Salvation Is Shared: A Communal War Cry

If memory serves, when various youth Bible study groups I attended arrived at Ephesians 6, we all perked up. Suddenly plastic armor and, most importantly, weapons appeared. Like the Adult Bible Study Guide this week, the mature ones focused on theological and philosophical concepts like righteousness and truth, but it was clear by the sudden engagement of the Earliteen Sabbath school class that most kids only heard “gird your loins” and “breastplate.” Exacerbating this sudden attention to Ephesians, a member of the group often stood in front of us and donned the divine armor. Illustrating this biblical mandate with the story of Martin Luther, the quarterly calls us to stand as well. However, as this commentary will show, context matters. 

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at
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Sometime in the early 1960’s Karl Barth made a visit to the USA and gave a lecture at the Rockefeler Chapel of the University of Chicago. Together with two colleagues at the Seminary at Andrews University I went to listen to Karl Barth. One of the two was Earle Hilgert, who had been a student in some Barth seminars at Basel. I remember only one thing about the lecture. Barth quoting John 8, where Satan is identified as a murderer who when he lies speaks “according to his own nature, because he is a liar and the father of lies” From this Barth deduced that since Satan is a lie, he does not exist.

EGW makes another of her inexplicable categorical errors in mentioning Luther in order to support her version of Christianity.

(Inexplicable in the sense that her writings cannot have been so wrong according to historical fact, if an omniscient god had been whispering in her ear.)

Luther not only disclaimed the concept of free will but he made absolutely no attempt to emulate the perfect life of Christ.

Further unflattering details from a jaundiced, RCC perspective on the reformer are available here:

For EGW to claim Luther as an ally in her “works based”, “temperate living” interpretation of the gospel is as if a 60’s feminist had insisted that Hugh Hefner supported her cause, simply because he employed so many women and spoke highly of them in the captions.


This seems to be a throwaway phrase which flies in the face of historical evidence; that is, in some cases-and some might even say the best cases-some very heroic people have felt the need to act as an army of one.

If nothing else, to say that no one ever has done so is a logical fallacy as it is impossible to prove a negative.


In many American Indian cultures, stories of Coyote, the trickster, are told to teach a culturally associated kind of ethics. Because coyote is a cheat, and trickster, he is also a deceiver. Avoiding his behavior is a guarantee of the triumph of morality and justice. But Coyote is a metaphor as Satan is. As metaphors, there is no “according to their own nature.” Thus, the truth or falsity of their existence is not the issue, and logic confuses the issue… The nature of the existence of metaphors cannot become more important than what they evoke. I was also at the Chicago meeting, only what I remember was how Bart was grilled over the conservative opinion that he was a universalist.

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See also the Greek god Hermes, who supposedly gave humans the gift of language and was also believed to be the messenger between the gods and humans.

He is also considered a trickster and seemingly takes delight in the fact that his messages can be interpreted in divergent, even contradictory ways.

Can anyone say “holy” scripture or The Satanic Verses by Rushdie?

Campbell, The Masks of God
Its main result for me has been the confirmation of a thought I have long and faithfully entertained: of the unity of the race of man, not only in its biology, but also in its spiritual history, which has everywhere unfolded in the manner of a single symphony, with its themes announced, developed, amplified and turned about, distorted, reasserted, and today, in a grand fortissimo of all sections sounding together, irresistibly advancing to some kind of mighty climax, out of which the next great movement will emerge.

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I rarely take umbrage with Alexander Carpenter, but I am surprised that he fails to recognize what to me, is the principle flaw in the Adult quarterly’s elucidation of this week’s lesson. And that is the failure to recognize that Jesus does not need our help to win a victory over Satan…he did that on the cross, once and for all. The video strongly suggests we are the fighters in the battle, and without wishing to make too fine a point, that implication can distort our understanding of our true role in the so-called Great Controversy. The purpose of the armor is to protect the church, which is Paul’s primary purpose for sending the letter…to uplift, fortify, encourage and prepare the church body.

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