.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.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Seperation of church and state

I found an article on the Los Angeles Times website that I find to be very disturbing. It discusses organizations that are training evangelical students to be "Christian" political leaders.

Nearly every Monday for six months, as many as a dozen congressional aides — many of them aspiring politicians — have gathered over takeout dinners to mine the Bible for ancient wisdom on modern policy debates about tax rates, foreign aid, education, cloning and the Central American Free Trade Agreement.

Now this could be a good thing, but unfortunately, too much of Evangelical thought has been attached to the agenda of the Republican party. It sounds like they are searching the Bible to justify the Republican position. Insteading of working towards changing hearts, too many Christians want to legislate morality.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Rules to live by

We so often try to make our religion simpler by creating black and white rules. People who do A are sinners. We should never do A. However if we operate from a principle of love, we find that many of these rules get in the way. Jesus showed this during his time on earth. Here is a story of an individual who struggled with these same issues.

Seen on The Ooze

I thought this poem captured some of my thinking on modern Evangelical church services.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Christian Art

This morning I read an article on The Ooze about Christian Art. Specifically art at the White Stone Gallery.

Those “inspirations” found her scrambling to find Christian artists who not only demonstrated a contemporary mastery of their mediums but a passion to express their Christian faith through their works of art.

“I thought Christian art was all angels holding puppies,” she admits. “I didn’t want that, and I didn’t want the stern, severe iconic art. So I started looking around for something that fell into contemporary Christian fine art. It was a hard look, and it slowed us down.”

So after reading the article I checked out the galleries website and there is some good stuff there. For art, it seems fairly conservative but the artists are all talented and very good at presenting their message. I have enjoyed looking at Cornelis Monsma's work, I have posted a sample image of his painting called "Holiness." Beside each painting is an explanation of the inspiration (usually a Bible Text.) The text for this work was 1 Peter 1:15-16.

But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Book Review: Postmodern Christianity

I just finished reading "Postmodern Christianity" by John W. Riggs. It was a very concise overview of postmodernism and how Christianity relates to it. He argues that Christianity has always used concepts borrowed from the philosophical discussions of the time. So for example most of the traditional views of God are based on Greek philosophies. Postmodernist philosophy teaches that ultimate claims about reality do not make sense. Dr. Riggs points out that if this is the case then theology and ethics no longer make sense. He then uses the work of Hartshorne and Ogden to base his view on how Christianity should respond to postmodernism and then uses these concepts to illustrate how we should respond to several issues like gender relations and abortion.

I found the book to be a fairly easy read. Chapter four is the highlight of the book with the previous chapters leading up to it. One thing I did not realize is that the views of the religious conservatives that "Life begins at conception" is very recent. For most of Christianity's existence the church has been against abortion, but not because abortion was homicide. In thier view abortion was a form of birth control and sex without the purpose of procreation was bad.

Overall the book was good, but I am sure there are better works that talk about Christianity in a postmodern world.

Seen on the Panda Cam

My wife is a big fan of panda bears and so she has been watching the Panda Cam at the San Diego Zoo religiously, hoping to see the new baby over there. We finally succeeded last night and I was able to capture a still of the image (push the Print Screen button and then paste into a paint program.)

Tiny little bugger, isn't he!

Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ

and you will be saved. This of course was Paul's answer to a jailor who asked, "What must I do to be saved?" (Acts 16). I was thinking about this at Vacation Bible School last Friday. The childern were learning about Paul and Silas overnight stay in prison. What does it mean to "believe in Jesus"? The answer most frequently heard among Evangelicals is that we must believe in a set of propositions. 1. That Jesus is the Son of God. 2. He died for our sins. 3. By his sacrifice we are saved. But this answer is only partially true. To believe in Jesus Christ is to trust him. Trust every aspect of his life on earth, including his teachings. Jesus preached compassion, but how often are we really compassionate to our fellow man. Jesus called us to action, but too often we are passive listeners. Anyway, I am challenging myself to be more compassionate and to do more for others.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Lessons on leadership

We often forget that we should be leading as servants. This article brings that dimension of Christianity back into focus.

How do we know God exists?

This is a fundamental question that each one of us most answer in our own way. The problem is there is no "proof" of God's existence. Logical proofs all have their weaknesses and assumptions. If you don't share the assumption of the proof, then the argument quickly falls apart. Examples include arguments from design and arguments from first cause.

Some say that we know God exists, because the Bible said so. But this is also no proof, because the authority of the Bible to speak on such matters would have to be established.

So how do I know God exists? I know God exists because events in my own life and events in the lives of others, show me that God does indeed exist. That is all the evidence that I have, and it is all that I need. Now somebody could counter that I am deluding myself. Or that I have attached meaning to events, that are purely random. However, there are always objections for God's existence, for those who seek them.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Another article on AToday

Alden Thompson is writing about patience when you feel that the church has not come to the right decision. One thing I noticed about the GC this year is that they seem to be talking about the same things that they talked about 5 and 10 years ago. More involvement for women and young people. Not much has changed, so I tend to get skeptical about such talk, but I have to be patient that some day the church will come to a conclusion on these issues.

Two points about "learning to believe"

Angela Schafer writes for Atoday:

While doing research for a religion class I came across a Web site made by former Adventists, and I started reading. My heart beat faster, and my throat constricted as I read the accusations that were posed: Ellen White was not a prophet; the investigative judgment teaching had no basis in scripture; the Ten Commandments, and therefore the Sabbath, were done away with at Christ’s death. I was terrified. Although I didn’t want to read, I sat transfixed in front of the computer screen.

These sorts of websites are out there. Most of them are written by disillusioned ex-Seventh Day Adventists. And all of them are written from a fundamentalist perspective on inspiration that is literalist. Most Adventists are aware that such sites exist, but we must understand that even if God has a special purpose for us, we are all still human. So even if I disagree with some of what Ellen White did, I can still appreciate her importance in our church.

She also talks about doubt.

I still have questions, but I think God can handle my questions. I have chosen to believe that God is leading in the Adventist church and in my life. In his book Life of Pi, Yann Martel describes the faith journey of an Indian boy named Pi who embraces Buddhism, Christianity and Hinduism. Pi says that doubt has a purpose, “Doubt is useful for a while. We must all pass through the garden of Gethsemane. If Christ played with doubt, so must we. If Christ spent an anguished night in prayer, if he burst out from the Cross, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’ then surely we are also permitted doubt. But we must move on.”

This reminds me of something I read by Anthony Bloom. The Russian word for doubt literally means "with two thoughts." I will have constructed my answers to life, the universe, and everything, but a new thought will intrude on that construct, giving me doubt. So doubt is and important part of learning, but it should not be used as an excuse to not progress.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Relationship vs. Religion

I have never said "I have a relationship not a religion." However the attitudes behind that phrase and attitudes that I have had and seen in others are the same. Chris Munroe in an article at the Next Wave Ezine writes:

Many people claim that ‘their’ faith is Christian, when in fact, it is a syncretistic blend of Christianity plus their own personalized, self-authorized theology and ecclesiology. Many brag about having a personal relationship with Jesus, who is their ‘friend,’ their ‘bud,’ their ‘home boy.’ And that’s all good, right? Yet while repeatedly singing of their personal relationship with Jesus, they increasingly lose sight of the corporate and historical implications of their faith.

The Christian faith has spanned 2000 years and had millions of adherants. We can learn from the struggles of other Christians and gain from the wisdom that they learned.