Thornleigh Seventh-day Adventist Church (Sydney, Australia)

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Online Magazine: Edition 72

Winter (Jun-Aug) 2022

Welcome to the Seventy-second Edition of the Online Magazine of the Thornleigh Seventh-day Adventist Church.



Welcome to the winter edition of our online magazine. 

Over the last few months, it feels like we are starting to emerge from the worst of the Covid pandemic, only to be smacked in the face with another major historical event. We are swamped with the ever-changing circumstances of the Russia/Ukraine war.  This whole situation can be distilled down to its simplest level of bullying on a national scale.

A quote keeps popping into my mind, from Gene Roddenberry, who is known mainly for his screenwriting of the science fiction TV series Star Trek.  "The strength of a civilisation is not measured by its ability to fight wars, but rather by its ability to prevent them." 

War should be seen as a failure of civilisation.  War is not what God planned for us and is one of many results of sin.  So, how do Christian values play out in these less than perfect circumstances?


It will come as no surprise that Christianity is big on promoting peace (Matthew 5:9) and the concept of not returning evil for evil.  (Matthew 5:38-42). These verses seem to suggest that Christians should become door mats for anyone who wants to harm them or take advantage of them.  In his essay, "Why I Am Not a Pacifist," C. S. Lewis goes some way to interpreting the "turn the other cheek" command. 

This text starts out to portray a contrary position to the concept of "an eye for an eye", which he says portrays the notion of revenge.  Revenge is about exacting punishment, and reparation, and conjures up feelings of resentfulness.  Turning the other cheek, he proposes, is more about giving up the feelings and desires for personal retribution.  It is not about being a "door mat", or putting oneself in harm's way, physically or mentally.   The bible tells us that vengeance is not for us but for God. (Romans 12:19)

Peace is obviously our preference, but peace cannot be forced by one party, as it requires commitment on both sides. The text in Romans 12:18, provides an out for such situations.  Use this technique where possible, but where it is not possible, because of the individual involved, then as a minimum, God asks us not to harbour or seek revenge against them.

Protect the Oppressed

The Bible tells us that Christianity comes with responsibilities. Amongst other things, we are charged with the protection of the oppressed and the vulnerable within our society.  (Isaiah 1:17).  This concept is easy to conceptualise when we are talking about protecting one person or a small group of people, but how does it look when we extend the concept to an entire vulnerable country that is being invaded?

Ten Commandments

How do the ten commandments inform our discussion?  "You shall not murder" (Exodus 20:13, NLT)  Murder here, meaning the intentional killing of another person.  This definition does not cover the likes of accidental killing (Exodus 21:12-13) or death through self-defences (Exodus 22:2) or death through the protection of the innocent. (Exodus 2:11-12)

Adventist Values and Pacifism

What about the pacifist who believes that the value of human life is so high that it is never right to kill a person?  The movie, Hacksaw Ridge, about the life of Desmond Doss, gives us an insight into the life of a Seventh-day Adventist conscientious objector during World War II.  He refused even to carry a gun for self-protection.  He received many commendations for his selfless work as a medic and was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honour. 

The Seventh-day Adventist Church encourages its members not to join the military but recognise this decision to be one of a personal choice of conscience.

Other Support during times of war

Providing support during times of war does not necessarily mean being involved in the front line.

Justified War

When all other attempts fail, is there such a thing as a justified war?  If you are relying on this concept, then you had best be sure of what this term means. A justified war is one that is designed to prevent more injustice and blood shed than it is expected to cause.   It would be difficult to justify war from a place of greed, bigotry, or hunger for power.  However, as a defence of the vulnerable (invaded) would be a much easier place from which to argue.

How does this concept inform the discussion about the Israelite involvement in Old Testament wars?  Maybe that is too big a question for this editorial.

The End of War

When all is said and done, there is one thing that we can all look forward to. That day when Jesus will return and make an end to all war.  "He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." (Revelation 21:4, NIV)  Until then, we live in a flawed world, and we do the best that we can to represent Christian values

In this Edition

Pastor's Piece - Nobody Likes Being Sick - Pr Alexis Ratu

In this edition, Pr Alexis Ratu shares with us the opportunity that a sick household gave him to reflect on the things that are really important.

God - a Combination of Love and Mathematics: the SAN experience - Stenoy (Steve) Stephenson

We welcome Steve as a new contributor to this publication.  He works as the Spiritual Care Manager at the Sydney Adventist Hospital and writes of his experience of how the expression of God's love is experienced through patient's eyes.

Neighbours to the World - Carole Stanton (writing for "Signs of the Times")

There are many ordinary people, in our local communities, that dedicate their lives to helping others.  Carole Stanton, writing for the Signs Publishing Company, shares with us part of the story of George and Joan Eiszele and their passion for helping refugees.  Both have received OAMs for their many years of volunteer work. 

Book Review - Bad Girls of the Bible by Liz Curtis-Higgs

So often, as Christians, we look at only the "good girls" of the Bible.  In this edition, our resident book reviewer introduces us to author Liz Curtis-Higgs. And the darker side of women in the Bible.

Vegetarian and Vegan Recipes - Erica Green

Our recipe column for this edition takes us to Italy and the Middle east for warming soups and winter comfort food.

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