Adventist Media Response and Conversation

Monday, October 30, 2006

Flood Poetry

The Genesis Flood story is actually written in Hebrew Poetic form, as our Lesson Study for this quarter is about to visit the flood story the following gives some information on this subject.

What's a 'chiasm' anyway?:
One of the most interesting and intricate biblical literary structures is called a chiasm. It takes its name from the Greek letter chi, written X, because it has a structure that crosses over somewhat like an 'X.' Or a form suggested by its conforming to the > shape of the left half of the Greek letter chi, which is drawn like the English X. The "outer" elements, designated A, A', are the "frame,". In a chiasm, the various elements of a writing are related to each other in parallels so that the first and the last are parallel, the second and the second from the last are also parallel, and so on. There can be two or more elements.

The most simple example is the saying of Jesus: "The first shall be last and the last shall be first." The chiasm is first - last - last first, forming the pattern, A,B, B',A'. But the structure can be developed even more to have a central element that stands by itself, around which the other parts circle, and can serve as a center and theme for the whole writing. It might be helpful to think of chiasm as saying things forwards and backwards.

Chiasms appears frequently in New Testament gospels and epistles, a literary form in which the sequence of the material presented in the second portion of a literary block is presented as a mirror image of its presentation in the first portion of that block (e.g., A B C C' B' A'). Examples of this form in history are well documented in Homeric and classical Hellenistic education and are frequently found in the Old Testament, especially in Qohelet (Ecclesiastes). Paul was probably aware of the many passages in the Old Testament that featured the device. Examples are as diverse as Gen. 33:10-11 and Ps. 2:9. Modern interpreters have found chiasmus very helpful in unpacking such difficult passages as Mt. 7:6. When the innermost element of a chiasmus is unpaired, it is said to have "climactic centrality," the whole structure tending to give emphasis to the element at its focal point. Examples of this phenomenon include Eccl. 11:1-12:8 ("but know that for all these things God will bring you to judgment"), Heb. 12:1-2 ("keeping our eyes on Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of the faith"), Lk. 1:6-25 (the annunciation), and even Jn. 1:1-18 (by the incarnate Word we become children of God). There are both large scale (where the echoed element is a phrase, sentence or idea) and small scale (where it is words or sounds that are echoed).

The diagram of the chiastic structure of the Flood Story is as follows. It is taken, with some small
modifications, from Gordon J. Wenham, "The Coherence of the Flood Narrative," VT 28 (1978): 336-48.

A Noah (6:10a)
..B Shem, Ham, and Japheth (6:10b)
...C Ark to be built (6:14-16)
....D Flood announced (6:17)
.....E Covenant with Noah 6:18-20)
......F Food in the ark (6:21)
......G Command to enter ark (7:1-3)
.......H 7 days waiting for flood (7:4-5)
........I 7 days waiting for flood (7:7-10)
........J Entry to ark 7:11-15)
.........K Yahweh shuts Noah in ark (7:16)
..........L 40 days flood (7:17a)
...........M Waters increase (7:17b-18)
............N Mountains covered (7:19-20)
.............O 150 days waters prevail (7:21-24)
..................X GOD REMEMBERS NOAH (8:1)
.............O' 150 days waters abate (8:3)
............N' Mountains tops visible (8:4-5)
...........M' Waters abate (8:5)
..........L' 40 days (end of) (8:6a)
.........K' Noah opens window of ark (8:6b)
........J' Raven and dove leave ark (8:7-9)
.......I' 7 days waiting for waters to subside (8:7-9)
......H' 7 days waiting for waters to subside (8:10-11)
.....G' Command to leave ark (8:15-17)
....F' Food outside ark (9:1-4)
...E' with all flesh (9:8-10)
..D' No flood in future (9:11-17)
..C' Ark left (9:18a)
.B' Shem, Ham, and Japheth (9:18b)
A’ Noah (9:19)

More info available at:

Friday, October 27, 2006

Yes, Dead Men Do Tell Lies!

The Adventist World NAD Edition recently published a reprint of an article first published in the Review and Herald in 1929. Written by W. A. Spicer the article in the Adventist World NAD Edition is titled “It Was Not of Our Doing” The Origins of the Remnant Church Testify to God’s Leading (August 2006 page 38-39)

Unfortunately this edition goes out to the entire World and it includes a gross falsehood. Something that probably no current SDA scholar would be willing to say but since this is produced by someone who was once thought of as a scholarly SDA the falsehood is continued throughout the SDA world. The specific problem is presented by the following quote from page 39 of Spicer’s article:

“Then began to come messages to them trough the Spirit of prophecy. The first view, given in 1844, described a large work yet to be done---the gathering out of many thousands of believers to be made ready for the coming of the Lord.”

“Even those who accepted the experience of the youthful agent through whom the Spirit of prophecy spoke, had no idea of another movement to carry a message to the world. So firmly fixed in their minds was the idea that Christ would shortly appear, that they did not understand what was plainly revealed in the first message of the Spirit of prophecy---that a great soul winning work was yet to be done.”

As most knowledgeable people in Adventism know this is not the case, Ellen (Harmon) White was in agreement with the other Millerite Adventists who expected a very soon return of Christ. In fact it was soon after this vision that the “shut door” concept was spoken of by Ellen White. The concept that Adventists were to be a great missionary church was not revealed in Ellen White’s first vision, and was not mentioned till after the shut door concept had passed away. Spicer presents a myth which is easily proven wrong by reading Ellen Whites own presentation of her first vision.

Her First Vision. One morning in December 1844, at a time when many Millerites were wavering in their faith and others were disavowing their recent experience, Ellen Harmon joined four other women in family worship at the home of a close friend, Mrs. Haines, in south Portland. While the group was praying, she experienced her first vision, in which she witnessed a representation of the travels of the Adventist people to the City of God (EW 13–17; 1T 58–61; LS 64–67). She was only 17 years old at the time. When she related this vision to the Adventist group in Portland, they accepted it as light from God. In response to a later vision, Ellen reluctantly started out, travelling with friends and relatives as opportunity afforded, to relate to the scattered companies of Adventists what she had seen in the first and other visions that followed

Here are some sections from her first vision as recorded in Early Writings

While I was praying at the family altar, the Holy Ghost fell upon me, and I seemed to be rising higher and higher, far above the dark world. I turned to look for the Advent people in the world, but could not find them, when a voice said to me, "Look again, and look a little higher." At this I raised my eyes, and saw a straight and narrow path, cast up high above the world. On this path the Advent people were travelling to the city, which was at the farther end of the path. They had a bright light set up behind them at the beginning of the path, which an angel told me was the midnight cry. This light shone all along the path and gave light for their feet so that they might not stumble. If they kept their eyes fixed on Jesus, who was just before them, leading them to the city, they were safe. But soon some grew weary, and said the city was a great way off, and they expected to have entered it before. Then Jesus would encourage them by raising His glorious right arm, and from His arm came a light which waved over the Advent band, and they shouted, "Alleluia!" Others rashly denied the light behind them and said that it was not God that had led them out so far. The light behind them went out, leaving their feet in perfect darkness, and they stumbled and lost sight of the mark and of Jesus, and fell off the path down into the dark and wicked world below. Soon we heard the voice of God like many waters, which gave us the day and hour of Jesus' coming. The living saints, 144,000 in number, knew and understood the voice, while the wicked thought it was thunder and an earthquake. When God spoke the time, He poured upon us the Holy Ghost, and our faces began to light up and shine with the glory of God, as Moses' did when he came down from Mount Sinai.

The 144,000 were all sealed and perfectly united. On their foreheads was written, God, New Jerusalem, and a glorious star containing Jesus' new name. At our happy, holy state the wicked were enraged, and would rush violently up to lay hands on us to thrust us into prison, when we would stretch forth the hand in the name of the Lord, and they would fall helpless to the ground. Then it was that the synagogue of Satan knew that God had loved us who could wash one another's feet and salute the brethren with a holy kiss, and they worshiped at our feet.

Soon our eyes were drawn to the east, for a small black cloud had appeared, about half as large as a man's hand, which we all knew was the sign of the Son of man. We all in solemn silence gazed on the cloud as it drew nearer and became lighter, glorious, and still more glorious, till it was a great white cloud. The bottom appeared like fire; a rainbow was over the cloud, while around it were ten thousand angels, singing a most lovely song; and upon it sat the Son of man…

The vision then goes on to describe the heavenly experience. The question we may want to ask is why Spicer’s falsehoods are being disseminated throughout the Adventist world. I would guess that even back in 1929 Spicer was attempting to rewrite Adventist history. What however are the editors of the Adventist Review trying to do today? Are they careless or once more trying to rewrite Adventist history?

I would welcome their response.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Ellen White's Thoughts on Voting

Abundant Rest has an interesting set of quotations from Ellen White which gives her followers the instructions listed in green below:

The Lord would have His people bury political questions. On these themes silence is eloquence. Christ calls upon His followers to come into unity on the pure gospel principles which are plainly revealed in the word of God. We cannot with safety vote for political parties; for we do not know whom we are voting for.

I don’t know what that one means most people know who they are voting for though certainly for some of the lesser local offices we may not know much about the person. That to me is most troublesome in the area of Judges. But overall the days of flipping the lever to vote for one party only is rare if it even exists at all.

We cannot labor to please men who will use their influence to repress religious liberty, and to set in operation oppressive measures to lead or compel their fellow men to keep Sunday as the Sabbath.

You would think that it would be appropriate to vote against those who seek to repress religious liberty in favor of someone who supports religious liberty. Though here again it has probably been over a hundred years since a candidate supported compelling anyone to keep Sunday as the Sabbath.

The first day of the week is not a day to be reverenced. It is a spurious sabbath, and the members of the Lord’s family cannot participate with the men who exalt this day, and violate the law of God by trampling upon His Sabbath.

This may explain why for so long Adventists have been separating themselves from the other Christians in the community of believers. I wonder if it is better now that some churches offer worship services on Saturday evenings?

The people of God are not to vote to place such men in office; for when they do this, they are partakers with them of the sins which they commit while in office. {FE 475.2}

So apparently if you did vote, which you should not do, don’t vote for anyone who attends religious services on Sunday.

God employs the strongest figures to show that there should be no union between worldly parties and those who are seeking the righteousness of Christ. What communion can there be between light and darkness, truth and unrighteousness? — None whatever. Light represents righteousness; darkness, error, sin, unrighteousness. Christians have come out of darkness into the light. They have put on Christ, and they wear the badge of truth and obedience. They are governed by the elevated and holy principles which Christ expressed in His life. But the world is governed by principles of dishonesty and injustice. {FE 476.1}

Apparently Ellen White has determined government is evil. Apparently there is little difference between a democracy and a dictatorship; The United States or Hitler’s Germany. All are governments of dishonesty and injustice.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Paradise Lost Lesson 4

Paradise Lost Lesson 4

It is evident from the pace set by the lesson Study guide that the authors have no intention of really studying the subject of Genesis. For this week the lesson goes from the introduction of the cunning serpent to the murder of Abel. Instead of studying, the lesson wants only to emphasize the traditional views of the SDA church’s understanding of Genesis. This is one of the big problems with the Adventist church today, as a church we have assumed that our traditions are truth and instead of critically looking at the Biblical stories we use the Bible only to reinforce our presumed beliefs.

Take for instance this lesson. What in the world does it mean that the serpent was the most cunning of animals? Could the serpent sneak up on a carrot better then a rabbit? Or take for instance another part of the story. What does God mean by saying that man would die on the day he eats of the tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil? The Bible does not record anyone dying on that day and though it is often assumed by the traditionalists, there is no concept of dying spiritually in the Old Testament. Even though many will say they died a spiritual death, what do they mean by that term? You would think that one could not get more fundamental to the story then looking at the above questions particularly the second question, yet the lesson ignores it.

When listening to the Sabbath School classes that are available online it is amazing to hear all the speculative theology they throw around only they really don't class it as speculative they class it as truth because it was revealed to them by the 19 century prophet. In at least two of the classes, those done by Tim Jennings’s and Jonathan Gallagher, their first two classes talked more about Satan then God. And here we are only now talking about chapter 3 where it is at least somewhat reasonable to mention Satan in the mix because of the comment in Revelation about that serpent of old the devil. But Satan was of no interest to the original story, Israel did not see Satan in the story yet they were able to see the foundation of the material.

Now we are all free to speculate. I could speculate that the serpent could talk because all animals could talk. There was nothing abnormal about an animal talking to Eve. I mean the story did not show Eve as even being surprised that the serpent talked. So why is it that the Lesson Study Guide (LSG) will accept some speculation and ignore other speculation? The answer is that the lesson is not using the Bible as their source for the story but using the story as laid out by Ellen White. Of course the LSG is more careful then are the classes heard on the internet. On the internet classes it is clear where their source is from. Take for instance Doug Batchelor's class, at 39 minutes into his lecture Batchelor says:
And then they knew that they were naked well part of the reason their eyes were opened is because after they sinned the glory robes that they wore, they had robes of glory and light, faded.
Before this Batchelor makes fun of those who read the Bible and pay attention to the context of the story, at minute 36:45 we hear:
And then she brought it to her husband with her, some have speculated Adam was standing right there because it says “with her”, it doesn’t mean that. In Hebrew what it means is she brought it to her husband who was with her in the garden, not with her at that location. She was alone during this initial exchange. And it’s just understanding the sentence structure in Hebrew there it does not mean next to her, in it means he was with her in the garden. He ate it along with her, he ate it is all that’s saying. I heard someone preach a whole sermon that Adam was right there next to her when this happened.
It is not from the Bible that most Adventists get their understanding of the events in Genesis but Ellen White and Batchelor are much more straight forward with this fact then the LSG. Of course Batchelor since he unquestioningly follows Ellen White cannot allow for the construction that Adam was with her because Ellen White points out that Eve was violating God’s warning messages to not go anywhere without her husband. Nor does a silent Adam fit in with our societie’s male dominated role. So most Adventists don’t listen to the story but rewrite the story.
The angels had cautioned Eve to beware of separating herself from her husband while occupied in their daily labor in the garden; with him she would be in less danger from temptation than if she were alone. (Page 54 Patriarchs and Prophets)
The Robe of light is found there also:

After his transgression Adam at first imagined himself entering upon a higher state of existence. But soon the thought of his sin filled him with terror. The air, which had hitherto been of a mild and uniform temperature, seemed to chill the guilty pair. The love and peace which had been theirs was gone, and in its place they felt a sense of sin, a dread of the future, a nakedness of soul. The robe of light which had enshrouded them, now disappeared, and to supply its place they endeavored to fashion for themselves a covering; for they could not, while unclothed, meet the eye of God and holy angels. ( Page 57)

For those that actually may want to study their Bibles and the story of Creation let’s consider the meaning of the verse which says:

(Gen 2:17 KJV) But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.
Genesis 2:16-17 NIV And the LORD God commanded the man, "You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die."

This verse has become a pretext for much of the theology in the Christian Church. The NIV is much more accurate for “day” is idiomatic for “when” this is plainly stated in such works as the New English Study Bible. Yet that does not stop many people from creative eisegesis by saying that man Spiritually died on the very day or that God had to offer a sacrifice that very day to demonstrate the death that was necessary to pay the penalty that God had proposed here in the Genesis story. Those views are quite opposed to the actual story whose import is to say that the consequences for the act would be death. If of course God had meant that on that very day they would die, God would be the very first liar. While even the serpent words revealed a suspicion about God hiding good things from His creation the serpent did not lie, maybe partial truth or maybe just statements that reflect on only one meaning, the lies may be only implied.

Often an equally horrible view is present by those who assume that an animal was killed for the covering God made for Adam and Eve. The common SDA view is that God combined the making of clothes for Adam and Eve with the introduction of the Sacrificial system death of an animal; presumably a lamb, a big one apparently. This view makes God the first murderer in man’s history, the first death man saw was from the hand of God. The killing of an innocent animal for nothing other then to cover the shame of the only man and woman in the world. It is no wonder many Christians want to embellish the story. (The word for skins in KJV just means covering it does not necessarily mean and animal was killed to make a garment, skins of course have to be treated before they are made into garments. It seems unlikely that God would kill and animal then perform a miracle to make the skin useable to make clothes. He had just made a whole world out of nothing remember a coat or a robe would be no problem.)

We have intuitively known the story does not work literally for ages, which is why the story has to have so many speculative additions made to it. We try to make the story work just like a historical story, but that was not the intention of the story, and because we redefine the story we lose the meaning of the story. We create pretexts which are then taken into other areas and used to explain things which had nothing to do with the pretext for the pretext was taken out of context.
Christians have continued to add to the story when they assume that God directed a blood sacrifice be offered. So they assume that God rejected Cain’s vegetable matter offering because God had told them what to offer. Yet the story says nothing about what God wanted as an offering. Even afterward God did not say, it was because you did not offer the proscribed offering it was because of Cain’s attitude.

(Gen 4:6-7 NIV) Then the LORD said to Cain, "Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it."

This is how Abel offered a better sacrifice, it was not inhibited by the attitude or resentment which filled Cain and led to the murder of his brother. Think of the meaning of this story as it explains the violence in this world where even brother kills brother as resentment of another leads to hate that leads to violence.

Genesis is foundational but not as history, it is foundational in man’s attempt to understand his place in the world as well as his place with God. It is the introduction that takes us to a people taken out of a land of slavery to become a special people serving a special God.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Fig Leaves?

One of the things most people should notice about the first chapters of Genesis is that the elements in the story are based upon the common natural environment that people in the middle East were familiar with. For instance the serpent is cunning (crafty), you may recall the New Testament remark of Jesus to be wise as serpents and harmless as doves (Matt 10:16). However in a paradise with no predators how would an animal be known as cunning. Was it better at doing crossword puzzles or sneaking up on carrots? So clearly the story is based upon the appearance of the world as it was at the time of the writing of the book of Genesis.
(Gen 3:7 NIV) Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.
If you were in a garden paradise and you wanted to sew together a covering it is very unlikely that you would choose fig leaves (the actual solid part of the leaves are not too big, so not too good if modesty is the goal). Again the story is based upon the environment at the time of the writing of Genesis. Banana leaves, Elephant Ears, or Rhubarb would be much better and easier to create clothing then fig leaves. Palm leaves are big too but likely not very uncomfortable. These little details are not too important for the story unless it is insisted that that story is literal then the become stumbling blocks. [Fig, Banana, Elephant Ear, Rhubarb


Friday, October 20, 2006

The Early Earth Lesson #3

The Early Earth Lesson 3

What was early life like in Eden paradise? Can you imagine a world without death, no organisms which feed upon decay? A garden that is tended with work of completely unknown variety. When you tend your garden you pull weeds which are plants out of place; were there plants out of place in this paradise. We have years and years of weed seeds in every inch of our topsoil. Under the right conditions they germinate and grow. What about the grape vines in your garden most of us prune them back every year. Did Adam prune back the vines of his garden did he cut the branches and cry at the thought of the death he was inflicting upon the branch cut off. Or was there no death of that plant and Adam took each branch and tenderly planted it in barren ground if he could find any barren ground. Perhaps tending the garden simply involved weaving living vines into a structure. Maybe you can think of a few other activities but probably not too many.

What elements mentioned in verses 8 through 17 indicate that the garden home was an ideal model? (Note particularly the setting and the attention given to humanity's physical, mental, aesthetic, and moral needs.)

This Garden paradise is the model for living, not by what we know about living in the Garden but because of what we think of as ideal. A world without conflict, where nature is the friend of man, where work is merely enjoyment of nature, no need of shelter from storm or predators and only the man and the woman without neighbors to intrude in anyway. The beauty of the story is that it can be shaped however the reader wants, the paucity of information provides abundant fodder to create the moral teaching anyone may want to attach to the story. The story is not how they lived in Eden anymore then how God created the world, we don’t know how they lived and we don’t know how creation came into being, all we have is a simple outline of what life is.


Having dealt with how all of Creation came into being, Moses now focuses on human beings and their immediate environment. While Genesis 1 answered the question How did it all originate? Genesis 2 explains why we are what we are. Without the information provided by Genesis 2, the test of allegiance to God and the subsequent Fall described in Genesis 3 would, to a large extent, be unintelligible.

As we can remember from the previous lesson even the author does not know about the “how” of creation. When speaking of the Creation of the Sun, moon and stars he does not even understand the sequence of that day in the story.

Wednesday Oct 11

This is followed by the presence of the sun and the moon and the visible stars (why these are depicted here, in this manner, in this part of the sequence, is one of those questions we'll probably have to wait to get answered in heaven)

He has assumed most of what he feels is the “how” of the story of creation and he assumes that God places an allegiance test as part of the “why” we are here. This has been the problem since the first lesson on this subject. There is an assumption that the story is completely literal and purposefully only meant to be read literally. As we have already seen this literal unambiguous story is not even understood by those who make the claim that it is literal and unambiguous.


The intimate world of Adam and Eve surrounded by trees and animals in a garden complements the previous majestic account of Creation. Chapter 2 introduces the reader of the Bible to the social dimensions of humanity and gives some insight on prehistory and the original geography of the world.

What are the elements of the prehistory and the original geography of the world given in Chapter 2? In the lesson two days later the author gives us this:

TUESDAY October 17 The Garden Home (Gen. 2:8-17)

The specific geographical details presented in verses 10 through 14 indicate that, in the mind of the Bible writer, Eden was a specific locality rather than merely being a symbol or a metaphor. Several of the names mentioned in verses 11 through 14 are later applied to post-Flood localities and rivers. However, the Flood changed the surface features of our planet so radically that identification of pre-Flood geography with places and rivers known to us is impossible.

The location details in 10-14 are clearly written from a much later perspective trying to place the location of Eden. However as this is indeed written after the area destruction by the flood there is no way that this aside tells us anything about the geography of Eden as the author asserted on Saturday’s lesson. The reason for the location inclusion is consistent with the Exodus story where the Children of Israel are going back to the land of their forefather Abraham. As the Expositor’s Bible Commentary says:

Special care is given to locate the rivers and to describe the character of the lands through which they flowed. The lands were rich in gold and precious jewels (v. 12), and their location was closely aligned with the land later promised to Abraham and his descendants (see Ibn Ezra, Rashi)--another example of the author's continual interest in drawing comparisons between the early events in primeval history and specific events and places in the life of Israel. (Gen 2:9-10 Section)

Of course in the Garden of Eden Gold and precious jewels would be of no real value, only pretty rocks. However from the perspective of the writer of Genesis these are important aspects of the region. The region which was to become the Promised land to Israel, or depending upon when Genesis was written a reflection of the newly settled land of Israel. The lesson holds to the tradition that Moses was the writer of Genesis. This of course may or may not be true but we can be pretty sure that not all of the Pentateuch was written by Moses.

SUNDAY October 15 The Sabbath (Gen. 2:1-3)

Last week we saw a progression in the Creation account: from darkness to light, from only water to earth and water, to an atmosphere, to vegetation, and so forth, culminating in the creation of human beings, first the man and then the woman. Only after all these things were created do we get the words in Genesis 2:1—"Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them." God's work of Creation, at least as attested to here, was a finished work. This notion is implied in Genesis 2:2, 3, where both verses say that God "rested" from His work. Was God tired, or did He rest because His work was completed?

The most obvious answer is that God no longer was creating the world. In other words with the arrival of man the process of creation was complete. You must remember that the Sabbath command was given at Sinai and it preceded the written account of Genesis. If the author of Genesis had wanted to place the Sabbath in the second chapter of Genesis he could have easily done it, however he does not. He only sets the stage for it to be later incorporated as he does in the Exodus account of the 10 commandments, though it is not incorporated into the account of the 10 Commandments in Deuteronomy. The likely reason he does not place the Sabbath in chapter 2 is because man has just been created and does not really have any need to rest from anything as he has done nothing. Not knowing of the biological diversity in the world he did not realize that Adam would have to have given a name to the mammals and the birds at a rate of every 15 seconds to get his task done by the end of 24 hours. If he had to name the number that scientists believe once existed he would have to name one every ½ second. And we are still only talking birds and mammals.

SUNDAY October 15

Although the noun sabbath is not mentioned in Genesis 2, the verb for "rested," from which the term sabbath is derived, proves that the Sabbath is meant (see Exod. 20:8-11). Just as six literal days came before it, the Sabbath is a literal day, as well.

No one argues that the Sabbath was a literal day, however does it find it’s meaning forever in a literal day? Clearly not as Hebrews 4 and as Paul sums up the idea that it is a shadow of Christ. (Col 2:16 NIV) Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day.17 These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.

Notice, too, that the first thing God declared holy was time, the seventh day. Not a hill, not a river, not a shrine, but a segment of time itself was the first thing in God's new Creation specifically "set apart" (another way of expressing "to be made holy"). Thus, we see the Sabbath as something special, something universal, something not bounded by the limits of place or geography but as something that can reach every human being no matter where they live.

However of course that time in our world is defined by geography. In other words when it is Saturday in America it is Sunday in Israel. Of course in Free societies most people can hold a day as holy and do not work on it. In many societies that is not a freedom granted to all people, as was the case in the New Testament times there were people not free to rest upon their Sabbath.

MONDAY October 16 Nephesh Hayyah

Most people are surprised to learn that the phrase often translated "living soul" (Gen. 2:7) in the creation of humanity is the same one used to describe fish and birds and other creeping things. Though unlike these other creatures, humanity was made in the "image of God" (Gen. 1:27); in a purely physical sense humanity is tied to other life on earth. And, of course, we see this in the sense that, like other life on earth, we need certain physical things in order to stay alive.

How does this use of the word nephesh in Genesis 2:7 (often translated "soul") help us understand why the soul isn't immortal? (Ezek. 18:4, Matt. 10:28).

In fact if the author thought about it he would realize that soul here in Genesis is simply alive. It is not similar to soul or spirit used much later. This is reflected in the more modern translations Gen 2:7 NIV the LORD God formed the man n from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.

I agree that the soul is not immortal but this does not come from Genesis.

WEDNESDAY October 18 The Woman in Adam's Life (Gen. 2:18-25)

Here's Adam, in a garden paradise, with rulership over the animals, with everything at his disposal except one tree (see Gen. 2:16, 17). And yet, still God has more for him.

What was God's purpose in giving woman to man? Gen. 2:18, 20.

What the lesson ignores here is that God after creating all the birds and animals male and female, He forgets to create a female for the man. Instead He searches through the animal world for a companion. Frankly again this does not sound like literal history. Instead it is a story to show the importance of the partnership between man and woman.

(Gen 2:18 NIV) The LORD God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him." (Gen 2:19 NIV) Now the LORD God had formed out of the ground all the beasts of the field and all the birds of the air. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. (Gen 2:20 NIV) So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds of the air and all the beasts of the field. But for Adam no suitable helper was found.

You can read the statistics for that impressive feat of naming all the animals in a single day at But it is hard to believe that God would not know about the need for a male and female of the human species before checking out all the animals.

THURSDAY October 19 Eve Becomes Adam's Wife (Gen. 2:23, 24)

God's ideal for marriage is expounded in this verse. When the time came to leave those closest to him, his parents, man's first earthly loyalty was to be to his wife. She was to occupy the foremost place in his affections. In God's order the union of bodies between husband and wife is to follow their commitment in marriage. The biblical order "leave . . . cleave . . . and they shall be one flesh" tragically and defiantly has been turned upside down, with tragic results.

One can’t help but notice that in this verse the subject is not particularly appropriate to the story but is appropriate to those of the later societies.

(Gen 2:22 NIV) Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. (Gen 2:23 NIV) The man said, "This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called 'woman, ' for she was taken out of man." (Gen 2:24 NIV) For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh. (Gen 2:25 NIV) The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.

Ribs of course are not very large bones and the creation of the woman was not really anymore dramatic then the creation of man out of the dust or mud (remember the name Adam also means red as in red mud). So why would Adam feel that this woman who was just created was from his bone. He was asleep then he awakes and knows exactly what God has done. More than that, he credits his own bone as being the basis of the woman’s existence. According to the story everything else was spoken into existence or formed from the dirt depending upon which part of the first two chapters. Then suddenly she is woman because she was taken from man. What is interesting is that all human beings actually come out of woman. Some what of a paradox that in the story the woman who begets all others comes from the man. Would Adam feel different toward the woman if she were created out of the dust like Adam? More likely both man and woman would feel equal, but with the story Adam takes the primary role as human and the integral part to the creation of the woman. In the story the Patriarchal system which would shortly be revealed as part of the curse is already set in place. As with the other elements in the story the point of the story is to identify the world that we see around us rather then the world of Eden.

This latter concept is the substance behind the creation story. For more information on this see Genesis in Symbol and Substance

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Is Violence Useful

I am bringing this over from the comments section of Spectrum Blog where Bob Rigsby writes:

Hi Ron:
Before I respond to your response, I must say I enjoy reading your blog also. You did some good work on this last quarter's lesson and I'd like to say it was appreciated here...

To this topic -- which strays away from the # of deaths in Iraq report...

It seems to me you have underlined the problem as I have tried to frame it. The exact point is that from our perspective of history, violence does "work". Historically, how could one not agree that violence has "worked". Violence always works though -- doesn't it? -- from the perspective of the "winners".

What interests me is the proposition that since it "works" for us, that God also makes it "work" for Himself.... Some have said that ALL of God's violence is not really His, but merely ours projected ON Him. How could we possibly prove or disprove THAT I wonder?

Selective violence DOES seem to work -- and to be the "right thing" -- in certain circumstances. But does the fact it "works" make it "right"? Or make it God's preferred method? Is it not conceivable that violence is so much a part of how we perceive the cosmos that we are incapable of imagining an ethic without it?

I'm asking here Ron -- I don't hear much rational discussion about this in Christian circles -- and certainly not Adventist ones. If you've any references to honest wrestlings with this issue do share please. DOES God solve His problems with violence? If He does, I am unable to envision how that violence does not engender fear.... And yet, as you say, violence DOES seem to "work" in various circumstances....

As an aside, it's easy to say torture is bad and never to be done. But the sad reality is that we live in a world where torture CAN be seen to "work" in certain circumstances. No less that Alan Dershowitz, in the LA Times yesterday, noted his own narrow allowances FOR torture, as he commented on Bill Clinton's "warming up to torture"...
So, I trust you take my quandry seriously here Ron: How have you dealt with it?? I am very aware that honest and sincere and intelligent minds handle this problem very differently....

There may be no answer to this problem but I will refer to a few elements using brief quotes from your post to focus attention upon what I will be dealing with.

Violence always works though -- doesn't it? -- from the perspective of the "winners".

That may seem to be the case though it may not actually be that way. For instance as fortune would have it as I work out at the gym I often listen to the teaching company lectures. Today I listened to a section on the early middle ages period focusing on Augustine of Hippo. Augustine was influenced by Ambrose who was very influential in that period even to the emperor. It seems there was a famous chariot racer in a certain city who got arrested for being a male prostitute. Being a sports hero the people did not like that and the rioted. Now the authorities did not like that kind of rebellion and so they went in and killed a bunch of the people. Ambrose said the emperor was wrong and if he did not do something to atone for the atrocity he would excommunicate the emperor, which he did. In the end Ambrose won though he likely thought he was going to be killed also. So the winner with violence may not be the winner in even the short term.

Is it not conceivable that violence is so much a part of how we perceive the cosmos that we are incapable of imagining an ethic without it?

I think violence and death are so much a part of human experience that we can’t even conceive of a world without either one of them. Another little tidbit from Augustine is where in talking about the Roman Empire he tells how if the things done by the Empire were done by one man he would be considered the most vile of criminals. But since it is done by a nation, a society of people and in the process sets up a system of justice it has beneficial qualities. In our society we live with this selective violence. In the community we enable our police to apply selective violence for the common safety. On the larger sense that is what the military does for our country. Without depending on God for miracles it would seem highly unlikely that any nation could survive without the use of a military and selective violence.

Now when is violence the right thing to do is an important question but the actual when is very debatable. For instance we may be able to agree that violence may be necessary to save an innocent child from an escaped murderer. Yet the question of when to actually act may never be certain because we don’t have the perfect knowledge of the actions that the murderer may take. As a nation we went through this with Iraq, 17 UN resolutions and the likelihood that they had weapons of mass destruction as reported by most all intelligence agencies in our country and around the world. The question of when to act will be debated. For instance if you say violence should be the last resort then you can always put off action for another day.

DOES God solve His problems with violence?

That is a really interesting question especially from the SDA perspective so often used called the Great Controversy. Here we are on earth in a world filled with sin and violence, is there a reason we are here? If there is a reason then God must in some ways use violence, even if it is only because at some point man screwed up. In the ultimate end shown in the book of Revelation which may be as symbolic as the first part of Genesis there is the presentation of the destruction of the wicked. It does not really matter how they meet their destruction whether it is through fire from God or just because they cannot live in the glorious presence of God the active agent is still God. As God does not have to be in their presence, apparently they could stand before God in the judgment so what is different after the judgment? Even if one believes like I do that in the end we get what we want, either to be with God or not to be with God; I doubt those who reject God desire to cease to exist. The consequences of their choice are equally effected by the actions of God. Of course our perceptions about the ultimate end may be completely wrong; it is hard to predict the future even when God lays out information on the subject. So that is not a very good method to gage God and violence. History would be more accurate.

Ultimately I deal with it by accepting that violence is necessary to deal with evil. Because evil uses violence and evil has to be resisted. It would be nice if you could talk evil out of it’s violence but it does not generally appear to work that way.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

God can use natural processess can't He

A worthy Contribution from Pastor Greg Brothers, be sure and check it out.

The Adult Sabbath School Class
Fragment of Archeteknos' "Dialogue with Siderohippos"

Archeteknos: And so we both agree that a workman may use tools in building his house?

Siderohippos: Certainly.

Archeteknos: Yet we still say it is the workman who built the house, and not the tools which have done so?

Siderohippos: Of course.

Archeteknos: Likewise, is it possible that God may have used certain tools in building this Universe?

Monday, October 16, 2006

Art and the Crusader's Flag

This last weekend I visited Walla Walla College. While there I noticed the piece of art displayed in the front of the church.

The Painting depicts the Resurrection, we see Jesus with wound marks rising above a casket like grave, holding the banner which appears to be a Crusader's flag and showing a soldier on each side asleep.

It is a nice piece of Art and the size is impressive as well as the talent of the artist. What bothers me about it is the Crusader's flag.

The most common reason today to avoid the crusader's flag is the offense that it seems to inspire among many Muslims. But I am not that politically correct to find that offensive, though it does surprise me that this is found on a college campus. As the Crusader's Cross is the source of Scandinavian Flags it is hard to disregard it for the sake of political correctness.
The flags of the Scandinavian countries, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, and the Faroe Islands, are all based on the Crusader's Cross. In each case the upright part of the cross is closer to the hoist than to the free end of the flag. Each of the flags uses a combination of the colors white, red, blue, and gold. All of the flags have their origin in the Dannebrog, the "Danish cloth" which goes back to the 13th century... In order from left to right they are: Iceland, Finland, Norway, Sweden, the Faroe Islands, Ă…land, and Denmark.
The Problem I have with the Crusader's flag is that the Crusades were a terrible misuse of Christianity. To imagine Jesus holding one of the Crusade banners just does not look right to me.

Another interesting element of the above art is the fact that Biblically the event of Christ arising and the soldiers falling back as if dead did not occur. In writing about this incident in reference to Matt. 28 the Expositor's Bible Commentary writes:
Too much speculative "theologizing" has accompanied some modern treatments of these verses. In particular there is nothing to suggest that the soldiers were in any sense pagan witnesses of the Resurrection. They neither heard the angel's words nor saw the risen Jesus; and they would shortly lie about what really had happened (vv. 11-15).
Adventist art on the other hand as I recall often depicts Jesus coming forth from the tomb and soldiers falling down, at least in our children's books.
Matthew 28:2-5 There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men. The angel said to the women, "Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Adam's Busy Day

Have you ever had a really busy day? Few of us would ever experience the busyness of Adam on the first day of his creation as he named the animals. For those like our Lesson Study guide for this quarter who take the account of the first chapters of Genesis literally, consider Adam's first day as according to our lesson study guide Genesis chapter 2 expands upon the events of chapter 1.

(Gen 2:18-22 NIV) The LORD God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him." Now the LORD God had formed out of the ground all the beasts of the field and all the birds of the air. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds of the air and all the beasts of the field. But for Adam no suitable helper was found. So the LORD God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man's ribs and closed up the place with flesh. Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.

Remember the Lesson Study guide said:

October 7:
The Bible, of course—particularly the first two chapters of Genesis—gives a completely different account of our origins: We're here only because a loving, benevolent Creator-God purposely created life on earth in a process that took six literal contiguous 24-hour days.

There are about 4260 species of mammals known on this planet at the moment, though taxonomists are still arguing. Mammals are not the most speciose animal group on the planet, three other groups of vertebrates out-number them at the moment, Reptiles 6787 species, Birds 9703 species and Fishes with approximately 28000 species. Invertebrates, of course, have groups with huge numbers of species that outnumber all the vertebrates put together; Molluscs 80 000 and Insects 1 000 000; while Arachnids with a mere 44 000 species still outnumber any 3 groups of vertebrates put together. Mammals however are big. You can see them easily, and perhaps most importantly you are one.--

4,629 Mammals according to http://earthtrends.

Lets use the lower number for our purposes today. 4260 separate species of mammals to name in one day. Since the Lesson guide has told us that this was accomplished in a 24 hour day. 1 day = 1,440 minutes, so if Adam was to name all the mammals he could get through about ¼ of them in a 24 hour period if he named each one in one minute. In a 24 hour day if he spent 15 seconds per animal he could just get through the day without taking any breaks.

However since we are literalists according to our lesson study guide he also had to name the birds. 9703 species of birds are still left to be named. Now there are twice as many birds as there are mammals so together they equal 13,963 which gives Adam about 6 seconds per animal and bird using his entire 24 hour day.

Now that is a busy day. But wait most scientists think that only 10% of the animals that have lived are still in existence. 90% of all animals are extinct. Which gives us a theoretical number of 139,630, Adam would have less then one second per name 1 day = 86,400 seconds. No doubt he would be ready for a rest after that. But of course now he has to meet the first woman. A big job for anyone's first day on the job, even bigger if it is your very first day of life!

Monday, October 09, 2006

Ambiguous or Unambiguous Beginnings Lesson #2

In the Beginning Lesson 2

What is the purpose of stories about the origin of life? Is the purpose to provide a literal account of the beginning which was seen by no human? When you read the ancient myths of origins does it seem that they are trying to recount a very literal record of events? Is the Bible’s Genesis account so different from other Eastern creation stories?

This is the second lesson of the quarterly but it has still not addressed the real foundation of Genesis. The story tells us in the Beginning God, and God created, but it does not talk about the how of creation as it cannot explain that which even today we can’t envision. So it speaks to us in simple language and simple sequence which divides creation into the commonly observed elements that make up our world.

Pretty much all religions and cultures have a creation story yet few of them have felt the need to hold to their story as literal historical truth. Many have the same characteristics as the Genesis account, water as chaos, gods creating and often talking animals, peaceful and then conflict. There are many internet sites with these creation stories and they are interesting yet again few hold them as literal.

So the question we must ask is what is the message of the story, none of the myths really sound very plausible to the modern mind though in primitive times it is likely that they were found to be very acceptable. For the Jew and Christian we need to look at the story and draw our lessons from it based upon what we know today as well as what our sacred Scripture says.

This is where the foundation is laid between the literalists and those who are not literalists about the story of Creation. If it is literal then for them as our lessons says

“If one is correct, the other has to be wrong. Even more so, the Bible offers no wiggle room for theistic evolution or any theories that seek to integrate a long evolutionary process with the work of God in creating life on earth, especially human life.”

If we stand by this then will faith and reason ever survive in Christianity. The Tuesday lesson says:

“Probably no aspect of the Creation story comes under more attack than the time frame it depicts for the creation of life on earth, culminating in Adam and Eve. Almost throughout the Christian world, where the Bible is supposedly held in high esteem, few accept the Genesis time frame as it reads, with its clear and unambiguous depiction of six literal 24-hour days of Creation. Apparently, evolution—a teaching that at its core denies everything that the Bible stands for and teaches—has made deep inroads even in the Christian community. Jesus once said, in reference to His second coming, "When the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?" (Luke 18:8). Unless there's a radical change, He certainly won't find much faith regarding the Bible's account of Creation, that's for sure.”

Our lesson sets up the Bible to fight against Science and reality. The Bible does not place itself in that position only the assumed literalism of the Genesis account sets up this conflict. Even with the lesson’s insistence upon an unambiguous Genesis story they are forced to accept evolution because clearly the plants and animals that exist today would not peacefully coexist. Lions and crocodiles clearly have teeth that are not meant to eat vegetation. We may assume that it was once not that way but we are left with what we see today. In general we can’t even picture a world without death and decomposition, the lesson writer thinks the story is unambiguous about the origin of death but it is not. Death as being the result of being in a world that has separated itself from God’s authority is presented to us, our present condition and the beginning of God’s plan to correct our human selfish characteristics are presented but how a world could exist without death and decomposition is not related.

The Lesson on one hand says that the Genesis account in unambiguous and then goes on to try and parse the word heaven so that we can allow for the much greater time frame found in the universe as a whole:

“When Genesis 1:1 says that God created heaven and earth, some believe that "heaven" here includes the entire universe. A study of the use of the word heaven in the rest of the chapter shows that's not what's meant.”

How unambiguous can the story be if some think heaven means the entire universe and the author things it is something else. Heaven has various meanings even earth has various meanings but perish the thought that any of this is ambiguous.

“Read carefully Genesis 1:4, 5. A simple reading of these two verses makes it clear that it is talking about a single day, as we understand a day—half light and half darkness, "day" and "night." These two elements, the text says, made up "the first day." These verses, then, are talking about the creation of the 24-hour period we use to mark off each single day. And this account ends with a formula that reads in Hebrew, "And there was evening and there was morning, day one."

Again, so certain that there is no ambiguity the author assumes the meaning of the day as half light and half darkness just as we understand a day. Yet those first days had no sun to give us half light per day. The first day gave the creation of light yet no one has a real idea of what that is talking about unless they assume the creation of the heavens and earth already includes the sun and stars and moon and the rest of the universe. If those are meant to be included then what about the later verses which specify the lesser and greater lights and the stars?

To answer the problem we don’t have to rewrite the Genesis account we have to move away from the literalistic days of creation view. We can view the story as more a mnemonic device, a way to teach a story about the power of God and his provision for mankind. The story groups the visible world into commonly understood divisions, birds, fish, plants and animals and the far less understood heavenly bodies of the sun moon and stars which had a permanence and could be used to navigate and tell seasons but were otherwise unknown lights in the sky. So lets review what we have really learned from the lesson this week:

Oct 10:“Genesis time frame as it reads, with its clear and unambiguous depiction of six literal 24-hour days of Creation.”

Oct 11:“God then brings forth dry land, and then upon the dry land there came vegetation, grass, herbs, trees (all of which needed land first in order to exist) "whose seed is in itself" (vss. 11, 12). This is followed by the presence of the sun and the moon and the visible stars (why these are depicted here, in this manner, in this part of the sequence, is one of those questions we'll probably have to wait to get answered in heaven)”

Apparently it will be clear and unambiguous when it is answered in heaven. For those who don’t want to wait that long the answer is staring us in the face and it is not literalism.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Proposal For Youth In Areas Without Adventist High Schools

This is a proposal I am giving to youth leaders in my area, perhaps it is an idea other areas may want to try.

It is often difficult for young people (or older people) to get to know other Adventist young people in their community. Youth in school together have a great advantage in getting to know other students particularly in smaller Schools such as Adventist Academies. However today it is often not possible or preferable to send a student away from the home to an Adventist school. Many areas with Adventist day schools will not have the ability to educate the high school youth. This leaves the Adventist church in such communities as the only resource to facilitate engagement between Adventist youth in the community.

Traditionally Sabbath School classes have been the only means used by local churches to deal with Adventist youth in their community. However Sabbath School classes are not sufficient to really acquaint the youth with each other to the level of friendships. Once a week for an hour of which much of the time is spent passively listening will not encourage the necessary friendships which young people need. Of course children who grew up together in the church or going to the same school will have developed friendships but to new people the Sabbath School classes are a slow way to develop relationships. More and more larger churches have developed youth groups which meet on days other then their worship day. This can lead to more quickly developed friendships and broader acquaintances.

What I am proposing is that local Adventists church band together to establish such a youth group that meets either weekly or biweekly for social activities. Youth from the Lacey, Olympia and Windworks churches youth could determine a particular day to meet and the activities which will inspire broader acquaintance between the youth. People often get to know each other quickly when involved in games which enable conversations during the games or by small discussion groups, Games such as Pictionary, Rook, Apples to Apples and various other card games could be used to help provide an entertaining evening which would also stimulate deeper relationships between our youth and provide them a place for entertaining themselves or inviting people they may know from their schools to participate without feeling like they are overtly trying to inflict their religion upon their friends.

Of course the keys to this working is going to be consistency and the involvement of the youth. It should not be about adults trying to entertain the youth. Once youth have a few friends they are quite capable of entertaining themselves. What we want to do is provide a safe and Christian environment for the youth and also provide them with the continuous opportunity of meeting and getting to know new people. For this to work we must get the youth to agree to come to the evenings (not all of them of course by try for at least 50%), to assist in planning the activities for the evenings and to be willing to mix with people other then they may already be familiar with.

The choice of a meeting time will likely be either a Saturday or Sunday evening as midweek often interferes with studies.

Part Two
For Leaders

Often the status quo is the highest authority for groups of people. In other words it is easier to do nothing different then to do something different. Doing something is a risk whereas doing nothing risks nothing, however when the risk of failure only puts the group back at the status quo then the risk is only found in the fear of failure. But we can’t deny that the fear exists and it exists for the young people also. We are asking them to change their habits and behaviors and we as leaders will also have to change our habits and behaviors. The benefits are huge however and not just for the young people but also for the leaders as they get to know the young people and also for the family’s of those involved getting to know each other better. As a church most of us know about the need for some close friends but as a church we provide in general nothing to enable friendships. Friendships are built over time and developed when people become acquainted and find commonalities that bring them closer. Occasional outings or potlucks however nice they may be when one has relationships within the church do not supply the familiarity that is needed to create real friends.

Of course for adults or families who already have many friends would be a valuable asset to the establishment of this type of program. As their natural skills could bring in more involvement as well as model the type of friendships we hope to encourage.

I am not going to go over the importance of acceptance by teens either among other teens or their families or their church. I assume most know about this already and are aware of the isolation which can cause so many problem for teenagers. In the past churches were not only central to the religion of a community but central to the social activities of the community. As communities have grown this old style of church relevance has been lost, but it could be returned though not for the larger community certainly for the particular denominational community and those within that church communities influence. This program is a step toward that goal.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

The Immaculate Conception: Can SDA's Read?

I have heard it so many times in sermons and on the Internet from Adventists who think the Immaculate Conception is about the birth of Christ. The following is from Stacie at

I recently heard a person ask, "But what about the immaculate conception? How on earth did God do that?" There are doctors and theologians and doctor/theologians who have some very vivid answers for such a a vivid question...

Maybe we are getting sidetracked by the question, "How did God become a baby?"...

In response to God becoming a harmless infant and then maturing into a man to show the world He is not to be feared brings to mind a comment made by author and speaker Ty Gibson, "What kind of God is this?"

From the Catholic Encyclopedia:

Immaculate Conception

In the Constitution Ineffabilis Deus of 8 December, 1854, Pius IX pronounced and defined that the Blessed Virgin Mary "in the first instance of her conception, by a singular privilege and grace granted by God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the human race, was preserved exempt from all stain of original sin."

The Virgin Birth of Jesus is not the same as the Immaculate Conception.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Church of England: Don't Use He When Referring To God

This is an interesting article abut the Church of England which thinks that the masculine use of He or Him or His in referring to God encourages domestic violence. Apparently only male domestic violence and apparently not so much related to alcohol abuse or inability to handle frustration the actual most common causes of domestic violence. No it is the Biblical use of the male descriptions of God, who while "He" is identified with both male and female characteristics is none the less never referred to as a human male. At least not until the incarnation in Jesus Christ, perhaps that will be the next politically correct Church of England perspective; Jesus was really a woman.

Anyway as one person I heard this morning said "taking advice from the European Church is like taking culinary instruction from Idi Amin."

Calling God a 'He' helps wife-beaters?

October 3, 2006 - 8:54PM

Church of England leaders have warned that calling God "He" encourages men to beat their wives, a British newspaper reported on Tuesday.

The Daily Mail said churchgoers had been told to think twice before referring to God as "He" or "Lord" because of dangers it could lead to domestic violence.

New guidelines for bishops and priests reportedly warn the clergy to reconsider the language they use in sermons and ensure the hymns they sing don't foster the oppression of women.

The guidelines, entitled Responding to Domestic Abuse, advise that Biblical violence "in combination with uncritical use of masculine imagery, can validate overbearing and ultimately violent patterns of behaviour", The Daily Mail said.

Plymouth vicar Rod Thomas, a spokesman for the evangelical Reform movement, said according to The Bible, God has female and male characteristics, but it was not inhibited about referring to God as male.

"There is a danger that this document has veered too much towards political correctness," he told the paper.

© 2006 AAP

Monday, October 02, 2006

Is The Judgment Hour About The Sabbath?

We often don’t realize the extent to which our doctrines have changed our entire perspective of what the Bible says. In my Sabbath School class last Saturday the teacher sought to explain the relevance of the Judgment today by quoting Revelation 14

Rev 14:6-7
Then I saw another angel flying in midair, and he had the eternal gospel to proclaim to those who live on the earth-- to every nation, tribe, language and people. He said in a loud voice, "Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come. Worship him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea and the springs of water." (NIV)

To our teacher through this text the significance of the judgment was that it called the world to the Sabbath. Thus the SDA church through the judgment hour message was calling people to worship the creator God upon the seventh day. His statement was that in the beginning God’s people kept the Sabbath and at the end they would keep the Sabbath.

Through the SDA tradition of linking these verses with the Investigative/preadvent Judgment our teacher determined that this verse in Revelation had no application until 1844 or sometime shortly after. Of course they were not seventh day Sabbath keepers at the time of 1844 and only gradually did that catch on and even then it was the result of Millerites who were acquainted with Seventh day Baptists who started in the 1600’s.

But when a person has bought into the SDA connections of verses however tenuous they may be in fact, in their mind they are solid connections. The idea that these verses could have had significance for the last 2000 years does not enter the mind of many SDA’s, their novel view of 1844 over rules all other meaning.

Even the idea of creation which is used in Revelation is by many SDA’s connected to the Sabbath rather then the more applicable meaning of God the author of creation. Once again SDA traditions take over. Even though the Sabbath commandment mentions nothing about worship its use of the phrase about heavens and earth and seas is used as the connection to Sabbath. Whereas other uses in the Old Testament indicate much better the idea of worship of the creator though they don’t deal at all with the Sabbath. For examples:

Psalms 96:11-12 Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let the sea resound, and all that is in it; let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them. Then all the trees of the forest will sing for joy;

Neh 9:6 You alone are the LORD. You made the heavens, even the highest heavens, and all their starry host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. You give life to everything, and the multitudes of heaven worship you.

Jonah 1:9 He answered, "I am a Hebrew and I worship the LORD, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the land."

Amos 9:6 he who builds his lofty palace n in the heavens and sets its foundation n on the earth, who calls for the waters of the sea and pours them out over the face of the land-- the LORD is his name.

Rev. 10:6 And he swore by him who lives for ever and ever, who created the heavens and all that is in them, the earth and all that is in it, and the sea and all that is in it, and said, "There will be no more delay!

Clearly the concept here is not the Sabbath but the creator who is worthy of worship.

So now let’s look at the 3 angel’s message as follows beyond Adventist tradition:

Rev 14:6-7
Then I saw another angel flying in midair, and he had the eternal gospel to proclaim to those who live on the earth-- to every nation, tribe, language and people. He said in a loud voice, "Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come. Worship him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea and the springs of water." (NIV)

What is the judgment spoken of in this verse. It has since the great commission been the mission to proclaim the eternal gospel. (The love of God, salvation) Acknowledging that love would cause people to give Glory to God and respect Him and worship Him. So why does it say "because the hour of his judgment has come" as the reason for worship?

The answers given by most SDA's will through force of tradition have something to do with the investigative judgment. The problem is that under neither interpretation used in SDA circles does the investigative judgment cause one to come and worship God.

The 2 interpretations:
1. For example Uriah Smith says in Daniel and the Revelation (old interpretation):

..."In 1844 the days ended. Since that time the final work for man's salvation has been going forward. This work involves an examination of every man's character, for it consists in the remission of the sins of those who shall be found worthy to have them remitted, and determines who among the dead shall be raised. It decides who among the living shall be changed at the coming of the Lord, and who of both dead and living shall be left to have their part in the fearful scenes of the second death. All can see that such a decision as this must be rendered before the Lord appears." (p. 220)

2. The book SDA's believe... says (newer interpretation):
"Why then a pre-Advent investigative judgment? This judgment is not for the benefit of the Godhead. It is primarily for the benefit of the universe, answering the charges of Satan and giving assurance to the unfallen creation that God will allow into His kingdom only those who truly have been converted. So God opens the books of record for impartial inspection. (Dan. 7:9'10) (Seventh-day Adventists Believe... p.325)

A better answer however is that it is the judgment mentioned in John's other book. Notice the activities below that could cause people to come and worship God:

John 16:7-13
But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment: in regard to sin, because men do not believe in me; in regard to righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; and in regard to judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned. "I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. (NIV)

To abbreviate: convicted of sin because we did not trust God (believe in Christ)
Convinced of righteousness as Christ shows the truth of what He said, His love, His life, death and resurrection, and return to heaven.

Through judgment the devil stands condemned.

So let's now paraphrase Rev 14:7 He said in a loud voice, "Fear God and give him glory, because the Devil now stands condemned. Worship him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea and the springs of water." (RON)

For those who do not like to blame everything on the devil it could be: He said in a loud voice, "Fear God and give him glory, because the selfish rebellion has been proved without grounds... Worship him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea and the springs of water." (PRON)

The next angel messages amount too:

Rev 14:8-10 A second angel followed and said, "Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great, which made all the nations drink the maddening wine of her adulteries." ---All organization and philosophies founded upon rebellion are worthless and harmful. They have no truth.

Rev. 14:9, 10
A third angel followed them and said in a loud voice: "If anyone worships the beast and his image and receives his mark on the forehead or on the hand, he, too, will drink of the wine of God's fury, which has been poured full strength into the cup of his wrath. He will be tormented with burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb. (NIV) ----Those who reject God and worship false gods or worthless philosophies by their thoughts and actions shall receive the wrath of God. Complete and final loss of life, separation from the source of all life.

This is not last generation information; the Followers (worshipers) of Christ have been persecuted since the apostle’s time. We can never forget the terrible persecution which the early church endured, and the blessing, the assurance of victory which the book Revelation has given to all Christians through all time and all without the need for 1844.