Last November we learned that a popular coach at Pennsylvania State University was alleged to have had sexual relationships with underage, even pre-teen boys for many years. Exactly who in authority knew what Jerry Sandusky was doing, who was told, and what they did or should have done when they found out, the legal system is still trying to establish.
One of the benefits of studying church history is that it helps you see how much change there has been in Christian teachings through the years. By “church” I mean not just this denomination, but the whole sweep of Christianity that Ellen White reviews in The Great Controversy. In each era there are the faithful and the enemies of the faithful—and of course the whole point of that book is that in the end, the enemies lose and the faithful get their reward.
I had a colleague (this was years ago) who was assigned to a small town church whose members opposed any celebration of Christmas. When December came, the church members would drive past and peer in the parsonage windows, to check whether the new pastor’s family had Christmas decorations. So when my friend’s wife insisted they have a Christmas tree for their little boy, they had to set it up in the bathtub, that being the only room the church members couldn’t readily see into!
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.