers.
They then followed with something that is very likely true. Political Progressives think their politics are their religion. So they think that all the political statements are just as much theology, spiritual issues, and church issues.  Here is a segment of an article which does a pretty concise job of showing the Progressivism as religion aspects:
The government must be helmed by the progressive clergy and used as a tool to ensure progress. Social institutions must be torn down and inequality dissolved.  Past sins must be confessed and offerings given as recompense. Good American citizens, so saith the god of progress, vote and act in a way that enables unabated progress toward equality. This doctrine is well-expressed, inerrant in a creed on a commonyard sign: “In this house, we believe: black lives matter, women’s rights are human rights, no human is illegal, science is real, love is love, and kindness is everything.”
If progressives and Democrats are good, then by deduction Republicans are eviland evil must be opposed. Therefore every Republican measure is a heartless measure intended to further inequality. Republicans are moral monsters who love fascism, cheer the victimization of the vulnerable and scramble to push Granny off the nearest cliff. Republican laymen must be ignorant boobs at best and malevolent wolves at worst.
Dogmatism leaves no room for doubt. It even leads to an almost end times-like eschatology. As Matthew Rose recently pointed out in First Things:
“The politics of gender, sexuality, race, and immigration are increasingly eschatological. Their power and appeal depend on the belief that they advance a liberating moral narrative, inspiring a secular Exodus that will lead to a secular Pentecost . . . [H]istory must progress toward greater individual freedom and social equality because any other outcome threatens the moral intelligibility of history itself. The stakes could not, therefore, be higher. Should the next emancipatory chapter fail to be written—or should a future Trump or Brexit alter its forward flow—it would not be a mere disappointment. It would interrupt a story that justifies their deepest commitments, and the theodicy in which they are engaged.”
Conservatives on the other hand, allow for doubt and question utopian thinking. Social programs may in the end lead to further inequality. No individual person is perfect and thus no institution is perfect. Government cannot bring about perfect equality, but instead only keep itself and its citizens from descending too far into authoritarian oppression.
The AT comment goes on to tell us how well they know of Pastor Tom’s social media positions which I know nothing about and even after AT comments I still know nothing about even though as they say: “your partisanship is well-known and your disagreement with this piece unsurprising” Now there is a strong refutation! The accusation, predominately leftwing articles the response you are partisan. Well, wait is not that his complaint, AT can’t deal with the complaint they instead attack the one complaining.
AT continues: “What are problematic are the consequent inconsistencies in your criticisms here of AT, for example, claiming that what you do is politically balanced and neutral, denying AT the freedom you assert you can exercise, and complaining about suppression of disagreement despite your multiple comments on this thread. Neither do we mischaracterize your promotion of your views as “force-feeding” those who choose to read them.”

 Inconsistencies in criticisms, what inconsistencies, would not that be helpful to know I mean the accusation is pretty straight forward, he may have dealt comments to other people, but that is not really AT responsibility to deal with those statements, why not deal with the central issue. Now how is a comment that problematic? He is not writing an article published on AT neither is he denying AT any freedom. “claiming that what you do is politically balanced and neutral, denying AT the freedom you assert you can exercise,” OK Pastor Tom claims leftist lean to AT articles and now suddenly Pastor Tom is denying AT the freedom to be balanced and neutral. Really I am pretty sure that is exactly what Pastor Tom is asking AT for. Then it follows with more subterfuge about how AT is not claiming that Pastor Tom is “force-feeding” his views on others in the comments section. Well, that is certainly big of AT. This is all very classic way of hiding from the accusation by attacking the person making the accusation. It is not a defense, it is not even logical. It also turns out that both AT and Pastor Tom's comments were removed, as I was going to include some of them in this article, but low and behold they are gone now! Of course, the excuse will be they are against policies. Strangely suppression of other views is often done by the excuse it is just because they did not follow the policies.
Sadly logic has little to do with the articles on Adventist Today anymore. For example, the above comments come from the comment section in reference to this article by Lindsey Abston Painter 3 July 2019. In which she defines American Exceptionalism as…nothing she does not define it, she does not point to any definition at all. In fact here is her most direct statement on it.:
“I don’t know how to be patriotic anymore. I love America. But I can’t believe it’s better than any other nation, or its people are better than other nation’s people. I can’t believe that God has any special interest in my country over other countries. I deny American Exceptionalism. America is not intrinsically better than the rest of the world. It’s only better if we are better. President Dwight D. Eisenhower once said in a speech, “America is great because she is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, she will cease to be great.” Is America still great in light of what’s happening on our southern border?

We can infer from what she rejects as to what she thinks American Exceptionalism is. Not that that is what it actually is but apparently she rejects her own incorrect view of what American Exceptionalism is. If she had bothered to even dig as deeply as Wikipedia she would have found that the first two tenents of American Exceptionalism is what makes it important. Not patriotism people from any country can be patriotic that is certainly not the meaning. Here is what Wikipedia says:
American exceptionalism is one of three related ideas. The first is that the history of the United States is inherently different from those of other nations.[2] In this view, American exceptionalism stems from its emergence from the American Revolution, thereby becoming what political scientist Seymour Martin Lipset called "the first new nation"[3] and developing a uniquely American ideology, "Americanism", based on liberty, egalitarianism, individualism, republicanism, democracy and laissez-faire economics. This ideology itself is often referred to as "American exceptionalism."[4] Second is the idea that the US has a unique mission to transform the world. As Abraham Lincoln stated in the Gettysburg address (1863), Americans have a duty to ensure, "government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth." Third is the sense that the United States' history and mission give it a superiority over other nations.
The theory of the exceptionalism of the U.S. has developed over time and can be traced to many sources. French political scientist and historian Alexis de Tocqueville was the first writer to describe the country as "exceptional" in 1831 and 1840.[5] The actual phrase "American exceptionalism" was originally coined by Soviet leader Joseph Stalin as a critique of a revisionist faction of American communists who argued that the American political climate was unique, making it an 'exception' to certain elements of Marxist theory.[6] U.S. president Ronald Reagan is often credited with having crystallized this ideology in recent decades.[6] Political scientist Eldon Eisenach argues in the twenty-first century American exceptionalism has come under attack from the postmodern left as a reactionary myth: "The absence of a shared purposes ratified in the larger sphere of liberal-progressive public policy....beginning with the assumption of American exceptionalism as a reactionary myth.”
Thanks to Painter we have a good view of the postmodern left’s reactionary myth view. Ignore history, and facts and plead to poorly formed but emotional ideas. Somehow larger than ever illegal border entry suggests to her that there is nothing exceptional about America. I mean why would so many people try to get to this unexceptional country. But it all works as long as your publisher defends the indefensible.

Friday, July 05, 2019

What About Universalism

“There really is evil in the world, and wickedness, and every brand of stupidity. There’s meanness and heartlessness and…I don’t even know which of them is me.” (Mr. Graff in Ender in Exile by Orson Scott Card, page 317)
Has it ever bothered you when you think about the idea that God grants salvation based on what someone knows or believes? What of those who have no way of knowing what seems to be the important part of attaining this salvation, due to mental capacity or cultural relevance or simply how a person was or was not raised? There are simply too many factors in play to accept the idea that God grants salvation based merely upon what someone believes.
In the early centuries of the Christian church this idea of salvation by believing the right things was first written about, but the Biblical concept of a loving God suggested to some that there must be another way of understanding salvation. The concept of how God can fail to save when that is His goal led to a number of interesting quotes found in Church Fathers on Universalism.
Noted Christian author William Barclay presents his Biblical reasons for Universalism as
“First, there is the fact that there are things in the New Testament which more than justify this belief. Jesus said: ‘I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself’ (John 12:32). Paul writes to the Romans: God has consigned all men to disobedience that he may have mercy on all’ (Rom. 11:32). He writes to the Corinthians: ‘As in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive’ (1 Cor. 15:22); and he looks to the final total triumph when God will be everything to everyone (1 Cor. 15:28). In the First Letter to Timothy we read of God ‘who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth,’ and of Christ Jesus ‘who gave himself as a ransom for all’ (1 Tim 2:4-6). The New Testament itself is not in the least afraid of the word all.” I am a Convinced Universalist, by William Barclay1
Some Universalists speculate in numerous ways about how this will be done. They would probably rather not speculate so much but most assuredly feel pressured to present their views because of the more traditional views of eternal torment and the redeemed taken to heaven. However, noting that Christians throughout the centuries have made their predictions only to show no real ability at predicting the future, I will not bother to predict how things can occur, other than to say that I believe that God is capable of demonstrating firsthand to people His love and then offering them the healing of a change, in the twinkling of an eye, to begin life anew. The traditionalist will no doubt ask about those who refuse to allow God to change them. I honestly don’t think that will occur because the weight of reason and evidence are so against refusing the love and healing of God. Suffice it to say, I think if someone has a firsthand person-to-deity talk with God, not through a still small voice or some preacher’s words or some ancient book, that God can present a case that no being could counter or fail to see the wisdom of. In fact, our innate selfishness would likely say, “This is a great deal; don’t pass it up!”
The traditionalist will likely protest that we only have this life, then the Judgment. We have to learn to trust and believe in God now before we die and before the Second Coming. The problem with that view is that we see through a glass darkly.2 Interestingly, that is not talking about glass as in the glass bottle or even the bottom of a glass. No, it refers to a looking glass more commonly called a mirror, a mirror without glass at all. The ancient mirror was simply polished metal bronze or silver. Metal, as anyone who owns silver knows, tarnishes and dulls with time. What is more, it points us back to ourselves. Now we have this warped view of ourselves and God and theology but one day we will see Him face to face. Why depend on the warped view today of what will someday be known for sure? Does that really sound like the way a God of love would act toward His hurting creation?
So, why be a Christian or belong to a church if all people will be saved? Isn’t the reason to follow Christ so that we will be saved? God through Christ is the one who reveals that salvation is the gift of God. It is not something you earn by keeping a list of rules or sacrificing lives or property to gain favor with God. Christ has revealed God’s love, forgiveness and acceptance, that God desires to heal you and be reconciled with humanity. The purpose of the church is to point to this love, forgiveness and reconciliation and encourage those things in people’s lives. Thus, the members of a church that believes in Universalism move from knowledge-based salvation to practical healing of relationships with other people. Which I would think is an even higher calling than personal salvation by believing the right things.
Does that mean, then, that all religions are equal? that they all lead to the same place? Unfortunately, all religions are not equal; not all religions lead to healing and helping relationships with other people. Keep in mind that aside from the practical aspects of a religion, the good things it does or the evil things it does, its supernatural claims remain unverifiable. The Islamic terrorist who cuts off a journalist’s head in pursuit of his religious goals, whether for the glory of his god or the establishment of his caliphate, is judged by us on his actions rather than his beliefs. However sincerely that person may believe that he has the truth and is following the dictates of those beliefs, those beliefs are still unverifiable so the actions must be what we judge.
Sadly, many contemporary people feel that there’s no place for judging other people’s actions. But the reality is that everyone has to make those kinds of judgments; those who say that we should not judge are themselves judging. Hypocrisy does no one any good in the long run. You probably can’t judge someone’s sincerity of belief or determine whether a belief has caused a certain action. But the action remains, and everyone still is responsible for his or her actions. In any society, actions must be examined and judged as to whether they help build up or tear down.
Needless to say, from a Christian point of view such things are not arrived at by a literal reading of the Bible. In fact, almost no one actually interprets the Bible literally. Not even the writers and those who first received the writings of the Bible books. A good example is the doctrine of hell. Some denominations hold very high authoritative views of the Bible but don’t accept that there is an eternally burning hell. Others believe that hell is not fire but just separation from God. Hell serves as a good example because there is no evidence in the real world to support one view of it or another. Most of the many supernatural events and ideas contained in the Bible have no real-world evidence to back them up. So the Bible is probably the least problematic of the foregoing reasons for a universalist view.
Where does this leave the universalist? Universalists recognize that there are numerous different ways for people to draw meaning from their religion. A fundamentalist requires a strict set of rules to be followed. He finds comfort in his “knowledge.” His belief is a special kind of knowing. Liberal Christians find more comfort in being able to reason out what they should and should not do. The problem comes when one’s beliefs cause danger and threats to other people. This we see most clearly now in Islamic factions. But at one time or another, we have seen such beliefs on display in Roman Catholic Christians or Protestant Christians, such as their persecution of Mormons. (Mormons themselves persecuted others; e.g., the Mountain Meadows Massacre.)
One of the important Bible verses applicable here is “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil” (Isaiah 5:20). We judge evil and good by actions, and that is not always easy. America drops an atomic bomb that kills over 100,000 people but ends a war which very likely would have killed millions more. Some evil can result in good. Joseph was sold into slavery that turned out for the good of both Israel and Egypt. But society agrees about numerous other evils, such as pedophilia, taking innocent people hostage for ransom, etc. Stoning or beheading homosexuals is evil; it is not evil to believe that marriage should be between a man and a woman. In free and democratic governments laws can be changed when enough people want the laws changed. Disagreeing with a law is not evil either. A motorcycle operator may not agree with a helmet law, but that does not make him evil; it depends on the law. A sharia law Islamist may disagree with a law of murder so that he can perform an honor killing. That very well could be evil. There are going to be many factors to consider and no one is going to escape this life without judging such things and making decisions. The case has to be made citing evidence and reason; a belief in something unknowable should carry the least weight in any decision process.
Something else is probably pretty important and is paid a lot of attention by people when they talk about their Christianity – a relationship with God. This idea is mentioned a lot but is very ill-defined. You are supposed to establish and maintain something entirely foreign to every human being, namely, a relationship with someone not here, with someone you can’t see or hear or touch. Every other relationship we have includes our being able to see and hear or write back and forth, to communicate in some type of direct matter. Thus, when the traditional Christian talks about a relationship with God, he is not using the term in any of its practical applications to people. This is really a serious problem in terms of language and in terms of understanding God. The best that Christian religions can say about this relationship and communication is that God wrote us a letter a couple thousand years ago that we call the Bible. Or perhaps when you ponder something you will get a “burning in your bosom,” as the Mormons would say. Or maybe it is the still small voice that speaks to you, but how do you tell that voice from your own voice in your thoughts? We are left in a very confused position. Those who claim to have more truth than any other religion must realize that they may not know as much as they think they do – about God, about themselves or others, and certainly about the future.
Practically every paragraph above deserves its own article and I would encourage those interested to explore the topics further, even though on first glance something such as universalism seems to be both a dangerous concept and a greatly expanded conception of the love of God.
1Quoted from William Barkley: A Spiritual Autobiography, pg. 65, William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, 1977.

21 Corinthian 13:12, KJV

Originally published on Adventist Today Online January 13 2015

Just published here so it does not get lost.

Saturday, March 02, 2019

Adventist Today Defames Famous Poet

The Adventist Today anonymous feature called Aunt Sevvy gave us another example of the low editorial standards of Adventist Today. We read the following in the Aunt sevvy column on Spanking.  Aunt Sevvy and the Spanking Enthusiast

The phrase “spare the rod and spoil the child” isn’t in the Bible. It’s from a Samuel Butler poem where it is used in the context of sadomasochism in a romantic relationship. Yup, true story. So let’s just never, ever use that maxim again.

It is in fact from the poem by Samuel Butler. But it is hardly in the context of a sadomasochism romantic relationship. As the Encylopedia Brittanica writes of the poem Hudibras:

Hudibras, satiric poem by Samuel Butler, published in several parts beginning in 1663. The immediate success of the first part resulted in a spurious second part’s appearing within the year; the authentic second part was published in 1664. The two parts, plus “The Heroical Epistle of Hudibras to Sidrophel,” were reprinted together in 1674. In 1678 a third (and last) part was published. The work is directed against the fanaticism, pretentiousness, pedantry, and hypocrisy Butler saw in militant Puritanism.
The eponymous hero of Hudibras is a Presbyterian knight who goes “a-coloneling” with his squire, Ralpho, an Independent. They constantly squabble over religious questions and, in a series of grotesque adventures, are shown to be ignorant, wrongheaded, cowardly, and dishonest. Butler derived his outline from Miguel de Cervantes and his burlesque method from Paul Scarron. However, his brilliant handling of the octosyllabic metre, his witty, clattering rhymes, his delight in strange words and esoteric learning, and his enormous zest and vigour create effects that are entirely original.

..ring me, on oath, a fair account, 835

And honour too, when you have done't,

And I'll admit you to the place You claim as due in my good grace.

If matrimony and hanging go By dest'ny, why not whipping too? 840

What med'cine else can cure the fits Of lovers when they lose their wits?

Love is a boy by poets stil'd; Then spare the rod and spoil the child.

A Persian emp'ror whipp'd his grannam 845 The sea, his mother VENUS came on;

And hence some rev'rend men approve Of rosemary in making love.

As skilful coopers hoop their tubs With Lydian and with Phrygian dubs, 850

Why may not whipping have as good A grace, perform'd in time and mood,

With comely movement, and by art, Raise passion in a lady's heart?

It is an easier way to make

Since the entire poem is a satire it is really poor thinking to label it as sadomasochism in a romantic relationship!

Sunday, February 03, 2019

False news from Adventist Today.

I have not written much lately as the two sites I used to mention most often Adventist Today and Spectrum have become nothing more than political Progressive echo chambers. As such I hesitate to reference them or add to their traffic. Most of their articles are incredibly poor and now it appears their so-called news is equally poor. Take for example this news article:

Notice the implication in the title. Require Bible Classes. In fact it would have required elective Bible class options for students. The so-called news article directs to a very short Fox TV post. The issue was covered by much more comprehesive articles such as USA Today's article.

Bible classes in public schools? Why Christian lawmakers are pushing a wave of new bills

Not a great article but at least it gives a little more information. Now real information would be to give people a link to the actual bill. Not hard to find and then the reporter could actually confirm that in fact, the classes were to be electives.

The bill SB2136 amends the present law specifically as follows, they even underline it in the bill so you and so-called reporters can easily see the changes. Apparently, the commenters on Facebook were unable to look up the information as well, so they all appear to work from the same faulty information. Sort of the hallmark of Progressivism in my opinion.

SECTION 1. AMENDMENT. Section 15.1-21-02 of the North Dakota Century Code is amended and reenacted as follows: 15.1-21-02. High schools - Required units. 1. In order toTo be approved by the superintendent of public instruction, each public and nonpublic high school shall make available to each student: a. Four units of English language arts from a sequence that includes literature, composition, and speech; b. Four units of mathematics, including: (1) One unit of algebra II; and (2) One unit for which algebra II is a prerequisite; c. Four units of science, including: (1) One unit of physical science; and (2) One unit of biology; d. Four units of social studies, including: (1) One unit of world history; (2) One unit of United States history; and (3) (a) One unit of problems of democracy; or (b) One-half unit of United States government and one-half unit of economics; e. One-half unit of health; Page No. 1 19.0488.02000 SENATE BILL NO. 2136 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 Sixty-sixth Legislative Assembly f. One-half unit of physical education during each school year, provided that once every four years the unit must be a concept-based fitness class that includes instruction in the assessment, improvement, and maintenance of personal fitness; g. Two units of fine arts, at least one of which must be music; h. Two units of the same foreign or native American language; i. One unit of an advanced placement course or one unit of a dual-credit course; and j. Two units of career and technical education from a coordinated plan of study recommended by the department of career and technical education and approved by the superintendent of public instruction; and k. One - half unit of the old testament of the Bible or the new testament of the Bible, or one - half unit of instruction covering both the old and new testaments of the Bible. 2. In addition to the requirements of subsection 1, each public and nonpublic high school shall make available to each student, at least once every two years, one-half unit of North Dakota studies, with an emphasis on the geography, history, and agriculture of this state. 
Legislative Assembly 4. Three units of social studies, including of which any one - half unit may be replaced by Bible studies. Social studies units include: 

The question is why would Adventist Today propagate such a misleading version of the story. Why not say ND has a bill proposal to provide as an elective course bible related courses (or half unit courses to be precise).

There is a reason, when religion becomes politics and Christianity seems to always play a far second to political progressive ideas.

In case you wonder why I don't comment on the Adventist Today Facebook comments section it is because I am not allowed to comment there by their decision. Because free ideas are not apparently all that important to the folks at Adventist Today...where at one time I wrote for them...funny how that works.

Friday, April 06, 2018

Rush Limbaugh on hell

Last week I heard a very troubling thing on the Rush Limbaugh show. Granted Rush is not much of a theologian, that mantle is probably carried more by his brother David Limbaugh but this is really a frightening misinterpretation of the Bible. Here is the section from the Transcripts which save me so much time because he posts his transcripts for free!

From 3-30-2018 Emphasis Added:
You know, Billy Graham said that he was most often asked the question about hell, is there hell, did he believe that there is a hell. And he quoted scripture. He said in the Bible the person that most often talks about hell is Jesus. He said it might surprise you to learn that the person in the Bible who spoke the most about hell’s reality was Jesus. He repeatedly warned people not to take it lightly. And then he quoted Matthew 10:28: “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Instead, be afraid of the one who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”
In other words, be afraid of the devil. Do not be afraid of dying. Be afraid of going to hell. And that this admonition was frequently coming from Jesus. So for that to be contradicted by the pope, believe me, is going to shake some people up, if they can’t sweep this away. And, by the way, what happens now to being devil’s advocate? If there’s no hell, there’s no devil. So how can you ever be a devil’s advocate? A whole line of questioning has also been obliterated by the pope!

What a twisted doctrine hell has become if an intelligent man in his 60's has gone through his whole life and thinks that the Devil is in charge of hell. That the Devil is the one who destroys the soul and body. 

Disturbed artists from hundreds of years ago have succeeded in giving Christians a completely distorted view of God

Even those who believe in eternal torment in Hell know that this verse is not about the devil, so at least we can comfort ourselves with that fact.

Because God is judge in the end, we should not fear even persecutors who threaten death (vv. 26, 28). Mortals can destroy only one's body, while God can resurrect the body for damnation and destroy the whole person (with eternal torture; compare 3:12; 25:46). The choice is not between courage and fear but has to do with whom we will fear more (Minear 1950:169). Jesus may here recall the Jewish martyr tradition, which exhorted its followers not to fear those who think they can kill, because eternal suffering awaits the soul that disobeys God's command (4 Macc 13:14-15).

Saturday, November 25, 2017

More misinformation from Adventist Today.

One of the things I have been seeing is the incredible swing to the left on Adventist sites like and Neither site now publishing anything but Progressive left wing political and religious material. It is published without any type of editorial requirement for truth to be utilized. For example there is an article entitled On Being Offended by Lindsey Painter in which she writes with apparently little regard for facts the following:

Last Thanksgiving Native Americans protested the building of the Keystone Pipeline (and DAPL). For their efforts they were hosed with freezing water in the snow, refused basic amenities and medical treatment, and the pipeline was built anyway. This Thanksgiving what are those Native Americans doing? They are cleaning up the giant oil spill on their land that they feared last year. Are they thin-skinned?
Ignoring the fact that the protestors were mostly not Native Americans the reader must also ignore the fact that the oil leak was not on Native American land and Native Americans are not cleaning it up. As CNN reported:

The spill occurred in the same county as part of the Lake Traverse Reservation. The leak location is not on Sioux property, but it is adjacent to it and has historical value, said Dave Flute, tribal chairman for Sisseton Wahpeton Sioux Tribe.

"The spill occurred about 3 miles southeast of Amherst on private land, which Walsh described as a "flat, grassy area for grazing." The company tweeted a picture of the site late Thursday.
 The county is on the top of the state second from the right on the map and Amherst is nearly to the left side of the Marshall County border. The reservation runs through portions of 5 counties. Going back to her article it sounds a lot like that the Native Americans feared a leak would happen if the Keystone XL pipeline was built and then a year later it was built and leaked. Even though this pipeline has been there for years.  This sadly is what passes for intelligent writing in the Adventist Media today. To maintain the fictions these websites write they usually ban or delete comments, because as per their rules it is not civil to disagree with their authors because to disagree or point out errors is disrespectful. Though they are quite accepting of comments that support errors are are posted by similarly misinformed people.

 Image result for Lake Traverse Reservation map