Tuesday, May 12, 2009

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.

No comments: