Adventist Media Response and Conversation

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Ecclesiastes the Anti-Fundamentalist Book Part 2

In Part one I examined the idea that in order to have a relationship with God one must respect and appreciate that God. In a similar way it is necessary in our human relationships to have respect and appreciation for other people in order to have good relationships. In Part two we will examine the growth in knowledge of relationships between man and man and God, and examine why man with his selfish and manipulative tendencies needs a relationship with God. Ultimately we will look at what is there in the life death and resurrection of Jesus that contributes to the relationship between individuals here and now or in the future. The Judeo-Christian religion has a much more important component to society then individual heavenly reward, a savior is not merely someone who takes us from this life on earth to heaven but someone who shows us how to live here as well. In fact the Old Testament is predominately about mans relationship to man and man's relationship to God. We have already examined what a relationship with God deals with. Now we look at why a relationship with God translates into a better relationship with others.

No one who reads the Old Testament is unaware of it demands for justice and mercy, in fact the Golden rule which is found essentially in so many religions is found fairly early in the Old Testament books (Leviticus 19:18). However as most people also know there is a very brutal side to the instructions of the early books of the Bible (see Vengeance in the Old Testament). So we just can't point to the Old Testament and say look how loving and justice oriented the early history of the Old Testament is. It has no concept of religious tolerance and it represents a world that is just as war friendly as any other group in history. The Genesis story asserts that the Israelites were coming to their own promised land that their forefathers inhabited if ever so briefly, but it still called for the removal of the people who were there. So though we are aware of the problems in the Old Testament we also have to be aware of how progressive revelation works. That is the people did not start out in a position of a humanity loving, relationship oriented society. The exodus introduces us to a primitive people who have spent hundreds of years in slavery. Slavery does not encourage education and to keep slaves from getting too knowledgeable they were compartmentalized in their labor. We know that years of slavery removes much of the knowledge from the group enslaved. Israel out of slavery was learning about their redeemer God and when things did not go as smoothly as they thought, they reverted to the religion of their slavery and even longed for the security of that slavery. The more comprehensive knowledge of a general agricultural society can even be lost on the slave who may only know one part of the agricultural industry. So when freed they were likely well behind the non slave neighbors. Both in practical life education and education in general which of course was something that only the wealthy could afford anyway. In societies where you had to work all day for you food and shelter there was not a lot of time to learn too much about things that did not bring food and shelter. Read the rest of the article by clicking this link and then click Part Two. This way multipart series can be kept together.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Adventist Statement on Islam

Adventist Statement on Islam to Provide To for open-minded dialogue

Strovolos/Cyprus, 28.03.2007 / ANN/APD

[Another version available from "Source: Adventist News Network"]

On the initiative of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the Middle East (MEU), Adventist leaders in the church's Trans-European (TED) recently adopted an official Statement on Islam to help foster a more constructive relationship between Muslims and Christians. "As [the Adventist] movement continues to grow in the world," the statement begins, "we are looking for [a] good relationship with Islam, a faith with a similar sense of godly calling that is followed by one-fifth of the world's population."

In the Adventist church's Trans-European region, an estimated 60 to 65 percent of citizens are Muslims. The TED includes Bahrain, Cyprus, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, United Arab Emirates and Yemen.

The Statement draws parallels between Islam and Christianity, such as submission to the Creator God and a common Abrahamic heritage. It also applauds the scientific, literary and philosophical contributions of Muslims throughout history and recognizes Islam's prophet Muhammad as "a spiritual and social reformer at a time of confusion and ignorance."

"We believe that among peoples of all faiths, God has through history preserved a people of authentic submission in the face of apostasy, oppression and persecution. We acknowledge that within Islam there are such people ... Within this group of sincere believers we see potential partners for further exploring our spiritual understanding of the One true God," the Statement reads.

The Statement ends with a call for Adventists to commit to "honesty, fairness and respect in describing Islamic faith," and vice versa. It acknowledges doctrinal differences--such as belief in Christ as Savior and Son of God--but says such differences should "not be made points of controversy or generate attitudes of superiority, but rather provide an opportunity for respectful dialogue, knowing that it is ultimately God who brings conviction to the heart."

Bertil Wiklander, president of the church's Trans-European region, says, "We must show Muslims that they can trust us, while we stand by our Adventist faith ... We should not underestimate the challenges, but I feel that times are changing and that we can look forward to dialogue and, I pray, successful work among Muslim people."

Regional church leaders have sent the Statement to Adventist world church headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland (USA), where officials will decide how such a statement would "best benefit the mission of the world church," says Pastor Michael L. Ryan, a world church vice president.

While Ryan admits "statements are not nearly as important as the way church members interact and behave toward people of other faith groups," he does believe they bolster positive relations. "The Gospel Commission instructs the church that every person is invited to know Jesus Christ. This [statement] will provide a relationship tool to help Adventists better understand the people [they] are inviting."

"People, regardless of background and religious affiliation," Ryan adds, "need to be perceived by the church as worthy of genuine respect. Statements such as this one help get that message across." [Editors: Elizabeth Lechleitner and Chris Schäffler for ANN/APD]

I searched the internet for the actual statement but could not find it, only the SDA press releases, which is kind of funny to say they have developed a statement yet not published the statement except as a press release. But when you think about this is rather in keeping with the apparent nature of the statement. Something that claims it wants to deal honestly and fairly with the Islamic religion but does not accurately represent either the Islamic view or the Christian view on the subject. It is hard to imagine a Christian organization that says: “doctrinal differences--such as belief in Christ as Savior and Son of God--but says such differences should "not be made points of controversy or generate attitudes of superiority…” Jesus asked His disciples who do you say that I am and our very religion defines itself upon the person of Jesus Christ. The Islamic religion states that the New Testament is lies and that Jesus did not die or rise from the grave. Yet the Christian Gospel is all about the salvation mediated by Jesus Christ. Clearly it has to be a point of controversy, now maybe it should not generate attitudes of superiority but then neither should adherence to the prophet Muhammad yet clearly that is the case for Islam.

So why is the Christian SDA organization so willing to declare itself willing to compromise their beliefs in a statement to Islam? The answer is likely found in the general European willingness to give in to Islam where ever Islam is. In Denmark cartoons that depict Muhammad cause riots and killings, yet cartoons that depict Jesus cause little upset to anyone. Someone claims that a Koran was flushed down a toilet and again more riots and killing even after it is determined that the event of the flushed Koran did not actually occur. The list could go on and on just today it was reported:

WASHINGTON, Mar. 29 /Christian Newswire/ -- The Washington-DC based human rights group, International Christian Concern (ICC) has just learned that an Ethiopian evangelist named Tedase was beaten to death by militant Muslims on Monday, March 26th, as he and two young women were on a street evangelism assignment in Jimma, Ethiopia. This marks the second time in six months that Christians residing in Southeast Ethiopia have been attacked and killed by extremist (Wahabbi) Muslims.

The Adventist press release says: Islam's prophet Muhammad as "a spiritual and social reformer at a time of confusion and ignorance."

You could easily say the same for Chairman Mao or any number of Popes, why ignore the violent nature of Muhammad and the subsequent religion which even today persecute and oppresses so many people. Why speak to Islam as a religion by saying there are some people in Islam who “We believe that among peoples of all faiths, God has through history preserved a people of authentic submission in the face of apostasy, oppression and persecution. We acknowledge that within Islam there are such people ...” If that is relevant I am not sure how, it seems like saying of the thousands in a penitentiary that I am sure there are some of you who love your mothers. Of course in Islam if you leave that religion the penalty is death, so the results of Islamic apostasy are oppression and persecution.

If this statement is honest to either Christians or Islam the honesty is certainly well hidden. The fact is that we cannot even deal with the fundamentalist Islamic as they have no intention of listening to infidels. We may be able to communicate with the liberal and moderate Islamists but we will not do so by such contrived drivel as that of this press release. The Moderate and Liberal Islamic know the danger and anti-humanitarian nature of the fundamentalist and they are who are willing to dialog with the Christian and others of the Western world.

Leeland The Sound of Melodies Review

Leeland, (The sound of Melodies) is this the new Delirious? Lyrically yes but they are not the musically innovators that Delirious? was when they started, but they get a 5 star rating from me.

From Christianity Today online:

Sounds like … sometimes worshipful, always melodic Brit-influenced pop/rock along the lines of Keane, Coldplay, Travis, Delirious, Tree63, and U2.

At a glance … Sound of Melodies is a great start for a promising new band, though it doesn't reveal a distinctive or pioneering musical identity for Leeland, too derivative of too many other equally talented bands in the last decade.

Their concluding paragraph:

There's lyrical earnestness and passion to all of this that hearkens back to classic Jesus Movement CCM, reinvented for today's Brit pop/rock sensibilities. But to declare it pioneering or innovative is wrong, simply because there's little here that hasn't been done before by equally talented artists and bands over the last decade. The real story is that Leeland is already at this point in their teens, fresh out of the gate. It's a strong start from a band that will only get better with time, provided that they develop their own distinctive sound for their melodies.

Christianity Today gave them only 4 stars which is due to their misunderstanding of excellence in a particular style with the constant need to be different. As there are so many other Christian bands today it is hard to stand out among so many. But Leeland succeeds and they are just starting out. Or maybe it is because I have not given anybody a 5 star rating yet. Good music and good lyrics is the most I can ask for though.

“Yes You Have” is a very catching song and if you look at the phrase “you’ve stolen my heart” in the way that it is used with a male female love relationship the phrase is appropriate as it expresses the loving attractive character of the other person, though at first glance it seems a bit odd. Nonetheless it makes the hook very memorable. The phrase is probably well defined by their song Can’t Stop; I can’t stop, I can’t stop falling love with you.

With your love you’ve forgiven my sins/ forgot my past and brought me back again
So I’ll sing you praise / So I’ll sing you praise
You’ve stolen my heart yes you have (2x) you’ve wiped away the stains and broke away the chains / yes you have

“Tears of the Saints” is a song that addresses all the prodigal children in desperation and calls for us to lead them home. A particularly meaningful song in that it addresses to me the need for our Churches to be seen as a home for people, the prodigals as well as the saints. The relationship with God begins with a relationship between people.

What I like most about this CD is that they write in a much more direct way then many Christian songs which deal more in the symbols then the reality of what those symbols represent. If Matt Redman ever reads this I hope he considers the difference between his lyrics and Leelands lyrics.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Review of Baptismal Vow

Recently the Adventist Review put out a special series of articles on Baptism. One article was the changes made to the Baptism Vow. The article can be found under the title: Sixth Business Meeting 57th General Conference Session, July 3, 2000

Aside from the fact that the Baptismal vow is far removed from any Biblical requirements to be baptized it has an extremely narrow and Traditional SDA focus. Below you will find the list with some of my interspersed comments in red. I am sure my objections are not the only objections that other SDA’s may have. I was going to post what I think the Baptismal vow should be but I don't know that there is a need for one at all. I am also not too sure that the SDA church should be asking those joining it to make a commitment to a particular set of beliefs. So at the risk of not providing an alternative for what I am criticizing here are my observations.

Voted, To amend the Church Manual, Chapter 5, Church Membership, page 30, Baptismal Vow and Baptism, to read as follows:

Baptismal Vow—Candidates for baptism or those being received into fellowship by profession of faith shall affirm their acceptance of the doctrinal beliefs of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the presence of the church or other properly appointed body. (See p. 29.) The minister or elder should address the following questions to the candidate(s), whose reply may be by verbal assent or by raising the hand.


  1. Do you believe there is one God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, a unity of three coeternal Persons? No I believe in One God revealed in three persons, One in the Bible conception is not produced by unity of several.
  2. 2. Do you accept the death of Jesus Christ on Calvary as the atoning sacrifice for your sins and believe that by God’s grace through faith in His shed blood you are saved from sin and its penalty? No I believe my faith is in God not the shed blood, the blood is a symbol for the life, death and life of Christ, we are not saved by shed blood but by the love of God.
  3. 3. Do you accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and personal Saviour believing that God, in Christ, has forgiven your sins and given you a new heart, and do you renounce the sinful ways of the world? No, I believe that God has forgiven my sins and Christ as God demonstrated that forgiveness, the term in Christ as the previous vow predicates upon a forensic and penal atonement theory which I can’t accept.
  4. 4. Do you accept by faith the righteousness of Christ, your Intercessor in the heavenly sanctuary, and accept His promise of transforming grace and power to live a loving, Christ-centered life in your home and before the world? No, there is not Biblical statement about the righteousness of Christ. I accept by faith that God is righteous and that Christ is God who came to earth in the incarnation which is the major form of intercession between God and man. The second way God intercedes is through His Spirit with our Spirits; that is the part of our minds which is influenced by God. The heavenly sanctuary is not Biblically mentioned nor would it be the only place that God mediates to man.
  5. 5. Do you believe that the Bible is God’s inspired Word, the only rule of faith and practice for the Christian? Do you covenant to spend time regularly in prayer and Bible study? No, the Bible does not claim to be God’s inspired Word. It contains writings that are inspired and it contains words that God said but it is not the Word of God. Calling it God’s inspired Word makes it sound like the Bible is infallible and inerrant and that all instructions therein must be God’s eternal word on whatever subject they address.
  6. Do you accept the Ten Commandments as a transcript of the character of God and a revelation of His will? Is it your purpose by the power of the indwelling Christ to keep this law, including the fourth commandment, which requires the observance of the seventh day of the week as the Sabbath of the Lord and the memorial of Creation? No, nowhere does the Bible say that the 10 commandments are a transcript of God’s character. In fact none of the 10 commandments even says that God loves us! I think there is no place for this type of legalism in a Baptismal vow, it was not a condition of Baptism in the New Testament and should not be a condition for baptism today.
  7. Do you look forward to the soon coming of Jesus and the blessed hope when “this mortal shall . . . put on immortality”? As you prepare to meet the Lord, will you witness to His loving salvation by using your talents in personal soul-winning endeavor to help others to be ready for His glorious appearing? Yes, but it is far more important to witness to the love and reconciliation God offers then focusing on the Second coming which we have no way of knowing if it will be this year or ten thousand years from now.
  8. Do you accept the biblical teaching of spiritual gifts and believe that the gift of prophecy is one of the identifying marks of the remnant church? Yes to the first phrase No to the second. This is a backhanded attempt to place Ellen White into the Baptismal vow, again it is out of place.
  9. Do you believe in church organization? Is it your purpose to worship God and to support the church through your tithes and offerings and by your personal effort and influence? No, tithes is not really a New Testament concept. Remove that word and I could say yes.
  10. Do you believe that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit; and will you honor God by caring for it, avoiding the use of that which is harmful; abstaining from all unclean foods; from the use, manufacture, or sale of alcoholic beverages; the use, manufacture, or sale of tobacco in any of its forms for human consumption; and from the misuse of or trafficking in narcotics or other drugs? I have to say no on this one because of it’s over reaching statements. For instance the abstaining from the sale of alcoholic beverages would mean that a person could not be a cashier at a grocery store or a manager, the manager of a restaurant or a server at a restaurant. Besides that the moderate use of Alcohol is not forbidden by the Bible, upon what authority does the SDA church forbid it?
  11. Do you know and understand the fundamental Bible principles as taught by the Seventh-day Adventist Church? Do you purpose, by the grace of God, to fulfill His will by ordering your life in harmony with these principles? No, I understand the Bible principles but the Adventist church as we have seen here clearly over reach Bible principles.
  12. Do you accept the New Testament teaching of baptism by immersion and desire to be so baptized as a public expression of faith in Christ and His forgiveness of your sins? Yes, though I don’t think the baptism was meant as a public expression of faith as much as identification with the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. For instance when Phillip baptized the Ethiopian Eunuch it was based upon the presence of water not as a public expression.
  13. Do you accept and believe that the Seventh-day Adventist Church is the remnant church of Bible prophecy and that people of every nation, race, and language are invited and accepted into its fellowship? Do you desire to be a member of this local congregation of the world church? No, the Bible does not indicate that the remnant is of a particular denomination, the remnant is made up of all who love and follow God.

It looks like I can agree with 2 (3 if one word is modified) of the 13 vows. How many can you agree to without modification?

Monday, March 26, 2007

This Disco (Used To Be A Cute Cathedral)

It seems Steve Taylor was right years ago when he sang This Disco Used To Be A Cute Cathedral

The New York Post Reports:
Elton's B'Day Simply Divine Singer Toasted at Cathedral Bash by Elisabeth Wolff

March 25, 2007 -- To err is Elton, to forgive is St. John the Divine.

Blustery rocker Sir Elton John, who recently described organized religion as "hateful" and worthy of being banned, was slated to whoop it up last night at the famed Morningside Heights cathedral in celebration of his 60th birthday.

Church officials apparently turned the other cheek to Sir John's disparaging comments, but some worshipers were still a little miffed.

"It's inappropriate that everyone will be drunk and flamboyant in the cathedral," said one peeved churchgoer yesterday.

Surveying the florists, sound technicians and decorators feverishly preparing the church, the world's largest Gothic cathedral, he complained, "I can't even find a pew to sit in."

The bacchanal for 400 guests included $18,000 worth of exotic flowers, 1,000 bottles of champagne and a large dessert mound of sticky toffee pudding - Sir Elton's favorite. ...

Friday, March 23, 2007

Ecclesiastes Ray Steadman's View

From a conversation on I was informed of some material by Steve Zeisler on the Subject of Ecclesiastes. And Ray Steadman Things that Don't Work

From the article entitled Is Life A Treadmill? Steadman introduces Ecclesiastes this way:
In some ways, however, the book of Ecclesiastes represents what we might speculatively describe as the observations of an intermediate Adam. What is life like in the period between the fall of Adam and the coming of Christ? Spiritually, most of us have had some experience in this time period. Thus, we are not speaking primarily about a historical time frame, but our own life's experiences. All of us are born fallen, and we spend a period of time awaiting the announcement to us of the good news that will change us. What is life like in the interim period? This is what we shall seek to discover in these studies.

The answer which the book of Ecclesiastes gives to this question is quite subtle. Solomon, David's son, is our example of man's life experiences in the period between Adam and the coming of Christ and the gospel. Solomon is a perfect choice for this study. He had every advantage in life. He had a godly heritage, a brilliant intellect, wealth beyond counting, vast influence, and he ruled in a politically stable climate. In a worldly sense, Solomon was a shining example of humanity at its highest level.

The opening verses identify the author and set the stage for the book:
The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem.
"Vanity of vanities," says the Preacher,
"Vanity of vanities! All is vanity."
Notice that the book makes no claim to have been written by Solomon. The words, "son of David, king in Jerusalem," could be applied to any successor of David. As a matter of fact, this description can be applied to all Christians. We who are in Christ are sons of David, in Christ, descended from David because of our spiritual heritage. Many scholars reject Solomonic authorship of this book. I don't find the arguments for rejection persuasive. But no one doubts that this book was written from the perspective of the historical figure: Solomon, king in Jerusalem.

The key phrase which gives the context for all that follows is the repeated word "under the sun." In these words we have a description of what life is like if the heavens are shut off from man. If a bowl were placed over the earth, masking the heavens (i.e. the spiritual world from which God speaks and acts), what would life be like? Given this perspective, what would be the view from
earth? This is the experiment which is in focus in the book of Ecclesiastes. Everything is viewed as being"under the sun." No revelation from heaven comes into the picture. Given this context, what does our intermediate Adam perceive life to be like?
Ray Steadman begins from the perspective that the book is merely a reflection of worldly wisdom in the Search for Meaning he writes:
But all of these groups fail to note what we must note right from the beginning, that this book is an examination of secular wisdom and knowledge. The book clearly states at the outset that it is limiting itself to that which is apparent to the natural mind. One of the key phrases of the book is the continual repetition of the words, "under the sun." What does a man gain by all the toil at which he toils under the sun?" Verse 3 asks. We find that phrase used again in Verse 9. That is the limitation put upon this book.

Ecclesiastes is a collection of what man is able to discern under the sun, i.e., in the visible world. The book does not take into consideration revelation that comes from beyond man's powers of observation and reason. It is an inspired, an accurate book. It guarantees that what it reports is what people actually believe. but it is an examination of those beliefs. The book is not merely a collection of ancient philosophy, for what it talks about is very much up-to-date and extremely relevant. Here is what you will hear propounded in soap operas, in political speeches, in the radical or conservative movements of our day. Here is what you will hear in the halls of academia, or on the streets of any city. In this book the philosophies by which people attempt to live life are brought into consideration and examined. That is why Ecclesiastes is so practical and up-to-date.

While the first view from Steve that this represents an intermediate view I find pretty true, because as we look at history we see that indeed there were major changes in the Jewish religion, Steadman's perspective that it is worldly wisdom totally ignores the many references to God in the book.

I offer the above information to help those teachers who are growing desperate in the last couple weeks of our lesson study on Ecclesiastes, I have not read the material other then the introduction so I can't say too much about it now. But we really can't accept this view that it is merely natural wisdom spoken about here I think that actually destroys the value of the book. Please take a look at the pasts posts on the subject if you are not familiar with the idea that the book presents a philosophy of the then current Jewish religion and seems to push for a religion that offers more then what the current conception of God was. Clearly in the latter days a much better understanding did develop and with Jesus a much clearer view was solidified.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Bravo to Last Hours Blog

On March 13 Last Hours Blog posted an article entitled Don't panic!!! He is not eternal.
In his article he listed what was purported to be a list of the IQ's of US Presidents of the last 50 years. Naturally the aircraft pilot and Harvard MBA grad President George W. Bush was the lowest score at 91. His father the former CIA Director, President and Vice President score almost made it to the average score of 100 but missed it by being 2 points below average. Democrats all outscoring Republicans.

Of course the article was based upon an Internet hoax. As I have been rather hard on the Spectrum Blog for their manipulation of posts and comments I wanted to point out this blog because it published a correction and admitted he fell for the hoax. He could have just deleted his post but instead acknowledged his error and let it remain. I like that type of honesty. Yes I will question his political acumen but if you are familiar with Adventist blogs by now you have learned to question their politics too.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Bacchiocchi Curious Misunderstanding

In a recent series of Newletters on the centrality of the cross ENDTIME ISSUES NEWSLETTER No. 166 “The Achievements of the Cross - Part 1” Samuele Bacchiocchi, Ph. D., writes:

This newsletter continues the study began in the previous newsletter on the reasons for Christ’s death. The study is excerpted from chapter 4 of THE PASSION OF CHRIST IN SCRIPTURE AND HISTORY, which is entitled “The Cross of Christ.”
In the previous two newsletters we considered the centrality and necessity of the Cross. We concluded that the centrality of Christ’s sacrificial death on the Cross is the foundation and center of the Christian faith. Christ understood His saving mission not in terms of living to teach moral principles, but in terms of dying to save people from their sins.

In this newsletter we move from the necessity of the Cross to the achievements of the Cross. The question we intend to address is: Why did God take our place and bear our sins? In recent years some disagreement has emerged among Adventist theologians regarding the reasons for Christ’s death. Some are uncomfortable with the notion of the substitutionary function of Christ’s death to bear the punishment of penitent sinners. They prefer to view Christ’s death as a revelation of divine love designed to rekindle a loving response in the heart of sinners.

But, if Christ had sacrificed His life merely to demonstrate His love toward us, it is hard to understand why such cruel demonstration was necessary. Love is best demonstrated not by dying for someone, but rather by living for and serving that person. The Cross must be seen as a revelation of both divine love and divine justice. This study attempts to show that salvation is through divine expiation of human sin and not merely through a divine revelation of love.

What is interesting here is that Bacchiocchi does not understand the cruel nature of man's evil. That is people tend to go to violent extremes against people they perceive as enemies. God did not design the plan for Christ death, God knew what would happen but it was human beings, the same kind that use bombs to blow up children on buses, the same kind of humans who herd Jews into concentration camps and work and starve them to death or run them through a gas chamber. The means of killing people is amazingly diverse but they are not really God instituted plans of killing. Love is demonstrated when as in the case of Jesus He shows love and forgiveness even while being tortured to death. The cross of Christ is not divine Justice, to be divine justice it would have to have been an act of God to kill God incarnate.

Bacchiocchi unfortunately does not even understand the problem of his assumptions as these first couple paragraphs of his series indicate. Attacking other views out of ignorance is hardly the way to begin a discussion of this important subject. Nor does supporting his position with non Biblical concepts such as divine justice seen at the cross help his position. In fact to me it looks like a piece of propaganda. What most Christians believe about divine justice at the cross, God pouring out His wrath on the Cross, or Jesus paying the penalty for our sin are all traditions which don't have Biblical support. You will not find and New Testament verses which tell us that God poured out His wrath on Christ, nowhere does it say Christ paid a penalty yet that is the central tenet of the Substitutionary/Penal theory of the Atonement (Click the preceeding link to see what is wrong with the Substitutionary Theory of the Atonement.)

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Yes Judas Was Called

Often in our Sabbath School classes we hear things that demonstrate how many Adventists have replaced the Biblical accounts with those from Ellen White. It is unfortunate that this happens but it is one of the problems with traditionalism in Adventism as well as Christianity in general. We often assume what we know is true, when what we think we know is based upon tradition or extra Biblical information instead of the Bible. It can be a subtle distortion or sometimes worse. The why this happens is too speculative to go into here and depending upon the instances, the reasons no doubt vary.

In our resent class several members submitted that Judas was not chosen to be a disciple but was brought to Jesus to become a disciple. However that is no where found in the Biblical account.

Here are the accounts of the calling of the twelve:

(Matthew 10:1-6 NIV) He called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out evil spirits and to heal every disease and sickness. 2 These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon (who is called Peter) and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; 3 Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; 4 Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him. 5 These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: "Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. 6 Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel.

(Mark 3:13-19 NIV) Jesus went up on a mountainside and called to him those he wanted, and they came to him. 14 He appointed twelve--designating them apostles --that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach 15 and to have authority to drive out demons. 16 These are the twelve he appointed: Simon (to whom he gave the name Peter); 17 James son of Zebedee and his brother John (to them he gave the name Boanerges, which means Sons of Thunder); 18 Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Thaddaeus, Simon the Zealot 19 and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.

(Luke 6:12-18) One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. 13 When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them, whom he also designated apostles: 14 Simon (whom he named Peter), his brother Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, 15 Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Simon who was called the Zealot, 16 Judas son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor. 17 He went down with them and stood on a level place. A large crowd of his disciples was there and a great number of people from all over Judea, from Jerusalem, and from the coast of Tyre and Sidon, 18 who had come to hear him and to be healed of their diseases.

Ellen White’s version:

Desire of Ages. 1898 page 293.002

While Jesus was preparing the disciples for their ordination, one who had not been summoned urged his presence among them. It was Judas Iscariot, a man who professed to be a follower of Christ. He now came forward, soliciting a place in this inner circle of disciples. With great earnestness and apparent sincerity he declared, "Master, I will follow Thee whithersoever Thou goest." Jesus neither repulsed nor welcomed him, but uttered only the mournful words: "The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay His head." Matt. 8:19, 20. Judas believed Jesus to be the Messiah; and by joining the apostles, he hoped to secure a high position in the new kingdom. This hope Jesus designed to cut off by the statement of His poverty.

Page 294

The disciples were anxious that Judas should become one of their number. He was of commanding appearance, a man of keen discernment and executive ability, and they commended him to Jesus as one who would greatly assist Him in His work. They were surprised that Jesus received him so coolly.

You will notice that in the Ellen White quote she quotes the words of Jesus as being about Judas though the context is not about Judas nor is there anywhere that indicates Judas was a teacher of the law.

(Matthew 8-18-23 NIV) When Jesus saw the crowd around him, he gave orders to cross to the other side of the lake. 19 Then a teacher of the law came to him and said, "Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go." 20 Jesus replied, "Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head." 21 Another disciple said to him, "Lord, first let me go and bury my father." 22 But Jesus told him, "Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead." 23 Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him.

The record of the event in Luke reads as follows:

(Luke 9: 51 NIV) As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem. 52 And he sent messengers on ahead, who went into a Samaritan village to get things ready for him; 53 but the people there did not welcome him, because he was heading for Jerusalem. 54 When the disciples James and John saw this, they asked, "Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them?" 55 But Jesus turned and rebuked them, 56 and they went to another village. 57 As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, "I will follow you wherever you go." 58 Jesus replied, "Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head." 59 He said to another man, "Follow me." But the man replied, "Lord, first let me go and bury my father." 60 Jesus said to him, "Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God."61 Still another said, "I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say good-by to my family."

As you notice the Luke account is after the mentioning of Jesus choosing the 12 found in Luke 6:12-18 and the account mentions that it is toward the end of Jesus’ ministry as it says: “As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem”. In all three of the synoptic gospels Judas is first mentioned in the above lists of the calling of the twelve apostles. Nowhere in the Bible does it say that he was brought to Jesus by other disciples, but I am certain that many Adventists will, despite the Biblical record try and make Ellen White’s interpretation compatible with the Bible. Usually with the statement; “well it could have happened that way.” A rationalization no doubt but often that is all some people need.

Friday, March 16, 2007

And Then There Were Two

Faith In Context has the following list posted taken from Sty Tyner:

  1. One group is set free by the everlasting gospel. The other group is enslaved by the Law.
  2. One group is clothed with Christ. The other group thinks they are dressed in glittering luxury and doesn’t realize they really are naked.
  3. One group is marked with God’s commands. The other group has been bewitched by human effort.
  4. One group is ready for the Bridegroom. The other group is merely waiting for the signs of the last days to take place.
  5. One group is troubled by their times. The other group is indifferent to the suffering and injustice around us.
  6. One group has been tested by the Sabbath and has found its highest meaning for their lives. The other group tries to make Sabbath observance another sign of their own righteousness.
  7. One group has been sealed by the Spirit. The other group’s consciences will be seared as with a hot iron.
  8. One group constitutes the authentic End-Time People of God. The other, tragically, cannot see that it constitutes only a cheap substitute for the real thing.

It appears that the list in the main is meant to present the idea of progressive against traditional Adventism. With the exception of number 7 & 8 which would most likely been embraced by the traditional SDA against the progressive SDA. The list over all seems to mainly be a propaganda tool. It presents an us versus them perspective which I find often more harmful then helpful.

Recently on an SDA forum I presented the idea that New Age practitioners were often fooling themselves with imagination and self deceptive emotionalism. As Science has taken on many of these psychics and practitioners I thought I was not stating anything too radical. However it appears among many traditional SDA's the concept is that these people are really dealing with satanic demons. For my contribution I was attacked as being an agent of Satan on the forum. This kind of all or nothing us vs. them thinking tends to drown out real discussion of issues. No arguments are allowed when the generalization of the person takes over. It is not only a logical fallacy but it is pretty mean too. So in regards to the list above; pretty useless.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Ecclesiastes the Anti-Fundamentalists Book

I am going to connect the following with the book of Ecclesiastes because I think that book, more then many Old Testament books point us in the direction of discovery. What brings this about are a couple of things going on in my mind recently, another of those convergences of ideas that I am fond of mentioning.

Recently on the discussion forum there has been some conversation with the atheists there who, it seems to me are often just as fundamentalist as any right wing Christian fundamentalist you can think of. (For the purposes of this series of articles a fundamentalist is defined as those who assume that the Bible is infallible and inerrant and who view the events recorded therein to be literal history. For example Genesis, the book of Job and Jonah are writings, which represent historical events.) Through the conversation some of us have noted that the Genesis story is a myth. Myth is not a bad word it indicates it is a story used to teach people something about their world or the reality around them. Myth does not simply mean something that is untrue. Because it is perfectly legitimate to use something that did not actually occur to present ideas about reality. Jesus used parables and the Old Testament used stories. The Fundamentalist assumes that the stories in Genesis and Job and Jonah must be true actual events. But to a good portion of Christianity these books are not viewed as history but rather works used to teach about man and about God. Some of these books like Ecclesiastes seem designed to make the reader ask questions of the world around them and of their own religion, Job and Jonah are very much in this category of Wisdom literature.

So the fundamentalist atheist asks if the story of creation and the Garden of Eden and the perfection of man is not the true history then why man’s need of a savior. He then challenged me to “Give a scenario which ties into the NT salvation theory seamlessly like Genesis does.” I normally don’t spend a lot of time with the atheists in these discussion groups but this is an excellent question and it ties into the other things that I have been thinking about. Namely the last couple posts on ways to make the church service more effective and the overall theme of what is the purpose of having a relationship with God. We love to talk about having a relationship with God but I cannot be satisfied with thinking that this relationship is only for my benefit and God’s benefit. In other words I don’t think that a relationship with God is about me getting a reward and going to heaven. The relationship is much more then my salvation.

The Atheist’s question is based upon his view of what Christianity has taught him, as with the other atheists on that discussion forum he is a former Seventh-day Adventist. He knows what Adventists believe, at least from the fundamentalist side which throughout our history has been the main source of theology in the Adventist church. But he cannot envision a different way of looking at religion. Though the different way of looking at religion has always been around, we have a traditional view now and we assume that that is the only possible way. However when looking at his challenge above we would have to quickly note that to the people who were given the stories of Genesis it was not about getting a savior to come and return them to the Garden of Eden type existence. As I have noted several times the book of Ecclesiastes does not work from the perspective of a resurrection and renewed life lived with God. It spurs us to the thought that there must be more but it does not explain what that more is. He may have been the wisest man in the world yet he did not know what we know. Read More

[In order to save space, so you can see my other recent posts, I am going to post the larger posts or multipart series on my website so that they can be read in natural order 1,2,3 rather then blog post order 3,2,1 and really it is still only a click away]

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Blogger From Brazil View of SDA's

I won't go into how or why I happened upon this blog entry, just happened upon it is all I will say. It is amazing from my American perspective, it is rather an ideal picture of a church in my opinion. Here is what the Blogger of A Year Here / A Year There writes:

I live directly across the street from a 7th Day Adventist church. I used to have a 7th Day Adventist roommate when I lived in Narragansett, Rhode Island, and attended URI. I never knew exactly what 7th Day Adventist meant, but here I’m getting a better idea. I think it means, and this is by no means a dictionary definition but rather one built from inference about their routines and rituals: “Those who rest on the 7th Day but pretty much party hard, in the religious sense, all the others.” And if that’s an accurate definition, then these folks are a faithful bunch. There are parties every night, singing and speeches, everyone’s always dressed up and carrying flowers, sitting around, running around, everyone dressed to the nines all the time.

Or at least that’s how it looks to me, from 10 floors up, not being able to hear or understand what they’re saying. All I know is that it’s 9:23 on a Wednesday night and there they are, church all lit up, people walking in and out as if the church doors were in fact doors into a Wal-Mart. A fancy Wal-Mart. It’s that busy. What’s nice about it is that it always feels like there’s energy on my street. It’s comforting and it feels safe here. Like, if there are all these people in the Sunday best, even if it’s a Tuesday night or a Thursday afternoon, nothing bad can happen. The whole safety in numbers thing, right here at my doorstep. Except it’s even safer because God’s mixed in with the group. And really, who’s going to do something bad directly in front of God? (Or at least in front of one of his homes?) Even though I don’t count myself one of the faithful of this group or of any other, really, I do find it comforting and pleasant to have the church right there. I like looking through the glass ceiling and seeing the glow of lights below, and I like the bustle of people on the street. It’s not annoying or frustrating in the least. You’d think if you heard singing and hanging out all night you might get tired of it. But it’s like free live music. I can’t understand the lyrics, and sometimes the accoustics are all off, but I’m not complaining.

Operation: Global Rain

The following are excerpts from website Operation: Global Rain which is the brain child of some Central California churches who desire to pray for the "latter Rain":

It is called Operation Global Rain. It started when a few churches in Central California decided to hold a 10-day prayer event after the model of the early church found in Acts 2. There were no keynote speakers, but rather a group of disciples pleading for nothing else but the outpouring of the latter rain. Every night from 7 to 8 pm, a theme sheet with Bible verses and S.O.P. quotes was presented. We read these privately and then prayed, sometimes silently, other times in groups of two, and others as a congregation.

Though done at separate times, the churches all experienced revival. Animosity was laid aside and a true spirit of unity, repentance and mission took hold of the members. The idea then came about: What if all the churches in the conference were to petition the throne of God at the same time , for the same thing, the outpouring of the Latter Rain?

The idea was presented to one conference just a week ago (January, 07) and has become a reality. Last year, a great deal was made about the date 6.06.06. A popular movie about the antichrist was released on that date, and underground satanic movements glorified the day. This year is 7.07.07! And it happens to be a Sabbath. The date for Operation Global Rain will be 6.27.07 to 7.07.07!
We close with this eye opening thought. The early rain was poured out on all that were praying for it. But that was only a total of about 120, who were all in one location, Jerusalem. Now, what if people around the globe were praying for the outpouring of the latter rain? If God were to be so gracious as to answer, where would that rain fall? Where would that Spirit descend? Would it not lighten the entire globe with its glory? Is this not what has been prophesied to happen according to Revelation 18:1-4?
It is an interesting phenomenon when Adventists think that they can by praying at a specific time cause God to pour out His spirit. As if God does not want to get involved with people unless they can plead with God, on a specific time within a specific time for something that is Biblically not even mentioned. That is the "latter rain" is a Pentecostal idea that did not even exist before the 1800's and it is based upon taking verses out of context. See the following for information on the Latter Rain and it's pentecostal foundation.

Notice that final line about how they think the "Latter rain" would be a fulfillment of Rev. 18 which if I recall correctly from the lesson quarterly two quarters ago on 1844, the Investigative Judgment and the Gospel, this verse was supposed to have been fulfilled over 150 years ago. Of course in either case those verses say nothing of a Holy Spirit outpouring to occur in the "final days" whatever that may be. The last days began nearly 2000 years ago as the Apostles carried the message of Christ to the world, it is that which Peter says they were seeing at Pentecost mentioned in the book of Joel.

What it appears to me is that this is an attempt to prop up traditional SDA beliefs while using the New Age concept of global consensus meditation to achieve a new state of awareness. Maybe I am too skeptical but it seems to me this is a very human attempt to try and create a short cut to our Christian mission of giving every man an answer for our faith.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Mafia Cowbirds

There is recent research from the Pro­ceed­ings of the Na­tio­n­al Aca­de­my of Sci­en­ce. Which may cause more questions then it answers. The following is from World Science "Mafia" behavior noted in birds

Many spe­cies, no­ta­bly cuck­oos, are brood par­a­sites that lay their eggs among un­wit­ting hosts.

Some of the free­load­ers lay eggs that look like the hosts’ eggs, ex­plain­ing why the hosts ac­cept them. But in oth­er cases, the in­t­rud­ers’ eggs look dra­ma­t­i­cal­ly dif­fer­ent from those of the hosts; this is the case with the par­a­sit­ic brown-headed cow­bird.

That raises the ques­tion of why the vic­tim pa­rents ac­cept the eggs. Al­though some of them toss the al­ien eggs from their nest, it hap­pens sel­dom enough that the par­a­site strat­e­gy works as a whole.

One ex­pla­na­tion could be that the free­loaders en­force ac­ceptance by de­stroy­ing the eggs or nests of hosts that re­ject their eggs. While such be­hav­ior has been re­ported in a cuck­oo spe­cies, con­trolled stud­ies haven’t been per­formed, ac­cord­ing to the in­ves­ti­ga­tors in a new study, which sought to rem­e­dy this.

They con­trolled cow­birds’ ac­cess to the nest of a host, the war­bler. They then ma­nip­u­lat­ed war­blers’ re­jection of cow­bird eggs to see the con­se­quenc­es. The re­ported re­sults: cow­birds ran­sacked 56 per­cent of re­jecter nests, com­pared to just 6 per­cent of ac­cepter nests.

Ran­sack­ing was­n’t lim­it­ed to re­tal­i­a­tory sit­u­a­tions, though. Cow­birds al­lowed ac­cess to host nests al­so were found to ran­sack one in five non-par­a­si­tized nests. This sug­gests cow­birds “farm” for hosts, de­stroy­ing war­bler nests so they can lay their eggs af­ter the hosts re­build, the sci­en­tists ar­gued. Sup­port­ing this no­tion, they added, cow­birds par­a­si­tized 85 per­cent of re­built nests.

Over­all, re­jecter war­blers pro­duced few­er off­spring than ac­cepters, sug­gest­ing hosts may be bet­ter off in ev­o­lu­tion­ary terms ac­cepting cow­bird eggs, the in­ves­ti­ga­tors said.

The re­search, by Jeff Hoo­ver Il­li­nois Nat­u­ral His­to­ry Sur­vey in Cham­paign, Ill., and Scott K. Rob­in­son of the Flor­i­da Mu­se­um of Nat­u­ral His­to­ry in Gaines­ville, Fla., is to ap­pear this week in the ear­ly on­line edi­tion of the re­search jour­nal Pro­ceed­ings of the Na­tio­n­al Aca­de­my of Sci­en­ces.
The question that comes to my mind is how does the warbler for instance know that the cowbird may possibly destroy her nest? We learn about such mafia behavior by seeing the results or reading about it etc. but how does a bird of a couple years of life learn about the mafia behavior? Though this may be explained by the destruction of nests even if no parasitic eggs have been placed there. Sort of like burning down the neighbor buisnesss to make it known that the mafia has moved into the area. Interesting area of investigation.

Brilliant Article on Abundant Rest Blog

Well yes, some may say that it is self serving to point to the article just posted on the Abundant Rest Blog. Being that it is mine, but still if I don't promote myself who will? It will be interesting to see what comments it gets over there. For those who want to see the article without the Adentist Today editor's abridgment here is the article from my website Tradition and Progressive SDA's.

From Abundent Rest Blog:
(Editor’s Note: This article was written by Ron Corson, and originally published in Atoday. It appears here by written permission of both the author and the publisher. I selected this article because I think it presents a fair and balanced view of the denominational rift between these two groups within our church.)

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Eruption on Mt. Spectrum Blog

I am no doubt late on this subject as I am persona non grata at Spectrum Blog having been told by Alexander to " stay off mine." But there is a nice recap on For the Gospel
It begins like this:

Over on the Spectrum blog, a fascinating exchange has erupted between an 82 year-old Adventist, Dr. Thomas J. Zwemer, and Clifford Goldstein, editor of the SDA Sabbath School quarterly. Zwemer, who served on the board of trustees of Loma Linda University for nine years, has taken exception to the prominent status given to Mr. Goldstein by the current Adventist administration and laity. In his opening volley, Zwemer says, “I've read your book. You did what every prior SDA writer did to anyone who challenged, even in the most Christian manner, any dogma of the Millerite Movement. And you did it with glee. Then wiped your sword and now strut your stuff like a giant killer. I find that behavior disgusting.” While quite raw in his remarks, the honesty displayed by this elderly Adventist is a breath of fresh air. Read on for more comments from Dr. Zwemer, particularly the last one which is a gospel appeal that seems to have been brushed aside as the irrelevant rantings of an old man.

“Before you throw me out, a little history. I was a member of the Board of Trustees of Loma Linda University for nine years. The Board would meet 3-4 times a year for two or three days. Each morning about an hour before the scheduled opening a small number of retired or ‘cashiered’ workers would gather at the door, seeking audience with the President of the General Conference or one of his top each and every instance, the supplicant would be brushed aside without a handshake, a reassuring pat on the shoulder—just cold disregard. We would then assemble and have a long worship service in which ‘compassion’ was stressed. I saw that repeated at least 36 times in nine years. I saw how they treated M. L. Andreasen, Walter Rea, Des Ford, Frank Knittel, and a host of others. Now Cliff comes a long as a Johnny come lately and repeats the sorry mess [and] to top it off he infers that ‘He’ is the custoidian of ‘Objective Rational Truth’. That is too much to stomach. signed Tom”