March 2009 - Vol. 5, No. 3
GENERAL COMMENTS This issue offers the reader some great articles: national news ADVENTIST PATRICK ALLEN IS JAMAICA’S NEW GOVERNOR-GENERAL; old fashioned mission stories from India, Nigeria, and the South Pacific THE ELIJAH PROJECT; health news LIVING WITH SCIATIC PAIN; information about South Korea’s Adventist university SAHMYOOK UNIVERSITY STRATEGIZES FOR MISSION; a breakthrough in religious freedom in China A DREAM, A SEED, AND TWO FRIEINDS; and a special giving opportunity ADRA’S $1=$4 MATCHING GRANT.
EDITORIAL COMMENTS In addition to these articles, there are enough news and devotional pieces to justify reading this edition from cover to cover. However, the following articles deserve special attention.
ELLEN WHITE’S CONTRIBUTION TO ADVENTIST DOCTRINE by Kwabena Donkor, an Associate director of the Biblical Research Institute, is authoritative, eye-opening, and a MUST READ!
“It may come as a surprise that in spite of her prophetic status, Ellen White did not have much direct influence over the development of our doctrinal beliefs. For example, the seventh-day Sabbath doctrine came through the influence of Seventh-day Baptists; and the doctrine of conditional immortality came principally through George Storrs, a member of the Millerite movement. The doctrine of the sanctuary, the preadvent judgment, and the significance of the seventh-day Sabbath for the end time came through pioneers such as O. R. L. Crosier and Joseph Bates. The Millerite movement even addressed the three angels’ messages.”
“As a general rule, the pioneers of the Seventh-day Adventist church arrived at their distinctive beliefs through intense Bible study. The period between 1848 and 1850 witnessed about 23 Bible conferences, during which our unique beliefs were forged. At these conferences the pioneers met to study and pray, sometimes the entire night. Ellen White remembers that for a few years she could not understand the reasoning of the “brethren” and the meaning of the Scriptures they were studying. “I was in this condition of mind,” she writes, “until all the principal points of our faith were made clear to our minds, in harmony with the Word of God.”
THE CRACK IN THE ROCK by Nixon de Vera is a well-written devotional essay. However, I have two criticisms. First, de Vera, in his discussion of God’s glory, uses the Exodus 34 account in which Moses must be hidden in a “cleft in the rock” and covered by God’s hand to be protected from His glory because no man can directly experience God and live. There is, of course, another story: “Moses and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and the seventy elders of Israel went up and saw the God of Israel. Under his feet was something like a pavement made of sapphire, clear as the sky itself. But God did not raise his hand against these leaders of the Israelites; they saw God, and they ate and drank.” Exodus 24: 9-11.
A more serious concern is de Vera’s warning that anyone, like me, who continually questions of the “validity and practicality of the Scriptures” will be “lost beyond redemption”.
“The Lord Himself discloses that a person’s spiritual downfall involves at least three stages. At first, a typical person, whether Christian or nonbeliever, will have a tendency to live at variance with God’s will or to question the validity and practicality of the Scriptures. As a result, that person will disregard the supreme authority of God and, in essence, live a life of rebellion. In the end, that person will be found guilty and be lost beyond redemption, unless there is a break in this downward pattern.”
If you think I’m already “beyond redemption”, this next review may confirm your opinion. In IT’S ABOUT TIME, Angel Manuel Rodriguez tackles the question, “Are the time periods mentioned in Daniel 12:11, 12 (1290 days and 1335 days) to be understood literally or symbolically? The question is irrelevant, and his answer is unintelligible.
“The reference to the 1260 days in Daniel 7:25 emphasized the time during which God’s people would suffer persecution. Daniel 12:7 emphasizes the moment when the activities of God’s enemies would come to an end. The 1290 days in Daniel 12:11 emphasize the moment when prophetic time begins. In order to synchronize the beginning of the prophecy with a specific event, the period is extended by adding an extra month—instead of 42 months (1260 days) we now have 43 (1290 days). This intercalation allows the angel interpreter to be more precise concerning the event that initiates the period, as well as to its full length. The prophetic period of 1290 days is then extended by 45 extra days, making it total 1335 prophetic years, based on the year-day principle.
“In conclusion, these two time periods are extensions of a well-established prophetic period, and they should be interpreted symbolically, consistent with the rest of the prophecy.”
In my review of the Adventist Review of October 16, 2008, I referred to the following scholarly reference to the Book of Daniel. Adventist theologians and evangelists are obsessed with a book that most scholars believe to be an historical novel. Enough already!
“The date of composition [of the book of Daniel] is decided by clear evidence in Chapter 11. The wars between the Seleucids and the Ptolemies and a portion of the reign of and Antiochus Epiphanes are described with a wealth of detail quite unnecessary for the author's purpose. This account bears no resemblance to any of the Old Testament prophecies and, despite its prophetic style, refers to events already past. . . The book must therefore have been written during the persecution under Antiochus Epiphanes and before his death, even before the success of the Maccabaean Revolt; that is to say between 167 and 164.
“There is nothing in the rest of the book to contradict this dating. The narratives of the first section are set in the Chaldaean period, but there are indications that the author is writing a long time after the events. Belshazzar was the son of Nabonidus and not, as the book says, of Nebuchadnezzar; nor was he ever king. Darius the Mede is unknown to historians, nor is there room for him between the last Chaldaean king and Cyrus the Persian who had already conquered the Medes. The neo-Babylonian background is described in words of Persian origin; the instruments in Nebuchadnezzar's orchestra are given names transliterated from the Greek. The dates given in the book agree neither among themselves nor with history as we know it, for chronology. The author has made use of oral and written traditions still current in his own times.
“The late composition of the book explains its position in the Hebrew Bible. It was admitted after the Canon of the Prophets had already been fixed, and the place to between Esther and Ezra among the very the group of 'other writings' forming the last section of the Hebrew Canon.”
The new Jerusalem Bible, Leather Deluxe Edition, Introduction to the Prophets: Daniel, pages 1177 & 1178.
RECONNECT, RECLAIM, REFLAME by James A. Cress appeared in the February 2009, Ministry Magazine (This article is not currently available online.)
“In North America alone, nearly 300,000 members officially have been removed (and not because of death) from our membership in the past 20 years. That total equals 40 percent of our total membership. . .This equals a total loss similar to that of the ten largest conferences in the division simply disappearing.
“These numbers, tragic as they are, reveal only part of the story. Also thousands of individuals are still on the membership rolls who never worship with other believers—only about 50 percent of all members actually attend weekly worship services.”
Cress suggests “nine principles for reclaiming those who are missing: count, risk, labor, wait, pray, love unconditionally, welcome, restore, and celebrate (Evangelistic campaigns are not included in the list.)
Plus, here's a modified comic:
Andy Hanson blogs at Adventist Perspective.
This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/1523