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A Once and Future Adventism


Paging through past issues of Spectrum is like removing the contents of a time capsule. Here’s the 1980’s discussion of the Davenport bankruptcy case and its implications for the finances of the church. Here are the stories of discipline voted and then abandoned for the conflicts of interest of many key employees. What should be done? Here are the problems with the publishing industry, a near bankrupt Pacific Press, forced to sell its valuable property and moved to a different location to resolve its problems. To Spectrum editor Roy Branson, these problems of the church meant members “must assume responsibility for transforming recent reversals into occasions for renewal.”

His optimism in the face of disappointment was tied to the significance of worship and apocalyptic literature. In a 1988 article “Trumpet Blasts and Hosannas: A Once and Future Adventism” (1988, Vol. 18, No. 3), he meets disappointment head on.

“Many mistakenly think that the Apocalypse, so important for Adventist identity, merely points Christians to the future, to the second coming of Christ; that it is a detailed history of the future. Actually, the apocalyptic imagination spends more time drawing the heavenly realms-the sanctuary, the emerald throne, the risen and active Lord of thousands times thousands-into the Christians’ present experience,” he wrote.

Recounting the cosmic loneliness of disappointment, first of his mother on the death of his father, but also in Adventist history, he calls upon contemporary church members  “to embody the apocalyptic vision: a community whose disappointments are overwhelmed by its experience of the divine; a church empowered by God’s presence. The Adventist church is to be a visionary vanguard, revolutionaries of the imagination, propelled into action, shattering the routines of oppression with the shock of the holy.”

It is an invigorating read at times like these. The entire article can be read here: “Trumpet Blasts and Hosanas: A Once and Future Adventism.”



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