by Monte Sahlin
By AT News Team, April 12, 2014
Late Friday afternoon (April 11) the General Conference (GC) of the Seventh-day Adventist denomination announced a decision to suspend the release of the 11-episode Internet video drama series The Record Keeper. The news release from the GC stated that the decision was based on a theological analysis by the Biblical Research Institute (BRI) which identified "problematic and theologically inaccurate matters" in the series and that "church leaders were looking for a much stronger portrayal of the love of God, the creation of a perfect world, the plan of salvation and the final renewal of heaven and earth as recorded in the Bible."
The news release also stated that denominational leaders from different parts of the world, as well as the headquarters staff in Silver Spring, Maryland, "evaluated the series, participated in the discussions and the decision-making process." It gave no further details on how this process was conducted nor who specifically was involved. Since the officers of the 13 GC divisions are in Silver Spring for meetings this week, they may have played a role in this decision.
The Record Keeper is a drama about the cosmic conflict between good and evil which is a primary theme in Adventist theology. It uses two fictional characters who symbolize categories mentioned in the Bible; Cadan and Larus, two angels who struggle to maintain their friendship after universal civil war breaks out. Another character portrays the title role, Raina, an angel who pursues a record of events while trying to make sense of the chaos.
The movie series is innovative in at least two ways that Adventist Today has previously reported. First, it uses a genre called "Steam punk" in its design and production, and it is designed to be distributed via the Internet, by Web sites such as YouTube, instead of through the more traditional means of public showings in theaters or auditoriums or by the sale of DVDs or the purchase of television broadcast time.
The GC news release also said that denominational leaders "expressed their continued desire to produce creative material that would … capture the attention of people seeking divine truth." Pastor Ted Wilson, the GC president was specifically quoted; “Adventist world church leadership is committed to using and developing creative methods of outreach … to reach segments of the population that will never be impacted by traditional evangelism.”
"It is difficult to sort out how much of this is about a disagreement over 'artistic license' and how much of it is about theological disagreements," a source familiar with the pilot segment of The Record Keeper and denominational procedures told Adventist Today. "It is impossible until we see the detailed report from the BRI and which theologian or Bible scholars actually did the evaluation."
Additional documentation was not made available at the same time as the news release, and the release came after Adventist Today had already published its weekly AT Update by Email. The GC offices are now closed for the Sabbath. On Monday an Adventist Today reporter will contact the GC news office and request the full BRI report and other documentation.