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January 23, 2006

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Fr. Matt, you were hitting on some important topics when you wrote:

"one of the reasons people are turned off to the IC is because it often does not really operate in this power. on the other hand the pentecostal/charismatic traditions have burned a lot of people because those movements are not tempered by a historic order and economy,imho."

Do you think one of the reasons why pentecostalism is growing exponentially in Latin America -- with a healthier grip on the Church's responsibility to the poor and marginalized -- is because of the influence that liberation theology has had there?

Chris,
I believe that's exactly what has happened in Latin America. The gifts of the Spirit are for ministry. I think that ministry, which includes caring for and loving the poor and the outcasts opens up the door for God to do wonderful things. Unfortunately, I believe the reason we don't see the miraculous as much in the west is 1. We are too rational -we have to figure it out It's faith not intellect 2. We think we can take care of things ourselves -that's pride 3. If we do believe we tend to one to use it for ourselves or draw attention to ourselves - self centered.
Let's love God, love people (which cannot be just words - it must have action), humble ourselves and empty ourselves as servants and see what God will do.

Do you think one of the reasons why pentecostalism is growing exponentially in Latin America -- with a healthier grip on the Church's responsibility to the poor and marginalized -- is because of the influence that liberation theology has had there?

I honestly don't think there is much of a connection between Liberation theology and Pentecostalism. Liberation Theology, though it may have done some good things in So. America has gutted the seminaries those men came out of. The Redemptorists for example have been forced to close seminaries because the focus became social liberation rather than Jesus, and whenever that happens the blessing is removed. I think Charismatics/Pentecostals are growing because they target what missiologists call the "neglected middle". The Catholics came in and taught a faith that ignored the overlap these people experienced between the spiritual and physcial. Pentecostalism targets this middle space. Our churches, for example, are growing much faster in the global south than in the US and Europe because we embrace this pentecostal expereince and teach it within a sacramental framework - two things that global south cultures grasp intuitively. If "postmoderns" want to reach the Global South they need to become Charismatics.

I think there is a stronger connection - modern pentecostalism's roots lie in poor communities, certainly not in the intelligentsia. Moreover there is a great empowerment of the poor, of the uneducated. . . but there is also great danger of manipulaton, because of that freedom. And because it is experience based when the experience dries up a bit, we act like junkies, try to generate enthusiasm [en-theos-ism]. That's when it goes wonky. The 'charismatic movement' that came out of catholic pentecostalism was much more of a middle class movement - but it was very empowering for many women, not drawn to feminism, but drawn instead to prayer meetings - but who assumed positions of significance. If we didn't have a separate word in English [=spirit] the probem is easier to understand - how do you control the gifts of the wind?
The wind does, as it says in scripture, blow wherever it bloody well wants. Perhaps that's why Spirit is female/feminine in many languages.

I am following this conversation with interest. As a Seventh-day Adventist (historically rooted in the Methodist and Baptist traditions) I am part of a movement which has become suspicious of the gifts of the Spirit, especially as demonstrated by the charismatic/pentecostal churches (someone will have to explain the difference for me - at the minute it's all a bit of a blur). The gift of tongues is seen as false; or specifically, of the devil. "Real tongues" are the God-given ability to speak recognisable human languages previously unknown to us (which is reported by our missionaries occasionally), not "gibberish". The whole "faith-healing" thing is viewed with equal dismissiveness.

But (strangely enough) there appears to be a lack of any kind of supernatural power working through members of the church. Back in the 90s we were doing questionnaires to figure out what our spiritual gift was! I came to see this practice as laughable (or tragic): I don't recall the apostles needing to fill out questionnairres to discover their spiritual gift - it just hit them out of nowhere (or perhaps, in the case of Timothy, was given via prophecy when the elders laid hands on him) Why is this? Because of our over-cerebral theology? Because of our refusal to accept the Holy Spirit as he (she?) works in other denominations?

I don't know. I'm confused. Do I have to go to another church to find someone who is genuinely filled by the Holy Spirit to lay hands on me before I can receive my spiritual gift? How would I know if it was the real thing or not? Why, in the midst of all this previous discussion, has no-one mentioned an incontrovertably valid miracle? I have to admit, I assumed that they happened... and particularly amongst the "Spirit-filled" denominations.

Can someone fill me in?

As a Seventh-day Adventist...

I assumed that they happened... and particularly amongst the "Spirit-filled" denominations.

First, I would recommend you go to a Church where you can meet the Real Christ, not the 7th day one....

Then I'd worry about signs and wonders...

SDA's believe in a prophet(ess) named Ellen G. White: Prophet and Teacher?:

She claimed to have received more than 2000 "inspired counsels from the Lord" (visions) from 1844 to 1868. A look at her book "The Great Controversy", however, reveals just how UNinspired these counsels were:

In The Great Controversy, page 50, she says the pope "has been styled "Lord God the Pope"". Needless to say, the appendix cited quoting Pope Innocent III does not support such a wild claim, rather merely that the Pope is viceregent of Christ on earth, hence of God.

On page 52 of this book, she claimed "In the first centuries the true Sabbath had been kept by all Christians". There isn´t a shred of evidence for this (see above).

On page 59 of the same book, in reference to the Mass, she wrote. "With blasphemous presumption, they openly claimed the power of creating God, the Creator of all things". As you´d expect, no reference for this gross distortion of the truth.

CONCLUSION: what kind of prophet misrepresents facts, teaches falsehoods and tells history as it isn´t?

also:

Teachings about Jesus:

Mrs White said: "Christ took upon His sinless nature our sinful nature. Christ took our nature and it's deteriorating condition." (Q.D. p.654-656).

According to White and SDAs, Christ acquired a sinful nature. This is not correct. Christ had a sinless human nature: Hebrews 4:15:

For we have not a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.

Not to mention that they don't hold to the central belief in a Trinity or that Jesus is God.

I'shalom

Seraphim

Seraphim, you said:

"First, I would recommend you go to a Church where you can meet the Real Christ, not the 7th day one...."

Come on now, brother. Please knock it off. This is not a site where we change the subject and act like opportunists eager for a fight (even if it's with "good" intentions). You are a good soul, and are an important voice here at paradoxology. A little more tempering, however, would be helpful.

Kent has obviously posted here with good intentions and is being open about his church background -- which is very relevant to the questions he posed; questions, I might add, that are completely in step with this post on signs and wonders.

Please forgive me if it seems I have jumped on this too quickly or to harshly. I am -- as you have long known -- a peacemaker at heart, and my intention here is simply to nip anything in the bud that might become problematic. I'm trusting that won't be the case here.

Peace,

Chris

Kent, thanks for your posting -- and for raising the questions you have.

"Do I have to go to another church to find someone who is genuinely filled by the Holy Spirit to lay hands on me before I can receive my spiritual gift? "

I'd say "no" for two initial reasons: 1) because Jesus promised the fullness of the Holy Spirit to those who simply ask Him for it (Luke 11:13); and 2) I personally know at least one Adventist pastor/scholar who is very much filled with the Spirit and who would probably love to lay hands on you (you can email me privately about this if you'd like).

"I don't recall the apostles needing to fill out questionnairres to discover their spiritual gift - it just hit them out of nowhere (or perhaps, in the case of Timothy, was given via prophecy when the elders laid hands on him)"

Excellent point. The spiritual gifts survey certainly has the trappings of modernity all over it (with some consumer-mentality blended in).

"Why is this? Because of our over-cerebral theology? Because of our refusal to accept the Holy Spirit as he (she?) works in other denominations?"

This is an important question for you to get answered. Have you talked with any Adventist leaders or professors about this yet? If not, I'd highly recommend you do so. You need to hear their perspective and be able to ask them these kinds of questions.

By the way, the seminary I received my M.Div from welcomes many Adventists into their program. These have always been very sharp men and women, who certainly stand within the Wesleyan tradition.

I hope you'll continue posting.

Blessings,

Chris

Chris,

As a Christian and someone who was not trying to start an argument or a debate, I answered from my heart. Before you can receive the Holy Spirit, see signs and wonders etc. Don't you first have to meet Jesus Christ?

As a Christian Pastor, do you really think that the Jesus of the seven day adventists is the 'real jesus'?

I'm seeing that your seminary welcomes many adventists into their program. Towards what end is Christian Education if not to seek to help people be Christian?

Does your seminary also accept Jehovah's Witenesses and Mormons? For the sake of 'unity' are they Christians too?

Is Jesus not God? Or was He a Created being. Did Paul write the book of Galations for Naught? or is Sunday worship the 'sign of the beast?'

Brother, if you are that liberal, I don't need to post here. If you are not about proclaiming Christ why exist as a Pastor? Your advice to a seeker is to point them back at their leaders?

So the next time I council a Jehovah's Witness I'm to send them back to their elders? I don't think so. I posted as I posted because I believe what I believe.

Please avail yourself of the delete button next time (if there is a next time) I post something you consider wrong headed.

Seraphim

Geez Seraphim,

It's nasty, counter productive stuff like this why, I'm not at the ooze.

Wow! Ouch! Seraphim certainly touches on some issues that many Adventists struggle with. Re EG White, I'm not an expert. All I can say is that the main message of The Great Controversy (which I have nearly finished reading) is to beware of an all-too-human tendency to substitute tradition for clear Biblical truth. This is a message that is surely valid for all Christians, even if they do not agree on the doctrinal detail. It's kind of ironic that many conservative Adventists place EG White on a pedestal - sadly, her writings have become an idol for many, rather than a pointer back to the Bible like she intended. She was also clear that truth is progressively revealed and that we should continue to build on the foundation that our spiritual forbears built. But I agree with a previous comment on this thread, that often this "new truth" is simply the rediscovery of the original truth. That's what I believe Adventists commenced doing in the late 1800s (eg, rediscovering the original Sabbath and the veracity of Jesus' numerous descriptions of death as a sleep). I fear we as a denomination may have lost this original vision in some ways.

It's also ironic that here we are discussing signs and wonders (ostensibly) and here is poor old Ellen White (whom some see as having the gift of prophecy) getting a walloping the first time she pops her head up.

As far as I am concerned prophets are not any more infallible than the Pope [ ;-) Hey, I'm an Adventist - I have a Catholic-bashing reputation to keep up. Don't mention the Inquisition] I see errors in EG White's work, but does a prophet have to be perfect before we can consider them the genuine article?

Is anyone reading this aware of any contemporary individuals with the genuine gift of prophecy? Not just some warm fuzzy inclinations that are called prophecies? Maybe I'm getting too rational again, but this is one thing that prompted my original post - do we see real Spirit-led events occur today, or is it all open to individual interpretation? (yes, I know - "a wicked and adulterous generation asks for a sign" Sorry)

And for the record: Adventists are Christians. We believe in the Trinity (unlike JWs), we don't place the writings of EGWhite equal to or above the Bible ("the Bible is our only creed") like the LDSs do with the Book of Mormon. We don't demand that converts separate themselves from their family and friends like some of these groups do. We don't have a problem with blood transfusions. We do promote holistic health (a New Testament theme), although I disagree with some of the mainstream particulars. We practice baptism by immersion, the Lord's Supper and footwashing, as Jesus asked us to (unlike the Salvation Army, who practice none of these rituals). And yes, we are very big on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith - and your faith too.

We see in Revelation a chosen people of God who worship Him both in Spirit and truth. My denomination is big on truth, perhaps even arrogant at times. It's the Spirit bit that bugs me. Sometimes it feels like something's missing. I imagine that a lot of mainstream churches experience similar dilemmas. That's why I posted here.

Sorry for going on a bit - I just needed to clear a couple of things up (although I could have been comprehensive on all the points that were made and taken a heck of a lot longer)

Pavel, thanks as always for your contribution to the discussion. I'm seldom at the Ooze myself these days.

Kent,

Thanks for your clear and welcome post. Forgive me if I came across as harsh. I was speaking the truth as I 'thought' I knew it. (the 'thought' was in thinking I knew the doctrines of the SDA Church... not in re-canting what I believe are essential truths)

The SDA's I've interacted with have told me plainly that not worshipping on the Sabbath i.e. Saturday was the 'mark of the beast'.

And they were anti-trinity. but again, i was remiss. apparently there are different & divergent views within the SDA's like everywhere else.

I'll also give a props out to EGWhite who I've recently read:

"not once does she condone their attacks against the Trinity, she never seems to even mentions the word, Trinity or Trinitarianism. In reading her writings one comes to see that she does not OUTRIGHT tell them they are wrong in condemning the Trinity, but she, using “different words” consistently upholds the concept of the TRINITY."

So, Kent, thank you for being clear and gracious in your post. I've been called to task for being, nasty mean etc. But I assure you such was not my intent. Thanks for clearing the air, and forgive me a sinner.

Chris,

Sorry for the hisssy fit. I ask your forgiveness too. And seriously. If you see something out of line I post, please feel free to delete it and email me off line. Or see if I notice and I'll ask about it.

I have a daughter who turned 26 year old January 28th. The same daughter who recently had twins. Although the Magdalena has seen her and the kids, I have not. Because I dare to believe in the Trinity, and go to an Orthodox Church I'm persona non gratia. She is Oneness Pentacostal. Which is why I am so against (or raw towards) those who SEEM to echo their thoughts.

God bless you all.

I'shalom

Seraphim

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