February 7, 2006


More Than a Word
I just read and was "wowed" by the editorial, "A Call for Radical Discipleship" (Jan. 19, 2006). I will eagerly anticipate the new CrossWalk edition from month to month.

Dr. Johnsson's editorial made me think of the words of Marcus Borg wrote: "In the midst of our modern culture, it is important for those of us who would be faithful to Jesus to think and speak of a politics of compassion not only within the church but as a paradigm for shaping the political order. A politics of compassion, as the paradigm for shaping our national life, would produce a social system different in many ways from that generated by our recent history."

Also this: "An image of the Christian life shaped by this image of Jesus would have the same two focal points: a relationship to the Spirit of God, and the embodiment of compassion in the world of the everyday. . . . Indeed, growth in compassion is the sign of growth in the life of the Spirit."

John Wagner

A student is a person who seeks information and knowledge for purposes known to him or herself. A disciple is a person who has accepted some other person as model and teacher. A disciple first accepts the person for all that he or she claims to be, learns from the person, and is obedient to the instruction.

Jesus said, Come to Me, be yoked to Me, learn of Me (see Matt. 11:28, 29). A disciple is one who is buried with Christ and raised to a new life (See Rom. 6:4, 5).

How can one be a Christian and not be a disciple?
A family of four has just arrived in Albania on assignment for Adventist Frontier Missions. The challenging task of raising the required financial support for their mission took more than a year. Why do such a thing?

Two other families from this area are enrolled in the February class at the Adventist Frontier School of Evangelism. Both resigned good jobs. One family sold their home to finance their plan. The other cashed in certificates of deposits. One family had participated in a Global Evangelism mission to Africa. These people are infected with a holy virus. They are not seeking the warmth of Laodicean comfort, but the comfort of God's truth and promises.

David Manzano
Harriman, Tennessee

Answer the Question
"To Drink, or Not to Drink," by Brian Bull (Jan. 12, 2006), dealt primarily with the reported benefits of alcohol in wine and other drinks. However, the vintners in my area market their product on the antioxidant properties of red wine--primarily resveratrol. Among many claims, it has been said that this chemical will reduce the incidence of cataracts by up to 50 percent and may also help slow macular degeneration of the eye's retina. While these claims are hard to prove, they beg a question: Are the good things in wine, aside from the alcohol, a product of fermentation, or do they just survive the process?

Several years ago I asked an experienced PhD/nutritionist if grape juice contained the non-alcoholic wonders of red wine. He said unfermented grape juice has more of these good things than wine, while avoiding the societal downsides of alcohol. "Fresh grapes have even more," he continued, "including all the nutrients that are reduced or removed or destroyed by the processing of wine and juice. So eat your fruit fresh."

That simple advice makes sense.

Jim McNeill
Pasco, Washington

I read, first with interest and then with dismay, the article in the Adventist Review entitled: "To Drink, or Not to Drink. I have always respected the author, Brian Bull, as a student, teacher, researcher, and devout member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. His article, while demonstrating the statistics used to support the moderate drinking of wine, leaves the non-technical reader with the impression that it is alright to do so. Few in this group will read the entire article and grasp the full significance of what Dr. Bull is attempting to say. Glancing at the graph and tables, the conclusion will be drawn that the moderate intake of wine is OK. Others who read the entire article will put down the Review in a state of confusion, having more questions raised than answered.

Many drink wine for its alcohol content and the accompanying high it gives. However, the detrimental effects of alcohol are well known. The toxic action on the heart (cardiac) muscle itself is dose related; small amounts of alcohol have minor effects, while larger doses do more serious damage. The apparent beneficial effects seen by the moderate use of wine can be obtained by a simple and harmless way, a wisely chosen diet, the use of red grapes or juice, and a moderate amount of exercise. Why take small doses of a toxic substance?

It should be evident that some factor or factors, other than the alcohol, must be responsible for the improved health of the French (known as the "French Paradox"), who consume a moderate amount of wine. It would have been helpful had either Dr. Bull or Dr. Landless, in their respective articles, mentioned the role played by phytochemicals, a large group of biologically active substances, present in wine. Among these chemicals, certain of the anthocyanins, polyphenols, and flavonoids appear to possess cardioprotective properties. While that role is not fully understood, sufficient evidence exists that the phytochemicals present in purple grapes, and the red wine from which they are made, provide a plausible explanation for the observed benefits seen in the moderate drinkers of wine. It cannot be overemphasized that these phytochemicals are not formed in the making of wine but are obtained from the grapes, the raw material from which wines are made. Why not get them from their original source and avoid the harmful effects of alcohol?

Please note the following: The data depicted in the "J" graph and the figures shown in the tables are not as strong as they appear. In fact they are flawed. The correct comparison should have been between those who drank a moderate amount of wine and a comparable group who drank an equivalent amount of grape juice.

One final comment: We should be aware that the well-financed brewery industries will see to it that publications appear confounding any findings that might harm their business.

Mervyn Hardinge, MD, PhD, Dr.PH
Brewster, Washington

Thanks so much for publishing the article, "To Drink, or Not to Drink." It has settled a disagreement I had with my father as to the effects of moderate drinking versus not drinking at all.

I am 18 years old and of the opinion that drinking is not very good, whereas my dad is 45 and likes to drink in moderation. We had been discussing the medical aspects of this question, and since neither of us is an expert on the subject, we left it alone for a while.

Again, thank you for publishing the truth, the good and the bad.

Rachael Higgs
Cleveland Tennessee

Us and Them
In response to Roy Adams' editorial, "Why Do They Ignore Us?", I offer the following comments:
Could it be that the reason that the Seventh-day Adventist Church is generally ignored in North America is because its witness is essentially irrelevant to what God would have us to be? Let me explain.

The Seventh-day Adventist Church came out of the 1844 disappointment with some direction and mission that seems to have gone awry. The medical work was to be the right arm of the mission of the Church. Yet today many Seventh-day Adventist hospitals are either closing up or consolidating and joining with non-Adventist hospitals. We have a health message, and except for exceptions here and there (re: recent publication on Seventh-day Adventist longevity) we seem to be losing out to other organizations in promoting a healthful life style. Many of our members partake of caffeine products; meat is served in some of our institutions; and abstinence from unhealthy products is less and less of a practice.

Our education system was designed to prepare our youth for a service to God, but the emphasis of many of our schools is more focused on preparing for the workplace, not for the soon coming of Jesus. Mormons are noted for their missionaries who go out two by two, but it seems our literature evangelism program is floundering.
For a few choice words, read page 189 in Testimonies for the Church, volumes 2, 5, and 9, all of which give admonitions that are still apropos for our church. Perhaps it is a blessing that God does not allow our denomination to become a point of media interest. We may be an embarrassment and dishonor what God means for us to be (see Rev. 3:16).

Don Meyers
Chesapeake, Virginia

Thank you, Roy Adams, for asking that uncomfortable question. The irony of the November, National Geographic feature on Seventh-day Adventists and longevity was that this was a secular publication, certainly not Christianity Today, Focus on the Family, or any number of Christian media outlets.

The problem is that as a church we are not often engaged in the issues of our culture. We are either silent, or worse, apologetic. This was not the mentality of nineteenth-century Seventh-day Adventists. Adventists, at the time a tiny Protestant minority, were at the forefront of their society's great questions: Temperance, Sunday Laws, America's health habits. They unashamedly conducted aggressive public evangelism and made serious thrusts in overseas missions.
But glorifying our past won't help us today. Perhaps we need to be reminded how the Three Angels' Messages in their broadest understanding scratches every itch the contemporary world presents. Perhaps those of us generational Seventh-day Adventists who haven't ever had to search for truth, who got it in our mothers' milk, are the insidious problem. Maybe we really do not believe that our legacy is anything special. And just maybe, we have no clue that we are sitting on the greatest treasure of truth entrusted to the human race.

Betsy Mayer
Rapidan, Virginia

Online Edition Appreciated
All the online editions of the Adventist Review are good and helpful, but the January 19, 2006 issue is especially good because of the presentation of the item on Martin Luther King, Jr. We have been recommending this excerpt from Philip Yancey's book, Soul Survivor, to everyone. The policy that led to presenting this item is commended and appreciated.

Lynn P Hartzler
Sacramento, California

Paying the Price
I have been a strong supporter of the printed page for more than 65 years, and have read the Review as far back as memory serves me.

The highlight of my experience with the Review was when I was Secretary-Treasurer of the British Columbia Conference. We promoted the "perpetual" program vigorously, and reports from headquarters indicated that in 1966-1967 we had the highest Review subscription rate, per member, of any conference in North America. Going back to the conference in 1984 I still detected the work of the Holy Spirit through the Review in the lives of its membership.

I have been encouraged by the promotion of the online edition of the Review. This is especially helpful for those of us who worked overseas and understand the delays in mail and other situations that prevent timely updates on events in the church. Thus Dan Turk's letter in the January 12, 2006 Adventist Review shocked me to think that our Review and Herald Board would cut off immediate release of the online edition of the Review to people in the far flung corners of the earth--especially those too poor to subscribe to the print edition.

If Dan Turk's letter is factual, I believe that the world church will pay a woeful price for a policy that indicates that we, the well-to-do in North America, do not care for believers who have so much less than we have.

I hope a program can be developed so that those outside North America can view our wonderful paper online for free.

Everett Tetz

Don't worry, Elder Tetz. Adventist Review Online is available free of charge outside North America.--Editors