GENERAL COMMENTS In many ways this is a landmark edition of Adventist World. For that reason the format of this review will be different. That's because I want to highlight and celebrate Jan Paulsen's, " Five Things the World Needs to Know About Us", "Dreaming of a Better World" by Stephen Chavez, and "Italy, Adventists Mark 20 Years of Religious Freedom" by the Adventist News Network Staff. These three contributions to Adventist World provide our sometimes myopic Christian fellowship with new prescription contact lenses.
This editorial by our President describes the basic Christian beliefs that unite us worldwide. The following are quotes from his five identifying characteristics.
1. A "culture-less" faith "Compassion, selfless service, love of freedom, tolerance and respect for each other, willingness to give rather than take—these eternal biblical values have an immense significance in today's world." 2. A living faith "I want the world to know we will do more than simply talk about the Scriptures; we will live its principles. And because of this we will inevitably be drawn into positive, constructive engagement with our communities." 3. Shaping people for eternity "We need to talk not just about statistics, but the reason for [our] tremendous investment in education. We need to say, without falling too far into religious jargon, that our commitment is grounded in our belief that eternity begins now. This is the time when we want to start shaping people for a never ending potential. We live and plan for an infinite future, and our concern for the development of individuals—spiritually, mentally, physically—is driven by this perspective." 4. Peacemakers "We can demonstrate in our congregations and in our relationships within the community that Christ has the power to heal divisions of all kinds: personal, political, or ethnic. This means taking risks at times, stepping outside what is comfortable. And it means acting carefully to avoid tainting the church with even the 'aroma' of partisan politics. But difficulty does not excuse us from this fundamental Christian responsibility to teach and model peace." 5. A people of integrity "In an era when corruption of all kinds dominates the headlines, Seventh-day Adventists have something to say about morality, ethics, and integrity. We're not happy to confine our spirituality to the church pew. We don't subscribe to a theology that says actions don't matter. But rather, we know that our conduct is either a constant confirmation or denial of our faith."
In the cover story, Dreaming of a Better World, Stephen Chavez reports on the Canada-based relief and development agency, A Better World.
"In 1990 Eric Rajah teamed up with Brian Leavitt, then campus chaplain at Canadian University College, to fund developmental projects around the world. Using the College Heights Seventh-day Adventist Church as a base to receive funding . . . and with members of the church board serving as the administrative body . . .Rajah and Leavitt began their modest operation by donating CAN$5,000 to fund a rehabilitation program for victims of polio in Kendu Bay, Kenya.”
Today, "A Better World works in 12 countries, including Afghanistan, Bolivia, India, Kenya, Rwanda, Tibet, Uganda, and the United States (following Hurricane Katrina)" It "has a volunteer base that is 90 percent non-Adventist. And Rajah estimates that 98 percent of the financial donations . . . come from non-Adventist donors. . . 'This is an unwritten passion for me,’ says Rajah about the wider community . . .’to engage them and let them know what the church does’."
"From its modest beginnings 18 years ago, A Better World now oversees nearly 20 projects a year and brings in more than CAN$2.5 million in donations. . . It partners with other development and relief agencies around the world, notably the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA), the Red Cross, Action for Hunger, and Medical Assistance Program (MAP) International."
"Rajah's next initiative is to enlist the youth and young adults in the work of A Better World, especially those who study on public college or university campuses."
"Overhead expenses are kept at an absolute minimum. 'Our goal is zero overhead', says Rajah. 'Nobody's paid: we have no office; we don't even have a telephone bill. Everybody who travels has to pay their own way; they have to donate their own time. None of the donor money goes to pay for overhead’."
Italy, Adventists Mark 20 Years of Religious Freedom, is reported by the Adventist News Network Staff. This news has got to come as a shock to the Adventist church’s anti-Catholic, Mark of the Beast 666’ers, and the Pope is the Antichrist, reactionaries.
"Seventh-day Adventist representatives met with Italy's prime minister and officials March 6 to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the agreement between the government and the Adventist Church. Once signed into law, it legalized relations between the church and the Italian state without compromising the church's identity or independence.
"'We wish to thank the authorities of our country for the freedom we enjoy,' said Daniele Benini, president of the Adventist Church in Italy. In 1988 Adventists were among the first Protestant denominations to sign the agreement in a predominantly Roman Catholic nation.
"Dora Bognandi, director of the church's department of Public Affairs and Religious Liberty (PARL) in Italy, said the agreement made full provision for seventh day Sabbathkeepers in Italy. It also officially recognized Adventist ministers and ceremonies officiated by them, allowed Adventist young people to choose community service over compulsory military service, and established Adventist chaplaincy posts in the country's hospitals and prisons. Following the agreement, the Adventist Church was allowed to advertise, as well as collect contributions."
Editors Note: I can’t end this review without recommending Handysides and Landless’ informative discussion of Bell’s Palsy. This edition also reports eight community services projects, the mind-boggling evangelistic successes of the Inter-American Division, and the news that the first phase of Loma Linda University’s Medical Center’s cancer center, is completed. World Exchange letters continue to be inspiring and heartbreaking.
I continue to be disappointed that the statement regarding marriage and family, the 23rd of the 28 Fundamental Beliefs of the Adventist Church included with Catherine Boldeau’s essay, Marriage and the Family, still states "that the person who divorces espouse, except for fornication, and marries another, commits adultery". ____
Andy Hanson is Professor of Education at California State University, Chico.
This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/641