New Release: Old Testament Law for Christians
For many, the law in the Old Testament is confusing and, in some aspects, irrelevant today. In the ongoing debate about how or whether Old Testament law remains in effect, Roy Gane, in a new book entitled Old Testament Law for Christians: Original Context and Enduring Application, brings clarity to the idea that the legal system of ancient Israel contains universally applicable divine principles.
The release date for the new book, published by Baker Academic, is August 22, 2017.
At the outset, Gane confronts the question, Is the Old Testament law relevant to New-Covenant Christians? For an answer, he examines the way Jesus and Paul approach the law. After defining the authority, nature, and purpose of the law, he spends a great deal of the book illuminating application to real life and defining the values found in the Old Testament law. He concludes with a section that argues for the value of obeying God’s law.
While the book is completely congruent with the Seventh-day Adventist understanding of Scripture, it has received endorsements from biblical scholars in such institutions as Wheaton College and Asbury Theological Seminary. At least among some scholars, there is an understanding that the Bible is a comprehensive picture of God’s law of love and that it continues to be perfectly applicable today.
Gane is professor of Hebrew Bible and Ancient Near Eastern Languages at the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary at Andrews University in Michigan, USA
Perspective Digest: The Theology Journal for Lay People
Perspective Digest (PD) is a layperson-oriented online theology magazine of the Adventist Theological Society.
The quarterly magazine was established by Roland Hegstad in 1994. Gary B. Swanson took over as editor in 2005. The magazine was available as a paid print subscription from 1996 until 2010, becoming a free online publication with the fourth issue of 2010.
The magazine explores theology and doctrines, biblical studies, archeology, Christian ethics, Ellen G. White, and Adventist issues from a Seventh-day Adventist perspective. Most of the article authors are ATS leaders and scholars.
“The goal of Perspective Digest,” says editor Swanson, “is to enhance the Adventist Theological Society’s emphasis on Scripture as a guide for everyday belief.”
While the email list for Perspective Digest stands at about 1,200, the PD site saw about 55,000 unique visitors reading articles in the past 12 months. About 75 percent of those visitors use a mobile device to reach the site. Sixty percent of the readers are in the United States, 40 percent in the rest of the world.
The journal is an important contributor to ATS’s mission to bring theological understanding to Seventh-day Adventists and to the world at large. Translation of articles into Spanish and Portuguese has begun.
Top five Perspective Digest article downloads in 2017:
- “Mission of God’s People in the Old Testament” (Jirí Moskala)
- “The Everlasting Covenant” (Peter M. van Bemmelen)
- “God’s Character in the Bible and the Koran” (Larry L. Lichtenwalter)
- “Divorce and Remarriage in the Old Testament” (Richard Davidson)
- “Jephthah and the Grace of God” (Stephen Bauer)
How to Talk About Transgender Issues from a Biblical Perspective
Larry Lichtenwalter, who serves at Middle East University in Beirut, Lebanon, as dean of the philosophy and theology faculty and director of the Adventist Institute for Islamic and Arabic Studies, recently wrote on the subject of transgenderism for a Biblical Research Institute book and an article submitted to Ministry magazine. During the time of his writing, the Seventh-day Adventist Church released an official statement on transgenderism.
The BRI ethics committee is producing a three-volume series on marriage, family, and human sexuality. Lichtenwalter and Elias de Souza were assigned to write on transgenderism. The book on human sexuality that includes their chapter is forthcoming.
From his study on New Testament passages about human sexuality, Lichtenwalter wrote an article that, he says, is intended to “engage discussion about the biblical perspectives of sexuality and the implications for the transgender issue.”
In this pastoral and theological approach, he does not attempt to tackle any of the terminological, scientific, cultural, or psychological issues of transgenderism, but instead answers the question, Does the New Testament say anything to the contemporary conversation about transgender?
The Bible provides a better foundation for approaching transgender than secular thinking does, says Lichtenwalter. The biblical view of human nature is wholistic, with body, mind, and spirit in unity. Secular thinking separates mind and body, leading to much of the distorted thinking about transgender in the world today.
Through a study of two Bible passages in the New Testament, Lichtenwalter explains how the Bible teaches us to examine the struggle going on in human minds. “It consistently encourages us to relate to our sexuality in harmony with what God’s original intent is, not the way fallen human beings are.” God is in the process of redeeming, and in Him our transformation will be complete. The world’s solution to transgender not only falls far short of God’s ideal but also creates moral and emotional confusion. The Bible provides the best foundation for approaching the real-world challenges of transgender people.
ATS Academy Records New Programs for Hope Channel
ATS Academy director Felix Cortez reports that a new video series called “Faith and Life” is being recorded at the Hope Channel studios in Silver Spring, Maryland, USA. Taping began on August 6 and continues through August 20, 2017. Cortez is associate professor of New Testament literature and director of the MA in Religion program at the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary.
The new series introduces the main doctrines of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. It will address Adventist beliefs such as revelation, inspiration, sin, salvation, death, resurrection, sanctuary, creation, the law of God, Sabbath, and the church. These topics will each get a half-hour treatment. John Reeve recruited the guest speakers.
“The reason for this series is that we want to help people to understand doctrine, and how doctrine is really important for the way we live,” Cortez said. “Sometimes we think that doctrine is just for theologians. But it’s not that way, because doctrine affects the way we live our lives.” The series, which will eventually consist of 52 programs, is aimed at non-Adventists, Cortez adds. “This is part of our evangelism.”
“The videos are a developing concept,” says ATS president Carl Cosaert. “This is a way to popularize our material and reach an audience that we’re not reaching with our [JATS] journal.”
The format will change from the first series, “Faithful to the Scriptures,” which consisted of one-to-one interviews and was an introduction to the Bible. The new series takes the form of a panel discussion with two hosts and two or three guests, which fosters dynamic discussion. The hosts are Cortez and Andrea Jakobsons.
ATS Academy videos are to be broadcast on Hope Channel starting in October 2017. Programs and times have not been set.
“Sometimes we think that doctrine is just for theologians. But it’s not that way, because doctrine affects the way we live our lives.”
ATS Academy Videos in Translation
“Faithful to the Scriptures” videos available on the ATS Academy website are being translated from English into other languages. Work has begun on Mandarin and Cantonese, and Spanish and Portuguese are also underway. Translated words appear as subtitles on the English-language videos. The original videos are available at www.atsacademy.org and on Adventist Learning Community’s YouTube channel.
JATS Issue Coming Soon
The next two issues of the Journal of the Adventist Theological Society (JATS) will be released soon, with Spring 2016 coming in late summer (northern hemisphere) and Fall 2017 by December 2017.
November ATS/ETS Conference
ATS president-elect John Reeve has put together a rich program for “The Heritage of the Reformation,” this year’s ATS symposium in New England. Meetings begin at the Omni Providence Hotel in Providence, Rhode Island, USA on Nov. 15 and proceed to Cambridge Seventh-day Adventist Church in Everett, Massachusetts on Friday evening, Nov. 17 (in conjunction with the Adventist Society for Religious Studies), and Sabbath, Nov. 18. Richard Davidson will speak during the worship service on justification by faith in the Old Testament.
The church history department at the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary at Andrews University in Michigan, USA, is sponsoring an event October 12–14, 2017 called the “Symposium Commemorating 500 Years of the Protestant Reformation: Intersection of Adventism and Luther.”
In September 2017, Larry Lichtenwalter will be the speaker at camp meeting held at Sedaven High School in South Africa. John Reeve will be guest-teaching church history at Middle East University in February 2018.
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