.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Sabbath School for a New Generation

Among Seventh Day Adventists, Sabbath School is a time for discussion and learning. It is the belief of this site that Sabbath School should be an exciting venue for the discussion of new ideas, instead of rehashing old arguments. So welcome to a virtual Sabbath School, a Sabbath School for a new generation.

My Photo

I am an Electrical Engineer, working at Intel in the Portland area. I received my undergraduate degree from Walla Walla College and graduate degrees from the University of Southern California. The views expressed on this website are my own and do not reflect the viewpoints of anybody else. I reserve the right to change my mind at any point in time.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Book Review: Common Sense Christianity

Here is a book freely available on the internet on Religion Online. Its a very easy read and help explains why liberal Christians believe the way that they do. I disagreed with some of the book, but I particularly liked how he explained what Christianity is all about.

Ross Christian Belief Rule #1: A belief may be considered Christian (i.e., appropriate for Christians to believe) if it is consistent with the Great Commandment and with the centrality of Jesus of Nazareth to our religious understanding.

Ross Christian Belief Rule #2: A belief may be considered required of Christians only if it is necessarily implied in the life and teachings of the Christ or if it is necessary to accepting his message.

So we have all beliefs that are consistent with the Teaching of Jesus, which is rule #1. They may help explain doctrine and what Jesus was all about. This would include such Adventist distinctives like the Sabbath, State of the Dead, and the Sanctuary Message. However a belief is only required if it complies with rule #2. Some examples would be Love for Others and the Golden Rule.

This book is very interesting and will give you much to think on, but it is a little heretical.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

The Ooze

I find a real good article on this new website that I found called The Ooze. I read this

Try as I might, I'm troubled by things like parking lot ministry. I guess I'm just not sure that helping well-dressed families in SUVs find the next available parking space is really my spiritual gift.

after earlier reading this on the Christian Century website

Osteen's book abounds with examples of trivial everyday concerns. Can't get a green light? Pray with faith, and that light will change. Can't find a parking place? Claim God's victory, and see divine favor as someone pulls out and leaves you a space in the front row. Worried that you haven't found the perfect date, someone like Osteen's wife (who is, by the way, praying for us as we read her husband's book, as Osteen promises in an epilogue)? You've guessed the answer by now: pray, stay positive, and God will build up the remarkable list of coincidences to have you meet that special person.

Anyway, the author has highlighted some of my concerns with the Evangelical Mega-Church phenomenon, including the lock-step thinking, consumerism, and measuring successful ministries by how big they are. Anyway the whole article is worth reading and I am going to be spending some more time on The Ooze to see what else I will find.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Book Review: Two by Ron Numbers

I recently read two books by Ron Numbers, Prophetess of Health and The Creationists. These books were both easy to read. One thing I appreciate about Ron Numbers' writing, is that he is very good at presenting what happened, according to his research, in an unbiased manner.

Prophetess of Health discusses Ellen White and how she came to advocate the importance of good health. I was not disturbed about her plagerism of others work, many other people at that time were doing the same thing. The problem is that she tended to deny the influence of others. In spite of that, I sensed that Dr. Numbers thought highly of what she accomplished. The high point of the book is when he compares her to Mary Eddy Baker.

This book was so explosive, because Adventists have tended to deify Ellen White. She was human like the rest of us. She was not perfect just like the rest of us. This is frequently what happens when an infinite God uses finite people to do his work. Another book about Ellen White, that I highly recommend is Inspiration by Alden Thompson. I have heard that Escape from the Flames deals with similar issues, but I haven't read that book.

The second book traces the history of Scientific Creationism and describes the work of the major proponents. Again he is very neutral when he approaches this subject. I did not realize how influential Adventist thinking was on this subject. But it was the Adventists who led the way, mainly because the six day creation is related to the Sabbath doctrine.

I thought this was a joke when I first read it

Mel Gibson has developed a thing for doing movies in obscure languages. According to CNN his next movie is going to be in Mayan. I'm hoping that his next movie after that will be performed in Akkadian.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Found on Daily Kos

I found this diary on Daily Kos, discussing the commercialization of Christianity. I find this trend to be quite disturbing and it is only getting worse. I like to call it "bumper-sticker" Christianity, with the pithy shallow gospel and flashy logos.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Adventist filmmakers

We've come along way from the naive attitude that all movies are bad and a waste of time. Check out this article about an Adventist film festival.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Last Sabbath School

This last weekend, I handed out a little pamphlet (pdf file) on how to study the Bible. I liked this pamphlet because it summarized Bible study so that it could be fit onto one page. There are a few formatting glitches, but it is the best I have found on the net.

General Conference News

Atoday is posting updates on GC happenings. One I particularly thought was worth highlighting is the description of Paulsen's keynote address.

With respect to the future, Paulsen expressed two primary concerns:

(1) The necessity for greater involvement of the youth (15-30), and

(2) A need for a broader sense of ownership of the church by members, that is by the laity.

Although such concerns are voiced so often they may sound like mere platitudes, Paulsen followed up with remarks that seemed striking.

This is one of those things that church leaders talk about, but they never seem to come up with solutions. However I found the following summary heartening.

While his personal commitment to the characteristic theology and eschatology of traditional Adventism is well-known, it appears he is attempting to lead the church to new self-understanding rooted more in a radical commitment to service and love as disciples to Christ in contrast to our historic self-definition as a people who are experts on prophetic theories.

You can only go so far "knowing the truth." What we all need is to have a relationship with God.

Friday, July 01, 2005

The problem with Christian literature for young adults

I have been looking for more material to use in my Sabbath School class. Last Friday, I went to a Christian book store and once more I noticed that while there is plenty of material for younger kids and plenty for adults, there is a black hole when it comes to those between the ages of 18 and 25 years old. So it isn't just an Adventist problem.

There were a few books, but almost all of them suffered from the same problem and it wasn't until yesterday that I realized what exactly bugged me about these books. These books spent pages and pages talking about the evils of homosexuality, humanistic professors, and science in particular. However, they did not discuss how to make your relationship with God stronger in a new environment, away from home. The problem with my class is that I want everybody (myself included) to have a closer relationship with God and that is what I am looking for. I don't want a book on Doctrine. I don't want an anti-homesexual screed. I want practical religion.

The one exception was a book by Dallas Willard, which looked interesting but I didn't think it transferred well to a Sabbath School setting. I am thinking about looking at some other books by him. It doesn't hurt that he is a professor at USC.