Tear Down to Create
by Ron Corson
“Small minds have always lashed out at what they don’t understand. There are those who create . . . and those who tear down. That dynamic has existed for all time. But eventually the creators find believers, and the number of believers reaches a critical mass, and suddenly the world becomes round, or the solar system becomes heliocentric. Perception is transformed, and a new reality is born.” (The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown chapter 133)
When I first read those words I thought at least here is something of value from this book, aside from the interesting art mentioned like the horned Moses. What if we could create a new church, what if we could be positive and affirmative? Would we not create the very kind of church most progressive Adventists want? Here I thought is the basis for an excellent article. That lasted for about five minutes.
Like much of the material in a Dan Brown novel there is a thimble full of truth and a generous pile of garbage to make a good story. Many Adventists when they stop and think about it will recall that there are those in the church who feel that Progressive Adventists are out to destroy the Adventist church. Especially if they have read the various Adventist discussion sites on the Internet (here at Atoday, Spectrum Online and ClubAdventist, most recently at the site called Educatetruth, as well as in numerous Sabbath School class discussion throughout the world) or read the various traditionalist Adventist writers such as Pastors Larry Kirkpatrick and Kevin Paulson who often refers to Progressive Adventists as Pseudo Adventists. Perhaps they are following the lead of Robert Folkenberg who in an excerpt from an address in February 1994 at La Sierra University said:
“In a desire to fit in, there also has developed, I believe, a pseudo-Adventist form of political correctness that ceases to talk about the truth, the remnant, the Spirit of Prophecy, the law, the sanctuary, and other distinctive Adventist contributions to Christianity.”
These writers have put forth the view that Progressive Adventism or Pseudo-Adventism as some may call it, is a movement out to destroy the Adventist church. That the Progressive movement can only destroy. The traditional distinctives are what Adventism is all about.
On my way to work there is an old house that was abandoned for years it looked like it was being torn down. They removed most of the outside of house but the frame remained and with time I see that it is being rebuilt. Creation from destruction. If only we could build over the decay, the building would look so much better, ever changing looking better all the time. But in most things especially dealing with ideas and beliefs there is no creation without destruction.
The supposed wisdom of the Dan Brown quote is that if you build an idea you may attract believers who accept and advance some idea, and at a certain critical mass the idea becomes widely tolerated by yet more converts. In the examples used (round, heliocentric earth solar system) the proponents not only presented their views but had to refute the previous views. I tried to think of some examples where you could simply positively build and affirm your ideas without refuting someone else’s ideas. I could not think of anything.
Jesus came to earth and was extremely positive at times and at other times very critical of the views of his day. Martin Luther attacked the beliefs of the Roman Catholic Church and his actions were a major catalyst to build the reformation. There are many examples of tearing down something to build something. I tear up the ground of my garden to plant, to build most anything components are derived from something else; to manufacture is to tear down or restructure something else. The wood to build that frame on the old house was once a growing a healthy tree.
Progressive Adventism cannot help but to destroy to rebuild. If someone thinks that man never landed on the moon I can’t tell them that man did land on the moon without tearing down their belief. Even if I never mention their errant belief and only assert the facts, they are confronted with the need to re-examine their previous understanding. This is why some of us refer to the “marketplace of ideas”. People have a choice in what they are going to believe, we can’t simply positively state our ideas without infringing upon some other ideas out there. The other ideas will infringe on our ideas as well. Challenge to ideas encourages critical thought, which cannot exist, absent a conflict of ideas.
Progressive Adventism with its hoped intent to build does tear down and destroy…
it is not an exception to the rule.