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243 Comments

  1. Sum Ting Wong
    12 May 2016 @ 7:24 am

    Hello Dr. McCleary, I am a Chinese American Adventist who attends a Black church. In view of the fact that you hold a doctorate in Conflict Analysis and Resolution and obviously want to promote resolution of the abiding problem of racism, I am confused by the tone of your article. The tone seems largely accusatory, like you’re giving Whites a scolding. (Although they may deserve it), how is that going to help us make progress now? How is rehashing old hurts going to help us resolve problems? Racists don’t give up their racism by being scolded. There has to be a change of heart. As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said at King Chapel at Cornell College in Iowa on Oct. 15, 1962, “I am convinced that men hate each other because they fear each other. They fear each other because they don’t know each other, and they don’t know each other because they don’t communicate with each other, and they don’t communicate with each other because they are separated from each other.”

    • Ron Stone M.D.
      12 May 2016 @ 9:55 am

      I think you’ve got McCleary figured out quite well. His specialty is Conflict Analysis, not conflict resolution, as can be plainly seen.

      • Mark McCleary
        13 May 2016 @ 7:12 am

        As a physician, who many say is “practicing medicine,” your assertion is myopic. My article and the comment you referred to are your first meeting of me. You are not astute in Social Science discourse, so I suggest you ask me or someone in that field before concluding about “My” observations. The last time I checked, if you’re a medical doctor, you diagnoses, with the patient’s help before estimating a conclusion. Reread the paper and ask me something about it rather than a terse and erroneous assumption about someone you have never met intimately.

      • Bill Sorensen
        13 May 2016 @ 6:07 pm

        It is a typical “cry baby” article that anyone could write about a thousand situations. All people are born sinners and everyone must deal with this reality on the various levels of human relationships.

      • sufferingsunfish
        13 May 2016 @ 7:34 pm

        You have it right Ron Stone. We don’t need this type of writing and exacerbating the racial divide that Eric Holder, the current Administration, Al Shrapnel and Jesse Jackson have promoted.

    • Mark McCleary
      13 May 2016 @ 7:06 am

      Don’t judge me entirely by a Ph. D. concentration. “Scolding” is your interpretation of a portion or general tone of my article as you say. Scripture says, “To whom I love, I chasten.” Correction, reproof or Conflict Resolution must start with awareness and acknowledgement. My observations are mine and provided with my subjective bias and capability with language. What have been your observations/experiences in your Black church that support mine or contradict them. Thanks for responding.

      • Otis
        22 May 2016 @ 7:38 am

        Good morning Pastor. As a black man what you wrote largely resonates with me. If I may share I think when you referenced your peers in conjunction with the term “babble” is where your article tends to take on a personal/attacking tone and thus the interpretation by many. Maybe you could have worded better? Race and culture relationships have always been problematic for mankind and it probably won’t change a whole lot before Jesus comes. As religionists we sometimes forget non-religionists look at our interactions (or lack thereof) more objectively than we’d like to admit and thus we give them a platform to say “no thanks, I don’t want any part of your Jesus.” Within our religionist sphere I understand as a pastor you have to deal with the business side of faith at a greater level and thus my appreciation for your position. God bless.

    • Monte Sahlin
      13 May 2016 @ 7:09 pm

      I am white and I did not see an accusatory tone in Dr. McCleary’s column. He recited history in order to provide a perspective on the current situation. He did not include some of the more painful elements of the 1945 decision to form Regional Conferences; for example, the fact that the other conferences prior to that development paid black ministers a lower wage simply because of their race. I celebrate how diverse the Adventist faith has become, but I do not see the fairness of Adventists from other races telling a black institution such as a Regional Conference that it should go out of business. Why should a minority group be told that it cannot have self-governing organizations? How is that a helpful suggestion?

    • EM
      13 May 2016 @ 7:32 pm

      A good opinion and observation piece from an experienced source. There should be more like you. I would say you are a peacemaker. Thanks.

  2. EARL CALAHAN
    12 May 2016 @ 10:04 am

    The comment no.1, is i believe, from an anonymous source. Dr. McCleary, i’ve lived, starting in the 1920’s in the USA. i am witness to the racism in America, under the laws of the Federal Govt. The most egregious incidents
    occurring in the former states of the Confederacy. i recall the segregated
    sections of town where the blacks were to live, by the Jim Crow Laws. They generally were semi autonomous, small business wise, however the sections were always substandard, such as lack of paved streets, and most no civil services, such as city water and sewers, electricity, telephone service, and the few elementary schools were most all ram shackled, with most windows broken, no heating in winter. All Christian churches and public facilities were segregated. All public transportation was segregated with blacks forced to sit to the rear, and stand, should whites need a seat.
    Blacks were forced to step into the gutter should whites take all of the sidewalk. Blacks were only eligible for the lowliest jobs. The police forces were enforcing all these indignities on the Blacks. You get a semblance of
    the day to day routines Blacks daily lived. Two important issues here. Blacks had no choice but suffer the indignities to their psyches, and the substandard housing and all other benefits whites enjoyed. Young whites
    observed this status quo, and grew to adulthood with the perception that in someway Blacks were in someway inferior to whites. Continued>>>>

    • Mark McCleary
      13 May 2016 @ 7:19 am

      Dear Mr. Calahan, you use “ed” and other past tense prepositions as if racism is over. My observations are also about past things. That’s the nature of writing. My article highlights things I have observed that seem to still linger every time Ferguson, Freddie Gray, or Face Book posting of a confrontation with a young Black youth by police personnel. Reread my conclusions and recommendations and offer your own of how you have helped or observed past racial misbehavior being transformed for the better and how I might effect positive change where I live. Thanks for responding

  3. William Abbott
    12 May 2016 @ 10:06 am

    Pastor McCleary writes about how the Seventh-day Adventists offers a truncated version of Biblical egalitarianism. I would like to hear more about Biblical Egalitarianism. I have missed it in my reading. What is “Biblical Egalitarianism?” How do you say it in Hebrew?

    Pastor McCleary also writes: “Christian Church is challenged to either emulate secular society’s elitism or model Christ’s kingdom.” Kings and Priests sounds pretty elitist to me. Everyone can vote, but only the chosen get to reign with Christ. I think secular society is obsessed with egality. The blood of countless millions has been poured out on the alter of equality in the name of secular revolution over the last one hundred years. God bless me and choose me, I’ll take my portion if I may with the elites of God.

    • William Noel
      13 May 2016 @ 5:44 am

      Bro. Abbott,

      Egality. Equality. Pick your terms, but they’re all distractions from the focus Jesus wants us to have on ministering His redeeming and transforming love in the face of whatever adversity sin has put in our path.

    • Mark McCleary
      13 May 2016 @ 7:26 am

      Is this your way of saying leave things the way they are or evolving to be? of course, the history of man has been that of individuals and groups in conflict and competition over cooperation. Writing is the materialization of thought and is bounded by time restraints. A “better” response might have been your offering of what you think I failed to describe. “Can two walk together, except they be agreed?” The text suggests (during Israel’s divided state and much of what you mentioned) that persons come to social interaction with different histories, lens, and so on; and agreement merges out of dialogue–English, Hebrew, Greek, Aramaic, etc. Let is continue to dialogue until agreement comes.

      • William Abbott
        13 May 2016 @ 11:51 am

        Speaking more plainly, I don’t think you can find the doctrine of equality in the bible. Unless you mean we are all equally sinners, all equally guilty and under the sentence of death. That is biblical egalitarianism – but I don’t think that is what you are talking about.

        • Monte Sahlin
          15 May 2016 @ 5:15 am

          The Seventh-day Adventist Church officially disagrees with you in Fundamental Belief 14, citing Scripture as the basis for this doctrine.

        • Mark McCleary
          17 May 2016 @ 3:54 am

          My conclusions and recommendation did not describe equality, but appealed for it and included some of its factors. All of the dis-equal narratives describe disparity and conflict between people that often led to fighting and war. Is that what we should emulate. The equality to which you infer, I assume should involve different people recognizing, respecting, and empowering the other for win-win solutions. Life is organic and must be negotiated for what is truth to the parties involved.

  4. Bugs/Larry Boshell
    12 May 2016 @ 11:23 am

    As a teenager in Pueblo, Colorado, in the mid-fifties the “black” (regional) church in our town exchanged services with our “white” one occasionally and members of each felt free to visit the other at will. There was a black man married to a white woman whose preteen daughter was white from a previous marriage, who attended either church on their whim. I know, or knew, of no racial tension between the two churches. As a disclaimer, I was only teen and didn’t know the babble among the adult memberships, if any. Along with my parents insistence that we were all the same, I grew up minus a racial bias.

    My statement is just that of my experience, not an attempt to defend anything. Nor is it an attempt to defend the status quo, or to promote any idea there isn’t racial prejudice remnant in the church or society.

    • Mark McCleary
      13 May 2016 @ 7:36 am

      Dear Bugs, the reality of living and writing involves sharing and receiving feedback from readers who says, “Been there and done that” and some who say, “I don’t know what You’re talking about.” Social life is complex and variegated. I could preach a sermon and several people from the audience with give diverse understandings. Habermas calls it Horizon theory, Dorothy Smith, Stand Point, others might label it bias. Hegel posited that analysis must include historical development. The beauty and breadth of social life is that it produces us and is produced by us. Keep sharing, because without it, we’ll never know what you’re thinking in order to respond and possibly effect change or be changed.

  5. William Noel
    12 May 2016 @ 11:37 am

    Dr. McCleary,

    No nation on the face of the earth has more laws favoring one race, providing more financial benefits or legal advantage to any population group based on their race, than America has for Blacks. Yet your words imply that all those actions enacted under the claims of eliminating past discrimination have been ineffective and more of the failed actions are required to achieve a goal that can neither be defined or achieved. That is illogical.

    I totally agree with you that we must practice the teachings of Jesus to love each other. However, the power of the Gospel is found not in focusing on the ills of society and seeking to change or correct them. After all, Jesus never sought to change the brutal Roman government, but to cultivate followers who could be empowered to minister God’s transforming love that transcends the ills of society. So out challenge is becoming true believers in God so He can empower us to minister His love where we are today. Social challenges create opportunities for us to minister God’s transforming love and make the power of God more visible, so why would we want to expend even a keystroke focusing on social ills when the massively greater problem is professed followers of Jesus and having a form of godliness but none of the power of God to minister effectively in the face of wrong?

    • Mark McCleary
      13 May 2016 @ 7:42 am

      One of the laws of this great nation is freedom of speech. I shared some of my observations and you responded with some of yours. Thus, the dynamic of dialogue. However, life is organic and not static. Whenever trouble arises or pain is expressed, the one who cries and those who hear it might do better to ask rather than assert. A good doctor usually ask “where does it hurt” in order to prescribe a therapy for that patient. There is no one size that fits all. If you had a break in and wished to make it public, should I tell you there are laws for that and I’ll pray for you. When patterns persist and someone shares that, offer some concrete and practical solutions over analysis alone (Jas. 5)

  6. EARL
    12 May 2016 @ 12:01 pm

    Continued….. Even in the Northern states, although Blacks, considered to be free, and with greater freedom, still generally remained in separate living areas, because most jobs available were the lowliest available, and
    that which required the least education. Racism extended on unto this present day, in the minds of whites and blacks. i am a first person witness
    to the excesses of the indignities Blacks have suffered at the hands of whites in these USA, having lived in Missouri, Arkansas, and Tennessee, as my father was a Bell Telephone engineer, installing the very first public telephone system.
    Now today. Racism still exists in both some Whites and Blacks, especially in the lower Southern states. Some of us Whites believe it exists in so called Red Neck states, where parents are still instilling the hate in their children. Usually it is most prevalent in so called “White Trash” elements.
    i truly believe the majority of White folks in the USA, today, do not harbor any animosity toward Blacks, obviously, we’ve elected a half Black man to
    the national office of President for two terms. So where are we today??
    The Whites are witness to the Blacks continuing to live in segregation in segmented towns and cities. Many of these segregated communities are
    Government sponsored and subsidized tenement housing for those on the Govn. dole, whites and blacks, Hispanics, etc. Continued>>>>>>>>

  7. EARL
    12 May 2016 @ 12:34 pm

    Continued….. It appears generally that its mostly Blacks that live in these
    high rise tenements, because when there are shootings, fighting, drug dealings and arrests, the Liberal Media always zero’s in on Black tenements, and its the Liberals who control all but one semi conservative
    Medias here in the USA, those controlled by the Democrats, and also those involved in race baiting, in the Liberal Community. Both the two Political Party’s/USA, are rotten to the core, both the Repubs. and the Demos. They truly are in bed with each other to control the Billions of Dollars received from Lobbyists, and care not one fig for the problems of Blacks and whites. Those on the dole, now approx 45% of our total population, will never be satisfied, and will continue to make it difficult to
    breakout of the system of slave to the Government, and this is what infuriates Tax Payers. Those in to the forth generation making no contribution to their living expenses, of which the Blacks, because of their numbers filling the prisons, which they feel are unfairly picked on, although being sentenced by their peers by trial. Also not providing for their children, of which approx 60% are born “out of wedlock, and many homes having children with several fathers, but no husbands. This also happens in all other races, but is played up by the Media as mostly Black involved. ….Continued….>>>>>>

  8. EARL
    12 May 2016 @ 12:58 pm

    Continued…….We will be plagued, and divided as a nation until the suspicions of both Whites and Blacks, as to equality for a certainty, of all
    citizens is a reality. Will it happen?? The laws of equality are in place to make it happen. Only the youth of our country can get together to make it happen. They didn’t cause this problem. They don’t feel responsible for it. They definitely will not “pay reparations” to 21st century progeny of those
    that suffered. It’s a new day, a new century, time marches on. Opportunity
    is here for every single citizen to point to their choice of life’s career. Some Whites and Blacks and Hispanics, will have to work harder than others, as
    some of us are challenged to a higher degree, but that’s not new, its always been that way. Blacks have excelled in every walk of life and profession, and the progression has been exceptional. Let’s pray and strive, go the extra mile, in the love of Jesus Christ, our GOD.

    • William Noel
      12 May 2016 @ 1:14 pm

      Earl,

      It looks like he really tweaked your “hot” button.

      It is easy to say we need to “…pray and strive, go the extra mile, in the love of Jesus Christ…” How, exactly, do you propose to do that? How do you see God’s love addressing racism?

      • Mark McCleary
        13 May 2016 @ 7:44 am

        Very well stated, Earl, “It’s easy…” Help us with empirical solutions over easy rhetoric.

      • Mark McCleary
        13 May 2016 @ 7:46 am

        Correction, William (response to Earl). This is proof that thinking, writing, etc is a fragile medium due to time and action coordination.

        • William Noel
          15 May 2016 @ 4:14 am

          Bro. McCleary,

          I understand. I’ve just submitted a book to a publisher for consideration where that was a frequent challenge, so I understand well how there are times when our words just don’t seem to quite express the dimensions of meaning we are trying to convey.

  9. Bill Garber
    12 May 2016 @ 6:34 pm

    I’m glad you have accepted the editor’s invitation to be an Adventist Today columnist, Elder McCleary. Without exception everything that you have shared is part of the context of Adventist Today.

    Let’s not be impatient for for simple solutions but by all means let’s be determined to know first hand that when Jesus is lifted up, he draws everyone to himself. As Paul clarified for the Galatians, “For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.”

    Being baptized into Christ does not remove one’s ethnicity, ones’ social status, or one’s gender. It rather recognizes that there is no ethnic, no social, no gender advantage or barrier to the Grace of God in Jesus.

    And in this realization how we see one finds us beyond our ethnic, social, or gender markers, or we have yet to truly sense Jesus seeing us clearly and loving us without condition.

    I for one here am looking forward to your next column.

    • Mark McCleary
      17 May 2016 @ 4:08 am

      True dat. In brief summary, well stated.

  10. fshumate
    12 May 2016 @ 8:30 pm

    If the past is any indication I would guess that the only useful course of action is not to say “please make it better”, but to demand better. Nothing less than fair equity was acceptable to MLK, the women’s movement or any current day civil rights groups. It must be seized with both hands. Nobody with privilege or power will _ever_ find it convenient to make conditions better some other.

    • William Noel
      13 May 2016 @ 5:51 am

      fshumate,

      I don’t think asking anyone to “please, make it better” because that’s what got us huge government programs that benefit certain people based on the color of their skin while paying for it with money taken from the pockets of others. Instead, we should be seeking the indwelling guidance and empowerment of the Holy Spirit so we can be working in the ways He directs to make life better for others.

      One of the happiest people I know is my sister-in-law, who grew-up under the brutal oppression of the Soviet government in Ukraine. Her grandfather and several other family members were murdered by the government. Yet she was touched by God’s powerful love under that government and learned to minister for Him in spite of difficulties that would make the loudest complainers about racial oppression in America thankful for the troubles they complain about.

    • Warren Nelson
      13 May 2016 @ 5:52 am

      fshumate, I believe you nailed it!

      Interesting to watch the squishing, squirming, flapping and just plain fulminating when our cherished positions (and privilege!) get challenged. . .

      Dr. McCleary, please keep the pot boiling! It’s a gift!

    • Nathan Schilt
      13 May 2016 @ 10:12 pm

      That was certainly Jesus response to injustice and opression, wasn’t it? Demand your rights! Seize them with both hands! Hmmm…

      • Warren Nelson
        14 May 2016 @ 8:00 pm

        OH, so NOW we’re using Jesus as a model! LOL

        • Nathan Schilt
          14 May 2016 @ 8:05 pm

          Yeah Warren, really hysterical…

  11. EARL CALAHAN
    12 May 2016 @ 8:39 pm

    William, Racism isn’t a fact only in the USA. Every country has its various reasons for class warfare of a type that distinguishes between tribes, people of different etnics, or sub groups. Sometimes family fueds. ie: the Hatfields and McCoys in the USA. It seems if there is no basic reason for hatred evident, someone will create one. It appears that God does not intrude in man’s inability to get alone with his neighbors. He desires we become loving and lovable to each other. He holds the Serpent high for all to see, it is man’s choice to be, a devil or a saint. We pray for God’s love to change all to seek the peace He offer’s every sin sick soul.

    • Mark McCleary
      13 May 2016 @ 7:54 am

      You state the obvious about human social life. The conclusion and recommendation section essentially is about minimums individuals, groups, and organizations can do to make their spaces better for the many. As a SDA pastor, I have begun to get my head out of the dirt, stop “I’ll pray for you” (avoidance), and partner with those who are the descendants of social action initiatives. No more hiding behind the Sabbath or “they are non-SDA” (there them). Until Jesus returns, I intentionally plan to get involved when needed (productive Occupation).

      • William Noel
        13 May 2016 @ 5:13 pm

        Bro. McCleary,

        I’m glad to see your commitment to getting involved. My suggestion is that you studiously avoid any social effort based on race because the great risks of it becoming a vehicle for promoting blatant racism, divisive political viewpoints and blatant lies. I’ve seen a number of apparently noble efforts that really were just covers for promoting race-based advantage. So I hope you will be seeking the guidance of the Holy Spirit so you will know clearly what God wants you doing so you can be confident you are building the Kingdom of God instead of a popular political agenda that is based on anything other than the word of God.

        • Mark McCleary
          17 May 2016 @ 4:16 am

          I suggest you read and reread 1Cor. 2:9-14; John 16:13. Those are two scriptures that provided understanding and motivation for me. Because you disagree with me doesn’t mean I have detoured from the Spirit. It indicates a need for further dialogue. Humans have two ears and one mouth. Perhaps, God wants us to do twice as much listening… When we write and read via this medium there is delayed and fragmented engagement as far as listening and speaking are concerned. Continue to find the calculus for such exchanges and you will learn as you live regardless of the other party’s method of communicating his or her observations.

  12. María Collazo
    13 May 2016 @ 9:04 am

    Blessed are the honest, for they shall tell the truth.

  13. Bob Hawley
    13 May 2016 @ 1:14 pm

    What a bunch of nonsense! This one-sided rant continues the leftist propaganda that blacks have it bad and it’s all the fault of whites. Why are blacks disproportionately in prison? Because they disproportionately engage in criminal acts.

    Among the other “facts” erroneously reported in this piece of trash is that the black thug Michael Brown was shot by a white cop while Brown was running away. Never happened, but lefties like this author continue to perpetuate the lie.

    It’s interesting to note that those who perpetuate racism continue to exploit any incident where a white cop shoots a black thug, but their co-conspirators in the drive-by media never comment on the hundreds of black-on-black killings in Chicago every year.

    And our great “post-racial” liar-in-chief, obama, who was supposed to make racism disappear? He’s made it even worse.

    Does racism still exist? Was there, is there racism in SdA history? Of course, but it’s not anything like it once was. And racism was being eradicated until obama was elected. He’s the most racist of anyone.

    Web editor: Bob, this is precisely the kind of rhetoric that makes it hard to maintain a comments page. Please be respectful, even of politicians you disagree with, or don’t comment here.

    • sufferingsunfish
      13 May 2016 @ 7:40 pm

      Bob Hawley-
      You have hit the nail on the head and I respect you for speaking out.

    • Jim Hamstra
      14 May 2016 @ 6:00 am

      Bob Hawley,

      Although you are correct about Michael Brown, your are incredibly mistaken in almost everything else you wrote here. I prefer to attribute this more to ignorance than to malice 8-).

    • Mark McCleary
      17 May 2016 @ 4:23 am

      Yo Mr. Hawley, calm down, my brother. You seem to have compiled a lot of dissent to My Observation article. I suggest you Google Tim Wise or read Joseph Brandt’s Dismantling Racism. Maybe you might write a rebuttal piece to mine with citations. I once heard that “If you throw something down a dark alley and hear a sound, you must have hit something else.” Thanks for letting me know I hit you.

    • Aage Rendalen
      18 May 2016 @ 11:14 pm

      I have never understood what attraction Christianity has to people like Bob Hawley, people who spout cliches from am hate radio and thrive on bigotry. And yet, the South (especially) was full of such people, church-going bigots who screamed their support for segregation and doused civil rights protesters in spit and blood. I don’t get it.

    • Jimbob
      21 May 2016 @ 8:12 am

      Web editor. I realize you have a certain standard for posts. I appreciate that one can express their thoughts here as much as you allow. This forum is very much tamer than what one would experience in Paltalk Christianity section or Craigslist religious forum.
      With a HOT election year at hand, many will be hypersensitive to comments directed at political figures. Here is a link to get some insight as to what is allowable.

      https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/limits-political-campaigning-501c3-nonprofits-29982.html

  14. Bill Cork
    13 May 2016 @ 2:09 pm

    Well, Mark, you touched some raw nerves, it seems.

    Down here in Texas that the African-American and Hispanic segments are growing fastest. And that’s reflected in the faces I see in churches of both conferences. The white percentage of the population is shrinking, but many power positions in churches and in the corporate world and in society are held by an aging white population. I still hear statements that make me wonder if this is 2016 or 1916. There is a race problem. Certain politicians are fanning the flames of hate against immigrants, darker skinned men and women, those who speak languages other than English, and those whose faith is not “Judeo-Christian.” We have to stand up against this.

    Yes, the Bible preaches equality. Jesus kneels at the feet of all whose feet are dirty. He blesses those who kneel to serve the injured, visit those in prison. He embraces men and women, publican and Pharisee. The Lord executes righteousness and justice for the oppressed. The Magnificat says he lifts up the lowly and pulls down the arrogant. All are descendants of one man and one woman, all are brothers and sisters. “Do we not all have one father? Has not one God created us?” “God is no respecter of persons.” He has broken down all dividing walls.

    We are the most diverse church. We are to wash one another’s feet. We are to love one another. And we are to show this love to the world.

    Basic Gospel stuff.

  15. Bill Garber
    13 May 2016 @ 5:59 pm

    Bob,

    So, let’s try a little thought experiment here. Imagine Jesus read this column and has just slipped through the door unopened to Elder McCleary’s office. Their eyes meet. Jesus begins, ‘I’ve read your column, Mark. That’s why I”m here. … ”

    So fill in the … for Jesus for us as best as you can.

    And then offer your sense as to whether what you imagine Jesus would have said to Elder McCleary would have been less effective, less meaningful, less hopeful than your own response.

  16. EM
    13 May 2016 @ 7:50 pm

    Dr. McCleary,
    I am glad to see you as a new contributor who can share your perspective with us. I only hope it won’t continue as a blame article since those tend to divide.
    You are starting with history, and that is appropriate. I imagine most of us are aware of the history but still need reminders. It’s totally unbelievable that this country acted in this insane, inhuman, and hypocritical way for some 200 years! You didn’t mention that early Adventists were not part of this and were encouraged to work against slavery. Granted they were mostly northerners. Our leader of the time said we should be “color-blind.” That didn’t work then, especially in the south. But it should work today, and I follow that admonition.
    Why do we associate African-Americans with the ghetto? And they tend to do it themselves? There are Black persons on TV, in entertainment, in our churches (mine is probably 50% or more), in businesses, everywhere I go. They are successful and affluent. It is only those imprisoned in inner cities who have problems and poor education. Any group growing up in these conditions would be difficult and angry. They are subjected to violence in media and celebrities. It’s not skin-color but association. There are more poor whites in the nation who can’t escape poverty. Blacks have also had some (not all) poor leadership models.

    • EM
      13 May 2016 @ 8:07 pm

      They are unfortunately loyal to these models. The legacy of MLK was not carried on by many of those who followed him.

      Because we live in a world in which love is growing cold, anger is increasing among political, racial, ethnic, and all groups. Group-think is present in all. I admire those who are able to step out of their boxed groups and look at all sides. I believe many contemporary Blacks have a difficult time doing this, and carry the burden of history. It has increased with the last administration which has refused to be objective and balanced.
      My church experience now is one I would expect of anyone. I actually find the love and acceptance of the Black people in my church, especially the middle-aged women, to be friendlier and welcoming than the white members. The white members are reserved and don’t get involved on a personal level generally. It is the Black women and men who mostly serve and help (in my opinion). I find most of my friends among them.

      Police experiences, I am not aware of. All I know is what the sample cases have decided; that policeman bleed and die as well; many are also Black; and much of the shootings are Black on Black in these urban areas and are drug-related (the best reason for a “wall” against drug traffic.

    • Mike
      13 May 2016 @ 8:21 pm

      EM you miss understand between direct and indirect racism. It is still true today as it has ever been that blacks have more difficulties getting jobs than whites both inside and outside the church. When the regional conferences on the west coast were dissolved into the rest of the conferences the number of black pastors slowly went from what they were to a greatly diminished number of pastors. In the state of Washington large black churches with the same size of congregations as white churches have one pastor while the white churches will have two. I agree we should all get along but racism is far from dead both inside and outside the church walls. Sending love in Christ.

      • EM
        15 May 2016 @ 7:18 pm

        Mike,
        I see what you are saying. That’s why in each sphere of personal influence we need to fight these seemingly unfair circumstances. Many times the perpetrators I suspect are not even aware of them since they can’t relate to the other side and are insensitive to it. I have observed among some people a kind of schizophrenia in which they embrace Black friends and relationships but condemn the “ghetto” people. I think many whites see a difference and get angry when accused of “racism’ when they comment on this.
        I can’t change society, but I can always personally love and be inclusive to all peoples and no stereotype them by where they come from or by any other criteria other than their treatment of others.
        I would still challenge the idea that a well-dressed, educated, experienced, and articulate Black person would not get a job because of race. With wider sensitivities at the present, I believe that person would have a better chance. Perhaps a study should be done on this subject between equally-qualified individuals interviewing for jobs.

    • Mark McCleary
      17 May 2016 @ 4:29 am

      Ever play the word game wherein I give you a word and you say your first thought? Such papers are like going into a shoe store and trying on several, but only leaving with what you wanted and paid for. The process of communication is best when parties take turns talking and listening, then asking for clarity and so on until you get the shoe of understanding. My professor defined Conflict Resolution as “The pursuit of truth (what the parties agreed was truth).” Profoundly resonating to me.

  17. Ervin Taylor
    13 May 2016 @ 8:30 pm

    Dr. McCleary has raised what we all know is a very sensitive and extremely complex topic which needs more facts and clear headed discussion and fewer clichés.

    That America was and is a racist society should not be at issue. Of course it was and, in some regions, some percentage of the American population still exhibits racist-based behaviors now in mostly covert ways. With very few exceptions, I’m not aware of any ancient or contemporary society where racist views were not represented and where behaviors to varying degrees at different times reflected racist assumptions.

    However, I trust no one will not dispute the fact that the United States has made tremendous strides in seeking to eliminate the most obvious forms of racism in public policy areas. Now there is the problem of unpacking the relationship between race and class. What some individuals argue is the result of racism is primarily the result of class differences. Class differences reflect differences due to variability in economic and educational levels.

    With regard to the Adventist Church (and most, if not all, other institutional churches), we can hear sermons and talk about love and equality before God, etc., etc., but social, political, and economic factors will generally dictate how the overwhelming number of the church members actually behave and treat others of their social class and those of other social classes. That will change very, very slowly as society changes.

    • Mike
      13 May 2016 @ 9:26 pm

      Ervin, call a spade a spade. When churches of the sames size have an inequality in the pastoral staff based solely on the color of their skin how is that not racism? Open your eyes and start looking at the reality of the situation. If people from the same economic background had the same job prospects regardless of skin color then your argument would hold some merit but the numbers don’t lie. The incarceration rates based on skin color don’t lie even when based on equivelant social standings. Blacks are simply more likely to get longer and harsher sentences even today. Nothing will ever change if you want to view your world by what you want it to be rather than what it really is. Sending love in Christ.

    • Jim Merideth
      13 May 2016 @ 10:05 pm

      Ervin, what do you call it when classes are created by economics and education? Slavery, segregation, Jim Crow, and today’s joblessness and incarceration all had and have strong foundation in both economics and education. Take for a current example the judge just sentenced to 20+ years for receiving kickback from private prisons, operated for the government, for his sending people to jail rather than electing other available sentences.

      The use of “class” rather than “race” can simply give comfort in avoiding the truth. Racism is always about class. And while there are those who are white that are in the poverty stricken class, all they need to get an opportunity to get out of it, is a shower and other physical clean up and a suit and they will be welcomed upon presentation at far more places of opportunity, even within our precious church, than a similarly attired black, particularly if both are male.

      I’m glad you see us having made tremendous progress. But some of us are still around who were not allowed to eat in the GC cafeteria or even worship in the village church which share the same city as one of our colleges. My word would not be “tremendous.” I would acknowledge progress. I would even shout thanksgiving for that progress. And while there may be other problems, racism in our denomination is alive and well and I will use the word “tremendous” when our Savior returns. In the meantime I’ll strive for the mastery of surrender to Christ and…

    • Mark McCleary
      17 May 2016 @ 5:22 am

      Dear Ervin, write that counterpoint article to “warmed over observation”. I’d like to read it and not just your fragmented analysis of my article. Until then, I am glad I gave “My” slant; at least it gets dialogue going.

  18. Bruce Chittenden
    13 May 2016 @ 8:56 pm

    Was your dad named Calvin? Did he serve in
    Germany during the Korean war. Email me

    • Mark McCleary
      17 May 2016 @ 5:23 am

      My uncle served there during the late 40’s. You might email me since I don’t have yours

  19. Ervin Taylor
    13 May 2016 @ 10:43 pm

    I can’t agree more that trying to separate class and race in the United States situation is very difficult. The argument that it makes no difference what creates the inequalities is understandable, but ignoring the distinction will make it more difficult to make appropriate changes in public policy and societal attitudes that are needed for social and economic justice to prevail. If we ignore the difference and other relevant factors, we run the risk of having more and more unintended consequences occur which creates additional problems such as the “War on Drugs” which had the effect of jailing people of color at very high rates in the United States.

  20. Stephen Foster
    14 May 2016 @ 12:25 am

    The racial tension in America perhaps comes down to the simple question of which (one) of the racial groups is privileged, and which racial group or groups are underprivileged/disadvantaged.

    William Noel and those of his ilk are incredibly operating under the delusion that white people are now, and perhaps have been, under privileged and disadvantaged; and that American law and jurisprudence does not now and presumably never has favored white people; nor ever provided more financial benefits and legal advantages to white people than to brown, red, yellow or black people.

    Never mind that this is preposterous on its face, it is how he feels, and he is not alone; so this perception becomes (their) reality.

    I would challenge those of William Noel’s ideological persuasion to not only revisit—yet not to revise—American history; but to also enumerate for us a few of the presumably many laws that now favor “one race” and that provide more financial benefits and/or legal advantages to black people in America than any other race.

    (I challenge this readership to specifically identify/enumerate these laws so that my friends Dr. McCleary, Jim Meredith and I, as black men, can gain access to our financial benefits and begin to take advantage of our many legal advantages.)

    It is invariably self-serving for those who are advantaged to say that Jesus never sought to remedy oppression; while (conveniently) overlooking that Jesus Himself wasn’t the self-serving type.

    • William Abbott
      14 May 2016 @ 5:32 am

      Stephen,

      Whats confusing is blacks don’t want to end segregation, they want to end forced segregation. Blacks have every right to be proud of the regional conference system, based on membership growth alone. You like worshiping together in your own style. You don’t want to worship like white churches. You want ruling elders drawn from among yourselves.

      You prefer segregation, except as segregation is perceived as the abstracted boogeyman of ‘inequality’.

      What everyone is confused about is the doctrine of equality. We are all supposed to be equal. If we are not; its somebody’s fault. If people of color aren’t equal, whose to blame? Inequality is a wrong to be righted. Oppression must cause inequality.

      Inequality is the will of God. Sin is the cause of oppression. Jesus Christ was oppressed, suppressed and dispossessed. But you can’t keep the Man of God’s own choosing down. He rose from the dead.

      That’s why I challenged Pas. McCleary to defend his ‘biblical egalitarianism.’ The God of Israel is not going to make His people equal with the Egyptians. He has chosen them to be His people. He delivers them from Egypt. They are His peculiar treasure.

      We need to get straight on who Israel is. It isn’t white people, it isn’t colored people, it isn’t everybody. It’s Israel. Jesus is the King of Israel.

      • Stephen Foster
        16 May 2016 @ 7:51 am

        William Abbott,

        We agree that oppression come from sin; but oppression is occasioned by inequality. Those who believe themselves to be superior will inevitably oppress those whom they consider inferior. Perceptions of superiority and inferiority are what cause oppression whenever the opportunity presents itself.

        I cannot get past the heretical absurdity of that “Inequality is the will of God” to comment further. In this context, that is a ridiculous statement.

        • William Noel
          16 May 2016 @ 12:40 pm

          Stephen,

          I completely agree with you that inequality is NOT the will of God. Neither is it His command or wish that we pursue correcting past racial injustice or follow political correctness. As we find in how Jesus ministered, His will is that we each learn to love each other and work in the power of the Holy Spirit to relieve suffering and prepare people to meet Jesus. That is the sole purpose to which God has called each of us.

          Proverbs 14:12 warns us that ways that seem right to us are the ways of death. Advocating for your race-based views seems right to you, but they promote division among your fellow believers and drive people away from God. That in a microcosm gives us a glimpse at what is probably the most difficult and contentious issue in any unification of church conferences to erase past racial divide: the large-scale perception that people such as you are more interested in preserving and exacerbating racial issues than in discovering the power of God and becoming His servants whom the Holy Spirit can empower to minister for Him. I support unifying the church, but if we found we were in the same congregation, I wonder which of us would beat a quicker path to the door. For you, I think it would be to escape someone who challenges your political correctness. For me, it would be because I don’t view God through a PC lens and I need the freedom to minister as the Holy Spirit directs.

      • Jim Hamstra
        16 May 2016 @ 9:48 am

        The notion that God arbitrarily chose to eternally bless Israel to the detriment of the surrounding Goiim (nations or peoples), in William Abbott’s comments, is as wrong-minded as the notion that because Noah while suffering a hangover following a binge drinking, chose to curse Canaan, therefore all of the descendants of Ham are eternally cursed.

        Noah’s action was rash and arbitrary, whereas God’s was not. To understand this one needs to consider the Divine purpose for which Israel was called. They were called to BE a channel of blessings to the Goiim. In blessing others they would be blessed, not in retaining the blessings for themselves. When we share God’s favor we receive a blessing. When we hoard God’s favor we receive a curse.

    • William Abbott
      14 May 2016 @ 5:43 am

      Stephen,

      I can’t resist: Did you know the NAD is making funds available to conferences to subsidize the cost of hiring women pastors? Women are surely unequal to men, but are they oppressed as a sex? I don’t think my mother, sisters, wife or daughters would like it one bit if I oppressed them. I do so want them to like me. I’m careful. They might oppress me right back.

      I’d call that NAD money transfer affirmative action, wouldn’t you?

      • sufferingsunfish
        15 May 2016 @ 11:29 am

        Abbott-
        If I recall it’s about $300,000 that Jackson is using to promote his pet project. This makes some squirm when they are regular givers. Why not allocate this fund to help families? Latest figures I saw are that 30% of White kids are born without the benefit of marriage and a stable home an 70% of Black kids. Don’t they deserve NAD assistance?

    • William Noel
      14 May 2016 @ 6:18 am

      Stephen,

      It doesn’t matter how often you are told that I do not hold the views you claim, you still somehow find it impossible to believe otherwise. If your words were in another forum, I would have thought I was listening to Al Sharpton for whom no amount of evidence is sufficient to convince him to stop repeating falsehoods.

      • Stephen Foster
        16 May 2016 @ 7:40 am

        William Noel,

        Unless you don’t believe what you write, what you believe is self-evident. You wrote that that “No nation on the face of the earth has more laws favoring one race, providing more financial benefits or legal advantage to any population group based on their race, than America has for Blacks.”

        If you believe this to be true, then you HAVE TO also believe that those racial groups and ethnicities in America that do not have as many laws favoring them, or providing financial benefits or legal advantages to them based on their race (as you say is the case for black people), are relatively disadvantaged by definition—particularly white people.

        This is without question the ONLY logical conclusion that can be derived from that which you specifically wrote. The only way that this can be denied is if you really don’t believe what YOU wrote.

    • Larry Piper
      14 May 2016 @ 9:19 pm

      Stephen, I think you make some cogent points, but I don’t understand your final sentence: “It is invariably self-serving for those who are advantaged to say that Jesus never sought to remedy oppression; while (conveniently) overlooking that Jesus Himself wasn’t the self-serving type.” I’m not taking issue with it, I just don’t understand it. Please explain. Thanks.

      • Stephen Foster
        16 May 2016 @ 12:43 am

        Larry Piper,

        Part of the backlash against the movement(s) to address ethnic and racial oppression and social injustice is rhetorical, from relatively well-off Christians who claim that Jesus—who was a homeless itinerant preacher in an occupied land—did not seek to address the societal issues and challenges of His time and place; so therefore Christians should ignore or disregard the injustices and inequities in their societies (because Jesus ignored and disregarded the injustices and inequities in the society in which he lived).

        Of course, besides the absurdity of this position, it is self-serving for those of a dominant ruling class and an ethnic or racial majority, that have not historically been on the short end of the societal stick, to imply that Jesus would not have Christians seek to remedy societal injustice and inequity—since (their) power and privileges of societal dominance are potentially put in jeopardy.

        In other words, such self-serving rhetoric is in the blind spot—or perhaps is the blind spot—of certain white guys who never like it when the subject of social injustice is broached; and playing the ‘Jesus card’ in this way is blindly self-serving. It is a hypocritical blind spot because Jesus was not self-serving; and it implies somewhat of a denial that Jesus had concerns about liberty and justice—despite Isaiah 61:1 (and Luke 4:18.)

        • Nathan Schilt
          17 May 2016 @ 7:08 am

          And your perspective is not self-serving, Stephen??? What does the question of whether an argument is self-serving have to do with its validity?

          Can we agree that Jesus neither said nor did anything to suggest that reformation or transformation of the institutional structures of His time was part of His mission? Can we also agree that He most certainly had the power to advocate for and implement such transformation? If so, and if, as the religious Left seems to believe, such changes are a proper and necessary ingredient of Kingdom presence on earth, then don’t we have to seriously question why He didn’t show the way through effective use of political power?

          It would not follow – at least not in my view – that the concerns of Caeser are of no consequence for earthly kingdom living – certainly not when that kingdom is “we the people.” But what does follow is that we will be hard-pressed to find Gospel support for carrying the banner of Christ into earthly struggles for political and social justice. Such struggles are driven by demands for rights and entitlements requiring legislative and regulatory coercion by state authorities.

          The fact the Jesus was indifferent to these concerns does not rob them of their moral significance, any more than His lack of guidance regarding child-rearing and family life should be used to deny the importance of those concerns. All it means is that we should not play tug-o’-war with Jesus when it comes to politics.

          • William Noel
            17 May 2016 @ 9:19 am

            Nathan,

            Those on the religious Left who claim scripture to justify their efforts toward achieving “social justice” need to be reminded of the words of Jesus in John 18:36, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place.” That Jesus could make such a statement to Pilate when He was suffering the grossest of injustices should be very instructive to us because Jesus gave us an example of staying focused on the purposes God wants us achieving despite the injustices we may suffer. God wants us working with Him to bring people into His heavenly kingdom, so expending our energies chasing politically-correct illusions of “social justice” is obvious disobedience to God’s plain instruction for us to be ministering His redeeming love that overcomes injustice.

          • Stephen Foster
            17 May 2016 @ 12:39 pm

            Nathan,

            A self-serving argument can be a good argument, but the fact that Jesus had a mission that did not include either civil policy or marriage and a family for Him is not an argument at all; as you undoubtedly rediscovered while authoring your post.

            And if it “does not follow…that the concerns of Caesar are of no consequence for earthly kingdom living – certainly not when that kingdom is “we the people;”” then it certainly also does not follow that the equal rights and just treatment of “all men” should be of no consequence for earthly kingdom living – certainly not when that kingdom is inclusive of “all men” which have been created equal.

            I challenge the notion that Jesus was indifferent to social injustice, but for sake of discussion, even if He was indifferent to it, I wholeheartedly agree with you that this would not and “does not rob [it] of [its] moral significance, any more than His lack of guidance regarding child-rearing and family life should be used to deny the importance of those concerns. All it means is that we should not play tug-o’-war with Jesus when it comes to politics;” which I contend that the rhetorical device of playing the Jesus card in an attempt to discourage social activism for justice and equality exemplifies.

          • Nathan Schilt
            17 May 2016 @ 12:41 pm

            You’re right William. In fact, by this and other statements, Jesus seems to acknowledge the legitimacy of earthly kingdoms, and even non kingdom-advancing necessary conduct that is part and parcel of earthly kingdoms.

          • Stephen Foster
            17 May 2016 @ 12:42 pm

            I also believe it to be a straw man, at least in my case, to suggest that the use of Christian theology is the basis for demands for justice and equity for black people in America. I prefer the well-documented facts of American history itself and the words of its founding documents to make my case; and I do so unapologetically—even though it is admittedly self-serving, since I am black.

            Now, I’ve admitted self-service. Can you?

          • Nathan Schilt
            18 May 2016 @ 8:45 am

            I think what you are ignoring, Stephen, is that the political Left is at least as guilty as the right when it comes to using Jesus as authority for political action.

  21. Jim Hamstra
    14 May 2016 @ 5:44 am

    “Michael Brown, shot while running away”

    Well this was not the conclusion from the autopsy report and the forensic evidence. But it was the initial impression created by the press, and thus it has become the accepted history of the incident for almost everyone. Whereas the aforementioned physical evidence showed very convincingly that Michael Brown was moving towards the officer when he was shot.

    I do agree with much of the rest of this article. And I do not wish to defend the government, including the police and the courts, in Ferguson. Nor the systemic police brutality towards persons of color in most regions of the US of A. Not the overtly discriminatory practices of the SDA church in my childhood.

    I submit that in approaching emotionally difficult topics, disentangling fact from mythology can become highly problematic.

  22. Jim Hamstra
    14 May 2016 @ 6:17 am

    “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (ie the Year of Jubilee)

    Sounds to me like Jesus has a rather radical social agenda. And Jesus also had a rather radical method of pursuing that agenda.

    “”A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

    I submit this as my own understanding of “final generation” theology.

    • William Noel
      15 May 2016 @ 4:23 am

      Jim,

      That’s exactly why I minister in the way that I do. Race doesn’t matter, just a person’s need at the opportunities God gives to touch them with His love and improve their lives.

      • Jim Hamstra
        16 May 2016 @ 2:27 am

        William,

        If something matters to my family then it matters to me. Even if it would not matter to me apart from my family. And that is the way Jesus treated each person He met here on earth.

        Race matters to our church today for the very same reasons that slavery and circumcision and food offered to idols mattered to Paul. They were highly divisive issues in the church of his time and place. As is race today. Matters of ethnicity and gender are at least as divisive in the church today as they were in the time of Paul.

        Living at the junction of the “black” and “white” wings in an academy dorm was a very eye-opening experience for me. Ditto for living in the same dorm room with my Black room-mate (an academy friend) in college. Ditto for living with my “twin” sister for many years, and with my wife for many more. When you really spend a lot of time with other people and listen to what they say and watch what they do, you can begin to see things through their eyes and not just your own.

        Paul was very much a bridge-builder in his time. We could do worse today than seek to emulate his different approaches to different people. Jesus and Paul met people where they were. And so should we.

        No man is an island
        No man stands alone
        Each man’s joy is joy to me
        Each man’s grief is my own

        We need one another
        So I will defend
        Each man as my brother
        Each man as my friend

    • William Abbott
      15 May 2016 @ 6:11 pm

      Jim,

      Not trying to be obnoxious or show off, really. The text in Isiah that Jesus is quoting reads: “he Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn;”

      We are NOT called to fix a broken world. Jesus Christ completely did that on Calvary. Completely. The world is fixed. Man is reconciled to God. If we are Jesus Christ’s, He has chosen us to wait for Him and proclaim His gospel and His kingdom as we wait. The day of God’s Vengeance is at hand. God hates sin. Fly to Jesus, fly from the City of Destruction. How else will you be reconciled to an angry and vengeful God? If you love them, warn them. Flee from the wrath to come!

      • Jim Hamstra
        16 May 2016 @ 2:13 am

        William,

        If you bother to put my two quotes from Jesus back-to-back, one of His points was that we cannot be reconciled to one another until we have first been reconciled to God. But that one of the most powerful evidences that we have been reconciled to God is that we become reconciled to one another.

        I use the Triangle Inequality to illustrate this concept. Two points on a plane cannot be further from each other than the sum of their distances from a third point. Two humans cannot be further from each other than the sum of their distances from God.

        According to Paul, Jesus has entrusted to us a share of His ministry of reconciliation. It begins in reconciliation to God but finds fruition in reconciliation to one another. Read all the way to the end of Romans. It is the prototypical Pauline Epistle. After all the high-minded Theologicrat discussion, it proceeds to very practical relational advice. An outline followed by almost all of his other letters to the churches then and now.

        As my late pastor father used to say:

        To live and reign with the Saints above
        Will be the highest glory.
        But to dwell with the Saints on earth below
        Is quite a different story.

        Cheers!

      • Jim Hamstra
        16 May 2016 @ 2:46 am

        William Abbott wrote:

        “We are NOT called to fix a broken world.”
        Agreed. But we do have the privilege of working with God. Only God can fix our broken world but we should fix things where we can.

        “Jesus Christ completely did that on Calvary. Completely. The world is fixed. Man is reconciled to God.”
        When you are bringing your gift to the altar, first be reconciled to your brother. (cf Jesus Christ) Our greatest gift of gratitude to God is reconciliation with our fellow humans. Every other gift we can bring pales in comparison.

        “If we are Jesus Christ’s, He has chosen us to wait for Him and proclaim His gospel and His kingdom as we wait.”
        Actions do speak louder than words. Most humans would rather see a sermon than hear a sermon. But when we are convinced we, and we alone, have THE TRUTH then we fell impelled to preach.

        “The day of God’s Vengeance is at hand. God hates sin.”
        God hates sin because sin destroys all that is good. God’s vengeance is primarily directed at sin, not sinners.

        “Fly to Jesus, fly from the City of Destruction.”
        I totally agree.

        “How else will you be reconciled to an angry and vengeful God?”
        Nobody can ever be reconciled to an angry and vengeful God. If you have seen Jesus you have seen the Father. Gentle, full of mercy, eager and able to save to the uttermost.

        “If you love them, warn them. Flee from the wrath to come!”
        I prefer to invite people to partake of the privilege of communing with the God…

        • Jim Hamstra
          16 May 2016 @ 3:04 am

          “I prefer to invite people to partake of the privilege of communing with the God…”

          A pox upon your damnable Atoday truncating comment length ad-ju-di-ca-tor!
          I posted with ample spare characters, the excess at least a score .
          Yet ye have made bold to smite me down.
          Let your Zero be Zero, let your More be More.
          Away with you, Foul Fiend!
          Go way, way from my Windows, go way from Google’s door,
          Go way, way, way from my chair-side, and bother me no more!

          What I wrote:

          “I prefer to invite people to partake of the privilege of communing with the God of Love.”

        • William Abbott
          16 May 2016 @ 4:22 am

          Jim,
          You do not let toddlers play in the knife drawer, do you? A stern “no” followed by action. Not another request, “please don’t play in the knife drawer”

          Our souls are in deadly peril. A warning is appropriate. This is not an RSVP moment.

          • Jim Hamstra
            16 May 2016 @ 9:36 am

            William,

            Eventually the toddler grows-up. Sooner or later it is better to teach a child how to use knives properly and safely.

            Fear and excitement are at best only short-term motivators. What happens when the predicted Catastrophe or Parousia does not happen, this month or year or decade or century?

            Three things will endure – Faith, Hope and Love. And the greatest of these is Love.

        • William Abbott
          17 May 2016 @ 6:11 pm

          Jim, I don’t think we alone have the truth. I think Jesus Christ alone is the truth. I am compelled to proclaim Him and His kingdom. Here I stand, I can do no other.

  23. sufferingsunfish
    15 May 2016 @ 4:26 am

    I question the judgment of not only the writer who misreports a incident where a police officer has been proven to be defending himself, who has to revert to making accusations that, I believe, are unfounded, but also an editorial staff which would allow such an article to see the light of day.

    Editorial staff, you can do better than that. Here is an article about a Black SDA who needs our support.
    http://tinyurl.com/zqrjgh8

    • Loren Seibold
      16 May 2016 @ 8:55 am

      Suffering,

      I was the one who made the decision to publish this piece. I agree with many here that it takes a rather challenging tone, and it makes me somewhat uncomfortable. But I think it is in line with the purpose of Adventist Today to be a challenging voice within the church. I want to hear from people like Dr. McCleary, because I don’t live and work in precisely the same world as he does. I may not agree with him, but I respect his feelings and his voice, because I don’t know from the inside what it feels like to be black in America, or black in the Seventh-day Adventist church.

      Not everything that we place here will you agree with, and agreement isn’t necessary. Listening, however, is always valuable.

      I add that I know Dr. McCleary to be a thoughtful Christian man, and I expect that you will also find a healing and helpful voice in other columns he’ll write.

      Loren Seibold

      • William Abbott
        17 May 2016 @ 6:13 pm

        Good call Loren,

        Elder McCleary’s monograph is though provoking to say the least.

      • Hansen
        19 May 2016 @ 7:04 am

        Dr. McCleary’s article reflects his experience as a Black man in America. That’ s all it does, reflect the experience of a Black man in America. It doesn’t explain the tribal hatred in Africa that moved Black SDA to butcher their own brethren. It doesn’t explain why SDA leadership in Germany chose to fight with Hitler, nor why Han Chinese despise people of other races including Whites, Blacks, and other Asians.

        Actually, his article doesn’t address the experience of African born and raised Blacks who have recently immigrated to the USA from places like Nigeria, Ethiopia, or the Caribbean. Many get educated, find jobs, and integrate into society like the Asian immigrants have done. They aren’t pressured to the same degree as indigenous American Blacks to not “act White” [by getting educated, speaking proper English, even having a “normal” name.

        Few law enforcement officers got into that work to get it over on the Black man. If they become “prejudice” consequent to their daily experience on the job, there’s a reason for that. Generally, if people of any race are respectful of law enforcement, they will be treated with respect; however, if you fail the “personality” test, u gonna hab problemz, cuz.

        • Jim Hamstra
          19 May 2016 @ 7:40 am

          Hansen wrote:

          “Actually, his article doesn’t address the experience of African born and raised Blacks who have recently immigrated to the USA from places like Nigeria, Ethiopia, or the Caribbean. Many get educated, find jobs, and integrate into society like the Asian immigrants have done. They aren’t pressured to the same degree as indigenous American Blacks to not “act White” [by getting educated, speaking proper English, even having a “normal” name.”

          There is an enormous difference between voluntarily migrating to America, versus being brought here in chains as chattel slaves. Go and read the OT carefully. How many years did it take after Israel was freed from Egypt, before they began to exercise self-control and live responsibly? Certainly it did not happen during the times of the Judges?

          “Few law enforcement officers got into that work to get it over on the Black man. If they become “prejudice” consequent to their daily experience on the job, there’s a reason for that. Generally, if people of any race are respectful of law enforcement, they will be treated with respect; however, if you fail the “personality” test, u gonna hab problemz, cuz.”

          Large cities like Chicago are being forced to shell-out $millions every year in wrongful-death settlements. Are they paying this money because Black people dis-respect the Law or because Police dis-respect Black lives?

          You are espousing a thoroughly, abjectly White-washed view of race relations in the US of A.

          • Jim Hamstra
            19 May 2016 @ 8:21 am

            “They aren’t pressured to the same degree as indigenous American Blacks to not “act White” [by getting educated, speaking proper English, even having a “normal” name.” ”

            This statement is utter nonsense. My wife has taught several children of African immigrants (including right now). They do not “act white”. They wear traditional African clothes on festive occasions (including school programs). And their children do have “strange” (ie non-traditional to Americans) names.

            And they are lovely people. And they do not trash-talk against others who come from different cultural backgrounds. Perhaps you could learn some better manners from them.

            Here are the birth names of two of my own recent ancestors born in the US of A – Johanna Wilhelmina van Leeuwen and Ezubah Zeruah Taylor. Does either of these sound “normal” to you? They sound lovely to me 8-).

      • Jimbob
        21 May 2016 @ 8:24 am

        Way to go Loren.
        Flak & conflict bring out the true self/character better than anything else.
        I like that Mark is interacting so much with those posting. This is great dialogue. Matthew puts at least 200 verses of 1074 verses in his gospel account where Jesus is candid and confrontational with the Jewish clergy who opposed him. We get a better picture of Jesus’ dialog approach, insight, character and compassion because of this. We also see how low /evil the clergy sector will go to maintain power. 99% of contemporary Christian clergy on Earth are at odds with the decalogue commandment that gets more exposure in the gospel accounts than all of the other 9 put together. The modern clergy will say that the 4th commandment is not REPEATED in the new testament. That is a deceptive spin. The 4th commandment gets MENTIONED more than the other 9.

  24. Bill Garber
    15 May 2016 @ 4:35 am

    This is perhaps the first public Seventh-day Adventist discussion that is motivated to openly collaborate in finding how to move beyond accusations in ways that may not be dependent on homogenization.

    It is one thing to say that there is no ethnic, no social, no gender advantage or barrier to the Grace of God in Jesus.

    It is quite another thing to explore in practical ways how to commune daily as Christians with our ethnic, our social, and our gender distinctions intact in a culture in which the meaning of all of these distinctions is in flux.

    The challenges appear to not be primarily theological, by the way. DNA appears to play a significant role. See “Just Babies” by Paul Bloom. And, a book I have yet to read that looks interesting in terms of the topic at hand, is “The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided By Politics and Religion,” by Jonathan Haidt.

    So what is our future as Christians together when ethnicity, society, and gender inevitably and irreducibly distinguish us? Do we have any biblical models, rather than platitudes (not to diminish the value but only to acknowledge the inadequacy of platitudes) to inspire us?

    Or are we left to figure this out using real-time divine inspiration?

    • William Noel
      15 May 2016 @ 5:13 pm

      Bill,

      The problem with discussing racial reconciliation in the church is how quickly the discussion degenerates into politically-correct arguments that derail the effort. Both sides are at fault because of how some Blacks are quick to play the role of the victim to gain advantage and make demands and how whites recite their complaints about all the things they see as false claims made by Blacks. Real reconciliation begins with both sides being willing to let the past be the past and honestly seek common ground.

      Often what has divided two parties can be turned into a blueprint for change when both parties seek to do things in different ways. For example, if Black and white conferences are to be merged, should the Black conferences just be divided and merged into the white conferences? Or, will church leaders seize the opportunity to redraw conference lines to operate more efficiently and economically? It is time for creativity, not political correctness.

      • Mark McCleary
        20 May 2016 @ 4:35 pm

        A major factor in this problem you mention is this medium of discussion. Change the venue and the dynamics improve; alter the moderator and they might improve more or deteriorate. Ultimately, it’s the individual who must conceive and decide to achieve or avoid progress. Keep talking, someone is listening and processing. Only the final judgment will reveal if they processed and practiced truth, justice, mercy and walked humbly with God.

  25. Bill Garber
    15 May 2016 @ 4:49 am

    Reading my own comment, I realize there is another path.

    If the world going to hell is required for Jesus to take us to heaven, which is at the root of Seventh-day Adventism’s perception of the Great Controversy’s postmillennialism, what should we do as Seventh-day Adventists in light of Elder McCleary’s description of African Life in the U.S.?

    Should we really just offer to Elder McCleary our sympathies and remind him that the future is destined to be far worse? And that that is a good thing?

    This is not a toss away question; what would Jesus do?

  26. Ervin Taylor
    15 May 2016 @ 12:01 pm

    By the way, perhaps someone has already noted this and I failed to see it, but we need to remember that it was African American Adventist clergy who suggested and supported the creation of Adventist Regional Conferences. This was in response to — let’s be honest about it– the racism expressed and experienced from White Adventist leadership and Adventist members in the United States. The different style of worship practices– more public participation and demonstrative religious expression– in the Black Adventist Churches in contrast to the standard White Adventist worship service contributed to the drive to create a separate administrative operation. The same forces were responsible for the creation of separate of Adventist Black-majority educational institutions.

    • Hansen
      15 May 2016 @ 8:27 pm

      Erv, You touched on what should be obvious i.e., culture, is a major issue. Brother Mcleary’s article may reflect the Black experience in America but it doesn’t explain why Black SDAs were butchering Black SDAs in Rwanda, resting themselves and their machetes on the Sabbath.

      Sum Ting Wong’s quote from MLK is off base as well. Sometimes, perhaps often, the more people get to know others. the less they care for them. In Asia it’s not unusual to be greeted as a “foreign friend” only to be later derided as a “laowai”, once the cultural differences are noted. Brother McCleary derides White racism; sorry to tell him that Asians despise Blacks more than they [Asians] despise White people. And Asian beliefs about their racial supremacy are certainly comparable to Nazi viewpoints.

      Certainly the Black man drew a band hand in America but so did the Chinese. They were subject to legal restrictions, personal prejudice, and outright violence. Many small towns in N Cal had Chinatowns at one time, until they were burned down by White locals.

      Racism is a horrible thing. It stings to the bone and doesn’t easily go away. I feel Brother McCleary’s pain; however, frankly, the work of a gospel minister is to preach Christ and Him crucified, not cry about injustice, however justified those tears may be.

      Japanese are universally despised in most of Asia. The Chinese hate them but most of us couldn’t tell Watanabe from Wang. Culture is the true source of the divide.

      • William Abbott
        16 May 2016 @ 7:49 am

        Hansen,

        It is natural and the part of a human being to cry out for justice – and for mercy. How much more true then of a minister of the gospel like Pas. McCleary. Read the psalms. For that matter listen to the unrepentant Cain plead for mercy/justice. The prophetic voice always speaks out against injustice.

        A good deal of Elder McCleary’s essay is about inequality. McCleary and many others err in thinking justice and equality are the same. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Equality is a doctrine of devils; the devil, to be precise. The evil one would maker himself equal with God and he hates God because God did not make Him equal, but inferior to God. He tempts man to this same evil in the garden. Sinners believe equality is a thing to be grasped!

        My dispute with Elder McCleary, and seemingly with everyone else, is that this notion of equality is the biblical ideal. He calls it ‘Biblical Egalitarianism.’ The bible is a history of God choosing. The bible is a history of brothers not being equal. It is a deceiving spirit that equates being one in Christ as equality – it is inequality itself. Sin is the root of hatred and death. Inequality is the will and delight of our Creator.

        • Mike
          16 May 2016 @ 9:49 am

          William, where is the justice in one races needs being undervalued over another’s? I agree with you it is about justice but inequality is itself an injustice. Ultimately, the whole issue is about equality of need. Christ showed the all groups should be ministered to but the Church administration in this country and also this country it is currently skewed to address the needs of the majority and not equally addressing the needs of the minority which is unjust. Sending love in Christ

          • William Abbott
            16 May 2016 @ 10:31 am

            Mike,

            You write: “…but inequality is itself an injustice.”
            God is the author of inequality and He hates injustice. How can call inequality equal to injustice?

            Why do you qualify your comments about the church with, “this country?” The inequalities in the administration of church ministries between countries and regions is much more disparate, by orders of magnitude.

            If it is all about how much some are in need, We shouldn’t keep any money here. It should go to the poorest of the poor among us. They are in other countries. Maybe the Africans in Africa aren’t your neighbors?

          • William Noel
            16 May 2016 @ 11:50 am

            Mike,

            Today the pursuit of justice is an emotional issue for many, in particular those who see themselves as the victims of historic injustice while assuming that also makes them victims of the same injustice. The corrections have one common denominator: using the force of law to take from those who have, whether it is perceived legal advantage or economic resources, and giving that to the “victims.” Yet we’re supposed to be followers of Jesus, not Karl Marx or other Socialist philosophers whose ideas have universally failed. Doing that becomes an even greater challenge when we have a president who has made racial and social “justice” the centerpiece of his administration. It becomes a still greater problem when Christians view God’s instructions through the prism of popular politics instead of the other way around.

            Where in the teachings of Jesus do you find Him talking about justice as it is discussed today? The answer: you don’t. Instead, Jesus gave us an example of how to minister God’s love that was unburdened by concepts of justice in any way other than how He measure our obedience to Him. Jesus didn’t confront injustice, He overcame it and accomplished His mission in spite of it. He promised us the power of the Holy Spirit so we could let God’s love overcome injustice. So the greatest question is: will we embrace that power and guidance so we can overcome injustice, too?

          • Mike
            16 May 2016 @ 1:05 pm

            For some reason it won’t le me reply to either William so here are my responses below.
            William A, everything I said was in context of the conversation at hand and the injustices in the US. And yes, there is an injustice in what you are talking about as well but many of us are really uncomfortable with that too but we should strive to address that as well. We are called to help all those who are in need regardless of the situation.
            William N, Jesus addressed injustice all the time (women at the well, the story of the Samaritan, etc.) just not in an activist roll but onto that idea do you think we should do away with things like Liberty Magazine and helping defend those who have lost their job because of their beliefs in the Sabbath? You’re on a slippery slope.

      • Mark McCleary
        20 May 2016 @ 4:49 pm

        Stay on point Brother Hansen. Culture is a much broader topic than my slice social life. Your mention of Rwanda was not my intention, but yours. And what stats do you offer to prove a pattern rather than aberrative examples? Your assertion of Asian animosity toward Blacks is a tautology that could be used for several social interactions depending on the inserted parties. Blacks weren’t playing cards when US Chattel slavery was in its hayday, nor are they crying about the past in South Dekolb County, GA in the housing recovery after 2007/08 in the face of unfair housing appraisals (Washington Post article). You read hypocritical when you “feel McCleary’s pain” but inform me of my pastoral/preaching job description. Read Micah and other “minor” prophet to learn about being prophetic and socially conscious. Oh yeah, are you Japanese? Regardless, stop crying and or write an article. Love your responses. They moved me.

  27. sufferingsunfish
    16 May 2016 @ 7:52 am

    “The dirty secret is that white liberals have encouraged blacks to adopt all of the elements–welfare dependence, illegitimacy, and matriarchy–of the ghetto culture that is so terribly damaging to American blacks. The poverty rate among black married couples has been under 10% since 1994, and currently stands about 6%. When blacks finish high school and stay married, 95% of the time, they are not poor. Poverty in the black community is largely a product of family breakdown. And the breakdown of the black family is NOT a product of slavery, nor of systematized segregation. The black illegitimacy rate was 14% in 1940, and still only 25% in 1965. It took decades for white liberals to destroy the black family.’
    See: http://www.fulcrum7.com/blog/2016/4/2/all-lives-matter-to-god

    • jimbob
      16 May 2016 @ 5:28 pm

      .Suffering

      ” It took decades for white liberals to destroy the black family.’”

      I went to your link and I was expecting to see the support for how white liberals destroyed the black family.

      Didn’t seem to be there.. was something else.

    • Mark McCleary
      20 May 2016 @ 5:16 pm

      I agree, all lives matter, but your stats are skewed if you think slavery has little to no present affect. Reread my article and or get Moynihan’s report that is over 40 years old. Your reasoning is rooted in circularities– a posteriority conclusions that, I believe, are largely grounded in media-driven stereotypes. Unless you are using a pseudonym, you haven’t lived around nor studied Black families. Family breakdown is not unique to Blacks, ask Dobson and Focus on the Family or the rising LGBT movement out of White SF etc. Give us some primary source citations for your assertions and I might accept your rebuttal.

  28. Ervin Taylor
    16 May 2016 @ 9:52 am

    “[I]t took decades for white liberals to destroy the black family.” This is an highly incomplete and thus incorrect statement. May I suggest that the appropriate statement would be: “It took decades to reveal the unintended consequences of positively motivated efforts of political liberals in the United States to do something about the poverty that had been created, directly and indirectly, by the legacy of U.S. slavery.” The motivation was honorable, but white liberals should have been reading more books on urban sociology and anthropology. One of the outcomes–the further breakdown of the urban Black family–should have, but was not, anticipated and an additional serious social problem was created. The creation of a welfare dependency sub-culture that got out of hand needed to be fixed and it was partly corrected during the Clinton administration.

  29. William Abbott
    16 May 2016 @ 1:23 pm

    Mike,

    The bible is full of stories about God choosing between brothers unequally. Cain and Abel, Isaac and Ismael, Jacob and Esau, Joseph and his brothers, Moses, Aaron & Miriam, David and his brothers. Are these all stories of God’s injustice?

    They are most certainly stories about God-ordained inequality.

    • Mike
      16 May 2016 @ 2:11 pm

      William, that is God choosing leaders and has nothing to do with the conversation at hand. The conversation at hand has to do with what is in James chapter 2 and treating others differently based on appearance. God, unlike man, has no prejudices and makes choices based on the heart condition. Sending love in Christ.

      • William Abbott
        16 May 2016 @ 4:11 pm

        I thought your position is inequality is injustice

        • Mike
          17 May 2016 @ 12:00 am

          William, inequity brought about by human hands is injustice. Your counter points don’t address the type of inequality which is being talked about here and in James chapter 2. The examples you have given only hold weight if you believe that God has made one race superior to another and I don’t believe that you believe that. This is about getting equitable treatment which is why the regional conferences were created and why they should still be in place until the unequitable treatment is addressed in the conferences where they have been disbanded is addressed. Sending love in Christ.

          • William Noel
            17 May 2016 @ 5:47 am

            Mike,

            Let’s make one thing very clear: I DO NOT believe one race is superior and anyone who suggests that is a liar. We are all equals at the foot of the cross, so the question is how we look beyond the hurts of the past to find common ground, love each other and work together to accomplish the purpose for which God has called us, which is to spread the Gospel. A whole lot of forgiveness is needed on both sides. Forgiveness is not admitting wrong, but deciding that you’re not going to let what was done in the past control you and keep you from doing what is right. Only God makes it possible.

            Ten years ago when my mother and I were in a head-on collision and she was killed, I asked God how I should feel toward the other driver. Then my son got the police report and in it I found that the other driver was a diabetic whose blood sugar had crashed, rendering him unconscious. Reading that just complicated my emotional challenge until I felt God telling me to forgive him. I felt almost as if I was dreaming as I drove to the hospital and found his room. Right away, he wanted to know if anyone had been hurt and I have never seen a man break-down and cry so fast as when he learned she had been killed. But God was giving me the power to forgive him and the result was that he became my friend. If God could help me forgive the man who killed my mother, He has the power to help us find healing in the church.

            Are we ready to forgive and actually do what God wants us doing…

          • Mike
            17 May 2016 @ 10:35 am

            William N. My response was to Willam A’s comment not yours because his examples could only be used in the manner he was trying to say if he believed that God had ordained what was happening. I don’t want to sound insensitive but consider to what you are saying what if the driver was drunk instead of diabetic. If they were still drinking would you hand them over the keys to your car? The problem is that the SDA church and the US is not as racially neutral as you would like to believe. The problem is that the issues of inequality are still occurring and until it stops then everything Mark has said holds weight. I’m going share a little of my own story now and that is God sent me to join a Black church even though both myself and my wife are white (our adopted son from my niece however is by-racial). I know from the observations that I have seen since adopting my son that racism is alive and well and to be honest I have seen it from both sides of the fence but the strongest coming from those of the caucasian descent. I have close personal friend at my church who was denied a pastoral position because he defended the right for regional conferences to exist when trying to be hired by a non-regional conference. I’ve seen people pull their kids out a playground immediately after my son got there commenting to someone near them about how they need to reconsider coming to that park because of type of people who are starting to show up there. Continued..

          • Mike
            17 May 2016 @ 10:40 am

            Continued.. I can’t come close to fully understanding how racism affects people because I will never be pulled over for simply driving while black but I can say this God has fully opened my eyes to the injustices that occur both inside and outside the church because of it and I am going to do whatever I can to try to fight against it for my son and my church family (and they are truly my family) whom I love so much. Sending love in Christ.

  30. EARL CALAHAN
    16 May 2016 @ 5:09 pm

    As for continuing in poverty and inequality, is one of family cultures. In the 30’s the “Okies”, pulled up stakes, and moved to the land of milk and honey, California. As did the Mormons in the 1800’s
    to escape persecution for their beliefs, struggled by horse and wagon to Utah. The “Okies” took up
    living in tents and makeshift accommodations, while taking any lowly job available, as the book and movie “The Grapes of Wrath” adequately described. Most of their progeny grew out of the culture that inequality dictates. Also many from all over the USA, seeking a better life for their families,
    moved to California at the start of WWII, for the opportunity of jobs. That is the reason California has the largest population of all States today. But even so, there are many who are on the dole of their neighbors who work. There is a peoples cultured in the USA who refuse to work, and content to take every handout given. The male youth in the culture with endless time on their hands, drift into booze, drugs, making pregnant as many as possible. These are perpetual generations who take
    whatever the Democrats dole out (for their votes), and constantly press for more, if this continues, block voting in the future will swing every election held. What kind of nation will this be if allowed to happen??

  31. jimbob
    16 May 2016 @ 5:20 pm

    ” Ultimately, Jesus’s approach demonstrates the risky, revolutionary objective and pain involved in social transformation.
    I recommend Jesus’ method of people speaking out, writing, and collaborating with others to develop solutions that will improve social situations. ”
    Mark,
    Would you care to be more specific/detailed in this “method?

    How are a person’s thinking processes changed?
    One has to substitute & value an idea over one already embraced.
    Adventists are usually stuck in a certain mindset, and superficial obscure teaching in Sabbath school or pulpits make little or no difference in thinking.
    IS 55:7 & 2 Cor 10:5 is a moment by moment challenge for humans who have cranial/mental habit boutons of a warped perverted, depraved culture.

    Adventists have about 1000 waking minutes a day to be influenced by media, and 120-180 minutes a week, at church, will have little effect with those who are of the world or weekend warriors who play church.

  32. Frieda Renisch
    16 May 2016 @ 6:23 pm

    I think this article is the literary equivalent of a drive-by shooting. The author swoops in, makes a point, and bam – he’s gone, leaving the aftermath in his wake — as the commenters try to make sense of it and sweep up the pieces.

  33. Mark McCleary
    17 May 2016 @ 4:00 am

    That’s your drive-by response/reaction. Your response was even shorter than mine. Reread the title and try to empathize rather than offer just your terse etic analysis. Sorry you felt I was shooting at you and not simply sharing my observations (thoughts and feelings) on paper (online). In closing, it is paradoxical that I both missed you and motivated you to respond. Thanks.

    • Frieda Renisch
      17 May 2016 @ 1:00 pm

      Thank you, Pastor McCleary. I didn’t mean it in a negative way. The problem of racism has plagued the world and the church for eons, and no amount of academic papers or articles have been able to eradicate it yet. Jesus recognized that certain problems are almost impossible to solve; certain demons “cannot come out except by much prayer and fasting.” (Matt. 17:21.) The demon of discrimination cannot be cured by this article, no matter how informative it is. A topic like this — and an issue as momentous as race/ethnicity-based discrimination — deserves dialogue, good-faith discussion, and mutual communication. I long for the day when Adventist Whites and Blacks will sit down as brothers and communicate frankly about how to exorcise this demon by mutual understanding, mutual respect, and friendship–not just to debate history or theory, but to put it into action through mutual respect, cooperation, and love. I fear that we are not really followers of Christ until we do so, for “by this shall all men know that ye are My disciples, if ye have love one to another.” (John 13:35.)

    • Frieda Renisch
      17 May 2016 @ 1:27 pm

      P.S. — Dr. McCleary, I am only one person, like a drop in the ocean. I don’t think there’s much I can do to make a difference in this nation or the church. But I always look for at least some small way to be an instrument of peace where I am. Whenever I come across a stranger who is Black, I smile a genuine, friendly, peaceful smile. Whenever I converse with a Black person, I listen more than I talk, because I want to make it clear that I value this person’s thoughts, feelings, and opinions. And whenever I’m entering or exiting a store, I offer the small courtesy of holding the door open for a stranger who happens to be Black and giving them a kind smile, just to silently try to convey that “I value your dignity.” Although I have no influence in politics or academia, these small gestures of friendship and courtesy seem to have been a minor contribution of some positive impact in my small sphere. I’m sure there are more little things I can do. I always pray, “Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace; where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon. . . . Grant that I may not so much seek … to be understood, as to understand; to be loved, as to love.”

      • William Noel
        17 May 2016 @ 6:13 pm

        Frieda,

        Please, don’t let “I am only one person” keep you from doing great things for God. Jesus was only one person in one place at one time. Each of the apostles was only one person in one place at one time. It is absolutely amazing what one person can do when they are ministering in the power of the Holy Spirit and focused on doing God’s work instead of building the kingdoms of men.

      • Mark McCleary
        20 May 2016 @ 5:21 pm

        Don’t minimize your impact. Living is doing and getting reaction. Don’t fall prey to being to addicted to large/macro measurements. Jesus changed the world with 12 “ignorant” Jewish bigots (Read Acts 1 and 2). Google the “Butterfly theory” and remember, “The journey of a 1000 miles begins with one step.” Keep stepping, walking into your service and living destiny.

  34. Donovan
    17 May 2016 @ 1:27 pm

    With all the argument about creation I have found it strange that there is virtually no discussion whether ADAM is the father of ALL of humanity and why are there physical differences in the races on Earth today?
    These were my thoughts last Sabbath. And I am personally persuaded that not only did God create the world in six literal days and rested on the Seventh, God also command two human beings (literally) Adam and Eve to be fruitful and Multiply and populate the whole earth.
    The implications of accepting that we are all fathered by ADAM and mothered by Eve is astounding. Racism is pure evil. No RACE is Better than another Race. Black People and all people for that matter need not demand any equality we need to PRAY to God.

    I think one key source of racism in the world is the image of the White European Jesus Christ that the world has been told is God. I use the term White European because how is it possible for a person from Bethlehem to look like a white European? Did God choose how he would look? and if he did are we not misrepresenting God with a false image?
    I bow to no graven image what so ever, least of all the White European mainly promoted by Catholics as God. Take a look at an Ethiopian and tell me which race he or she is?

    God has given us his Word as our Guide. We have become accustomed at promoting false images for too long with out considering the implications.

    • Pedro Chavez
      17 May 2016 @ 1:37 pm

      God is a Spirit. He has no color. Jesus was born in the Middle East and probably looked like however the Middle Easterners looked in those days. But it doesn’t matter how He looked. We don’t worship His earthly body; we worship Him as “God … a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” John 4:24.

      As the Christmas carol says,

      “Some children see Him lily white,
      the baby Jesus born this night.
      Some children see Him lily white,
      with tresses soft and fair.

      Some children see Him bronzed and brown,
      The Lord of heav’n to earth come down.
      Some children see Him bronzed and brown,
      with dark and heavy hair.

      Some children see Him almond-eyed,
      this Savior whom we kneel beside.
      some children see Him almond-eyed,
      with skin of yellow hue.

      Some children see Him dark as they,
      sweet Mary’s Son to whom we pray.
      Some children see him dark as they,
      and, ah! they love Him, too!

      The children in each different place
      will see the baby Jesus’ face
      like theirs, but bright with heavenly grace,
      and filled with holy light.
      O lay aside each earthly thing
      and with thy heart as offering,
      come worship now the infant King.
      ‘Tis love that’s born tonight!”

      ~ Alfred S. Burt

      • William Abbott
        17 May 2016 @ 6:04 pm

        Pedro!!!

        Lilly white? Maybe after they ran the spear into his side and the blood ran out. Maybe he looked like a corpse. I doubt his tresses were soft and fair. More likely encrusted with dirt and gore. Jesus doesn’t look like me. He looks like a Jew. He has wounds in His hands and side.

        Don’t teach the children to worship themselves.

      • Donovan
        17 May 2016 @ 8:38 pm

        God is a Spirit and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth.

        That is especially why all false idols need to come done.

  35. EARL CALAHAN
    17 May 2016 @ 3:37 pm

    Thanks Pedro, for the beautiful poem. You are correct in your summation of how not a single one of us would recognize Jesus, if we met him on the street in His Humanity, without fanfare or entourage, should He so venture, in any of our communities, should He desire to do so. But as you stated He is first and foremost God. Flesh is flesh, and spirit is spirit, and flesh, the vessel we inhabit now, must forsake the Earthly flesh, as finite weak flesh cannot enter heavenly places. We shall receive our being as is His Glorious Spiritual being, upon having our soul restored in God’s time and
    keeping.

  36. William Abbott
    17 May 2016 @ 5:57 pm

    Mike,

    Regional Conferences are a good idea. They always have been a good idea. They have been very successful in terms of membership growth. Many, if not most, blacks prefer black churches. One of the reasons regional conferences were formed was to incubate and develop black SDA pastors. It is hard enough for white pastors to get promoted into the ever thinner ranks of administration. Very few black pastors were advancing, for lots of reasons besides prejudice, and the regional conferences opened doors for black pastors to advance in greater numbers. It’s mostly math. Look at blacks as a percent of the population and as a percent of church members in 1940. Do the math in 2016, who can argue with success? I love the way the Regional Conferences compete with the regular conferences to organize Spanish language churches. Its kind of like school choice. The gospel is proclaimed and the SDA church grows.

    Biblical egalitarianism needs defending. I’m refuting it. I read about God choosing one family, tribe, people, race, nation, call them what you will, call them the Jews God making them preeminent. He certainly isn’t making us all equal. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Biblical egalitarianism is not biblical. Prove me wrong.

    Now God is not a respecter of persons and if you want to be like Him you’d better not be either. That is what James 2 is talking about; not equality.

    • Donovan
      17 May 2016 @ 8:52 pm

      I think the fact that Adam and Eve is the parents of all is the reality of biblical egalitarianism. Racism the idea that one race is superior to another is a complete and utter lie.

      The strangers who accepted the Lord were not to be treated as second class citizens. Egypt and even wicked Assyria God stretched out is hands to God is absolutely not a racist.

      • William Abbott
        17 May 2016 @ 9:32 pm

        Donovan,

        Strangers who accepted the Lord have a very honored part in Israel’s history. Ruth and Rahab come to mind. But accepting the Lord for Rahab required betraying her city Jericho and trusting Israel instead. Ruth abandoned any part of Moab, she would not do the sensible thing like Orpah and return to her father’s house. She chose a fate with Israel when she clung to Naomi who was returning to Bethlehem.

        God chose the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob to be His chosen people. That’s biblical.

  37. Donovan
    17 May 2016 @ 9:02 pm

    I like the idea of regional conferences given the history of how they came about such history have a place in Adventist they serve as an excellent reminder of survival and shame. It is apart of the human story. This is Earth

  38. Stephen Foster
    17 May 2016 @ 11:14 pm

    William Noel,

    You don’t like political correctness…so you should appreciate this.

    You deny being a racist who views one race to be superior to another race. I happen to believe otherwise about you because you make it a point at every turn to deny the fact of white racism in American society. You make it a point to deny the lingering aftermath and effects of historic white racism; and you make it a point to draw some moral equivalent with what white racism has done to our society with what blacks have done to whites in this society.

    For three consecutive days on this very thread you have made statements like “both sides are at fault…,” and “…the pursuit of justice is an emotional issue for many, in particular those who see themselves as the victims,” and “…A whole lot of forgiveness is needed on both sides. Forgiveness is not admitting wrong…”

    The fact is you cannot concede the historic and ongoing reality of white racism in American society because, for some reason, you do not want to admit that particular wrong. In this context you don’t even want to think/acknowledge that admitting wrong plays an indispensable role in the process of forgiveness.

    You perpetually recite bromides against political correctness, but your defensive denial of white racism represents the inside out version of it.

    • William Noel
      18 May 2016 @ 5:06 am

      Stephen,

      The words of Jesus are a “straw man?” That is unbelief writ huge and in neon! If it were not for false statements about me and twisting my words to avoid understanding what contrasts with your race-based political correctness, I think you might have nothing to say. If you do not understand my words, you have a problem. You are focused on the history of racism in America, preserving the illusion that it still is what it once was and maintaining the many economic and legal advantages that you have been given by the law based on the color of your skin. In contrast, I am focused on building the Kingdom of God as Jesus did in spite of whatever wrongs exist in society. If my focus makes me “ilk” as you have accused, then I bear the charge proudly because I am a believer in Jesus and I am seeing the power of the Holy Spirit working both in and through me. I am seeing God doing great things and drawing people of all races to Him. That is the scriptural proof that a person believes in God. Since you have no such testimony and remain focused on preserving what divides people, you may say you are Adventist, but you are making it appear that you believe more in race-dividing Liberal politics than in God.

      • Monica Curry
        18 May 2016 @ 6:10 am

        I think I believe in God. I definitely believe in Donald Tramp. I used to believe in Burny Sanders and Jeb Brush. I still believe in Hellary Clinton. I never believed Ted Cruz-Control. I voted for Mark O. Ruby-oh. I wish I had voted for John KaySick. I won’t support Killary Clinton or Donald Dump (“Make America Hate Again”). B’rock O’bama has done a good job, but the last really good President was George Washington.

        • Monica Curry
          18 May 2016 @ 6:14 am

          ( I figured a bit of comic relief might be helpful. )

      • Stephen Foster
        18 May 2016 @ 7:57 am

        William Noel,

        The straw man argument to which I refer is the (mistaken) notion that a mistaken interpretation of Christian theology represents the only bases upon which Christians (that are on the political left) address, and seek remedies for, racial injustice in this society.

        The words of Jesus in John 18:36 were in answer to Pilate’s questions to Him. They were not a statement indicating that His followers should no longer seek to “do justly, love mercy, and to walk humbly with [their] God.”

        Again I challenge you, or any of our readers, to please identify for me some of “the many economic and legal advantages that [I] have been given by the law based on the color of [my] skin.”

        Since you claim to be so focused on building the heavenly kingdom, even if that baseless statement (regarding “the many economic and legal advantages that [I] have been given by the law based on the color of [my] skin”) had even one shred of truth to it—which of course it does not—it shouldn’t make a difference to you one way or the other according to the way you are attempting to use John 18:36. Whatever happens in the civil and legal affairs of men should be of no interest to you; and neither should my ‘being economically and legally advantaged’ by the color of my skin—as my “many economic and legal advantages” don’t interfere with your capacity to build the kingdom.

        (Having it both ways is logically/rationally impossible.)

        • Jim Hamstra
          18 May 2016 @ 8:36 am

          Stephen Foster wrote:

          “Again I challenge you, or any of our readers, to please identify for me some of “the many economic and legal advantages that [I] have been given by the law based on the color of [my] skin.” ”

          Since I qualify as “any of our readers” let me make so bold as to venture to list a few (among many):

          1) Preferential admissions to public universities.
          2) Preferential eligibility for government contracts.
          3) Preferential eligibility for SBA loans.

          Now I am not trying to debate here the merits or otherwise of various “affirmative action” laws. Nor to imply that racial minorities are the only beneficiaries of such laws. (For example there are numerous preferential treatments afforded to military veterans, women, etc.)

          But I must question how or why my brother Stephen would deny or ignore their existence?

          I would say to both sides in this particular irrational debate:
          “First remove the planks in your own eyes before trying to remove the planks in your brothers’ eyes 8-).”

          • Stephen Foster
            18 May 2016 @ 3:15 pm

            Brother Jim Hamstra,

            Among the many myths surrounding affirmative action is the canard that black people or people of color generally, are hired without regard to their qualifications for a position; but rather based solely upon the fact of the pigmentation of their skin.

            This is directly from Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. (Unlawful Employment Practices) Section 704:
            (a) Employer practices
            It shall be an unlawful employment practice for an employer –
            (1) to fail or refuse to hire or to discharge any individual, or otherwise to discriminate against any individual with respect to his compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of such individual’s race, color, religion, sex, or national origin; or
            (2) to limit, segregate, or classify his employees or applicants for employment in any way which would deprive or tend to deprive any individual of employment opportunities or otherwise adversely affect his status as an employee, because of such individual’s race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.
            (b) Employment agency practices
            It shall be an unlawful employment practice for an employment agency to fail or refuse to refer for employment, or otherwise to discriminate against, any individual because of his race, color, religion, sex, or national origin, or to classify or refer for employment any individual on the basis of his race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.

          • Stephen Foster
            18 May 2016 @ 3:18 pm

            I attempted to bait Noel into specifically identifying affirmative action…but lo and behold, you are the one who fell for it.

            Affirmative action Jim gives qualified women and minorities the opportunity to compete in areas where they either have been or are now underrepresented. Now, I fully understand that those against whom qualified applicants now have an opportunity to compete are threatened by such broadening of opportunity; but any society is strengthened by a wider universe of its human capital from which to draw.

            In point of fact, women have been the primary beneficiaries…thus the larger society benefits.

          • Jim Hamstra
            18 May 2016 @ 3:34 pm

            Brother Stephen Foster,

            You need to read more carefully what I wrote about Affirmative Action. I was not challenging the legitimacy or efficacy of Affirmative Action. I was challenging your assertion that there are no government laws or programs that give special benefits to racial minorities. The whole point of Affirmative Action is to give special benefits to groups that have been and are subject to discrimination. How can you support Affirmative Action while denying its intent and effect?

            When you take this stance you are undermining your own credibility as surely as are those who take the stance that racial discrimination is no longer a problem in America.

            How can humans be so zealous regarding the biases of others and yet so blind to their own?

          • Stephen Foster
            19 May 2016 @ 1:38 am

            Jim Hamstra,

            Let’s go back and review the tape, shall we? Here is what our friend Noel has asserted: “No nation on the face of the earth has more laws favoring one race, providing more financial benefits or legal advantage to any population group based on their race, than America has for Blacks.” To which my initial challenge was for anyone who sees things as Noel does to “enumerate for us a few of the presumably many laws that now favor “one race” and that provide more financial benefits and/or legal advantages to black people in America than any other race.”

            No takers that time.

            Later Noel reiterated that one of the things that I am focused upon is “maintaining the many economic and legal advantages that [I] have been given by the law based on the color of [my] skin.” To which I again challenged anyone “to please identify for me some of “the many economic and legal advantages that [I] have been given by the law based on the color of [my] skin.”

            You took the challenge and named affirmative action; as if affirmative action gives me many economic and legal advantages by law based on the color of my skin. Apparently you are convinced that this is true despite the fact that it is a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act to discriminate for or against someone in employment based on the color of their skin; which mandates that an individual chosen applicant must be otherwise qualified for the position.

          • Stephen Foster
            19 May 2016 @ 1:40 am

            The mythological perception of affirmative action is a grotesque distortion of reality. It is an equal opportunity measure made necessary by discriminatory practices that have favored one race of men in particular; giving qualified individuals of all other racial minorities—and all qualified women, including whites—an opportunity to compete and be considered for positions that they have been systematically discriminated against; in favor of white men.

            That white men would want to deny and distort this reality, particularly in favor of a narrative that the affirmative action initiative provides economic and legal advantages to “one race” is telling; and lends credence to the charge of self-serving rhetoric.

        • William Noel
          18 May 2016 @ 12:40 pm

          Stephen,

          We’ve been over this ground more than once in the past so it should be obvious no amount of scriptural or factual evidence is going to change your mind.

    • Jim Hamstra
      18 May 2016 @ 8:47 am

      Stephen Foster wrote (to only one or to all?):

      “you cannot concede the historic and ongoing reality of white racism in American society because, for some reason, you do not want to admit that particular wrong”

      I will concede the historic and ongoing reality of white racism, and not just in American society.

      Will you also concede the reality of Black racism and Asian racism, which are also prevalent?

      And do you believe there is more or less racism in America now than when you and I were young? Have we made any real progress in the past 50 years or are we going in circles, or possibly even backwards?

      Is Donald Trump correct in blaming the Mexicans and the Muslims for America’s woes? Is this also a form of racism? Are Blacks the only or the primary targets of White racism?

      • Stephen Foster
        18 May 2016 @ 3:29 pm

        Jim Hamstra,
        You are absolutely correct if your point is that blacks are not the sole target of white racism.
        I believe that racism is less overt and in some instances illegal now; whereas it was more overt and more overtly institutionalized in the past. The thing we can do about it is talk frankly; but as you can attest, this makes many people uncomfortable; apparently including you, my brother.

        • Jim Hamstra
          19 May 2016 @ 3:54 am

          Stephen,

          Discussing race and racism does not make me uncomfortable. I have been doing this very thing intermittently for over 50 years now. No discomfort here, my man, just watching a re-hash of what for me are very old arguments, and remarking to myself how much and yet how little has changed in those 50 years. (You might want to read the link I posted about how American schools are becoming re-segregated.)

          Nor do I resent your evident passion on this topic. I am also passionate about it. That is why I engaged in cross-racial outreach in my teen-age years. Likewise for my White pastor father who joined with one of his Black pastor friends (Marshall Kelley) from a different conference, to try to build some bridges after the Detroit riots. I understand that we Honkies may all look the same to you, but actually we are not all the same. In my youth there were some who actually considered me a “reverse Oreo” (you can get that one if you try 8-).

          You need to recognize that it is possible to care so much about something, something that is legitimately deeply important to you, that your objectivity is impaired. That is why the doctor who treats him/her self, and the lawyer who represents him/her self, has a fool for a client (an old cliche).

          Finally, my brother, I am NOT William Noel. I realized that when I stepped-in to your pitched battle with William, I would probably become a target. Yep, I was right-on.

          Chill, man. Cool your jets just a wee bit.

          • Jim Hamstra
            19 May 2016 @ 4:29 am

            Stephen,

            I am also passionate about my own family history. So I will share some of it with you.

            3/4 of my ancestors came from the Netherlands after the Civil War. That would leave my father’s mother’s family who came here almost 300 years ago. Her mother had four older brothers, plus one brother-in-law, who all enlisted in the Union army. Statistically at least one should not have survived. But they all came back home, one missing an arm and most of the rest with bullets or bullet holes in various places. A more distant cousin of theirs took a Confederate musket ball in the head at Chickamauga and did not come back to his young wife and children. My grand-mother was rightly proud of her uncles.

            The way I see things, a long time ago my family volunteered to bleed and die for your family, on distant (from Michigan) battle fields with names like Chickamauga and Chancellorsville. To me if not to you, that means we are Blood Brothers.

            Not to mention that even longer ago, our Big Brother bled and died for both of us.

          • Stephen Foster
            19 May 2016 @ 8:15 am

            Jim,

            You were not the target, but the misconception (or inaccurate perception) of affirmative action was. You voluntarily carried that perception into my crosshairs.

            Of all people, I understand that you are not William Noel, bruh. I appreciate, respect, and admire the way that you process and communicate information.

            I do respectfully disagree with you that this has been an irrational discussion however. To the contrary, I believe that this has been among the more important and frank discussions as Americans are likely to have on this challenging topic; and I, for one, value your contributions to it.

  39. Jim Hamstra
    18 May 2016 @ 6:29 am

    I have some questions and comments for William Abbott:

    1) When the saved from every nation and tribe and tongue and people, gather before the Throne in Heaven, will there be inequality among them based upon their ethnic origins?
    My answer – NO because they all proclaim that God has made them a nation of priests and kings who will reign forever with Jesus Christ.

    2) If in Heaven the saved are one indivisible nation of kings and priests (a clear reference back to Exodus) then when will this distinction disappear?
    My answer – According to the Apostle Paul, in Christ the “wall of separation” between Jews and Gentiles has already been torn-down. And Paul was persuaded that the various class distinctions common in the society of his time, did not exist in Christ Jesus. And Paul says in Romans that Gentile believers have been grafted-in to the “Vine” of Christ. And that unbelieving Jews were cut-off so that Gentiles could be grafted-in. According to Paul, there are no hereditary prerogatives in the human family of God. All family rights come from adoption.

    3) Granted that Paul was talking about human relationships in the context of the Kingdom of Heaven rather than Kingdoms of this World, are Christians not called here and now to live the New Life of the Kingdom of Heaven rather than the Old Life of the Kingdoms of this World? And does this not include how we regard and relate to people of different nations and tribes and tongues and peoples?

    • William Abbott
      18 May 2016 @ 7:29 am

      Jim,

      Why did Paul circumcise Timothy, a Jew, with his own hand, but resist the circumcision of Titus? Both men were Presbyters in Jesus Christ’s church? Did Paul believe the two men to have different status? Did He think one ought to be circumcised because he was a Jew? And Titus ought not be circumcised because he was not a Jew?

      I do know you are capable of very concise thought. I’ve thought you have done the very best job of summing up the debates here we have had at AT the age of the earth and the authority of scripture. You have too much intellectual integrity to blithely explain away Romans 11. As Paul says, “As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the fathers’ sakes. For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.” What is Paul’s point here? Israel goes on forever.

      My wife and I have six children. Four are natural-born and two are adopted. There is nothing in the world that can alter their status. The first-born can not become the youngest, the adopted can not become the natural-born, the natural born can never have the status of being adopted. The boys can not have the status of being female, nor the can the girls become boys. Inequality is the very nature of family. Love is the glue that holds family together.

      I will agree with you – there are no hereditary prerogatives when it comes to faith. That is a gift from God, bestowed on whom He…

      • William Abbott
        18 May 2016 @ 7:35 am

        He chooses. (you know what happened, don’t you?)

        • Jim Hamstra
          18 May 2016 @ 8:00 am

          William Abbott wrote:

          “Did He think one ought to be circumcised because he was a Jew? And Titus ought not be circumcised because he was not a Jew?”

          The answer to both questions is YES. Timothy’s mother was a Jew. In the eyes of the Jews that made Timothy a Jew. So the fact that Timothy was not circumcised was an offense to most Jews (though not to Paul who personally could care less). Titus was not a Jew. The decision of Paul to circumcise Timothy but not Titus was not arbitrary but very wise, considering the context of the Christian church of their time.

          Regarding Romans 11, Christian commentators differ widely in how they explain Paul’s comments regarding the Jews. I would point-out that most SDA scholars do not share your views on this topic. You seem to have more in common with the Dispensationalists in this regard, however I do not think this is worth debating here. (See eg “www.bible-researcher.com/gal6-16.html” and “http://www.garynorth.com/freebooks/docs/a_pdfs/newslet/dt/9012.pdf” for an overview of the issues surrounding “Israel” in Pauline writings. You might want to study LaRondelle’s book for yourself.)

          “Inequality is the very nature of family. Love is the glue that holds family together.”

          You conflate biological Differences with Inequality. Certainly your adopted children and you biological children are different. Certainly your sons and your daughters are different. But do you really consider them Unequal?

  40. Jim Hamstra
    18 May 2016 @ 6:53 am

    Most SDAs agree that we worship on Sabbath to memorialize (one or more of) the “Divine trifecta” of completed Creation, completed Redemption and completed Redemption.

    But the Sabbath commandment is NOT the Greatest Commandment. It does not even rank among the Top Two! According to Jesus the Top Two are (1) Love God supremely and (2) Love your fellow humans as yourself. And Jesus gave an example of reaching across ethnic boundaries when asked to elaborate on (2).

    ”A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

    No, we cannot hope to, nor are we called to, correct the many ills of worldly society. But within our own lives, individually and collectively as a Church, the New Commandment instructs us to address our own ills. So racism and sexism within our own lives and within the church, are in-scope for Christians.

    I would seriously encourage both the author of this Opinion article, and the readers, and the commenters, to focus on our personal and church issues. Arguing about the broader issues in society beyond the walls of our own church, is at best a distraction and at worst an excuse for anger and suspicion and aspersion and inaction.

  41. William Abbott
    18 May 2016 @ 7:59 am

    Jim,

    You ask: “When the saved from every nation and tribe and tongue and people, gather before the Throne in Heaven, will there be inequality among them based upon their ethnic origins?”

    When Jesus heard it, he marvelled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel. And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven. But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. And Jesus said unto the centurion, Go thy way; and as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee. And his servant was healed in the selfsame hour.

    That is not the language of equality: By his own words the centurion is unworthy to have Jesus enter His house, because Jesus is a Jew. He is acknowledging his inferiority and that is the seed of his great faith. As the Elders of the Jews said about the Centurion: “For he loveth our nation, and he hath built us a synagogue.”

    We have no portion at that great table unless it is a portion with Abraham, Isaac and Israel. I have no equal right to the banquet.

    • Jim Hamstra
      18 May 2016 @ 8:10 am

      “That is not the language of equality”
      I agree.

      “By his own words the centurion is unworthy to have Jesus enter His house”
      I agree.

      “because Jesus is a Jew”
      Here I disagree. He views Jesus as having superior authority to his own, because Jesus has authority over disease and death. His commanding officer does not bother to come into his house; he issues orders from afar and his subordinates comply.

      “He is acknowledging his inferiority and that is the seed of his great faith.”
      Acknowledging our inferiority to God is indeed a prerequisite for accepting God’s grace through faith. Acknowledging our inferiority to the Jews? Me thinks not 8-).

      “As the Elders of the Jews said about the Centurion: “For he loveth our nation, and he hath built us a synagogue.” ”

      And Jesus rebuked their pretensions of sectarian privilege by saying:
      “Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel. And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven. But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

      The whole point of His rejoinder is to rebuke the Jews for their unbelief. Never once in this narrative does Jesus acknowledge Jewish claims of privilege.

      • Mike
        18 May 2016 @ 10:09 am

        Jim, I totally agree. William A, God separated the Jews to be a chosen people to show the other nations how to live not because they were superior. Even if you go down the road you propose you miss the point that we are all now counted under Abraham’s seed and thus have equal standing as Christians. True, some have different talents and callings but God loves us all the same and no one has more worth than another in His eyes (think of Paul’s description of the church as body parts). God only honors others because of their hearts and not just because. He took Abel’s sacrifice because Abel loved God. I believe even if Cain had offered a lamb God would have rejected it because of Cain’s heart condition. David is chosen over Saul because Saul is disobedient. Time and time again in scripture God chooses people based on their spiritual condition and not based on family linage (and that directly applies to the Jews because they instructed to keep His commandments and when they didn’t they were led into captivity by the Babylonians. Case in point that if you look in Daniel Nebuchadnezzar was taking care of the poor in his country while in Israel, according to the prophets, they were being exploited). Sending love in Christ

        • William Abbott
          18 May 2016 @ 10:48 am

          Mike, you write: ” True, some have different talents and callings but God loves us all the same and no one has more worth than another in His eyes”

          I would agree with you if you said God loves each one of us more than we can imagine. Why do you say He loves us all the same?

          You are saying, if I read you correctly, that God is choosing and rejecting us, based on our hearts. We are meriting God’s favor, (not His love, of course) by loving Him. If we are disobedient, God rejects us, as in King Saul. David is especially loved by God only because He merits God’s love, because unlike Saul, David is obedient? His love for Moses and Israel is equal to His love for Pharaoh and the Canaanites?

          I love all my wives the same. Hahaha Tell that to your bride. Marriage is exclusive, you love your wife in a particular, not an equal, sort of way, compared to all women, she is the special, chosen one. Same with God. He owes no man anything. He doesn’t have to love us equally. Equality is not His style. Why don’t we say, He loves us each uniquely, each in His own special way.

      • William Abbott
        18 May 2016 @ 10:10 am

        Jim,
        “Sit down with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob” means nothing? Not claims of privilege, but a reaffirmation of God’s election of the Jews. Certainly the Centurion was referencing Jewish unwillingness to make themselves unclean by entering into a gentiles dwelling. Same thing with the Jews before Pilate, Pilate went out to them. Inferiority is maybe not the best word but it surely conveys the greater status; ‘This is what the Lord says: Israel is my firstborn son’

        Look, all the great Gentiles of the Bible had to acknowledge the superior status of Israel. Rahab, Ruth, Naaman. They had to choose, whom God had chosen. Look at what happened to Baalam, listen to his words.

        Better yet, listen to the words of Jesus: “But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel. Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me. But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it to dogs. And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table. Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt.” The Centurion and the Syro-Phonetician woman are the only two gentiles Jesus is recorded speaking with (that we know were gentiles) apart from His passion. Both these two gentiles in faith acknowledge the superiority of Israel.

        • Jim Hamstra
          18 May 2016 @ 3:22 pm

          William Abbott wrote:

          ” “Sit down with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob” means nothing? ”
          Jesus was talking to Jews in language they would understand. Also, Abraham and Isaac were not Jews. They had other children whom today we would call Arabs, etc. All of the lands where Abraham sojourned, from Iraq to Egypt, are filled with his descendants. Most of these are not Jews. And many of them will sit-down in the Kingdom of Heaven with Jews and Christians. The point of calling-out Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, none of whom were the eldest sons of their clans, was so God could bless the world through them.

          ” listen to the words of Jesus: “But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel. Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me. But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it to dogs. And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table. Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt.” ”
          According to Ellen White and many other commentators, Jesus said this to show the disciples their typical Jewish bias. It was not His bias. Read Luke 4:25-28 where He condemns His own people for their anti-Goiim bias.

          ” The Centurion and the Syro-Phonetician woman are the only two gentiles Jesus is recorded speaking with (that we know were gentiles) apart from His passion. ”
          Read John 4.

          • William Abbott
            18 May 2016 @ 7:31 pm

            Jim,

            First: The 1500 character limit lead me to omit the Samaritan woman, who is technically not a gentile. But I’m glad you brought her up. She also is told by Jesus to consider the superiority of the Jews. “Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews.” This reinforces my argument.

            Second: Jesus was speaking to the Tyro-Pheonnician woman, not His disciples. There is no guile in Jesus. He obviously wanted to try her faithfulness; He chose to do it by tying Himself, the Christ, to the Jews. She hadn’t cried out to the Jews to heal her daughter, she had cried out to Jesus. She believed in Him, and this was his way of telling her; Salvation is of the Jews. Do we not call Him the Son of David?

            When Jesus is rebuking the Nazarene’s for their unbelief, He is telling them a prophet is never received in His own country. He is warning them and at the same time prophesying His own death at the hands of the Jews. He is not rebuking their anti-goiim prejudices – that is not the point of His illustrations. The little Jewish maid servant witnessed to the Superiority of Israel and the prophet. Naaman carrying back the land of Israel and still speaks to us today that the one God has chosen Israel. Naaman’s story does show God is not a respecter of persons. It is not a tale of equality.

          • Jim Hamstra
            18 May 2016 @ 7:35 pm

            William Abbott,

            I was expecting you to give me that quote about salvation being of the Jews.

            The Samaritan woman got it but you didn’t. She understood that Jesus was referring to the Messiah being a Jew, literally a Son of David as you wrote. She did not take His statement to have a broader meaning and neither should we.

          • William Abbott
            18 May 2016 @ 7:49 pm

            Jim,

            The promises made to Abraham were passed on through the children of promise. Abraham had many sons, but those are emphatically not the point of what Jesus is telling the Jews. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are the chosen ones. Yet on your fathers did the LORD set His affection to love them, and He chose their descendants after them, even you above all peoples, as it is this day. You really stretched on this one Jim. Bad hermeneutics. What does the ‘not first-born’ have to do with God’s choosing? Do you suppose Him to be a respecter of persons?

    • Donovan
      19 May 2016 @ 4:15 pm

      My friend I believe that you have completely missed the point of the story. God Loves even the dirty poor Blackman you see in the Road. There is no inequality with God Love we are all children of Adam and Eve. We have differences and differences are absolutely beautiful and valuable I believe. The kind of inequality I believe we are referring to here are those that results from Injustice. God absolutely loves Justice and Righteousness.
      The centurion was a leader when he speaks he expected those subordinate to him to respond with out question.
      He recognized Christ as Lord over life and death all Christ needs to do is say the Word and the dead or sick will come to life. Christ is God!!! All God has to do is speak the word and it is done, He does not even need to go to His House just give the word. Such Faith I have not found in Israel says the Lord.

  42. my2cents
    18 May 2016 @ 8:52 am

    The denials of racism and of the Bible’s explicit calls for justice expressed here keep alive the need for pieces such as this by Pastor McCleary.

    • William Noel
      19 May 2016 @ 7:04 am

      my2cents,

      What is your definition of “justice?” The divine definition and the politically-correct version are very different.

      “Justice” in scripture are strictly legal terms where a person’s actions are measured against God’s law. This requires a person to treat all others fairly in all of their dealings. But PC “justice” is not a seeking of justice at all. Rather, it is a driven by envy and a desire for superiority over others. It takes the color of a person’s skin and declares that a person is guilty of discrimination against others based solely on the color of their skin and seizes upon any and all possible differences as evidence of “systematic discrimination.”

      The great irony in this discussion is how the politically-correct concept of “justice” promotes violation of the 8th, 9th and 10th Commandments, yet many who claim to believe in God and teach others to obey God’s laws are vocal supporters of it. So, are they really believers?

      • Jim Hamstra
        19 May 2016 @ 7:22 am

        William Noel wrote:

        ” “Justice” in scripture are strictly legal terms where a person’s actions are measured against God’s law.”

        William, there are multiple definitions of “judge” in the Bible. Frequently in the OT appeals are made to God to “judge” between the supplicant and the Oppressor. When God says God requires Justice more than Sacrifice the context clearly refers to how the power elites of ancient Judah were oppressing the poor and the aliens. In the Law of Moses the Jews were commanded not to oppress the poor and the aliens among them. Yet before they had settled the Land of Canaan they had already enslaved the Gibeonites. And if you read the OT carefully, it went downhill from there.

        When Jesus told the Jews “you shall love your neighbor as yourself” He was quoting from the Law of Moses. And He illustrated the point by telling the story of the Good Samaritan, who reached-across one of the biggest racial barriers of His time, to help a Jew who had been raised to look-down on and discriminate against Samaritans.

        And your comments fail to acknowledge the enormous difference between voluntarily migrating to America, versus being brought here as chattel slaves. Again, go and read the OT carefully. How many years did it take after Israel was freed from Egypt, before they began to exercise self-control and live responsibly? Certainly it did not happen during the times of the Judges?

        You are espousing a thoroughly White-washed view of the…

        • Jim Hamstra
          19 May 2016 @ 7:27 am

          APOLOGY to William Noel.

          “And your comments fail to acknowledge the enormous difference between voluntarily migrating to America, versus being brought here as chattel slaves. . . . ”

          These concluding remarks were meant for Hansen, not for you.

  43. Jim bob
    18 May 2016 @ 9:32 am

    Those Earthlings that value Jesus & the bible have no problems with racism. I have fellowship with any at church who are NOT of the denominational , institutional mindset or the worldly/political mindset. Those who spend a highly significant time of their daily 1000 minutes waking time with the world will be constantly in stress & strife with other worldly humans. Those who have problems with forgiveness or racism are victims and/or allies of satan.
    There are very few at church that I have fellowship with because they are involved very little in the spiritual realm.

    • Mike
      18 May 2016 @ 9:52 am

      Having a problem with forgiveness and having a problem with racism are two entirely different things. You can forgive a drunk driver for running into you but do you want to continue to allow them to drive on the road? Also, having a problem with racism doesn’t mean that it consumes the thoughts those believers but is simply one part of their belief system. It isn’t a victim mentality.

      • William Abbott
        18 May 2016 @ 10:22 am

        Mike,

        Is it racism to think God has specially chosen Israel?

      • Jimbob
        18 May 2016 @ 12:43 pm

        ” It isn’t a victim mentality.”

        They are victims of satan.

  44. Mike
    18 May 2016 @ 10:26 am

    God choosing Israel was His plan and He did it based on Isreal’s heart condition not because of anything else. You’re in the same pitfall that the Pharisees were in during Christ’s time who thought they would be saved just because they had the linage. God doesn’t care about the race He cares about the heart. Sending love in Christ.

  45. William Abbott
    18 May 2016 @ 11:07 am

    Whoa Mike,

    I never said the Jews would be saved because they had the linage. I said they had the linage because of God’s choosing. If they have no faith they won’t be saved. Their carcasses will rot in the wilderness if they don’t believe.

    God surely cares about our hearts. But why do you say He doesn’t care about race? Isn’t that like saying He doesn’t care about my family? I thought God ordained my creation and my status in the creation through my family. If it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t be here.

    My sisters and I were loved very much by our parents, and we in turn loved them. All sorts of advantages flowed to each of us, uniquely, particularly and specifically, because we were the children of this wonderful man and woman. I never saw anything like equality in any of these familial relations. Why do you impose equality on God’s familial relations?

    If my parents loved the three of us equally it would have been a poor species of love. The love they had for us was beyond the scales. It was a differentiating love. True love is always like that.

    • Mike
      18 May 2016 @ 1:13 pm

      William A, Acts 10:34-35 So Peter opened his mouth and said: “Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.” Either you believe scripture or you don’t.

      • William Abbott
        18 May 2016 @ 2:30 pm

        Mike,

        You are on record: you think God does show partiality. Re-read your own posts.

        I don’t and never have. I know He is not a respecter of persons.

        I don’t think He is the God of Equality. You do, right? Are we all equal? Are families and tribes equal? That is not Biblical. Why does God so obviously choose one tribe to be His peculiar treasure?

        Did He choose Israel, yes or no? Did He quit choosing Israel? If so, when? Why did Paul say, “but as touching the election, they are beloved for the fathers’ sakes. For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.” Paul thinks the Jews are still the chosen people. Why am I to take your word on it that they are not?

        You need to make a better argument. Of course I believe scripture.

        • Mike
          18 May 2016 @ 8:54 pm

          William, you are twisting my words and scripture to fit you’re point of view and that is a dangerous place to be. You’re words said that God has favorites and some He loves more than others yet that is directly contradicted by what Peter says. God isn’t partial but He chooses based on the heart condition of the believer because that is what determines what they can do to further His kingdom and bring others into the fold. Oh, and all Christians are really Jews if you want to split hairs because we are all counted as Abraham’s seed. I’ve tried to show you what God has to say about this and if you don’t want to here it that is between you and Him at this point. Sending love in Christ.

        • Mike
          18 May 2016 @ 9:06 pm

          Pastor McCleary I’m not sure if you are still reading any of this but I wanted to personally say thank you for having the courage to write this article if you are. Injustice will never be overcome if no one ever stands up for what is right and I know God is smiling down on you for doing the right thing. Sending love in Christ.

          • Mark McCleary
            20 May 2016 @ 5:39 pm

            If you skim this thread, you’ll notice my periodic responses. The fish bowl element of life is ever present. People reject or emulate you. They even modify and launch something unique in time and space. Thanks for the encouragement. This initial presentation comes from MY heart to whomsoever. Stay tuned.

  46. e
    18 May 2016 @ 12:10 pm

    This will be the approx. 150th comment. I must agree with Jim, that we must remove the motes from our eyes which occludes our ability to think clearly, rationally. Etched indelibly in the psyches of some, appears to be
    permanent agitation with others who have at some time assumed that
    other one has dissed them. As Jim, I believe Stephen and William N. have in some way irritated each other, and will in every exchange, regardless of their interchanges are unable to express brotherly love that convinces the other. This has been continuing for more than a year. It’s time I believe that the two of you consider not communicating with the other, here at ATODAY. It will be relief for the two of you, and the others here. We love the two of you, and wish the very best for the two of you.

    • William Abbott
      18 May 2016 @ 2:41 pm

      E,

      I hope Stephen and William keep going at it hammer and tongs. Iron sharpens iron and I benefit from their discussions. At least they believe something and know how to craft an argument. I never get fed pablum when those two are serving it up.

      Jesus and John the Baptist never sugar-coated it. That is not the prophetic voice. Besides those two are much closer to having the same weltanschuung than they realize. It is one reason they have some much to argue about. They agree on the fundamentals. Its the details that animate their discussions.

      They both disagree with me about WO. Good for them. I don’t let ’em off easy.

  47. Shannon O'Leary
    18 May 2016 @ 1:48 pm

    Dr. McCleary, thanks for your column. It reminds me of the situation when a VA hospital discovered mold growing in two of the rooms. Warning signs were taped to the doors, along with a VA memo describing the pipe leak that caused the infestation and saying, “There were missed opportunities and lessons learned from this situation. Communication and notification to all parties until the issue is resolved, is key.”

    • Mark McCleary
      20 May 2016 @ 5:27 pm

      Isa. 1;18-20. Good laconic ism.

  48. Nathaniel Moore
    18 May 2016 @ 1:49 pm

    My original intention was to read my way through this very sensitive topic. From the start I knew it would aggravate some open wounds. Let me ask: are we trying to convert some , to convince some people, to educate some people, or to justify our point of view on this topic? People who enjoy their status in society will almost always try to maintain it, and will defend it to the last. People who are underprivileged,or who think they are peopleunderprivileged, will always try to rise out of that situation; and if they think they are helpless, they will complain.
    Most of us believe we are going to heaven to live with God at some time. In the light of some of the arguments we have read in this forum, will there be a mingling of the saints there? Will there be a recognition of the special status of the Jews? Will there be special recognition for the “Advent People”? Will the changes effected make all peoples white, or brown, or black, or will there only be spirits?
    One comment gave me the impression that Black peoples in North America never had it so good as it is now, so they better enjoy it and keep as quiet as they can. Oh for the day when men will get hearts of flesh!

  49. syzygy
    18 May 2016 @ 2:32 pm

    My sister came home from school one day with this ditty:
    How odd
    Of God
    To choose
    The Jews

  50. Nathaniel Moore
    18 May 2016 @ 5:50 pm

    Is it that God chose the Jews, or that the Jews chose (or made) their God? The Jews wrote their story, and fashioned their God to do them all kinds of special favours. He would punish them for idolatry and their failure to exterminate their enemies; but in the end He would forgive and establish them above all nations. He would save them for Jacob’s sake. The other nations would be wiped out, or will have to submit to the leaders of the Jews. This is, in part, the dream of the Jews.

    But the real God made all peoples, and loves all of His creation. In His own unique way, He punishes wrong doing, and rewards those who deserve punishment. All men, in their time, suffer the ills occasioned by earthquakes, volcanoes,famines, ignorance and greed. God intervenes when He wills, for His purposes.

    As a people, they seem never to appreciate the special favours they claimed they received from God. As a result, they only had a relatively short time as a great nation. They were buffetted from Assyria to Egypt, punished by the Philistines, the Persians, the Romans, until they were eventually scattered throughout the world. They are anything else but happy where they are now located by friendly nations of the .West. How special and chosen are they? Those who are hoping and trying to share or inherit their privileges better think carefully!

    • William Abbott
      19 May 2016 @ 4:26 am

      Nathaniel,

      So the Scripture that Jesus Christ held to be so authoritative is just a story about the “Dream God of the Jews?” The real God isn’t like the God of Israel at all?

      I don’t want to be a Jew. I want to be who I am. I just acknowledge God has chosen them and salvation is not separate from them; Jesus Christ is their King. He is the King of Israel. He is my King too.

  51. Jim Hamstra
    18 May 2016 @ 7:38 pm

    Evidence of persistent racism in America:

    “www.pbs.org/wgbh/frontline/article/the-return-of-school-segregation-in-eight-charts/”

  52. William Abbott
    18 May 2016 @ 7:52 pm

    Jim,

    Have I given Jesus’ Jewishness to broad a meaning?

    • Jim Hamstra
      19 May 2016 @ 3:03 am

      In my opinion, YES.

      You really need to study carefully the writing of Han LaRondelle on this topic. He does a very good job of capturing the mainstream Adventist view.

      Promises applied to literal Israel in the OT are applied to spiritual Israel in the NT. After the Restoration of All Things, in the New Earth the remnant of Literal Israel and the Remnant of Spiritual Israel will inhabit both a Literal and a Spiritual kingdom.

      On the other hand, if you pursue your line of reasoning that every promise in the OT must be literally fulfilled in this life, then not only will there be a Fourth Temple in Jerusalem (as prophesied in Ezekiel) but a literal descendant of David will establish another monarchy in Jerusalem. Then and only then can the Messiah return to them. Adventists teach that this “old plan” was set-aside.

      Jesus did fulfill the promises made to Abraham and Isaac and Jacob. And when He said to Jerusalem “your house is left to you desolate” He meant exactly what He said. When Israel rejected their Messiah, they rejected their God. As a nation and as a people they forfeited their birthright. They chose the Curses in Deuteronomy rather than the Blessings.

      To use the “vine” analogy of Jesus and Paul, Literal Israel was cut-off and Spiritual Israel was grafted-in. Paul makes it clear that individual Jews have exactly the same status as individual Gentiles. Having once been cut-off, they are grafted back in.

      • Jim Hamstra
        19 May 2016 @ 3:20 am

        (continuing)

        To use the “vine” analogy of Jesus and Paul, Literal Israel was cut-off and Spiritual Israel was grafted-in. Paul makes it clear that individual Jews have exactly the same status as individual Gentiles. Having once been cut-off as a people by their un-belief, they are grafted back in as individuals by their belief.

        The true children of Abraham are those who believe, and act upon their belief. Paul did not invent this teaching. See Matthew 3:9, John 8:39, Galatians 3:7,29 etc.

        This same principle is one of the keys to understanding the numerology of the “12 + 12” and “12 x 12” in Revelation. These denote God’s true and faithful Remnant from both the OT and the NT. Not all who call themselves Jews will be saved, nor all who call themselves Christians. Again, Jesus and Paul and John are consistent in their application of this principle.

    • Jim Hamstra
      19 May 2016 @ 4:47 am

      William Abbott asked:

      “What does the ‘not first-born’ have to do with God’s choosing? Do you suppose Him to be a respecter of persons?”

      Actually, in a Patriarchal society, God over-ruled their notions of hereditary privilege in four successive generations. That should be enough to teach anyone who is willing to learn, that God’s favor is not hereditary. God has many children but God has no grand-children. God chose Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, David, etc, because they were willing to be led. That is why Abraham is called the Father of the Faithful.

      • William Abbott
        19 May 2016 @ 5:03 am

        Jim, The argument is God’s choosing is sovereign, not that He has bound himself to hereditary rules. Look at Ruth. What a straw man! Deal with the facts. God Chose Israel. Did He change His mind? Yes or No.

        The Bible says No.

        • Jim Hamstra
          19 May 2016 @ 7:07 am

          I agree that God is sovereign. No question there.

          Read the blessings and the curses in Deuteronomy.

          God did not change God’s mind. God honored Israel’s choice to reject the Messiah by rejecting Israel. Still a Remnant (not all) of Israel will indeed be saved. In both the OT and the NT the Remnant stands-in for the whole.

          I am not making this up and I am not appealing to any authority other than the authority of Scripture. But you need to consider the entirety of what the Bible says about Israel. And good books by Godly scholars can assist in your quest for truth.

  53. William Abbott
    19 May 2016 @ 4:58 am

    Jim,

    With all due respect: Please explain what Paul is talking about in Romans 11. Whose Olive tree is it? Isn’t it their own tree? [the Jews]

    You remind me of a dear friend who blurted out in Prophetic Guidance class 35 years ago: “The text can’t mean what it says because I don’t believe that.”

    Yes I know LaRondelle does an excellent job laying out the mainstream Adventist position. But Paul isn’t in agreement with LaRondelle. Read what it says: “As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the fathers’ sakes. For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.”

    So Jacob became Esau and forfeited His birthright? Jacob dissed God so God dissed Jacob. Jacob was unfaithful to God so God was unfaithful to Jacob. God changed His mind! Okay, I won’t put words in your mouth if you will quit putting the fourth temple in mine.

    For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.

    You owe me a biblical argument; a criticism of the texts. You are appealing to authority, not arguing the law and the facts.

    • Jim Hamstra
      19 May 2016 @ 7:02 am

      God’s tree and God’s farm.

      The Jews thought they owned the place but they didn’t. They were tenant farmers.

      I am not appealing to authority. I am appealing for you to read a good book on the subject so you will better understand what I wrote. And that book is chock-full of sound exegesis. Space here does not permit a detailed dissertation on each relevant chapter and verse.

      • William Abbott
        19 May 2016 @ 7:23 am

        I mean the whole of Romans 11. The text calls it their own tree, of which they are the natural branches. God’s tree, yes. He chose it.

        Yes I will be happy to take a second look at LaRondelle. I’m not unfamiliar, just far removed, in more than one way.

        The church is not Israel’s replacement.

        • Jim Hamstra
          19 May 2016 @ 7:57 am

          God planted that tree. And God expected to harvest fruit from that tree. And in the symbolism of that tree the trunk was Abraham and Isaac and Jacob. And all of the branches (the Jews of Christ’s day) were cut-off, so that the Church could be grafted-in.

          The only way a tree with bad branches can flourish is to cut-off the old branches and graft-in new branches. Otherwise those old branches will continue to bear the old bad fruit, or no fruit at all. Read John 15:2 (vines and trees work the same way. And did you read Matthew 3:9,10?

          “And do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. The ax lies ready at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.”

          The axe did indeed fall upon the tree of literal descendants of Abraham. The only way the tree survives is because believers in Christ have been grafted-in.

          “The church is not Israel’s replacement.”

          Here we fundamentally disagree regarding how to interpret the teachings of Jesus and Paul and Revelation. Throughout the entire NT, OT promises that applied to literal Israel are re-applied to the NT church.

          “www.logos.com/product/47608/the-israel-of-god-in-prophecy-principles-of-prophetic-interpretation”
          “www.amazon.com/Israel-God-Prophecy-Principles-Interpretation/dp/0943872146/”

  54. William Abbott
    19 May 2016 @ 8:42 am

    And Romans 11 in its specifics and in general doesn’t mean what it says.

    I do not need a scholar to contradict its plain meaning. You might try, instead of recommending good books. It says what it says. would you like me to reproduce it once again?

    The gifts and the election is without repentance

    • Jim Hamstra
      19 May 2016 @ 9:16 am

      With all due respect William, the entire history of Christian apologetics is littered with disputes over which things in the Bible are literal or symbolic or both.

      I have referred you to an excellent source. You can choose whether or not to study it.

      “So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace. ”
      Paul is clearly (to me) saying that a Remnant (not the entirety) of Israel remain as heirs of the Promise. How? not because of their ancestry but because of God’s Grace.

      “Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in his kindness. Otherwise, you also will be cut off. And if they do not persist in unbelief, they will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. After all, if you were cut out of an olive tree that is wild by nature, and contrary to nature were grafted into a cultivated olive tree, how much more readily will these, the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree!”
      Paul says the Remnant get grafted-back into the “tree”.

      (continued)

      • Jim Hamstra
        19 May 2016 @ 9:25 am

        (continued)

        “for God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable. Just as you who were at one time disobedient to God have now received mercy as a result of their disobedience, so they too have now become disobedient in order that they too may now[h] receive mercy as a result of God’s mercy to you. For God has bound everyone over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all.”
        Paul describes God’s gifts and God’s call to “everyone” (both Jews and Gentiles) “bound over to disobedience” so God can bestow “mercy on them all”. It makes no sense to separate God’s gifts and God’s call from God’s mercy. No notion here or elsewhere in this chapter, that God’s gifts or God’s call are somehow reserved only for Jews. Quite the contrary.

        The bottom line of this chapter is that the same call first extended to the Jews, is now extended to Everyone. The gifts and the call are irrevocable for Everyone. And what is the most important Gift referred here? The Gift of Grace sufficient to accept God’s mercy (Arminius called this “prevenient grace”).

      • Jim Hamstra
        19 May 2016 @ 9:45 am

        (continued)

        “You do not support the root, but the root supports you.”
        Throughout the OT and the NT the olive tree is used as a metaphor for the dispensation of God’s Spirit. The Root of the tree is not Abraham, rather the Root of the tree is God’s Spirit of Grace. Being grafted into the tree is not being grafted into some genealogical society, it is being grafted into the Family of Faith. Abraham was the father of many nations. But most importantly in the Bible he is the Father of the Faithful. This is the authentic, irrevocable Family Tree.

        And if you read Romans 11 carefully you will find that every branch on that tree has been grafted-in, albeit from various source trees.

        • William Abbott
          19 May 2016 @ 5:14 pm

          Jim,

          In Romans 11 Paul is talking about physical Israel when He says; “for God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable. That is the context. It does not mean God’s gifts and call to Gentile believers are somehow less irrevocable, but it most definitely, in context, is talking about physical Israel’s special calling and gifts. It is a very bad hermenuetic to say this passage applies spiritual Israel. The context is clear.

          Everyone is jumping to the unwarranted conclusion that I am arguing the Jew is saved by ‘race’. No, we are all saved by Grace and it is the same Grace for one and all. The grace of Jesus Christ.

          My argument is against Biblical Egalitarianism. That is McCleary’s term. God loves all, but never equally. Love differentiates. Love is specific. And love hates presumption. “For thou shalt worship no other god: for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God” Jesus Christ did not come to alter the nature of God’s love. He magnified it in all its intensity and specificity.

          • Stephen Foster
            19 May 2016 @ 7:13 pm

            It pure heresy and almost blasphemy to suggest, much less assert, that God does not love us all equally; that He actually loves some of His children less than He loves others of them.

            The Bible does say that God loved the world to the extent that He sacrificed His Son in order that those who believe on Him would not perish forever, but would instead at some point live forever. The Bible does not suggest that Jesus died for the sins of some yet not others; but is does say that He died for the sins of the whole world. So if Jesus came because the Father God loved the world, and so that the world might be saved through Him; and if Jesus died for the sins of the whole world, as opposed to just those whom He loves most; then the Father loves the whole world; and loves the whole world to the same extent—unless the Bible says otherwise; which of course it doesn’t.

          • William Abbott
            19 May 2016 @ 9:13 pm

            Stephen,

            How about a little heresy, served up nice and hot?

            I have loved you, saith the LORD. Yet ye say, Wherein hast thou loved us? Was not Esau Jacob’s brother? saith the LORD: yet I loved Jacob, And I hated Esau, and laid his mountains and his heritage waste for the dragons of the wilderness. Whereas Edom saith, We are impoverished, but we will return and build the desolate places; thus saith the LORD of hosts, They shall build, but I will throw down; and they shall call them, The border of wickedness, and, The people against whom the LORD hath indignation for ever. And your eyes shall see, and ye shall say, The LORD will be magnified from the border of Israel. Malachi 1

          • Jim Hamstra
            20 May 2016 @ 5:07 am

            William,

            For the last time, if you read Romans 11 carefully, you will see that Paul says that the gifts and the call that were extended to the Jews in the OT are now extended to the Gentiles also. Same gifts to all, same call to all. And yes both the gifts and the call are irrevocable – to all who will accept them.

            Just because the Jews were at the head of the line in the OT, does not mean they get a better deal, either in this life or in the life to come, than the Gentiles. That is Paul’s message. You seem to be unwilling to acknowledge half of this chapter because you are fixated on the other half.

  55. Jim Hamstra
    19 May 2016 @ 9:03 am

    Stephen Foster,

    I did not criticize Affirmative Action. That is something you read-into what I wrote. You do have your biases 8-).

    Almost every government action convey benefits and/or detriments to various parties. Laws against molesting children impinge on the personal liberties of sexual predators. Laws requiring registration of motor vehicles or concealed handguns impinge on the personal liberties of their owners. The benefits of some laws are difficult to discern – they seem to be a detriment to everyone.

    Affirmative Action laws benefit certain minority groups, whereas Jim Crow laws harmed them. And I consider Affirmative Action laws to be far more beneficial to society both socially and economically, than the laws that convey tax advantages to multi-national who shelter “unrepatriated earnings” overseas in places like Mauritius.

    Not only laws convey benefits and detriments – so do other government actions. The action of the police officer who let me off with a warning when I was unaware of driving a vehicle with expired (for over a year) plates, was beneficial to me. The action of the police officer who shot Tamir Rice while playing with a plastic toy pistol in a public park, was detrimental to that child and his family and friends (and the already-sullied reputation of the local Police). I was guilty of an infraction. He was only “guilty” of playing in the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong toy wearing the wrong skin.

    • William Noel
      19 May 2016 @ 11:33 am

      Stephen,

      Of course you don’t criticize affirmative action because you benefit from it. Who wants to stop receiving a benefit? Black leaders cry “Racism!” for a simple reason: to get the government to protect or increase the benefits they are receiving.

      The elimination of a bad law does not require a new lot giving eternal compensation because of what the bad law did. Yet you support that because, as you have made clear on a number of occasions, you benefit from it. But that position violates the 8th, 9th and 10th commandments. It uses a never-ending stream of lies to justify being envious of those who have more and the creation of laws taking the earnings of those who have more. Then, when someone exposes the falsehoods and challenges the people spreading them, the response is an unrestrained stream of falsehoods about the challenger, such as you are showing diminishing restraint in making about me.

      Your persistence in making false statements about me illustrate why resolving racial issues is so difficult. They make it appear your greater allegiance is to the laws of men that benefit you instead of the Law of God and, specifically, the 9th Commandment. in contrast, it is when practicing the principles of God’s law becomes supreme in our life that racial issues find resolution. Do you want to find resolution?

      • Stephen Foster
        20 May 2016 @ 2:52 am

        The fact of the matter William Noel is that if I have said anything about you that is false, that you would be able to isolate and identify it; because there is no dearth of things from which to choose.

        I happen to have spent my entire professional career in the private sector, and was blessed to have been in a position for most of that time in which I was assessed and compensated based upon amount of revenue that I generated for the company. I spent more than two decades in the same line of work for essentially the same company (AT&T and its various iterations).

        So William, because I am black, my advocacy for the rights and equitable treatment of American black people is admittedly self-serving; but my career was one in which objective measurements based on hard numbers were the standards of achievement by which my performance and longevity were based.

        Likewise, even though I have never gotten an unemployment check, I would advocate for things such as unemployment insurance, because I think it is the right thing to do…and not because I am coveting anything.

        • William Noel
          20 May 2016 @ 4:06 am

          Stephen,

          Your statements such as “…William Noel and his ilk…” other name-calling and numerous statements questioning my integrity instead of countering with real information are clear evidence of your disregard for the Ninth commandment.

          It appears that you and i have different definitions of fairness where I strive to obey the Biblical concept of acting justly (treating all according to the Law of God) where you have embraced the human laws of Affirmative Action that promote the giving clear and specific advantages based on race. Had my son’s skin color been different, he would have qualified for a full-tuition college scholarship. Had I been Black, a government contractor would have been allowed to hire me. During my years with the federal government, I have been passed-over twice for promotion because I wasn’t black and I am aware of a list of promotion decisions where EEO ruled that we didn’t have enough Blacks in a particular professional classification even though we were above our racial hiring quota as a total organization.

          Racial divisions will not be healed until we stop creating them by giving advantage based on race and promoting the illusion that Affirmative Action is promoting fairness in society. We must also stop believing that the state of racial discord is as great today as it was 50 years ago.

    • Stephen Foster
      19 May 2016 @ 7:19 pm

      Jim Hamstra,

      I realize that you did not criticize, or at least did not intend to criticize affirmative action. My contention is that that you nonetheless mischaracterized it with the suggestion that it is something other than what it is. That’s all.

      The result of affirmative action laws is that they are beneficial to qualified applicants of all racial and ethnic minorities and all qualified women, no matter their race. This is quite different than the suggestion (made by Noel) that there many economic and legal advantages for one race only.

      As for the Tamir Rice incident, for those who perhaps don’t have the emotional or intellectual wherewithal to appreciate the magnitude of that tragedy as you do, they should try to imagine the police officer’s reaction to that situation had that same child been a white, rosy cheeked, red headed kid; or try to imagine how the police officer who apprehended Sandra Bland would have reacted had Ms. Bland been an attractive, articulate, but admittedly ticked-off white, blue-eyed, blond in her late twenties, as opposed to an attractive, articulate, but admittedly ticked-off, black woman of the same age.

      • Jim Hamstra
        20 May 2016 @ 5:29 am

        Stephen,

        While I agree with much of what you write on this subject, your reluctance or outright refusal to admit that William Noel and his son are Whites who have been harmed by Affirmative Action, as implemented by government and educational bureaucrats (specifically by quotas which in some cases have now been ruled illegal by the Supreme Court), is evidence of your own biases.

        You will not make any headway in trying to persuade others who disagree with your opinions, as long as you refuse to acknowledge that their own ideas and experiences have any validity. Ditto when you stoop to name-calling. You are only undermining your own credibility.

        • Stephen Foster
          20 May 2016 @ 9:40 am

          Jim,

          At one time I was in the business of persuading people, and would rather get paid for doing so. So while I appreciate your concern for my credibility (insofar as persuading others is concerned), at this point I would frankly rather have others be confronted with the facts and have them deal with them by either accepting reality or denying it.

          People who do not wish to be persuaded of something, or by something, will not be persuaded; but perhaps they can be confronted with reality and make a conscious choice regarding same.

          Frankly, I have no doubt that, as a demographic group, white men as a whole have been adversely affected by any and all attempts to broaden opportunities to women (including white women) and minorities of various ethnicities; because it was undisputedly white men (as a demographic group) which had benefitted most from de facto preferences throughout society before affirmative action.

      • Nathan Schilt
        20 May 2016 @ 6:31 am

        No one knows what would have happened, Stephen – except you of course, and others who refuse to acknowledge tragic shootings of Whites by police officers.

        Overwhelmingly, excessive use of force cases occur exclusively when the individual being detained or interrogated resists by fleeing, physically attacking the officer, or refusing to comply with orders. If you adjust for that variable, racial factors largely disappear. That doesn’t mean cops don’t over-react. It just means they are humans with emotions, who jabe a very difficult job. If anti-authority cultures and parents spent as much time drilling into kids the importance of obeying authorities with guns and badges as they do in stereotyping cops as feckless racists, there would be far fewer confrontations leading to death between cops and suspects.

        • Jim Hamstra
          20 May 2016 @ 7:02 am

          Nathan wrote:

          “Overwhelmingly, excessive use of force cases occur exclusively when the individual being detained or interrogated resists by fleeing, physically attacking the officer, or refusing to comply with orders. If you adjust for that variable, racial factors largely disappear.”

          Would you mind sharing with us your sources for these assertions?

          One thing I learned in my youth, is that in a culture where routine unprovoked harassment by White law officers was (and in some cases still is) a daily fact of life, you learn from a very early age to run away whenever you see a Blue Uniform. And the predatory instinct is that when you see someone running, they must be prey. And your instinct is to give chase, and take them down.

          Both Predatory Policing and Professional Policing exist in this country. It is very much a matter of where you live. More affluent municipalities tend to hire police officers who are trained to respect their clientele and de-escalate unnecessary conflicts. And the more professional police officers prefer these jobs because they pay better and involve less stress. Which leaves the less desirable policing jobs to those with fewer skills and/or less experience.

          (continued)

          • Jim Hamstra
            20 May 2016 @ 7:12 am

            Ditto for the “pecking-order” within large police departments. The nasty-stuff flows down-hill and your typical cop on the beat is at the bottom of the pecking-order. The only worse job in most police departments is being assigned to parking enforcement and traffic control at large venuDitto for the “pecking-order” within large police departments. The nasty-stuff flows down-hill and your typical cop on the beat is at the bottom of the pecking-order. The only worse job in most police departments is being assigned to parking enforcement and traffic control at large venues like airports and stadiums and political rallies.

            In my own neighborhood I once watched a pair of professional officers handle a drunk driver who had left the scene an accident, with great skill. He was angry and belligerent but they did not escalate the confrontation. One of these same officers was later involved in an accidental shooting at the same location. As a citizen I was inclined to believe his version of what happened because I had seen him at his professional best.

            On the other hand, on the streets of Detroit I have also seen a rather different kind of policing.

            (continued)

          • Jim Hamstra
            20 May 2016 @ 7:17 am

            There are definitely two sides to this narrative. For several years my neighbor handled the Internal Affairs investigations for the Portland police department. Big cities do not shell-out big settlements for abuse of force without good reasons. As he bluntly put it, his mission was to deal with small percentage of officers who did things for which the City of Portland could get sued.

            As I wrote, all that bad-stuff flows down-hill. The worst officers get the worst assignments. They don’t like their assignments. They don’t like their “clients”. That is not why they applied for those jobs but that is where they end-up.

            Bad stuff happens and cities get sued.

        • Hansen
          20 May 2016 @ 7:22 am

          Nathan,

          Amen!

        • Stephen Foster
          20 May 2016 @ 8:16 am

          Since I mentioned two specific police incidents, one involving Sandra Bland—and since you responded—please identify for me Nathan, what Sandra Bland did that she was not within her legal rights as an American citizen to do, when she was stopped by the police for failing to signal a lane change as she moved over for a police car that was coming up behind her in traffic?

          You are an American lawyer who I presume to be well-versed in the rights of American citizens with police in criminal affairs, so you are particularly competent and qualified to address this question and to correct what may be my misperception of this incident.
          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jpSEemvwOn4

          After reviewing this, I would ask you to review and assess this as well.
          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=49_wNH9OiYA

          Do people have a right to know the charge for which they are being arrested? I isolate this because, if this incident and case isn’t another Rorschach test of the differences between us; I don’t know what could possibly be.

          • Jim Hamstra
            21 May 2016 @ 10:22 am

            I would like to add that the police officer who arrested Ms Bland was fired for his role in this incident. And then he was indicted.

            “www.cnn.com/2016/03/03/us/sandra-bland-officer-fired/”

            “www.cnn.com/2016/01/06/us/sandra-bland-trooper-brian-encinia-indicted/”

            Failure to signal a lane change is not a criminal offense for which one can be arrested.

            Once in my half-century of driving I have been stopped for failure to signal a lane change. It was late at night and the officer thought I might be returning home from the bar rather than the airport. Once he was satisfied I had not been drinking he let me go with a verbal warning.

            I was not ordered to get out of my car, nor was I searched nor was I arrested. I am not Sandra Bland. Nobody would mistake me for her.

  56. Nathaniel Moore
    19 May 2016 @ 9:30 am

    My view is that Mark Mc Leary was inspired to present this article to our view. Some of us will appreciate his efforts; some will be thoroughly offended; and some will be apathetic to it. The comments offered thus far indicate this. The picture is not a beautiful one; but we have to face it. Those who take the view , based on the story in Gen. 9:20-28, that Ham and his descendants received their just due for Ham’s indiscretion, the situation is given; but to the rest of us, we know there is a situation crying out for redress. Changes to remedy ills such as this one happen very slowly; but if we fail to do our part in our time, the necessary changes take much more time. Now that we have vigourously vented our different views, it is time to decide what we can do to help this worthy cause. We can sing, write, discuss, encourage, urge,pray, and above all, demonstrate in our daily lives the principlles of Jesus’ Kingdom as they relate to upholding the dignity of our fellow men. When our community is free from crime, exploitation, fear and ignorance, we are all happier for it. Nothing that will truly elevate our community is inappropriate to the effort. God will bless all our efforts, however feeble they may appear to some.

  57. EARL CALAHAN
    19 May 2016 @ 10:43 am

    Luke 8: 11, “Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God”. Romans 2:5-6 “revelation of the
    righteous judgment of God, who will render to every man according to his deeds”. Gal 3:27-29, “For
    as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise”.
    Jesus is the “Word of God”; Jesus is the “Seed”; Jesus gave the promise to Abraham, that all of his
    progeny would be blessed. That includes “all” that are Christ’s, all. Every single soul that is in Christ.
    “Neither, Jew nor Greek; neither rich nor poor; neither bond nor free; neither male nor female; neither Islamic nor Christian professed, but every single soul having put on Jesus Christ.

  58. Jimbob
    19 May 2016 @ 4:14 pm

    Who thinks that there will be any unity in the SDA church?
    There is major discord on gender, racial & political issues ..all tied to worldly strife. The situation is only going to get worse. It will get to be where consecrated spiritual SDA are the main troublemakers and worldly nominal ones will be happy to point out and testify against them.
    Is someone going to spend a few minutes a week on Sabbath to try to influence otherwise, by making a brief call for unity??

    • Mark McCleary
      20 May 2016 @ 5:32 pm

      Thanks JimBob, you peeked my next article A Reflection on a Call for Unity. I’m going with that because of your testimony. OK? Thanks.

  59. Nathan Schilt
    19 May 2016 @ 7:45 pm

    We choose the metanarrative of our lives. The stories that comprise that metanarrative often take on mythic significance. They define us and set the trajectory for our future. They empower us in different ways. Mark has offered what might be described as the Shema of Black Americans.

    I have alternative meta narratives I could construct. One would tell stories of living with a physically and psychologically abusive father who had multiple affairs, and finally left my mother and my life when I was 8. Thereafter, I grew up in a fatherless home
    In near poverty (by today’s standards, it was definitely poverty). Because single mom SDA families were not common in the 50’s & 60’s, I was something of a social outcast and sometimes bullied in school. I have had other wrenching experiences – a wife whose decision to divorce me felt like a lightning bolt out of a cloudless sky. That is the truth of my life, albeit a partial truth. But that is not the story I choose to tell. I don’t know why. But somehow, I was conditioned to believe that gratitude and duty, rather than grievance and rights, needed to be the dominant features that I saw and committed to memory.

    Why, given the dominant history of oppression and subjugation that His listeners
    had suffered, did Jesus choose to largely ignore that truth? I’m not sure. But I do believe that the meta narratives we nurture enormously impact our capacity to live grace-filled lives of gratitude and service.

    • William Abbott
      19 May 2016 @ 9:36 pm

      Wow,

      I would never have guessed. You must of had a wonderful mother. Somehow I figured your story as like mine. You have absolutely nailed it Nathan.

      I want to nurture the meta-narrative of Jesus Christ. I want to believe in Him, I want to believe like Him. I want to be like Him. I want His people will be my people. He is my Redeemer King! I want to follow Him.

      I had a such a different experience growing up. I could get into ancestor worship. I think/thought so highly of my mother and father and all my grandparents. I still do. I basked in my earthly father’s love – I so admired him – to be his son is a great honor. To honor him is a delightful duty.

      Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,

    • Stephen Foster
      20 May 2016 @ 2:07 am

      Jesus certainly advocated for the materially poor by His repeated admonitions that His followers love and give to them; and the Bible undeniably has much to say about those who are oppressed as well as about those by whom they are oppressed.

      Interesting Nathan; because I have been so blessed as to not have had any hardship in my life that was not to some great extent self-inflicted. It has only been in middle age and senior years that I have encountered serious adversity.

      My childhood was carefree and I was deprived of no good thing. I was blessed to have been raised by two highly intelligent, well-adjusted, God-fearing people; who sincerely and obviously loved each other and loved me and my siblings unconditionally. Just as some have had nothing to do with their misfortune, I had nothing to do with my good fortune.

      (My parents came from two large nuclear families; and both sets of my grandparents remained married until death as well. My parents grew up in poverty during The Depression Era; but had rich and close-knit family backgrounds.)

      But God has blessed me with a sensitivity to discern and be disturbed by injustice, poverty, sickness, and the misfortune of others; as well the capacity and opportunity to speak out against it; particularly in writing. Everyone has different abilities and sensitivities. Do what you do, as I do likewise.

      • Millie Richards
        20 May 2016 @ 6:13 am

        I haven’t figured out yet which one this site is part of: either the leftist liberal media, or the vast right-wing conspiracy.

        • John Lorenzo
          31 May 2016 @ 12:30 am

          I am sick of this weird new layout of the comments section on AToday.org. It is impossible to see who is responding to whom, because the comments are not indented or nested. Whoever transferred the data to this new WordPress theme forgot to check the box on the setup screen to “indent responses to comments.” It is very easy to do: just click on the checkbox. I loved the old AToday layout where it was clear who was replying to whom in the comment section. Please correct this problem. Thank you.

      • Nathan Schilt
        20 May 2016 @ 6:47 am

        I very much agree with what you say about Jesus message, Stephen. But once giving is mandated by law, it is no longer of the Kingdom. It has no power to produce morality or righteousness, to build character or reveal God’s love. In fact, it does precisely the opposite. Legally imposed “goodness,” especially when it takes away from one group to benefit another (regardless of race, gender or ethnicity) is like Round-Up on the soil of the soul where God plants Kingdom seeds.

        • Stephen Foster
          20 May 2016 @ 8:34 am

          Yes Nathan, I understand that you don’t like to pay taxes, especially when the revenue raised by the government by your taxes go to those you consider the undeserving poor. But of course, Caesar has the prerogative to tax you, and to use that money as it sees fit. But as long we agree about Jesus’ message with reference to the poor; we are ahead of the game I suppose.

      • Mike
        20 May 2016 @ 10:40 am

        Exactly right Stephen. We can’t turn a blind eye to the sufferings of those who have been mistreated. The problem is that many don’t really believe the that is as bad as it really is and won’t take the word of those who have seen or experienced it first hand. Additionally, they don’t understand that many of those who speak out do so not for their own benefit but for the benefit of the those less privileged than themselves. This is what God constantly told the Israelites to do in regards to the injustice and their inability to address is a key reason He gives for sending them into exile into Babylon. Sending love in Christ.

  60. Frank Anuncio
    20 May 2016 @ 3:38 am

    It’s funny to watch this never-ending debate. It’s like a dog chasing its tail. The reason the SDA church is plagued by racism is because it is infested with legalism. Ever heard of “salvation by faith”? Actually, it is “salvation by food.” Think of these special Adventist foods:

    ‍ ‍ ‍ ‍ • ‍ Haystacks
    ‍ ‍ ‍ ‍ • ‍ Special-K Loaf
    ‍ ‍ ‍ ‍ • ‍ Little Debbie’s snack cakes
    ‍ ‍ ‍ ‍ • ‍ Postum
    ‍ ‍ ‍ ‍ • ‍ Carob
    ‍ ‍ ‍ ‍ • ‍ Fri-Chik / Veja-Links / Veggie Burgers

    Eat those, and you will surely go to heaven!‍ ‍ Hezekiah 3:16 = “The dude ate the right food, so he shall inherit eternal life. For salvation is by food, through legalism.”

    Until the SDA church accepts salvation by grace through faith and nothing else, it will continue to be infested by racism which always accompanies legalism. When we finally understand that we are nothing but sinners saved only by grace, we start to see everyone as equals and we begin to treat everyone gracefully.

  61. Frank Anuncio
    20 May 2016 @ 4:01 am

    Legalists are like crabs in a barrel; they pull each other down. People who are filled with gratitude for the free gift of salvation by grace tend to pull each other up.

    • Jim Hamstra
      20 May 2016 @ 5:13 am

      Frank,

      Truly there is much wisdom in your analogy of crabs in a barrel.

  62. Tony Jones
    20 May 2016 @ 4:10 am

    “By this they will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another.” There is a hurting world out there crying out to Christ’s followers,

    “I want to know what love is
    I want you to show me
    I want to know what love is
    I know you can show me….”

    They are dying to know that it was love that saved me. “For God so loved….” I was not saved by theology or adherence. And His love transforms hearts and lives; it brings them them hope, meaning, and purpose. I can imagine those whom we share His love with, singing:

    “You were my strength when I was weak
    You were my voice when I couldn’t speak
    You were my eyes when I couldn’t see
    You saw the best there was in me
    Lifted me up when I couldn’t reach
    You gave me faith ’cause you believed.
    I’m everything I am
    Because you loved me.”

  63. Mark McCleary
    20 May 2016 @ 5:28 pm

    Isa. 1:18-20. Good laconic ism.

  64. Jimbob
    21 May 2016 @ 8:35 am

    Kinda obscure/ambiguous but very relevant for the issue at hand.
    2 Corinthians 2:10 To whom ye forgive any thing, I forgive also: for if I forgave any thing, to whom I forgave it, for your sakes forgave I it in the person of Christ;
    2 Corinthians 2:11 Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices.
    Many, if not most, people are prisoners and/or slaves because of their attitudes.