Asheville Adventist Forum: John Webster
Please note that this meeting of the Asheville Adventist Forum will be held via Zoom. If you wish to be part of this meeting, please send an email saying so to Connie at ConnieHayward@gmail.com by the night of Wednesday, October 28, 2020. She will send you the password and link that you will need to log into the meeting. Please log in a few minutes before starting time. If you have friends who would be interested in this topic and whom you wish to introduce to the Forum chapter, please send their names and email addresses to Connie. It is likely that we will have some people attending from far and wide, which makes Zoom meetings so interesting.
Date & Time:
Sabbath, October 31, 2020 at 3:00 p.m. Eastern
“Therapeutic Eco-Praxis: Toward a Responsible Adventist Environmental Ethic.”
Given the overwhelmingly ‘apocalyptic’ feel to the times we are living through, we will take up one dimension of this sense of crisis. We here in the West have just suffered through devastating wildfires (and the fire season has just begun), while those on the gulf coast and further east have seen hurricane after hurricane, floods, and other forces of natural destruction at an increased intensity level. What are we to make of all this? As Adventists should we simply sit back and celebrate these things as ‘signs of the times’—evidence for the soon end of the world and coming of Christ? Or do we have a responsibility in all this—as we 'occupy till he comes’?
Of course, there are other dimensions to the crisis of our times—the pandemic, structural racism, political polarization, creeping fascism—and all deserve theological reflection and attention also. I hope the Forum will find our discussion of interest and relevance.
Thus I would address the issue of Adventism’s take on the challenges of climate change, sustainability, and environmental destruction. I will take our belief in the Sabbath as an example of how we can leverage central Adventist beliefs to address this problem. I will also at the end, suggest a ’novel’ approach to such matters that I am calling a “therapeutic eco-praxis,’ modeled on how we care for the sick and dying in our health care system—even while believing in health-reform and the resurrection of the body.
John Webster currently serves as Professor of Theology and History of Christianity in the HMS Richards Divinity School at La Sierra University, in Riverside, CA, teaching in the fields of systematic theology, philosophy, ethics and church history to both undergraduate and graduate students. He has also published in the field of science and faith. Married to Cheryl (daughter of a missionary doctor family), the Websters grew up and lived in various parts of South Africa while John served as a pastor, teacher and administrator. In 1982 graduate studies took them first to Berrien Springs, Michigan and then on to Princeton, New Jersey for John’s Ph.D. before they returned to South Africa to teach in 1991. It was while serving as chairman of the Theology Department at Helderberg College, near Cape Town, that he became involved with the work of the South African “Truth and Reconciliation Commission,” writing the Adventist church’s Statement of Confession submitted to the TRC in 1998. Later that year he accepted a call to join the [then] School of Religion at La Sierra University, and the family moved to California in January 1999. In 2006 he was appointed Dean of what was soon to become the H.M.S. Richards Divinity School, and served in this administrative position until 2014. Eldest son (Craig) and family live in Portland OR, as part of an intentional community deeply involved and committed to envisioning and embodying a more sustainable relationship with the environment. Middle son (Gregory) works in IT for Loma Linda Medical Center and lives with his family in Yucaipa. Both families came within a couple of blocks of forced evacuation due to wildfires over these last few weeks. Youngest son (Kevin, who has a Ph.D. from UC Berkeley in Bio-Physics) lives in the Bay area and works with McKinsey and Co. in the field of health care. Rochelle (daughter) is an ordained pastor in the Southeast California Conference, and now serves as the senior pastor of the Paradise Valley Adventist church in San Diego. As you can see, their interests, expertise and passions have stimulated, informed and enriched John’s thinking on the problem of Adventist response and responsibility to the environmental crisis.
For further information contact Connie Hayward, 828-693-1105 (h), 828-388-1575 (c), firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ron Lawson may be contacted at SondleyWriter@gmail.com.