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Reviewing the Review: Integrity Edition

April 15, 2010 – Vol. 187, No. 10


This is an issue that straightforwardly attempts to deal with controversy. Bravo! Even though I believe that a literal interpretation of the Bible, especially the Old Testament, is irrational, at least the Review is talking about archeological evidence; even though I prefer the creation story in Genesis 2 as a more realistic and scientifically defensible account than a literal 7 day creation week chronicled in Genesis 1, the Review has offered a journalistically fair account of the controversy at La Sierra University; even though I believe that the Adventist Church’s position on homosexuality and gay rights is misguided and harmful, at least the Review is confronting this issue in feature articles.

However, what continues to drive me crazy is the use of unnamed sources and unsupported generalizations about “Adventist leaders who undercut the clear,Bible-based teaching of this church”, “thought leaders”, “these people” and some amorphous group referred to as “they” in Review editorials and articles, who are supposed to be enemies of all that’s holy. Come on, naming names is the next step to creating a real dialogue about important topics. Is this cloak of anonymity an attempt to protect “these people” from a mob of radicals that will attempt of destroy their reputations and get “them” fired if they happen to be employed by the Church?

If that is the case, shame on the Review and shame on the Adventist Church. It reminds me of Pilot washing his hands. It smacks of let the mob do the dirty work. Don’t ask, don’t tell is a policy that strikes at the very heart of the personal and corporate integrity that Gerald A. Klingbeil so ardently defends in his editorial. When this unattributed “they” occurs, it makes me cringe as a former English teacher and ashamed to be a Seventh-day Adventist.


The “evolution controversy still simmers at La Sierra University. This report by Mark a. Kellner is fair-minded and up-to-date. Reader, get the facts here.

Evangelism in South America involves big programs and huge member support.

Virginia Fagel, a cofounder of Faith for Today with her husband, William, died on February 25 of this year. She was 92.

Even though Timor-Leste (formerly known as East Timor) is 98 percent Roman Catholic, the government has pledged to honor religious freedom.


Gerald A. Klingbeil’s editorial, INTEGRITY, is a challenge to match our Christian talk with our Christian walk. He asks the question: “Do people around me, outside of our faith community, see integrity in my words and (more important) deeds? Is integrity only an important discussion point in our Bible studies or sermons but difficult to discern when we interact with the people around us?”

In FROM THE MOUTHS OF BABES Wilona Karimabadi’s reminds the reader why Jesus liked to be around little children.

UP IS DOWN AND LEFT IS RIGHT is not a liberal editorial. David Tasker uses the story of Jonah to reflect. “Instead of trying to gain the upper hand of the ups and downs of an unstable world economy, and instead of becoming passionate about either the left or the right wing of politics (or church), maybe it is time to identify God’s direction for us and to recognize Him for what He is—the passionate Redeemer, eager for the great family reunion He has promised.”

Jimmy Phillips recalls THE RELIEF OF FORGIVENESS in South Africa, at a moment at the end of a rugby match, when choices created forgiveness. “In that moment 27 years of anguish were wiped away because one man [Nelson Mandela] had made three choices: to forgive those who’d wronged him, to let go of the bitterness inside, and to change—proving that the forgiveness was real.”

MEET @ THE TEXT by Andy Nash is a wrenching disappointment. In his attempt to find a way to promote dialogue between Adventists with different views about biblical scholarship, he generalizes about the motives, scholarship, and “spiritual insight” of those who don’t see things his way. Those of opposing views are the unnamed “they” in the extensive quotation that follows. Ironically, Desmond Ford, himself a highly controversial interpreter of Scripture, is consulted with regard to biblical exegesis.

Are they sure they want to go down this road? Until recently, scholars also cast doubt on whether a King David existed. Researchers may have found independent, archaeological evidence of King David’s palace itself. Are we not allowed to believe in the biblical text until it’s been independently confirmed?

To be honest, I don’t really know what to do with this approach to Scripture—the idea that we can set aside clear biblical teachings because we think we understand more now. This seems much different to me, much more dangerous, than grappling with the meaning of a text.

Out of curiosity, I decided to see what Desmond Ford, the controversial figure of Adventism’s great theological debate of the 1980s, thought about these things. Last winter I emailed him in Australia. Here’s what he wrote back:

’These examples that you used present an attitude toward Scripture that the Christian Church has repudiated for 2,000 years. These men have given the Word of God a nose of wax. The best of evangelical scholars in other communions would be horrified by these departures.’

Do you see the irony here? At times, this movement has struggled to make room for those who took a high view of Scripture, who grappled with the biblical text but arrived at different conclusions. Yet today we have ‘thought leaders’ willing to set aside major teachings of Scripture altogether. Incidentally, these aren’t dull minds we’re talking about; they’re very bright. In fact—and here’s the great tragedy—these are the people who are supposed to be carrying the torch for the deep study of the Word of God.

What the Adventist left seem to overlook is that spiritual things are spiritually discerned. You can’t always quantify and qualify the Word of God. Instead, you enter into it by faith and by prayer. Spiritual things are spiritually discerned.

In FACING A NEW REALITY, Marcel Schantes remembers the moment when he realized that clothes, cars, and women were not enough.

REACHING OUT by Wayne Blakely is an Adventist homosexual’s account of his struggle to act in accordance with his convictions.

Jesus calls everyone to self-denial. The road for the single heterosexual is no different from that of a same-sex attracted individual. Each of us is called to celibacy unless God leads us to that very special person of the opposite sex. Temptation may be as enticing as the shiny fruit was to Eve, but we don’t need or require it. We may want it, but we’ve been warned and are directed to obedience instead of worshiping self.

As it is with all controversial topic discussions, we must be grounded in knowing the truth Jesus gave us to live by. God’s Word does not need to be rewritten, and the church’s manual and guidelines for the church body should remain intact.

Many people struggle with this life issue, but if we prayerfully seek God’s counsel in His Word and lovingly reflect His love to all sinners, we can break the silence, bridge the gap, and welcome them into a loving, supportive community in which they can experience the freedom that only Jesus gives.

Blakely is happy to communicate directly with readers. To contact him, email

LOSING “WALDO”, FINDING JESUS, is the fascinating story of a Little Rascal. Mark A. Kellner tells the story of a child star that became an Adventist pastor.

For most Americans, the name Ken Smith meant very little when the news flash came in May 2002: a hit-and-run accident had taken the life of the 72-year-old Smith, who as “Darwood Kaye” had a continuing role as snooty rich kid Waldo in the Our Gang movie serials.

Luca Marulli, a student at the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary, reviewed THE CREATION HEALTH BREAKTHROUGH, by Monica Reed, M.D., CEO of Florida Hospital Celebration Health, hardcover, published by Hachette Book Group, New York.

As a board-certified obstetrician/gynecologist, Dr. Monica Reed has been promoting health and well-being in various ways, such as through her directorship of the Loch Haven OB/GYN group, her lectures at annual meetings of the National Medical Association, and her appearances on television (ABC and NBC affiliate channels) for medical news reports.

Reed’s emphasis on wholistic health and prevention through behavioral change is well documented by her contribution to creating the innovative Florida Hospital Celebration Health, opened in 1997, at which she serves as chief executive officer (CEO).

CHURCH TRENDS is Monte Sahlin’s latest column on great resources reporting on Adventist church trends.

The median age for the Seventh-day Adventist community in North America is 51, about 15 years older than the median age among the general population. It is called ‘the graying of Adventism.’ Most local churches have a large percentage of older people, and this lopsided demographic will continue to grow as 70 million baby boomers retire throughout the coming decades.

We get concerned about the lack of youth, but plentiful numbers of retired people is not a bad thing! People who have worked long hours all their adult life now have time to invest in Christ’s mission and the church


‘Pacific Press Publishing Association recently began a journal specifically for Adventists who are at or near retirement: Renewed and Ready.

“The Senior Adult Ministries Quick Start Guide is a great tool to begin planning and development. You can get a copy from AdventSource at or (800) 328-0525.

The Retirement Years is a compilation from Ellen White’s writings that is available from your local Adventist Book Center at or (800) 765-6955. The Center for Creative Ministry provides a number of resources for reconnecting ministry at or (800) 272-4664.”

THE UPSIDE OF KNOWLEDGE by Mark A. Kellner is a revelation of who he is: the kind of reporter who is an informed techie and on top of stories as they break. Most of you know that Mark is the News Editor of the Review and Adventist World Magazines. (What you may not know is that he is a very nice guy. I know. He called me on the phone to point out a mistaken attribution when this blog was in its infancy, and he followed up that conversation with an email informing me that I had misspelled a name when I made the correction!)

Mark “sincerely and deeply believe(s) that God has indeed guided the growth of technology, its development, and, dare I say, revelation to the inventors and pioneers of the past century in order for Christians, and specifically Seventh-day Adventists, to take advantage and bring the gospel to more and more people.”

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