By Pastor Larry Downing
For more than five decades I have been a contentious reader of Adventist publications: Youth Instructor, Review and Herald, various Union publications. What was absent in all these journals was a straight-forward, unbiased account of events and actions within the church, especially those we suspected of being inconsistent with Christian ethics and values. We heard rumors of such things. Now-and-again someone would publish a paper that outed certain actions that the church covered up. So it remained until it was announced that a new publication was in the planning stage. The proposed journal would be something like an Adventist Newsweek or Time. I contacted people I knew who knew people who knew what was in the works to let them know I wanted on the subscriber’s list. In this way I became an Adventist Today charter subscriber.
Over the years I have found AT to be a reliable voice within Adventism. AT is more than a news journal. It has a spiritual component that provides encouragement and hope. I personally found its articles evidence that there yet existed within Adventism a place where thoughtful people explore theological concepts, address ethical matters and hold church administrators accountable for their actions. As a pastor, I felt comfortable referring my church members to specific AT articles that addressed questions they had. In essence I am an AT reader because AT understands the Adventist world, of which I am a part.
People today, especially the younger generation, value and demand transparency. AT has been willing and able to pierce the opaque curtain that too often church administrators draw about their actions and policies. The editors recognize that if we are going to attract and hold younger people it is vital that the church be honest in action, in theology, and that change be implemented where needed—as in the women’s ordination policy.
AT will continue its spiritual quest to promote a defensible theology and polity that is consistent with that theology. There is, we should note, matters of faith that motivate AT personnel. There is an intent to be honest with scripture. AT accepts its role as an organization that seeks to encourage the Adventist church to excel as a spiritual oasis in a troubled world. AT values the church where both young and old find assurance of God’s grace, love and acceptance. The journal is committed to the Lord Jesus Christ. True, AT is not a “missionary” journal, but there is a purpose and mission that is consistent with the biblical message that affirms there is purpose to this life.
It is correct, that we who read AT look forward to the ideas, news items, opinions, and investigative reports that are part of each AT issue and that pop up daily on the AT website. Some of what we read makes us proud to be part of the “Advent Movement.” Other information rightly concerns us. We readers, when we find ourselves distressed over what is reported, wonder what we can do.
Here’s one thing we can do: We can provide financial support to the Adventist Today journal! (This page will guide you through the process.) We believe the journal has made a valuable contribution to those of us who are part of, and intend to remain, members of the Adventist denomination. If you read and value AT, become part of the group that contributes above the subscriber level. We, in our family, consider AT as a significant component of our religious community. We implement this conclusion by our support to AT. It is, we believe, money well spent. It is only through our financial support that AT will continue its mission to be an independent, responsible voice within the Adventist community.
Lawrence (Larry) Downing, D.Min., is retired after more than 40 years as a parish minister serving Seventh-day Adventist churches on both Coasts. He was also an adjunct faculty in the School of Business and the School of Theology at La Sierra University. He is married to Arleen. Together, they have three grown children and six grandchildren. Larry and Arleen reside part time in Rancho Cordova, CA and in San Luis Obispo, CA.