Saturday, January 27, 2007

The Second Coming, Wirelessly

"Surely the day is coming; it will burn like a furnace. All the arrogant and every evildoer will be stubble, and that day that is coming will set them on fire," says the LORD Almighty. "Not a root or a branch will be left to them. But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings. And you will go out and leap like calves released from the stall." Malachi 4:1,2 (NIV)

The tension in the world was unbearable. For months the three rogue nations had played their games threatening to test or detonate much of their nuclear arsenal. People of faith everywhere had started taking prayer and fasting seriously for once.

If the end of the world was days or weeks away I wanted to be on the roof with my laptop, taking pictures and short video feeds with the cellphone. Every day after work, what work could still be done in the mounting disorder that the world experienced every day, I took to the roof to document what I saw all around me. The forest smoldered in the distance as the end-of-life mobs set anything they could find that wasn't fireproof.

Last night all the lights went out for 21 minutes and I was able to see a star that shone with a different type of light. It was pulsating as nothing I'd ever seen. When the power came back on, there was too much light all around me on the roof to see the strange star anymore. The next night the lights went out again for 21 minutes and the star was visible again, but this time it was larger. How could anything in the sky that pulsates from so far away get larger 24 hours later?

This pattern continued night after night until one night, the sun came out at midnight. Except it wasn't the same sun we knew. It was three times the size. Even the darkest sunglasses made it difficult on the eyes. I took my videos and pictures and wrote what I saw and how I felt about it and published it for anyone who was still connecting to the worldwide wireless hub for continuity or information.

The next night when the sun came out again I noticed that the fires were burning brighter. The only difference was alarming. The fires that had been lit up till now were the familiar red, yellow and orange flames that one was used to. These fires were green, blue and violet. The fires were not being set from below, but from the very skies. The world we had known had ceased to exist with the arrival of the giant midnight sun.

The next night the most alarming sight took hold of me as I saw in the not too distant cemetery what seemed like huge birds darting up from the trees in the woods surrounding the park. The figures were so distant and multicolored that I wondered what type of bird could change its color so randomly as it flew higher and higher. I photographed the distant figures and posted them for anyone to see and try to comment on it, for I could not.

When the city was almost ablaze, I noticed that the couple on the roof next to mine that had come out every night, as I had done, were strangely hovering six feet above the roof. I knew the Chinese had experimented with personal hovercraft platforms, but how anyone could have a prototype in their possession in this country was beyond me. I photographed them and with only a word or two, I posted it on my blog.

After an hour or two I realized that the enterprising Chinese had sold more prototypes to eager Americans than I had thought possible. Here and there in the buildings surrounding me I saw other couples hovering six feet above the roof. It seemed as they were waiting for something. With instant phone detection, no doubt, they were able to contact each other and coordinate whatever they were planning as they hovered six feet above the roof of their high rise buildings.

In a flash the sky exploded in blinding light of emerald and blue shades of undulating waves of color and sound. I was about to send a quick note and publish it when I noticed that much to my surprise I was no longer standing on the roof. I too was hovering six feet above the roof. I didn't know what this could mean as I had no expensive Chinese hovercraft, for sure. In a panic I wrote my last message and clicked the orange "Publish" link in my blog program. Nothing else needed to be said. My last message went out to anyone who was still connected, as I dropped my laptop and looked at the One who was seated on the throne in the middle of the giant sun.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

(8th-Day) Adventist Futurism: A Manifesto

"... However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?" Luke 18:8 (NIV)

  1. Adventist Futurism builds on 7th-Day Adventism. In some ways it is a continuation of the original movement. In others it is the next phase or development. All of the richness and history of 7th-Day Adventism is admired, cherished and built upon. Some may see this as a heretical development. Some already think the same of progressive Adventism as well as Postmodern Adventism. Imagine how Methodists and other proto-Adventist influences must have felt when 7th-Day Adventism grew out of those movements.
  2. Christ Jesus, Lord and Savior, is as important as He ever was in Proto-Adventist Futurism (7th-Day Adventism.) Additionally, all the 28 fundamentals are respected and cherished however confining they may appear to some. In some ways, the principles of Adventist Futurism are a virtual 29th fundamental. If a 28th has been added in the recent pass, no doubt one day a 29th and a 30th may also be added.
  3. Emphasis is still on present truth, but as present truth becomes past truth the minute it is conceived, Adventist Futurism focuses on Future Truth which by its nature is forward leaning and always thinking of the changes of the future, both near and far.
  4. It would be inconceivable for 19th Century Adventists to imagine what 21st century Adventism could ever be like. The social, cultural, scientific and technological changes that separate two centuries of Adventism are no doubt as great from those that separate 21st century Adventism (Adventist Futurism) from 22nd century Adventism. It would have been unthinkable to 19th century Adventists that the movement would see the year 2007. It is equally unthinkable to many living today that 22nd century Adventism will one day have its day.
  5. (8th-Day) Adventist Futurism is future- oriented for many reasons. It is said that it is unwise to live in the past or to live only for today. Adventist Futurism lives for today, respects its rich 7th-Day Adventist history as much as possible, but lives with tomorrow's emerging realities ever in mind.
  6. All of Ellen G. White's writings are treasured for any and all spiritual guidance that they can still provide in what today is a world that she never imagined would ever come to pass. While some of her writings have to be understood in their cultural setting, every attempt is made to build on, and not tear down Mrs. White's useful writings.
  7. The Bible in its entirety is treasured. In the same way that the New Testament refined the Old Testament's principles, equally so does (8th-Day) Adventist Futurism refine and build on both the Bible and the writings of Ellen G. White, as well as many of the serious thinkers, pastors and teachers within historical Adventism. Special thanks is given to the following authors though by mentioning them, we in no way ally them with us nor do we ally ourselves with their body of published work or unpublished discourses or sermons. These are the men and women that have influenced in some degree, however transitory, the principles of (8th-Day) Adventist Futurism: Ellen G. White, James Londis, Jack Provonsha, Sakae Kubo, John Wood, Ronald Lawson, Ottilie Stafford, George Rice, Lynn Sauls, Ann Parrish, Margarita Merriman, Jon Robertson, Eli Siegel, Morris Venden and Jack Sequeira.
  8. Adventist Futurism respects the 7th-Day Sabbath, but as the latter is locked in time and is the only commandment that is kept only for one 24-hour period, once a week, Adventist Futurism focuses on the spiritual dimension of the Sabbath day as opposed to its literal 24-hour manifestation. As technology, scientific discoveries and space exploration change our conception of time and space, e.g., the Internet, virtual reality, the decoding of the human genome, space exploration, etc., the Sabbath commandment's importance in 7th-Day Adventism is admired, but it is cautiously considered because of the strong legalistic element it has traditionally brought to Adventism. Additionally, Adventist Futurism believes that the beauty of the 7th-Day Sabbath is enhanced and celebrated by observing the Enhanced Sabbath which includes the 24-hour "Jewish" Sabbath (sundown to sundown), but adds the hours after sundown on Saturday night and ending with daybreak on Sunday morning. We also speak of the post-7th-Day-Sabbath morning to commemorate the ending of Christ's rest in the tomb. Other Adventist Futurists focus on the observance of the Endless Sabbath by virtually carrying the beauty and joy of the 7th-Day Sabbath all through the week, in effect celebrating the Sabbath day, if only virtually, seven days a week, 24 hours a day. The regular Sabbath beginning on Friday at sunset then becomes the actual command performance and not the rehearsal of the previous six days.
  9. If humanity's expansion continues beyond our world, as it seems to be doing, then the spiritual nature of the 7th-Day Sabbath will be more and more important. Celebrating the Sabbath on the Martian colonies in the next century, or in this one, will be 37 minutes longer than it is observed on Earth. If humanity has to find refuge underground because of the instability that terrorism continues to have on our planet, then sundown-to-sundown will have a new meaning and will only be observed by mechanical means of time measurement.
  10. Just as Protestantism didn't cease to be Christianity when it broke away from Catholicism, and just as 7th-Day Adventism didn't cease to be Christianity when it grew out of the Methodist church and other groups, in like manner, (8th-Day) Adventist Futurism does not cease to be a continuation of both Christianity or 7th-Day Adventism.
  11. Even though some members of society may not be welcomed in 7th-Day Adventism, or in other Christian or Jewish congregations, (8th-Day) Adventism welcomes all without condoning every aspect of certain member's life practices. Additionally, some may want to attend and feel welcomed, but not join Adventist Futurism formally. We welcome traditional, modern, liberal, mainstream, postmodern Adventists, as well as others who find something of worth in (8th-Day) Adventist Futurism. These include, but are not limited to the following groups: divorcees, cultural Adventists, intersexuals, transgender individuals, monogamous homosexualists (gays & lesbians and their children), bisexuals, common-law couples, domestic partners, persons struggling with controlled substances or other addictions (sexual, alcohol, gambling, etc.). Again, in order to not cause traditional 7th-Day Adventists to feel disrespected, we offer non-traditional inclusiveness for these groups mentioned. (8th-Day) Adventist Futurism becomes a safe haven for sinners and imperfect people, and not just a colony of morally upright and semi-perfect people.
  12. Regarding life's origins, we welcome both literal creationists, as well as intelligent design believers, and, of course, Darwinian Adventists or Christians. We all believe in one God, however He created us.
  13. Unlike some traditional 7th-Day Adventists, and this is said with the utmost respect and appreciation, we do not discourage the ministry of the Holy Spirit. We do not intentionally seek to speak in tongues, but if this wonderful gift returns in a valid and useful manifestation, we would not discourage its return. We foster more and more study, focus, and anticipation of the gifts of the Spirit and the fruit of the Spirit, Love and it's manifestations: joy, peace, self control, etc.
  14. We worship the ineffable Father God who in His wisdom sent both Jesus Christ, His son, and his Spirit, the Spirit of Christ, the Holy Spirit. For all his countless blessings and gifts we are thankful.
  15. We seek to understand and promote the beauty and importance of the Crucified, Risen and Glorified Christ. We seek His return, but if He delays 25, 50 or 100 years, as well as 250, 500 or 1000 years, we continue seeking Him and his daily return into our soul temple through His Holy Spirit.
  16. We seek to honor proto-Adventist Futurism's past (traditional 7th-Day Adventism), but we also wish to change its future because of the danger within two or three generations of Adventism disappearing for the most part in the affluent and developed world. As the third world slowly catches up with the developed world, this danger will also become apparent in time to most of the 7th-Day Adventist body.
  17. We welcome the real possibility of the prophetic gift reappearing in our midst and guiding us through the unforeseen challenges and dangers of the ever-changing future society that is already upon us because of terrorism, advancing scientific developments (cloning, virtual reality, cybernetics, etc.) and space exploration.
  18. We realize that because of modern society's challenges, increasing terrorism, global warming, and other complex factors, worship may soon be only in private, local safe havens, and via the World Wide Web or it's replacement in the years to come.
  19. We encourage a more democratic and less centralized church structure with adequate racial, ethnic, non-male and cultural representation of the church's worldwide membership, as well as, to a partial degree, it's informal membership (the marginalized groups previously mentioned.)
  20. We extend an open door to former Adventists, as well as other spurned groups, that have grown out of traditional 7th-Day Adventism (Adventist Kinship, Branch Davidians, Shepherd's Rod, etc.). We only ask that you treat us with the same respect and consideration that we are offering you.
  21. We welcome the future: all its mysteries, all its challenges, all its discoveries, all its blessings. We don't want to be locked in history, we want to make history, to change it, to improve it, to actively and creatively influence our future.
Other relevant posts:

Creating an Ideal World: Adventist Futurism
Mars Sabbath
Fear of the Holy Spirit

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Beyond Christianity

... Seek and you will find. ... For ... he who seeks finds; Matthew 7:7,8 (NIV)

As good as Christianity and the Bible are, for years I've thought that so much depends on what you bring to both that makes a world of difference. Not only what you bring to the Christian life and the reading of the Bible from your past, but also what you keep on bringing or adding to your life as you willingly continue adding to your perception of them.

For example, if you never experienced a lot or any affection from either one of your parents, you might have a hard time relating to how God the Father is like a loving father or parent. Luckily the marriage relationship, it is said, can also substitute, when one lacks a parent of either sex, to give one a close proximity of the fullness and richness of a relationship with God. For those who lack all the above, the concept of God, no matter how wonderful it is portrayed in the Bible, must either be pretty meaningless, since it has no human model to compare it to, or one has to take it on faith, that such great, perfect love exits some where by a perfect being who also directs all of that love towards you, the penitent believer. Of course, a really good friend might substitute for a lack of a parent of either sex, or a life partner, as someone to help you undertand God, your ultimate Friend.

Getting back to the previous matter of what one continues adding to Christianity, I was delighted to come across an article in the New York Times this week about positive pscychology. Of course, the approach or asides in describing one's journey toward experiencing "flow" may potentially conflict with the Christian life (sex, drugs and chocolate as ways of tapping into this marvelous "flow", the writer keeps alluding to.) I myself would substitute music, poetry and film as safer alternatives to lead one to this "flow" that's so essential. Nevertheless, there is so much positivity and hopeful solutions to the problems that confront us, whether Christian or non-Christian, that I was grateful to find yet another field of study to use in order to enhance my life and make it all that it can be.

It's a shame that Christianity, the Bible, and the Spirit of Prophecy are not all you need in order to enjoy life to the fullest. One was always told that if you had access to these fountains of blessings, everything else didn't matter. Things would take care of themselves. You need not look further. You had found all the answers you ever would be in need of. Unfortunately for some if not all, there are obstacles sometimes and one needs approaches to life that ensure that one can avail oneself effectively of these three enriching and "spiritual" means to a meaningful, happy and eternal life.

One often needs something else. One needs to be reminded over and over again that one needs this "something else." One needs other positive agents or influences that enable one to renew one's inner vision. But of course, the Bible properly experienced, is a source of infinite blessing for it points beyond anything a finite or ephemeral solution such as art or learning of any kind can provide.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Why Did Christ Have to Die?

Yesterday I saw Apocalypto. The violence was unpleasant, but the total impact of the film was worthwhile. The one scene that set me thinking without warning was the most detailed and graphic depiction of human sacrifice I've ever seen on film or ever want to see again.

The shocking thing was that I thought of what made humans feel they had to appease their gods so much that a periodic supply of sacrificial victims was necessary. Human life is always precious. Those sacrificed were captured members of other tribes also trying to survive in the Mayan forests.

There was prayer throughout by the different tribes and the protagonists for their particular god or gods to protect them from the terrors and tragedies of their fight or die existence. One was made to feel that at least those not doing the sacrifice were more noble people. It was not clear that the sacrificial tribe had also a penchant for human sacrifice.

The thing that shocked me was that I briefly remembered the article I've linked at the top. (Please click on the title of this post if you wish to read that article.) A vague memory of a sentence the author made in that Adventist Today article about how Christ's sacrifice wasn't needed to appease God. Traditional Adventists or Christians say that it was the violation of the Law that had to be resolved. Of course, it bothers me at times that the Law is not a separate entity from God Himself. I say that with all respect.

I wish to continue to believe in God, so I dealt with these perplexing and unpleasant thoughts by deciding that since God sacrificed Himself He was appeasing his own need for wholeness as regards His own demands regarding his moral Law. He paid the ultimate sacrifice in that He sacrificed Himself. No one can pay a greater price.

The reason that I found all this unsettling, and I have to study, ponder and pray about this more is the following. Why is there so much blood and victims and sacrifice in the Old Testament and in God the Son's sacrifice? Why so much suffering? Why this obsession in ancient cultures as well in the Judaeo-Christian culture with blood, and victims and sacrifice and pain and loss of life? What is it about ancient man and man's perception of what the word of God says about sacrifice to appease gods or God Himself? I'm missing my own point here a bit. It eludes me because it is so uncomfortable and mysterious.

Why does anyone, ancient mankind (humankind) or God, Himself, have to sacrifice others or Himself in order to have peace? Don't get me wrong. We serve a wonderful God, but again, what is all this perplexing obsession and need for blood and more blood. I speak of more blood, or the ultimate blood loss of the Son of God, God Himself really, as the “more blood."

It almost sounds slightly unsophisticated or unnecessary, this obsession or this great need for blood or sacrifice of life. But who am I, a mere mortal and an imperfect one, at that, to disapprove of the "without blood there is no appeasement." The good thing is that we are not required to sacrifice our own children or our own selves to have peace with God.

Why oh why, Lord God, did you have to suffer so much? Couldn't you have shown us you loved us in a different way? I'm mortified that you had to suffer so much for us, and for me.

As I am wont to say often, I'm missing something here. I don't have all the pieces of the puzzle. There had to have been other solutions, other ways of saving man and womankind. But, whatever the reason that our God felt it absolutely necessary to sacrifice Himself that we might live at peace with Him, I am grateful. I hope to understand and love this God who suffered so much and who continues to suffer with us.

Does anyone out there have a solution to this unease I felt while watching so much human sacrifice and why God Himself had to sacrifice Himself, as well, for us? Yes, I know what the Bible says, but why does it say it? Why does it say it so often and so obessessivley. There has to be more to humanity's story than blood shedding and/or blood shedding or sacrifice as a means to resolution of past wrongs or of Original Sin. What am I missing here?