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Sabbath Sermon: Teach Less Better

Charles Scriven delivered the conference’s Sabbath sermon and spoke about the Adventist tendency to become obsessed with the “message.” Using a medical analogy about the dangers associated with the use of blood transfusions used in cancer surgery, Scriven explained that Adventists’ preoccupation with “doctrinal purity” is hazardous and destructive. Scriven pointed to former and current theological debates, such as the beginning of the investigative judgment and the Genesis 1 creation account, and likened this over-elaboration of the doctrine to an attempt to tame the mystery of scripture.
According to Scriven, this over-elaboration is distracting, breeds discord and doubt, and causes us to lose sight of our mission, which is to follow Jesus. Using the story of Bartimaeus as model for how one should approach doctrine, Scriven explained that Bartimaeus’ unyielding dedication to Christ illustrated his “deeper understanding of the mission.” Noting that we must be preoccupied with the right things, namely how a person lives his or her life, he urged the audience to focus on the “practical relevance” of doctrinal claims and enjoy the mysterious quality of scripture.
Scriven concluded the sermon by asking the audience to not lose sight of the basics and also reminded the audience about the true heart of the Christian life: “The point, after all, is the love of God and the neighbor; the point is following Christ; the point is keeping the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.”

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