AToday Founder Ray Cottrell Would Be Pleased with Larry Downing’s Column
I was blessed by Larry’s rehearsal of his life experiences as a Seventh-day Adventist. This is a very powerful testimony. And Ray Cottrell would agree it is a necessary starting place when looking forward as a Seventh-day Adventist.
Real people. Real personal testimony. And many of them. The basis for theology yet to be written.
And, there is more to the future of Seventh-day Adventism than the simple observation: I don’t have to believe what I was taught fifty years ago to remain a Seventh-day Adventist.
When I read Ray Cottrell at the time of the founding of Adventist Today, I experience a well-informed Seventh-day Adventist looking at Seventh-day Adventism with an eye to its future as a vibrant, relevant expression of Christianity beyond not just historical Seventh-day Adventism, but … and I’m fantasizing here personally, I know … but more hopeful and reassuring than the whole of Christianity to date.
Indeed, my sense is that Adventist Today founders were more hopeful for a revived Seventh-day Adventism being more humanely reassuring than the World’s other streams of religious thinking as well.
My sense also is that founders Jim and Erv and Keith may have come to focus on deconstruction at the expense of re-construction. We need much more than a Frank Gehry version of the Seventh-day Adventist edifice. The fact is, we already see a deconstructed denomination and that is the problem as I read Cottrell and take to heart Larry’s personal history.
Just how do Seventh-day Adventist visionaries today imagine Seventh-day Adventism standing clearly in the future? It is worth a special issue of Adventist Today magazine, and a permanent menu item on AToday the website, and possibly its own Facebook ‘page’ on line.
For starters, Sabbath v Sunday is of zero interest around the world today.
Theodicies all suffer terminal rational cancer.
And past performance is proving no guarantee of future results. Official denominational estimates in 2002 projected that using the previous 20-year average growth by 2016 the church would see 30 million member, not 18 million. And by 2025 the projection was for 50 million members.
Daniel and Revelation appears to have lost its currency in the cultures beyond the West.
However, advocating there is no hell might be quite another matter.
Have we ever seen that on a Seventh-day Adventist evangelistic brochure? (I sure haven’t!) Ellen White testified that her mother believes God’s love is vastly more compelling than the fear of hell when it comes to attracting humans to Christianity.
How about this as an evangelistic brochure headline:
God loves you.
There is no hell.
God Loves you.
There is no hell.
But if you get it wrong God will kill you anyway.
Here’s to a most inspiring new year with Adventist Today!