Monday, February 11, 2008

Adventist-Forum: an opportunity for open discussion (2-7-08)

As SDA youth who, many times, have grown up in the church, it is difficult for us to come to conclusions about why we believe what we believe. We take what we have always been taught at face value, never searching out the evidence for ourselves.

That's not to say that what we have been taught is wrong. But many of us don't have the Biblically founded proof that we need in order to share it with others. And what if we haven't been shown the whole picture? Is our grasp of Christianity an illusion?

The Adventist-Forum, a group of students, faculty, and community members, seeks to bring into perspective many of the issues that SDA youth are afraid of. They meet together to discuss the issues relevant to modern Seventh-Day Adventists (SDA). It is their goal to provide an open and non-threatening dialogue concerning the collective heritage of the SDA church.

The discussion is structured around the book Seeking A Sanctuary by Malcolm Bull and Keith Lockhart. It is written by non-SDA's but takes a fair and historic view of Adventist Heritage. The book is not meant to be the final say in the Forum. Instead it is just meant help facilitate a better understanding of SDA history and what we can accomplish because of it.

They met this past Friday, the first, and their discussion was centered on what it means to be a SDA and what issues are important within the SDA sphere. What role does Ellen White play and is this the role she should play? What part should reason play in our search for truth?

The atmosphere was friendly, yet professional. There was a variety of faculty, students, and community members present. Shaunda Helm, a History and International Studies major, was the group facilitator and helped direct the session.

Several students, along with History professor Dr. Diller, spearheaded the Forum. The students include Raymond Thompson, Shaunda Helm, Marjorie Ellenwood, and Matthew Herman.

Raymond Thompson, a junior International Studies major, is really excited about the possibilities that the Adventist-Forum brings. "Many times our generation is accused of apathy concerning these matters. We need to wake up and realize that we are the church! The future SDA church will be better lead by people who have asked the tough questions. That is what we're doing in the Adventist-Forum: asking tough questions."

There will five more forums focusing on Seeking A Sanctuary. The forums will take place every other Friday from 12 to 1 pm. For more information, visit A videotape of Friday's forum is posted as well as more details concerning the book and how the Forum began.

By seeking to provide a safe environment to discuss spiritual issues, the forum is meant to be a place where students can talk about things that many wonder about but are afraid to bring up. If you wish to contribute to the discussion, learn more about current SDA issues, or are just simply curious, you are invited to come out on the 15th of February and join in on the next Forum.


Herb Douglass said...

I am intrigued with your web-site emphasis at the moment. Bull and Lockhart surely caused many people to take a different look at the theological stress of the past 50 years. Did you see my book review of SEEKING A SANCTUARY in a recent issue of SPECTRUM? If not I could attach a copy to you. Cheers, Herb Douglass

Paul said...

I don't have any problems with Spectrum or Adventist Forum, but as anyone who has dated, driven a car, or hit a ball knows, we follow our eyes. I think we, as SDA young people, need to look forward more than backward.

The SDA church is the culmination of the back to the bible movement kicked off in the reformation. Sadly, we haven't move the ball forward since about 1900. While many folks have gotten stuck in the revolving door, this doesn't cast doubt on the validity of the founders any more than current US foreign policy casts doubt on the Constitution. The problem is in the implementation, not the foundation.

Happily, a few visits to churches in Tahiti, Africa, and India show that most SDA's seem to be immune from the jumbo American dream.

History is important, and we should study it to avoid needless repetitions. However, I think that thinking SDA's should spend more time discussing where they are going than where they have been.

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