Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Adventism Reversed

I have benefited immensely from the blog ministry of Julius Nam. Recently he has had to cut back, as well as revamp the nature and specificity of his blog. I'm especially sorry to see all of the links to Adventist blogs removed.

I am especially grateful for the article in question which I've linked to the title of this post. In the article in question, "'Questions on Doctrine' and M. L. Andreasen: The Behind-the-Scenes Interaction" he recounts the effects of objections voiced and written by one, . L. Andreasen, a deceased Adventist theologian, on Adventism.

While one cannot effectively turn back the wheels of time, I can't help but wonder what Adventism would be like today had brother Andreasen simply sat back and enjoyed his retirement. Perhaps others would have stepped in and taken up the challenge. Or perhaps those involved in Questions on Doctrine would have revised and republished that book as the direction of the Adventist church would have grown increasingly self-critiquing and transparent.
I must tell you that as I read about the machinations, although I fear that word is too strong, of M. L. Andreasen, I felt both postive and negative emotions. Negative because so much discord and wasted opportunities were the result of his objections. Positive because of his refusal to simply go with the flow and to fight for what he felt were his just rewards for his efforts or objections.

As I reflected further on the results--five decades--of changes in Adventism because of M. L. Andreasen's efforts, I wondered if it was providential that he entered Adventist history in the way that he did, as a corrective, if you will. Or were his letters and published materials merely free human will injecting itself in the stream of time? Much depends on which view one takes. If it was the former, then it is a good thing, of course. If it was the latter, it may happen yet again with untold consequences within the Adventist movement.

At this point in time I think it accurate to speak of Adventist movements. I strongly feel that conservative, mainstream and progressive Adventist approaches to the nature of the church, and its future, consitute distinct movements with soon-to-be-felt repercussions, and not just divergent currents within one homogeneous body of water.

Please click on this link, Progressive Adventism, in order to read the entire article and benefit from Julius Nam's research.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Evolution of Sin

In human experience there was a time when sin did not exist. People were sinless and strangers to sin. Can you imagine what such a life could have been like? Everyone put their brother (sister) first. No one asserted themselves. Everything owned was the property of everyone else. No one had adulterous desires because there really was nobody else to have adultery with. Everyone loved everyone else perfectly.

It almost sounds too good to be true. So good, in fact, that it couldn't possibly last for very long. It sounds like the most perfect of ideals. Moral people today hold out that pristine moral purity as the future goal.

Understandably, such a state is to be desired, and no criticism is intended of its perfect qualities. What is difficult to understand is how such perfection could have existed.

Children have to learn not to throw tantrums and to not think that they're the center of the universe. It is their natural state. Can you imagine what a sinless infant would be like? I must admit that it is difficult for me to do so.

What if we were all born with a natural inclination towards evil and an inclination to good moral behaviour was a learned and conditioned response?

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Death, Salvation, Foreknowledge

I never felt uneasy about the concept of soul sleep until I lost a good friend to AIDS 20 years ago. My father tried comforting me by restating the Adventist position. I found it more comforting emotionally to think that somehow my friend, Clive, was still conscious in some other sphere. And then there's the other side of the soul sleep issue. If he didn't accept Christ, then he won't be among the "dead in Christ rising first."

Recently, a kind church mother of two young boys died of cancer. I had been praying for her for months. Now that she's gone I still pray for her wherever she is. I miss her so much that today I prayed that God would watch over her body if that is all that's left of her until he calls her to live again. I also prayed that if like most Christians believe, she is "with the Lord" now, that she would enjoy her new life free of pain.

My pastor insisted that Adventists equate soul sleep with only the life force. When I quoted "God is Spirit", he just kept silent. I guess, in that interpretation, it's the same as saying "God is life, itself."

What if both the majority of Christians and Adventists are wrong regarding soul sleep and all the rest. What if, as a recent New York Times Science-Philosophy article suggested, we are simulations in some larger-than-life cosmic computer with a Super Intelligence "watching over it all in loving grace?"

That would explain a lot of things, but would open up another can of worms. If that should be the true reality, then none of this really matters, does it? Or perhaps it matters in a very different way. In the end, it's how we treat each other that matters, whether we're really here as flesh and blood beings or whether we're shadows flickering in some ancient Platonic cave.

An even better and more economical idea might be, if foreknowledge knows that an individual will eventually be burned up so as to dispose of unresolvable wickedness, why bother allowing that individual to live in the first place?

I like this idea for it infers that those that are living were created economically and will eventually be saved. This is possible because, in theory, all the people who are alive today or who have ever lived or who will eventually be born could very well experience a deathbed conversion, or its equivalent. This may be confused with universalism, but it's not really, as all of these formerly wicked people could--and could is a big word--accept Jesus or his ethical equivalent right before they die.

Didn't Paul say that all were destined to be saved? Well, if you accept this view of only creating those who are going to be saved--all that have lived and are presently living or will live one day--then this is the best of all possible worlds.

Of course, if you subscribe to the Open View of God--is Richard Rice out there?--then God has no idea who will be saved. He will be either pained or pleased, as the case may be, when the end of all things reveals which of his children he can enjoy forever.

The following was originally part of a Spectrum Blog exchange circa 8-15-07:

What follows was part of the comments in that now misplaced post:

Dick Larsen: After death the soul, spirit , or whatever it is of a person is not constrained any longer by time. In that, it can experience at once with every other soul/spirit the second coming of Christ simultaneously.

Yes, it sounds very attractive. It also sounds like what psychics refer to as global and gestalt consciousness. Even Isaac Asimov wove that attractive trait into the future of human evolution in his last installments of the classic Foundation and Empire series.

When I read about this gestalt consciousness you describe--well, that Mr. Campolo describes--I was surprised by the nature of what he suggests. I also thought, "why stop there with being in tune simultaneously with only every other redeemed soul/spirit"? In addition to this perfect consciousness, I'd also like for us all in this mass consciousness to be jacked in--to borrow a Matrix-like term--into the beauty and consciousness of Perfection Itself, namely the Spirit who created us all and gives us life. If this is heaven, it truly is beyond anything we could ever envision.

Thank you, brother Larsen, for sharing your vision of a perfect future reality.

Christian Progress and the Beautiful Christ

"Every day, in every way, I'm getting better and better." -- Emile Coue

About his little son: "Every day in every way it's getting better and better. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful, beautiful boy." -- John Lennon in Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy)

Christian synthesis: Every day, in every way, Christ is making me better and better. Thank you, beautiful Christ.