Cuban. American. Adventist. Dec18

Cuban. American. Adventist.

by Amy Sheppard I am a Seventh-day Adventist today because, in part, young Seventh-day Adventist colporteurs demonstrated unimpeachable character to my great-grandfather in the eastern part of Cuba. He was so impressed by these young men that he decided to send my grandmother and her brother to the young men’s school—Antillian College, when it was still in Cuba. I was born in the United States because, in part, my mother and her family fled communist rule on the island to make a new life in America. And I am an Adventist, in part, because the same diaspora brought another Cuban young woman to New York City and into my mom’s life when she was a teenager, reconnecting our family with the Adventist church. My Cubaness, Americaness, and Adventistness, you see, are inextricably linked. This manifested itself in unspeakable emotion today as the news broke that President Barak Obama is normalizing diplomatic relations with Cuba, and that Pope Francis had a role in bringing my two countries back together. As a Cuban, I was overwhelmed with joy that my country of birth would no longer blacklist my country of ancestry, that possibilities long denied to those who remained may now be realized. As an American, I am proud that my country, or at least the President, recognizes that something that has never worked will never work, and it is time for a new approach. I am thrilled that this will limit the blame the Cuban government can place on the United States and their misrepresentations of who we are and what we stand for. And as an Adventist, it is not lost on me that one of the most radical changes in U.S. foreign policy in the last half century seems to have been very heavily influenced by Pope Francis. In his address to the nation, President Obama openly acknowledged “His Holiness” and his part in the process that led to today’s announcement.  How could anyone with an Adventist worldview and understanding of Scripture not think of our prophetic interpretation of Revelation 13 when hearing this news? The Pope told the U.S. and Cuba to play nice—and they listened! The convergence of my three strongest identities at this moment is overwhelming and surreal. Nonetheless, I am ecstatic. Being bicultural (tricultural?) has helped me better understand that this world is not my home, though it is where we prepare to be citizens of Heaven. See Hebrews 11:13-15 and Philippians 3:20-21. I am the child of a Cuban, living in America, who taught me about my heritage so that when I went to Cuba, I understood the culture, the food, the language—I knew how to be a Cuban. In the same way, I am a child of Heaven, still living on this earth. One day, that home will be open to me, and my learning how to live as a citizen of Heaven now requires me to depend on Jesus to learn how to have a sterling character, the same type of character that first attracted my family to the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Even more than I’m longing to go back to Cuba for another visit after hearing today’s news, I’m longing to go to Heaven. Taking into consideration how things have developed, I cannot help but think that the wait will not be much longer. My sincerest hope is that this shift in U.S. policy will eventually bring broad changes to Cuba, and that this would include increasing the influence of the gospel in that land. I hope that Adventist Americans will travel there, as missionaries, on business, and eventually for vacation, and that by coming in direct contact with the Cuban people, they will influence them toward new life. Finally, seeing these developments before my very eyes, things I was not sure would ever happen in my lifetime, makes me so excited. Forget the Castro brothers. The kingdom of this world is...

The Right to Disagree Oct31

The Right to Disagree

By Daniel McGrath   For hundreds if not thousands of years the Christian church has been almost unanimously giving the same message towards current social justice issues, particularly same-sex marriage. But even from as early as a generation ago there has been a decided shift in public sentiment in favor of equal rights for homosexual unions. It seems that the church has been forced to bow to the tide of public opinion and to the demands of this new non-discriminate generation.   Those who have been at the forefront of such change have been heralded as true Christians for demonstrating genuine love and acceptance of everyone no matter their sexual orientation.  Those on the opposite side who hold a more “biblical” or traditional view have been denounced as bigots and haters because they rigorously stand for what they believe is clear and decided from the Bible.   Interestingly enough, when one looks at Scripture almost all the textual evidence presented on the subject of homosexuality suggests in no small way that homosexual practices amount to sin. Many suggest this surface reading is not what is really meant by the text. Traditionalists choose to take it as it reads, sensing that if one were to try to understand what Jesus really meant when He stated one thing while actually implying the opposite, one could come up with an excuse for any behavior needing justification.   The simple fact is this. Christianity’s message towards same-sex practices amounting to sin is not popular and never will be. Some would try to change its message by suggesting that Jesus was more open to a gay lifestyle than He let on, but this line of reasoning might only prove to discredit the rest of Scripture too.  So the problem remains, Christians who don’t conform to these new cultural interpretations are considered to be some of the most hateful people on the planet—and society’s belief is that it would be better off without such individuals.   But why should Christians or scholars be forced to jump through hoops or twist the texts through a routine of mental gymnastics to arrive at a more popular or politically correct understanding? Why does the message of the Bible have to change just because the majority show more support against its message? Christians should not be expected to change their stance of Scripture on morality. But, they should be expected to enter the dialogue with tact and kindness just as the Bible teaches (Ephesians 4:29; Colossians 4:6; James 1:19).   It is important for Christians to embrace the entire message of Scripture, not just the parts that seems to fit a particular worldview. Those who stand on college campuses, street corners or engage in any other “hate-speech” that preaches hell fire to unrepentant sinners should stop. While they may be correct in their understanding of sin they err by not understanding the love of God.   While the Bible is clear on its definition of sin, it is also clear that God loves all of humanity. Jesus didn’t condemn in harsh tones those who lived in open sin, but He didn’t water down his message of sin either. The woman caught in adultery is a prime example of this. While Jesus didn’t condemn her he told her to go and sin no more (John 8:11).   Equally important for Christians to realize is that God has given each person the right to choose how he/she will live. His love necessitates this fact. We could not consider God to be love if He were to force people to love, worship, or follow Him. Coercion is not love. This leaves it open for some to choose not to follow God but that doesn’t negate His love towards them (Romans 8:35-39).   So if God loves sinners who don’t obey Him then Christians should also do the same. This doesn’t mean the...

Modern Bible Translations (& Ellen G. White) Apr17

Modern Bible Translations (& Ellen G. White)

by Tanner Martin   In the course of researching Bible translations, I’ve frequently been confronted by the claim that two men, Brook Foss Westcott and Fenton John Anthony Hort, produced a critical Greek New Testament that was designed to discredit the Textus Receptus and the King James Version (KJV), as well as to corrupt all subsequent translations. My research into this subject thus far has led to nothing definitive to confirm this claim; on the contrary, the evidence compels me to write a few words in response. Though there’s legitimate reason to be cautious of many newer translations, the sweeping charges sometimes brought against Westcott and Hort seem (often) to be borrowed from Protestant groups without properly accounting for the Spirit of Prophecy example. Hence, I believe there’s need for Adventists to reflect carefully upon the example of Mrs. White before condemning wholesale any Bible simply because it is associated with Westcott and Hort. W. C. White testified that his mother, Ellen G. White, owned and read widely from the translations available up until her death in 1915.[i] Indeed, she made extensive use of new translations in her writings; for example, following the publication of the complete English Revised Version (RV) in 1885, the RV was widely quoted in her writings.[ii] What many Adventists are overlooking is the fact that the RV was the first of the modern critical translations published following the publication of Westcott’s and Hort’s The New Testament in the Original Greek in 1881. The RV was translated by a committee of scholars who, rather than relying upon the Textus Receptus used by the KJV, chose to consult widely from the then-available Greek manuscripts and critical New Testament texts.[iii] They didn’t rely upon any single text, but rather discussed discrepancies in the manuscripts as they came up and voted corporately upon which text to follow in each case.[iv] Both Westcott and Hort were members of the NT translation committee that produced the RV.[v] Their participation in the project, along with their experience in textual criticism, was heralded in a republished article in the Adventist publication Review and Herald.[vi] Early manuscripts of their critical NT were circulated among the RV committee members for consultation during the translation process.[vii] The RV committee certainly didn’t base their translation of the NT upon the text of Westcott and Hort alone; the decisions were corporately made after general discussion,[viii] and not a few of the other committee members, though respectful of the NT produced by Westcott and Hort, disagreed with it on numerous points.[ix] However, the text and recommendations of Westcott and Hort,[x]  along with critical text of Samuel Prideaux Tregelles,[xi] are generally considered to be central to the translation of the RV. Mrs. White received her first copy of the Revised Version as a gift from her son W. C. White, and she began to use the new Bible in her writings.[xii] The RV is quoted throughout the Testimonies, the Conflict of the Ages series, Steps to Christ, and countless other classic Spirit of Prophecy works. W. C. White wrote, “I do not know of anything in the E. G. White writings, nor can I remember of anything in Sister White’s conversations, that would intimate that she felt that there was any evil in the use of the Revised Version. . .”[xiii] The American Revised Version (ARV) was similarly accepted. Published in 1901, the ARV differed only subtly from the RV; in general it follows the textual form of the RV, albeit with occasional alterations. Westcott and Hort did not serve on the ARV committee, but the ARV was based upon the same critical texts as the RV with only minor variations.[xiv]  Mrs. White quoted the ARV in preference to the old KJV no fewer than 55 times in the book Ministry of Healing alone. Again W. C. White affirmed that he could not recall his mother ever speaking ill of the ARV.[xv] In the book Education, Mrs. White used a quotation from the 1902 Rotherham’s Emphasized...

Reinventing Adventist Cuisine: The Hot Dog Mar06

Reinventing Adventist Cuisine: The Hot Dog

Adventists have tried for years to impact the world. First of all, with our message, arguably the MOST important contribution of Adventism (Read Revelation 14). But, we also want to impact society with our FOOD. In this endeavor, we lag FAR behind. The New Agers, Buddhists, Hippies–in my opinion, they’re one or two notches above our game. We believe this needs to change. Now. And we can have fun doing it too because Adventists should be happy people, enjoying life while making God our Center. Before you watch the video below, be sure to read Amy Sheppard’s blog. Or, you can read it after. It’s the inspiration behind our wonderful evening. Enjoy! (p.s. click & watch in...

Women’s Ordination: The Underlying Issue Feb28

Women’s Ordination: The Underlying Issue...

  By Sikhu. A leader in ministry and speaker at GYC shares her thoughts on Women’s Ordination, and the underlying issue at stake. “So, what are your thoughts on the whole Women’s Ordination (W.O.) debate as a graduate of a top women’s college who is currently enrolled at the top Adventist Seminary?”   In spite of everything, I actually thought I could navigate my way past the whole W.O. debate and avoid the conversation altogether. But just a few short weeks into my studies, I was forced to confront it when one of my classes required me to write a paper analyzing the arguments posited at the July, 2013 meeting of the Theology of Ordination Study Committee (TOSC). Thankful it was not a position paper, and quite honestly, intimidated by the enormity of the task, I painstakingly took up the task with a keen awareness of its personal significance. My conclusion after that project, much reflection and countless conversations with students, professors, men and women in ministry of various persuasions, is that we are not even having the right conversation. How is it possible, that different individuals approaching the same text, come out with diametrically opposite conclusions? Read the papers for yourself and see what I mean! Now, when I have brought this up, some have been very quick to affirm that “both sides” of the debate have a high respect for Scripture. By the way, as the conversation stands, there are more sides than just two on this. But it is a useful simplification to say there is the camp in support of W.O. and those opposed to it although each camp has a spectrum of positions. With all the theological conversation about hermeneutics, beginning in particular with the Symposium on Biblical Hermeneutics...