With the idiosyncratic and classical protestant European theme of “Ecclesia reformata semper reformanda”, the 2015 ETTC (European Theology Teachers Convention) took place March 25-29 at Newbold College, England. What does the word “reform” mean today? This is easier to proclaim than to understand and implement, which is often the reason self-proclaimed “reforming” movements have paradoxically behaved as reactionary and nostalgic. European Adventism should remember and learn this from its own past history.
Every discourse on Origins is necessarily indirect and a posteriori. And in order to appear believable it paradoxically needs to be both partial and inclusive. Consequently we need to integrate the various existing perspectives on Origins if we want to have a meaningful reflection on this topic. Creation has both a Biblical and scientific-naturalistic approach. But these are only two expressions of a more universal quest.
Suffering is the subjective experience of evil. Not merely a threatening external presence in nature, it is a disturbing challenge that touches us in our primordial foundations and certainties. It cruelly becomes an eroding event from within. Its universality doesn't respect age, gender, religion or ethnicity. This compels us to try to understand and make some sense of it, knowing in advance that whatever the resulting interpretation, it will always remain a precarious, fragmented and insufficient belief in the unexpected and weary path of life.
The Sabbath and the Second Advent of Christ are God's gifts to all humanity, not only to the SDA Church. This is the reason why SDA mission shouldn't be that of defending an exclusively ecclesiocentric interpretation of both, as this presidential address does. We should never think in terms of “possessing” these truths or maniacally trying to keep them “pure”. Otherwise, as in Matthew's eschatological parable of the talents, the SDA Church would assume the role of the hoarding and obsessive-compulsive servant rather than the open-minded faithfulness of the praised servants.
The recent Annual Council's presidential sermon has generated controversy and some worries in the Italian Adventist community. For immigrant Adventists now living and working in Italy the sermon's content and rhythm is perfect. It represents both what the church believes and the world needs to hear. But for many native, truly converted and engaged Italian Adventists that sermon instead represents the resurgence of a decadent, sectarian Adventism we naively thought was a relic of the past.
This title apparently sounds like a useless and weird question. In fact nobody would answer it affirmatively. That would be too naive and pretentious. But also the negative answers should awaken suspicion and concern. Because what would be the real value of a theological apparatus that so easily gives up the scientific implications of its own theological declarations and beliefs?
President Wilson's opening and closing addresses to the ten-day August 2014 “Bible and Science Conference” in St. George, Utah, were the most revelatory and surprising presentations in otherwise rather flat, predictable, repetitive and at times monotonous meetings on Creation. Our president always manages to exceed himself in theological superficiality and recklessness. The opening address was bold and full of strong, personal convictions and at times even theologically insolent and arrogant.
To give a homogeneous and definitive profile of Euro-Adventism is risky and may be even unnecessary. We never get to exhaustively know the people we live with, but notwithstanding we can eventually affirm we may know them truly. The same principle can be applied here to Euro-Adventism. I would like to characterize it with three theological traits that can be variously present in the different European countries.
European Adventism with all its diversity and irreducible heterogeneity represents today a particular and unique kind of Adventism in the world church. According to some this is an atypical and weak type of Adventism, numerically and theologically. Numerically because, compared with non-western or even with other western SDA Divisions, European Adventist membership appears as a small and negligible reality that keeps decreasing.