This week's Sabbath School commentary is taken from Spectrum 14-1 (August 1983), and is written by Fritz Guy, research professor of philosophical theology at the HMS Richards Divinity School at La Sierra University. The article originated 30 years ago in the aftermath of the Desmond Ford controversy.
This week’s theme is “Thinking new thoughts”; however, this seems to be a bit of a misnomer. The theme of the quarter, after all, is revival—that means renovation, rather than innovation. This is explicit in Romans 12:2, one of the scriptures set for study in this week’s lesson, which urges us to “be transformed by the renewing of your mind”. It is not so much new thoughts that are a necessity for Christians who stand in need of revival, but rather a greater currency of the older thoughts that were associated with our first conversion.
Willingness to grow and change is part of revival and reformation. There's no doubt about it. But what is revival and reformation? Has anyone defined it or do we all assume we know what it is? The introductory lesson to this quarter told us, 'Revival is all about a God of loving kindness seeking to deepen his relationship with us.'
If confession is good for the soul and for revival/reformation—here’s mine. Beware the call for unity these days in Adventism. Beware because it means there is disagreement in the house—most likely over women’s ordination--and a frustrated church leader uses the call for unity to try to bring us together. Instead, it comes across like a schoolyard reprimand. The Holy Spirit will not come unless you are united, children, so shape up and get with the program. To me, it seems to make conditional a love that was always promised as unconditional.
I can't remember when I have seen a Sabbath School lesson on confession and repentance! And that forces me to recognize further that many Adventists (along with Christians generally) believe that, experientially, these two terms are synonymous!
This has happened for several reasons: 1) Belief that we are born sinners (forgetting that sin is a choice); 2) Belief that overcoming sin is thus impossible; 3) Belief that confession is obviously a social necessity but that our Lord's death on the Cross erased our guilt which we are “confessing.”
This week’s topic is “Witness and Service: The Fruit of Revival”
We are all very familiar with the faith versus works debate. We could go back and forth forever on this topic, getting progressively more frustrated, aggressive and cemented into our own bunkers of “rightness” and still get nowhere.
Let’s be outrageous and assume that both things are important and move on.
I remember reading the first reports about the new GC President’s call for a “revival and reformation” in the summer of 2010, probably on the Spectrum site, and, to be honest, I didn’t think too much about it. It seemed such an innocent, reasonable—even obvious—call for a church leader to make, especially one just come to office. Within days, though, Ted Wilson was being denounced on the Spectrum and Adventist Today websites. I thought, “What’s so wrong with revival? How can there be such suspicion of something so basic to Christianity as revival?”