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Reviewing the Review: Adventist Education Refocuses on Mission

March 13, 2008

Vol. 185, No. 7


This edition is informative—the cover story unintentionally so—and the rest of the magazine is well edited and occasionally inspirational.


“Adventist Education Refocuses on Mission”

There is a lot of hand wringing going on in the Adventist educational establishment. Larry Blackmier does his best to explain why so many Adventist young people in North America leave the Church in spite of 863 elementary schools, 116 secondary schools, and 15 colleges and universities. 3379 teachers are employed at the elementary level, 1611 in secondary schools, and 4087 in colleges and universities. These educational establishments serve 42,136 elementary students, 16,649 students at the secondary level, and 24,109 college and university students. In spite of these heroic efforts, not to mention hundreds of traditional evangelistic campaigns and extensive media programming, membership growth in the North American Division is less than 2%.

Blackmier suggests the following educational remedies:

“Formal Adventist education is serving fewer than 40% of the children in our churches. . . It’s obvious that we must find ways both to make Adventist education affordable and to provide Adventist educational services to those who can’t or choose not to utilize the formal Adventist school system.”

George Barna contends, Christians need to do a better job of evangelizing children. “If people do not embrace Jesus as their savior before they reach their teenage years, the chances of them doing so at all are slim.”

According to Floyd Greenleaf, “The identity of Adventist education derives from its purposes. Maintaining the identity requires a constant and prayerful review of the purposes and principles of Adventist education, combined with a commonsense approach to change.”

Some pastors are less concerned with educational evangelism and “more concerned about the percentage of the church budget that supports the school”.

Blackmier believes that textbooks need revision. “We [Adventist educators] are currently in the process of developing a faith-based language arts program . . . Although we are stepping out financially, we are committed to developing a similar faith-based science series, eventually even including a faith-based social science series.”

Once again educators who make their living as Adventist administrators blame parents, teachers, pastors, and curriculum for the Church’s failure to create lifelong Adventist believers. The Adventist creed is not criticized or discussed, the hypocrisy inevitably present in Adventist schools where legalism is officially encouraged is not considered, the anti-scientific pronouncements of church pastors and theologians are not mentioned, nor is the misogynistic orientation of influential church members. It may well be that education of any kind beyond elementary school, religious or secular, is counterproductive in terms of church growth, in that critical thinking is fundamental to further education.


“Leaky Roofs and Loyal Volunteers” is an inspirational testimony to what can be accomplished when Academy alumni decide that their almamater needs a facelift. $150,000, along with donated materials and labor, has made Campion Academy like new, according to Dick Stenbakken..

“His Tomb is Empty” by Rex D. Edwards is a reminder that, “Without the Resurrection the cross seemed to be simply the work of cruel men; with the Resurrection it became gloriously evident that it was the supreme work of God to redeem the world from sin.”

“A Second Chance at Life” by Lillian R. Guild is a tribute to prayers of faith, a burn doctor, a mother who used her hands to put out the flames that engulfed her daughter, Deaconess Hospital in Spokane, Washington, and the bravery of a five-year-old girl.


“Letters” is always an interesting read. In this issue I was particularly impressed by Caroline Parsons’ response to Roy Adams editorial, “Critics are Watching” in the January 17, 2008 Review. Kudos to the editors for printing a letter that tells it like it is.

“Give and Take” is not a page I usually review, but the following quote “Age does not make error truth” inspired an Amen.

World News and Perspectives

A federal government House Panel heard Adventists and others on Sabbath protection. The Workplace Religious Freedom Act may become law, according to Mark Kellner.

Massey, Ogilvie, Davidson, and Turner are featured speakers in the Global PREACH seminar on April 22. This is a satellite event originating at Walla Walla College.

Michael Lee-Chin, a Jamaican businessman, made a $1.5 million gift, honoring his mother, to the SDA owned and operated Northern Caribbean University. It will be used to fund its nursing program.

Sari Fordham’s “Journeys” essay, Visiting My Grandmother, is a gentle, loving tribute to her grandmother who is suffering from a form of dementia.

Jimmy Phillips “Introducing the Why” essay, The Best Spiritual Times, is a reminder that it’s vital to “enjoy seven-day relationships, not seventh-day relationships”.

The “Reflections” essay by Lyris Bacchus, Facing Your Giant, makes some very practical suggestions about what to do “when we feel like we can’t go on, like we don’t want to wake up to face the next day”.


‘Where Have all the Shepherds Gone?’ is Bill Knot at his best. In his editorial he challenges pastors to do more than just visit “those brave enough to visit in an office or so physically ill they must be hospitalized”.

“Language Lessons” by Claude Richli compares learning a new language to the rules of effective Christian communication: be patient, be humble, be prepared to have your mind and heart readjusted, and be prepared to exercise and experience grace.


Andy Hanson is a professor of Education at California State University, Chico. His reviews and modified comics are at his Adventist Perspective blog.

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