Adventist Media Response and Conversation

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Dr. Laura’s Morality Pacific Union Recorder

Principles of Congregational Ethics Dr. Laura’s Morality
By Mark F. Carr, Ph.D.

Dr. Laura bugs me! She is mean to her audience; no, she is brutal to her audience. In a matter of seconds, maybe a few minutes, she psycho-analyzes those who call in to her radio show. The advice she gives them usually revolves around ethics and morality of a personal sort.

...In ethics and morality, some of us have a tendency to boil things down to a few essential elements. Dr. Laura thinks, as do many others, that our concern for living life morally will be taken care of when we “do the right thing.”

I have to admit Dr. Laura bugs me too. But I also must admit she is frequently right. It is interesting that Dr. Laura who is a fairly religious Jew probably means more then just behavior when she says "now go and do the right thing". In Christian theology doing the right thing is to connect with God, the relationship that produces the actions which are also the right things.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Jesus and the Second Death

One of the frequent things you hear in SDA circles is that Jesus died the "second death". Like this latest example from the Conversations about God discussion list. From which I have effectively been banned because I contributed too much and the owner wanted the quieter members to have a chance. B.S. sums that up. Anyway this person writes:

Jesus came(it seems to me) to propitate us and appease our lack of knowledge of
the 2nd death requirement of sin/seperation that is the wages of sin.By taking
our well deserved 2nd death upon Himself ,He gives us a chance to have eternal
life with All of God and the rest of creation by his examples of what is life,
love and wisdom.His ressurection proves that He has the power to parent us all
the way to and through eternal life.
Conversations About God

Now in the past I have always pointed out to such people that first the Bible says nothing about Jesus suffering the Second Death and that the Second Death according to the book of Revelation which is the only place Second Death is mentioned says there is no resurrection from the Second Death. So there is pretty much no way Jesus could suffer the Second Death.

But recently I thought of something that is so obvious I don't know why I never used it before. To die the second death one must have lived the second life. Elementary isn't it. So let's review the standard Christ Judgment scenerio. A person lives their life here on earth. They die. According to several Bible verses there is a resurrection of the dead as the book of Daniel says some to everlasting life and some to everlasting destruction. Now if someone is resurrected by God that in itself is a supernatural event. As such it is also a second time of life. Hence the name second death which as Revelation points out is only for the wicked and from which there is no resurrection. So if Jesus died the Second Death...when did he live the second life?

Let's see em squirm out of that one!

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Spectrum SS Commentary "Week of Destiny"

Did you ever wonder how myths and traditions get into the church. Here is an example from Spectrum Online Sabbath School Commentary. Week of Destiny By Ron E. M. Clouzet :

“Then came the following morning. With the loss of Jerusalem in mind, Christ mournfully made his way from Bethany to the temple again until he saw fig trees ahead. Hoping to get fed, he aimed for the only tree with leaves—clear evidence among fig trees that fruit must be already be available. To his surprise, there was nothing but leaves. Then, stepping back, he thought about the events that just transpired, looked up to the tree once again, and exclaimed, "May you never bear fruit again!" (Matt. 21:19 NIV). Jerusalem’s leadership provided high expectations but never delivered. And no one would get anything from them again.”

Now first of all most of us have seen fruit trees and we know that fruit does not appear before the leaves, that the fruit will not be ready at the time the leaves appear either. Flowers often appear before the leaves but in no fruit tree does the fruit ripen with the appearance of the first leaves of spring. It is true that Fig trees often produce a Breba crop in the early season as the Purdue Horticulture department fact sheet on figs says:
“Fig trees usually bear 2 crops a year, the early season ("breba") fruits being inferior and frequently too acid, and only those of the second, or main, crop of actual value.” Of course if there was winter damage it would not have a breba crop.

But for some reason this idea that a fig tree that has leaves is a sure sign that it should have fruit however absurd is repeated throughout the SDA church. I have recently heard it several times this year.

But most importantly for the Christian is that in the story which is only mentioned in Matthew and Mark it clearly says that it was not the season for figs!
Mark 11:13 Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to find out if it had any fruit. When he reached it, he found nothing but leaves, because it was not the season for figs. (NIV)

The fig tree cursing is an interesting topic but cannot be really discussed when completely inaccurate observations are inserted into the story. A more reliable discussion of the incident is examined in the Expositor’s Bible Commentary where it says:

“12-13 This is one of the most difficult stories in the Gospels. It is not found in Luke. (Did he too have problems with it and omit it, or was it unknown to him?) Many modern commentators would just as soon it were not here at all. Rawlinson (p. 154) says that it "approximates more closely than any other episode in Mk to the type of `unreasonable' miracle characteristic of the non-canonical Gospel literature." Hunter (p. 110) comments: "With our knowledge of Jesus from other sources, we find it frankly incredible that he could have used his power to wither a fig tree because it did not yield figs two or three months before its natural time of fruitage." While rejecting the historicity of this account, Hunter finds the kernel of history in this story in the parable of the barren fig tree found in Luke 13:6-9. What was originally a parable has been changed into a factual story. Though admittedly difficult, the incident is not impossible. An important consideration is the position it occupies. It is one of Mark's interrupted accounts, in the middle of which stands the record of the cleansing of the temple. This is the clue to its meaning. Like the cleansing of the temple, the story of the unfruitful fig tree has to do with judgment.
The incident occurred on the way to Jerusalem from Bethany (v. 12), where Jesus had spent the night. He was hungry; and, noticing a fig tree, he went to see whether it had any figs on it (v. 13). Fig trees around Jerusalem usually leaf out in March or April, but they do not produce figs till June. This tree was no exception. It was in full leaf; but, as Mark tells his readers, there were no figs on it "because it was not the season for figs." It is this phrase that makes the story such a problem. Grant (p. 828) says Mark's explanation "only increases the problem, as it reflects on the good sense of Jesus." An easy solution is to consider the phrase a scribal gloss. But that will not do, because there is no textual evidence to support it. Also there is the fact that explanatory notes are a feature of Mark's style (cf. 1:16; 5:42; 7:3-4, 19, 13:14). It seems best to consider the phrase Mark's own insertion to explain to people not familiar with the characteristics of a fig tree why one fully leafed out would not have fruit on it.”

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Spectrum "minister arrested for marrying Gays?

I just was looking at back stuff from the spectrum website and read this in an article there:

\blue{ Marriage: A Religious Liberty Issue?

By Lester N. Wright
(September 30, 2003)

In response, many people, including the U.S. president, have called for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would prohibit marriage between two people of the same sex. Government lawyers have ordered solemnizing this type of marriage to stop. In at least one local jurisdiction, the mayor was charged with violating state law by sanctioning marriages inconsistent with current laws. Furthermore, ministers of several religious persuasions have been criminally charged with violating the law by sanctioning and performing such marriages.

The arrest of a minister charged with performing a religious ceremony consistent with his or her religion should have gotten our attention. If a government can determine that one religious practice violates law and can arrest and charge a minister for performing that ceremony, then government can determine that ANY religious practice is illegal. The arrest of a minister for performing a marriage between two people of the same sex can progress to the arrest of a minister for preaching on a Sabbath not sanctioned by law.

Now I have never heard of any minister arrested for performing the religious ceremony of joining two homosexual or Lesbians together. Further I have never heard of the "Government lawyers have ordered solemnizing this type of marriage to stop". They have ordered state officials to cease giving out marriage licenses but that certainly different.

Since the writer did not give any examples I don't think he knows what he is talking about and like many liberals making up something for his own purposes. But if I am wrong will someone please give me an example where a minister was arrested or even charged with criminal violation for performing a ceremony for gay or lesbians.

Friday, February 04, 2005

Tithe Change debate in Minnesota

Adventist Today Special Report

Revolutionary Change Debated in Minnesota

By John Thomas McLarty

Thursday, February 03, 2005. Enumclaw, Washington: In preparation for the April 17, 2005, Minnesota Conference Constituency Meeting, the conference constitution and by-laws committee has received from a congregation a proposal to change the way tithe funds are managed in the Minnesota Conference. The initial decision by the committee was to place the proposal on the agenda and to recommend against its acceptance by the session delegates. At the time of this writing, it is not certain whether the proposal will actually be included on the agenda for the constituency meeting.

The major changes called for in the proposal include: 1.) Qualifying two blanket statements that everything in the Minnesota Conference will be done in agreement with General Conference policies by adding the proviso, "unless otherwise expressly stated in these by-laws." 2.) Recognizing that local churches (instead of, or in addition to, the conference office) are appropriately designated "storehouses" for tithe. 3.) Requiring the conference to return seventy-five percent of tithe received from congregations to the congregations. This seventy-five percent would include the salary and benefits paid to clergy who directly serve the congregation. 4.) Explicitly stating that any use of tithe permitted in the administrative divisions of the church—conferences, unions, divisions, GC—is also a permitted use in the ministry divisions of the church—i.e. congregations. (For instance, since tithe funds are used to pay for secretarial and janitorial services in the administrative divisions of the church, local churches would be allowed to pay their secretaries and janitors with tithe.

Congregations do not often offer substantive input for consideration by conference constituency sessions, however, it is customary for conference administrators to invite input from their congregations in preparation for constituency meetings. Given the revolutionary political and financial implications of these proposed constitutional changes and the history of other congregational initiatives in North America, it is probable that leaders in all the relevant administrative divisions—Minnesota Conference, Mid-America Union and the North American Division—will work to prevent these proposals from being openly discussed on the floor of the session.

The full text of the recommended changes is given below.

Proposed Amendments to the Bylaws of the Minnesota Conference of Seventh-day Adventists

and the Addition of a New Article.

Motion #1: To amend ARTICLE II of the Bylaws of the Minnesota Conference of Seventh-day Adventist, as set forth below.


43 General Conference of Seventh-day Adventist. All purposes and procedures of this Conference
44 shall be in harmony with the working policies and principles of the General Conference of
45 Seventh-day Adventistsx, the North American Division, and Union Conference unless expressly stated in these Bylaws.

Motion #2: To amend ARTICLE XII of the Bylaws of the Minnesota Conference of Seventh-day Adventist, as set forth below.


345 Policies. The tithes and all other funds shall be used in harmony with the financial
346 policies of the North American Division of the General Conference of Seventh-day
347 Adventists and the Union Conference except as permitted in these Bylaws and, in the case of
348 donations, its use shall be in harmony with the specifications of the donors and in accordance
349 with applicable state and federal laws governing the use of charitable contributions.

Motion #3: To add the following ARTICLE to the Bylaws of the Minnesota Conference of Seventh-day Adventist. The new ARTICLE shall be implemented and in full operation by September 1, 2005.


In Malachi 3:8 God directs His people to bring "all the tithes into the storehouse". Notwithstanding any other article or provision in these Bylaws each local church or company is the collection point for tithe and each serves as an individual "storehouse".

Section 1. Handling of Tithe. One hundred percent of collected tithe shall be returned to the Conference Treasurer within 45 days of receipt. The Conference Treasurer shall account for these funds using Generally Accepted Accounting Standards and identify each storehouse from which the funds are received.

Section 2. Use of Tithe. A permitted use of tithe at the administrative level is a permitted use of tithe at the storehouse. As codified in the Working Policies of the North American Division (NAD) tithe may be used to sustain personnel who are directly engaged in soul-winning work and/or by people who serve in a supporting role. In addition, according to NAD Policy tithe "may be used for operating expenses" used by these personnel. In practice tithe is used and may be used for: salaries (pastoral, teaching, secretarial, janitorial); expenses associated with soul-winning and disciple making; operating expenses related to these activities.

Section 3. Distribution of Tithe. As a trustee and fiduciary of remitted tithe, and other assets belonging to storehouses, this Conference shall annually return to each storehouse a minimum of 75 percent of all tithe collected at that storehouse. Salaries and employee benefits paid to personnel hired by this Conference directly for each storehouse is included in this 75 percent. This Conference may retain a maximum of 25 percent of each storehouse’s tithe to cover expenses they incur in administering human resource functions and benefits for the sisterhood of churches, accounting, other administrative costs. The portion of the tithe this Conference retains may also be used to provide additional staff and resources for new missions or to provide additional support to churches and companies.

Section 4. Timing of Distribution. The portion of each storehouse’s tithe not expended for salaries and benefits paid to personnel hired by this Conference directly for each storehouse shall be returned to the storehouse within 60 days of receipt and an annual accounting of received and dispersed funds shall be provided to each storehouse by March 31st each year.