Adventist World – NAD Edition | April 2009, Vol. 5, No. 4
This issue contains four of the finest articles it has been my pleasure to review in the year and a half I’ve been doing this. All four are MUST READS.
The CHURCH WORKS section of this edition does a nice job of keeping readers up-to-date with Adventist world events. Of special interest in this section is Jan Paulsen’s A CLIMATE FOR GROWTH. The following are excerpts from The Boss’s BOUQUET winning essay.
“When the Landowner says ‘Leave the weeds for now,’ He is not questioning that there are people within the church who are strangers to the Lord. To ostracize these people, or for you, as the keepers of the garden, to conduct a general cleanup, is not a good idea. I will do it Myself in my own time. For you to do it is fraught with too many risks.”
“And we may ask: ‘Surely cleaning up is a good thing—it makes sense, doesn’t it? What’s so risky about that?. . .
“The risk is too high because of my own humanity. Is it not possible that I might make a terrible mistake in assessing another person. . .
“The risk is too high because today is still the day of salvation. We may have been able to accurately identify and label the “tare,” but we must not forget that God has not yet finished His work. . .
“The risk is too high because the church herself is harmed by people probing, even delicately, into the lives and opinions of other people. . .
“Weeding in the garden is too risky because I, the investigator, am myself harmed by these activities. . .
“Listen to these words from the inspired pen of Ellen White:
“’There is to be no spasmodic, zealous, hasty action taken by church members in cutting off those they may think defective in character.’
“Our congregations are meant to be places of healing and renewal. They must be attractive places for unbelievers to be drawn to. And they must be places where the believer feels at home: valued and accepted. They aren’t meant to be battlefields, but cities of refuge. . .
“Our churches are not exclusive clubs for those who are good enough or worthy. . .I would hate to spend my time surrounded only by people who think they had everything worked out just right. They become arrogant, clinical, and judgmental of those who still have growing to do. . .
“It is within our reach to create and shape the spiritual environment of our communities for the future. My appeal is that we create a good home, a warm family in which people can communicate, understand each other, respect each other’s space, and acknowledge that the Lord is ever at work making something better of that which, in our opinion, may be flawed.”
Roy Adam’s cover story, INTERPRETING THE TIMES is the second BOUQET winner. His introductory story is both instructive and funny as it relates to the times in which we live and evidences regarding last day events.
“The legend about the pope and an elderly Jewish man named Moishe comes in several versions. Here’s one of them:
“About a century ago the pope decided that all Jews should leave Rome. But seeing the uproar in the Jewish community, and wanting to appear conciliatory, he came up with a novel idea. He would have a debate with any member of the Jewish community they chose. If that person won the debate, then the Jews could stay. But if the pope won, the Jews would have to leave.
“With all the educated, high-powered Jews shying away from confronting this Christian Goliath, the community eventually turned to an old janitor, named Moishe.
“Very concerned about his speaking abilities, however, Moishe agreed to the debate on one condition: that the event would proceed in total silence. Incredibly, the pope agreed.
“As the big day arrived, Moishe and the pope sat down opposite each other. For a full minute, they stared at each other in motionless silence.
“At last, the pope raised his hand and showed three fingers. Moishe looked back at him and raised one finger.
“The pope then waved his finger in a circle around his head. Moishe vigorously pointed to the ground where he sat.
“The pope then pulled out a wafer (the communion bread) and a glass of wine, and set them on the table. Moishe pulled out an apple and placed it down in front of him.
“At this development, the pope stood up and said, “I give up. This man is too good. The Jews can stay.”
“After the meeting, the cardinals gathered around the pope, asking what happened. The pope said: “First I held up three fingers to represent the Trinity. He responded by holding up one finger to remind me that there is still one God, common to both our religions. Then I waved my finger around my head to show him that God was all around us. He responded by pointing to the ground, showing that God was also right here with us. I pulled out the wine and the wafer to show that God absolves us from our sins. He pulled out an apple to remind me of original sin. He had an answer for everything. What could I do?”
“Meanwhile, the Jewish community had crowded around Moishe, amazed that this old, uneducated janitor could do what all their scholars had insisted was impossible. “What happened?” they asked him. “Well,” said Moishe, “First he raised three fingers to tell me that the Jews had three days to get out of Rome. I lifted one finger to tell him that not one of us was leaving. Then waving his hand around his head, he told me that this whole city would be cleared of Jews. I pointed my finger to the ground to let him know that we were staying right here.”
“’And then?’ asked a woman.
“’I don’t know,’ said Moishe. ‘He took out his lunch and I took out mine.’
“The moral of the story: we might all be looking at the same events, the same signs, the same evidences. But these events, these signs, these evidences are all silent; they do not speak. And the interpretation we bring to them often arises from our own personal presuppositions. . . Let’s remember that our pious predictions of the nearness of the coming, based on the latest calamity, do not influence the time of the event.”
The third BOUQUET winner, A PLASTIC—POLLLUTED PLANET by Allan R. Handysides, is a terrifying reminder of the effects of pollution. Consider the following:
“’Every bit of plastic manufactured in the world for the last 50 years or so still remains.’ That is more than 1 billion tons of the stuff!
“Even countries considered small are producing thousands of tons of plastic bags every month. As for those “nurdles,” (little uniform rods some two millimeters in length that are the raw materials used to create plastic products) 250 billion pounds of them are produced each year.
“Plastic is only one among the myriads of waste products our consumer world is producing. With spreading industrialization worldwide, the amount of waste products is accelerating. Just the debris from our “obsolete” computers is massive. Carbon dioxide is warming the planet as it befouls the atmosphere. Radioactive waste that has a half-life of thousands of years is still being produced.
“As the planet becomes “shrink-wrapped” in plastic, all life is squeezed and distorted. As the world becomes more and more like a trash heap of pollution, God must look with horror at our ways. Once more we are frantically engaged in “cure,” having disdained prevention.
“It might be easy to say, “Oh, Jesus will someday make it all right,” but I don’t want to be among those who make it all so wrong! Surely, we respect God enough to honor His handiwork.”
William G. Johnsson’s essay, ADVENTISTS AND MUSLIMS IN CONVERSATION has earned the final BOUQUET. This kind of respectful dialogue is evidence that Adventist leaders are moving the Church, albeit slowly and carefully, into the 21st century. I’m impressed!
“Thus almost anywhere on the face of the globe, Adventists and Muslims occupy the same ground. Muslims are our neighbors, not just followers of a far-off religion. As servants of the Lord Jesus Christ, it is incumbent on us to interact with Muslims on all levels, from the neighbor next door to official contacts.
“Muslims tend to paint all Christians with the same brush: in lifestyle, as pork eaters and alcohol drinkers; in geopolitical stance, as pro-Israel and anti-Arab. A major goal for Adventists is to show and explain that we are not just another Christian denomination; that our lifestyle is similar to Muslims’ in key areas; and that we are an international, global community of faith whose agenda is not driven by the winds and directions of secular politics. We also want to convey that our convictions about religious freedom—a topic of keen interest to Muslims in some countries—lead us to encourage leaders of all nations to permit adherents of minority faiths to build places of worship and assemble together.
“While the differences of belief between Adventists and Muslims—particularly over the person and work of Jesus Christ—are major and are not to be “dumbed down,” there are significant points of contact that invite dialogue. Among these are the high regard we each have for holy writings; belief in creation rather than evolution; the expectation of and preparation for the Day of Judgment; the Second Coming of Jesus Christ; and belief in prophetic messengers. Thus, Adventists have openings for fruitful conversations with Muslims that other Christian churches do not.
“We have developed an excellent relation with the directors of the Royal Jordanian Institute of Interfaith Studies, based in Amman, Jordan. The first of a series of official conversations has been planned for the near future.”
LIKE ALL THINGS LIVING by Victor A Schultz is an excellent commentary on Growing in Christ, Number 11 of the 28 doctrinal statements of the Adventist Church.
In his essay, CHRIST AND SALVATION, Angel Manuel Rodriguez does a respectable job of answering the question, “ Is it possible for people who never hear about Jesus to be saved?” Angel, keep up the good work!
Note to Hans Olson
The Maoris of New Zealand were never defeated. They signed a peace treaty in 1872.
Adventist World – NAD Edition | April 2009, Vol. 5, No. 4
Other stories you might find interesting
I had a dream last night, a dream of General Conference Sessions past and future. I stood in the center of a stadium, packed with people, all captivated by the music and stagecraft in front of them. I looked around and felt a sadness that kept growing inside of me until it was overwhelming.
Some time ago I was sitting in what quite possibly was the most boring church service I have ever been in. (No, I won’t tell you where I was.) There couldn’t have been more than 50 people in the sanctuary, and I’m being generous. We sang no less than 5 hymns. All hymns were sung in a dry, slow manner. The sermon seemed uninspired, barely prepared, and was presented with no sense of conviction. It felt like we were in church for three hours. We were in church for about 70 minutes.