The 2019 ATS Fall Symposium is set for Wednesday, November 20 through Sabbath, November 23 in San Diego, California, United States. The theme is “Christ in All Scripture.”
The North American Division Ministerial Association is sponsoring Friday night’s joint gathering of ASRS and ATS. The local church to host the program for Friday evening and Sabbath in San Diego has not yet been designated.
ATS president-elect A. Rahel Wells, who prepared the 2019 program, said some of the format is similar to that of past years and some of it is new. As in the past, Wednesday and Thursday afternoons are devoted to the presentation of ATS papers as part of the ETS annual conference. Thursday’s papers are by invitation and address four areas of “Christ in All Scripture”: Old Testament (Richard Davidson), New Testament (Eike Mueller), systematic (Adriani Milli Rodrigues), and homiletical (Rodney Palmer).
Opening the Sabbath morning program is an interview with an international scholar. Then the same four scholars from Thursday afternoon will be part of a panel, in which they will discuss their topical concentrations with a lay audience. Finally Esther Knott, associate director of the North American Division Ministerial Association, will preach for the worship service that concludes the morning activities.
Wells said she is trying something new for Sabbath afternoon in the main sanctuary. John Reeve’s presidential address at 2:30 p.m. will be followed by presentations more geared for a lay audience. Six or seven speakers will give 10-12 minute talks, with no reading of papers and no slides or handouts, simply applying something they’ve been researching. The lineup will include a variety of scholars and topics. Free time begins at 5:00 p.m., during which seminary students present their posters. Supper at 6:00 will be followed by the annual ATS business meeting.
More open time during the weekend is purposely built in, so that attendees have more opportunity to socialize and rest, Wells said. And the Sabbath program is geared away from scholarship toward a lay audience. “There’s been some frustration from the churches in the past. We’re trying to alleviate some of that,” she said.
The hotel site of the 2019 ATS Fall Symposium is Homewood Suites Downtown/Bayside, 2137 Pacific Hwy Suite B, San Diego, CA 92101.
ATS Contributes to 13th Annual SAD Biblical Symposium in Peru
From July 31 to August 3, 2019, several ATS scholars presented papers at the 13th Annual South American Theological Biblical Symposium, held this year on the campus of Peruvian Union University (UPeU) in Lima, Peru. The event brought representatives of Adventist universities, institutions, and leaders of mission fields from Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, and Peru.
About 500 people attended the symposium in person, while 250 participants in Peru participated online.
Felix Cortez, Cedric Vine, and Wagner Kuhn were the ATS-sponsored speakers on the symposium theme of “Discipleship: Theology and Praxis.” ATS scholars from BRI, including Clinton Wahlen, Ekkehardt Mueller, and Elias Brasil de Sousa, also contributed. Presenters from schools of theology and other institutions across South America included Bruno Raso, a vice president of the South American Division (SAD); Adolfo Suarez, rector of the Latin-American Adventist Theological Seminary, and Alejandro Bullón, author and international evangelist. Gluder Quispe, rector of UPeU, presented a plenary session, and six faculty of UPeU presented papers.
The topic of discipleship was chosen to address the need for developing the faith experience of new members, to stem the flow of new baptismal arrivals who quickly leave the church.
Felix Cortez presented on the challenges of postmodernism to discipleship and how best to meet those challenges. Exploring the difficulties of Christian discipleship in a cultural context of philosophical relativism and suspicion of organized religion, he gave recommendations on how to deliver the gospel to an audience that has been disappointed by the church or is not interested in it.
Cedric Vine spoke about discipleship theology in the Gospels in a paper entitled “The Disciple as a Righteous Person in the Gospel of Matthew.” Vine has written a book (not yet published) on discipleship in Matthew, an examination of the theology of the gospel commission. This work he condensed to a 40-page paper, which he summarized in his paper for the symposium.
In the gospel of Matthew, disciples are not just disciples, Vine said. “Jesus associates multiple roles with those who would be his followers.” He revealed the roles of prophet, righteous person, and disciple, based on Matthew 10:40-42. And in Matthew 23:34 he finds the roles of prophet, wise man, and scribe. Noah is named as the first righteous man in the Bible, and in numerous Old Testament passages, a righteous man is defined as one who keeps the law and who extends charity to those in need. The wise man is one who builds his house on the rock — one who obeys the law. Matthew brings to the fore the culmination of justice on the earth, when the righteous are vindicated and the unrighteous suffer destruction. “God treats you as you’ve treated others,” Vine said about Jesus’ message in Matthew. In calling for His followers to be salt in the community, Jesus was urging them to be the righteous envoys who defer judgment, in a manner that was lacking in Sodom and Gomorrah. The righteous call the unrighteous to account, and time to respond is granted but is also limited.
Wagner Kuhn presented “Growing in Christ as the Biblical Context for Discipling Believers Who Fear Death and Hell.” Recent research shows that Adventists in some regions continue to believe that people go to heaven when they die, and they fear spirits of dead people. They still pay respects to deceased family and other practices. Kuhn spoke to the need to bring church members intentionally into a proper understanding of God’s truths.
The South American Division produced a book for the symposium, published in Portuguese and Spanish, with biblical, theological, and practical reflections on discipleship. Vine and a doctoral student at the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary wrote two of the chapters. The book is being distributed across that division.
Yásmik Pari contributed to this report.
Villa Aurora Symposium Explores the Trinity
A group of ATS scholars presented a symposium on the Trinity on the weekend of June 20-24, 2019, organized jointly with Italian Adventist University in Florence, Italy.
Ten speakers brought their papers to present, while two papers were read for individuals who could not attend. ATS scholars at the event included Jiří Moskala, Teresa Reeve, Matthew Tinkham, Christopher Chadwick, Greg Howell, Denis Kaiser, and ATS president John Reeve. Other speakers were sponsored by Biblical Research Institute, the White Estate, and Andrews University Theological Seminary.
On Thursday, Moskala presented on the Trinity from the Old Testament perspective and the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament. Reeve brought historical context with a paper on the Trinity in the early Christian church. To fill in the crucial time period of the early Adventist church, Kaiser spoke on the Trinity in Adventist writings from 1850 to 1920, and Howell presented the history of Adventist anti-trinitarianism from 1870 to 1950. Friday brought a range of papers on the biblical and theological studies of the Trinity.
Reeve’s Sabbath sermon was titled “What Was God Doing for All That Time Before He Started Creating?” “My main point was that God was a Trinity, not a lonely soul,” Reeve said. “He was already a loving community. . . . What kind of a kingdom are we joining as we sign up for eternity with God? We’re signing up for a loving community, not a hierarchical empire ruled by a sole dictator.”
More than 40 individuals attended the symposium. The program included field trips to San Gimingnano, a small, walled medieval hill town that is a UNESCO world heritage site, and Villa La Petraia, one of the Medici villas in Castello, Florence.
ATS Officers Deliver Theological Training, Chapter Development in Summer 2019
ATS president John Reeve taught a one-week intensive in the seminary at Zaoksky Adventist University in Russia in the summer of 2019. The same week, Teresa Reeve taught the same week-long intensive at the theological seminary in the Ukrainian Adventist Center of Higher Education in Ukraine. Feliks K. Ponyatovsky leads the ATS chapter at the Ukrainian school. The intensives involved eight-hour days of teaching with translation.
From Russia, John Reeve traveled to Papua New Guinea (PNG) for an ATS-sponsored Bible conference that doubled as an opportunity to establish a new society chapter at Pacific Adventist University near Port Moresby. The conference was held Sabbath morning and afternoon at the University of New Guinea church pavilion, where a Seventh-day Adventist congregation regularly meets. Forty-five pastors serve 60 churches in that area. More than 60 percent of Seventh-day Adventists in the South Pacific Division live in PNG and its islands.
A Master of Divinity student from Andrews University (AU), Zuzai Hizoke, a native of PNG, was sponsored by ATS to present at the 2019 conference and help to establish the new chapter.
When the PNG chapter holds symposia and other events, they will be held in two areas of PNG, the lowlands and the highlands, which are not connected to each other by roads. Pastors and interested church members will be able to gain access to one area event or the other.
The 2021 ATS conference in PNG will initiate a series of conferences around the world, Reeve said, to be sponsored by the AU Church History department, the General Conference Office of Archives, Statistics and Research (ASTR), The Ellen G. White Estate, and the Biblical Research Institute (BRI). The main conference will be at AU in fall 2022, followed by the Adventist International Institute of Advanced Studies (AAIIAS) in 2023, and a third event at Adventist University of Africa after that.
The topic for all conferences in the series, starting at PNG, is “Adventist Identity.” From the series of conferences, organizers will produce a book planned for release by the 2025 General Conference Session. ATS scholars will be prominent and have affiliation to the conferences, but only the PNG conference will be a specifically ATS sponsored event. Other conference sites in other countries besides the major planned ones may be added to the series. The goal is “a worldwide conversation, with scholars from several regions converging at each event,” Reeve said.
Reeve said one area of theology delivery that has drawn his attention as ATS president is to help schools where the theology faculty have been somewhat isolated. Some locations like the seminary in Colombia have never been the site of an international Adventist scholarly conference. BRI asked Reeve as ATS president to consider initiating contact in Colombia as he had done at Italian Adventist University, where his connection with that school resulted in the 2019 Trinity conference on the Villa Aurora campus. Reeve said that contact has begun with the group in Colombia, and a theology conference is being organized for the autumn of 2020 at Colombia Adventist University.
In a similar vein, a tentative ATS symposium event is scheduled for fall 2019 in Venezuela. Felix Cortez was in contact with the faculty of the theology school in that isolated country. Reeve and Cortez are slated to go October 18-20.
ATS Pastors’ Meetings in India
Jiří Moskala, Wagner Kuhn, and John Reeve presented at two ATS conferences in India, one in Chennai and one in Kolkata. The meetings, held April 20-27, 2019, covered issues in salvation and the trinity. Moskala talked about eschatology in the Bible and how it is relevant for work as Seventh-day Adventists pastors, and a fresh understanding of the three angels’ messages. Kuhn, a missions specialist, presented on contextualizing the topic of salvation in the local culture. Most of the attendees at both meetings were local pastors. The India conferences were requested by Wilson Measapogu, Southern Asia Division secretary, who traveled with the ATS scholars and attended the meetings.
Montermorelos Hosts Biannual Conference
On July 3-6, 2019, three ATS scholars presented at a meeting in Mexico, the biannual Bible conference on the campus of Montemorelos University. The topic was the sanctuary. About 600 attended, mostly pastors and some elders and other lay leaders. Some presenters came from the Inter-American Division and BRI, and the ATS speakers were Jiří Moskala, Felix Cortez, and Wagner Kuhn. Moskala presented on the theology of judgment, and also the meaning of the intercessory ministry in the heavenly sanctuary.
Ezra/Nehemiah Quarterly in 2019
Jiří Moskala, ATS vice president for global evangelism, wrote the Adult Bible Study Guide (Sabbath School quarterly) and Bible Book Shelf companion book for the fourth quarter of 2019. The topic is Ezra/Nehemiah. The companion book is already available at the Adventist Book Center.
Social Media Position Update
ATS president-elect A. Rahel Wells has asked someone to take the ATS social media position, and the individual asked for a month to pray about it, so the spot is not finalized yet. All of ATS’s social media accounts would be managed by the person who takes this part-time job.
Jiří Moskala said he plans to visit some chapters and restart others around the world in the next 12 months, possibly including Australia. Felix Cortez will be speaking at the Adventist Institute of Advanced Studies (AIIAS) Seminary Forum in the Philippines, November 13-16, 2019 and will connect with that school’s ATS chapter. ATS president-elect A. Rahel Wells said she wants to start a collegiate ATS chapter at Andrews University, but not this school year.
JATS Is Coming
A double issue of the Journal of the Adventist Theological Society for 2018 is at press at the end of August and should be out any day. “We are already starting the next one for 2019,” said journal editor Randall W. Younker, professor of archaeology and History of Antiquity at Andrews University Theological Seminary.
Creation Sabbath Delivers Bible Truth
ATS member and Geoscience Research Institute senior scientist Timothy Standish reports that a revised website for Creation Sabbath is now live. The annual special Sabbath day, designated this year for October 26, 2019, provides local churches with the opportunity to highlight the evidence of Jesus’ work in His creation and His redeeming role for humanity. The new site is at creationsabbath.net.