A Christian’s Duty: “Tell Someone Else What They Need To Do”
by Ervin Taylor
It appears that Mark Kellner, the News Editor of the Adventist Review, sometimes reads the blogs on the Adventist Today website. He characterized these blogs as “Adventist-related weblog[s] or blog[s].” However, he does not specifically reference the Adventist Today website as such. Clearly, he thinks he can’t come out and state clearly from where he obtained his quote. I think I understand why. But that’s another topic.
On May 26, 2011, under the headline “Judgment Time? Yes,” Mr. Kellner quotes a comment by ‘Anna’ who was quoted in a blog by Melissa Howell, posted on the Adventist Today website. The title of Ms. Howell’s blog segment was: “Teens Speak on Abortion in SDA Hospitals.” The context of her blog was an article which had recently appeared in the Washington (DC) Post newspaper with the title “Seventh-day Adventists and Abortion.” Anyone interested in the contemporary views of Adventist students on abortion should read the entire text of this excellent blog.
In a footnote in his Adventist Review editorial, Mr. Kellner referenced his web source for Anna’s comment as http:/bit.ly/fuwPwv. Anyone interested in documenting for themselves where Mr. Kellner obtained the text of the blog may wish to enter that address in his or her browser and see what pops up. Wonder of wonders, it is the Adventist Today website. I had to ask a computer guru what the 'bit.ly' thing was all about and he indicated that it was a way to shorten domain names for use, among other things, in social media contexts. I wonder how many readers of the Adventist Review know that?
I propose the reason Mr. Kellner used that code is to hide the fact he was getting his information from the Adventist Today website. However, that is not the main point of my comments.
On her Adventist Today blog Ms. Howell wrote: “On the 38th Anniversary of the Roe vs. Wade Supreme Court case, the [Washington] Post noted that although many religious groups marched in protest of the decision to legalize abortion in America, Adventists were somewhat…missing. Was our absence due to the fact that we perform abortions in our hospitals across the world? The Post questioned "Is this practice inconsistent with their otherwise strong emphasis on health? While the Adventist world balked, protested, or cheered over this PR break (or disaster), I myself immediately took the article to a group of over 150 teenagers and young adults, and discovered an emerging reality for Adventism that I wasn't even looking for. Here is a summary of what I found.”
In part, the responses of students revealed that, “Those who stood strongly against our hospitals performing abortions under any circumstances were definitely in the minority, but still spoke with strong voices” and “amongst all who found abortion to be completely wrong, almost none were willing or even desiring to enforce this belief on anyone else.”
It is an answer of a student illustrating the last response that got the attention of Mr. Kellner. The student, Anna, wrote: "I think abortion is wrong. I would never get an abortion, even in the worst of scenarios. But neither am I angry at or opposed to people who think abortion is okay. I don't have the need to force my beliefs on anyone else. It's not a Christian's job to tell someone else what they need to do. All of us have to follow our own conscience." I would think that most readers would say that this is an entirely reasonable point of view, even if they might not totally agree with it themselves. But not Mr. Kellner.
To what does he take exception?
It is the statement of Anna: “It's not a Christian's job to tell someone else what they need to do. All of us have to follow our own conscience.” Mr. Kellner states that, “I would propose actually, this is the believer’s duty to tell someone else what they need to do [his emphasis]." "We need to tell someone else they need to repent. We also need to tell someone else that there’s a right and a wrong way to live…we can advise someone else that following his or her own conscience can be hazardous in the extreme…it’s an essential task for the Christian. And if others are offended, I’m sorry about that, but they must still be warned. The Lord expects no less.”
What immediately sprang into my mind was a phrase that is not used in polite conversion. My wife – a usually very mild-mannered lady – reacted with “Who made him God?” I must say I have not read anything recently – even in the Adventist Review – so obviously and patently self righteous as Mr. Kellner’s statement. Can any reasonable Christian really believe that it is his “duty to tell someone else what they need to do?” Some self-righteous types might constantly be thinking that, but to put it down on paper suggests a Pharisaical mind set of monumental proportions.
Some years ago, one of Cliff Goldstein’s obviously extremist columns was publicly disavowed by the previous Adventist Review editor. A responsible editor of the Adventist Review would be expected to disavow this editorial by Mark Kellner. However, the present editor might actually publicly praise it. A dark cloud has indeed descended on the denominationally-controlled Adventist press.