Adventist Media Response and Conversation

Saturday, December 20, 2008

A Few Good Words from Paulsen

Thanks to a mention on intersections I just saw the following article in the Review:

Our churches are meant to be places of healing and renewal – they must be,” General Conference president Dr. Jan Paulsen declared December 9, 2008, during the twenty-ninth Annual Pastoral and Evangelism Council held at church-owned Oakwood University in Huntsville, Alabama. “The church should not be a battlefield, but a city of refuge.”

Carrying forward a theme he began at the 2008 Annual Council in Manila, Philippines, Paulsen expressed concern over those who would seek to separate the tares from the wheat in today’s Seventh-day Adventist Church, violating the spirit and letter of Christ’s parable in Matthew 13:24-30. “The church is a very mixed lot,” Paulsen conceded, but it is Jesus’ role to judge its members, not our role.

And while “the church has a right a right to church discipline” in situations where such discipline is called for, “however, it must not skew a day to day relationship” with its members.

Emphasizing that some who might be viewed negatively are in fact wrestling with the demands of God the Holy Spirit, Paulsen said “sinners are meant to be received warmly” by the church.

“I wouldn’t want to be only with those who have it all figured out,” he added, saying such people can become “arrogant, clinical and judgmental.”

Paulsen said, “It is within our reach to shape and create the spiritual atmosphere of our community.” Adventists should “create a good home in our local congregations, [and be] a warm family.”

Would not it be nice if our local churches actually took Paulsen's advice. It appears to me there is entrenched in many local churches a coterie of people who really do think they have it all figured out. The trouble is if you ask them a question they won't answer, they are quick to declare others to be unbelievers if they don't think just like themselves. They are killing the Adventist church just as surely as any unbiblical doctrine will, come to think of it they tend to use a good number of unbiblical doctrines anyway.

Oh well read the article on Paulsen and think positive and try to put in place his above mentioned ideas into your local church, maybe you will have more luck than I did.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Another lesson based on tradition

Our lesson study begins this week with the following:

The sacrifice of Christ provides all that we need for salvation. This includes the possibility of union and permanent attachment to Him as Savior and Lord. This incorporation into Christ, through the ritual of baptism, is our participation in His death and resurrection; it’s our recognition that His death is our death because He died as our substitute. Thus, we become united to Him. In this unity, we not only appropriate all the infinite benefits of His sacrifice but also become members of the new humanity instituted by Him in His own person. This union with Christ is, through the work of the Spirit, embodied in our incorporation into the church as the body of Christ. Thus, to be incorporated into Christ is to have a personal communion with Him and to be united to one another in the mystery of His church.

Do you believe that? The sacrifice of Christ provides all that we need for salvation.

Apparently we don’t even have to believe in God, Christ or even differentiate between good and evil. Apparently our church has joined the Universalists. After all The sacrifice of Christ provides all that we need for salvation. What else could it be, the sacrifice was nearly 2000 years ago and it is all that provides our salvation? As it happened so long ago there is really nothing we can do about it anyway and there appears to be nothing we need to do about it anyway. The lesson continues:

. This includes the possibility of union and permanent attachment to Him as Savior and Lord. Uh oh are they backing away from what they already said; now it includes the possibility of union and permanent attachment to God. Should not they be saying that this includes union and permanent attachment to God? Isn’t that what salvation is, attachment/ union with God?

Oh wait it appears with each sentence they back away further. This incorporation into Christ, through the ritual of baptism, is our participation in His death and resurrection; it’s our recognition that His death is our death because He died as our substitute. So now not only is there a possibility for union with God but we arrive at this union through the ritual of baptism. Which somehow is our participation with Christ’s death and resurrection and we have to recognize that His death is our death because He died as our substitute. Pretty clearly the authors of the lesson did not mean their first sentence at all: The sacrifice of Christ provides all that we need for salvation. One has to wonder just how much is true in their first paragraph.

Are we really united to Christ because He is our substitute? If I don’t believe in Penal/Substitutionary Atonement does that mean I can have no unity with Christ until I believe that He is my substitute? Or is this just a statement like the first line of the paragraph, not at all what they believe but something that they pretend they believe when convenient for their purposes. How could it be that this unity based upon substitution is not found anywhere in the Bible, at least you would think something that important would be clearly laid out. After all as the old saying goes the plain things are the main things. So far the lesson certainly has not laid out any plain things from the Bible.

Perhaps I am being too hard on the lesson study guide; let’s look at the next day’s lesson first paragraph:

The fall of Adam resulted in his spiritual death and separation from God. All of his descendants found themselves in the same situation as Adam, unable to overcome sin and death. Humans are, by natural birth, part of the humanity that belongs to Adam, a sinful humanity separated from God.

Where do we find that Adam or anyone else has already experience “spiritual death”? Where do we find that all Adam’s descendants are born spiritually dead? Do they even define spiritual death? If mankind’s spirit was dead how is it that God could ever communicate with them? God would have to resurrect your Spirit before He could communicate with you. Do they even know what they mean, many of you have probably used the idea that Adam and Eve died spiritually on the day the sinned, ask yourself where do you get that from the Bible story and how would you define “spiritual death” and what are the logical implication of such a belief.

The fact is many of you will hear this type of traditionalism as your Sabbath school teachers regurgitate traditions which they hold as true but don’t even know what they mean. Yes they are following the lesson study guide, but afraid to think about what those people are saying. They just assume that because they work for the SDA church they must be right. The sad fact is they are not right, they are not Biblical, they are not logical. Their claims are based upon the traditions they hold and if you don’t accept their traditions you are not following the Bible or you don’t believe the Bible, never mind that what they claim is not even found in the Bible. Please don’t bow down to their idol of tradition.

And I only barely covered the first two paragraphs of the lesson.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

The Homosexual Problem

A friend asked me a while back to put my thoughts on homosexuality into an article. I told him I had no firm thoughts on the subject and possibly I still don’t but there is a good article and discussion on the issue at Julius Nam’s

In the article he notes that there is a difference in interpretation on certain issues that the Bible at first glance appears to give as a straight forward statement. He goes through several examples, some kind of questionable but we get the point that some things in the Bible are culturally relevant to a particular time and place. The question then becomes is homosexuality one of those things that was culturally forbidden and perhaps in a society where they are not culturally forbidden they are morally equivalent with heterosexuality.

Much of the discussion following the article is about the hermeneutics involved. Right there of course we have reached a loggerhead between people’s interpretations. So I can tell you now there will never be a consensus in Christianity on the issue. Not really all that surprising when we consider how Christianity has not produced all that much consensus between the different factions in its long history. It might be fun sometime for someone to list all the different contentions in Christianity, perhaps something someone could do over the next ten years. Don’t hold you breath waiting for me or anyone else to do it though.

That leaves us with the reality that we don’t agree, inside the SDA church and outside the SDA church as well as inside and outside of the other denominations. Which leaves us with the practical question how do we treat homosexuals in our local churches?

Can we love and accept them as sinners saved by a loving God or must we declare them to be sinners different from the rest of us sinners. In which case we have to start our list of which sins are worst so that we can order them properly. We should perhaps look at the Book of Lists I don’t have a copy but I suspect the list does not rank sins. Then again just as I never agree with lists of the 100 best songs or ten best movies of the year I doubt we would find a lot of agreement with a particular list of sins even one to a hundred. Probably we could agree on the top 1 (don’t murder people) but not much beyond that I suspect.

The next question is how will the local church react? If they can’t handle a Progressive Adventist leading out a couple weeks a month in an early teen class what will they do if a homosexual couple attends their church? What if one of those homosexuals offers opinions in a Sabbath School class? We can’t answer those questions until we know the health of the local church. Therefore I will offer up some ideal reactions to dealing with homosexuals in the local church.

  1. We love them as Jesus loves them.
  2. We accept them as equal with us (I am not talking same sex marriage here).
  3. We listen to what they have to say, respect their right to be Christians.
  4. We expect them to be tolerant of other views as others are tolerant of the homosexual’s views.
  5. We acknowledge their ability to mission as ambassadors of Christ which may be different from our abilities as ambassadors of Christ.
  6. We all seek to develop our thinking and interpretative skills as well as our communication skills so that we and others we interact with can continue to grow in the knowledge of God and man.
  7. We all acknowledge that we are sinners who see through a glass darkly, who tend toward selfishness and tend to be judgmental; we are not content to be as we are.

In short instead of living by the phrase “let’s call sin by its right name” perhaps we should live by the phrase “let’s call love by its right name”; as love covers a multitude of sins (1 Peter 4:8).

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Why won't Goldstein take on Historic Adventists

Cliff Goldstein is not alone in his dismissal of “Thinking Adventists”. The following is from Lancashire Evening Post:

Bishop blames intellectuals for Church's decline

12 November 2008 By Sonja Astbury

The leader of Lancashire's Roman Catholics has blamed education for the Church's decline.

In an interview with a Catholic news agency Bishop Patrick O'Donoghue, the retiring Bishop of Lancaster, said university-educated Catholics were misinterpreting Church teachings.

In Catholic newpaper The Tablet Bishop O'Donoghue is reported to have said: "The Second Vatican Council tends to be misinterpreted most by Catholics with a university education – this is, by those most exposed to the intellectual and moral spirit of the age.

"These well-educated Catholics have gone on to occupy influential positions in education, the media, politics and even the Church, where they have been able to spread their so-called loyal, dissent, causing confusion and discord in the whole church."

A week or so ago I posted the link to my blog article on Thinking Adventists on Cliff Goldstein’s Adventist Today Blog. In it I mentioned that I recently got a copy of a newsletter/newpaper (Eternal Gospel Herald ) from some historic Adventists, one of the editors being Ron Spear. I mentioned that I did not want any part of their brand of Adventism. Cliff responded that he did not want any part of their brand of Adventism either. My post where I said that is no longer on Cliff’s blog and neither is the response Goldstein made. Gone I have no idea why but in a later post that is still there I stated the following:

“We read a lot from Cliff about how crazy we progressive, liberal, left wing Adventists are. We even hear from him how we are few in number. So why does he not spend anytime, any columns dealing with crazy rightwing. They are certainly more numerous then Progressive Adventists and very visible, I see their material at our church literature displays all the time.

I will ask this question again on my blog later this week where it can be seen by a larger population. But it is an interesting question isn't it?”

Since Cliff purged his blog of his comment about not wanting to be a part of the Adventism presented by such publications as Ron Spear’s Eternal Gospel Herald you will have to take my word for it or ask someone with a good memory who subscribes to Adventist Today and reads Cliff’s blog. You can read back issues of Eternal Gospel Herald at Though they still don’t have the copy up which I received (though some of the articles are recycled from earlier issues). You can certainly get a feel for the paper by looking at their PDF archives. The paper is made up of a lot of material written by SDA church leaders of the 40’s and 50’s and a good deal of criticism of the Roman Catholic Church. Most importantly, and the reason I think that Goldstein spends practically no time talking about the far right wing of Adventism, is the many Ellen White quotes used by Historic Adventists. A good example would be this PDF article The Crisis Comes as an Overwhelming Surprise —By Pastor Ron Spear which is filled with Ellen White quotes.

The fact is that these historic Adventists have abundant quotes they can use from Ellen White; we all know just how quotes from Ellen White can be used to pound people over the head so it is little wonder that Goldstein avoids dealing with them. Better no doubt to fight the Progressive Adventists who may counter that Cliff is not logical or is anti-intellectual then to deal with the Historic Adventists who will club him over the head with his own prophet.

Will Clifford Goldstein answer the question I asked on his blog, no I doubt it and will he change his practice and actually deal with the right wing historic Adventists? I hope so but I doubt it.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Why Be A Progressive Adventist

Recently I was talking to a friend who said that if my intention was to teach progressive Adventist ideas in the Early Teen class instead of Jesus that he would oppose my position as a teacher there. That got me to thinking; we often note the differences between Progressive Adventism and Traditional Adventism and it appears that some don’t realize why we are Progressive Adventists.

Progressive Adventism is more then the difference in beliefs it is a difference at how we arrive at our positions. So it is not something that one can simply turn off so that they can get along with Traditional Adventists. Perhaps an example is in order, something that most every Adventist can understand. General Christianity has a conception of God which includes the need for God to torture forever and ever those who are lost. Adventists look at the same Bible verses that the mainstream Christians use and instead of eternal torment, they see the annihilation of the lost. Not only are those far different concepts they cause a fundamental difference between the conceptions of what God is like.

The difference in methods of interpretation which result in better conceptions of God is the reason why we are Progressive Adventists. It is not simply to be different from Traditional Adventists it is because we see a better way of understanding God. It makes no sense to say yes here is a better understanding of God and man but don’t use them when talking to people, only talk to them using traditional language and concepts. It would be like having a good and useful math formula that you were not allowed to use because the book used a convoluted formula that most can not remember or get to work when they use it. Now you may want to show your students the book’s formula and run through it so they know about it but you would not leave it there you would instruct them about the useful formula also. That is often how we compare and contrast Progressive Adventism with Traditional Adventism, but that comparison is not the reason for the difference.

The reason for the difference is the thought processes that go into the conclusion. We list conclusions because they are concrete differences they are easier to understand and relay then an exposition of how we got to those conclusions. Many of my articles go into the thought process that leads me to different conclusions then Traditional Adventism or mainstream Christianity but people often don’t read lengthy articles they prefer to just get down to what the difference is with their belief. If they are critical thinkers this is not a problem because they will continue to examine the information to find the “why’s” but if they don’t think critically they will just assume that the difference is just because the Progressive just want to be different.

It however is they “why’s” that are of primary importance. Why do we want to have a more accurate view of God, why have a view of God that removes arbitrary or cruel aspects from God. The why is because we want to grow in knowledge and present the most accurate view of God we can produce. The why is because if we can portray God as a friend who is for us and not against us, we fulfill our mission as Ambassadors of God. We present a religion that makes sense to people and they will be far more receptive to accept a relationship with God. When, as I posted in a previous blog we lose 90% of our youth from being believing Christians we should realize that our traditional methods of teaching about God are not connecting with even our own children. How are they going to connect with the larger outside world if we can’t even entice our own children to stay in our religion?

Progressive Adventism seeks to present other ideas which acknowledge that there are in fact different ways of understanding things. That we don’t necessarily have all the answers but we are in a search for truth and we don’t have to all agree but we do need to take the time to think. Salvation is never going to be about what we know or don’t know, it is God’s gift that gives salvation to people; whether Progressive or Traditional Adventist, Roman Catholic, Baptist or Mormon or Agnostic. God grants the salvation and He knows the hearts of men. We are merely agents of God but we can make God appear attractive or repugnant and we have a duty to present God to the best of our ability. And that does not mean setting our minds aside and only teaching or thinking the thoughts of yesterday or the interpretations of yesterday. The Bible clearly presents a growing understanding of God through out it progression. Should we not also continue to progress?

Friday, December 05, 2008

Thinking Adventists

Clifford Goldstein writes in his blog entitled Will the Real Thinking Adventist Please Stand up? Part Two (subscription only) about his agreement with Dale Ratzlaff’s statement in Proclamation Magazine. Here is the paragraph from the letters section response that impressed Cliff:

We understand the disappointment and even sadness that you carry as a result of some of your experiences within Adventism. Second, we reiterate the fact that we did not leave Adventism because of hurts or disappointments. We all studied independently. Further, we did not only leave historic Adventism; we also left liberal Adventism that demeans the law, the atonement of Christ, the complete reliability of Scripture, and the sovereign authority of God including His wrath.

Goldstein believes along with Ratzlaff that the Progressive Adventists are those who demean the law, the atonement the reliability of Scripture and the authority of God including His wrath. He writes:

Let’s look, for example, at what the so called “thinking” Adventist does with the “complete reliability of Scripture.” I recently had an article on Daniel 2 in the Review (Oct 16, 2008). Just good old, Daniel 2, kind of a cornerstone of Adventist prophecy. Well, on another blog, one filled with “thinking” Adventists, a blogger went ballistic, attacking the article because I actually was so closed minded to believe what the texts themselves say about when the book was written.

I mean, how could I be so stupid, so narrow, that when the Daniel says--“And in the second year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, Nebuchadnezzar dreamed dreams, wherewith his spirit was troubled, and his sleep brake from him” (Daniel 2:1) or that “In the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon Daniel had a dream and visions of his head upon his bed: then he wrote the dream, and told the sum of the matters” (Danel 7:1)--I actually believe it? What a non-thinking Adventist I must be!

The blogger noted that there is a good deal of scholarship that places the writing of the book of Daniel between 167 and 164 B.C. Apparently the Bible tells us the date of the writing of books therein. You can’t find those texts however because in fact the Bible generally does not tell us when something was written. We of course don’t even know if the stories necessarily happened or not. Is the story of Jonah or Job based on literal historical occurrences or not. In fact what Goldstein assumes is the real problem. He assumes the book of Daniel was written at the time of the stories in the book. Who knows what reason Daniel then wrote it in a third person perspective.

If the reliability of scriptures is based upon the assumption and traditions then it is not really a case of reliability anymore. It is a case of presuppositions that others may disagree with, as in this case because of numerous reasons a later date for Daniel is indicated. Does this mean that it is somehow trying to denigrate miracles? Well about the only miracle that would be affected would be that the book contains a prophecy of the rise of three kingdoms. Not much of a miracle when you consider that 3 of those kingdoms arose during the period of time that the book covers, the nations being mentioned in the book. Now the other aspect is that people think the book very accurately describes Antiochus Epiphanies. But as an Adventist Goldstein would not care about that because Adventism denies Antiochus as being a fulfillment anyway. And the abomination of desolation as spoken of by Christ would not be affected whether it was written 500 years earlier or not. So even using a later date for the book would not change any of its important prophecies.

Goldstein concludes with this:

The so called “thinking” Adventist is, really, nothing more than a product of the times: the times says this, the “thinking” Adventist thinks this; the times says that, the “thinking” Adventist thinks that. In contrast, the real thinking Adventist steps back, looks at the big picture, has seen in the past how following the times has led folks (and church) astray, and is determined through God’s grace not to fall into the same trap.

Goldstein is trying to put down “thinking” Adventists because they are a product of their education rather then being the product of a church tradition. Unless you hold tightly to a tradition you are bound to be a product of your times. In our case we are products of our time, the information age. Knowledge is more freely accessible now then any time in history. The question then is how one uses the knowledge. The use of knowledge is often termed wisdom, so even though Goldstein likes to belittle Progressive Adventists as dupes who are not thinkers at all while those who hold to tradition are the real thinkers he does a poor job of making the case. After all someone who calls light darkness and evil good has a real selling job to do.

What about Ratzlaff’s other statements; is Progressive Adventism really out to demean the law, the atonement, the reliability of Scripture and the authority of God including His wrath. We would have to ask for some specifics here to really understand what he means. By law does he mean we don’t believe that the Sabbath has to be Saturday or that we must not light a fire or use electricity on the Sabbath. Do we demean the law if we don’t follow it the ways the orthodox Jews do? Who knows what he means, as far as I know he no longer does church on Saturday and instead worships on Sunday and I am sure he does not want us to be stoning people to death as some of the laws prescribed.

The atonement comment is more easily puzzled out. Most of Christianity has come to accept the Penal/Substitutionary Atonement theory which grew out of the Satisfaction theory 300- to 400 years ago. No other atonement theory is acceptable to these people so if you don’t follow their atonement theory you must not believe in atonement. Thus if you don’t believe that God poured out His wrath upon Jesus at the cross you demean atonement.

I have already went over some of the reliability of Scripture on Daniel, no doubt when people hold to tradition they can’t see any possibility of anything other then earth created 6000 years ago as so famously demonstrated by Usher’s Genesis chronology. Reliability of Scripture is really based upon their presupposition that Scripture was only meant to express literal historical events no matter the problems that come along with such expectations. And finally the authority and wrath of God. Again based upon their tradition that God says obey me or I will kill you. Or the ever popular but thankfully becoming less popular, obey me or I will torture you forever and ever amen. As the bumper sticker says, “God is coming again and boy is He mad”.

So I am guilty of being a thinking Christian, not the kind of thinking that Clifford Goldstein espouses thankfully. I am still a Progressive Adventist though who knows how long that I can remain Adventist with people like Goldstein trying to run things. Maybe when those Traditional Adventists actually start discussions with a modicum of intelligence we can get some where, right now they work under the rubric:

“If you don’t agree with us as Traditional Adventists you don’t believe in Scripture, you don’t believe in atonement you don’t believe in God. “

My recent experience at my local church verifies it all too well.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

The Openness of God

On December 6, at 3pm the Pacific Northwest Adventist Forum presents Richard Rice, Ph.D. Professor of Theology, Philosophy, and Religion Loma Linda University presentation entitled "The Openness of God- Then and Now" The location is:
North Hill Adventist Fellowship 10106 36th Street East Edgewood, WA 98371

I was given a couple of books by a friend on the subject. This blog will be based upon Richard Rice's chapter in the book The Openness of God: A Biblical Challenge to the Traditional Understanding of God

Much of his chapter deals with refuting the idea that God is personally involved with humanity, which I think is probably an argument against a minority opinion treated like it is the majority opinion. Rice writes on page 12:

According to this influential view, God dwells in perfect bliss outside the sphere of time and space. From his lofty vantage point, he apprehends the whole of created reality in one timeless perception: past, present and future alike appear before him. But though he fully knows and cares for the created world, he remains essentially unaffected by creaturely events and experiences. He is untouched by the disappointment, sorrow or suffering of his creatures. Just as his sovereign will brooks no opposition, his serene tranquility knows no interruption.

In contrast to this view which as I said probably few Christians maintain Rice gives the open view as:

The Open View of God
The view of God and his relation to the world presented in this book provides a striking alternative to the concept just described. It expresses two basic convictions: love is the most important quality we attribute to God, and love is more than care and commitment; it involves being sensitive and responsive as well. These convictions lead the contributors to this book to think of God's relation to the world in dynamic rather than static terms. This conclusion has important consequences. For one thing, it means that God interacts with his creatures. Not only does he influence them, but they also exert an influence on him. As a result, the course of history is not the product of divine action alone. God's will is not the ultimate explanation for everything that happens; human decisions and actions make an important contribution too. Thus history is the combined result of what God and his creatures decide to do. (page 15-16)

Well we are not going to find a whole lot of argument with that, whether a person is traditional or not. He goes on to show the love of God and that God is involved with humanity. As such there is little there to disagree with. His next paragraph reveals where the difference really lies:

Another consequence of this conviction concerns God's knowledge. As an aspect of his experience, God's knowledge of the world is also dynamic rather than static. Instead of perceiving the entire course of human existence in one timeless moment, God comes to know events as they take place. He learns something from what transpires. We call this position the "open view of God" because it regards God as receptive to new experiences and as flexible in the way he works toward his objectives in the world. Since it sees God as dependent on the world in certain respects, the open view of God differs from much conventional theology. Yet we believe that this dependence does not detract from God's greatness, it only enhances it.

Here we see the idea that God is continually learning and this is where the problems really begin because it puts God the experiential learner as opposed to the almighty God. His new experiences determine his objectives. While he may feel it enhances God it raises more problems then it solves. For instance progressive Christian view's realize that the writers to a large extent place their ideas of what God thinks into their stories. As in the flood story God is sorry that He made man in the first place or in the story of Moses where God repents of the evil of starting a new nation out of Moses because Moses talks God out of it since it would have actually make God look bad. The problem here is that God would have to be behaving in ways that are far from God like. At least far from the God like attributes we think of today, almighty and knowledgeable. He behaves far more like the gods of the nations around Israel at the time. Arbitrary and less then logical...way less. In the open view God learns from the conversation with Moses and changes His mind...He has grown from the experience, in the flood story He gets mad and kills everything except for what gets put in the boat. Not really killed in any god like way but through a tremendous disaster that destroys plants and animals alike rather then addressing the strictly human problem.

To explain this change in God Rice writes:

But a significant feature of this passage does not permit this construction. The fact is that God relents in direct response to Moses' plea, not as a consequence of the people's repentance of their apostasy. The repentance mentioned in this case clearly applies to a change that took place in God, not in his people. Of course, God's essential nature and his ultimate purpose did not change—Moses' appeal presupposes this. But this hardly means that nothing in God really changed. To the contrary, his ultimate objectives required him to change his immediate intentions.

God was about to behave pretty irrationally and Moses talked Him out of His irrational idea by explaining why God should not destroy Israel.

My greatest problem with the open view is that it establishes God in behavior particularly in the Old Testament which is likely based more upon the writers concept of God then God's ultimate character. They were beginners just learning about God and dealing with the relation of God to man which we clearly see progressing through the Old Testament. As the writers progressed from blind obedience to a reasoned faith not based upon the rituals and sacrifices but upon living lives of justice, mercy and caring for other people. In which case it is not because God is changing but because people are changing, they are growing in understanding and knowledge, God is the one leading in a step by step process slow as it may be it is the only way people can learn. No doubt and even slower process when you consider that the other people of the world were just as primitive and the violence of the time made justice and mercy difficult. Thus the wars with other nations and the rules to kill Sabbath breakers and adulterers and rebellious children.

To me it seems the open view of God is based upon some faulty assumptions. But then that is another problem that has plagued mankind since the beginning and why we still see through the glass darkly.