What I Learned in Church
This discussion is based on a single service in a Seventh-day Adventist Church. I do not have a written transcript of the sermon and neither did I record it so the high points are as I remembered them on the day the sermon was delivered.
I first learned that videos with rock and rap music with flashing lights and drums were fine as long as the performer is talking or singing (if you can call it singing) about Jesus. It's also OK to have a sermon introduction with a video based on Star Wars as long as the words are different. I have to conclude that, as otherwise those videos wouldn't have been used. In the book Evangelism by Ellen G. White, on page 137 it says, "Not one jot or tittle of anything theatrical is to be brought into our work." Fortunately this was written in English so we don't need to learn Greek or Hebrew to understand it. Apparently either the counsels of Ellen G. White can be blown off or maybe the above-mentioned videos weren't "theatrical."
We heard that some parts of the Bible aren't suitable for children to hear; specifically the story about the downfall of Sodom and Gomorrha. What possible reason would there be for your children not to hear the warnings from God's Holy Bible? Children aren't to be warned about the hazards of sin they will have to contend with? What ever happened to "the words of the Lord are pure words" and "the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life" and "the law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul" and "sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth?" Is a little man supposed to counsel our God regarding what is appropriate to put in the Bible and what is appropriate for children to hear?
I was raised by second-generation Seventh-day Adventist parents who respected Ellen G. White and God's Holy Bible. There was NEVER any talk about parts of the Bible being unsuitable for children. But then, my parents weren't homosexuals; if they had been it would have been inconvenient to talk about Sodom and Gomorrha. The first I remember hearing about homosexuality (it was called a sexual perversion at that time) was at age six at the time of a scandal at a Seventh-day Adventist college. At that age I didn't know the details of sex or homosexuality but the message was plain that sexual relations between men was very sinful.
It is difficult to gloss over the fact that the crime that sealed the fate of Sodom and Gomorrha was that of the inhabitants attempting the homosexual gang rape of visitors but an admirable attempt was made. Apparently the problem with Sodom and Gomorrha wasn't so much with sodomites as with their lack of hospitality and concern with social issues like poverty, etc. They didn't welcome visitors; kind of like Trump. The text used to support this was Ezekiel 16:49 which says, "Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fullness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy."
I have no doubt that all was true but I don't remember too much being said in the sermon about verse 50 where it says, "And they were haughty, and committed abomination before me: therefore I took them away as I saw good." Jude 1:7 where it says "Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities of the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire" wasn't mentioned. There was also something thrown in about how the Church should welcome people of all colors; black, white, etc.
I have no idea of how Trump not welcoming immigrants or being black, yellow or white are related to what happened to Sodom and Gomorrha as nothing about race relations or border protection are mentioned in the texts associated with them. Under God's theocracy being a sodomite was a capital crime. Though there was stern counsel against it, not helping the poor or not welcoming strangers weren't capital crimes.
Assuming the account in Genesis isn't clear as to the reason Sodom and Gomorrha were destroyed then and not later, there are other texts in the Bible that address the issue.
In Leviticus chapter 18, there is a whole list of prohibited sexual activities. Among those is verse 22 which says "Thou shalt not lie with mankind as with womankind: it is abomination." Then in verses 27 through 29 it says "(For all these abominations have the men of the land done, which were before you, and the land is defiled;) That the land spue not you out also, when ye defile it, as it spued out the nations that were before you. For whosoever shall commit any of these abominations, even the souls that commit them shall be cut off from among their people." Nothing I know of in the Bible says that those unfriendly to immigrants will be cut off from among their people.
I know those who think it's OK if their Bible has a few errors will want more texts. There are more but I'll leave it to you to find them if you're interested.
Some may wonder what "cut off from among their people" meant. Fortunately, the King James Bible has its own built in dictionary that makes knowledge of Greek, Hebrew and a degree of PhD unnecessary to understand it. In Leviticus 20:13 it says, "If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them."
Since some think the God (also known as the Angel of the covenant, Jehovah, Michael the Archangel, Jesus Christ) of the Old Testament didn't like women and discriminated against them by not letting them be priests, etc., and thus may have been a bit too harsh on homosexuals, a text from the New Testament is in order. Consider 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 where it says "know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God." The really good part comes in 1 Corinthians 6:11 where it says, "And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God." There were members of the Corinthian church that had been guilty of all of the sins listed and had been healed by the Lord Jesus and no longer committed those sins.
From the original English in The Great Controversy on page 269 it says, "The corruption of Sodom in breaking the law of God was especially manifested in licentiousness."
Strong's Concordance was referenced to show that the Hebrew meant something a little different than in the English text. I had difficulty following the minister's reasoning. Be that as it may, you don't need a Strong's Concordance to understand the Protestant King James Bible of 1611. Some things regarding Strong's Concordance are mentioned in G. A. Riplinger's book Hazardous Materials Greek & Hebrew Study Dangers (ISBN-13 is 978-0-9794117-6-2) on page 161 and elsewhere in that book. Here are just a few quotations from that well documented book of 1,203 pages.
"Strong's Concordance definitions are often the very words of these corrupt versions and also the Koran."
Another thing I learned was that the sword of the Spirit isn't supposed to be wielded by believers but by the Holy Spirit. I didn't quite understand how that was supposed to happen. Ephesians 6:17 was referenced where it says, "And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God." There is quite a bit in Ephesians about how to fight "the rulers of the darkness of this world" and "spiritual wickedness in high places." So, we are to "take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit" but we're not supposed to use the sword? We were told the sword could "wound." Yes, the sword of the Spirit wounds but Jesus heals.
"Strong also gathered his definitions from Gesenius' corrupt Hebrew Lexicon. His work also accesses the corrupt lexicons of Liddel-Scott, Thayer, Brown, Driver, and Briggs."
"Some of the latest editions of Strong's Concordance are not even Strong's original. In the Greek and Hebrew lexicons in the back section, they contain even more corrupt definitions from new version editors."
We learned that in the audience of any sizeable Seventh-day Adventist Church there will likely be up to 15 gay people. Maybe that is true though I hadn't been of the opinion that the percentage was that high. I also think it great that they're there as church attendance is one of the prescriptions needed to cure the sin problem the other being daily study of God's word which is as leaves from the Tree of Life (see Ellen White MS 103, 1902) for the healing of the nations. God is not going to cure the disease of sin in those who are unwilling to take the prescriptions offered. My sympathy is with those caught in a terrible sin but there IS a cure for those who want it. It is also well to remember that cherishing what some may consider minor sins will result in loss of eternal life.
That's all for now. I can't wait to find out what I'll learn next week.
On second thought, I think I'll go somewhere else.
In New Age Bible Versions by G. A. Riplinger, it notes on page 77 that "Books like Sensuous Spirituality, by avowed lesbian NIV editor Virginia Mollenkott, echo the New Age movement's hope to replace the 'he' of Christianity with the neuter 'One' of Hinduism." The book, Is The Homosexual My Neighbor?, was authored by Virginia Mollenkott and Letha Dawson Scanzoni. Here are some quotations from Is The Homosexual My Neighbor?.
On page 24, about theatrical performances it says, "One leader of a denomination where the "weaker brothers and sisters" looked down on theater attendance, for instance, sat in his London hotel room rather than accept a free ticket to a Shakespearean play at the famous theater in Stratford-upon Avon." So I guess Ellen White would be considered a "weaker" sister since she condemned theatrical performances.
Some months after I heard the aforementioned sermon and after I had perused the book, Is the Homosexual My Neighbor?, I read a book by Victor J. Adamson (a pen name) titled "That Kind Can Never Change!" Can They...?, Until I read that book, I had thought my sermon experience was unique.
In reference to Sodom and Gomorrha it says on page 17, "Whether the intent was sexual or not, however, the strangers were treated abominably and the sin of inhospitality was committed- one more instance of the city's wickedness that called forth God's righteous judgment." In Genesis 4:1 "Adam knew Eve" and in Genesis 4:17 "Cain knew his wife" and in both instances the wives bore a son. In Genesis 19:5 the King James Bible says, "Where are the men which came in to thee this night? bring them out unto us, that we may know them." So, is there REALLY a question about whether the intent of the men of Sodom was sexual?
On page 17 it says that "It should be noted that some Bible scholars do not believe that the intent of the men of Sodom was sexual" and that perhaps the men only wanted to examine their "credentials." Are we to believe that God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrha because the inhabitants wanted to check the passports of some visitors? Colossians 2:8 comes to mind where it says, "Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ." The title PhD is an abbreviation for the Latin Philosophiae Doctor which translated to English is Doctor of Philosophy; maybe there is a lesson there.
The author was introduced to perverted sex at age four by a worker on his father's farm. If something like that had happened to me, I would have been able to talk to my mother about it since my parents never lied to us and never blasphemously said there were things in the Bible that children shouldn't hear. The experience left Victor with extreme guilt and confusion about his sexual identity that he didn't dare discuss with anyone including either of his parents. In his book, Victor describes his experience when he attended a Seventh-day Adventist Church in the Los Angeles, California area (perhaps the church that made a man who decided to become a woman both an elder and a Sabbath School teacher).
"To my discomfort, the sermon that day happened to be on the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah! I felt increasingly uneasy, especially knowing personally six other homosexuals sitting in this same congregation. Five of them, including my client, were active members in this church. So I wondered where the minister might be going with his sermon. Never once did he speak of homosexuality, neither in the narrative of the story nor in the body of his sermon. It was never named as one of the sins of Sodom, neither was it named as a sin at all. Rather he concluded the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah to be the sin of inhospitality! What?! I reacted in silent shock and amazement. Inhospitality! I'm a homosexual, and I know better than that!"
By the life changing new birth offered by our Lord Jesus Christ, Victor obtained the victory over his homosexuality, is married to a woman and has now been a Seventh-day Adventist minister for over twenty-five years.
"We must guard against undue severity toward the wrongdoer, but we must also be careful not to lose sight of the exceeding sinfulness of sin. There is need of showing Christlike patience and love for the erring one, but there is also danger of showing so great toleration for his error that he will look upon himself as undeserving of reproof, and will reject it as uncalled for and unjust." Found in The Acts of the Apostles page 503-504.
In The Acts of the Apostles page 504 it says, "Ministers of the gospel sometimes do great harm by allowing their forbearance toward the erring to degenerate into toleration of sins and even participation in them. Thus they are led to excuse and palliate that which God condemns, and after a time they become so blinded as to commend the very ones whom God commands them to reprove. He who has blunted his spiritual perceptions by sinful leniency toward those whom God condemns, will erelong commit a greater sin by severity toward those whom God approves."
Referring to Paul, The Acts of the Apostles page 504-505 says, "The apostle does not here refer to the openly irreligious but to the professing Christians who make inclination their guide, and thus become enslaved by self. Such are willing to listen to those doctrines only that do not rebuke their sins or condemn their pleasure-loving course. They are offended by the plain words of the faithful servants of Christ and choose teachers who praise and flatter them. And among professing ministers there are those who preach the opinions of men instead of the word of God. Unfaithful to their trust, they lead astray those who look to them for spiritual guidance."
Back when Dr. Kellogg was fascinated with pantheism and was deceiving others, Ellen White wrote to physicians (see Selected Messages Book One page 196) that they should "no longer consent to listen without protest to the perversion of truth" and to "unmask the pretentious sophistries" being presented.
"When I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; and thou givest him not warning, nor speakest to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life; the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand." Ezekiel 3:18.
© Martin J. Lohne 2018.