Wednesday, December 29, 2010

God is More than a Concept by Which We Overcome Our Own Pain

Yes, John Lennon stated years ago in "God" that "God is a concept by which we measure our own pain." It need not remain so. God is many things to many people. Your conception of or experience with God is as different than your fingerprints are different from the person in the next room.

Tonight I wanted God to save me more than He's ever saved or helped or healed me before. You know what his answer was to my great surprise. He said, "heal yourself. Help yourself. Save yourself." That was not the answer I was looking for, but it might just be the answer that will do until God in His mercy blesses me with His supernatural healing, help and salvation. I actually smiled when the realization came. Of course, it's so simple. If no one else can or will take care of and watch out for me, then who better than myself. If my parents are too old or too sick to care for me, I have to care for myself. If other relatives are too busy, too sick or too challenged themselves to care for me, then who better to care for me than myself? Of course, I can always use a helping hand by some compassionate person who has the gift of giving aid to others in need. And, with God's grace or favor, I will endeavor to be a helping hand when some person in need is brought into my life.

The Lord our God is One. Blessed be the name of the Lord for his mercy endures for ever.

Blessings for the new year whatever year you happen to be reading this.

More to come--

Monday, December 27, 2010

Reflections on the Human-Divine Nature of Christ

Years ago I read that Christ had two wills: a human as well as a divine will. While on Earth, however, the divine will was present in the historical being, Jesus Christ, but it took a back seat to the extent that it did not reveal itself very often except at the transfiguration.

The same author--probably Ellen White and/or Elder John Wood of Atlantic Union College-- states that only human Christ died on the cross. The divine Christ cannot die since God cannot die. (End of reference to either White or Wood.)  How could a member of the Godhead, which is One, die without all three dying?

For argument's sake only, let's suppose human-divine Christ died and not just human Christ, died. It follows then that the Trinity died for "our God is One." If God died on the cross--and He did through Jesus Christ--then it's conceivable that He raised himself by his own power as the New Testament states. At the cross when Christ cried "my God, my God why have you forsaken me" it was because the Godhead was dying with Christ and would be resurrected with Christ. The universe had its automatic laws and could function until the divine watchman rose from the tomb three days later.

Would Gabriel, who is in the presence of God, have been temporarily in charge of heaven--if anyone really needs to be in charge God's absence?

Another matter presents itself: what would have happened if human Christ had failed the test in the wilderness with the Accuser? He probably would not have to go through with the crucifixion since his sacrifice would have been incomplete or unacceptable to God the Father. What then would have become of the human Christ? Could he have been destroyed and die as a mortal man dies? He then could have died on the cross though it seems pointless to have done so if it no longer carried cosmic significance. Or, as John Wood stated in the 1970s, human Christ would have been kept in heaven in a comatose state throughout eternity, since even human Jesus of Nazareth was Christ, nevertheless, and could not be allowed to die as a mere human man dies.

Here we get into tricky waters. Since human-divine Jesus of Nazareth couldn't die, then he was not as human as mere men since mere men who fail in life's cosmic struggle die as mere men and don't have the option to remain comatose throughout eternity. We now get back to the age-old questions about was Christ fully human and fully divine but perfectly fused together as one inseparable entity or could he, in some way, separate the human from the divine?

If you state that only human Jesus of Nazareth died and rose again while the Divine Christ, of course, would still be alive since he was a member of the Godhead then you may be able to say that Christ of Nazareth had an advantage that we don't have. We can't, of course, separate our divine nature--which is God-given and frequently not apparent as we disconnect from God the only source of divinity--from our human nature. We are only human and can only depend on God for the gift of divinity through his divine Spirit. However, this may suggest that Jesus of Nazareth was not like us, in a way. In other ways, of course, he was very much like us. Just read the gospels and you see a very human man who cried, hungered and got tired and had to sleep as you and I sleep.

Finally, it is said that Christ paid the ultimate price in sacrificing himself to save the human race. The Bible says that Christ died once for us all. It has been bothering me for years that if you die as Christ did for the human race, then rise again after three days and live eternally after that, how is that a sacrifice? When you and I sacrifice our last dollar bill so a poorer or needier person can eat while we starve temporarily, we experience real hunger, and/or eventual death. It is a sacrifice that cannot be gainsaid.

However, if you die and suffer and live again and remain alive, it presents other ramifications. Perhaps the sacrifice was in that Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ, could have failed, and could have been comatose throughout eternity. That, my friend, is a big sacrifice. For a divine being to risk ceasing to be divine just to save a wayward world of created beings, is more than anyone can fathom. It truly boggles the imagination. Jesus Christ, if only his human nature, comatose throughout eternity could be looked upon as either two things:
  1. A  kind of death for the divine-human entity known as Jesus Christ of Nazareth. One of your two natures would be unconscious and would remain so throughout eternity.
  2. A reminder that the human side of Jesus of Nazareth had failed and in him failing, God failed in proving that a human-divine entity could succeed as Adam was supposed to have succeeded when offered the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Rock and Roll Adventist Christian and Temptation

Acid-tinged sonic improvisations, a la Jimi Hendrix*, amazed the ultra-conservative members at an Adventist Christian service earlier this year.

Whatever the detriment or benefit of having a sophisticated electric guitar solo played at the divine worship on a Saturday (Sabbath) morning the important thing is whether the folks listening were brought nearer to Christ or tempted, after the Sabbath, to go out and discover this new Adventist Christian music that is everywhere.

Hearing the familiar melody of Amazing Grace being played by this young man, in the most unconventional version that I've ever heard, moved me to the brink of tears. The words and melody of the unadorned original version I grew up with is embedded in my very DNA.

* Historians will tell you that all of the sounds heard on this video for the electric guitar where engineered and discovered by Jim Hendrix around 1967 and 1968. He used no gizmos. The sounds were coaxed, sputtered and extracted naturally from his guitar. The gizmos were the result of a growing demand to produce these sounds on-tap. They are still being utilized the world over. Jimi Hendrix, whatever his weaknesses and failings as a human being, changed the sound of popular and church music as it is heard today.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Last Night an Angel Saved My Life

Green lights in your favor means it's safe to cross. Not always. Patrons have the right of way when the light is green. It's no longer true I learned last night. For the only time in my life I was almost hit and instantly killed by an oncoming car.

Had something--how, I can't say--not pulled me back two or three feet I would have been instantly killed as the speeding night car litterally lunged for me as I was half way across the pedestran walk on a very quiet and empty street. It would have been another hit-and-run statistic in south Florida.

A cell phone driver, oblivious to pedestrians, almost hit me head on by two seconds at 30 mph.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Psychological Detriments and Benefits of the Bible

To be fair to secular people let's first address the potential negative effects or uses of the Bible. We live, after all, in a mostly secular science-oriented world culture. There is evidence from the professional literature that some texts in the Bible have produced chronic guilt. With chronic guilt comes deadly self-hatred. With self-hatred comes depression. With depression, if not treated effectively, comes death. Some wag will smugly tell you, "better to be a sinning, imperfect human than to be a dead one."

Now for the psychological benefits of the Bible. In times of economic need one benefits mysteriously from the following words:  "My God will supply every need of yours. . . ." When experiencing remorse for stealing, adultery, or harming someone unintentionally, nothing quite soothes the human soul as these words:  "Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more."

When the psychiatrist's pills and the psychologist's analyses and insights fail to work their scientific magic nothing soothes the disturbed soul as: "Peace I [Christ] give to you." Also of great healing value are the words: "Come to me [Christ] and you will find rest for your soul.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Strange Charity of 'Sinners' Towards Undocumented Workers

Van Helden is a heterosexual married Brazilian male of approximately 25 summers. He is married to a pretty blond woman of equal age. They have a son and another child on the way. They have been in this country three years and have experienced hardship and hunger. If he were fortunate enough Van Helden could have found work as a grounds maintenance worker, a construction worker, a janitor, or other lackluster and temporary jobs that undocumented folk need to take up and then put down as the feds drop in and out of the jobs in question.

There are no health benefits, paid holidays, paid sick days, pension plans, long-term disability insurance, etc. There is only work and only undercover.

One other thing I failed to mention. Though married and happily heterosexual, Van Helden works as a waiter in a premiere non-heterosexual bar in South Florida. He makes good tips not only because he is an excellent waiter, is 25 and not bad-looking, but because Van Helden, who is partially deaf, is compassionate. He is often seen signing to hearing-impaired diners who feel accepted in Club C due to the presence of a signing waiter.

Okay, so were does the strange charity of 'sinners' factor in? The patrons of Club C assume incorrectly that Van Helden is single and non-heterosexual. Actually, only the Management knows Van Helden is married to a woman and has a little boy. There are no other heterosexual and undocumented workers at Club C. No other waiter at Club C has a wife dining in the edges of his assigned area until her husband is done for the day at 3:00 a.m. Sunday through Saturday with Mondays off.

Friday, November 26, 2010

How You Know the End of All Things is Upon Us, Part 1

Once people went to their churches or pastors when they needed help with a problem. The help they found at church was invaluable. The social connections they made were more rewarding at times than the relations folk some times enjoyed with their kinfolk.

Today, people seek out therapists, psychiatrists, shamans, gurus--the list never ends. With the psychiatrist comes the added boon of seemingly miraculous pills that sometimes--unintentionally--confer the quickest solution to psychiatric problems: death itself. I am referring, of course, to the frequent warnings in TV ads or, on the medication advisory sheets themselves, that state very calmly that "taking this product may result in death from suicide, liver failure or other, not remotely impossible, side effects." Why anyone in their right mind would ingest anything that would confer the gift of death in a vial of "happy" pills boggles the mind.

-- to be continued

Friday, November 19, 2010

How to Make 10% of My Neighbors More Acceptable to My Church - part 1

Of course Jesus Christ died for all because he loves all of humankind. However, some for whom Christ died cannot access the Gospel of peace in many orthodox churches. You look surprised! Yes Virginia. 10 percent, or maybe only 3 percent, of my neighbors are not welcomed, as is, in some or most, orthodox churches.

This sounds like the Gospel has strict conditions. This implies that Christ's invitation of "come unto me all who are weary and have heavy burdens" (Matthew 11) does not apply to a certain class of people.
Let me tell you, if I may, about the real-life neighbors in my building. Let's start at the bottom of the building and work to the top. We will try to understand both the needs of my local church, the needs of each of my neighbors and my attempts at sharing my faith with each one, if applicable.

By the way, only one of the pictures belongs to a former resident of my building. For reasons unknown to me my neighbor has moved on after being in our midst for only two years. The other picture belongs to my neighbor's friend who has visited our building on more than one occasion.

-- to be continued.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Financially Independent in Seven Years: a Divine Strategy

Five years ago a book I read defined financial independence as owning your home outright by paying off the mortgage years ahead of schedule. The now-forgotten author counselled eliminating needless expenses, as well as semi-needless expenses such as buying a new wardrobe every season. She even envisioned a near future saving strategy of borrowing new music legally almost free of charge. This now exists through I find music--lots of it--to be priceless to avoid stress and a host of other problems. Pandora costs $10 a month, let's me access every song I've ever loved and saves me oodless of cash by not needing to buy CDs.

I too have resolved to be "financially independent" in seven years using as many cost-cutting strategies as possible.

A spiritual formula to achieve this is as follows:

1. Have faith in God.
2. The "impossible" is meaningless as far as God is concerned.
3. One responds best to vision if it is "clear, crisp and concise."
4. There is power in prayer. 1

1 "Southern Tidings" p. 25. November 2010

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Radical Jihad and Its Implications Depending on Different Paradigms

Muslims are some of history's most important benefactors. It is said that were it not for Arab and Muslim culture, in part, the European Renaissance would have been delayed for decades, if not centuries. The Arab culture gave us algebra as well as important advances in science and literature. Our world is richer because of both Arabs and Muslims.

Having said that we can proceed onto more challenging matters. First let's consider the implications of jihad presupposing that Allah (God) exists. If that is our chosen paradigm then we have several possibilities and implications regarding jihad. We are told that among moderate and progressive Muslims jihad is a noble endeavor with the betterment of humanity at issue. Jihad can be seen, then, as a positive and good force that respects not only fellow Muslims but those of other faiths or of no faith at all.

We can try to understand the meaning of jihad for some, not all, conservative Muslims. Due to the hedonism and godlessness of some aspects of western culture, some conservative Muslims feel compelled to counter the deleterious impact of western culture, as they perceive it, by any means necessary, including but not limited to, terrorism.

We must now consider the paradigm at the other end of the spectrum. Let's consider for a moment, though I do not share this belief, that there is no God or Intelligent Design Agent in control of our fragile planet and its diverse peoples. Let's imagine, if you will, simply for argument's sake that when we die we simply die. Our bodies decompose and we go to no other place or sphere or Paradise because this was the only paradise or hell we'll ever experience.

If this is the case then we have a most disturbing and alarming conclusion. Radical jihadists and their supporters are endangering, both permanently and needlessly, the only Paradise or free world humanity will ever know.

If that is the case may Allah (God) have mercy on our fragile and irreplaceable world.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Theistic or Non-Theistic Evolution?

Evolution may very well be how we all got here, whether you believe in theistic evolution with its main complication being that God used death to accomplish the development of life and intelligence on Earth. If that is the case, you can't really think of him as being a loving, benevolent father.

On the other hand you could believe in non-theistic evolution which requires more faith in that all the order, design and intricacy of nature are the result of pure chance. Such a beginning for life makes it seem quite pointless. Intelligent beings developed by chance and may become extinct also by chance. If so, then their entire existence would be quite pointless and meaningless. There would never then have been any master designer to witness humanity's birth pangs or to bemoan their death throes as a species.

If Adventism accepts evolution as the Catholic church did after finally considering Teilhard de Chardin's ground-breaking studies, how would we evangelize the third world? Would we present our charts of bible prophecy side by side with charts of humanity's common ancestor(s) with primates? Or would we leave that for special seminars after we had convinced potential candidates for baptism that Christianity, Adventist style, is the way to go?

It sounds like Adventism is at a cross-roads. It could either stay afloat or sink. Let's pray it is the former, for God's sake, and for the sake of those of us who have invested most of our life's capital in the Seventh-Day Adventist church.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

How to Overcome Cultural Adventism in Three Easy Steps

1. Pray morning, noon and night.
2. Study God's word diligently.
3. Wait on the Lord for his favor.

More to follow. . . .

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Friday, September 24, 2010

On the Street on the Christian 7th-Day Sabbath

Christ, let me be sure of my salvation; it's the only thing I've got. These words came to mind after I had spent the first hours of the Sabbath, not like a happy hermit in my home but out among the masses strolling along on a mild Floridian night.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Anything is Posible

This is the first real post from my non-smart phone. Now I can blog on the go. God, thanks for this small but useful miracle.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Science Fiction Messiah

This blog post is not about any science fiction messiah, per se,  though the most famous of SciFi messiahs does come to mind. I'm referring to Muad'Dib aka Paul Atreides from the classic novel, Dune Messiah by Frank Herbert. More recently popular culture has given us Thomas A. Anderson (alias Neo) from the Matrix film trilogy. For decades the world has been fascinated by, perhaps, the most famous of SciFi messiahs, i.e., Kal-El (alias Superman) from the planet Krypton. Humans, by nature, need messiahs at every stage of their development.

What if a new real-world messiah would appear in our midst? I'm not talking about an anti-Christ type of messiah, and, of course, he would not take the place of the quintessential messiah, Jesus Christ of Nazareth. Would this theoretical messiah one day be reading a secret text, or praying to God, or walking among us and, suddenly, the awareness that (s)he was a new 21st century messiah would dawn on him or her? It would be wonderful to have a female messiah, for a change. This line of questioning also applies to potential new genuine prophets after the biblical tradition. Examples that come to mind throughout history are the Buddha, Mohamed, Joseph Smith and Ellen G. White. How did these individuals realize that they were the genuine article and not just imagining things. Perhaps a test of their worth is that they helped found important world religions. In contrast, those who imagine themselves to be prophets or messiahs, and contribute very little to world history that is also beneficial, can be sure that they are probably wasting their time, and ours, and would do better to seek another vocation.

If a modern prophet or messiah is out there, please make yourself known as soon as possible. The world would be in a better shape with your ministry in place.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Death of My Personal Computer

Dear friends, it pains me to inform you that my beloved PC of eight years has gone to meet its cybernetic maker somewhere in the Matrix where all "dead ghosts in the machine" go when they expire. For that reason I will attempt to blog from my non-smart cell phone as it has unlimited data usage though it features a lousy browser. If the next couple of months produce very succinct posts it is because the 9 pad keypad is slower than entropy when inputting text. I may enjoy the challenge of tightening my prose beyond belief. God bless. Thank you for your patronage.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Early Adventists Used Popular Songs and Set them to Sacred Words

One way of addressing this issue was to set new hymns to well known popular tunes, and early Adventist hymnals display several examples of this practice. “Land of Light” was written by Uriah Smith and first published in 1856. Smith’s hymn focused on heaven and was set to the popular secular tune “Old Folks at Home” by Stephen Foster. Smith also penned “O Brother Be Faithful” and set it to the popular tune, “Be Kind to the Loved Ones at home” by Isaac Baker Woodbury. [1]
How many times I have changed the words to songs from my youth and enjoyed--as though a secret vice--the joy that these Christianized pop songs gave me. Perhaps the earliest instance was in the mid-70s when I found a particularly transcendent sentence from Steps to Christ [2] and mysteriously started singing those words to the tune of "I've Seen All Good People" by the Progressive Rock group Yes. For me, that combination of a song by a group that had altered my reality and had introduced me to the music of Igor Stravinsky, with the much loved words from Steps to Christ will forever remind me of, perhaps, the most natural and spiritual time of my life.

  1. I Have Heard the Angel's Sing
  2. Steps to Christ. See Chapter 9, "The Work and the Life." which contains these words: "God is the source of life and light and joy to the universe" which I adapted to the Yes song I've mentioned above.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Adventist Futurist Blog Begins

Adventist Futurist, a new blog devoted to Adventist Futurism, was launched on August 14, 2010. The first post states that the purpose of "Adventist Futurist, is to collect, organize and coordinate past, present and future articles regarding Adventist Futurism." Another reason for this new blog is to trace, when possible, the origins and influences of Adventist Futurism." The blog header specifies that the blog will concentrate on futurology, futurism, science, aesthetics, ethics, space exploration, cybernetics, and other forward-thinking areas of study.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Macrolife, Space Colonization & Adventist Futurism

Adventist Futurists and their supporters may soon be in a unique historical vantage point and, with planning, can continue to be at history's cutting edge for many years to come. Adventists are growing at a healthy rate and, within the foreseeable future, will be at a unique juncture in human history as a force to be reckoned with as trend setters. The following is one of the vehicles that Adventist Futurists can utilize to effectively shape history on a larger scale than they have previously impacted it.

First of all it's important to note that Macrolife is based on real science. Macrolife is the vision of Dandridge MacFarlan Cole who "saw the human race as being at a turning point, corresponding to the adolescence of an individual, in which humanity would either destroy itself or come to a collective state of maturity and relative stability." [1] Additionally, Cole "was known especially for promoting the idea of colonizing the asteroids, or 'planetoids' as he argued they should more properly be called. The planetoids could be hollowed out, or actually inflated to create a bubbleworld with habitable space on the inside. The resulting space arks could orbit within the solar system, or be sent out on interstellar expeditions." [2] For a significant update of Cole's prescient vision consult the link below titled Islands in Space: The Challenge of the Planetoids, the Pioneering Work of Dandridge M. Cole. [3]

Some may not see what Macrolife has to do with the gospel commission to preach the good news that Jesus Christ died, rose again, and is returning to rescue those he loves from a dying world. Traditionalists focus on Christ's immanent return which Adventists have been hoping for since 1844. If, and this is not meant disrespectfully, Christ does not return by 2044, the fact that 200 years will have elapsed since Adventists started looking for Christ's return should force another assessment as to his delay. If Christ's coming can be delayed 200 years, it is not inconceivable that it could also be delayed another 100 or 200 years. What am I getting at? Humanity is capable right now, on a limited scale, of beginning the move into other worlds. Humanity lives in space right now, on a limited scale, on the International Space station. With the proper resources and vision, it can be on its way to making Macrolife a reality by 2044.

Christians are very far geographically today from whence they originated. It would have been astounding for early Christians, who did not conceive of a round and far-flung world, to envision the full extent of the Earth and how far Christianity would travel in the next 2,000 years. Christianity has even transcended the Earth itself as there, no doubt, have been astronauts who believed, and continue to believe, in Christ Jesus as their savior. Who is to say that this Earth is the limit of where Christians and their supporters can live and still await Christ's return.


1. "Extraterrestrial Colonies," Navigation, No. 7, Summer-Autumn 1960, p. 85.
2. Dandridge MacFarlan Cole
3. Islands in Space: The Challenge of the Planetoids, the Pioneering Work of Dandridge M. Cole

Related posts:

Noah's Interstellar Ark, Future Worlds, Creating an Ideal World, Christianity 3001 A.D. Adventist's New Horizons, Adventist Futurism

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Seeking Jesus at Any Cost

I've known Jesus Christ for most of my life. Correction: I've known about Jesus Christ for most of my life. Christ Jesus never really made personal sense until the age of 17 when I had what I refer to as my first spiritual revival. My first baptism had occurred at the age of 11. All my friends had been baptized a year or months before I finally made my decision. It makes me wonder how the pastor could have baptized me when I answered his question this way: I want to be baptized because I want to go to heaven. He smiled and said I can't remember what, but since I had shown up at the pre-Baptism classes Sabbath after Sabbath, he thought it would do no harm to baptize me. I can't say I understood what baptism really meant. All I can remember is how I shivered in my wet baptismal gown as the air-condition blasted the changing room where all the other men, teens and young boys changed into warm, dry clothes. I seemed to be paralyzed with wonder and awe as I sat immobile in that makeshift dressing room which was the scene of perhaps the largest baptism I have ever been a witness to.

My seventeenth summer and its new-found consecration to Christ started what was to be a life-saving span of years for me when I really did become a new person. Nevertheless, personal problems took their toll and five years later I slid into the slipstream of young adulthood with catastrophic results.

Two years later the hedonism of New York City's underground clubs and above-ground temptations left me cold and I headed back to church and my second major revival replete with my first rebaptism. This time I really had something to repent of instead of the vague mini-sins of early childhood and its simple reasons for seeking baptism. In spite of being reintegrated into the fold of believers I never felt that I was an accepted member of the family of Christ. Some church members made me welcome, others did not. Nevertheless, I persisted as I had nowhere else to go.

Five years later, I had found a new maturity as an adult and had found a more rational approach to living my life which unfortunately led me further and further away from the Christian faith though not entirely. I could not ever risk not praying or asking for the gift of the Holy Spirit. My prayers were probably not heart felt, but they comforted me with the realization that I kept on saying them and that they helped me in some way. When troubles more acute than any I had ever experienced threatened to literally end my life, it was God's favor and mercy and the words of Psalms I had learned as a child that kept me from going insane and losing all hope.

Twenty years later I mercifully experienced my third spiritual revival and--yes, my second rebaptism. I had been told that one rebaptism was a serious thing, indeed, and that it seldom was necessary or should be entered into with great purpose or need, but a third rebatism was almost unheard of though I'm told that there are others who have been rebaptized more times than they have changed the make and model of their car. As five years came and went I felt relieved that this time the third time was for good.

Impatience with unfulfilled expectations threw me into experimental and foolish attempts at empowerment five years later. Five years later is where I am right now. Through all the challenging and perplexing changes I have been experiencing for most of this year, I am grateful and amazed that I continue to read my Bible every morning and most evenings along with the Spirit of Prophecy. In spite of old and new temptations jumping in and out of my life for half a year now, I still continue praying, waiting, holding on for dear life, and trying to make sense of the complicated Christian I have been for most of my self-aware life. The very fact that I have a desire to document all three major spiritual revivals and intervening crises of my life, is a miracle. You see I was supposed to have died at 17 on a twisting, wet and dark highway where the friend I was sitting next to died at 14.

God must have a mysterious purpose for my kaleidoscopic life. I am still waiting to find out what that elusive purpose might be.

Friday, June 18, 2010

How to Find a Near-Perfect Spiritual Group Experience

Imagine a group where everyone feels part of the group even when they are not. It is the main purpose of the group to welcome each new and continuing member. Every effort is made to address each participant's needs. Some may think it is too intrusive for the Adventist Futurism Fellowship to be so concerned with every need a member or visitor might have. For these individuals this concern about too much intrusiveness is also perceived as a valid need.

The first time one enters through the doors into an Adventist Futurist Fellowship seminar one wonders why no one had ever alerted him or her before to the outstanding cornucopia of benefits that one finds when one is welcomed into this unique group. Some find this somewhat elusive knowledge of the group as having a quasi-Gnostic quality in that knowledge of this group seems like--though is not in reality--an awareness or perception that is only available to the initiated or chosen few. That is not the case at all. What then is the source of this esoteric quality that renders this group almost invisible to the public-at-large?

The fellowship of the Adventist Futurists, or the initiation into Adventist Futurism and all its tantalizing benefits is that no one--or very few at any rate--can find information about the Adventist Futurists as one would when searching for similar groups. Some claim that they have found easy entry into the society of Adventist Futurists when what they stumble upon is one of the illusory doors that are meant to keep out the merely curious.

Only those who are dead-set on finding this once-in-a-lifetime experience and fellowship will ever find it. It is not understood by some why entry into the almost esoteric society is made so difficult. If the benefits of the Adventist Futurists are as valuable as are reported by those who have once participated, but for some reason, did not remain, then why the difficulty in gaining access into this quintessential group?

The answer may never be completely known. However, it appears that the commitment that each member of the Adventist Futurists has for each of his brothers and sisters is so complete--if one can classify the endeavor to fulfill each participant's every need as an attempt to confer completeness in this life--is taken so seriously, that only the true devotee can ever find and enter into this exquisite group of people.

I myself was serendipitously welcomed into the camaraderie of the Adventist Futurists some time in the recent past, but took a wrong step once inside and thought it preferable to venture outside the group and find my own way in the world. It is my earnest desire to once again--if they will accept me--gain entry into the beneficent care of the Friends of Adventist Futurism.

It is my hope that you too will somehow find your way into the indescribable society where each need is almost anticipated before it is fully expressed.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Redefining God

If God is sometimes perceived by some unbelievers, as well as believers, as not being as good as we'd like him to be, then we have to be as good as we think he should be. Sometimes we attribute to God partial blame for the unpleasant experiences we see all around us, e.g., suffering, death, hunger, poverty, etc. While it is true that he doesn't cause these terrible things, he allows them since he could prevent them if he wanted to. Or he could have avoided all of them by not creating the world and humanity in the first place.

I wouldn't save the entire human population--the good with the evil--if I were God, but I'd give them a million life times to make a decision in my favor. If after a million life times they still would not want to love me, I'd give them a million more chances. At some point they would tire out of having to do it all over again, and they would throw up their hands and say, "Okay, you win, I'm on your side, as well." 

On the other hand, I'd be unfeeling, in a sense, to allow someone who made some truly horrific mistakes in his or her lifetime, e.g., Hitler, Stalin, Nero, etc., to live again and again, with the possibility that they might well make the same kind of mistakes time after time. Perhaps there is some benevolence after all in letting individuals only live once and make a choice for good or evil.

On the other hand, I would never destroy what I have created. It would be an admission that I had made a mistake in creating mankind in the first place. And, of course, we know that God does not make mistakes. Otherwise he would not be God.

Or perhaps there are other explanations like the traditional Great Controversy theme that Joseph Bates developed and Ellen White wrote about in the book of the same name. In that explanation as to why there exists good and evil in this world, it boils down to man possessing freedom of choice. 

Another factor put forth in the Great Controversy theme is that the other created intelligences in heaven and other worlds need to know that God is a God of love and who will not destroy those he's created in his image. He provided a way out for those who rebelled against him by coming and suffering in their place the death that should have been theirs at a great risk to himself. God, in the person of Jesus Christ, could have failed in his mission to live a sinless life in place of sinful humanity. Had he failed it would have been an imaginable disaster on a cosmic scale:  the very creator of the universe doomed to eternal oblivion for violating his own moral law. Few mention this unthinkable potential result of Christ's sacrifice in becoming God with Us.

Other explanations as to why we live in an imperfect world have, no doubt, been put forward by philosophers, theologians and scientists, and by other individuals who are perplexed by the inconsistencies of life as we see it.

In spite of these observations, I still choose to live my life with a desire to know God and to seek his face. It's better than looking at reality through totally humanistic eyes.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Why a Dose of Legalism Insures Church Growth

--Legalism is good for the Adventist soul. --

During Seventh-Day Adventism's earliest decades legalism was a prominent force in attracting new converts to the church. At the 1888 General Conference the message of Righteousness (Justification) by Faith was introduced to the Seventh-Day Adventist church by E.J. Waggoner and A.T. Jones with great resistance from leaders and the rank and file. Ellen White backed up Waggoner and Jones, as well as W.W. Prescott. Nevertheless, it was not Christ Our Righteousness that became a catch phrase from then until the 1970s when it started catching on, but rather, it was Elder G.I. Butler's Obey and Live catch phrase that won out.

In Western Seventh-Day Adventist congregations of the United States, Europe and Australia, Righteousness by Faith is the dominant catch phrase for the most part, while in the Emerging World, and among ethnic or racial minorities in these Westernized congregations previously mentioned, Obey and Live with a hint of Christ our Righteousness insures that church growth continues steadily. Why is this? In spite of Righteousness by Faith being a wonderful approach to Christianity, in some mainstream Western churches, especially in so-called Progressive churches, there has been a trend for some time to allow more secular elements to integrate themselves into the church. This secularism sometimes leads to less adherence to traditional Adventist mores and regulations. Some of these might include, at times: lesser attention to strict sabbath observance; freer approach to sex outside of marriage as long as it remains monogamous; liberal use of jewelry; use of caffeine and/or wine with meals; accepting evolution as explaining, in part, how we got here, supporting same sex causes, etc.

Of course, mainstream Christian churches in the United States are experiencing wonderful mega growth, with the enticements of Justification by Faith, Pop Rock or Pop Rhythm & Blues music in their worship services, plus the ease of Sunday services and no need to keep the entire Sunday holy as do those who keep the seventh-day sabbath such as Jewish believers and Seventh-Day christian observers, e.g., Adventists and a few other groups. In addition, you have the Prosperity Gospel movement at some congregations which fuel mass churches and world-wide following via multi-media formats and the Internet.

Legalism appeals to new converts in countries or communities of the emerging world due to the fact that one is, to some degree, earning one's salvation by keeping the Sabbath, paying tithe, refraining from intoxicants, unclean meat, worldly amusements and sex before marriage. Of course, legalism can also be attractive to people who live in the so-called First World. While some mainstream christian congregations also refrain from some of these vices, it is easier to become a member in good standing in one of the mainstream Christian churches than it is to do so in a traditional, mainstream Seventh-Day Adventist church.

Of course, some mainstream non-ethnic and non-minority Adventist churches contain members who genuinely love the Christ Our Righteousness message and through the enabling power of the Holy Spirit are able, for the most part, to adhere to the constraints of the Adventist lifestyle. Among these are sincere members who claim that they don't feel constrained at all. By the grace of God, they claim, the constraints don't seem unpleasant at all, or at least, most of the time. However, members in these white or mixed churches are leaving faster than new converts are coming in. It is equally true that in the emerging world you have some members, new or long-tern, that in spite of having a more legalistic element in their midst, also love Christ and through the enabling power of the Holy Spirit are able, for the most part, to adhere to the constraints of the Adventist lifestyle. In both groups, it goes without saying, there are folk who genuinely benefit from their particular type of congregation and its concomitant approach to Seventh-Day Adventism.

It is not likely that the Obey and Live message of the pre-1888 pioneers will ever be the norm in the mainstream or progressive churches of Seventh-Day Adventism's western churches. For that to occur would be regression, or some might call it, reformation or revival. Of course, anything is possible. In a way, it is almost shameful that the legalistic element is sometimes routinely promoted in the emerging world or among ethnic or minority congregations in the West. The justification for doing this is that unless you infuse legalism with just a touch of Christ our righteousness, or vice-versa, some feel that you might as well sound the death knell for Adventism worldwide. Better to be a living and partially legalistic church than to focus on righteousness by faith only and be a dying church.

Yes, it sounds like an oxymoron to equate death and dying with an Adventist church that focuses on Righteousness by Faith only. The observable truth, however, is that legalism is good for the Adventist soul. So it was in the beginning. Thus it will be to the end of time.

Then again, maybe there is another very obvious alternative that still needs to be spelled out.

Alternate title: Seventh-Day Adventism is becoming a hard sell in the West

--To be continued--

Monday, January 18, 2010

Living in the Material World

As much as I would like to live only in a spiritual realm I find that there is more to life than reading the bible and praying. I've often asked God to enable me to "pray without ceasing" as Paul counsels us to do. I imagined that praying al the time--within reason--would solve most of my problems, both spiritual and material. There will always be some problems that linger on since we live in an imperfect and material world. There have been days or weeks in the past five years when I was literally hanging on by a prayer. I'm grateful to God for his care.

During the past five years I've ignored imperfections in my life that others do not. For most of my life I've had to ignore imperfections and I think that's one of the reasons I'm still here. Some of my companions and friends can't say the same, both the privileged and the underprivileged. Only I carry on without them. It's true when they say that one should never envy anyone because one does not always have all the facts about a particular person. Many of those I envied are no longer here to be envied. I'm thankful that I'm still here to say so.

Lately, however, I've started to pay more attention to the imperfections in my life and trying to take action, more or less. Notwithstanding, I continue to seek God each day as is my custom via bible study and prayer. Things are gradually changing around me, but I still go through the spiritual exercises because I am a creature of habit. I know that God will bless me; he always has. Others may not recognize me as I change and adapt and more realistically deal with the challenges in my life. Nevertheless, I continue to seek the best of all possible worlds in this life and in the next.

It is my prayer that you also find what you are looking for this year.