Thursday, August 27, 2009

Beast Busted!

Comic modified from Pearls Before Swine, by Stephan Pastis.
(click to enlarge)

Surviving ‘My Way or the Highway’ Religion

“In Pakistan it is quite common that I tell the story of a man who had the opportunity while alive to visit both heaven and hell. He was first taken to hell where he saw a large banquet table covered with every variety of food and delight. The people sitting around this table could see all of these things yet were starving and wailing because the handles on their spoons were too long to get them into their mouths. The man was quite disturbed about what he saw but there was nothing he could do. He was then taken to heaven and was very surprised to see the same table furnished with the same delightful foods and with people sitting around holding the same spoons but they were happy and fed. Then he noticed that they were feeding each other! They were helping themselves by helping each other. This is a story that relies on intuition to understand its meaning. Intellectually we want to think that people can only help themselves directly and that with the long spoons they will starve, but this is the old thinking. The truth is that in life just as in this story we cannot survive without the cooperation of others. The idea that cooperation is the only way we can survive conflicts with our western notion of survival of the fittest, go it alone and self made millionaires, but it works.” (an unattributed Internet quote)

Monday, August 24, 2009

Honoring God?*

*Adventist World, 2009
(abbreviated direct quotes)
Angel Manuel Rodriguez, Director of the Biblical Research Institute of the General Conference

Modified from the comic Dilbert, by Scott Adams
(click to enlarge)

Friday, August 21, 2009

Reviewing the Adventist Review

August 13, 2009
Vol. 186, No. 22

It’s always a thrill plug an outstanding edition of the Review. Bouquets have been awarded to the editors and writers that made this issue possible. It belongs in the waiting rooms of Adventist professionals across North America. Church members of every philosophical persuasion will enjoy this magazine. Readers, get your hands on some additional copies and give one to a church member that doesn't subscribe and maybe a neighbor or two.

This Review is a MUST READ from cover to cover, beginning with Bill Knott's editorial, Calvin's Genes, and A Simple Prayer by Herald L. Calkins on the inside back cover. (Even the adverts are classy!)

Editors, this is the standard to shoot for.

Monday, August 17, 2009

The Adventist Basement

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. 1 John 4:18

Comic from Pearls Before Swine, by Stephan Pastis.
(click to enlarge)

Some Enlightened Thoughts from Ministry Magazine, August 2009

Harold Peters, email
“I am fully convinced that the ‘strong correlation [that] exists between the core values of Islam and of Seventh-day Adventism’ provides us with both a tremendous opportunity and a grave responsibility to share the love of Jesus with our Muslim friends.”

Ron E. M. Clouzet: Doing Evangelism When No one Seems to Care
“What the Rich Young Ruler wanted was to follow Jesus. Like a child counting on his hero, he instinctively knew Jesus could fill the gaping hole in his heart. But what Jesus knew the man needed was to make love a reality. Giving himself to others would finally allow him to keep the spirit of the law, not merely its letter. Thus he could be saved and help others find salvation as well. . .The basic premise is to set out to bless your community with no strings attached, to demonstrate the love of God in some practical way.”

Ronald W. Booth: New to Ministry--With Four Churches
”I must rely on each church to play a very large part in setting its own goals while I provide support and encouragement. Each church must then take responsibility for their growth.”

Candace Huber: Faith Community Nursing in Congregations
“For the church to reclaim its New Testament role as the center for healing in the community, and for the members to experience full restoration in Christ, the messages of health and methods of becoming whole must become an intentional ministry of the church equal to its work for redemption and reconciliation.”

Daniel Schramm: The Art of Listening
“Most clergy could probably improve their ministries by speaking less and listening more. . .An enormously useful phrase to encourage others to open up and share is, ‘Tell me about. . .’ This phrase is useful in numerous contexts. Some examples, ‘Tell me about your ailing mother, your child in trouble, your academic stress, your tears, when you learned you had cancer, your loneliness.’”

James A. Cress: Smile-winning
“I learned that heaven cannot be proclaimed as merely a ‘fire escape’ and that the best motivation for following Jesus springs from a loving, concerned relationship far more than it does from fear or intimidation. . .I have learned not to argue theology or debate finely divided issues. While I could typically win the argument, I could easily lose a friend in the process. . .Jesus. . .asks us to invite people to share the benefits of knowing our Savior by demonstrating His love and interest in their welfare.”

Monday, August 10, 2009

Two of everything?

Comic from The Doghouse Diaries

Freedom for SDA’s to Discriminate

“Where gay marriage is viewed as a fundamental right, it may well over-ride the right to religious freedom of expression and practice.”

“What does this have to do with religious liberty?” Barry W. Bussey, Executive Director of North American Religious Liberty Association and Nicholas Miller, Director of Andrews University Religious Liberty Institute ask this question in this June 8, letter sent to North American Adventists.

It has nothing to do with religious liberty. It has to do with protecting the right of SDA’s to discriminate against homosexual couples in the workplace, the doctor’s office, Adventist educational institutions, and married housing. What is infuriating is the use of the pronouns “we” and “your” and “our” which assume that all SDA’s share this phobia.

Consequently, the North American Religious Liberty Association has been added to my list of religious “arms” of the Adventist Church supported by the membership’s tithe and offerings that provide continuing evidence that Adventism is a sect rather than a Christian denomination. (The “other arms” include the Adventist Theological Society, the Biblical Research Institute, and the Geoscience Institute.)

Don’t I Wish!

SDA Marketing: An SDA Camp Meeting Flyer Designed for Community Distribution

Modified from the comic Dilbert, by Scott Adams
(click to enlarge)

Monday, August 3, 2009

Reviewing the Adventist Review

July 23, 2009
Vol. 186, No. 21

I am a huge fan of ASI (Adventist-Laymen’s Services and Industries), and this issue is a WORKING WITNESS that’s sure to inspire many more laypersons, worldwide, to preach the Gospel with their hearts and skills and cash. This is unconditional Christian love in action, and this world is a better place because in 1904, E. A. Sutherland and Percy Magan decided that the official Adventist Church needed a self-supporting ministerial partner. Today, ASI along with ADRA and hundreds of other lay ministries are transforming the Adventist Church, It’s a MUST READ.

There are several things I admire about E. Edward Zinke’s CREATION AND THE CERTAINTY OF THE SECOND COMING. He argues that, for a Christian, theistic evolution does not solve the problem of origins. He writes with passionate conviction. And he doesn’t imply that all Adventists must be convicted as he is. However, one of his central arguments must be called to question.

Zinke asserts that the 7-day creation story and the worldwide flood as described in Genesis are historical facts. His proof is quotations from the New Testament, particularly the words of Jesus.

“Scripture Confirms the Historicity of Genesis”
“When we look at the whole of Scripture, however, we find that biblical authors—and Christ Himself—took these chapters seriously as history. Paul confirms that “Adam [not some bit of slime in the water] was formed first, then Eve” (1 Tim. 2:13; cf. Luke 3:38; Rom. 5:14; 1 Cor. 15:22, 45). Christ referred to the creation of the first couple: “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female’?” (Matt. 19:4). The Savior uses the Genesis account rather than evolutionary theory as ground for morality based upon the original design of God: “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh” (verse 5). Also, Christ took at face value the Genesis story of Noah and the Flood: “For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away” (Matt. 24:38, 39; cf. 2 Peter 2:5).”

It is not my intention to argue about whether or not allusions to well-known stories “prove” the historicity of these stories. It is my purpose to challenge the premise of Zinke’s argument by using his argument to “prove” that a literal Hell exists. (Hell is mentioned 31 times in the Old Testament.)

Scripture Confirms the Historicity of Hell According to Jesus
But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, 'Raca, ' is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, 'You fool!' will be in danger of the fire of hell. Matthew 5:22

If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.
Matthew 5:29,30

Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Matthew 10:28

And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. Matthew 16:18

If your hand or your foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life maimed or crippled than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into eternal fire. And if your eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell. Matthew 18:8,9

"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as you are. Matthew 23:15

You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell? Matthew 23:33

If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire never goes out. Mark 9:43

And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than to have two feet and be thrown into hell. Mark 9:45

And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell. Mark 9:47

But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him. Luke 12:5

In hell, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. So he called to him, 'Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.' Luke 16:23, 24

Scripture Confirms the Historicity of Hell According to James
The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. James 3:6

Scripture Confirms the Historicity of Hell According to Peter
For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell, putting them into gloomy dungeons to be held for judgment. 2 Peter 2:4

Scripture Confirms the Historicity of Hell According to John
I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades. Revelation 1:18

And the smoke of their torment rises for ever and ever. There is no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and his image, or for anyone who receives the mark of his name. Revelation 14:11

The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done. Revelation 20:13

Now, I want to state categorically that I DON’T BELIEVE IN A LITERAL HELL. In this, I am in complete agreement with Adventist Church doctrine, and that doctrine is a very important reason why I am an Adventist.* For me, the existence of a literal Hell can be discounted rationally and scientifically.**

If Adventist theologians discount the “historicity” argument for a literal Hell because it cannot be supported rationally or scientifically, it seems to me that the same reasoning used to support Zinke’s argument for the “Historicity of Genesis” can also be discounted for the same reasons.

*The idea that Jesus (“If you have seen me, you have seen the Father”) would condemn “sinners” to be tortured in a literal Hell is not only repugnant, it is inconceivable.

** In my view, “Hell” or “Hades”, as used in the New Testament, is a figure of speech and/or a literary allusion, commonly used in the world of New Testament writers, to denote a place to be avoided at all costs.

The Puzzlemaster Speaks

Modified from the comic Dilbert, by Scott Adams
(click to enlarge)