The Adult Sabbath School Class

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Greg Brothers is an Adventist pastor in Oregon.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

No Exit?

This week, your class is going to be grappling with a question – the question, as Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett put it, of
why make people inquisitive, and then put some forbidden fruit where they can see it with a big neon finger flashing on and off saying “THIS IS IT!”?
And if you’d like a good answer, then watch The Truman Show – the story of a man, Truman Burbank, who lives in a paradise named "Sea Haven" with:
  • no crime,
  • no poverty,
  • and no way out.
(At least, no easy way out.)

No, watch the movie and you’ll discover that Paradise without an exit sign – an visible exit sign with a big neon finger flashing on and off saying “THIS IS IT!” – would have been little more than a very fancy prison.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Promises to keep

God always sticks with "Plan A."

Even when we make it tough for Him to do so.

In the first chapter of Genesis, for instance, God made three promises to humanity:
  • we'd have dominion over the earth -- and as part of that,
  • we'd have lots of food,
  • we'd have lots of children.
Now in chapter two, God shows how He plans to deliver on those promises.
  • God plants a garden, then gives us the job of tending and guarding it -- and yes, the phrase here is the same phrase you'd use to describe the duties of a priest in a temple. What's more, we're giving "naming rights" to the animals, i.e. we're allowed to determine the role they'll play in God's world.
  • God fills the garden with every kind of tree that looks good and tastes good; this was one place, in other words, where food literally grew on trees.
  • Finally, God creates sex. (And yes, I know that sounds a little blunt, but how else can you describe the creation of the first man and the first woman?)
In chapter three, of course, our first parents will make it terribly difficult for God to keep these promises -- so difficult, we might have thought it far easier for God to forget them entirely.

But skip ahead to Revelation 20-22, and you'll find that every single one of God's promises will be fulfilled in the end.
  • We shall rule as priests and kings.
  • We shall eat from the tree of life, "and the leaves of the trees [shall be] for the healing of the nations."
  • And "a great crowd beyond number" will praise God as its saviour and king.
In short, God's plans for His people have not changed -- and God's promises to His people will all be kept . . .

No, God never goes to "Plan B."

That's because God never settles for second-best.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Fragment of Archeteknos' "Dialogue with Siderohippos"

Archeteknos: And so we both agree that a workman may use tools in building his house?

Siderohippos: Certainly.

Archeteknos: Yet we still say it is the workman who built the house, and not the tools which have done so?

Siderohippos: Of course.

Archeteknos: Likewise, is it possible that God may have used certain tools in building this Universe?

Siderohippos: What do you mean?

Archeteknos: Consider the rain we had today. Did God send the rain?

Siderohippos: Yes. We all know that God is in charge of the weather.

Archeteknos: What tools did God use to give us this rain?

Siderohippos: Clouds and the wind, of course.

Archeteknos: Would these things suffice in themselves to give us rain?

Siderohippos: Not without God – no more than a hammer and saw could build a house by themselves.

Archeteknos: So God sent the rain?

Siderohippos: Yes.

Archeteknos: But you will allow Him the use of tools – tools such as clouds and wind – in this task?

Siderohippos: That only makes sense.

Archeteknos: Even though some might call these tools a "natural process"?

Siderohippos: "Natural" need not imply "autonomous"; God is still in charge.

Archeteknos: So God is still the creator of our weather, even though He may use a "natural process" as His tool in creating that weather.

Siderohippos: That is true, just as a workman is the creator of a building, even though he uses a hammer and saw.

Archeteknos: Likewise, we both agree that God created the Universe, just as surely as He sent us the rain.

Siderohippos: Without a doubt.

Archeteknos: Might it be that God used tools – tools He has made – for this task of creation, just as we agree that He uses tools for the task of sending us rain?

Siderohippos: It is possible.

Archeteknos: And might these tools include what some have called "natural processes"?

Siderohippos: Yes, just so long as it is God who is doing this.

Archeteknos: But even if God were to use these tools, that would not stop us from saying that God is the creator of this Universe?

Siderohippos: That is true, but . . .

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Time to Reboot

A kludge cannot be repaired.

That's what a kludge is -- it's something so badly flawed in its conception that it cannot be fixed. (In fact, any attempts to fix it will only make it worse.)

Need an example? Think of the Edsel. New Coke. And some of the haircuts you've endured.

No, the only thing you can do with a kludge is pull the plug. Get rid of it. Start over from scratch, and hope things go better the next time.

That's what we'll be doing this quarter -- we'll be going right back to the beginning. Right back to the start. Right back to the first book in the Bible: the Book of Genesis.

In the process, we'll take another look at some of our basic ideas about the big issues: God, humanity, sin, and salvation. And if it turns out that we were right all along, then we can spend the next three months just patting ourselves on our collective backs.

But if it turns out that some of our most basic ideas are wrong . . .

Well, what do you do with a kludge?