Monday, January 7, 2008

Reviewing Adventist Today

January/February 2008

GENERAL COMMENTS: The new look is a definite improvement. Chris Komisar’s graphics are clean and just plain fun to look at. The idea of putting this “new look” edition online as a one-time promotion is a winner, as is the idea of AN ADVENTIST TODAY CONFERENCE AT SEA.

Andy Nash’s editorial, FLESH, SPIRIT, AND THE BODY OF CHRIST sets the stage for a magazine in which readers and are challenged to suspend “blanket judgments” of fellow Adventists and other contributors.

LETTERS: Reader responses to “Understanding Genesis” in the November/December issue were summed up by Patti Hare as “a prime example of keep-God-in-a-box thinking”.

COME TO OUR SCHOOL--WE'RE LISTED. “U.S. News and World Report’s 2008” ranking of colleges and universities was demystified by Melanie Eddlemon.

'RED BOOKS' PLAY TOURS SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA. A DVD of “Red Books: Our Search for Ellen White”, a play written by Mei Teo and an original production by the Dramatic Arts Society of Pacific Union College, will be available soon. Contact Adventist Today at 1-800-236-3641.

Suggestions for theological SHEEP—Adventist Today; HYBRIDS—Adventist Review; AND GOATS—The Clear Word.

Tom MOSTERT’S ARITHMETIC (0+0+0+0) in the August, ’07 issue of the Pacific Union Recorder, “equates” Adventist members and pastors with Pacific Union Conference failures in the areas of sanctification, health, evangelism, and prophecy. The equation is incomplete. Completed: (M+0+0+0+0)=0

BULL AND LICKHART’S CHALLENGE TO ADVENTIST PROGRESSIVES, was paraphrased nicely by Lisa Clark Diller. “We, [readers of AT] often imagine that we represent the ‘real’ church. But immigrants, converts, and the world church are changing the realities on the ground. And these newer Adventists appear to value the unique doctrines of the Adventist church more than multi-generational, institutionalized Adventists. . .Maintaining an identity while promoting inclusively is a creative dynamic tension [that hopefully] propels Adventism forward, allowing it to ‘renew its tradition’ and to continually appeal to new constituencies.”

CAUGHT IN THE MIDDLE by Dennis Hokama is an informative survey of Adventist beliefs. Unfortunately, the survey was interrupted by an extended editorial comment following the views of Ramone Romero.

Ervin Taylor’s report on the QUESTIONS ON DOCTRINE CONFERENCE revealed that, at least publicly, old theological enemies can “make nice”. Unfortunately, that was all that was accomplished.

Reading BREAKING THE SILENCE—TOGETHER as reported by Andy Nash made me uncomfortable. Bernie and Christina Anderson’s responses to questions about Bernie’s addiction to pornography seemed scripted, and their relationship seemed untested by publicity and time.

CAN YOU BE AN ADVENTIST AND EVOLUTIONIST—NO by Clifford Goldstein; YES by Ervin Taylor, almost deserves the following dismissive “YES”. (Both of their local churches have chosen not to disfellowship them.) I do have some comments on the “debate”, however.

Cliff, according to current evolutionary theory, Jesus didn’t die for “highly advanced Neanderthals”. He died for highly advanced Homo sapiens. Neanderthals became extinct 30,000 years ago. Erv, I went to some trouble to come up with a current definition of neo-Darwinian evolutionary theory. “Neo-Darwinism and population genetics theory assumes that the necessary and sufficient set of conditions for all genetic, therefore evolutionary, change has been identified.”

Both debaters moved quickly away from the uncomfortable assumptions that anchor their arguments. Cliff avoided discussion of the geological and anthropological record and presented his brand of rational theology. Erv moved just as quickly away from a rationale for neo-Darwinism to a discussion of the evolutionary nature of Adventist doctrine. This “debate” wasn’t.

MAD ABOUT MUSIC is very cool. Vanessa Sanders’ history of Adventist music controversies was enlightening and fun to read. Graphics at the bottom of the pages made the story come alive. The fact that musical clips are available at “” is a great bonus feature. Readers can also vote as to whether or not the music is offensive. This option is hokey, but fun.

FORD, TOYOTA, AND CHURCH is a beautifully crafted essay that speaks volumes about Alden Thompson’s ability to foster Christ-like inclusiveness and positive change in Adventist culture.

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