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Logo of ASI 2018: Business Unusual

Speaking as a Dragon? A Report on Religious Liberty and Biblical Justice Today

Nicholas Miller
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Adventists today generally look to the future for the fulfillment of Revelation 13 and its oppressive, dragon-like government. But Adventist pioneers believed that dragon-like behavior existed in their day. Can their views of prophecy open our eyes to similar issues in our world today? How should Adventist Christians respond to the public issues and controversies of our day?

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Nicholas Miller

Professor of Church History at Andrews University

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  • August 3, 2018
    3:30 PM
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Dear Heavenly Father I thank you for your watch care over us the way you've brought. Most of these people anyway many hundreds of miles some even thousands of miles to this spot to learn more about you and the times in which we live that we may speak up more strongly and act more vigorously for the Kingdom of God is growing among us as we wait for the greater fullness of the kingdom of God's glory that I believe is soon to return be with us now may your Holy Spirit guide me as I speak in Jesus' name amen so I have a couple of books that I want to share about here at the beginning 1 of them is will serve as the good part of my presentation today 500 years of protest and liberty from Martin Luther to modern civil rights it last year was the $510.00 of verse 3 of Martin Luther's $95.00 theses and so I took that as a time to. Write some new material but also gather some material that I've published in Liberty magazine over the last 20 years and put it together in a special anniversary edition that asks the question that traces the rise and development of religious liberty for Martin Luther in the 95 theses all the way to the election of Donald Trump a couple of years ago and I ask some important questions about how our heritage our Protestant heritage. That. All the evangelicals that. Trump promising to restore Christianity to influence in this country. Is that the genuine heritage of American Protestantism or is it something else and so we'll explore that in this book in this presentation today so there's another book that was just. Came across my. Desk in physical form about 1 month ago now you're all familiar with the traditional Adventists eschatology of a conflict of worship at the end of time being the final Test in that conflict being demonstrated over days of worship right and whether Sabbath or Sunday the seal of God in the Mark of the beast and many of you are familiar with this because you've read the book the great controversy right and it is the scenario that set out in the great controversy and some people have grown critical of that scenario because there's not much action with Sunday laws these days secularism has been on the rise in the West and they say that Ellen White was reflecting what was happening in her day you know when the version of the great controversy was written 888 there were Sunday laws pending on the floor of Congress and so some people say she was just reflecting the culture of her time those of you who know you're adding to history know that she didn't originate this prophetic understanding rather she drew on. Your righteous Smith and his Daniel and Revelation but those of you who really know you're adding to history will know that it was Joseph big who was the 1st 7th Day Adventists in 849 to write about the Sabbath is the seal of God and set Sunday and Sabbath being the last great controversy on the topic but while I was doing my dissertation I came across in electronic format an old old manuscript not 100 years before you write a Smith and Ellen White and Joseph Bates wrote but 200 years before on another continent a 7th day Baptists by the name of Thomas till I'm wrote a manuscript more than 100 pages where he defended the city ping of the 7th day sabbath and in that book he talked about. The last great controversy would be the conflict between Sabbath keeping and Sunday keeping and he a den of FIDE the mark of the beast as being enforced Sunday worship that book hasn't been in print for more than 200 years I found a scanned copy of it in an electronic database that I don't think Adventists had ever seen because this had never been mentioned anywhere that I had read well I made a copy of it available on the internet and an organization based in England called Wilderness publications has republished it for the 1st time here. It says a a rare and important document because it shows that it doesn't prove that our reading of revelation is correct but it certainly does respond to the argument that it was a creation of 880 S. America or 19th century America know another Christian living 200 years earlier on another continent read these same things in the Book of Revelation so I think it's a very exciting and powerful evidence and support for the Adventist historic position. I have 5 copies of these that are available in the back afterwards for those that are interested in the name of this book is the 7th day sabbath sought out and celebrated and the author is Thomas still I'm. The the the full title and this is a little bit disappointing they have it on the the inner fly the 7th day sabbath sought out and celebrated or the same Slask design upon the man of sin with their advance of God's 1st institution to its primitive perfection being a clear discovery of that black character in the head of the Little Horn Daniel 725 the change of times and laws with the Christians glorious conquest over the mark of the beast and recovery of the long slighted 7th day to its ancient glory and so you it was of when they wrote the titles long enough that it can capsulated the whole argument of the book just in case you couldn't buy the book so there you have it. So speaking as a dragon today comes from a prophetic book and chapter of the Bible my title is alluding to what chapter of the Bible Revelation 13 there is a lamb like corn lamb like Beast. With horns like a laugh and it speaks as a dragon and my question for you this afternoon is what do those 2 horns represent in prophecy what did our pioneers understand civil and religious liberties other people have framed it in terms of Protestantism and Republicanism and my 2nd question is this so those of you who had a Bible class in academy or in college. You remember that it was this lamb like Beast arising out of the earth not in the middle of civilizations but a rising at the end of the 1260 year period we had bene fired with America and we taught we were taught that it started by supporting freedom and equality and fairness but at some point it would move to speak as a dragon and what would that be how would it manifest this speaking as a dragon legislation regarding what days of worship and Sabbath so we had in our heads that it was this lamb like Beast that at some point in the future would speak as a dragon but did our pioneers believe that it would only speak as a dragon in the future when there are pioneers believe that America started speaking as a dragon does the text suggest there's a period of time between it being lamb like and between it speaking as a dragon. The text just says it has 2 horns like a lamb and it speaks it spoke like a dragon and indeed our pioneers believed that America was speaking as a dragon even in their own day it would speak even more clearly as a dragon at some point in the future but they believe that it was appropriate to critique America even then for its failure to live up to its aspirations in the Declaration of Independence right we hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal and endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights among these life liberty and the pursuit of happiness did it grant those rights to everyone and so what was the 1st issue that our pioneers viewed America speaking as a dragon on Can anyone tell me. Slavery and will go back to. This this quote here well 1st of all I want to make the point the 2 horns were a publican an ism and Protestantism right and. Ellen White describes the Protestantism as shorthand for freedom of religious faith right you remember the chapter in great controversy on the protest of the princes Protestantism came from that time when the pro the princes protested against infringement of conscience in matters of conscience the majority shall have no say and what is republicanism though it's a little trickier but which. So a representative form of government a representative democracy and Ellen White says it here. Guarantees to the people the right of self-government providing that representatives elected by the popular vote shall enact and administer the laws. And the enactment and so you might think of Abraham Lincoln's government of the people and by the people and for the people it's a government that respects the rule of law that applies laws equally that isn't based on who you know but on how you behave before the law separation of powers checks and balances and freedom of the press is this whole package that allows a representative government to function and that preserves freedom of all kinds and certainly freedom of religion and Ellen White says these principles are the secret of its power and prosperity right the greatness of America was based its commitments to religious freedom and equality and rule of law through elected representatives these are the secret of its power and prosperity so the question I have for you is what would violate these things these principles of its prosperity is it only Sunday laws that would cause a breakdown in the system it's broader than that isn't it and so our early pioneers this amazing poem that you rawest Smith wrote in the Adventist review 85310 years before we took on our name but if a time when we existed and the review and Herald was already in circulation and he talks about the slam like. Peace that arises with these 2 fundamental principles. More lamblike in their outward form in name a land of freedom pillars on the broad and open bases of equality a land reposing the 3 gentle sway of civil and religious liberty right and I've only showing you 3 or 4 verses here it goes on for pages and pages lamblike Inform is there no dragon voice heard in our land no notes that harshly great upon the ear of mercy love and truth and put humanity to open shame let the United cry of millions tell millions that groan beneath oppressions Rod beneath the sin forge chains of slavery robbed of their rights to brutes degraded down and soul and body bound to others will let their united cries and tears and groans that daily rise and call out on heaven for vengeance answer let the slave reply Oh lend of boasted freedom that was given the light to all the loud professions 1st of justice liberty and equal rights and that has set a foul and he must block upon the sacred page of Liberty and waltz the traffic assistance souls of men that hurls defiance proud in face of heaven soon to be Ensor with a vengeance and do. So was he for it or against it right it's pretty clear slavery was an evil Now let me ask you this at that time was slavery also a political issue. 1 of the most contested in our country. Political and Economic and it divided whole states and organizations and eventually our country did that fact in the fact that it had a political connection to it stop our leaders from speaking to the moral issue. In the papers of our own publication right and in fact speaking prophetically that last line in a sense is a prediction as Ellen White predicted of some great calamity and catastrophe that we see in the civil war don't we so our pioneers were not silent on this very important moral issue despite the fact that it might be close with a political representation as well well I want to jump forward 50 years you write A Smith is still the editor of the review a remarkable tenure that he had but he's not the sole editor anymore 80 Jones that champion of both religious liberty and righteousness by faith in 1908 he also is the editor and there is an editorial that they aren't both their names and I'm not sure who the main author was but we know you write A Smith liked talking about the lamb like beast but a lot of this language is also seems quite. Determined like 80 Jones used to write so it could have been written by them both it was on the occasion of the Spanish-American War America 1st started getting involved in some imperialist adventures so that we had troops in the Navy in the Philippines now how many of you more were in the last decade or 2 we've been talking about enhanced interrogation techniques and waterboarding and stress positions and beatings Well you know where the American government 1st used these things Spanish-American War 1st time we broke out the waterboarding so there were some basic principles our pioneers thought of democracy of due process of representative government we were acting in an imperialist high handed fashion and both Jones and Smith felt that it needed to be pointed out and they said this they said here we talk about this lamb like Beast in there they name the principals right Protestantism and Republicanism Republicanism and then it speaks as a dragon and becomes oppressively cruel this apostasy from the principles which at 1st are the character of the show isn't apostasy from the principles which at 1st are the characteristics of the nation for several years we said much never half enough about the apostasy of the nation from its fundamental principle principle of Protestantism So this is an allusion to our creating the religious liberty society 80 Jones testifying before Congress again Sunday laws so we've been champions of religious liberty in Protestantism but then he says but very little has been said about the apostasy of the nation from its fundamental principle of Republicanism and yet this is a truth as really is the other. Just now the facts pointed out in that truth are being worked out before the eyes of all the people and for months past it has been so this apostasy is going steadily on in the presence of all all people are interested in are discussing daily the national movements that marked this apostasy but how many of them seeing it the Word of God How many of them see in it the prophecy how many of them know that there is any word of God in the prophecy on this subject so remember the lamb like Beast has 2 horns 1 of them is Protestantism and religious freedom the other are the principles of Republicanism and Smith and Jones are saying we need to be speaking about both of these important principles Yeah how many 7th Day Adventists are telling them of this and showing them this word of prophecy yet 7th Day Adventists are here for that very purpose 7th Day Adventists profess to know these things are very profession proclaims that we know these things are you telling the people are you pointing out to them the true significance of the things which they all see passing as the days go by. And I'll take questions at the end of the presentation I think you get through it and we'll have a discussion period so. Jones and Smith are suggesting that we are not articulating voicing our full prophetic message if we are only speaking about 1 half of it right that there are these other deviations it seems to me this 2 paragraphs here could have been written about the last 2 years of experiences of our country our many things many fundamental facets of our promised and form of government being challenged at least in voice separation of powers the independence of the judiciary the fair treatment of all before the law the freedom of the press are any of these things being challenged openly and publicly do we have anything to say about these things maybe not as much as we should what about Ellen White I can't find a response that she gives to that particular editorial because it did seem very daring critiquing the government of the day in its foreign policy but elsewhere she does talk about the importance of both Protestantism and Republicanism to our nation notice in the Christian Service under the influence of the threefold Union which is a POS state Protestantism renewed Roman medieval church in spiritualism our country shall repudiate every principle of its constitution as a Protestant and Republican government so is that talking just about Sunday laws and your religious freedom or is it talking about a whole range of principles that in fact allow that religious freedom to exist right. And if you challenge all those principles and if you just wait until the Sunday laws come along well you've waited too long haven't you because the whole structure that supports that freedom is gone she says this then we shall know that the time has come for the marvelous working of Satan and that the end is near right so we've been waiting for news about Sunday laws and if we'd been reading this more carefully we would have known that when we see a broad and full scale attack on these principles fundamental principles of our nation that this is the signal that the end is in the air and then ironically Ironically what happens when you undermine the independence of the judiciary in the separation of powers in the freedom of the press does that make America great again or does it this national apostasy is the signal for national ruin right are we as adding to sin touch with the times in which we live or are we in food by an economy that seems to be doing quite well despite the challenges to our system or if we are thinking prophetically and biblically do we recognize fool's gold when we see it because decisions are being made that undermine medium and long term stability and security both politically economically and socially in our country I think we are living in a brief time of peace and prosperity before these words come to fulfillment. Has this happened before I would suggest to you that we have a deep warning from the history of the 20th century about the dangers to the church of seeing only half of our prophetic message all right if you read the history of Europe and especially Germany in the 1920 S. and thirty's when fascism began to rise and Nazis and the Hitler to Hitler took over. How did Adventists respond to that crisis. Not well unfortunately I wish it had been silence but the reality was at least for the church in Germany many of the adult is there spoke openly in their support and admiration of Hitler being the savior of the Nation of being a restorer of the national greatness of Germany you can go and read articles on this it's been well documented by adding to story ends and it's a sad sad part of our history I'm not here to judge or blame them the church there has apologized for this in 2005 you can find it on the average this review they sent out a statement apologizing for their praise and support of Hitler and then this is the worst of it and makes me cringe when Hitler and the Nazis commanded the Christian churches to turn over the Jews in their midst that had become Christians we complied with that. Now you may have heard of the Confessing Church Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Carl Bart and others the barman declaration it was at that moment where they said no we cannot do this the blood of Christ covers all and they heroically stood for their faith and for their Jewish friends and some of them paid for it with their blood. And we should have done that I believe but we did not and we didn't do that in part as a historian I believe in as a church history. That we were thinking about another eschatological scenario we were only thinking about half the message because Hitler was anti the godless communists he was not supportive of the Catholic Church he was a vegetarian and a teetotaller so what could be wrong and many Adventists soldiers were given Saturday mornings off to attend their church so if we were just looking for Sunday laws and Catholics and Protestants uniting this if that wasn't happening we said this is not our battle and I think we profoundly misunderstood and misread the moral crisis of the time but we would never do anything like that again would we. Or would we is it possible to become so caught up in a focus on only 1 part of the prophecy that we miss the message of the larger prophecy that is playing out before our eyes and I'd like to suggest to you that the latter is what is happening today. What what has been happening and I don't want to focus this on even though the implications seem. Obvious it's broader than any 1 man or even any 1 political party there is a movement in the West that includes Western Europe that is a movement of a rise of. Support for an enthusiasm for what I would call a populist Western Christian and I'm right we see this in Europe in various places it's triggered by a concern about the other about outsiders about people who aren't like us whether they're Muslim terrorists from the Middle East or Mexican criminals and rapists and I'm using that language euphemistically right I don't believe that I believe that that there are of that there are very few people that match that description and that the vast overwhelming numbers of people don't match that description and so if you actually look into statistics immigrants and even illegal immigrants have lower levels of criminality than the general American population did you know that and it's because they need to stay clear of the law and part right they don't want to be caught up in wrongdoing and yet when rhetoric is used to identify them especially as evil and dangerous and problematic it's not being done for real practical reasons it's being done for political rhetorical reasons to gain power and influence and it's a very very dangerous pathway it's happening in Europe various European nationalist groups play their Christian identity against the non-Christian roots of many especially Muslims now is Christian dumb and Christianity the same thing so if I'm calling for a return to Christian them should that be confused with a return call to return to true Christian principles what is christian them the way Christian Kingdom. But you so it has a Christian facade to it so we might This is the technical term that historians and others use for the formalized political powers of Europe that were developed in connection with the Christian identity but if you think about it hard enough we often think well Christianity in christian them in a christian them carries Christianity right well probably not so right and in fact if you think about what Christ said about swords used on behalf of his kingdom What did he say. My kingdom is not of this world therefore my soldier my my followers do not fight and he took the sword from Peter and so if you think about it christian them far from being kind of a brand of Christianity is in fact a heresy of Christianity it is a going a directly against the teachings of Christ it started when Constantine caused Christianity to be the official religion of the Empire and it was really fulfilled at the time when just in made it the only lawful religion in the Empire and gave the Roman pontiff the authority to persecute and to use the death penalty against heretics that is Christian dumb so when people call for the restoration of Christian dumb you realize that something different is going on then a call for a return to our true American Protestant heritage rather than a return to real Christianity it's a call for return for formal legalized Christianity which is not Christianity at all but which is a perverted form of it so you now unbelievers and non Christians are viewed as civil enemies dealt with by force imprisonment expulsion a travel ban at home or military action over C.S. these are lightweight versions we haven't had full blown Inquisition like they had in the middle ages or or crusades but we're coming close modern versions of the Inquisition I talked about to waterboarding and stress positions and beatings being used by the Americans in the Spanish-American War but their roots actually go back much before that and all these methods were in fact used in the Spanish Inquisition this is where these techniques find their roots they were picked up by communist powers and then developed by American powers as well in our war on terror. So after 500 years of Protestantism we have a clash of differing Protestant visions of America and we saw recently in Charlottesville there were protests and violence 1 side says that America is best represented by a Christian tradition and culture primarily from northern European countries and those who cannot adopt or adapt to these views and values should not come to or perhaps even stay in America the other says that America is best represented by the kind of Protestantism that extends tolerance and liberty to all religions and cultures and its values are best seen in its commitment to liberty and justice for all now there's actually a 3rd group of course on more of the left wing side that says it's the Enlightenment and freedom of religion that brings us our equality in values and we need to keep religious people out of the public square and impose a regime of equality including sexual freedom and rights for all people in all places what is our history tell us about this conflict now I want to take off my historians have for a moment and put on more of my Bible teacher theologians hat but still looking at some church history to show where the Adventists understanding of the Gospel in the individual helps us understand this divide in our country between the 2 extremes of the left and the right and I want to talk a little bit about a doctrine that Martin Luther popularized 500 beginning 500 years ago and this is the doctrine of the priesthood of all believers and we have to understand what the world was like when Luther was born to see the power of what he did and how he began to make the modern world in which we live. This little chart has 4 items in it and these 4 items reveal to you the relationship between See this capital T. at the top as truth or God that there is a God who knows the truth and will share it with humanity but he shares that truth both political and spiritual through the institutions of the church capital city and the state lowercase S. Now I have put these 2 showing the connection between them church is the capital C. because it's the most important member in the partnership remember when Charlemagne was crowned king who crowned him king the pope that was sure that was Napoleon you're thinking of Charlemagne at the beginning of this period is crowned by the pope given his temporal authority by the pope. The state exists to carry out the edicts of the church and who is this at the bottom the individual lower case because the individual isn't very important right because you are told what to do spiritually and politically by the pope and the priests and the king and his heiress Craddick class now let's talk about rights for a moment here in this model if you say the fundamental right is the right of conscience and I believe it is to have a claim of conscience against some outward institution whether it be a political leader or a church what do you have to assert that you have some duty to a higher power right that conflicts with their requirement of the state or perhaps the church but if you are told your duties by the church in the state this notion that you have a conscience which can challenge or supersede the church and state is nonsense. Because the church is going to tell you what your conscience should think and then it's going to work with the state to make sure that that pure good conscience is protected but if your conscience goes wrong and they call that erroneous conscience even Thomas Aquinas believed that conscience could go wrong and it would be erroneous conscience but should that receive put protection from the state well no because it was by definition in error so there was no meaningful concept of personal or individual rights because this mediation so you talk about the whole period of the Middle Ages where the place of the sanctuary was cast down was heaven literally cast down to earth no it wasn't right it was still there but the point was is that the media Turia role of Christ was replaced by the church which we often think of just as a spiritual matter but it impacted the civil possibility of having rights so individuals had no rights and it was only when Luther said no this individual has a direct duty to study the Bible and pray directly to God and this is what Luther does he turns this bottom triangle on its head turns the world upside down effectively So now the individual has a direct relationship with truth in God through bible study and prayer and the church in the state now exists to support the individual as a citizen and as a church member. But Luther realizes there are these 2 realms the spiritual realm and the temporal realm and each church and state have responsibilities in separate realms and because the individual has this duty to God The state should not use its coercive power to interfere with that relationship and therefore there should be a division and Luther goes so far as to say that the king and the prince should not worry about heresy over which books to read and not to read that is for the church to be concerned with and the church should not use temporal authority it should only disfellowship or excommunicate people now Luther for various reasons we don't have time to go into moved away from this model because of the peasants revolt and some other historical things that happened but you've heard some people called the Anabaptists and the end of Baptists many of them were early Lutherans and they picked up this model and continued to propose it as the proper way the church and state should relate and you can see that the very profound. Thing that happens here is the individual is now the possessor of certain rights because of their duties to God they have rights against the church in the state and if you have the right to conscience you have the right to freedom of practice of religion you also have the right to share your religion with other people thus the freedom of speech the freedom of association all these other personal freedoms flow from this fundamental insight that Luther with this priesthood of all believers and I think there is no better way to understand how we went from the Divine Right of Kings and the Papal infallibility and oversight to Lincoln's government of the people and by the people and for the people than the fact that this view of the world. It doesn't happen in years or even decades but through centuries and you can trace it in the writings of theologians and political philosophers ends up with a world where there's a sense of equality between all peoples and of course we struggled with that and still do struggle with it but Lincoln could at some point say the government is of the people and by the people and for the people and it's infected all of our language in our community so even today it's not just church people who talk about being servant leaders but what is a civil servant why do we call him a servant because of this model here and Protestantism taught that this notion of if you have a duty to God then you had a right not to be interfered with by the state and so there was this correlate of relationship between rights and duties and Duties and Rights This is John Locke whose ideas served as the founding philosophy of our of our founding documents the exploration of independence now there's 1 more chart to understand the divide in America you have to understand 1 more time is this loud enough I mean OK 1 more chart and that is this Do we live in a day in age when people believe absolutely in truth in God that can be discerned through the Bible in nature or do we live in an age when people believe your truth is your truth and mine is mine but you know everyone has their own truth right we live in this post modern world and that's captured by this light here lowercase T. Truth is now the individual is still important because only you can know what's true for you right but there are I think limitations on the importance of the individual because if there are no overarching principles that bind us all together. Commitments to individual dignity and justice then very quickly the needs of the many are going to outweigh the needs of the few so if individuals start perhaps appearing to threaten our safety and security there's nothing that we won't do to keep them at arm's length so you may know who Alan Dershowitz is famous Harvard law professor who's known as kind of being you know a left wing liberal law professor type but after 911 and the war on terror began he soon found himself writing treaty sees defending the use of torture against individuals suspected of terrorism so he was very quickly able to overcome the importance of the individual whereas a Christian philosopher would say even if you have a suspected terrorist the use of torture invades the fundamental image of God and dignity of that person but the left wing secularist has no such overarching principle metaphysical view of the human being also you still have a separation between church and state but notice this under the medieval model you had the Church being a capital city but here what's more important the state of the church the state and in fact the church if this model is based on a kind of pissed I'm a logical skepticism of belief in relativism Who is it that threatens this tolerance right anyone who believes strongly in absolute truths or beliefs and who is that those crazy Christian people right who have this Bible in the belief that there's a God who tells them what's right and wrong and therefore we need to separate church and state to keep those crazy fundamentalists outside of public influence not just out of the government but out of civil educated polite society so you look at all our major universities that are not public Harvard and Yale and Columbia where I went to school. Hardly a religious thought can be found there and yet that's not necessary because of the separation of church and state their private institutions it's because they have a fundamental commitment to this view of the world and they think religion and religious ideas are fundamentally at odds with it and dangerous so the separation of church and state that was promoted in the late 1970 S. eighty's and ninety's was really a version of this marginal and squash religious believers so I can give you a little chart that shows you the history of 2000 years in the West as well as the history of our own country right the medieval world from the 500 to the 1500s but it also was pure It's a New England wasn't it there wasn't a lot of religious freedom there it was this middle stretch and of dissenting Protestantism John Locke and Roger Williams and our constitutional founding. Upon which our Bill of Rights was based and then in the 20th century relativism skepticism came to America through its higher education and there's a whole separate lecture we could talk about that we don't have time here but this is the world as it exists existed in the 20th and the 21st century but you notice I put an end to this on $911.00. Because when terrorists attacked America the elite opinion about relativism all religions being the same an equal and maybe equally untrue in the popular mind that became almost completely discredited and so the academics in the elites still believe that and our liberal media still sort of operates from this framework but more and more people began voting and supporting people who had more of a view of the world of well this or maybe even over here because this view became less and less supported and more and more people began to think about the safety of this view here so you have our modern The liberal media putting out its views of life the universe and everything from here and then we have a conservative media that is more here and they push each other further and further and further to the extremes right and is either extreme a safe place to be 1 represents a medieval ism that has a moral absolutism that we may agree with some of their morality but eventually it's going to step on our freedoms on this side there's a lack of moral compass though there's a great openness to various kinds of freedoms though not freedoms that may contradict the secular ideological outlook especially and it's sexual and gender commitments and so they represent a threat to true religious freedom as well. And we have a shrinking middle ground that represents the dissenting Adventist Protestant position which probably you in this room know more about than most people because of your familiarity with reading the great controversy where these principles are largely set out in this way now in my closing few moments here I do want to leave a good 15 minutes for questions and answers I want to so this should this chart should give you an insight into the culture war that we have in America right and we should see that we can't just choose up with 1 side or another because both of them have fundamental problems in the way they relate relate to truth or morality or both. And I think that what we have seen in the last 2 years is a complete revolt by the common people against the narrative that the elites in our country were proposing based on this model and we've had a backlash to a kind of centralized authority that will set right morality in our country and stand up against those liberal bullies but I'm concerned that it's not really reflecting what our heritage and commitments are here with the republicanism and Protestantism we talk about so we just had a. Department of Justice release a statement how many of you saw this on Monday our attorney general. Talked about how the department was going to promote religious freedom and there's a whole list of items and as you go down those items I wouldn't argue really with any of them there's 20 points the problem is like Often often Adventists in their prophecy they're only emphasizing 1 half of the fuller message that they have we have a free exercise clause and an establishment clause the free exercise clause protects religious practice the establishment clause is meant to protect against the government promoting or endorsing religion and it's good that both these clauses are held in balance. And unfortunately the Liberals tend to want to diminish the on this side they want to diminish the free exercise clause and make very robust the establishment clause so we keep religious people out of the public square and everywhere else and we don't protect their religious freedom very well but on this side we're going to make the free exercise clause incredibly strong and forget about the establishment clause and if you read that list of 20 items highlighted by the Department of Justice on Monday all 20 of those items are really part of the free exercise clause and there's not a word said about the Establishment Clause or the dangers of empowering religion in ways or Christianity because we know this is the main concern right protecting Christians and Christianity though there's an acknowledgement that other religious groups have received protection but we do that and then we don't protect the establishment clause what does that give us a gives us a country that will promote the interests of the majority area and religious viewpoint which is precisely what our prophetic outlook predicts. Ellen White has some important things to say about rights and duties she understood this correlate of nature of rights and duties and she said this the Lord Jesus demands our acknowledgement of the rights of every men men social rights and their rights as Christians are to be taken into consideration very interesting statement rights as Christians probably referring to religious freedom right and your rights of conscience but she talks about social rights so she acknowledges there's this broader spectrum of rights that we need to care about as Christians what might they be and I'm going to do a very quick little survey I'm not going to read all the quotes 2 of 4 areas that Ellen White spoke strongly to in her life and ministry that could be described as social justice issues right as Adventists what social justice issues are important for us or should we be involved at all some people view social justice as a competitor or a counterfeit to the gospel but if you study what Ellen White writes see suggest that the Gospel has with it certain social implications to it and sometimes instead of social justice I'll call it Biblical justice but there's an overlap especially the Old Testament prophets spoke strongly to issues of social injustice and here's 4 areas that Ellen White spoke about in her day slavery and racism poverty and economic justice and immigrants family and marriage and so I've chosen from a range of issues that you can't typecast me as left wing or right wing and that's a key to this is to is to make it clear we're not talking from the R. and C. or the D.N.C. but from the K.G.B.. Is that a good and I don't and you know and it could be the N.I.V. or the but you get my point right. So even before the Civil War Ellen White called for civil disobedience in disobeying the Fugitive Slave Law The Law of our land requiring us to deliver a slave to his master we are not to obey did this have to do with religious freedom though it had to do with a more fundamental civil right didn't it and why did she believe this because the slave is not the property of any man God is his rightful master and man has no right to take God's workmanship into his hands and claim him as his own we are to obey God whatever the consequences may be so Notice how she frames this in terms of the slaves relationship to God is being invaded by a man and that is not right and the individual has a right and a duty before God that you cannot get in the middle of and if you do if you do then you incur a moral obligation to repair the damage that you have done in violating this natural right and relationship speaking of the newly freed blacks in the South she said that the Lord demanded restitution from American Christians to relieve the necessities of this field the Lord calls upon you to restore to his people the advantages of which they have so long been denied it's interesting the language they use she doesn't say do a favor for them because I'm to them it's restore to them that which is theirs that you that you know maybe you didn't personally take it but you're part of a society that did and there's a kind of a moral justice obligation to. Restore our we not even greater obligation to labor for the colored people and for those who have been more highly favored Who is it that held these people in servitude who kept them in ignorance and pursuit of course to the bays and debase and brutalized them forcing them to disregard the law of marriage breaking up the family relation tearing wife from husband and husband from wife if the race is backward who made them so is there not much due to them from the white people after so great a wrong has been done should not an earnest effort be made to lift them up and it's interesting is she writing to former slave owners. No she's not because no Adventists Evan tism was in the north and there weren't adding to slave owners those that were in favor of it we disfellowshipped it was a test of fellowship in our circles so she's writing to whites who are not slave owners but still they bear responsibility to help restore and set right the injustices. But she didn't just speak to slavery she spoke about poverty generally if you've read the seen the book hillbilly Elegy there's a white poor community that also needs help she talks about the economic systems in the Bible the gleanings the years of the Sabbath for the fields of the tides that were paid to help both widows orphans and aliens in the land every 50 years all land restored to the original family owners this is a very intrusive form of government regulation to seek for social equality. Without some restraint the power of the wealthy would become a monopoly of the poor though in every respect fully as worthy in God's sight would be regarded and treated as inferior to their more prosperous brother in the sense of oppression would arouse the passions of the poor class there would be feeling of despair and desperation that would tend to demoralize society and open the door to crimes of every description the regulations that God established were designed to promote social equality right a very complex system that protected and I have students that come and say well but that was under a theocracy right we live in a new age of capitalism where everyone can fend for themselves and you know this semi socialist system is communism Well it's very interesting she said if the principles of the economic laws of ancient Israel were applied today they would prevent the terrible leader evils that in all ages have resulted from the oppression of the rich toward the poor and this is special in hatred of the poor toward the rich such laws might hinder the amassing of great wealth in the indulgence of unbounded luxury but they would prevent the consequent ignorance indignation of tens of thousands so did she say we should apply the same laws. You can't really apply the same laws but the principles behind the laws you can make part of your system in your society evidence of typically had very little to say about issues of economic or social justice we don't know what to say but our prophet had something to say why did she have something to say and that she tell us about it so we wouldn't do anything about it or did she tell us about it because she thought we might be intelligent Christians who could apply these principles and thought for ways and do something about it words especially relevant today where we have riots in our streets and angry young men demonstrating she said such laws would bring a peaceful solution of those problems that now threaten to fill the world with an arche and bloodshed so that she just view our message as 1 for of a scape from this world get as many people together to escape from this world or do we have something to say about principles that might be applied in this world right that's why the Parle department is public affairs and religious liberty but we've all focused on the religious liberty part no thought or care often taken for the public affairs and yet we're overlooking inspired language. Let me just speak briefly about immigrants and immigration here. There's much concern in circles about law and order about not breaking the laws and I believe laws should be obeyed as a good lawyer myself. But I do realize that the law and morality are not necessarily 1 in the same thing and at times laws require things or restrict things that inhibit other values and even moral principles and we can't stand in judgment of everybody who's ever broken a law because we may not know what the reasons behind that are and if you talk about undocumented immigrants or illegal immigration I believe I don't believe in open borders I think we have to have a an orderly process at our borders but if you think about the Bible and you ask if you define illegal immigration as leaving or going into a country against the will of the civil authorities are there any biblical characters that might fall into that category. Maybe Moses maybe the children of Israel maybe. Jonah maybe Mary Joseph and Jesus even. I think we need to have a little more nuance and care especially in areas of where we're dealing with people who came here through no choice or fault of their own we talk about the dreamers. And and as far as separating families to be a deterrence or a punishment surely we can see the moral problems with that. Ellen White says that we should view immigration as an opportunity to share and spread the gospel in our own Len thousands of foreigners the hand of God has been directing them to our shore that they may be brought under the Enlightenment influence of the Gospel how many among us have been stirred by the spirit of the master to go forth and labor for this class of strangers who have been brought to our very doors through the providence of God that his work might be hastened in the earth right how many of us few immigrants as the providence of God Unfortunately there are many people who would say very directly the opposite right there hordes coming sent to pervert and undermine the principles of our nation family rights in discussing the increasingly common disrespect of older children she wrote that obligations are mutual It is the duty of fathers and mothers to care for their children but when the latter refused to respect parental authority and to observe the rules of the family they should be left to bear their own burdens in life it's quite a strong statement isn't it I don't think she's talking about tween you know $1112.00 or 13 year olds but as children become older and more capable of taking care of themselves again it shows this mutual nature of rights and duties and duties and rights responsibilities and rights to have a right you need to exercise a responsibility to to obtain that. This was her justification for temperance reform laws to outlaw the use and sale of alcohol. The home of a drunkard she wrote tells a sad story of the evil wrought by the use of strong drink wretchedness and destitution reign and often the wife and the children suffer from cold and hunger but despite this invasion of the family unit the liquor traffic is legalised heaven sees it all God keeps a record of the men robbed of their reason and home is made wretched by the use of alcohol notice this relationship between rights and duties in the invasion of that relationship by outsiders so parents have a duty to take care of children children have a responsibility to abate parents fathers have a duty to provide for wives and children and when liquor is sold it interrupts and disrupts those mutual rights and duties and that should be illegal it goes against the moral law of God and Ellen White felt so strongly about this that she called our members to political activity on this question to the point where she stood up in the pope in Battle Creek and said if the liquor interests and they did this in Battle Creek they made the election on Saturday because they felt that the Adventists would stay home and not vote and she said you have a duty to go on Sabbath morning and vote to get the liquor interests out of office and Iowa how many of you had sort of sister Ong sense of imperative to do something about a moral question in your society or how many of us feel that's not something to bother us. To and in Glendale to do the same thing OK. For this reason Ellen White involved herself in the nationwide movement of alcohol prohibition and the passage of temperance laws the prophet of God spoke to the largest audiences of her life 50000 people in Europe non Adventists arguing for temperance reform for the passage of laws. Yet if she had such an important spiritual message why would she waste her time on these political matters she viewed them as part of the proclamation of the Gospel and its impact in the world today now what about marriage we don't have any comments of hers on the question of same sex marriage because not such a thing was not even thought of in her day but she does comment through another writer in the book the great controversy on the marriage changes that took place in the French Revolution intimately connected she's quoting a British historian with these laws of revolutionary France affecting marriage religion was that which reduced the union of marriage the permanence of which leads most strongly to the consolidation of society to the state of a mere civil contract of a transitory character which any 2 persons might engage in and cast loose at pleasure so shrilly she's talking about no fault divorce right you can marry who you want for as long as you want and then just choose to part ways it does it says doesn't sound that bad or dangerous but what does she say if fiends or demons had set themselves to work to discover a mode of most effectually destroying whatever is venerable graceful or permanent in domestic life they could not have invented a more effectual plan than the degradation of marriage so how did she feel about it that marriage has a social benefit and is of social importance to the stability of society so like John the Baptist who was willing to speak out against the marriage of King Herod even though it cost him his head literally Ellen what suggests that marriage is also an important civil moral issue that Christians should care about. Now this is my argument not her quote decriminalizing homo sexual behavior in civil society seems consistent with the freedom that God extends humanity to make moral or immoral choices right you can't really even enforce laws. Criminalizing homo sexual practice 2 consenting adults God allows us to make it moral choices when he gives us that freedom we give that freedom to other people as long as it doesn't harm others right. But that is not what the right of marriage is about you may have a freedom to carry out an immoral act but to say you have a right suggests that you can demand other people help and support and validate and promote what you are doing in this is where many Americans went wrong they thought it was about live and let live you make your moral choices and all make money but when you make something marriage you actually enshrined it as a fundamental value in the community that must be promoted and respected or you will be penalize in some way and that is why we find ourselves with our schools and institutions and businesses facing penalties and difficulties in continuing to stand for a biblical and natural view of marriage so I want to bring this to a conclusion here in the next 1 minute really. Leaving you with. 4 areas where I think we can act as Adventists Christians today and 1 of them is in the field of family marriage gender and sexuality it's the other institution from Eden right we think an institution of Eden from the heart of God's law will be attacked in the last days and we've all been waiting for the Sabbath and guess what there's another institution from even at the heart of God's law that is being attacked today and it's on the 2nd table not the 1st so the government legitimately protects it if you are a Christian counselor in California I can give this speech and talk about the Biblical standard of sexuality in California but my wife who is a pediatrician is forbidden by law from providing assistance and counseling to young people who are seeking to live a Christian lifestyle and who are dealing with unwanted same sex attraction it is criminal and now a law is passing that will criminalize it even if you're an adult even if you're over the age of 18 you cannot seek professional counseling for this. Basic freedoms to speak religion and how much how many of us know about this we should be a mailing lists of Christian family and marriage organizations to work with others as well and why didn't our pioneers did on temperance reform this is the temperance reform of our day militaries and weapons won't spend long here we're not a pacifist church or even anti-gun but we are against the availability of weapons of mass destruction for citizens there is a statement on the General Conference website opposing the sale in possession of assault weapons by civilians this is becoming a basic civil right this is who for children when I was in children we did in school we didn't have to do duck and cover drills and except for a nuclear war perhaps but. But not for an active shooter now this is becoming commonplace immigration and refugees both the end id any idea and some of our unions have released statements about protections for DACA for dreamers we have members we have pastors who are working as dreamers immigration policy is complicated and our church isn't going to tell you what immigration policy must be but it will say this whatever it is you need to implement it humanely and fairly and morally and when you don't we will say something about it and we said something about the separation of families and children we helped our Hispanic young adults put together a petition and. Make a video on that and this is something that energizes the youth and the young people in the church and I think it's certainly consistent with our gospel mandate finally Muslims I think this is a wonderful time for us to be building bridges with this community that's under stress and distress attacks and hate crimes against Muslims and mosques have gone up tremendously in the last year or 2 because people feel free to buy rhetoric that is aimed at them that demonizes them that. Calls them out and you have people who are more willing to be hostile and violent christians need to be there making clear where we stand on these questions I think of Christ was telling the good Samaritan story today who were the good Samaritan be Samaritans don't mean anything to us right we don't have any prejudices or biases I think it was the group that the Jews had demonized remember they told Christ you're a Samaritan and you have a demon we demonize Muslims today I think it would be a Muslim Emma and it would be appropriate because they're very hospitable people and they have taken care of friends of mine for 3 days who have been lost in foreign countries we are building bridges with a mosque near the Andrus university and we have the M.M. there who's interested in coming and doing a Ph D. in the Book of Daniel we share much in common and creation on judgment on the 2nd coming of Christ and it's a wonderful time to be building bridges with people because they really need neighbors now anyway those are 4 areas that I felt that we can do practical things as 7th Day Adventists Christians on in light of our prophetic heritage I've covered a lot of ground a lot of ideas and I have a few minutes at the end to discuss them with you thank you and God bless this medium was produced by audio for 40 years on avenues Lehmann's services and industry. 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