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Archives / 1993 / October

 

Book review: Wrestling With Reality

Ron Thomsen

 

Martin Weber has written extensively about doctrinal issues in the Seventh-day Adventist Church since 1985. This latest book ventures into contemporary social issues.

Weber introduces the book with his thoughts on politics. Some of his comments in this area are on target, but others seem like excessive generalization. He highlights a narrow focus on the Right (linked to a Sunday law scenario), while missing the restrictions from the Left (such as gospel-free zones in Houston).

Several chapters discuss state issues, including the use of deadly force by the law (police and military). On capital punishment he separates the principles of civil justice from the gospel. On abortion he feels that life should be fully protected, asserting that in most cases women have already exercised choice by participating in the sexual act. He does not defend the recent General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists statement about making decisions about abortion in the context of a fallen world. Weber skillfully points out the extremes to which that might lead. Can we legislate morality? Weber says yes, to a degree. He sees pornography and abortion as legitimate concerns of the state. An exposition on Martin Luther's doctrine of the two kingdoms of church and state could have solidified his case.

The chapter on racism, "Our Unsuspected Sin," points out how Adventists have struggled with this immorality. Weber forcefully attacks the evils of racial hatred.

The author supports women in leadership positions, including the ministry, but he weakens his case by not explaining biblical texts used by opponents. While supporting some feminist causes, the author opposes a radical feminist agenda. He contends that many feminists have abandoned women's concerns in the real world.

Weber speaks on other social issues such as the problem of homelessness. He observes an obsession with self-esteem as a cure-all, and how this fixation has frequently undermined responsibility.

The chapter on ecology affirms that Christians need to be good stewards of God's resources, but warns against the pantheistic agenda permeating certain aspects of the environmental movement. He also describes some confusion on exactly what practices actually do help the environment.

Weber expresses many good ideas on how to tie social issues into truths about salvation. Occasionally he misses important elements on some topics, preventing this book from having a definitive word on these subjects. Nonetheless, it is a good first step toward moving out of a narrow Adventist subculture and paying attention to social concerns in the real world.

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