Lost in Translation...
International Symposium on the Trinity held in Florence, Italy
Lost in Translation
The International Symposium on the Trinity met June 19-22 in Florence, Italy to analyze the often highly-debated topic of the three-in-one Godhead. Over forty pastors, professors, and laity met to dialogue the topic (many via translators). Along with affirming the Adventist church’s current position (three, co-eternal persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit), Some attendees expressed a greater appreciation for the 2nd Fundamental Belief and the various ways of explaining it.
Father, Son, and Holy argument
The decision to hold a symposium was prompted by the recent increase in anti-trinitarian sentiments (disbelief in the Trinity). These beliefs range from a more mild assertion that trinitarian (belief in the Trinity) language should be removed from the fundamental beliefs to a more fervent position that an end-time trinitarian cannot be saved. The trinitarian debate preceded Adventism’s inception, most notably as a topic at the Council of Nicea in 325 AD (which essentially focused on the substance of Christ and whether He was made out of the same essence as the Father). While many Adventist pioneers came from non-trinitarian traditions, the modern Seventh-day Adventist Church has adopted the trinitarian belief.
Word on the street is…
Overall supportive. As one attendee, Patrizio Calliari, put it, “This was very exciting: engaging in discussions with high-level professional and intellectual lecturers on the theme of the Trinity...This experience gave me new ideas in how to present the Trinity in Bible studies.” Besides creating a healthy atmosphere for dialogue, many believe these symposium-style forums have the ability to unify and prevent further splintering of local congregations. The hope is that Adventists will band together to discover unity in Christ. However, some believe that discussing disagreements with this or any doctrine may only be secondary to a much broader issue—a misunderstanding of the purpose and the nature of the Gospel and God’s love. To help facilitate understanding on the Trinity, the Church and several ministries continue to educate its members on through university projects and theological publications. To read more on the Adventist position regarding the Trinity, click here.
Scuffle breaks out in Nairobi Central Seventh-day Adventist Church
If you like WWE, you’ll love...church?
On July 20, a video circulated on social media of a scuffle on stage during a meeting at the Nairobi Central Seventh-day Adventist Church in Nairobi, Kenya. The meeting took place to seek ways to move forward after a group known as the Nairobi Cosmopolitan Conference (NCC) attempted to separate from the church, but failed in court. The desire for separation began in 2018 after accusations of misconduct arose against the church pastors during the selection of new church officials. This is the situation Ted Wilson, GC President, tweeted about in January 2019 (and the one The Scratch reported on in April). It’s claimed that members of the church boycotted a communion service back in January to express discontent with church leadership. On December 23, 2018, elders of the church locked the pastors’ offices, requiring the intervention of Central Kenya Conference officers and local police to regain access. A letter was written by the church’s first elder, Enock Kinara, to Ted Wilson and others in the US pleading for help as the pastors had not reconciled successfully since the incident in December. While reports of a full-blown fisfight are unconfirmed and the video is unclear, a physical altercation of some sort is confirmed. It is also reported that Head Pastor Jean Pierre Maywa was “roughed up” during the altercation. The church has yet to release an official statement.
Andrews Seminary Dean Responds to Criticism of Open Discussion on Hermeneutics
Now on pay-per-vew: Scriven vs. Moskala
In a widely-discussed opinion piece posted to Spectrum Magazine, Charles Scriven posed the question, “Can Adventists address theological disagreements in public conversation?” He shared his experience of his attempt to schedule an open discussion on Biblical hermeneutics (methods of interpreting the Bible) at Andrews University and trying to work with the General Conference Biblical Research Institute. The article states that Scriven emailed Jiří Moskala, Dean of the Andrews University Theological Seminary, several times and received no response. He tried setting-up a phone call, but eventually received an email from Moskala’s secretary stating, “The timing for holding such a discussion is not right.” In response, Moskala published an article stating that Scriven misrepresented the University and did not paint a full picture of the situation. Moskala further added that the Seminary convenes various programs, colloquia, and conferences many years in advance, with seminary departments deciding the presented topics together. Finally, Moskala clarified that conferences on hermeneutics will take place this year. Scriven replied to Moskala’s article in its comment section, closing with, “I am happy that you and the Seminary are more open than the impression I left may indicate, and wonder what you think the next step should be.”
Debate Continues Over Partnership between Adventist Health and St. Joseph Health
Is this the Sabbath hospital bed or the Sunday hospital bed?
A series of meetings at the California State Attorney General’s office were held throughout June and July to determine if a partnership between Adventist Health and St. Joseph Health (Catholic hospital) would have a positive or negative impact on the community - and Adventists definitely have some thoughts on the matter. In April of last year it was announced the two hospitals would integrate clinical activities and services through a joint operating company. The partnership would extend across clinics and facilities in Humboldt, Mendocino, Sonoma, Lake, Napa and Solano counties in California, providing more access points for care and better coordination with costs and health outcomes. While both companies’ leadership maintains this will benefit the community, labor unions are concerned with the partnership virtually monopolizing the market in the area. Nurses from National Nurses United demanded to know how it would affect patient health and safety, and one labor representative commented on the “deeply anti-worker, anti-union principles espoused by…Adventist Health." Many Adventists (and Catholics) are happy to see the two organizations set aside theological differences to provide care for all. However, more conservative Adventists are concerned with a Catholic merger, given traditionally-held Adventist beliefs on Catholicism’s role in end-time events.
Contributors: Andrew Carroll, Makala James, Rachel Beaver