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Giving the trumpet a certain sound

April 2005

Mary Being Restored Among Protestants

A recent major article in Time magazine reported on a trend among some Protestant churches to think more about the role of Mary, the mother of Jesus, in the Bible and in church life.

Arguments on the Virgin's behalf have appeared in a flurry of scholarly essays and popular articles, on the covers of the usually conservative Christianity Today (headline: The Blessed Evangelical Mary) and the usually liberal Christian Century (St. Mary for protestants). ...

... And the influx of millions of Hispanic immigrants from Catholic cultures into American Protestantism may eventually accelerate progress toward a pro-Marian tipping point - on whose other side may lie changes not just in sermon topic but in liturgy, personal piety, and a re-evaluation of the actual messages of the Reformation. ("Hail Mary," Time, March 13.2005)

While the article points out, there is significant opposition among Protestants to making much of Mary, yet there are signs that some attitudes about Mary are changing to be more like those views held by Roman Catholics.

Inspired Commentary

Inspiration sounds a note of warning:

For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time. (1 Tim. 2: 5, 6)

Many who professed conversion still clung to the tenets of their pagan philosophy, and not only continued its study themselves, but urged it upon others as a means of extending their influence among the heathen. Serious errors were thus introduced into the Christian faith. Prominent among these was the belief in man's natural immortality and his consciousness in death. This doctrine laid the foundation upon which Rome established the invocation of saints and the adoration of the Virgin Mary. From this sprang also the heresy of eternal torment for the finally impenitent, which was early incorporated into the papal faith. (The Great Controversy, p. 38)

Terri Schiavo Case

As this newsletter is being written, the U.S. Congress has enacted a bill and President Bush has signed to allow federal courts to intervene in the case of Terri Schiavo, a brain-damaged woman in Florida who has been kept alive by a feeding tube. The woman's parents, Bob and Mary Schlindler, have opposed her husband, Michael Schiavo, in Florida state courts for years over his right to have Terri's feeding tube removed so that she will die. Michael has maintained that it was not Terri's wish to continue to live in her present state. Terri's brain damage occurred in 1990.

The case is complex for several reasons. There are significant political overtones related to "right-to-life" and abortion. There is money involved that Michael would inherit if Terri were dead. Michael has taken a common-law wife since Terri became incapacitated and has fathered two children with her. Terri did not make out a living will before being incapacitated. Terri's parents have kept up a very emotional battle to keep her alive, and doctors reportedly disagree on her diagnosis of "persistent vegetative state." Now there is also a state's rights versus the federal government issue.

Is there also a religious liberty issue? Prophecy indicates that at some future point, popular sentiment (fueled by the opinions of popular religious leaders) will force the U.S. government to enact laws forcing people to honor in some way a false Sabbath. Could this case be seen as a step toward compromising individual freedoms?

In this case, the person in question is not able to express her current desires. The Florida courts have rather consistently sided with Michael Schiavo when he says his wife expressed her desires to him orally before she became incapacitated. Terri's parents have challenged this testimony (along with most everything else about the case they could challenge).

During the congressional debate, one congressman said:

"Now, he has had her feeding tube removed and sentenced her to a most excruciating death, citing Terri's own wishes as the rationale ..." said Rep. Jim Ryun, R-Kan. "Michael did not remember this supposed request until years after Terri's initial injuries when a cash settlement was awarded to her, a settlement he would stand to inherit." ("Congress Votes to Give Terri Schiavo's Parents Access to Federal Court," The Associated Press, March 21, 2005)

Inspired Commentary

The general outlines of the potential religious liberty issue have been mentioned above (and generally in several previous issues of this newsletter). Regarding God's treatment of persons with less than normal mental function, the inspired counsel is not so definitive.

As the Protestant churches reject the clear, Scriptural arguments in defense of God's law, they will long to silence those whose faith they cannot overthrow by the Bible. Though they blind their own eyes to the fact, they are now adopting a course which will lead to the persecution of those who conscientiously refuse to do what the rest of the Christian world are doing, and acknowledge the claims of the papal sabbath. (The Great Controversy, p. 592)

Whatever the outcome of the Terri Schiavo case, finally God will make the most important decision, the decision about eternal life. He will decide rightly.

When we study the divine character in the light of the cross we see mercy, tenderness, and forgiveness blended with equity and justice. (Acts of the Apostles, p. 333)

Court on Gay Marriage in California

The pressure for same-sex marriage got a boost from a recent court decision in California:

SAN FRANCISCO -- A judge ruled Monday that California's ban on gay marriage is unconstitutional, saying the state could no longer justify limiting marriage to a man and a woman.

In the eagerly awaited opinion likely to be appealed to the state's highest court, San Francisco County Superior Court Judge Richard Kramer said that withholding marriage licenses from gays and lesbians is unconstitutional.

"It appears that no rational purpose exists for limiting marriage in this state to opposite-sex partners," Kramer wrote.

The judge wrote that the state's historical definition of marriage, by itself, cannot justify the denial of equal protection for gays and lesbians. ("Calif. Gay Marriage Ban Ruled Unconstitutional," washingtonpost.com, March 14, 2005)

Inspired Commentary

The decisions of the California and other courts are fueling a polarization in the USA where voters in several states recently voted to approve same-sex marriage bans in their states.

The agencies of evil are combining their forces and consolidating. They are strengthening for the last great crisis. Great changes are soon to take place in our world, and the final movements will be rapid ones. (Testimonies, vol. 9, p. 11)

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