James Nix wrote an article for the Adventist Review entitled Growing Up Adventist: No Apologies Needed. You can find some reader’s reaction and appreciation for the article also on the Adventist Review Site. In addition, at the Ellen White Estate site you can find an unabridged copy of the original presentation.
The article appears to be a look back to what the Author seems to beleive were the good old days when Adventists were Adventists. I understand the frustration that brought this article. It is often assumed by Adventists and non Adventists alike that the Adventism of the 50s and 60s was hopelessly legalistic. This assumption is at the base of much of the materials today that seek to give “Christ Centered” or “gospel centered” presentations in contrast to the assumed “law centered,” “anti-gospel,” and “Christless” presentations of our past.
Now since I was born in 1968, I grew up in the 70s and 80s so I do not know about the 50s and the 60s from experience, but somehow I think that the picture of Adventism as being totally legalistic and anti gospel that has emerged is probably a distortion of that brand of Adventism. However, to act as if there was no need for development or that “those were the days” that we need to return, is to distort the need to follow progressive revelation.
Perhaps leaders of both sides can stop yelling to their followers and attempt a harder thing. Perhaps we can attempt to dialog with each other and learn from each other. We may find that both liberal and conservative have something to bring to the table in the discussion. Maybe a stronger Synthesis that we can celebrate will emerge. Perhaps we can recognize that the history that some want to uphold has something of value to teach us today. In addition we may also recognize that progress can be accomplished without ignoring the past.
I look forward to the day when we all can look back at the past and recognize that while we stand on their shoulders of great pioneers of our faith, we still have to move forward. One day we will also recognize that we cannot simply disavow our past or throw it away…if we do we will lose a part of ourselves.
In short…Praise God for the Good Old Days…I know you all weren’t legalists. I know many of you loved Jesus. I know that you attempted to learn something about Jesus which brought forth the doctrines that we continue to teach today. But I also praise God that we are living today and I hope that I will be true to our pioneers spirit of inquiry that made them continue to determine what God has to say to us today…