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1. Atlantic Union College receives approval to grant degrees again in theology, religion, and health science.
3. A former army officer in Kenya who was sacked and detained for 42 days for declining to work on Saturday has sued the government.
Man and woman were made in the image of God with individuality, the power and freedom to think and to do. Though created free beings, each is an indivisible unity of body, mind, and spirit, dependent upon God for life and breath and all else. When our first parents disobeyed God, they denied their dependence upon Him and fell from their high position under God. The image of God in them was marred and they became subject to death. Their descendants share this fallen nature and its consequences. They are born with weaknesses and tendencies to evil. But God in Christ reconciled the world to Himself and by His Spirit restores in penitent mortals the image of their Maker. Created for the glory of God, they are called to love Him and one another, and to care for their environment. (Gen. 1:26-28; 2:7; Ps. 8:4-8; Acts 17:24-28; Gen. 3; Ps. 51:5; Rom. 5:12-17; 2 Cor. 5:19, 20; Ps. 51:10; 1 John 4:7, 8, 11, 20; Gen. 2:15.)
This is one of the more philosophically-inclined Adventist beliefs. Unfortunately the high challange of defining the human proves a little too steep. But, beyond its plain approach, it ends with a call to the humane: love God and each other, and care for the environment. I could rest now since connecting belief to ethical action is the point of this series. However, let us scale anew the human, with a helpful quote from the eminent E. O. Wilson:
Humanity is a biological species, living in a biological environment, because like all species, we are exquisitely adapted in everything: from our behavior, to our genetics, to our physiology, to that particular environment in which we live. The earth is our home. Unless we preserve the rest of life, as a sacred duty, we will be endangering ourselves by destroying the home in which we evolved, and on which we completely depend.
Whether one cares for our environment because of the church or due to this sociobiological framework—it is a spiritual act.
This belief begins and ends with the metaphor of the image of God. Both men and women were created in it and then humanity is restored to it through Christ and the Holy Spirit. This has implications for the role of women in the Adventist church leadership. Others have made this point about men and women reflecting the image of God, but it would seem that anyone arguing for separate spiritual roles denies this fundamental belief. Not only should they not collect a salary from a church with which they fundamentally disagree, but one wonders if they also rob God? It seems logical that anyone— from pastor to caveman—who treats men and women unequally also must have an unbalanced image of God.
It would be interesting to interview Adventists in the social sciences to see what they really believe in light of this doctrine. The history of Western thought has chipped away at or buttressed to what was once called the doctrine of man. In fact, that's the term that my 1988 copy of Seventh-day Adventists Believe: A Biblical Exposition of 27 Fundamental Doctrines employs. Beyond the Bible, it is interesting to see which non-Adventist thinkers are referenced. Of course there is no mention of Freud, Marx, Darwin, much less Claude Lévi-Strauss or Franz Boas. But it is telling to see who gets included beyond Ellen White and Gerhard Hasel. I count three theologians quoted to explain our belief: Louis Berkhof, James Orr, and Leonard Verduin. They all come from the Calvinist tradition, with its "total depravity" view of human nature. This might explain some of the stronger language in the belief as well as the intellectual project of those Adventists involved in its crafting. After all, James Orr was one of the fathers of Christian fundamentalism.
Unlike many Christian traditions, this belief on human nature also contributes to the Seventh-day Adventist understanding of holism. The human is an "indivisible unity of body, mind, and spirit." Avoiding the modernist dualist frameworks, this sort of holistic thinking continues to attract contemporary thinkers even as it connects to early Adventist pioneers like Ellen White. A recent doctoral dissertation by a Finnish scholar, Harri Kuhalampi, titled Holistic Spirituality in the Thinking of Ellen White, highlights this connection. Kuhalampi summarizes:
Ellen White can be regarded as one of the foremost representatives of holistic spirituality for several reasons. First, her view of human beings is holistic, which means that in her view there is no separate soul apart from the physical body. Thus spirituality concerns the whole person and not only some individual and obscure inner realm. Secondly, her interest is not only in those individuals who have already made considerable advances on the spiritual path, but she also effectively guides those ones who have not even touched the rudiments of spirituality. She has important things to say to people at every stage of their spiritual journey. Thirdly, she sees spiritual significance and meaning in all experiences of life. The entire human life and its various experiences form an integral part of a balanced and fruitful spirituality. Fourthly, according to her, there is no separate location designated for optimal spiritual growth, but instead all our environments are equally part of God’s world.
Attention to relationships is essential to understanding what it means to be human. And that awareness of spiritual holism lies at the dynamic center of our consciousness. If the Adventist belief, Nature of Man, can logically ground its profound call to love and care, perhaps it is that whatever's broken in the individual is saved in the plurality of the divine.
Image: Genis Carreras, Philographics project.
This is the first post in a twelve-part series for Spectrum’s 2013 Summer Reading Group. Each post will be drawn from chapters of Postmodern Apologetics? by Christina M. Gschwandtner. You can find the reading schedule here.
Although Heidegger and the thinkers featured in the next two chapters did not engage in religious “apologetics” per se, they set the stage for those who develop and appropriate their innovative ideas and arguments for those purposes (xix). Phenomenology, for Heidegger, is philosophy in its purest form. By paying careful attention to our experience of reality, and its conditions, we can come to understand reality itself. Gschwandtner draws out some general themes from his works, beginning with his sharp distinction between theology and philosophy. Theology and philosophy (phenomenology) are distinct modes of interpreting of reality and not to be confused with each other. Theology describes a particular mode of existence and experience, namely a Christian one, while philosophy articulates the more general and primordial experience of reality. This means that for Heidegger, theology is not really about God; rather it is about the human experience of faith, which “is the believing-understanding mode of existing in the history revealed, i.e. occurring, with the Crucified” (22).
Christianity is not ultimately about doctrines and creeds. For Heidegger, the Scriptures record the first-person experiences of people of faith. Theology is always contextual, and should be interpreted as providing a ‘hermeneutics of facticity’ (25); we always find ourselves within specific circumstances and we interpret every new experience only within this given framework. In her assessment of Heidegger, Gschwandtner concludes that for him: “Meaning emerges not out of objective account of a distant historical past, but from phenomenological engagement with a historical situation as a living present” (27). This opens up a whole new world of reinterpretation of Christian theological/biblical data.
Heidegger critiques traditional philosophy and theology as being onto-theo-logical. Both disciplines have attempted to provide a rational interpretation of Being (ontology), but cognitive and intellectual understanding of reality (metaphysics) and the nature of God (theology) are always elucidated by the prescribed procedures of human thinking (logic). The deity of this system is, therefore, a human construct—“Man can neither pray nor sacrifice to this god. Before the causa sui, man can neither fall to his knees in awe nor can he play music and dance before this God” (29). Heidegger, thus, prefers ‘silence’ about God (28). The philosophical notion of god is far-off from the God of Christian lived experience. For Heidegger, ‘god-less’ thinking is closer to a genuine experience of the divine (30). Hence, talk about God should be based on an interpretation of God without reference to God being any kind of ground of Being since we cannot find adequate language to express this experience of ‘telling silence’. Language is not able to define and probe the mystery of God.
All this is related to Heidegger’s redefinition of the concept of truth. For him, truth is not grasped using words or concepts, but through ‘unconcealment,’ (gr. aletheia); truth is something that happens when one opens oneself to it, a type of phenomenological revelation. Calculative or technological thinking does not give us the truth. Heidegger calls for a meditative thinking which provides an “openness to the mystery of Being and about the free relation to it that allows it to reveal itself” (33). For his successors who elaborate on religious phenomenology, truth is more about manifestation than verification (Paul Ricoeur) and more an encounter with love than something mastered through the mind (Jean-Luc Marion). Only poetic language, Heidegger would argue, is capable of opening one to these mysteries of truth and reality. For Heidegger, the ‘last god’ will be an esoteric and cosmo-poetic one, who transcends the Judeo-Christian’s tradition God-talk. This is the god of poets, an immanent ‘holy’ god of the universe or nature, or the Buddhistic god of silence and meditation (36-37).
To sum up Gschwandtner’s helpful analysis, Heidegger made a sharp distinction between theology and phenomenological philosophy, offered a new meditative alternative to thinking about the mystery of God, and redefined the concept of truth as ‘unconcealment.’
There is much to appreciate about Heidegger’s criticism of traditional philosophy and theology. Heidegger’s criticism of theology as only a rational science (Wissenschaft) is based on correct assumptions about its reliance on human intellectual constructs. Heidegger’s emphasis on the lived-experience of Christianity is valuable as well. The doctrines of the Christian faith have their proper meaning only if they are situated within a Christ-centered religious experience. Scripture itself testifies that right doctrine is always tied to the way we live our lives. Sound doctrine is an expression of a sound way of living in faith, hope, and charity. We need to think of doctrine as articulating an experiential knowledge of God rather than just being something to one gives an intellectual assent to. Furthermore, we should praise Heidegger’s philosophy for its acknowledgment of truth’s progressivism and dynamism. Indeed, every new generation needs to be open to the ‘unconcealment’ of God’s truth in their time and place. Heidegger challenges us all to be more self-critical, which will open us to a fuller experience of reality/God. This might trigger the inherent sense of divinity (sensus divinitatus) I believe we all have, which leads to a genuine encounter with the Creator God and Savior revealed in Scripture and opens new vistas and approaches to the Church’s mission through an appreciation of the multiplicity of everyday experiences others have of reality.
However, with this said, I depart from Heidegger on certain significant points. The Christian experience of faith cannot be abstracted from the life and teachings of Jesus as it is revealed in the scriptural deposit of faith (what theologians call the depositum fidei). The responsible interpretation of Scripture continuously takes account of this historical deposit as the standard/principle of religious thought and experience. Scripture, as the revelation of God, is not just a collection of human’s describing their primordial experiences of Being, which happens to find resonance today. It is also the living voice of God (vox Dei) that speaks to every new generation as the ever relevant Word of God. Furthermore, Heidegger’s meditative thinking is still a kind of thought. If we aspire for more than complete silence, which Jesus himself demands (Matthew 28:19-20), we cannot annul the importance of the rational thinking process. The Christian tradition indeed speaks about sanctified/holy reason, but faith is still related to and based upon the rational capacity of the imago Dei to comprehend the content of the living Word of God.
In conclusion, Heidegger’s radical rethinking about God/religion can motivate a more self-reflective and self-critical relationship to our spiritual and theological heritage. The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of spiritual power (not a philosophical, theological or phenomenological conceptualization), is always willing to become the part of our tradition’s (or community’s) reality, confront us with our past failures and limitations, open our eyes to see new spiritual potentials, and our lives to new experiences. I believe that mystery, miracles, and prophecies should be much more present today than in our recent history. Nevertheless, this radicalization of the conceptualization of the God of power contradicts Heidegger’s approach to theology by working within the framework provided by both the existing and renewed Spirit-based pattern of the historic, divine-human life of Christ Jesus and the sacred apostolic authority of the primitive Church.
Post-modern Apologetics? Arguments for God in Contemporary Philosophy (New York: Fordham University Press, 2012), 19-38.
See my A Comparison of John Calvin and Alvin Plantinga’s Concept of Sensus Divinitatus: Phenomenology of Sense of Divinity with Interviews and Comments of Alvin Plantinga (New York: Edwin Mellen Press, 2011) and/or “Sensus Divinitatis and the Mission of the Church” Dialogue, 21(2), 10-12.
God is Creator of all things, and has revealed in Scripture the authentic account of His creative activity. In six days the Lord made "the heaven and the earth" and all living things upon the earth, and rested on the seventh day of that first week. Thus He established the Sabbath as a perpetual memorial of His completed creative work. The first man and woman were made in the image of God as the crowning work of Creation, given dominion over the world, and charged with responsibility to care for it. When the world was finished it was "very good," declaring the glory of God. (Gen. 1; 2; Ex. 20:8-11; Ps. 19:1-6; 33:6, 9; 104; Heb. 11:3.)
Many Christians state that God is responsible for planet earth, but Seventh-day Adventists have one of the most specific doctrines of Creation. The Southern Baptist Convention, in many ways more theologically and socially conservative than Adventists, does not even include a belief of Creation among its 18-part statement of The Baptist Faith and Message. And the Assemblies of God denomination has 16 Fundamental Truths, none of which address origins.
In fact, a few Seventh-day Adventists want to restrict this language even further. Here's an example of their argument:
The fundamental belief statement can be read as affirming only that living matter was created during the six day span of creation. As is stands, the statement leaves room for persons, under cover of the fundamental beliefs, to believe that the non-living matter may have existed hanging dead in space—before the first day....
And some church leaders and businessmen are trying to import even more restrictive language into the Seventh-day Adventist belief. The following definition of "hours" and "week" has been proposed as a possible General Conference action.
that the seven days of the Creation account were literal 24-hour days forming a week identical in time to what we now experience as a week; and that the Flood was global in nature.
Paradoxically, this statement includes the Flood, a time of destruction, within the Adventist statement on creation.
Many conservative Christians denominations don't have a doctrine of Creation, much less one as restrictive as ours. And that gets to the the crux of the tension within the Adventist church because we pair this very strict language with a large scientifically-trained medical community. I have many friends pursuing science and medicine who feel caught between two worlds that impact their livelihood—church family and professional career.
But if one reads the words of the fundamental belief carefully, it's clear that the proof of one's adherence lies in accepting the God-given responsibility to care for creation. ("...charged with responsibility to care for it.") In fact, it is easier to find statements on creation care than origins among many Christian organizations. That's in part because it is more practical and more theologically correct. Staying connected to God and each other in our environment is the point of the creation story. It is in creation, not about it, where daily spiritual growth occurs.
It is actually pretty easy for most Adventists to give mental assent to this belief. They don't work in a lab or read Nature or Science or even the longer articles in National Geographic. And as recent Adventist history has shown, it is easy to demonize those who express interest in intelligent design, or speciation, adaptive radiation, and descent with modification. After all, science is falsifiable; doctrine is not.
Actually, speaking of official church statements, here's one the Seventh-day Adventist Church approved in 1992:
Seventh-day Adventists are committed to respectful, cooperative relationships among all persons, recognizing our common origin and realizing our human dignity as a gift from the Creator. Since human poverty and environmental degradation are interrelated, we pledge ourselves to improve the quality of life for all people. Our goal is a sustainable development of resources while meeting human needs.
Genuine progress toward caring for our natural environment rests upon both personal and cooperative effort. We accept the challenge to work toward restoring God's overall design. Moved by faith in God, we commit ourselves to promote the healing that rises at both personal and environmental levels from integrated lives dedicated to serve God and humanity.
The Adventist scientific community is not the only one accountable to our belief. What responsibility does the Adventist business community have toward the environment? Has the denomination ever publicly analyzed its investment funds to make sure they don't contribute to the destruction of creation? It would be tragic if, while attacking scientists for their ideas about creation, church administrators were actually doing ecological damage in various parts of the world. While denominational policy forbids investments in alcohol, tobacco, casinos and pornography, there's nothing about how the church should use the money we give them to impact our environment.
Our language about origins is important, but equally so is Adventist ethical action. Those who actually obey the command of the Creator take personal and collective responsibility to care not merely for the words of creation, but for creation itself.
Image: Fred Tomaselli, Field Guides, 2003.
In addition to unique vegetarian food stories, “Sabbath at the Spectrum Café” will feature chefs and cookbook authors friendly to plant-based diets.
If the dewy tips or strangely twisted roots of a vegetable have ever caught your attention in a bustling market, it’s possible the question “What do I do with this?” has skipped across your mind. For these and other occasions, Deborah Madison, food writer, cooking teacher and founding chef of Greens, a landmark all-vegetarian restaurant in San Francisco, Calif., is like a friend in the kitchen.
“Produce inspires,” says the author of 11 cookbooks (including “Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone”), in an interview with Spectrum. “Plants always come first.” Madison’s elegantly simple recipes are reliably good, and her writing, featured in the Los Angeles Times, the Huffington Post and Gourmet, gracefully expresses her enthusiasm for sustainable agriculture and biodiversity.
While an expert on preparing produce, Madison says that she is a “beginning gardener.” The fresh perspective from growing her own garden helped lead to her most recent book, “Vegetable Literacy.” The text introduces readers to 12 distinct tribes: the 12 vegetable families, and the surprising connections and bonds within each. Delicate green tendrils featured on the cover beckon readers to join Madison and others in a common feast.
“There is something really wonderful about sharing the same food,” reflects Madison. To her, dining together represents “what community is about: sharing experiences with other people.”
Food builds communities, from school gardens to potlucks, and Madison is excited about the creative ways that people are engaging with the farm-to-table process. “It’s not just about getting enough to eat,” states Madison, “It’s also about food with nutrition in it.” “We have to take responsibility for making good food a priority,” she adds, “and by ‘good’ I mean not only taste, but also nutritional value, and more.”
For Madison, this means trips to the local farmers market, as well as growing her own food. The farmers market “doesn’t have everything I want, and some things are more expensive, but that’s where I choose to spend my money,” she says, though she notes that spending more of one’s budget on food is a personal decision.
It’s about being “interested in food,” Madison emphasizes. “We just have to get involved.”
Turning the pages of “Vegetable Literacy,” this seems like a welcome call to action. Madison’s friendly, empathetic writing guides readers through carefully paced introductions to the 12 vegetable families, and reveals the members’ family lore. For example, in “The Carrot Family: Some Basic Kitchen Vegetables and a Passel of Herbs,” Madison notes that orange carrots didn’t come about until the sixteenth century, pale fennel offers nutrients such as Vitamin C and potassium, and parsley can happily grow between the bricks on a path.
Sprinkled amidst the 300-plus recipes are exquisite photos of the finished dishes and the vegetables that star in them. Encountering “First-of-the-Season Fingerling Potatoes with Fines Herbs,” for instance, is a bit like the joy of moving a tomato plant leaf and finding its vine-tugging-ripe fruit nestled beneath. (“Tomatoes make everything better in summer,” Madison notes.)
Despite her love of fresh, seasonal vegetables, Madison isn’t fond of the word “vegetarian”; it generally “excludes rather than includes,” she says. However, since opening Greens in 1979, Madison notes that much about vegetarianism has changed. It no longer sets one apart as much, and while it was once considered a lifestyle issue requiring defense, ordering a vegetarian dish from a menu or serving vegetarian food at a party nowadays doesn’t attract the “funny looks” it once did.
Madison herself follows a plant-based diet, which has also changed over time. As the author of “This Can’t Be Tofu!” (Broadway Books, 2000), featuring ways to enjoy tofu on its own merits, these days Madison infrequently eats soy products. “I’ve never thought (soy) was a panacea; there’s no food like that,” she says. “I still enjoy and eat it,” she adds, though she prefers soy products that are minimally processed, organic and not genetically modified, to benefit one’s own health and that of the environment.
Madison’s latest project is revising her James Beard Award-winning classic, “Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone.” “I love that book,” says Madison, who wants the new edition to be what people know and love, but also useful to the many readers whose copies are worn out. Updates will include about 100 new recipes, new information and sundry revisions—such as taking out all references to canola oil (“I’ve never like it or believed in it,” Madison states).
Through her writing and food advocacy, Madison has been a friend in the kitchen and a champion of sharing truly good food. “I always want everyone at same table,” says Madison. “Vegetable Literacy” is a book worth bringing to it.
Deborah Madison is an author, chef and cooking teacher. She has also served on the boards of the Slow Food International Biodiversity Committee, the Seed Savers Exchange and the Southwest Grassfed Livestock Alliance, and is actively involved in issues of biodiversity, gardening and sustainable agriculture.
Recipe reprinted with permission from Vegetable Literacy by Deborah Madison, copyright © 2013. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House, Inc.
Photography credit: Christopher Hirsheimer and Melissa Hamilton © 2013
"Vegetable Literacy" is available at Amazon.com.
A Light Seasonal Menu for Spectrum
Recipes taken from “Vegetable Literacy” and curated by Deborah Madison
-A Fine Dice of Chioggia Beets and Red Endive with Meyer Lemon and Shallot Vinaigrette
-Boiled Potatoes with Creamy Sorrel Sauce
-Carrot Almond Cake with Ricotta Cream (see recipe below)
This week’s recipe for Carrot Almond Cake with Ricotta Cream (pictured) comes from Deborah Madison's "Vegetable Literacy." She writes, “This carrot cake is redolent of almonds and lemon. If you use yellow carrots, it’s exceptionally pretty. I serve it with the best ricotta cheese I can find mixed with sour cream, lemon zest, and honey.” Madison adds, “This cake tends to gain moisture as it sits, well wrapped, at room temperature.”
Carrot Almond Cake with Ricotta Cream
Makes: one 9-inch cake
4 tablespoons butter, plus more for the pan
11/2 cups finely ground almonds, preferably blanched
Finely grated zest of 2 lemons
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons organic granulated sugar
11/4 cups unbleached cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs (5 or 6 smaller farm eggs)
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
Scant 2 cups grated carrots, preferably yellow
1 cup ricotta cheese
1 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons honey
Grated zest of 1 lemon
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
Heat the oven to 375°F. Melt the 4 tablespoons butter and set it aside to cool.
Pulse the almonds with the lemon zest and 2 tablespoons of the granulated sugar in a food processor. Butter a 9-inch springform pan and then dust the sides with some of the almond mixture. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
Using an electric mixer, beat together the eggs and the remaining 3/4 cup sugar on high speed until pale, foamy, and thick, about 5 minutes. Reduce the speed to low and add the remaining ground almond mixture, the almond extract, and finally the flour mixture, incorporating it just until well mixed. Pour the cooled butter over the batter and then quickly fold it in, followed by the carrots.
Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, smooth the top, and put the cake in the center of the oven. Lower the heat to 350°F and bake the cake until it is springy to the touch in the center, lightly browned, and beginning to pull away from the pan sides, 40 to 45 minutes. Let cool completely in its pan, then release the spring and slide the cake onto a platter.
To make the ricotta cream, work together the ricotta, sour cream, honey, and zest by hand or with a mixer until smooth. Taste and add more of any of the ingredients, if needed. The cream will thin out as it sits, forming a nice sauce for the cake.
Just before serving, dust the cake with the confectioners’ sugar. Serve the sauce alongside.
Late last month, Rev. Mark Schaefer, instructor and United Methodist chaplain at American University, and David Trim, director of Archives, Statistics, and Research at the Seventh-day Adventist World Headquarters discussed Adventist history on the Washington DC-based WVTF Interfaith Voices radio show. In this thoughtful 26-minute conversation they also get into Adventist world mission and the interpretation of apocalyptic literature.
"In 1844, a religious movement called the Millerites predicted that Jesus would return on October 22nd of that year. The day came to be known as 'The Great Disappointment.' Nearly twenty years later, a break-away Millerite founded the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Although they’ve been waiting 150 years, the Adventists still believe the apocalypse is imminent. But they’ve learned their lesson: only God knows the true date."
God the eternal Spirit was active with the Father and the Son in Creation, incarnation, and redemption. He inspired the writers of Scripture. He filled Christ's life with power. He draws and convicts human beings; and those who respond He renews and transforms into the image of God. Sent by the Father and the Son to be always with His children, He extends spiritual gifts to the church, empowers it to bear witness to Christ, and in harmony with the Scriptures leads it into all truth. (Gen. 1:1, 2; Luke 1:35; 4:18; Acts 10:38; 2 Peter 1:21; 2 Cor. 3:18; Eph. 4:11, 12; Acts 1:8; John 14:16-18, 26; 15:26, 27; 16:7-13.)
I'm starting to notice how various facets of orthodox Christian beliefs get affirmed and then filtered through Seventh-day Adventist experience. In fact, the plethora of doctrines in Adventism appears to be due in part to our historical recontextualization of Christianity. For instance, perhaps due to the anti-Trinitarian ideas of some pioneers, we spend four beliefs defining God. The last belief I discussed was the Son of God—Jesus the Christ. Still to come we have: Christ's Ministry in the Heavenly Sanctuary, Growing in Christ, Unity in the Body of Christ, and Second Coming of Christ. We actually have five fundamental beliefs involving Christ.
Now, drawing on our definition of the Holy Spirit, we also have another belief—Spiritual Gifts and Ministries. Oddly, "spiritual gifts" is mentioned in this belief and then broken out in another belief, and then just one of those gifts—The Gift of Prophecy—gets its own discussion. (See diagram.)
It appears that we've confused fundamental Christian doctrine with Adventist applications. This conflation of belief and application might be driving some of the tensions over Adventist identity. The fact that the two major recent public fights at the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary have been over spirituality and ecumenism shows that too many of our leaders and laity are insecure about both. Significantly, the Holy Spirit is central to both of these controversies. A proper understanding of the Holy Spirit draws us toward our Christian brothers and sisters ("bear witness to Christ") and it leads us into ("all truth") deeper spiritual expression.
In much of the New Testament, the Holy Spirit is the opposite of human flesh. Often this gets misapplied to treat the human body as inimical to spirituality. The Dictionary of Scripture and Ethics summarizes a leading charismatic evangelical scholar on the pneumatological. "Gordon Fee understands Paul's antithesis of flesh versus Spirit not as a constant struggle within the believer, but as contrasting two modes of existence: kata pneuma, 'according to the Spirit,' refers to the believer's new eschatological existence, and kata sarka, 'according to the flesh,' to a person's preconversion existence. Thus, with two modes of existence, and his exhortation not to live according to the flesh is directed toward those who entered the new eschatological life in the Spirit but now argue for a life based on Torah obedience, which implies living again according to the norms of the past—the flesh" (367). This has significant ethical implications. Judging ones spirituality through a legalistic, deontological paradigm is, by definition, unspiritual. Rather, as good science and great mystics reveal, the more we become in tune with our bodies, the more spiritually alive we become. And yet, paradoxically we also become more self-aware.
In his exploration of the Spirit, Flame of Love, Clark Pinnock writes: "I like the term ecstasy for Spirit. It means 'standing outside oneself,' which suggests that Spirit is the ecstasy that makes the triune life an open circle and a source of pure abundance. Spirit embodies and triggers the overflow of God's pure benevolence, fosters its ecstatic character and opens it up to history" (38). This ecstatic self-awareness, both embodied and historical, get to the reality of spiritual awakening.
The Spirit moves our time forward, renewing and transforming the human self into the image of God. Ecumenism and spiritual discipline are part of fostering this journey. Expressing the ethical implications of this spiritual ecstasty, Jürgen Moltmann writes in his theology of pneumatology, The Spirit of Life:
To experience the fellowship of the Spirit inevitably carries Christianity beyond itself into the greater fellowship of all God’s creatures. For the community of creation, in which all created things exist with one another, for one another and in one another, is also the fellowship of the Holy Spirit. Both experiences of the Spirit bring the church today into solidarity with the cosmos, which is so mortally threatened. Faced with ‘the end of nature’, the churches will either discover the cosmic significance of Christ and the Spirit, or they will share the guilt for the annihilation of God’s earthly creation. In earlier times, contempt for life, hostility towards the body, and detachment from the world was merely an inward attitude of mind. Now it has become an everyday reality in the cynicism of the progressive destruction of nature. Discovery of the cosmic breadth of God’s Spirit leads in the opposite direction—to respect for the dignity of all created things, in which God is present through his Spirit.
Some Adventists choose to live according to the norms of the past; others join this forward movement of the Spirit. Where is it going? To remix Martin Luther King: Spiritual history bends toward the eschatological existence of the Imago Dei—justice, beauty and love. The active, ecstatic Adventist becomes part of this spiritual reality.