S U M M E R • 2 0 1 2
VOLUME 13, ISSUE 2
D E P A R T M E N T S
Net '95—Adventist evangelism was morphing. No longer limited to live local events, Revelation Seminars were going global. Adventist venues around the world were installing receivers so local groups could all watch as Mark Finley delivered the first satellite broadcasts of a full-scale evangelistic outreach.
Still Adventists but actively questioning and studying, Richard and I agreed to do special music for a Friday evening Net '95 presentation at a local Adventist church. Neither of us had been to an Adventist evangelistic meeting since childhood, and we were curious.
After the preliminaries and our flute-trombone duet, the video opened with footage from one of Finley's travels to the Holy Land, and he moved seamlessly into his presentation. I have no memory of the specific topic that night. The memory I do have, however, is of my growing frustration as he threw text after proof-text onto the screen, rapidly bolstering his arguments with fragments of verses lifted out of context.
I tried to take notes; the texts came too fast and the references stayed on the screen too little time for me to jot down the phrases he quoted, sometimes using only parts of sentences in order to get just the words he needed to make his points.
Richard and I had already been studying the Bible with our Christian neighbors for several months, and we had discovered the power of reading Scripture in context, one whole chapter at a time, until we completed the whole book. Sitting through Mark Finley's carefully-crafted pitch using out-of-context Scripture fragments without allowing the audience any possibility of turning to the passages in their own Bibles was both horrifying and clarifying.
We realized that, despite the "high tech" satellite broadcasting, the method and content of Finley's presentation was almost identical to the evangelistic crusades our local conferences produced when we were kids: same proof-texting, same fast-paced "sales pitch" delivery, same sensational, fear-inducing language, same agenda. At the same time, we both left that meeting knowing for sure that the Bible made sense and was deeply compelling—if one read it in context. The Adventist pick-and-choose method of using Scripture was deceitful and confusing. An unsuspecting person would be carried along by the fast-paced preaching and visuals and would be unable even to formulate questions about what he or she had just watched. We would not be returning for any more Net '95 installments; we had discovered God's word, and it was far more satisfying than the flashy, mesmerizing presentations by one of Adventism's top evangelists.
Today nothing has changed—except the updated technology. In this issue Chris Lee tells of watching via the internet a 2012 Revelation Today seminar with John Bradshaw—and finding that the content and its progression is still the same as that of the "crusades" of his youth, while Haroldo Camacho shows from The General Conference Working Policy that what Adventism calls the gospel—is not. Dale Ratzlaff's study on Romans 3:21-26 tells what Jesus really did on the cross, and Robert Bowman explains how we can know the Bible is completely reliable. Martin Carey reflects on Psalm 19 and its declaration of the gospel, and regular columnists Rick Barker, Chris Lee, and Carolyn Macomber challenge us to know what Adventism teaches and to submit our minds and hearts to the gospel of the Lord Jesus.
Our prayer for you as you read this issue of Proclamation! is that you will allow God's word to plant you deeply in truth and reality. Deception and false gospels flourish behind many pious-sounding words, but only God's word in Scripture is truth. Don't take the word of a persuasive speaker; let Scripture alone instruct you. God is faithful, and He will not trick you nor lead you astray. The truth will set you free (Jn. 8:32). †
Copyright 2012 Life Assurance Ministries, Inc., Casa Grande, Arizona, USA. All rights reserved. Revised July 2, 2012. Contact email: email@example.com
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