Is Historic Adventism Doomed to Fail?

 

A Complete Reorientation of the Church Foretold

You are reading The Eternal Gospel Herald Vol. 4 No. 7. To read other issues online issues please click here: The Eternal Gospel Herald

Over the past 50 years, Seventh-day Adventists have watched with horror as the landmarks of the faith, the pillars which we hold very dear, have been abandoned, one after the other. This abandonment has not occurred by way of any official binding pronouncement or vote by the Church’s leadership in a general session, but rather through a pervasive new attitude that is producing a complete reorientation of the Church. This reorientation would come about through the stealthy implementation of certain policies—policies that are designed to make us just like every other church.
 
“I was told that men will employ every policy to make less prominent the difference between the faith of Seventh-day Adventists and those who observe the first day of the week. In this controversy the whole world will be engaged, and the time is short.” Manuscript 15, 1896; Selected Message, Book 2, p. 385.
 
The aim of these new policies is to modify the church, manipulate its image, and introduce new characteristics and new features into the original “blueprint” in order to change the outcome. Ellen White foretold that this attempt to reorientate the church would result in a “controversy” in which “the whole world will be engaged.” Did you get that—the whole world? Is it quite possible that maybe Roman Catholicism or maybe Evangelical Protestantism is partly responsible for directly or indirectly accelerating some of these changes that Ellen White predicted?
 
There is a controversy in Adventism in which men want to genetically reengineer the movement. How? By combining our DNA, the foundational pillars of the faith, with other foreign strands of DNA, the New Theology, Ecumenism, the Social Gospel, and the Celebration Movement, in order to create a new gene that resembles the Sunday-keeping Churches—neo-Adventism, a new class of Adventism.
 
We believe this trouble started several decades ago, and today, we are now entering the boiling point of this conflict. And the fact that Sister White calls this plan a “controversy” means that the faithful cannot just willfully accept this situation:
 
“When existing evils are not met and checked, because men have too little courage to reprove wrong, or because they have too little interest or are too indolent to tax their own powers in putting forth earnest efforts to purify the family or the church of God, they are accountable for the evil which may result in consequence of neglect to do their duty.” Testimonies to the Church, vol. 4, p. 516.
 
We are living in the climatic period of this struggle. For mainstream Seventh-day Adventism today is a mixture of Biblical, Historic Adventism with the following fabricated novelties:
 
1. Calvinism—Evangelical Theology or New Theology
2. Charismatic Pentecostalism—the Celebration Movement
3. Left-wing political activism—Social Gospel
4. Ecumenism—Roman Catholicism’s Decree on Ecumenism called “Unitatis Redintegratio” or “Restoration of Unity” proclaimed by Pope Paul VI on November 21, 1964 during Vatican II..
 
New Theology - A Change in our Belief
 

The New Theology has certainly accelerated a change within Adventism. The doctrines held by the Evangelical Churches on the nature of Christ, the nature of Sin, the nature of the Atonement, Justification, Grace, and other related topics have become the prevailing emphasis in the church today. While the historical pillars of the faith such as the Sanctuary Message, the Investigative Judgment, the Three Angels’ Messages, Sanctification, the Mark of the Beast, and others have nearly become extinct.
 
The New Theology is seen, by its ardent proponents, as a necessary progressive development or a theological advancement in the experience of the Adventist people. These doctrinal adjustments have been welcomed by the leaders of other faiths as a positive shift from a “cult” status to a “genuine Christian” status.
 
On the other hand, the faithful minority view the New Theology as a serious deviation from the Bible and Spirit of Prophecy. The errors of the New Theology are seen by the faithful as a fulfillment of prophecy that some would apostatize from the truth by stepping off the historical foundation that God has established.
 
“I saw individuals approach the platform and examine the foundation. Some with rejoicing immediately stepped upon it. Others commenced to find fault with the foundation. They wished improvements made, and then the platform would be more perfect, and the people much happier. Some stepped off the platform to examine it and declared it to be laid wrong.” Early Writings, p. 259.
 
“The work which the church has failed to do in a time of peace and prosperity she will have to do in a terrible crisis under most discouraging, forbidding circumstances...And at that time the superficial, conservative class, whose influence has steadily retarded the progress of the work, will renounce the faith...” Testimonies to the Church Vol. 5, p. 463.
 
The term “The New Theology” is really a misnomer because it isn’t actually new. All the fables of the New Theology were rejected by our pioneers. It is the same old teachings held by the Sunday-keeping churches being reintroduced into Adventism under a new vocabulary and into a new generation. The New Theology is responsible for all the theological gobbledygook that plagues the Adventist movement; it is responsible for all the theories and speculations that prevail among us, and for all the division, conflicts, and winds of doctrine—How? By starving the church of the truth. God’s people need to be strengthened and rooted into present truth. They need to be nourished with the meat of God’s word and established on the foundation of the faith. But because the New Theology has cast doubts upon those principles, God’s people have been truth-starved. And when a people has been starving for over 50 years, even a piece of moldy bread found in the gutter may look appetizing. As a result, our brethren are seeking for things that cannot satisfy, theories that have not been established “line upon line.”
 
“Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labour for that which satisfieth not? hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness.” Isaiah 55:2.
 
“The leading points of our faith as we hold them today were firmly established. Point after point was clearly defined, and all the brethren came into harmony. The whole company of believers were united in the truth. There were those who came in with strange doctrines, but we were never afraid to meet them. Our experience was wonderfully established by the revelation of the Holy Spirit.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 3, pp. 412, 413.
 

Celebration - A Change in our Worship Style
 
The Celebration Movement represents one of those “policies” (2 SM p. 385) intentionally intended to cause us to look just like the Sunday-keeping Charismatic churches. This is the reason why the Celebration Movement can accommodate a little something for everyone—rock music, dramas, mime performers, and an array of other features designed to excite the emotions. The Celebration Movement is a brew of feel-good theology, cool music, and an electrifying atmosphere to entertain the people and keep them coming back to the social/religious club.
 
“From the sacredness which was attached to the earthly sanctuary, Christians may learn how they should regard the place where the Lord meets with His people. There has been a great change, not for the better, but for the worse, in the habits and customs of the people in reference to religious worship. The precious, the sacred, things which connect us with God are fast losing their hold upon our minds and hearts, and are being brought down to the level of common things. The reverence which the people had anciently for the sanctuary where they met with God in sacred service has largely passed away.” Testimonies for the Church Volume Five, p. 491.
 
The Celebration Movement is a worship service gone wrong, from sacred, reverent, inspiring hymns, our worship has been quickly co-opted by neo-Adventists and made into something that now looks an awful lot like Pentecostalism! The Celebration Movement’s assortment of “cool Adventism” has transformed the sacred worship of our Creator God into an embarrassing MTV wannabe, circus-style performance—thinking that we are honoring our holy God, when in fact we make a mockery of His name. Oh Lord, forgive us for our sins!
 
Ecumenism - A Change in our Fellowship
 
How much longer - how much longer - will the leaders at the highest levels of the church continue to waste resources and energy on the futile pursuit of “unity” with other religious organizations that have absolutely no intention of embracing the truth of the Three Angels’ Messages? Yet, on and on these ecumenical dialogs continue with no end in sight and no prospect of any real achievements; except for the concessions and compromises which Seventh-day Adventists make—becoming more and more like the other churches.
 
Vatican Council’s II “Decree on Ecumenism” is a cunning and clever plan by the devil to forever shut down the preaching of the Second Angel’s Message and the final Loud Cry/Latter Rain message of Revelation 18. For God declares to the whole world that “Babylon the Great is Fallen is Fallen” and “Come out of her My people.” God is trying to separate a people from all the churches who will take their stand on the eternal platform of truth and prepare for the Second Advent of Christ.
 
In direct contrast, the Ecumenical Movement attempts to delay the coming of Christ, halt the outpouring of the Latter Rain, and unite all the different religious bodies into one fellowship through religious dialog, mutual respect, and understanding. And Adventist are falling into this trap. We are so entangled in the ecumenical mindset that we have become conflicted. We are struggling with our identity, unsure whether to remain an isolated people with a unique message and witness, polarized from the rest of the world.
 
And instead of going to God, to the Bible, and the Spirit of Prophecy to find out who we are, what is our mission, and what are we to do—and act in accordance, it appears that we care more about our image, more about what people think, or what they might say. “For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.” John 12:43.
 
It seems that the Ecumenical Movement has taken the role of a psychotherapist, because Ecumenism seeks to eliminate all the so-called “negative” and “divisive” characterizations that are hindering the unity of all the churches. Such characterizations include Babylon, harlot, apostate church, false religious, cult, ect. Consequently, the churches who enter into its fellowship are relying upon the Ecumenical Movement to determine its own identity, how the church should feel, what the church should say, how to generate positive feelings, how to counteract the negative ones, and how to build bridges.
 
We are indeed witnessing the Devil’s final assault against Historic Adventism through Ecumenism, and he has saved his best tactics for last. There is a relentless, unyielding battle between the Loud Cry Message of Revelation 18 and Ecumenism. The Ecumenical Movement is a human organization destined to destroy the unique witness of all those who enter it. Why can’t we not recognize that? Oh God, come to our aid and open our eyes.
 
Social Gospel - A Change in our Work
 
The Social Gospel is an attempt to redefine the work of the church by means of social action rather than through the presentation of the truth. When the Social Gospel enters the church, the preaching of present truth begins to decline and a new agenda of attacking the social inequalities of the world begins to evolve. So what do we do? Should we carry on with the straight testimony to the world and to the church, and not become sidetracked through social and political entanglements? Or should we form strategical alliances with international organizations that fight for social justice in order to become a much more effective witness? This is the same mistake made by Dr. John Kellogg that is being repeated today, for he too became preoccupied with other questions:
 
“The Lord designs that the proclamation of the third angel’s message shall be the highest, greatest work carried on in our world at this time...Dr. Kellogg, you have not in all things been following the Lord’s plan. The medical missionary work should be as the right arm of the body of truth, but this work has been made to absorb so much that to all intents and purposes it has become the body. God did not design that this work [or any work] should eclipse the work of the third angel’s message. This message is the gospel message for these last days, and in no case is it to be overshadowed by other interests, and made to appear an unessential consideration.” Manuscript Release, vol. 9, p. 82.
 
“God has not called His people to ignore present truth for these last days, and take up a work that so absorbs workers and means that the Lord is not represented as He would otherwise be.” Ibid. p. 84.
 
“The truths contained in the Revelation are to be taught, and we are all to learn the lessons of the fearful import of the things to transpire in these last days of this earth’s history. You have lost sight of these things. Other things introduced by you have not come in under the instruction of God.” Ibid. p. 86.
 
“There are many places where the means should have been appropriated to make aggressive warfare...Every stroke should tell for God and His holy Sabbath. That is to stand out in all our work distinctly and pronounced, to be a witness that the seventh day is the sign, the seal of God. The Sabbath is to be exalted and made prominent more than is done now.” Ibid p. 88.
 
It is hard to imagine anything more basic to the Seventh-day Adventist faith than to wake up the inhabitants of the earth through the proclamation of the First, Second, and Third Angels’ messages. And any other work which we may do would only help to compliment these messages, and not compete with or silence them.
 
But strangely, the present attitude seems to be that we have outgrown those days. Today, Seventh-day Adventists are hard at work, sometimes with other groups, fighting for comprehensive social, economic, and health initiatives for all people. Today, Seventh-day Adventists are partnering with other religious and secular groups who share our same interests—bringing them together to enact social change, working to help pass legislation on issues pertaining to civil rights [as we have documented in the past].
 
According to the Social Gospel, the great moral issues today are not about the 10 Commandments, the Second Advent, the Judgment Message, or other doctrinal truth, but rather poverty, housing, health, economics, the environment, pollution, family, safety, sex, and civil rights are the universal issues for our time that are to be embraced by all people across the political and religious spectrum.
 
“Political Organizing” and “Social Activism” has trumped the preaching of the Third Angel’s Message, what Ellen White called the “highest, greatest work.” We are now engaged in a life-long, never-ending struggle for social and economic justice which will certainly consume all of our time and energy in an attempt to create a perfect utopian society in this world. Our pioneers were a different kind of Adventist than the people we have become. To them the Third Angel’s Message was their primary burden.
 
“Our people need to be silent upon questions which have no relation to the third angel’s message.” Selected Message, Book 2, p. 336.
 
Conclusion
 
It is hardly surprising then that the neo-Adventist establishment has beat a hasty retreat from the Church’s historical mission and message to a strange, new attitude that has stealthily been created during the last 50 years. Absolutely appalling new novelties have replaced so much of what God has established through the efforts of our pioneers.
 
And today, the church serves the “new” attitudes and the “new” policies first and the historical faith second, if at all! We seem to give priority to the policies which “make less prominent the difference between the faith of Seventh-day Adventists and those who observe the first day of the week.”  
 
The establishment of the New Theology, the Celebration Movement, Ecumenism, the Social Gospel, and Political Activism have all been major contributors to the burying of the historic landmarks of the faith. These reorientation ideas were never part of the rock-solid historic bastion of the Seventh-day Adventist faith.
 
“This is no time to haul down our colors. A company was presented before me under the name of Seventh-day Adventists, who were advising that the banner or sign which makes us a distinctive people should not be held out so strikingly; for they claimed it was not the best policy in securing success to our institutions…” Selected Message, Book 2, p. 385.
 
Neo-Adventism has succeeded to take Seventh-day Adventists to new levels which no pioneer has ever gone before. Even though neo-Adventism may create an ambiance of historical Adventism, with its images of the Three Angels’ Messages, beautiful churches with stained glass windows depicting the 10 Commandments, and perhaps “some” devotion to our foundational truths—this is not Adventism, at least by the standards of our pioneers, who upheld the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy because its aim is to move away from the pillars of the faith in actual belief and in practice.
 
“But the Sabbath of the Lord thy God is to be a sign to show the difference between the obedient and the disobedient. I saw some reaching out their hands to remove the banner, and to obscure its significance...Shall anyone then choose to hide his banner, to relax his devotion? Shall the people whom God has honored and blessed and prospered, refuse to bear testimony in behalf of God's memorial at the very time when such a testimony should be borne? Shall not the commandments of God be more highly esteemed when men pour contempt upon the law of God?” Selected Message, Book 2, p. 385.
 
It is time to incorporate these lessons into the foundation which was laid long ago, which provides a much sounder basis for the future than anything else can offer. The right template for the future can only be found in the Seventh-day Adventist movement's own history.
 
“We have nothing to fear for the future, except as we shall forget the way the Lord has led us, and His teaching in our past history.” Last Day Events, p. 72.
 
“The power which stirred the people so mightily in the 1844 movement will again be revealed. The third angel’s message will go forth, not in whispered tones, but with a loud voice.” Testimonies to the Church, vol. 5, p. 252.
 
—The Editors

 

NAD Administrator by Day

& Treasurer for the NCC by Night

 

Kermit Netteburg, current Administrative Pastor for the 3,000 member Sligo Seventh-day Adventist Church, has worked for the North American Division [NAD] since 1996. He has served as pastor, board chair for NAD Adventist Community Services, assistant to the Division President, and counsel and leadership to all areas of communication in the NAD.
 
In 2004, He was also appointed as an officer for the National Council of Churches USA [NCC], the leading organization for ecumenical cooperation among Christian denominations in the United States, and currently serves as treasurer for the Communication Department of the NCC.
 
Source: www.ncccusa.org/about/comcomleadership.html
 
Have we finally traded-in our “observer” status in the ecumenical movement for a more direct role, such as “treasurer/officer?” Kermit Netteburg can be reached at: Sligo SDA Church, 7700 Carroll Avenue, Takoma Park, MD 20912, (301) 270 6777 ext.122, kermit@sligochurch.org

 

Adventists Join Planning Committee for the

World Council of Churches

 

 Recently, on June 8, 2006, Adventist News Network published an article entitled “Adventist Missiologist Joins Edinburgh 2010 Planning Group” written by Kristi Spurgeon. We have included part of this article below:
 
“The World Council of Churches is now planning for Edinburgh 2010 and Jon Dybdahl, retiring Walla Walla College president, is the sole Seventh-day Adventist representative on the planning committee. The world church appointed Dybdahl after a request was made for Adventist Church participation in the event.”
 
“I’m excited that I’ve been invited to be a part of this,” says Dybdahl. “I’m curious to see what will happen and how it will all work out this time.” “I think it’s an amazing thing to ask an Adventist to be part of the planning, which is beginning even now,” Dybdahl told Adventist News Network in a telephone interview.” Adventist News Network, June 8, 2006, Kristi Spurgeon/ANN Staff.
 
Source: http://news.adventist.org/data/2006/05/1149800560/index.html.en

 

Faiths Unite to Save the Environment

 

California Interfaith Power & Light [CIPL] is an ecumenical partnership united to combat global warming and to save the environment. Roman Catholics, Buddhists, Spiritualists, Seventh-day Adventists, and other traditions and faiths have unified their efforts to become “faithful stewards of Creation” and to “protect the earth,” according to CIPL’s website [http://www.interfaithpower.org/members.htm].
 
The Bible reveals that God Himself will preserve the environment through His power until the day of Judgment. “For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old...But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.” 2 Peter 3:5-7.
 
The burden of the Adventist people is to prepare a people to be ready to stand in the Day of Judgment. The First Angel’s Message tells us to “Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters” (Rev. 14:7). But instead of giving glory and worship to the Creator-God, and instead of preparing for His judgment, the apostle Paul reminds us that men care more for the environment and completely forget the Creator: “Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator...” Roman 1:25

 

California Pro-Gay Law Draws Fire

 

 Wednesday, Aug. 30, 2006, Michelle Vu, Christian Post Reporter
 
California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a bill Tuesday banning state operated or funded organizations from portraying homosexuality, bisexuality and transsexuality in a negative light. The bill has drawn strong criticism from conservatives and religious groups that say the bill will restrict the ability of individuals and institutions to express their religious viewpoints against homosexuality.

“This is a dark day in California for everyone who believes in the importance of religious institutions,” said Brad Dacus, president of Sacramento-based Pacific Justice Institute in a statement released Tuesday. “Governor Schwarzenegger has betrayed the trust and civil rights of Californians who hold traditional, religious opposition to certain types of sexual behavior.”

Senate Bill 1441 was authored by State Sen. Sheila Kuehl (D-Calif.), a lesbian, and adds “sexual orientation” to the anti-discrimination list for state-funded programs and organization. California law now requires no person be denied “full and equal access” based on sexual orientation or sex to any program or activity which is funded directly by the state or “receives any financial assistance from the state.”

The new bill’s impact was described as “wide-ranging and deep” by the Senate Committee Report on SB 1441. The report states that it will also affect contractors with the state (such as nonprofits) which are directly funded by the state or contractors receiving any financial assistance from the state. (ADRA).

A key issue highlighted by several groups opposed to the new bill is the potential ramifications for churches and Christian colleges in California. Focus on the Family (FOTF) Action chairman Dr. James Dobson and FOTF Action senior vice president of government and public policy Tom Minnery pointed out during Wednesday’s radio broadcast that the bill could result in a church no longer being able to receive police or fire protection if the pastor preaches from biblical passages against homosexuality.

SB 1441 has also caused concerns among faith-based colleges. Burt Carney, director for legal/legislative issues at the Association of Christian Schools International in Colorado Springs – an association with more than 800 members in California including 26 colleges and universities - said colleges could be significantly affected because most accept students on state scholarships and grants, according to the southern California news agency The Press-Enterprise Company. “SB 1441 will force religious colleges to either abandon their Biblical standards on sexuality, or reject students with state financial aid,” said Randy Thomasson, president of the pro-family group Campaign for Children and Families (CCF) in a public announcement.

 

New US church leader says

Homosexuality no Sin

 

 

 

 

Mon Jun 19, 2006 3:30pm ET
 
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Newly elected leader of the U.S. Episcopal Church Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori said on Monday she believed homosexuality was no sin and homosexuals were created by God to love people of the same gender.
 
Jefferts Schori, bishop of the Diocese of Nevada, was elected on Sunday as the first woman leader of the 2.3 million-member Episcopal Church. the U.S. branch of the worldwide Anglican Communion. She will formally take office later this year.
 
Interviewed on CNN, Jefferts Schori was asked if it was a sin to be homosexual. "I don't believe so. I believe that God creates us with different gifts. Each one of us comes into this world with a different collection of things that challenge us and things that give us joy and allow us to bless the world around us," she said.
 
"Some people come into this world with affections ordered toward other people of the same gender and some people come into this world with affections directed at people of the other gender." Jefferts Schori, who was raised a Roman Catholic, supported the consecration of Gene Robinson of New Hampshire, the first openly gay bishop in more than 450 years of Anglican history.

 

What is the Christian Evangelical Support

 

for Israel Based Upon?

 

Christian Evangelicals have long been fervent backers of Israel, ever since its creation in 1948. But their political activism on this issue has been most evident in recent years. Evangelicals, best estimates put them at 60 million in the U.S., are prominent among the groups that have pressed administrations since the Reagan presidency to increase U.S. Funding, currently $3 billion a year, to the State of Israel and to give them almost unconditional support in weaponry, technology, and intelligence.
 
Evangelicals generally view the Middle East through a Biblical perspective and believe that God gave the land of Israel to the Jews. Many believe that the promise of Genesis still stands and that the God of Abraham will literally bless the United States if the United States blesses Israel. “And I will bless them that bless thee, and he that curses you I will curse: and in you shall all the families of the earth be blessed.” Genesis 12:3.
 
But there is a more underlying and fundamental view that Evangelicals tend to hold. Some Evangelical Churches have incorporated different policies by raising money to lobby, promote, and secure Israeli land settlement. Others raise funds to purchase airplane tickets for Jewish families to migrate back to Israel. And more extreme Evangelicals denounce the political policies of the “Roadmap to Peace” or the “Land for Peace” in Israel because they see this as a compromise with the Arabs and a forfeiture of the territories that God gave to Israel.
 
For example, Pat Robertson received national attention after he stated on his television program that then-Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was stricken with a incapacitating stroke in January of 2006, because God was punishing him for withdrawing from Gaza and giving the land to the Palestinians. Jerry Falwell, Benny Hinn, John Hagee, Kenneth Copeland, and Jesse Duplantis are a few big-name Evangelicals who are petitioning the US administration to increase its support to Israel.
 
In any case, what should concern us as Seventh-day Adventists is the likelihood that the real motive for Christian support of the Jewish people in Israel is based upon the end-time prophetic scenario held by the Evangelicals. According to their understanding of prophecy, called Dispensationalism, Evangelical Christians want to see the Jews return to Israel so that the “Secret Rapture” of the church and the “7 Years of Tribulation” can begin.
 
This view teaches that during the 7 Years of Tribulation, the Jewish restoration in Israel is completed; thus fulfilling the Old Testament prophecies concerning the return of Jews to their ancestral home. This “re-gathering” into Israel results in a large-scale conversion of Jews to Christianity, which in turn infuriates Satan to rise up.
 
Then, there will be a series of catastrophic events as the Anti-Christ becomes the leader of the world. Next, there will be a major battle known as the Battle of Armageddon, in which Satan will declare war, through the Anti-Christ, on the newly reestablished state of Israel. In this scenario, two-thirds of the Jews are killed, and the remaining Jews convert to Christianity.
 
Finally, when all appears hopeless for the Jews, the Second Coming of Christ, along with the raptured Christians, will occur and destroy the Anti-Christ. From the ruins a “New Jerusalem” will arise, and all the remaining Jews who were not killed in the Battle of Armageddon would have converted to Christianity. All the end-time prophetic events, according to Dispensationalism, depend on one thing: The Jews must be in full control of Jerusalem. Therefore, if the Jews do not control Jerusalem, the rapture of the church, the Battle of Armageddon, and thereafter the Second Coming of Christ cannot occur.
 
Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay of Texas, current member of the House of Representative Dick Armey of Texas, Senator Tim Hutchinson of Arkansas, Senator Sam Brownback of Kansas, former U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft of Missouri, and Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma have all been outspoken campaigners on Israel’s behalf, denouncing Palestinian corruption and citing Israel’s right to territory and self defense. Also, they are all Christian Republicans and have used their political muscle to lobby for the nation of Israel.
 
Will the United States follow policies on “Israel” that are based solely on conflict-ridden interpretations of Bible prophecy? Will legislators surrender to the doctrinal wishes of the Evangelical leaders in America and give in to their lobby, who intend to usher in their fulfillment of Revelation? Is it possible that Israel is a microcosm of America or a “test case” of what is being planned for our Nation? For we know that the churches in America will use these same methods to bring about a National Sunday Law, similarly as the Catholic Church is doing right now in Europe [see article on Sunday Law, page 8 ].
 
The false theories of Dispensationalism are flooding the world through books, movies, radio, television, and apparently now via United States Foreign Policy. Seventh-day Adventists should respond in two ways:
 
[1]      We must continue to give the warning message about the “leading churches of the United States, uniting upon such points of doctrine [dispensationalism, Sunday sacredness] as are held by them in common, shall influence the state to enforce their decrees and to sustain their institutions…” (Great Controversy, p. 445).
[2]      We must give the real “present truth”—the true understanding of Revelation found in the Three Angels’ Messages—to counter the false representations of prophecy.
 
— Editors

 

French Boutiques Fight to Stay

 

Open on Sundays

 

 By ANGELA DOLAND
Associated Press Writer
June 25, 2006
 
PARIS (AP) -- Most places in France, you can't shop on Sunday. The Champs-Elysees is an exception - sort of. You can buy T-shirts at the Quiksilver on Paris' most famous avenue, but not at the Gap. You can browse for CDs at Virgin Megastore, but forget luggage at Louis Vuitton.
 
French businesses and unions have battled for years over whether Sunday should remain a day of rest, worship and leisurely family lunches, and the tug-of-war has left behind a patchwork of baffling regulations on who can sell what and where.
 
Now, two high-profile legal battles have raised the question again. Supporters say Sunday shopping would help cut the 9.3 percent unemployment rate, and point to a poll suggesting three-quarters of Parisians like the idea.
 
But the courts have ruled - and the answer is no.
 
The debate resurfaced after Louis Vuitton opened a new store last fall on the Champs-Elysees - an airy, 21,500-square-foot temple to handbags and high fashion - with the intention of opening Sundays. Vuitton says 70 of its 300 employees were hired for that purpose and were willing to work, and the shop had permission from the top local official.
 
But two groups filed a lawsuit - the National Clothing Federation, known by its French initials FNH, and the French Christian labor union, or CFTC.
 
Charles Melcer, president of the FNH, argues that France's consumer spending would not increase by even one euro if stores were open Sunday. At the heart of his fears is that only big chains have enough staffing to stay open, which would force France's cherished neighborhood shops out of business.
 
"We in France don't want that," Melcer said.
 
Vuitton, meanwhile, argued that it met the complex criteria for opening Sundays, which include being in a touristy area and having a cultural, recreational or sports dimension. The company pointed to the store's bookstore and art gallery, which was open to all, not just shoppers.
 
But in late May, Paris' administrative court ordered the shop to close Sundays. Vuitton said it would appeal, and in a statement, called the decision "totally incomprehensible." Officials declined further comment because of the appeal.
 
Throughout Europe, laws differ vastly. In Sweden, most shops stay open Sundays. Poland's stores are open, but the Roman Catholic church has been fighting to force shopping malls and supermarkets to close. The church is leading a similar battle in Croatia.
 
In Germany, during the World Cup, retailers are being allowed to open Sunday, though the 1949 constitution mandates Sundays as a day of rest from work and "for the promotion of spiritual purposes." Retailers and politicians are watching the World Cup experiment to see if it might be expanded down the road.
 
In France, where most people no longer go to church, exceptions are the rule. Under the Champs-Elysees' regulations, Quiksilver can sell T-shirts because it also sells surfboards and other sports gear, but Gap cannot. Virgin Megastore, which waged its own battle years ago, can open because it has a cultural dimension. But Vuitton - which opened its first Champs-Elysees store in 1914 - cannot.
 
Officials "know the law is old and stupid, and at the same time they don't want to change it, because of Catholic tradition and social issues," said Jean-Patrick Grumberg, president of Usines Center's association of shop owners.
 
© 2006 The Associated Press

 

Methodists and Catholics Mend a

 

Historical Rift

 

Sunday, July 23, 2006
Rueters News
By Kang Shinhye
 
SEOUL (Reuters) - Greater harmony among Christians, a key goal of Pope Benedict's papacy, took a step forward on Sunday when Methodist churches joined a landmark agreement that has brought Catholics and Lutherans closer together.
 
The World Methodist Council, which represents about 70 million believers, signed on to the 1999 agreement resolving the main theological dispute that led to the 16th-century Protestant Reformation and the splitting of western Christianity.
 
The move will have little practical effect for church-going Methodists, a denomination that split from Anglicanism.
 
Benedict is also seeking more cooperation with the Orthodox churches, the eastern Christians who split from Rome in the 11th century, and will visit their Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew in Istanbul in November.
 
"We welcome this agreement with great joy... It is our deep hope that in the near future we shall also be able to enter into closer relationships with Lutherans and the Roman Catholic Church," the World Methodist Council said in a statement.
 
"Today is one of the most significant dates in the history of our churches," Walter Kasper, Vatican cardinal in charge of the 1.1 billion-strong Catholic Church's relations with other Christian churches, said in Seoul before a signing event on Sunday.
 
Methodist leaders unanimously passed the resolution to join the Catholic-Lutheran agreement last week during a global conference in Seoul.
 
"The three parties commit themselves to strive together for the deepening of their common understanding of justification in theological study, teaching and preaching," the statement said.
 
The issue of justification, simply put, what Christians must do to get to Heaven - was the central dispute in the Reformation that split western Christianity and plunged Europe into the Thirty Years' War.
 
As Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Benedict played a key role in drawing up the Catholic-Lutheran declaration that revoked heresy charges against reformer Martin Luther and said disputes that led to the Reformation over four centuries ago were null and void.
 
Luther, a German monk who posted his famous 95 Theses on the door of the Castle Church at Wittenberg in 1517, held people could be saved not by faith and good works, but by faith alone.
 
Luther was angered by the Catholic Church's teaching that good works could also lead to salvation, a view that was corrupted into the practice of selling indulgences to those seeking absolution for their sins.
 
The 1999 statement satisfied both Lutherans and Catholics, saying that salvation is achieved through God's grace and this is reflected in the good works a person does.
 
The signing does not mean that Catholic, Lutheran and Methodist churches are moving towards any kind of reunification, a step that deep historical divisions make highly unlikely.
 
But it could encourage them to take more common positions on issues of concern to Christians. This week, for example, the Vatican supported an Orthodox project on protecting the world environment, saying believers should unite "to safeguard the habitat that the Creator prepared for mankind".
 
© Reuters 2006

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