Letters to the Editors

Our readers weigh in on recent articles

Left to die (slavery)

I read with great interest the interview with Jud Lake about his new book (“An Interview with Jud Lake: Ellen White and the Civil War,” February 2019). I have not read A Nation in God’s Hands yet, but from the interview I was left thinking that another important religious event was unfolding as we were becoming a legal denominational entity during the Civil War: that of the development and formation of the National Reform Association (NRA). Their stated mission was to make Christianity the legal religion of the land, through Constitutional amendment. Those forming the National Reform Association said that the original sin of the nation was leaving God out of the Constitution. This sin, they maintained, made allowances for slavery, and God was punishing the nation through the Civil War for not including Him in the Constitution. God, indeed, has this nation in His hands. He raised up the Seventh-day Adventist Church in part, to effectively bring clarity about the war and, even more importantly, religious and civil liberty. I am looking forward to reading Jud’s tome.

—Kevin James, Religious Liberty department, Southern Union, United States

Left alive (salvation)

In regard to Dr. Scarone’s article (“Taken or Left?,” December 2018) I have always taken the meaning of Matthew 24:40, 41 from the immediate context. Note that in Matthew 24:39 those being “taken” are the wicked of the antediluvian world. Therefore, it follows that those who are “left” in vv. 40–41 are those who are left alive, as were Noah and his family.

This simple, contextual explanation makes nonsense out of Left Behind thinking. Only the righteous are left alive—again, according to the immediate context of Jesus’ words in the Matthew passage. Dr. Scarone quotes Ellen White’s comment on Luke’s account of this passage writing, “The one shall be taken. His name shall stand in the book of life.” However, the immediate context of the Luke passage doesn’t demand the same conclusion we draw from the Matthew passage. Thank you.

—Dave Moench, pastor, Mitchell Adventist Fellowship, South Dakota, United States

Author’s response

Thanks  for  your  question  and blessings to you. Matthew 24 is a response from Jesus to the disciples and, from verse 36 on, there is a rapid sequence of connected situations to emphasize the coming of the Lord, with a repertoire of emphases on (a) the suddenness of the manifestation (vv. 38, 39), and (b) the separation or distinction of the subjects (vv. 40, 41). This is the core of the article.

The verbs in verses 40 and 41 are παραλαμβανω (taken) and αφíημι (left), so the original marks the obvious meaning as I tried to emphasize in the article, because, παραλαμβανω never is used as being taken to destruction, as TDNT (Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, edited by Gerhard Kittel and Gerhard Friedrich) concurs and several other commentators (SDA included) agree. Matthew 24 continues with an emphasis in Christian ethics (living right), because we do not know the time of Jesus’ coming (vv. 42–44). Blessings again.

—Daniel Scarone 

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April 2019

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