February 11, 2010 – Vol. 187, No. 4
There is nothing in this issue that isn’t kosher, including a shot at critics of the church in a letter from Trevor Connell, comparing them to “Jesus’ enemies”.
WORLD NEWS & PERSPECTIVES
ADVENTISTS WERE AMONG THE FATALITIES IN THE HAITI EARTHQUAKE. 522 church members, 450 of them young people, lost their lives. (The number of injured was not reported.) 27,000 members are without homes, 55 churches were destroyed, and 60 churches damaged. The Adventist hospital, the only local one that survived the quake, is a vital medical outpost. ADRA is hard at work. North American Division promised $500,000 in tithe and the General Conference $200,000 to be used to aid the Adventist work in Haiti.
JAN PAULSEN WAS HONORED AT LOMA LINDA UNIVERSITY by scholars and health professionals for his 35 years of denominational leadership. The organization, GENERATION OF YOUTH FOR CHRIST (GYU) held its eighth annual worldwide conference in Louisville, Kentucky.
REVIEWS AND A COMMENT OR TWO
A CELEBRATION OF MATURITY is a salute to the senior Adventists. A PRACTICAL PROMISE is a Carlos Medley reminder that “all things work together for good”.
Mark A. Kellner interviewed the Mid-America Union President Roscoe Howard in INSIDE MID-AMERICA. LOOKING OUTWARD, SEARCHING WITHIN by Erica Richard is a story of how two specific experiences shattered her comfort zones. WAGING WAR WITH ADJECTIVES by Trevan Osborne counsels carefulness in defining our church with an adjective.
JESUS FOR US ALL by Wilona Karimabadi is a concise overview of the problems and blessings that are part of a church committed to the Christian education of special-needs children. Resources are cited along with checklist designed to help children’s ministries leaders ready their programs and Sabbath School rooms.
Karimabadi ends her report with the words of Ann Roda, Associate Pastor of Fulton, Maryland’s New Hope Adventist Church. “This whole idea of inclusiveness—that has to be the foundation [of] a church’s [efforts]. . .[These efforts must not be] limited to those with special needs. . .The starting point in what we do in ministry should be to ask, ‘What is the environment we can create here that will allow kids to experience God? In this classroom, in this program, in this activity, how can kids experience God?’ All the training in the world will not help if you don’t have an attitude of inclusiveness and an attitude of ‘This is God’s ministry, this is His kingdom.’”
WHY, GOD, WHY? reveals a side of Cliff Goldstein that I admire. “Long ago I quit seeking to understand evil and suffering. Even in the context of the great controversy it’s a fruitless venture, one guaranteed to drive you mad. All I know is that a God who would take upon Himself all our sin is a God I can trust and love, despite my immersion amid a planet wired through and through with nerves that sizzle and snap like downed electric wire.”
Goldstein’s other, doctrinaire and authoritarian side, is not so attractive. In his defense of a biblical, literal, seven-day creation delivered at the GUY Conference, he asserted, “You can be an Adventist, [or] you can be an evolutionist, but you cannot be both!”
In SLIPPING THE KNOT: A BIBLICAL PERSPECTIVE ON LIVING TOGETHER without benefit of marriage, Richard Davidson argues that, “We [as a church] need to uphold the biblical mandate that disapproves of any emotional-sexual relationship other than within the institution of marriage. At the same time, in the spirit of the Pentateuchal legislation (and the gospel of Jesus Christ!) we need to act redemptively. . .Scripture calls for a balanced approach by the church: maintain the biblical standards, and at the same time minister with grace to the offenders. (1)
While Pentateuchal legislation does not directly address the practice of cohabitation, it does deal with the foundational premise upon which cohabitation is based—the right for men and women to engage in sexual intercourse outside of marriage. Although premarital sexual intercourse did not carry the same severe punishment as many other sexual offenses, it nonetheless was taken seriously. The penalty included a heavy fine that the man (who presumably initiated the sexual relationship and deprived the woman of her virginity) (2) must pay to the woman’s father, and the requirement that the couple face the consequences of their action by marrying, with no possibility of future divorce (Deut. 22:28, 29)—unless the father of the woman considered that such marriage was unwise, in which case they did not marry but the man paid the dowry to the woman’s father as if they had married (Ex. 22:16, 17).
Norma O’Hara offers her answer to the question, WHY NOT MUHAMMAD OR BUDDHA? “With deep respect and admiration for the piety of other religious leaders, and with the understanding that everyone is free to choose their own belief system, the Christian must yet uphold the God-man, Jesus Christ, as sovereign Lord of all and the only way of eternal salvation.”(3)
(1) That’s a genteel way of describing probable rape.
(2) Sounds better than advocating that these couples be thrown out of the church, although “ministering” (by whom) with “grace” (how defined) to the “offenders” (certainly a judgmental word) leaves plenty of room for the same old holy persecution. Sounds like “don’t ask, don’t tell” still makes a lot of sense if you’re an Adventist. If Pentateuchal legislation is cited as the biblical constraint, it provides no condemnation for people with no living parents and when virginity is not an issue. Party on old timers!
(3) I’m increasingly skeptical of the words of anyone who uses the word “only” in a theological conversation. And another thing, if Christian belief is the “only way of eternal salvation”, why should Christians show “deep respect and admiration for” other religions?