Do We Really Have the Freedom to Choose?

(Sirje) #123

Since the discussion has lapsed into a discussion about racism, I might add an observation. The black-white issue is not as simplistic as we make it out to be. I arrived on these shored absolutely neutral when it came to this controversy. I had seen just one back person in my life (age 8) and formed friendships with several, growing up on Long Island. Not until I got to AUC did I see racial bias (on both sides) - racial bias defined as actions based on another’s race. Injustice on either side is un-godly, and I was surprised that it went on in my newly adopted SDA church.

Having said all that, I had an experience just this weekend that taught me something - I’m not sure what yet.
My husband and I went to the AUC reunion - to a school that soon will be no more. When we arrived for registration, there was not one face we recognized from our era. We also attended a family event so weren’t able to be at church, but intended to participate in a musical presentation in the evening, which was to be held in Machlan auditorium. Machlan was where we attended church in our time there, until a separate church building was built on campus much later.

Our memories of Machlan included Friday night vespers with Stanley Walker playing Softly Now the Light of Day on the organ; and, of course, church was held there on Sabbath. The parking lot was full, and cars were parked all over the campus and on the streets. As we got closer, we heard a vibrating thumping of bass that could have blown any speakers. The auditorium was pitch dark, the stage also draped in black with a string of lights somewhere. On stage was a guy seeming to be rapping, about what, I couldn’t tell, to an audience that was 99.9% black as far as I could see. We didn’t stay long. Someone might say we were being “racist” by even noticing that all the people were black. But, hey…they were.

Thinking about this, I realized that my negative reaction wasn’t about the black people, per se, but to their culture of rap music and the total atmosphere that that created. I really wouldn’t care if they had been white or purple. It’s about a foreign culture intruding on mine - not to mention the generational difference. It seems to me that if you grow up expecting racist bias, you will see it. I’m sure I couldn’t convince any black person that my reaction wasn’t about their colour.


Racism is not in a silo. Racism is life. Ellen White said in heaven, everyone will be white like Jesus. That makes me livid! She talked about amalgamation of man and beast. Whatever cultural garbage we have imported from history we need to dump in the lap of God right now. Only God can heal this. We are too far gone.


That is coming from a deep, deep place, Sirje.

We need our “culture” intruded upon.


November 1, 1977.

40 years, 5 months , 3 weeks and 1 day ago.

(Elmer Cupino) #127

You married your soul mate?


My husband and I had our SDA missionary licenses and were awaiting visas to go to Brazil for six years.

While reading and meditating on Psalms 24:6 that morning I had a mind-blowing spiritual experience that completely changed my brain. I could never put myself back together again. That’s how I landed up in Texas to counsel with the Gothard pastors…at the GC’s behest.

Through wisdom is an house builded; and by understanding it is established.

—Psalm 24:6

One thing Bill Gothard taught me:

  1. The birth of the vision
  2. The death of the vision
  3. The supernatural rebirth of the vision

Gothard’s Personal Headship Chain-of-Command vision has suffered loss.

Son of man, can these bones live?

Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain.

Building my own house is the thing I’ve failed most catastrophically at.

(Sirje) #129

Not too deep at all, Cassie. No deeper than preferring vintage Beetles to whoever is on the charts today. Music speaks to our souls - which is to say, to our experiences at the time we first heard it. There is nothing like it except maybe the smell of a Lilac bush.


Are you saying that this also was just a matter of “musical taste?”

Homo sum, humani nihil a me alienum puto

I am human, and I think nothing of which is human is alien to me.

(Sirje) #131

Music that has nothing to do with my experience. This was my college reunion and this venue had nothing to do with my personal life. If it had been a Tyrollean yodelling session I would have had the same reaction.

So here is a question I would pose - since my reaction was to a predominantly black music presentation - am I allowed to not like it for other than racial reasons?

The reality is that I have no reason to dislike blacks; but that doesn’t mean I have to like a musical program that is meaningful to the majority of the black population. In other words, how honest can I afford to be in our culture?


Again, I am not speaking of musical taste. By all means be honest! It’s not my taste, either, for that matter.

You did say this, Sirje, and that’s what I’m addressing:

Perhaps you need more time. I don’t want to press you.


Sirje, I think you misunderstand at least part of what I was trying to say in response to a much earlier comment of yours on this thread about punishment and pain.
One of the reasons I try to avoid using the word punishment is because I think of it as not having any corrective element. That’s why I use the word chastisement as I see that word including rehabilitation or restoration. (I don’t know if my thoughts on those words are accurate or not.)

I never meant to imply that God will punish just to inflict some kind of pain. I believe He always has the correction and ultimate good of the sinner in mind. Jesus used an example of one slave getting many lashes and one only a few so we can argue if this means any element of what is to be done (at least to start with) is corporal. Jesus spoke of ‘weeping and gnashing of teeth’ related to the results of the coming judgment some seven times. It sounds like there is some physical aspect to it but perhaps it’s all metaphorical. Twice Christ spoke of ‘weeping and gnashing of teeth’ and being thrown into ‘the furnace of fire’ in the same sentence. It sounds to me like the Adventist belief in a literal lake of fire as the final end for most of humanity (with zero chance of rehabilitation) will be a place of some kind of pain. We each have our own views of what is in the physical realm and so is to be taken literally contrasted with what is spiritual.

Regardless, I hope you agree that in the verses I quoted Christ talked about varying levels of chastisement depending on how individuals responded to what they had the opportunity to know. My main point out of that was if God will go to the trouble of this kind of individual attention (which I believe always eventually includes the restoration of the sinner) then why would he then turn around and liquidate all the unsaved in a lake of fire?
Is that how we are to see the God who told us to love our enemies and forgive others so that we can be like Him? Are we supposed to be gratified that those who hurt us are finally getting ‘what’s coming to them’ or are we to have ‘the mind of Christ’ which tells us to love and forgive those who persecute us? Is that not the essence of agape love?
The Bible says that God is the same yesterday, today and forever and He is long suffering and ‘desires all men to be saved’. At the time of judgment does all that change and we find out what God is really like? Is He so weak He can’t get His way? If most of humanity is annihilated doesn’t that mean Satan wins?
On the road to Damascus, Saul of Tarsus, who hated Christ and had His followers killed had his will turned completely around by Jesus in a matter of seconds. Do you really think our ‘free will’ is so sacred God will not influence it for our benefit or the good of others?
Why won’t most Christians believe Peter when he said there will be a ‘time of restoration of all things’ and Jesus came to bless all ‘by turning every one of you from your wicked ways’, or Paul who said, ‘Love never fails’ and ‘God has shut up all in disobedience so that He may show mercy to all’?
I have come to believe things will occur in several stages over several ages. I believe the result of the coming judgment is the beginning of another phase in God’s plan for humanity, not the end for most in a fiery inferno.

(Sirje) #134

Let’s just say, I don’t know how this is going to play out. Burning in an everlasting hell, or one hour and twenty minutes in a lake of fire does not motivate me to love the creator of such a system. I can only rely on God’s fairness, love, and grace to make a judgment on my behalf - and I would have to leave it at that. I do believe we don’t need to use these scenarios to scare people into obedience. After all, it’s not about obedience out of fear.

(Sirje) #135

I guess the implication is that if you’re white, you must be racist against blacks.


That’s why I stay away from the media, Sirje. They are fomenting division.

That was not my implication in any remote sense.

I do think we are all suffering from cultural amnesia on multiple levels, including myself, of course.

We have to return to feeling, to breathing, to integrate this internally.

It’s going to be very painful for all of us, individually and collectively.

I’m sure of that.

I agree with Dave Moffatt, but I think we’re in the process right now, here on earth.


I was thinking of Lucy Byard just now, and the tears started to flow, and it was like a loving presence of Lucy was embracing me, just like in the film Mudbound:

Save us, God our Savior, save us and gather us together, we, your mudbound children, for Your mercy’s sake.

(Frankmer7) #138

When I saw vintage Beetles, i thought Volkswagen was being referred to… lol! I like the Beatles, too! Became a musician because of them. Just a lighter moment…



(jeremy) #139

it isn’t a question of relishing people suffering in a lake of fire…it’s a question of taking the bible for what it’s saying…Rev 14:9-11 actually spells out torment with fire and brimstone - they have no rest day nor night…i think this is another description of the lake of fire…i don’t things it’s meaningless symbology…and it doesn’t seem to be remedial punishment…it’s unmixed with mercy…it’s seems to be a final reward…and Rev 20:15 suggest a LOT of people will be in that lake of fire…

(Sirje) #140

We can’t make doctrinal statements based on a highly symbolic description of events, coming out of a “vision”, especially when it contradicts God’s character as descried by the life and teachings of Christ.

(George Tichy) #141


In my opinion she was wrong. I believe that it is well possible that we the whites may well get our lost pigmentation back! There would be nothing wrong with everyone being black. So what? I will take even green or blue or pink just to be there…

On a serious note, I believe that we all may keep our original colors. With the difference that there will be no racism, discrimination in Heaven. Unless they repent and are truly converted, I don’t see how racists and discriminators can make it to Heaven/Eternity. Maybe there will be three camps up there, separated by huge walls; one for Christians, one for Adventists, and one for racists/discriminators… all of them unaware of the others, so they will be forever happy that nobody else was saved but them… :smirk: :innocent:

(George Tichy) #142

What part of Brazil were you supposed to go to at that time?