November 13, 2012

Web Letters

Diversity and Unity
The cover feature “Diversity in the Church” (Oct. 25, 2012) represented five forms of diversity. More exist. Of the many diversities that exist in the church, one comes from God’s “good” creation. That one can be celebrated; the rest arise from our fallen human condition. They come under the redemptive ministry God gives to His church.

“So God created mankind in His own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them” (Gen. 1:27). Both men and women were created in the image of God; of equal standing and value, but different in function. They were not created to be in competition. They were to be one in unity, as are the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Scriptures make it clear that “unity” is God’s word for His church. The Holy Spirit brings unity, not disunity. What the Spirit has spoken to us reinforces Christ’s prayer: “that they may be one as we are one” (John 17:11).

Ellen White wrote, “The prayer of Christ to His Father, contained in the seventeenth chapter of John, is to be our church creed. It shows that our difference and disunion are dishonoring to God” (Selected Messages, book 3, p. 21).
This is vital for the revival and reformation we need.

--David Manzano
Harriman, Tennessee

The feature about diversity in the church came at just the right time. As a CASA (court appointed special advocate) worker, I have been asked to be the CASA in-service consultant for our three counties here in Tennessee.

When I saw the article online, I immediately sent it to our executive director and program director. Each year CASA volunteers are required to attend a seminar or read articles about diversity. They both liked it and approved it for those who could not attend the seminar.

Thanks so much for a useful article.

--Loraine F. Sweetland
Crossville, Tennessee

Policies and People
I’m a little disappointed in “Vote Wisely,” Joseph Kidder’s analysis of placing an educated ballot for a particular candidate (AR Online exclusive). Three areas seem problematic:

First, there is no comment about what a candidate believes about the principle of separation of church and state. In my estimation, that is the most important point above the one listed; for without freedom of religion, as the Founders laid out (non-establishment of religion and free exercise), the rest is impossible. As a prophetic people we know the day is coming when separation between the two will be no longer. And no matter how moral an agenda a candidate may put forth, tyranny will prevail.

Second, it is rare to vote for a candidate alone. Today one votes for parties more than persons. One has to pay close attention to what the party platform is, and weight it according to views on religious liberty, judicial philosophy (especially presidents who appoint Supreme Court justices who can influence a court’s balance for a generation), along with the other items listed in his article.

Third, we must also be exceedingly careful that we don’t get caught up in a nationalistic/patriotic loyalty that subsumes our Christianity. We must take Bible principles above local politic fervor. For example, when speaking of protection, especially in the area of war, we must be careful not to support a military mindset that puts might above right, or might as a test of loyalty to our country.

Though I can appreciate the principles laid out in Kidder’s article, the above considerations should be part of the discussion.

--Kevin James
Decatur, Georgia

From the Beginning
There is yet one more item to add to the “categories of the knowable” mentioned in Delbert Baker’s piece “Origins: Beliefs Have Implications, Part 2” (Oct 25, 2012). The categories of “time, force, action, space, and matter” he cited may have been adequate for the nineteenth century and Herbert Spencer’s naturalistic philosophy, but since the latter part of the twentieth century it has become increasingly evident that “information” is also an essential and knowable category. It applies to computers and communication networks built by modern technology. It also applies to living creatures of all kinds, from bacteria to humans. One cannot understand the operation of computers or living cells without knowing about the information they contain.

But the same still applies as Baker wrote: “Everything that Spencer discovered is in Genesis 1:1.” God is not just a force; He is also the source of information. This is made even clearer in John 1:1: “In the beginning was the Word.”

As indicated in the New Testament and the Old Testament, and now recognized by many scientists, information preceded matter. The Word existed before the world.

--Dennis Murphy
Morgantown, West Virginia

What Scripture Support?
About the article “Dreams and Signs" (Oct. 25, 2012): I wonder why God would give a dream to an agnostic; and if God is the only one who can give dreams. I wonder why Dinah was not listed as one of the tribes of Israel, or why no women are mentioned in the names placed in the foundation or the gates of the Holy City (Rev. 21:12-14). Will this cause rebellion also? Isn’t Satan behind the promotion of disunity?

I thought when the General Conference was in session God is there to guide the decisions made. Is that untrue?

I’m sure Ellen White influenced many to serve the Lord. She did not go against God’s leading in any way, although she did what God asked her to do. Did God lead in the General Conference action of not ordaining women? Or was it all a farce?

--Martha Burns
Cleveland, Tennessee

Should we choose our life-work based on the dreams of agnostics? I don’t see any biblical support to the dream in this article. “To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them” (Isa. 8:20, KJV).
God has already appointed the best, most wonderful job for women. Titus 2:3, 4 gives clear guidance as to what young and older women should do in the church. Women who choose to follow the Word of God will be happy, and their children will rise up to be a blessing as well.

--Katherina Daul
Fort Riley, Kansas

Clean and Unclean
Thank you for the article by Cedric Vine, “Listening to the Spirit” (Oct. 18, 2012). Although not specifically pointed out in print, the picture used with the article is one that can and often does cause confusion.

In Acts 10 Peter saw “all kinds of four-footed animals, as well as reptiles and birds” (Acts 10:12). The only “kinds” I see in this picture are unclean. Adventists should use pictures that depict both clean and unclean, as the explanation of God’s command to “kill and eat” is difficult when only unclean animals are in the sheet.

If we understand Jewish belief that clean became defiled/common (koinos) by associating with unclean, this would portray clearly the main purpose for the vision: that clean associating (i. e., rubbing against) with unclean doesn’t really defile, whether in the realm of beasts or humans.

Peter was never commanded to kill and eat unclean beasts, but only those that, in his mind and in the mind of other Jews, had become common by association. For one who accepts Christ, such an one was never again to be called “unclean” (Acts 10:28). Neither did Peter have to be concerned about becoming defiled/common by associating with Gentiles. The vision exposes the Jews’ human laws of defilement.

--Jim Anderson
East Wenatchee, Washington

Week of Prayer
With pleasure and delight I found the Adventist Review Web site with the Week of Prayer readings for 2012. Thank you so much.
It would be nice to provide a link on the General Conference Web site for the Week of Prayer readings to provide another avenue for finding Adventist Review Online.

--C. Golding
London, England