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.

Read Article

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.

Read Article

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?