Thursday, May 28, 2009

A Beastly Dilemma, Continued

To be continued...

Cartoon modified from Prince Valiant, by Mark Schultz and Gary Gianni
(click image to enlarge)

Danae wants to be baptized with her friends.

Modified from the comic Non Sequitur, by Wiley
(click to enlarge)

The Opposite of Faith is Certainty

The following is a talk presented to Grace Connection on June 22, 2002, by Heather Isaacs, then a graduate student at San Francisco Theological Seminary.

“The opposite of faith is certainty.” Dean Alan Jones of Grace Cathedral on NPR last September. When I first heard these words last fall, I was midway through a very difficult semester in my first year at seminary. I was in a spiritual and intellectual freefall. All of my fundamental beliefs about God, the world, and myself had been wrecked. A friend of mine likened the first year of seminary as “spiritual bootcamp” where we were systematically broken down to our basic components only to be rebuilt. It did feel like that. Every day another ideological rug pulled out from underneath you. The funny thing was that I had come to seminary believing I had already had MY faith tested. But I had no idea what the year would bring. I had no idea that I was going to lose faith completely. So when I heard this statement: “The opposite of faith is certainty,” I felt this was the key to the start of my return to faith. I didn’t have to KNOW anything to believe. Coming from a tradition that likes to proof-text every doctrine I felt liberated from KNOWING.

But that hasn’t meant I wouldn’t like to know sometimes. Especially when I don’t have answers to questions that people I love are struggling with. Just recently, two friends on two separate occasions shared with me how alienated they feel within Adventism. Both of these friends were, like I was, raised in the church. We all attended PUC together. We each have aspirations of working for the denomination in our respective fields. But we each have had the common experience of feeling unwanted, unwelcome.

Click here to read the rest of this sermon.

Lio, listen to the soldier.

From the comic Lio by Mark Tatulli
(click to enlarge)

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

A Beastly Dilemma

To be continued...

Cartoon modified from Prince Valiant, by Mark Schultz and Gary Gianni
(click image to enlarge)

Reviewing Adventist Today

Spring 2009

I have always been a huge fan of Adventist Today, and I really like the new graphics, and I was excited about a new editor, and I looked forward to a fresh take on what’s happening in the world of Adventism; so when I pulled the Spring Issue out the of the mailbox, I started J. David Newman’s editorial while I was walking back to the house. And I liked everything I was reading until—pause for effect—his last sentence, which brought me down hard! It was then that it hit me.

I had been reading WHAT IS AN ADVENTIST, the title of the editorial and the cover story, as “Who is an Adventist”. “What” is the wrong question! Predictably, Charles Scriven, Larry Kirkpatrick, Sari Fordham, and Larry Kristofell described themselves as they struggled to describe “the ideal Adventist”. Good people all, but so what? The question should have been, “Who is an Adventist”.

The answer to the “what” question is straightforward. Seventh-day Adventists are people who say they are Seventh-day Adventists. Questioning these folks about whether they subscribe to the 28 Fundamental Beliefs or whether or not they believe the “forensic theory of atonement” or the “healing and restoration model” is beside the point. SDA’s are what they say they are: ideologues not withstanding.

The “who” question is the important one. An Adventist today can be an agnostic evolutionist or a creationist, a person who identifies with the name because an Adventist doctor saved the life of her child or a man who discovered the “truth” after years of study, a biblical literalist or a literary skeptic, a member because of social or business connections or a religious fanatic, a VEGAN or a fast food junky, a regular attendee or someone who hasn’t bothered to take his name off the church books, a theologian or a mystic, a homeless person or a wealthy entrepreneur, a sex offender or a social worker, a new convert or an old timer, a foolish man or a wise woman, a liberal or a conservative, an illiterate sheep herder or a university professor, a prisoner or a policeman, a realist or a romantic, a member of the NRA or a pacifist, a soldier or a chaplain, an exercise fanatic or a couch potato, a revolutionary or a solid citizen, an Ethiopian or a Malagasy, or me and you.

It’s time to stop asking the “what” question and give some serious thought to who we are under the skin of Adventism. Our theology categorizes Adventists as a “remnant”, members of a homogeneous Christian denomination, a singular religious minority that conforms to some objective identifiable pattern of behavior. What if that theological assumption flies in the face of reality? What then? That question, it seems to me, should be the providence of Adventist Today.

I’m with Edwin A. Schwisow, Development Director of AT, who asserts that it’s A TIMELY SEASON TO PLAN FOR A MOMENTOUS GC SESSION. Adventist Today needs $30,000 to adequately cover the General Conference Session in Atlanta. It’s “a session the likes of which come about only once in every 20 years. . .an election that promises to institutionalize a dramatically new alignment of power”. Adventist Today reporters must be there. I’m sending a check.