September 4, 2009

Web Letters

Singing Out
My heartfelt thanks for “The Songs We Sing” (Aug. 20, 2009). It has been a long time coming and finally someone noticed and took the time to put their thoughts on the topic onto paper and into an article.
I do have one question: Before we had the Seventh-day Adventist Hymnal we had just “the hymnal,” and it contained a lovely song that told about creation, the Sabbath, and how the day was changed from Sabbath to Sunday. The name of the song was “Holy Day, Jehovah’s Rest,” and the refrain, as I recall, is:
“Welcome, welcome, welcome, welcome;
Glad we hail its presence blest,
‘Tis the great Jehovah’s rest.”
Then the fourth stanza contains these words:
“All who speak the truth must say
It was man who changed the day;
In God’s word no change appears
Through the whole six thousand years!”

Why was such a lovely song removed from the Seventh Day Adventist Hymnal? I would think this would have been a song to keep.
Thank you in advance for your response and please keep up the good work.
Erica Harvey-Beecher

I enjoyed Roy Adams’ article very much. The lack of enthusiasm in our songs at church is appalling. I challenge Adams to one other text, “Sing to the Lord a new song” (Psalm 96:1). Biblical advice on song selection would be that our songs are all contemporary. That missing text “Sing to the Lord an old song” is still being enthusiastically sought by many.
Stanley Norris

Cause and Effect
Clifford Goldstein’s argument in One Lord or the Other” (Aug. 20, 2009) is moot. Both sides in this discussion are based on the assumption that the present is a result of the past. This mechanistic view of reality makes the past the “source” of the present and the present the “effect” of the past. This displaces God as the cause of all that is.
If we look at the nature of matter closely, we see that it is essentially energy. One would not say that the light presently emitting from a light bulb is the result of the light emitted there a second ago. Equally on cannot aver that the energy experienced by human senses as matter is the result of past energy flow.
No one would argue that the final cadences of a symphony are the “effect” of a “cause” heard as previous sounds. The story being told as the “universe” has but one Author. Its cause is not to be found in its previous chapters.
The Genesis story is a suitable and meaningful analogy of the marvel of the Love that eternally brings this universe into being.
Don Thomann
St. James, Missouri

Preparing Today

Thanks to David Bland for his timely article, “God’s Waiting Room” (Aug. 13, 2009).
I have a living will and I have stressed to my children that if I become brain dead no heroic measures should be taken. It wasn’t until I read the second paragraph of this article that I realized how many heroic measures there are. After reading about all the treatments administered, and that if the patient survived she’d “face prolonged disability and need extended rehabilitation,” I can see that more directives are needed.
Because I will soon be an octogenarian, and end-of-life rationing could still become a possibility, those decisions may be made for me.
Thanks again for an informative, eye-opening article.
Beatrice E. Green

Midland, Michigan


Above and Beyond
It’s always a thrill to plug an outstanding edition of the Review (Aug. 13, 2009). Bouquets to the editors and writers who made this issue possible. It belongs in the waiting rooms of Adventist professionals across North America. Church members of every philosophical persuasion will enjoy this magazine. Readers, get your hands on some additional copies and give one to a church member who doesn’t subscribe and maybe a neighbor or two.
This Review is a must read from cover to cover, beginning with Bill Knott’s editorial, “Calvin’s Genes,” to “A Simple Prayer” by Harold L. Calkins on the inside back cover. (Even the adverts are classy!)
Editors, this is the standard to shoot for.
Andy Hanson
Chico, California

Calvin’s Genes
My appreciation to Bill Knott for his editorial about Jean Calvin’s jubilee (Aug. 13, 2009). It was blessed Sabbath reading material for great reflection on the past.
The city of Geneva hosts the reformers wall where Calvin is one of the figures. His influence about predestination continues to this day. By God’s providence we are called, and we make the choice ourselves. God is not an arbitrary Lord. His grace guides us everyday to a joyful service, away from stern convictions.
I invite everyone to visit Noyon, Calvin’s birthplace, an hour or so north of Paris. You can discover the museum of Protestantism. I lived a few kilometers from there when I was growing up and never heard of Calvin.
Blessings to you for bringing us thoughtful and helpful articles.
Michel Kordas
San Bernardino, California

Define “Vibrant”
The column by Hyveth Williams,The First Two of Three Messages”(Aug. 13, 2009) reflects what seems to be an unfortunate trend in churches today. She writes: “Some churches have created vibrant worship services that enliven the faith and fellowship of believers.” She then writes, “Others have cultivated somber moods” that drive people away from services.
I’m not sure what she means by “vibrant worship services,” but I have an idea. Many of our church services have adopted the modality of mega-churches that suggest the main purpose is entertainment, not devotion. I always thought worship was experiencing fellowship with God in majesty, solemnity, awe, and reverence. Ellen White wrote about Adventist worship services: “They should be pervaded with the very atmosphere of heaven” (Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, p. 609). Noise and confusion, which is so characteristic of many worship services today, seems antithetical to an “atmosphere of heaven.” We can all profit by reading again what Ellen White wrote in “Behavior In the House of God” (Testimonies for the Church, pp. 491-500). We seem to have strayed from much of her counsel.
Walter S. Hamerslough
Lafayette, Colorado

Careful Now
I read with interest the news item, “Adventists Join in Commending U.S. Antismoking Bill” (July 23, 2009). My reaction: “Be careful what you wish for.”
The article celebrated government action that is intended to reduce the number of individuals, particularly children, who become addicted to tobacco. This is certainly a laudable objective. But it must be kept in mind that the power of government is always and ever a coercive one. Any alliance between religion and government, even with the best of intentions, carries the seed of coercion that is the opposite of God’s redemptive approach to humankind.
 “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s” (Mark 12:17). The separation of church and state requires that we not only resist the state’s coercive entry into the field of religion, but that we resist the temptation to use government to empower ourselves.
There’s a real difference between encouraging or demanding government power be used to achieve a desired objective and merely not opposing government power when the objective seems appropriate. Doing the former enhances the power of government and makes it more difficult to oppose other actions of government that are not nearly so benign.
Ron Nelson
Discovery Bay

Having a Bad Day?
Regarding Stephen Chavez’ editorial “Evolve This!”(Jul. 9, 2009): The title itself sets a rather adversarial, smirking tone that persists throughout his editorial. This edition of the Review arrived on the day of Michael Jackson’s funeral in California, and no matter what opinion any of us have about Jackson, Britney Spears, or Rod Blagojavich, I don’t see why Chavez chose to disrespect Jackson and his family and at the same time lambast the evolutionary theory.
It seemed like a cheap attempt at humor supported by Bible texts, which would make both sides mad instead of winning them to your point of view. I have never observed this kind of thoughtlessness in Chavez before; maybe it was just a bad day.
Rhoda Wills
Berrien Springs, Michigan