February 10, 2010

1504 Web Letters

They’ll Say Anything
In the article, “2008: Is God the Silent Candidate?" (Jan. 17, 2008), Mark Kellner purports that the Review will not endorse any presidential candidate.
Then in the sidebar, “Of Faith and Freedom,” he quotes two front runners who stood before the International Religious Liberty Association meeting. What do you expect to come out of a politician’s mouth when he/she is standing in front of religious liberty zealots?

Instead of listening to what politicians say, voters need to pay attention to what they do:

  1. What bills do they support that either ensure or restrict the rights of the American people?
  2. What judges do they support, strict constitutionalists or activists with an agenda?
  3. How do these people actually vote when the time comes to stand for freedom for all Americans? 
I hope your readers view these quotes, and the entire article, with a healthy degree of skepticism.
Louise Corbin
Hamburg, Pennsylvania
The article about God being the silent Candidate was interesting.
What is the Seventh-day Adventist position about voting for persons for public office? What does the church believe about being involved in party politics and seeking public office? What is Ellen White’s counsel regarding voting and the two issues mentioned above?
It would be useful to see such an article in the Adventist Review during this election season.
Wayne Jones
Mark A Kellner quoted Marvin Moore as saying, “I haven’t heard any of the candidates say anything yet that would cause me alarm.”
Maybe Moore didn’t hear Mike Huckabee say (in effect), “The Bible should not be amended to fit the Constitution, but the Constitution should be amended to fit the Bible.” Wouldn’t that lead to Sunday Laws, a union between church and state, and many other consequences? Why say nothing is wrong when statements like this are made by the candidates?
I agree that the Review should stay out of politics, but shouldn’t we also look closely at the candidates?
Art Miles
Apison, Tennessee
Where Are All the Chrisitians? 
My response concerns the article, “Where Are All the Christians?” While this article mentions Sunday as a day for church attendance, as a Sabbath-keeping church I suppose the readership should have an interest in the activities of other churches regardless of their preferred day of worship.
However, when I read the following, I was concerned that such information is not representative of the Seventh-day Adventist church:
 “Our methodology was simple. We asked 315 church members two ‘diagnostic’ questions. First, we asked, ‘If you were to die today, do you know for certain that you’d go to heaven?’ The second question: ‘If God were to ask you why He should let you into heaven, what would you say?’”
Such questions by an Adventist minister would not represent our understanding of Christian faith. May I suggest that the following questions would be more representative in a questionnaire to our membership to get an understanding of whether they really understand being saved as a Christian:
 “If you were to die today, do you know for certain that you are saved?”
And, “If God were to ask you why He wants to save you, what would you say?” (emphasis added).
The reward for keeping the faith and accepting Christ’s will for you to be saved is not “going to heaven,” but living in Christ and for Christ in this life and sharing a heavenly existence with Him in the new earth. Perhaps an editorial comment along these lines would ensure the church is not espousing incorrect concepts about being saved.
Libby Beament
Our Witness
I profoundly appreciated Sung Kwon’s article, “A People of Service” (Jan. 17, 2008).
This summer I had the privilege of attending the Adventist Urban Congress at Oakwood College, which was sponsored by Pastor Kwon and Adventist Community Services. As a layperson with an interest in social action, I was surprised to learn how much Adventist churches are doing to promote justice and care for “the least of these.”
If this article motivated readers to become more involved in their communities, I encourage them to seek training at upcoming ACS events (www.communityservices.org). Also, consider reading one or more of these helpful books: The Externally Focused Church (Rusaw & Swanson), Churches that Make a Difference (Sider, Olson, & Unruh), The Equipping Church (Mallory), Understanding Your Community (Sahlin).
May God give us the strength and love to embrace the truth of Jeremiah 22:16: “‘He defended the cause of the poor and needy. . . . Is that not what it means to know me?’ declares the Lord.” And may God lead us to accurately know our communities and build ministries of service that care for the marginalized in ways that evoke praise for our Father in heaven.
Jeff Boyd
Cedar Lake, Michigan
Total Healing
Regarding, “The Flip Side of Pain” (Jan. 10, 2008):
Josephine Akarue initially appears to be writing about physical pain, but it soon becomes apparent that she is primarily referring to emotional pain, the distressing reality that afflicts all of us to a greater or lesser degree. She then reveals important secrets for resolving such pain: 1) Accept that you are hurt. 2) Be willing to forgive. 3) Consider building an altar of praise, an Ebenezer.
The natural heart rebels at the very ointment that soothes the hurt, but in Jesus Christ this healing becomes possible.
Connie Dahlke
Walla Walla, Washington
Which is Which?
As I read Seth Pierce’s column “Adaptability” (Jan. 10, 2008), I could hear him talking. I, too, recently completed the M.Div. degree at the Seminary, and I know Seth.
The story of the “tatooed father” was a good example of “profitable adaptability.” Having the ability to accept and make the best of situations that can’t be changed is a positive attribute to cherish--echoing the “serenity prayer.” And in many cases, adaptability is an extremely positive trait to have. Jesus adapted to His surroundings all the time. He adapted His stories and object lessons to what the people could best understand. He also related differently to the disciples than to the Pharisees.
But “adapting to” and accepting every change that comes along is not always a good thing. Adaptability, simply “for the sake of change” can backfire.
I began to wince toward the end of the column as Pierce wrote, “When change comes (and it will come) it is easy to make it a theological issue, based on a sentimental reaction to perceived threats to cherished ideas, methods, and places.”
Many times Jesus adapted to His surroundings. But there were also many times when Jesus made the decision not to adapt or accept things being done at the time. Jesus made His adaptability decisions based on His own understanding of right and wrong concerning theological issues.
It appears that Pierce is uncomfortable when people see theological issues in some of the changes that have made their way into many Adventist churches, and wants to pass these objections off as merely “sentimental reactions” that have no theological basis.
Just because one person (even if he is the pastor) can’t immediately see a theological problem issue in the change, it doesn’t mean there isn’t one. And the person who sees the theological issue should be legitimately considered and not simply written off as having a “sentimental reaction,” or a “personal preference.” There is a certain wisdom that comes with age--just ask Solomon.
We need to be adaptable, but we shouldn’t lay down our discernment and accept all changes merely to appease or entertain the masses.
Ron Clear
Berrien Springs, Michigan
Interpreting Israel
In response to article “How Should Christians View Israel?" (Nov. 8, 2007), and the letters that responded to it, may I suggest that so-called “replacement theology” does not have to function as an answer to questions from Jewish people that they may not like.
I like “continuation theology” based on Romans 11, Paul’s model of the olive tree, the symbol of Israel. Only unbelieving branches are removed, with the option they will be re-grafted upon faith. The believing branches that are Gentile don’t replace the unbelieving removed branches; they are added to the tree. Thus all Israel shall be saved--believing Jews and Gentiles together.
J. T. Knopper
New South Wales, Australia