Adventist Media Response and Conversation

Friday, September 28, 2007

Adventism and Fundamentalism Tape Available

The Pacific Northwest Adventist Forum now has the outstanding meeting on September 8 in which Dr. Dave Thomas gave a presentation on Adventism and Fundamentalism. The tape is available for $5 dollars and I highly recommend it.

As Pacific Northwest Adventist Forum does not have their website up and running and I don't want to give out the email for the contact for robots to crawl and send spam I am going to act as the middle man. Simply e-mail me at (I am already set up to deal with spam) and I will send you the email and address where you can send for the tape.

They also have the PowerPoint presentation file available.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Here we stand or here we lie

When I get time I am going to post a few articles on Doug Batchelor’s Here We Stand series. It is interesting to see the fundamentalist perspective after listening to Dave Thomas’ Forum lecture. More on that later. For now here is one of the many items that are gross inaccuracies Mr. Batchelor uses. In this case the research has already been done by others so it is easy to show Batchelor’s deception or ignorance.

At about minute 57 in his lecture Messenger for a Movement Doug puts forth a rather old story which just listening to it you sense it is wrong, here is what he says speaking of Ellen White’s book the Desire of Ages:

“Matter of fact the Library of Congress in the United States, where there are probably hundreds of different volumes written on the life of Christ. Stated years ago that of all the this person had read that the Desire of Ages was the most beautiful and most eloquent book and most Biblically accurate demonstration of the life of Christ.”

The way it is presented it has the earmarks of an urban legend, an appeal to authority, the Library of Congress which then degrades into some unknown person. Fortunately there is a website which deals with this Adventist myth. From the website under the heading The Desire of Ages Library of Congress Myth We read the following:

It was often said by SDA pastors, "that the Library of Congress recommended the The Desire of Ages written by Ellen G. White, over other books written on the life of Christ." The conferences had drives for local churches to contact the managers of the major motels in the their city to try to get The Desire of Ages in every motel room. We were to use the Library of Congress statement to promote the book to the motel managers.

It was after leaving the SDA church that I found that it was not the Library of Congress that promoted Desire of Ages, but a former SDA Pastor who went to work for the Library of Congress. His name is, Wells E. Bement, born February 7, 1891 and died December 26, 1977. He was a 1922 graduate of Washington Missionary College and served briefly in India, was dean and Bible teacher at Atlantic Union College and later worked in educational and MV work as director.

Bement's letter was a personal letter in answer Mr. Nicolas Chaij's questions. The letter was not written on the Library of Congress stationary and was not the opinion of the Library of Congress.

[See the website for a copy of the letter]

It was dishonest for the Seventh-day Adventist Church leaders to mislead its members to believe that the The Desire of Ages was held in such high regard as "one of the best books on the life of Christ" or words to that effect in the Library of Congress and not tell them this glowing report was by a former SDA pastor and that it was his personal opinion.

Mr. Bement was no doubt prejudiced in his selection of The Desire of Ages over other books in the library, being a loyal diehard Ellen G. White fan. Most SDAs would also pick The Desire of Ages as their favorite book.

The Seventh-day Adventist Church should have written to the Library of Congress to get their official opinion. This would have been the honest thing to do and then report their findings to the church members instead of misleading them.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Adventism and Fundamentalism

This last Saturday I attended Pacific Northwest Adventist Forum presented by Dave Thomas, D. Min. Professor of Theology Dean, School of Theology Walla Walla College. This was a very good presentation on a sensitive subject that no doubt would cause Adventist fundamentalist to bristle. Hopefully at some point the forum will have their website up and running and a tape or mp3 of the presentation available. I did offer previously to interview a speaker prior to his presentation but they may do that on their website and so turned down my offer. That was many months ago but as a friend told me maybe I am not safe. Here is some of the information from the Forum presentation.

Fundamentalism definition by Dave Thomas:

Fundamentalism is a reaction against rapid change. It is driven more by fear than it is by faith.

Religious faith provides context for peoples lives. Once you establish a reality of ultimate faith you can’t change it or you rob people of their sense of place and purpose and they won’t abide such changes. Every generation looks at their children and sees them as rapidly declining; it has been the view of the older generation of the younger for thousands of years. Fundamentalism is attempting to prevent change.

Fundamentalists like to carefully define a body of truth. Second they ascribe that body of truth as directly from God. Which is why verbal inspiration is so popular among many fundamentalists. Like the Koran which is only correct when read in Arabic any other language is a lesser word of God. Once they have the body of truth attributed to God they can declare it as orthodoxy. Our understanding came down from heaven it is the way things are, they can’t be changed. Then those not accepting the orthodoxy are shunned or discredited or in extremist cases worse.

As Reinhold Niebuhr wrote: ”Frantic orthodoxy is never rooted in faith but in doubt. It is when we are not sure that we are doubly sure. Fundamentalism is, therefore, inevitable in an age which has destroyed so many certainties by which faith once expressed itself and upon which it relied.”

The hope then is by fixing beliefs the fundamentalist can prevent change. It is a poor strategy because all human knowledge is partial at best. Even revelation from God is partial as Paul said “we know in part and we see in part” but he looks to the day when we know and be known completely. Human knowledge is always affected by time and place.

Fundamentalism has three basic flaws

  1. Limited knowledge. (we are guaranteed that there are errors in every religious system of belief)
  2. Change is ever present and perhaps necessary part of life. (how does one fight a given in life)
  3. Truth is often based upon an experience test. (The ultimate truth is revealed by a person’s experience of the transforming power of God. Thus they look inward to judge the viability of their religion. But what happens when the person falls into sin or their conversion experience appears to fail? If they look inward their proof is gone. What happens in many fundamentalists is that they lose their faith in fall into agnosticism or secularism.)

One of the wonders of early Adventism was the idea of Present Truth, knowledge that is current and as time moves on knowledge increases and present truth expands.

Dr. Thomas did remind us of the two major contributions of Fundamentalism which are a high degree of respect for the Bible and a continuing the sense of the supernatural against the modernism of the last centuries.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

An interesting article in the recent Atoday News

Adventist Church Relocates to Cut Operating Expenses, Focus on Ministry

June 30, 2007 was a defining moment for one of the largest progressive Adventist churches in North America - CrossWalk in Redlands, California (also the former home of pastor Samir Selmanovic who is now spearheading the Faith House Manhattan project in New York). In a sermon entitled “Difference Makers: Caleb-Finishing Well,” senior pastor Michael Knecht made the official announcement of a major life-change to his congregation: CrossWalk is relocating.

Crosswalk moved the first time because they outgrew their Azure Hills SDA church auditorium and became their own organization. This time, the decision isn’t about space. According to Knecht, Crosswalk’s annual operating/rental expense is $388,000 US (57% of their annual budget). In contrast, only $36,000 per year is spent on ministries for people, or what Knecht coins “producing fruit.” This is the budget especially dedicated to fulfilling the Crosswalk mission of “learning to love well,” which has translated over the years to a church with a passionate commitment to social justice, international involvement, urban mission and community development.

Toward the end of his sermon, Knecht said, “The numbers don’t make sense. We can do so much more in ministry and fruit production.....what if we increased the fruit production and cut down the fixed expenses?”

Knecht added that 98% of the people who come to Crosswalk only show up for 2 1/2 hours one morning per week (Sabbath service), while the rest of the week Crosswalk is a money pit. It will cost Crosswalk “only” $100,000 per year to rent space elsewhere for one morning per week instead of every day of the week at their current campus. If you do the math, they would save $324,000 per year. This is a no-brainer.

But the real inspiration for this cost-effective solution lies at the heart of why Crosswalk’s leadership team chose the move. What does a relocating church do with $324,000 in savings? Knecht committed that money toward fruit production - ministries like the Barnabus Fund to help the financially disadvantaged, Project Comfort, to provide Ethiopian children with clothing, medical care, and education plus many other unmentioned missional projects to serve the needy and marginalized.—Marcel Schwantes

I have often wondered why we do not build our churches as multipurpose building and why our smaller churches would rather build their own church then to rent a church from one of the many churches who hold their main worship on Sunday. When you see a statistic like the one above how 98% only show up to a church service there is really little reason to have a church just for that one day a couple of hours. I think many Adventists tend to see other Christians as the enemies and they don't want to cooperate in ways that would be helpful to all concerned. I would guess that we don't see church as a community, rather as an obligation that is met by attending a sermon once a week. But then with 98% only meeting together for a sermon once a week we must realize that we are not really creating a community.