Coming Soon: A Source Book on the Trinity
With the attention given recently to the doctrine of the trinity, a book being developed by Denis Kaiser, church history professor in the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary at Andrews University, promises to raise the profile of the topic further.
With a working title of a trinity source book, the work is composed of three major parts: (1) the author’s personal story of having held antitrinitarian views in the past, weaving in the presuppositions and theological approach that constitute that mindset; (2) a historical overview of the development of thought on the trinity within Adventism, especially in the realm of the divinity of Jesus and the personality of the Holy Spirit, up to the time of Ellen White’s death; and (3) a curated collection of scanned historical sources on the topic published from the 1850s to 1915.
Kaiser said the third portion of the book is the largest. “It allows people to read the documents for themselves, see how the ideas developed, and that trinitarianism was widely spread among Adventists many years before the death of Ellen White.”
The historical overview in the second part of the book, Kaiser said, binds the documents of the third part together, creating a comprehensive overview that exhibits a clear historical trajectory. Readers can verify the assertions of that section for themselves by reading the source documents in the third section.
One of the uses for the book, Kaiser suggests, is seminars in which students can discuss the theological meaning of particular documents on the trinity and continue to do research into those subjects. The book may also be used by those who have to deal with doubters and antitrinitarians in the field.
Kaiser is in conversation with Andrews University Press about publication of the book. No release date has been set.
Introducing the President-Elect: A. Rahel Wells
Elected at the ATS symposium in Denver, Colorado in November 2018, A. Rahel Wells became the president-elect for the Society, a two-year term. In 2020 she becomes the president of ATS.
Wells is a professor of Hebrew Bible in the Religion and Biblical Languages department at Andrews University. Besides a PhD in Old Testament from Wheaton College, she also has a master’s degree in biology.
Looking ahead to the next several years of leadership in ATS, Wells said she is grateful for the multitude of ways ATS has sought to be a benefit for the world church, such as providing resources for pastors and teachers and leaders, synthesizing this research for interested laypeople, and engaging deeply with foundational doctrines and important global issues.
“I appreciate that ATS does not just speak to other scholars, but seeks to bring the best of scholarship to help strengthen and fortify the church through publications, conferences, local chapters all over the world, Hope Channel, and so on,” she said. She plans to continue promoting and furthering these aspects of ATS’s ministry.
“One big burden I have on my mind,” Wells said, “is to make ATS materials even more accessible to young people and to foster a more engaged social media presence.” She plans to look into publicizing ATS’s extensive offerings in more places where younger generations are likely to find them.
Another initiative that Wells has in mind is to bring back the spring symposia that have happened in the past, with meetings focused on bringing ATS scholars’ expertise to church members.
With her concern for connecting young people with the theology of Adventism, Wells also would like to inspire more collegiate ATS chapters in the coming years.
Wells said she looks forward to working with the ATS leadership and others associated with it, to continue to foster solid biblical scholarship for the glory of God and the equipping of the church.
New ATS Trustees Elected
A new slate of ten scholars was elected ATS Trustees at the business meeting held in Denver, Colorado, United States on November 15, 2018.
The trustees plus the elected officers and the past presidents make up the executive committee, which is the governing body of ATS. Scholars elected to the trustees group are the representatives of the society’s membership in business meetings.
Because the society is international in scope and membership, past president Carl Cosaert points out, “we like to have a wide degree of input from ATS membership around the globe.” The trustees include people from various world divisions of the church and also student representation, “so that we can move forward together as a whole,” he said.
ATS Trustees are invited to all Society events and business meetings, receive all official correspondence, and have voting rights.
The current list of ATS Trustees, officers, and past presidents is available on the society’s About page. To contact trustees with concerns and business related to ATS, send a message through the Contact page.
Engaged in the Community
After a fatal shooting at a Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States synagogue in October 2018, Teresa Reeve helped organize a prayer vigil that brought together members of several religious faiths. She explained what happened in an interview with the St. Joseph, Michigan Herald-Palladium.
Reeve, active member of the Adventist Theological Society, is an associate dean of the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary at Andrews University and chair of the university’s Interfaith Committee.
In the newspaper interview, Reeve explained that the original purpose of the Interfaith Committee was to provide a working group of several faiths that could attempt to make the surrounding community a better place.
The day after the shooting at the synagogue in Pittsburgh, Reeve sent an email to one of the Jewish members of the Interfaith Committee, and from that outreach came an interfaith prayer vigil on the Andrews campus for the families that lost loved ones.
“It was amazing,” Reeve said in the interview. “There were at least 30 to 40 people standing around the outside. It was only an hour long, but the number of people who walked out to say thank you was” heartening.
Reeve said the interfaith gathering was the first on campus that was a response to a nationally significant event.
Faith and Science Conference in Rwanda
The fifth Faith and Science Conference was held in Gitarama, Rwanda, December 11-20, 2018 on the campus of Gahogo Adventist Academy. Experts who presented at the 10-day conference included scholars from ATS, the Biblical Research Institute, and Geoscience Research Institute. About 800 pastors, teachers, and church leaders attended the event.
The administration of the Gahogo school took the money provided by the Faith and Science Council to hold the conference and used it to build an auditorium on the school campus. “I thought it was pretty innovative. It’s really a beautiful school,” ATS treasurer Ed Zinke said. “We had a place for everyone to come, and it turned out to be a very nice facility for the occasion.”
Andrew Mutero, director of education for the East-Central Africa Division and a co-organizer of the conference, said he was very pleased with how the conference turned out and received a lot of positive feedback from attendees. The roughly 12 break-out sessions each day proved to be especially popular.
The Rwandan minister of education, the Honorable Eugene Mutimura, gave a speech in which he praised the educational efforts of the Seventh-day Adventist church in the country.
The next Faith and Science Conference is scheduled in the Southern Asia-Pacific Division (SSD) for May 22-30, 2019, at Naga View Adventist College in the Philippines.
Fall Symposium – Call for Papers
ATS has sent out the call for papers to be presented at the annual meetings scheduled for San Diego, California, Wednesday, November 20 through Sabbath, November 23, 2019. The topic is “Christ in All of Scripture,” and the Society invites papers from a broad range of fields and perspectives, including biblical, theological, philosophical, historical, sociological, missiological and practical theological studies. Proposal deadline is April 5, 2019.
Denis Fortin Leads Pastors’ Conferences
ATS scholar Denis Fortin has led a number of pastors’ meetings and conferences in late 2018 and early 2019. The purpose of the presentations is to bring theological clarity for pastors concerning some doctrinal topics currently under debate in the Adventist Church. Fortin is professor of historical theology at the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary in Berrien Springs, Michigan.
At the Alberta Conference Pastors’ Retreat in late January 2019, at the camp in Bowden, Alberta, Canada, Fortin gave four presentations: “Issues in the Doctrine of the Trinity”; “The Divinity of Christ”; “Sin and Sanctification”; and “Perfectionism and the Last Generation.”
For the Pastors and Elders Council, West São Paulo Conference in São Paulo, Brazil on January 26 and 27, he gave six presentations: “Good Books Change People’s Lives”; “The Sinner’s Need of Christ”; “God’s Love for Man”; “What Are the Steps of Salvation?”; “Justification by Faith”; and “Sanctification.”
SWAU Trinity Conference
The religion department of Southwestern Adventist University (SWAU) in Keene, Texas, United States, will partner with ATS to hold a Trinity Conference February 21-23, 2019. Speakers will include John Reeve, Larry Lichtenwalter, Jiří Moskala, and Matthew Tinkham. Michael Campbell, associate professor of theology at SWAU, is organizing the conference.
On the same weekend, the SWAU Department of Theology will organize a new chapter of ATS on the campus.
“The understanding of God in three Persons is one of the most difficult beliefs in Christianity. Some may confess they don’t understand it, while others may think they do. This Trinity Conference is coming to fill a gap in our understanding of our Creator,” said Joaquim Azevedo, chair of the religion department at SWAU.
SimpleUpdates CMS Update
Visitors to atsjats.org will notice differences in the appearance and functioning of the site. Crystal Hatcher of SimpleUpdates reports that the code underlying the sites was getting out of date and had to be quickly updated because security support would no longer be available. New features of the updated code include being more mobile friendly; better functions for managing audio and video files; fully functionally Gallery available for mobile devices; customizable databases; better forms, including the addition of fee charge with Stripe; and a wider range of editing functions for site pages. Most important for ATS members is that registration and log-in are no longer needed to gain access to all parts of the site.
Archaeology Digs Coming in 2019
Randall Younker, publications vice president for ATS and professor of archaeology and history of antiquity at Andrews University, reports that two archaeology digs are planned by the university’s Institute of Archaeology. One is at Tall Safra in Jordan, an early Israelite settlement, that takes place May 30–July 12, 2019; and a second dig in Sicily at San Miceli, June 14–July 16, where the work will be on an early Christian village.