February 18, 2009

1505 Web Letters

Christ and Culture
I’m responding to the article, “I Don’t Wanna be a Pop Christian” (Feb. 12, 2009).
First, I appreciate the last part of the article, but I found the setting, opening, and body of thought distracting. I understand the author’s background as he shared in the article, and I want to be sensitive to that. But I feel I must defend pop culture. The whole point of the gospel is that “all” might come to God.
I believe our church has a split personality when it comes to truly understanding the practical gospel and reconciling those beliefs with everyday living. Let’s face it, the line we walk in our modern culture is narrow, and it’s going to get thinner. Unfortunately, as many do in our church, we end up falling into one of the ditches on either side of the road instead of keeping our eyes always only on Jesus. We can label each other as conservatives or liberals, or as traditional or contemporary as to worship style, or even as hypocrite or heretic. Often to “live in the world, but not of it” as Christ’s followers, we are called to be out of our comfort zones in reaching the lost and pointing the way to Christ and His salvation. Christ certainly lived 33 years out of His “comfort zone” to provide a way of salvation to all of us.
God is sharpening us up, and will clarify us as Adventists. God wants to lift up His remnant church, but he can only do so as we lift Him, and only Him, up, so He will draw all to Him. God doesn’t want just lifestyle Christians, He wants all of it to come from our hearts. Jesus said “by their fruit you will recognize them” (Matt. 7:20). So whether or not a particular style of culture or music is not the kind you prefer, this by no means that a person cannot be a pop culturist and a Christian at the same time. I understand there are music and lifestyle choices in the pop culture that would obviously hinder following Christ, but there are equally dangerous ruts we can fall into as mainstream or classic culturists.
We must make wise choices; that’s what the anointing of the Holy Spirit is all about. OK, so I’m not a “popper,” but that doesn’t mean I can’t be comfortable around them and expose them to friendship and fellowship as a Christian brother. Of course, to do this and not fall into the lifestyle requires me to take my daily dose of Christ into my life, so I can be His disciple, and not be a Christian who gets lost in the void.
God has 1,001 ways that He will use to save the lost--especially in our generation. I’m excited to see God’s ways come out in our time as we proclaim the Third Angel’s message and the Loud Cry.
John Ehrlich
McAlisterville, Pennsylvania

I read Angel Rodriguez’s answer to the question of jewelry with great sadness (www.adventistreview.org/2000-1551/story5.html). Yes, there has been heated debate over the subject of jewelry lately. However, one must ask, why, especially lately, has this debate heated up? I believe the answer is obvious, and I will let the messenger of the Lord spell it out: “The line of demarcation between worldlings and many professed Christians is almost indistinguishable. Many who once were earnest Adventists are conforming to the world--to its practices, its customs, its selfishness. Instead of leading the world to render obedience to God’s law, the church is uniting more and more closely with the world in transgression. Daily the church is becoming converted to the world. How many professing Christians are slaves of mammon! Their indulgence of appetite, their extravagant expenditure of money for selfish gratification, greatly dishonors God” (Testimonies for the Church, vol. 8, pp 118, 119).
I grew up in a church where church members could be easily identified by their simplicity of dress and lack of outward adornment, such as lipstick, jewelry, and furs, etc. Today church members are becoming or have become almost universally indistinguishable from worldlings. To divide the issue of jewelry into clever terms such as “ornamental jewelry”, and “functional jewelry” is to do great harm to the true principles of simplicity, modesty, and economy.
Ellen G White addressed the issue and appropriately called the increasing custom of wearing wedding rings in this country a “leavening process which seems to be going on among us” (Testimonies to Ministers, p. 180), and she also wrote: “Not one penny should be spent for a circlet of gold to testify that we are married” (Testimonies to Ministers, p. 181).
The terms “legalist” and “self-righteous” have been used, in many cases, to negate the influence of those striving to uphold biblical standards of godliness.
“When we reach the standard that the Lord would have us reach, worldlings will regard Seventh-day Adventists as odd, singular, strait-laced extremists. ‘We are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men’ [1 Cor. 4:9]” (Fundamentals of Christian Education, p. 289).
I pray that all those reading this will reach God’s standard, and will consider it a badge of honor to suffer as Jesus Christ suffered, and to be made just such a spectacle.
Lars Repetend
Cleveland, Tennessee

Cheers and Jeers
For the first time since the election of President John F. Kennedy I have been excited about a presidential inauguration in the United States. All Americans have cause for rejoicing in this change that embraces the dreams of men like Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King, Jr. But most of all, our God expects and longs for Christians to truly recognize the equality of all His human creation.

I’m with Alvin Kibble: Barack Obama needs our prayers, not our indifference.
Janice Schnurr
Alberta, Canada

Regarding, “When Silence is Not Golden,” by Alvin M. Kibble:
First, the fact that this opinion was printed in an official Seventh-day Adventist publication is totally inappropriate. It is the policy of the church not to engage in politics as a church, and not to endorse a political agenda.
But since the author has opened this door, I feel compelled to respond.
The references to slavery and Black oppression are inappropriate. Slavery has ended, apologies have been made, and millions of dollars of reparations in terms of special programs, special privileges, and cash have been paid. The only reason these things are brought up today is to incite hatred for political and financial gain. It should be noted who it was who sold those people into slavery in the first place and who it was who ended slavery and has carried the battle for equality. I believe Jesus had something to say about forgiveness.
David A. Snyder
Stephenville, Texas

The Audacity of Prayer
After reading Mark Kellner’s reportabout the letter General Conference President Jan Paulsen sent to President Barack Obama (Jan. 8, 2009), I agree that we must get serious about prayer for our United States and its leaders.
After the disclosures of some of the details of the “stimulus package,” we surely must get serious about praying for how we can face the future. I agree with our world church president that there is anxiety about the future, and we should not be obsessed with the material and the economic. We know that there is a profound spiritual anxiety about the future of America. The essence of the good life for which this age seeks is that hope is worthwhile, worth living, worth waiting, and worth working for. Hope does not deny the circumstances of the present, and hope doesn’t help us to get out of our difficulties. Hope doesn’t get us out, but it does get us through.
Job is often cited as an example of unconquerable hope. But he did not use his hope to deny the reality of his present pains and circumstances. Hope is not self-centered, but directed invariably to that which is worthy of confidence.
Jerry Olson
Williamston, South Carolina

Galloping Compromise
The reasons offered by Reinder Bruinsma in the column, “Nostalgia” (Jan. 8, 2009), for why some Adventists desire a return to an Adventism of the past are insufficient. . . . Yes, a progressive approach is both necessary and beneficial for our church in evaluating what decisions to make and what direction to take, but only when weighed against the expressed will and counsel of God already previously and firmly established for us in the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy. Anyone desiring a back-to-the-basics reformation of today’s church will say without exception it is because of the problem of “creeping compromise,” which is now creeping along with breakneck speed.
Notwithstanding her optimism for the future, Ellen White considered the church of her day to be lacking and in much need of reform. If we are to look for a revival of primitive godliness such as has not been seen since apostolic times, one must wonder which attitudes and trends are most conducive to such a revival: those of a world-shunning, imperfect church of the past, or the world-loving, far more imperfect church of today?
May we allow the Holy Spirit to anoint Laodicea with His eyesalve, so that we may see with eyes of faith.
Kevin J. Hihar
New Orleans, Louisiana

Angel Faces
I trust it’s just an unfortunate choice of words in the article, “Calling God’s Bluff?” (Jan. 15, 2009); and that Sam Belony doesn’t really believe that angels veil their faces before God, “shielding themselves for fear His eternal light might obliterate them.”
When angels veil their faces it is because of their great reverence and awe in the presence of God. Ellen White wrote: “In their ministry the angels are not as servants, but as sons. There is perfect unity between them and their Creator” (Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, p. 109). This doesn’t sound like a relationship of fear to me. God’s presence is a consuming fire--but not to sinless beings--and not to the redeemed, once they have put on immortality.
Maureen Schaber
Harrison Hot Springs, British Columbia, Canada

Gospel Preparations
In his editorial, “On the Right Side of History” (Jan. 15, 2009), Roy Adams made a wonderful connection between our country’s maturing ethnic integration and John’s vision of the great multitude standing before the throne of God, from every nation, tribe, people, and language. We still have our work cut out for us.
Of the nearly 7,000 languages spoken on earth, more than 2,000 have not a single word of Scripture translated. These languages represent nearly 200 million people with no access to the transforming power of God’s word in their heart language.
In India, where the Southern Asia Division’s Women’s Ministries Department has initiated the wonderful literacy project that Sandra Blackmer wrote about in “Changing Lives One Word at a Time” (Jan. 15, 2009), 150 of the 450 languages have not a single verse of the Bible. Let’s pray for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on those who are involved in the translation work, and that more will be convicted to go. Pray that Adventists will learn more about the work of organizations such as Wycliffe Bible Translators, so we can help take the eternal gospel to every nation, tribe, language,and people (Rev. 14:6) and then the end will come (Matt. 24:14).
Curtis Schafer
Walla Walla, Washington

Christians and Creation
The article, “Going for the Jugular” (Dec. 11, 2008), grabbed my attention. I thank God for writers like Roy Adams, who can read books like Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion, then search for even more convincing Christian books, such as, The Dawkins Delusion by Alistair McGrath, to counteract such errors. This effort helps keep Christians on their toes to maintain loyalty to God our Creator.
Although Adams doesn’t claim to be a scientist, our early pioneer scientists believed in the Bible and creation. There will always be scientists who believe in God and His creation.
I believe it is more than a coincidence that the timing of the first of the Three Angels’ Messages (Rev. 14:6, 7) was shared with the world at the same time Darwin’s evolutionary message was first given. . . .
Adams’ article closes with a description of God’s triumph in a world made new (Rev. 22). Who would do away with the glorious hope that keeps us faithful? We can look up, because our redemption is drawing nigh.
Velma Beavon
Dayton, Montana