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Reviewing the Review: Are We Killing Adventist Education?

October 15, 2009 – Vol. 189, N. 29
I read this issue in “one sitting” (actually in “one lying” in bed, from 4 to 5:30 last Monday morning). Instead of putting me back to sleep as I intended, it was so packed with expressions and comments and editorials that so challenged my thinking that I turned off my alarm clock and got up a half-hour early.
I am delighted that The Shack by Wm. Paul Young is being discussed and evaluated by Review readers. Grace Connection, a Chico based, loosely affiliated parish of the Paradise Adventist Church, is sponsoring a Paul Young visit to Chico in May of next year.
Approval for an Adventist University is pending in the Paraguayan Congress. The expected approval will enable Dr. Jan Marie NIck, a professor at Loma Linda University, working with Adventists in Paraguay, to establish a nursing program in a country with one nurse for every 10,000 people. It’s reports like this from Elizabeth Lechleitner and Ansel Oliver that make me proud to be an Adventist.
In BEEN THERE—DONE THAT! Gerald A. Klingbeil, as a new “American”, big city Adventist, explores his reaction to cafeteria Adventism, when members have choices with regard to worship services, study groups, and fellowship lunches. He’s concerned that Adventists have “become like tourists, snapping wildly at different motifs, trying to get the most thrilling, exciting, entertaining menu for our Sabbath mornings, but not staying long enough to enjoy the quietness of God’s gentle whisper or the sometimes jarring but badly needed polishing that God’s Spirit is doing on our characters through the brother or sister sitting next to us in that pew”?
Fredrick A. Russell provides a thoughtful and timely admonition regarding VERBAL ANARCHY. “The danger of the growing incivility in our society. . .can move our culture from verbal anarchy into a societal meltdown that will impact us all. . .Civility in discourse is the bedrock of any sane society; it’s nonnegotiable in the body of Christ.”
I’ve grown to love Andrew McChesney! THE BATTLE IS THE LORD’S is so personal and honest that he’s destroyed my stereotypical idea of journalists, not to mention Moscow journalists!
“Sasha hung up. But Satan wasn’t going to let me off so easily. After an hour, Sasha called again, asking if I had changed my mind. Then he called again. Sitting at home in front of the computer was boring, especially when I could be out [on Friday night] having fun. As I stared at my computer screen, I knew that if Sasha called one more time, I wouldn’t be able to refuse. I prayed desperately.”
SARAH’S SORROW by Jill Morikone, a music teacher, chronicles her encounter with a little girl who was “standing there all alone in the center of the room, those expressive eyes flooded over, the tears making a trail down her face.” (Warning: Kleenex required.)
ARE WE KILLING ADVENTIST EDUCATION by Shane Anderson is just plain wrong in his assessment of Adventist education. His list of primary and secondary causes for the decline of enrollment is simply an extension of the thinking that has made the lives of Adventist teachers, parents, and pastors extremely difficult. It’s the old “blame game” played to a different tune.
Speaking as a Professor of Education, a teacher the three years in an Adventist junior high school, a longtime Adventist school board member, and, for one memorable and humbling year, an acting principal of an Adventist elementary school, “the six primary factors behind Adventist educational decline” listed by Anderson reveal his ignorance rather than his expertise.
Make Adventist education free and/or make “full ride” work-study programs available, and Adventist schools, colleges, and universities would be alive and well overnight. These are tough economic times, and Adventist parents and students, out of necessity, have discovered that public schools aren’t the devil’s playgrounds that traditional Adventist mythology has made them out to be. *
To directly reference Anderson’s “factors behind Adventist educational decline”, let me add that I’ve supervised over 1000 elementary and secondary student teachers in 90+ public and private schools and school districts, and I have never encountered more dedicated, better educated, more Christian teachers; more loving, concerned parents; better church support; better administrative leadership; more responsibly conservative school curriculums; and more passionate community support for education than in the Adventist schools I and my children have attended.
Now that I’ve expressed my opinion, here are the words that elicited that response.
“Now that we’ve looked at some secondary causes of the problem of Adventist educational decline–waning commitment to Adventist institutions, tuition costs, and poor marketing–let’s get to the primary causes. I believe the six primary factors behind Adventist educational decline are:
1. The lack of passion among churchgoing members for being a “conservative” Seventh-day Adventist.
2. A misunderstanding of what constitutes biblical discipleship.
3. Poor pastoral support of Adventist education.
4. Poor parenting.
5. The inroads of postmodernism, secularism, and “liberalism” in Adventism.
6. Poor-quality schools.”
WHERE HAVE ALL THE GROWN-UPS GONE? By Kameron Devasher is accompanied with one of the most nauseating pictures on record. It’s an adult, middle-aged man sucking his thumb and attempting to look like he imagines a petulant two-year-old would look when asked to eat his string beans.
Devasher wants Adventists to “reclaim the distinction of being “people of the Book”. He references “the commands of the Lord, through Moses, to ‘impress [his instructions] “on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up” (Deut. 6:7).
As Moses discovered, this kind of admonition worked only occasionally with the Israelites, even when God was on record as killing off thousands of them when they didn’t get the message.
SO WHERE DID DEATH COME FROM? by Deryl Corbit claims support for the notion that God’s law “requires the death of those who sin”, and that same law required God to kill (I’ll admit “sacrifice sounds better.) part of himself, if you are a Trinitarian, a.k.a. Jesus, who “died in our place, that we might live”. [Corbit’s], “truth’s trump card is not ultimately found in scientifically determining the origin of life, but rather in correctly understanding the origin of death.” Words fail me.
HOW GOD GENTLY LEADS by Esther Block begins with a meaningless but oh so pious cliché that Review editors should banish forever. “Our Sabbath school leader challenged us to let go of the control of all areas of our lives and allow God to be in charge.”
* In the meantime, how about considering before and/or after school religion classes taught by local pastors for students who can’t attend Adventist elementary and secondary schools, and Adventist dormitories for students who attend selected secular colleges and universities?

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