April 24, 2014
Joy and Hope
I was touched by the article “Through the Fire” by Luz Alva Arauzo, relating the struggles of Adventism in Peru (Mar. 20, 2014). How wonderful to see how God has led in the past to break down prejudice. It brings joy to my heart to see that Peru now has one of the largest Adventist populations and growing fast.
I had a Week of Prayer at the University and met committed young people who will carry the flag of the gospel. I should mention Alejandro Bullón, a Peruvian evangelist who has brought thousands to the church.
It also brings to mind the beginnings of our work in the city of Lages, Santa Catarina, in the southern part of Brazil. We faced similar problems. My parents moved there in 1949, after we had all embraced our message in the city of Sao Paulo. Burning with the fire to go south and start our work in our hometown, where there were no members, they started a church in our home. They experienced a lot of opposition from friends and relatives. One of my aunts tried to persuade me not to study for the ministry.
Later, during my visits to the city, my aunt would ask me to visit her friends to pray for them. My parents started the first church, and today we have six churches in the city. Often when I visited my parents, my relatives would come to church and listen to the message.
I also remember selling books in the state of Parana. In one city, I heard that they had burned all the books sold by the previous colporteur. The Lord blessed and we sold a lot more.
However, as we read in the article “The Antidote to Religious Fanaticism” by John Graz (Feb. 20, 2014), a lot of Seventh-day Adventists have been persecuted and killed for their faith in many countries of the world. We must continue to pray for religious liberty, and ask the Lord to break down barriers that impede the preaching of our message.
He Said What?!
A famous wordsmith and author once said, “Any writer worth his salt should challenge readers with at least one new word they have to look up.” Cliff Goldstein never disappoints in this department. His writing is epistemologically concise (imagine covering Leibnitz, Hume, Dawkins, Darwin, Hitchens, and Kant all in the same 700 words!), intellectually pithy, metaphysicallyimaginative, and full of rigorous logic.
I love Goldstein because in every article he describes apodicticfaith, pure and simple.
Hendersonville, North Carolina
On the Edge
How should Adventists respond to the myriad signs that show we are on “the knife-edge of eternity,” such as Protestant overtures to the Papacy, financial collapse of governments, and the deterioration of the planet, etc.?
I appreciate Mark Finley’s response in the editorial “Love, Know, Obey, Share” (Mar. 27, 2014): “We should neither ignore them nor overreact to them.” We have to “avoid both extremes of apathy and end-time sensationalism.”
“The thing that matters above all else. . . ,” he continues, “is to love Christ supremely, know Christ intimately, obey Christ willingly, and share Christ passionately.”
Companionship With Christ
Thank you for Rex Edwards’ powerful essay about Christian meditation, “Keeping the Heart in Heaven” (Mar. 13, 2014). He is correct. It is not enough, as the disciples on the road to Emmaus learned, to talk about Jesus without realizing that He is present.
I especially appreciated the way Edwards located Ellen White’s counsel about meditation within the overall history of Christianity, without hesitating to quote, when appropriate, from Puritans, Quakers, and Catholics.
Revival in our denomination depends on what some people call spiritual formation, or, if you prefer, sanctification or discipleship. I like Ellen White’s term: “companionship with Christ.”
Only God Ordains
As a matter of curiosity, why were two conflicting articles published in the Review?
“Serving Like Jesus: Authority in God’s Church” (Mar. 13, 2014) indicated that the original church established by Jesus had no hierarchical authority, and we should get back to that model.
In the April issue of Adventist World, the article “How Your Church Works: Understanding its unity, structure, and authority” (April 2014) indicates that we need order and organization to accomplish our mission.
Am I the only one confused?
Comparing Figs With Rocks
I was interested in Jimmy Phillips’ piece “Middle Space” (Mar. 13, 2014). I had never heard of Ryan Bell, the former Adventist pastor who decided to live one year as an atheist. What did Bell expect from his experiment? What a silly surrender to Satan!
Phillips compares the tension between faith in God and the absence of faith in atheism, and uses this as a comparison between living the spiritual life and the common struggle we all have with the lusts of the flesh.
This seems a little like comparing figs with rocks; there’s a big difference between atheism and common Christian struggles. Christians may sometimes vacillate back and forth, but an atheist is determined to deny God all the time.
There may also be non-Christians who can be quite moral “on their own”; humankind is not “totally depraved.” But all victory comes from Jesus.
In spite of some differences of opinion, Phillips’ article was well-worth printing.
Elk City, Oklahoma
The Business of Healthcare
Regarding the news story “Adventist Health Care to Divest Its New Jersey Hospital” (Feb. 20, 2014):
God is surely not stymied by the changing healthcare market in New Jersey. Such crystal clear miracles accompanied the raising up of Hackettstown Regional Medical Center that it greatly impacted my life then, and is a touchstone today as to how God moves when He wants something done. It was a joyous and audacious time. Now this modern, community-minded, and profitable hospital is in the process of being sold.
In 1905, Ellen White wrote regarding the sale of Boulder Sanitarium: “After the investment has been made, the buildings erected, and our workers have gone in there and wrestled . . . to make the work a success, and . . . accomplished much good, shall we turn over the place to private parties? . . . We can not have it so” ( Special Testimonies, series B, no. 5, p. 40).
Forty-one years later, it’s hard to believe that Hackettstown, its miracles wrapped in prayer and faith, will leave our church.
Central Versus Peripheral
Regarding “In Christ There Is Neither Conservative nor Liberal” (Jan. 15, 2014): Either label, if embraced, can narrow one into an ideological corridor. But the author replaces that with what may be another false dichotomy: central versus peripheral fundamental beliefs.
The example cited: the use of jewelry. A consensus of the author’s Sabbath school group determined the issue to be of peripheral importance, apparently by a failure of anyone to step forward when the question was sprung upon them.
How can jewelry be thus minimized when the love of display was the issue upon which our first mother plunged us into a life of sin and woe? It was the issue over which Jesus fought the devil in the wilderness to win back our freedom.
A clearer distinction is offered by Christ: the greatest and the least commandments, the weightier and lesser matters of the law, will be strictly observed and taught by His followers; for they gain and maintain eternal life by consuming every word that comes from the mouth of God.