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A phrase one often reads from conservative Adventists is that “the Bible is its own interpreter”, sometimes with an accompanying complaint that so-called liberals, in contrast, exegete irresponsibly. For example, recently one conservative commenter on this website stated: “Both evangelical and liberal theology refuse to let Scripture interpret itself, instead imposing upon Scripture various interpretive constructs which cannot be derived from Scripture itself.”
Earlier this month, the citizens of the state of North Carolina voted to amend their state constitution to further codify a prohibition against gay marriage. One of the main groups that supported this amendment, Vote FOR Marriage NC, supported this amendment based on a religious definition of marriage.
I grew up in a mostly apolitical family. I only remember one strongly-voiced political opinion: that John F. Kennedy shouldn’t be president because he would let the papacy take charge of the country, and so would begin the persecution of Seventh-day Adventists. We had a family small business—a farm—and perhaps that’s why my father once told me, casually and without a lot of conviction, that he’d voted Republican, since the conventional wisdom was, and is, that Republicans are friends of business and advocates of low taxes.
The four cherubim with their wheels seen by Ezekiel with God’s glory (Ez. 1: 10; 10: 14) were also seen by John the Theologian next to the throne of God (Rev. 4: 6-7). Their faces were that of a lion, an ox, a man and an eagle. Not long afterwards Christians adopted these four creatures to represent the four gospels. According to John was given the eagle as its icon.
I don’t know about you, but I get the feeling sometimes that I am trapped in an anarchous society. To make it worse, the very people who have been charged with administering the law are driven by their own subjective interpretations that have elevated the flaws in our legal system.
Several years ago, we witnessed the fallibility of the judiciary in three high profile cases.
There are two broad philosophies in religious liberty that are diametrically opposed to each other. The first philosophy is known as accomodationism and is often touted by conservatives. People who subscribe to this philosophy believe that America’s constitutional framework exists to keep the government out of religion and not the other way around. Legislation can be founded on explicitly religious grounds. Religious groups should have totally unfettered rights of free exercise.
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.
It is impossible to read According to John and not become aware of its dependence on the Old Testament, on the Torah. In the same way in which it is taken for granted that the reader knows its content before beginning to read, it is also assumed that the reader knows well the stories of the patriarchs and the books of the prophets and the Psalms.
I’m not surprised that I wasn’t surprised by some of the responses to the announcement that Elder Dan Jackson called for justice in the Trayvon Martin case. I knew he would have an audacious amen corner, but I also knew that those among us who caucus with the raucous right would blast him for taking a stand.
Standing Their Ground
Adventists have always been concerned about formulating and preserving correct doctrine. Pioneer evangelism strongly emphasized that Adventists had a clearer understanding of Biblical truth than other Christian options and consequently enquirers should consider joining this remnant movement – which had been given a central role in effecting the Second Coming.