December 2008 Vol. 4, No. 12
GENERAL COMMENTS This edition is a mixed bag. While the cover article, A New Humanity, by Jan Paulsen is theologically generous, informative and thoughtful, there are occasionally disconcerting lapses into devotional speak and misleading reporting.
COMMENTS 1 Million Join Church in Year Ansel Oliver reports that “for the fifth consecutive year, more than 1 million people have joined the Seventh-day Adventist Church worldwide.” If you just read the headline, you might have missed the following:
“This year’s report reflects a membership audit of the church’s South American region, which resulted in a more than 300,000-member decline. . . Between 2003 and 2005 the church in Southern Asia-Pacific lost 400,000 members from membership audits.”
Annual Council Votes Administrative Changes Is the Pacific Press headed for Chapter 11? “Robert Smith, Review & Herald Publishing Association President, noted that the General Conference has studied the North American publishing system previously. He urged that the new commission not “study us to death and make the cure worse than the disease.”
“Smith asserted that RHPA made a profit of $100,000 in the year ending September 30. He said that if the General Conference ‘would give us all the work that is justifiably ours,’ the press’s business would be stable.
“Pacific Press president Dale Galusha told Adventist Review: ‘We welcome opportunities such as this to explore better ways to even more effectively strengthen the church, promote its mission and deliver faith-strengthening and spiritually inspiring books and materials to our church members.’”
New Administrators Elected G. Alexander Bryant was voted as executive secretary for the Adventist Church’s North American region. The position is also an associate secretary for the world church. Bryant, 51, currently serves as president of the church’s Central States Conference, “a historically African-American administrative church region” in the Midwestern United States.” Is this newspeak for “Black Conference?
Addictions and At-risk Behaviors Allan R. Handysides and Peter N. Landless tell it like it is. “Meaningful relationships and good friends are beneficial to our health. Positive friendship connections promote positive mental health, a sense of belonging, self-respect, and the strengthening of purpose. This can occur at any age. It is vital to foster resilience in our youth; investment in our friendships can improve health and brighten disposition for the long haul.”
Did You Know? Founded in 1899, Christian Record Services (CRS) is a ministry of the Seventh-day Adventist Church that provides free Christian publications and programs for approximately 100.000 people with visual impairments.
It’s All About Jesus Maybe it isn’t. Fred Kinsey’s words indirectly suggest a little competition. “The Voice of Prophecy will not compete with any other Adventist ministry. I will not be a part of any comparison that suggests we are doing a better job than anyone else. . .In my view, the Lord is not honored by competition between or within His agencies.”
Adventist World On Line This is a great site, user friendly, and with real graphic appeal. However, North American viewers will not get their entire magazine on line. The following articles and information in this issue do not appear: Give and Take, It’s All About Jesus, The Blessing of Giving, Information about Native America Evangelism Ministries, NAD News, and Defining Liberty.
Defining Liberty Lincoln E. Steed’s report is balanced and thoughtful. Unfortunately, it contains the whiff of that old anti-Catholic fear mongering.
“Not many months ago Protestant America lauded the ‘state’ visit of Pope Benedict. . .However, students of Bible prophecy and church history have to take note of the significance of the visit. The modern Papacy is a power player. Protestant America seems enamored with the old ‘mother church.’ There is no longer any gulf to reach across.”
The Guiding Light Ron Laing supplies readers with a brief personal and biographical look at Harry Anderson, SDA’s most famous and beloved painter.
Unique and Unrivaled The Question: Does the Bible recognize the existence of other gods? Angel Manuel Rodriguez’ answer to that question is truly “unique and unrivaled”. He sets out to define the word, “monotheism”. But because of his belief in the inerrancy of the literal words of the Bible, he attempts to explain away the Old Testament writers’ references to many gods. He even confuses a literary allusion in the New Testament to mean a reference to an actual god!
“The New Testament acknowledges the existence of at least another ‘god:’ ‘The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers (2 Cor. 4:4, NIV).’”
Rodriguez concludes his answer to the question, “What is monotheism”, with these words: “This biblical understanding of God and the nature of the “gods” may not fully fit a traditional and narrow definition of monotheism, but it is monotheistic in that it does not recognize the existence of any other being that is in any way similar to the Lord God or that participates of His distinctive nature.”
Some Notable Quotes in this Issue “Several leaders also mentioned the success of church planting in developing church growth. Krause pointed to a Fuller Theological Seminary study that said three people are needed to bring someone to Christ in a church that is one to three years old. That figure jumps to seven people in churches that are four to seven years old. Eighty-five people are needed in churches 10 years and older.” Ansel Oliver
“Here lies a miser, who lived for himself, And cared for nothing but gathering pelf. Now where he is or how he fares, Nobody knows and nobody cares.”
“Sacred to the memory of Charles George Gordon, who at all times and everywhere gave his strength to the weak, his substance to the poor, his sympathy to the suffering, and his heart to God.” Tombstones in the United Kingdom courtesy of Lilya Wagner
“We have in so many countries around the world a considerable number of “ethnic” or national churches. They are churches to which people, immigrants or refugees, can come and taste and feel a bit of their own home culture, speak their own language, sing their own songs, and nurture much-needed social links. That is the reality we live with in which people are on the move, and many of them are our brothers and sisters. That is how we must accept those who have come into our areas—into our space. “Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household (Eph. 2:19, NIV).” Jan Paulsen, A New Humanity
“Forgiveness” does not trivialize sin; it heals the damage and hurt caused by it. That is as true for the relationship between God and humanity as it is for the relationships between people.” Jan Paulsen, A New Humanity
This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/1360