March 14, 2012

08CN: Web Letters

A Man of Note
Regarding "I Give You My Life" (Feb. 23, 2012): Some 35 years ago Wintley Phipps, age 16, came through Michigan’s Upper Peninsula to the town of Munising, population 3,000, with a group of singers from Kingsway College. We invited a Catholic friend to church to hear them sing. This woman of influence recognized Phipps’ talent and asked him to sing at her church.

Through the ensuing years they maintained a relationship in which she made possible his first recordings. Later, when he became a pastor in Washington, D.C., he paid for her to come to the dedication of his church and gave her public recognition for her support in his earlier life.

A couple years ago she died, and Phipps flew to Munising and sang at her funeral. That he would remember this woman who supported him so early in his career by flying from Florida to the little Upper Peninsula town of Munising, spend a couple of hours, and leave for other important engagements, is remarkable. It seems like a small thing, but those are the things that define who Phipps really is.

--Don Fahrbach
Munising, Michigan

Lucky? Indeed!
I was genuinely surprised and shocked by Andrew McChesney’s column “Lucky Being Me” (Feb. 23, 2012).
McChesney managed to isolate all the reasons why Christians are not truly taking to heart the words of Jesus: “Love one another” and “whatever you do for the least of these, you do them for me.” McChesney says he actually contemplated, “I would ask why he wanted money. If he relied ‘to buy vodka,’ I would refuse and gently reprove him for drinking.” Then he added, “My duty would be to gauge whether he really needed help.”

The Christian’s duty is not to gauge whether help is needed. We know it is needed. As a pastor who served in St. Petersburg, Russia, I, too, experienced many who were homeless and addicted. Unlike McChesney, I wouldn’t think twice about finding food for them. It would not be an inconvenience; this is what we are called to do.

I am disappointed by the message left from “Lucky Being Me.” Even though McChesney has no addictions, he has been saved from a multitude of sins.

McChesney is indeed lucky to be used by Jesus Christ in a position of service. It is not up to us to judge the homeless.

--Veneare Askoki
Sacramento, California

Lovin’ It
Regarding “Super-healthy City Flipping Over Burgers” (Feb. 16, 2012): My wife and I have lived in Loma Linda since 2007. We love the area and the health system that is available to us. We are Seventh-day Adventists.

What bothers me is some of the arguments made during the city council meeting. The concern that children will have a place to eat meat, get greasy French fries, and who knows what else, is crazy. There already is a Carl’s fast food restaurant in Loma Linda. If they are concerned because of the location of Loma Linda Academy, there already is a McDonald’s restaurant close to the school, on the border of Loma Linda and San Bernardino.

My wife and I are not vegetarians and did not try to raise our two sons that way. However, we did raise them to know what was good for them and what was not. If parents have taught their children what is best, they should trust them to eat properly.

McDonald’s is not the worst place to eat, nor is it the best. Some children will go there, wherever it’s located, if that’s what they want.

--Bill Stokes
Loma Linda, California

Orchids to the three Loma Linda city council members who voted in favor of McDonald’s. We Adventists who prefer to eat tomatoes and tofu, not deceased animals and creeping things, should do so from choice, not because of a city ordinance. Seventh-day Adventists value our right to be different; why not grant the same freedom to others--even the carnivores among us?

Orchids also to Nick Allen and the London Daily Telegraph for their good-natured treatment of Adventists and vegetarians. Here was a chance for a writer to fill his pen with acid and scorch our community with derision. He could have depicted our people as a gloomy group who exist on yogurt and wheat germ and never enjoy a square meal. Instead he hailed Loma Linda as America’s healthiest city, “a shining light” and “an idyllic community.”

Granted, he had a little fun with “raw vegan cheesecake” and “roasted seaweed snacks,” but his remarks were in fun and quite harmless. To Nick Allen and the Daily Telegraph a sincere tip of the hat.

--Richard H. Utt
Loma Linda, California

Planting Seed
Regarding the article “Becoming the Change” (Feb. 16, 2012): I was impressed with the idea that we are a “missing link” if we don’t jump on the bandwagon and help our Lord spread His holy word of salvation. We have to start smart and become seed planters. God will do the rest.

Making a connection means more than just handing out a piece of literature. We have to rub elbows and get better acquainted. I am 86 years old and have made many friends just by smiling at them.

--Dorothy J. Thomas
Hyde Park, Utah

An appreciative thank you to Andrew Kerbs for his article “Becoming the Change.” It is encouraging to read of a young adult’s concern for sharing the message with secular college students. The church’s “greatest message is what its members live throughout the week. How we interact with the world around us is more telling of our faith than anything else.”

The church is in good hands with young adults who care enough to become the change. We are blessed in our prayer meeting service by the leadership of young adults.

--Natalie Dodd
Centerville, Ohio

“And on the Seventh Day . . .”
Thank you for printing Andy Nash’ article “Unrest Over a Rest Day” (Feb. 9, 2012). It hit home. I too have experienced the heartbreak of friends leaving the church over this issue. How tragic that a day to celebrate resting in Christ’s finished work for us has come to be viewed as a mark of “old covenant legalism!”

Sadly, many Adventists have responded with a “circle the wagons” approach, suggesting fear that the truths we teach will not stand investigation. Instead, we should all be challenged to more deeply study these texts and Paul’s other statements about the law, trusting that God will continue to shed new light on His Word.

For example, recent studies of Galatians and Colossians by non-Adventist scholars such as Troy Martin, Mark Nanos, Justin Hardin, Bruce Winter, and others, end up making a more persuasive case that Christians marked time by the Sabbath than many of our traditional arguments do.

I haven’t yet seen an Adventist point out that not only do the words “Jewish Sabbath” never appear in 60 references to the Sabbath in the Greek New Testament, but that in the gospel of John (presumably written at a very late date after Christians and Jews had clearly parted ways) the word “Jewish” prefixes a number of things including the Jewish Feast of Passover, the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles, another unnamed Jewish feast, and the Jewish Day of Preparation--but the Sabbath is always simply called “the Sabbath.” This fact is convincing to me.

--Eric Rasmussen
Colorado Springs, Colorado

In addition to all the other content, I always enjoy reading everything Andy Nash publishes in Adventist Review.

In his excellent article “Unrest Over a Rest Day” he states, “I was already familiar with the passages in support of the Sabbath, e.g., in Genesis God rested on the seventh day (though the actual word ‘Sabbath’ isn’t used there), . . .”

In fact, while the noun “Sabbath” is not used there, twice the verb using the same three-consonant Hebrew root is used, translated “rested.” One could say that God “sabbathed” on the seventh day (Gen. 2:2, 3).

--Leona G. Running
Berrien Springs, Michigan