Friday, October 24, 2008

23rd Century Adventist Futurism Conceived

After the collapse of world financial systems sometime in the 21st century, those Adventist Futurists who had hidden technology when there was money to be had, left Earth far behind on ark-like vessels.

Back on Earth the situation was bleak for a hundred years. After that time this is what the Earth looked like:

Clones were the second class citizens this time around.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Baptism Redux

Saturday, October 18, 2008. I was baptized for the third time. It was more special than the previous times. I had no family members in town as was the case 25 years ago. But at least I had some good friends who wished me well in the congregation.

No, I was not perfect, but waiting three years for that perfection to arrive did not dissuade me from stepping forward on Friday night. No one will ever be perfect until the Second Coming itself. As I waited for my turn to walk up and descend into the baptistry, I realized just how imperfect and sinful I was. But that was not going to deter me. I had been praying a lot about when the right time would come to undergo this event. Last Saturday was the day God had prepared for me to follow through with something that I had been praying about for three years.

There really was something different this time around. I know this time I really did receive the gift of the Spirit that's mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles.

I know I'll make mistakes and sin here and there, but I am in good company. All the folks who were baptized with me will also partake of these experiences whether intentionally or accidentally.

I walk in newness of life and it is intoxicating.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Legalism Refuses to Die Out in Adventism

When the fresh air of righteousness by faith was being breathed by more and more church members, along comes a reminder that legalism will not see its demise any time soon.

I can't mention any names because I'd be as bad as the person under consideration. He carefully avoids naming sources and countries--for the most part--where he has been challenged in his views, but he gives an occasional hint and comments about the persons in question. Of course, I'm guilty of the same thing, but from the other side of the street. I'm glad that I'm able to see this instead of having someone else point it out to me.

Nevertheless, I'm speaking of the speaker in charge of our week of prayer this week at my local church. I'm glad he's only a visiting pastor and that our regular pastor will hopefully undue what this visitor is so astoundingly doing to his flock. I may be in for a surprise if I probe a little deeper that perhaps our regular pastor is not such a fan of righteousness by faith as he appears to be in his weekly Prayer Meeting studies. [I felt uneasy about this comment and have subsequently apologized to my pastor for thinking such a thing about him. He then was gracious enough to forgive me and advised me not to worry about it and to focus, instead, on our common goal of getting to heaven. I leave the comment here because otherwise those who have previously read it won't make sense of my apology if I were to remove it. In any case, I don't specify his name or the name of my local congregation. Still, you never know who's reading one's blog.]

At first I was excited thinking this much anticipated speaker was going to bring some priceless jewel about salvation to our congregation. After only half an hour of him speaking I was surprised to hear it was simply an update to legalism in the present tense. Works are presented as something wonderful and life-changing. He almost makes you think that works really are not such a bad thing after all, as a necessary component to get to heaven. As he speaks I'm reminded reminded of the phrase "not by works less any man should boast." It's a high-wire act of the greatest delicacy to present works in such a new jewel setting and not let it be mistaken for the tawdry rhinestone that it really is.

What's even more shameful is that in these dire economic times which have descended upon us lately, righteousness by works and faith may find more favor than the tried-and-true righteousness by faith that was in play during more prosperous times.

The term "righteousness by faith" rarely, if ever, comes to light during the last four meetings that I've attended so far. To be fair I missed the Sabbath morning presentation, which may have been autobiographical in nature from what I've heard, but nothing that he could have said then could possibly change the constant attack on leaders and writers in our church that have so lovingly nurtured this precious bloom called righteousness by faith for many years. Even Ellen G. White, who rarely is mentioned in this week of prayer, was more in favor of righteousness by faith than the speaker in question.

A courteous reference to grace is made here and there, but it is then over-powered with the need for works. The influence of James' epistle is felt without being mentioned by name. Admittedly, the practical nature of works is highlighted: helping those in need, instead of simply saying a prayer for them. But that would then suggest that simply by helping more and more people in need--while a wonderful thing in itself--would guarantee you a home in heaven. This can never be the case. Or is this what practical Christianity is all about? Helping others and in so doing, you help yourself.

I hope most of the folks hearing this attempt at Righteousness by works and faith will remember all the other sermons and Sabbath School lessons that focused more on salvation by grace and faith (alone). If they do not, then sadly, that is what they wish to believe.

Out of courtesy to the speaker whom I will still be listening to for the next four days, both mornings at 5:00 a.m. and evenings at 7:00 p.m., I will not share some of the quotes from his personal experience that infer something slightly disturbing about him or his experience. As I hear statements that should make a thinking person shudder instead of laugh, I remember the bible verse that says" "out of the abundance of the mouth, the heart speaks."

One of the oddest of guidelines the speaker gave early in the week of prayer experience is for us all to fast for the next 40 days. After the shock of what he said, he explained that he meant as regards television, all DVDs, and even the Adventist cable networks which featured content that perhaps was questionable or perhaps it was the medium of television itself that somehow is deleterious to genuine spiritual growth.

I continue praying for this week of prayer speaker in spite of the fact that he may very well be doing more harm than good to those in attendance.

"If you look to the son of God and believe in him you have eternal life and he will raise you up at the last day." John 6. This for me is the one text that concisely states what salvation is all about. Works of any kind, even of the beneficial kind, are nowhere in sight in this priceless text.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

After the End

Life is weird as we wait for the end to finally hurry up and get here. I just drove by a big auto dealership two miles from home and found that they had gone under. Later on I read on the news that due to credit lines being frozen, auto dealerships will go out of business more and more. It was odd first seeing it first hand, then reading about this kind of thing taking place.

I attended church on Saturday morning, but today I was searching to be with people at worship so I attend an Episcopalian church in Ft. Lauderdale. Nothing in the service indicated that these brethren realize the End is upon us.

I was in an apocalyptic mood so instead of going home I dropped into the movie Blindness, a movie that had a look and a storyline that I kept telling myself might reflect what cities might degenerate into when the End creeps up upon us.

This movie was a downer for the most part and I wasn't thrilled to see it. It was billed as an exciting thriller. Perhaps thrillers no longer thrill when you know that the real thing is almost upon us. What a relief that there was a glimmer of hope at the end of the movie. Nevertheless, movies like this don't help me very much. In the future I'll choose my celluloid experiences very carefully.

Back home I put on Wynton Marsalis' church-jazz composition, In this House, On this Morning. I ate my home-cooked meal and waited for the afternoon soon to slip into forever. Alas, forever did not come so I decided to pay some bills on-line.

You will definitely know that something serious is happening to the world in which we live in when they stop filming new episodes of Desperate Housewives. But that day has not yet arrived. There's another new episode on tonight. In desperate times like these, what better show to watch than Desperate Housewives. Perhaps a little bit of humor and other people's mundane lives is what is needed as society devolves into madness. How fortunate for those who have the entire four seasons of Desperate Housewives on DVD in case they really do stop filming new episodes of this and other TV shows.

The networks would then have no other recourse than to film reality shows about the End of Days. Don't think it sounds so far-fetched. Hollywood has done everything else.

How does one live, really, when all the world is collapsing?