An open letter to Ted Wilson:
Mr. President, I read your latest sermon at the General Conference Session. You gave us 25 things to hold on to. However, here are 25 alternatives to also consider.
From a fellow follower of Jesus Christ,
1. Hold fast to God, even though he is bigger and beyond our human understanding, language, and comprehension.
2. Hold fast to a way of living that is not extreme in any direction but a silent and powerful witness to those who have chosen differently.
3. Hold fast to being as relevant as you can and avoiding a view that is too black and white. Remember to be teachable by others because one perspective is never enough for the full picture.
4. Hold fast to the spirit of Sabbath on the seventh day of the week and remember that God is in the business of recreation.
5. Hold fast to good food that makes good for the body. For the Bible says that “there is nothing better for mortals than to eat and drink, and find enjoyment in their toil. This also, I saw, is from the hand of God” (Eccl. 2:24 NRSV).
6. Hold fast to unity, but not at the cost of diversity. This includes all levels of church authority and all opinions. For the Bible says that “without counsel, plans go wrong, but with many advisers they succeed” (Prov. 15:22).
7. Hold fast to love as instituted by God first, even before marriage. Don’t forget that marriage as of today is a social construction. Emphasize and value the commitment of every romantic relationship between two persons. God is love, and in that is room for a variety of expressions. This is not an impossibility. Otherwise, we, as created beings, limit the supreme Creator of love himself—God
8. Hold fast to and move toward the development of a church structure that is relevant for different cultural and geographical contexts outside America. Authority cannot be gained by those in authority begging for obedience.
9. Hold fast to a crystal-clear distinction between the inspiration of the Holy Bible and the writings of Ellen White. The Bible is the greatest light, and Ellen White is an inspired author with huge influence on the Adventist Church. She is not to be interpreted the same way as we treat the Bible. Her writings are not biblical writings and will never be—as long as we don’t make it so.
10. Hold fast to the Spirit, who is completely careless of our thought-out systems of evangelism. Methods are not divine. The Holy Spirit was the best evangelist back in Bible times and still is today. And even the great apostle Paul used various methods best suited to reach people where he was going. There is no one-size-fits-all church growth method.
11. Hold fast to the calling of Jesus to go and make disciples. In fact, this is what every Christian believer has been called to. It goes beyond denominations. The Adventist Church has a unique contribution to the rest of Christianity, yet the common calling for all followers of Jesus cannot be swept under the rug just because we have an idea that ecumenism is dangerous.
12. Hold fast to grace and don’t complicate things. It is freely given and freely received because Jesus died on the cross. Simple as that.
13. Hold fast to our fundamental beliefs, but these are by no means the full or complete package of truth. There is more. Sometimes there could also be less. The 28 is not all there is to truth.
14. Hold fast to personal devotions. This is a very good way to grow as a Christian
15. Hold fast to worship. Be creative in the format. Make sure to have variation and inclusion of different gifts people have. Bring glory to God.
16. Hold fast to spreading the gospel. If necessary, give people a book or tract. If needed, introduce Steps to Christ as a first book to encounter Ellen White. One book in the right hand is better than millions distributed to strangers.
17. Hold fast to the hope that Jesus is coming soon. Preach it, but preach about other important things too. Involve lay members in all areas of church activities. It’s good for them, and it prevents burnout of the pastor.
18. Hold fast to the thought inspiration of the Bible. Appreciate scholarly research, especially from within Adventist higher educational institutions. We, as Adventists, will want to be known to educate rock-solid biblical scholars.
19. Hold fast to Jesus Christ as the lamb who was slain, which is an image from the sanctuary service. Keep in mind that without the sanctuary service based on the Old Testament, we won’t fully understand Jesus’s sacrifice, forgiveness, and redemption.
20. Hold fast to how God has foretold major historical kingdoms in Bible prophecies. Keep in mind, though, that the Bible is not a history book as such. There is much more to history than only what the Bible says. If reading history through a biblical lens, we end up with a very narrow and simplified view of the world.
21. Hold fast to the idea that no method of hermeneutics is divine. One preferred method might be approved by the church, but the Word of God can handle various attempts at interpretation without losing its power to change lives. Keeping only one perspective robs us of the beauty and richness of biblical interpretations.
22. Hold fast to faith because so many things are threatening to lead us from the church. Hold fast because before you know it, church and faith will have become irrelevant. Hold fast to faith, or before long, the church might have left you behind.
23. Hold fast to a place where you feel spiritually at home, be it the Adventist Church or elsewhere. The remnant church doesn’t bear seals on the foreheads. It is marked by faith in Jesus and commitment to follow him.
24. Hold fast to God’s love as it is expressed in the Ten Commandments. Look to Jesus for its application in daily life.
25. Hold fast to a lifestyle that current research shows to be the best, and which also is expressed in Ellen White’s eight principles for good health. Simply, treat your body and mind well.
Yes, I hold fast to what I have.
Anton Torstensson has an MA in theology from Newbold College and is a pastor in the Swedish Union of Churches Conference.
Photo by James Wheeler
We invite you to join our community through conversation by commenting below. We ask that you engage in courteous and respectful discourse. You can view our full commenting policy by clicking here.