June 20, 2008

1518 Web Letters

Comprehensive Coverage
Regarding the news report “Adventist School Hit by Tornado”(May 15, 2008): Thank you for reporting from time to time on damage suffered by denominational properties. Our members might also be interested to know whether these losses are insured under the Adventist Risk Management self-insurance plan operated by our church.
We are fortunate to have a well-run insurance program managed by Adventist Risk Management, and it would be appropriate for the benefits of their services to be recognized when reporting on these disasters. The solicitation of funds to help rebuild these properties seems misleading when the loss is insured, unless that fact is also disclosed.
Gene M. Marsh
Rocklin, California
At the time of the tornado, G. E. Peters School had an insurance policy with a provider other than Adventist Risk Management. Any donations for rebuilding would help cover deductibles and other expenses not paid for by this or any other insurance policy.--Editors

We Need Both
After reading “It Really Is All About Jesus” (May 16, 2008), and considering what I hear preached in Adventist churches lately, I have reached the conclusion that people today do not understand why we need to preach doctrine. Consider the following reasons:
There are two gates (Matt 7:13, 14.); the gate that takes us to heaven and Satan’s counterfeit. Doctrine helps distinguish between them. We are to count the cost before we start (Luke 14:28-33); doctrines tell us what the cost is. Doctrines teach that we cannot earn forgiveness (Gal. 2:16). Justification means forgiveness; from this we can conclude that keeping the Ten Commandments is not what is meant by the “works of the law,” because one does not need forgiveness until one of the Ten Commandments has been broken. Keeping the commandments does not atone for breaking them. Doctrine teaches that the reward we receive when Jesus returns is according to our works (Matt. 16:27). Doctrine helps us detect “false Christs and false prophets” who will try to deceive us (Matt 24:24). God gave Adam and Eve the power of choice. Doctrine teaches us how God would have us live so we can make that choice (Rev. 22:14).
How can we preach Jesus without preaching our doctrines?
Leo Mathewson
Columbus, Wisconsin

Shane Anderson hit the nail on the head with his article “It Really Is All About Jesus.”
When I was younger we were hammered with doctrine and we just forgot about Jesus. I have been telling people for years it is not about doctrine and the complexity of it; it is all about Jesus.
I was a literature evangelist for 10 years, and we had evangelistic series all the time. But evangelists often tried to pound doctrines into people and they never heard about Jesus. I told my customers I was proud of Jesus and what He had done for me; and that was the only thing that mattered.
Our religion is way too complicated for most people. We have to keep it simple.
Maurice (Mo) Dickson
Zellwood, Florida

A major reason preachers have “offended, angered, and enraged countless thousands of people by preaching” our doctrines lies in its presentation. Our choice of words, references, PowerPoint slides, tone of voice, and an infatuation with proof texts from the King James Version--once powerful tools--have contributed to a growing perception of irrelevance in our doctrinal preaching.

Any doctrine of our church can be preached without losing its distinctiveness by using language that is neither Victorian nor from the fifties. We can passionately preach distinctive doctrine while maintaining respect for other opinions and worldviews.
The only offense such a message will cause is that of the Holy Spirit calling people out of error.
Stefan Burton-Schnüll

Every Headline Has a Face
I appreciated Kimberly Luste Maran’s editorial, “Life Matters” (May 15, 2008). Her heartfelt words and candor about the loss of her daughter’s 4-year-old classmate, Austin, by the hands of his father demonstrated a transparency not often seen in columns of this nature.
Sadly, tragic events of this magnitude rarely seem to register enough with people anymore--including me--because of their unfortunate frequency. But thanks to Maran’s editorial I was reminded that every child and every sensational headline has a face, a story, a now treasured Valentine’s card, and little ones left behind with incredibly hard questions to answer for moms and dads. Devastatingly, we will never get to know all that Austin and his two siblings, who were also drowned, could’ve been. Nor will we ever get a chance to read about the wonderful stories Maran’s daughter could’ve told about her friend Austin.
Keep up the great work, Kimberly. I always make it a point to read your work.
Ethan Fowler, Features Editor
The Albany Herald
Albany, Georgia

Redefining Success
I was deeply touched by Jimmy Phillips’ column, “Forget ‘Success’”(May 8, 2008). Many long to serve, but hesitate out of a fear of failure. The writer takes us beyond such ego concerns to contemplate the profound love of God. Phillips calls us to analyze our motives and minister to others in spite of the possibility that results may not be what we wanted. This is real Christianity.
Phillips may be young, but he is wise beyond his years.
Ella Rydzewski
Clarksville, Maryland


Common Goals, Common Needs

I really appreciated the article, “Balancing Ends and Means”by Michael Peabody (Apr. 24, 2008). I have thought a lot about the subject and wonder about a solution.
Being liberal or conservative can mean different things to different people. And if all of us are striving for heaven, shouldn’t we just live together in unity in spite of different ideas and try to help each other through the trials and tribulations of life? We all have those in common and need all the love and understanding we can get from each other. Our churches should be a haven of rest for the weary and a hospital for sin-sick souls--not a battle ground.
Pauline N. Pierson
Collegedale, Tennessee

Sign Here
I read with interest Seth Pierce’s column “Can I Have Your Autograph, Please” (Apr. 10, 2008).
When I was a child in New York, we were privileged to have many speakers from the General Conference at the New York Center and at camp meeting. My father bought me an autograph book and told me that when a speaker came to our church, to ask them to sign my book not with just their signature but with a short message for me on half the page. Later we pasted their pictures cut from the Review on the other half of the page.
I still have this book. The first entries started in 1949 and continued until around 1952. Some of the autographs are from Roy Allen Anderson, J. R. Spangler, J. Ernest Edwards, Robert Pierson, Neal Wilson, Theodore Lucas, F. D. Nichol, Eric B. Hare, H. M. S. Richards, R. R. Beitz, “Uncle” Arthur Maxwell, and A. G. Stewart (pioneer missionary in Fiji and New Hebrides). I still cherish that book, especially the texts and messages they wrote to me when I was a child.
I was rather a shy child and because my father encouraged me to meet these leaders by myself I was able to meet people in high office in the church and learned not to be afraid. Now I appreciate even more the time they took to write in a young girl’s autograph book.
I cut the pictures out of the Review during those years, so the Review had a part in helping a young girl complete each page of her book.
Ellen Walker
Cullowhee, North Carolina