Adventist Media Response and Conversation

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Lesson 5 Ecclesiastes 4 More Life Under the Sun

Lesson 5 Ecclesiastes 4.More Life Under the Sun

Once again the lesson begins with its defective assumption that this book is about life without God.

Solomon is, again, looking at life from a worldly perspective, from "under the sun." These words, though, are somewhat interesting when you consider who is writing them: the king himself. It would be one thing if a slave were bemoaning his fate at the hands of his or her masters or if a poor person were lamenting his or her fate under the oppression of the rich. But in this case, you have the richest and most powerful leader in the nation complaining about injustice and oppression.

Solomon is looking at the world from the perspective of reality. It is not the promised reality of God we read about in the New Testament but it is the reality of life at his time and under his nation which was the established product of God. What is brilliant about this book is that it reflects life, not just life of the oppressed or life of the well to do. Justice in the world that we all live in is often not seen; even in nations with such high standards as ours justice can still be stolen and abused or lost to mere random chance.

One of the rare times the lesson seems to catch the philosophical meaning of the book is when they write under the heading "Is Life Worth It":

The answer, ultimately, depends upon your view of what the meaning of life is. If one takes the position that our life here is capped and culminated at death and that nothing comes after, you will have one view. If you believe that this life is only a temporary stop on the way to something better, something eternal, then you will have another view. Thus, in many ways, the answer to the question Is life worth it? depends, ironically enough, on the question.

The questions are the key, and the questions are the substance behind the poetry of this book. At that time the Jewish religion did not have the answers to his questions but it is hard to imagine that those questions did not create in others a desire for answers. And this is crucial to our understanding of and interpretation of the books of the Bible.

In the first chapter of Sam Harris’ book The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason he decries the God of the Old Testament by quoting the following verses from Deuteronomy. 13:1-5 If a prophet, or one who foretells by dreams, appears among you and announces to you a miraculous sign or wonder, 2 and if the sign or wonder of which he has spoken takes place, and he says, "Let us follow other gods" (gods you have not known) "and let us worship them," 3 you must not listen to the words of that prophet or dreamer. The LORD your God is testing you to find out whether you love him with all your heart and with all your soul. 4 It is the LORD your God you must follow, and him you must revere. Keep his commands and obey him; serve him and hold fast to him. 5 That prophet or dreamer must be put to death, because he preached rebellion against the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt and redeemed you from the land of slavery; he has tried to turn you from the way the LORD your God commanded you to follow. You must purge the evil from among you.

His supposition was what if your son came home from yoga class with a Hindu view of God. The question is a good one even though most of his other beginning suppositions are not so good. There is a tradition in Christianity which assumes the Bible is infallible and inerrant and the tradition also holds that the Bible itself makes the claim to being infallible and inerrant. Now Sam Harris is unable to supply from the Bible that claim but he is able to cite Gallup poll numbers which indicate that it is the major perspective among Christians. Harris uses that presupposition for what follows in his book and his denigration of Christianity and his equation of Christianity with all other religions and it being as dangerous as Islam and the Islamic wars so common in the last 20 years. It is a fatal flaw in his book and it is a fatal flaw in Christian tradition.

The Bible books do not represent eternal truth for all time they indicate an advance in the knowledge of God and man. The books of the Bible present a progression of thought. The God is the same but the way man viewed God was constantly changing. The Genesis story of Eden shows sin was the responsibility of man because he would not obey God; it knew nothing of an evil being, no devil, no Satan, no messiah and no resurrection. You obey God or you would die. This is the world of the Jewish religion that Solomon saw and Solomon was not satisfied with the answers of his day. Why should God be concerned at all about us if after our brief lives we simply die never to be remembered? What is the point of justice or no justice if it all ends the same?

Unless we take the time to understand the interplay of culture, knowledge and the understanding of the times we will be subject to the criticisms in Harris’ book. If Deuteronomy 13 is the infallible Word of God then we are left with the cruel God who destroys those who don’t follow Him or even know about Him. But we don’t have to cling to the traditions of men laid upon the Bible. We can look for the principles that may apply or we can look at the historical application. The lesson of history does not have to be the lesson for today. They may be or they may not be. Inspiration is not dependent upon the idea of straight forward instructions, even if the instruction for one time and culture may have been straight forward. A simple example is the eternal covenant of circumcision in the Old Testament, yet Paul clearly saw that the act was no longer necessary. That is the nature of progressive revelation, there is a lesson there, the history is still there and in some ways even the principle involved may still be there. But the specific instruction is no longer relevant.

The relevance is and has always been based upon man’s ability to reason through the evidence and information. The New Testament and even some parts of the Old Testament indicate that God does not leave us alone in this process of reasoning. It is that faith in the transcendence of God that frightens Harris, because we may have a hard time knowing when or if God is helping our reason. Yet that faith is still superior to the Atheist faith in human reason alone. However subjective the above view is about the Atheist and reason it is no more subjective then Harris’ subjective denigration of religion, because all of the flaws of religions are also the flaws of human reasoning without religion.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Future of Forestry Music Review

This is easy, I completely agree with the review in Christianity Today online, a Great CD 4.5 stars

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Ecclesiastes 3 Of Being and Time

Ecclesiastes chapter 3 Of Being and Time

I went to a restaurant that serves "breakfast at any time." So I ordered French Toast during the Renaissance. – Steven Wright

After the last two weeks trying to impress upon people the importance of reading Ecclesiastes for what it says and seeing what the implications were to the establishment of Jewish religious philosophy in the following years I will deal with the Lesson Study Guides views also. Which is kind of hard because they seem to want to read the book as that of a depressed man who is depressed because of his wasted life. So instead of thinking of the philosophical implications they want to use the subjects tangentially mentioned in Ecclesiastes as jumping off points to talk about other things mentioned later in the Bible. So as the lesson says:

The Lesson states:

Heavy themes for just one chapter. But, as we've been saying all along, they can be understood only through looking at these verses in the context of all Scripture, which has much to say on these crucial topics.

I am sure Solomon would have loved to have had the rest of the Bible to help him deal with those heavy themes. Yet we should not ignore that it is he that introduces us to those themes which lead to the progressive religion that we have today.

The Lesson states:

As nature shows, the Lord is in control of time. As Adventists, people who are particularly interested in prophecy, this comes as no surprise. After all, many of the prophecies that have helped us understand our identity and mission as a movement are tied in with time.

Review the following time prophecies that have meant so much to us as a people, prophecies that have been fulfilled (Dan. 7:25, 8:14, 9:24-27, Rev. 12:14). What do these prophecies tell us about the power and sovereignty of God over human affairs?

Having just gone through a quarter where many in the Adventist church have just gone over those so called time prophecies and found them to be without much merit. The leadership of the church still assumes that their peculiar interpretations which are far different from the rest of Christianity tell us more about the sovereignty of God. The idea of time being the take off point from, “to everything there is a season” of Ecclesiastes 3. I suppose the incorporation of the verse in Rev 12 must mean something but I am not sure what Revelation 12:14 (New International Version)

14 The woman was given the two wings of a great eagle, so that she might fly to the place prepared for her in the desert, where she would be taken care of for a time, times and half a time, out of the serpent's reach.

The lesson then lists some verses that talk about God doing things at the time He determined, e.g. the fullness of time. So aside from the lesson’s thoughts about time prophecies what this tells us is that God acts in the realm of humanity and as such acts within our understanding of Time. There is quite a difference between our time to be born and die to plant and reap with the time to have a relationship with God. God is not in the seasonal time frame, the time is always now for God.

When the lesson discusses the verse about eternity in our hearts it once again misses the philosophy of the writer of Ecclesiastes. Ecclesiastes 3:11-13 (New International Version)

11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end. 12 I know that there is nothing better for men than to be happy and do good while they live. 13 That everyone may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all his toil—this is the gift of God.

The Lesson states:

As we'll see in Thursday's lesson, humans and animals alike have a common destiny "under the sun." We—along with goats, alligators, and weasels—die. The difference, though, is that God has put eternity in our hearts. As humans we can conceive of an existence beyond us; we realize that though we die, time will go on, even for eternity, while we are left behind. Thus, every day of our lives we are confronted with death, and this causes us worry, fear, and a sense of incompleteness. Which is how it should be; we shouldn't be content with, or indifferent to, our fate, because we were never meant to die. Death is an intruder, the work of Satan (Heb. 2:14, 1 John 3:8). That's one reason why, in the end, all physical enjoyments are so hollow, empty, such hebel—they can't answer the reality of death, which is always lurking over our shoulder and never farther than a heartbeat away.

The author of Ecclesiastes is very likely attempting to spur thought in the reader, that there is more to life then their religion has portrayed. There is a God of Eternity who has put in our hearts a desire for eternity. If man had not been created to die then eternity was once the plan for man and God’s plan should somehow retrieve that concept. But just like most of the other books of the Bible inspiration is not presented in a straight forward way as if God was speaking and telling us how God or mankind works. It is a discovery process; it is a challenge to our thinking.

Just as Solomon had no idea of a resurrection to eternal life he also had no idea that Satan was the cause of death. That was not in the story of Genesis, disobedience brought death. But it seems very likely that Solomon had more ideas in his mind then to settle for the status quo of the Jewish religion at that time.

20 All go to the same place; all come from dust, and to dust all return. 21 Who knows if the spirit of man rises upward and if the spirit of the animal goes down into the earth?"

Solomon is encouraging thoughts that may be far different from the customary thinking of his time. Even when he speaks of justice he acknowledges the corrupt nature of authorities who should be practicing justice but are not, here he is similar to the later prophets of the Old Testament. In the world Justice is perverted, so where is God? Once again as he ends the chapter we see him ask the question: For who can bring him to see what will happen after him? (22b)

With eternity in his heart, and a God who makes things that last forever, Solomon asks who can know what happens after a man dies or where the spirit of a man or animal goes.

Clearly this book is not the poetry of a depressed man who merely wants to tell us how he has wasted his life.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

The following is a comment from the blog

I liked what he had to say, until the last two paragraphs which actually destroyed his own argument but you can go to the above link to see what he said and my response to it. [J. David Newman is senior pastor of New Hope Seventh-day Adventist Church in Fulton, Maryland]

Comment from J David Newman
Time: January 23, 2007, 12:23 pm

The question of the inspiration and relevancy of the bible is a hot topic. Here is how I deal with it. Please take the following quiz to get started then look at my comments afterwards.

When you read the Bible how do you approach it? How do you decide what to practice and what to discard? Take the following quiz and see how you come out. Look at what to do next at end of the 20 commands.
Write a “T” (today) beside each of the following statements that you believe should still apply to Seventh-day Adventists today.
Place a “NT” (not today) beside each statement that you believe no longer applies today. Do not answer according to what is practiced today but what you think the practice should be.

1. Whoever curses his father or mother shall be put to death (Exodus 21:17).
2. You may eat all you want from your neighbor’s vineyard [garden] as long as you don’t carry any produce away in a container (Deut. 23:24).
3. If a woman bear a male she shall be unclean seven days, but if a female she shall be unclean two weeks. If she bears a male she must wait 33 days to be purified from her bleeding but if a female 66 days (Lev.12:1-5).
4. He whose testicles are crushed or whose male member is cut off shall not enter the assembly of the Lord (Deut. 23:1, NIV).
5. Do not eat any meat with the blood still in it (Lev. 19:26).
6. Do not cut the hair at the sides of your head or clip off the edges of your beard (Lev. 19:27).
7. Do not degrade your daughter by making her a prostitute (Lev. 19:29).
8. Rise in the presence of the aged, show respect for the elderly and revere your God (Lev. 19:32).
9. When a man is newly married, he shall not go out with the army or be charged with any related duty. He shall be free at home one year, to be happy with the wife whom he has married (Deut. 24:5).
10. If men get into a fight with one another, and the wife of one intervenes to rescue her husband from the grip of his opponent by reaching out and seizing his genitals, you shall cut off her hand; show no pity (Deut. 25:11, 12, NIV).
11. “But the priests (ministers) . . . are to wear linen clothes; they must not wear any woolen garment . . . they must not wear anything that makes them perspire” (Ezek. 44:15, 17, 18).
12. When you fast put oil on your head and wash your face (Matt. 6:17).
13. Men everywhere should raise their hands in prayer (1 Tim. 2:8).
14. Women should dress modestly, with decency and propriety, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes (1 Tim. 2:9).
15. A woman must not teach or have authority over a man; she must be silent (1 Tim. 2:12).
16. The church elder must not be given to much wine (1 Tim. 3:2).
17. Provide for widows over sixty who have been faithful to their husbands but do not help those under sixty (1 Tim. 5:9-11).
18. Greet everyone with a holy kiss (Rom. 16:16; 1 Cor. 16:20; 2 Cor. 13:12; 1 Thess. 5:26; 1 Peter 5:14).
19. Women must cover their heads when they pray (1 Cor. 11:5, 13, 15).
20. If your right hand causes you to sin cut it off (Matt. 5:30).

Each of these commands is a result of a principle. Principles are universal truths stated in abstract language and are non specific. The Bible was written in a specific cultural context and we must first study the culture and determine the principle which led to the specific command. Principles are timeless whereas application is local and often time related.

Long Court Case

This Struck me as funny:

Payout over church ban

THE Seventh-Day Adventist Church has been ordered to pay $20,000 for defaming a couple it banned from its congregation.

But Sydney and Deanne Plenty's claims for compensation for emotional distress over their expulsion were rejected by the Supreme Court. The decision brought to a close what is understood to be Australia's longest-running civil court case.

The Napperby couple sued the church after they were "disfellowshipped" from the Port Pirie congregation in 1979.

Their case began in the Supreme Court in 1982.

Church president Pastor Garry Hodgkin said the church was pleased the case had "come to finality".

He said the church would respect the ruling and the couple would be reinstated in the congregation.

Mr Plenty yesterday declined to comment on the case.

The court heard the church expelled the couple because of alleged disorderly conduct and their attitude towards those in authority.

Mrs Plenty, who was superintendent of the Adult Sabbath School, fell out with her predecessor over an order she had been given about which door her students could use.

About the same time, Mr Plenty was charged with assault after he allegedly hit a police officer who tried to serve a summons on one of their children on their farm in 1978.

He appealed against the assault conviction and the High Court overturned it.

Justice Kevin Duggan awarded Mr and Mrs Plenty $10,000 each over a defamatory letter the church wrote in 1980 detailing why they were expelled

Reminds me of the quote: "I would never want to belong to a group that would have me as a member".

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Review Trading Yesterday, The Beauty & The Tragedy

The Beauty & The Tragedy Trading Yesterday

Trading Yesterday is a new group that is fronted by the former keyboardist for Evanescence David Hodges. His group has opened for Chris Tomlin and Hodges recently produced Charlie Hall’s latest CD. Making this CD a very polished and musically appealing CD. The sound is similar to Jars of Clay, though musically the work is far more consistent then Jars of Clay. Like Jars of Clay Trading Yesterday has sort of an acoustic alternative feel to their music.

This is another group that has a positive thoughtful message to their songs but the Christian perspective is read into the background of the music. So it does not rate the 4 stars out of five that I would typically give to either Charlie Hall or Chris Tomlin. When the Christian message is in the forefront I give the artist an additional star. It is a suppositional bias I have in my ratings. While this CD is musically much more pleasant listening then Decemberadio it also only has a couple of good quality Christian songs as did Decemberadio’s recent CD. Though certainly the Christianity is not overt.

The Beauty & The Tragedy’s best tracks are the first couple of songs, One Day and the title track which ends with its refrain, For I am finding out that love will kill and save me: And World On Fire.

Lyrics sample from One Day:

If I could change the currents of our lives / To make the river flow where it's run dry / To be a prodigal of father time / Then I would see you tonight

If I could find the years that went away / Destroying all the cruelty of fate / I must believe that love could find a way / Tonight

Lonely finds me / One day you will come / But I'll wait for love's sake /One day to me, love

3 out of 5 stars.Click on the CD cover art above to listen to their music samples and ordering information.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Sarah Kelly "Where the Past Meets Today"

CD Review Sarah Kelly Where the Past Meets Today

Sounds like … classic rock ballads with a voice that's part Janis Joplin and Grace Slick, part Alanis Morissette and Jennifer Knapp, and part Rita Springer.

At a glance … Sarah Kelly has a great rock vocal and an appealing classic rock style with honest lyrics, but most all of the songs are saddled with generic encouragement and the same slow rock ballad style.

That was what was stumping me in beginning this review…what does she sound like. My analogy would be Bonnie Tyler without the Jim Steinman arrangements of songs. But it is the power of her voice which immediately grabs your attention. It is a voice that fits her rock ballad style. It is an impressive sound.

The Lyrics are generically Christian and hopeful. This means that to many people they would not really know that this is Christian music. Positive music with Christian undertones would be my way of describing this CD.

While I really like the sound and the lyrics are deep enough to be challenging from songs of love to the search for truth I have to give it the same rating as Christianity Today, 3 out of 5 stars. I want deeper lyrics in my Christian music so that even though I am tempted to give it 4 stars for the music as being something far different from what most Christian music is today I have to refrain because of the lyrical content. That balance between outstanding music and outstanding lyrics, if my daughter is any example this will be a hit with teenage girls.

I recently found out that offers a free preview service of over 2 million songs. It is a simple registration process and I will start using links to it on my music reviews. Sarah Kelly has samples of her music on her website but I will also place the Napster link to see how it works. Also you can sample her music at Christian Book Distributers.

Be Sure to turn off your pop up blocker (or hold down the ctrl key)then click the link below.
The Beauty Of It All

Ecclesiastes 2, What is life

The Spectrum Commentary on the Sabbath School lesson by Grenville Kent states:

n Useless Beauty: Ecclesiastes through the Lens of Contemporary Film, Robert K. Johnston finds similar themes in films like American Beauty, a tragicomic exposé of contemporary hebel: "We used to be happy."7 The film depicts a plastic bag dancing randomly on air currents, a similar motif to "chasing the wind" in Ecclesiastes. Yet the film softens the punch by having the main character narrate the story from a universalistic afterlife, whereas Ecclesiastes stares honestly down the barrel of death (2:12–17).

If death is the last word, then all work and achievement are as lasting as ice sculptures, the happiest story ends with tragedy, and the wisest life is trumped by non-existence (2:17–23). Against such crushing loss and nihilism, Solomon wheels on a solution: Knowing God can bring satisfaction to ordinary life (2:24–26). This is not yet a complete solution or grand dogmatic philosophy, but an experiential finding, humbly expressed. (This type of experiential, inductive reasoning is brilliant contemporary witnessing strategy).

What is life if this is all there is? That is the question that the writer of Ecclesiastes submits. Contrary to how many want to view this poetry the focus is not everything is valueless without spirituality. No, spirituality is barely a blimp on the screen in Ecclesiastes. Yet throughout the lesson studies this quarter I am sure they will always try to assert the ending of Ecclesiastes.

12:13 Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.

Because we don't like to think about what the early world was like when man lived and died and the best he could hope for was to be buried in the land of his ancestors. A home that was the best the world had to offer and that home was being offered by God. Yet here Solomon and his people had the home and it was secure and he saw that our temporary life is insignificant and full of trouble. Solomon was looking for a better world who' s builder was God but he did not know about it, even with his continuing wisdom he did not see another world and another life and a rest from the insignificance and trouble of life under the sun.

Often we will hear people talk about how even if the afterlife of Christianity was a myth that it would still be the way to live your life. I can't agree with that because if I knew those things were untrue and I treated them as true I would be deceiving others or lying to others. Christianity cannot survive without the supernatural perspective of life after death. Solomon knew nothing of life after death so when he reached the end he merely states to obey God because that is man's duty. In other words yes it is pointless but God is going to judge your actions so obey God. Presumably because if you obey God, God will make your life easier. Or the final verse begins the new era in understanding God and life, that God can provide for life after death. The seed of a new philosophy is planted in the dreadful reality of our own meaningless existence.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Ecclesiastes Chapter 1 Lesson study

This is probably already too late but there is something the Lesson study guide really missed in the discussion of the book of Ecclesiastes. That is that this book represents a huge change in the philosophy of the Jewish religion. Like the other wisdom literature of the time, the book of Job the book of Ecclesiastes is looking at the tremendous question of what is life and man's purpose on earth. Job asks why is there suffering and receives no simple answer but through the book various ideas are discussed. Ecclesiastes offers no solutions to it's questions either but both these books likely set in motion the search for a philosophy of man and God that we see today.

The writer of Ecclesiastes had no idea of an afterlife, so his premises are correct. If we are just here for a season then fade away what is the point. The idea of keeping the species alive through procreation does nothing to soothe the philosophical questions. If there is a God and He wants you to serve Him why even serve for the brief lifespan? Is that all an almighty God wants who according to the stories has preserved and saved and brought up the nation and made it powerful. The answer must be more than they have seen so far. There must be more. With time we will see that there is indeed more and that there is more than just life here and now.

Ecclesiastes is a step in the growth of understanding, but a far larger step then most other books even though it can not answer it's own questions. It is the focus of answers yet to come. Yet that is entirely ignored by our lesson study guide, who once again fail us the SDA church so miserably.

Monday, January 08, 2007

The Hour of His Judgment

There is in the SDA church a group of people that think that the famous Adventist phrase from Revelation which says "the hour of His judgment has come" is supposedly saying that the time for the universe to judge God has come. Rather then the more commonly held belief that it is a reference to God judging the world, or even the traditional though clearly wrong view that the hour of his judgment refers to the Investigative Judgment.

I noticed this as one of the comments during the last week's lesson study of Jonathan Gallagher's class. It is also a frequent idea over at

I have dealt with this idea before here in reference to an article in the Pacific Union Recorder by Clifford Goldstein. The following is an article from the Dialogue website which in a more creative way points out the seriously flawed notion that is found in the idea of our judging God.
God on trial? by E. Edward Zinke

Suddenly someone steps onto the stage. A distinguished man attempts to hush the crowd. Napoleon,1 the famous general and former emperor of France, takes several steps forward. “We are here,” he asserts, “ for a very important occasion. This is not the trial of the year or decade, or even of the millennium. This is the trial of the ages—the trial of God. We would like to know if He is worthy to be God. We will examine His actions to determine whether or not He has acted wisely, whether He has preserved liberty and peace, whether He has acted in love and with justice.

“Our first task will be to determine what truth is so that we can have a basis for judging God. We will extrapolate principles of truth from our study of nature, history, and interpersonal relationships —the principles by which the universe operates. Then will come the time for the truth about God. If He abides by these universal principles, then we can make a rational judgment in His favor, and the universe can safely worship Him.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

An Official? Response to the Traditional SDA letter

Abundant Rest Blog has posted an answer from James Cress of the Ministerial Association to the recent Letter by a critical Traditional SDA writer to the Conference.

James Cress Responds to Adventist Issues Letter

In the second paragraph of the letter James Cress states:

First, you have lodged some serious complaints against the church in general on a vast variety of topics. Some of these are, indeed, serious and should be carefully considered in that context. Others of these are frivolous or matters of personal opinion and do not merit consideration of the same level of importance as those which are of importance.

Cress’ response is very diplomatic and tries to explain the church’s stand on fundamental beliefs but the letter does not respond to what he says in the above statement are serious topics. Not surprising as it is doubtful he or anyone else has the ability to address those concerns let alone the frivolous concerns which were the majority of the original letter. The few topics which might be considered serious are:

20. Changing our beliefs and standards through errors in the Sabbath school quarterlies.

27. Confusion over the 144,000, the nature of Christ, and the trinity (The trinity is a Roman Catholic teaching).

33. Promoting books of a “new order” such as those written by Morris Venden, and others. And just as washing his hands before the people did not cleanse Pilot from the blood of Jesus, placing a disclaimer in the front of new books does not remove responsibility from our printing establishments of producing sound, truth-filled literature.

Several times on this blog I have mentioned the lack of Biblical exposition used in the Lesson Study Guides. Far too often the guides merely package Adventist traditions into the guides.

There is very much confusion over the 144,000 as it is from a very symbolic book and there seems to be at least in the traditional SDA world an assumption that they know the answer to all theological questions. As the letter writers own words show, they don’t. The same is true over the nature of Christ. This is not a question in most of Christianity; it is mainly in the SDA church that even the concept that Jesus had a post fall nature exists. The problem is easily solved by Biblical exposition that shows that Jesus is indeed God and therefore as God He is God, whatever his human side may be it will always be under the control of the divine nature.

The Trinity is in fact the major problem for those who hold to certain Traditional SDA views. They want to hold to the semi-Arian view which makes Jesus subservient to God as well as being a creation of God at some point in the distant past. This is why they can still debate the nature of Christ, because they can’t accept the Biblical divinity of Christ. The Trinity is not an easy concept but for most people it is the best they can do and it is a far better understanding then the other alternatives; Arianism, Semi-Arianism and Tri Theism. In my view not quite as good as modalism which sees God as revealed in different ways for different functions. Unfortunately like the Trinitarian view it can be subject to misunderstandings such as limiting God to one mode at a time. Understanding an Infinite God is not well done by those who can’t grasp the infinite but we can do our best. Understanding God as manifest in Christ however is not so difficult.

Morris Venden seems to be a favorite whipping boy of Traditional SDA’s and I am not sure why he over other prominent SDA authors is so despised. I would guess it is because even with his trend toward Traditionalism and his view that Ellen White is a divine interpreter of Scriptures he holds to righteousness by faith for salvation. Good works as a result of that salvation rather then a requirement for salvation.

The church however does support publishing of poor material such as the Clear Word and the church does tend to greatly restrict what kind of material it will publish. Forcing many authors to go to other publishers for publication; such as the new book Understanding Genesis: Contemporary Adventist Perspectives. Since the church has such a restricted publishing policy it is naturally assumed that what they do publish in their publishing houses has the approval of the church in general. The churches publishing practices need to be seriously reconsidered.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Music Review: Decemberadio

As a new feature on this blog I will be reviewing some contemporary Christian music CD’s. In the main they will probably be CD’s that I rather like since if I don’t like the CD after listening to a few segments I will leave it alone. It is always difficult to know what the tastes of a musical reviewer happens to be. For instance, a fan of Rap or Hip Hop music will not likely care about any of my reviews and I would likely not even review that genre of music since I don’t like it. To help the reader understand my tastes in music which will always have an impact upon my reviews I will at the top of each review offer my top 5 Christian and Secular artists. I was going to try and roughly equate the Christian artists to the secular artists if there are similarities, for example the Beatles with PFR (Pray for Rain), naturally there are still going to be significant differences but when I got to the second one on my list I realized that this does not work. For instance Delirious? has its own sound some draw comparisons to U2 but that is really a poor comparison, the similarity is more in the guitars but the singing is entirely different. Another on my list would be Matt Redman, who is more similar to Delirious? then anything in the secular world. The list will be posted anyway and we will see if it is helpful or not.

Beatles -----------------------------------PFR


Cat Stevens------------------------------Benny Hester

Moody Blues----------------------- ----- Matt Redman

James Blunt------------------------------David Crowder

Decemberadio is a new group with a current song often heard on the CCM stations. According to their website the current song Drifter is # 3 on the R&R charts. The website plays some of their songs beginning with Drifter then it moves on to what they sound like over most of the CD. The 3 slower songs on the CD are the best songs. In my opinion the rest are throw a ways. Having first heard Drifter on the radio I was very hopeful for the prospects of this CD. But I was very disappointed.

One Reviewer compared the group to the arena rock of Kansas. Which is probably not that far off, occasional memorable songs and lots of filler. I won’t try to describe the music much more since they have placed their songs on the website it is easy for a person to give it a listen. The 3 songs I would recommend are Drifter, Alright my Friend and Least of These. The Least of these is probably their best though they tack on a hidden track which is not worth anything so though the song is 7 minutes long at least 3 of that is material no one will care to listen to. You can get the CD or downloads at

Recommendation 2.5 out of 5 stars.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Breakaway - Traditional SDA Letter

There is a letter posted on the Abundant Rest blog which is interesting in the way it presents the way some Traditional SDA’s feel about the church today.

The letter begins:
Dear Friends,

I have been S.D.A. for some thirty years. During this time, not once have I contacted the Conference by phone or letter to complain or criticize - nor is this my wish now.

May I say that I believe:

1. The 25 fundamentals as taught by our early pioneers

2. The ministry of Ellen White

3. Health reform

4. Dress Reform

5. Sabbath reform

6. Christian recreation

7. True Christian education, etc.

And it is my desire and determination to teach these principles to others, and practice them by God's grace, and His indwelling Holy Spirit.

What is my concern?

1. Changes in our fundamental beliefs

2. Pastors and teachers who do not believe in the Spirit of Prophecy or our doctrines

3. Leaders and lay members alike who do not believe in health reform, dress reform, Sabbath reform, Christian recreation, or true Christian education, etc.

What is interesting is that this person believes in the 25 Fundamental Beliefs. This appears to be a reference to list produced in 1872 which includes the Semi-Arian view of Christ and even goes into the 1844 disappointment and the specifics about the Investigative Judgment.

What is equally interesting is that nowhere in those 25 beliefs is there any reference to Ellen G. White as a prophet or as the Spirit of Prophecy. Yet in the letter writer’s mind Ellen White is clearly something he is bothered by, saying that Pastors and Teachers do not believe in her as the Spirit of Prophecy. The Spirit of prophecy was not mentioned in the 1872 list but was in the 1931 list as well as that of 1980 and today.

As you read the letter you will see most of his examples are related to concerns he sees based upon his understanding of Ellen White such as “Drama and mime in church, seeking worldly education, or accreditation for our schools, earning or conferring Degrees and use of, or prescribing drugs.”

In a book review of George Knight’s and Rolf Poehler’s books Alden Thompson in 2001 entitled "Gored by Every Sharp Tongue?". Thompson makes the following statement.

The next paragraph cites the evidence, noting that several of the pioneers would not have accepted belief #2 on the Trinity. Quoting Knight: "For Joseph Bates the Trinity was an unscriptural doctrine..., for James White it was that `old Trinitarian absurdity'..., and for M. E. Cornell it was a fruit of the great apostasy, along with such false doctrines as Sundaykeeping and the immortality of the soul."(9)

Standard Adventist sources typically have admitted that certain pioneers rejected the Trinity (e.g. Joseph Bates, James White, Uriah Smith). But they also tend to minimize the significance of this fact. The article on "Christology" in the most recent edition of the SDA Encyclopedia (1996), for example, notes that some non-Trinitarians retained this belief when they became Adventists:...

Both Knight and Poehler cite the vivid anti-Trinitarian language of J. S. Washburn, a retired Adventist minister. In 1920, for example, Washburn accused W. W. Prescott of introducing the "deadly heresy" of the Trinity into Adventism.(12) As late as 1940, this same Washburn denounced the Trinity as "a cruel heathen monstrosity,... an impossible absurd invention,... a blasphemous burlesque,... a bungling, absurd, irreverent caricature."(13) Knight quotes Washburn from the same source as calling the Trinity a "monstrous doctrine transplanted from heathenism into the Roman Papal Church."(14)

Quite remarkable how Ellen White is now a fundamental belief and the Semi-Arian view of Christ is no longer a fundamental belief. Clearly the Traditional SDA is not complaining about Ellen White’s incorporation into fundamental beliefs, as the writer above uses her views far more then the Bible. So their desire is clearly to move back to particular SDA beliefs. If not then as the letter writer says: “The denomination is no longer Seventh-day Adventist.”

So who should decide the future of the SDA church?

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

In Reference to an Open Letter to Former Adventists

From For the Gospel Blog A Challenge to Former Adventists

Over at Re-Inventing the Adventist Wheel, Marcel Schwantes has posted an open letter to former Adventists. He makes some interesting observations about former Adventists based on a perusal of various websites listed in his post. His major conclusion is that the rhetoric on many former Adventist websites has betrayed the stated purpose of those sites, namely, to reach out to current Adventists with the good news of the grace of Jesus. While there are details of Marcel's post I disagree with, he makes some valid points. Outlined below is my response to this thought-provoking blog entry, including a discussion of where I believe Marcel has missed the mark.

Marcel's open letter bothered me, seemed a little overly judgmental of former Adventists and I am glad that Greg gave such an excellent response. Take some time to read both the open letter and Greg's response and the comments under both blog posts. You should find it very worthwhile.

Unity and Tolerance in the Church

It was a pleasant surprise to read the article entitled Unity and Tolerance in the Church By Mark F. Carr, Ph.D; in the latest online version of thePacific Union Recorder.

Please check out his editorial which begins:

I know Seventh-day Adventists who believe that God created this world over a period of millions and millions of years. Generally, they sit in church right next to other Seventh-day Adventists who believe God created this world over a period of six literal days about 6,000 years ago. Let this be the first snapshot of unity and tolerance in our Church. And please, do not forget that the point of all this is to help us live together in peace. This is the push of Christian ethics.

How should we deal with this very important matter of belief in God as Creator? Is there room in our Church for those who believe the earth is hundreds of millions of years old? Are these Adventists believers in evolution? And if so, does that make them enemies of God and those of us who believe in creation? On this issue, one Church leader wrote: “For those among us who have already decided—despite the Bible and Ellen White—on evolution, there are plenty of other Churches for you. Ours isn’t one.” Perhaps, as this person suggests, we should just show them the door and ask them to leave. We would be better off without them. Or so the thinking goes.

Throughout the next few months I want to take a look at a couple of other snapshots of unity and tolerance in the Church. I’ll clue you into my bias right now. I believe that Seventh-day Adventists as Protestants have always been and should always remain tolerant of a wide range of beliefs, particularly as it relates to our ability to worship together in Christ.

On a possibly related subject Progressive Adventism blog offers a link to a Ronald Numbers interveiw in has interviewed Ronald Numbers for its January 2 issue entitled “Seeing the Light—of Science.” (After you get there, to read the article for free, click on red “Wired Science” logo and then click “Enter Salon” above the ad on the right which will appear about 2 seconds after the ad.)

The blurb on the interview states: “Ronald Numbers—a former Seventh-day Adventist and author of the definitive history of creationism—discusses his break with the church, whether creationists are less intelligent and why Galileo wasn’t really a martyr.”

Global Climate surprising related to the Sun

As there are some Adventists Blogs who very uncritically proclaim man made Global Warming. The London Telegraph has published and is publishing a good series on the subject showing how politcally motivated and unscientific the Global Warming cause has become. Since you won't see this on the other Adventist Blogs here it is, because we deal with facts here rather then emotions.

The sun is warmer now than for the past 11,400 years
By Christopher Monckton, Sunday Telegraph

Climate chaos? Don't believe it By Christopher Monckton, Sunday Telegraph

In 1988, James Hansen, a climatologist, told the US Congress that temperature would rise 0.3C by the end of the century (it rose 0.1C), and that sea level would rise several feet (no, one inch). The UN set up a transnational bureaucracy, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The UK taxpayer unwittingly meets the entire cost of its scientific team, which, in 2001, produced the Third Assessment Report, a Bible-length document presenting apocalyptic conclusions well beyond previous reports.

This week, I'll show how the UN undervalued the sun's effects on historical and contemporary climate, slashed the natural greenhouse effect, overstated the past century's temperature increase, repealed a fundamental law of physics and tripled the man-made greenhouse effect.

Next week, I'll demonstrate the atrocious economic, political and environmental cost of the high-tax, zero-freedom, bureaucratic centralism implicit in Stern's report; I'll compare the global-warming scare with previous sci-fi alarums; and I'll show how the environmentalists' "precautionary principle" (get the state to interfere now, just in case) is killing people.

So to the scare. First, the UN implies that carbon dioxide ended the last four ice ages. It displays two 450,000-year graphs: a sawtooth curve of temperature and a sawtooth of airborne CO2 that's scaled to look similar. Usually, similar curves are superimposed for comparison. The UN didn't do that. If it had, the truth would have shown: the changes in temperature preceded the changes in CO2 levels.

Studies at the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research reveal: solar activity affects the climate but plays only a minor role in the current global warming.

Max Planck Society -- Since the middle of the last century, the Sun is in a phase of unusually high activity, as indicated by frequent occurrences of sunspots, gas eruptions, and radiation storms.

Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research (MPS) in Katlenburg-Lindau (Germany) and at the University of Oulu (Finland) have come to this conclusion after they have succeeded in reconstructing the solar activity based on the sunspot frequency since 850 AD. To this end, they have combined historical sunspot records with measurements of the frequency of radioactive isotopes in ice cores from Greenland and the Antarctic.

And let's not forget the Polar Bear supposed Crisis:

Polar bears defy extinction threat

THE world’s polar bear population is on the increase despite global warming, which scientists had believed was pushing the animal towards extinction.

According to new research, the numbers of the giant predator have grown by between 15 and 25 per cent over the last decade.

Some authorities on Arctic wildlife even claim that hunting, and not global warming, has been the real cause of the decrease in polar bear numbers in areas where the species is in decline.

A leading Canadian authority on polar bears, Mitch Taylor, said: "We’re seeing an increase in bears that’s really unprecedented, and in places where we’re seeing a decrease in the population it’s from hunting, not from climate change."