January 31, 2007

Web Letters


A Story to Tell
Regarding the interview, “Adventists and the Media” (Jan. 18, 2007), I would suggest that our own media pros begin placing stories in the nation’s news magazines such as Time, Newsweek, and U.S. News & World Report. Every few years I see cover stories about various religious groups, such as the Mormons (whom I believe Adventists have passed in overall church growth).
We have a great story to tell; let’s tell it. And why not on CNN and other television networks, too? They are doing more and more religion stories, and the Adventist church should be part of them.
Mike Jones
Gresham, Oregon
Church and Society
In “The Coming of Starbucks Nation” (AR Online exclusive), Gary Swanson has carefully tucked a metaphorical remark into his recent article about the subtle influence of the “Starbucks culture”: “Anyone who claims that they’re avoiding the impact of their culture had better wake up and smell the influences swirling around them.”
Swanson awakens us once again to the common reality of our culture’s habitual subtlety: a beaver-like chipping away at the stalwart woodland trees of our moral fiber, to wit: the “no big deal” casual attitude toward nudity, premarital sex, and occasional adultery. This is almost an unobtrusively integral part of the human activity of our postmodern culture. Print-media advertising, big-name movies, and TV can’t seem to exist without it. Then there’s the ongoing exposure of the un-private lives of the celebrities who play, sing, and dance these fantasy roles at every turn. From the supermarket check out line to the New York Times front page they insinuate their ubiquitous way into our psyches.
If we can’t move to a hermit-like existence, what can we do? Is it too old-fashioned to repeat here a Bible truth, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matt. 6:21, NIV)?
What about attacking the issue head on without excuse or apology? Whether alone or in a group, when anything we sense as titillating hits our consciousness, why not say, “Let’s move away from that,” and move away without apology? Naive it may be, but we’re in this together. Inside we know that young Joseph’s response in Potipher’s house was, and is, the only way.
Warren R. Zork
Berrien Springs, Michigan
A Proper Send-Off
I have mixed emotions about the retirement of William G. Johnsson as executive publisher and editor of Adventist Review and Adventist World. Reading his last editorial, “Finally, Brethren (and Sisters)” (Dec. 21, 2006), made me both happy and sad.
I felt happy that his august life as editor had finally wound down so he could enjoy his life with his family without the pressure of weekly deadlines. Yet I’m sad that the wisdom through his pen won’t be read frequently any more. His three burdens for the church have been my concerns as well: racial diversity, theological polarization, and Scriptures as our safeguard.
I will never forget the first time I met Johnsson at the Southwestern Union Ministries Convention in Dallas, Texas, in 1998. I attended his workshop, “Writing for Publication.” He presented his information in such a clear manner that I came out ready to write for the Lord. His discourse was informative, instructive, and authoritative. He was gracious enough to patiently listen to an aspiring writer for about 10 minutes after his presentation, even when he had to be in another session (and other people were waiting in line). He advised and encouraged me to write something and send it in; and the rest is history. Only eternity will tell the impact of those few moments Johnsson spent with me.
I know Adventist ministers never retire in the real sense of the word; Johnsson will continue to serve his Lord in another capacity. I am personally grateful for what he accomplished for the church magazines and for his passion for the Word. I am thankful that he dared to publish some articles that contained ticklish issues. May the Lord continue to bless him as he enjoys the rest and peace he so rightfully deserves.
I concur with the closing sentiments of his editorial, we should pray for Jesus to “come quickly” (Rev. 22:12) and take us home where we shall enjoy ceaseless ages of eternity.
D. Chongo Mundende
Edmond, Oklahoma
Thanks so much for printing the testimonials to William Johnsson. I’ve learned much from his editorials over the past few years. I hope you will continue to solicit articles from him in the future. He truly has a gift with words.
Kay Cote
A Mission About Mission
The December 28, 2006 Adventist Review was excellent. It will remain an historical keepsake.
One fine article by Sandra Blackmer tells the story of Mission Spotlight and the Oscar Heinrich family. I note that Mission Spotlight will soon end, and the church should do something about it.
Certainly we have more missionary activity going on around the world now than we did in 1960 when Oscar Heinrich started the pictured news reports of our mission programs. There are now many more volunteer missionary activities--Youth sponsored, lay-sponsored, language schools, medical missionaries, church-building missionaries, etc.
I am fortunate to have access to the Adventist TV programs that feature these mission activities, but the majority of our people do not. Many of our Sabbath Schools have adopted the class study format, with no welcoming or news programs whatsoever. Many visitors know nothing about Adventist missions, and many members have become illiterate to the worldwide program of the church.
For years I used the 15-minute Mission Spotlight programs in evangelistic meetings, as well as in local churches on Sabbath mornings and it helped win people to Christ and His church. With the modern means we have, we could have a captivating report every week.
Pastor Edward Graves
Lake Elsinore, California
A relatively new resource about Adventist mission is now available from the Office of Adventist Mission. Each quarter an Adventist Mission DVD highlights stories and individuals involved in mission around the world. The reports--in two or 10-minute segments--are designed to be viewed in group settings such as Sabbath schools, vespers, prayer meetings, or small-group Bible studies. For more information, visit: www.AdventistMission.org, or call 301-680-6005.--Editors
How Cold is Cold?
I have an issue with Duane Covrig’s article, “Did You Hear That Voice Knocking?” (Dec. 14, 2006).
Does the author really believe that Jesus prefers sinners in open rebellion to a sleeping church? In Revelation 3:15, 16 Jesus addresses the Church of Laodicea, admonishing them, “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So because you are lukewarm--neither hot nor cold--I am about to spit you out of my mouth” (NIV). If your definition of the word “cold” in the scripture above is “worldly, as in given wholly to Satan, in open rebellion”; or as Covrig states: “Commit all the sins you really want to anyway,” then you must believe that Christ prefers them to lukewarm people.
Many believe that the Adventist church is the spiritual church of Laodicea. If it is, does that mean that Jesus, who died for His church, actually prefers the condition of non-repentant sinners over those who are spiritually sleeping? Are murderers, rapists, child molesters, and thieves held in higher regard than those who believe in Jesus but are spiritually asleep?
Jesus says that the unbelieving will receive the second death (Rev. 21:8). How could they possibly be held in greater regard that those of His remnant?
If the word “cold” in Rev 3:15-16 conveys something else, then the meaning of the statement actually changes. If the church thermostat were set prior to Sabbath for 40 degrees, would the members be comfortable for the service? No way! There would be many complaints and people would be putting on heavy coats, or trying to get the temperature changed. Cold people know there is a problem and want to get warm. A lukewarm person is comfortable.
Examples of spiritually cold people would be Job and David. Spiritually cold people are not worldly nor rebellious. They, like physically cold people, know there is a problem that must be rectified. Hot people have a joyous fervor for the Lord, and cold people know that a problem exists and want to get warm. The lukewarm person is comfortable and feels no need of change. If the Laodicean church were cold, the Spirit of God might more readily convince it of its dangerous condition.
It is God’s will that none should perish, but that all should come to repentance (see 2 Pet. 3:9). Jesus does not want us to become open sinners in place of being lukewarm, He wants us to wake up and realize the condition we’re in.