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Nicholas Miller
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Dear Ryan, We find ourselves on opposite sides of the church ideologically, but have had some friendly and lively conversations and enjoyable visits. Frankly, I'm not terribly surprised at this turn of events, given the boundaries of belief and action you were pressing and at times crossing. I wonder if you really are surprised yourself. In all honesty, I think that this turn of events is probably best both for the church and for yourself, though it may not seem that way at present. The Lord has a plan for you both, I know that you believe that as well. I just wanted to say, though, that I very much appreciated the positive tone of your final letter, and the gracious way you you communicated the news, as unpleasant as it must have been for you. Please know that I will be praying for you and your family as you seek God's will during this time of transition. Blessings, Nick Miller
Thank you, Jerry, for this refreshing recounting and overview of the teaching of the assurance of salvation in the writings of Ellen White. Too often we overlook the historical context of her statements, and forget that she is often arguing against a "once-saved, always saved mentality," and not opposing the present assurance of a saving relationship with Christ. At times she objected to confident assertions of "I am saved," but in the context of people making ultimate claims about their final destiny. We cannot know what choices we may make tomorrow or next year. But as we abide in Christ's promises today, we can have that assurance of salvation in the present.
Interesting that you should ask, Bob, about the historical/grammatical method. Our most recent blog post by Dr. Roy Gane is on this very topic. You can find it at http://www.memorymeaningfaith.org/blog/2010/07/highercritical-thinking-part-iii.html I'm not sure in your comment if when you say historical grammatical method you actually mean historical critical method. The latter is the controversial, liberal approach to the Bible. The former is the more conservative approach to Bible study acceptable by most conservative Protestant theologians. Honestly, I don't think you will find many, if any, users of the full-blown historical critical method at Andrews. But as discussed in Roy Gane's article, some methods associated with the historical critical method can be used in a limited way by conservative scholars. Especially as Adventists, with the example of the ministry of Ellen White, we understood that inspiration allows for the use of pre-existing sources and editors. We should not be surprised to find that these elements existed at times in the writing of the Bible, and we should be open to examining them, as long as we treat the final version of the Bible as God's word. Anyway, read Dr. Gane's blog, and perhaps you can continue that discussion there.
Toggle Commented Jul 7, 2010 on "Our College" Today at Memory, Meaning & Faith
Good points, Roy. I actually meant to clarify that my article tries to name an Adventist/Biblical epistemological understanding, but your piece is more concerned with a hermeneutical approach, rather than epistemology per se. While these two things are related, they are different. Thus, I would propose that we use "Wholistic Biblical Realism" to describe the epistemology implied by Biblical text, and your "Wholistic Historical Method" to describe the hermeneutical approach that best flows from, and into, Scripture. I accept your observations on the limitations and lack of permanence of the historical/grammatical method.
Hi Roy, I have appreciated your thoughtful series on Biblical authority and historical and contemporary challenges to that authority. Such a topic could engage multiple books, but your succinct overview gives one a quick study on the broader topic. I appreciate your balanced conclusions, that at times we may use the tools associated with the higher critical method, especially when there is Biblical evidence to support notions of sources and forms, but will avoid the method's pre-suppositions. I agree that we should avoid the use of the word "critical" because of its negative baggage. I come to similar conclusions in my recent AUSS article dealing with epistemology, hermeneutics and Adventism. AUSS v. 47, No. 2, p. 241. There, I suggest that the name "Wholistic Biblical Realism" could be used to describe our epistemological approach to the Bible. I like the term you propose "wholistic historical method," as it captures the notion of wanting to deal with all the evidence regarding the Bible's historicity, which we should be unafraid to do. I do think that "historical grammatical" perhaps has been connected with too narrow an approach, as though history is only concerned with aiding our grammatical understanding. But perhaps we should just argue that the grammatical-historical method should be understood more broadly than it is at times. It may be too late a date to try to create a new term that everyone will now struggle to define. Anyway, thank you for your thoughtful commentary on this topic.
Hi Don, Your questions are good ones, basically summarized as, given our prophetic heritage on these issues, how do we move forwards practically in dealing with situations like LSU. Well, I think that events have overtaken us a bit, with the voting of the clearer, more detailed statement on creation at the GC, along with a vote to revise fundamental belief number 6 along these lines. This should provide the clarity needed to help our various University biology departments to help frame expectations of science professors in our schools. I would hope that in most instances science professors would agree not to undermine or criticize the church's position in their classrooms. Looking forward, we can make sure that in hiring new professors, that we will choose those who can not just stay neutral on origins issues, but actually be thoughtful advocates for the church's position. This does not seem so radical if you think about it. Finally, those professors that insist on promoting some kind of macro-evolution in the classroom just need to find a non-Adventist classroom to do so. I'm sure the conversation will continue on these important points. Let's say a part of it! Blessings.
Toggle Commented Jul 1, 2010 on "Our College" Today at Memory, Meaning & Faith
Hello Graeme, It is always appreciated to get lengthy and thoughtful responses such as yours. Just a couple of items in reply. I would note that I did not initiate the Rome comparison, but was responding to a comment that had raised it. You are absolutely right in saying that large, significant historical events like the fall of Rome can never be mono-causal. One must consider a variety of factors when dealing with epoch changing developments. Still, that does no mean that it is wrong or inappropriate to consider one of the causes of an event to draw a lesson from it. One does not need to read Cicero to know that many contemporary observers of Rome as it moved from Republic to Empire saw as a very real causative reason a loss of will to act upon the historic principles that made Rome a Republic rather than a tyranny. The lives of luxury and indulgence led by many Roman citizens became proverbial. The birth rate dropped well below the replacement rate, as Romans wanted to spend time and resources enjoying life rather than rearing a family. Rome is the number one example of Will Durant's insightful phrase that "nations are born stoic, and die epicurian." We surely can draw a lesson from this, while not denying the many other factors in Rome's decline, including empire overstretch, involvement in too many foreign wars, growth of a welfare state at home, and fiscal corruption and irresonsibility. (Hmm, perhaps these other factors sound familiar as well, but a lesson on America's republican decline would take another blog, or two.) Your second point that somehow the historical precedent of Battle Creek does not give us insight into current events and how Ellen White would have approached them mystifies me. You merely say that it is a dubious conclusion that does not follow. I say, read her quotes closely. She speaks to the identical issues facing La Sierra. She does so decisively, calling the promotion of long-age creation infidelity. Her Battle Creek messages leave no doubt as to how she approaches colleges who have followed such a path. How is this a "dubious conclusion"? Perhaps I will play your game of conclusory assertions. I will assert that the conclusion is not dubious, but perfectly sound. There, the ball is in your court! :)
Toggle Commented Jul 1, 2010 on "Our College" Today at Memory, Meaning & Faith
Many interesting comments while I have been traveling, let me respond to a few: David, I agree that apathy and sheer laziness can be disguised as the positive virtues of tolerance and non-judgmentalism. While many on the left are in favor of community, they often want to avoid the accountability that must exist to make community meaningful. Others of us are just too busy or distracted to put time into accountability, much as happened with the Roman citizens as their Republic waned into an Empire. Jon, I agree with you that we are far beyond the time for action to be taken on this, but I think we need to be careful in assuming that the GC is the primary responsible party for taking it. There are things they can do to provide overall guidance, but the hard decisions have to be made at the local and regional levels. I would not want to solve the problem of liberal teaching with the implementation of a conservative dictatorship. Church history tells us that both extremes are damaging to the body of Christ. The solution needs to come from the body, in my view, and be implemented locally and regionally. Bob, I'm intrigued by your proposal that Theistic evolution is the Omega of apostasy. The points you make are good ones, and I would add to them that the language used to criticize the first (Kellog's Pantheistic teachigns) is almost directly applicable to the second (pseudo-science undermining the Bible, etc.) Also, as the first made God co-extensive with His creation, the second removes Him entirely from the work of creation. There are probably others as we consider and reflect on it. Alex, I'm always ready for a good history observation, but I'm afraid that your claim that Mrs. White shifted in her views on creation and evolution just does not stand up to scrutiny. Yes, I did quote from Spiritual Gifts (1864) as the original source of the statement, but the statement was republished in Signs of the Times fifteen years later (1879) and again in Spirit of Prophecy Vol. IV, five years later (1884). Furthermore, she made virtually identical statements regarding the creation week being literal days in the book Education (pp. 128-129) published in 1904. I am one who accepts that Mrs. White's personal views matured and even underwent change over the years, with these two caveats: 1. earlier inspired statements of truth are clarified, but not contradicted, by later statements, and, 2. that one must show evidence of the claimed change, not just assume it. You offer evidence of neither qualification. Until you do, I think that the halls of Adventist academia are unlikely to find your arguments either credible or meaningfully intellectual. (However, I appreciate them on my blog here, as you continue to cause us to think through our conclusions. :)) Thanks.
Toggle Commented Jun 24, 2010 on "Our College" Today at Memory, Meaning & Faith
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Jun 23, 2010