Comment on Northern California Conference Votes to Act Independent of the General Conference by Inge Anderson.
Sean, while I don’t currently have time to address all the issues in your post, one thing concerns me greatly – that, as head elder, you would recommend that your church members should use their tithe as a tool of political action.
If your recommendation were followed by others, hundreds of thousands of people would be justified in not turning in tithe at all because they believe that the General Conference is out of line, being manipulated and controlled by a very small number of people. (But that’s another story.) And, really, anyone who disagrees with something done in the conference or the GC would be justified to withhold or re-direct tithe, following your reasoning. I do hope that you will decide that you “just cannot go there.”
When Jesus commended the widow who gave her last two coins, the “church” was as corrupt as it ever was or will be. Yet God recognized the gift as given to *Him,* and He blessed her and millions of people since then.
When we return our tithe to the Lord, I believe we must do it in faith, letting go of any control of how it is used. If administrators misuse it, they must answer to God. When we don’t return to God what already belongs to Him, we must answer for it. The way I see it, since the tithe already belongs to God, it is not ours to manage.
Offerings are another matter. If you feel your local conference is out of line, you are free not to send them the usual percentage for the conference budget and send it elsewhere.
Recent Comments by Inge Anderson
An apology to PUC
While history cannot be undone, I do believe that this is a good move.
Since Bryan Ness’s lecture/discussion has already been given exposure, it cannot really be recalled. Even if every scrap of it were pulled from the web site, the context in which it was given makes a whole lot of difference.
For instance, if everyone knew Dr Ness to be a strong believer in the Bible account, even when he did not have all the empirical evidence, the lecture would have a decidedly different impact than it does in isolation. (I have reason to believe that this is actually the case.)
It may even be, as I suggested earlier, that he gave more emphasis to the arguments against creation science because he was confident that the students in the discussion were sufficiently grounded in the creation approach but needed a bit of challenge to understand the ideas they would meet in the world.
Since the original lecture cannot be effectively recalled, the best thing, at this time, is to provide more context. And I’m hoping that the PUC administration will see fit to do that.
This site receives a fair bit of traffic, and word of mouth travels quickly too. So any information released by PUC will actually give them free publicity and may persuade more students to attend there.
In the meantime, I would hope that those commenting on the entries regarding Dr Ness would take their focus off his person (especially when they don’t know him) and his teaching (for which the one video is an inadequate example) and continue to discuss how to approach the issues surrounding the interaction of science and faith.
I may have mentioned it before, but I believe that Leonard Brand’s book, Beginnings: Are Science and Scripture Partners in the Search for Origins? (Pacific Press, 2006) provides some real guidance and food for thought in this direction. It’s a small, readable book and should be available in all our college & university libraries.
Why those who hate the Bible love blind-faith Christians
Professor Kent cites statements from Edward Zinke as authoritative exposition of Adventist doctrine, but I accept Seventh-day Adventists Believe … “ as considerably more authoritative, considering that it results from the work of over 200 Adventist leaders and teachers, rather than just one individual. And I find that volume to corroborate the approach of Dr Pitman in statements such as these:
“[God’s] self-revelation stands rooted in real events that occurred in a definite time and place. The reliability of the historical accounts is extremely important because they form the framework of our understanding of God’s character and His purpose for us.” (p. 10)
This sounds to me very much like what Dr Pitman has been writing all along.
In the same source I read:
“the Bible’s writers viewed all the historical narratives it contains as true historical records, not as myths or symbols. Many contemporary skeptics reject the stories of Adam and Even, John, and the Flood. Yet Jesus accepted them as historically accurate and spiritually relevant.” (p. 11)
It is transparently obvious that it is impossible to accept both the origin-by-evolution scenario and the Bible as historically accurate accounts of our origin.
Dr Pitman has consistently defended the accuracy of the biblical narrative, in harmony with Adventist beliefs, and has been just as consistently attacked by certain posters for doing so. In the process Dr Pitman has been accused of not having sufficient respect for the Bible, not sufficient faith, etc.
That is high irony indeed.
Apparently these posters object to the rational/scientific defense of the biblical account, characterizing such defense as contrary to faith while also implying that the teaching of the evolutionary scenario as factual in our universities should not be questioned or even exposed to the public.
Jesus told a parable of two sons — the first at first refused to do as the Father wished, while the other appeared to obey. The first, in fact, did as the Father asked, while the latter did not obey.
It seems to me that those professing “faith” in the Bible, while arguing strenuously against Dr Pitman’s defense of the biblical account are very much like the second son who appeared to obey but did not. They characterize Dr Pitman as “heretic” (i.e. disobedient), which is an epithet that more accurately describes their own postings.
Perhaps those foremost in attacking Dr Pitman, could profitably reflect on what Jesus said to those who acted like the second son: “Truly I say to you that the tax collectors and prostitutes will get into the kingdom of God before you.” (Matthew 21:31 NIV)
Why those who hate the Bible love blind-faith Christians
And here is yet another quote from the same source (Edward Zinke), published by the Review and Herald Publishing Association:
Also, I failed to grasp the authority of the Bible when I wanted to take the “truths” discovered in the natural world and synthesize them with the truths from the scripture.
It seems to me that Edward Zinke was attempting to do what the professors in some of our schools (notably La Sierra) have actually done – “synthesized” “truths” of science with the Bible, not recognizing that the Bible is, in fact, accurate in its historical narrative. In their “synthesis,” they reinterpreted the Bible to accommodate science (falsely so called).
It is highly ironic that anyone should attempt to use Dr Zinke’s confession to attempt to put down Dr Pitman’s spirited defense of the historicity of the biblical narrative.
Dr Zinke confesses to having used an approach that is foundational to Catholic theology — that of regarding tradition (or science) as being of equal authority as the Scriptures. That is actually a self-serving twisting of the true meaning of “primacy of the Scriptures,” which means that Scripture is “above all,” and that all other sources of spiritual authority must be tested by the Bible.
Dr Zinke makes very clear below that he was unconsciously using the Catholic approach:
Without realizing it, I was using a method that came from the major theologian of the Middle Ages, Thomas Aquinas. For him, theology rested upon the Bible AND nature, the Bible AND reason, and the Bible AND church tradition.
I believe Dr Pitman has been saying that if we reject the historical/scientific accuracy of Genesis, which other Bible writers regarded as accurate history, we undermine the very foundation of biblical authority. If the Bible is not accurate regarding the things we can see, how can we trust it regarding things we can not see?
So Dr Pitman has been actively defending the authority and trustworthiness of the Bible. It is ironic that those who actively oppose his defense appear to try to wrap themselves in mantles of “faith.”
Adventist Education–at the crossroads?
I was intrigued by Jan Long’s remark:
Jan Long: We know, for example, that Jesus introduced his own paradigm shift. It was a radical departure from business as usual.
It seems a bit presumptuous to compare what Sean Pitman and Shane Hilde are doing to Christ’s “paradigm shift.” But there are distinct parallels.
Jesus called His hearers back to the truths originally revealed by God through Moses and the later prophets. these truths had been contaminated beyond recognition by the interpretations of the theologians and scholars of the day — the pharisees and the scribes. Jesus removed the accretions of the millennia to allow truth to be revealed in its purity.
It seems to me that Sean Pitman and Shane Hilde are on a similar mission. They promote the view that what Moses originally recorded regarding the beginnings of life on this planet is actually true — not only by faith, but by evidence visible to the scientist. They dare to challenge the reinterpretations of Scripture by “progressive Adventists” to fit the scientific paradigm of the day, declaring that there is good evidence that genuine science confirms what God has revealed. In other words, God’s written word is trustworthy as a source of truth rather than being a collection of Pinocchian tales mixed with some wise sayings.
They could do worse …
Dr. Ervin Taylor: ‘A truly heroic crusade’
@ Professor Kent
Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ. Romans 10:17 (NIV)
Probably the more accurate reading, rather than “the word about Christ” (NIV) is “the word of God,” as the more literal translations read. Thus, the reference is to the recorded Scriptures then extant.
That may be good enough for a lot of people, but when I was young, I wondered about the evidence for the existence of God and the dependability of the Bible itself. Not being sophisticated enough at the time, I didn’t even realize that this text of “faith comes by hearing the word” [whether of chairman Mao, the Koran, the Book of Mormons or the Bible] is equally true, no matter what our source of the “word” might be. After all, it is psychologically true that we are changed by our focus (by beholding Christ, we become like Him, by beholding evil, we become evil].
In my teens, I did have the gut feeling that I had to choose what to believe. (My father was a closet agnostic, and I sensed it, while my mother was a third-generation Adventist believer.) At the time, the alternative of agnosticism didn’t seem all that attractive, and I tentatively chose to believe in God and the Bible.
However, if that initial choice had not been confirmed by my experience of testing [according to the scientific method, as Sean so often explains it], I would not have arrived at the settled faith I now hold.
So Romans 10:17 may be good enough in a specific cultural context, but it is no help at all in choosing between belief systems such as communism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Mormonism, Mohammedanism, etc. In each case, “faith” comes by “hearing”/reading the “word” of the founder/leader. Millions of adherents demonstrate that this is so.
Many young people in Western society grow up without a specific belief system, and they are faced with choosing between a confusing array of world religions. Your repetitive mantra of “only faith” is no help at all. By contrast, Sean’s reasoned apologetic in behalf of the Creator God of Christianity invites investigation and belief.
Furthermore, we cannot take for granted that the young people who attend our colleges have a settled Christian belief of their own — particularly those who “inherited” their belief system. Not having had to wrestle with questions of belief, they are still in the time of critical decision-making, as is demonstrated by those who become agnostics as a result of attending science classes in an evolutionary framework.
For me, understanding the shakiness of the evolutionary claims of naturalism, as clarified in my “Philosophy of Science” class at AU, helped forge my faith in the Creator God who “spoke and it was done.”