Comment on A New Endowment Program for Adventist Education by Sean Pitman.
The elements of what is commonly known as the “Spiritual Formation” movement or the promotion of “Contemplative Prayer” by the leaders of this movement are what undermine Christianity in that they mirror various forms of eastern mysticism. Some of these elements make “truth” relative to the individual and negate the primary importance and objectivity of the claims of the Bible.
There is also a danger in various forms of prayer that “empty the mind” via the use of repetitive words or phrases (regardless of the type of “centering” word or phrase chosen). The mind and thoughts are directed inward and the mind made open to suggestion without critical thinking or comparison to the claims of the Scriptures. The higher thoughtful mind is not engaged. In other words, one’s personal experience and feelings take primacy over intelligently and rationally considering the written Word and having an intellectual conviction regarding its origin and authority.
Such methods are now being preached from some of our pulpits and taught in some of our own schools. These ‘New Age’ mystical concepts are indeed a source of concern for our church today – as well as all Christian churches.
Sean Pitman Also Commented
I certainly agree with these concerns, but I don’t think our school system as a whole has gotten to a point where it is not worthy of our collective financial support. We can still support our schools financially while voicing our concerns for these other issues at the same time.
This is a very good question…
It seems to me though that the educational endowment in this case is going to be under the control of the Northern California Conference, not any one particular school. This should make it more difficult for an individual school to go rogue, outside of the oversight of the entire conference. I would hope that this would also make it more difficult to promote ideas in any one of our schools that directly undermine Adventist ideals… since the entire conference would have to go rogue for that to happen on a significant scale.
Of course, it would be even better along these lines if the General Conference as a whole started up an educational endowment program. But, for now, this seems to me to be a good start. If we wait for all the problems with Adventist education to be ironed out, we’ll be waiting forever. However, I live in northern California and I have to say that Adventist education, as it currently stands in this region of the country, is still the very best option we can provide for our young people.
That is why I am committing myself to a sizable monthly contribution to this endowment fund.
I see endowment programs as good stewardship. They are focused stewardship and allow funds to be dedicated to a specific cause without being siphoned away to other causes or be spent on issues for which the monies contributed where not intended. They also provide money indefinitely where the monies contributed up front eventually pay for themselves, keep up with inflation, and lightening the burden of future generations when it comes to funding Adventist education.
Now, I know that time is short for this planet. However, it has always been short throughout Adventist history. We need to live like this is our last day on Earth, while planning for future generations at the same time. Jesus Himself told us, “Occupy till I come”. I believe that efforts to fund such endowments, without holding back on our regular stewardship giving, is the best we can do with the monies that God has put in our care as His stewards.
After all, our current system for funding Adventist education, in particular, simply isn’t working. Our schools are closing at record rates because we are simply pricing ourselves out of the market for Christian education.
Recent Comments by Sean Pitman
Science and Methodological Naturalism
Very interesting passage. After all, if scientists are honest with themselves, scientific methodologies are well-able to detect the existence of intelligent design behind various artifacts found in nature. It’s just the personal philosophy of scientists that makes them put living things and the origin of the fine-tuned universe “out of bounds” when it comes to the detection of intelligent design. This conclusion simply isn’t dictated by science itself, but by a philosophical position, a type of religion actually, that strives to block the Divine Foot from getting into the door…
Why is it that creationists are afraid to acknowledge the validity of Darwinism in these settings? I don’t see that these threaten a belief in God in any way whatsoever.
The threat is when you see no limitations to natural mindless mechanisms – where you attribute everything to the creative power of nature instead of to the God of nature.
God has created natural laws that can do some pretty amazing things. However, these natural laws are not infinite in creative potential. Their abilities are finite while only God is truly infinite.
The detection of these limitations allows us to recognize the need for the input of higher-level intelligence and creative power that goes well beyond what nature alone can achieve. It is here that the Signature of God is detectable.
For those who only hold a naturalistic view of the universe, everything is attributed to the mindless laws of nature… so that the Signature of God is obscured. Nothing is left that tells them, “Only God or some God-like intelligent mind could have done this.”
That’s the problem when you do not recognize any specific limitations to the tools that God has created – when you do not recognize the limits of nature and what natural laws can achieve all by themselves.
Since the fall of Adam, Sean, all babies are born in sin and they are sinners. God created them. Even if it was by way of cooperation of natural law as human beings also participated in the creation process.
God did not create the broken condition of any human baby – neither the physical or moral brokenness of any human being. God is responsible for every good thing, to include the spark or breath of life within each one of us. However, He did not and does not create those things within us that are broken or bad.
“The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’ ‘An enemy did this,’ he replied. “The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?'” Matthew 13:27-28
Of course, all humans are indeed born broken and are in a natural state of rebellion against God. However, God is not the one who created this condition nor is God responsible for any baby being born with any kind of defect in character, personality, moral tendency, or physical or genetic abnormality. God did not create anyone with such brokenness. Such were the natural result of rebellion against God and heading the temptations of the “enemy”… the natural result of a separation from God with the inevitable decay in physical, mental, and moral strength.
Of course, the ones who are born broken are not responsible for their broken condition either. However, all of us are morally responsible for choosing to reject the gift of Divine Grace once it is appreciated… and for choosing to go against what we all have been given to know, internally, of moral truth. In other words, we are responsible for rebelling against the Royal Law written on the hearts of all mankind.
This is because God has maintained in us the power to be truly free moral agents in that we maintain the Power to choose, as a gift of God (Genesis 3:15). We can choose to accept or reject the call of the Royal Law, as the Holy Spirit speaks to all of our hearts…
Remember the statement by Mrs. White that God is in no wise responsible for sin in anyone at any time. God is working to fix our broken condition. He did not and does not create our broken condition. Just as He does not cause Babies to be born with painful and lethal genetic defects, such as those that result in childhood leukemia, He does not cause Babies to be born with defects of moral character either. God is only directly responsible for the good, never the evil, of this life.
Again, your all-or-nothing approach to the claims of scientists isn’t very scientific. Even the best and most famous of scientists has had numerous hair-brained ideas that were completely off base. This fact does not undermine the good discoveries and inventions that were produced.
Scientific credibility isn’t based on the person making the argument, but upon the merits of the argument itself – the ability of the hypothesis to gain predictive value when tested. That’s it.
Gary Gilbert, Spectrum, and Pseudogenes
Don’t be so obtuse here. We’re not talking about publishing just anything in mainstream journals. I’ve published several articles myself. We’re talking about publishing the conclusion that intelligent design was clearly involved with the origin of various artifactual features of living things on this planet. Try getting a paper that mentions such a conclusion published…