http://traffic.libsyn.com/sabbathpulpit/eMastered_sabbathmorefullypod.mp3Podcast: Play in new window | DownloadWhat does it mean to preach the Sabbath more fully? How can we do this? is this important? Brother Sherman Cox discusses this question in this episode.
Eugene Lowry writes in The Homiletical Plot that when one of our problems is placed next to the Gospel a sermon emerges. Thus we can approach this in two ways. We can either approach it from the problem and see what aspects of the Gospel address this problem, or we can approach it from the Gospel and ask what questions does this particular Aspect of the Gospel address.
Lowry demonstrates this by looking at the Trinity. He states that if one wishes to preach on the trinity one can ask, “What problem or bind does the Trinity get us out of?” Likewise we can take a particular problem and then ask how does the Trinity address this issue? It is interesting to see some theologians taking issues like racism or ecology and then asking how the Godhead addresses such issues. Sally McFague structures her ecology theology on the trinity. Nancy Eisland takes disability as her problem and then asks the question what does Jesus have to say to that problem.
Our Job is to relate the Gospel to the People
As preachers are job is to relate the Gospel to the people. Like every other kind of preacher there are resources unique to us for this undertaking. So I would ask, can we take a problem like Ecology and Address it with the tools that we have for understanding the Gospel? How does the health message relate to ecology? Does it? How about Racism? does the vision of equality in the Sabbath help us address this perinial problem even among our own ranks? (I have written a seminary paper on this, if you want it email me). While these are all academic problems, we could also ask more practical problems like what does Adventism have to say to the one in your congregation that has just lost a loved one? What does Advnetism have to say to one in your congregation that is struggling with Addiction? And finally what does Adventism have to say to systemic structures of evil in the world? Do we only deal with individuals?
What Problems do our Doctrines Address?
But also looking at it from the other side, what problems do our doctrines really address? For example, one might conclude that the Sanctuary message is solely about calculating the 2300 days to prove that we really weren’t wrong on the date 1844. That was truly a question 150 years ago, but does the doctrine have anything to say to us today? I think it does, but remember Lowry pushing us to ask the question what problem is truly address by that doctrine? What bind does it get us out of?
These questions are part of the reason that I began this weblog. I want to begin asking questions of Adventism that we normally do not ask. I also wish to give Adventism a chance to answer…
The Adventist News Network quotes Dr. Paul Peterson (Link No Longer Available) as saying, “We preach a message that is distinct, but if it is not relevant it will not be perceived as part of my personal identity, which means when I am faced with a crisis it won’t help me…”? At a Bible Conference that explored Adventist Identity.
Later, Peterson?emphasizes that while the truth does not change, the environment changes and thus we need to explore what this unchageable truth means in this changing culture.
Dr. Niels-Eric Andreasen, president of Andrews University, presents the following definition of an Adventist as “a Christian who waits for Jesus to come”
Such a definition seems to be too simple to be of any value, but the struggle to come up with a simple definition of what it means to be an Adventist in todays world would help the Preacher immensely as the preacher seeks to make the Gospel as understood by Adventists relevant.
I have heard a lot of talk about 1888 and the 1888 message, but we have heard very little on the issue of Race and these two ministers. I remember Elder Dudley used to say that God was trying to come to earth back in 1888, but many white folks were trying to go without the black folks.
An Attempt to Remove the Color Line in 1887
Interestingly I looked in the General Conference Bulletin of 1887, one year before that 1888 Conference. During that year the was an attempt to remove the color line from the Adventist Church by means of A.T. Jones, E.J. Waggoner, and others. I found this on the “Words of the Pioneers” CD.