Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Mustard Oak, Santa Rosa, CA USA--by Terry Peck

Writer's essay on Seventh Day Adventist editorial on: Mercy, Surrender, and Reliance
by Peter Menkin

Believers often have ideas and even doctrine in common. Here the subject is the Christian faith, and the topic explained by Seventh Day Adventist columnist Gerald A. Klingbeil. His subject is the Can Do American attitude, the secular belief, “We Can Fix It.” In his article published in the 150 year old Adventist Review, he says, “The effect of this pollution on the environment of a large strip of eastern states in the U.S.A. is still not fathomable, but every day I read about new schemes, suggesting that we can fix it—somehow—if we just throw at it sufficient resources and money.”

He is referring to the Gulf Oil Spill in specific, but more, he is offering a statement of Biblical proportion on man’s self reliance.

Gerald’s thesis displays God’s place in the life of man on this earth. To rely on God as strength and wisdom for man and woman:

The “we can fix it” mentality is prevalent in all areas of life. A major financial crisis—we can fix it. A devastating earthquake or typhoon—we can fix it. Dysfunctional families and broken relationships—we can fix them. Slow or even negative church growth—we can fix it.

He offers a giving into life in the sensibility offered in his article. He offers a surrender sensibility in the short piece appearing in the June, 2010 issue. He offers a way to become closer to God and live in relationship to God.

Yes, Christians will probably agree these are ways to find God, these are ways to gain authority in one’s life with meaning. These are ways to make the Bible part of one’s life. He offers this quote from the Bible:

[Living within one’s Church, living with God’s message]… It calls for more humility and less swaggering…[A]t the end of the day, it is God’s Spirit and His guidance that we need, not do-it-yourself attitudes and another seminar on strategic thinking. In a time of utmost national crisis following the exile in Babylon, the best antidote against the we-can-fix-it mind-set can be found in the words of the prophet Zechariah: “‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the Lord of hosts” (Zech. 4:6, NASB). 

Argument, sermon, essay and article presented to listeners and readers by Christians like Gerald A. Klingbeil ask that the reader turn in a direction that may be new to them. The turning, turning, turning that is part of a Christian life is by its hope a means of providing a way of thinking, and a way of tapping into Common Sense when what may be perceived has in the past been a stone wall. Does this sound like a sermon Gerald A. Klingbeil offers. This writer of this essay thinks it is more one of those popular essays that gives people a New Perspective, like the books so popular in many libraries today that tell us New Age messages of self help, or modern messages of Positive Thinking, and other capitalized words of description that are best sellers in bookstores. Call this essay of this Religion Writer an introduction to a Seventh Day Adventist’s view on Relying On God. Three easy words to say, and as Gerald offers, not so easy a thing to do in life as it is something to read about.

In his essay that lays out so much in so short a number of words, he explains how we in the Western World came to this We Can Fix It! state of mind: With the arrival of modernism in the late nineteenth century, people developed a sense of control. As a matter of fact, most people living at the beginning of the twentieth century were excited about the future and the possibilities of technology that would make life easier, more comfortable, and ring in an age of tranquility, peace, and progress.

The Seventh Day Adventist Church magazine (Adventist Review) calls Gerald’s article an “editorial.” We discover the Christian sensibility of The Seventh Day Adventist Church on its pages, and learn something of ourselves and Christianity when reading the “editorial.” Is this not what inter-denominational dialogue is about, the tension between Christians in their statements and beliefs that illuminate our own faith and brings a light to bear on the commonalities of faith that Christians hold?

It is in the effort to find insightful words and meaning that man and woman are led deeper into faith. This is a rational faith, not blind in the sense of brainwashed faith, or faith that has the taste of intimidation. After all, as a Roman Catholic writer wrote recently in an article in San Francisco Catholic, we need to not abide in the legalistic or angry, but find mercy in a subject and in offering and in living mercy in our thought and lives find the right way. For the Christian, that is Christ’s way, for Christ is love, God is love: Mercy speaks of God’s love.

Shall we offer that reflection about mercy stated in “Spirituality for Today” by Father John Catoir on this timely essay by Grald K. Klingbeil titled, “We Can Fix It!” For it is a mercy we offer ourselves when we give over to God, when any of us follows the dictum presented in a paragraph that rings of sermon: We need outside help. We need, even (and especially) in our Christian walk, One who can carry our iniquities and transform our inabilities into capability. Paul wrote about this in his letter to the Philippians. “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:13, NASB).* The emphasis here is on “through Him” and not on “I can.” As a child of God, I realize that I cannot fix everything. I depend on the Master to transform me, to reshape me, to renew me, and to heal my brokenness. I need the Great Healer to restore my relationships.

In the sense of the Anglican it is in reason as well as Biblical revelation and in tradition that we find a truth being Christian. Yes, “We Can Fix It!” as “editorial” offers a reader the wisdom of The Seventh Day Adventist, and demonstrates in this instance the way a lense of Church belief becomes fruit. So as a Religion Writer, this writer offers the statement that it is also in the practice of inter-faith and in this instance inter-denominational dialogue one may learn about being Christian and become stronger in one’s faith.

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