Adventist Media Response and Conversation

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Unconventional Evangelism

I think most of us have realized, at least over the last twenty years, that our Adventist Evangelistic series have had quite limited success in America and Canada. They seem to be produced at the same rate however probably because the powers that be in the churches have never considered other possibilities. The following is what I think would be a valuable Evangelistic effort. It is not an effort to create Seventh-day Adventists but rather an effort to introduce Christianity to a world that is becoming more and more unsure what Christianity is or they have a picture of Christianity that is related to the religion as a form of political power.

Here is how I would envision the program:

The object is to present Christianity as a thinking religion, (where Faith is built upon evidence and reason is to be used as a God given facility to develop a relationship with God) one that has some answers but not all the answers.

The series is not designed to make people SDA's, it is to introduce Christianity and demonstrate that it is a viable philosophy which supplies the needs of people as well as encouraging those people to ask questions and search for truth. As such it will offer a variety of opinions when necessary. For instance a 6 literal day creation will not be assumed. Various Creationist views will be given. Various views of the Godhead will be offered as well as the various theories of the Atonement. (For example Substitutional atonement would not be treated as if it is the only or best view). Some Christian traditions will be spotlighted for their reasoning and assumptions whether good or ill; it is possible that this would include some held by SDA's.

Using a lecture setting with multimedia aids such as PowerPoint presentation using slides of subjects, cartoons, clips of popular TV and or radio and music snippets. Presented like a high school or college lecture in general using whatever is available to add interest during the lecture. Participants will be given books filled with the information that the lectures were taken from. Not to be used as workbooks or added to as the lectures proceed but as material they can use after the series. Ideally this document would be put together by the church offering the seminar which means that they are preparing the ideas and the lectures for a year or two in advance. They are examining the topics and gathering the information so that the local church is involved intimately with the presentation and the follow-up should people want to attend the local church. Of course if some church prepares the document it could always offer it to sell for those churches who cannot muster enough interest to do the work themselves. But I think the work of the preparation would very often help the local church as people come together to search and prepare the information and the lectures. Giving people some good impetus to know each other better and work and grow together.



1. If you can't prove it why should I believe it?

  1. Evidence vs. facts
  2. Facts vs. faith
  3. Questions and the search for truth

2. How did we come to exist creation or random chance?

  1. What do evolutionist's say
  2. What do creationist say
  3. Creationist varied views and evolutionists varied views
  4. Mathematical possibilities

3. Is there a God, if so how does He communicate to me?

  1. The presupposition of God vs. the presupposition of no God
  2. Creator vs. disinterested clock-maker.
  3. What is the nature of inspiration--Verbal or thoughts, literal and symbolic

4. What is the Bible, where did it come from and what is in it for me?

  1. How was the Old Testament collected
  2. How were the New Testament and Bible put together
  3. Stories, legends, literature and meaning of the Bible.
  4. Is it true/accurate? Evidence from history, archaeology, manuscripts and prophecy

5. Does God hate me, love me, or even notice me at all?

  1. Why does God care?
  2. Why so much pain and trouble?
  3. What does God offer?
  4. Kingdom of God now and not yet

6. What is a Christian and why would I want to be one?

  1. Definition
  2. Connection to Judaism
  3. Accomplishments and failures
  4. Philosophy

7. Did Jesus Christ really exist, a special man or God?

  1. Evidence of Jesus what the witnesses say
  2. What does history show about Christ?
  3. Did the world really change after Christ?
  4. God, son of God, and son of man
  5. Trinity or one God can we conceive of God?

8. Why did Jesus have to die, how does it help me?

  1. What is the problem with sin?
  2. Can God be trusted?
  3. How to demonstrate what love is
  4. Is God subject to his law, does Jesus pay a penalty?
  5. Is reconciliation legal or relational?

9. So many instructions given, what am I supposed to do?

  1. What about all those sacrifices?
  2. Do I have to follow all those Old Testament rules?
  3. The law that brings us to God
  4. Christ in me?
  5. A new beginning, a new man, a new heart, a new mind

10. Aren't all religions the same, does it matter which path I follow?

  1. So many religions how is Christianity different?
  2. So many Christian denominations what to look for?
  3. Traditions helpful or hurtful?
  4. On the path what is your goal?

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Probably the biggest news in Christianity today is the recent publication of the letters of Mother Teresa in a book soon to be published. It is remarkable to me that after spending so many years with the destitute people that anyone could think she would not be constantly filled with doubts and question her religion. Not to mention some of the long established Roman Catholic ideas which don't make much sense. Her devotion to helping people is a tribute to the radical concepts of love that Jesus expressed whether you believe Him to be God or not. Though I tend to disagree with the arm chair theologians who declare her now to be an atheist, it makes me think that is the reason she wanted her letters destroyed as she did not want to cause people to doubt the way she had. In any case this is a testament to our search for truth and understanding and why I think it is important to continue the search. She it appears desired to serve without continuing the struggle for understanding and no doubt the Roman Catholic church influenced that idea. Which brings me to one of the strengths still in the Adventist church, that freedom of inquiry and exploration. Yes there are some in the church who try to stomp it out of existence but praise God it is still alive and well in many.

The following is taken from the Mother Teresa's Shocking Struggle with Faith:

Mother Teresa, a globally beloved symbol of saintly devotion to the poor, spent her last 50 years secretly struggling with doubts about her faith, her newly published letters show.

"If there be God - please forgive me. When I try to raise my thoughts to Heaven, there is such convicting emptiness that those very thoughts return like sharp knives and hurt my very soul," she wrote.

"How painful is this unknown pain - I have no Faith."

The letters paint an astonishing alternate portrait of the nun revered for her selflessness and serenity. In reality, she was tortured for decades by her inability to feel even the smallest glimmer of the Lord's presence.

She felt abandoned by Christ, referred to Jesus as "the Absent One," and called her own smile "a mask."

In the 1960s, after receiving an important prize, she wrote, "This means nothing to me, because I don't have Him."

Sixty-six years worth of her deeply personal letters to superiors and confessors - preserved by the Catholic Church despite her dying wish that they be destroyed - are published in a new book, "Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light," excerpted in Time magazine.

The book is by the Rev. Brian Kolodiejchuk, director of the Mother Teresa Center and the driving force behind efforts to canonize her.

She has already been beatified, the step before formally being declared a saint.

"I've never read a saint's life where the saint has such an intense spiritual darkness. No one knew she was that tormented," Kolodiejchuk said. "It will give a whole new dimension to the way people understand her."

He argues that the depth of her spiritual suffering increases her saintliness.

Most believers suffer from crises of faith, but the duration of Teresa's alienation from Christ seems extreme.

It began, she said, soon after she set up her Missionaries of Charity in Calcutta in the late 1940s to succor India's poor. And it lasted, with only a joyous five-week respite in 1959 when she refound God, until her death at age 87, a decade ago.

"There is such terrible darkness within me, as if everything was dead. It has been like this more or less from the time I started 'the work,'" she wrote in 1953.

After Pope Pius XII died in October 1958, Teresa prayed to him for proof that God was pleased with her work. "Then and there," she rejoiced, "disappeared the long darkness ... that strange suffering of 10 years."

But five weeks later she reported being "in the tunnel" again, and her dark night of the soul never lifted.

The nun, born Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu to ethnic Albanian parents in what is now Macedonia, coped with what she termed her "spiritual dryness" by likening it to Christ's doubt on the cross.

"I have come to love the darkness for I believe now that it is part of a very, very small part of Jesus' darkness & pain on earth," she wrote in 1961.

Teresa was a 36-year-old convent teacher riding on a train in India on Sept. 10, 1946, when she said Christ spoke to her directly, telling her to become a missionary in the slums to help the poorest of the poor.

"Come be My light," is what she heard.

Back then, she felt a deeply personal bond with Jesus, recounting conversations and visions. It was that loss that she mourned the rest of her life, although she never abandoned her work.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Story Time 2

Talking to Jesus....

The story is told of an old woman who would tell anyone who asked that she talked to Jesus, and that He talked back to her... all the time. When questioned she would confirm that indeed she talked to Jesus and Jesus talked back to her, that they had conversations all the time.

The preacher who felt like many others in the church that the old woman was crazy asked her one day about her story. He asked her if she really believed she talked to Jesus. Of course she responded that she did and that He talked back to her. Well the preacher had had enough and wanted to expose her as just a crazy old woman he told her, "Since you talk to Jesus, the next time you talk to Him, ask Him what my last sin was." The old woman said okay.....

A few weeks go by and the preacher, ready to prove his point corners the old woman and asks, "Well have you talked to Jesus?" The old woman replied that she had. The preacher said, " Did you ask Him what my last sin was?" The old woman said, "yes."
The preacher said, "Well what did He say?

The old woman said, "He said, I don't remember..."

Psalms 103:8-12 The LORD is merciful! He is kind and patient, and his love never fails. (9) The LORD won't always be angry and point out our sins; (10) he doesn't punish us as our sins deserve. (11) How great is God's love for all who worship him? Greater than the distance between heaven and earth! (12) How far has the LORD taken our sins from us? Farther than the distance from east to west!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Story Time

The following is from a recent sermon given by Richard Faiola (MD ABFM). The first section is an internet story by an unknown author the second half was written by Dr. Faiola. This actually gives both sections equal credibility.

This morning I wish to deal with a quite subtle way in which Christians misrepresent both reality and their God – and this they do while believing they are promoting his kingdom.

I want you to listen to a typical “Christian Story” – the kind that circulates continually on the internet with the closing admonition to “pass it on.” The first part I have condensed a bit, the second I made up myself.


Brenda was a young woman that wanted to learn rock climbing. She was scared, but felt confidence in the Lord’s protection.

Well, she got to a ledge where she could take a breather. As she rested, the rope jerked in some way against her that her contact lens snapped out.

Of course, she looked and looked and looked -- And she prayed that the Lord would help her to find her contact.

When she got to the top of the cliff she looked out and thought, "Lord, You can see all these mountains. You know every single stone and leaf that's on those mountains and You know exactly where my contact lens is.”

Finally, they walked down the trail to the bottom. Just as they got there, a new party of rock climbers came along. As one of them started up the face of the cliff, she shouted out, "Hey, you guys! Anybody lose a contact lens?"

Well, that would be startling enough, wouldn't it? She had found the contact lens!

But you know why she saw it? An ant was carrying that contact lens so that it was moving slowly across the face of the rock reflecting a few rays of sun.

When Brenda told her father this incredible story, he drew a cartoon of that ant lugging that contact lens with the words: "Lord, I don't know why You want me to carry this thing. I can't eat it and it's awfully heavy. But if this is what You want me to do, I'll carry it for You."

That is a true story. What does that tell you about the God of the universe? Is He in charge of the tiniest things? If God is in charge of the ants, don't you think He cares about you and me?

A prudent, preacher, would probably stop there and look expectantly for a chorus of “amens.” But, then I am seldom accused of being prudent in such matters.


Brenda, after having recovered her contact lens in such a remarkable way, went on to attend a Bible College. She met and married Joe, a youth Pastor.

They embarked on a successful ministry to a growing band of enthusiastic young people. Answered prayer was a centerpiece of their worship. The youth often shared how the Lord had blest them in recalling a difficult test question; making it the last mile to a station before their gas ran out; in finding just the right boyfriend or girlfriend.

After two years of marriage, Brenda and Joe felt it might be the Lord’s will that they have a baby. She discontinued her use of the Pill and began to pray about it. The youth group prayed.

When in about 6 months she conceived they all rejoiced at this answer to their prayers. In due time, a healthy baby boy was born. They named him Samuel to recognize him as a gift from God and dedicated him to the Lord.

Brenda and Joe and their youth group made the growth and development of Samuel a matter of regular prayer. His successful weaning from the breast, his first steps, his potty training all occurred within several weeks of their first prayers regarding those developmental milestones.

One summer day, when Samuel was about 3 years old, he was out joyously splashing in his shallow wading pool. Brenda had been very careful to let the sun warm the water, before placing him in it. She could watch him from the kitchen window.

While reflecting on the many blessings God had specially prepared for her and Joe, the phone rang. It was one of the girls in the youth group. Her parents were fighting and she needed encouragement. Brenda shared her faith with the troubled teen and they prayed together over the phone, confident that God would work on behalf of the reconciliation of the parents.

On returning her attention to the window, Brenda's breath froze. She could not see Samuel. Instinctively she feared the worst. She prayed, in succession, that the water she had put in the pool had leaked out; that the face down baby she found would breathe when turned over; that the paramedics would resuscitate the baby; that after 2 weeks on a respirator the words "brain dead" would be taken back; that the Lord would revive their lifeless son- His child.

For weeks Brenda's nights were disturbed by the absurd sight of an ant carrying her contact lens.

Where was God and His ants when they really needed Him?

The skeptical had always suggested that most of the things they were grateful for and had credited to God's special action on their behalf (or on behalf of the young people they loved so much) had been the routine, expected results of normal effort, timing, circumstance, or coincidence.

People of no faith at all, do, after-all, have babies, find their keys, or pass their exams.

Occasionally, they win at the gambling casino, escape the consequences of a drug overdose, or narrowly escape being found in the wrong bed. They seldom, except in profanity, credit such good luck to the hand of God. Nor do most believers credit God with arraigning the good fortune of the “undeserving.”

Because Brenda and Joe could not understand, respect, or love a god that cared more about her lost contact lens then about their son, they left the ministry. The loss, the guilt, and the recriminations strained and finally broke their marriage. Joe took to hanging around bars, drinking too much, and taking home strange women.

One evening, half drunk, he bet a buddy he could hit a bull’s eye on the bar room wall with a single dart, thrown left-handed.

To the amazement of all, he hit it!

He took his $50.00 next door and bought 50 lottery tickets. Latter that night the winning numbers were displayed on the bar room TV screen. Everyone crowded around to watch and to help Joe check his tickets. For the second time in one night there was amazement as Joe, and several others crowded around him, recognized a winning ticket.

Everyone wished to see the ticket for themselves. In the gleeful, grabbing melee, the ticket was dropped -- and just disappeared.

Joe was furious. No one could (or would?) produce the ticket. Joe blocked the front door. He insisted on searching everyone. The barkeep swept the floor. The soles of shoes were checked. Pockets were turned out. Joe became more and more angry, and the other patrons less and less sympathetic.

Joe cursed. He swore at his friends and at strangers. He cursed a God he no longer believed in. He got pushy; others pushed back. A fight broke out.

Joe was punched hard in the abdomen. He went down. In a fluke of bad timing another fighting patron wishing only to strike a menacing pose was lifting up a broken beer bottle. Joe fell into its path. His left carotid artery was severed as he fell.

As he lay on the bar room floor, winded, and bleeding profusely, he looked towards the bar. There, a group of ants were working to remove an obstacle from their path. Before loosing consciousness, Joe recognized his lottery ticket.

---------------End Story------------

The first part of the story sounded so pious. The exemplary kind of religious faith that is often held up as a model, but it is neither reasonable, reliable, nor redemptive to us -- or those around us.

Thinking persons, contact lenses notwithstanding, have long ago concluded that the balance of abundance vs want,joy vs sorrow, health vs illness, love vs malice
–and we know those conditions will only get worse favors the conclusion that God either does not exist, is absent from his Creation, or is ineffective.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Conference recommended ways to really kill your church

Recently Jere Patzer wrote an Editorial in The Gleaner which demonstrates some of the wrong thinking that exists in our denomination. He writes in the form of opposites, that is he is telling you how to kill the church so that if you want to make your church live you should do the opposite of the things he says. As you will see it is certainly a safer way of saying the rather unintelligent things he means. I will intersperse my comments with those from his Editorial.

Top Ten Ways to Kill Your Church

Institutionalize. Make sure that the majority of the church budget is used to maintain the existing programs and structure. Don't spend too much on outreach. When the Waldensians who had lived and died for their faith for centuries joined the general Protestant Reformation in 1532, they went from a movement to an institution and lost their focus. But history won't repeat itself.

I don’t really know what he means here. The Waldensians were rebellious against several Roman Catholic Church positions (rejection of purgatory and the intercession for the dead. About 1530 the Waldenses took up contact with the Reformed Protestant reformer Wilhelm Farel and in 1532 officially joined the Reformation at the Synod of Chanferan.
Even then some of the Waldensians went back to their valleys and today there is still a Waldensian subset of Christians though they are small. They never really became institutionalized. Certainly never as institutionalized as say the SDA church. The Reformation was a far greater movement the Waldensians.

Be apologetic about our Seventh-day Adventist name. Successful organizations like McDonalds, Honda or Nordstrom wouldn't think of promoting their logo. So call your church or school something generic like the Community of Happy Friends Fellowship. Maybe someone will inadvertently wander in and then a year or two later you can tell them who you are.

This is interesting when you consider it has been a pretty long running technique of our Revelation Seminars to not place the SDA name anywhere on the brochure. Two of the more successful (meaning large) churches in my area are called Living Water and Capital Christian Center. Unless you research their website you do not know that Living Water is a Foursquare denomination. Denominational affiliation is likely not that terribly important to many people who look more at what the church offers over what their denomination is. Adventist having grown up believing themselves to be the Remnant find the denomination far more important then most other non fundamentalist Christians. A recent survey found that preschoolers preferred fries in a McDonald’s package over the same fries in a cup. For Christians however there are more important factors then a logo.

Don't emphasize mission or mission offerings. Ellen G. White was wrong when she said the best way to strengthen the home field is to invest in foreign missions. After all, charity begins at home. And by all means don't show the quarterly Northwest Spotlight on Mission DVD that comes to your church highlighting stories close to home.

It is highly doubtful that not showing mission spotlight slide shows and DVD’s is going to kill the church. Foreign mission or local mission should be up to the local church. We too often think that foreign missions are more important and we often waste considerable money in organizing mission trips to foreign countries to do construction projects which if we simply sent them the money could be built better and quicker and more cheaply by the locals. Yet we find it hard to raise the money unless some from the local church go on a mission trip.

Lower the standards. We don't want anyone to feel disenfranchised. Robinson Crusoe didn't know what he was talking about when he said, "Expand the fences too far and the goats on the inside become as wild as the goats on the outside." It doesn't really matter what your members eat, drink or do.

Standards are still important but often times we create artificial standards which involve what people eat or drink or do. Biblical standards are often different from what many SDA’s may think of as their traditional standards. Saying “lower the standards” is often a euphemism for holding to traditional and often prejudicial standards.

Make music the war department. Use the same style all the time. Just repeat sweet little praise ditties each week. And definitely don't use hymns that reinforce our fundamental beliefs. Always remember upbeat music is from the devil. Or only sing 1800s songs with four-finger accompaniment. That will make the older saints drool for the good old days.

This is the first real issue that has the potential to kill a church, though more likely it will split a church

Public evangelism is passé. Systematic reaping meetings are too confrontational. Besides, the evangelist might use some proof texts. Don't ever emphasize prophecy; the public has no interest in future events. Limit evangelism to something creative: knitting evangelism, beach evangelism, golf evangelism. Eventually someone may hit their golf ball into the church parking lot. Then you've got them.

If one pays attention to the results of most evangelistic programs they would see that they generally have very poor results. I don’t know the statistic but it would seem that Patzer could have backed up his statement if the numbers really indicated his statement. Do you know what a Systematic reaping meeting is? Well neither do I, and I grew up in the SDA church.

If the evangelist does use proof texts he should be corrected as they are often texts taken out of context and used as a pretext for a presupposed idea. Prophecy has been so misused that even though people have an interest in the future the many varied prophetic interpretations have so frequently been proven wrong that it is really a technique that succeeds only with those who are predisposed to certain prophetic views. One of the problems with are evangelistic efforts is that we think people we stay once we get them into our churches. But more likely we don’t cultivate the friendships and stimulate their thinking to cause them to remain in our churches.

Doctrinal pluralism will maintain church unity. The Presbyterian Church lost 1.2 million members in 21 years because it chose pluralism and became "devoid of a clear theological voice," according to the award-winning book, The Presbyterian Controversy. But that doesn't mean it would happen to Adventists. So just pick which of the 28 fundamental beliefs you like from our theological cafeteria.

This is the crux of the problem with Jere Patzer’s views. Hidden behind the coattails of the fact that mainline Christian denominations are losing members he insinuates that the reason is because they allow different views within their denomination. In fact Christianity in all first world countries is declining. Drastically in places like Europe. It used to be the SDA church said the Bible was our creed, well we do still say that but in point of applicable fact we have replaced conscience driven Biblical interpretation with a list of 28 so called fundamentals. Today there is a large section of Traditional SDA’s who claim that Adventists must bow the knee to the denominations incursion of determining religious truth. It reminds me of the pre-reformation Roman Catholic Church.

Never discipline. Families and churches are much stronger and happier without any discipline. The Gospel song was all wrong when it says, "If mercy's all we ever show, there's half a God they'll never know."

Related to the authoritarian views in the previous point about following the 28 fundamentals, comes the strong hand of discipline against any dissension. Submit your selves to the self appointed authority and everything will be so much better. Shades of the Inquisition as they sing "If mercy's all we ever show, there's half a God they'll never know." I don’t know the song, I looked up those words on the internet and could only find them referenced in the Gleaner article.

Ignore the inspired writings. Ellen G. White predicted her teachings would become of "non-effect." Make the red books the unread books. Consider her teachings devotional but not authoritative, particularly in areas of science and archeology. Remember how effective they were as "Club of the Month books."

I am very worried that we have a conference leader that implies that we should take Ellen Whites books as authoritative particularly in the areas of science and archeology, I certainly hope he has nothing to do with our educational system. It is a sad fact that among many traditional SDA’s the Bible is the real unread book and they have left it’s interpretation up to the 19th century writer. If we as a Christian church cannot find our doctrines in the Bible then we will deserve the derogatory label of cult. Once again this is related to the emphasis Patzer has placed upon the 28 fundamentals where Ellen White is said to be an authority on truth. To keep our churches alive we must teach what in many cases time and study have proven wrong. Do you really want to tell you children that volcanoes are caused by underground coal fires or that animals bred with man and the results can still be seen in some races of men today?

De-emphasize the distinctives. Dean Kelley, a Methodist guest lecturer at Andrews University, said, "…Tithing, the seventh-day Sabbath, foot washing, etc., are the things that make the Seventh-day Adventist Church unique, distinctive and demanding. How can the Seventh-day Adventist Church stop growing? Be like the Methodists." Kelley was a Methodist, so what does he know about Adventists?

Once again it is the traditional beliefs that will make our church live. If our distinctive was love rather then ritual Sabbath day observance and foot washing we would be a far more distinctive church. But like the Pharisees it is the rituals and the statements of belief that are so much easier to produce then the friendship, love and reasonable understandings of God. Can’t we be distinctive with a preaching of the gospel to the world? At a time when so many misunderstand God would not it be wonderful if our churches distinction was that we taught about a God of love and acceptance and healing as opposed to the God of wrath and oppression and vengeance of torment. Yes so many churches do teach of a God of love yet they present a mixed view in which God must inflict a penalty to forgive and if obedience is not obtained this God of love kills or worse.

If your church is currently not experiencing growth, or worse, has a decline in attendance, be honest. Ask some tough questions. Take this list to your next church board meeting and discuss it during the devotional time. And if any of these "suggestions" apply to your church, for heaven's sake, change it. It's too late in earth's history to be just playing church.

Jere Patzer, North Pacific Union Conference president, writes from Ridgefield, Washington.

I hope that you do take this list to your next board meeting or Sabbath school or prayer meeting. But please take along this article as well. This is a critical time for Christians in the world particularly now that Christianity is so attacked and weakened. We are at a time when our traditional responses are failing miserably, not just in the SDA church but across the entire Christian religious world. We have the opportunity to change the world, if only we have the courage to change.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

The Best Bible Verse

A couple weeks ago Paul Whiting presented a post under the title Power of Scripture meme The idea of a meme is taking something you see one place and replicating it elsewhere. His post begins:

Jason at P. T. Forsyth Files has asked me to "post [on] that verse or story of scripture which is important to you, which you find yourself re-visiting time after time."

Since I did not want to simply post my favorite verse I am taking the opportunity to add my favorite verse to the following story taken from a post on Christian forums.

I have recently been reading a book by Jim Hohnberger. His perspective is so refreshing and his words seem to emanate with what we need to hear today in our world... Here is a quote with a question to us all. (It's about People, pg 32,33) He relates a story he had at a speaking engagement at Camp. A older gentlement walked up to him and challenged him with this...

"I've got five questions to ask you." Well, I said setting my suitcase down, on the pathway, "go ahead". "Number one, what is the one text from the entire bible that is the foundation of our faith?"

I looked at Tom who said, "I can do all things through Christ."

"No" he snapped, as though irritated because Tom quoted this vibrantly confident pronouncement of faith. He then fixed his gaze upon me and commanded, "You tell me, Jim Hohnberger."

17:28: 'For in Him we live and move and have our being.'"

"your'e wrong" he barked and then proceeded to quote a proof text for a denominational doctrine.

"Whats your second question?" I asked

"Did Christ take upon Him the fallen or unfallen nature?"

"Whats your third question?"

"Was the atonement completed at the cross?"

"And your fourth?"

"Are babies born sinners?"

"what is your fifth?"

"will we continue sinning until Christ comes?"

I had been praying through this entire encounter for that God would give me His grace and His wisdom because I don't have all the answers. Now I turned to him. "I have just one question for you before I answer your other questions. Brother, do you believe I can be a conservative christian, active in outreach and witnessing activities, take the gospel to the whole world, answer all five questions correctly, and still have not living experience with Jesus Christ, not be changed into His likeness, and not go to heaven?"

My favorite verse which I have found to work, so far for any occasion, would have been my answer to the above admittedly difficult question.

Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure. (1 John 3:2-3 NIV)