Thank you for making your generous gift. Your donation will help independent Adventist journalism expand across the globe.
Recently I watched an interview with the polished and handsome Mitt Romney. He’ll quite possibly be the nominee for his party next year, and even if he isn’t, he’ll have left a big footprint on the American political landscape. I don’t like everything he stands for (if you can figure out what that is), but he’s clearly smart and pragmatic and, from what I can tell, at least as moral as some of the previous inhabitants of that office.
And he’s a Mormon.
The Southern California Conference's hope of reducing millions of dollars of debt created by its Newbury Park Development Project has been further delayed by the home improvement giant Lowe's saying last week it would pull out of a deal to build on the former location of the conference-owned Ventura Estates Retirement Center. This comes as Lowe's announces it will close 20 stores and lay off nearly 2000 employees nationwide.
In the first church where I served as a pastoral intern, Carmen and I always chuckled when we heard in Sabbath School classes the assertion that before the time of the end Billy Graham would accept the Sabbath and join the Seventh-day Adventist church. I don’t know the origin of this story (I suspect Emilio Knechtle who was, I think, acquainted with Graham) but it was stated as a fact. It was mentioned frequently, and never questioned: people simply nodded as though it were something every Adventist knew.
This past spring Navy chaplain Lieutenant Commander Nathan Solomon learned that the Taliban had convinced local Afghani citizens that the Afghan soldiers deployed alongside Americans on a base in Helmand province weren’t Muslims. It wasn’t true, of course. But the rumor was destabilizing, for the purpose of the joint deployment is to build the citizens’ trust in the Afghan military so they can eventually be left in charge.
Back when I was a boy it was a fashion in the Adventist press to embed Bible studies in stories. Pacific Press badged theirs “Stories that Win.” And they did. Perhaps you remember The Marked Bible by Charles Lindsay Taylor, still in print in the millions of copies, or Frank Steunenberg’s Greater Love, about assassin-turned-Adventist Harry Orchard.
While Seventh-day Adventists have long held that enforced Sunday worship would become an issue for Seventh-day Adventists in the last days, during my lifetime the trend here in North America has been in the direction of more, not less, liberty in matters of worship. When I was growing up my home state of North Dakota had stern Sunday-closing laws, as did most states. Those have largely disappeared, lingering now only in a few states where laws restrict the Sunday sale of alcohol.
The word that we generally use to describe a gathering of Christians comes from kuriakē oikia—in Greek, “house of the Lord.” The first word of the phrase, kuriakē, through a series of linguistic evolutions whose intermediate you can spot in the Scottish “kirk”, eventually became the English “church”.
Satan’s manifesting himself in extraordinary ways isn’t a new idea to those of us who grew up in the Seventh-day Adventist church. When I was a teenager there was a brisk traffic in stories about Satan’s activity, usually involving Ouija boards and seances. Some foolish boarding academy teachers even read them to us for vespers (remember the Ouija board that wouldn’t burn and kept reappearing in the closet?) resulting in sleepless Friday nights among children for whom life was challenging enough just being away from home without anything else to frighten them.
I believe most Seventh-day Adventists welcome the call to revival and reformation. Most of us feel our spiritual deficiency—personal and collective—and would like to do something about it.
The most satisfying accession to the church I’ve ever experienced was with a young family with no Seventh-day Adventist connections that just showed up at church one day, and after a few months of attending came to me after services and said, “We love this church. Everyone is so nice. The worship services are a blessing. We’d like to become members.” I gave them some basic instruction (they’d gotten a good background to our central beliefs just through sermons and Sabbath School) and baptized them. It was, to me, the perfect way for someone to come into our church.