Adventist Media Response and Conversation

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Bibliotatry

The Oxford Dictionaries define bibliolatry as:
1. an excessive adherence to the literal interpretation of the Bible.
Sometimes people misspell it as Bibleolatry but we want to use the official English word here. As Wikipedia points out the word is used as a pejorative, it is not that there really are Christians that literally worship the Bible. It is just the impression one gets from the way they use the Bible. A couple of examples from my wandering across the Internet.

Over on HeavenlySanctuary.com a person by the name of David begins a post by saying:
in Luke 19 "if they are quiet the rocks will cry out''. Truth? egw in DA p573 says
“That scene of triumph was of Gods own appointing. It had been fortold by the prophet, and man was POWERLESS TO TURN IT ASIDE. Had men failed to carry out His plan, He would have GIVEN A VOICE TO INANIMATE STONES, and they would have hailed His Son with ACCLAMATIONS of praise."

God does not want the praise or worship of robots (weve talked about this many times here). Would the rocks have been robots 'acclaiming paise' ? would that have made Jesus happy? forcing rocks to praise Hiim?
The post goes on into some more questionable thoughts but to this point it is pretty clever. It shows a very good example of bibliolatry in Ellen Whites writing's. It is the tendency to take something that could easily simply be hyperbole into something that is meant to be taken literally. Jesus speaks the following in Luke's gospel account:
Luke 19:37-41NIV When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen: "Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!" n "Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!" Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, "Teacher, rebuke your disciples!""I tell you," he replied, "if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out." As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it”
It is easy to see this as a jab at the Pharisees who wanted to quiet the crowd, it is more difficult to see this as a possibility of God causing stones to speak human language, after all stones don't say much most of the time and they are not thought to be all that smart or connected to spiritual things. Why would God want to make stones praise God...that would be pretty cheap praise. If God forces you, or an inanimate object to praise Him is it really praise at all?

In this case we have a combination of bibliolatry and Ellenolatry, though that last one is not currently a real English word and I hope it never becomes one. But it is sort of the idolatry that the Whiteites do exhibit. Whiteites is a term I do hope becomes a legitimate English word for those who uncritically accept Ellen White as prophetic spiritual authority who is without theological, historical or scientific error.

Let's look at another frequent example of bibliolatry, this one from Sherman Cox II on his blog Sabbath Pulpit. Speaking about the 2011 Japanese Earthquake and some Adventist responses he writes:
Now there is the whole “God is trying to tell God’s true church something” bit. Ok it is possible to read this as “God killing of thousands of innocent lives just to tell the church something.” I don’t know, but I don’t think that is Boonstra’s interpretation. I would guess that Boonstra would mean that “God is withdrawing God’s hand of protection and thus the evil one is allowed to do more and more of these things. Thus it is a signal to us that the end is near.” Certainly folks may disagree with that due to having a different theology, but is it really an insidious attack on God’s goodness.
Last week in my Sabbath School class I encountered this very similar idea that God is withdrawing His hand of protection, it is an idea based upon the following verse in Revelation:
Revelation 6:16-7:4 NIV They called to the mountains and the rocks, "Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?" After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth to prevent any wind from blowing on the land or on the sea or on any tree. Then I saw another angel coming up from the east, having the seal of the living God. He called out in a loud voice to the four angels who had been given power to harm the land and the sea: "Do not harm the land or the sea or the trees until we put a seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God." Then I heard the number of those who were sealed: 144,000 from all the tribes of Israel.
This is another of those intersections between the Whiteites and bibliolatry, like the person in my class they did not seem to realize that their quote from Revelation about the four winds is very subject to interpretation, to the Adventist traditionalist when they point to that verse their minds actually refer to the following Ellen White quote:
The restraining Spirit of God is even now being withdrawn from the world. Hurricanes, storms, tempests, fire and flood, disasters by sea and land, follow each other in quick succession. Science seeks to explain all these. The signs thickening around us, telling of the near approach of the Son of God, are attributed to any other than the true cause. Men cannot discern the sentinel angels restraining the four winds that they shall not blow until the servants of God are sealed; but when God shall bid His angels loose the winds, there will be such a scene of strife as no pen can picture. (Testimonies to the Church Vol 6 page 408)
Now there is no real Bible teaching that God restrains His Spirit but the belief in the authoritative prophet with the aid of subsequent tradition, the interpretation of a specific Bible text though vague becomes an infallible truth. It then becomes bibliolatry.

At its heart bibliolatry is never really about what the Bible says it is about what the chosen interpretation is. The one particular interpretation is the truth regardless of the other options involved. So the people don't even come close to worshiping the Bible as much as their respect is limited to their particular interpretation. If you don't agree with that interpretation then you reject the Bible and if you reject their interpretation of the Bible you are rejecting God. It reminds me of the text I found when looking at the only other Bible text where stones cry out
Habakkuk 2:11-12 NIV The stones of the wall will cry out, and the beams of the woodwork will echo it."Woe to him who builds a city with bloodshed and establishes a town by crime!
After that bit of poetic language the prophet moves on to another subject and we read:
Habakkuk 2:18 NIV "Of what value is an idol, since a man has carved it? Or an image that teaches lies? For he who makes it trusts in his own creation; he makes idols that cannot speak.
When the Bible text interpretation becomes an object of the human creator it becomes an idol, it can then speak lies, the text speak what the idol maker wants them to say because the trust is now in the idol (assigned meaning to the text by the idol maker). This is most easily done with vague and obscure texts such as the Latter Day Saints do with baptism for the dead or the reference to the Time of Jacobs Trouble or the four winds etc. Apocalyptic literature is ideal for this technique. Bibliolatry is a growing problem in Adventism. Next week. The myth of solo scriptura.




Monday, March 21, 2011

Ellen White as Lesser Light intentional confusion?

Recently I was looking up some material and I happened upon this quote:
To put it simply, one of the main reasons I believe in Ellen White is that she never puts her writings above the Bible. Think about it: There are churches and denominations today whose teachings and beliefs depend on their founder or prophet, not on the Bible. That’s not the way it is in the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Ellen White always made it clear that she was the lesser light leading to the greater light of God’s Word. I can see in her writings that she was only seeking to bring people to God and did not want to lift herself up above the Bible or call attention to herself. {AC 104.1} A Call To Stand Apart Selections from Ellen G. White A Paraphrase Chapter 17 Chapter 17—Authority Of Scripture A Young Adult’s Encounter with Ellen White ... on the Authority of Scripture
To what do we owe this particular teaching that Ellen White saw herself as a lesser light and that this was made clear to this particular young adult? After all as the young person said “Ellen White always made it clear that she was the lesser light leading to the greater light of God’s Word.” So where do we first find this quote from Ellen White? Maybe the question should be where do most of us first encounter this quote? I took some time to look it up and here are the results:

--1953 compilation book called Colporteur Ministry, we read: (you can find these books at http://egwwritings.org/ )
Sell Books That Give Light—The Lord has sent His people much instruction, line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little, and there a little. Little heed is given to the Bible, and the Lord has given a lesser light to lead men and women to the greater light. Oh, how much good would be accomplished if the books containing this light were read with a determination to carry out the principles they contain! There would be a thousandfold greater vigilance, a thousandfold more self-denial and resolute effort. And many more would now be rejoicing in the light of present truth. {CM 125.2}
You can also find it in the other compilations Evangelism and Selected Messages. The White Estates new search engine lists the Evangelism quote as from the 1946 book:
--The Greater and Lesser Lights—Little heed is given to the Bible, and the Lord has given a lesser light to lead men and women to the greater light.—The Colporteur Evangelist, 37. (1902) {Ev 257.1}
As I was looking at these references they all seemed to be only found in compilations. And so far I could not find anything older then the 1946 quote in Evangelism. But there it said that the reference was from “The Colporteur Evangelist” Looking through both White Estate search engines and my own EGW material which is supposed to have everything that she had published and some other collections I could find no book or periodical or pamphlet by that title. Searching the web I found a version on PDF which indicates that the Colporteur Evangelist is in fact another compilation, though the one I found is dated 1950.

So that left me with a search for the quote and finding it in three compilations 1. Colporteur Ministries 2. Evangelism 3. Selected Messages and a distant 4. Colporter Evangelist which is not all that readily available unless you know it is out there hiding. Not a single one of these compilations listed the actual first quote where Ellen White sets herself as the lesser light. It is no wonder none of the other Adventist writers of her time referred to her in that way.

It turns out that the quote came from The Review and Herald, January 20, 1903:
Many more of our larger books might have been sold if church members had been awake to the importance of the truths these books contain, and had realized their responsibility to circulate them. My brethren and sisters, will you not now make an effort to circulate these books? and will you not bring into this effort the enthusiasm that you brought into the effort to sell "Christ's Object Lessons"? In selling this book many have learned how to handle the larger books. They have obtained an experience that has prepared them to enter the canvassing field.
Sister White is not the originator of these books. They contain the instruction that during her life-work God has been giving her. They contain the precious, comforting light that God has graciously given his servant to be given to the world. From their pages this light is to shine into the hearts of men and women, leading them to the Saviour. The Lord has declared that these books are to be scattered throughout the world. There is in them truth which to the receiver is a savor of life unto life. They are silent witnesses for God. In the past they have been the means in his hands of convicting and converting many souls. Many have read them with eager expectation, and, by reading them, have been led to see the efficacy of Christ's atonement, and to trust in its power. They have been led to commit the keeping of their souls to their Creator, waiting and hoping for the coming of the Saviour to take his loved ones to their eternal home. In the future, these books are to make the gospel plain to many others, revealing to them the way of salvation.
The Lord has sent his people much instruction, line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little, and there a little. Little heed is given to the Bible, and the Lord has given a lesser light to lead men and women to the greater light. O, how much good would be accomplished if the books containing this light were read with a determination to carry out the principles they contain! There would be a thousandfold greater vigilance, a thousandfold more self-denial and resolute effort. And many more would now be rejoicing in the light of present truth.
My brethren and sisters, work earnestly to circulate these books. Put your hearts into this work, and the blessing of God will be with you. Go forth in faith, praying that God will prepare hearts to receive the light. Be pleasant and courteous. Show by a consistent course that you are true Christians. Walk and work in the light of heaven, and your path will be as the path of the just, shining more and more unto the perfect day.
Two things we can learn from this. First the compilers are not too particular about accuracy and pointing to the original source material in compilations, for whatever reasons. The second is that when you read it in context you see that the lesser light is a reference not to Ellen White as lesser to the Bible but that she is acting as the reflector of the light she is given by God. Which fits in with her earlier statements such as:
Christ makes no apology when he declares, "I am the Light of the world." He was, in life and teaching, the gospel, the foundation of all pure doctrine. Just as the sun compares with the lesser lights in the heavens, so did Christ, the source of all light, compare with the teachers of his day. He was before them all; and shining with the brightness of the sun, he diffused his penetrating, gladdening rays throughout the world. (Youth Instructor.1897-09-16.004)
God the greater light gave Sister White the light in the material she wrote. Thus compared to God the source of all light she is a lesser light. She did not mean that she was a lesser light to the Bible, after all in her own statement she misuses the Bible using the Isaiah quotation which derides those who take line upon line precept upon precept, even if the King James Version were correctly translated the context makes it clear it is not a description of how to arrive at truth.*. She asserts that her material leads to people who read her work with eager expectation to see the efficacy of Christ's atonement, the books making the gospel plain. 

I suppose that is why the compilation did not actually give the original quote reference, after all if the goal is to carry forward a myth as the young adult in the first quote stated Ellen White leading to God's Word, which is in itself interesting because God's Word while traditionally (though inaccurately) used as a reference to the Bible would certainly not be restricted to the Bible would it? I am not saying this is a conspiracy of the Adventist church, rather it is a manipulation of the Adventist church and a very effective one.
* Isaiah 28:8-13 NIV:
All the tables are covered with vomit and there is not a spot without filth. "Who is it he is trying to teach? To whom is he explaining his message? To children weaned from their milk, to those just taken from the breast? For it is: Do and do, do and do, rule on rule, rule on rule n; a little here, a little there." Very well then, with foreign lips and strange tongues God will speak to this people, to whom he said, "This is the resting place, let the weary rest"; and, "This is the place of repose"-- but they would not listen. So then, the word of the LORD to them will become: Do and do, do and do, rule on rule, rule on rule; a little here, a little there-- so that they will go and fall backward, be injured and snared and captured.

Expositor's Bible Commentary:
9-10 As the prophet declared the word of God in this drink-dominated setting, his hearers made their response. The NIV is probably right in treating both these verses as a quotation of the words of the drunkards. They felt insulted. Were they not themselves spiritual leaders, well able to teach others? What right had this man to place them in the classroom and teach them the spiritual ABC's? There is some thing ironic about the reference to milk (v. 9) in such a context.
Many commentators have been puzzled by v. 10 and have wrestled to make sense of the Hebrew. The truth of the matter seems to be, as the NIV margin suggests, that it is not meant to make sense. Isaiah's words had hardly penetrated the alcohol -impregnated atmosphere that surrounded his hearers. What they picked up were simply a few stray syllables, some of them repeated, like the baby-talk that delights the child but would insult the adult. They mouth this gibberish back at the prophet. The transmitter was as strong and clear as ever; it was the receivers that were at fault. Their judgment, meantime, lay in their failure to hear the word that could have led them back to God; but there was another judgment on its way, most appropriate in its form. Their sin had turned the word of God through Isaiah into a meaningless noise that might just as well have been a foreign language.

Expositor's Bible Footnotes
10 The interpretation given above is now widely held, for it is difficult to derive proper sense from the Hebrew as it stands. The NIV text is about as near as the translator can get. There seem to be echoes of the Hebrew of v. 8, which suggests that the interpretation in terms of broken syllables mouthed by their recipients is correct. G. Fohrer (Das Buch Jesaya, in loc.) suggests that the syllables actually used are those a Hebrew mother would use to teach her child the alphabet. This is possible.

11 Paul quoted this verse at 1 Cor 14:21, where he seems to be implying that uninterpreted--and therefore meaningless--glossolalia will simply confirm the unbelieving hearer in his sin and therefore anticipate his judgment. Whether in Isaiah's day, Paul's, or ours, it is meaningful utterance a message from God addressed to the understanding--that humans need to bring them to the sure foundation of faith.






Friday, March 18, 2011

The solution for Adventists


There is a wide gulf between Progressive Adventists and Traditional Adventists but there has been very little written about a solution to the problem. If it is a problem that is. Perhaps that is the problem there is in fact no desire to unify one side with the other.

One of the leaders in the Traditional Adventists camp is Samuel Koranteng-Pipim, PhD, in his article Going Forward, Not Backwards A Reflection on the 2010 Atlanta General Conference Session

Dr. Pipim writes:
One writer on a particular “Progressive” website described the message as a call to “Retrograde Adventism,” a call “backwards” to the 1950s or 60s (to which I will respond: If a call back to our Bible-based teachings and lifestyle practices is a call “backwards,” then it is the best kind of going back. I only wish the call would not end in the ’50s or ’60s, but would go all the way back to the first century--some 2,000 years ago--when Christ founded His Church).

Another “Progressive Adventist” friend of mine caught up with me in one of the hallways of the GC Session and remarked that the sermon was “a declaration of war” (to which I quickly responded: “No, it is not a declaration of war; the war had been raging for decades. The only thing that has changed is that the Church has found a courageous captain, who is not afraid to publicly state what our message and mission are.”).
The reaction of the critics are shrill voices of an influential minority who have largely repudiated our distinctive Adventist identity and mission, and who for years have been calling for an “open tent” Church in which theological error should be embraced as an option. I am encouraged that their views do not represent the longstanding or present position of the Church. I’m equally heartened by the fact that an overwhelming majority of young people today--the real future of the church--do not share the views of backslidden Adventism that masquerades today as “Progressive.” Cooped up in their parochial orbit, they are totally out of touch with where the real Seventh-day Adventist Church is.
I would agree with his first paragraph of his article quotation the church should go back to a more reasoned religion well before Ellen White and the face saving device known as the Investigative Judgment, back when the Spirit of Prophecy was a reference to the Spirit of God and not a 19th century woman. I have often used C.S. Lewis' quote in this regard:

“We all want progress. But progress means getting nearer to the place where you want to be. And if you have taken a wrong turn, then to go forward does not get you any nearer. If you are on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; and in that case the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive man. . .There is nothing progressive about being pigheaded and refusing to admit a mistake." C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (New York: Macmillan, 1952), Book I, Chap. 5, p. 22.

The second paragraph above I would also agree with. There has been for decades a war between Progressive and Traditional Adventists. I would even agree with the idea that Ted Wilson is a courageous captain for Traditional Adventists. After all in wars a captain does not have to be right just able to lead for his cause. People can go down in history for their courageous opposition such as Dominican theologian Sylvester Mazzolini who drafted a heresy case against Luther, they may not be right but being a leader does not mean the person is leading in the right direction.

It is the third paragraph above that really shows the attitude of the Traditional Adventists toward Progressive Adventists. Progressive Adventists are masquerading as Adventists, they are backsliders or apostate Adventists in their limited orbit of theological error out of touch with real Seventh-day Adventists. So how would we expect the Traditional Adventists to want to reach out to theological error prone falsely called Adventists?

Over on the Adventist Today blog there was an article by Preston Foster entitled Liberal and Conservative Work Avoidance. His point is that Traditional and Progressive Adventists have been avoiding the work of the mission of the the Adventist church. His concluding paragraph reads:

The energy of EGW supporters is, many times, expended more on defending her writings than in lifting up the Bible. The energy of her detractors is often spent more on proving her errors rather than on pointing to Jesus. The energy expended by both sides looks like important work. What is important is not the same as what is vital.
The distraction is an enticing focal point. For some, it is an occupation. However we, as a group, have work to do. That is, to lift up Christ and prepare ourselves and others to meet Him. We are all busy working. However, activity is no substitute for accomplishment.
He is close to being right, but what is the work we are called to do (spreading the gospel), to each side of the Adventist fence? In an earlier blog article Preston told us that our mission as Adventist was not to spread the gospel but to spread the 3 angel's messages of Revelation 14, he writes in his article Have We Lost Sight of Our Mission?

Commitment to a mission creates a sense of urgency and expectation: a reason for self-sacrifice.  A clear mission provides a focal point for everything an organization does.  A clear mission gives a private direction, even when the captain provides no specific orders.
Think about it: when was the last time you heard a sermon on the essential teaching of Adventism: the Third Angel's Message?  If you were not Adventist and visited and Adventist church only one time, would you leave with a clear understanding of the link between the last day events and the Sabbath?  We've even changed our logo from three angels sounding their trumpets to a more vague, not threatening flame.

If the Christian Gospel is not the mission of Traditional Adventists should Progressive Adventists really want to work with the Traditional Adventists. I suppose many people do not fully realize what Adventists mean when they use the term three angel's messages or third angel's message. These are code words for Adventist distinctive beliefs. Such as the Seventh day Sabbath to be a final end time test (those who observe receive the seal of God and those who do not receive the mark of the beast by rejecting God's commandment), the Investigative Judgment begun in 1844 and of course Ellen White as the Spirit of Prophecy so that with her the Adventist church can be the remnant church of Revelation. The Christian Gospel...the Gospel we see in the New Testament is not the gospel that the Traditional Adventists hold dear. Oh it is to their credit something that should be included in the reason for their Traditional Adventism but the gospel is not enough.

Mission emphasis is one thing but what if the gospel that the Traditional Adventists espouse is not even good news, what if it is a distorted view of God? With the Japanese earthquake so recent I saw this post on Facebook from a Traditional Adventist relative, a quote from Ellen White under the title If Heaven’s Warnings Go Unheeded:

I am bidden to declare the message that cities full of transgression, and sinful in the extreme, will be destroyed by earthquakes, by fire, by flood. All the world will be warned that there is a God who will display His authority as God. His unseen agencies will cause destruction, devastation, and death. All the accumulated riches will be as nothingness....

Calamities will come—calamities most awful, most unexpected; and these destructions will follow one after another. If there will be a heeding of the warnings that God has given, and if churches will repent, returning to their allegiance, then other cities may be spared for a time. But if men who have been deceived continue in the same way in which they have been walking, disregarding the law of God and presenting falsehoods before the people, God allows them to suffer calamity, that their senses may be awakened....

The Lord will not suddenly cast off all transgressors or destroy entire nations; but He will punish cities and places where men have given themselves up to the possession of Satanic agencies. Strictly will the cities of the nations be dealt with, and yet they will not be visited in the extreme of God’s indignation, because some souls will yet break away from the delusions of the enemy, and will repent and be converted, while the mass will be treasuring up wrath against the day of wrath.— Evangelism, p. 27.
Is that the gospel, is that the way a God of love would act? As if a disaster says anything, you may attribute it to a god but which god will it be? When your God says love me or I will kill you, you have a serious problem. When He talks by causing disasters you don't really know anything about what or who He is you only know what somebody else is claiming, can you imagine doing that to your child?

There still is a solution but I don't think many Adventists will like it. That is take to the time to see God in a reasonable way. Think about what you believe and what your beliefs say about God. Are we presenting a God that seeks to draw people to Himself or a vindictive cruel and unreasonable God. Do our doctrines make sense, do they help us understand God and appreciate Him. Because that is really the gospel. The good news is that God is not mean and vindictive, that He is loving and kind and seeks the best for you even when you make poor choices. God offers you something better then threats and punishment, poor choices and decisions almost universally lead to disaster none of us needs God to punish us for our mistakes whether it is building on a fault line or rejecting the offer of healing. When Adventists can agree on the simple gospel maybe we can finally get along.





Saturday, March 12, 2011

Then the Ants Sat in Judgment of the Man, God on trial?

A couple of years ago I posted an article entitled Is God on Trial? Recently Marco Belmont on HeavenlySanctuary.com posted a nice piece of continuing Adventist mythology entitled Judging the Judge.

He begins with a story which he later tells us is a parable about God, Satan, humans and angels. The key piece to interpreting his parable is supplied when he explains:

...I'd like to submit that the judgment never needs to be the source of anxious panic because guess what? We aren't the ones who are on trial. We human beings aren't the ones being judged. The crazy thing about the judgment is that The One who is being judged is none other than Almighty God Himself. We human beings – and doesn't this just blow the mind – we humans have been assigned jury duty. When this Great Cosmic Battle between good and evil comes to a close, the question isn't “what does God think about us?” - because that question has already been answered in the person of Jesus Christ. God loves even those who hate His guts. Rather, the real question that each of us will be asked when Jesus Christ appears at the close of time will be, “What do YOU think about God?” Is He guilty of being a harsh taskmaster who enslaves His intelligent creatures by using power and might as a way of keeping them in fearful submission? That's what the reptilian con-artist Mr. Satanic Snake has suggested. Or, is God a compassionate and kind Father who loves and forgives people even when they murder Him? That's the testimony of Christ. Right now, respectfully, we are going to judge the Judge of the Judgment.”

The idea that human beings are going to judge God is such an incredible logical fallacy that it amazes me people believe it. In fact toward the end of his rather long article he destroys his whole thesis by showing that human beings are not qualified to judge God. He writes:

...If a jury knew a person was innocent and convicted that person as guilty despite knowing the truth, that jury just judged itself as being unfit for jury duty. Likewise, when people of God – and notice I'm not directing this towards non-Christians – who claim the name of Christ but spread any sort of theology that makes God look guilty as charged – no matter how precious the words seem to sound – there is no excuse for lack of investigation and pushing our old cherished beliefs out the window – we simply announce to the entire universe that we have become unfit to make truth – specifically the truth about God's character – our standard. Even worse, our absence from the jury box is not just a loss for God, but another vote in favor of Satan and his methods. Are we guilty of saying, “God is love” and yet warn people of Christ's 2nd coming? Why would we warn people about God? You warn people when an enemy is coming, not a friend. Do we claim there is freedom in serving Christ and yet enslave our youth with exacting rules that come from gross misinterpretation of the scriptures? Do we say God accepts everyone unconditionally but turn around and suggest that He couldn't do it unless Christ first shed His blood thus taking the true message of Christ and replacing it with hedonistic paganism? Have we substituted honesty, open mindedness, and willingness with symbolism, religious rhetoric and euphemisms? Do we keep preaching the soon return of Christ somehow subconsciously implying that Christ isn't available right this second as He stands within our midst at this very moment? Have we preached on prophecy and the signs of the times so much that we've forgotten about The God of prophecy and The God of signs and The God of time? Have we Christians become so enamored with God's law hanging up in some municipal or judicial building – worrying about politics and who will represent our cherished views in parliament or senates across the globe - all the while the law of love and freedom is strangely missing from the barren wall that now encases our hearts as God begs for a group of people to free Him from the shackles of the courtroom and announce with tongues of fire, “In the case of Christ vs. Satan, we find the defendant not guilty on all accounts.” If we have answered yes to any of these questions, we have judged ourselves unfit to judge God. Thus, we have no need to worry about The Judgment, because we won't ever experience that glorious moment when one group of people will turn to our good Good and say, “we are sorry, Father, that you were wrongly accused and that an innocent God ever had to prove His goodness in the first place.”'

To simplify this rather elaborate long section of material. If you believe God is good and just, you are capable of being on the Jury that Judges God. If you don't think God is good and just, you are not suitable for the jury and therefore you won't be seated on the totally biased jury pool and only those on that jury pool are rewarded with heaven. If you ever misrepresented God in any of the numerous ways listed as questions by Marco, then you are unfit to serve on the jury...sinners need not apply could be the title of that little section.

The fact is the judgment in the Bible is not about humans judging God after all, we can judge God now to the best of our abilities, we all have to go through life making judgments all the time who to trust and who not to trust, we apply the data and make the choices, in that respect we certainly do judge but it is restricted to our judgment about things. It is not some kind of legal all encompassing judgment of the ultimate truth or reality of a superhuman creature who dwells in the supernatural while we are restricted to the natural. Even if there was a judgment after this life of God, we would be dependent upon God for the information anyway and if you did not trust His information what are you going to do about it? So in such a vast judgment case in the sky scenario there is no point to man being the jury, no need for the finite to judge the infinite. These remnants of the old Investigative Judgment concepts must really go away as they are just as weak as the original Adventist Investigative Judgment. You cannot redefine a poor theology based upon complete misrepresented texts, that leads only to confusion the only answer is found in going back to the original presuppositions and discarding the faulty ones and rebuilding on a firmer and more logical foundation.


Friday, March 04, 2011

Dwight Nelson and Allah


I often wonder when listening to some Adventist Pastors how totally out of touch with the world around them they are. This week brought several elements, together that really should focus us on some of these leadership problems in Adventism.

First a bit of sad news as reported on the First Things Website:
Shahbaz Bhatti was a Catholic and a Pakistani minister for the defense of minorities who dedicated his life to the “struggle for human equality, social justice, religious freedom, and to uplift and empower the religious minorities’ communities.” He was assasinated yesterday because of his opposition to the country’s blasphemy law:
Watch his testimony recorded before his death with the instruction to be published if he died:


Last week I received an email of a letter or article by someone who had a problem with the emerging church, it was not specific and was pretty much the usual they don't have the truth so they must be against us view. So I thought I would look up the author and see what else he wrote. He is pretty much a run of the mill Traditional SDA of dubious interpretation abilities but I did discover something interesting. On a website where he has some articles I found this article entitled “SDA Pastor Dwight Nelson says "Allah is GOD" and that "ALLAH IS THE GOD OF THE UNIVERSE

The article by Phil Moore correctly points us to the following:
In a sermon on Sabbath Dec. 11, 2010, Dr. (Pastor) Dwight Nelson of Pioneer Memorial SDA Church told the world on air, 3ABN and via the Internet that: "Allah is the name of the LIVING GOD; ALLAH IS THE GOD OF THE UNIVERSE."

This sermon was titled "Star Still Rising Over Islam" ...
After listening to the suggested area I saw that Phil Moore had given a accurate description of what Pastor Nelson said. Moore's analysis I will leave to you to read if you are interested, it did not strike me as anything special so I will offer up my view on Nelson's statements. While you can download the file from the above link I will give you a transcript of the relevant statements.
Leading me to this question. (unintelligible) If God was able to shine the light of truth upon those children of the East [wise men at Jesus birth] Those sons of Ishmael 2000 years ago come folks think with me could he not would he not be doing the same today? Among the same people's of the East? By the millions are there not honest hearted seekers after truth in the Muslim faith too? Huh? And if the answer is yes and by the way I believe the answer is yes then does it not follow that Bethlehem not Rome ought to be our example today? And that instead of alienating the children of the East with our anti Islamic rhetoric we ought to be at the forefront of a movement that seeks to share with them the light that shines upon both of our communities of faith.

I recently listened to a series of CD lectures given by the late Dr. Robert Darnell a member of our community of faith, an expert on Islamic studies, he's an anthropologist. In which he carefully chronicled how that the Koran teaches the seeds of every divine truth that you and I embrace. The seeds are all there. It was Darnell's lifelong mission and conviction cultivate those seeds in dialog with the children of the East and in an hour of history when the West is turning against those children ought we not to be the first to raise up our voices in their behalf?
Think. Why shouldn't we? For what if, by the way that story of Christmas could hardly let us do otherwise could it? What if the spirit the mighty spirit of Allah by the way I got some letters from viewers after that last teaching, and one viewer said don't you know that the name Allah is a name for Lucifer? I hope you never never never never never embrace that. Allah listen carefully now Allah is closer to Elohim the Hebrew name for god then is our English word god. In fact hold on to your seats the English name for god is a Nordic pagan god. We have taken a pagan god's name and we've said that is the name of our God. And we all call him god. That's a pagan a Nordic pagan myth. So don't you ever get pushed into the corner where your saying Allah is a demonic name, Allah is the name of the living God. Allah is the creator of the Universe, Allah is the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Ishmael Jethro, Job and even Baalim.

What if through dreams the mighty spirit of Allah is raising up a movement within Islam in preparation for the Messiah's return. Would we not want to partner with that mission? I want to end with a story...
The main thing we should deal with are as follows:
--the Koran teaches the seeds of every divine truth that Christians embrace.
--Allah is closer to Elohim the Hebrew name for god then is our English word god
--the English name for god is a Nordic pagan god.
--We have taken a pagan god's name
--Allah is the god of the Old Testament folks.

First does the Koran teach the seeds of every divine truth that Christians embrace? Read John chapter One. The Word became flesh and lived among us. That Jesus Christ is God, does the Koran teach that Jesus was God incarnate or that Jesus was a great prophet who did not die on the cross and who never was resurrected from the dead? The central core of Christianity is who is Christ yet here we have an SDA pastor telling us that the seed of the central core of Christianity is found in the Koran which even though written 600 years after the time of the New Testament denies Christ to be God or to have died on the cross and the resurrection.

Which means either Pastor Nelson is willingly ignorant of the Koran or he is lying or what he means by seeds is something like a concept that is present in such a tiny way that it is infinitesimal. Now think about this, the Koran is written hundreds of years after the New Testament and thousands of years after the Old Testament, would you really expect a divine addendum of truth to discredit the previous inspiration or to offer only seeds of what was previously clearly expressed? See more in the article Revisiting the Quran’s gross errors concerning Christian theology

Allah and Elohim are related, but they are both words from paganism since paganism predates all monotheistic religions, even if one believes there was always one true religion they were it seems outnumbered by the surrounding cultures. In the article Is the Word Allah Similar to Elohim? by Penny Warren B.A., M.A., D.D we read the following:

The Hebrew title of God is "Elohim;" in Arabic it's "Allah." These two words for God have a common bond that most people don't understand. Both of these words have their origin in pagan deities of the ancient past...

Webster’s Dictionary gives the definition and etymology of Allah as follows. Allah is the Muslim name for "the God." Allah is derived from two words "al," which means "the" and "ilah," which is related to the feminine Hebrew word for God, "eloah."
Now the Hebrew title or name for God is 'Elohim' and it is the plural form of eloah. It is made plural by adding "im," which is masculine. This corresponds to adding "s" to make a word plural in English. So the commonality between Allah and Elohim is "eloah" and "ilah."
According the Huston Smith’s book The World’s Religions (p. 222), it states: "Allah is formed by joining the definite article al meaning ‘the’ with Ilah (God). Literally, Allah means ‘The God.’ … When the masculine plural ending im is dropped from the Hebrew word for God, Elohim, the two words sound much alike." Eloah (Hebrew feminine) is similar to Ilah (God). Both Elohim and Allah are titles and not names.
Most Christians should know by know how frequently the “El” term is used in the Old Testament for various gods and in peoples names honoring their god.
Elohim (אֱלהִים) is a plural formation of eloah, the latter being an expanded form of the Northwest Semitic noun il (אֱל, ʾēl [1]). It is the usual word for "God" in the Hebrew Bible, referring with singular verbs both to the one God of Israel, and also in a few examples to other singular pagan deities. With plural verbs the word is also used as a true plural with the meaning "gods".[2]
Is the god the name of a Nordic pagan deity? The short answer is no, in the following article
 Oddly, the exact history of the word God is unknown. The word God is a relatively new European invention, which was never used in any of the ancient Judaeo-Christian scripture manuscripts that were written in Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek or Latin.

According to the best efforts of linguists and researchers, the root of the present word God  is the Sanskrit word hu which means to call upon, invoke, implore.
Nonetheless, it is also interesting to note the similarity to the ancient Persian word for God which is Khoda.
The following is a survey of some of the efforts of those who have been trying to decipher the ancient roots of the word God:
What is nice about this article is that it then quotes multiple reference works, you don't have to go all over the place, just scroll down the page. 

Of course the whole concept of god means that there will be overlap between any and every superhuman being in whatever country or culture. The obnoxious thing about Pastor Nelson is he ignores this simple fact so that he can denigrate god in English because we don't speak Aramaic or Hebrew and those two language that we don't use, are closer being they were near to each other in origins.

It is hard to even formulate an argument against such foolish ideas as Pastor Nelson presents. It is as if he desires to ignore the hatred and cruelty through much of the Islamic world, he acts as if when we observe the cruelty and violence it is anti-Islamic rhetoric. Well the fact is there is a lot of problems going on in the world of Islam and Pastors like Nelson do nothing to help the situation with fictional facts and intentional distortions of the truth. He should be ashamed of himself and if he wants to deal with something a little closer to the heart of Adventism's love of eschatology he might consider the Islamic tradition of the 12th Imam and it's possible connection to the Christian conception of the anti-Christ. 
 
Speaking of the news, only this last week Louis Farrakhan stated that the Great Mahdi is present in the world now.
This is a sign that The Great Mahdi that the Muslim world has been looking for is present in the world. That “The Christ” that you hoped for, “The Christ” that you longed for is present in the world. And all tyrants will be set down—God is stimulating the rise of the masses, and soon it will come to America's shores. Indeed it has already begun.