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Video: A Biographical and Theological Conversation with Graham Maxwell

In 1997, David Larson, Ph. D., interviewed A. Graham Maxwell, Ph. D., for the Loma Linda Broadcasting Network. The video below contains the entire series of these conversations in which Dr. Maxwell freely discusses his life and thoughts on people, institutions, and theological debates in Adventism.

In the first segment, Maxwell shares some interesting, even humorous anecdotes, from his classical education in English grammar school. He also discusses his time at Pacific Union College where he was involved in the early forms of what became the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary and the Biblical Research Institute. (Be sure to catch his wry remark about these two institutions!) Then he discusses his education at the University of Chicago Divinity School where he combined Biblical studies with his famously thorough reading of Ellen White’s writings.

In the second segment, Larson and Maxwell discuss the question: is there a difference between the scientific method of discerning truth and the religious method of discerning truth? Maxwell tells a story about one of his professors at the University of Chicago who had been a Seventh-day Adventist. Later on in a discussion on faith, evidence and reason, Maxwell recites his favorite Ellen White quotes in praise of reason and offers a helpful model for understanding the usefulness of both lower and higher criticism.

In the third segment, in classic Maxwell fashion, he shares why Jesus had to die. Drawing from his expertise in Romans, and the rest of scripture, Maxwell very helpfully shows how the popular understanding of propitiation is not linguistically and Biblically accurate. Instead of the “dark speech” about blood, Maxwell presents a salvation story in which Jesus goes into the world to make friends through a shared understanding of a loving God.

In the final segment, Drs. Larson and Maxwell continue the conversation about salvation by asking: what are the right questions to ask about the meaning of the cross? In answering the query, why does God’s righteousness have to be demonstrated, Maxwell connects righteousness and justice. In doing so, he references Ellen White in pointing out that the Devil’s lie about God wanting to kill is the birth of the evil concept of hell. Maxwell furthers this point by showing how the events in 1888 reveal an Ellen White trying to clarify Adventist Christology and finding the “ordained delegates” at the General Conference Session in Minneapolis as intent on rejecting Jesus the Christ as did the Sabbath-keepers who put Jesus on the cross. They were pious but cruel, he suggests, quoting Ellen White again, because we all become like what we worship. “Pretentiously pious” leaders in Christianity, those who practice “persecutions,” are worshiping a false God.

Toward the end, Maxwell talks about how the Sabbath and the cross are fundamentally linked in Christocentric Adventism. Through Jesus’ new testament about God, the Sabbath becomes a reminder of the death of the old concept of God–based on law, violence and fear–one always exploitable by religio-political leaders.

In conclusion, Graham Maxwell reads his famous credo, “Another Look at God.” Then he and Dr. Larson conclude by reflecting on the relationship between righteousness by faith and the Christian practice of the healing arts.

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