June 9, 2009

1516 Web Letters

What It Says About Us
Regarding “Maryland Adventist Joins White House Staff” (May 21, 2009): While I think it’s wonderful to have Adventists work at the White House, and be connected to it in some way, how do these Adventists support a president who believes in abortion and has previously voted for it while in the Senate? I have a hard time getting past this. I think this reflects on those Adventists who are so thrilled to be connected to him. I don’t think it speaks well of their witness.
Elizabeth Krape
Via E-Mail

Too Late for Surprises
I enjoyed the article “Preparing to Marry Judas” by Meg Wilson. It was well-written and relevant. Thanks!
Kessa Alexander
Via E-mail

More About Forgiveness
I enjoyed Roy Adams’ article “Seventy Times Seven (Feb. 26, 2009), and the comments that continue regarding it.

Only God can ultimately forgive anyone. He has a forgiving stance toward all sinners, but only those who are repentant will actually be forgiven by and reconciled to Him. He waits patiently and hopefully as long as life lasts for this repentance. He does this because it is His nature to love. Therefore He loves and longs to save all sinners.

Likewise, ideally we, too, should have a forgiving stance toward those who have done even the most heinous things to us or others. God loves them and is waiting for their repentance. In reality, unless there are legalities involved, there is nothing we can do except place the offender(s) in the hands of the loving God Who has forgiven us.

On the practical level, forgiving is not the same as reconciling. It is entirely appropriate to protect lives and hearts from further harm. Forgiving is, however, letting go of bitter, vengeful feelings, leaving retribution to the One who will do His utmost to bring about the best possible outcome before pouring out either blessings or destruction. As usual, He bears all our burdens, even the burden of vengeance.
Carolyn Millard
Lolo, Montana
Growing Churches
Regarding “Divide and Conquer” (Mar. 26, 2009): There’s no doubt that the Adventist movement needs to focus more on church planting. There’s no doubt that many congregations put a higher priority on having their needs met by their pastor than on doing the work that Christ called His people to do. But the picture Frederick Dana presented is not the whole story by any means.

The full manuscript of the 1912 Ministerial Institute presentations by A. G. Daniells makes it clear that he was already moving the pastoral role toward stronger shepherding and away from simply being evangelists and church planters as they were earlier. Ellen White wrote of the need for pastors to not “hover over” congregations, but she also suggested a ministry of pastoral care that needed to be added to what was being done.

There really is no need to try to construct a theory of church growth by looking at history. We have excellent, sound research that clearly outlines what factors correlate to growth in Adventist churches in North America today (see the cover article in the November 2004 issue of Ministry magazine and chapter two in the book “Adventist Congregations Today,” commissioned by the North American Division).

Why has the Adventist Review not published information that is so much clearer, strongly supported by data, and to the point?
Monte Sahlin
Director of Research & Special Projects
Ohio Conference

Camping and Worship
Thanks to “Marie Walkingstick” for “A Place to Worship Thee” (Mar. 26, 2009). The touching reflections gripped my heart. They added impact to a line I memorized years ago on a camping trip: “When every other voice is hushed, and in quietness we wait before Him, the silence of the soul makes more distinct the voice of God” (The Desire of Ages, p. 363).
Caesar Nawalkowski
Ponoka, Alberta, Canada

A New Take on an Old Word
I appreciate the views of younger Adventists such as Jimmy Phillips. It is so true that we grew up in different worlds. I was raised prior to World War II. It is wonderful that Christ and His word give the same call and speak the same message to all, “Come and follow Me.”

In his column, “Born Identity” (Mar. 26, 2009), Phillips’ sentence, “When Jesus first encountered the fishermen, He ignored their crudeness and vulgarity,” stopped me. To me the word vulgarity speaks of being indecent. However, the first meaning of the word is commonness. Mark 12:27 could be translated as, “The vulgar people heard Him gladly.”

These disciples had accepted John’s call to repentance and baptism. Nathaniel was praying just before he met Christ. They were looking for the promised one. They were ready to be gathered in.

Many are not yet at that point. To them most of all we need to be open and friendly.
Dave Manzano
Harriman, Tennessee

Try Again
I must cut Hyveth Williams some slack, but the piece “Childish Things” (Mar. 26, 2009) just misses the point. Confronting our “haunting ghosts from the nursery” is simply too Freudian. It sounds like a recipe for continuing fixation on self, obscuring our view of the real Source of the help we need. Intense preoccupation with self, whether narcissistic or self-loathing, prevents us from focusing on the One who says, “Come unto Me . . . and I will give you rest.”

When we see His incredible love, His way of dealing with human failures--even those encased in shells of untouchable self--and His promise to be just what we need, we are prepared to appropriate that example, that transforming power. It will enable us to live a redemptive lifestyle. Then we can hope to become the persons our families, our churches, and our communities can live with; prepared for a home where tears never come, whether ours or those we cause.
Richard Burns
Cleveland, Tennessee

Unity Without Compromise
My heart is saddened to read one article after another stressing “love and unity” in our churches. “Running the Family Business” (Apr. 24, 2008), was just such an article. You’re missing one thing: God’s principles.

When I was an executive with the Playboy Club Divisions, one of my responsibilities was to make sure that the ambiance of the Playboy Clubs was perfect. The music was to be sensual, sexual, and seductive to get customers in the right mood.

Today I walk into our churches and I hear a bad imitation of that same type of music with the excuse that our young people want to hear drums, electric guitars, and lively music to make them feel more “comfortable” or “in the mood.” As long as we all love one another, what difference does it make if our music is lively or sacred?

Take it one step further and ask, What difference does it make if I applaud the entertainers or say “amen?” A visit by a famous person in Rome to the United States recently stressed “love and unity” as his theme as well. We need to focus our mission on unity without compromise.
Barbara Taylor
Copper Mountain, Colorado