Thursday, September 22, 2011

Reviewing Spectrum

Summer, 2011
Volume 39, Issue 3

This issue has two outstanding editorials and one MUST READ report. If you, gentle reader, are pressed for time, here’s what not to miss: ACCREDITATION BLUES and MISUNDERSTANDINGS MULTIPLY: LA SIERRA EMPLOYEES FILE SUIT; WASC ISSUES FORMAL NOTICE OF CONCERN by Bonnie Dwyer and THE FALLACY OF HIERARCHY by Charles Scriven.

From Accreditation Blues:
“La Sierra, like all Adventist institutions of higher education, needs the approval of both the regional and the Adventist accreditors. Students cannot get loans for unaccredited colleges. Graduate and professional schools—such as Loma Linda University—cannot accept students with degrees from unaccredited colleges. To lose WASC accreditation would be the end of LSU.”

From Misunderstandings Multiply
“With site visits from both WASC and AAA teams, the accreditation processes have dominated administrative life at La Sierra for the past two years. Self-study reports have been prepared, response to the consulting letter developed and delivered. And while both accrediting bodies recognize the importance and significance of what the other agency does, sometimes it has seemed as though the university was caught between the requirements of the two.

“WASC’s latest concern over the structure of the Board of Trustees is sure to create a different set of concerns with the church administration.

“And while La Sierra attends to these concerns, the issue that prompted the soap opera atmosphere of the past two years continues to challenge the entire denomination, as well as other conservative Christians. Solving the creation-evolution debate is not a La Sierra issue, but until the denomination finds some level of peace with that discussion, misunderstandings are bound to continue.”

From The Fallacy of Hierarchy
“The New Testament thus has, after Jesus, no teacher-masters; it has no ‘magisterium,’ no official teaching authority. Leaders and theologians, traditions and creeds, matter for their persuasive influence; they deserve attention and respect. But they have no coercive authority. (In 1 Corinthians, Paul treated the question of food offered to idols differently than the Jerusalem Council did.)

“Behind all of this is the premise, as John Howard Yoder writes, of ‘simple trust that God himself, as spirit, is at work to motivate and to monitor his own’ through ‘disciplined human discourse.’ So from this standpoint, the Hierarchy Principle, with its assumption that top-down control is a necessary bulwark, gives expression to lack of trust.

“Our leaders seem oblivious to this. And to the degree that the rest of us go along, or lapse into funks of resignation, so do we. I do not assign blame. The tide of hierarchy came in before most of us were born. But I do want to assign credit where it is due. In 1872, for the benefit of non-members and for the first time ever, Adventist leaders published a statement, or ‘synopsis,’ of their faith. The first paragraph said that it was not to have ‘any authority with our people,’ nor was it meant to “secure uniformity among them, as a system of faith.”

“The statement was not, in other words, an instrument of top-down control. The pioneers of Adventism still knew what it was to trust.”

The NOTEWORTHY section features old news, and BIBLE ISSUES is a tired recapitulation of Atonement Theories and Science and Creation apologies. The featured, RACE, IMMIGRATION & THE CHURCH, is so poorly written that it fails to deliver the relationships the title promises.

UNIVERSITIES & THE CHURCH is introduced by a lengthy, esoteric, and irrelevant piece by Gottfried Oosterwal, but Bonnie’s account of the LSU situation is authoritative and brilliant! Finally, I was disappointed by the POETRY selected from the SDA college and university literary journals. Sorry kids.

This issue, particularly, is a reminder that Spectrum now lives on the blog and is on life support in print.

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