October 4, 2011

Web Letters

Garden Talk
The title “The Two Gardens” by William G. Johnsson (Sept. 22, 2011) is somewhat misleading. There was only one Garden of Eden physically speaking.

Eden, the garden of God, is first mentioned as existing in heaven when Lucifer, represented by the King of Tyre, walked on stones of fire (Eze. 28:13). It is next mentioned as being planted by God here on earth as a dwelling place for Adam and Eve. Actually, it was transplanted. Then we are told that in order to save it from destruction during Noah’s Flood, it was again transplanted back to heaven, and Adam and Eve will again walk in the midst of the garden and observe the very flowers they attended when they lived here on earth (see The Great Controversy, pp. 647, 648).

So the Garden of Eden has been transplanted twice between heaven and earth. It exists today in heaven, awaiting the resurrection and arrival of the saints.

Perhaps Johnsson was trying to point out the different circumstances involved. After Adam and Eve sinned, they were barred from the garden by an angel with a flaming sword, so the garden was uninhabited for some 1,500 years. In contrast, it will be a source of enjoyment by the saints in heaven for eternity. In this sense one might describe them as two gardens.

--John McConnell
Citrus Heights, California

Stranger in a Strange Land
Thank you for all the hard work you put into producing the Adventist Review.

When I read the article about DeVon Franklin, “Adventist Film Exec Produces by Faith” (Sept. 15, 2011), I thought, There’s no way you can be a Hollywood insider and also be a faithful member of the Seventh-day Adventist church. Hollywood is about money and power. In fact, there is a book by Edward Jay Epstein titled, The Big Picture: The New Logic Money and Power in Hollywood. How can a person be a faithful Adventist and be an executive for a company that is all about power and money?

The article read beautifully, but it sounded too good to be true. I went to the Internet to do some more reading about this individual, to see if he was for real. I came across an article on christianitytoday.com from September, 2011. It read: “Director Tyler Perry says Franklin lives his faith ‘beautifully and without compromise’ while staying ‘true to God.’ Next on Franklin’s to-do list: Turning bestseller Heaven Is for Real: A Little Boy’s Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back into a film.”  (www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2011/september/whos-next-devon-franklin.html).

A number of Web sites say the following: Heaven Is for Real was brought in by Sony Pictures exec DeVon Franklin, a Christian minister who just published and has been promoting his inspirational book Produced by Faith: Enjoy Real Success Without Losing Your True Self.

Is it possible to be a faithful member of the Adventist Church and be behind the production of a movie that promotes spiritualism? Being a faithful Adventist is much more than simply turning off your cell phone during Sabbath hours and not engaging in business. It is obvious that God is not the one writing Franklin’s script or writing his movie.

I am concerned that this article is misleading and may encourage our young people to think that you can work for Hollywood and still maintain your faith.

--Martin Kim
Berrien Springs, Michigan

Our September 15 cover article celebrated Mr. Franklin’s consistent testimony on behalf of the gospel. While the future remains unknown, we pray for him continued effectiveness as a witness for Jesus and His truth.—Editors.

At first I questioned the wisdom of featuring a Hollywood film executive from the very pit of evil on the cover of Adventist Review. Then I remembered that God sent Joseph to Egypt, Daniel to Babylon, Jonah to Nineveh, and Jesus to Nazareth. Even Job, a righteous man, questioned how God works. And why would God tell Hosea to marry a prostitute?

God’s heart was breaking for those held captive by the deceiver, and in mercy He called them to “come out of Babylon.”

One more thing: If you want to know what the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary teaches regarding “spiritual formation” (Aug. 11, 2011), C. Raymond Holmes, who has taught this course, recently wrote a book on the topic entitled The Road I Travel. He is now semi-retired and lives in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. He and another retired minister are active, pastoring a church together.

--Don. C. Fahrbach
Munising, Michigan

Wake-Up Call
Thank you for selecting Heather vanden Hoven’s beautifully written piece: “Carrying Others’ Burdens” (Sept. 8, 2011). Not only was it a superb example of creative writing in terms of progression, balance, and authenticity, but the message immediately awakened me from my Laodicean somnambulance. Isn’t it amazing how a short piece of writing can grab one’s attention in a way that a pages-long essay does not?

--Ernest J. Stevenson
Orlando, Florida

Marketing the Gospel, etc.
I agree with E. Edward Zinke and “The ABCs of Marketing the Gospel” (Aug. 11, 2011). There is a place for innovators like H.M.S. Richards, Sr., and Danny Shelton to promote the gospel.

Also in that same issue, we need more members like Patrick Knighton and his bold decision for Christ.

Ellen G. White had the proper prescription that goes along with Scripture in giving and living the gospel: “If we would humble ourselves before God, and be kind and courteous and tenderhearted and pitiful, there would be one hundred conversions to the truth where now there is only one. But, though professing to be converted, we carry around with us a bundle of self that we regard as altogether too precious to be given up. It is our privilege to lay this burden at the feet of Christ and in its place to take the character and similitude of Christ. The Savior is waiting for us to do this” (Testimonies for the Church, vol. 9, pp. 189, 190).
Many of us have failed; may we learn.

--William Zelenak
Greensboro, North Carolina

Hoping for a Miracle
When I read “Atlantic Union College Temporarily Shuttered as State Flunks Approval Deadline” (Aug. 11, 2011), I couldn’t help but shedding a few tears. With all its history and beauty, and being our oldest college, it’s a real shame.

Some of my happiest childhood years were spent on that campus. My father was on staff, and he had his office in Founder’s Hall. I started first grade in Browning Normal School in the early 1940s, and I grew to love the beauty of the New England countryside. I remember sledding on the hill behind the school, and my first horse and sleigh ride in the snow. I loved to go on field trips with the college kids to Boston, and I learned a lot about American history at an early age.

We visited there not long ago after being gone for almost 60 years, and saw the beautiful Adventist history center in Founder’s Hall. We have too much Adventist history in that area not to have an Adventist school there. I’m going to keep praying that God will work a miracle and that AUC can reopen before long and become the school it once was.

--Pauline N. Pierson
Collegedale, Tennessee

Accentuate the Positive
It was such a treat to read Larry Blackmer’s article “Adventist Education: Alive and Well” (July 14, 2011).

In the past several years it seems we hear only the negative concerning our schools. Yes, there are things we have to improve, and we should be doing that. But we also have many positives. We often like dwelling on the negative instead of the positive. Just think what would happen to your children if you only dwelt on the negative aspects of their lives? That applies to our schools, churches, institutions, and each other. Let’s try to stay balanced.

While I’m writing, thank you for the August 2011 Adventist World. I was going to comment on one article, but they’re all so good and enlightening. I don’t think I had heard about the Hiroshima miracle before. So uplifting!

--Doreen Sheppard