This I believe...or think I believe!

(system) #1

I must say I am puzzled by Paul’s assertion to Timothy that “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16 NKJV). This is particularly bewildering when the church fathers had not gotten around to deciding which writings would be included in both the Old and New Testament canons! Much of the New Testament had not at this point even been written. I guess I should say I am curious how this text is applied to selected scriptures of the past and scriptures not yet written!

Do I believe in the Bible? Yes, but I do not believe everything in the Bible is applicable to me. Nor do I believe everything in the Bible as interpreted by theologians and/or armchair theologians. I believe that there are things in the Bible that are strictly cultural, some that are of academic interest, and other things that transcend culture and apply to my existence. I struggle with knowing the difference!

Since the Bible has its roots in Eastern culture, I must be very careful not to judge and/or interpret the events that are found in the scriptures by the standard or mores that I know and embrace today. And conversely I cannot expect a literal reading of the Bible to necessarily prescribe my lifestyle or to be predictive of current events. Reading the Bible through the authors’ eyes and culture is not an easy interpretive task.

Do I believe in evolution? Yes, but I do not believe everything that the evolutionists say. Do I believe in archeology? Yes, but I don’t believe everything an archeologist says. Do I believe in science? Being an erstwhile scientist, I must say yes, but I don’t believe everything a scientist says and certainly not everything that I say!

Here is the problem as I see it. There are scientists that make assumptions and statements concerning things of faith that are inappropriate to their expertise, and there are theologians who make assumptions and statements concerning science that are inappropriate to their expertise. What if we had a marriage of the two? It doesn’t look likely within the Adventist community at this point in time.

At the end of the day, just what do I believe? I have lots of beliefs; however, I must admit I live in a world of ambivalence in many regards, some of which are addressed here on Spectrum. When all the reports are in from disputed doctrinal topics, with both pro and con affirming a particular belief based on the Holy Spirit and scripture, I find myself weary and worn! And I am still ambivalent, but I do take courage and assurance in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.

Mel Campbell has spent a lifetime teaching chemistry and education in the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s educational system in India, Tennessee, and California. He is an Adjunct Professor of Education at La Sierra University and is a graduate of Union College, University of Tennessee, and Purdue University. At the present time he is not an educator, scientist, or a theologian, but one who regularly attends church on Sabbath, volunteers at Community Services, and writes scripture readings for worship.He lives with his wife in Riverside, California.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

(Thomas J Zwemer) #2

Paul was a Pharisee, well schooled in the Old Testament, He restudied those writing for three years in terms of the Christ event. in that study he came to understand that the entire corpus pointed to Jesus as fulfillment of all expectations of a Suffering Servant, Redeemer and coming King of Kings. As the time of his writings to Timothy verifies. We now have the addition joy of reading subsequent testimonies. The whole offers great assurance to a sin torn earth. Christ is my Sanctuary. Tom Z

(Steve Mga) #3

Have you been attending a Synagogue lately? You sound like my favorite Rabbi who conducts the services where I take my handicapped Jewish friend on Friday nights.
Since I have been attending the last 4 years, I mirror a lot of what you have to say. I appreciate a lot of Jewish thinking on topics we SDAs have difficulty with.
Thank you for taking time to put your thoughts on "paper"
P.S. We have to remember Paul WAS a Rabbi. And, as a Rabbi was used to making declarations. There were probably more “scriptures” available to him than to us. There is the lost book of Enoch that one NT writer copied from. Perhaps Paul also had in mind other Spiritual writings being passed around much as we have Spiritual-Religious books written and printed and passed around. God Inspired.

(jeremy) #4

it’s hard to believe the nebulous, indeterminate type of faith reflected in this article is what led so many martyrs through the centuries to their deaths…is this what the church will look like who pass successfully through the time of trouble such as never was…


I admire your honesty on this point, and I’m sure there is an answer, and I’m also sure that I’ve read it or heard it, but have forgotten it. I’ve tried to understand so much over these short 3 years, and sometimes running in all sorts of directions its any wonder I remember anything. I feel like I’ve been robbed my whole life and need to catch up on lost time. But I too have asked and wondered on that question.

Now I know theres many theories as to when the NT books where penned. But here we have a rough chronological order of when they may have been written.

James - 50 A.D.
First Thessalonians - 52-53.
Second Thessalonians - 52-53.
Galatians - 55.
First Corinthians - 57.
Second Corinthians - 57.
Romans - 57-58.
Philippians - 62-63.
Colossians - 62-63.
Philemon - 62-63.
Ephesians - 62-63.
Luke - 63.
Acts - 64.
First Timothy - 65.
Titus - 65.
Second Timothy - 66.
Mark - 66.
Matthew - 67.
Hebrews - 67.
First Peter - 67-68.
Second Peter - 68.
Jude - 68.
Apocalypse - 68.
John - c. 85.
Epistles of John - 90-95.

Wow thats weird they seem to have Revelation (Apocalypse) at AD68 rather than the mid 90s. But as we can see much of the NT was written by the time of 2 Timothy. And within 2 years of it 90% or so of it was complete.

hmm…I’m probably going to end up starting a debate now on the dates. Then again, I could delete this and avoid such a thing?..nah, I wont be doing that :wink:

(Graeme Sharrock) #6

Martyrdom is the choice of the persecutor, not the martyr. Not everyone is called to be a martyr. Are you? Unless you can clearly say Yes, then you have no ground to judge the faith of others.

(le vieux) #7

Here we have a classic oxymoron. Of course in the postmodern way of thinking truth is supposedly relative and it is permissible to have “truths” which contradict each other, no matter how illogical the conclusions may be. Or could it just be the smog in southern California which produces such confusion of mind? :slight_smile:

Keep trying, Spectrum, but you will only succeed in convincing those who want to be convinced. Evolution and the Bible are incompatible. Dawkins, and many others at the top in that field understand this. It’s compromising Christians who seem to have the most problem understanding that the two world views are diametrically opposed to each other.

It sounds as if the author has thrown up his hands and decided to believe whatever is acceptable to the majority, so as not to appear to out of step with the times. This is why we were given the SOP. It provides clarity, and upholds the Bible as God’s inspired word, from Genesis (that would include the first 11 chapters) to Revelation. Often the SOP makes clear that which sometimes appears confusing in Scripture. Taking the two together removes much of the uncertainty which the author expresses.

(Pagophilus) #8

AD 68 is probably about right, maybe even late. You may like to read Bill Cooper’s “The Authenticity of the New Testament” parts 1 and 2 (available on Amazon Kindle for under $10 each). They may give you some different ideas as to just how early the books of the New Testament were written, and the evidence for it. Actually, it appears Bill Cooper is very good at uncovering evidence for all sorts of biblical things that doesn’t get mentioned much in academia etc. His writing style may be highly irritating for liberals, but then he enjoys sticking spanners into the works of liberal academia and calling a spade a spade.

(Sirje) #9

I think the problem is the Bible isn’t read like any other book, with attention to context and the culture that produced its various parts. Non-religious people try to read it like a book of history or even philosophy; while the various Christian denominations have placed their own personal spin on everything to justify their own belief systems that come out of left field at times - but beyond that, it’s assumed that the writers in the OT wrote about stuff they didn’t know about at the time. This is why no one blinks an eye when Moses describes what happened after he died; and the details of creation, for which no one was present, are non-negotiable. It is assumed that the writers were all prophets and saw what no human can see. This is a problem for folk who rely on their cognition to get therm through the maze of various ideologies.

The time line posted by Tony is irrelevant to those who read the Bible as proof of their beliefs, rather than believe what they understand the Bible to be saying. We all do that at some point - once we have established what is the main point of the Bible. Often we fail to understand that not all parts of the Bible are of equal value as to application for our own lives, or even for our belief systems. Does it really matter if we believe the universe was created in six days or six million years if we believe God created it? What is the salient point is that it didn’t pop out of nowhere, but was designed by a Creator - a statement of pure faith. If, on the other hand we believe a creator had nothing to do with creation - that too is a statement of pure faith. So, it’s all about where we place our faith, not how many days it took.

The Adventist position on that is that if you question the details of creation, you have to question everything else. But if you take the Bible one issue at a time and read in context that problem goes away.

(Steve Mga) #10

As you pointed out, the POINT of Scripture is GOD. Having a relationship with GOD. Having it HERE and NOW. In the present. Even though there is some inkling in some things that are said that they thought of a resurrection in the future, they DID NOT think in terms of Future beyond the grave. They did not pursue the Sweet Bye And Bye, did not pursue the Streets of Gold. Their enjoyment was with GOD NOW. The THEME of the Scriptures is Living the Life of God now. One did that by Works, doing the Works of God.
The Serpent said one had to EAT to be like God. God says to Live and Work to be like God.
Micah 6:8-- 1. To do justly, to promote justice. 2. To love Mercy, to promote Mercy. 3. To walk humbly with God. The POSITIVE Side of the 10 Commandments are doing the Works of the Law, being like God. That is WHY David kept saying he loved the Law – the Torah. Thou shalt love God with all ones heart, soul, mind, strength. Being like God. Thou shalt love your neighbor as your self. Being like God. AND, one CANNOT love one’s neighbor if one DOES NOT love himself. If one does not have a high value about one self, one cannot have a high value about one’s neighbor. God will have none of this Inferiority Complex. God will have none of this UNWORTHY that is promoted in Churches. If we were UNWORTHY, Christ would not have redeemed us.
Unfortunately, we get caught up too much in Doctrine chatter, waste our time with haggling over Doctrine. Waste time haggling over whether God loves Men more, or does God love Women more. Haggling over When and How of Creation, instead of Creation IS, and it is to enjoy. Doctrine is essential, it is a list of what I think about God and the World and Myself. But it isnt to separate, it is there to promote conversation. To promote Community through conversation. To assist in bringing “Thy will being done on Earth, as Thy will is being done in Heaven.” For each one to challenge each other to Be Like God, by DOING the Works of God.

(Rheticus) #11

There have been martyrs for many causes - Christian, Muslim, Communism, their family, their city, their tribe, their friend, their platoon, their army, …

You are right - many of them died for firmly believing things that you don’t believe. In this case the right to hold nebulous views of Bible when faced by authority figures that are trying to insist that only one rigid view is correct. Many martyrs have given their lives to defend your freedom. Don’t use your freedom to put other people into too-small boxes.

(Allen Shepherd) #12

I have always believed in the Creation story because that is what the Bible says, in spite of the science, for I have found the Bible compelling

But there is a bigger issue here than my little faith: the character of God.

What kind of a God would create life here using evolution? The amount of suffering and death and pain that the eons would include is astounding! Could God not have done it a better way? But wait! We know of a better way, for it is recorded in Gen. Now is it that God did not know how to do it that way? That some guy a few 1000 years ago thought of such a way, and wrote it down? When God reads it, he hangs his head and says, “Wow, what a beautiful way to do it! Wish I had thought of that!” And slaps the side of his head with his palm…

Or maybe God just did not have the power to do it any other way than by evolution. But again he sees what that guy wrote and wishes he had had the power to do it that way. A sigh escapes his lips, he just did not have what it took to pull off such a coup…

A God who would create by evolution is not worth worshiping. In fact he is an ogre, a brute and sadistic in the extreme, and deserves to be shunned and rejected. I have treated my pets (and I am no great example in that department) better than a god of evolution has his creatures. And I think if you don’t recognize that fact, for it is a fact, then you have some thinking to do.

(Marianne Faust) #13

Allen, Mel hasn’t said what he means by the term evolution. As it is used today it may only mean “change”. Living beings change over time. That wouldn’t necessarily include that God created using evolution. I think the topic evolution was not the main concern of this article.

(Bill Garber) #14

Being secure in one’s beliefs does not in any way contribute to the reality of one’s beliefs. I’m hopeful I have summarized your understanding of the relationship between scripture and evolution with this statement, Birder.

Now, the beliefs one is secure in do determine whether people collectively exhibit the single characteristic of being disciples of Jesus, by His own definition: “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if you have love one to another.” – John quoting Jesus (13:35)

Discipleship, it seems, is exclusively socially defined, if we read these words simply as they are written by John.

Help us think this through, Birder. It would seem then, that a personal belief with regard to Jesus that brings us closer to Jesus at the expense of bringing us closer to one another is actually separating us from Jesus.

And yes, this sense seems compatible with Jesus’ words that John quotes earlier in his Gospel, where Jesus is speaking ‘to the Jews which believed on him, “If ye continue in my word, then are you my disciples indeed; And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”’ (8:30 ff)

It appears that the freedom Jesus spoke of for the ‘Jews which believed on him’ was freedom from … scripture, which was the only bulwark used by Jews to argue against Jews accepting Jesus as who He is.

Now if social testimony rather than any biblical testimony is the defining characteristic of Jesus’ disciples, Birder, what do you see as the implications appropriate for the community of faith that is the Seventh-day Adventist church when we see differences among ourselves with respect to beliefs with regard to scripture and the world around us? Put more succinctly, how is our faith to be strengthened by unshared beliefs?

A reflection on the founding of the Seventh-day Adventist church is certainly encouraging as an illustration of a community of faith being inescapably a loving and therefore safe place to confess one’s sense of scripture and life that, because it is different in so many ways, has the potential to contribute to beliefs that benefited one another without being deniable on the simple basis that not everyone benefited from a given belief.

This, it seems, is how the Holy Spirit blesses each of us individually through the community of faith. Indeed, central to the Holy Spirit’s blessings are our variety of beliefs with the exception of our reliably common conviction that the Holy Spirit is proven to be alive within our community through our differences in beliefs.

Please chip in here Birder with how do you see the testimony of the Holy Spirit within our community of faith that is the Seventh-day Adventist church. My sense is that Mel Campbell wonderfully contributes here to the community we share, to our faith, actually and powerfully.

(Beth Again) #15

Edited. I don’t want to derail the topic.

(Sirje) #16

“The Lord said to me, 'See, I have begun to deliver Sihon and his land over to you. Begin to occupy, that you may possess his land. Then Sihon with all his people came out to meet us in battle at Jahaz. The Lord our God delivered him over to us, and we defeated him with his sons and all his people. So we captured all his cities at that time and utterly destroyed the men, women, and children of every city. We left no survivor.” Deut. 2:31 ff.

If you believe that God directed the Hebrews to do all that they did to establish their land across that river in Canaan, then you shouldn’t have a problem with God creating through evolution.

(George Tichy) #17

Do I believe Mel Campbell? Yes, I do!

He is just presenting what most people actually feel or think, but have no courage to verbalize for being afraid of some criticism. They don’t want to expose their true inner restlessness about “the truth.” A “clean façade” is more important for them than a “clean statement.”

Thanks, Mel, for your clean statement!

(George Tichy) #18

Here we have another “classic oxymoron”…

(George Tichy) #19

We don’t know everything about God, though some people appear to know…
But who are we to question “What kind of God…?” If we really don’t know everything about Him?

The more we learn about the Universe, the more we should realize how little we know about God. But here we are… defining the God we would like Him to be. And telling others what kind of God they should create for themselves as well.

(jeremy) #20

all of christ’s true followers are called to die to the orientation to sin that humanity was born with…this is the highest form of martyrdom, which is our own choice, no-one else’s…and in the event persecution is chosen by the state against all who disagree with it, it is still the choice of the martyr whether to accept that persecution or not…the idea that someone can be a martyr based on someone else’s choice only holds up for race, or sexual orientation, or some other quality that cannot be relinquished…persecution during the time of trouble is not that…