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Would You Become a Seventh-day Adventist Today? Donna Carlson’s Response to Chapter 9 in “Where Are We Headed?” by William G. Johnsson


Would you become an Adventist today if you weren’t already one? Donna Carlson made a presentation to the Roy Branson Legacy Sabbath School (RBLSS) on August 19 about Chapter 9 in Where Are We Headed? Adventism After San Antonio by William G. Johnsson which must have caused this question to pop into the minds of quite a few who listened to her.

Listen they did! A doctor and lawyer with an advanced degree in public health who has been one of the class’ most active participants and hostesses of potlucks from the very beginning, she deserved a hearing. She got one, and everyone was the better for it.

Her becoming an Adventist was more a matter of choice than chance. For many others of us who would not have been conceived had our parents not met on Adventist campuses, it is the other way around. All Adventists are so because of both choice and chance; however, the relative significance of either in becoming and remaining a member varies from person to person. Although she would not have been an Adventist had she not made this choice, the fact that she encountered Adventists at all was itself very chancy. Or was it?

Her story about how she became an Adventist and, with less emphasis, why she remains one, was the highlight of the morning. Her thinking about these matters differed a bit from some of the things Johnsson said (and did not say) in his chapter, and this made it all the more interesting.

If time as we know it lasts that long, historians of Adventism will note that in our time a number of Adventist leaders emerged who felt called by God to divide and wound the denomination rather than unify and heal it. Most leaders in all kinds of organizations acknowledge the differences among their constituents, compliment them on being persons of intellectual and moral integrity, and invite them nevertheless to work together on behalf of the common cause.

Not them. Almost everywhere they go, they choose sides on questions about which we do not have to agree in or to collaborate and then order all others who see things differently to leave. What a curious way to run things! What management theories say that this is a splendid way to manage internal diversity? How does this fit with biblical analogy of the Church as the body of Christ? How does it relate to the suggestion of Jesus that we go easy on separating the wheat from the weeds lest we kill both? Although these intentionally divisive leaders must have answers to these questions that make sense at least to them, I find it difficult to imagine what they are.

Meanwhile, all over the world, millions of Adventists are communicating the Gospel to those who are rich and poor, educated and uneducated, healthy and sick, joyful and despairing, young and old, black and white, male and female, gay and straight, friendless and friend-full. This is why I am an Adventist, and this is why I’m not leaving!

It is generous of Adventist Forum to provide RBLSS these opportunities to share some of the good times which we enjoy with old and new friends everywhere. Thank you!

For more information, please visit

WATCH: Donna Carlson on Chapter 9 in "Where Are We Headed" by William G. Johnsson

See also:

William G. Johnsson Explains Why He Wrote Where Are We Headed? Adventism after San Antonio,
The Professors Valentine Expand Upon Chapter 1 in "Where Are We Headed? Adventism After San Antonio",
Laura Alipoon Highlights Adventist Diversity in Chapter 2 of “Where Are We Headed? Adventism After San Antonio”,
Calvin Thomsen’s Discussion of Chapter 3 in “Where Are We Headed? Adventism after San Antonio” Assails Neo-Calvinism,
Carla Gober-Park Expands “the Main Thing” in Chapter 4 of “Where Are We Headed?” by William G. Johnsson,
Leo Ranzolin’s Response to Chapter 5 in “Where Are We Headed?” Poses Three Questions and Cites One Poet

Genesis and Geology in Paradox: Ben Clausen’s Response to Chapter 6 in “Where Are We Headed” by William G. Johnsson
Hermeneutical Community and Invisible Remnant? Jerald Whitehouse’s Response to Chapter 7 in “Where Are We Headed?” by William G. Johnsson, and
When Should We Use the Bible? Forrest Howe’s Question to Chapter 8 in “Where Are We Headed?” by William G. Johnsson


Dr. David Larson is Professor of Religion at Loma Linda University.

Image Credit: Video Still

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