Saturday, July 19, 2008

Reviewing Adventist Today

July-August 2008

Great issue, and the new website “” is easy to navigate and includes the personal blogs of fascinating people. Reader, if you’re not a subscriber, you’re missing out on the cutting edge of SDA theology and journalism.

The website has many new content additions: online-only feature articles, music and film reviews, exclusive interviews, regular Adventist news updates, blogs, and more. All paid subscribers to Adventist Today magazine get full access.

One suggestion: standardize the size and typeface for easy reading on a computer screen. One comment: The cover is spooky! My first thought was, “Santeria? on AT”?

The Adventist Church's Peculiar Institution: Why Race-Based Conferences Should Be Abolished
by Fredrick A. Russell

This is a MUST READ. Russell’s argument is devastating and timely. A radical reorganization of SDA church structure in North America is long overdue, and Fredrick’s suggestion, “gently proposed”, makes sense.

“Even as the wider, secular culture has moved to dismantle any and all organizational structures that reflected government-sanctioned racial division in American history, the Seventh-day Adventist Church [is] keeping a racially segregated infrastructure in place. . . The vast majority of the 58 conferences in the North American Division are racially segregated at their core.

So I gently propose that NAD conferences, specifically in the United States, be reorganized into a series of regional units across the country, but not as large as most union territories presently cover. These regional units would be responsible for all “work” in their assigned territory.

Some have suggested that the West Coast model, where there are no black conferences, is the best way to go. Not so. The West Coast model has inherent flaws, one of which is that the white membership is “mainstreamed” and . . .there still exists a mentality that is more comfortable when whites are at the helm. It’s this mentality that has to be challenged and changed.”

When Oakwood and Southern [FINALLY] Got Together, [GOOD THINGS HAPPENED!]
Two Adventist university presidents, Delbert Baker of Oakwood University and Gordon Bietz of Southern Adventist University, have been encouraging more interaction between the two schools through a program called DEEPER. Oakwood, a historically black college in Huntsville, Ala., is 120 miles southwest of Southern, whose student body is primarily white. Recently the journalism and communication faculty from both schools got together for an afternoon of dialogue. Independent of each other, Rachel Williams of Oakwood and Andy Nash of Southern each wrote a brief reflection on the experience.

Shining In The Silicon: Adventist Church Invites Silicon Leaders Into the Mix
by Sam McKee
Some amazing things happened when the local pastor began inviting Silicon Valley leaders to speak at the Sunnyvale Adventist church!

“You have the CEO of the Sharks recommending the Adventist church to the future president of Intel! . . . A year and a half after we started the Business & Spirituality series, our attendance is 25 percent higher, and our church is clearly on the radar of the local culture. The mayor of our city showed up at our Christmas outreach along with more than 500 others.”

No Junk Evangelism: the Good News Demands a Good "How"
by Nathan Brown
Brown is amazing! I continue to be impressed by his writing, his breath of interests, his uncanny ability to intuit the truth, and his ability to prove what he already “knows”. This article is a MUST READ.

“In Evangelism After Christendom, Bryan Stone describes this challenge to contemporary Christianity: “Those who think theologically rarely think about evangelism, and those who think about evangelism rarely take the discipline of theology very seriously. . . Those who produce the literature on evangelism are particularly reluctant to think critically about the theology presupposed in their practice.”

“In his intriguing recent book UnChristian, David Kinnaman reflects on what this means for evangelism: ‘In our research with some of the leading ‘mass evangelism’ efforts, we found that often these measures create three to ten times as much negative response as positive. In other words, imagine your church is considering mailing Bibles or videos or other Christian materials to homes in your community. Our research shows that the ‘collateral damage’ of doing so—those whose impressions of your church and of Christianity would be more negative as a result—is significantly greater than the positive impact on those who will respond favorably to these efforts.’”

We Must Center of the Mission of Christ
Minister, community organizer and social analyst Monte Sahlin talks with Marcel Schwantes about the latest research findings on the church, surprising facts about evangelism campaigns, and the future of a graying denomination.

This subhead introduces this MUST READ article. The following question and answer supply only the first course of a five star meal of research and reality. This is a MUST READ.

“What do you think are the top three challenges facing the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the coming decade?”

“(1) Diversity. The Adventist denomination is the most diverse denomination in the United States today! Diversity is more than ethnicity, more than its global span; we encompass a great range of worship styles, socioeconomic niches, and viewpoints.

(2) The “graying of Adventism” and the need to engage new generations. I am working on a new demographic survey right now, and it appears that the median age for the Adventist Church in North America has inched up to 62. That means half of our members are over 62 years of age! We are not doing a good job of passing on the church to new generations. We must improve on that front.

(3) The need to encourage more innovation and creativity. If we do not release the energies and gifts of the younger pastors, teachers, and lay leaders, we will sink under the weight of aging, diversity, and all of the institutions and programs that we can’t let go of. If we want new generations to carry on the mission of the church, we have to trust them to learn how to relate to their contemporaries.”

Blogger Lineup
The blog section allows readers to interact with Adventist Today bloggers, who represent a wide range of Adventist perspectives.

David Person is an editorial writer and columnist at The Huntsville Times; the host of “WEUP Talk,” a daily call-in talk show on WEUP-AM; and an occasional opinion writer for USA Today. David graduated from Oakwood University, where he majored in communication and minored in theology. David’s blog addresses current events and social issues from a Christian perspective, including looking at the two greatest commandments and social-justice applications of our faith.

Heather Quintana has a master of divinity degree from Andrews University and a bachelor’s in English from Southwestern Adventist University. She has previously worked as a chaplain and an assistant radio producer and currently writes for Kids’ Ministry Ideas and Lead. Heather blogs for Adventist Today on trends in pop culture.

Alex Bryan is pastoral director of mission and ministry at Collegedale Church on the campus of Southern Adventist University. Alex is currently in the midst of a doctor of ministry program at George Fox University, where he is studying “Leadership in the Emerging Culture.” Alex blogs on the missional church, emerging cultures, and discipleship from a postmodern perspective.

Shayna Bailey, 25, has become a leading young adult voice for Christian dating and relationships in several venues, including print magazines, blogs, and Christian seminars— which she frequently hosts. Shayna just co-authored her first book, The GODencounters Devotional, which will be released in the fall. She holds a B.A. in psychology from Johns Hopkins University and will start medical school in 2009.

Ervin Taylor, Ph.D., is professor emeritus of anthropology at the University of California, Riverside, and executive publisher of Adventist Today. Dr. Taylor blogs on the creation/ evolution divide, science and religion, ethics, and Adventist history/theology.

Clifford Goldstein, a top selling author and leading conservative voice, has written 20 books and hundreds of magazine articles. He is editor of the Adult Bible Study Guide and also edited Liberty and Shabbat Shalom. Clifford blogs on current issues and traditional Adventist teachings—and will take reader questions.

Angels Distribute Radios to Villagers? AWR President Says Yes
by Noreen Malcolm
Adventist World Radio president says he believes it really happened.
reported by the Adventist World Radio (AWR) president, Benjamin Schoun.

“Call it a miracle in the 21st century: Angels reportedly visited villagers in a restricted area, distributed radios to the people, and taught them how to tune into the Adventist World Radio programs.

Your Questions
by Andy Nash
Why is the new website paid only?
The website is a bonus feature for those who subscribe to Adventist Today magazine. You can probably understand our dilemma—and the dilemma of many publications right now. When the website was free, many people were filling up with free content (mostly news and news feeds)—and not seeing the magazine material and special features that we’ve put the most time into. Further, they were judging Adventist Today only by the free stuff they saw on the site.

In this new model, everything is on one tier. Everyone pays for our product, rather than some people subsidizing the rest. This puts pressure on us to provide quality content, but that’s the kind of pressure we want. We’re up substantially in subscriptions this year, and we believe this will continue the momentum.

Do you offer an online-only subscription?
Yes. We’re now offering an $8.00/year online-only subscription, which gives full access to the website, including the current issue (and back issues) of Adventist Today magazine. We know this option will be welcomed by those outside of North America, those on tight budgets, and those who prefer to read online.

Alden Thompson: The Prayer of Jabez Strikes Again
by Alden Thompson
The Prayer of Jabez (1 Chronicles 4:9 & 10) is indeed slim pickin’s for readers of the Chronicles. It certainly doesn’t “haunt me” or inform me about much of anything.

Alden, what does “haunt” me is your desire to make “the whole Bible safe to read”. The Bible is not a “safe” book. It’s dangerous. It defies sectarian interpretations, Uncle Arthur theology, and official Sabbath School lessons in its conflicting chronologies, morality, historical events, and sayings. It begins with two different stories of creation and ends with monsters, fire, martyrs complaining under the throne of God, and a New Jerusalem descending from heaven.

Its words are mysterious and clear, savage and compassionate, inspirational and reasoned. It’s a history of slaughter and kindness, foolish acts and principled behavior, miraculous events and undeserved tragedies, good prostitutes and evil kings. Its words have excused genocide and inspired saints.

Readers need to fasten their seatbelts and pray. It’s an exciting ride, a brilliant adventure, a love letter from the people who wrote it and the God that inspired their efforts. (We already have the really “safe” Clear Word.)

Editor’s note: There is an extra “named” in the paragraph beginning “The prayer of Jabez. . .” This confused me on my first reading.

7 Questions for . . . Naturally 7
July 1, 2008 - 11:00pm - Marcel Schwantes
Whether you’re into Christian contemporary or secular pop music, these talented “7” have arrived with an explosive bang. Since 2007, they have performed for more than 1.2 million people and have just completed touring the United States, Australia, and Canada as the opening act for pop superstar Michael Bublé. They are now beginning the European leg of their world tour, including solo performances at the renowned Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland, where they’ll share the stage with the likes of Quincy Jones, Herbie Hancock, and Al Jarreau. On May 13, Naturally 7 made their national television debut on The Ellen DeGeneres Show. DeGeneres called them “unbelievable.”

Decaf in Starbucks, Creating Lucifer, Raising Hands/Hell
by Adventist Man
Not up to your last effort, AM, but not bad.


Anonymous said...

I particularly like your description of the Bible. While understanding the desire to reconcile the whole Bible under a "Precious Moments" Jesus, I also have great respect for a Lutheran/Liberation Theology pastor friend that insists in God having two hands.

Dick Larsen

Anonymous said...

Your description of the dangerous Bible in your review of Alden Thompson's piece about the Prayer of Jabez would entice an indifferent Bible reader to explore it's pages; nicely done!