Comment on Supreme Court Decision on Church Employment Case by Ron.
Bill Sorensen: All this, because the church refuses to admit we are justified by obedience to the law of God and claim, “all you have to do is believe” and God does everything else.
Bill Sorensen: the 1888 fiasco
Bill, My heart is sad for you. It seems to me that you have rejected God’s leading as He brought the church out of the Closed Door teaching and into the truth of Righteousness by Faith in the 1888 movement, then again with Ford, and again, by way of reaction to Brinsmead’s perfectionism.
You are right. There is an easy way to judge the truth here. “By their fruits you shall know them”.
Is is my observation that on the road to salvation many people go through the experience when they recognize that there are certain sins in for which, after years of effort and prayer, they still have absolutely no control. They finally come to the conclusion that if years of effort and prayer are not effective by now, then they might as well give up trying. If Christ chooses not to save them, then they are truly lost. They come to recognize that unless Christ intervenes there truly is no hope.
It seems to be when they abandon all hope of salvation even to the point of ceasing even to attempt to resist the temptation, it is at that point that Christ steps in. Kind of like a lifeguard at the beach. Who swims out to be nearby, just out of reach, until the person gives up and stops struggling completely. Only then is it that the lifeguard takes hold and brings the person to shore.
Going through this experience breeds a profound sympathy, compassion, and tolerance for others. It also breeds confidence that God has not abandoned those who seem to be struggling helplessly, whether it is with addictions, or the confusing philosophies of academia. It also makes you realize that neither God, nor the church are threatened by things like biology teachers teaching evolutionary biology.
I know that your heart will rise up against this description because it is scary to give up all hope and to quit struggling against sin. We have been taught so long, that we need to struggle against sin that this will certainly seem abhorrent heresy to some.
But it is easy to judge. On which side does the good fruit lie?
On the one hand we see anger about the church being taken advantage of in the salaries of it’s employees, we see fear of loosing God’s favor through wrong belief. We see fear of losing the Sabbath, and blindness to all the other reasons to keep the Sabbath that would continue even if it weren’t a symbol of creation. We see conflict between the elder’s and the conference with the splitting of the church. We see the use of force in response to rejection of the conference’s attempts to place a pastor that they presumably think would be helpful to the church. For the sake of purity we see the persecution of our deepest thinkers until they are driven out of the church. We see the rejection of joy and praise in music. We see members wishing other members would leave the church, or even the discussion board. We see churches stagnating and dying.
On the other hand we see peace, and confidence in Christ and the church. We see joy and praise in music. There is free and vibrant debate with the resultant growth and progress in Present Truth. There is tolerance and compassion for those who are “obviously wrong”, or even just seeking. We see warmth and inclusiveness that brings new member’s flocking to meet a Jesus that loves even the most unlovely.
I’m sorry Bill. I have absolutely no desire to go back to your kind of church. If it works for you, then I wish you well. If it means that my faith in Christ and evolution are delusions and that I am lost, then I am lost. If Elder Wilson is successful in driving people like me from the church, then I will go in peace. My only goal here is to keep a clean conscience and to do everything I can to speak out against the bigotry and intolerance that historically leads to abuse and at the extreme, to the inquisition.
Ron Also Commented
Bill Sorensen: Many will stand in our pulpits with the torch of false prophecy in their hands, kindled from the hellish torch of Satan
Bill, It is Satan who is the “accuser of the brethren”. You might want to re-read your post with that in mind.
Bill Sorensen: And so they point out how “loving and tolerant” Jesus was, and refuse to acknowledge His direct challenge to the false doctrine and theology the religious leaders taught in His day.
Hmm . . . The only time I recall Jesus challenging doctrine, is when he explicitly contradicted the clear teaching of the Bible on how to observe the Sabbath. (Something to think about.)
The only time he really got angry was when the people were being robbed in the temple, when they were plotting his murder, and when they were condemning sinners.
I see the spirit of Jesus as being in direct opposition to the spirit of conservativism.
Bill Sorensen: You see the point clearly. And as I said, David represents “the church” of today for the most part.
When it comes to the original topic of this web site, how to deal with members in our church who hold a minority position on how to interpret Gen. 1, I find this comment very instructive.
Bill here acknowledges that his view on the fundamental belief of salvation by faith differs from that of the church at large. Some how the church tolerates the membership of Bill, and people like him.
Yet, Bill and others on this web site advocate the excommunication of Biology teachers and others who differ with them over the timing of creation.
This attitude of intolerance of wrong.
Holly Pham: Is La Sierra an “autonomous” institution with regards to our SDA Church?
Perhaps the institution is not autonomous, but the thoughts of the the people within the institution should always be, with the possible exception of hate speech.
Recent Comments by Ron
Revisiting God, Sky & Land by Fritz Guy and Brian Bull
I think what you say could only be true if God were not a loving God.
Revisiting God, Sky & Land by Fritz Guy and Brian Bull
Can you think of any metafore for God in the Bible where God would not in some way be responsible for our actions? The ones that come to mind for me are: sovereign, Lord, father, shepherd, a male lover. In all of these metafores God is responsible for either instigating the relationship as in the Song of Songs, or being an advocate, protector, or supervisor. I can’t think of anywhere in the Bible where God denies responsibility. I can think of lots of places where he claims responsibility and oundard explanation is, “Oh, he didn’t really mean that, He really just allowed some one else to do it,” Satan, Pharaoh, evil king etc.
“I’m not sure how many more times I have to explain this concept to you? Natural laws, created by God, work independent of God’s need for direct deliberate action.”
Sean, where do you get this idea that there is a natural law apart from God’s action? I don’t see that being taught in the Bible anywhere.
I think it comes down to semantics and perspective.
I think that you are still looking at the problem from a human perspective rather than God’s perspective. Move your point of reference up one level.
It is not God’s will that we sin, but the fact that we sin is not outside God’s will.
It is much like when my teenagers started driving. It was not my will that they have an accident, but I knew that it was almost certain that they eventually would, so I got them an older SUV to drive instead of my Lexus, and I bought insurance, sent them to driver’s school, and did my best to make them defensive drivers. My will and desire that they learn to drive, included the possibility that they would have an accident, so when they had an accident, it was not outside my will, or you might say, planning. I was prepared for it.
I think, this is an important perspective to have, because it takes a huge burden off of people when they sin. They know that they are still within God’s will, that he has a plan and can take care of it, that he still loves them, and that it is OK. They don’t have to go away and hide from God, because it is OK. God still loves them. They are still OK with God. He has a plan. He can take care of it. They are still within His will.
I don’t want my kids to run away and stop talking to me when they have an accident, because they are afraid of me. In fact, when they have their accident is exactly when I want them to talk to me the most. There isn’t any kind of accident that they can have, that I can’t deal with.
And I don’t want them to be afraid of driving, just because there is a risk of death, either. Yes, if they were killed, that would be tragic, but to be afraid of dying would be even more tragic. So, yes, I warn them, and I nag them about their defensive driving, and if they are killed, I will grieve terribly, but even their death is within my will. I would rather them live life to the fullest, and take the risk of death, than to not live, or to live fearful, timid, “safe” lives.
In the same way, the problem in the Garden of Eden wan’t so much eating the apple, God already had an insurance plan in place. Christ was the “Lamb That Was Slain From The Foundation Of The World”. God could fix it. They were still within His will.
Notice in the quote you quoted above about Satan. God could have restored Satan to his ORIGINAL position if, when he understood the nature of his action, he had been just willing to accept God’s forgiveness and take his position back again. There was no death penalty at that point, and Christ would NOT have had to die. It wasn’t until Satan completely understood the true consequences of his action and STILL refused to return to his original position, that his position was finally removed from him.
So, applying the same principles to Adam and Eve’s case shows us that it wasn’t the eating of the apple, or sin, per se’ that necessitated Christ’s death, it was their fear that caused them to run away and to try to justify themselves that necessitated Christ’s death.
Just like with Satan, the only reason God couldn’t restore them to their original position is the fear that made them run away from Him. It was their FEAR of His judgement. That is what made it impossible for God to fix it. That is what truly resulted in the death penalty. It was just as if my kid’s had runaway from home after their first accident. I would not have been able to help them.
Truthfully, when my kid’s had their accidents, I wasn’t even that upset. I pretty much expected it, and I was prepared. In the same way, I believe God pretty much expected it and was prepared.
God knew the fear that Satan had raised in the minds of the universe. He knew that the fear is the primary motivator for rebellion, and that it would eventually bear fruit in rebellion. But what could He do? This isn’t something you can resolve with words, and coercion or punishment would only make things worse. (Back to the main topic, Coercion is EVIL). Only a demonstration of God’s loving self sacrifice in response to sin could resolve the fear. (It is really hard to rebel against someone you believe truly has your best interest at heart. Think about it.)
So what did He do? He put the trees on all of the worlds and waited. He gave a warning of the consequences of eating of the tree, which is really the consequence of the fear that generated the rebellious act.
He was right to give the warning, but it was impossible for the warning to be effective. The word “death” has no meaning to someone who has never seen it. It would be like naming colors to a person born blind.
So was it God’s will that Adam and Eve be afraid of Him? No, of course not. But, being afraid, because of Satan’s deception, was it God’s will that they live forever in fear and doubt? No, of course not. So, what alternative is there?
The ONLY alternative that affirms a full and vibrant life without fear, is to confront the fear itself. At some point, someone in the Universe has to have the courage (remember courage can not exist without fear) to act on, or in spite of, their fear. And at some point God has to demonstrate that even in the face of rebellion, He loves us, forgives us, and invites us back to His heart and home. The only way for Him to abolish fear is to demonstrate that He has OUR best interest at heart, even above His own. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son.” That is the true healing power of the cross. It abolishes fear.
So that is why I affirm Eve’s action. It confronts the fear, and affirms that life is worth living in spite of the risk and pain of death, in the same way that I affirm my child’s learning to drive in spite of the risk of pain and death. I affirm it because a full life, free from fear is worth it. It was through Eve’s action that God was able to remove fear from the heart of the Universe forever. It was also through Eve’s action, that God came to dwell within the heart of man. 2 Peter 1:3,4. A far more exalted position, and intimate relationship than is possible for any other being in the Universe.
It is only when we remain afraid of God, after all He has sacrificed for us that we are outside His will. What more can He do?
It is only when we are afraid to embrace life for fear of pain and death that we are outside his will. What more can He do?
So it is for these reasons that being punitive toward member’s and employee’s who are embracing all of the challenges of a vigorous, lively discussion of religion and science, especially evolution is wrong. The punitive action arises out of fear, and misrepresents God to the Universe as a God of fear and coercion.
“This mindless evolutionary mechanism gives an advantage to the individual that sustains a reproductive advantage regardless of what this advantage might do to the overall system or environment within which the individual lives. In other words, this evolutionary mechanism is what is responsible for various forms of cancer which end up destabilizing the higher level environment,”
This statement seems illogical to me. Evolution doesn’t cause cancer, things like radiation damage cause cancer. I don’t see how a population that gets cancer has a selection bias over a population that does not get cancer. It seems to me that the population that doesn’t get cancer will very soon out perform the population that gets cancer and those with cancer will very shortly become a small percentage of the overall population.
PS. I know the phrase “Survival of the fittest” has a bad connotation and I don’t like it, but here is a good example of it in a positive context. Let’s say we have an environment that is subject to high radiation exposure. The off spring of those individuals that are more resistant to getting cancer from radiation are going to survive better than those who are more susceptible to radiation damage. To me this represents a positive adaptive response that a loving creator would be likely to build into his creation.