Karl paused, put his Bible down between him and Signild on the back seat and continued:
"If we are to understand 'spirit' and 'soul' literally, as you might describe different parts of the body in a Biology text book, then either the Old Testament is wrong or Paul is. Worse than that, the writer of Hebrews and Paul disagree. So either you must conclude that the Bible isn't very inspired or these words were not used in the scientific sense that some people make them out to be.
"If I accept what the preacher said this morning, then I must reject Paul. If I accept Paul, then I must reject the preacher," continued Karl. "I just don't think it's as simple as he says it is. Is there a hell? Well, Jesus taught there was. And if there's a hell, then there must be a heaven."
Carin Högström interjected: "Well, dear, you might be right, or you might be wrong. I don't suppose we can really know."
The elder Högström bolted upright in silent, violent protest when she said that but held his peace, not wishing to dishonour his wife in front of their guest or daughter.
"Well," said Karl respectfully, "if you're right, then we shouldn't be dogmatic about the subject and just leave it open-ended. But I think if you study everything the Bible says about the soul, it becomes pretty obvious to me that the Hebrews weren't too clear about life after death. When they saw a dead body, that's what they saw, and drew their own conclusions. The New Testament is a fuller revelation and talks much more about life after death than the Old. If the Old seems to contradict the New, then I will always turn to the New. But from what I've been learning so-called contradictions between Old and New are just a lack of data in the Old because Yahweh-God hadn't given His full revelation on the subject."
Karl stopped, realising that he had probably said enough, and they were soon home.
"By the way, sir," he added as the car drew up to the garage doors, "did your people in Stockholm ever give you an answer to the pamphlet?"
Bertil blushed. "No, not yet," he answered slightly embarrassed, "but I expect they're very busy."
"Yes, I suppose they are. When I get home to Kopparberg, I'll email them a copy of the pamphlet and put it on the Discussion Board on their Website and see what response we get. You have Internet, don't you, Brother Högström?"
He nodded and then got out the car to open up the garage.
"We can send it this evening after the Sabbath is over," suggested Signild, "and then we'll get a reply before you leave. Better still, we can put it up on their Discussion Board in the States if you've got it in English!"
"Yes, we could do that," said Karl as they climbed out of the car and made their way to the front door and into the warmth.
Karl downloaded both articles in Swedish and English from the New Covenant Website and put them up on the two Discussion Boards, but by the time Karl left to return home there had only been one very feeble answer on the American board and two diatribes on the Swedish one. Finally, the Swedish pamphlet was deleted from the Swedish Board!
Karl had now been with the Högströms for a week and a day and there was no doubt that a special bond was forming between the young couple which neither of them objected to. After Bertil and Carin had retired to bed, they sat quietly talking in the living room.
"Is this soul-thing the only reason you left the Adventists?" asked Signild, with a slight hint of sorrow in her voice.
"No," he replied. "There are many other reasons too but I think I've probably made enough trouble already since I've been here. After all, I'm your guest."
Signild reached for Karl's hand and squeezed it.
"Thank you for being kind to Pappa. You've really shaken him, and I think Mamma is a bit disturbed too. But he loves the Church too much to change his membership, if that's what you're hoping he'll do."
It was now Karl's turn to be embarrassed.
"Brother Stan says that a Church is like a wine glass or a coffee mug. It doesn't matter too much what the shape is so long as it's clean. He feels the same way about church denominations. Some glasses are chipped, some are worn with age. What's important is what's in them. Still, he says drinking a glass of wine in a beautiful crystal cut glass is much better than in a dirty old chipped mug."
Signild grinned, appreciating the analogy.
"I feel the same way", said Karl. "No Church is perfect but some churches are more perfect than others. If I felt I could have continued to grow in grace and truth in the Adventist Church I would have stayed. But Pappa and Mamma felt they were dying from spiritual suffocation. They discovered so much more in the Bible and wanted to live the fullness of Christ's teachings. That's why we joined the Holy Order ..."
Signild was still holding his hand as she gazed admiringly into Karl's eyes. She was slowly but surely falling in love but was too shy to say anything about it yet. She searched his eyes to see if he was feeling similar things. At first she thought he did but then seemed to detect a hesitation ... a pulling back. Karl sensed that he was being spiritually scanned.
"Why should I leave the Adventists and become a New Covenant Christian?" she suddenly asked.
Karl was a little taken aback as he hadn't actually asked her to change churches though that had certainly been a part of his agenda - not for the sake of changing churches but because he could never marry anyone who wasn't completely at one with him in doctrine and practice.
"I would't demand that anyone leave any church. Only God can do that. As a Christian all I want to do is preach the truth, be corrected when I'm wrong, and move on. In our Order we have that freedom, but many of the older Churches are walled in by dogma which you dare not challenge. In the Order anything goes - you can ask what you like, challenge anything you like, so long as you do it respectfully and lovingly. I love it. I can go to Pappa or Uncle Stan and ask them anything I want and I know I won't be met by a wall."
"So why else wouldn't you be an Adventist, if it isn't just the soul doctrine?" Signild asked persistently.
"If you want to know the brutal truth," said Karl, "it's because I don't think that Ellen White was always a true prophetess and that she taught more than one false doctrine. She propagated a prophesy of her husband on the return of Christ and got it wrong. She should never have done that because the Bible says that nobody knows except the Father. When someone prophesies a date for His return they are making themselves out to be God."
Signild looked shocked but didn't question him.
"Ellen White was also an admirer of the Book of Mormon written by another false prophet, Joseph Smith ... !"
"NO!" cried Signild. "That's not true!" But she was beginning to learn that Karl didn't say anything unless he could back himself up. "Can you prove that??"
"Yes," he replied soberly, "and I can prove that she was into a 19th century version of the Toronto Blessing, and a lot more."
Signild let go of his hand. She wasn't in a romantic mood any more, but she was determined not to run away from the problems like her father had done.
"Can you prove all of this to me now?" she asked, half hoping that he couldn't.
"Sure," replied Karl, "so long as you promise not to show the materials to your father or mother, and give them back to me before I leave. I've borrowed them from our library and have promised to return them."
"Can I see them now?" she asked, now getting really frightened.
"Sure," said Karl, and went up to his room, returning a minute later two large booklets called, Ellen G. White: The Myth and the Truth by Åsmund Kaspersen10. "They're in Norwegian but you shouldn't have too much trouble with them."
Signild hesitated. "I've read a lot of anti-Adventist literature and a lot of it is distorted," she said with a sceptical note in her voice.
"Åsmund Kaspersen is a Seventh Day Adventist himself, which is why I think you'll find him all the more interesting, because he's just interested in the truth. He's not one of your anti-sabbatarians. Anyway, pray before you read it and ask that the Lord protect you from any deceptive spirits. I guarantee you'll never look at your religion with the same eyes again."
Signild turned the booklets upside down in case one of her parents should wander in and see the title. She didn't want a row. She took his hand again, and then looked down at her feet.
"You know I've grown very fond of you, don't you, Karl?" she said in a very timid voice.
"Yes, I know, " answered. "And I feel the same about you too."
She looked up at him, hope kindled in her eyes.
"But I don't think we should let it go any further until you find out more about me and what I believe in. I wouldn't want you to get hurt," he said kindly.
She leaned forward to kiss him on his mouth but he drew back.
"Don't be offended," said Karl, "but I believe kissing is only for married people, and I want to come into my marriage clean."
She was at first slightly offended that he would reject her advance but upon hearing his explanation felt slightly ashamed.
"Thank you, Karl. I needed to hear that. I'll read your magazines and we'll talk again tomorrow. Then I want to ask you about all your beliefs, OK?"
"OK!" he said, and the two got up, hugged, and went to their rooms.
Signild jumped into bed and started reading the two Kaspersen books. She got the shock of her life.
Festival of Lights, celebrated in mid-December
Courage or spirit
Seventh Day Adventist
Readily disposed to fight
For the full discourse, see Volume 2, chapter 17
Gothenburg, a port on the western Swedish coast
I Thessalonians 5:23
Ellen G. White: Myten og sannheten , OMEGA, Vivestad, N-3175 RAMNES, Norway
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