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Reviewing the Review: March 12

Reviewing the Adventist Review
March 12, 2009 – Vol. 186, No. 7
This is the issue to read if you are wondering what impact the financial crisis is having on the world church. What impressed me about “Adventist Church Controlling Costs During Global Financial Challenge” reported by Mark A. Kellner was the fact that actual dollar amounts were connected to expense accounts. For further information as to how one conference spends its money, check out How God’s Work is Being Funded in the March edition of the Pacific Union Recorder.
Bill Knott’s editorial, Praying for Alex Rodriguez was one of his best efforts. This Review also contained an insert (along with a donation envelope) advertising an April 11 mission offering for The Christian Record Services for the Blind. This is an official ministry of the Church that has been serving the vision impaired since 1899.
I continue to be bothered by the incessant use of martial references in a Christian context. Soldiers in the army of God fight the good fight against the foe. They march along with prayer warriors brandishing swords of the spirit prepared to wage war against Satan’s hosts. You can imagine my initial uneasiness when I began reading Brothers of the Sword who were “transformed by God into warriors of the Word”. It turns out that reporter Matthew Herzel tells the conversion story of three good-looking brothers who go around doing nothing more violent than planting churches.
Clifford Goldstein rightly chronicles the unjust and morally reprehensible treatment of Jews in his essay, “The Infernal Theme.” He concludes, citing Ellen White, that at some future time, Adventists, along with Jews, will be persecuted and “blamed for things they never did”. Cliff, don’t you think Adventists are paranoid enough, given the current financial crisis? I long ago decided that I could avoid “violating” a Sunday Sabbath law by staying home and watching sports on TV. There is the need to be persecuted festering in the psyches of too many Adventists. It’s unhealthy.
The following comments might be judged to be “nitpicky”, but words make a difference. So, here goes. In my opinion, James J. Londis, author of “Spiritual Gifts in the Modern World,” deserves an apology. His attempt to make an important point about spiritual gifts is hampered by careless editorial work. (I cite three instances.) The following paragraph clearly illustrates Londis’ point of view, not withstanding the “etc.”
“Talents in the ministry of the church would refer to one’s personal and professional qualifications, such as good judgment, intelligence, pleasant preaching voice, educational preparation, etc. The spiritual gift of ministry would refer to how one dedicated those talents to the building up of the body of Christ rather than oneself.”
The following linguistic distractions could have been eliminated by thoughtful editorial assistance.
“Spiritual gifts are different. They are not morally neutral. They must always be used for good and never for evil.” (contradictory, confusing)
“A [spiritual] gift does not belong to me but to the church. It has no life apart from the church. It leads not to rivalry, but to mutual support. It is received at baptism, not at birth” (irrational)
‘Even though Paul is diplomatic with his new members, not wanting to unnecessarily discourage or offend them, the point is obvious: the least desirable gifts are those that create friction and disunity, such as speaking in tongues. The “best” gifts—such as faith, hope, and love—unify! And unlike tongues, prophesying, and healing, faith, hope, and love are the most widely distributed spiritual gifts. All members have them, and for that reason alone they are the most important.” (Punctuation is a problem here along with an unnecessary and controversial value judgment.)

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