April 20, 2006

Web Letters

A Revivalist of Note

Regarding the news item, “GC Revivalist Dies at 83” (Apr. 20, 2006): Emelio Knechtle had a great influence on my spiritual life, from the first time I heard him in Washington state, where I thought, This man knows God; and later through his writings.

I had written to him to thank him for his influence on my life and had always wanted to visit him on one my trips home. I look forward to seeing him in heaven and thanking him again.

Dennis Lowrimore
Beijing, China


Are Our Leaders There?

The report about the response of religious leaders to the United State’s immigration debate, "Religious Leaders Join Immigration Protests", prompts me to ask if our own church leaders were present.

As a child of Hispanic immigrants I would like to know that our leaders are raising their voice in defense of the poor and oppressed. I applaud the involvements of Catholic leaders and others who are standing to assist our immigrant brothers and sisters. They are empowered by the experience of Jesus, who was an immigrant and a political refugee in Egypt. They are there under the conviction that the United States, a Christian nation, cannot turn to the recently arrived tired and poor and say, “There is no room."

Were our leaders there?

Tito Correa
Oslo, Norway


Sense and Nonsense

I’m writing to respond to the online article by Shawn McEvoy, “Is Seeker-Sense Just Nonsense”  .

I was disappointed by the singular view that the author takes upon this point, suggesting that being seeker-sensitive is equivalent to being shallow. Instead, he alludes that people need to hear the truth by pastors and teachers who are willing to pound their fist on the pulpit and tell people how things are supposed to be.

As the pastor of two churches, I strive to be seeker-sensitive. That means that I preach clear, succinct, practical messages that can edify a believer and at the same time be interesting and practical to an un-churched person. The great teachers of the Bible, such as Jesus, Paul, and others, contextualized their messages so that people could understand God’s message. And though Jesus contextualized His messages and made them practical, He was always deep. People left His presence saying, “No one spoke as He has.”

Being seeker sensitive is about being effective in ministry and realizing that if someone is going to visit our churches for the first time, they will come when church services are normally held--11 a.m. Shouldn’t we, therefore, prepare so they can have a good experience?

The place for getting into deeper issues is 1) Sabbath school class and 2) holistic small groups where people fellowship, are equipped for ministry, and taught how to evangelize their friends and neighbors.

Rodlie Ortiz

Community Action
I’m always blessed and thrilled by the Adventist Review and its contributors. The articles, more often than not, are just what I need to lift my spirits. When I read Dave Livermore’s article, “When the Time Comes” (Mar. 23, 2006), he pushed all the right buttons for me. Church growth comes from involvement in our communities. There will always be critics of the Adventist church, but the members of Livermore’s church have proven through active, loving Christianity that, as Livermore wrote: “Being known in our communities is not an option; it’s an imperative.”

It’s time for 100 percent involvement from all church members in our communities. God has a ministry for each of us, and most of us know exactly what He’s calling us to do.

Al Ferry
Bakersfield, California


Exemplary Issue

I was so richly blessed by the March 23 issue that I am compelled to write and thank all who had a part in it.

Roy Adams’ editorial, “Evolution Sunday?” agreed with the president’s column in Acts & Facts, April 2006, printed by the Institute for Creation Research. I will quote the first two paragraphs:

“It’s hard to imagine, but hundreds of churches all over America reserved Sunday, February 12, to commemorate the work of Charles Darwin, and recommit themselves to spreading his message. Most of these churches were Unitarian or from mainline denominations whose attendance has been dropping for years; but even if the pastor is convinced of evolution, what would possess them to reserve time in their professedly Christian church to pay Darwin homage?

“Don’t they know that the reason Darwinism exists is to explain our existence without recourse to a supernatural God to whom we are accountable for our actions? Don’t they know that “survival of the fittest” really means “extinction of the unfit” and that Darwin’s cult of death has brought about unthinkable evil, from the holocaust to the modern-day abortion movement.”

With James Nix I rejoice that my church of the 30s, 40s and 50s taught me what many might deem legalistic principles. Other articles in the Review called for getting back to these “landmarks,” as in Ellen G. White’s article, “A Higher Standard.”

I could go on with glowing words for each contributor. The entire magazine was exceptional, although I enjoy every issue.
Eileen Lapree
College Place, Washington

All Grown Up
The testimony by James Nix on character molding by the church is golden (“Growing Up Adventist: No Apologies Needed,” Mar. 23, 2006)! I didn’t grow up Adventist. Although born in Battle Creek, Michigan, I came into the church only after attending a small church in upstate New York with my Adventist wife for more than six years. Our sons, however, both enjoyed the blessings of Sabbath school, church, Pathfinders, and Adventist education--elementary through college. Their experience does not seem to have damaged them; their faithfulness continues to encourage us.

From my belated (only 41 years) view of the church, I don’t recall any time in our history that modern accusations of legalism represent the true position of Adventism. Those who suffer mightily over their perception of Ellen White’s excessive influence in the church’s founding would, I believe, benefit from reading more of what she wrote. If the truth is watered down to the point of acceptance by unconverted minds, it retains little value for anyone preparing for Jesus’ return. Faith is still the key; and the Word of God is still its ground and source.

On another note: although the reminders of the church’s brush with United States President Warren Harding caused pain to his faithful relatives, it was a timely warning. We need to remember that worldly politics will ever be the enemy of salvation. Cozy connections with popular leaders will be a source of rueful afterthoughts in the not too distant future.

Richard Burns
Cleveland, Tennessee

Thank you, James Nix, for the positive article, “Growing Up Adventist.” I, too, grew up Adventist, with parents who both become Adventists as teenagers, along with their respective parents.

Both families, in different states, “came into the truth,” as they put it in those days, as a result of literature evangelists selling the book, The Great Controversy, to them. My husband’s parents were baptized when he was about 12 as a result of neighbors witnessing and taking the children to Sabbath school.

We both grew up in families for which the church was the center of our lives. It was unthinkable to stay home from Sabbath school and church, unless one was seriously ill or traveling. Camp meeting was the high point of the summer for as far back as I can remember. Bible study and Christian reading materials were emphasized. (I can still vividly remember my dad reading to us Treasure from the Haunted Pagoda by Eric B. Hare, and other thrilling mission stories. Tithe was sacred and came out first, usually with a second tithe for other offerings. Church school was a necessity no matter how tight the finances were, and my mother went to summer school to become a teacher in order to put my brother and me through academy and college. They gave Bible studies and took us out to hand out literature. Church jobs of various kinds were taken seriously. My father worked all day as a carpenter, came home to eat a quick supper, and went out to help build the new church or church school when such projects were under way. We were brought up knowing that Jesus was coming soon and that heaven was our goal.

Along with this, of course, was a conservative lifestyle. Yet I don’t recall that we were taught to do or not do certain things to earn our way to heaven. We were taught that this was what Jesus wanted us to do. If we loved Him, that was how we should live. There were things that brought us closer to Christ, and other things were avoided that would take us farther from Him.

Of course, some of our acquaintances became fanatical and judgmental on one thing or another, forgetting that love and kindness are also Christian virtues. But on the whole I remember the Adventist society of my growing up days to be loving and supportive.

When all the emphasis on salvation by grace began, I had a hard time understanding what it was all about. That’s what I had always been taught.

Married to a minister who served the church for 42 years, six of those years as overseas missionaries, it saddens me to see this commitment and dedication to our church as a movement ordained and guided by God for these end times and the accompanying ideals and standards eroding away. I hope this article and future ones like it, will remind us of Ellen G. White’s words: “We have nothing to fear for the future, except as we shall forget the way the Lord has led us, and His teaching in our past history,” (Life Sketches, p. 196).

Sylvia M. Ellis
Vale, Oregon

Appreciation for Sacred Space
Allan Martin’s cover feature, “Sacred Space” (Mar. 16, 2006), gave me a more personal appreciation for God’s gift of the Sabbath. I read this article at least twice and underlined the beautiful thoughts that blessed me. I felt the Holy Spirit touching my heart as never before. The spiritual dimensions of the Sabbath--a different place, a different pace, a sacred space--were new thoughts that kept repeating in my head.

Martin inextricably tied God’s Sabbath with God’s grace. That beautiful thought blessed me and made me appreciate God’s loving care for me (and surely for all human beings). It made me resolve to be more graceful and kind to others.

Let’s have more such articles in the Review.
Charles Fegarido
Collegedale, Tennessee

Reach Out and Touch
The article, “Beyond a Handshake” (Mar. 9, 2006), reminded me of the visits my wife and I have made to churches during the past 10 years as part-time auditor for the Southeastern and the South Atlantic Conferences. We visited many churches in the Carolinas, Georgia, and Florida.

I’m happy to say at that most churches we were welcomed in one way or another. At one church the pastor was there to greet us at Sabbath school. I recall only one church where we received no welcome at all.

I have found that it takes only one person to make my wife and me, as visitors, feel welcome. That person may be the official greeter, the Sabbath school teacher, or the person we happen to sit next to.

Making visitors feel welcome is something we all can do.

Richard S. Norman
Atlanta, Georgia