Adventist Media Response and Conversation

Friday, August 26, 2011

The Great Controversy and Canadian Law

On the Spectrum website there is an article by a pastor formerly pastoring in Canada. Pastor Eddy Johnson says the following about the distribution of the Ellen White book the Great Controversy in his article entitled: Will 'The Great Controversy' Project Harm Adventism?
“The saddest part was the reaction of those who had initiated the “evangelistic” dispersal of the book. Upset when the conference asked them to stop, they accused the leadership of cowardice, apostasy, and bowing to the pressure exerted by the “agents of Catholicism that infiltrated the church.” The incident taught me how difficult it was to explain to determined believers that not every action was Biblically timely or wise. Instead they found comfort in their understanding that good people were always going to be persecuted, even by their own church at times. I believe that the action of the conference was instrumental in protecting the Adventist church from what might have been a very nasty court action (we all know the frenzied appetite of the press for such occurrences).”
Currently the Adventist denomination is promoting a mass distribution of the book The Great Controversy with the Great Controversy Project. One of the concerns of some people seem to be that the book will be looked at as hate literature (in fact that is one of the claims of the Great controversy Project though it is bogus, but apparently has some legs as this will be my second article on the subject). As one of my previous commenter said of previous related article on this blog:
“Yet I have concerns about the core message of GC, for our culture, which appears to me some will perceive it as hateful speech or at least unfounded and harsh accusations.”
Canada has one of the tougher hate law legislations in North America, but does the publication of this 1888/1912 book by the Adventist claimed prophet Ellen White equate to hate speech? First I will put forth the disclaimer that I am against all hate crime legislation. A crime is a crime for it's action it should be dealt with for the action not deemed worse because the motive was something other then emotion or avarice or cruelty. See the article from Reason Magazine for further explanation of the problem of hate crime legislation.

Aside from what should be we have to deal with what legislation has been passed. In this case does the Canadian law open the Adventist church up to a nasty court action. Well first you can have a nasty court action for anything whether you are in the right or wrong. So we as a church or as individuals are always open to that, frivolous lawsuits are all too common. But under Canadian law the publication of the Great Controversy book does not fall into the category of section 318 or 319 of the Canadian criminal code. Hate Propaganda 318 Advocating genocide 319 Public incitement of hatred. As 318 requires the advocacy of genocide of some group"
“Every one who advocates or promotes genocide is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years.”
 Criminal code 319 allows: 
          “(3) No person shall be convicted of an offence under subsection (2)...
(b) if, in good faith, the person expressed or attempted to establish by an argument an opinion on a religious subject or an opinion based on a belief in a religious text;”

Since the Seventh-day Adventist denomination has in their fundamental beliefs that Ellen White the author of the Great Controversy is:
“As the Lord's messenger, her writings are a continuing and authoritative source of truth which provide for the church comfort, guidance, instruction, and correction...” (18. The Gift of Prophecy)
The Denomination has a legal defense against the charge of hate propaganda in the law itself.

The legal or criminal/court threat is of no concern at this time, though the potential for ill considered hate crime legislation may someday create more problems as such crimes restrict constitutional freedoms. The real consideration should be; is this book correct, helpful and wise to distribute. The article by Eddy Johnson goes on to give some further reasons it is ill considered to spread this book throughout the country or world. I am in agreement with the article on some of his objections. Though I would raise a few different objections.

Update from a conversation on Spectrum David Read brought up the problem of the Human Rights Commission of Canada, to which I responded as follows:
David Read is correct, Canada has problems with free speech issues because of their human Rights commission which appears to be corrupt and inept. It appears to be an outgrowth of those who believe in hate crime legislation but could not get the legislation into the law. If the Adventist church got involved somehow with that group and the other high profile authors who are being frivolously tried by the human rights commission I would say go for it because they would win this issue in the end and be heralded for protecting Canadian free speech rights.

From an article on the subject:
“Canada’s ‘human rights’ laws are abominable,” he said, “especially Section 13.1 of the Human Rights Act, which criminalizes any speech that makes a person feel uneasy. So it’s not a matter of truth, or evidence, but of feelings.”
Section 13.1 prohibits speech, including speech on the telephone, or writings on the Internet, that is “likely to expose a person or persons to hatred or contempt.”[4] Whether this is “likely” to happen soon, or in the distant future, the law does not specify. Nor does it define speech that is “likely” to do this. In practice, “human rights” commissions have allowed plaintiffs to define it, based on their subjective feelings.
“Now, finally, there is quite a stirring against the human rights commissions—at least among the newspapers,” De Valk said. “We hope this is beginning to change the environment.”
Canadian newspapers have been increasingly critical of “human rights” commissions since complaints were brought against Ezra Levant, Mark Steyn, and Maclean’s magazine. Levant, when he was editor of the now-defunct Western Standard, fell afoul of the “human rights” regime when he published the notorious “Muhammad cartoons” to illustrate a news story about them. Maclean’s, Canada’s most widely circulated magazine, published excerpts from Steyn’s book, America Alone, that discussed the growing Muslim influence in Western Europe.
But Levant, Steyn, and Maclean’s have vigorously defended themselves. Their high-profile cases have led to calls for investigation of the commissions’ procedures and even for repeal of portions of the Human Rights Act—first by newspaper, and lately by members of Parliament. Meanwhile, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police have launched their own investigation of the commissions.
“The Canadian government has got to be convinced to act,” De Valk said. “We have a Conservative government and a Conservative prime minister; but it’s a minority government, so the Conservatives can’t go forward without support from the other political parties.”

Friday, August 12, 2011

And Jesus said Don't Eat Cheese

As you read the Adventist media and conversation sources (magazines blogs etc) it is often possible to see some of the truly cultic thinking that inhabits Adventism. One good example is the new blog article at In an article entitled Annoying article which predominately decries the use of cheese, we read the following:
Many of us have heard the testimonies: “Cheese stops-up my system.” “Cheese makes my arthritis flare-up.” “Cheese disturbs my sleep.” Anticipating these problems, Jesus gave the gracious counsel: “Cheese should never be introduced into the stomach.”1
1 Counsels on Diet and Foods, p. 368.

Whether or not we experience any symptoms, it should be enough that Jesus has spoken on this matter. It is an insult to His grace, to presume that His message is not clear enough. While church members debate the meaning of this subject, outsiders suffer.
You notice of course that Jesus never said one word about cheese, the quotes used are from the Adventist prophet of the 19th century, Ellen White. When challenged on this use of Ellen White as Jesus the author Adam Hendron said in the comments section (proving the article was not actually a joke or satire):
The Testimony of Jesus—not Ellen White—is the spirit of prophecy (Rev 19:10).  When God's prophets served their role, "the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify when it testified" 1 Peter 1:11.  Two chapters later, we read that Jesus preached to the antedeluvians through Noah (vv 18-20).  Noah was the spokesperson, but Jesus was the preacher.  Whose message is it?  Christs!  His Spirit testified through the human agency.  
Then his next comment
First, no one is equating EGW with Jesus.  That's a straw-man argument.  Next, her writings are no more "erroneous" or "contradictory" than the Bible itself.  (Critics make the same sort of arguments about both.)  Now, are you questioning the inspiration of Peter's epistle?  If the Bible is not trustworthy, you put yourself in the position of God as the final aribiter of truth.  You ask why the writer of Genesis did not mention that Noah preached?  Well, why did Moses not mention a plethora of other details that later biblical writers added to the periods he wrote of, for that matter?  Paul, for example, says the rock that followed Israel through the wilderness was Jesus.  And how could Moses himself write authoritatively about events that took place long before he was born? 
Intriguing isn't it, how completely confused the traditional Adventist is to the Bible and it's statements. The testimony of Jesus is those who testify of Jesus, it is not the words of Jesus, it is the inspiration that allows us to profess that Jesus is Lord. We don't do it on our own it is the Spirit of God that inspires us to accept and proclaim that Jesus is God. (see this article on the misuse of the term Spirit of Prophecy)
Rev 19:10 Then I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, “Do not do that; I am a fellow servant of yours and your brethren who hold the testimony of Jesus; worship God. For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.”
Of course this does not make every statement of a Christian the word of God, or Jesus nor would it even make every word of our fellow servants even if we assumed them to be prophets to be the words of Jesus. As Jesus said to Peter:
Matt 16:15-17
15 He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?
16 And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.
17 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. (KJV)
The strong play of the fundamentalist is their assertion that their reason and no other reason is acceptable. We see it here in the attempt to make it seem that Jesus spoke to those before Noah, the supposed spirits in prison. But anyone with any knowledge of Christianity knows that there are many different interpretation of that verse. But the art of confusion is the art of the dogmatic fundamentalist. And the above blog author is very much and Adventist fundamentalist, and in my view one who holds to a very cultic understanding. Of course he also asserts that Moses wrote the first five books of the Bible despite the numerous facts that lead one to doubt that assertion, you know writing about his own death, differing creation accounts etc. Jewish Tradition is not the same as facts. What about the rock that followed Israel through the wilderness being Jesus? That again is they typical lie of the fundamentalist, to distort and confuse as you can see from the actual verse:
1 Cor 10:1-5
1 For I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact, brothers, that our forefathers were all under the cloud and that they all passed through the sea.
2 They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea.
3 They all ate the same spiritual food
4 and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ.
5 Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them; their bodies were scattered over the desert. (NIV)
So Hendron ignores the spiritual parts of the statement to make a totally fictitious case. It bothers me that these kind of people are in the Adventist church, I do suppose it is helpful that Adventist Today posts their foolishness for all to see. I do wish they had a more balanced group of bloggers however, maybe not so many traditionalists and maybe even a few political conservatives.

Ah well I guess that is what you find on this blog.