Random Articles about Christianity

I haven’t posted anything about religion for a while. Here are some articles that have caught my attention, plus one I wrote for Adventist Peace Fellowship:

Parenting, Peace and a Better World

This may be my first post on parenting. I can’t remember for sure. Lately, I’ve been thinking about parenting–both in my family of origin and in our little home. My parents gave me an amazing, yet simple, childhood, and now their 50th wedding anniversary isn’t too far in the future. They’ve provided an important example.

This morning I started reading a book on Christian parenting, and I thought I’d share some of the quotes here for contemplation. These may be incomprehensible to some people or they might sound cheesy to others, but these lines spoke to me, so I’m sharing them here. I’ve added my own headings and rearranged the material to better suit these headings. These words were written between 1890 and 1911.

Importance of the Home

The well-being of society, the success of the church, the prosperity of the nation, depend upon home influences.

The elevation or deterioration of the future of society will be determined by the manners and morals of the youth growing up around us. As the youth are educated, and as their characters are molded in their childhood to virtuous habits, self-control, and temperance, so will their influence be upon society. (p. 15)

Importance of Love (Between spouses and between parents and children)

[Home] should be a little heaven upon earth, a place where the affections are cultivated instead of being studiously repressed. Our happiness depends upon this cultivating of love, sympathy, and true courtesy to one another….

If the will of God is fulfilled, the husband and wife will respect each other and cultivate love and confidence. (p. 15)

Make your home atmosphere fragrant with tender thoughtfulness. (p. 16)

You must not have strife in your household. “But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.” It is gentleness and peace that we want in our homes. (p. 18)

Every home should be a place of love, a place where the angels of God abide, working with softening, subduing influence upon the hearts of parents and children….

Wherever the love of God is cherished in the soul, there will be peace, there will be light and joy. Spread out the word of God before your families in love, and ask, “Where hath God spoken?” (pp. 18-19)

The home that is beautified by love, sympathy, and tenderness is a place that angels love to visit, and where God is glorified. The influence of a carefully guarded Christian home in the years of childhood and youth is the surest safeguard against the corruption of the world. (p. 19)

Parents and children should unite in offering loving service to Him who alone can keep human love pure and noble (p. 19)

Parenting (Discipline and living examples)

…parents should, in their words and deportment toward each other, give to the children a precious, living example of what they desire them to be. Purity in speech and true Christian courtesy should be constantly practiced. Teach the children and youth to respect themselves, to be true to God, true to principle; teach them to respect and obey the law of God. (p. 16)

Let every lesson be of an elevating and ennobling character…. Children who receive this kind of instruction will…be prepared to fill places of responsibility and, by precept and example, will be constantly aiding other to do right. Those whose moral sensibilities have not been blunted will appreciate right principles; they will put a just estimate upon their natural endowments and will make the best use of their physical, mental, and moral powers. (pp. 16-17)

God would have our families symbols of the family in heaven. (p. 17)

Much depends on the father and mother. They are to be firm and kind in their discipline… (p. 17)

Never forget that you are to make the home bright and happy for yourselves and your children by cherishing the Saviour’s attributes. (p. 17)

Troubles may invade, but these are the lot of humanity. Let patience, gratitude, and love keep sunshine in the heart though the day may be ever so cloudy.

The home may be plain, but it can always be a place where cheerful words are spoken and kindly deeds are done, where courtesy and love are abiding guests. (p. 18)

Administer the rules of the home in wisdom and love, not with a rod of iron. Children will respond with willing obedience to the rule of love. Commend your children whenever you can. Make their lives as happy as possible…. Keep the soil of the heart mellow by the manifestation of love and affection, thus preparing it for the seed of truth…. Remember that children need not only reproof and correction, but encouragement and commendation, the pleasant sunshine of kind words.

The first work to be done in a Christian home is to see that the Spirit of Christ abides there… (p. 20)

NOTE: All material is from chapter 1 of The Adventist Home by Ellen G. White.

Vocational Ethics

KingdomCallingMy father-in-law recently lent me Amy Sherman’s book, Kingdom Calling: Vocational Stewardship for the Common Good. Sherman describes tsaddiqim of Proverbs 11:10 as just or righteous people, “the people who follow God’s heart and ways and who see everything they have as gifts from God to be stewarded for his purpose” (p. 16). These people “steward everything–their money, vocational position and expertise, assets, resources, opportunities, education, relationships, social position, entree and networks–for the common good, for the advancing of God’s justice and shalom” (p. 17).

Major sections of the book are devoted to four major ways Christians can use their vocational skills to work for peace and justice in the world–bloom where you’re planted, donate your skills, launch your own social enterprise, participate in your church’s targeted initiative. I haven’t yet finished reading the book, but the emphasis throughout appears to be on how our jobs and the skills we develop in our employment settings can be used for the kingdom. I appreciate that her focus is on God’s peace and justice rather than on our own career advancement.

In the introduction Sherman asks a series of pointed questions:

Are we engaged in efforts that are relevant to the groans of creation and the cries of the poor? Are we producing disciples whose work is contributing to profound transformations that set people to dancing in the street? Have we joined King Jesus on his grand, sweeping mission of restoration? In cooperation with him, are we bringing foretastes of justice and shalom–or are we largely engaged in mere charity? (p. 20)

Today’s devotional posted on the White Estate website speaks to these same questions and themes. Commenting on Mark 12:30, Ellen White states

To every one is committed some special endowment, for which he will be held responsible by the Lord. Time, reason, means, strength, mental powers, tenderness of heart–all are gifts from God, entrusted to be used in the great work of blessing humanity….

The essential lesson of contented industry in the necessary duties of life is yet to be learned by many of Christ’s followers. It requires more grace, more stern discipline of character, to work for God in the capacity of mechanic, merchant, lawyer, or farmer, carrying the precepts of Christianity into the ordinary business of life, than to labor as an acknowledged missionary in the open field. It requires a strong spiritual nerve to bring religion into the workshop and the business office, sanctifying the details of everyday life, and ordering every transaction according to the standard of God’s word. But this is what the Lord requires.

Religion and business are not two separate things; they are one. Bible religion is to be interwoven with all we do or say. Divine and human agencies are to combine in temporal as well as in spiritual achievements.

Questions

  1. Do I currently see my job as being important in the eyes of God?
  2. How can I use my skills to bless people in my place of work–coworkers, customers, clients, vendors, etc.?
  3. How might I use these skills to bless people outside of my working hours? Who could benefit from my expertise, either directly or through training?
  4. Are you surprised Ellen White says it requires more grace to be a mechanic for God than to be a foreign missionary? What do you think about this comparison?
  5. In addition to reading Kingdom Calling, what other things can I do to learn how to use all of my strength for the kingdom of God?

>Grad School Papers (and more)

These are some of the essays I’ve written over the past few years in my peace studies program. I would likely approach them differently now–some are down-right sloppy–but this is what I wrote while hip-deep in the process.

Also…

Click here to see a list of my film reviews, book reviews, interviews and other writings at Spectrum, Adventist Today, and other outlets.

These are my better essays and lists at Adventist Activism:

And these are what I consider to be my more important pieces at Adventists for the Environment:

>Adventists and the Military [UPDATED]

These resources address Adventist history relating to both war and peace:

Miscellaneous

  • A Brief History of US Adventists & Military Service (PDF, class paper). I wrote this paper in 2009 for the seminary class Christian Attitudes to War, Peace, and Revolution. The bibliography to that paper provides many resources for further study. I included a condensed version of this material in a chapter I wrote for a book that will be published in mid-January 2015 (Church and Society: Missiological Challenges for the Seventh-day Adventist Church, Rudi Maier, ed., 2015).
  • History Lecture – Adventists and War (slideshow). Jeff Crocombe, a professor in South Africa, included more international information in his lecture than I included in the above class paper.

Articles

  • Morgan, Douglas. “Following the Prince of Peace in a Time of War: How the Adventist Pioneers Dealt with Issues of War, Peace, and Military Service.” Adventist Review, June 14, 2007.
  • Morgan, Douglas. “The Beginnings of a Peace Church: Eschatology, Ethics, and Expedience in Seventh-day Adventist Responses to the Civil War.” Andrews University Seminary Studies 45, no. 1 (Spring 2007): 35-43.

Books

  • Should I Fight? (Barry Bussey, ed., 2011). This is a collection of papers presented at the Should I Fight? conference in Canada in 2008.
  • The Peacemaking Remnant: Essays and Historical Documents (Douglas Morgan, ed., 2005).
  • Adventism and the American Republic: The Public Involvement of a Major Apocalyptic Movement. (Douglas Morgan, 2001).
  • The Promise of Peace: Dare to Live the Advent Hope (Charles Scriven, 2009).
  • Seventh-Day Adventists in Time of War (Francis McLellan Wilcox, 1936).
  • Anarchy and Apocalypse: Essays on Faith, Violence, and Theodicy (Osborn, Ronald E., 2010). Chapters 5 and 6 address Adventist history.
  • I Pledge Allegiance: The Role of Seventh-day Adventists in the Military (Phillips, Keith and Karl Tsatalbasidis, 2007).

Films

  • The Conscientious Objector (2004). This is the story of Desmond Doss, the first of three conscientious objectors to receive the Medal of Honor. His experience of being a medic in WWII can also be read in The Unlikeliest Hero by Booton Herndon (Boise, Idaho: Pacific Press, 1967).
  •  Matter Of Conscience (2014). “A documentary looking back to World War 1 and a group of brave young men who chose not to fight. What were their reasons? Did they make a good choice? And how did they stand up to such brutal, inhuman treatment in a military prison that it almost cost them their lives?”
  • For Conscience Sake. This film is not yet released. A preview can be seen at the link provided.

Additional resources can be found at Adventist Peace Fellowship and Adventists for Social Action.

>Limits of Nonviolent Action, Part III

In response to Part II, I wrote back with the following comments (see also Part I). And to clarify, the conversation has moved from nonviolence to a discussion of pacifism versus just war tradition.

You are definitely with a majority of Christians when you side with the just war theory — http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Just_War. Should you want to read more about the issues between just war and pacifism, I’d recommend three by John Howard Yoder — (1) Christian Attitudes to War, Peace and Revolution, (2) The Politics of Jesus [not O. Hendricks], and (3) The War of the Lamb: The Ethics of Nonviolence and Peacemaking. I read the first two, but so far have only skimmed the third. It looks like a good supplement to the others.

I also haven’t read this, but it may be good (on pacifism). The table of contents has potential — http://www.christianpacifism.com/images/ChristendomandGospel3.doc.

Wikipedia’s Christian pacifism page is weak —http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_pacifism — especially the early church part. The section on the early church here is better —http://www.anabaptistchurch.org/pacifist.htm. But an article by Alan Kreider is even better — “MILITARY SERVICE IN THE CHURCH ORDERS.” In one class we had to read a number of the source documents in the controversy behind that article before reading Kreider’s summary of them. If you have access to Ebsco at your university, you should be able to access it, if you ever have time and motivation. It’s also here — http://www.jstor.org/pss/40008336 and http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/1467-9795.00146/abstract.

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>A People of Service — Adventist Review

>Pastor Sung Kwon, Director of Adventist Community Services, wrote a great article for the Adventist Review this month–A People of Service.

This is the opening paragraph:

MEMBERS OF THE HOLLYWOOD Adventist Church in California believe in wholistic ministry, which they describe as “going beyond service to include advocacy and social change.” That’s why church leaders and members there are learning to implement the skills of community organizing.

[MORE]

>La Sierra SIFE

>In 2007 La Sierra’s Student in Free Enterprise (SIFE) team won the National Championship and the World Cup. These Adventist students demonstrate how management and leadership skills can be used to make the world a better place.

Read more about their projects–Kalaala Scrubs, Build-a-Village and Harambee–here:

>Capital Punishment & the Cycle of Violence

>Chris Blake, author of Searching for a God to Love and Swimming Against the Current, has written a great article for Adventist Today about the death penalty, torture, Saddam Husein and Sabbath School. This is well worth your time.

The Day Saddam Came to Sabbath School (January 1, 2008 – 12:00am – Chris Blake)

>Waterboarding Origins

>Peace Messenger, which is published by Adventist Peace Fellowship, ran a story on November 29 about the origins of waterboarding–Waterboarding and the Inquisition. Here’s an excerpt:

Torture has many forms, but torture by water as it arose in the Roman Catholic and Protestant reformations seemingly drew some of its power and inspiration from theological convictions about repentance and salvation. It was, we must now surely say, a horrific inversion of the best spirit of Christian faith and symbolism….