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“Jesus alone, / Cornerstone.” That phrase began the Tuesday session it had the one before, but with the song now starting to feel like a signature anthem. The One Project, with 700 voices rising, was already an inspiration. Due to the substance and delivery of the day’s talks, it was about to be, at least for many, amazing.
For the nineteenth straight year, as December was giving way to January, the Spiritual Renaissance Retreat brought 140 or so Adventists to Monterrey on the central California coast. Every attendee heard critiques of conventional Adventism and calls for new and more biblically faithful vision for the future.
10. Let’s see…there’s the church/corporate press and there’s Spectrum, Adventism’s leading independent voice. (If you need to hear more, keep going.)
9. You love the church; you’re too smart to think all is well and too passionate to give up on change for the better.
8. You don’t stick your head in the sand; the Truth doesn’t scare you into self-deception.
7. You’re fed up with crypto-Romanism—the top-down, authoritarian perspective on church life.
They’ve decked the malls. The supermarket music is oblivious (mostly) to the Christmas songs you find in Luke. And even the “lead article” in the December Ministry, the Adventist magazine for pastors, misses the meaning of the Incarnation.
It’s harder than ever to perceive Jesus through the season’s ribbons and wrapping.
Now General Conference officers are claiming that “oneness in Christ” forbids union conference initiative, such as that taken by the Columbia Union, to eliminate gender as a factor in pastoral credentialing. Now the Male Headship Alliance—a plausible enough designation, I would say, for the loose confederation that includes Doug Batchelor—is backing a petition to stop the Pacific Union Conference from taking a similar initiative.
Both seem willfully, almost defiantly, oblivious to Scripture.
Pardon me, but it’s hard to find a new theme when we seem so vulnerable to pontifical drift. Vulnerable even when we want to seem like a Reformation movement. The theme I refer to is ecclesiology. It won’t go away—and it had better not: we seem poised for yet another abdication of our historic ideals. The leader of the church’s “Fundamental Beliefs Review Committee,” Elder Artur Stele, said the following—I mostly paraphrase—in an interview published in the April, 2012, issue of Adventist World—NAD:
I have just returned from Passion Week.
For 17 years now, at the Southern Adventist University’s Sonrise Pageant, students and others from the community have enacted the week’s events on the Sabbath before Easter. Now some eleven thousand people, in waves beginning on each half-hour, gather in the university sanctuary, then walk through the campus for a mile or so, past a hubbub of pens and booths and mini-plays.
Today I was with them, along with several members of my family.