Adventist Media Response and Conversation

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

View from beyond the cave part 2

Recently I rather poignantly found out just how specious most in the Adventist church are concerning the religious education of their children. However it is not only the children it is also faulty in regards to the knowledge of adults as well.

We have seen a steady decline in Christianity and Adventism in the Western world. What have we done to counteract the trend?

For years the Christian church has spent the vast majority of its resources in areas where Christianity is known.Through the Global Mission initiative, the Seventh-day Adventist Church has made the 10/40 Window a priority in mission.

Today Adventist missionaries, pastors, laypeople and Global Mission pioneers are carrying the message of hope to the 10/40 Window.Much still needs to be done, but your loving donations and prayers are making a difference. Thank you so much for your support of Adventist Mission.

This is the emphasis for the last few years. The Adventist church has apparently given up on much of Europe and the United States. How will they reach these people? Apparently from the article linked above it is by sending evangelists.

So what does the SDA church offer for the youth in North America, how are they going to communicate with a world that is growing increasingly secular while also becoming increasing knowledgeable with the internet and it’s abundance of Religious and anti-religious material.

The following is from an article designed for the youth overall it is the standard denominational material. The 2009 YEAR OF SHINING Small Group Discussions for Adventist Youth perpared by Youth Ministries Department General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists

The article suggests on page 12 in the beginning chapter on Discipleship the following statement is made:


Examine your life plans. How does witnessing fit in? If we assume the above statement to be true – that our value in this life is “to be used to disciple men and women to the Lord Jesus Christ – what needs to change?

These days, if we want to be effective…, we have to be able to discuss truth – both the truth of Scripture and the truth about God that’s philosophical in nature. How do we do that?

Know what you believe. [Have a] basic understanding of sin and salvation. Take some time to expand your understanding of what “truth” is.

Know current thinking about God, truth, religion, etc. [Y]ou can…get a grasp of these ideas from [surfing the internet,] watching television, or reading some magazines that talk about what’s happening in the world. Above all, the easiest place to learn about current thinking is to listen to what your unsaved friends are talking about.

Much of the rest of the paper is the same old material on service and evangelism etc. The article and our church takes precious little time to deal with the foundation of witnessing however. That is to think critically and to have a good knowledge of religion not simply your own churches traditions but of other views both inside and outside of the Adventist or the Christian church.

In a recent conversation I had with a couple of people of authority over our young peoples classes in our local church. They sought to take issue with some of my thoughts from my article on Why I am a Progressive Seventh-day Adventist. One of the issues is that I don’t hold to the inerrancy of the Bible. It is easy to give examples of numerous errors and contradictions in the Bible and after I gave the classic about David being either inspired by God or Satan to number Israel one of the people stated that they could with certainty bring those issues to someone in the church who could answer the problems in a way that would solve any questions. Of course those of us who study Christianity know the answer. It is only thought to be inerrant in the autographs (original manuscripts). Of course we don’t have the autographs and we will very likely never have them and unless we had them there is nothing to say that the manuscripts we do have do not have errors in them. In short inerrancy is a gratuitous assertion accepted by faith, not faith in God even, for nothing in the Bible states the writing is inerrant. No the faith is in their belief that something that we don’t have is something that no other written document in the world is, inerrant.

Obviously this is a carry over from the old days when the Bible was thought to be verbally inspired. The second subject was likewise connected, the infallibility of the Bible, again nothing in the Bible, any of its component books make a claim for Biblical infallibility let alone for the compiled document we call the Bible. In a world with over 30,000 denominations and independent Christian churches all based upon the Bible it is a foolish notion to even speak of infallibility of the Bible. After all written words always require interpretation so that even if something as somehow infallible once the material entered into the fallible mind of a human being the infallibility is gone. This along with the questioning of Ellen White as a prophet, have made Progressive Adventists unwelcome as teachers for our young people. I fear that this fear of Progressive Adventism is not something found only in my local congregation. Traditional Adventists have been complaining about it for a long time. This last week Clifford Goldstein once again complains about SDA’s who are “the ones who have assaulted my beliefs the most”. ( Adventist Today Blog subscription only)

This fear of being challenged by thinking SDA’s is reflected in the mission activities of our church and the way the church addresses our young people. They ignore the questions and the needed education required of the modern Western world and they focus on third world mission where they can teach their traditions with easier acceptance from a poorly educated populace. But what happens when they learn more, what happens when they have access to the information that we have in the Western World. As the article above pays lip service to knowing what other Christians and other philosophies believe the church does little to actually teach their youth how to think, because if they think, they will move away from traditional Adventism. And that is the fear, that Adventism has become a monument of truth, that truth being something delivered to the Adventist church sometime in the 19th century.

A truth which can’t even be debated because to debate it means you have to listen to other positions and interpretations. Which is why traditional Adventists won’t actually deal with the subject where they disagree with Progressive Adventists, rather they work behind the scenes questioning peoples qualifications to serve the church as leaders in children’s divisions etc. Taking every effort to insure that their children only hear what they accept. Pretending that the young people can’t handle ideas because the parents as traditional Adventists can’t handle ideas.

After so many years of losing our youth you would think that these traditional Adventists would begin to see they are hurting the very people they think they are helping.

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