The Gospel of the Kingdom

Richard E. Lange, Life Seminars, Inc., Coarsegold, California, 1987, 341 pages, hard cover, $12.95.

Reviewed by Lyndon McDowell, pastor, Olney, Maryland.

To preach for years and not fully understand the gospel is not a unique experience in the ministry of any church. Wesley and F. B. Meyer come to mind. Even D. L. Moody understood the gospel more fully after Harry Moorehouse came into his life. These men blamed no one else but themselves for their former lack. This is not the case with Richard Lange. The author begins with an account of his burdensome experience as an Adventist minister and how he found the "gospel" after 34 years. In recounting this, he quotes from C. B. Haynes's testimony about his conversion. He fails to note, however, that Haynes blamed himself for his failure to understand the gospel, while Lange blames his church.

The author claims at the outset that those who will identify most fully with his experience "are those who have most fully accepted and practiced, as I have, the basic, fundamental, historical teachings of my church." Here the author re veals his first false assumption: that what he believed, practiced, and taught was what every other true Adventist preacher believes, practices, and teaches.

In his struggle for truth, he "learned that God was not so concerned with my perfect record of obedience as He was my willingness to let Him live His life out in me and to allow Him to change me." This is good old-time Adventist theology, but the author was apparently un aware of it.

How he began to search for and under stand the true gospel makes interesting reading. "New messages were coming into my church that purported to be the true gospel," and these he spent time exposing until someone challenged him to contrast the true and false. "Suddenly I became aware that I didn't really know what the gospel was." So he "started with what my church believes to be the gospel. We teach that the three angels' mes sages of Revelation 14:6-12 is the gospel." He provides no evidence for this strange assumption.

In chapter 4 he writes about the spirit, which he defines from Thaler's Greek-English Lexicon as the rational part of man. The soul, however, he defines as our "native intelligence." "Our soul can communicate with our spirit and our spirit can communicate with our soul. Our soul sits in the middle between the body and the spirit, making decisions whether to follow the promptings of the Holy Spirit through our spirit, or the clamors of our body and our fallen sinful nature."

The most objectionable and irrational theology, however, is found where the author discusses sickness and accident. "In the original Greek the word salvation means salvation from poverty, ill health, molestation by our enemies, from danger of apprehension, from bondage to sin." "If we close the door against Satan, we can even be free from accidents." "Suffering under disease, poverty, accident, divorce, children running away, the loss of property, are not apart of the suffering Christians have to experience."

His beliefs about the judgment are difficult to follow, but briefly there is judgment of the living and it is here on earth. No books will be examined. Azazel rep resents Christ, and Lange implies that Adventists make Satan their sinbearer. The 2300 days are the last 2300 days of earth's history and are soon to begin. "And we have the privilege of under standing the full truth concerning the ministry of Christ in us, who are the temple of the living God."

Lange fails to see the judgment in the light of the great controversy. Because Satan has led God's people into sin and presents their sins at the judgment, his accusations must be met--not to inform God and show that people have achieved perfection--but to answer Satan's charges. In his study the author takes quotes from The Great Controversy to prove that the church teaches that the atonement was not completed at the cross, but he fails to note pages 482-485 of that book, which clearly show that those who have accepted Christ are clothed in His righteousness.

It is interesting to note that Lange was a music major and did not attend the Adventist seminary. While in the minis try he appears to have done little thinking for himself, accepting what he thought he was being taught. Then when he did question, he lacked the necessary tools to study questions of theology. The book reveals as much or more about the author as it does his theology.

One value of the book is that it high lights the fact that there are among us pastors and members who do not yet understand the message of righteousness by faith. Those who are vocal in their fear of accepting the message in its fullness need to be reminded of the bondage that results.

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Reviewed by Lyndon McDowell, pastor, Olney, Maryland.

October 1988

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