I listened to and watched very carefully your sermon that some very zealous Italian fans of yours with a great sense of charity and deep Christian joy titled, “Pastors and Leaders Resign…The Shaking of the Church Has Begun.”
She begins her sermon with a call to go. To live the mission by going
I, Pastor Emeritus Rolando Rizzo, accepted this invitation together with my newly married wife on September 17, 1972. Since then we have gone and remained faithful to our love and mandate until today. Despite having a disabled daughter, we have given this work our all like so many other colleagues. My musician wife has cared for children, directed chorales, assembled hymnals, animated congresses, camps and every local community without ever collecting a single lira. Pure volunteerism.
I have preached, witnessed from door to door, through public lectures, radio broadcasts, writing articles, books, pamphlets, and at the age of 80 I continue to work with the enthusiasm I always have.
I have always acted within the norms the church has given itself; never have I intentionally transgressed a rule, including a very important one to which you are not faithful: the one that provides for reflection on improving existing norms.
Just last year, the Italian church awarded me an honorary degree with the following reason.
In recognition of his long and fruitful commitment to the search for the True, expressed both in fidelity to his pastoral vocation, with a particular sensitivity to the world of youth, and in his activity as a poet and novelist, at the service of art as a yearning for the Transcendent. A pastor of souls, preacher, church leader, youth leader, visionary pioneer in the founding of the Casuccia Visani youth center, he is the author, in addition to poems and countless pastoral and theological articles, of several works on the Adventist faith including, of definite scholarly value, the work dedicated to Ellen G.White, The Legacy of a Prophet, and the homiletic handbook Preaching Christ: the Art of Communicating the Message of Revelation, and, in his fruitful maturity, of a series of novels centered on experiences of personal and social redemption, of autobiographical inspiration and at the same time of universal value.”
With much pain I have to tell you that your preaching has visibly disconcerted me, scandalized me. Since I have neither the time nor the energy to address your saying point by point (for the past three years I have been nursing a cancer, my wife is 75 years old and I have a disabled daughter to support) I simply challenge four aspects of your view of the Adventist message and mission that I do not condone and do not belong to our DNA .
1 – The Remnant and Ecumenism.
You throughout your sermon did nothing but spout: we, we, we…The Pharisees did the same but, they at least were the only people who worshipped Jhavè among the polytheistic remnant. We Adventists, on the other hand, live within thousands of religious denominations that confess Christ and that according to a document voted by the GC in 1982:
– 1. We recognize organizations that present Christ to men as part of the divine plan to evangelize the world and hold in high regard men and women of other denominations who are committed to bringing men to Christ.
2. Whenever we come into contact with other Christian denominations and religious bodies in our missionary activity, the Christian spirit of courtesy, frankness and honesty must always prevail
The General Conference’s Public Relations and Religious Liberty Department, hold meaningful dialogues with many denominations such as the Lutheran World Federation (1994-1998), led by Bert Beach, then John Graz and and now Ganoune Diop organizing the annual event with participation from France, Finland, Estonia, the Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, England and Germany …
Not to mention the relationships at the local level. I was also president of the Florence Association of Evangelical Pastors, which still gathers about 30 evangelical communities. You are quick to say that…It is not about Ecumenism but about public relations that we use only for religious freedom and for the witness of our message.
When we organize events, study days, prayer times together…What else is it about if not Ecumenical moments in which we recognize the faith and good faith of others. Ethically questionable because there would seem to be no Christianity beyond the Adventist fence. We then, according to you are not bearers of a special message but, of the only message, when the only message is Christ alone. Can we only give?
I am proud to be an Adventist but, grateful to so many religious denominations that have not discovered the Sabbath but have struggled and achieved victories in the field envisioned by the prophets:
Is not the fasting that I relish this: that the chains of wickedness be broken, that the bonds of the yoke be loosed, that the oppressed be set free, and that every kind of yoke be broken? Isaiah 58:6-12
You have a myopic reading of apocalypse 14 where you identify God’s commandments with only the two tablets of the law. Also because of this reductive view our church unlike the Methodist, Baptist churches…They fought for civil rights. Nelson Mandela was a Methodist, ML King was Baptist…Don Puglisi and Don Peppe Diana murdered because they tried to take boys out of the mafias, were Catholics.
You identify Ecumenism with compromise on principles, with the most boorish syncretism but, I have been practicing ecumenism for 50 years and never have I been asked to give up my principles, on the contrary. Of course, there are various kinds of ecumenism, like Adventism. It is not a matter of renouncing them and returning to the spirit of religious wars but of choosing the honest Ecumenism that means:
– Granting every believer in Christ the principle of good faith until proven otherwise.
– Cooperating with anyone on established programs in accordance with our conscience.
The theorem about the remainder is not established a priori by self-election but recognized by facts. Analyze the horror of Rwanda and you will realize that if Adventists (10% of the population) had been Remnant they would have had the strength to prevent that horror.
2 – Does the Bible contain and the word of God or is the Bible the word of God?
She exalts the Bible and does well, indeed very well however, her Bible would seem different from mine. For her it resembles the Automobile Manual, a single manual for all types of cars, where everything is clear and functional. Mine which certainly contains God’s Revelation, the only book in time and space that contains it but, only through sound hermeneutics and theology. His view of the Bible has produced horrors: it has revived slavery, fueled machismo, legitimized torture, the death penalty. Have you read these texts from your manual that you don’t even need to renew and that fits all cars?
Nu 1:51 When the tabernacle shall depart, the Levites shall take it down; when the tabernacle shall encamp in some place, the Levites shall put it up again; the stranger who approaches it shall be put to death
De 24:4 the first husband, who sent her away, shall not take her back to wife, after she is defiled, for that would be an abominable thing in the sight of the LORD. You shall not stain with sin the land that the LORD your God gives you as an inheritance.
Abominable sin would be forgiveness!
“Asa had an army of three hundred thousand men of Judah who carried shields and spears, and two hundred and eighty thousand of Benjamin who carried shields and drew bows, all strong and valiant men.Zerah, the Ethiopian, marched against them with an army of a million men and three hundred chariots, and advanced as far as Maresa.” (2 Chronicles 14:7-9)
(The Roman army at the height of its power included four hundred and fifty thousand men; here they exceed two million!)
6 If your brother, the son of your mother, or your son or your daughter or your wife, who rests on your bosom, or your friend, who is like another you, want to deceive you in secret, saying: “Come on, let us serve other gods,” those whom neither you nor your fathers have ever known, 7 gods worshipped by the peoples around you, whether near to you or far from you, from one end of the earth to the other, 8 you will not consent, you will not listen to him; let not your eye have mercy on him; do not spare him, do not justify him; 9 rather kill him without another Deut. 13:6-9
In future generations no man among your descendants who has any deformity shall approach to offer the bread of his God; 18 for no man who has any deformity shall approach: neither the blind man, nor the lame man, nor he who has a deformity by defect or by excess, 19 or a fracture in his foot or hand, 20 nor the hunchback, nor the dwarf, nor he who has a defect in his eye, or has mange or herpes or bruised testicles. 21
.i. 21 No man among the descendants of Aaron the priest, who has any deformity, shall approach to offer the fire-consumed sacrifices for the LORD. He has a defect: therefore let him not approach to offer the bread of his God. 22 He may eat the bread of his God, the most holy things and the holy things; 23 but he shall not approach the curtain, nor shall he approach the altar, because he has a deformity. He shall not defile My holy places, for I am the LORD who sanctifies them.'”Lev. 21:17-23
27 And David arose, and departed with his people, and slew two hundred men of the Philistines, and brought their foreskins, and delivered the exact number of them to the king, to be his son-in-law. 28 And Saul gave him Mical, his daughter, to be his wife. Saul saw and recognized that the LORD was with David;
David, type of the messiah, tore 200 genitals from 200 Philistines, put them in a basket and brought them to the king who saw “That the LORD was with him.”
DO YOU WANT ME TO CONTINUE?
And how is it that Paul, educated to consider the cripple unfit to worship Yahweh places at the center of worship, not a cripple but someone torn apart by torture and the cross:
2For I thought that I knew nothing else among you but Jesus Christ, and these crucified. 1 Cor. 2:10
3 – The aberrations of human sexuality?
You state to me that “God does not accept the aberrations of human sexuality” referring to homosexuality. And indeed there are texts that affirm this. But, remark number 1, the same texts define as aberrations: the cripple who approaches the altar, the husband who forgives his adulterous wife, the stranger who approaches the disassembled pieces of the Sanctuary…And, remark number 2: God accepts sexual aberrations on the ethical level far worse than the homosexual relationship.
In the ethical homosexual relationship, i.e., between consenting adults, we have a relationship that is not provided for in the plan of creation (and which aesthetically disgusts me) but which certainly harms no one, takes away no one’s dignity. id God, on the other hand, to our model Abraham grants slaves, concubinage…To Solomon seven hundred princesses for wives and three hundred concubines; and his wives perverted his heart. 4 In the time of Solomon’s old age, his wives made his heart turn to other gods 1 Kings 11:3.4 The problem of polygamy (wives and especially concubines were consumable objects that assumed minimal importance only when the male chose them …) in the case is addressed only because of idolatrous drift.
I ask myself: if God understands the need not to ask man to radically step out of his cultural context because he is too strong to step out of it, why should he not be sympathetic to those who are deprived of their condition by the power that moves the universe, by the affective necessity anyway, the most powerful of human needs?
And what right do I have to judge that young pastor’s son, brilliant graduate student and faithful member of our community who a few months ago circulated a video saying, I am gay!
Yes, prayer, the power of God! I believe it but, why didn’t God signal the possibility to David and Abraham?
4 – The concept of end times and the remnant
I have no doubt that the Adventist people were intended by God for a mission. We have always said, “For the end times.” But didn’t Jesus forbid speculating about time? And isn’t it enough for us to feel a little embarrassed to keep using the term soon? To confuse the signs of always with the last signs? To confuse the destruction of Jerusalem with the end of the world? To distinguish them, it should suffice to consider these two texts:
“Truly I tell you that this generation will not pass away before all these things have come to pass. 35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.36 “But as for that day and hour, no one knows them, not even the angels of heaven, not even the Son, but the Father alone.” Matthew 24:34-36
It should be forbidden to quote EGW authoritatively (isn’t our creed the ONLY Scripture?) but he quoted it for you:
– “Satan is always ready to fill the mind with theories and calculations…There is an intense desire on the part of many to impress the world with original things, pushing toward states of spiritual ecstasy…He did not come to gratify curiosity There will never again be a message for God’s people that will be based on time. We are not able to define time. We are not to know the ultimate time for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit and the return of Christ…Time will never again be a test….We are not to live excited by time. We do not We are not to be absorbed in speculations about times and moments that God has not revealed. Ellen G. White, Selected Messages, vol. 1, pp.185 – 192
– He had plenty of reasons for writing something like this: about time he was wrong like all the prophets.He wrote:
– June 27, 1850:” the angel who guided me said, The time is near.”
– In 1879 :”We are on the frontier of the eternal world…Considering the little time we have left, we must watch and pray”
– in 1882 : “We are near the end of time. I have been shown that God’s judgments are already on earth.The Lord has spoken to us of events that will soon come…”
– In 1900: “The great crisis is on the verge of breaking out…The Return of Christ will not tarry much longer-
And on the last prediction has passed: 123 years.Wouldn’t it be appropriate to focus on the certainty of the return and that of his presence beside us and not use the chronicle to give useless and wrong certainties?You even prove to me the biblical nature of the soon by quoting Apocalypse 22, which was compiled 2,000 years ago!
What generally excites is the catastrophic chronicle and expectation is based on lies: in fact since 1844 man’s living conditions, though through a tortuous path, have been improving since then.The laws of men, since then, in most of the states of the Christian world , have come closer and closer to the laws of God as expressed by the prophets.
If today in Italy there are those who fast over crowded prisons where inmates are fed anyway … and yesterday torture was quietly practiced … Is it exaggeration to say that the world has improved? Is it heretical to say that humanity’s sense of ethics has grown?
It is true that on this path there has been no shortage of terrible wars: the American Civil War and the two world wars in addition to other bloody civil wars such as the one in Rwanda and the current ones in Ukraine and Palestine.
But, unfortunately, wars, in the centuries before were the almost normality; there were wars that lasted thirty years and wars of conquest were periodic and habitual in Europe and the world It is, however, in the 1800s and 1900s that, albeit with all the tortuousness and contradictions in application, constitutions, universal rule of law states, democracies, human rights, and Welfare were born.And in recent decades?Between ups and downs, between shrimp steps and gazelle steps, however, overall, the world has improved.
In the Florence of the Golden Ages, cathedrals were built and masterpieces were born but there were 20,000 beggars many of them invalids of birth or invalids of labor. In today’s wicked Italy, three million invalids are assisted by the community.And what has the Remnant done to structurally improve the world?What did it do in Rwanda, in South Africa, in the Argentina of the colonels?
I do not expect you to read these articles of mine that I point out at the bottom. I am merely communicating them to tell you that I have prayed, I have met, I have thought long and hard about the things I say.
Sincerely, God bless you
Rolando Rizzo, convinced 7th-day Adventist, daily
Translated with DeepL