The modern systems of communication facilitate the transfer of dysfunctional doctrinal and theological views from one part of the world to another. Church members with access to the Internet can navigate for hours in an ocean of web pages containing distortions of our message and sensationalist expositions of our eschatology which do not contribute at all to their spiritual development. I am referring to websites of individuals or groups that, while claiming to be Adventist, promote positions that are not representative of our message and mission.
Furthermore, there are occasions when such individuals are invited to speak to our congregations and in camp meetings, leaving behind them confusion, conflicts, and in many cases disrespect for pastors and leaders. They support most of the Adventist message but their main interest is to promote their own peculiar views and to obtain the financial support of church members through selling their books or through donations. Often those who invite them do not know them well enough to anticipate the danger. What can you do to protect your field from these spiritual predators?
First, motivate church members to spend more time studying the Bible. If they know the truth they will develop spiritual discernment that will enable them to distinguish truth from error. We need to bring the Bible back to the life of the church not only in the exposition of our message but also in our daily Christian experience.
Second, we should hear from our pulpits messages that will contribute toward grounding our church members in our message and mission. Proclaim the gospel in the context of the end-time message of the Adventist church and under no circumstances allow the pulpit to become a forum for doctrinal and theological controversies. In churches where different and contradictory doctrinal views co-exist, church growth and spiritual vitality are languishing and are almost non-existent. A church that is vibrant and active is a church with clear biblical and doctrinal convictions and consequently ready and willing to share them.
Third, before you invite a speaker to your field, find out who this person is and what she or he is promoting. Ask the person to send you their materials and, since most of them have websites, examine what they have on their websites. Sometimes their websites are deceptive, giving you the impression that they are faithful Adventists when in fact they hold views to the contrary. You can also ask them to provide you a list of places where they have been invited to speak and then contact the pastors or church leaders in some of those places. This will take time, but you should be careful or otherwise you may regret it.
"A church that is vibrant and active is a church with clear biblical and doctrinal convictions."
Fourth, it is important to keep church members informed about websites where they can find trustworthy information about our message (e.g., www.adventistbiblicalresearch.org and www.whiteestate.org). This should be done on a regular basis through the means of communication available to you. I understand very well how difficult it is to keep individuals who promote their own peculiar and divisive message away from our churches. In fact, some of them may be retired ministers or may even work for the church. I can only encourage you to do all you can to make sure that you know enough about them to hinder them from damaging the unity of the church in your respective fields.
This article was written by Ángel Manuel Rodríguez and has been reprinted from Reflections, the Biblical Research Institute Newsletter, edited by Clinton Wahlen, Ph.D.
THE 15TH ANNIVERSARY OF ELDER’S DIGEST
Congratulation to Elder’s Digest on your fifteenth anniversary! Being a pastor myself, I understand the challenge for our elders in their local churches to nourish parishioners. Elder’s Digest contributes largely in helping our elders to develop their skills in preaching and in uplifting members in their churches through the quality of its presentations. At the same time it supports the mission of the Seventh-day Adventist Church because our brothers and sisters will be encouraged to share what they hear with neighbors and friends. We appreciate the variety of themes in Elder’s Digest, as well as the way it invites people to improve their relationship with Jesus. We recommend Elder’s Digest to all our members who want to enter the ministry of preaching; the magazine will bring many blessings to them.
Thank you to the Elder’s Digest team; you are a blessing to the church. All of the elders from the Euro-Africa Division send their greetings and their appreciation to you, and you can be assured that we are praying for you and for the wonderful ministry you accomplish in the precious name of our Savior.—Bruno Vertallier, President, Euro-Africa Division.
THE 15TH ANNIVERSARY OF ELDER’S DIGEST
The Inter-American Division is pleased to join you in celebrating the fifteenth anniversary of Elder’s Digest. At the same time we want to congratulate the General Conference for being the means by which such a vital magazine is able to reach each individual church elder, many of whom are faithful workers who dedicate their lives and talents to the service of God without remuneration and without expecting anything in return.
In Inter-America, church elders represent a powerful army that, along with our pastors, fight daily against those who wish to discourage and defeat faithful church members. In this sense Elder’s Digest has become a vital weapon in this war. With each article, our army is fortified and gains strength to continue in the battle, until that glorious day when Christ shall appear in the clouds and the redeemed shall be taken to their celestial home.
Blessings to you! Keep moving forward in this important ministry. You will always have our prayers and support.—Hector Sanchez, Ministerial Secretary, Inter-American Division.