Sigh. Eventually I’m going to write a long essay on the many ways that the apocalypticism of the SDA church has promoted a theology of anti-humanitarianism. I used to hear so many different flavors of these arguments when I worked for ADRA. The problem is that most SDAs honestly believe that 1) Jesus is coming soon, 2) the world will certainly become worse morally and socially before then and 3) our highest priority should be the salvation of souls rather than the alleviation of suffering on earth. The combination of these beliefs creates a worldview infested with passivity and inattention to the suffering of others around us. Sure, Jesus told us to serve the poor, but (and people have said this to my face more than once) we really can’t be expected to make ANY difference in the world’s suffering. It’s not our problem, and Jesus is about to come wipe it all away anyway. When Adventists support humanitarian work, it seems to most often be out of feelings of duty rather than any real expectation for change or improvement in the lot of humanity. If Christians can’t begin fighting injustice NOW in the REAL WORLD, then how do you expect anyone to believe it will be important in the next? And people wonder why the church is bleeding members. We want the world to be better, we believe it can be, and we reject the harmful narratives that value prophecy and passivity over people and purpose.
T, I once worked in Bangladesh for 6 mos. At the Dental clinic in the late 80’s. I stayed at the local ADRA leaders house.
At the time the poorest country on earth. Many deaths from dysentery and new. babies by the millions.
This country doesn’t know what poverty is.
May I add it’s prosperity was not by accident, oppression or privilege. It is its system and hard work…and obviously Gods grace from it’s founding!
Do I need to remind you how ubiquitous this assertion is? With so many people of so many contrary theological persuasions claiming exactly that–often using those very words–what does it even mean?
I understand how you see this and I am sure that it has happened on occasion. What I have seen is that many people lose “faith” when it is not robustly connected to helping others. SJ can offer a way to reach out and help others that has nothing to do with flagrant or semi-flagrant “witnessing”.
BTW…it IS possible for people to get involved in SJ and have their lives spiritually enriched. The way that you are presenting things is that this does NOT and can NEVER happen which is something that would be limiting to God.
William, your interpretation of why Jesus “never got involved in such issues” would be an apologetical position to not participate in Women Suffrage or end slavery, etc.,etc. It is not the ONLY solution as you are stating it is so…this is only your opinion.
Concerning reparations and making things right about the past:
Let me get this right. You are comparing slavery in the 17th century forward, commonplace at the time (doesn’t make it right) to the genocide of Jews by gas, firing squad and all their real personal possessions stolen?
Not worthy of an answer. Both horrible but one off the scale!
Will the Jews be required to pay reparations to their former slaves In OT? I AM NOT SLIGHTING slavery. But history can not be judged retrospectively by current societal understanding, I suggest.
There were rules of conduct in place in WW2. Germany willingly defied them and any semblance of recognition the JEWS were human.
I repeat to those likely tempted to make me a racist by my opinion. It was retrospectively a horrible time for mankind during modern slavery!
John Newton, the writer of Amazing Grace was a victim of the Slave trade in England.
Not at all. Just providing an example of reparations happening right now.
Are there historical reparations?
Fair enough. From an event 70 years ago. Considered wrong by the articles of war at the time.
I am so glad you asked that question because I fear some of my comments have given the impression that I am against doing humanitarian work when I am a vocal advocate of personal involvement in it. Perhaps the difference in our opinions will be limited to our views of the scale on which it should be done. I have great respect for the work ADRA does. However, I think what is missing is making it obvious that it is being done because we are helping because we have experienced God’s love so we are motivated to share the blessings we have received. The ministry God has called me to do is small-scale, local and very, very personal. The first result of every miracle Jesus performed is an improvement in the recipient’s life. I have been absolutely amazed by how many opportunities God has given us to do things that improve the lives of others.
One of our clients was a single mother with a ten year-old daughter. A long-term water leak in the kitchen had rotted the floor so it was like they had a ditch across the middle of the room where the floor had collapsed. After repairing the floor I told her that she could stomp on it or jump up-and-down on it without fear because it wasn’t going to collapse. The report I got a few days later was that they hadn’t done either of those things. They had danced on it. The day we went back to lay flooring she had to leave to go to a company Christmas party so I sent her a picture of the finished floor. She wrote back that I was making her cry in front of her co-workers. She was praising God for the blessing we had given her. Hearing her thanks and praise to God made me feel incredibly blessed.
Unfortunately, those who teach from a theological perspective almost universally have great difficulty with the concept of ministry in the power of the Holy Spirit, or accepting that the scripture promise of the Holy Spirit living in us and working through us can actually happen. I know because I was one of those theology-focused people for a long time. Then God got my attention and showed me that He meant every word of His promises. In a few weeks I will mark 13 years since God started my Angel Team ministry. It has been life-changing for both me and the many people we have helped. It has been utterly amazing watching God working and seeing what He is capable of doing. That’s the experience from which I speak.
If God has taught me anything it is that anything is possible, but some things are probable where others are only remotely possible. If you don’t have clear evidence that God has called you to do what you’re doing and you’re not seeing it blessed with a power that is far beyond human ability, you’re not doing it the way He wants it done and absence of His blessing is clear evidence that you’re operating apart from Him.
Since you are admitting that there is some possibility…perhaps you should resist stating what God can do so definitively.
Your last sentence is beyond speculative for others. We all should have evidence or conviction that God is leading us individually but understand that it can be different from person to person.
Paul, the reason I questioned Harrpa is because there is a group/groups asking for reparations for descendants of slaves in the US.
The article is no doubt completely correct and I would emphasise living the Gospel any day over parsing prophetic words and looking for signs BUT the author knows full well “social justice” has become a political term that can be applied to almost any hobby horse issue.
The further reality is that even cultural Christians recognise that the Christian church is being bludgeoned to death by SJW’s. Disagree with the masses with the megaphones ie media, Hollywood, academia etc and you must therefore be evil. For many, this new religion has filled the void that may never have been filled by any proper understanding of the Bible, so removed are the majority in the West now from its teachings.
Unfortunately the Bible and EGW offer endless possibilities when it comes to proof texting whether it be by a left-wing SJW on Spectrum or a right-wing judgment Bible thumper on Fulcrum7.
Most of us are left trying to chart a path up the middle.
The broader cultural war is largely lost but pardon me though if I don’t waive the rainbow SJW flag and naively contribute to the demise of Western cultural values. Ask the “what would Jesus do question” every time but let’s not misunderstand the cultural Marxism feeding this new religion.
Few points that need to be made regarding the conflation and “wordsmithing” which stipulates the term “spirit of prophecy”.
Namely the translation of equating EQW as the source in being the “defacto” spirit of prophecy"… which gets pseudo connected to the term “testimony of jesus”… which gets defaulted into the COA series, in broad terms.
Regardless of ones reading of Revelation, (it was written @ 2000 years ago… so the “term” even after "parsing it from greek - it’s a self serving “bait and switch” technique.
The only way to make it “stick” is if you include EGW into biblical canon = thus making yourself (in SDA parlance - by definition a cult) (CULT = a belief held which includes an extra biblical source with level or greater source/canon).
KEY POINT: I dont think that Revelation ONLY became instructive to the “people of the last days” – rather that it is instructive to all new testament Christians as a source of hope, the requirements of a HOLY God and what constitutes TRUE creator-ship and worship.
The social injustice points made here are good, but individual recognition of ones social responsibility is based in following Jesus, One cannot hold God pre-eminent without recognizing their need for Jesus, and his expectations for all to come into one accord.
Bottom line: The premise that one, if he holds a position or view or belief and/or understands a biblical view “not in accordance” with EGW’s writing… doesnt necessarily mean that person is “misinformed”.
Every individual must come into their own understanding of truth… the “settling into truth”… which in today – perfection based (expectations of “keeping the law”)… Alignment, sinlessness, and obedience, are viewed thru the “prism” of EGW view point.
I have several friends that are very liberal and conservative. Their ability to allow me to experience God on my own terms and me not “standing in judgment because they dont view things “in the way I do”” … this provides the framework of growth and understanding.
Said a different way - I can read all the EGW i want to and “agree” with what she has said and substitute it for “my discovery of truth” and make her the “last word” (alot of people dbl speak and say that since she agrees with the bible its the same – its not).
Every individual must discover God for themselves… thru study and/or God’s unique providence for them. If I am not allowing a person that “freedom” and discovery and the ability to reason… I am in effect stunting or preventing their “true discovery” of God.
Today I am looking for “signs” that i have my attitude and understanding of God’s purpose in my life prioritized.
To me that’s and “inclusion-based” process … NOT an “exclusion based” process. I am drawn to God’s character and to His holiness because of who He is and what He has done for me in HIS LDR-and Ascension, and priestly ministry – this INCLUDES His creatorship - and most importantly the author and finisher of MY faith.
NEWS FLASH: People actually met Jesus in person and decided not to follow. External prophetic signs and good to know… but most important are the internal signs that we as Christians… are “of the Gospel commission” and to me until the SDA church actually adopts that “big picture” of “inclusion” vs “sin and judgment based - exclusion” it will continue to make itself “it’s own fulfilling prophecy”… let’s agitate the devil so we can get the winds of strife going and go home… not really a good sales pitch there… rather… is my understanding of church inline with biblical teaching, does it agree with the gospel commission…?
Is my faith inclusion – based.
Sometimes when i look back over my life I cringe at the “exclusion” based processes, thoughts, and beliefs … that I have repented of.
with kind regards,
Just to show how the political bent to a certain view is inserted into a statement with the modifier preceding the word justice here is an example from the Democrat response to the State of the Union Speech. Stacey Abrams’ said:
“America achieved a measure of reproductive justice in Roe v. Wade, but we must never forget it is immoral to allow politicians to harm women and families to advance a political agenda. We affirmed marriage equality, and yet, the LGBTQ community remains under attack.”
So Abortion is “reproductive justice”! Strangely enough that justice just happens to be found in the Democrat Platform. Where when writing about abortion they say: “We will continue to oppose—and seek to overturn—federal and state laws and policies that impede a woman’s access to abortion, including by repealing the Hyde Amendment” https://democrats.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/2016_DNC_Platform.pdf
Abortion is a controversial issue, though late term abortion is disagreed upon by the majority of Americans. As recent news has shown it is perfectly acceptable to the to the left and of course is in keeping with the Democrat platform. But few of us would say it is a justice issue. But when the word justice loses it meaning because it is just a political propaganda word it seems to be used all over the place.
Maybe Spectrum will post an article on that.
Maybe more would join me if they weren’t afraid of being banned for a thousand years.
Interesting article and your comments to those commenting. I read through all of the comments following yours, nothing changed. I have been an SDA for a long time and this issue has always been with us. We will do anything to distract from it and do ‘loop-d-loops’ to try and disparage the concept you are trying to discuss. My personal experience is the more conservative the belief the less I hear about ‘am I my brothers keeper’ or ‘treat others as you would be treated’ or ’ the way you treat others is the way you treat me’. Christ wasn’t concerned about justice for those He ministered too, really? Healing both the body and the mind went together!
It gets tiresome when persons want to make it a political issue. Simply a ‘red herring’ attempting to shut down thinking on an important part of the gospel. It is not about ‘monies’, it is about us and our attitudes and behaviors towards others.