Adventist Media Response and Conversation

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Roy Adam’s When All Else Fails Attack

In the most recent edition of the Adventist World Roy Adams has a “special feature” in which he recounts his experiences after writing his first article on William Paul Young’s book “The Shack” First he tells us how his fellow church leaders loved his article. “It was a classic” one tells him and how others wrote in to support Roy Adam’s article. He then leads on to three letters that were against his article.

The first thing we should remember is that letters to the editor are not laid out as articles themselves they are generally simply emotional statements of people for or against something or perhaps small corrections. They are not position papers and thus they are not formulated to be as persuasive and encompassing as an actual article which is intended for publication.

So Roy Adams in effect goes after the by standers in the controversy rather than dealing with the numerous articles which actually were written as counterpoint to his own article. It is perhaps the way of the weak argument to behave by going after the less well armed but in a world of propaganda which is what most of the Adventist Review has become it is one sure way to win the propaganda war. Responding to a few letters rather than to more complex arguments such as my own: See Review of William Young’s The Shack

What is striking early on after seeing how Mr. Adams has to shore up his support from the Ministry Magazine editor who termed Adams piece a classic (which if you think about it says a lot about that editor if he thinks that article is a classic, unless he was being sarcastic) how Adams does not even realize the implication of what he wrote in his first article. For example in letter 2 he quotes the following letter and writes:

2. Reader B: “Mr. Adams begins his article by criticizing the beautiful music of Ave Maria…. [I did no such thing!]

 In fact he calls the work improper and unbiblical. He writes in his first article:

But notwithstanding the song’s valid scriptural elements (based on Luke 1), what we have here is essentially a prayer to Mary, disguised to most of us because of its Latin rendition. Would I be as moved by the piece if its words were simultaneously translated as its beautiful melody sounds in my ears? The lyrics end, as follows:

“Holy Mary, Mother of God, 
pray for us sinners now 
and at the hour of our death. Amen.”

If I allow my love for the music to blind me to the inappropriateness of its lyrics, then that would be sheer emotionalism on my part. Praying to the dead is improper and unbiblical.

At least he did note that the song has valid scriptural elements. But it certainly appears to be a criticism and to pretend he has not criticized something when clearly he has shows something wrong in his own mental processes. Beauty does not prevent the need for valid criticism of the content. But don’t pretend that no criticism was intended when it was and people can tell what you intended. Or worse yet parse your ideas to say well hey I criticized the lyrics not the music, but simply making a declaration “I did no such thing!” is disingenuous.

He then goes on to say that what he found in the three letters, again ignoring the other responses that were published throughout the Adventist network of people, Anger, embarrassment of our belief and a simplistic naïveté. Actually that is my normal feeling when reading the Adventist Review. The foolishness of articles like Adams in the Review will also foster anger and embarrassment at Adventist doctrine and leaders. For example here is how Adam’s concludes his article:

…If we’re after making solid Christians, we’d better be completely honest with our audience and not sugarcoat the evidence. To raise The Shack, de facto, to the level of sacred text is silly and naive. Imaginative fiction, however well-meaning, can never trump the Word of God. 

Not one letter writer or any article writer writing to counter Adam’s view suggested raising The Shack to the level of sacred text. So where does that idea come from? It is merely a rhetorical technique, a piece of propaganda to help him sustain his position as a wise expositor of Christian teachings. Certainly he is being naïve; he is also misrepresenting the letter writers which he has set himself against. It is deceptive and manipulative and ultimately since he avoids the real issues he is an obscurantist. But I can say it is a fitting follow up to his first article, poorly reasoned and generally worthless.

There is one final note which I will reflect on; Adam’s criticizes the unbiblical and improper lyrics of the Ave Maria. But there is an equally unbiblical and improper statement made in the Adventist World issue. It is carried on “The People’s Place” Quote of the Month. It reads:

“Eve fell because she thought there was something better. Adam fell because he thought there was no one better.”

There is nothing in the Genesis story or anywhere else in the Bible to imply that Adam fell because he thought there was no one better, i.e. Eve. What that quote does is take an Ellen White idea and raise it to a tradition read into the story and then praised to the World Adventist church. Is that really any different than what the Ave Maria does with Catholic tradition?

One thing I don’t expect to see is that the Adventist Review or World Edition will begin to start thinking critically, and that is the saddest part of all.

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