Adventist Media Response and Conversation

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Ellen White to Millenials

ProgressiveAdventism.com has an interesting article of a presentation given at the Ellen White Conference on April 2 on Loma Linda University campus. From Saint in Leotard to Granny on Myspace: Teaching Ellen White to the Millennials

Adventist Millennials are just as, if not more, ignorant about White as they are about Scripture and theology. When I first started teaching the Life and Teachings of Jesus course to PUC students (mostly freshmen in that class), I decided to require The Desire of Ages as one of the textbooks. But I wasn’t sure how many would come having read it in the past. So on the first day of the quarter, I asked if anyone had. To my surprise, no one had! Absolutely no one? Not even a chapter or a selected passage? They couldn’t recall having read any. What about any of her books? Out of 45 students, only 3 or 4 had read any. So I got more curious. What do you know about Ellen White? They all knew that she is considered a prophet, that she is some kind of an authority, that she wrote a lot of books—and that a lot of people (including their parents) hated her. But the interesting thing for me as I kept discovering more about their attitude toward White was that they’re actually curious about her and open to her. Because they’re so ignorant of her but feel like they should know her better, many of them are genuinely in interested in finding out—if only someone would walk them through the process of discovery.

I thought the above was interesting as I recall hearing Alden Thompson say much the same thing back in 2005, that his students did not really know much about Ellen White. However when I started to think of my own history growing up as a Seventh-day Adventist in both SDA elementary school and then Academy (graduating from Academy in the latter part of the seventies) I realized I had never read an Ellen White book either. If I had been in Julius’ class I would have raised my hand and said I had not read a single EGW book. Even though in Academy, my junior year I had to write a term paper on my philosophy of life based upon Ellen White’s writings. (What I would give now to see what I wrote). There is no wonder that his students are open to hear about Ellen White, after all the church declares her their prophet they hear quotes from her all the time and unless you are part of the fringe of Adventism they are not likely hearing the quotes about all the little things you should not do or all the rebukes that fill the Testimonies to the Church series. They hear the best of Ellen White and they, as Julius did in his class focus upon the story telling books like Desire of Ages. Things probably would have been a whole lot different if they started with “An Appeal to Mothers”, (1864) which begins:

My Sisters, my apology for addressing you on this subject is, I am a mother, and feel alarmed for those children and youth who by solitary vice are ruining themselves for this world, and for that which is to come. Let us closely inquire into this subject from the physical, mental and moral points of view.

Or the beginning of “Christian Temperance and Bible Hygiene”, (1890)

Man came from the hand of his Creator perfect in organization and beautiful in form. The fact that he has for six thousand years withstood the ever-increasing weight of disease and crime is conclusive proof of the power of endurance with which he was first endowed. And although the antediluvians generally gave themselves up to sin without restraint, it was more than two thousand years before the violation of natural law was sensibly felt. Had Adam originally possessed no greater physical power than men now have, the race would ere this have become extinct.

I enjoyed Julius’ article but it never really seems to address the real need of understanding Ellen White for the church today. Unfortunately as long as we have a myopic view we will have a distorted theology. The discussion of what is the myopic view and what is the 20/20 view seems to be too uncomfortable for many Adventists to even consider but it is essential for the church as it enters the new millennium.

Adventist Grooming Controversies

Hoobes' Place blog has a very fun article on some of the controversy head hair has had in the Adventists Church. Showing history can be fun: To Beard or not to Beard.. That is the Question

At the 1866 General Conference Session on May 17 a series of resolutions passed by the Battle Creek Church were read. These resolutions included the following statement:

“We hold that in the matter of shaving and coloring the beard, some of our brethren display a species of vanity equally censurable with that of certain of the sisters in dressing the hair; and that in all cases should they discard every style which will betoken the air of the fop; but while we have no objections to a growth of beard on all parts of the face, as nature designed it, yet where any portion of the beard is removed, we think the brethren greatly err from the sobriety of the Christian in donning the mustache or goatee.

Belonging Before Believing

I was just looking at some Church websites and came upon the following in the Youth section of a United Methodist Church. It is pretty impressive in that it states what I have been saying well. While the site is directed at senior high youth I am quite certain research would prove it accurate for Adults as well.

The Following is a WORK IN PROGRESS!

What Do Small Groups Give Us We Cannot Find in Sunday Morning & Evening Gatherings?
That's the million dollar question. Here's the million dollar answer. The schedules of our lives fracture our connections with one another. Getting our youth and parents in the same place at the same time continues to grow more and more challenging. In fact, it grows more and more challenging to have our mission teams together from the beginning of the trip until the end.

The beauty of small groups is that we maintain a connection throughout the year. It's a lot easier getting a smaller group together and it takes us back to our roots as United Methodists. John Wesley started the small group movement only he called them "accountability groups". And being held accountable to one another, within the framework of a small group ministry, is exactly what our ministry needs today.

Belonging Comes Before Believing
All youth groups must be built on one foundation: relationships. Significant ground breaking research (The National Study on Youth and Religion) and the experience of every good youth leader and parent has shown this to be true. And as we ponder how a Christian education model is built on relationships with Christ and each other, it is important to realize that the public school system model is not built on relationships.

Consider this: a home schooled youth can succeed and graduate from high school without ever developing close relationships with peers. Youth groups and churches can never succeed this way. Youth must attend school because it is the law. At youth group they will come because of relationships.

Here's why we want to move to a small group model. We'll improve our chances of growing in the faith if we use a relational model as our foundation and not the school system model.

Head Vs. Heart
The school system model focuses on educating the mind. The Christian education model focuses on educating the heart and you can only do that in a safe environment which allows for the exploration of such matters. Here's an example based on a true story.

The Significance of a Safe Environment
On a FUMCO Sunday morning in a Christian education class, a youth posed a heartfelt question. "Can I pray and will God speak to me? Can I have a vision of God like others had in the Bible?" As we began exploring scriptural answers, peers who did not know the one posing this question began to snicker. Perhaps they were uninterested or simply uncomfortable by the subject matter. Did they know their peer posing the question? No. The exploration of the question was over and the message communicated that day was "It isn't safe to lay your heart out in the open in this place at this time".

Challenges and Solutions
Consider our Christian Education time on a FUMCO Sunday morning. How do we make that environment safe to explore matters of the heart? Our spiritual journeys? First, we let's examine the challenges we face on Sunday morning.

A. Turnover. Sunday morning group dynamics change every single Sunday morning and this turnover makes it very difficult to create the safe environment built on relationships that we need to succeed. The reasons for the turnover? The list is long. Other commitments to extracurricular activities, jobs, family activities and you can add to the list.
B. Time. Remember, the school system model does not need to educate on a relational foundation. A one hour format can succeed. In a Christian education class with high turnover there must be time to build relationships. To then offer a quality educational model not based on lecture but on an experiential model takes more time then one hour.
C. Different Individual Needs.
D. Reducing the duplication of lessons.

Offering an Outstanding Program is Important But Still Not Enough
Did you ever see the movie "Field of Dreams"? "Build it and they will come". Quality programming matters. Still, it does not change the fact that the foundation for youth ministry is built on relationships. Quality programming alone is not enough. World class speakers and entertainers like Dayton Edmunds or Bob Morley are not enough. Youth always want to know 2 things. What are we doing but more importantly, who is going? Belonging comes before believing.

Leadership and Ownership
Being in a small group is today your best opportunity for leadership and ownership of our ministry together. In the past, we were able to hold monthly gatherings to develop youth leadership and ownership from a variety of perspectives. Through it all youth learned to negotiate, compromise, listen and collaborate together on creating our ministry. That element has been missing from our ministry for the past couple of seasons. Again, the ever increasing demands of family schedules & commitments have made our attempts to gather for leadership team meetings unsatisfactory. We should be able to improve leadership and ownership with our new small group format.

Sr. High-The New World
Research shows that every church faces the challenge of keeping their Sr. High actively involved. And what that research also shows is that they need three things. A strong sense of belonging, meaning and competence. The typical Sunday morning & Sunday evening program doesn't provide those things in face of the demanding schedules of the 21rst century family. Small groups are designed to meet those needs!

Friday, July 20, 2007

Two methods of Evangelism

Reinventing the Adventist Wheel has a good couple of videos posted which show two different views on “evangelism”. The first is by a Pastor who is against the bullhorn method of street evangelism. The second is a Pastor who is for such things, modified of course because practically nobody really thinks those bullhorn guys do anything. So the second goes more after the idea that talking about how sinful people are is better then loving them into friendship and relationship to God.

TWO SIDES OF ROB BELL'S "BULLHORN"

You can know doubt guess which side I will stand on but please take the time to watch the video’s, about 12 minutes for the bullhorn video and 5 each for the response videos. Though how can one argue with a statement such as this in the second video:

But Dr. Love objects, Dr. Love says that Jesus didn’t come to judge but he came to save. Yea that’s right but He came to save from what, He came to save us from the second time when He comes to judge so we’ve got to warn people He’s coming back to judge and the first time He came He came to save you and now you must repent and put your trust in the savior. (About 1 minute from the end of Todd Friel’s first response video)

This fits very easily into the Penal Atonement theory which is based upon a faulty premise. It actually ends up with God saying love and trust me or I will kill you (Oops that is the Adventist version, Todd Friel's version is that God is going to torture you for all eternity). Jesus will save you from God who is coming back to kill you if you don’t love Him. This is nothing like the Judgment Paul speaks of. Which is a judgment that reveals the kind of relationship we have with God, do we trust God or not, nothing else done in the body is as important as that trust relationship. Because with the relationship comes enough forgiveness to cover whatever we have done, even if we murdered others like Saul/Paul or David. We have no business making the kinds of distortions of the Grace of God and faith that the false premise makes.

One good part about the response video is that when the Pastor tries to tell the strangers that he is a nice guy who would like to listen if they have in hurts or problems they could tell him. Of course no one does because he is in fact a stranger and people don’t simply freely talk to strangers. In fact at the end where he asks them if he made them feel uncomfortable with his talk of hell and commandment keeping they all said no. Which is also typical of the way people interact with strangers often saying what the other person wants to hear. That section shows well why street evangelism does not work. There is not relationship, no friendship and no trust, it may spark an interest where they will investigate further but not too much else.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Reflections on Gen 3:6 Is it Ok to disagree with the prophet?

In my previous article on Genesis 3:6 I noted the overwhelming desire of Adventists to embellish the story. Of course this tendency is found throughout the Christian world as I showed in my article about Jimmy Swaggart’s commentary that told us how God told Adam and Eve all about the sacrificial system. It becomes a powerful tool to redefine the Bible stories to fit them to what we decide we want them to be. Jimmy Swaggart is able to claim that God helped him write his commentary and that it is the most doctrinally correct book he knows of. The Latter Day Saints do something very similar with their book, the Book of Mormon. Joseph Smith said: "I told the brethren that the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion…”

Like so many others, Joseph Smith and the LDS followers find their fulfillment by redefining the Genesis story to suit their needs. One of the important doctrines of the LDS church is that people on earth provide the earthly bodies for all the spirit children in heaven. So man had to fall so that mankind could reproduce. So in the Book of Mormon in Moses 5 we read: 10 And in that day Adam blessed God and was afilled, and began to bprophesy concerning all the families of the earth, saying: Blessed be the name of God, for because of my ctransgression my deyes are opened, and in this life I shall have ejoy, and again in the fflesh I shall see God. 11 And Eve, his wife, heard all these things and was glad, saying: Were it not for our transgression we never should have had aseed, and never should have bknown good and evil, and the joy of our redemption, and the eternal life which God giveth unto all the obedient.

You may think you can dissuade them from thinking this is true by quoting the Bible where it says “be fruitful and multiply” but you would be sorely mistaken. When invested with prophetic authority it is easy to assert that the meaning is as the supposed prophet has attested. It matters little what the context of the story said when one has the churches own prophet to assert to what really happened.

This was brought home to me most powerfully by the teacher of my Sabbath School class as he discussed my blog article on Gen 3:6. He noted that the story has the possibility for meaning that Eve was away from Adam and she came back to Adam with the forbidden fruit and Adam immediately saw she was different and decided to also eat because he did not want to be alone. In fact he pretty much repeated it the way Ellen White wrote the incident. Since it was a possibility and we are part of the SDA church and the SDA church has a prophet (even a fundamental belief that she is an authority on truth) he feels most secure in accepting her account. Speculating on possibilities becomes more important then accepting the story as it reads because we have a tradition, a specific viewpoint to defend. It is a possibility after all, just as the LDS verses for Moses 5 are a possibility. Possibilities are ever present, only subject to the imagination but is possible alternatives unmentioned in the Bible stories what the Bible is trying to tell its readers?

With all these possibilities it is easy to form the logic where tradition can become in itself an authority such as happened in the Roman Catholic Church. This is what we have believed and because we have believed it, now and forever more the tradition has the authority as divine revelation. Now of course we don’t accept the tradition as an authority from the Roman Catholic Church or from the LDS Church, however our own tradition, that is sacrosanct. Does that sound like the way to search for truth? If we question them should we not also question ourselves?

So what do we do in our churches if someone questions the views of Ellen White? Should it be assumed that if the story in the Bible differs from Ellen White’s version we should simply accept Ellen White’s version because we have invested her with authority? What do we do with those who have not invested her with authority? Making matters more complicated there are many who while investing her with authority acknowledge that she sometimes spoke with authority on things that were only her opinion. Others in my Sabbath School class say that we must give even more authority to any of her “I was shown” or the “Lord said” statements. One person in the class even questioned whether some of the “I was shown” statements were not merely also her opinion of what she thought God was showing her. Note, none of these were my comments as I don’t really talk about Ellen White in Sabbath school classes; it is a hot button issue and if our classes are looking at the Bible then I think we can deal with what the Bible says. Most Adventist have not studied the issues involved and their opinions are often based upon assumptions rather then what Ellen White really said, see footnote below.

Even before the 21st century our church was at a crossroads regarding Ellen White. But as we redefine our church for the new century we must also define how she is dealt with in our Church and Sabbath School classes. Will some in the church use her as the hammer of God to declare this is what God says through the “pen of inspiration.” As if to disagree with Ellen White is to reject God. This has traditionally been the SDA perspective, leadership and responsibility must not be given to those who question Ellen White. Yet in fact we regularly edit her statements because we don’t think they apply anymore, we say take the principle behind the statement. What is the principle behind the statement in the quarterly on Gen 3:6 where it said: "The angels had cautioned Eve to beware of separating herself from her husband while occupied in their daily labor in the garden; with him she would be in less danger from temptation than if she were alone."—Ellen G. White, Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 53. The principle there; that woman is the weaker person who is more likely to fall into temptation then the man even in an unfallen world. No, since it is an addition to the Bible stories most SDA’s don’t look at the principle they take the account as a literal description of events. If on the other hand we look at her admonition to not play chess or checkers or a host of games SDA’s say it is the principle that we should not waste our time with too much play. Or some may say the principle is that we should not engage in competitive activity. What of those who want to hold to her statements about games literally? I can tell you when the Davidians visited our class with their literalistic Ellen White views few of us felt comfortable with them.

The answer to the above questions will often depend on how an individual interprets the work of Ellen White. But we are inviting nothing but trouble if the leadership in the church allows Ellen White to trump all opinions. We will never have a safe environment in our churches if we allow the “Ellen White said,” trump card to be played. Not only will we drive many current SDA’s out of our churches and Sabbath Schools, but we will alienate fellow Christian visitors and very likely the seeker who sees value in the Bible yet is far away from accepting a nineteenth century denominational prophet.

No doubt some will read this and say that Ellen White’s prophecy that some will make the “testimonies of none effect” has come true. But then the splinter groups hold that such has already happened in the Adventist church and the traditionalists in the Adventist church feel that way about the Progressive Adventists. It is really just another matter of interpretation and depends upon whose special doctrines someone feels are being trampled.

Here is something from the July 2007 issue of Adventist Today, the conclusion of the editorial by Ervin Taylor entitled Celebrating Unity and Diversity.

The leadership of the 21st Century corporate Adventism, especially in North America, is currently confronted with an opportunity to rethink how it will deal institutionally with the reality that many loyal and committed Adventists in educational and medical centers hold what can be considered minority views on a whole host of topics. Is the Adventist Church now mature enough to embrace an appropriate unity, where diversity is recognized as a vital part of growth? Or shall we follow the counsel of those who, even in the pages of the Adventist Review, regularly call for the exclusion of minority viewpoints from Adventist University and College campuses and Adventist pulpits? Pluralism and tolerance are adult virtues that deserve a significant place in the increasingly complex Adventist world.

Footnote: The person who stated many of Ellen White statements are her own opinion would have to seriously redefine their postion if they were presented with her own words where she says:

"Yet now when I send you a testimony of warning and reproof, many of you declare it to be merely the opinion of Sister White. You have thereby insulted the Spirit of God. You know how the Lord has manifested himself through the spirit of prophecy. Past, present, and future have passed before me. I have been shown faces that I had never seen, and years afterward I knew them when I saw them. I have been aroused from my sleep with a vivid sense of subjects previously presented to my mind; and I have written at midnight letters that have gone across the continent, and, arriving at a crisis, have saved great disaster to the cause of God. This has been my work for many years. A power has impelled me to reprove and rebuke wrongs that I had not thought of. Is this work of the last thirty-six years from above, or from beneath? . . . ( Advent Review and Sabbath Herald 1906-08-30 Also General Conference Bulletins 1913-06-02 and Testimonies for the Church Volume 5 page 64 1889

See also: 5T.687.003 Testimonies for the Church Vol 687

5T.688.001 4T.229.002 5T.098.002 Testimony for the church at Battle Creek 1882 PH117.084.003 5T.671.002 Pamphlet to J.N. Andrews and Sister H.N. Smith 016.022.002

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Gluten Steak Recipe

Gluten Steak Recipe

This is a preemptive effort for me to remember how to make my gluten steaks. A staple of many Adventist whether vegetarian or not. This is the recipe that came from the packages of Vital Wheat Gluten from Andy's Market in College Place, Washington. It is the best recipe I have found for gluten steaks. Though I use a different beef seasoning and I don't really measure precisely the amount. Here is the recipe.

Gluten mix:
2 cups warm water, 1/3 cup soy sauce, 3 teaspoons Geroge Washington Broth (a beef broth type stuff) 1/2 teaspoon onion powder, 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder, 1 tablespoon oil, 3 cups vital Wheat gluten flour. Mix quickly (start with sturdy fork then use your hands) shape into roll and slice, (I make two rolls) cook in broth for 1 hour (stir occasionally as they will tend to expand and float to the top and above especially in a boiling broth. I let them sit in the broth till they cool down and then put them in freezer bags with extra broth.

Broth:
8 cups of water, 1/4 cup soy sauce, 2 teaspons George Washington Broth, 1 Tablespoon oil, 1 Bayleaf, 1 teaspoon Garlic powder, 1 teaspoon onion powder. (I tend to use more onion and garlic powder in the broth) Once water is boiling place cut slices into broth and cook.

Friday, July 06, 2007

This is for all the lonely people video

This is for all the Lonely People

ON SOCRATIC EVANGELISM

For the next few months I will be posting links and sections of articles that I think are important for redefining the local church for the 21st Century. While this is somewhat a departure from what this blog normally deals with it is still very much related to the future of Adventism.

George Barna on Outreach from Outreach magazine, "Point of View," November/December 2003 ON SOCRATIC EVANGELISM
If I had to describe the one approach to evangelism that seems to consistently have the greatest impact in this postmodern era, it would be “Socratic evangelism.” The basic idea behind this approach is that it takes place in the context of relationship, wherein you engage an unbeliever about an issue of interest to her. It doesn’t have to be a spiritual issue to spark a spiritual conversation. Ultimately, all of our beliefs, values and morals—everything—come back to a basic truth standard. Socratic evangelism gets someone to dig and dig until they get to the foundation of where they believe truth comes from and what that truth is. Of course, there are challenges with this type of outreach. One is time. Hit-and-run evangelism generally does not work in a postmodern culture. But we’ve found people who come to conclusions on their own become really zealous evangelists in their own circles of influence (circles the Church usually doesn’t penetrate). So it’s a phenomenally wonderful thing. But it’s not easy getting there. If we want people to be effective Socratic evangelists, they first have to know their own faith deeply enough to know the right questions to ask. So right out of the blocks, we’ve got a problem because we know that less than one out of every 10 born-again adults has a biblical worldview that serves as the basis of their decision making. So, really, step one is for churches to stop dabbling in discipleship. Jesus didn’t die so that we could dabble in tales and stories and say, “Gee, wasn’t that a wonderful thing He did?” His sacrifice is supposed to transform our lives.

There are a couple of important points here. First is that the conversation is dependent upon first having a relationship with another person. This applies to both people within the church as well as people outside the church. Second the Adventist church has been famous for hit and run type of evangelism. Even many of our Bible studies courses have a type of hit and run attitude where they deal with our unique views and ignore contrary views. But the Socratic evangelists must know the other Christian views as well as their chosen view and the people must deal honestly with the differences. A Christian worldview is not limited to one way of Bible interpretation in fact we have seen from history as well as contemporary experience that beliefs will vary among people. We don't all see things the same way even if we use the same standard. Discipleship does not have to mean all must be uniform in all beliefs within one denominational interpretation. It may be an ideal but worldviews and philosophy are built upon vastly different life experiences and as such we have to expect differences.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Rewriting Genesis 3:6


There are many people in the Adventist church who no longer trust the information that is supplied in the Sabbath School Lesson Study Guide. For quite a while it has tried to exhort Traditional Adventist views even when they have to stretch the truth. As the new Quarter begins with the topic of marriage, the authors naturally begin with the story of Adam and Eve, even though there is precious little about their relationship, speculation has always been the main way people deal with the first chapters of Genesis and the Lesson Study Guide continues the tradition. The Lesson Study Guide for July 4 writes:

Read Genesis 3:1-6. Several elements in the narrative suggest that Eve was alone when she succumbed to the temptation. (1) The serpent addresses only the woman. (2) Adam seems absent and is not mentioned till Eve gives him the fruit. (3) Adam is cursed only for listening to his wife and not for listening to the serpent.

Several versions of the Bible and certain commentaries suggest that Adam was with Eve at the time she was tempted (Gen. 3:6). The Hebrew has several words that may be translated "with." Two important ones are etzel and im. The latter is used in this passage.

Etzel is the preposition that is used to denote location beside or next to something. (See Gen. 39:15, 18.) By contrast, im denotes relationship. "Immanuel" in Isaiah 7:14 and 8:8, 10 begins with the preposition im and means "God with us." It is a relational position and not geographical. Genesis 3:6 therefore does not strictly demand that we see Adam positioned beside Eve when she is tempted. Adam used the same preposition in Genesis 3:12 to remind God about the woman He had put with him. It is a relational "with." Had he been with her, she might not have succumbed. "The angels had cautioned Eve to beware of separating herself from her husband while occupied in their daily labor in the garden; with him she would be in less danger from temptation than if she were alone."—Ellen G. White, Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 53.

The most obvious problem is that the vast majority of English language Bibles include “with her” the few that don’t have “with” still imply the idea. For example the (TEV) “So she took some of the fruit and ate it. Then she gave some to her husband, and he also ate it.“ The second problem is that in the Hebrew the word for “with” is not used. The Lesson Study Guide falsely claims that the Hebrew “im” (Strong’s # 5973) is used in the passage in Gen 3:6. The word “with” is used in English to translate the thought from the Hebrew into our language, it is not a Hebrew word used in the original text. Even the use of “im” given by the Lesson Study Guide is inaccurate as the “im” they address is a root used in the Hebrew word for Immanuel but just like our English words, the root for Butterfly is butter but the connection to butter and butterfly is not substantially the same, it is merely some aspect of butter, namely a color which in many butterflies would not even be similar to the type of butterfly one may encounter. The Lesson Study Guide asserts that the use of “im” is relationship oriented rather then location oriented because they are using the root word used in Immanuel rather the way “im” is used by itself in a Hebrew text. When used as the Lesson indicates it would appear the way it does in the actual first use of “im(Update According to the Englishman's Concordance, according to this lexicon the first use is in Gen 18:23 " destroy the righteous with the wicked?") in the Old Testament used in Gen 48:12 “And Joseph brought them out from between his knees, and he bowed himself with his face to the earth.” (KJV) (Where Joseph introduces his little children to Jacob.) The following is how Strong’s Lexicon defines the word:

5973 `im (eem); from 6004; adverb or preposition, with (i.e. in conjunction with), in varied applications; specifically, equally with; often with prepositional prefix (and then usually unrepresented in English): KJV-- accompanying, against, and, as (X long as), before, beside, by (reason of), for all, from (among, between), in, like, more than, of, (un-) to, with (-al).

The Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament, popularly used in the first century includes the word for “with” in the text. The Greek is meta From The LXX: meta; a primary preposition (often used adverbially) transliterated spelling Meta (met-ah') meaning; with, after, behind. As with the Hebrew it is not restricted to relationship usage.

What about the Lesson Study Guide’s “elements” that suggest that Eve was alone, despite the overwhelming scholarship of Bible translators? The elements, as are so much of the Genesis account, subjects of speculation. The story is very brief and details are very few. Rather than assuming that the intent of the story is to tell us that Eve was alone because the serpent only talks with Eve, we could also speculate the authors intent was to show the weak nature of a woman, (see 1 Timothy 2:14) this is what happens when man is silent and lets the woman direct conversation. While these are both speculative the idea that makes women appear weak is most contextually consistent with the curses subsequently given, (Genesis 3:16 “he will rule over you.") as well as the historical evidence of the Patriarchal system which is found throughout Genesis and the Old Testament.

One could also speculate that the reason for Eve being the only one to talk to the serpent was because in a perfect world there was no need for one to look after the other. No patriarchal worldview, a woman could actually speak for herself and think for herself. A woman did not need to have man’s permission to talk. This is a very empowering feminist ideal but contextually and culturally not likely the reason. Maybe the reason for the conversation between Eve and the serpent is because it would be a more direct literary device to write the account that way. The reason why the Lesson Study Guide needs to stretch the truth so far is very likely that they are attempting to make the actual Biblical account correlate with the account that Ellen White wrote. Even though there is nothing in the Creation account about Adam and Eve having conversations with angels or having any knowledge of Satan or offering sacrifices, those areas of omission are not as troublesome as having the Biblical account specifically go against the account written by Ellen White.

It would seem that even though the Lesson Study Guide tried to create a fictional word usage to reconcile Ellen White’s version with the Bible they have still left themselves in an untenable position. Now the first sin was not eating the fruit but Eve’s disobedience in not following the instructions of God delivered to her by the angels to remain by Adam’s side. Even worse, God would then be punishing Adam for ignorance because if he was not with Eve he would have no way of knowing about the source of the fruit Eve gave him. I applaud the Lesson Study Guide for being willing to deal with this discrepancy rather then ignoring it as has been done for many years. But very clearly they have overstepped logic and common sense.