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PSR -- 2 (Amazing Facts Responds)

As you can tell from my posts, I'm not the biggest fan of Amazing Facts. I think they are effective at reaching a certain kind of person which I'm not necessarily opposed to. Yet, I still do have serious reservations about some of their theology. Alan Parker, VP of Evangelism for Amazing Facts actually wrote a comment over on the Spectrum Blog which I'll share here:

Hey Trevan, I read with interest your experiences over the last few weeks. Evangelism can be challenging, but I've appreciated your open and sincere critique. However, since I'm in charge of the evangelism department at Amazing Facts, I'm a little curious as to the constant references to a "classic Amazing Facts lineup" and AF approach. Since each of our evangelists has a unique lineup of sermons, I'm not sure that there is a "classic" approach any more. A number have moved their second coming sermon to later in their meetings. One uses a verse by verse approach to the book of Revelation. Many are very intentional about a positive, Christ-centered focus. Since public evangelism does call for lifestyle change, there are times when we must confront the anomalies of their current paradigm and call for a decision (paradigm shift). We try to do this in a context of love and acceptance, but it can seem very confrontational. I'm not aware that any of our evangelists have ever used money as an incentive for attendance, and I know that I personally feel uncomfortable with this approach. It is true that we seem to reach nominal Christians best in a public evangelistic meeting. I think that the advertising itself draws this kind of crowd. We have found that very few secular people are likely to attend a meeting that deals with religious themes. Secular people are likely to be reached better by other forms of evangelism. We've found that Adventist public evangelism is most successful at reaching Christians who have stopped attending church or become disatisfied with their church, rather than committed Christians of other churches. I think Adventist evangelism provides an a biblical alternative to disatisfied and disaffected Christians.
Thanks for your thoughts!

I sent an email along and thanked him for his thoughtful response. I take back my comments about the classic A.F. lineup and approach because I obviously was wrong. I decided it might be interesting to interview Dr. Parker and get a better feel for A.F. and he agreed to answer some of my questions. We'll have an email interview/dialogue over the next few days which he has agreed to let me post on the blog. Stay tuned and send me an email or comment if you have any questions you would like to ask.


Anonymous said…
Great! I think Alan represents a new generation in AF and in Adventist evangelism in general. You and your generation will undoubtedly not agree with everything he advocates, but he represents a better sampling of conventional public evangelism than the evangelist you were working with in the field school, I think.
Roger Metzger said…
Probably the biggest barrier to Adventist evangelism among protestants is that most Adventists refer to an organization as “the church”. Protestants believe that the true church consists of all true believers, regardless of their denominational affiliation. In that sense, I am a protestant.
Roger Metzger said…
The seventh-day-ness of the Sabbath is not nearly as great a barrier to Adventist evangelism among protestants as most Adventists think it is. To a protestant, the Sabbath is primarily the rest we enter as we learn to trust the Lord. Protestants are not uncomfortable with my Sabbath keeping because my primary emphasis regarding the Sabbath is trusting the Lord in the sense of not working to earn or deserve salvation. My secondary emphasis is on resting one day of the week as a SYMBOL of “entering into rest”. Christians are not wrong to rest on Sunday! At the same time, resting on the seventh day of the week is a better SYMBOL of “entering into his rest” because it is the day the Lord rested after his FINISHED work of creation and again, in a borrowed tomb, after his FINISHED work of redemption. The Sabbath is a barrier to Adventist evangelism among protestants only to the extent that Adventists are perceived as thinking of the Sabbath as something they DO. (Salvation is only by grace and only through faith, not of works least anyone should boast.) The Sabbath is not something I DO, it is something the Lord does for me. (And this is true of his gift of rest from working for my salvation AND it is true of his gift of the seventh-day Sabbath.) Adventists can deny that they are working for their salvation, but as long as their emphasis in on obedience, Adventists will always be perceived by protestants as not truly or not fully protestant. Resting is NOT DOING.
Roger Metzger said…
A third barrier to Adventist evangelism among protestants is the perception that Adventists teach that worshipping God on Sunday is the mark of the beast. That is patently absurd because true Christians worship God every day of the week! The mark of the beast has always been, is now and always will be coercion. (To be more specific, the mark is the use of coercion, the attempt to use coercion or the tacit approval of the use of coercion with regard to religious beliefs, religious practices or religious prohibitions.) Coercion was what “marked” or identified the beast for protestants in the sixteenth century and I believe it will mark both the beast and his image before the Lord returns. If you put thumbscrews on Adventists who say that Sunday is the mark of the beast, almost all of them (in the United States, at least) will say it is the use of coercion with regard to “Sunday keeping” that “will” constitute the mark of the beast. Well, maybe, but I think the devil cares much more whether people worship God than whether they rest on Sundays or whether they meet together to worship God on Sundays. He is much more concerned about people entering into God’s rest and, because the seventh day of the week is a God-ordained symbol of that relationship of trust, he will always be opposed to the symbol. I am a protestant. To me, religious coercion is the mark of the beast, even if it is a civil law requiring people to rest on Saturday. (If someone thinks that is far-fetched, think about the modern political state of Israel for a moment.) If there is any prohibition that is a requisite for membership in any religious organization, any attempt by any member of that organization to use civil laws to enforce that prohibition on others is the mark of the beast. (The good news here is that over the last fifty years, fewer and fewer Adventists have been saying that Christians are “wrong” to worship God on Sunday. Lay Adventists’ unwillingness to lend tacit approval to the traditional way of teaching about the mark of the beast is a primary reason for failure of the laity to support “traditional” Adventist “evangelism”.)
Roger Metzger said…
A fourth barrier to Adventist evangelism among protestants is the teaching that at some point in time, God will arbitrarily close “probation”. I believe we are now living in the time of the antitypical Day of Atonement, AND I do not represent God as being in any sense arbitrary. I believe the names of the living “come up” in the initial phase of the final judgment when, and only when, each person makes his final choice between coercion and love as the way the universe should be ruled. Events on Earth will transpire in such a way that every accountable adult will make a final decision before Jesus returns. When the lat accountable adult has made his final cooice, “probation” will have closed.

One Adventist, commenting on a recent Sabbath school lesson, wrote that after God closes “probation” it will not be possible for anyone to make a choice.

I believe the exact opposite of that. I believe that Jesus died and that he now ministers on our behalf and that he will come again to rescue his waiting saints precisely so that we will ALWAYS be free to choose--so that we will ALWAYS have free moral agency.
Roger Metzger said…
A fifth barrier to Adventist evangelism among protestants is the tendency to tell people what to do. This tendency plagues other denominations besides our own, but our denomination seems to attract more than its fair share of people who like doing that.

There is nothing “wrong” with telling people what they “should do”. Christians do good things and they “should do” those things. But there is a difference between telling people what they should do on the one hand and telling them to do it on the other hand. Few Adventist seem to understand the difference. What is worse, most Adventist “evangelists” tell people to do things even more often than Adventist laity do.

After being a voting member of the Seventh-day Adventist denomination for fifty years, it has been only recently that I have reluctantly decided that, while there are other true protestants (beside my wife and myself) among the members of our denomination, the majority of Adventists in my newly adopted state are not protestants.

I also believe that Adventists who are not protestants will be deceived before the Lord returns because they have not carefully built their own personal understanding of the nature of the kingdom and the nature of the king brick by deliberate biblical brick on the basic biblical principles of the protestant reformation. From the time I can remember until recently, I thought of the modern-day advent movement as the CONTINUATION of the protestant reformation. I would prefer to find enough protestant adventists so I can continue to think that way. Mormons (members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) are taught to say that “the gospel HAS BEEN restored through Joseph Smith and his successors”. I am appalled by the number of Adventists who think that “truth” HAS BEEN restored by the leaders of our denomination and that once a person has decided that our denomination is “right”, there is nothing else to learn except what the denomination teaches. For such Adventists, the reformation cannot continue.
Roger Metzger said…
It is my custom to not mention problems unless I can offer solutions. Maybe there are other--and better--ways to solve these problems., but if you think the following plan even MIGHT be feasible, please discuss it with any protestant adventists you know. (I use the lower case “a” here because it matters not so much whether people are voting members of our denomination as whether the Lord has called them to promulgate the three angels’ messages).

Develop a Protestant Adventist Evangelistic Association (by this name or any other that might be considered appropriate). Details about how to insure that the Association would promote protestant (as opposed to “restorationist”) Adventism will be provided upon request.

My goal in making this suggestion is nothing less than to encourage the promulgation of the three angels’ messages in ways that those messages will be perceived to be, indeed, glad tidings. They were not glad tidings they way they were taught to my mother in the nineteen twenties. My parents made some improvements in the way those messages were taught to me. I believe I have made even more improvements in the way I teach them to others. Our children are protestants, not in the sense of being members of “protestant” denominations, but in most or all of the ways implied in my comments about barriers to Adventist evangelism. I am still willing to think of the modern-day advent movement as protestant. But our children know so few other protestant Adventists besides my wife and myself, they still think they must remain at arms’ distance from the Seventh-day Adventist denomination. I hope and pray that situation can change before the Lord returns.

Roger Metzger
4606 Miller Road
Buckley, Michigan 49620
Roger Metzger said…
To Pastor Osborn,
I’m electronically challenged, so maybe you can help me out here.

When I Googled “alternative Adventist evangelism”, there was a message under “Divergence: PSR -- 2 (Amazing Facts Responds)”. It read, “Oct 14, 2006 ... I think Adventist evangelism provides an a biblical alternative to disatisfied and disaffected Christians. Thanks for your thoughts! …”

Failing to notice the date, and thinking maybe you were responding to my messages that you had posted, I pulled up you website.

Not finding that message where you had posted mine, (and again failing to notice anything about dates), I started reading from the “blog archive”.

After reading a couple of those, I finally did notice that they had been written in ‘06!

Words like “Twitter” and “Facebook” are still a foreign language for me. I guess I couldn’t even define “blog” if I were asked to do so.

If you can tell me how to participate in the conversation in the “Twitter” section, maybe I could do so. I didn’t read very far but I didn’t find any comments along this line of thought: Adventists need to be very careful about applauding anti-smoking laws. (And even more careful about working for their adoption.) Do Adventists remember that, in the past, many legislators who favored Sunday “blue laws” argued that they were not religious laws but health measures?

Those who deny liberty to others deserve it not for themselves and, under a just God, it cannot long continue. -- Abraham Lincoln

If Adventists hope to have a leg to stand on in legislative debates about a weekly holy day, they must begin right now to take the side of liberty on every other issue. This is especially true of discussions involving any requisites for voting membership in our denomination. If something is a requisite for membership in a religious organization, it is a religious issue, even if it can be argued that it is also a health issue. By what logic can we argue that Adventists “should” favor laws against smoking and not laws against eating pork? How far are “Christians” willing to go in trying to use civil laws to get people to “act like Christians”? How far are Adventists willing to go in trying to use civil laws to get people to “act like Adventists?

Even if it is better to do the right thing for the wrong reason than to not do the right thing, is legislative activism a substitute for educating the general populace about the health advantages of not smoking and not working seven days a week?

Thoughts to ponder.

Roger Metzger

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