Saturday, March 4, 2017

"Revisiting Revelation" What are You Really Trying to Say?



A friend I like and respect recently posted a video from an outfit called "Revelation Revisited".
This group presents itself as a small group of Seventh-day Adventist laymen that have been studying the prophecies of the Book of Revelation for many years. Apparently in doing so they found the need to create a website from which to share their findings. There were only two names I could find on the website - one a Gary Parker who introduces one of their videos and a David C. whose email we may contact.

The point of this article is not to debunk the findings of this group of apparently loyal SDA laymen, but to simply state my reaction to the video's claims and its preconceived notions about SDA belief about prophecy.  The video quite frankly seems to seek to discredit the historicist's view of prophecy, whose beasts, horsemen, trumpets and churches have long been a fixture of SDA evangelists' prophetic repertoires. If you grew up among Adventists, you know about the Huns and Vandals and Visigoths, Berthea's capture of the pope in 1798 and the 2300 day prophecy and when it ended.

My trouble with RR's presentation is that it appears to throw out the baby with the bath. These lay students appear to believe that if the 7 seals, 7 trumpets and other things coming in groups of 7 in Revelation are post Time of Trouble (TofT), then the historical view of prophecy is incorrect.  They make an effective case that Ellen White even placed some of these symbolic events occurring during the events of the last days. I agree. I think she believed they were literal events that take place immediately prior to Christ's coming. However, the assumption by the narrator (I never heard him say who he was) seems to be that these prophecies must therefore be "eschatological" (a word which means related to the end times) and that the historical traditional SDA view of prophecy is wrong and should be discarded.  He gives several good reasons for this.

  1. He believes that the eschatological view, if accepted, will reduce fear of the time of trouble. He takes a Calvinist-flavored view that God has everything laid out and that what will be will be and we ought not worry about it. It's all covered. This he deems to be necessary since so many of us were frightened of the TofT by SDA evangelists when we were little. He does have a point about that, because before the late 60s/early 70s righteousness by faith revival in the church, far too many SDA preachers, lacking the handy ever-burning hell whip for frightening the saints into their seats enjoyed by their Baptist brothers in the pulpit, used scary stories of the Time of Trouble to frighten the saints into the baptistry. It was a mistake to do that and drove more kids out of the church than it kept in. That said, it does not follow that the historical view of prophecy is wrong.
  2. He believes that the eschatological view, if accepted, will reduce feelings of guilt for not having done enough to usher in Christ's coming. After all, God has set things so they will happen when He says so and there's nothing we can do about it. Given he is quoting Ellen White and charting how many times she mentions each verse in Revelation, I'm surprised he missed where she said if we'd done the work as we should have, Jesus would already have come. So some of this presentation offers an assumption not in evidence; namely that we cannot have a role in prophetic events or affect the course of history by our own choices and efforts.
  3. RR seems to believe adopting an eschatological view of prophecy will bring us more into line with other Christian thinkers and with some maverick SDA theologians leading us to "New Light". A few of these Adventist intellectuals have stepped off the ranch a little and some are offering their findings as "New Light", something RR thinks Sister White would have approved of. He claims that there is much problematic evidence showing that the historical events don't line up with the prophecies like SDAs say they do. That may well be. I can't say as I haven't heard detailed arguments that they don't. When I studied the historical interpretation of prophecy, I thought things lined up pretty well. If it doesn't seem to, well, history has never been entirely accurate, anyway, most of it having been written by those who won the wars and wore the crowns. So, this doesn't trouble me much.
Three things do trouble me about this presentation and bring up three questions I want to ask, just as a way to slow down this big rush to New Lightville.
  1. Question:  Why do we have to toss out the historical prophetic model in order to accept the eschatological (events all happen in the future and are literal)?  I was always taught that the prophecies pointed at past events and at future events around the Second Coming. I was taught the prophecies were parallel applying to both. I learned by reading the book of Daniel that prophetic scripture DOES use symbolic images like the image with the head of gold, the Lion, the Leopard, the Dragon and the toes. Remember, the prophecies were about the future when they were written down. It would seem to me that God might have had two parallel purposes for the same prophetic symbolism. 
  2. Question:  Doesn't declaring Revelation "eschatological" move all of this sort of prophecy safely to the end of times and avoid all that messy guilt over behaviors the church engaged in over the centuries from then to now?  Does it not fall in with the counter-reformation teaching that the anti-christ was someone at the end of time (and not the pope) and the Jesuit fiction that parts of prophecy were cut off and safely shifted to the end times like our good friends over at the "Left Behind" ministries believe?
  3. Question:  Could it be possible that God intended Revelation to be read and understood as it was by the historical interpreters of the Protestant Reformation and the Great Awakening and also by us at the end of time?  What if they did read it right as a message for their time and not something to be put aside? It certainly accomplished that purpose. I mean would there have been a worldwide revival had not people had the assurance that events were proceeding throughout history as God said they would? Perhaps God intended for the groups-of-7 prophecies to light a fire under Christendom at that time in preparation for the post-1844 run up to Jesus' Coming and the founding of the Adventist church with its special message to the world. Is there any reason the Great Lisbon Earthquake and the massive New England meteor shower, for instance, could not have been correct for that time AND be predictive of some future massive quake and meteor shower occurring around the time of the Second Coming itself. 
I suspect God is omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent enough to pull that off. To assume God could not have accomplished two purposes with a single symbolic prophecy is, I think, a dangerous under-estimation of His power.

Just one man's opinion.

© 2017 by Tom King

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Knowing the Answers Before Asking the Questions



  • In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.     -- Genesis 1: 1-2
Notice something here. It is at this point, after the creation of the heavens and the Earth that God begins the creation of life on the Earth. Day and night is a phenomenon of planetary rotation. You need a planet first before there can be day or night. Earth, it seems from the text, was already here when God lit up the solar system At this time the Earth was formless and empty, but it was here. 
We know that other texts of Scripture suggest that heaven, angels and the universe existed before the first day of creation. It makes sense that the creation story begins with the sun being fired up and the planets rotated. Planetary rotation and a sizable moon were essential for the maintenance of future life upon this particular planet.

The Creation story tells us that God created the atmosphere on the second day and divided the waters below from the waters above
. Not sure what the waters above were, but perhaps there was some sort of protective cloud cover over the Earth in preparation for the creation of the sea and plant life on the third day. On the fourth day the sun, moon and stars appear in the heavens. Whatever waters were above the earth were apparently pulled back or significantly reduced on the fourth day. Whether the stars and planets were revealed when the "waters above" were pulled back or actually created all at once is a little ambiguous to me. God might already have done the planets on the first day or even prior to the first day without conflicting with the meaning of this text given how it reads. The creation of the sun and moon on the fourth day kind of conflicts anyway with the logical progression of events from the first day where both light and the day/night cycle were created to the fourth day. Without a sun, there's no day and night cycle and more importantly, no heat. A water-veiled sky solves that problem by blocking vision of the sky from the Earth and holding in heat during the third day while God covers Earth with plant life. If the skies were revealed as the waters above were pulled back on the fourth day, then it fits the rest of the narrative without entirely violating the text. It's a possibility at any rate. 


At the beginning of day five, all else that was needed was for God to create life from the materials he had placed upon the Earth. He'd already raised continents, filled the seas, and planted the earth. On day five and six he scattered animal life across the planet. What God has revealed to us through Scripture is a relatively scant chronology of the process. What we have learned through science informs us of a tiny fraction more about our world that suggest the sequence is plausible.  The apostle Paul says, "Now we see through a glass darkly. That applies not only to our religion, but also to our science. As limited as our science is, we don't always get things right. Scientists' guesses are often mistaken because their initial assumptions are so often flawed. Phlogiston, the ether and spontaneous generation were all cutting edge theories once.


The point is that the Creation story is plausible and can be seen as such based on what we know and are learning from science. Unless we try to press more onto the text as it is in Genesis 1 than it tells us, science can reeal much about our Creator. He is seen in His creation. We need to be careful, though, when we try to extrapolate a lot of hard and fast details from the Scriptures than are actually there in the text. Those who demand that their ideas must be so or else God is not real, set themselves and others up to be in opposition to even their fellow Christians. God will not be changed to suit your idea of Him. It's supposed to be the other way around anyway. Getting to know God is supposed to change you - for the better. If that's not happening, you should probably work on that whole relationship thing with God.

God left out a lot of details about the big issues in the universe, painting us only a broad picture. We know that He is the one responsible for creating all there is in the universe. He does not tell us whether angels used swords or bazookas during the war in heaven, only that there was such a conflict. He gives us exciting little hints about what heaven is like, but Scripture includes no day-in-eternal-life detailed narrative.  We have enough to understand who our Father is and what waits ahead for us, but as one church founder put it, "God always leaves us hooks upon which to hang our doubts." Why? Because Earth is a laboratory where Children of God are made and shaped for eternity. God wants us to do right BECAUSE it is right, and not in order to win some reward. Those are the only kinds of folk who will want to live forever anyway. The rest will not know God nor will He know them.


Sometimes, science gives us tantalizing hints that reveal the work of the Almighty in his creation. We have recently learned, for instance that, rather than the expansion of the universe slowing down as expected in the original Big Bang Theory, the expansion in fact, speeding up. And the really exciting thing they discovered is that the speed of expansion is not so slow that it will allow the planets and starts to fall back in upon themselves and not so fast that it tears the delicately balanced star systems apart. Instead it is expanding at a speed which, like Baby Bear's porridge, is "just right".  Kind of like somebody is carefully pushing the stars and planets and galaxies apart at a rate that takes into account the design specifications of the Universe. That universe is so custome tailored for life as we know it here on Earth that noted physicist, Freeman Dyson once remarked that it "looks like the universe knew we were coming." Christians need not wonder who is responsible for that.

Einstein, offers another glimpse into something that Scripture calls the "beginning" and "end" of time. According to the theory of relativity, the march of time is very much tied to the speed at which an object is moving in space relative to other objects. For different objects in the cosmos, time moves at a different rate. Time, says Albert, moves differently for any two objects moving at different speeds relative to each other. Thus, those of us who are taken off the Earth at the Second Coming, say, would see Earth time ending for us and we will experience time differently from there on. Were we gone 10 years traveling at hyperlight speeds to reach Heaven proper, we could very well return a thousand years later (Earth time) to rebuild and repopulate a New Earth after a only a relatively short sojourn in Heaven.  Time with relation to Earth effectively would end for us as soon as we left, because we would be disconnected from the planet's time stream. 



Science is providing all sorts of hints about our very interesting planet and the universe through which it travels. Some of the theories that scientists and religionists put out there are more the product of wishful thinking than of cool-headed logic, but that's to be expected, especially if a scientist approaches his research with the preconceived notion that God cannot possibly exist. Preconceptions can also be tricky among Christians, especially when we approach our study of Scripture with preconceptions that may not be correct. Some very respected theologians get much about God's character wrong because they go into their study convinced that an ever-burning Hell is real, the soul is immortal and that Sunday worship is authorized by Christ. It's to be expected if a theologian presupposes that God is an angry deity who gets off on torturing naughty human beings that he or she might stumble over many parts of Scripture.

I think our only safe assumptions as Christians are (1) that God is love and (2) that He loves us like a parent loves a child and wants the best for us. From there we are speculating about who God is, based on the evidence that comes to hand. We are not a terribly objective bunch of creatures, but then without some talent for subjectivity, we could never learn to ride a bike or throw a ball. We walk a delicate balance between logic and emotion, both of which faculties can be trained, but neither of which can be relied upon in isolation from one another.

The great danger and the one that I think Satan is using to divide and conquer the church, is the tendency we have to engage in attacking others who do not share your exact interpretation of the Bible. And when I say "church" I mean both the Adventist denomination and the Church universal which includes all Christians who sincerely seek to know Christ and to follow him to the best of their ability. As Adventists we have always been students of Scripture. As such we all do not agree on everything all the time. We've had multiple Bible conferences where SDA theologians have investigated the issue of women's ordination, but as evidenced by the recent row over women's ordination, we still do not all agree and the disagreement threatens to fracture the church in some parts of the world and among some groups of Adventists.  What I speculated about Creation above is an example. This is what makes sense to me, but some people would have me excommunicated, exorcised and cast into outer darkness for even suggesting such things. Because they hold fast to a more mystical view of Creation that takes no "false" science into account, anything less than God waving his magic wand and things popping into existence is heresy. I'm not even talking time frame here, just simply how Creation might have worked out given what we know about planetary science, biology and even grammar and word meaning within the text.

All I'm saying here is that we stand upon the shores of a mighty universe with mysteries abounding that we will not solve in a hundred million years. It's impossibly arrogant to think that our best guesses are exactly accurate. I think one day we will know how things happen in the universe, or at least we'll be able to find out when we want to. And I'm looking forward to finding out. Won't it be fun to have that kind of time to investigate the mysteries of creation? 

One additional blessing we'll have in eternity is that we won't have to worry about people who think they already know the answers before they ask the questions demanding that you defer to their opinion.

© 2017 by Tom King


Saturday, February 11, 2017

Christians and Power – the Ancient Sin


David spares Saul though he himself had been
anointed King by Samuel.
Follow the money.

 There is an old principal that police detectives have learned when investigating crimes, especially white collar crimes, drug crimes or political crimes. If there is corruption going on, usually it's easiest to track it through money behind the corruption. Another old saw states that money is power and money truly does seem to be the most tangible form of power that there is.

There is a reason that tracing the flow of power leads you to the source of trouble. Like electricity is needed to power your radio or lights, power of the temporal sort is needed to support evil. Like electricity, temporal power can be useful, but it can also be dangerous when misused. It's also tempting.

The lust for power dates all the way back to Eden. In the Garden, the serpent first tempted Eve by offering her the power to “be like gods”.  Eve’s real sin was not that she was hungry and ate some fruit. Hers was not the sin of appetite. It was the lust for power and control over her own life and future. Rather than trusting God to care for her needs, Eve wanted the power that belonged to God. It doesn’t say why she wanted that power. That’s the great mystery, but the lust for power pretty much underpins every other sin. It is, in effect, the first sin of all.

And it’s still a problem today. Politicians will lie, manipulate and steal to achieve political power. Business people will lie, cheat, manipulate and steal to protect their fortunes. Sadly, even Christians fall victim to the lust for power. Most obviously, we see television preachers building massive monuments ostensibly to God, but no one is fooled as to whose power such edifices celebrate. Preachers live in massive homes, build theme parks and drive expensive cars. Bishops live in massive homes, fly all over the world, and collect some of the most expensive artwork in the world in jewel-encrusted cathedrals. But lest we think that our simpler, more modest churches and congregations are safe from the sin of lust for power, it takes a pass through a mere handful of stars to find congregations torn apart because one group or one person or faction decides they should be in control and should tell all the other members how they ought to worship, what they ought to wear or how they ought to behave.

The wonderful thing about being an Adventist church member is that we have no church tradition of authoritarianism. Adventists tend to believe that they are responsible, not to bishops, cardinals and priests, but to Christ alone. So what do we do when an elder or a wealthy member of your congregation begins throwing his weight around?  Is a zeal for the purity of the church even a sin? After all, those who “run the church” believe they are doing so for our own good and who are we to challenge leaders that are chosen by God?  Aren’t they given such authority by God?

Fortunately, we have plenty of examples in scripture and history to guide us. These stories demonstrate the proper way to respond to those who assume religious authority that rightly belongs only to Christ. In fact, some of the greatest leaders in scripture were individuals who did NOT want power in the first place. Moses protested that he wasn’t the man for the job, when God sent him to the Egyptians. Joseph didn’t seek power in Egypt; he just did the best he could, even when he wound up in prison. David refused to take power even though he’d been anointed King so long as the old King Saul was still alive. Time and time again, God chose reluctant leaders like Gideon to step up and take charge. These great leaders all had one thing in common – they weren’t interested in holding power. Elijah had no interest in a position of power in Ahab's kingdom. God told him to go deliver a message. Elijah knew what might happen if he did.

And yet among our congregations there are those who take upon themselves the authority of Christ, which does not belong to them. I once moved to a church in which one of these authoritarian cliques had pretty much seized political control of the church. The church became very stiff and stodgy. No pastor could make the masters of the church happy. The first time the pastor wasn’t compliant with the bosses, the Conference office got a visit and he was soon looking for another job. The church had developed a reputation as a career killer for pastors because of the political masters of the church. We were losing our children who were leaving the church as fast as they turned teenagers.

With the help of a wise Conference President and the parents of the upcoming generation of youth and the grandparents of those children, the congregation stood up to the good old boy leadership. Our pastor, who was under attack, hung on and when the problem folks got mad and boycotted the services, we replaced them on the boards and committees and by the time we got a new pastor and they returned, they no longer had power. The church they returned to was at peace, the youth were being made an active part of the services and new members were joining and old members were coming back. We even paid off the school building in just six weeks.

That church is now a plum congregation for pastors, we have a strong school and a very active younger generation who take one of the Sabbath services every week. The strife and unhappiness that once darkened the life of the church is gone. Some of the folk responsible couldn’t stand it and moved their membership elsewhere.

Those who lust for power cannot stand the pure atmosphere of selfless love, kindness and joy that comes from heaven. They are either changed by it of flee from it. An SDA congregation serves Christ, not the pastor or the head elder or the Conference President or the GC president. If we see our church congregations being bullied by individuals or groups who feel they have the right to give orders to others and to force others to comply with their edicts about how to run the church, we CAN stand up to them. Sometimes, as David demonstrated, all it takes is one person having the courage to stand for what is right, to do what is necessary, and then to step aside, lay down his sword and let God rule. Ellen White spoke about this and she had her own difficulty with people in authority. That was one of the reasons I suspect that the GC was so interested in shipping her off to Australia. She had a way of speaking truth to power, in exactly the same way the Old Testament prophets used to upset the kings and got themselves murdered for their trouble. To counter the lust for power within the church, Ellen White said this.
  • "The greatest want of the world is the want of men - men who will not be bought or sold; men who in their inmost souls are true and honest; men who do not fear to call sin by its right name; men whose conscience is as true to duty as the needle to the pole; men who will stand for the right though the heavens fall. 

Here at the end of the world, is it not time for Adventist men to stand strong for Christ and to resist any who would seize authority that belongs to Christ alone, especially in our local churches?  The local congregation is where the rubber meets the road for our faith and it is there that we introduce Christ to the world.

© 2017 by Tom King

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Born to Be Saved

 
 
We are each born knowing everything we need to know how to do in order to obey God. His children are born in his image. As babies, we are born already knowing how to love in the most immediate and instinctive way. We are born loving ourselves. If we need something, we demand that the little person we love above all gets what he or she wants. Love for ourselves is instinctive. So when Jesus tells us to love our neighbor as ourselves and to treat others as we want to be treated, we already know how to do that.
 
Love is not something beyond our understanding because first we loved ourselves. We need only attempt to love that which is outside ourselves the way God intended for us to do and God gives us the spiritual strength to go with it to make selfless love possible. Despite all our other flaws that may be overlaid upon our character, love is still there. The Golden Rule activates the love we already know how to give and turns it outward. It even feels right to tear down the flimsy walls built by sin and love someone besides ourselves. We do this because we are designed to love, not just ourselves, but everyone and everything else.
 
God's plan was a brilliant plan and as it turns out, a person has to work very hard to escape the inevitable attraction of being good. It feels so right to be good. The Ebenezer Scrooge story resonates with us because we all have been something of an angry sinner at one time or another and we have or may soon discover how wonderful and how right it feels to surrender our anger and hate and to drag out the love that God buried deep inside us at the very beginning and to give it some exercise.
 
How cool is that?

© 2017 by Tom King

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Fallen Warriors: Leroy J. Leiske

Leroy J. Leiske
I've recently lost several mentors from my early Christian experience - some to retirement and some have passed away. Leroy J. Leiske was one of those mentors. When I knew him he was President of Southwestern Union College during my freshman year at the college. I'm not sure how, but he knew my name by the end of the first week of classes. He knew everybody's name and we had some 600 kids or so.

We'd seen Elder Leiske with his sleeves rolled up all over campus that summer personally planting decorative shrubs and hedges, pouring concrete and generally sprucing up the campus. So our first chapel service, he got up front and described some of the improvements they'd been making in the campus. Then he told us that he believed that one of the key missions of Adventist colleges was to help create strong new Adventist families. In order to fulfill that mission, Elder Leiske explained that he had created new places on campus that were more secluded and that if we would stop by his office he would show us a map of where those places were. This brought down the house.

Elder Leiske was the only college president I ever saw who could get a standing ovation from students just for walking out on stage at a chapel service. The students thoroughly loved him. I wasn't aware at the time that he was coming off an attempt to completely integrate the Southern Union which got him canned after just 13 months.

In his tenure at SUC as development director and president, he built the college up, more than doubled the number of students, built new facilities and put the school on a solid financial foundation. We had new students every year, many of them conspicuously black. I'm sure he ruffled some serious feathers and I heard some negative comments about him, but people learned not to talk bad about Elder Leiske in front of students.

One of my favorite stories about Elder Leiske was this one, (click link) which demonstrated the challenges faced by Uncle Leroy as some of us called him, in coping with Keene culture. Leiske's drive and determination led to some interesting situations to say the least, but the man was fearless! He moved on from Keene to another Union presidency and ran Pacific Press for several years before "retiring" to Keene. My wife and I ran a day care center there in Keene and we had his grandson with us. Elder Leiske dropped by to pick him up often and I was always glad to see him.

From Elder Leiske I learned optimism and how to have a sense of humor in crisis.
He was a lovely man and will be missed.

© 2016 by Tom King



Saturday, December 17, 2016

My First Mentor Retires

Add caption
My Dad took a flyer when I was four leaving Mom with three little ones to care for and without visible means of support. Until I was in my teens, my male role models tended to be fictional ones from books. Through a series of providences, however, I wound up newly baptized and granted a summer job at Lone Star Camp as a $10 a week trash collector, janitor and shovel operator. God had his hand in it.

The camp director that summer was a lanky theology student and outdoorsman named Sam Miller. Sam was a revelation. I'd joined the church because God argued me into a corner where I had to give Him a chance despite my own misgivings. I'd grown up in a church town where, as Sam later told me, "Adventists are like manure. Spread 'em out over a space and the do a lot of good, but pile 'em up in one place and pretty soon it begins to stink!"

The first leader God sent to educate me was Sam. Most of what I've come to know about working with young people, I learned from Sam that first couple of summers. He taught me to be a lifeguard and put me on track to become a Water Safety Instructor Trainer for the Red Cross and eventually the camp's waterfront director.

Old Sam (we called him that because he seemed so much older than the rest of us for some reason) had an easy-going way with young hormonally-charged staff members. It is a tribute to Sam that no children were either drowned or created during the summer's he herded our motley crew. He once led our whole staff in hijacking a Six Flags war canoe and altering its course. We learned to ski, built pyramids, skied on canoe paddles and raided the kitchen. We also knew where the line was with Sam and we pretty much didn't cross it - at least not any farther than we could safely draw back for the most part. 


I learned how to lead by example rather than by bullying. I learned that a soft answer does turn away wrath and I learned that a leader is a human being too. Old Sam is retiring and I'm sure he will be missed by everyone he works with.  I'm also sure that some of our "leaders" never quite understood Sam either. I put leaders in quotes because those are the kind of leaders that Sam taught me not to become like.

For more stories about Sam check out my personal weblog about him. I hate to seek a good man go, but I'm pretty sure Old Sam will still be around making a difference in the lives of young people for a long time yet.

© 2016 by Tom King

Friday, November 25, 2016

Church Unity - A Time for the Men of God to Lead the Way

John the Baptist - Troublemaker
It is a tough time to have opinions here at the end of the world. It seems that you can't believe anything without 40 or 50 people doing a Youtube video that says you're crazy or malicious or even downright evil. I looked up "Seventh Day Adventist" this morning and the ones that were against us outnumbered the ones for us by far better than 2 to 1 against.

Many of these videos were by former pastors or independent pastors attacking the church for one perceived sin or another. I've been critical of a few moves by church leaders in the past in my own blogs and comments, so I can't righteously cast the first stone.

The Psalmist (133) says, "Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!" There are preachers among us who say this means we should all sit down and shut up and do what the church leadership tells us to do no matter what. But while Scripture praises the beauty of unity among God's people, it also bids God's servants to tell the truth for "The Truth shall set you free." Just as many of us interpret that to mean we should speak out loudly and firmly against what we believe are the sins of those who claim to be of the body of Christ.

Myself, I have come to believe that the church can have differences of opinion and still remain unified in loving service to Christ. Sadly, not everyone believe that works. There are those who believe that all must believe exactly the same things across the board or be purged from the church.

If you look at the history of the Adventist church however, you'll find that we've always had differences of opinion; sometimes strident disagreements as a matter of fact. Despite these, the church still stands. There has always been disagreement in the church over doctrine and details of Christian life - women's ordination, drums in the church, the sanctuary, righteousness by faith and the Shut Door vs. the Open Door doctrines to name a few.  We've always worked it out.

Before Christ came the first time, the children of God had descended into nitpicking and to the development of rigid interpretations of laws and customs related to everything from how far you could walk on the Sabbath to whether or not there would be life after death for anyone. There were Pharisees and Saducees duking it out in loud debates within the Sanhedrin and the synagogues.

Today we have offshoot ministries, lapsed Adventists and angry fundamentalists blasting us and sniping at each other on the Internet. We even had a prominent SDA evangelist recently banned from holding an evangelist series in a North American Conference because he was considered too polarizing to be allowed to hold an evangelistic series in that Conference.

As the signs more than ever point toward Christ's soon coming, the spirit of dissent and disunity spreads among human beings like a pestilence. More than ever before, people are divided on every possible point of belief, whether it be on politics, religion, custom, tradition and even on subjects as basic as diet and sex.

It is time for the men of God to arise and stand together; to unite and lead our families to heaven. It is time we put away the kinds of nit-picking, strivings about fine points of theology. Jesus sliced through the tangled web of human practices heaped upon the Law of God, reducing all the law and prophets to two principles. Love God with all your heart and your neighbor as yourself. "Upon these," Jesus said, "Hang all the law and the prophets."

The simplicity of the Gospel is what will bring us unity. Religious bullying and condemnation are the devils tools and must be laid down by the Children of God. We may disagree. We may engage in discussions over out differences, but they must not divide us. Angels will not stand at the gates of heaven to kick out those who guessed wrong on the Feast Days or the Sanctuary Doctrine. God will judge. We must not for by the same standard by which we judge others, we ourselves will be judged.

Me, I hope God will go easy on me, so I try to keep my judging of others to a bare minimum and focus on Christ, the power and source of our salvation.


© 2016 by Tom King