Sunday, December 24, 2006

Merry Christmas! (And Happy Birthday Jesus)

Some people love this time of year. Some love the time just after it's all over (but before they have to go back to work of course.) Some (like me) love summer, just because it's...summer :) I mean, why couldn't tradition have chosen June 25, when it's warm?

I've often thought that a "perspective" book, or T.V. special would be illuminating. What are the various perspectives on this time of the year. There's the Christian perspective, of course. This is our time of year. But there is also the Jewish, Muslim, and Hindu view. (Search for "Merry Christmas Southpark" for example) They all, along with the Atheist, see this from an external perspective. Yet if my informal surveys over the years are valid, a lot of them like this time of the year for a variety of reasons. Business is good. People are (ahem, sometime) more cheerful, and hey, kids love ole' saint Nick.

But there is also the perspective of the lonely and the alone. If Christmas is about family and giving, those who are alone and have nothing to give can feel like this is not at all the most wonderful time of the year.

Then there is the perspective of the soldiers stuck in Iraq and other places around the world. A Soldiers Christmas is to be away from family and loved-ones struggling to understand why "we" are still in Iraq.

Wherever you are this year, and from whatever your perspective: Merry Christmas to you. I sincerely hope that this year has been good and the next better. But more than anything, I hope that you are able to brush aside the trees, the traffic, the gifts and yes maybe even the guilt and see through it all to the real point. Jesus Christ, born in mystery, who lived a truly amazing life, was killed and then reported to have been resurrected. Jesus is the reason. Forget our theologies. Forget our politics. Forget our pathetic history and total inability to kindly represent him. Forget us this season and instead understand who He was, and is. Set out on a journey that begins this season - a journey to understand the man who is God, Jesus Christ.

Friday, December 22, 2006

New Chaplain for Southern Adventist University

This post will only be meaningful to Adventists, but is about exciting news. I'm not sure if it is officially public yet so I'm going to speak with a bit of vagueness. Libby was just speaking with a friend who's going to be the new Southern chaplain, replacing the irreplaceable Ken Rogers. This is truly a case of the Incomparable following the Unsurpassed.

This new chaplain has a wonderfully cheerful and enthusiastic personality, is both intelligent and creative, plays the fiddle and loves Jesus very much.

Oh, and even though he's a friend he's not in any way theologically aligned with my theological protests of Adventism. Yet he has a wonderful understanding of grace and of the cross.

Congratulations! I'm thrilled: Southern is lucky and Gordon Bietz and company have made a great choice.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Experimental Wiki

Update: Wiki is currently unavailable.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

In this day in history: December 16

Yes, the infamous and no doubt exhilarating Boston Tea Party. That's right, boys and girls. You think the buzz you get from the caffeine is something, just wait till you see how it feels to defy Britain and toss all that tea into the harbor. The after-party was interesting too.

Also on this day, the The Porajmos. "On December 16, 1942, Himmler ordered that the Roma candidates for extermination should be deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau." Of course, there are those who would like to deny the Holocaust or revise (viewer discretion advised, and see opposing.) our understanding of it. This, of course, all while presently Iran is hosting a "conference" on the Holocaust.

Oh, and also on this day UN General Assembly resolution 4686 revoked Resolution 3379, which essentially called "Zionism" racism. In fact the UN had consistently referenced Zionism as racism along with discussions of the racism in South Africa.

Friday, December 15, 2006

And on a lighter note

I stumbled onto Eskiv, a web-based game. Now, I can't be held liable for lost wages, broken marriages, and starving livestock due to gamer addiction. But the game is interesting. In the age where millions, even billions are spent by game companies to create slick, sophisticated games this one was probably written by a college student while watching reruns of Star Trek. It is reminiscent of classics like pong. See if you can beat my all-time score of 135 (after a frustrating hour, and at first being beaten by my son and his friends - but Dad rose to the challenge).

Now, what does this all have to do with a blog mainly focused on theology and spiritual matters? Just this: At first you'll score somewhere around 35. Then you'll get the hang of it and do 50-65 pretty easily. As you get your timing and concentration down you'll start hitting 90. Once you get really addicted, er, good at it you'll get over 100 and might top my score of 135. But there will be a point where you will fail. It's inescapable.

This is like attempting to keep the letter of the Law. You'll start out pretty bumpy, but as you get into the swing of it you'll starting "doing better". After a few years of struggling and modifying your environment and behavior, you'll start to at least appear to be "better". But the more you understand about the full depth of that law and what it truly means, the harder and harder it becomes to do all the various aspects of the law to the full spiritual extent of it in God's eyes. Eventually you will fail. True, you can ask for forgiveness, and start again, but eventually you will fail again, and again, and again. (Play the game a couple of times for living illustration.)

The New Covenant is based on better sacrifices and on better promises. We have died to the law and live for Jesus. We stop trying and allow the third member of the God-head, to come into our lives and He starts dodging the flying balls and controlling our path. We fail; He does not. Our "Sabbath Rest" is to rest in Christ. "Come unto me all you who labor and are heavy-laden, and I will get you rest." Stop struggling. "Be still (stop trying) and know that I am God".

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Born to be Free

Living Hope Ministries, primiarily focused on exposing the errors of Mormonism and reaching out to those with questions, produced a video on the remarkable transformation of the Worldwide Church of God from genuine cult status into grace.

The Google video of it (dialup format) and the link to the video on their site.

I showed the video to Libby (my wife) last night and it brought her to tears. If you are currently an Adventist or in some other church that has strong legalistic tendencies, please watch that video. If you have a friend or family member who is, buy it and send it to them. Ask yourself this question: Do I see anything familiar in the testimonies of those who came out of cultism and into the truth of Christ?

No, Adventists do not have many of the strange beliefs that Armstrong taught. But yes, we used to (and some still do) take the extreme positions against the Trinity, and yes SDA's took and take the same extreme positions about the Sabbath, Law of God and about being God's only true church.

I remember when this all happened. I was pastoring at the time and had a number of members remark to me that "it was happening" just like EGW predicted. What was happening, I asked? "Widespread apostasy from the Sabbath." Yet these Adventists had no idea what the WWCG taught and believed, and just how legalistic they were.

Note this comment (Update: looks like you need to log in to access it. SDA's hate free-speech :) by "sdazeal" on - the whole denomination apostasized? And see this write-up by ultra-conservative "sdadefend". They bemoan the "apastasy", yet fully admit that Armstrong introduced heresy - but won't consider that "Sabbath keeping" is a part of that heresy. Wow! Watch this video.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Nice to hear an older Adventist say this

He and I probably could find points to disagree on if we were to try. But I sure like what this 85 year old Adventist said in this interview (alas, no longer available), especially the last question.

There are two radical statements that you'd not expect to hear from an older SDA in Michigan.
  1. "Probably this earth was here before the creation week made by God at some time" (I agree btw, no flames please :-) )
  2. "Salvation is a gift. It cannot be earned through good works on our part. It is received by grace, through faith in Jesus Christ our savior"
Bravo to you Robert Borrowdale, age 85.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

On and other "contra" sites

Recently the question came up: "Why if I disagree with and some of the other sites do I repeat what they write and link to them?" Me, disagree with them? Naw. Though I may disagree with some minor point or conclusion on "those" sites - the same can be said of any site. My main concern with them has been one of tone and presentation. (My previous blog posting) When people come to a website that is poorly formatted and presents the content in a disorderly and "bombastic" way, the style and presentation can tend to fan the flames of prejudice. There is a great wall to break through when one is trapped into a closed and warped system of belief. I do wish that could reformat their site. I applaud the work that Dirk has done on, and Dale Ratzlaf's new site redesign is awesome.

I highly recommend that you browse and study the content on,, and and other sites. Look to see if those things are true. We have nothing to fear by viewing true facts, and through prayerful and careful scrutiny, errors are exposed and the truth emerges. But, maybe this is just what Adventist leaders and apologists fear most...

New Danish "ex" Adventist website

Martin Hansen has launched a new website designed to help provide information and materials to Danish speaking Adventists and those seeking details on Adventism. The URL is
"It is my prayer that this site will bless many former Adventists, Adventists and Christians, in their search for truth, fellowship and most of all in their relationship with Jesus our Lord, Savior and awesome God."
It's important to recognize that not all the people who have been approached by Adventism over the decades speak English. In fact, most of the membership is outside the U.S. Adventism is established in 202 countries and materials have been translated into 885 languages.

While we in the U.S. probably have been exposed to the strongest statements and claims about Ellen White and her "inspiration", we also have had the benefit of a strong emphasis on Justification by Faith and on the cross over the past few decades. Other countries were brought into the church under the older, much more legalistic and disturbing version of Adventism. Today they are appalled with how the churches in the U.S. behave. When I was at Andrews in the Seminary, it was said that women's ordination has been blocked largely because of the conservative nature of the World divisions. (I'm for ordination of women, recognizing that the Bible is strangely silent on pastoral "ordination", even of men.) Indeed, lately I've noticed much apologetic writing is by South American theologians. The historic, conservative torch is passing from North Americans to those outside this country.

People in other countries need to understand the errors in the Adventist theological house and the historic oddities that are often denied or trivialized. I'm excited at this new Danish website and hope that materials become available that Martin can use. (Fortunately, most Dane's can read English.) If you know of any materials that have been translated into Danish, please drop me a note.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Beginnings of Sabbath Teaching

I would like to present two quotations just as a thought that I will follow up more on later as it distills in my mind. The first is a quotation from Ellen White from an early vision while the second is a couple of paragraphs of history. The first then:
There I was shown that the commandments of God, and. the testimony of Jesus Christ, relating to the shut door, could not be separated, and that the time for the commandments of God to shine out, with all their importance and for God's people to be tried on the Sabbath truth, was when the door w, as opened in the Most Holy Place of the Heavenly Sanctuary, where the Ark is, containing the ten commandments. This door was not opened, until the mediation of Jesus was finished in the Holy Place of the Sanctuary in 1844.

I saw that the present test on the Sabbath could not come, until the mediation of sins in the Holy Place was finished ; and he had passed within the second vail; therefore, Christians, who fell asleep before the door was opened in the Most Holy, when the midnight cry was finished, at the seventh month 1844 ; and had not kept the true Sabbath, now rest in hope; for they had not the light, and the test on the Sabbath, which we now have, since that door was opened. I saw that Satan was tempting some of God's people on this point. Because so many good Christians have fallen asleep in the triumphs of faith, and have not kept the true Sabbath, they were doubting about it being a test for us now. [The Present Truth August 1849 v1 #3]
The second is from the history of the Seventh day Baptists:
The study of the Scriptures in America brought Samuel and Tacy Hubbard to the Baptist principle of believer’s baptism in 1647, and membership in the First Baptist Church of Newport, Rhode Island. Beginning in 1665, their family and several others became convinced of the seventh day Sabbath and joined in fellowship with Stephen Mumford and his wife who had held Sabbath convictions while members of a Baptist church in Tewksbury, England. ...

A similar separation occurred in 1705 in Piscataway, New Jersey, when a deacon of the Baptist Church, Edmund Dunham, became convinced of the biblical basis for Sabbath observance. Dunham and sixteen others withdrew to form their own church. A third group of churches came out of the Keithian split from Quakerism in the Philadelphia area about 1700. ...
Did Ellen White mean to imply that the Sabbath was not introduced until 1844, and that light about the Sabbath was not available until Christ opened the door to and moved into the Most Holy Place after shutting the door to and leaving the Holy Place? After ending his mediation in the Holy Place (whatever that means...)?

Just a question...cause it looks like people were teaching about the Sabbath a long time before the Adventists latched onto it...

Friday, December 08, 2006

Personal site down/being moved

I'm in the process of moving my site ( and it may be unavailable until Sunday, 12/10/2006. If it is unavailable, the content is mirrored here.

Update 12/9: It appears to be up and working, and the "DNS" (domain naming system, how the name is translated into the actual address of appears to be updated - at least it is in my corner of the world.

You're not gonna kill me are you?

“When the Sunday laws are passed will you persecute and try to kill me?” I was asked this question again and it breaks my heart. Many Adventists, especially those who have been brought up among the more traditional version of Adventism, so thoroughly believe “the story” that they think we who have left will be foremost in pressing for their death.

I can hear my non-Adventist readers: “huh? What the heck?” I share your sentiments, yet with knowledge. The story goes something like this: “We” (that’s Adventists) are God’s true remnant and “you” (that’s the other Christian churches, and we former Adventists) are Babylon. Adventists keep God’s true Sabbath, which is the seal of God while other Christians keep Sunday, the Mark of the Beast. Soon Sunday laws are to be passed forcing everyone to worship on Sunday, and reinforced with a death penalty for those who don’t. Seventh-day Adventists will be odd man out – they will be condemned to death and the nominal Christians, filled with hate, will grab their pitchforks and torches and hunt down Adventists to throw them in prison and kill them. All of this because the Seventh-day Adventists are keeping all the commandments (while the rest of us are only keeping 8 or 9).

Where does this doomsday view come from? Though the Bible does teach of plagues and persecution (which we see even today) this comes primarily from Ellen White. But the origins of it stretch back even into the Millerite 1843/44 movement (and I would argue the sentiment emerges from the Protestant vs. Roman Catholicism conflict); there was a strong “us and them” sentiment between those who heard and believed the “midnight cry” about Christ’s return in 1844, and those who did not – the nominal or popular churches. Later, this sentiment resulted in the shut-door teaching (only Adventists were and could be saved, all who rejected 1844 are rejected by God) and was ultimately injected into the Sabbath vs. Sunday argument.

With that much-too-short background in mind, let me just say this. There have been Adventists who I wanted to chase out of town with a pitchfork. This had nothing to do with Sabbath – they were just obnoxious. But Jesus taught love, forgiveness and long-suffering. “Turn the other cheek” does indeed mean what it says: turn the other cheek even if you are being mistreated for all the wrong reasons. If we are crucified to the world and have risen to newness of life in Christ, we walk in the personality and character of Christ. We believe in kindness to the suffering and obedience to our leaders. As Americans we believe in full freedom for all religious – or non-religious – views. The Atheist, the Muslim, the Hindu, the Sikhs, and the New Agers all have a right to believe as they wish and practice their religion. And yes, Jews, Seventh-day Adventists, and any others have a right to be as legalistic and strict as they desire and worship or keep Sabbath, just as the Evangelical asks for the same grace for not keeping any day above the other.

The bottom line is this: I no longer believe your claims that Ellen White was a prophet and I don’t buy the Adventist eschatology (last day events) any more. It is flawed, confusing, not Biblical, and has suspect origins. Yet you have a right to believe it. I have a right to speak against it and you have a right to speak against me. But I have a responsibility to treat you with love and respect and our government has a responsibility to ensure that the environment we live in allows all religions – even Christianity – equal protection under the law. And if some crazy Evangelical leader (I’m looking at you Dobson) tries to press for any laws that prevent any religion full freedom it is my duty as an American to oppose him. Yet, I don’t see anyone pressing for Sunday laws; against abortion, yes (and rightfully so). But relax: no one hates you. No one’s conspiring against you. The pope’s more worried about Islam and pedophile priests than Adventists. The Jesuits are busy at the moment.

Oh, and one more thing: God loves you more than you know. You have the assurance of salvation even if you don’t feel like it. You are accepted by God because of the perfect sacrifice of His Son. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Creator of the Universe and everything in it, co-eternal with the Father; Jesus has saved us and by grace, through faith we have the full assurance that we can come to the Father and be found acceptable – in Christ. And if you still wish to keep the Sabbath after grasping all of this, and understanding that the Law – the 10 commandments – truly are part of the old covenant that we are no longer under; if you want to worship on Saturday and keep Sabbath no one cares. That is your choice and it will be respected. But understand this: if you tell people that they must keep Sabbath to be saved, we must disagree and help people to understand what the Bible truly teaches.

But please, don’t think that just because many of us can no longer believe the claims of Adventism and have separated ourselves from it that we have become bloodthirsty. Your apologists want you to believe that we have fallen. They want you to believe that we are denying the spirit of Christ and have rejected truth. They want you to believe that we have joined with Babylon; this simply is not true. We simply have studied to see if these things are so and have concluded that there are too many problems to trust ourselves to Adventist teachings any longer. We’re not conspiring against you…relax: we’re still willing to be your friend and to talk to you. Now, are you willing to still be ours?

Update: Maybe there are laws being passed...enforcing Sabbath?

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Reviewing 1843/44 Adventist Materials. Wow.

Over the last week and this weekend I have voraciously consumed materials from the Millerite and early Adventist period. This included articles from Ellen White along with many of the pioneers such as Joshua Himes, James White, Storrs, and Joseph Bates. Additionally I've read later works related to the Shut Door by W.W. Fletcher, "Days of Delusion" by Clara Endicott Sears (1924), and modern compilations on websites. I also have works such as Movement of Destiny (Froom), Origin and History of the Seventh-day Adventists (Spalding) and a rather poorly preserved original copy of The Great Second Advent Movement by Loughborough; I again reviewed some of these materials.

Though I will write more details at some point, a couple of observations are worth noting.

1. William Miller, and the attending preachers, made a false prediction. Not once, or even twice, but multiple times. Amid a din of resounding "duh's", this comes as no surprise, especially to we Adventists; his charts and doctrine were used (though not necessarily by him) to predict the end of the world and set several exact dates for Christ's return.

2. The society of Millerite Adventists can safely be called "cultic". Sears' title rightly employs the word "delusion" - the followers became fanatically deluded to the point of burning their earthly ships behind them. They left crops, sold or destroyed property, and destroyed their reputations and relationships for a message taught from charts by fire-breathing preachers. The heart-wrenching story of Mary Hartwell is especially touching, yet frightening.

3. The post-1844 Sabbath Adventists held and taught the Shut Door: only those who had believed in the 1843/44 experience and had come out in faith for the "midnight cry" were among the wise virgins who had brought oil sufficient to meet the bridegroom when he came. Those who rejected the "midnight cry", and who did not believe were among the foolish virgins, and were forever lost. Probation had closed since Christ had moved from the holy to the most holy place in the sanctuary in heaven.

4. Ellen White was not only a proponent, but supported the false doctrine from vision. Further, the many articles teaching and supporting the shut door were under her watch; I find not one article or statement by her condemning the teaching during this period. James White was editor of The Present Truth and The Advent Review. More Quotes

6. In reviewing the materials, and practices of those early Adventists I would hope I would have been among those to quote "no man knows the hour". Given the rampant lack of Biblical education and sophistication, however, it is not surprising that so many were swept into it. This would have made me part of "Sardis", and as a result, I would be considered lost and a part of the wicked and foolish virgins.

7. Given the strong and erroneous statements on the sanctuary, Sabbath and especially the Shut Door, I find myself recoiling; especially given that Ellen White heartily supported the Shut Door and from vision. Reading a few clipped quotes is amazing enough; reading the whole articles from the original publications is eye popping.

8. Would we today have believed and joined the Seventh-day Adventists? If we had watched the extremes of Millerism, observed the repeatedly failed prophecies, found their concept of the sanctuary teaching un-Biblical, and had seen Ellen White, James White and the other Seventh-day Adventist pioneers for seven years teach that the door of probation was forever shut to all but those who had believed in the 1843/44 "midnight cry"; would we - could we - have had confidence in the prophetic message of Ellen White and the exegetical and doctrinal methods of the Adventists?

I realize that friends who hear that I have "left" or apostatized feel sorry for me and consider me deluded. When ever a person we speak with even hears a hint that we are "out" or don't believe, they almost always say something like, "please don't try to convince me that I don't have to keep the Sabbath." How I wish they could and would read these materials about those early days. These documents are a portal into the thought patterns of these early pioneers. They start to explain the inexplicable and convoluted nature of the sanctuary teachings today.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Crazy Amos Torments the Millerite Adventists

You know doubt may have seen the chat/gamer acronym ROFL LMAO. If you don't know what it means, ask your teenager. When they get done ROFL they may tell you :)

I'm reading some of Days of Delusion - A Strange Bit of History and finding the view of 1843/44 enlightening. Chapter 10, however has a story that had my face hurting from laughing. Yup, strange sense of humor. It's short - give it a read. I don't know who this guy was, but I think I like him.

Friday, December 01, 2006

O.R.L. Crosier - Father of anti-sabbatarianism?

I have been reading everything I can find written from about 1843-1851 that relates to our pioneers, and in particular, the solid belief in the shut-door teaching. (I highly recommend reading this work by W.W. Fletcher. ) In case you're new to all of this and are an Adventist, there are some very stinky stuffs that we find when digging under the rocks of that early period. But that's for another day.

We SDA's considered Crosier as the architect of the sanctuary message, having it pop into his head while cutting through a cornfield. (The idea is pretty corny, so...) (Corrected: it was Hiram Edson who had the thought popped into his head). Crosier published. Ellen White heartily endorsed his article "The Law of Moses". He, after renouncing those ideas and separating from the sabbatarians was written a letter inquiring what his current position was. One of the questions was:
5. Furthermore, if you feel free to do so, will you say whether you enjoyed your mind better while keeping the Sabbath than since? If so, what was the cause. Those here that keep the Sabbath say they enjoy themselves better than before, because they keep all the commandments.
His answer is very insightful:
5. What enjoyment I had while trying to keep the Sabbath is not to be placed to its credit. I had as much before, and more since. My observations and experience have convinced me that there is no real Christian enjoyment in attempts at Sabbath keeping. The enjoyment persons have in such attempts spring from other sources -- from having the prejudice of early and erroneous education satisfied, and from preventing disunion among believers, and from truths they may hold in practice. The Sabbath is legal, not Christian; therefore it cannot yield Christian enjoyment. It carries with it the spirit of "bondage" as all know who have tried to keep it; and torments with a constant consciousness of coming short of meeting its imperious demands. How often have I heard Sabbatarians say, "We can't keep it: we do the best we can; yet we can't keep it according to the Bible." The reason is, it was never designed for Christians to keep. Hence there are no directions in the New Testament how to keep it, nor to keep it at all. The Sabbatarian leaders never considered me sound on that question. I could not "wrest" the plain language of Scriptures to suit my prejudices and theories with so much facility as they. I had to admit it all, though my prejudices made the Scriptures appear to contradict themselves, and then decide what was duty from what seemed the balance of obligation, all things considered. Of this my article in the Day Dawn is proof, which Sabbatarians quote in a mutilated form. I subsequently saw the full and harmonious testimony of the New Testament against Sabbatizing. The testimony being clear and abundant, removed every doubt from my mind, so soon as I dared open my mind to receive it. Then the truth afforded me Christian enjoyment. Excited feeling is no evidence of Christian enjoyment or Christian character. It may spring from various causes and be had by the worst of men. Christian enjoyment, as such, can only spring from a sincere reception, confession and practice of the truth.
I love that last sentence.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

This is a Bible???

Call me sentimental, old fashioned and definitely call me behind the times. To me, when I see a book with a nice soft, flexible leather binding, gold trimmed pages that are thin and well printed in columns, that's a Bible. I don't have any other books that are printed that way.

I guess I knew that these were coming out even while I was still in, Adventism that is. I knew about the KJV Study Bible with Ellen White comments. I hated it even back when I still supported her, both because it was the archaic KJV and because it had her comments embedded into it and played right into the hands of those who claimed we held her equal to Scripture.

I also knew about the Blanco Bible, the Clear Word. I voiced my concern about that one to him while at Southern studying for the Ministry. He just added my concerns to the list entitled, "Why we will NEVER recommend Forrester." (whew!)

So, today I'm at the local Adventist Book Center (they answer the phone "ABC Christian Books" um, yeah...) to pick up a copy of The Clear Word - my very first - and was stunned by another "Bible". I was $90 (there is a version that is $140); It is KJV, but I flipped it open just the same. I really wondered why it was so expensive. The binding was very nice and the print was beautiful. I flipped through a bit of it and suddenly faultered: did this have the apocrypha in it? The chapter titles and text were strange? It seriously took me a second to realize what I was looking at - I had to flip to the table of contents to see that it had the Old Testament, New Testament, Patriarchs and Prophets, Prophets and Kings, oh my goodness!

All within the same binding was both the Bible and Ellen White's "Conflict of the Ages" series books -- all bound together looking like a large Bible. To a person who knew nothing of Adventism this would appear that they held the Old Testament, New Testament and those other books all to be inspired Scripture (and we know that many conservative Adventists honestly believe it to be that way.)

A generation from now they may well consider her simply to be an extension to the Bible. This looks exactly like the Mormon books. So: they've finally done it. They've created a Bible that proves their theology.

Update: Here's a link to ABC listing of one of the leather bound editions of the Conflict of the Ages series that looks like a bible. This was not the one, however, with the KJV. Still looking for it. This might be it, though cover is not the same. History of Redemption Bible (update: link broken.)

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Dale Ratzlaf responds to Adventist video

The Adventist church is fighting back against "us" with a vengeance. They are taking legal action against contrarian websites. They are publishing books. They are holding "conferences" and releasing the video onto the Internet. One of the video sessions is essentially a personal attack against Dale Ratzlaf wrapped in a defense of Ellen White.

I read Dale's response letter to Jud Lake's video and I agree with him. Humorous is the suggestion that Ratzlaf is the "fountain head of all the critics". True, he's known and is read, and true many people have had their eyes opened by knowledge and perspective gained from reading Cultic Doctrine and Sabbath In Christ. (Personally, I've not read any of Dale's books or any other "former"). But he hardly is the source of criticism. If anyone in our modern times is the fountain head it would be Walter Rae and his exposure of Ellen White's "borrowing". The real source is the obvious problems themselves.

I watched both Lake's and Knight's presentation. I am struck with how sarcastic and demeaning they sound, and how they appear to ridicule Adventists for holding in high esteem Ellen White's writings ("dysfunctional use"), all the while using the same tone to ridicule those who point out the problems. Lake's tone and off-hand comments are carefully designed to ridicule and discredit Ratzlaf.

Read article

Monday, November 27, 2006

Who needs a Savior?

I just listened to this one today and thought Andy did an awesome job of illuminating how we all need a savior. Libby perceptively (is that a word?) noted that he did a good job of describing the role of the old covenant law as a tutor to reveal our desperate need for a Savior.

I'd definitely recommend that you order a copy, or drop me your address and I'll send you a copy free.

Here's from the description:
Christmastime is the only time in history when a Savior was sent to humankind. The fact that God sent a savior means that we need saving. We all have something that we need to be rescued from. We need a Savior - someone to save us from our sins.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Sunday Laws are a comin' !

I was browsing some of the articles at Adventist Affirm. A thought struck me as I was reading Sunday Laws in an Age of Freedom. The article uses as a springboard the nomination of John Roberts to the Supreme Court to examine the Sabbath question and its validity. Let me preface my remarks by observing that the article, while I don't share the perspective on the subject, is well written and appears thorough, and his observations are good.

My thoughts are two:

1. I don't know anyone -- anyone -- who reveres Sunday near the way Adventists revere Saturday/Sabbath. I have heard friends and acquaintances talk about how their family behaves on Sunday - it is a family day. They never call it Sabbath. No one talks about a Sunday law. I can't even imagine anyone at my church desiring the passage of a Sunday law that enforces all to not work on Sunday; I know that none would support a death penalty associated with that law.

If the present "blue laws" had not been passed in a previous era, they would stand no chance of passage today. Our corporate and retail environment would prevent it. Christians simply do not have the power today - look at roe v wade and abortion.

2. Revelation 13 is very clear - in a vague way - that something will happen. In the time of Christ Jews were waiting for the promised Messiah to deliver them from Rome and establish the eternal kingdom. The Messiah came and left and many, since they were expecting something else, did not recognize Him.

I believe that it is the same with Adventists. I applaud them for studying prophecy and for attempting to understand. I simply think they've reached a wrong conclusion. Like U. Smith and others who saw Turkey as a fulfillment of prophecy and other "current day events" as evidence of prophecy unfolding, Adventists saw the Sunday-law activity by "fallen" churches as fulfillment of Revelation 13. They already knew that Saturday and not Sunday should be the Sabbath and were convinced that this was "it".

It seems to me that the only churches that are persecuting people are the legalistic and zealous churches -- like Seventh-day Adventists. Adventists have from the beginning punished anyone who doesn't conform to the societal theological norm. Those, like us, who question established theological pillars are persecuted. If employed they are fired. If in lay-leadership positions they are either removed or passed over for appointment. And if one "leaves" Adventism they are shunned and whispered about. Adventists fight for religious liberty but will fire someone for not being a good Adventist. Let that settle in your mind: Adventists feel that it is wrong to fire someone for observing Sabbath for their conscience, but if a person leaves Adventism for their conscience their livelihood can be removed and the family thrust into financial trouble.

For any system of thought the foundational concepts are the most important. An incorrect starting point must of necessity arrive at flawed conclusions. Adventists have started from the Old Covenant laws, have elevated Sabbath to supreme importance, and have naturally concluded that the "Sunday" churches will fight as hard to establish Sunday as Adventists have fought to establish Sabbath.

As food for thought, then: The starting point must be Christ, the Cross, the Resurrection and the true knowledge of the saving Gospel. The fraud that Satan perpetuates, then will be a doctrine that denies the pure gospel in some way. Legalism has always been the substitute for faith in Christ.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Google quote of the day: Liars

The men the American public admire most extravagantly are the most daring liars; the men they detest most violently are those who try to tell them the truth.
- HL Mencken

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Facing the Giants

Have you seen this movie? You should - it's great. Made by a church here in Georgia it really turned out to be not only a good highschool movie, but a Christian one as well.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

But who do you say that I am?

Though I've known Christians who focused mostly on Jesus as example and either trivialized, ignored, or denied his Lordship and divinity, this is the first I've heard about a Jesuin. I found a posting by Robb Pearson on a blog where he described himself as a "Jesus-loving non-Christian". Jesuin's basically strip away all the myths about Jesus and focus on his example and his peaceful teachings. They drop ideas like divinity, resurrection and other "religious" thoughts.

I immediately thought of the question Jesus asked His disciples: "But who do you say that I am?" While I agree with the Jesuins that Jesus is "the most superlative model for living", I also agree with Paul when he says that if the resurrection of Christ isn't true we're, er, in a world of hurt. If most of what is written in the Gospels are myths, as Jesuin's declare then how do they know that the model that they are following is not also a myth? And if a myth what is to suggest that their myth they follow is any better than the myths that, say Friedrich Nietzsche taught? Why is your myth about being nice to people any better than a myth that says only the strong survive and if you turn your back I'm gonna swipe your wallet?

Peter - one of those who lived with Jesus all through his ministry -- answered the question with unmistakable affirmation: "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."

It is the Divinity of Christ, the exclusive claims and the resurrection that provide the solid foundation for His teaching and example. The only reason that his example and teaching on kindness for the poor has validity is because He is God. True, reason tells us that if we were to help all the poor it could make for a better world, but so would simply exterminating all of them -- unless you have God who creates universal rules for life, our unreasonableness can always be made to appear reasonable. The essence of Love, the Greek word agape, is exemplified in Jesus' life and death. "For God so loved the world that He gave His Son". Jesus was His Son, and He loved the Father, and He loved you and I so much that He left the glorious courts of heaven to come down here, and even died the worst death, in order to save us to the glory of the Father. Love is the foundation of the universe and is the law all are imbued with.

Then there is the whole issue of salvation. The teacher who showed us how to treat the poor also said, "I am the way, the truth and the life." "[I] have come to seek and to save that which was lost." I suppose if you simply lift out all the good examples and ignore the rest you have a good Jesus, but this misses the who point of His life. Those who were the closest to him and who saw -- yes, really saw -- Him after the resurrection went all over the region declaring salvation by faith in Him. They were willing to risk pain, suffering and death, not for a myth but for the Truth: and Jesus was the Truth that they taught.

Adventists traditionally have emphasized Jesus as our example. This is one of the reasons for the strong insistence by some of the "post-fall" Adamic nature - that is, that Jesus took upon himself the fallen nature of Adam. Since He had our nature and overcame He proved that it could be done, and becomes our example. He sends His spirit to strength us and we can perfect our characters as He did. But again, this ignores the emphasis of His mission and trivializes the cross.

Jesus Is. He always was, is, and will be - he is fully God and the Creator of everything. Jesus was the God who spoke to Abraham, who told Moses to erect a serpent on a pole to save Israel from serpents, and who pleaded with generation after generation of Jewish king to return to Him. Jesus is our Savior God and is the only way that we have the hope of eternity, and hope in this life. Jesus, as God, did indeed model His nature and give to us a perfect example.

But Jesus, the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of God -- He first and foremost is our Savior.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Andy Stanley Message: Mistaken Identity

We went to Browns Bridge today, the new "branch" of Northpoint. I was out of town last week and missed the last in the Twisted series. Since they show the previous week's video at Buckhead and Browns Bridge I was able to go back in time as it were.

I'd encourage you to watch or listen to this one. It's called Mistaken Identity (11/12/06). His main point is to differentiate between "mistakes" (our society's current word for sin) and "sin". In the process, however, something wonderful comes through - God's love and remedy for, not "mistakers", but for sinners.

A point that I try to make often, especially when speaking of Adventism, is that the Law was given for a purpose. If we understand the law's purpose and allow it to play its role we understand our state and are driven to need a Savior and Salvation. These are both found in the person of Jesus Christ. However, if we misunderstand the nature and purpose of the Law, and especially misunderstand our Savior, we wind up drowning in a futile and hopeless existence, all within inches of the outstretched hand of our Lifeguard.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Worth a read: Putting Faith Before Politics

David Kuo, who is with Beliefnet, has written an op-ed piece for NY Times.

I won't say much except I find his perspective well thought out. For some time I've really been bothered by how much work and attention Christians are devoting to politics - the investment rarely pays off for the Kingdom of Christ. I am reminded of how much Jesus worked to change the Jewish civic situation - zippo. The apostles not only didn't devote any attention to changing government, they often suffered under the tyranny. Their mission was the Great Commission, as it should be for us. Even the poor we have with us always; this gospel must be preached to the whole world.

Friday, November 17, 2006

9/11 Video

Was it really 5 years ago when we watched in horror as the unthinkable unfolded right before our eyes? I heard about the first crash on the way to work, and at work we all stood riveted at the large screen TV in the lobby of the Federated building here in Duluth, GA. When the second plane crashed there was no doubt that this was planned aggression.

I have never seen this video - it was filmed by someone who lived, or worked, near the WTC and caught much of it on tape. The quality is quite good and the images are shocking.

Can there be any doubt that evil exists in the world?

Acts 15: First Council of Legalism

The forerunner of all subsequent councils that met to discuss Biblical interpretations and theological conclusions was the Council of Jerusalem, recorded in Acts 15. This meeting dealt with an issue of tremendous importance to the early believers. The young church faced a question serious enough to buy Paul and Barnabas bus fare to Jerusalem to discuss it.

Some Jewish Christians taught that new Gentile Christians essentially had to convert to Judaism in order to be compliant Christians. Paul and Barnabas insisted that this was an error. It should not surprise us that Paul was virtually dumbfounded by the return to the Law: “I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ for a different gospel”.

To settle the conflict, Paul and Barnabas traveled to Jerusalem and with the apostles considered the issues. Their decision has far-reaching implications even down to our time, and is important in discussions with Adventists on the Sabbath and other requirements.

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Thursday, November 16, 2006

"Lordship" debate

Interesting discussion over on Pyromaniacs on Lordship/no-lordship debate, complete with humor.

The problem with growing up in Adventism is that we had our own theological topics and catch-words and often were not aware of the debates and terminology that other churches were entwined in. Even though my Systematic Theology reviewed the major theological schools of thought throughout history, there is much modern and postmodern thought that we missed simply because it did not concern the present issues in Adventism. If some school of thought provided a challenge to an Adventist position we, as budding theologs, were made aware; otherwise we simply didn't hear about it.

Here is John MacArthur summarizing Lordship, and his summary of no-lordship. I tend to agree with MacArthur when comparing these two. I've never been a "once-save-always-saved" type of person; though I confess "once-saved-pretty-darn-hard-to-be-lost".

Personally: Salvation without Christ as Lord is still to live under the Law and outside of Grace. Taking care with terms I would say, True assurance and the life of faith/grace is only present in those who have been crucified with Christ and resurrected into newness of life in Him. (cf Gal. 2:20) Mere mumbling of words and verbal expressions of belief only make grandmothers happy and affect no change in the life of the fallen human.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Epistle of Barnabas on Sabbath

I was doing some research on how the early Apostolic Fathers viewed the Sabbath and the day they gathered. Here is the Lightfoot translation the Epistle of Barnabas, written 80-120 CE. Note this Sabbath view and theory. Interesting that I heard some fringe Adventist espouse this same 6000 year and then the end of the world theory. But note that even at this early date they "kept" the eighth day in reverence or as a memorial of the resurrection. No it doesn't mean the Sabbath was "changed" - this is just a reporting on what they did.
Barnabas 15:3
Of the Sabbath He speaketh in the beginning of the creation; And God made the works of His hands in six days, and He ended on the seventh day, and rested on it, and He hallowed it.

Barnabas 15:4
Give heed, children, what this meaneth; He ended in six days. He meaneth this, that in six thousand years the Lord shall bring all things to an end; for the day with Him signifyeth a thousand years; and this He himself beareth me witness, saying; Behold, the day of the Lord shall be as a thousand years. Therefore, children, in six days, that is in six thousand years, everything shall come to an end.

Barnabas 15:5
And He rested on the seventh day. this He meaneth; when His Son shall come, and shall abolish the time of the Lawless One, and shall judge the ungodly, and shall change the sun and the moon and the stars, then shall he truly rest on the seventh day.

Barnabas 15:6
Yea and furthermore He saith; Thou shalt hallow it with pure hands and with a pure heart. If therefore a man is able now to hallow the day which God hallowed, though he be pure in heart, we have gone utterly astray.

Barnabas 15:7
But if after all then and not till then shall we truly rest and hallow it, when we shall ourselves be able to do so after being justified and receiving the promise, when iniquity is no more and all things have been made new by the Lord, we shall be able to hallow it then, because we ourselves shall have been hallowed first.

Barnabas 15:8
Finally He saith to them; Your new moons and your Sabbaths I cannot away with. Ye see what is His meaning ; it is not your present Sabbaths that are acceptable [unto Me], but the Sabbath which I have made, in the which, when I have set all things at rest, I will make the beginning of the eighth day which is the beginning of another world.

Barnabas 15:9
Wherefore also we keep the eighth day for rejoicing, in the which also Jesus rose from the dead, and having been manifested ascended into the heavens.

See also Chapter 4 of the Epistle of Mathetes to Diognetus

Monday, November 13, 2006

Worth a read: The Pressure of Novelty

The Pressure of Novelty

Stuart McAllister, who is with RZIM, Ravi Zacharias' excellent organization has an excellent piece about how our pursuit of novelty and "what works" can cause us to forget or ignore the past and the profound lessons from history.

For some time I also have worried about the persistent focus on style and "felt needs" but to the exclusion of true Biblical knowledge and teaching. The church we attend has a good style to it, and the preaching is definitely life changing and challenging, and includes much Biblical teaching. Andy appears to share Stuart's concerns. My own concern, however, is that there is no Sunday School (or Sabbath school for my Adventist readers) where a deeper understanding of Scripture is explored.

Paul said all Scripture was profitable. This is true. I can testify, however, that a deeper understanding of Romans, Galatians, Ephesians and Colossians profoundly affected me and drew me closer to Christ -- closer because I came to understand how closely He had drawn Himself to me. In Paul's teaching I came to understand that Jesus stretched out His arms and drew the whole world to Himself; we have to pull away to be lost in the end. Infinite Love was willing to take an Infinite risk to rescue me...and you.

This we come to understand more fully from history - a history found in Scripture and from writers throughout history who have also gained insights into the phenomenal theme of Justification by Faith and salvation. And the pragmatic result (that works) of this deeper look back is that our worship is so much more satisfying and meaningful. When we sing praise to God in whatever style we choose the praise is so much deeper when our knowledge of Him and of the cross is deeper.

Google quote of the day: Platitude

Sounds like some theological teachings:

Platitude: an idea (a) that is admitted to be true by everyone, and (b) that is not true.
- HL Mencken

Vent: Spent the weekend at Adventist Mecca South

I had a great weekend visiting with friends up at Southern University this weekend. The few that know I don’t subscribe to Adventism either wanted to know why or wanted to try to convince me I was wrong; it usually feels like they are trying to convince themselves they are right.

Basically the only theology theme was the Sabbath. Not once did anyone mention salvation, the cross, Jesus, blood atonement, or Justification by Faith. Walking on campus I got the “have a happy Sabbath” – I wanted to reply “Jesus Saves dude”. The debates with me all focused on the Sabbath and law. I get the feeling I could be an Atheist as long as I still keep the Sabbath holy. Among my friends there were conversations on Sabbath and Sunday and why “they” are wrong to keep Sunday. I kept quiet on those; we were there to reminisce about academy days not get into a theology debate.

Adventists criticize Mormons for Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon while ignoring or defending their own “prophet” and her writings. I heard someone once suggest that Mormons were raised by Satan to distract from and discredit Adventists and Ellen White (Mormons were earlier; 1820’s). They criticize Jehovah Witnesses for having their own Bible while testifying to how much they enjoy Jack Blanco’s Clear Word but insisting that it’s not the Adventist translation (ah, right...but what will the next generation say though?). They laugh about how legalistic the Jews were and shake their heads about how the Pharisees treated Jesus; I was insulted and called a “legalist” by a long time pastor friend this weekend for insisting that our conversation focus on the words of Scripture. Seems he wanted to talk in analogy. Like the Pharisees, Adventists have their legalistic traditions and structure; any deviation is attacked and crucified. All the while they ignore or are ignorant of EGW’s “borrowing” and her credibility problems. The more balanced are critical of “some Adventists” who are legalistic, but don’t investigate what produced that mentality. The “balanced” are balanced because they ignore the history and core of Adventism and don’t read EGW.

Adventists have fatal flaws in their theological picture and are – ARE – legalistic about the Sabbath. While claiming to observe the Sabbath because of Creation they insist that at Creation God instituted the Sabbath law and simply restated it again in the Ten Commandments. If you inspect especially the traditional Adventist writing on theological subjects of Sabbath, law, transfer of sin to the sanctuary and the cleansing that started in 1844 and the two apartment theory you will find verse after verse misquoted or quoted out of context; the facts will not substantiate the conclusions. Adventists fill in the gaps and distract from the problems with analogies and by “finding” patterns in scripture. When the specific details do not prove the point they become generalists. When the broad view is absurd they become overly focused on specifics.

Adventists are not the remnant, I’m convinced of that. If they were we could have Spirit filled discussions about Jesus, salvation, and humble searching through Scripture to see what it actually teaches. True, there may be a remnant in the “remnant”, but I don’t see them much. It’s sad – I don’t think Ellen White would approve.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Tom may be OT99 and Clear of Aliens, but not Italians

A funny thing happened on the way to the alter for Tommie Cruise missile - he seems to have misjudged the Italians. You know Catholics: pretty picky about who they marry and stuff like, oh, previous multiple divorces and documentation and all. (Sarcasm meter pegged 100%)

I think what the priest really meant to say was, "Sorry Tom. You're a freak and you are an apostle of that dangerous cult called Scientology."

So, just for you Tom - a little reading to prepare you for this:
553917: Catholicism for Dummies
Catholicism for Dummies

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Google's quote of the day

In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock.
- Thomas Jefferson

I guess she didn't really believe

Woman fatally bitten by snake in church. Do people still actually do this stuff? Guess so.

Will the REAL Adventist position please stand up

I was reviewing the CRI position on Adventism again and it reminded me of how difficult it is to pinpoint the true Adventist position on so many themes. When it comes to the exact Adventist teaching there are several perspectives:
  • Historic/Traditional Adventists (see Ellen White)
  • Evangelical Adventists
  • Administrators
  • Former Adventists
  • Non-Adventists
Each of these has a different source and different perspective. The traditionalists derive most of their theology from reading Ellen White. They have, at a minimum, read the five books of the Conflict of the Ages series. If you want to know their position it is mostly EGW, primarily the "traditional" or conservative parts. They resist those quotations that sound like "cheap grace". Further, they often have read and follow the late Joe Crews.

The Evangelical Adventists span from grace-oriented traditionalists to mainstream Evangelicals. Those leaning toward historic Adventism understand grace and that we are not saved by works, but they can be somewhat schizophrenic by both emphasizing grace and law.

Administrators tend to take a political or marketing approach, and craft their language depending on their audience. At campmeetings, where may traditionalists attend, they speak traditional language. If speaking to a non-Adventist or more "liberal"/Evangelical audience, they speak in more grace-oriented language.

Former Adventists often wrongly attribute all manner of evils toward Adventism, primarily because they tend to group all Adventists under the extremes of traditionalism. Finally, non-Adventist writers will portray Adventist depending on which "camp" they have been most exposed to.

This, of course, makes it very difficult to identify the true Adventist position. If one chooses a traditional/Ellen White position many modern Adventists will retort with "Well, I don't believe that". When they see a refutation of an Adventist doctrine they discount it because they feel that the writer has wrongly portrayed the Adventist position.

Adventists in other countries were recruited into the church through the traditional views and materials (which are still used in the U.S in prophecy seminars). As a result, though the North American church would mostly be happy to permit ordination of women, the much larger world congregations prevent it due to their traditional views.

So, what is the "official position"? 27 Fundamental book? I had professors bluntly tell me that the book should not have been written, is not official, and should not be taken as dogma. Ellen White? Many Evangelicals today simply do not understand the extremes she or church founders took. Current "historic Adventists"? California Evangelicals? Questions on Doctrine?

Each camp will not only hold to a particular position on a specific doctrine, but they will differ in their emphasis. Obviously, Evangelical Adventists tend to emphasis grace more while traditionalists strongly upload the law of God and His requirements. Perfection of character over perfect peace. (I once heard a conservative declare "peace is for the dead".)

So what is the true Adventist position? Ultimately it must be whatever Ellen White clearly taught or affirmed. This is because at the end of the day very few Adventist leaders will dare to blatantly defy her publicly and the traditionalists capitalize on the leverage her writing affords them with many members. How do the more Evangelical handle this? By emphasis. They emphasize what they can support and ignore what they can not or what is unacceptable to Evangelicals as a whole. But in practicing this the "crazy uncle" is still in the attic waiting for another generation to discover him and bring him back to the party.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

In the mood for more boycotts?

I'm not really big on Christian "faith-based" boycotts. Boycotts do work, yes, but stuff like when SBC boycotted Disneyworld fell flat.

But, if you're in the mood to boycott but just haven't found a good list, how about the Scientologists listed in this Tom Cruise wedding article? The "church" is getting bolder and the recent negative press doesn't seem to deter the likes of Mr. Risky Business. So let's see: Leah Remini, Kirstie Alley (but would you have to boycott JennyCraig?), Jenna Elfman, John Travolta, Kelly Preston, and Priscilla and Lisa Presley. In my book it would also include Earthlink since founder Sky Dayton is one too (lots of reasons to stay away from them) . Scientology likes to buddy up to famous people to imply that the "church" is the source of their success.

See Lermanet, Operation Clambake and the Boston Legal Scientology video clip from my sects page. Or the leading authority, South Park.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Leadership blog on Haggard: Well said sir

This one on what Ted Haggard's fall means deserves a slow, thoughtful read. He touches on a number of the thoughts that come to mind when we live through something like this.

"When I see a leader who becomes stubborn and rigid, who becomes increasingly less compassionate toward his adversaries, increasingly tyrannical in his own organization, who rouses anger and arrogance in others, I wonder if he is not generating all of this heat because he is trying so hard to say “no” to something surging deep within his own soul. Are his words and deeds not so much directed against an enemy “out there” as they are against a much more cunning enemy within his own soul. More than once I have visited with pastors who have spent hours immersed in pornography and then gone on to preach their most “spirit-filled” sermons against immorality a day or two later. It’s a disconnect that boggles the rational mind."

netAdventist Software. I know, we create one called...

TAGnet really does provide some good services to church and para church SDA organizations. I worked with them way back when and they were pretty helpful, and early pioneers in web technologies. Looks like they've signed an agreement with the GC to provide a set of "software" tools called netAdventist. Unfortunately it will also allow the GC and divisions to control much of the content that is communicated.

Hmmm... I was just thinking... Maybe I should create a software for us called "notAdventist". Get it? "netAdventist"..."notAdventist"...never mind. Must be getting late...

Why Doctrine and Theology Matter

Theologians are having a bit of a rough time these days. Seems no one wants to buy 4-volume sets on Systematic Theology (Though V.1 is really good). A little light coffee table reading anyone? The Christian community seems less and less interested in theology, doctrine, or deeply studying the Bible.

Last night I did a quick informal poll of my small group. I asked them to rate, 1-10, their understanding of the content and message of Romans, Galatians, Ephesians. They all laughed and wondered if they could answer less than 1. It's not that they are not sincere and dedicated - they definitely are. But they find themselves in a community and a culture that really just hears the basic gospel presentation and then thinks that's all it needs to understand.

Romans and Galatians "saved my life". The clear teaching on Justification by Faith refuted the traditional legalism I was brought up in. The more I studied Hebrews, Daniel and Leviticus the less I found I could believe our traditional Investigative Judgment and Sanctuary teaching. Doctrine mattered.

Review this page for some other insights on why Doctrine Matters. When we are unclear of what the truth is, we may fall for something like this (but see this - note: I believe that these "manifestations" and people are just like my friends in my former New Age/Occult life).

When someone comes and tells you that the Bible has more to teach and that you must believe (fill in the blank), will you be able to defend from Scripture and refute it?

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Darwinism vs. Genesis

Watching Ted Haggard's response regarding Evolution got me thinking. Pastors are generally not trained to do apologetics from a Scientific perspective. They may read a book or two, take a class in Seminary and feel they are armed.

There are good resources available to help understand some of the issues. A few books include "The Creation Hypothesis", "Evolution: A Theory in Crisis" and "Darwin on Trial". A neat list of scientists who do not consider Evolution a decided theory/fact are listed at Dissent from Darwin. This site can help stay up-to-date on the subject.

Evolution is not a decided fact; on the one hand there are people who boldly declare it universally accepted; they have a political and ideological motive and only want kids taught "science" in class. But it is far from universal, and many scientists just don't buy evolution. There is too much evidence of intelligent design to have simple chance and natural selection generate our diversity and complexity. There are, however, strong feelings on both sides, and patience is a virtue.

Appropriate reaction to Haggard's fall

Though I'm not a big fan of Andrew Sullivan, this post I agree with.

Yes, I'm a little ticked off about what I'm seeing here, but probably much of my reaction is "There but for the grace of God go I". If we are honest, we need to admit that we could easily fall into this sort of situation. True, maybe not with a gay escort, but how many pastors have fallen for an attractive member of their congregation? Or have secumbed to substance abuse or have mistreated their wives and family? How many pastors have become great in their own minds and have adopted mental patterns of personal superiority? How many political and business leaders have done the same, but without the same moral condemnation?

But Tony Compolo (In Andrew Sullivan's post) reminds us of Galatians 6:1
Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted. Bear one another's burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.

Evangelicals will, and are, reacting with outrage; but will they react with Christ's love and demonstrate to the world that indeed there is something to this Christian stuff after all? How do we work to restore each other when we are all to human?

By the way: this also applies to those of us who feel that we've caught Ellen White in a lie, seen the Seventh-day Adventist church practice years of cover-up, or fully believe that Adventism teaches fatal errors. Do we shout in condemnation or speak the truth in love?

NAE headquarters at New Life Church?

I didn't realize that the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) had actually moved its headquarters into New Life Church and that it's employes were paid staff of the church. I agree that this is an unacceptable situation.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Haggard disappoints, reminds

Ted Haggard reminds us of our frailty as humans. He is a man of extraordinary gifts and leadership ability, and has obviously served Evangelicals well. On the other hand he demonstrates for us the disappointment when a leader falls.

God takes a great risk entrusting His good name with us; this is a sobering reminder. By entrusting the preaching of the gospel into our hands He is placing it into sinful, though redeemed, humans that do not always stay on track. I’m reminded of 1 Cor 10:12 "Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall."

I’ve been reading a number of blogs and message boards; the "ungodly" are having a field day. They are dancing over Ted’s demise like it is the party of the century. The left, liberal, Democrats and gay crowd are grouping Ted and the religious right with Republicans and attempting to make this an Election Day issue. It is unfair, yet we Evangelicals have set ourselves up for this. By involving ourselves so deeply and loudly in American politics those who do not share our views feel like we are dragging America into another medieval age where the Church rules through the government. (See UTube video below for fairly Scientism slanted interview)

While I believe we need to ensure that "family" is protected; I’m not sure that gay marriage is the Heaven-ordained issue that should consume all our precious resources. How about school vouchers, for example? I’m tired of paying taxes to support public schools and then paying to send my son to a Christian school.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Ug. Not good. Christian leader charged with immorality

I was just browsing the news wires before heading off to bed and saw this one. Haggard is charged with a gay affair for the past 3 years. If true it is devastating, if false it is...devastating. If true it is another example of do as I say, not as I do... If false it's just evil. (Here is on it, and Fox)

Obviously I have no way of knowing, but to me it seems a bit fishy. Election year does seem to bring out the bizarre, especially where politics and immorality meet. I highly doubt the charge personally. We'll follow it so see if that is just wishful thinking on my part.

I was very impressed with how the church will handle it. A prearranged procedure kicks in that starts with the Haggard stepping aside while the independent board investigates. They have full authority to take action based on what they find. That really does help preserve credibility for the church and for Evangelicals in general.

Update Friday:
  • Some indiscretions? "Forgive us this day our indiscretions..." Hmmm.
  • Voice expert takes a look, er....listen
  • Oh, that meth. Uh, ya, well I bought meth. Oh ya, and I remember when I said I didn't know him, well, I bought some meth from him. Bah. I don't believe this guy any more. He said he didn't know the guy. Now he says he knows the guy because he was referred to him by a hotel for a massage. Which hotel? Can't say for sure. But what the **** would a Christian leader need a massage from a gay prostitute in a hotel? Does anyone not believe that he didn't have sex and didn't actually use the meth? Pass the coolaid please.

Do I "Keep" the Sabbath?

Friday was an exciting time as a child. At the ring of the bell the school halls would explode with children eager to escape to a weekend of friends and fun. We would pile onto busses or into cars with a cheerful and light attitude. School was out and we were free. The weekend was here at last.

But for we who grew up in the Seventh-day Adventist church, Friday was like the fall colors. The freedom and the peace of Friday evaporated into the enslavement of the Sabbath. We enjoyed a taste of joy for those short hours before sundown, only to put life on hold until the following sundown released us again. Well we knew the verse that told us we should consider God's Sabbath a delight, but we found no delight in it. Televisions went cold, and radios were tuned to the Adventist or Christian stations. Record players droned some hymn or there would simply be the silence of boredom to herald the end of another week and the beginning of limbo.

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Now if Andrews could just improve their weather

Grats to Andrews University. Enrollment is up and they are now T3 national. I still say they'd do better if they move the whole campus to, say, sunny Florida?

Let's Boycott America

The Southern Baptist Convention is at it again. This time they're calling for a boycott of Walmart because of their decision to form an alliance with the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce. While I believe that organization is designed to attempt to force gay policy on business, now Walmart is caught between a "rock" and a "hardplace".

What gets me is that the SBC has their pet issues, and ignores all others. Catholics get crazy about birth control while SBC gets wound up about homosexuality. Forget that Walmart gave $2.5 million to help rebuild after Katrina and has given $17 million plus another $3 million in merchandise. According to their press they gave $245 million last year alone. True, it could be argued that this is simply good business practice.

On the other side, I don't see SBC getting crazy about the fact that Walmart is pushing all their purchasing and manufacturing offshore to China. In fact, an organization can do just about anything and not draw their condemnation until they hit on a pet issue, most likely homosexuality.

I so don't support the gay agenda, and I'm fairly fundamentalist about the Biblical teaching about it. However, I recognize that America may be "One nation under God" but it is a secular nation that regards freedom highly. If the SBC wants to call for leglislation to ensure religious freedom for themselves, how about they support freedoms that they may not agree with?

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Hello? God, is that you?

Another South American (as in, conservative Catholic region of the world) has been appointed as "prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy". That is the person who is responsible for priests around the world and as a watchdog over church finances.

While all this is well and good, one line did catch my eye:
'I am at the Pope's complete disposal,...When the Pope calls, it is the voice of God I hear.'
Surprising? Naw. But a reminder to protestants that a good Catholic hears in the voice of the pope the voice of God, when he speaks Ex Cathedra of course. Gee: most of us can't even get our kids to take us that seriously...

Personally, the only "voice of God" I take exceedingly seriously is written in the Bible. Any system of thought must have some sort of authority and method of discovering truth. The only safe source of Christian doctrine and dogma is that which can be established from or harmonizes with antiquity. It is the only way credibility can be established. Anything "new" must be subjected to the existing authority. To suggest that a new voice has authority because they (or she) is chosen by God should raise alarms. The formula for Scripture is from the Word to the believer who has the Spirit of God as illuminator; It is not from the Word, through the qualified interpreter to the believer. The interpreter is the Spirit of God not some new voice.

This applies (among others) to Catholics, Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, Muslims, and yes Adventists.

Religious freedom II

Warning! Seventh-day Adventist editor warns of threats to religious freedom. Of course, this has been the standard sales pitch of Liberty magazine editors for as long as I can remember.

Of course, this could be an example of limiting religious freedom. The members were protesting what they felt is fraud and, frankly, a lousy pastor. Toss 'em out for singing :). Well, Ok, if they were out of tune certainly they should have been removed. But charge them with tresspassing?

Oh, and isn't this the pot calling the kettle black? An Adventist evangelist warning Christians to avoid being misled by false doctrines?

Monday, October 30, 2006

Religious freedom

From before birth I, as an Adventist, was taught that the other churches were gonna get me someday because "kept" the Sabbath. Further, the implication was that Adventists alone were fighting back the coming onslaught through Liberty magazine and other channels.

Their efforts are commendable, and religious freedom should always be defended - not just for the Adventist, but the Jew, the Catholic and (yes) for the Atheist. This article reports on Southern Baptist representative who testified recently at congressional hearings about the need for laws to protect workplace religious liberty. Search it for "Adventist". Everyone's religious and even cultural liberty should be preserved so long as their religious expression is within the boundaries of common decency. No, blowing me up is not a freedom I want to preserve. But a Muslim's right to prayer in the workplace should not only be defended, but facilitated. And if we can wear our dumb neckties let Muslims wear their headscarf.


My Italian is a little rusty. I was just flipping through a variety of websites one of which is the Vatican's. I like to keep up with what's going on. I even occassionally visit (shhh)

Anyway, the title of this news item caught my eye:
See it? Looks like the Vatican is buying Dell's. Ordinary Dells by the sound of it. Quick, run out and buy Dell stock. I've gotta brush up on my Italian... (Babelfish for the curious)

Well, if some people do theology that way, why can't I surf the web that way?

Friday, October 27, 2006

2Peter 3:9

"The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance."

I'm glad God didn't come in, say 1986. As an Atheist I'd have been pretty shocked at the sudden and cataclysmic change to my world view. I praise Him that He kept working for another 4 years trying to get through my thick skull. Why does He wait? He knows, and we who are in Christ have the privilege to listen to His heart and in a small way to reflect the light of Christ.

Is this *really* the purpose of Adventism? Really?

I stumbled across this paragraph while researching who a preacher was. It is under the heading "Our Reason For Existence" and can be found here. He was a guest preacher at an Adventist church in California. The mystery is solved - here is their purpose:

The Day of Atonement and the final atonement is the reason for our existence as Seventh-day Adventists. God's name is in jeopardy until He can demonstrate that His grace can produce people who will love Him completely, all of the time, with no questions or reservations, and no quibbling or rationalizing. They just love Him, because He first loved them. And they will prove, once and for all, that love always produces obedience, and for once, this love and obedience will be continuous… Satan constantly throws our disobedience in God's face as evidence of the impossibility of complete obedience, but this has got to come to an end. The final atonement is God's method of destroying Satan's lies. First He will cleanse our soul temples, and then He will cleanse the heavenly temple of all sin. When that is accomplished, Adventism will have "finished the work" and we can all go home. (Emphasis mine)

God’s name was never in jeopardy, and especially on the Cross His name was established above all other names. This paragraph, dripping with arrogance and malice, suggests that Peter, Paul and yes, even John failed to prove that God’s love and grace can produce a loving obedience.

Is the Adventist god so weak that He and the entire universe are on hold until Adventists finally vindicate the character of God? Is He sitting on the edge of His throne with hope upon hope that Adventists will finally vindicate Him so that He can come back? I think not.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Luther's spirit and historic Adventism

I was watching the interviews on the Luther movie and something that Sir Peter Ustinov (Frederick the Wise) said struck me. He said that Luther was too good a Catholic to remain Catholic. This is profound to me, because I feel that many of us were just too Adventist to have remained Adventist. Huh? Yes. Adventists were reformers. We were searching the Word for truth. We were known as a people of the Word and boldly declared that we had no creed except the Bible (oh that we had remembered that one). We were zealous for truth and fervent in our desire to grow and to know.

Adventists ostensibly threw out everything and started over allowing the Scriptures to speak truth to us. Unfortunately, we too quickly calcified our beliefs and stopped studying. And we had a “voice” that once it had offered support to an idea, that idea became a fundamental belief.

In the 1950’s our scholars at the Adventist colleges admitted that the peculiar doctrines under the umbrella of the Sanctuary doctrine could not be fully sustained from Scripture alone – doubtless an idea that the modern inquisitor Clifford Goldstein would object to. Yet they were unanimous in the thought: the doctrine simply could not be sustained by Scripture. True, this is not to say that they all denied the veracity of our Daniel 8:14 ideas. I personally heard ministers say that they had no idea how to support from Scripture our doctrines, yet they knew them to be true because God had approved them and had sustained this church all these years.

Today there is a growing sentiment among Adventists that something is wrong with the theologies, and judging by the increase in polemic published by the official houses they sense it also. Many today are approaching the subject with more open minds and are investigating truth for themselves both through the Bible and looking seriously at the objections to their theology and history. We today do not have the barriers to investigation that the Germans had in Luther’s day. Then most theology was written in Latin and the Scriptures were only available in Latin or in the original Greek and Hebrew. Today we have a plethora of versions to choose from. We have searchable version of the Bible, of Ellen White and of many other documents. And we have history available in many forms. There simply is no barrier other than time and energy to the fervent student who searches for truth. So: are our Adventists going to be true Adventists and open the word and become the Bereans that they once were?

Raymond Cottrell

Besides having as a first name my middle name, I've found this guy to be interesting. He was a prominent theologian in the Adventist church, yet he was troubled by what he saw an incorrect method of studying the Bible (amen!). Here is a write up in an Adventist publication of who he was that deserves a read. More on him from ye 'ole Google.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Forget that...the real sin of Adventism is...

While I myself did not agree with many of the fundamental teachings of Adventism, I found the dissenters more objectionable. Much of what they focused on was trivial misunderstandings. They seemed to howl over whether or not the dead are conscious when clearly we have just no idea. I don’t even care. I know that after I die the next thing I will see is my savior. If it happens after I’ve fed a few thousand worms or happens when my “soul” rises to heaven, what do I care? I do wonder, however, how I can enjoy myself in heaven after I die when all my memories are decaying in my body…but that’s food for another thought…or worm…

The tone on many of the websites is bombastic and sensational. This often kept me from reading what they had to say, and meant that I was left to dig up my own evidence or to continue to only hear the side of the Adventist theologians. Though the National Enquirer may from time to time have serious news, because of the general sensationalism it is dismissed as more hoax than news.

The real issue in discussing Adventism is what they have done with Jesus Christ and His Eternal Gospel. Paul said that if anyone – even someone who claims to be a prophet – preaches a different Gospel that person was accursed. That church is accursed. The issue is Jesus. The issue is faith. The issue is peace, assurance, and power.

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