Thinking About the Planet and Adventism and the Kingdom

I just disconnected from the Zoom meeting of the Faith and Reason Sabbath School class at the Sligo Seventh-day Adventist Church, led by Chuck Sandefur. The class is a weekly blessing, a point of stimulation and an opportunity for international engagement with a wide variety of other Christians.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

Thank you for addressing this topic.

From my earliest memories, at the teachings of my parents, as well as Scripture, I have been aware of the vital diversity and importance of God’s natural world. In fact, it has been the study of a lifetime, and no greater teacher could ever reveal the majesty of the Creator Himself than his creation.

My husband and I own a small plot of woodland which several years ago had certified as a Wildlife Habit. Several criteria had to be met such as suitable living conditions (snag trees, brush, we even have a den), nesting material, and of course food (plantings and supplemental) and water (stream). It is an honor to be able to provide a safe refuge for animals and restore conditions for native plants, including prescribed yearly burnings.

Sadly, I have been called a “liberal tree hugger” at church on more than one occasion. Hey, I’ll own it and take it as a compliment, tho it wasn’t given as such. Everything is political these days, and truthfully, I feel sorry for those who always side with Big Ag, Big Oil, and Big Corp. over nature, because I know that on my land there is life, there is food and medicine growing in case of emergency. These things used to be taught in our church. Perhaps those were just the “hippy days”, a time past, of edible/medicinal plants, survival skills, and carob for chocolate.:wink:


The kingdom was there in Christ’s Day because Jesus the king was there.

If the king is in our heart, His kingdom is here now…in us.

The three angels are the Revelation of Jesus Christ which God gave unto Him…Is the problem our focus or the fact that we give the three angels lip-service rather than focusing on a comprehension of their importance?

I read recently that many who go forth under the banner of the First and Second Angels’ Message will reject the Third Angel’s Message. That got me wondering why?

The First and Second message are historically true. They are facts that have been confirmed by their fulfillment. But the Third Angel’s Message is a message that requires faith as its fulfilment is upon us…It has not been fulfilled. The Mark of the Beast has not been implemented. Thus, perhaps the gist of that statement is warning us that those who proclaim the First and Second Angels’ Messages are not going forth by faith, but by sight. And a lack of faith keeps those who are going by sight from believing the substance of things yet unseen?

It is easy to believe in a historical Jesus. It is more difficult to have and sustain an indwelling Jesus. And it is even more difficult to believe what Jesus says about things that are yet to come. But as Jesus declared the kingdom of Heaven was here when He was here among us, and as He proclaims that He will dwell in us, He also declares that He will have us dwell with Him in His literal kingdom, which is end result of His coming in the first place and indwelling us thereafter. But of what good are the former two encounters with Jesus if the third encounter does not happen?

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Thanks so much for your thoughts, Ed. I think you’ve clearly articulated a real issue with Adventist apocalyptic mania.

However, I would say that the Adventist problem with realizing the present reality of the kingdom is not just the focus on future apocalyptic events. It’s also rooted in a gospel that has little to do with the idea of the kingdom of God on earth as it is in heaven, and everything to do with “the plan of salvation” for individuals after death.

This is the gospel often heard in Adventist and evangelical churches: that Jesus as my personal savior died on the cross to pay the price for my sins, and now I can have a personal relationship with a personal savior who will give me assurance of salvation, some vague idea of personal and spiritual growth, and bring me to heaven when he returns. While some of this is part of the gospel, this is simply not the gospel of the kingdom that Jesus, the apostles, and the early church proclaimed. It is more of a semi gnostic escape from the world, and/or a psychologizing of the gospel.

The gospel of the kingdom of God was the announcement that the king had arrived and was revealing to Israel and to the world what it looks like when God becomes king… what it looks like when God takes charge. Jesus revealed this through his life, what he taught and did, and through his death and resurrection. When God takes charge the outsiders are welcomed and brought inside, the poor, the weak and the sick are cared for and healed, sins are forgiven, abuses of power and authority are confronted, and power under to serve is held up as the highest value and as the clearest picture of God and his purposes for human beings, rather than the power of the sword over humans to enforce the will of the powerful.

This is the gospel of the kingdom. Jesus’s death and resurrection shows that God vindicated Jesus and his faithfulness to his divine calling of bringing the presence of God and his restorative new creation to this world, and has appointed him as the true lord and ruler of the world. God’s rule/new creation has now broken into this present creation, and we are all beckoned by his Spirit to now follow king Jesus in the restorative work and purposes of his kingdom… in this present age. Faith is aligning ourselves with Jesus in his present kingdom project.

And, that partnering with him now is what points forward to the age to come, when he will reveal the fullness of the restoration that he is inspiring his followers to bring into the world now. That means that what we do now, also counts with God for the future. As Paul said in light of the promise of resurrection, “Always abound in the work of the lord, because your labor in the lord is never in vain.”

As one prominent theologian put it, “ Jesus is coming, so plant a tree!” I like that!



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Thank you Edward Reifsnyder for writing about the Christian-Adventist relationship and ecology. I want to complement other factors that possibly contribute to an indifference to global warming and environmental-ecological issues that sadly exists in the Church.
We lack a spiritual relationship with nature or the environment, even though nature is the second book of Creation. The Bible does not give us a specific plan of action on how to deal with environmental problems, much needed for legalists and literalists, “attached” to the Old Testament. If the Bible had explicitly linked caring for the environment to obedience to the law, particularly the 10 commandments, we would not be writing (Sari Fordham., Edward Reifsnyder, and the undersigned) this article.
That may explain the misunderstanding and who knows if the distortion of the biblical concept of stewardship and the dominion of nature, which appears in Genesis 1:26. Many (including Adventists) Christians have taken the verse from the first chapter of Genesis literally and totally out of context, where it says that we must have “dominion over the earth.” They have used it to justify a relationship of harnessing the earth’s resources and using them as they see fit, regardless of the environmental consequences.
We do not understand the concept of stewardship with respect to nature. We apply human criteria in that relationship, we don’t really respect it. Our relationship with the environment is not one of stewardship. We have the conviction that man must have with nature a relationship of administration and human and not spiritual management. We consciously or unconsciously believe that we must take advantage of nature for capitalist-industrial-technological development, at the cost of destroying the environment or depleting our natural resources. And the worst thing is that many people of God’s people have unconsciously the (religious) belief that we have permission to do with the world what we want. (Arthur Rosenfeld).
That is why we are so passive and as a general rule, in our Churches we do not even preach or discuss issues related to global warming, climate change, human actions that affect and destroy the environment.
God envisioned a mutually beneficial harmonious relationship for both parties: human beings, flora, fauna, nature. Of course, sin sabotaged the divine plan. However, God and his son Jesus Christ, due to the fact of sin, did not give us permission to manipulate and destroy the environment that we have achieved, by action or omission, causing global warming, pollution, damaging the life of flora and fauna. , creatures made by God.
Today ecology, a secular science rejected or ignored by Christians (including Adventists) legalists-literalists, recognizes that man and nature are intimately interconnected, to the extent that, if we violate, harm and plunder the planet, it is affected the climate, ecosystems and the life of many species are affected. We are digging our own grave.
God’s people are no stranger to this. Some are absent and indifferent to environmental damage because that struggle does not correspond to Christians and in their Laodicean conformism they do not identify with nature or have empathy for those who fight for it, because they are “impious” “uncircumcised” “socialists”, or leftist extremists led by Pope Pancho to impose the Sunday law "

In practice, the relationship between spirituality and the ecology of the environment is neither seen nor understood. We do not cultivate spirituality towards the environment or nature. We do not open our hearts and minds to the Spirit of Christ developing in us a spiritual virtue towards ecology. Lacking that virtue leads us to self-sufficiency, pride, the vanity of thinking that we are the only thing that really matters and, therefore, ignoring and not respecting nature and its creatures.
Cultivating with God that spiritual virtue towards ecology will make us more responsible for our consumption habits, our food, the conservation of our green spaces, eliminating dependence on fossil coal, using renewable energy and natural sources. It will make us responsible for caring for the earth, preserving the environment, the species and the human race will hopefully live a piece of heaven on earth.

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Why do we not take notice or concern? Its our theology! At one with the world you live in, heresy! Look at the many indigenous peoples who embraced the natural world and sought to live in harmony, what do we call them…heathen or some such derogatory term. I don’t believe people have truly embraced the life and teachings of Christ. Ever heard of a Life of Christ seminar series? But we do have Prophecy Seminars!!


AMEN! I’m in total agreement with you. I think it’s the “love of money” that is the motivation of so many who refuse to fight against climate change. And why our church isn’t 100% behind the ecology movement is beyond my understanding. Was it Jesus who said, “Occupy till I come”?


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