CAMPUS PROGRAM DIRECTOR AS CHAPLAIN

CAMPUS PROGRAM DIRECTOR AS CHAPLAIN

It has been a few months now, since the time I was pulled over by the officer, and each time I sit in a police car I am thankful for the opportunity to serve. Having done a few ride alongs I am learning a new culture, my eyes are being open to new needs in my community. My prayers are being answered by a God who cares for and extends grace to me as a Pastor and to those in uniform who work to keep us safe.

CLICK HERE to read the full article published in the Lake Union Herald.

RESEARCHING THE UNIVERSITY

RESEARCHING THE UNIVERSITY

INTRODUCTION: The following questions are a guide to researching your university. In reference to
campus ministry, Ellen White mentions, “Each one should study to see what is the best way to get the truth into the school” (2SM p. 234). By researching your university, you will have an informed understanding
of how to better minister to the needs of the people, inviting them to be citizens of Heaven. Remember, at the core of every human being God has placed a desire to know Him. Since these questions are generalizations, you will find many students who may not fit into your research. These questions will give you broad strokes of the cultural norms and philosophical influences that shape the minds those who work at or attend your university/college.

THE GOAL: To prayerfully discover how you can present the truth to those God has placed on your
campus.

USING THE SCHOOL NEWSPAPER
The campus publishes news about what is important to the student body and to the campus as a whole.
These publications come in the form of articles on website, emailed newsletters, printed papers, social media posts, etc. Therefore, reading these publications will give you an idea of students’ opinions and
what they think is important. Especially look at the editorial pages or comments to understand the pulse of student opinion. Also, the newspaper and websites will help you to know how and where you can advertise on campus.

 

KEY QUESTIONS (COLLEGE LIFE)

How many publications (check social media) are on campus?
How often are these communications sent
out?
Is there a Christian publication?
How many student publications are there?
How are they used? Satire? Social Justice?
How many publications does the University
use? How are they used?
What stories are covered in the
publication?

 

What do these stories tell you about the
opinion, thoughts and perspectives of the
people who are writing/reading these
stories?
What is the main form of distributing the
news? Is it printed, on websites, through
social media? (This will also let you know
how students get information/news on
campus.)
What articles are posted on their Facebook
Page? Twitter? Intagram, etc

STUDENT ORGANIZATIONS ON CAMPUS

Knowing the student organizations at your campus will give you a pulse of the students’ interests. Once you are acquainted with the student organizations on campus, you will be able to network and potentially be able to participate together in events. It is a good way to outreach and give your group a presence on campus. You can begin by going to the university/college website to see the groups that are registered. This may be helpful in deciding the kinds of events you would like to advertise/plan. For example, one group planned a ‘sober BBQ’ and invited all the sororities and fraternities surrounding their home.

KEY QUESTIONS (STUDENT ORGANIZATIONS)

How many student groups are there?
Are there Christian groups? Is there a group
where all Christian student leaders come
together?
What are the Religious groups?
What are the International groups?
What are the Health groups?
Are there Outdoor groups?
How active are the fraternities and
sororities?
How many fraternities and sororities are
there?

 

What is their influence like on the campus
community?
Which student organization fliers capture
the majority’s attention, and why?
When you walk on campus, which
organizational posters or fliers do you see
the most?
Based on the fliers, what kind of activities
are the Christian groups hosting?
This may be helpful in deciding the kinds of
events you would like to advertise/plan

STUDENT GOVERNMENT

To research the activity of student organizations on campus, look into the student government budget allocations, which is public information. The allocation will usually be found on the student government website. Researching the student government will also help you to know how to get funding from the
university.

KEY QUESTIONS (STUDENT GOVERNMENT)

What is the budget for the student
government?
How many organizations asked for funding?
How much did they ask for? How much did
they receive?
When are the budget hearings?
What is the focus of the student
government? Are they looking to see more
student organizations work together on
events and programs?

 

What is the process of asking for money for
your student organization?
What kind of leaders are involved in the
student government?

How involved are these student-
government leaders in the student body?

What kind of events does the student
government want to see on campus? (e.g.
Weekend alternatives to parties) 

UNIVERSITY 

Each university is unique and attracts a certain type(s) of students. Additionally, each university ascribes to a certain philosophy in which they educate every student. For example, if the University seeks to expose the “evils of globalizations,” the decentralization of power, and so forth, then you will hear buzz words in your classes like globalization, decentralization, and the like in your classes. One way for Adventist to connect with this philosophy is to look at the life of Christ as He always reminded the Jews that His kingdom was not of this world. Christ recognizes the “evils” that surround the centralization of power on earth was often gave a voice to those who did not have a voice; for example, consider the under-privileged woman at the well. Below are some questions you can use to help discover the underlying philosophies of the university. A lot of this information can be found on the university website, and especially on the registrar’s web page.

KEY QUESTIONS (UNIVERSITY)

What is the university’s mission statement?
What are some buzz words that you often
hear in your classes? What do other
students notice?
What are the subjects of the core classes
that students are required take? What are
the topics of these classes?
What do these topics and buzz words tell
you about the university’s philosophy?
What are the largest departments on
campus for student enrollment? (Education,
social work, engineering, medicine, etc.)
What are some of the philosophies of these
departments (can often be found on their
website)?

 

What are some of the departments
featured at the university? How do these
departments rank in the US?
What are some of the majors for
undergrad? Grad?
How strong is the universities research? In
what areas to they receive funding, i.e.
NIH?
What is the cost for enrollment? How does
it rank with other campuses in your state?
What does this research tell you about the
students that are attracted to the
university?
What are some of the focuses in your
department?

STUDENT DEMOGRAPHIC

The demographic of the university will give you a better idea of the specific needs of certain student
populations on your campus and how to cater your events to meet their interests. Think especially of
the international population on your campus.

KEY QUESTIONS (UNIVERSITY)

What is the total enrollment?
What is the undergrad enrollment? Number
of each class?
What is the graduate enrollment?
What is the international enrollment? What
are the top countries?
What is the percentage to instate and out
of state enrollment?
What is the male to female ratio?
What are the students’ study habits?
What are the students’ recreation habits?
How do students respond to different types
of information on campus? News? Fliers?
Poster Board? Chalking? Email? Surveying?

 

Will students take a flier and read it?
Do they read table tents?
What is the religious climate of the
campus? Antagonistic? Pluralistic?
Accepting? Indifferent?
How are religious groups received on
campus?
How many students live on campus? Is it a
commuter school? Are there many dorms?
(This may influence when you have Bible
studies and social activities.)

BIBLE BOOTCAMP 2020

BIBLE BOOTCAMP 2020

Our next Bible Bootcamp will be taking place on August 16 – 21, 2020 at Camp Au Sable. Looking forward to seeing you there!

Bible Bootcamp is a free event that involves practical training sessions designed for student leaders who are dedicated to doing ministry on public university campuses. These training sessions emphasize what it means to experience the Word of God, and what it means to utilize the Word of God in leading others closer to Christ.

HOW DO I STAY FAITHFUL ON A SECULAR CAMPUS?

HOW DO I STAY FAITHFUL ON A SECULAR CAMPUS?

For a young person, college is such a huge transition time in life. They pack up their bags and move to a college campus, making new friends and becoming independent from their family. For a lot of Christian students, they are leaving their churches, their youth groups, and the influences of their parents. College campuses are a whole new world to many, and it is easy to get swept away into the culture that surrounds every student. The pressures of classmates are high and are at times hard to resist, causing many students to add their faith to the list of farewells as they leave their hometowns. For a young person, college is such a huge transition time in life. They pack up their bags and move to a college campus, making new friends and becoming independent from their family. For a lot of Christian students, they are leaving their churches, their youth groups, and the influences of their parents. College campuses are a whole new world to many, and it is easy to get swept away into the culture that surrounds every student. The pressures of classmates are high and are at times hard to resist, causing many students to add their faith to the list of farewells as they leave their hometowns.

It can be quite daunting as a young person to have to defend your faith against so many different beliefs, and it feels overwhelming to think that there are no fellow believers in the sea of diversity. It is hard to hold strong beliefs that differ from peers, and even harder to be mocked or ridiculed for them. Jesus knew how we feel, and so do His disciples. They were mocked, beaten, imprisoned for their faith. However, they brought so many people to God because they were willing to serve Him no matter the cost. If the disciples were able to stay Christian during all the suffering they went through, is it possible to remain faithful on a college campus?

1. Daily Prayer and Devotions

Being mindful of the challenges that present themselves, there are things we can do as young people to stay active in our faith. The first and foremost of these is daily prayer and devotion time. The way we communicate with God is by praying to Him and reading His Word. As we build an authentic relationship with our Creator, He helps us with everything we are going through. Psalm 46 says God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. The reality is that there will be difficult times, but God promises to be our refuge. We can take shelter in Him and His word. He has so much help for us in the Bible, and we can face the world when we have God’s word written on our hearts. No matter what we are going through, God is there for us, and wants to help us!

2. Guarding The Avenues, 

Another way to stay Christian in college is to guard ourselves. Amidst all the temptations, distractions, and influences, it is easy to slip into habits that aren’t holy, but we need to be careful about what we let into our minds and our hearts. As a principle, by beholding we become changed. If we examine the Bible every day and learn more about our Creator, God will change our hearts, and we will grow closer and closer to Him. However, if we watch, listen, or even partake in things that aren’t pure or holy, those things will change us and cause us to drift away from God. Philippians 4:8 says “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy–meditate on these things.” God tells us to spend our time beholding pure, good, and true things, not the opposite, and the best way to stay faithful is by being committed in the small day to day decisions on how to spend our time. So when you catch yourself doing things that take you away from God, turn away and pray, ask God to help you change those habits.

3. Surround Yourself With Godly Christian Friends,

Along the same lines as the last way, surrounding yourself with people who will bring you closer to God and not away from Him is very important. As humans, we need community and friends to strive, and as Christians, we need fellow believers to help us along on our walk. By joining a Christian student group and becoming part of a church family, we can form bonds with people that will help us withstand the forces of the evil one. There is something extraordinary about being able to worship and praise God with your closest friends, and when you become friends with fellow Christians, you can uplift each other, pray for each other, and understand each other better than you will be able to with your other friends. By joining a church family, you will find amazing mentors and people who will become like family. They will be there to help you and encourage you as you are navigating your college years, give you advice, and care for you when you need it. Having friends and church members by our side lets us know that we aren’t alone with what we are going through as a college student, and gives us hope for our futures in Christ.

4. Share The Word With Others,

Although taking classes and studying will already keep us very busy, getting involved in service is another way that will help us stay faithful. Jesus’ mission here on earth was to seek and save the lost, and on public universities, there are many lost people. When we get involved in serving God, not only do we bring ourselves true joy, but we can show other people about the love of God that what we have found in Christ. When you serve God, it creates a love for God and His people in your heart, and there is nothing more rewarding than when someone you have been witnessing to gives their lives to Christ. Serving God makes us want to know Him more, especially when we witness the amazing things He does for people. It grows our faith in Him when we are working for Him because it isn’t always easy, but it is always worth it. So get involved with a Christian student group, with your church’s community outreaches, and personally reach out to the people around you.

5. Make God a Priority,

Lastly, but most importantly, we must keep God as the priority in our lives. We do need to focus on school and our degrees, but God has us in His hands. We can bring glory to Him with our studies and by doing well in school, but we need to put Him first. Before our exams, before our friends, before even our family. Because we have God, we don’t need to worry about these things, and when we put God first in our lives, He will honor and bless us. Mathew 6:33 tells us to “ seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all things will be given to you as well.” When we decide to choose God over all other things, He provides for us, and in college, there will be times when you have to trust God to help you in trying situations. When your professor wants you to do something against your beliefs, or when your study group wants to meet during the time you go to church. When you are overwhelmed by papers and assignments, and you want to skip church and personal time in the Bible to finish everything you need to do. These situations are tough, but when you seek God first and stand up for Him, He provides everything you need. Put Him first in your life, keep Him at the center of all that you do, and your faith will grow as you see all He does for you!

In conclusion, it is a challenge to stay faithful to God on a public university, but through God it is possible. So as you face the challenges set before you, claim God’s promises He has for us in His word, talk to Him about everything going on in your life. Fill every second of your day with things that bring you closer to God, and make your circle of friends people who will encourage your faith and not deter it. “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as though you were working for the Lord and not for people,” (Colossians 3:23) and fill your life with loving other people and God. You may feel alone on your campus at times, but know that many other people have felt the same way, and God will provide for you as you serve Him during your college years.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:1,2

Here the Scriptures inspires us as Christ followers to run the race and endure the trials, looking to Jesus. He endured all for us so we could be with our Father, and He will help us face the trials and challenges presented before us at college. So please don’t lose hope and stay faithful on your campus, because it is all so worth it!

 

 Written by: Miranda Lentz

CAMPUS Missionary 2017-2018

 

THE DANGER OF AUDACITY

THE DANGER OF AUDACITY

The darkness of the events soon to take place surely pressed about the upper room, where Jesus was eating with His disciples. In those few quiet hours, Jesus could share a few more words of counsel and comfort to His disciples. His burden, as made evident in the gospel of John, was for the disciples to understand the need for them to abide in His Words, in His commandments. “If ye love Me,” Jesus said, “keep my commandments.” Most Christians today would have no problem consenting to follow most of the Ten Commandments. But the fourth commandment seems to be insignificant to most of Christendom today; the graveness of disregarding the law of God–specifically, the Sabbath commandment– is not realized as it should be.


A prestigious Roman Catholic, Cardinal James Gibbons, who was the first cardinal to be appointed in the United States, says this in his book The Faith of Our Fathers:
“You may read the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, and you will not find a single line authorizing the sanctification of Sunday. The Scriptures enforce the religious observance of Saturday, a day we never sanctify.” (Pg. 72,73)

 How is it that someone claiming to be a follower of God can so shamelessly admit that they disobey direct instruction from the Bible? The language of the Sabbath commandment is this: 

‘Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shall you labor and do all your work. But the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it, you shall do no work–you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it.‘ Exodus 20:8-11

Some believe that the Sabbath was not instituted until God spoke them at Mt. Sinai and that it was abolished at the cross, implying that the Sabbath is just something to be tossed around. This is proposed by Theodore H. Epp, founder of the organization, Back to the Bible.

He also says, What day, then, should Christians set aside? There is no commandment given to Christians in this area.” (backtothebible.org)

Epp argues that Jesus kept the Sabbath because Jesus was a Jew, and the Sabbath was a sign for Israelites, according to Exodus 31:13-17. This cannot be correct thinking because Jesus says that the Sabbath was made for man in Mark 2:27–not Sabbath was made for the Israelites only. The Sabbath is included amongst other commandments that everyone is subject to, and there is no basis for separating it from the Decalogue as applicable only to the Jews.

The fourth commandment begins with the word ‘remember’. The children of Israel, having received this formal declaration of God’s law soon after their liberation from Egypt, most likely had forgotten the sacredness of this day because of their occupation as slaves. They were probably forced to work on the Sabbath, and so it is understandable that God would say to ‘remember’, considering that the duration of their slavery was conducive to forgetfulness in regard to this special day.

Spiritual Israel today has ‘forgotten’ the one command where God has called for remembrance. The first day, Sunday is observed as the Sabbath by much of the Christian world today. Why is this so?

History records that the change from the seventh day Sabbath to Sunday was put into motion beginning with Constantine, who was the emperor of Rome several years after Jesus lived on earth. He decreed that work was to cease on Sunday, which reminds one of the languages of the commandment of God.  Prior to this, the Christians were heavily persecuted in the Roman Empire. Yet, amidst this hostility towards the followers of Christ, the Romans witnessed a change in their emperor when Constantine professed conversion to the Christian faith.

 In that time, much of Roman religion revolved around sun worship. Pagan Rome was entrenched in their own religion. To be asked to give up ceremonies and practices in order to embrace Christianity would create chaotic reverberations within the empire. Constantine used compromise was utilized. The ‘Venerable Day of the Sun’, from which ‘Sunday’ arises, was proclaimed by Constantine in 321 A.D. to be the day set aside for rest and worship.

This change was instituted by man. However, divine law does not change on the say so of a human being. This swapping of Sabbath days has no sanction from the Bible. It was only to make the Christian religion appeal to Roman paganism that the holy day was changed.

 The conversion of Emperor Constantine marked the beginning of the rise of Roman Catholicism. For more than a thousand years after that event, this system of church mixed with state grew and became a dictatorial power in Europe. Along with the change of the Sabbath, there were other practices and teachings–such as indulgences, worship of images, confession to a human priest– that evolved within the Catholic church, these things being contradictory to Biblical concepts. The religion of Rome, though officially termed “Christian” by the emperor, was simply paganism made to look like Christianity.

 Persecution again arose against true Christians, only this time from a religious power. Groups like the Waldenses stood against the Catholic church, claiming the authority of Scripture over that of men. They kept the commandments of God, including the Sabbath ordained by God.

Eventually came the period of the Protestant Reformation in Europe, with Martin Luther and others. Those who had access to the Bible and knew of the errors that pervaded the Catholic church decided to go against this religious system in favor of pure Christianity. Though persecuted for holding on to the truths found in the Word of God, they understood the sacredness of God’s law and knew that obedience to His commandments needed to be a priority in their faith. Many of the errors and practices of the Catholic church were abandoned by the Protestants.

It is necessary to look at this history–a history of people who were persecuted and opposed because of a desire to obey the commands of Jesus– and realize the significance of the great problem in the fact that most of the Christian world today, both Protestant and Catholic, still observe Sunday as Sabbath, still violate a commandment.  There have been many martyrs, many trials faced by Christians throughout the centuries. This continued allegiance to the day of rest designated by man mocks the sacrifices of God’s people in the past as if to say that the law of God is not so important after all.

More appalling than that is the blow to God Himself.  Look back at the way that God begins when He delivered the Ten Commandments directly to the people of Israel. He begins by reminding them that He is the Lord their God, who brought them out of Egypt from the house of bondage (Exodus 20:2). Every commandment that follows should be remembered in that context. The Lord provided their freedom– as their Liberator, He has given them His law, a law described as follows: 

‘The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul. The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart. The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. Moreover, by them, your servant is warned, and in keeping them, there is great reward.’ Psalm 19:7-10 

In living by the precepts of the law, people are changed. Wisdom may be obtained, and joy is experienced. The understanding is broadened, and there is no guilt in abiding reverently before God. In this world where sin has been a curse, the conversion experience gained by keeping God’s commandments is the need of every human being. As a God who liberates, it would make sense that any law given by Him would be for the continued freedom and welfare of the ones He has freed. 

 ‘Who can understand his errors? Cleanse me from secret faults. Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins–let them not have dominion over me. Then I shall be blameless, and I shall be innocent of great transgression.’ Verses 11-13  

 In His Word, God lets His people know the danger of not abiding by His law. The psalmist implores the Lord to keep him from the chains of sin. Sin is transgression of the law, and the wages of sin is death (1 John 3:4; Romans 6:23). Slaves do not expect any good recompense for their labor, and the same is true spiritually. Being a slave to sin will produce death, and again, being the God of love and life that He has demonstrated Himself to be, He implores us to keep that law which will lead to triumphant results, not only in this life but for eternity. 

 Yet there is the contention that the Ten Commandments were abolished at the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, thus freeing Christians from obedience to this law. A blogger by the name of Paul Ellis wrote an article, making the case that the Ten Commandments are not part of the law written on our hearts, as it says will occur in Hebrews 10:16. Another verse that this idea stems from is found in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians: 

 “He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity.” Ephesians 2:14-16 

 Consider another statement by Paul from Colossians:

 “And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.” Colossians 2:13, 14 

 Paul’s reference to “the law of commandments” and the “handwriting of requirements” refers to one of two laws that are noted in Scripture: the Book of the Law written by Moses, and the other set of laws being the Ten Commandments, which were written by God.

 The case against the nullification of the Ten Commandments can be made by looking at the context of these two passages. Paul, in both letters, follows the line of thought that humans, having been spiritually dead in sin, have been brought to life by the mercy and grace of God, through the death of Jesus Christ. Because He died, a man may live in Him. And so Paul continues to the point that “if you were raised with Christ” (Colossians 3:1), and your life is hidden in Him, “put off the old man and put on the new” (verses 9, 10).


And what are the characteristics of this “old man” that Paul exhorts the Colossians to put off? He speaks of “fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, covetousness, which is idolatry…anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy” (verses 5, 8). These are things that God exhorts His people to put away in the Ten Commandments. Further, in his discussion, Paul references the fifth commandment (Ephesians 6:2; Colossians 3:20).  If Paul had indeed been referring to the Decalogue as the law which was abolished at the death of Jesus, and considering that in the death of Jesus, Christians are told to put off the “old man”, what sense does Paul make then in saying that to put off the old man is to follow the principles of the Ten Commandments?


Refer also to the historical context of the two laws to decide which set of requirements has been “wiped out”.  Throughout the years before Israel and Judah were carried into captivity, there were repeated scenes of apostasy, especially in regard to the first and second commandment, which forbids the worship of other gods and graven images. In reviewing the story of King Josiah in 2 Chronicles 34, it is seen that the Mosaic law, having been found and read again, led to obedience to the moral law of God (seen in the reformation that took place in the removal of idols).


Look to how Jesus Himself regards the commandments of God, in Matthew 5. He mentions the command to not murder (verse 21) and to refrain from committing adultery (verse 27) and expands the meanings of both to include not just the visible and tangible aspects, but the motives and thoughts of a human heart. This reveals that, in the eyes of Jesus Himself, the moral law was not to be diminished but to be studied in such a way that the underlying principles might be understood in a clearer manner. If the death of Jesus was meant to abolish the Ten Commandments, there was no reason for Him to take the time to teach more concerning the moral law.


Now consider the sanctuary services practiced by the Israelites from the wilderness to the time before the crucifixion. The offerings, the ministrations of the priests, the atoning for sins–all pointed forward to the plan of salvation (refer to Hebrews 9 as well as the book of Exodus), and specifically, to Jesus as “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).

Refer again to Paul’s statement, that “the handwriting of requirements that was against us…has been nailed to the cross.” The mind of a Jew, in reading this, would have recalled the words of Moses in Deuteronomy 31:26, which says, “Take this Book of the Law, and put it beside the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, that it may be there as a witness against you.” He was referring to the laws of sacrificial ordinances, not the Ten Commandments, which were placed, not with Moses’ Book of the Law, but inside the ark of the covenant (Exodus 40:20).


When the Bible says that sin is the transgression of the law, this is describing a scenario in which two things exist, but which such intense friction that one must be done away with. The law that cannot exist in harmony with sin, and if the death of Jesus took away sin, then the law, the moral law, has been left to remain.  The law of ordinances was abolished because Jesus was nailed to the cross, has become sin for us (2 Corinthians 5:21).

This had been pointed forward to by the sacrificial system all throughout Israel’s history, and when Jesus died, the need for these ordinances became non-existent. May it be understood, then, that if these men, along with the Son of God, believed in and referenced the moral law of God with no allusion to its invalidity, a modern follower of Christ will adhere to this law, in its entirety.

“For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all. For He who said ‘Do not commit adultery’ also said ‘Do not murder.’ Now if you do not commit adultery, but you do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law.” James 2:10, 11

 James makes it clear that no commandment is considered less important than another. All are necessary, and most, understandably so. Recall how Jesus summed up the law in two commandments:

“ ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 22:37-40

 In looking at the Decalogue, it is seen that the first four commandments refer to loving God; the last six, loving other people. Honoring parents, life, marriage, ownership, reputation, and property are considered by any rational human to be logical in relating to others. But note that, excepting the fifth commandment, there is no reason given in the last five for the commandment. They are simply straightforward and are accepted without question as good and necessary.

 When reading the commandments pertaining to God, notice how God gives a reason to the command:

 1st Commandment: You shall have no other gods before me

Reason: ‘I am the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.’

2nd Commandment: You shall not make for yourself a carved image

 Reason: ‘For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.’

3rd Commandment: You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain

 Reason: ‘For the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain’

4th Commandment: Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.

 Reason: ‘For in six days, the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it.’

 The very concept in having a god is that one’s god gets the supreme regard in the life of the worshiper. Adoration, attention, service, homage, obedience–a god should expect this. Theoretically, Christians know this. Yet hear the sentiments of God expressed in Malachi:

 “A son honors his father, and a servant his master. If then I am the Father, where is My honor, and if I am a Master, where is My reverence?” Malachi 1:6

 The context of this passage speaks to the fact that God’s people, especially and specifically the priests, are dishonoring their God by the laziness and carelessness of their worship. The defects of their offerings testify that they had reached a point where they did not regard their God as worthy of highest honor.

“You offer defiled food on My altar, but say, ‘In what way have we defiled You?’ By saying, ‘The table of the Lord is contemptible.’ And when you offer the blind, and the lame and sick as a sacrifice, is it not evil? Offer it then to your governor! Would he be pleased with you?” Verses 7, 8

 The bewildering tone of God’s dialogue in Malachi is understandable as one feels the shrug-off attitude in the responses of these people who, by their actions, clearly have an indifference to the fact that God deserves at least the respect that they would have rendered to earthly authority. A probable third-party assessment of the situation would be one of indignation if God, in this situation, were passive about the haphazard way in which His people serve Him.

 But when God sees that His people are in this state, He cannot keep from speaking up and addressing the problem:

 “‘And now, O priests, this commandment is for you. If you will not hear, and if you will not give glory to My name,’ says the Lord of hosts, ‘I will send a curse upon you, and I will curse your blessings. Yes, I have cursed them already, because you do not take it [the commandment and giving glory to God’s name] to heart.'” Verses 1, 2

 “‘Then you shall know that I have sent this commandment to you, that My covenant with Levi may continue,’ says the Lord of hosts. “My covenant was with him, one of life and peace, and I gave them to him that he might fear Me; so he feared me, and was reverent before My name. The law of truth was in his mouth, and injustice was not found on his lips. He walked with Me in peace and equity and turned many away from iniquity. For the lips of a priest should keep knowledge, and people should seek the law from his mouth, for he is a messenger for the Lord of hosts.’ “ Verses 4-7

 God never keeps silent when His people have turned away from His covenant, because He “has no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked should turn from his way and live.” (Ezekiel 33:11). People, both Christian and non-Christian, do not realize that this “law of truth” gives life, peace, and a sinless existence to those who abide by it.  And since humans, as sinners, cannot abide in this law on their own, God sent His Son to make it possible.

 Now, it does lie on the individual to decide for himself whether or not he will follow God’s commandments. But at the same time,  those who stand in religious positions of authority have not been doing their job in upholding God’s law. Just as the priests of Israel showed contempt in regard to His commands, so also church authority has forgotten it’s responsibility to know and follow God’s requirements, encouraging the people to do the same.


 Howard Peth, the author of 7 Mysteries Solved, says, “Religious leaders have misled millions so that nearly all of the people are fooled as to the Biblical day of worship.” (Pg. 749)
In the Roman Catholic catechism, in response to whether or not the Church has the power to institute festivals of precept, it states:
“Had she not such power, she could not have done that in which all modern religionists agree with her–she could not have substituted the observance of Sunday the first day of the week, for the observance of Saturday the seventh day of the week, a change for which there is no scriptural authority.” (Pg. 174)
Former President of Redemptorist College, Father Enright states:

“The Bible says, ‘Remember that thou keep holy the Sabbath day.’ The Catholic Church says, ‘No! By my divine power, I abolish the Sabbath day, and command you to keep holy the first day of the week.’ And lo! The entire civilized world bows down in reverent obedience to the command of the holy Catholic Church.”
These boastful, audacious statements indicate how much pride and arrogance can result in the breaking of just one command of God. Ellen White, in Thoughts From the Mount of Blessing, comments on Matthew 5:19: “He who willfully breaks one commandment, does not, in spirit and truth, keep any of them (James 2:10). It is not the greatness of the act of disobedience that constitutes sin, but the fact of variance from God’s expressed will in the least particular, for this shows that there is yet communion between the soul and sin.” (Pg. 52)


People may say, “Why does it matter what day I worship on?” or “That was only for the Jews–I don’t have to keep Saturday as the Sabbath,” and it seems a small thing in their eyes. But it reveals that there is a reluctance to follow what God has said to do. And if there is an unwillingness to do something as “small” as worshiping on the day that He has commanded His people to worship on, there will be hesitancy or outright obstinacy in regards to other commandments.


She continues, “The heart is divided in its service. There is a virtual denial of God, a rebellion against the laws of His government.” The wording of the fourth commandment gives reason for worshiping God. As the Lord and Creator of heaven and earth, He has a right to ask His people to worship Him in remembrance that He created them. Keeping the seventh-day Sabbath of the Bible acknowledges His authority.


“Were men free to depart from the Lord’s requirements and to set up a standard of duty for themselves…the government would be taken out of the Lord’s hands.” This is exactly what has happened with the changing of the Sabbath. When Adam and Eve sinned, it was because they departed from a singular command of God. They gave their allegiance to the devil in eating the fruit. Today, in keeping Sunday, millions give their allegiance to another god, when the Creator is the only one who deserves it.

“Not by one word, not by many words, but by every word that God has spoken shall man live.” The Word of God in its entirety is what God has spoken to man through men. But God personally spoke the Ten Commandments, and He personally wrote them on tables of stone (Exodus 31:18). Even when the second pair of tablets came, cut out of stone by Moses, God wrote His law with His own finger (Exodus 34:1). This should testify to how important the commandments are in God’s eyes.

 “We cannot disregard one word, however trifling it may seem to us, and be safe. There is not a commandment of the law that is not for the good and happiness of man, both in this life and in the life to come. In obedience to God’s law, man is surrounded as with a hedge and kept from the evil. He who breaks down this divinely directed barrier at one point has destroyed its power to protect him, for he has opened a way by which the enemy can enter to waste and ruin.” (Pg. 52)

 One sin led to separation from God in Eden. One command broken makes it easier for the next one to be laid down as unimportant. “For whoever shall keep the whole law and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all.” And if he is guilty, he needs a Saviour. But if he does not think he is guilty in breaking one commandment, he does not really feel his need of a Saviour. Since he does not feel the need, he cannot receive the sacrifice of God on behalf of him, because his faith in Jesus is not complete. Whoever believes in Jesus will have eternal life; he who does not will perish.

 The danger of audaciously putting down God’s law is that sin has become excusable. And when sin has become excusable in the eyes of a man, God Himself cannot do anything more for his salvation.

 

Written By Julianna Dunn

Missionary 2016-2017

 

Bibliography

The Bible

-Thoughts From the Mount of Blessing by E.G. White: Chapter 3: The Spirituality of the Law

-The Great Controversy by E.G. White:

“Constantine I” by Donald M. Nicol and J.F. Matthews, 2016, Encyclopedia Britannica article

This is where I read up on the history of Emperor Constantine, and the involvement of Rome in the Christian church

 -“What does God’s Word say about the Christian keeping the Sabbath?” by Theodore H. Epp: 

 .https://www.backtothebible.org/what-does-gods-word-say-about-the-christian-keeping-the-sabbath#sthash.V3rugsJc.dpuf

7 Mysteries Solved by Howard Peth, published in 1988.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

RELATIVISM: A SOLUTION TO GLOBAL INJUSTICE?

RELATIVISM: A SOLUTION TO GLOBAL INJUSTICE?

It is hard to think that the Cambodian genocide happened in the last half-century. It is even harder to think that the Rwandan genocide happened less than two decades ago. It is hard to fathom this because, despite all the technological and intellectual advances made, mass acts of injustice against humans are still occurring.

This is why discussions about morality and justice are relevant now more than ever. With the European Renaissance period began a surge of human interconnectivity, moving from improvements in marine technology to machines that can now traverse the globe in less than three days. Couple that with the desire to explore and the vastly less virtuous desire to conquer and exploit others and we have a global network that falls far from a pleasant intercultural get-together.

So not only have human beings not reached some enlightened moral plane through centuries of intellectual pursuits, but they have also become more interconnected giving rise to more opportunities for cultural and ideological clashes. If there were ever a time for a discussion on morality and culture, that time would be now. And it is.

In the wake of numerous wars, the world is left with the conundrum ‘What is ethical?’ Situations vary and the ethics of people in those situations vary as well. This has caused the development of two sides; one maintaining that there is no absolute truth or right and each person’s morals and beliefs must be respected, the other that there is a moral truth, one that should be respected and upheld. The first view emerged from a desire to treat other cultural and moral views respectfully as a counterweight to the often racist and Eurocentric views of the 20thcentury. Unfortunately, this has morphed into an ‘anything goes’ ideology, which is at odds to serving justice.

This paper maintains that moral relativity is an enemy of justice and cannot serve as a template with which to build a moral structure to govern inter-human relations, regardless of the scale on which justice is sought.

The definition of relativism can be hard to pin down, and in philosophy can have varying meanings. For the purpose of this paper, the most relevant definition is the metaethical one. Metaethical Moral Relativism purports that morality is not absolute or universal, but rather is relative to the culture within which it is being practiced. While modern moral relativism is due largely to ideologies arising in the 20thcentury, relativism goes back to ancient Greek thought. In ancient Greek philosophy, it was acknowledged that there were a diversity of moralities, but instead of thinking that there were many truths, they believed that none of the diverse moral positions were true in and of themselves. This is considered a position of moral skepticism. This rolled over into Western philosophy and continued until the 20thcentury when intellectuals moved from simply skepticism to taking positions on moral relativity.  

The concept of cultural relativism came from Anthropology in the early 1900s. A professor at Colombia University, Franz Boaz, challenged the then prevalent concept that Western society was superior to the cultures it studied. Boaz argued that the criteria used by the Western world to determine ‘civilization’ might not be the only ones there are and that Western ideas of civilization are affected by Western society’s own emotional, subjective bias. Two of his students, Ruth Benedict and Melville Herskovitz, continued these ideas, and the modern description of metaethical moral relativity that we know is a formulation of Herskovitz’s. In the context of observing, evaluating and documenting cultures that are different from one’s own, he maintains that judgments made are relative to the culture from which the judgment is made. Considering that at the time, ‘civilization’ was measured by very Eurocentric

standards, Herskovitz’s ideology assigned value to cultures that were vastly different from Western cultures. Thus it encouraged viewing members of other cultures and ethnicities (non-Western ones) as equal.

Thus, initially in the world of Anthropology, morality was inextricably tied to tolerance. Considered as a prescriptive instead of descriptive theory, the knowledge that there were different moralities in different cultures motivated relativists to espouse tolerance for the different moral constructs. Because of this, moral relativists are often rebuffed with the idea that critiquing someone’s lack of tolerance is an intolerant act in and of itself. Renteln maintains that contrary to popular belief, tolerance is not a foundation of moral relativism and that the relativist can indeed offer moral critique. Holding a relativist view means that one recognizes that different cultural and moral systems exist. To believe in relativism, one need not be tolerant, nor objective (i.e. be unbiased about which moral system is best).

Objectivity rather comes from an Anthropological desire to be scientific when conducting ethnographies. The more objective a report, the more scientific it is, thus in expressing their research, anthropologists desire to be as objective as possible. Because of relativism’s close ties to Anthropology, objectivism has been touted as a feature of relativism. Renteln’s position is that while objectivism is a useful partner to relativism for the anthropologist, it is not an indispensable feature of relativism. Not only that but when relativists claim that tolerance and objectivity are foundational to subscribing to relativism, they change relativism from a descriptive theory to a prescriptive theory.

Relativism as an ideology, however, is based on enculturation. Enculturation refers to unconsciously learning the standards of one’s culture. Enculturation leads to firm moral judgments, because one’s moral standards are not seen a merely cultural, but rather as objective principles. Because one has unconsciously acquired certain moral principles, such principles are seen as unspoken truths, rather than culturally relative. Once the impact of enculturation on moral judgments is recognized however, that knowledge becomes a motivating factor for persons to view moralities from other cultures as just as valid as their own. This is different from simply encouraging tolerance, as considering enculturation necessitates critical engagement with one’s own morals and the morals of the society they are considering.

This equal validity does not mean that relativists cannot decry certain actions. Moral challenges can be made in three ways, according to Renteln: (i) when the act is contrary to the moral standards of that country or group, (ii)when the act is contrary to not only an internal societal standard, but also a universal standard and (iii)when the act is in accordance with the local societal standard, but different from the standards of the moral critic. This is based on the relativistic concept that morality is local, and can at times be universal (i.e. where similar principles are held across global societies). While this may seem like self-contradiction (‘relativists don’t believe in absolutes’), universality is distinguishable from absolutism.

Universality refers to principles across cultures that are the same or similar. Universal values are not objective, but relative to societies in a particular period. She contrasts this with absolutes, for instance, the concept of natural law, which contains objective principles that stem from nature. Absolutes are timeless, so morality does not change with time. She argues that universality offers a better model because it is better able to serve the members of whichever societies it applies to at that time. This goes against the concept that values should remain unchanged. This is also a rebuttal to absolutist arguments about morality derived from universality. Some absolutists argue that morality derived from a consensus of societies, or from universalism might contribute moral principles that are inhumane. Renteln argues that since universalism is not mutually exclusive with change, if cross-culture universals are discovered that are inhumane, then there is always the opportunity to change these moral concepts. Absolutes, on the other hand, cannot accommodate newly emergent societal needs.

While she does not hold those universal ideals exist for a fact, she acknowledges that they are a possibility, and highly probable ones at that. Her argument for universality is also helped by the concept that morality across different cultures is more similar than people tend to think. Morality may have different expressions, but the principles behind the judgments are very similar.

Surprisingly, that is a view that is common to both absolutists and relativists. C.S. Lewis in the appendix of The Abolition of Man compiled ways in which various cultures have similar ethical beliefs. While many of the cultures are European, there are non-European cultures that display similarity with the non-European ones. While it may be nearly impossible to compare all cultures, both relativists and absolutists agree that certain values are cross-cultural, such as an abhorrence of murder and stealing, and valuing justice and respect. But that may be as similar as their ideas get.

In his book Mere Christianity, Lewis challenges the reader with the dilemma of morality. We all have the desire for a moral standard, he proposes, and live by both spoken and unspoken rules of morality. At the same time, however, none of us is able to live up to the standards we all seek to live by. He uses this as an argument to support man’s need of morality. Relativism does involve morality but in a different way. Relativity dismisses the idea that there is one correct morality, hence removing the authority of a God-figure and the need for an authoritative God-figure to regulate morality. On the other hand, Lewis uses the argument about our inherent desire for morality as an argument for God.

Often in discussions of morality, this question of deity comes up. This is because many, if not all, religious systems purport values to guide the lives of its adherents. A supreme being is seen as having a role in the creation of amorality. Thus one could say that in the discussion of morality, absolute, divine and timeless principles are often pitted against universal, time-bound, human-determined principles. Renteln’s argues that time-bound morality is better able to meet the needs of the society which it governs. While this may be true, it then means that no meaningful moral assessments can be made of societies that are not in the same time-periods as the one attempting to make the moral judgment. That is, events that occurred in non-contemporary time periods must be judged on a completely different moral basis. Not only that, but it negates the heart of morality as espoused by Lewis.

He argues that our desire and basis for morality come from a source outside of ourselves. Humanity does not settle for laws that can be easily satisfied, instead, it chooses laws that are hard to keep, and that is often broken. An argument can also be made along these lines about our desire for justice. If we simply wanted to experience justice, and morality could truly belong to time, then we could adjust our concepts and ideas of justice to something far more attainable, but we do not. In that sense, Renteln’s argument about the relationship between enculturation and morality begins to break down. While some beliefs that are a part of certain societal moral constructs are due to enculturation (such as the use of one’s right hand for eating and one’s left hand for use after urination and defecation in some African cultures at one point in time), there are others that relativists would consider universal, such as the injustice of rape.

Certain moral ideals are more negotiable than others, which points to a possible demarcation between what can be considered as moral and amoral. There are certain actions that are looked upon more disdainfully than others. Whether this is conceptualized on a scale or as a binary, there is a difference between the severity of what are considered crimes in different cultures. I would like to argue that this points to a difference between moral principles and their practical manifestation. Principles are timeless, whereas the manifestation of these principles is specific to the time and place in which they are being practiced. Often rules of morality exist that are mere off-shoots of rules made to ensure compliance with certain moral principles.

That still leaves the question of who gets to decide what is moral and what is immoral. Renteln’s relativistic argument maintains that morality should be left to respective cultures, and can still be subject to critique from members of other cultures and/or societies. In the typical relativistic model, tolerance is an important part of the construction of morality, which is a pitfall for relativists who cling to the importance of tolerance. Espousing a sweeping concept of tolerance makes it hard to critique what relativists see as wrong, and is inherently contradictory when they reprove others for intolerance. While they can accuse others of wrongdoing, there is no objective basis against which to lean for validation of their accusations.

Renteln maintains that the basis for justice would come from the morality of a culture or society, an international body, or member or group from another culture or society. Absolutists often argue that there is no basis for the enforcement of such morality since it does not pack the weight of being universally agreed upon, but as Renteln argues, there are ways of ensuring one’s moral codes are respected and followed. In the case of international justice, we see that happen with embargoes on countries that refuse to comply with the moral standards of more powerful countries.

This is only an example of how influential power is in all of this. On a very basic level, cultural norms are highly affected by power (Sikka 2012). Often times, many aspects of culture are determined by those who are most powerful within that culture or society. It then follows that the morality of that culture or society would be heavily influenced by those in power if morality was solely left to human devising. In that sense, justice would not be served because it would lean on the side of those in power. On a larger scale, in the global dispensation on justice, the only people to have a say in morality, and to actually achieve some outcome from justice processes would be the ones that actually had the power to ensure that their moral views were respected and upheld.

In some cases, this works, but because humans are imperfect, this often goes horribly awry. On a local scale, it means curtailed justice for those, not in power, who are often the poor, marginalized and oppressed, the ones that need justice the most. On a global scale, it means the withholding of justice from weaker countries and societies, often oppressing them more than they are already being oppressed. The concept behind learning about enculturation as a combative ideology to the maltreatment of other societies and cultures is that knowledge will make a difference. Unfortunately, this does not seem to be the case.

As was mentioned in the introduction, in the last decade there have been crimes stemming from cherished ethnocentric ideals. One such horror was the Rwandan genocide. It was only possible through the separation of the people into Hutus and Tutsis; an ‘us’ and a ‘them’. Once that was done, ethnocentric ideals were promoted, in that one group was better than the other, so much so that the Tutsis were branded as ‘cockroaches’ fit and worthy to be destroyed. It is clear that intellectual advancements do not necessarily map onto moral improvement.

At the same time, a form of tolerance is still very relevant and necessary in our interactions within the global community. In a world with a myriad of cultures, the ability to appreciate amoral cultural beliefs that are not your own is indispensable to peaceable inter-cultural relationships. But without absolute morality, there is nothing of which to be tolerant.

From a Biblical absolutist worldview, morality hinges upon the reality that there is a God that prescribes amorality. In both relativistic and absolutist concepts of morality, some power has to be depended upon as the arbiter of justice and morality. With moral relativity, it either depends on who is the most ‘tolerant’ or whoever wields the most power or influence. With Biblical absolutism, it is dependent on a God that makes timeless moral prescriptions. The very nature of the concept of God as all-powerful, all-knowing and all-present gives the concept of divine morality credence. Unfortunately, relativistic morality is presided over by imperfect human beings. And while divine morality is often dispensed by human means, which often materializes in less than perfect ways, that does not preclude the validity of divine morality.

Relativism offers a solution to a myriad of moralities. Historically, the analysis of other cultures and societies has been rife with Ethnocentrism and biased value judgments, and in an effort to alleviate this, the theory of cultural relativism was formulated. As it evolved, anthropologists drafted ideals of tolerance and objectivity to make less prejudiced assessments, but those began to be touted as foundational to the theory of relativity. More foundational to relativity, however, is considering enculturation. Enculturation is immensely helpful to the relativist by helping them critically engage with their own morality and the morality of others. On the downside, relativism does not grapple with the issue of who ultimately determines what morality looks like. Even when left to a local formulation of morality, power plays a huge role in the concept of morality that emerges as triumphant. In a theistic absolutist construct of morality, a divine being prescribes morality. This concept goes hand in hand with C.S. Lewis’ observation that human beings believe in and live by moral principles that they cannot live up to, yet doggedly believe in. In both constructs, power plays a role, the difference is that one power is local and familiar, and the other is strange and supernatural.

 

Bibliography

Beckwith, Francis J., and Gregory Koukl. Relativism. Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1998.

Dundes Renteln, Alison. “Relativism and the Search for Human Rights.” American Anthropologist 90 (1988): 56-72

Lewis, Clive S. Mere Christianity. San Fransisco: Harper Collins, 2001.

Lewis, Clive S. The Abolition of Man. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2001

Sikka, Sonia. “Moral Relativism and the Concept of Culture.” Theoria: A Journal of Social and Political Theory 59 (2012): 50-69

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. “Moral Relativism.” Last substantive revision April 20, 2015. https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/moral-relativism/