Thursday, January 29, 2009

Reviewing Adventist Today

Winter 2009
Vol. 17, No.1

“Adventist Today brings contemporary issues of importance to Adventist Church members.” That’s what the editors proclaim, and that’s why we subscribe. In this issue, there were 29 interior pages in which these issues could be discussed. 3½ pages were devoted to very large, albeit beautiful, pictures that accompanied three feature articles. 4½ print pages were devoted to 8 short student interviews of “people around us—the people we see only periodically, on a surface level.” Interview questions included, “What makes you happy?” “What did you want to be when you grew up?” “Describe your perfect day.” The answers given were necessarily superficial. Of the remaining 21 pages, only 14½ were devoted to “contemporary issues”.

Happily, those 14½ pages were worth reading. I also enjoyed the ADVENTIST CARICATURIST’S 1½ pages, and the 2 pages awarded to Marcel Schwantes’ 7 QUESTIONS for Tami and Jeff Cinquemani and ADVENTIST MAN.

Andy Nash, it seems to me that you should also be careful while TREADING ON HOLY GROUND. While “plumbing the riches of the Living Word”, you argue that Christ’s reference to Adam and Eve and Daniel the prophet validates their physical existence. You go on to disparage “thought leaders” who believe that some biblical texts “no longer pertain to our day”.

Christ uses the word “hell” 12 times. Consider Christ’s account of the Rich Man and Lazarus in Luke 16; I would argue that in this case, and others, Christ is making a literary allusion to make a point, rather than establishing proof that biblical characters and actual places exist.

Alex Bryan argues that the Adventist Church in America is in critical condition. In THE END OF AMERICAN ADVENTISM? Bryan offers as critical conditions: loss of membership, an aging membership, and local churches that “lack a vibrant worship environment”. His prescription: tell the truth, i.e. “bad news can drive us to the gospel faster than platitudes.” Re-claim the local church as THE church. “Hospitals and colleges and publishing houses are only important as the [local] churches are alive.”

And finally, SDA educational institutions must prepare “young 20-something graduates who are prepared, upon graduation, to flood local congregations with energy, spirituality, relational passion, and missional skill. . .Every collegiate (and possibly) high school Adventist diploma ought to mean that the young person. . .
[has] served a full year in domestic or international mission. I’m talking Peace Corps or Mormon mission-type service.”

Alden Thompson warns of THREE ADVENTIST DANGERS: fearfulness “of everything without the Adventist label”, embarrassment that “kills evangelism”, and the “raw bid for power”.

ORDINATION IS NOT THE ISSUE: REFLECTIONS OF A FEMALE PASTOR by Bonita Joyner Shields provides the biblical and historical argument that “it takes both male and female to accurately reflect the image of God”. J. David Newman’s WHY MEN SHOULD NOT BE ORDAINED provides a persuasive rational and biblical argument for not ordaining men. Consequently, “If we give up ordaining men, we solve the problem of whether or not we should ordain women.

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