In the summer of 2003, a remarkably well-preserved T-Rex specimen was unearthed in the Hell Creek Formation in Montana. A small team of researchers, led by Mary Schweitzer, took a piece of its femur, dissolved away the outer mineral matrix and were greatly surprised to find structural remains of blood vessels – hollow and flexible.
The church has been struggling with various doctrinal hot-button issues for many years now. Most notable are these: Women's Ordination, Homosexuality, and Science/Religion (frequently expressed in the Age-of-the-Earth controversy). I have been an interested observer for multiple reasons, but one is to think about the types and quality of arguments that get employed in service of someone's position.
One of the most insightful stories from antiquity is found in Plato’s “The Apology” (20c-24e). Here Socrates, at his trial, gives an account of how he developed a reputation for wisdom. It began, he relates, when his friend Chaerephon asked the Oracle of Delphi if there was anyone wiser than Socrates – and was told that no one was.
In the aftermath of San Antonio’s Women’s Ordination (WO) “No vote” there has been, unsurprisingly, considerable reaction. Emotion, speculation, criticism, defense—words have spilled out in prodigious quantity. Almost everything I have read concentrates on specific context, that is: women, ordination and church governance. Some attempts have been made to propose underlying rationale—mostly relating to cultural effects on the delegates’ mindset.
When I was growing up in the church there were various expressions used by Adventists for self-definition. Two common ones were “people of the Book” and “we have the Truth”. Over the course of my (now somewhat lengthy) adulthood I’ve concluded these two phrases intersect in the understanding of those using them. “Truth” was mostly intended as a label for correct Biblical doctrine. Thus such truths would be more applicable to answering a religious question in the American game show Jeopardy than something embedded deeply in one’s ethics.
The recent, newly formatted issue of the Adventist Review focuses on the question “Am I an Adventist?” Bill Knott’s editorial rightly notes that asking this can be uncomfortable, writing: “The question, with its open-endedness and call for self-examination, seems, well, un-Adventist.” That insight resonates with me because I have seen that reaction before – notably when someone raised questions about whether a belief we have always assumed was true perhaps ought to be reconsidered.