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2011 Discussions

Date: January 22, 2011

Speaker: Dr. John Walton

Position: Professor of Old Testament Theology, Wheaton College

Topic: “The Lost World of Genesis 1: Ancient Cosmology and the Origins Debate”

Venue: Biology Amphitheater

Attendance: 200 (standing room only!)


Presentation: Showing parallels between Gen. 1 and Ancient Near Eastern (ANE) literature (Egyptian, Sumerian), Walton argued that Gen. 1 shows the imposition of order & function from disorder rather than the creation of material things. On days 1-3 God created a functioning existence for humans (time, weather, food); on days 4-6 He made functionaries (sun, planets, stars, fish & fowl, beasts), & day 7 shows the interconnection of cosmos & temple (God rules the cosmos from earth & rests on Sabbath). If moderns view Gen. 1 with a material ontology, ANE peoples saw it with a functional ontology. As God is present in both, neither position supports or denies creation/evolution arguments.

Date: February 26, 2011

Speaker: Dr. Charles Scriven

Position: President, Kettering College & chair, Association of Adventist Forums Board

Topic: “The Promise of Peace: Dare to Live the Advent Hope Toward a Post-Conventional Adventism” (title of Scriven’s newest book)

Attendance: 95


Presentation: Scriven’s book focuses on 4 key areas: Eschatology (God’s kingdom values), Creation (humans help God remake the world), Christology (Jesus was a radical Jew & God’s face on earth), Ecclesiology (the church is God’s beloved community on earth).  He highlighted 4 key themes: Faith’s promise in coming peace emboldens us; SDA story is a grasping for radical hope; the SDA way of life should be a response to grace & a commitment to blessing everybody; as a part of the “remnant” we must be peace-makers.  The Hebrew word shalom means food, safety, prosperity, well-being, love as well as peace.

Date: March 26, 2011

Speaker: Ms.  Rebekah Liu

Position: Ordained SDA minister in China and PhD student in New Testament Studies at Andrews University

Topic: “We Have Seen His Glory: Women in Ministry, Adventism in a Chinese Context”

Venue: Physics Amphitheater

Attendance: 53


Presentation: Liu reviewed women’s subordinate roles in Chinese history (to fathers, husbands, sons, & community), contrasting this with powerful women figures (Emperor Wu, Generals Hua & Fan). Then she focused on modern China’s liberation of women (education, travel, divorce) before showing how Communism “cleansed” the Chinese SDA church (rid of corrupt leaders, promoted democracy at grass roots level, advanced women’s leadership roles). Women comprise 70% of Chinese SDAs & 24% of SDA pastors . China has 11 women pastors & 378 gospel workers (24% of total ordained pastors). China needs more pastors (male or female) for its 10,000 members.

Date: April 9, 2011

Speaker: Dr. Michael Scofield

Position: Director, Health Information Management, Loma Linda University

Topic: “Adventist Higher Education in the U.S.: Which School Will Fail Next?”

Attendance: 70


Presentation: After reviewing 19th C. patterns in SDA schools (rural isolation, wood buildings, unaccredited staff, small enrollments), Scofield highlighted forces for change since 1925 (accreditation, rising salaries, doctoral degrees, funded research, electronic media, cheap airfares) and rising competition (cheaper state colleges, distance learning, virtual on-line universities) as well as sociological factors (poorer Adventist converts, fewer  working for church) that impact “desirable outcomes” like faith-based beliefs, service orientation, institutional loyalty, & critical thinking. To survive SDA colleges need to focus on electronic long-distance learning techniques (cf. Griggs University).

Date: September 17, 2011

Speakers: David Grellmann, Robert Johnston, Thomas Goodwin, Dennis Woodland

Positions: MD/former missionary; Emeritus Professor of NT at AU Theological

Seminary; AU Paleobiologist; AU Professor of Botany

Topic: Genesis and Beyond: Reports from the Chicago Adventist Forum

Venue: Physics Amphitheater

Attendance: 80


Presentation: Panel summarized sessions, issues, & spectrum of conservative-to-liberal views among mostly white male presenters.  Dialog focused on problems of revising the Fundamental Belief #6, how SDA scientists deal w/current scientific research, how some theologians “dodge” the evidence, the need for “wiggle room” in doctrinal statements, & bridge-building between scientists & theologians.  Works by Brian Bull & John Walton could resolve conflicts w/Genesis & science (i.e., the Bible was written for us but not to us; Genesis is not about who we are but whose we are).  Perhaps we are closer to the truth in our questions than in our answers as we seek to maintain faith in a materialistic world.

Date: November 12, 2011

Speaker: Dr. Randall Younker

Position: Professor of Old Testament & Biblical Archaeology & Director, Institute of Archaeology, Andrews University

Topic: “Archaeology and Biblical Accuracy: A Look at Minimalist, Maximalist and Adventist Views”

Venue: Chan Shun Hall

Attendance: 60


Presentation: Giving a brief history of OT archaeology & higher criticism (Laberecht de Wette & Welshausen), Younker described the Maximalists (Albright, Wright, Bright, Horn, Shea) who believe archaeology proves Bible historically accurate & Minimalists (van Seters, Thompson, Lemche, Davies, Finkelstein, Dever) who question the historical reliability of the Bible.  Citing recent scholarly books (by Kitchen, Hoffmaire, Vine & Younker) & findings at Gezer & Shechem, he showed how the “Andrews University Way” of doing archaeology has helped prove the OT historically accurate back to Abram, Joshua, David & Solomon & has won scholarly approval even among Minimalists today.


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