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I’m in a crisis. One leader at Andrews University and two in Silver Spring have indicated to me that Adventist disagreements about how to interpret the Bible cannot now be addressed in open, public conversation. What? Actual Adventist leaders actually believe this? Let’s see what you think — but first, some context.
David Ripley, a delegate to the 2015 General Conference Session, declared, just after the debate and negative vote on women’s ordination, that Adventists are very “divided” on “hermeneutics or rules of [biblical] interpretation.” Would church leaders, he asked, please address the topic before 2020? Word came back that the General Conference’s Biblical Research Institute (BRI) would follow through on his request.
Issue - Bible - Urgency - Months - Meeting
The issue of how to interpret the Bible thus acquired new urgency, and a few months later, at their annual meeting, scholars of the Adventist Society for Religious Studies (ASRS) considered whether to recommend that the church’s official Statement of Belief about scripture become explicitly Christocentric. Under the proposed recommendation, the church would say what its official statement does not now say, namely, that, in accordance with Hebrew 1:1-3, Jesus Christ is the ultimate criterion in determining the Bible’s application to Adventist life and thought.
Members of ASRS voted that proposal — down.
Meeting - Break - Afterwards - Roy - Gane
During a meeting break afterwards, I noticed Roy Gane, of the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary, speaking with a huddle of what looked like his students or former students. They were discussing disagreements over how to read the Bible, and I overheard Professor Gane say that here everything depends on your “presuppositions” — whether or not, as I supposed, your starting point gives credence to historical science, say, or to the possibility of divine influence. His remark stuck with me because I had once heard him struggle with Old Testament stories about God-commanded genocide. In a paper for an...
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