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2006 Discussions

Date: 21 January 2006

Speaker: Dr. James J. Londis

Position: Retired Director of Ethics & Corporate Responsibility, Kettering College of

Medical Arts

Topic: “The Dangers of Adventist Absolutism”

Venue: Chan Shun Hall

Attendance: 124


Presentation: SDAs should have conviction of the certainty of Truth, but be comfortable with ambiguities & willing to listen to others’ views, not setting up “false absolutes” because of “the finiteness of human perspectives” (Niebuhr). He shared articles on the Religious Right’s stand re: role of Israel , secular humanism, dominionism, & gay marriage to illustrate 5 signs of When Religion Becomes Evil (David Larsen’s book). Some Religious Right groups are like “Christian fascists” whose “dangerous certainty” makes them attack others, be unforgiving, & show no service to the poor. “Nobody has all the truth!” Londis concluded, & only God’s love & our free salvation are absolutes.

Date: 11 February 2006

Speaker: Dr. Bill Richardson

Position: Dean, College of Arts & Science, Andrews University

Topic: “Life and Death and the Freedom to Choose”

Venue: Chan Shun Hall

Attendance: 66

Presentation: The ethics of life/death issues involves a “Sacred Triangle” of patient, family, & physician, but conflicts over living wills, life support, quality of life, when to pull the plug, personal autonomy, & dignity of life frequently distorts communication on this triangle. Our medical advances & technology enable us to prolong life—or deter death—but on whose authority should that decision be made? When is the patient incompetent to decide? Bill discussed active/passive euthanasia, Dr. Kerverkian, the Terry Schiavo case, the Patient Self-Determination Act (1991), the Oregon Right-to-Die Act, the risks of CPR, & what happens when lawyers, pastors, & the courts get involved.

Date: 4 March 2006

Speaker: Carl Wilkin

Position: ADRA Director-Rwanda (1990-1994); now chaplain, Milo Adventist Academy , Oregon (1995-present)

Topic: “Seeds of Genocide: Witness to the Genocide in Rwanda ”

Venue: Chan Shun Hall

Attendance: 186


Presentation: Wilkin shared his experiences as ADRA director during the genocide of 1994-95. It could have been prevented if foreign soldiers had been allowed to intervene rather than simply evacuate white foreigners. While his wife Theresa & their three children left, Carl stayed to bring food, water, & medicine to orphans in Kigali . The causes of the “killing spree” were not race, ethnicity, or religion, but “greed, arrogance, and power.” He showed a video clip of foreign soldiers entering Rwanda ; it portrayed roadblocks, mutilated bodies, & natives pleading with journalists to be evacuated. Many Rwandans at the AAF meeting testified of their gratitude for Wilkin’s intervention.

Date: 15 April 2006

Speaker: Dr. Andrea Luxton

Position: Associate Director, General Conference Education Department

Topic: “Church or Academia: Who Decides? The Future of Theological Education”

Venue: Chan Shun Hall

Attendance: 70

Presentation: Explored multiplication of theology programs, diversification of theology, tensions between academics & church leaders, & lack of rigor, relevance, or diversity in pastoral training. Raised questions re: theology degrees (academic or professional?), who decides content, how much diversity to permit, & how church leaders & academics can share input on these issues. Three groups (MinTAC, TEC, IBMTE) are currently addressing concerns re: diversity/uniformity, orthodoxy, spirituality, holistic educational philosophy & guidelines, & evaluation of theology programs & are involving church leaders & academics. IBMTE will consider their recommendations in October ’06.

Date: May 20, 2006

Speaker: Linda Mack and Julia Lindsay

Position: Music Librarian and Professor of Music at Andrews University respectively

Topic: “SDA Hymnody: Heritage and Hope”

Venue: Seminary Chapel

Attendance: 38

Presentation: Linda and Julia presented an interactive program sharing the interesting background of Millerte and early SDA hymns. Linda showed some early Adventist hymnbooks and a display of other materials, while Julia led the group in singing many of the early hymns and tunes.

Date: 3 June 2006

Speaker: Dr. George Knight

Position: Professor of Church History, SDA Theological Seminary, Andrews University

Topic: “The Fat Lady Rides Again: Thoughts on the Current General Conference

Initiative Toward Restructuring the Church”

Venue: Chan Shun Hall

Attendance: 224


Presentation: SDA Church is the most heavily organized church in the world (we have 4 levels, RCs, 2). He reviewed organization issues in the 1850s-60s (“ Babylon ” complex & what Bible allows), 1880s-‘90s (“kingly power,” Jones & “Christian anarchy”), and 1901-1903 (slow transportation, independent legal institutions, debates over unions & departments), then gave historical contexts for several EGW statements re: organization. Two GC commissions are studying how to implement “flexible organization” and “unions of churches” without expensive local conferences & unions some regions can’t afford. Focus is on unity, mission, flexibility, & restructuring tithe program.

Date: 19 August 2006

Speakers: Denis Fortin, Jon Paulien, Ranko Stephanovic

Position: Professor of Theology, Seminary; Professor of NT Interpretation, Seminary; Professor of Religion, AU College of Arts & Sciences respectively

Topic: “The Adventist Theologian and the Nature, Mission , and Unity of the Church: Reports on the Second International Bible Conference in Turkey in July 2006”

Venue: Chan Shun Hall

Attendance: 92

Presentation: Fortin gave the background, setting, & format of the 9-day conference held in Smyrna, Turkey at 5-star hotel with 240 theologians & Church leaders attending 10 plenary & 75 breakout sessions on wide variety of topics; Paulien focused on tours to 5 of 7 churches of Rev. 3 (Ephesus, Pergamos, Thyatira, Sardis, Laodicea), what is at each site, and showed color slides; Stephanovic briefly summarized arguments of several of the 75 papers given during breakout sessions & agreed with others that more time for discussion was needed. This conference was better than first one (1998 in Jerusalem ) in attendance, food, and tours, but next one needs more than 3 women participating.

Date: 23 September 2006

Speaker: Dr. R. Ervin Taylor

Position: Emeritus Professor of Anthropology, University of California (LA, Irvine ,

Riverside )

Topic: “Hebrew Creation Narratives and the Prehistorical Archaeological Record”

Venue: Chan Shun Hall

Attendance: 104

Presentation: A 2003 survey shows that only 30% of SDA scientists believe in a 6-day young earth creation, yet 1980 GC statement affirmed this position. Taylor explained anomalies between Ussher’s chronology of creation (4004 BC) and Flood (2349 BC) vs. anthropological paradigm: homo sapiens 100,000 BC w/o metallurgy, domesticated plants or animals. He explained advantages & problems with radiocarbon dating & then presented 7 options for SDAs: focus on anomalies, examine scientific assumptions, accept two ways of knowing truth, accept scientific consensus, suspend judgment, or ignore the conflict. A heated discussion followed his talk.

Date: 21 October 2006

Speaker: Dr. Daryll Ward

Position: Associate Professor of Theology & Ethics, Kettering College of Medical Arts

Topic: “ Corpus Christi vs. Corporate Clone: Thoughts on Purifying Ecclesiastical


Venue: Chan Shun Hall

Attendance: 44

Presentation: Business language (“marketing Sabbath school,” “the business of worship,” “corporate culture of the GC,” “head counts”) has no place in the “body of Christ” for the “ethos of commerce” and the “soul of the church” are profoundly different. Business focuses on profit, greed, competition, getting ahead; its “spirit” is law and superiority (maximum gratification). But the “Soul of the Church” is Christ, so it must focus on worship and service—giving, not getting. The “visible church” is made up of believers demonstrating Christ’s love. We should not seek to be the “greatest” (leadership, acquisition) but to show Christ’s love to others (subservience, service).

Date: 18 November 2006

Speakers: Dr. Heather Knight; Dr. Estella Greig, respondent

Position: Provost, Andrews University ; chair, English Department

Topic: Cultivating Inclusive Excellence”

Venue: Chan Shun Hall

Attendance: 53

Presentation: Knight stressed the need for “equity & excellence” in 4 key dimensions of a “Vision of Diversity” for AU: representation, campus climate, educational mission, and institutional transformation. After sharing her “journey to diversity” (1985-2006) at Oak-wood College, Stanford University, and University of the Pacific, she shared studies and models for multicultural diversity, stressing the need both for “access” and “success” of gender, race, ethnic, national, and religious groups at AU (which has 28% Blacks, 18% Hispanics, 10% Asians, 2% Native Americans, & 42% Whites). Stella then outlined the development of AU’s celebration of multiculturalism from the ‘60s to the present.

Date: 9 December 2006

Speaker: Dr. Ronald Numbers

Position: Professor of the History of Science & Medicine at the University of Wisconsin-

Madison campus

Topic: “Intelligent Design: Revolutionary Science or Reactionary Religion?”

Venue: Berrien Springs United Methodist Church

Attendance: 126


Presentation: Numbers gave the historical background of Creationism & Intelligent Design thought in the scientific community and its present status, focusing on ID writers in the fields of geology, biology, etc. Some suggest that although ID is “bad science,” it does not violate US Constitution to teach it in high schools. Others see a huge middle ground between Theism and Evolution permitting belief in theistic evolution. Still others see ID (or evolution) as too speculative to deserve the title of “serious science.” ID “is flying high” in US today. Numbers wondered if Kuhn’s model of a “Big Paradigm” (evolution) and a “Little Paradigm” (ID) might be equally valid & coexist in the future.

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