August 6, 2012

Web Letters

Our Prophetic Voice
To Beast or not to Beast” (July 19, 2012) reminded me of the years I spent in public evangelism and how the beasts played an important role in our Adventist understanding of sin and salvation through Jesus Christ. I suppose that for everyone the beast presentations made uncomfortable, there were perhaps as many, or more, to whom this knowledge gave freedom from the
demands of Rome.

Seventh-day Adventists may now be the only people who still believe in the importance of sharing the truth about the beasts. There was a time when the Reformers--Martin Luther, John Calvin, Thomas Cranmer, John Knox, Cotton Mather, and others--identified Roman Papacy as the antichrist. In 1689 the Baptists in their Confession of Faith identified the Pope as the antichrist. It is disturbing that those who continue to declare Bible truth through the prophecies of Daniel and Revelation are sometimes called bigots, discriminatory, and anti-Christian.

Some of those who judge that preaching on the mark of the beast and related topics is divisive and ought to be eliminated, find it relatively easy to adopt the notion of spiritual formation. This concept, created by Ignatius Loyola, was designed to undo all the benefits brought about by the Reformation. That this has been introduced into our educational institutions and in some of our churches is unthinkable!

In these last hours of earth’s history let’s “test them all; [and] hold fast to what is good” (1 Thess. 5:21). Let’s free ourselves of all that is contrary to revealed light and preach with boldness the whole gospel.

--Gery Friesen
Loma Linda, California

How long are we, the remnant church, to continue with the same methods that have, for far too long, failed on a large scale? Shane Anderson’s cover article “To Beast or Not to Beast?” is filled with good justification for the church to continue prophecy seminar evangelism. But we have to ask, is it working? It is certainly not, at least not on the scale it has to.

So along with Ellen White, I ask: “Is it necessary that the terrors of the day of God be held before us to compel us through fear to right action? This ought not to be” (The Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, Aug. 2, 1881).

Our antiquated, traditional methods of evangelism are misplaced. The world is very sick and needs a Physician. Ellen White wrote: “It is the darkness of misapprehension of God that is enshrouding the world. Men are losing their knowledge of His character. It has been misunderstood and misinterpreted. At this time a message from God is to be proclaimed, a message illuminating in its influence and saving in its power. His character is to be made known. Into the darkness of the world is to be shed the light of His glory, the light of His goodness, mercy and truth. . . .

“The last rays of merciful light, the last message of mercy to be given to the world, is a revelation of His character of love” (Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 415).

I understand the second angel’s call to inform the world that “Babylon has fallen” is also part of our message (Rev. 14:8), but the first angel proclaimed the eternal good news, giving it priority.

The world has to know that God the Father is exactly like God the Son. That is good news indeed; news that can make a real difference on a large scale. Once folk start to become friends with God, we can reveal the truths about Babylon.

I’m not opposed to multimedia presentations using graphic illustrations. Indeed my son, Steve Creitz, created the artwork illustrating Anderson’s article. But we have to re-examine our priorities. A discussion of end-time players should never take precedence over an examination of the closing hours of Jesus’ life and His victory for us.

--James P. Creitz
Pullman, Washington

Gays in the Church
Regarding “The Missing Story in ‘Seventh-Gay Adventists’” (July 19, 2012): Thanks very much to Andy Nash, Wayne Blakely, and others for helping me understand my discomfort with the concept and reality of the “gay lifestyle” or “gay culture,” while actively embracing those in my life who are attracted to people of the same sex. I’ve never wanted to judge or assume. I, too, believe all people need and want love in their lives. I’ve also never been able or even willing to soften Scripture’s clear stance on sexual sin of any sort—any sort (1 Thess. 4:3; 1 Cor. 6:18). I’ve yet to meet any human being who has not been tempted with sexual sin of one kind or another. Praise God, His grace not only covers all sin, it promises victory over any and all temptations to sin. To be able to access the very same power that Christ Himself used is awe-inspiring; it is also the essence of the gospel. This is indeed good news!

The question Eyer poses is one we hear asked again and again: “How could a God of love ask people not to . . . ?” This clever, subtle template may be applied to infinite situations in which we are called by God to follow Him, to do His will instead of our own. The answer: “If you love me, keep my commands” (John 14:15).

My righteousness is as filthy rags. But thanks to God, through His Son’s righteousness I am purified in Him, enabled through Him to obey (if I choose and give myself to Him), and set free from the bondage of sin; any and all sin.

--Victoria Wilson
Portland, Oregon

While reading Andy Nash’s column “The Missing Story in ‘Seventh-Gay Adventists’” I couldn’t help but reflect on how I have reconciled my own thoughts on the topic. It’s true that gay people are God’s children, but so was Cain.

When a person begins to think that a loving relationship between two members of the same gender is innocuous, think about Cain and Abel (Gen. 4). Abel’s sacrifice was done according to God’s instructions. Cain, on the other hand, decided to offer a sacrifice the way he saw fit, not according to God’s instructions. God did not honor it.

It’s simple to rationalize that there’s no harm in a loving relationship between two members of the same gender. But it is not according to God’s instructions.

In all areas of life we have the choice of following the way outlined by God, or doing things our own way. Salvation is a choice: If we love God more than ourselves and choose to live with Him, we will happily do things according to His instructions.

--Steve Vance
Via E-mail

Look for more on this topic in the near future.--Editors

I read with interest “The Gospel of Good Health” (July 12, 2012), including the excellent sidebar by Katia Reinert, “Pitfalls in Sharing the Health Message.” It is unfortunate when the health message results in divisions and creates prejudice rather than bringing healing. It is sobering to think, as Reinert says, that we might often put food ahead of people.

Our health message could be more successful and have wider appeal if we saw the bigger picture. Health is about more than turning people into fitness gurus and lowering blood pressure and cholesterol levels. A healthful lifestyle must be promoted within the context and purpose of a Christian life reflecting more fully the image of God.

Thank you for publishing this excellent article to remind us that the health message is to restore, not fracture, relationships.

--Winston Craig
Berrien Springs, Michigan

Melodies and Harmonies
After I finished reading Herbert Blomstedt’s article “Present truth in Music” (July 12, 2012), I could only say, “Wow!” What a timely, overdue piece!

I’m sure many will not be happy with this, but we’ve needed a voice crying in the wilderness for a long time. For a subject that often divides churches it is surprising that no one has been willing to present an intelligent, informative, and practical response to the madness that, for too long, has been possessing our people (not that I think that this will change much, but at least it will be on the record).

My wife Renee has often asked me, “Why doesn’t the conference have a music educator who would teach churches about appropriate music, styles, content, performance, and so on? Why must we weekly face the challenge to preserving our hearing, or being disturbed by inappropriate musical forms and their presentations (e.g. loud drumming and other electronica, rhythms, and beats more appropriate to a bar)?”

Many object to the music played and/or sung in our churches, but do not know how to articulate what exactly they object to. While many of our worship leaders, cherishing a rebellious spirit, do not consider the source and effect of “Christian” songs and music presented in what is the worship of God.

It is good that Blomstedt even gave examples (including the church hymnal) of what makes the music “fake,” whether in church or a concert hall. This may be hard for many to swallow, because too many of our churches, from pastors to members like the atmosphere produced by this wild carrying on.

Thanks for printing this message from an expert and committed Christian. The gates have been left open and the horses have fled, and I doubt seriously whether we’ll be able to get them back. But your task is to enlighten God’s people. What they choose to do with the information is up to them.

--Trevor Connell
Dallas, Texas

Herbert Blomstedt started a wonderful discussion! We have often heard these things in music programs that he so clearly described. A recent example: we went to a Fourth of July fireworks display and the national anthem was sung by some man but so changed to meet a more “modern” style, which I thought was in very poor taste. The national anthem, of all things, should be sung as it is written, beautifully and clear.

--Ed Heisler
Ooltewah, Tennessee