America's Soul: The Battle for Religious Freedom

While Seventh-day Adventists are busy debating who gets baptized, who gets ordained, who gets to speak at meetings, and who gets to teach in our colleges, the rest of Christianity battles for the very soul of America. The courts and the legislatures at every township, city, state, and federal level are passing laws and instituting regulations that in large manner will define how governmental authority impacts freedom and religious diversity. A plethora of judges are in the process of being approved to serve on federal benches and will impact religious freedom and diversity for years. The struggle between the right and the left, between liberal and conservative Christians, is heightened in a hotly contested political climate.

Governmental authority in matters of religious practice creates a thorny entanglement that has been a part of every civilization. What is the proper balance between religious and civil authority? Who gets to decide which religious freedoms are protected and which are not? The discussion that follows will draw attention to extreme ends of the political spectrum. Few people fit squarely into one camp or the other, but allow me to set the stage to help uncover the framework within which both sides generally operate.

Some conservative Christians believe it is their civic duty to call sin by its right name and exhaust every avenue to influence public policy. Under this view, a society that ignores the mandates laid out in Scripture would place itself on a pathway to destruction. I saw a church sign recently that read, "Life without Jesus is Hell." In Alabama, billboards greet us each day with the question, "Where will you spend Eternity? Heaven or Hell?" This mentality seems to include the idea that either we get busy and shape up our act, or we will all suffer the wrath of God.

Justice Roy Moore, now a leading candidate for U.S. Senate in Alabama, once suggested that the reason for the attack on the world trade towers on 9/11 was because America had drifted away from God. In the same speech he indicated that the practice of abortion and sodomy were two issues that seemed to put God over the edge.

The late Jerry Falwell took it a little farther. While appearing as a guest on the 700 Club television show, he asserted that the US suffered the 9/11 attacks because America had become a nation of "pagans, abortionists, feminists, gays, lesbians, the American Civil Liberties Union and the People For the American Way." Falwell later apologized, saying, "I would never blame any human being except the terrorists, and if I left that impression with gays or lesbians or anyone else, I apologize."

Under our system, the federal government takes responsibility for civil order, yet many conservative Christians long for the government to exercise authority to regulate matters of religious preferences. When the United States Supreme Court or a legislature disagrees with traditional conservative teachings, there is an immediate outcry from a lot of Christian conservatives to warn the nation of God's displeasure. Conservative politicians repeat the message that the United States is a Christian nation. This claim lacks any real substance in fact and is disputed by the framers of the constitution. Every single reference to religion in America's founding document is couched in negative language.

Mark Edwards, a professor of U.S. history and politics at Spring Arbor University in Michigan, makes the following observation:

If the founders had not made their stance on this "Christian nation" issue clear enough in the Constitution and the Federalist Papers, they certainly did in the 1797 Treaty of Tripoli. Begun by George Washington, signed by John Adams and ratified unanimously by a Senate still half-filled with signers of the Constitution, this treaty announced firmly and flatly to the world that "the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion.”

Instead of establishing Christianity as a state religion, the architects of the constitution went to great lengths to ensure that no state religion could ever be established. They understood that religious conformity at the expense of freedom of conscience would be a danger that could culminate in the denial of civil rights for those who find themselves in the minority.

Conformity to a singular religious ideology seems to be a prevailing theme proffered by those intent on getting America back to God. Again, Justice Roy Moore seems to have settled on the idea that other religions have no place or protections under the first amendment of the United States Constitution. In responding to a question about Muslims and their practice of praying during the day, etc., Moore gave the following response: “False religions like Islam, who teach that you must worship this way, are completely opposite with what our First Amendment stands for.”

In times past, Christians preached the Gospel to persuade unbelievers to move toward the fold of truth. But in our current climate, some conservative Christians seem to lose patience. If America is unwilling to accept the plain, "Thus saith the Lord," then perhaps conformity can be achieved through legislation. Forcing religious compliance in a society committed to personal freedom is a daunting task. In this war for the soul of America, it seems, sadly, that Christian civility has become the first casualty. While claiming the name of Christ, liberals and conservatives alike sometimes resort to shaming, name calling, defamation, and all manner of insults.

Mahatma Gandhi gave a stinging rebuke to Christians who profess to follow the humble teacher from Nazareth and at the same time act in ways so unlike Jesus. Gandhi said, "I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”

Christian liberals are in a word, liberal. By the very nature of that designation one might expect them to easily accept religious and political diversity. While this might be generally true, there is one major exception. Liberal Christians are completely intolerant of those who threaten their personal freedom. They resist a top down, authoritarian model that seeks to restrict their right to free expression. But there is one glaring difference in the way liberals defend their ideology. They have used the courts to secure certain freedoms for themselves, but do not generally believe it is their obligation to force other citizens to comply with their preferences. For example, liberals never pushed for mandatory abortions or same sex marriages. A Christian conservative man has every right to say, "I don't care how expensive the ring might be, I will never consent to marry another man—." In the words of Nancy Reagan, conservatives have the right to, "Just say no."

There are Christians who believe it is an infringement on their religious liberty to provide services for those who practice alternate lifestyles. Should a business owner who believes exclusively in naturopathic medicine be allowed to restrict medical coverage for employees to only include natural remedies? Should an emergency room doctor have the right to deny life saving treatments for a gay man? Personal religious freedom has never given Christians the right to enforce their beliefs on others.

Since both liberal and conservative Christians claim to represent Christ, let’s look at a couple of examples of how Jesus dealt with issues of governmental authority and personal freedom.

The Bible recounts the story of an adulterous woman who the religious leaders brought to Jesus. When the Pharisees walked away with their own sins exposed, Jesus turned to deal with this humiliated woman. Jesus concluded, "Neither do I condemn you: go, and sin no more" (John 8:11). Why did Jesus clearly say that He didn't condemn this woman? Most modern conservative Christians believe that adultery should be called by its right name. Why didn't Jesus inform this woman that her lawless conduct was ruining the nation? The second part of Christ's answer is even more surprising. He said, "Go, and sin no more." Allow me to focus on the first word of this sentence. He told the woman to, "Go." Jesus knew that this woman had God-given free choice. He dismissed her from His presence to live the life of her choosing. He directed her not to continue in a lifestyle that would bring harm to her, but He knew that He could not make that decision for her.

Even as Christ's final hours on this earth drew to a close, Jesus told His betrayer, Judas, "Whatever you do, do it quickly" (John 13:27). Christ could have stopped Judas from committing this treacherous act, but instead He gave Judas the freedom to make his own choice. Sometimes people might be tempted to say, "Save me from myself and my own poor choices," but in matters of worship and conscience, God always defers to the exercise of free will.

In many ways, Jesus lived in a social-political environment similar to our society today. The Roman rulers and governors took responsibility for civil order, while the religious leaders would have certainly preferred a return to theocratic rule. It is worth noting that Jesus directed His strongest criticism toward the ultra-conservative, law-abiding, self-righteous religious leaders of His day. These religious teachers had no problem calling sin by its right name. They had no problem demanding conformity to their religious ideas. The most compelling argument to combat religious intolerance comes straight from Christ's own teaching and actions. Jesus rebuffed the top-down, authoritarian, conservative establishment. He gathered food on the Sabbath. He healed on the Sabbath. He mingled and ate with the outcasts of society. When it comes to personal freedom, liberal Christians seem to mirror the teachings and practice of Jesus more closely than their more conservative counterparts. As it turns out, freedom is a fragile, rare commodity that is easy to claim for ourselves, but often we are slow to extend that same freedom to people who live and think differently than we do.

Christ's constant mission was to gather His children to Himself. The dissension we see in Christianity is not consistent with the design put forward by the Architect of our salvation. All Christian believers should be marching in unison under the blood-stained banner of the cross of Jesus. Standing next to that cross, we cannot believe ourselves to be better than those around us. We cannot represent Christ to the world and at the same time espouse racial or religious bigotry. We cannot denigrate and belittle other people and still claim to be followers of Jesus. The ground under the cross is level and under the light of the Lamb of God we clearly see our own need for forgiveness and healing. As we pledge allegiance to the Christian flag, let us unite to extend freedom and love to our fellow travelers; even to those with whom we disagree.

Leroy Sykes lives and writes from Alabama.

Image Credit: Photo by Sebastian Pichler on Unsplash

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This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/8382
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Liberal and conservative Christians would be very surprised how Jesus would do “church” today. Ultra right and left politicians would be surprised how our founders understood separation of church and State. But everybody thinks they are right and this is what we have to do as a Christian nation. Justice Roy Moore is a great example. I read somewhere a quote from somebody this past week commenting on Moore: “those ultra conservative Christians are those that are hiding skeletons in their closets”. The “other” side said - Joseph, an adult also married a teenage girl, Mary. People use Bible to justify whatever they want. Gandhi and others are laughing at us, Christians, because we are just a bunch of wannabees.

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Adventism makes its case at the demonizing of all others. All the time serious scholarship defaults the pillars of Adventism. Adventist take on Dan 8:14 has no serious defenders, neither does Rev. 14 (The Three Angels Messages are about the Ospel not th. Sabbath. )

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The founding fathers of this great nation of ours not only had the European church/ state model to guide their thoughts, they also had some America colonial examples which no doubt gave them certainty in insisting on the separation of church and state. Many conservative Christians have either ignored history, haven’t studied, or otherwise remain unconvinced.

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america’s evangelicals often live in a pleasant little bubble…i mean look at what’s happening in alabama…i feel sorry for people living in that state…

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Bubbles are fragile, easily broken, Jeremy. In order for America’s evangelicals to live in a pleasant little bubble, their bubble must be constructed from bullet-proof glass. With 26 murders in Sutherland Springs,26 in Newtown, 49 in an Orlando nightclub, and 58 on a Las Vegas street, they offer their condolences, their prayers, and little more than tepid support for legal band-aids to solve the problem. Let’s hope that Alabama’s evangelicals do a little bit better as they consider Judge Roy Moore’s candidacy.

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i think this article was a bit much.

The article is biased.

Liberals have just as many faults and foibles as their conservative brothers an sisters. I might add that Jesus teachings were closer to the Pharisees, the conservative branch of Judaism than the liberal Sadducees.

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It is also worth noting that He leveled a fair amount of criticism at the ultra-liberal religious leaders, aka, Sadducees. They hated Jesus because He was so principled: go and sin no more. By contrast, the Pharisees hated Him because He was so nice: neither do I condemn you. He was murdered by a coalition of liberals and conservatives. Blind ideologues cause problems, no matter which end of the specturm (no pun intended) they come from.

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Christ’s criticism according to the New Testament record was leveled equally against both groups. Jesus did teach there was an afterlife, but this hardly qualifies as a ringing endorsement of the Pharisees. He taught and practiced Sabbath keeping quite differently than both groups. He also mingled with the wrong people; a complete repudiation of both Pharisees and Sadducees. The technical and labored disputes between these two strains of religious leaders seem inconsequential when a new Teacher emerges in Israel who is so far out of the mainstream of religious thought that both groups want Him silenced. I cannot think of a single example where Jesus was in harmony with either group. He condemned both for being vipers and hypocrites. I cannot think of a single example where the Sadducees accused Jesus of being too conservative; that is, too much like the Pharisees! I can however cite one example after another where Jesus took the top down authoritarian conservative model of religious thought and stood it on its head. (The woman at the well in Samaria is just a good start).

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Please note my reply to Allen Shepherd. I tried to answer both posts in one answer–.

My understanding of Adventist doctrine is that the Beast power uses the power of the State to enforce its edicts.

Religious freedom is of the essence, I always believed as an Adventist.

In a stunning reversal of all I was taught, the Seventh-day Adventist Church has long used the power of the State to enforce its edicts, spending untold millions of dollars in the process, and this has resulted in imprisonment for at least one pastor:


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While the Pacific Union Conference is to be extolled and applauded for their stand against discrimination of Adventist women, their anti-gay discrimination was very evident in 2008, when PROPOSITION EIGHT was a ballot measure in California.

Proposition Eight, was brought by opponents of same sex marriage and was aimed to deny gays and lesbians the right to.marry.

The Adventist position has always been against same sex marriage and the church has every right to uphold this doctrinal position.

What they did not have the right to do was to LEGALLY IMPOSE this doctrinal position, on people of other faiths, Buddhists, Hindus, Jews, Atheists, and those Protestant Christians who held a more liberal and favorable view of monogamous same sex marriage.

More particularly since same sex marriage conferred huge financial, estate, and taxation advantages, which heterosexual married couples already enjoyed.

The Religious Liberty Secretary of the PUC (who should have known better ). went out to strongly advocate in favor of Proposition Eight, thereby indicating that Adventism was prepared to impose its doctrines by legal fiat on non Adventists.

Proposition Eight was later, quite correctly, thrown out as UNCONSTITUTIONAL by a variety of higher courts.

This end result left the Pacific Union Conference with ODIOUS OPTICS !

More recently, the Australian Adventist church has meddled in a similar same sex marriage issue in the land down under.

Despite the Adventist Church maliciously meddling in politics, to prevent tax paying gays/lesbians from gaining EQUAL PROTECTION under the law,
SIXTY TWO PER CENT of Australians have overwhelmingly voted for fairness in allowing same sex marriage.

This result leaves Australian Adventists with ODIOUS OPTICS,

We will have “no leg to stand on “ when, as our church prophet predicts, other religions impose Sunday Laws on us—imposing THEIR religious viewpoints on Sabbathkeepers by legal fiat.

More particularly when we ourselves have attempted to legally impose our doctrinal beliefs on those of other, or no faith.

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I have noticed changes in the way Adventists view religious liberty. I concur that someone who works in a religious liberty department should be more aware of the issues surrounding separation of church and state. I fear that some of our brothers and sisters who vote with no thought to protect religious freedom will one day wake up to a nation willing and able to punish religious dissenters.

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That’s one of the problems, namely a mere national perspective where, what we need, is a global one (the very thing America is politically trying to get rid of). “The rest of Christianity” doesn’t give much thought to the soul of America, to put it a bit impolitely. And “Adventism” should read: American Adventism. While I agree with the ghist of the article, I see a lot of inhouse-talk and would wish spectrum and its author to foster a more global view. If, as said, we can learn from each other, we should start by suspending the view that what goes on in America is somewhat indicative of the rest of the world. Probably not.

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I’m sorry, but that excuse really does smell bad on the face of it. For an Adventist entity to take a stand such as that one; advocating for government enforcement of religious practice, regardless of whether it was 2008 or 2017 is hypocritical at best.

As Robin says, once you go down that road you have no leg to stand on when the shoe is on the other foot and governmental edict is used to impose religious practice on you. The denomination really should exercise more circumspect behavior.

Really? What kind of apologetics is that, exactly? “Oh, it’s okay to act badly because nobody is watching anyhow!” Interesting…

Edit:

Well, it certainly seemed as if you were making excuses for bad decisions and actions on the part of conference religious liberty personnel but obviously I misunderstood.

And no, I don’t particularly worry about optics either. I’ve come to the place where I simply do not hitch my star particularly closely to the denominational wagon, even as a life-long adventist. Been there and done that and it’s certainly not worth the continued effort. I find that neither my spirituality nor my salvation are dependent on the organization. I’m just an interested bystander.

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When the SDA leader and educator, W. W. Prescott, drew crowds of surprised Australians
( surprised to hear SDAs preach Christ, and not merely ‘the law’ ) to his camp meeting sermons in Armadale, in 1895, he wrote home to Battle Creek headquarters and suggested that they might publish one of the best sermons and circulate it more widely.

When the American ‘book committee’ refused to publish it as the Australian committee had – saying it had ‘fundamental errors’ – Ellen described their (SDA) behavior as
"following in the paths of Rome." We SDAs in America, at least, are still feeling the bad results of that arrogant if not ignorant refusal.

You may find the whole series of sermons in pdf at the attached website, but the portion under the heading , God or Caesar, Which ? , compares well with this Spectrum article, and expands upon Prescott’s ‘simple diagram’, as he described it, on page 59 :

"A PLAIN DISTINCTION
As a foundation, I want first to draw a distinction between the things of God and the things of Caesar. “Caesar” stands for civil government. The things of Caesar are those which have to do with civil government. The things of God are those which have to do with God, our relation to God, our duty to God, everything that pertains to God as a personal matter between us and God. I want to lay down for our consideration the contrast between the things of God and the things of Caesar; the contrast between the realms in which they rule, their subjects, and their manner of ruling. To make it plain we will draw a simple diagram:—

God ~ Caesar
MIND ~ BODY
THOUGHT ~ ACTION
SIN ~ CRIME
MORAL ~ CIVIL
FORGIVENESS ~ PENALTY
LOVE ~ FORCE
ETERNAL ~ TEMPORAL”

~ Quoting W. W. Prescott, as published at this website :

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From Prescott’s 1895 sermon:
GET A RIGHT IDEA OF JESUS CHRIST.
Let a man get a wrong idea of Him, and He will devote his life to his false idea, and sacrifice the lives of all who do not see his Christ as He sees Him. Take, for instance, the example of Paul. He was looking for Messiah; but it was his Messiah, not the Lord’s Messiah, so that when the Lord’s Messiah came he did not see Him. Some did, and believed on Him, and Paul immediately began to persecute them because they did not believe on his Christ. “For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews’ religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it.” “In the Jews’ religion.” God’s religion never persecuted anybody. It is man’s religion that leads one to persecute those who do not see his Christ. God’s religion never does so.

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I am not sure I am in complete agreement with brother Prescott. The genius and “miracle” of the United States constitution is that it not only mandated freedom of religious thought, it also guaranteed all Americans the right to the free EXERCISE of religious beliefs. (Thoughts vs Action). For example the government could hold that you can teach and preach about your strange ideas on Sabbath keeping, (Thoughts–), but you will still be required to attend church on Sunday.(Action).

I do believe government has authority in civil matters where other people are harmed and adversely affected. For example, property disputes, violence against other citizens, etc. etc., The danger is when the government decides to regulate matters of personal freedoms under the theory that God is displeased and the United States must return to Godliness. Where Adventists get confused is they vote for ultra conservative candidates who very much believe that our nation needs to return to God. These voters shouldn’t be surprised when they get their wish. When the government relinquishes the idea of FREE EXERCISE of religion in favor of religious conformity, (Conformity is a necessary component to get everyone on board–), then the door for religious oppression is wide open.

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This helps clarify Prescott’s thesis. Thank you for sharing that quote. It is helpful to understand this distinction.

Thank you Missus Carmen for reading and finding and posting the quote from Prescott.

And, thank you Mister L. Sykes for your patience when I tell you again just how much you think
( as you should ) like Prescott and a few other ‘historic’ SDAs were thinking (as they should have ) over a century ago.

Today’s SDAs have been conditioned into believing that ‘historic’ means stuffier and more restrictive.
Yet, some of those ‘historic’ figures who had encountered just what we are encountering today – in both the SDA religion and in United States politics – were far freer in their studies and their resulting publications than many SDAs imagine . . . until they tap into the great wealth of those writings that are just waiting, fresh and ready, to be used by us, right now, against enemies of the Gospel of the ‘Kingdom of Heaven’, ‘in you’. AND, they carry the added credentials of Ellen’s endorsement.

Having found scriptural solutions to the present SDA crises in the work of past SDAs, let’s not forget to look about ourselves in the present, in order to continue their course into the future.
Here is another paragraph from the Prescott / Armadale pdf, pages 62-63:

Thought Precedes Action
Every overt act is preceded by thought. No man ever does a thing he has not thought of. Now many are thinking, I suppose, “I question that, because I have done things I did not intend to do. And I did them because I did not think.” I tell you the very reason you did them without thinking was because you had done them so many times before that by thinking it had become habit.
I say that every act is preceded by the thought, and that thought is the very character of your being. It is in the inmost thought, the inner self, where character dwells. Man may be restrained by outward forms from expressing himself; he may be but a whited sepulchre. And if the sepulchre is whitewashed outside, Caesar has nothing to say; he cannot enter into the temple of the heart and control thought. Jesus Christ sets up His kingdom in the mind; His subjects are the thoughts of the heart, and no one is pure in God’s sight unless his very thought is pure; no one is free from transgression unless his very thoughts are in harmony with God. Says the Scripture, “Casting down imaginations and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.” 2 Cor. 10:5. That is religion and Jesus Christ can do that for us. But when Caesar has attempted to invade the realm of the mind, when he has stepped out of his place and tried to control what only Jesus Christ can control,—the inmost thoughts of the heart,—then we have had written in blood some of the darkest pages of human history.”

Me, again:
Around Y2K, my wife gave me a Holman’s Bible Atlas for Christmas. I became fascinated with the 67th book of the Bible, The Book of Maps. ( Remember, for the wandering, homeless Hebrews a ‘promised landscape’ meant everything. ) I began to discover puns and parable parallels in the naming of places, to recognize patterns in the ‘promised landscape’ that matched patterns in the Biblical narrative, and I began to compare – not just scripture with scripture, as the early SDAs did, but – scripture with geography, and with the ‘science’ of the human reproductive cycle, and the horticultural cycles peculiar to that specific ‘promised landscape’, and those cycles to the cycles of the religious feasts of its Hebrew inhabitants . . . . That’s the short version.

Around 2003 I began to compare those fascinating Rorschach inkblot shapes of the (former) Dead Sea, and ‘West Bank’. Holman’s Bible Atlas showed that the present day ‘West Bank’ ‘Green Line’ of truce (from ‘trust’, or ‘faith’) generally follows the borders of that central hill country that Israel conquered under Joshua while trusting the real Joshua – ‘Jesus’.

To shorten this story, as I searched my wife’s college (‘SMC’) anatomy and physiology textbook, I found two shapes that corresponded well enough to the Dead Sea and West Bank to lure me on – births of twin babies (Jordan as ‘cut’ ‘Dead Sea’ umbilical, followed by circumcision and cessation of 40-year gestational / placental ‘what is it’ and ‘rock-water’. . . ), and twin hemispheres of the brain (the peninsula in the Dead Sea is ‘Lisan’ in Hebrew, meaning ‘tongue’, or ‘language’, making the ‘Dead Sea’ shape compare well to the left brain hemisphere which largely handles language.). Since the Bible stresses both DNA birth and ‘new’ birth – mental re-conception – both ‘geo-anatomy’ comparisons are valid to consider.

It was when I went to the local public library to search out more information on the right brain hemisphere
– and especially the tip of the corresponding ‘peninsula’ within the ‘West Bank’ where the all-significant Jerusalem still sits – that I was introduced by Gray’s Anatomy to only a left hemisphere version of a very hidden and therefore misunderstood brain lobe named after Johann Christian Reil ( a physician and advocate for humane treatment of the mentally ill), who first published about it in a European scientific journal just as the Great Advent Movement was brewing, and William Miller escaped from Deism to his Bible, and a very personally-involved ‘Savior’. This ‘Island of Reil’ brain lobe corresponds very well in location to Jerusalem, God’s chosen ‘one place of worship’, within the ‘West Bank’ shape. But at the time I learned of it, around 2003, all the old textbooks knew of it was that it handled ‘visceral functions’. Still, considering Christ’s mysterious ‘visceral’ watery blood and death, I could predict that the insula would prove to be significant to the SDA Christian religion, some day.

‘Some day’ came very quickly ! I soon received my copy of the latest Discover magazine in the mail. In it was described – of all things mismatched – scientific, not ‘religious’, ‘morality’ studies that had taken place with the help of the latest hi-tech scanning tools. And, there was the ‘insula’ (right with the Anterior Cingulate Cortex ) on a most modern page from Evolutionist ‘science’ that no ‘religious’ Creationist would bother to give an arrogant glance.

After that first article in Discover, I searched the internet, and found many recent scientific papers and news articles connecting, especially, the ‘Anterior Insular Cortex’ – AIC – and some times the Anterior Cingulate Cortex, with such human emotional, and character-personality traits as ‘indignation’, ‘prejudice’, ‘addiction’, ‘lust–disgust’, ‘love–hate’, ‘guilt–at-one-ment’, ‘pride–humility’, ‘trust (‘faith’)–distrust’ . . . ‘empathy’ (‘in-feeling’) . . . and also BOTH ‘physical pain’ AND the ‘pain of social exclusion’ that Ellen describes as causing the death of Jesus:

“But it was not the spear thrust, it was not the pain of the cross, that caused the death of Jesus. That cry, uttered “with a loud voice” (Matthew 27:50; Luke 23:46), at the moment of death, the stream of blood and water that flowed from His side, declared that He died of a broken heart.
His heart was broken by mental anguish. He was slain by the sin of the world.” {DA 772.2}

But, that was the second-to-the-last loud cry of Jesus :
Mar 15:34 “And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? which is, being interpreted, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?

This was the ‘pain of social exclusion’ of the highest order – the ‘second death’, involving the ‘AIC’-‘ACC’ connection in the ‘heart’ of the brain, that also has strong connections to the Psalm 51 ‘inner man’, ‘viscera’, Biblical ‘reins’, and, of course to the ‘heart’ that pumps blood, which ‘broke’ in Jesus.

Finally, that same ‘AIC’-‘ACC’ connection is where ‘mind-emotions-body’ (‘mens, spiritus, corpus’, engraved at entrance to Andrews University) ‘co-emerge’ and conduct impulses from the emotional ‘limbic system’ into physical action. One leading insula researcher has described it as being ‘the center of all human behavior, and possibly of consciousness, itself.’ . . . and this is the very same center of human ‘character’-motivation which is perfectly suited to be the ‘soul temple’ ‘footstool’ (‘driver’s seat’) on Earth, of the ‘Throne of God’ in Heaven, that Alonzo Jones and W.W. Prescott repeatedly tried to draw SDA attention toward, and away from mere ‘outer court’ hypocrisy of action. As Ellen, also wrote:

It is the motive that gives character to our acts, stamping them with ignominy or with high moral worth. Not the great things which every eye sees and every tongue praises does God account most precious. The little duties cheerfully done, the little gifts which make no show, and which to human eyes may appear worthless, often stand highest in His sight. A heart of faith and love is dearer to God than the most costly gift. The poor widow gave her living to do the little that she did. . . .” {DA 615.3}

So, I don’t believe that we should stop with Prescott’s ‘simple diagram’, and assume that he intended his hearers to conclude ‘thought v.s. action’ – but rather, ‘action-through-thought’ – when he went on to explain, “I say that every act is preceded by the thought, and that thought is the very character of your being. It is in the inmost thought, the inner self, where character dwells.”, and also where and how, as Jesus Himself said:

“Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.” Luke 17:21

And, before that Ezekiel prophesied for Jesus:

“And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you
(motivate you, from within the ‘heart’ of your brain)
to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.
(And, what is the direct result of God’s Spirit governing from ‘within you’, within your ‘brainscape’?)
And ye shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers;
and ye shall be my people, and I will be your God.
I will also save you from all your uncleannesses: and I will call for the corn, and will increase it, and lay no famine upon you.
And I will multiply the fruit of the tree, and the increase of the field, that ye shall receive no more reproach of famine among the heathen.” Ezekiel 36:27-30 KJV

So, you see, it is NOT crazy to compare the ‘promised landscape’ to the ‘promised brainscape’.
From the perspective of other worlds and of Angels:

“. . . Our little world is the lesson book of the universe. God’s wonderful purpose of grace, the mystery of redeeming love, is the theme into which “angels desire to look,” and it will be their study throughout endless ages. . . .” DA 19

The ‘angels’ attached to the ‘footstool’ cover, or ‘kippur’, of the Ark of God’s Promise – the same promise as restated in Ezekiel 36, above – represent the words taken by Ellen from I Peter 1:12:

“Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into.”

When Ron Wyatt claimed to have seen that same ‘mercy seat’ cover, with rather unique,
only 24-chromosome blood on it, and gold ‘angels’ looking down on it . . . and to having lost consciousness (‘itself’, as the insula researcher described one of its functions. Ron Wyatt was also a ‘nurse-anesthetist’. A scientific paper has now been published on how anesthesia involves the insula. Theatrical ! :slight_smile: ) on January 6, 1982, at 2:00 p.m. Jerusalem time . . . 20 feet below a ‘cross hole’ ‘drilled in solid rock’ beside an earthquake crack, at ‘crazy’ General Gordon’s Golgotha, ‘without the gate’ (Hebrews 13:12) . . . too many people ridiculed him, too (later, including Danny Shelton). Yet, that ‘scarlet stream’ runs back through the story of Achan son of Zerah (meaning ‘bright’, scarlet . . . ), through Rahab of the wall of Jericho who married into the line of the ‘younger’ twin brother of Zerah (whose midwife put a scarlet thread around his over-reaching hand) – Perez (meaning ‘breach’, ‘gap’, or crack ?) . . . the 23- ‘chromosome’ ancestors of Jesus on His mother’s side.

That bloody ‘scarlet gap’ – ‘Zerah Perez’ – connection that Ron Wyatt found between the cross of Jesus, above, and the ‘kippur’ ‘footstool’ of the ‘Ark’, 20 feet below, is also a perfect ‘parable’ illustration of what happens in the ‘AIC’-‘ACC’ connection that turns human emotion into action. . . . But, mostly all I have received for trying to point SDA liberals and conservatives, alike, toward such fascinating new insights and connections that agree perfectly with the ‘historic’ ‘1888’ insights of SDA leaders like Jones, Ellen, Waggoner and Prescott . . . is:

“Save it for Heaven !”
(This from a retired SDA educator.)
“You have a s-s-i-ck god !”
(This from a very conservative SDA whose whole family dresses like ‘Victorian’ Ellen.)
“My board has advised (that to publicize such things) would hurt my ministry.”
(This from a famous ‘liberal’ SDA author and psychiatrist ! ?),
“Go waste someone else’s time !”
(This from the webmaster of a leading ‘1888’-oriented website.),
“You need to repent, brother !”
(This from the author of a widely-distributed history of ‘1888’, and ‘conservative’ opponent of
’The One Project’.)

Are there any SDAs out there who are tired of viewing the gospel through the bifocals of
conservative v.s. liberal,
and simply ache for Jerusalem – ‘Teacher of Peace’ ?

If so, then I invite you to lay out the work of ‘historic’ 1888-era SDAs, side-by-side with the publications of the friends of Ron Wyatt regarding the Ark of the Covenant, and all of the latest scientific ‘paradigm-changing’ information still emerging from the long-hidden ‘Jerusalem’-‘heart’ of the human brain, with its 'Mt. Moriah ‘mirror neurons’. . . AND DON’T FORGET THE MAPS !

Then, along with that insurrectionist 2,000 years ago, we might all learn to agree on one thing:

“Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.” Luke 23:42

And, that Lord, Himself, said:
". . . the kingdom of God is within you." Luke 17:21

But, ‘within you’, where ?

Where better than to the right side of ‘the place of the skull’ in the right hemisphere ‘AIC-ACC’ connection illustrated in ‘geography’ at the foot of the cross where Ellen says the ‘true coronation’ of Christ occurred, and still occurs, ‘by beholding’ ‘Christ Crucified’ with our ‘mirror neurons’, which are located in our ‘AIC’ at the place corresponding to ‘Gordon’s Golgotha’ ‘without the gate’ ?

God feels the pain of being socially excluded by us liberal v.s. conservative warrior SDAs
who strut about like so many arguing, unfeeling Pharisees and Sadducees . . .
so much so that it could kill Them, still.
Let us empathize with Them, ‘look, and live’.

‘Christ on the cross’ is truly the ‘Great Center’ between fallen humanity and Heaven.
The Christ was both human and Divine.
‘He is our at-one-ment, who has made both one’, between us enemies of God, and God.
But there is no such peaceful ‘center’ to be found
between liberal biased and conservative biased enemies, simply because God, ‘in Christ’, is neither.