Comment on Northern California Conference Votes to Act Independent of the General Conference by Kenneth Christman, M.D..
Wow! The steady stream of excellent Creationism discussions have suddenly morphed into tithing and the withholding thereof. Quite a radical departure. While I would urge that you continue the former, I would strongly recommend that you thoroughly review the tithing practice. You need no help with the former, but permit me to offer some sketchy facts on the latter. For a thorough review, please consult your Bible–any scholarly Bible version except for J. J. Blanco’s Clear Word “Bible”, which offers additions, subractions, and alterations, thus rendering it completely unsuitable for serious Bible students.
While Melchizedekan tithing is mentioned in both Genesis and Hebrews, the SDA tithing system is not patterned after it, but rather, the Aaronic tithing practice. Interestingly, the Church of Latter Day Saints (LDS) does distinguish between an Aaronic priesthood and a Melchizedek priesthood.
The Aaronic tithing system was ordered by God on Mt. Sinai for the specific purpose of supporting the tribe of Levi, as the Levites were not going to receive an inheritance, and the other 11 tribes were to support Levi with 10% for the Levite service in the Temple in offering sacrifices to God for remission of sin. The Levites served as an interface between Israel and God. The sacrifices all pointed toward the coming of the Messiah, that ultimate sacrificial lamb. That tithing system was to last until there was no further need of animal sacrifices. Please consult Daniel 9:27, where in the middle of the 69th week, the Messiah would “cause the sacrifice of oblation to cease”.
Well, the Temple sacrifices did NOT cease in A.D. 30-31 with the crucifixion of Jesus. They continued until July 17, A.D. 70, just a few days prior to the Roman destruction of the Temple. They should have ceased then, as the veil between the Holy and Most Holy Place rent from top to bottom, signifying that God’s place on earth was vacated. With no more sacrificial requirements, the Levite ministry came to a conclusion for all those who accepted the Messiah as Son of God, and thus, the tithing system came to an abrupt conclusion as well.
Interestingly, Deuteronomy 14 describes tithes being also used for the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow (the poor).
Did the early Christians tithe? Absolutely not. To have paid a tithe for the support of the Temple and its sacrifices would have been tantamount to denying the coming of the Messiah for remission of sin. Furthermore, it would have supported the entity that was directly responsible for the death of the Savior and the persecution and deaths of many early Christians. They did not tithe at all. By that time, they were giving far more than 10%. They supported the gospel with everything they had, including their lives. So, while God instituted the Aaronic (Levite) tithing system, it came to an end with the crucifixion of Jesus. Thereafter, God’s true followers (Christians) were required to follow all the way at whatever cost, not just 10%.
Mormons determined in the early 1800’s that extracting 10% from its members would cause the movement to grow rapidly. It did. Today, LDS continues the practice, but essentially does not have a paid clergy, and the financial resources of this church structure are immense. The SDA church did not initially begin advocating a tithing system, but soon found that it would work well. I would not be surprised if the SDA church borrowed this concept from LDS.
At any rate, the SDA church maintained that the tithe (10%) was only to be used for the support of ministers, Bible teachers, etc.). Other church ventures were to be paid for out of freewill offerings. For some, it is a huge leap to translate 10% of earnings to support the tribe of Levi as commanded by God to a different non-sacrificial system thousands of years later. I know of no Levite priests or ministers in either the LDS or the SDA church. As a matter of fact, the LDS refers to all non-Mormons as “gentiles”. Thus, even the Jews are gentiles as far as they are concerned!
As the worldwide SDA church grew, a small problem developed. In the North American Division, there developed a huge excess of “tithe” funds. In the other world Divisions, there was an excess of non-tithe funds. So, how is the church supposed to handle a situation where supposedly only “tithe” money is to be used for the support of the ministry? Well, this is how it works. The local conference collects the tithe from all the churches and keeps a certain percentage for paying the pastors. It sends a huge chunk on to the local Union Conference (at one time it was about 40%, but can vary). The Union Conference keeps a piece of that and sends the remainder on to the General Conference.
Meanwhile, world Divisions have an excess of non-tithe money and send this to the General Conference as well. In the past, it worked to the advantage of the world Divisions, as they generally got more for their non-tithe money that they submitted. After this little accounting trick at the G.C. level, excess tithe money is used in the rest of the world, while the “tithe” money suddenly becomes “non-tithe” money and via a system of reversions, reverts back to the local conferences. What do you suppose God thinks of all this? The Aaronic priesthood is long gone, sacrifices are long gone, and now we’re using accounting tricks to whitewash tithe money in order to maintain it is only to be used for the ministry? Is God amused? Perplexed? Saddened?
As for ordination of women, it would seem to me that God commanded all of us to spread the gospel in Matthew 28 and Mark 16. The issue has been brewing in the SDA church for decades. Neal Wilson was adamantly opposed to the idea, and his son Ted obviously feels the same. Are there other more central concerns to the gospel?
As for the creation of Union Conferences, it might be pointed out that several decades ago, there was quite a movement toward consolidation of Union Conferences, as much of the work was duplicative and wasteful. Those with a higher degree of resource conservation were in favor of consolidation. Those whose administrative positions were at stake, were adamantly opposed. If my memory serves me, both sides quoted Ellen White for their positions! Finding support for both sides was not difficult.
If you feel compelled to pay 10% of your earnings to a man-made organization, please feel free to contribute to which ever organization suits you best, as there is no Biblical instruction as to where those funds are to be deposited today. However, if you organize a mass rebellion in your church to send your church’s tithe funds to another conference, first consider the consequences. Check the title of your local church building. If it is held in the name of your local conference, as it most certainly is, you should first check with the officers of such conference and ask what the repercussions would be if the church should no longer channel tithe funds in the usual way. If the owner’s response is that the church body would be expected to vacate the premises, you should start looking for new facilities immediately.
I think you should be commended for your boldness. However, is this the hill you really want to die on? Why not send the conference the ultimatum that it should no longer support via financial contributions of any kind to any educational institution that advocates evolutionary theory? The conference should send no money to such institution, no students to such institution, etc. After all, if there is no Creator God, there is no need for a Savior for remission of sins. Furthermore, such a doctrine is directly contrary to the G.C. statement of beliefs, is it not? So, after issuing such an ultimatum, if there is no positive response, withhold tithes. If the conference evicts the serious church members for such, next appeal to the General Conference and see what kind of war ensues. It might make interesting reading in the pages of the Adventist Review, or maybe Christianity Today. At any rate, you would be taking a strong stand for the Creator God. While you’re at it, also insist that such pagan practices as yoga, tai chi, contemplative prayer, and other mystical practices be banned in SDA churches, educational, and medical facilities within the conference.
May God richly bless your efforts in teaching Creationism.
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Kenneth Christman, M.D. Also Commented
Northern California Conference Votes to Act Independent of the General Conference
You made an excellent point when you pointed out that Ellen White made quite a few comments about tithing. May I suggest that you spend more time with the Greater Light, as you will find considerable internal conflict with the Lesser Light. You will always find unadulterated truth in the Greater Light.
Recent Comments by Kenneth Christman, M.D.
Summary of 60th General Conference Session (2015)
First of all, you are to be strongly commended for your steadfast advocacy of the teaching of Creationism in a Christian educational institution. There isn’t the remotest rationality behind the promotion of evolutionary theory along with the teaching of salvation through Jesus. After all, if God did not create us in the first place, why would he redeem us?
While there are some who claim to be Christian believers who simultaneously hold to some type of evolutionary theory, the vast majority of evolutionists I encounter are those who do NOT believe in God at all. They ignore Him, deny His existence, and ridicule those who believe in Him. The term generally used for these people is “atheist”. Sadly, there are a number of former SDA’s in this category. At any rate, opening the possibility that there will be atheists in heaven not only shocks me, but again, is contrary to the words of Jesus.
As for American Indians who existed prior to the arrival of Europeans, I am more than willing to allow an honest God to be the judge. For one thing, these folk are long gone, and their destiny is determined. They cannot be reasoned with at this point. For another, I have no say in the matter at all. Thirdly, they were not atheists. They believed in some sort of a Great Spirit. While that Great Spirit was NOT the God of the Bible, there is abundant evidence of supernatural manifestations in the lives of their leaders and witch doctors. Thus, it can be safely assumed that their “Great Spirit” was reptilian in origin. I am much more concerned about those who adhere to those forms of spiritualities today. There are many who continue to revere the Indian “culture” and its many spiritual ramifications. It is glorified in the schools and promoted strongly. Not only American Indian false spirituality, but also Hindu Indian spiritualities, such as yoga, meditation, etc. are being widely used today. Sadly, these are promoted in many SDA facilities and are also diametrically opposed to Christianity. Do you think salvation through Jesus is possible for those participating in these dark forces?
You correctly say “Of course, we are not saved by the law. . .” The Biblical verses you quote do indeed support this. Hebrews 8:10 refers to a new covenant made with Israel which replaced the old covenant made after Egypt. That covenant is, indeed, outside the law, and only through the blood of Jesus.
Quoting Zechariah 13:6, however, does not exactly address a covenant, but refers to the wounds in Jesus’ hands. Consider also that Zechariah lived half a millennium or more prior to the coming of Jesus.
You quoted John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” This is precisely the point. Atheists refuse to confess their sins. They do not see themselves as being sinful. Furthermore, they do not believe in a Creator God, let alone a Redeemer in Jesus. If they did confess their sins to Jesus, the promise of God’s redemption is every ready to wipe their sins clean. Thus, their sins will be judged after the 2nd resurrection.
As for Ellen White, I cannot reconcile many of her statements with Scripture. That is perhaps why The Clear Word “Bible” was published, which adds and subtracts various texts to reconcile the Word of God with EGW.
I will let you decide whether or not she is indeed a “prophetess of God”. Consider the case of a lack of water at the Paradise Valley Sanitarium, and how she directed that a well digger living in Nebraska be called to dig a well. He used the “wizard water stick” to determine where to dig the well, and indeed found water. This account is found in volume 5, pp 365, 366 of the Biography of Ellen G. White as written by her grandson Arthur L. White. Why did she call a man to dig a well who used an occult power to find water? Would God not have reprimanded her for using an alien power? Did He not condemn the use of divination of any and all types?
Also, why did she take her own children to Dr. James Caleb Jackson in Danville, New York to have phrenology done? Phrenology is the practice of palpating the bumps on the skull to determine personal characteristics and the future. It can be correctly likened to palm reading, which is clearly an occult practice. She pronounced Dr. Jackson’s diagnosis to be good. Do you believe God winks at prophets and prophetesses who engage in Satanic powers? Does He reveal “truth” to them?
If there was another method by which atheists could arrive in heaven, Jesus would not have had to die such a painful death on the cross. Jesus could have rightly argued that His death was unnecessary if there was a different path where unbelievers could be offered eternal life. I am confident I will not encounter any atheists in heaven. I am equally concerned about those who practice alien forms of spirituality. Thank you again for your diligent efforts in preserving the teaching of Creationism.
The Adventist Accrediting Association is Still Reviewing LSU
Ken Ham has developed a wonderful Creation Museum near Cincinnati, Ohio. It is full of evidence of God’s creation of this world (he does not subscribe to Intelligent Design, and neither do I, because this opens the door to some other entity having created the world). The museum experience ends with a beautiful narrative of Jesus death, paying the full price for sin, thus offering salvation for each and every one.
It is incongruous for one to be a Christian while adhering to a theory that denies God’s creation. Why would Jesus die on the cross to save a bunch of creatures that simply “evolved”?
Perhaps church administrators should send ALL LSU professors (including LSU administrators) for a 3-day Creation Museum experience, listening to lectures, videos, etc. At the conclusion, they should indicate whether they believe in a literal 6-day creation by the God of the Bible. If they do not, one can safely assume they are not Christian.
One would assume that if an institution of higher learning is to be labeled “Christian”, its professors and leadership would be believers.
Bringing the Real World to Genesis: Why Evolution is an Idea that Won’t Die—IV [A Review]
While it is sad that Jan Long has rejected Adventism in favor of neo-Darwinism, it is particularly unfortunate that he has taught at La Sierra University. What has happened at La Sierra? Six or seven decades ago, La Sierra pre-med students could not be admitted to Loma Linda School of Medicine if they even questioned the inspiration of Ellen White. Now, it seems as if the prevailing sentiment is toward complete rejection of the Biblical account of Creation. How tragic. Does this disqualify La Sierra Univ. as a Christian institution?
I applaud Sean Pitman’s review of the science (or lack thereof) on the issue of common ancestry between primates and humans. One would certainly expect a greater genetic concordance between primates and humans.
Has anyone ever attempted procreation between humans and primates? Yes, but it has always failed. Thus, there is no science to confirm procreation between these species, and thus, no science to even hint at possible common ancestry, in spite of DNA similarities. Why not just accept science and the Biblical creation account?
Summary of 60th General Conference Session (2015)
Allow me to clear up your confusion. I am not willing to “allow for at least some heathen who have never heard the story of Jesus to be saved.” Rather, I prefer to not engage in speculation as to what God will do about long-departed atheists/evolutionists. Based upon the words of Jesus, I do not anticipate bumping into evolutionists stumbling around the streets of the New Jerusalem. There are too many heathen, evolutionists, atheists, and even Christians that we need to worry about who are still living. That is why you are providing a valuable service in leading people to an understanding of Biblical Creationism. I simply do not possess the knowledge, influence, or audacity to speculate on what God is going to do and what He is not going to do.
You said that “In short, there will only be one question asked in the judgement: Did you love your neighbor or not? Did you strive to follow the Royal Law that was written on your heart?”
While this may be the teaching of EGW or other contemporary theologians, it does not synchronize well with the words of Jesus, who maintained that there will be two classes of people–those who believe in Him and those who do NOT.
John 3:18 “He that believeth on Him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”
John 3:16 . . . whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
John 5:24 “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on Him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation: but is passed from death unto life.”
Your assertion that people’s eternal destiny hangs on how they treated others regardless of whether they knew the story of Jesus is impossible for me to reconcile with the above words of Jesus,
Thank you for quoting John 1:9, which simply states that Jesus is the true Light which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. However, every person is not given a “measure of light”, but rather the opportunity to follow the TRUE LIGHT or to reject it. If Jesus is indeed THE TRUE LIGHT, there is no need to follow a lesser light.
Yes, I have heard all the accusations that Biblical prophets made mistakes, as did Paul, and even Jesus. Thus, Ellen White made a lot of errors, was inconsistent, spoke against the Bible, plagiarized, participated in occultic activities, and that all this is excusable!
Well, is it logical for her to take her own children to a phrenologist while simultaneously speaking against it? While no Biblical prophet was perfect and all lived imperfect lives and were in need of a Savior, do you know of any who participated in occult activities? There was Moses, who smote the rock more than he should have. There was Jonah, who ran away from his duty. Yes, there were many disobedient prophets, and they generally paid for their disobedience. There was King Saul, however, who did actively seek out the witch of Endor, participating in an activity that was prohibited by God. His fate was a sad one. Yet, is it somehow O.K. with God for Ellen White to direct a man to come dig a well using such a wizard water stick? Would God not have revealed to her the awful act that was about to be committed? Do you think God would warn a prophet against palm-reading? Divination of any other kind? Phrenology? Do you think God does not care if His followers use occult powers?
You excuse the practice of using water witching because Ellen White was involved in it and because you have seen it used by “Godly men”. I actually know ministers and missionaries who have used it, but that does not mean that God condones it. Before I go any further, please be aware that I am not perfect either. I have done things in my ignorance that I had no idea were in the occultic realm. I have repented, will never do them again, and know that God forgives me just as He will forgive any other sinner who ceases to use Satanic powers.
Please be aware that there are many, many words for water witching: divining, pendulum dowsing, radiesthesia, rhabdomancy, or map dowsing. Yes, people even place pendulums over maps to divine the location of water, oil, treasures, gold, etc. The Mormon prophet Joseph Smith used it extensively.
I have spoken to many people over the years. Two independent practitioners informed me that it will not work for everybody. But, they said, if it doesn’t work for somebody, all that they had to do was to touch the other person’s hands and it would then work for them as well! This takes this matter completely out of the realm of science. There is a power behind it, and if it is God’s power, why do they call it the wizard stick or water witching? Why is the practice listed as an occult science? I would strongly urge you to investigate further. Ben Hester wrote a book entitled DOWSING–An expose of hidden occult forces. Find it and read it. Then ask yourself if God gives messages to prophets who use occult forces? Why would He not warn them against using such forces?
We have THE TRUE LIGHT. We have the Bible (The greater light). We don’t need any more lights. We have truth. By all means continue your fine work of defending Creation Truth.
La Sierra University Looking for New Biology Professor
Well, they did not come right out and say that preference would be given to atheists/evolutionists, even though professors are increasingly coming from that camp.