I have been thinking the last few days about the two servants in 2 Kings 5. One was a little girl snatched from her home by a band of soldiers and forced into slavery. The other was the honored assistant to the prophet of Israel. Both knew that Naaman, the Syrian army commander, had contracted leprosy, but how different were their responses! The slave girl’s response was so beautiful that I am sure the angels still feel better every time they think of it. Gehazi’s was a terrible embarrassment.
The little girl might have chortled, “Serves him right! Now he will get what he deserves for forcing me into slavery!” But she didn’t. She is one of but a few ordinary people in the Old Testament who behaved the way Jesus would have—nearly 800 years before Jesus was born! She not only said she wished Naaman would go to Elisha, but she also believed that God would heal a Gentile, which He did; whereupon, Gehazi used the occasion to make himself rich. God must have been disappointed.
One would like to think that the Adventist church always behaves like the little slave girl. But do we? I fear we are often like Gehazi. No, not because we lie to get our money, but because we lie about our God. Let me explain. Gehazi was an Israelite, and we are very much like the Israelites. God had asked them to be His representatives to the world, and they had agreed. When it was time for them to be established as a nation, God gave them an unprecedented send-off. The sea opened to let them escape; their oppressors were drowned; and God visited them on Sinai with the blowing of trumpets, flashing of lightning, and rolling peals of thunder. Yet, within six weeks they had mixed their worship of God with the music and idols of the heathen.
Compare this with us. God wanted a church that would rightly represent Him to the world in these last days. He got us started by darkening the sun, bloodying the moon, and pushing the stars out of heaven. After the culmination of the longest time prophecy in the Bible in 1798, He stirred a religious revival such as had never been seen, beginning in the camp meetings of 1800, and continuing in the religious fires of Charles G. Finney and William Miller. He added the distilled wisdom of 2,000 years of faithful Bible study and topped it with 2,000 visions channeled through our very own prophet! Surely we will never make the mistake of Israel and pollute our witness with ideas and doctrines brought into the fold from the heathen.
Sad to say, we already have. Remember the pantheism of John Harvey Kellogg? The burden of this issue of Adventists Affirm is that in order to reach postmodern young people, we are currently imbibing ideas and practices from Hindu, Buddhist, and other religions that we have always classified as heathen.
Did you notice that word “postmodern”? It is a word you will need to know before you can make much sense out of this issue. Postmodern. If you are like me, you thought there never would be such a word. Modern always meant “now, up-to-date.” Anything we did “now” was modern. Not anymore! Today, modern is history. If you are keeping pace with the times, today is postmodern.
As these changes are taking place, our culture is changing—our church must not linger. Otherwise, only moderns will attend our services; as they die, our pews will be left increasingly empty. Sound familiar? Already, we see it happening!
So this issue talks about the church that must emerge—the emerging church. You will see that expression many times. A good place to start your reading is with the article by Karl Tsatalbasidis. It expands on these terms and will disturb you with its claim that England and America, once the great bastions of the Reformation and home bases for Christian missions to the world’s heathen, are now more heathen than Christian. Today, more than ever, whatever changes we may need to make, ADVENTISTS must AFFIRM God’s truth and love to the world.