Thursday, December 17, 2009

Strangled Animals, Idol's Meat and Sexually Immoral Christians

Sexual immorality is what bothers Christian leaders more than anything else. As far back as the Book of Acts and the problems between Jewish Christians and their newer Gentile Christian brothers, immorality of the sexual variety, was what tended to set them apart.

It's odd to imagine that those early gentile Christians and their obsessive interest in sexual immorality, were, nevertheless, Christians. They obviously wanted to be Christians in good standing, otherwise why the big fuss about the problematic differences regarding meat sacrificed to idols, the eating of blood (in blood pies, or blood sausages, or other blood-based foods that were popular at the time), and eating the meat of strangled animals.

Some modern liberal Christians I've met through the years were very much Christians in that they showed an unnatural zeal for things Christians. Simultaneously though, they also demonstrated an interest in either sex outside of marriage with one partner, or in other cases, sex outside of marriage with someone of their own sex. Both are condemned by conservative interpreters of the Bible. These modern liberal-leaning Christians are in good company, nevertheless, with some of the gentile Christians described in the book of Acts who along with the meat and blood food stuffs already mentioned, also had a preference for sexual immorality.

Today, very few Christians bother with meat sacrificed to idols, meat of strangled animals or blood-based foods. If some do happen to eat any of these, however, it doesn't offend anyone except perhaps animal rights activists, and devout vegetarians. The free-sex penchant is still very much frowned upon, however.

One important point I need to make is that these stripped-down guidelines that were put forward to keep the peace between Jewish Christians and gentile Christians make avoiding sexual immorality, and the dietary prohibitions, more important--at least in this situation--than the more important considerations of practical Christianity and sharing your bread--or meat--with your hungry brother. But perhaps that was best left for another chapter in early Christianity. See the epistle of James or the parables of Christ for references to doing unto others as you would have them do unto you, and not just wishing them a nice day while they were deprived of bread, clothing or shelter.

It boggles the mind--to overstate the case--that some gentile Christians who may or may not have possessed all of the fruit of the Spirit, e.g., love, hope, faith, etc., but not self-control, obviously, were also wont to engage in activities that Jewish Christians found to be sexually immoral. What might some of these have been? Sex with prostitutes? Yes, especially since Paul counsels Christians against uniting their bodies with that of a prostitute in counsels to Christian churches of the time. Sex with family relations? Yes, there was the infamous case of a church member who apparently was in good standing--until Paul censured him--who was having sex with his wife's mother. Sex with temple prostitutes? Again, yes, especially by newly converted Christians. I'm referring to Paul's statement containing the words, "and such were some of you."

What am I getting at here anyway? That some--or perhaps many--early gentile Christians had a more relaxed attitude toward sex outside of marriage than Jewish Christians? That sounds very contemporary to these ears. Yes, sex outside of marriage has its problems: disease, hurt feelings, rejection when the attraction fades, unwanted pregnancies, angry spouses of the unfaithful partner. The list can go on and on.

I mention these somewhat tawdry references because texts like those in Acts 15:19-21, 28-29 are sometimes glossed over and ignored or, if they are not, then only the sexual immorality reference is played up, while the meat and blood prohibitions are ignored. Yet the latter prohibitions were obvisously very seriously considered at the time, so much so, that the counsel of the Holy Spirit is mentioned in stipulating that blood-based foods be avoided.

Nevertheless, when all is said and done what else can I say, in closing, but to quote the concluding words of these excerpts: "you will do well to avoid these things. Farewell."

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Waiting for God to Bless You

When things don't go right you have to hold on until times of refreshing return. The bible can be of help as well as singing Christian hymns and other spiritual songs. Praying can benefit you in times of need, as well. Nevertheless, when all has been done, you can't continue to read your bible all day, or pray all day, or even sing all day. You have to get on with the challenge of living your life no matter if it may not be as smooth as you would like it to be. You then have to hunker down, as best as  you can, and wait for God to act mercifully in your life. A friend may call and that will pass the time, but, again, you can't talk to your friend all day long. The time to deal with life and its imperfections comes to us all. May God have mercy on us all and shorten the wait time.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

John Lennon's Crucifixion Obsession

At the time John Lennon wrote the lyrics to The Ballad of John and Yoko which he recorded with the Beatles, he was criticized for referring to Christ's crucifixion in a rock song or for alluding to it in a secular context. It was especially displeasing to Christians that Lennon, an apparent atheist or agnostic, and one who was infamous for his "The Beatles are more popular than Jesus" statement, would then turn around and say that "the way things are going, they're trying to crucify me." To be quiet honest I have never liked his song very much, and quite recently, skip it when it comes up in the CD album sequence on my imaginary Ipod. I never cared for this song until today and the experience I had that gave me a first hand example of being crucified by others.

I started a new job about a month ago and though I've given it my all to the point of becoming physically sick by the rigors of the job, I, nevertheless, continued to be as helpful and as respectful of all I work with, both supervisors and those I supervise.

All this, I found out today, was in vain, apparently. My good intentions were mistaken for bad intentions. My going the extra mile was mistaken for cutting corners. My attention to detail was mistaken for bad judgment. My friendliness was mistaken for wasting time with needless pleasantries. My requests for information were mistaken for needless questioning of department policies. My adherence to department guidelines were mistaken for lack of flexibility. My confident assertiveness in the face of discourtesy by a subordinate was mistaken for intolerance toward someone who was trying to show me a better way to get the job done. In other words, I could do no right when trying to do so, and when I did right I was accused of not doing right in the first place.

At long last I felt, first hand, what it feels like when people try to crucify you. So to John Lennon's memory I apologize for thinking him insensitive to Christians for speaking of people trying to crucify you.

On a good note--all such cleansing revelations should have some positive lesson to learn--I realized that only Christ can take out the nails that others have tried all week long to drive into my hand, my feet, my bleeding side, as the hymn states. [When I Survey the Wondrous Cross on Which the Prince of Glory Died]. I always toyed with the mental image of being crucified with Christ, well, now I've got what I asked for. I know what it is to be crucified first hand.

May God bless you as well, as you ask him to take from out of your hands the nails that others--whether work associates, spouses, friends, family or strangers have driven into your hands. May Christ relieve your pain and may he cleanse you with his healing favor.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Is the Bible Dangerous? Yes, thank God.

Reading the Spectrum blog really requires more and more faith in God to keep on believing in spite of all of these enlightened opinions. Sometimes I have to laugh a little at how outrageous some of the enlightened statements come out sounding. Sometimes the bottom line seems to counsel readers not to bother to take much of the Bible seriously since it's full of so much apparent error, fable, good old fashioned myth, and horrible tales of incest, rape, pillage and nationalistic crusades. It's no wonder Adventism in North America is fading year after year. Much of the educated class does not believe in much of what the Bible, esp., the Old Testament says. If this intellectualizing of the Bible grows year after year, some day there will only be two or three readers of progressive journals who will throw up their hands and wonder how the numbers got to be so puny. God help us to find some kind of middle ground. Don't get me wrong, I'm just as guilty of putting a different spin on parts of the bible as the next person. In the meantime, let me check out what the Adventist Review/Adventist World folk are saying this week. Cheers. Posted by: Raul Batista (not verified) 30 September 2009 at 3:25

Well, Raul, we're sorry to try to engage with the Bible. We know we should accept its claims and commands--however contradictory or problematic--unquestioningly as faithful Mormons and Muslims do their writings and prophets. But given this failing of ours, how would you, Raul, understand and apply the book of Numbers? In particular, how do you feel or what do you think of Moses' command to keep the virgins but kill the rest? Or what about God's command to kill the stick-gatherer on Sabbath? Posted by: glennspring 30 September 2009 at 6:21

Glennspring, I feel uncomfortable with the cases you mention: "Moses' command to keep the virgins but kill the rest? Or what about God's command to kill the stick-gatherer on Sabbath?" I feel as uncomfortable with them as I do with the incidents of September 11, 2001, and the Holocaust. I choose, however, to continue to believe in the God of the Bible as I’m more comfortable with living my live with him—warts and all—than without him. Perhaps the agnostic’s path is more honest, but I am not, nor can I ever be, a member of that club. Life with a slightly mysterious God is better than one without him. Thanks for taking the time to comment.Posted by: Raul Batista (not verified) 30 September 2009 at 8:06

Thanks, Raul. But I don't think most of the people here, certainly not I, would suggest we abandon the God of the Bible or its essential narratives. That is, I don't think anyone here is an agnostic. Maybe our doubts seem a bit much for some people. But at least for some of us, we can come to know God better through a process of challenging and engaging with the texts. Like you, I recognize the "warts and all" of scripture, but continue to accept what I think are the essential truths of its stories and people. I think I might actually relate to the Bible more precisely because of them. Anyway, through the Bible we can continue to engage with God and with each other. Those of us here may do that a bit differently than others, but our reliance on the Biblical record continues to be central. Posted by: glennspring 30 September 2009 at 9:18

Hello Raul,
Are you attempting to claim that the Bible is NOT "full of so much apparent error, fable, good old fashioned myth, and horrible tales of incest, rape, pillage and nationalistic crusades"? If so, I suggest you try to read it again with unbiased eyes...Posted by: Jag (not verified) 01 October 2009 at 3:28

Jag, hello. Some unpleasant material is in the Bible, but why dwell on it and make it one's crusade. That unpleasant task already has many adherents in the "God is dead or never was" movement. People of faith--if they wish to convince others that they should become people of faith, as well--need to focus on the nuggets the Old Testament has to offer. "Love your neighbor as yourself" and "Love the Lord thy God with all your heart, soul and strength" are just two gems that need to be rescued from the mire of horrible tales of incest, rape, pillage and nationalistic crusades.

When I read about the man who was stoned for breaking the Sabbath I'm saddened, but I'm grateful we no longer carry on that tradition, otherwise I myself--and other Sabbath keepers--would have been done for ages ago.
Thank you for taking the time to comment. It is much appreciated.Posted by: Raul Batista (not verified) 01 October 2009 at 4:24

Hi Raul,
Thank you for your view.
It's not really about dwelling on the unpleasant materials in the Bible. It's about finding why it's there. It's about the search for the truth. Because such material certainly proves that the Bible is neither inerrant nor infallible. Quite the opposite in fact. And only once we acknowledge that can we liberate God from the human imperfection of the Bible's human authors. The only alternative you have is to pick and choose what you like in the Bible and discard what you don't, which does not appear to me to be an honest attitude and smells of censorship.
I never suggest we abandon God. I merely suggest that we re-discover God for our own generation, that we do not freeze God in outdated human concepts, and that we do not treat the Bible as if it had fallen from heaven.Posted by: Jag (not verified) 02 October 2009 at 3:18

Please see the following link for the original post in Spectrum magazine's site that elicited the above comments and reactions:

Numbers—an Introduction

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Mysteries of God Revealed: Christ Lives in His Word

What if the words of the bible are not just mere words. What if the words actually contain the transcendent presence and power of Christ? Of course, not everyone experiences this; it has to be conferred upon you before the real power of the hidden Christ manifests itself.

Did Christ not say ". . . the words I have spoken to you are Spirit [or spirit] and they are life" John 6:63 (NIV)? He also said "for my flesh [word] is real food and my blood is real drink" John 6:55 (NIV)

It is astounding that you can experience God himself as you eat and drink the spiritual liquid and food found in his Word. How will you know you are really tapping into something supernatural? When you long to sit at the master's feet because you know how good the spiritual meal was the day before, you know you are not just reading words and nothing more. You are becoming one with Christ. It is his doing. It is certainly not yours.

One approach to lead you to experience this for yourself is to ask God to grant you the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is given: "If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!" Luke 11:13 (NIV). The next step is to apply the words of the gospel in the present tense. The above verse about spirit and life can be appropriated into your inner self by stating "Christ's words are spirit and they are life to me. In Jesus' name." You may very well repeat these words slowly and meditate on them as long as you feel a need. If you are not able to make the connection right away. Keep on trying. Perhaps you might want to move to the next or previous text in the gospel account.

My favorite chapters in the gospels are John 14-17. I read the chapters straight through in one sitting. Next I start with John 14:1 which says " Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me [Christ]." I then make this text real to me by saying to myself--silently or audibly--"I am not letting my heart be troubled. I am trusting in God; I am also trusting in Christ. In Jesus' name." By focusing on these words I enter a dimension that takes me deeper into the God realm than I have ever been. When my 45 minutes of study and meditation come to an end I wish I had just begun.

I then kneel for 15 minutes and either refer to the verses I have been meditating on or make my requests for spiritual and material needs known to God. I sometimes ask, believe and thank God for the gift he has promised in his Word. At other times I simply state the promises in the present tense very much as I do with the texts I've been meditating on. I always end each request with "in Jesus' name" and not just at the end of the prayer session. At times I have my watch by my side so I don't get lost in the transcendent dimension and run out of time before I need to leave for work.

If you want to live in a timeless state of life and inner peace, I urge you to give this early morning spiritual exercise a try. It will alter your quality of life in ways that you can't begin to understand until it starts happening to you.

In closing I share a text that I have permanently recorded in my subconscious mind.

"Peace I [Christ] leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." John 14:27 (NIV)

Fire in the Sky Outshines Sunlight

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.

"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)

[Originally posted as The Second Coming, Wirelessly]

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Evolution of Adventist Christianity

Adventism keeps adapting and changing as any living entity must. Where will it be twenty years hence? Will Adventists one day be nothing more than Sabbath-keeping Methodists? Now there's nothing wrong with Methodists, especially since Adventist pioneers were Methodists themselves. Nevertheless, there has traditionally been something outstandingly different about Seventh-Day Adventists.

In addition to observing the seventh day, Saturday, as the day of holy rest and devotion, Adventists have traditionally held beliefs that most of Christendom does not possess. Some of these major beliefs are the following:
  1. The Investigative Judgement: We are all being judged according to whether we have accepted Jesus Christ as our savior and the life that results after experiencing such belief.

  2. The State of the Dead: The soul is not immortal. When we die we enter soul sleep and await the resurrection of the body at the Second Coming of Christ.

  3. The Sanctuary in Heaven: Christ entered the most holy place in the Heavenly Sanctuary (temple) and has been acting as intercessor in a heightened sense since 1844.

  4. The Seventh Day Sabbath: The fourth commandment requires that Saturday, not Sunday, be kept holy.

  5. The Spirit of Prophecy: Spirit-inspired writings did not end with the Book of Revelation. Adventists believe that the writings of Ellen G. White are inspired though are not above the Bible. The possibility of future manifestations of the prophetic gift are certainly possible, as well.
Again, Adventism is changing in different ways. For example: positive views about evolution by science professors in a few centers of higher learning though not at the official level; divorced persons are accepted as church members; in some progressive congregations gays, lesbians and transgender folk are welcomed though not necessarily accepted as members; some worship services feature Christian rock music; some congregations allow members to sport jewelry; some members attend movie theatres or see the same movies at home on their DVD players; some members don't endorse some of the distinctive doctrines mentioned above (investigative judgment, sanctuary in heaven, spirit of prophecy)

In spite of these changes in North America, Europe and Australia, Adventism continues to experience explosive growth in Brazil and the Philippines, just to name a couple, where church growth outpaces comparable groups like the Church of Latter Day Saints and Jehovah Witnesses (The Watchtower Society.) It has been suggested that in countries like Brazil and Philippines the dissemination of church publications, e.g., tracts, bible studies courses, Spirit of Prophecy books, etc., have contributed to the explosive growth in proselytes in countries in the developing world.

Like any vibrant and dynamic entity, there are developments toward or away from orthodoxy. Which strain of Adventism will triumph remains to be seen. Which would make more sense in the long run if it absorbed the other one?

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Beatles Music Used In Adventist Worship

The music of the Beatles' I'll Follow the Sun is tamer than some of the praise music sung in my local conservative Adventist church. Believe me when I say that my congregation is conservative although I'm sure there are more conservative congregations if you go looking for them. Nevertheless, the influence that the Beatles' music has exerted, perhaps unconsciously, on the composers of a significant amount of the music heard in my church is intriguing.

I had not attended an Adventist church for almost 15 years until four and a half years ago. The music I encountered bewildered me. The instrumentation featured mild electric guitar licks or passages. Almost every song featured mild to mid-tempo drumming. In addition, chord changes and rhythms that are found in Beatles songs were in the songs I heard in church. The lyrics were very spiritual and theologically sound, but the music that accompanied those lyrics were reminiscent of pop radio of the late 60s and early 70s. I didn't at first care for these modern-sounding church songs. I preferred the songs in the hymnal. I don't know when it happened, but at some point during the past four and a half years, the Beatles-flavored praise songs started sounding pretty good to me. They were easier to recall as I lived my life than the staid church hymnal hymns I had grown up with. I was concerned.

I still sing church hymnal songs during my devotions and my quiet moments, but those moments are becoming less and less. The modern-sounding praise songs are becoming part of my daily devotional meditations.

I supposed if someone played a karaoke version of some of the Beatles less-known music and sang sacred lyrics to them, no one would even notice and some would applaud the tamer praise song they had just heard. One of the tamest songs in the Beatles catalog is I Will from the White Album aka The Beatles. Perhaps in time, if is not occurring already, songs like this one will be heard in Adventist worship with religious lyrics not sanctioned by the Beatles' estate. Since it would not be for profit, there is no way that Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Yoko Ono or Olivia Harrison could prevent such Adventist Beatles songs from having their day in Adventist worship.

Even the music--though not necessarily the lyrics--of the Beatles can be used to draw people closer to Jesus Christ. Imagine that.
For a traditional treatise on this subject by the late Samuele Bacchiocchi, Ph. D. please see
"Christian Rock" Music In The SDA Church

Monday, September 07, 2009

Recipe for Living Well

So much time is spent in wondering whether one has eternal life or not. So many sleepless nights. So many efforts to read everything in sight regarding the path to heaven. So much concern about trying to enter through the narrow gate. So many nights wondering if you are being emptied of self.

Instead of subjecting yourself to this type of misery any further, here's a solution that makes more sense both for your mental health now and your eternal well-being, as well. Each morning of your life spend at least 30 minutes reading the Bible, especially the Gospels, and praying for five minutes regarding what you've read. This is the means to maintaining a relationship with Christ Jesus, the one who gives you a better quality of life now and eternal life in the future. As you sense your need, you may very well increase the time you spend reading the Bible and praying. Depending on your soul hunger so will your intake of spiritual food (Bible) and spiritual exercise (prayer) be.

After you nourish your spirit then you are ready to help those in need and to share, as God enables you, what Christ Jesus means to you. Some of the projects that come to mind are the following: help eliminate homelessness, joblessness, and social inequality.

Please see the original post in Spectrum Magazine for the reason for this post: Confidence

Friday, September 04, 2009

Beatles for Jesus

With the world abuzz about the release of the Beatles' Rockband video game and all of their remastered CDS on 9-9-09 I was inspired to resurrect a trend that was popular among young Christians in the early 70s. To my surprise one could slightly change the words of one Beatles song, in particular, and sing it as a praise song to Christ.

The following lyrics have been adjusted and can be sung to the tune of And I love Her.

I give Christ all my love
That's all I do
And if you saw my Lord
You'd love him too
I love him

He gives me ev'rything
And tenderly
The kiss my saviour brings
He brings to me
And I love him

A love like ours
Could never die
As long as I
Have Christ near me

Bright are the stars that shine
Dark is the sky
I know this love of mine
Will never die
And I love him

Bright are the stars that shine
Dark is the sky
I know this love of mine
Will never die
And I love Christ

Friday, August 28, 2009

Supernatural Life: Bright as Sun

Yes, John F. Kennedy did say not to ask what your country can do for you, but rather, what you can do for your country. However, when it comes to your creator, you are permitted to have a different spin on this issue--at least initially. After you are assured of what blessings Christ has given you, then you can turn your attention to what you can do for him.

So what has Jesus done for you in the last month? Has he given you life and health? If you've not been in the best of health, can you ask him for healing? Will he give you healing as you continue to look to him daily? Has he given you life? Yes, but you might not think that the quality of life you are enjoying right now is on par with the life you may have lived in the past or the life you'd like to be living today. Ask him to further you toward that goal of a higher quality life.

Keep in mind, however, that life is more than living a pleasant and stimulating life. Life is also more than always being in the pink of health. Christ can give you supernatural life and health right now that is more valuable than your every day variety. He offers you an enhanced quality of life. Even when you are in pain or when life is not as perfect as you'd like it to be, the enhanced life that he gives you makes up for that.

This can sound rather vague or intangible if you've never experienced it first hand. Let me tell you that it is worth the bother--if you can call it that. Before I try to explain how to enjoy this supernatural life and health, let me try to describe it further.

Supernatural life makes the sun shine brighter even when it is temporarily hidden by an overcast sky. An enhanced life makes a child's laughter more heart-warming than it would otherwise be perceived. The future looks brighter no matter how it may look to the person who is experiencing the same set of life experiences that you are currently experiencing. A glass of pure orange juice is more refreshing than a bottle of beer would be on a hot summer day. The gentle handshake of a friend is more reassuring and comforting than a week of one-night stands.

How do you start experiencing this higher quality of life? The one who gives you life can also give you supernatural life. Spend half an hour every morning reading from any of the four gospels. Ask Christ to help you as you read the Word of Life. Ask him to give you a supernatural desire for these mystic words of life. After your half hour with the good news found in the gospels, share your concerns and joys with Christ. Ask him for the blessings he has promised you in the chapter you just read. One of my favorite promises is found in Matthew 11. It promises you that if you come to Christ [spend time with him via his words and talk to him in prayer] he will give you rest. That's supernatural rest that's promised. Not the rest you get after a long day at work in front of your TV set. It's a rest that can't be explained until it is experienced first hand.

After you start enjoying this supernatural life that only Christ can give you, you can then address what you can do for Christ. It will be simpler to accomplish than what he has given you, but it will be well worth the blessing that you will be able to impart to others.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Noah's Interstellar Ark

Hurricanes in Florida, terrorism in New York City, earthquakes and wildfires in California, tornadoes just about everywhere, global warming, raging wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and genocide in Darfur. The harsh realities of living anywhere on planet Earth hint that there are no desirable cities or countries left to live in. Why bother moving out to somewhere else? Why not consider moving up! I mean that literally, not figuratively

Noah in the Bible was not given a ready-built mode of survival from the catastrophic flood that wiped the known-world into oblivion. He had to build the ark himself. In like manner this is what must be done by Adventist Futurists and their supporters. There is nowhere to escape in the event of a worldwide conflagration but up and out. Humanity possesses the God-given science, vision and the means to build arks in space to escape Earth's destruction by fire.

If Noah and his family had to begin again from scratch after they escaped death by water into a virtually new world, a postdiluvian one, why might not modern-day Noahs also escape into a virtual new world beyond the disaster of a worldwide Apocalypse?

Yes, Christ still returns, but not to Jerusalem on Earth, but rather, to a spiritual Jerusalem on another world or sphere. All the prophecies of the Bible may need to be cast in new settings to adjust to unforeseen glitches ushered in by the postmodern world in which we live.

We've all heard the expression of not putting all our eggs into one basket. We must not disregard the possibility that the damage or dangers that have been perpetrated on Earth by humanity, or by problems endemic to life-on-Earth, may be irreversible. There may be hope yet. We need to act in undreamed of ways. We cannot wait to see the Earth dying with no solution at hand. Planning for alternate versions of deus ex-machina may not be such a bad idea after all. How true would the saying then be that "God works in mysterious ways."

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Mystery of Ernie Knoll, Adventist Prophet

Due to a variety of reasons I have chosen to present the following comments about Mr. Ernie Knoll and his claim to the gift of prophecy.

Raul Batista,

I found some humor in your post [See below,] I enjoyed that. I have ran across some Batista's in life's journey, they are some good people. :)

Anyways, talking about promotion, here is some more websites I have put up. They are not "cookie cuttered" so to speak, of the original, , but give me some time, I might make them as such. :)

You know Ernie or Becky Knoll could be checking or posting on this board. On the last email he sent out he admitted that he made up Candace due to the fact that he had read postings of negativity on a forum board and countered with "Candace".I gather he gets a lot of email though since he is using a spam block on his email. So, he might not have time to look on the boards. Apparently he is not the admin of the original website, , since if he was, the content would have been taken down by now.

Posted by: Mister Anonymous (not verified) 11 August 2009 at 2:55

Original comment:

A modern day prophet should not attract too much attention to him/herself. Rather, (s)he should let their writings speak for themselves. Of course, self-promotion is not a bad thing at times. I think even Ellen White told a few people that she was experiencing something a little out of the ordinary.

I'm both interested and annoyed by this post and it's ongoing mystery about who or who isn't Ernie Knoll.

I, for one, refrain from directly reading the "visions" lest there be some mystic influence at work when they are read.

All the best to Ernie Knoll if he is indeed on this website regularly checking up on the comments.

I'm even thinking suddenly, that I myself might be this much talked about Ernie Knoll and don't even realize it yet.

Posted by: Raul Batista (not verified) 11 August 2009 at 2:14

For the entire post and all comments please see The Prophetic Career of Ernie Knoll

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Living Through Jesus

How wonderful these words sound if you believe in Christ Jesus. How banal or annoying they appear if Jesus Christ has no meaning for you. For some, however, the words have no meaning at all because they have never heard of Jesus Christ. Sadly, there are some who use the name "Jesus Christ" as a swear word and have no inkling as to the wonderful person whose name they are using needlessly. Some might even find the thought of living for Jesus humorous. I've met people in the past that believed that it was a waste of time pursuing a life with Jesus Christ as its center.

Thankfully, I don't believe that way. "Jesus is the joy of living. He's the king of life to me." These words from the church hymnal have been on my mind for many months. As a child I sang them often and didn't really connect with them. I sang them dutifully in church or church school, but didn't find them especially gratifying. The reality of enjoying Christ as a real person in your life is a gift from God through his Holy Spirit. It is a transcendent reality that is bequeathed to us with no apparent explanation, at times.

Four years ago, out of boredom, I started singing one particular song as I walked my dog.

"It's a wonderful, wonderful life when you're with the Lord above. It's a wonderful, wonderful life when you're saved by his love. There's a joy that you never can tell and great things from the Lord above. As I walk with the Lord in my heart there's a song. It's a wonderful, wonderful life."

Only in retrospect was I able to trace a revival in my spiritual life to the seemingly passive singing of the powerful words of this song. The message in the song actually became my conscious reality. For that miracle I am grateful to the Lord.

In addition to intoning the words of this song daily, but with little feeling to what I was singing, I started claiming the promise for the reception of the Holy Spirit found in Luke 11:13 which says, "if you then who are earthly know how to give good things to your children, how much more will your heavenly father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him." I had claimed this particular promise on and off for years, but more as a vague desire for something that I had known once. I don't think I really believed the words I was saying.

At any rate I can't say how long I claimed this promise, but when something otherworldly started happening to me, I did not automatically connect it with the promise I had routinely been claiming on my daily commute to work.

In accepting that something extraordinary was beginning to occur in my life I decided to start getting up early in the morning and spending time with the New Testament. It was only after a few months that I actually became interested in attending church. I had not attended church in over 15 years. After three and a half years of attending church I felt it was meaningful for me to seek rebatism.

Temptations of ever-increasing variety never cease to cross my path, but for reasons that baffle me, I continue to seek God morning by morning. I'm not doing anything out of the ordinary to continue having this mysterious relationship with Christ. I'm simply letting him fill me with whatever spiritual and material blessings he wishes to shower me with. Yes, of course, I continue to rise early to eat the word of life and to commune with God through prayer, but this desire does not come from me, how could it? It would be so much more pleasant to continue sleeping or to enjoy other activities instead of the bible and prayer. Nevertheless, the mystery of spirituality continues to grace my days. I am astounded and indebted to Christ Jesus for this continuing blessing.

It is my hope that if you have never given Jesus Christ the time of day that you will do so very soon.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Future Worlds: Theoretical Adventisms

First-day Adventists believe(d) that Christ's coming was going to occur very soon. They are one of the primary groups that grew out of William Miller's preaching toward the middle of the 19th century. As their name states, they observed the first day of the week, Sunday.

Seventh-day Adventists are one of the descendants of the previous group and most distinctly worship on the seventh day of the week, Saturday. There are some other distinctions which we cannot go into detail at this time.

(Eighth-day) Adventist Futurists are a conceptual society. They believe that not only is the seventh day the day of rest, but additionally, they observe the hours after sunset on Saturday night and ending with sunrise on Sunday morning, as well. They focus on the spiritual beauty of the Sabbath and not on the strict letter-of-the-law. (This does not necessarily mean that 7th-Day Adventists do not also focus on the spiritual beauty of the Sabbath.)

(Eighth-day) Adventist Futurists have as one their primary goals to escape planet Earth's eventual human-engineered destruction by escaping to habitable worlds within this solar system and, eventually, to worlds surrounding nearby stars. Progressive (Eighth-day) Adventist Futurists go one step further and observe any 24-hour period commencing on any day of the week at sunset and concluding at sunset on the following day because this will be the norm when the weekly cycle will cease to be meaningful. The sun never sets in outer space.

Perfect Futurists are theorized as being the descendants of the (Eighth-day) Adventist Futurists when they have successfully engineered Macro Life worlds which can exist in-between worlds and are said to be the eventual and preferred living environments for space-faring humans. [Scientist Dandridge M. Cole originated the term "Macro Life" in his 1961 book The Ultimate Human Society.]*

Please see Adventism's New Horizons for more in-depth treatment of this future society.

* "Cole conceived Macrolife as a possible next step in evolution, potentially as momentous as the transition from single-celled to multicelled life. Units of Macrolife, self-contained human societies in planetoid colonies or elsewhere, would have the capacity for growth, motion, reproduction, self-repair, and response to external stimuli.[12] He developed further details in his 1961 The Ultimate Human Society and in subsequent books."

Friday, August 07, 2009

Power to Create Galaxies Is at Your Disposal

Only God can create galaxies with his omniscient and omnipotent mind. He has this power within himself and it is unborrowed. However, the promise does exist that we "can do all things through him [Christ] who strengthens [us.]" Phil. 4:13 [italics mine] Notwithstanding that the actual context refers to being content with abundance or lack of it, this text is often cited as a stand alone text referring to being able to surmount obstacles and being able to live a victorious Christian life, as well.

Additionally, did Jesus not promise that "if you have faith the size of a mustard seed you can say to this mountain be lifted up and transported to the heart of the seas and it will be done." Gospel of Matthew. Some say that this mountain is symbolic of obstacles and such. Well that may be. However, nothing is impossible for God. Why could not a literal mountain be transported into the heart of the seas? Stranger things have happened in our modern world. Did not a seemingly small Enola Gay aircraft deliver an even smaller device which destroyed two major Japanese cities with tragic results? How seemingly impossible would that have appeared to people living even 100 years before such a thing occurred to say nothing of those living 1000 years ago.

Several times a day Phil. 4:13 comes to mind, but it has come to lose some of its power by frequent repetition until I focused on each word and realized the amazing significance of each word. All worlds were created by Christ's power. We are promised that that same Christ, who is very God, can empower us to do all things through his limitless power.

Is there any reason why we at some point in our future experience will be prevented by this boundless power to create galaxies of our own invention? The universe is infinite. It is suggested by some theorists that we are a part of a multiverse which is also infinite. Each child of God can theoretically be enabled to create galaxies through the creative power of God.

In this mortal life the only ability we are granted is to create these future galaxies through the power of the sanctified imagination. One curious idea has suggested itself as I started this post. What if we already have this God-given power at our disposal and don't realize it? As we peer through telescopes that our God-given intelligence has enabled us to design, might we not be creating by the power of thought the very galaxies we are seeing in ever-increasing profusion and variety? God shares everything with us: life, mind, free will. Why put limits on what he is capable of sharing with us, his children?

The flip side of this wonderful God-given ability, is unfortunately at our disposal as well: the power to uncreate and to destroy. How else to account for the disasters and gross imperfections that come into play with ever-increasing frequency? Man and his free will are presently undoing the perfection that God blessed us with in creating our perfect reality. When planes fall from the sky we need not blame this catastrophe on an almost invincible demon, or even put the blame on God himself. These disasters happen because somewhere on Earth there are individuals who will these things into existence. Humanity is its own worst enemy.

Humankind can, through the enabling power of God, also be its own best friend and an agent for good. Why stop at just good? Why not redesign what is apparently broken? Everything is possible for him who believes. Start believing and through the wondrous power of God, start creating your first galaxy today.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Christianity's Mysterious Obsession

Why does one err even after having spent an hour "sitting at the feet of Jesus?" You'd think prayer and Bible study as well as "giving your power of choice to Christ" would take care of the rest of the day. It does not. Some might say that one errs because one took one's eyes off Jesus. Still, there must be some other factor that throws a wrench into the engine of a struggling Christian's day.

God, it is said, respects our power of choice. If you spend time in devotional exercises and enjoy them day-by-day, but still err within minutes or an hour after your time of spiritual devotion, something else must be taking place.

Could the experience of erring itself be a test? Could the test be whether you feel that the Christian life is not what it's purported to be? Does it make sense to spend time on your knees and in the hour of prayer and still err because, deep down inside, you want to err anyway? Sometimes you might not want to err, but slip up and then the challenge takes a different turn.

Do you let errors, faults, slip-ups--fill in the blanks--discourage you that your Christian experience is false or not worth the trouble? Or do you persevere because in spite of your errors, you still find so much beauty and sustenance from the time spent in prayer and bible study each day?

If you've enjoyed the Christian life for a while and find it to be a valid approach to the challenges of life, you ignore the fact that something is not quite right with your life and you don't understand what it all means, but, nevertheless, you don't cease being a Christian in spite of the failures. If anything, your failures indicate that you need Jesus more and more. You may not be the successful Christian you'd like to be right now--or ever--but it is better to be a struggling and imperfect Christian than not to be a Christian at all.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

A Third of the Trees are Dying, Literally

CCD (Colony Collapse Disorder) is currently causing bees to completely disappear by 2035. With the bees gone fruits, vegetables and nuts will be gone, as well, since bees--not wind--pollinate these crops. Humanity would need to survive only on wind-pollinated crops like wheat and rice. While humans have survived during past historical periods on a non-varied diet, optimum health and quality of life as we know them now, will be a thing of the past. While humans may survive the loss of all fruits, vegetables and nuts, many animal species which depend on these foods will not survive. If the wind-pollinated crops also become endangered--which is certainly not impossible--starvation will quickly take its toll on humanity.

As I watched this PBS documentary, The Silence of the Bees, the text from Revelation came to mind right away and these words haunted me the more I watched as the mysterious dying of the bees was explained.

. . . "A third of the earth was burned up, a third of the
trees were burned up
, and all the green grass was burned up."
Revelation 8:7 (New International Version)

Supposedly, malnutrition, parasites, pesticides, and finally, a virus are to blame for a third of the bees having already died out quickly. While this may explain this phenomenon partially, no available solution has been found to reverse this loss of bees. While this may explain the mystery of the dying bees, it does not answer as to why it's happening in what appear to be apocalyptic proportions.

If the bees disappear--and they will die out by 2035 unless a way is found to reverse the process--most of the foods we eat will also disappear. When the food disappears, more and more humans may very well start to experience ill health and then die, even in civilized countries. With the death of more and more of humanity, untold problems will appear, e.g., riots, revolution, and the break down of civilization.

Yes, science may yet save the day, but if it cannot, then we may be witnessing the gradual extinction of humanity or we may be seeing something else.

What if the End, the apocalypse spoken of in the book of Revelation, is really upon us?

During the Cold War it was nuclear destruction that was feared. How much simpler will the end be ushered in: by the dying of the bees and everything that follows in its wake.

Pray that the bees live on, as well as all of life and its interconnectedness. If you can't pray for that, then pray for yourself and your family that you will survive the long-foretold End of all things.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Evolution's impact on Good and Evil

Science insists that evolution has happened and may, very well, continue to happen. If evolution is good science, how can you fit the conflict between good and evil into the big picture? Do you suspend belief in science and it's proofs for evolution, i.e., natural selection, the fossil record, etc., and affirm your faith in the Bible's creation account and its concurrent 6,000 year age for the Earth? If you accept that Adam and Eve existed, and the Bible makes their creation very important to the future history of the human race, how do you account for evolution's suggestion that death existed before Adam and Eve sinned? These are not easy questions, but they should be addressed lest they continue to hound us for years.

Recently a possible solution started to take shape. Evil and it's close cousin, sin, existed from the very beginning of cosmic time. I'm not suggesting that there was never a time that evil did not exist, although theoretically it has always existed as an essential opposite of good and its close cousin, righteousness. If evil and sin existed before the fall, then how could Adam and Eve be punished, as well as their once-perfect world, if evil already existed before they sinned? Was the Adam and Eve experiment, if you will, another opportunity to see if free will would choose good instead of evil? How many other Adam and Eve experiments have there been? The universe is pretty old; its age numbers in billions of years. Has this tug of war between good and evil been going on for as many years?

In a related line of thinking, if evil theoretically could always exist as an alternative to good, would it make sense to prevent the possibility of evil rising again, if at some golden future event, evil is vanquished by divine agencies? Wouldn't that be as unjust as never allowing evil to exist the first time around?

The best our universe can ever hope for--realistically speaking--is to keep evil at bay. There will always be evil--albeit in its quiescent state--in the same way that all of the complimentary opposites must always exist. Left is incomplete without its direct opposite, right. Up and down must ever exist. Dark and light, as well. Good and evil, by their very nature, must always exist in some form or another. To think otherwise is impractical and incomplete.

Intelligent beings have at their disposal the option to bring about a universe where good and righteousness by the grace of God, triumph time and time again, over evil and sin, ad infinitum.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Creating an Ideal World: Adventist Futurism

What would an ideal world be like? How would you bring it about? Before anything can be achieved it has to be envisioned first.

Computers, spacecraft, the Internet--the list goes on and on--first had to be conceived before they could be invented and perfected. As unlikely as it seems, had Jules Verne never written From the Earth to the Moon (1865) which depicts a rocket launch from somewhere in Florida, no one would have gotten the idea to make that vision come to pass a hundred years later.

What is not being done now that could improve the world beyond recognition? There must be something that either has to be added or removed before a new reality could take place. We could wait for it to come into existence on its own. While not impossible, perhaps implementing a think tank of sorts to bring about an ideal reality might achieve more than simply waiting for something that may take millennia, or perhaps may never take place.

We should pool our best minds from every nation and work towards an approach to perfecting reality in as little time as possible.

I'm reminded of the vision of Isaac Asimov in his Foundation series (Foundation, Foundation and Empire, Second Foundation.) In order to avoid a long decay into barbarism, efforts were implemented to shorten the decay of the galactic empire to only 1,000 years. Why can't something similar be done to solve the major problems of our present reality?

What are some of the greatest challenges to an improved reality? Eliminating war, poverty and hunger are the first things that come to mind. Others might be providing education, medical care and a place to live to everyone on our planet. The third phase would be addressing environmental problems, managing natural phenomena such as hurricanes and earthquakes. Finally, the greatest gift we could give our world reality would be to take measures to move beyond our sometimes fragile planet and seed the known universe with our people, our technology and our dreams.

One possible approach might involve a little-known group of people. It's as if they had almost been kept a secret from the rest of the world for some grand vision of enhancing reality. Adventists are some of the most educated people in the world because they have higher education and progress as one of their cardinal principles. Adventists may very well be some of the most wealthy people in the world when you factor in of all their collective capital. Next to the Catholic church Adventism is the richest church in existence. This is not a widely-known reality. It would be easier for a future-oriented think tank to rise out of the Adventist Futurists than from any other traditional body.

Tap into the unknown power of your mind and literally create an ideal world.

We're here for a special God-given purpose: to better the world.

For a related post please consult Adventist Futurism.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Great Controversy Prophecy Is on the Verge of Taking Place

Only an avid reader of Ellen G. White's Great Controversy would find this headline in today's New York Times astounding:

Pope Urges New World Economic Order

The lead paragraph is like a swim in a cold ocean:

VATICAN CITYPope Benedict XVI on Tuesday called for a radical rethinking of the global economy, criticizing a growing divide between rich and poor and urging the establishment of a “world political authority” to oversee the economy and work for the “common good.”

Another paragraph contains a reference to labor unions which Ellen G. White also was wont to attack:

Indeed, sometimes Benedict sounds like an old-school European socialist, lamenting the decline of the social welfare state and praising the “importance” of labor unions to protect workers. Without stable work, he notes, people lose hope and tend not to get married and have children.

It seems that Ellen G. White did have a window into the future after all.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Yoko Ono Adventist Society

Most people know little about Yoko Ono's art credentials before she met Beatle John Lennon. She was a conceptual artist and had exhibits in important museums when the Beatles were just starting out.

Recently I finally caught up with some of her Fluxus art creations at the Guggenheim's The Third Eye Exhibit in New York City. Until I actually saw the art work side-by-side with John Cage's conceptual scores and La Monte Young's Meditation room environments did it finally hit me that she was a respected avant-garde artist. I, of course, had enjoyed her conceptual art from what little I was able to see and hear of it via excerpts from the book Grapefruit and her collected works sampler, the six-CD Ono Box. But it was the inclusion in a major art retrospective that finally completed the journey for me.

What, if anything, does Adventism have to do with Yoko Ono? Nothing just yet. Or, if anything, there exists a conceptual connection that, in itself, is bound to create such a link. Anything is possible and it is my hope that Ms. Ono may one day contribute her unique gifts towards making Adventist Christianity, or Christian Adventism, as cutting edge as her art and music have been.

A google search of "Yoko Ono" and Adventist turned up an article in the Takoma Park Voice that contained a wonderful performance art description of Ono's work in the Takoma Park area. The Takoma Park area is where the General Conference Headquarters of Adventism are located, as well as one of its largest churches, The Sligo Seveth-Day Adventist church. The google search also produced too many other web sites that time does not permit me to explore. So perhaps there is a six-degrees-of-separation connection between Yoko Ono and Adventism after all. Please consult: The Takoma connection to Yoko's "Wish Trees" of the world .

The power of positive thinking and the law of attraction have come to be stabilizing filters through which I make sense of my life for three years now. It's amazing for me to find echoes of both these methodologies in the art and music of Ms. Ono and--through her influence--in the lyrics and music of John Lennon, her deceased husband.

From a spiritual point of view I find examples of the power of positive thinking in the Psalms and in the work of Ellen G. White both of which impart untold blessings to my life on a daily basis.

There is, at least, one member in this conceptual Yoko Ono Adventist Society. No doubt this post will bring others out of hiding.

Should You Believe in Evolution Against All Hope?

I've believed a bit in evolution through the years what with science being something I was taught to respect. I was smug in by belief until I realized that believing in evolution would mean that God uses death to accomplish ever-evolving life.

I guess I can't fully believe in six literal days of creation either although if God had wanted to he, no doubt, could very well have created our world in six days. He can certainly destroy it in less time if he wanted to.

So I don't know what to believe regarding how we all came to be, but I, nevertheless, hang onto my belief in God because it makes me a better person than a life without God. I don't know the mysteries of life and its beginnings, but somehow that's not so important to me.

I will continue searching for an answer, but will not despair if I never find one. I ask God to sustain me as I continue my search for an answer to this vexing question. Perhaps I'll find that the answer will be the simplest one of all.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Automatic Light

"The Lord is my light and my salvation." -- Psalm 27

I've been focusing on these words ever since yesterday as I sat by the pool and I would like to make them automatic thoughts to counteract anything less than ideal that may unsuccessfully try to assert itself.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Three Years of Theology Put to Good Use

Today I preached a simple sermonette about The Challenges of Righteousness by Faith during the Ten Days of Prayer seminar at the church I attend. I hope it did someone good. The pastor's wife commented after the service that it was a lovely talk. She encouraged me to put together another one. I told her I'd rather keep on presenting the same sermon with variations each time. She smiled and said that wouldn't be as interesting.

It was a blessing for me to have been asked by the pastor and to have given the 20-minute meditation on a subject that is important to me. It is why I remain a Christian as well as continue being interested in the Seventh-Day Adventist church. It was in the Seventh-Day Adventist church that I found Christ and the message of Righteousness by Faith. My ministry is to share this passion with others in church, especially those who may have legalistic leanings.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Future Sin

I don't know about you, but the more I think of sin as a concept, of past sins, unconfessed sins, theoretical sins, etc., the more I want to sin. I'm even taking a risk by writing about sin. Even when you do sin it is better to confess your sin to God and then quickly move on. Why cry over spilt milk, as it were? Why frown about the vase that broke and cannot be repaired? Pick up the broken pieces, throw them out and then move on with your day, and with your life. Of course, I am not saying there is no such thing as sin. It would be nice if that were the case. It is obvious that there is something wrong in one's behavior from time to time. However, it is not healthy to dwell on the imperfections of sin.

Do more than just put it out of your mind. If anyone starts talking about Sin or sinning just excuse yourself and remove yourself at once from their presence. That is unless they have asked you to help them because they are weighed down by the burden of sin. You would be sinning again if you were so unconcerned about a fellow human being who is asking you for help.

There are so many worthwhile and useful things you could be doing with your life than dwelling on your sins, past or future. It is better to focus on a more loving version of yourself, a more grateful one, a more ideal one which will, hopefully, bring you closer to that reality.

Even better yet is to focus on Christ, his words, other ideal realities and these exalted realities may very well become your own reality, as well.

What to do with Sin? Leave it alone, in both word and deed. Take a breath of fresh, sinless air, and start enjoying your life today.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Christianity 3001 A.D.

What will Christianity look like in 500 or 1,000 years? While Christianity can still be integrated into past manifestations of its history, no matter how modern or contemporary it has become or is becoming, it is not necessarily a given that the distant future of this religion will be as recognizable as its past has been.

Some of the realities that may well come to pass in the future will, no doubt, also have their impact on Christianity. Some of these are briefly described below.

Christian cyborgs - A cyborg is a being that is composed of both cybernetic as well as organic components. To a limited extent cyborgs already exist today as technology works wonders with those who have had limbs amputated due to war, disease or other mishaps. When a future individual becomes more cybernetic than biological--perhaps some even out of choice--how would this reality impact its experience as a Christian? In such a case the person in question would be more a work of man than a work of God. Of course, it would still be God who gave humans the knowledge to enhance or refashion one of his creatures. Would cyborgs be the only ones who could share their faith with other cyborgs? How would they fit in when worshiping among biological Christians? Might not the ultimate symbol of their acceptance into the community of believers be a painting of Christ washing the feet of a Cyborg apostle at the last supper? Paul's familiar text about there not being neither slave nor freeman, Jew nor gentile, male nor female, may very well one day include, neither biological person nor cyborg. All are one in Christ.

Christian A.I. (Artificial Intelligence) Entities - Some may scoff at the mere mention, but keep in mind that earlier generations had similar attitudes toward in-vitro humans, as well as the still-forbidden cloning of human beings. If one day A.I. persons can pass for human or accomplish most human activities except anatomical reproduction of offspring, how would Christianity deal with these seemingly improbable humans? They would be perhaps one of humanity's greatest scientific accomplishments. Already one can carry on conversations with proto-humans via computer that sometimes jars one's mind as how human they appear in their thought patterns and approaches. If free-will is built into these A.I. Christians, might they not also seemingly want to relate themselves both to the God of its human creators and to their designers themselves? Could these A.I. Christians also be considered one in Christ?

Interplanetary/interstellar Christians. These are not so unlikely as one might think. In a hundred years or less, when Christians are born on Mars or the moons of the gas giants, how would they relate to their savior who will not only come for those he originally promised to retrieve at the end of Earth's history, but to their off-world descendants who also have a hope in the return of Christ. Centuries later when humanity leaves its solar system behind, what will Christ's return to Earth mean to those who are light years from Earth?

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Close to the Edge of Christianity

How far afield can one live and still be considered a Christian? How close to the church's standards of whatever denomination you find yourself a part of do you have to adhere to and still feel part of the inner group? Each person has to answer that for themselves. Of course, sometimes what you feel is appropriate may not be in tune with what most of your church group agrees with.

I've visited churches or spoken with members off-site who feel that the New Age movement is acceptable to Christians of a specific faith. Others feel that believing devoutly in God can be held side-by-side with a strong belief that humanity is a product of evolution. Still others believe that they can live with someone out-of-wedlock and still find it all right to beCheck Spelling active in their local church group.

I am in no way making any value judgments on any of the cases I cite here, but I wonder just how close to the edge of Christianity one can go and still enjoy an authentic relationship with Christ and with other Christians?

Of course, if ever one feels that one is no longer a part of or accepted by a certain group, there are other groups to choose from. The problem arises when one is convinced that there is only one group that gives one true satisfaction when approaching God or Christ. In that case one can try other congregations within the same banner church that one just has to hold onto.

Through the years I have encountered--either in print or through social contacts--people who dabbled in some unusual areas while still considering themselves Christians. Some of these are now considered less shocking than they may have been years earlier. No vital organism, Christian communities included, stays static for very long. If it does it risks experiencing a gradual death.

How dynamic is your church or how alive is your Christian experience? What could you do without going over the edge to ensure that your Christian experience or group-involvement is constantly progressing for the better?

Holy Spirit Does It All

In a recent post, Gift of Prophecy in Israel and the Church I posted the following:

"'. . . forgetting that their salvation ultimately depends on God’s Spirit at work throughout the church and the world.'

Thank you for your meditation and especially for this quoted thought. We can try to do this or that: pray, read the bible, share our faith, and serve those in need. How easy though, it is to make these experiences less than well-intentioned. Sometimes we think that we're buying our salvation by engaging in these life-giving activities.

Like you say in the above-quoted thought, it is the Spirit who is ultimately responsible and brings about every phase of our salvation. We need to learn to recognize his presence and marvel at his supernatural ministry in our lives."

Posted by: Raul Batista (not verified) 21 March 2009 at 12:07

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Adventist Christ?

Christ belongs to everyone who accepts him as his personal savior. What I'm referring to is, perhaps, the version of Christ that the Adventists conceptualize. It's safe to assume that the painting on the cover of Steps to Christ was done by an Adventist artist in the tradition of Harry Harrison and others. If not, it is a Christ that the publishers of this seminal classic feel comfortable with.

I'm also thinking about the lifestyle that Adventists live, e.g., healthy, charitable, Sabbath-oriented, that colors the version of Christ that Adventists believe in.

Some other Christians might feel comfortable inviting Christ to a wedding with dancing or drinking. Others might feel very comfortable inviting Christ to the movies or the theater to see a play with them about modern concerns. Other Christians might feel comfortable inviting Christ to a major casino with Las Vegas type shows. The list goes on and on.

The Adventist Christ tends to be a very strait-laced one. Ellen White says that Christ never joked around or was flippant at any time. Of course, if he saw something naturally humorous, the Adventist Christ could very well chuckle, but not engage in uproarious laughter. What could be so funny that would make the King of Kings laugh non-stop for several minutes? Nothing I'm afraid. Divine humor, if it exists, is very seldom in play.

Have Adventists remade Christ in their own image for better or for worst? Let's pray that we don't change him more than is necessary. Let's pray that we don't envision Christ in ways that make him less desirable to those just learning about him.

I prefer to think of a Christ that is forever smiling and sitting by my side as I live, and breathe, and, yes, laugh.

Friday, March 27, 2009

"Progressive Adventism" Blog (by Julius Nam) has Ended

The following lengthy quote was excerpted from the final post which can be found at Progressive Adventism Blog. I am quoting it here because Julius Nam's web ministry meant a lot to me especially when his blog first appeared. I always assumed his blog was going to exist until Christ came or until something better came along. Perhaps something better has come along.

Thank you, brother Nam for the time and all the work that went into what will always be in my fondest memories. May God bless you and may we meet some day when blogging is no longer necessary.

"I [Julius Nam] continue to envision our [Adventist] community:

as one of doers of God's love and compassion, and transformers of lives, communities and societies toward justice and peace

as one that affirms the presence and reality of God in diverse and plural expressions of humanity, even as we affirm the Oneness and Ultimacy of Truth in God, in Jesus

as one that takes Scripture very, very seriously and obeys its high call for sanctified and sanctifying living, even as we disagree on some of its specific applications,

as one that affirms the visionary, prophetic ministry of Ellen White and the amazing gift she has been to us, even as we disagree on the continuing utility of her specific statements and teachings,

as one that is humble, confessing our fallenness and inadequacies, depending fervently and radically on God

One note about the issue of sexual/gender identity equality:

I continue to believe and affirm the need for deeper study and dialogue in the Adventist church on the question of sexual identity. Clearly, the issue of sexual identity is not at the heart of the Gospel, but ... the issue of justice is. And I'm convicted that God's high call for righteousness includes in our time to recognize the full humanity, dignity, and equality of bisexual, gay, lesbian, and transgendered children of God for the way God made them--both in society and in our church community.

Yet, I recognize that the prevailing understanding of justice in Adventism differs widely.

So, I'm committed to working through these issues with prayer, communal study of Scripture, patience, and most of all, compassion for and trust in each other who make up the Body of Christ. It may indeed be that I am completely wrong on this and many other matters. But that is why it's all the more important for me to remain committed to a process of learning and dialogue--to be held accountable by my community--all the while asking God for wisdom, patience and humility.

I seek your prayers as I seek to discern for myself what it means to be courageous, and not stubborn, what it means to be patient, and not cowardly, what it means to defer, and not avoid, what it means to obey, and not merely comply, what it means to be prophetic, and not be narcissistic, what it means to follow Christ."

May each of us follow Christ as the Holy Spirit leads us.

Jacob's Time of Trouble Happens in Your Mind

Before the sun set today I realized that during the past four years, especially this last year, I have been experiencing the long-awaited Jacob's time of trouble. Most of it is occurring in my mind. Some events, of course, happen around me or to me personally or to my loved ones.

This special time of testing, of doubt and of soon-to-arrive victory happens in my quiet moments. The Shaking has been trying to shake me loose, but I hang on by the power of God. The Latter Rain of the Holy Spirit has been falling since last spring.

Jesus' coming is only years away.

Jesus' coming is only months away.

Jesus' coming is only days away.

I believe Jesus Christ is coming back within my lifetime to take me with him. He's coming back to take my loved ones and all who believe in his name with him, as well.

The Second Coming of Christ is practically here. The Waiting is almost over.

Friday, March 13, 2009

The Challenges of Righteousness by Faith

What challenges you might ask? Righteousness by Faith (Justification by Faith) can only be thought of as a good thing. Why speak of any challenges?

Basically we are saved by faith through grace and not of ourselves lest anyone should boast (Ephesians 2:8) . To balance this and not slide into so-called "cheap grace", some bring up James' advice about grace without works being dead. (James 2:17)

Morris Venden tells us that the only two (or four) activities we can engage in that open the way for righteousness by faith to kick in are:

  1. Spending time at the feet of Christ through bible study and prayer
  2. Working with Christ through service for others and sharing our faith

Some might feel that the actual time and effort invested in all of these may seem like works themselves. It is important to focus on the fact that prayer and bible study are means to an end. The end is a relationship with Jesus Christ who saves us by his grace.

The service and sharing of our faith are the results of a genuine relationship with Christ. This brings us to the challenges I have alluded to before.

If you spend time in prayer and bible study, but don't share your faith, are you then not saved? Some have suggested that something is wrong in your faith experience if you only nourish yourself, but don't nourish others. While it is relatively easier to sit down with your bible or kneel in prayer at the beginning of each day, going about the sharing of your faith is not as effortless. You have to find the people to share your faith with. You have to have something to say to them that is appropriate so you don't turn them away by any heavy-handed approaches. You have to follow up, give them bible studies, invite them to your church or to evangelistic meetings. It gets more and more complicated.

Tending to the needs of others can be as difficult, but perhaps easier than sharing your faith. You can, for example, contribute to mission fields, charities, etc., and by your means help those in need. If you have more time than money, you could volunteer your time and help out in soup kitchens, or similar groups that benefit those in need.

I would say that just as it is difficult to actually find time for Christ for prayer and bible study, but essential, so it is equally difficult (perhaps even harder) to share your faith with those in need of the good news of salvation.

All of these activities, both the faith-related ones (prayer and bible study) and the works-related ones (service to others and sharing your faith) are impossible for the natural man or woman. These experiences or activities are gifts of the Spirit if they are the genuine article.

Therefore, the only thing you can do is ask God to give you the free gift of his Holy Spirit and he will move you to will (choose) and to do of his own good pleasure (Luke 11:13 and Ezekiel 36:26,27).

Ask for the Spirit of Christ, wait for him to transform and motivate you to seek the relationship with Christ. Look for the change in your life as you read your bible daily and kneel in prayer for divine blessing. Look also for the spontaneous and supernatural change in your life that leads you, out of gratitude, to help those in need and to share your faith with others as the Spirit leads you.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Remember the Future

The future wasn't supposed to be like this. There was supposed to have been only one great depression. Technology was supposed to have made it easier for humanity to pursue the finer things of life: research, space exploration, learning, altruism, and an endless stream of marvelous approaches to life.

There are, of course, different visions of the future. Not all Sci-Fi writers or futurists painted a golden futuristic age. There are enough possible dystopias to go around as far as those who like imagining negative visions of the future. The dismal world imagined in the Matrix film series is only one example of the worst possible vision for humankind. Might not the current obsession with experiencing reality via social network sites, as well as virtual reality programs such as Second Life, not be as close an attempt to live in the alternate reality of the world-within-a-world that is force fed into the minds of the sleeping masses of humanity that the Matrix films present?

Hopefully, things will return to normal in a year or two--or ten. If things continue the way they are now, and we somehow grow to accept that the future turned out quite differently than we imagined it would be, then how nostalgically we will long for the imperfect past of the 1960s or 1990s and their relatively golden prosperity.

Some religious individuals are gleefully celebrating that things are getting worse. They believe that the final prophecies are coming true and that a new order of things will be ushered in, after the grim realities that are just beginning to come to pass take their expected course. They believe that after the darkness seems to be gaining the upper hand, then the light of the new kingdom will make any momentary darkness worthwhile.

I, for one, have never been able to rejoice when bad things take place, no matter what good might come of it. I hope and pray that we can all continue living our lives of progress, plenty and possibility. In the mean time, I will keep my eyes fixed on the being that engineered all of reality, good or not-so-good. In the final analysis, whatever happens next year or next century is what he allows.

In the meantime, enjoy every breath, every ray of sunshine, every fragrant flower. These are gifts in good times and bad ones that God has blessed us with.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Mysteries of the Second Coming

Alternate titles: Radical Second Coming, Second Coming Re-Conceived

The first coming was not what the remnant thought it would be. Why does the second coming have to be what the remnant people are so dead sure it will be? The prophecies were misinterpreted the first time. How can you rule out that the same thing won't happen a second time?

What if Christ comes and, somehow, those who are looking for his coming miss it altogether?

The first time Christ didn't come to free the Jews from Roman bondage, but rather from bondage to sin. What if Christ comes not to Earth, but leaves from Earth? What if Christ has been here living among us for 2,000 years. Then it could be said that he "comes quickly" because he never left us?

When he leaves it will be with those who, mistakenly, have awaited his coming from the skies. The first time he came from the Earth. Why can't he also come from the Earth the second time?

Reinterpret all the prophecies of the last 2,000 years and see how this new way of looking at Christ's second coming fits into the picture.

Disclaimer: This is only meant as a "what if" scenario. I am not suggesting that Christ will not come in the clouds and that every-eye-shall-see-him, will not take place.

Friday, February 20, 2009

The Million-Year Sabbath

As a child I once had a nightmare that all the days of the week were Sabbaths. The Sabbath was not so bad, but it wasn't as fun as, say, Sunday morning. Sundays seemed to last forever.

These days, however, I look forward to the Sabbath and wish that every day was a Sabbath. Yes, there are things I miss doing on the Sabbath, but I'm realizing that they are becoming less and less important.

The only two things that I would miss if the Sabbath were an everyday thing would be working and buying. You can't very well live without those two activities.

During the past four years I have toyed with different names for my interest in a longer Sabbath day. Originally I thought of a conceptual Sabbath which would last from sunset on Friday and not end until Sunday sunrise. The busy nature of living in the material world suggested another approach, the Seven Minute Sabbath which could be observed at any point throughout the week. The Eternal Sabbath was a term for a Sabbath day that never started or ended. It simply was.

Even a good thing has to end sometime so it can begin again. For this reason I've come up with the concept of the million-year Sabbath. The only place we can keep such an impossibly long Sabbath is in the New Earth where, in theory, we wouldn't need to buy or earn a living and no activity would be inappropriate to engage in during the million-year-long Sabbath.

In the meantime enjoy the Sabbath and imagine it's going to last a million years.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

The Evolution of God?

My God is not a God of death; he is a God of life. However, since the creators of sophisticated robotic medical equipment are responsible for faulty product if something disastrous should occur, can our God be held liable for the death we see all around us since time began?

Yes, it is true that our God created all things perfect, but since he allows--for a variety of complicated reasons--for things to go on as they do, then, in a way, he has to take responsibility for the imperfections of our otherwise perfect world.

Let's face it, if God wanted to stop all pain and death right now, he could. God's hands are not tied. There must be valid reasons why so many negative realities continue to exist. Let's try to analyze what some of them might be.

Some conservative Christians believe that God allows the controversy between good and evil to continue to protect man's free will. Conservatively speaking, you have to admit that 6,000 years is ample time to show that God offers humankind his way or the other fellow's way.

Progressively speaking, however, we are not talking about 6,000 but millions of years for this cosmic struggle between good and evil to have been resolved.

This brings us to the subject that the title hints at. Does God bring about life, humankind's life specifically, through the death that is essential for natural selection and the survival of the species? It is, after all, only the strong that survive to procreate and pass on their genes to the next generation. How can a God of love possibly be responsible for a system that uses death in order to bring about life and complex organisms?

The Bible account is very simple: God creates all of our reality in six days and rests on the seventh day. For those who have a problem with such simplicity, then the only other option is that God used evolution, and before that--the Big Bang--to create our world and the cosmos. Because this would make God the author of death--and life--such a paradigm is not consistent with a God of love.

The third possibility we will not focus on very much other than to state, for the occasional agnostic who may wander in by chance, that evolution, life, death, etc., have nothing whatsoever to do with God, only with humankind.

So where does that leave us? Perplexed? Frustrated? Despairing? Not at all; there is a fourth explanation. We all think this is all happening to us. This dream called life, death, rebirth. The incredible reality is that we are dreamers twisting and turning--sometimes smiling and laughing--through a long dreamlike state called life and death. One day we will awaken and learn who God really is and why all this death and life and rebirth were necessary.

Until then, look to God and worship him for the hour of his judgment has come.