Adventist Media Response and Conversation

Saturday, February 27, 2010

George Knight save us from the law

George Knight had a series of presentations at the Pleasant Valley SDA church in Oregon recently. Here are the links to the presentations. Clink on the link to stream or right click to save the mp3 file. I am giving the links here as after a time they will likely be moved on the PVC website. Currently they are on the home page but no doubt they will be moved as time goes by.

Root of A Prophetic Movement

Adventism And the Apocalyptic Vision

Adventism Gets Baptized

Question and Answers with George Knight.

Earlier I wrote a review of George Knight’s last book The Neutering of Adventism…

It was not a favorable review as the book is basically a continuation of the propaganda that Adventists have the truth, we are the Remnant and if we lose our unique Apocalyptic view we destroy Adventism because Adventism is not content to be Christian but has to be something superior to Christian.

I figured the first two presentations would go over the themes of his recent book. So I started with the Q and A which aside from his answer to the question posed by a “last generation theology” person which was good, in the main the Q and A was unremarkable.

The presentation on “Adventism Gets Baptized” is about Jones and Waggoner and 1888, or more precisely Ellen White and 1888, she being the force that allowed Jones and Waggoner to present their views to a church that thought it had the truth yet did not even understand the basic Protestant concept of Justification by Faith (never really picked up steam until the late 1970’s). It never ceases to amaze me how Adventists can think of their history as that of the remnant, the people with the truth and yet for so long they had no clue about Justification by Faith (Righteousness by Faith to Adventists because apparently we were too pure to use the terms of Protestant Christianity).

What most bothered me is the section in the presentation is where George Knight says that we have to be saved from the law:

“… Seventh-day Adventists needed help, I’ll just read one other statement this comes from her (Ellen White’s) diary, looking back at Minneapolis she talks about a fear that there was danger of carrying the subject into justification by faith altogether too far. And not dealing enough with the law. By the way we have still got some Adventists in that camp today. Talk too much about justification makes them all nervous. OK. But the two go hand in hand I’ll tell you that right now. These people that say you don’t need the law if you got grace, I have never been able to figure that out because you don’t need grace if you don’t have the law. You have got to be rescued from something the law says you’re a sinner grace says shhrrrick we can take care of that. If you don’t have the law you don’t need grace period. No, where all this foolishness comes from in dispensational theology I have not been able to figure it out. We’ve got some Adventist hung up in that camp too.” [he then continues with the Ellen White diary]. Quote begins at 16:02 to 17:05

The question should arise in most people’s minds are we saved from sin (our own rebellious self centered attitude) or are we saved from a law. That is a big difference. It comes down to the idea that God is condemning me for not meeting His law rather then my own selfishness leading to my own demise. It amounts to grace is given to save me from myself vs. Knight’s version of grace is given to save me from God (God’s law). After all it is God that gave the law and the law is of no authority without someone or some system behind the law giving the law authority and power. It is this misunderstanding of God which was pointed out in an earlier blog article which concluded by saying:

“If our fundamental assumption about God is based upon the idea that God’s law condemns us we have set up the presupposition that God is against us. A direct contradiction of the New Testaments declaration: “What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? “(Rom 8:31 NIV) This presupposition becomes the root of so much misunderstanding about God which culminates in the idea that God had to pour out His wrath on Christ so that God could forgive us. An idea which flies in the face of the characteristics of God : “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”

Certainly the law points out that we are sinners, but was that the reason for its existence or is that the simple result of giving a law to people who are selfish. If the state tells you not to drive through a red light is it because it means to condemn you or because it is seeking to create an orderly environment. You need grace not because you have a law but because you have a defect of sin which will lead to your death unless someone outside of yourself intervenes. Grace exists before a law because grace says I want to help these people, the law is a tool to help people. First as a way to formulate and orderly society such as the law given in the Old Testament and second as a tool to show us that we left to our own devises are no where near the type of person that God is. So the “law was put in charge to lead us to Christ”, the person who offered grace in the first place.

This reminds me of the following quote from Charles Spurgeon:

Yet, pardon me my friends, if I just observe that this is a very natural question, too. If you read the doctrine of the apostle Paul you find him declaring that the law condemns all mankind.

Spurgeon gives no reference to where Paul says that…because Paul never said it (see footnote). Paul did say that all sin and fall short of the glory of God before telling us that it is grace that saves us. But what much of Christianity has decided is that what Paul actually said is less important than what they want Paul to have said. Possibly so that they can make grace and law work hand in hand when they never were intended to work hand in hand the way most people think, grace gave the law and grace saves without regard for if someone keeps the law.

All of this and I have not once told you what the law is. It can be many things to many people, is it the 613 Jewish commandments, the 10 commandments, the Exodus 10 commandments or the Deuteronomy 10 commandments? Is it the 2 commandments that Jesus referred to as upon which hang all the law and the prophets or is it all the instructions that Jesus gave or that the apostles gave in the New Testament? Why there are probably some Christians who think the law is that God says obey me or I will have to kill you because my justice demands it. That fits in with Knight and Spurgeon though we have to do some creative restructuring of the New Testament Bible to make it say that but just some simple interpretations of a few stories of the Old Testament however can give you that kind of God.

To sum up the law does not make you a sinner, it does not stop you from being a sinner, though just like the red light it may save you from causing more problems and hurting yourself or others if it is followed in certain instances. It does not change you, it is not an outside force that can change you even if you decide to follow it to the best of your ability, it does not cover all your selfishness whether acted out, thought about or omitted. The change comes from the grace of God who cares about you and seeks to reconcile you to Himself. If the focus is on the laws; whatever laws there may be do not focus you on grace of God that we see in Jesus Christ they are not serving their purpose for God. That is the way that law and grace go hand in hand and it is practically never the way Christians use the term.


There is one other place one can get the idea that the law condemns it reads as follows:

Now if the ministry that brought death, which was engraved in letters on stone, came with glory, so that the Israelites could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of its glory, fading though it was, will not the ministry of the Spirit be even more glorious? If the ministry that condemns men is glorious, how much more glorious is the ministry that brings righteousness! For what was glorious has no glory now in comparison with the surpassing glory. (2 Corinthians 3:7-10)

First we have to realize that apart from what we may want the text to say it might be saying something different so we have to analyze it. Did the 10 commandments written on stone usher in death? No clearly from the other Bible stories death was common. Is the verse speaking of some kind of death in the afterlife, as in no eternal life after this life? Again the answer is no the concept of an after life is not present this early in the Biblical stories. So what is Paul talking about? What ministry of death was inaugurated with Moses the lawgiver? Paul is referring to the Jewish nation who followed the traditions of Moses and ended up ultimately rejected Jesus Christ. No matter how glorious the history of the lawgiver was it did not establish a way out of death. Worse then not providing a way out of death it put Israel in a covenant relationship where if they failed, God would be against them. As Leviticus chapter 26 states:

I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt so that you would no longer be slaves to the Egyptians; I broke the bars of your yoke and enabled you to walk with heads held high. "'But if you will not listen to me and carry out all these commands, and if you reject my decrees and abhor my laws and fail to carry out all my commands and so violate my covenant, then I will do this to you: I will bring upon you sudden terror, wasting diseases and fever that will destroy your sight and drain away your life. You will plant seed in vain, because your enemies will eat it. I will set my face against you so that you will be defeated by your enemies; those who hate you will rule over you, and you will flee even when no one is pursuing you. (Lev 26:13-17 NIV)

The verses go on for a good long list of horrors. Therefore it was to Paul a ministry of death as opposed to the ministry of life through faith in Jesus Christ and His promises. It is not however a covenant to which the Gentiles are a party, but an apt demonstration of the difference between the letter of a law where the nation entered into an agreement that they were unable to keep versus the Spirit’s ministry by the grace of God as revealed in Jesus Christ offer of healing and reconciliation.

As the Dictionary of Paul and His Letters (InterVarsity Press) states on page 537:

"The most natural background for Paul's statements that the Law is aligned with sin, death and condemnation is the widespread conviction among first-century Jews that the Law had justly condemned Israel to Gentile domination for transgressing its commands."

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Characteristics of Fundamentalism

In my recent post on the Last Generation documentary film I noted that I did not like the sound bite definition they used for fundamentalism. I am reading a very interesting book entitled:

Revival of the Gnostic Heresy --Fundamentalism by Joe E. Morris

The book gives this recitation of the what a Fundamentalist is which I think is well done:

Martin Marty and Scott Appleby in their landmark study The Fundamental Project,
discovered common factors among various movements that would qualify as

• Religion: Religion is the source of all forms of fundamentalism; each form
usually manifests a religious compulsion that drives a religious faction.

• Traditionalism: Fundamentalists are traditionalists but discriminating and
selective in what “works” for their tradition.

• Anti-Modern: Fundamentalists react negatively against modernity and modern

• Siege mentality: Fundamentalists possess a siege mentality with an air of
paranoia; they perceive the world as a specific threat to individual and corporate

• Militancy: Fundamentalists exhibit a militant attitude, fed by a paranoia that
their back is to the wall and that they are fighting for their very existence.

• Perception of History: The Fundamentalist perception of history is distorted.
Fundamentalists live in a glorious past, to which there is a felt need to
return if the future is to survive. History is viewed as a conflict between evil
and good, and evil is the modern world.

• Authoritative male leadership: With very few exceptions, fundamentalist
movements are led by authoritative males

• Exclusionists: Fundamentalists stereotype and label. Clear lines are drawn
between believers and nonbelievers, insiders and outsiders. There is no middle
ground or gray area.

• Totalitarian: Consistent with their dualistic view of reality (good versus
evil), everything is seen in absolute terms. Their totalitarian system would
replace the old.

At the conclusion of their work, the two authors make this excellent summation:

In these pages fundamentalism has appeared as a tendency, a habit of mind, found
within religious communities and paradigmatically embodied in, certain representative
individuals and movements, which manifests itself as a strategy or set of strategies,
by which beleaguered believers attempt to preserve distinctive identity as a
people or group. Finding this identity to be at risk in the contemporary era, they
fortify it by a selective retrieval of doctrines, beliefs, and practices from a sacred
past.7 (Page 68)

As the Adventist church deals with the issues of the day I think it is very helpful to remember these characteristics of Fundamentalism as seen so often in Traditional Adventism.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Auburn Adventist Academy Teacher charged with Rape

Bad news for Auburn Adventist Academy

From King


Posted on February 20, 2010 at 3:35 PM

Updated today at 6:50 PM


AUBURN, Wash. – A Bible teacher at an Auburn school has been charged with having sex with a 15-year-old student.

Police say Scott Spies, 49, confessed to having sex with a girl from Auburn Adventist Academy more than 15 times over the course of the school year.

Spies is charged with third degree rape and sexual misconduct. He was arrested last week and released from jail on Saturday after posting bail

Auburn Adventist Academy Principal Marvin Mitchell calls it a tragedy.

"The situation escalated into something that was unacceptable," he said.

Mitchell said the now 16-year-old student, who is part of the boarding program at the private Christian academy, looked to Spies as a mentor.

"She found a person who she felt like she could share with and that was the beginning of it," he said.

Detectives call what happened rape.

"The student described them as starting to get close in about February of 09," says Sgt. Dave Colglazier with the Auburn Police Department.

On Tuesday, the student told police that she and Spies began having sex at the beginning of the school year at his apartment just a few miles away from the school

The school first starting hearing rumors about the relationship late last week and brought both the student and Spies in the office for questioning. They both denied it until Monday. The school immediately notified police and fired Spies.

"Because of this we are re-examining all of our policies and teacher student relationships, we are dedicated to the safety of our students," said Mitchell.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Last Generation Film

There is a very interesting film that is making it way around the Adventist communities. Today hopefully the conversation can be held throughout the Adventist world. The film has a website which gives a little background, I think there definition of Fundamentalism is a bit shallow. They link to a book on Google books which actually gives a much more thorough definition which they should have used though of course it is not found in a single sentance and it seems they preferred to use a sound bite type of definition.

Anyway I won't say much more on the topic now but here is the link to view the documentary. Take some time to check it out. It would make a very interesting Sabbath School discussion at the least.

Last Generation Film and audio mp3 version

I would advising saving the files (save link as) if you want the video, as streaming seems to be somewhat troublesome for the video part. Oh yes I also recommend the VLC player it will no doubt become your favorite player as well for video.

Friday, February 19, 2010

A Letter to the Local Adventist Church Pastors

Over a month ago I sent the following letter to a couple of local church pastors. One ultimately gave me a substantive answer the other wanted to meet but since I was not in town at the time he desired I offered other alternatives but never received an answer. To my way of thinking no answer when the question is how do you treat Progressive Adventists in your church is in fact an answer. Since the pastor who answered did not want his answer published I will summarize it as: Progressive Adventists are welcome to worship with us. They cannot be leaders and they are stumbling blocks because they don't believe the strongly held beliefs of the church as a whole (see previous article the myth of the church as a whole). The "church as a whole" is kind of funny as in the letter I talk about the idea of having doctrines decided by a bureaucracy but that was still his ultimate reasoning.


I have been what can be termed a Progressive Seventh-day Adventist for over 20 years. Through most of that time I have been accepted in the Adventist churches I have attended. Through much of that time the average Adventist did not know what the term Progressive SDA meant. Possibly that was better for all concerned as they could hear what we had to say and judge the statements for themselves whether our views had substance or not. Today sides appear to have been drawn that tend to set traditional/historic Adventists against Progressive Adventists. With the effect that at least for me it appears that the leadership of the Adventist church has no real interest in me as a member or my opinions upon religion and theology.

Unlike many other Progressive SDA’s I have a blog and website which offers hundreds of pages of information about what I think on religion and theology. I have for many years been open about my views and I acknowledge that my views do in fact change which is one of the benefits of having written down my beliefs for numerous years. What I have always disliked about my Adventist experience is how those in leadership positions were usually afraid to engage in dialog (see here for my challenge to my local church actions against me over a year ago with still no answer or any attempt to answer made).

Many years ago in Boise I asked the pastor what he knew about the various atonement theories. He said that they probably studied them in seminary but he did not know or remember much about them.

How many of our church leaders are simply like that--assuming that that the information they were given is sufficient for the rest of their lives? What happens when they come in contact with the rest of us…with those of us who love to continue to learn and try to understand both history and the history of theology and religion?

For many of us Progressives Adventists we want to know if there is a place for us in the Seventh-day Adventist church.

After all, if we can’t contribute to the local church with our ideas except in the Adult Sabbath school classes are we really part of the local church? It seems some people feel that exposure of the young people of our church to Progressive SDA ideas simply can’t be allowed. It appears that these leaders feel it their responsibility to insure that only what they define as traditional/historic Adventist ideas are taught. Never mind that we as a church have in numerous areas changed our views from our historic understandings. Religions change, it is a fact of life and if you believe in progressive revelation there is no excuse to think that your religion won’t change. So if it is not tradition that informs these leaders to reject Progressive Adventists what is it? Is it a hierarchy, such that the local Adventist church must teach or expose its members to only those ideas approved by the General Conference, perhaps only those things taught in our lesson study guides? I would hate to think my religion is dictated by a bureaucracy but maybe that is what the leadership in my local church thinks.

I recently happened upon this quote from a local church which has since changed it’s name. Perhaps it expresses the view of your church:

College Street Christian Church is an undenominational fellowship. It doesn't matter what kind of background you have (Baptist, Catholic, Methodist, Atheist, Agnostic, or whatever); you are welcome here. Even if within one family there are varied backgrounds, this church can be an easy compromise for everyone. How? All we ask is that every person leaves teachings of man at the door. When you enter our building, you will only get the Bible; not anyone's opinion of it. So, check us out. See if we live up to it. No fake stuff; nothing weird. Just God's Holy Word. It's enough for us!”

That sounds like a high ideal. But, is it possible, even in a theoretical sense?

If your church is not bound by tradition or bureaucracy perhaps like the church quoted above you feel that it teaches only the Bible and not anyone’s opinion of it. It is good to teach the Bible but we certainly have to be realistic enough to know that the Bible is always taught through the interpretation of the person who is reading or studying or teaching from the Bible. It is impossible to get around the human component in understanding the Bible and we humans can often be wrong even with the best of intentions.

Having monitored and/or been involved with many Adventist internet discussion formats I realize that there is a deep rift between traditional and progressive Adventists. Deeper than we usually see in our social interactions in our local churches, which often involve little more than polite conversations with little depth. It is therefore possible that a person could go to a local church for several years before they determine how the leadership of a particular church feels about progressive Adventism. Which leads to this letter and the question what place does your church hold for a progressive Adventist?

Please understand that my question above is not merely rhetorical. I truly wish to understand the boundaries of acceptable Adventism within my current congregation or any near my home. How big is the tent? Do I really have a home in Adventism or am I deluding myself with thoughts of what Adventism could be? Should I give up on Adventism? Has it given up on me and those like me (or worse, become hostile to us)?

I would sincerely, welcome dialogue on this subject from my local Pastors, or representation from local leadership.

My spiritual journey has often been transparent. I share it on my blog. While not as widely read as I would like it becomes a form of public record and is useful to others in their own circumstance. Writing helps to focus my own thoughts, and forces me to avoid hazy thinking. I am not posting this letter, at this time, on my blog though I contemplated writing it as an open letter. I hope to do so in the future hopefully together with the results of a dialogue if those who respond are willing.


Ron Corson

Friday, February 12, 2010

The Myth of the Church as a whole

Have you ever wondered what people mean when they say the “church as a whole”? First we know from the context that when it is used it rarely is meant to refer to the Christian church as a whole. It is usually meant in a denominational sense. Here is an example used against the Progressive Adventist view:

“You have gone on record as not believing some of the teachings our “church as a whole” sincerely believes as true.”

Bill Cork on his blog uses the term this way:

“Some who would describe themselves as “liberals,” “evangelicals,” or perhaps even “centrists,” on the other hand, are convinced that the Seventh-day Adventist Church as a whole has rightly moved away from the teachings defended by M. L. Andreasen (the leading critic of Questions on Doctrine in the 1950s) and Herbert Douglass (who has defended the same views throughout his career of denominational employment).”

Bill Cork points out that the Adventist church still publishes the last generation perfection books of Andreasen and Douglass and I could speculate that many thought that the church as a whole supported the book Questions on Doctrines. People like Douglass (see link here for Douglass’ thoughts on QOD) or Larry Kirkpatrick would probably disagree that the church as a whole accepted the book Questions on Doctrines.

Different people with different perspectives may refer to the Adventist church as a whole but what do they mean by their respective use of the statement? We know that there are diverse views within the Adventist church on many topics. Some such as what happened in 1844 and what the Investigative Judgment is are quickly changing within the church. But does the “church as a whole” have a position? The fact is that Adventists even within America have not even tried to poll the church membership for their positions. But then again if the local church or the church publications does not inform the membership of the various views even if the membership was polled would the poll be of value? Knowing what people who don’t know what the issues are is relatively useless.

The knowledge base of the church is questionable because we can be pretty sure that most of the issues where there is a difference of opinion upon traditional SDA views are not really being discussed in the local church sermons or church publications. After all why discuss the various possibilities if you can simply state that the church as a whole has already decided the issues.

So what actually happens is that the idea of what the whole church believes is based upon what the leadership of the church declares, what the leadership of the church allows to be published. The frightening thing is that the leadership of the church is a self serving bureaucracy. It is not the church as a whole. Even on the 5 year sessions the vast majority of the representatives are employees of the church. As I stated in a previous blog post:

…So If I assumed that each of those 4 categories equally made up the 50% of the session delegates that would give us 301 laypersons to 2108 denominational employee delegates. Even of those 2108 employees 1054 would be administrative denominational employees.

Remember this quote: “You have gone on record as not believing some of the teachings our “church as a whole” sincerely believes as true.” That quote is from a denomination employee, it is in the self interest of the employees to maintain the system as it is. It provides their living, it is their job security and as such innovation or restructuring on any level are generally against their self interest. To make their life easier they resort to the tactic of assuming that whatever the leadership says is what the church as a whole believes. They have no real evidence that the church as a whole believes one way or another, what they have is the results of General Conference sessions which are dominated by the churches administration and denominational employees. The assumption of course being that the local churches appointed representatives to the sessions, but as we have seen by the numbers those representatives are far outnumbered by employees. If you have been part of a local church for a while you also know that you have little say on who becomes part of the conference leadership as well.

Consider this portion of a comment on the EducateTruth Website which was created to decry the use of evolution in science classes, (I will ignore the spelling errors etc):

This would not, and does not remove the responsibility of the school administration to remove the teachers AND other staff who are not teaching and/or supporting the churches stated beliefs. All SDAs voiced the embracing of all Seventh-day Adventists fundamentals upon interring the church. How anyone can believe they have a right to make their own personal decision to insist that the church as a whole should embrace a ‘new idea’ without it being first cleared through the proper procedure is just impossible for me to understand. All the people I have known who come to disagree with what they originally (upon entering the church) believed, simply withdrew their membership.

This comment shows two of the myths of the “church as a whole” assumption. First it shows that some people think that when we were baptized and joined the SDA church we agreed to SDA fundamental beliefs. Which of course did not exist prior to 1980 (then the 27 Fundamental Beliefs) so no, many did not join agreeing to SDA fundamental beliefs. As if one can’t make personal decisions against the beliefs of the church, that the now 28 Fundamental beliefs are a membership creed; if they disagree they must withdraw membership. It also shows that there is this idea that if one has a personal belief different from the SDA leadership that expressing that idea is equivalent to insisting that the whole church should embrace your idea.

It is interesting to see how some people feel that those with different ideas will inflict them upon others the way the Adventist church inflicts its ideas (going against the “church as a whole”). If the church is not capable of discussing and analyzing ideas within the church how can it expect to reach people outside the church. After all we are asking them to discuss and analyze our denominations ideas versus their denominations ideas or whatever their religious or non religious tradition may be. In fact if we can’t discuss the differing ideas within the church including within our young peoples church lives we end up not educating them to the realities that they will find when they get out on their own, outside the umbrella of Adventist educational systems. Because we don’t do that we lose most of our youth in the Western world. We pretend that our churches leadership has given us all the answers and everything else just causes controversy and become a stumbling block. As if because people have sincere beliefs they must be sound beliefs.

With myths like that of the “church as a whole” we have hurt ourselves and our children, our friends and our society. We become out of touch and out of date and sadly proud of it.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Idealogues; impossible to explain to them

I could not think how to point out this problem with President Obama in a way that reflected the purpose of this blog until I read something from Clifford Goldstein this last week. First President Obama, in an example of saying one thing the opposite of what is true. At the recent Obama question and answer session at the House Republican Retreat in Baltimore President Obama in referring to a fictional account of some none existent Republican plan that was to do twice as much as Obama’s plan and cost nothing Obama said:

“And the notion that I would somehow resist doing something that cost half as much but would produce twice as many jobs -- why would I resist that? I wouldn't. I mean, that's my point, is that -- I am not an ideologue. I'm not. It doesn't make sense if somebody could tell me you could do this cheaper and get increased results that I wouldn't say, great. The problem is, I couldn't find credible economists who would back up the claims that you just made.”

Notice the part where he says I am not an ideologue. An ideologue by the dictionary definition is:

1 : an impractical idealist : theorist
2 : an often blindly partisan advocate or adherent of a particular ideology

It is the second definition that is most often used, a partisan advocate of a particular idea.

Notice later in the speech how Obama verifies that he is an ideologue:

“Now, what I said at the State of the Union is what I still believe: If you can show me -- and if I get confirmation from health care experts, people who know the system and how it works, including doctors and nurses -- ways of reducing people's premiums; covering those who do not have insurance; making it more affordable for small businesses; having insurance reforms that ensure people have insurance even when they've got preexisting conditions, that their coverage is not dropped just because they're sick, that young people right out of college or as they're entering in the workforce can still get health insurance -- if those component parts are things that you care about and want to do, I'm game. And I've got -- and I've got a lot of these ideas.”

This is an ideologue position because it puts forth that these components have to be met; even though they cannot be met. For instance any insurance plan that includes preexisting conditions will not reduce people’s premiums because the premiums have to cover more people with already known problems that will require more treatments. If you cover more people who currently don’t have insurance then again those already paying for insurance will have to pay more to cover those who don’t have insurance. Of course the young people just out of college could get health insurance but don’t want to pay for it because they don’t expect to use it that much. So what he has done is present an impossible ideal that he claims if you have a plan that can cover those components he will listen. But of course since there is no plan including that coming from the Congress or the Senate democrats that can do that, clearly the Republicans can’t do the impossible either.

Now why this example is included on a Adventist religion blog is because it is a frequent tactic of Adventist as well as other Christians in dealing with ideas that they oppose. Here is a portion of what Clifford Goldstein recently wrote on the Spectrum blog comments in response to Ron Osborn’s article:

“My big question, as I said, was in reference to evolution and the cross, because I can't see how evolution can be true and the cross, at least the subtitionary model (the only model the Bible teaches [I know that's a zinger on here]) could possibly be reconciled with it. I was waiting for your response to that.

I must admit I was disappointed. Is what you wrote above your answer? If so, then I am confirmed even more in my belief that one has to chose evolution, or Jesus, but not both.

Your words, "Or does this narrative in fact keep the cross as far away from the creation as possible? The standard legal-forensic model of Christ’s death may in fact be a desperate attempt to isolate the creation story in Genesis in a way that allows us to read it without any reference to Christ at all" . . . ? Maybe I'm missing something here, but what in the world, brother, are you talking about? Am I alone in finding those two lines uncomprehensible?

Can anyone on this blog give me a logical, coherent, biblical way of harmonizing evolution with the cross? I'm even willing to listen to someone harmonize a Maxwellian-subjective-view of atonement with evolution, if they can. “

Goldstein even while challenging someone to show him an alternate view posits that his view is the only real view anyway. In other words he sets himself up in the ideologue position. He is asking for someone to explain a different view from his own that incorporates all of his already preconceived notions. Particularly his Substitutionary view of Atonement. He says: “at least the subtitionary model (the only model the Bible teaches…)” and then later says “Can anyone on this blog give me a logical, coherent, biblical way of harmonizing evolution with the cross? I'm even willing to listen to someone harmonize a Maxwellian-subjective-view of atonement with evolution, if they can.” Setting up the impossible mission where the subjective view of atonement most be based upon the Biblical version which he has already told us is only Substitutionary. There is thus absolutely no way for anyone to present a logical coherent view that will be viewed as logical and coherent to Clifford Goldstein. The ideologue position prevents the ideologue from ever listening to anything that is not their position even if their position is impractical.

This does remind me that I have to finish my article which may help answer Cliff’s question. But even as you read it you will realize that there are vast differences in ways of interpreting things that have to be considered. You can’t declare this is what has to be incorporated for me to accept the idea behind theistic evolution and the reconciliation to God through the incarnation of God in Jesus Christ. I even doubt that people like Cliff would read to the end of part two and maybe that is why it has taken me so long to work on part 3. See: Ecclesiastes the Anti-Fundamentalist Book

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Kindness and the Law

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. (Galatians 5:22-25 NIV)

All of these fruits are characteristics of God. The call is to attempt to stay in step with the characteristics of God…a goal for certain and a goal we often fail to achieve. But God does not fail to achieve these characteristics. That leads me to something I heard in a song and frankly something I have heard all my life. The line is something like “we are condemned by the law of God”, I am not going to link to any of those statements as a goggle search gave me a result of over 4 million hits. But let’s think about that for a moment.

If God is defined by these characteristics, let’s specifically use the term “kindness”. Would a person who was characterized by kindness create a law with the intention of it being to condemn people? It is hard to imagine someone saying that it is a kindness to create a law to condemn. What good does that do? It would seem that with kindness as the reason any law would seek to benefit people rather than to condemn them.

Paul addressed this issue when he said: “So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith. “(Gal 3:24 NIV) Paul who actually never says that the law condemns us fights against the idea of being held prisoner to the law which was powerless (Rom 8:3) because of our sinful nature, faith in Christ could do...the law then leading us to Christ and Faith. The law as intended was a kindness, a good thing offering guidelines for a people new to self governing. The kindness of the old Testament law however was not meant to condemn people it was the misuse of the law that caused people to think it was meant to condemn us. What do they think of God if His law is meant to condemn?

If our fundamental assumption about God is based upon the idea that God’s law condemns us we have set up the presupposition that God is against us. A direct contradiction of the New Testaments declaration: “What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? “(Rom 8:31 NIV) This presupposition becomes the root of so much misunderstanding about God which culminates in the idea that God had to pour out His wrath on Christ so that God could forgive us. An idea which flies in the face of the characteristics of God : “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Megachurch wants publicity no matter what

Here is an excerpt from Yahoo News, LA megachurch hopes to win Super Bowl ad contest The ad is for Doritos’ but it is based upon the mockery of the Resurrection of Jesus. Apparently this megachurch is populated by twenty-somethings who like to make short videos and have little understanding of Christianity or of the attacks against Christianity. Mainly the attack that says Jesus faked His death, there was not real resurrection it was just a hoax.

Here is the description of the video which you can watch here, from the AP story at Yahoo News:

“The tongue-in-cheek ad opens on a funeral scene and then cuts to a young man alive in a closed casket. His body is covered in Doritos and he is watching the Super Bowl on a tiny TV while chomping on chips as mourners sob outside. Two friends, who are in on the prank, snicker that by faking his death, their friend will get a week off work and an endless supply of his favorite snack.

But the man gets excited when his team makes a big play and jostles the casket, which tips over to reveal him inside with a pile of crushed chips.

After an awkward pause, his buddy jumps up and nervously exclaims to the shocked assemblage: "Aaaah! It's a miracle!"

Actually the Aaaah part is more singing reminiscent of Hallelujah.

So will this bring the gospel to people? Or bring people into this megachurch? Likely not but it does serve to bring disrepute on Christianity, the religion that opponents claim is a hoax. But then again I have yet to find a megachurch that offered really good teaching on theology so what could we expect. It seems to me that even the Liberal Christians like Bishop Spong though they don’t believe in the historical resurrection would have more respect for the concept than to make it a correlate with a hoax. Or even attempt to hear someone say the hoax idea of being trapped inside a coffin for even a day with only a salty snack and a TV is the act of a genius.

But it made news and apparently to some that is the point of life.