Our conviction and strong desire is to foster biblical, theological, and historical studies that strengthen the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s message and mission.

2020 ATS Symposium Spotlights Christianity and Islam

The 2020 Fall ATS Symposium is just around the corner. Distance won’t be a roadblock this year with the November 16-21 virtual event. The theme for this year’s meetings is “Christianity and Islam.” A downloadable program is available here.

On Monday, November 16, during the Evangelical Theological Society’s  Symposium (ETS), ATS presentations include:

  • “Proskuneo? Embodied Worship in Contemporary Worship, Adventism, and Islam” by David A. Williams, Andrews University;
  • “An Apocalyptic Duel: The Papal-Caliphate Controversy about the End of Time during the Conflicts of 1095-1291 and 1394-1718 through the Lens of the Biblical Eschatological Corpus” by Michael F. Younker, General Conference of SDA; 
  • “Islamic Creationism and Its Connection to Christian Creationism” by Mihai Bijacu, Andrews University;
  • “The Words of God: Textual Criticism in the New Testament and Qur’an by Jonathan A. Campbell, Dallas Theological Seminary.”
  • On Wednesday, November 18, the ATS presentations at the ETS will focus on missional strategies.
  • “Kaaba & Sanctuary: Qur’anic and Biblical Cosmic Centers—Ontological and Existential Worldviews by” Larry L. Lichtenwalter, Middle East University;
  • “Six Stages for Faith Development in Muslim Contexts” by Gabriela Philips, North American Division Adventist Muslim Relations Coordinator;
  • “A Historical Review of the Understanding of Christology and Trinity within Christianity and its Presentation in Islamic Contexts” by Petras Bahadur, Global Center for Adventist Muslim Relations;
  • “Dreams and Visions: Strategies Muslims Welcome” by Jony Hajaj, Adventist Frontier Missions.

A joint vespers program with the Adventist Society for Religious Studies will be hosted on Friday night by the North American Division Ministerial Department.

“The programming for Sabbath features a variety of topics and fields,” says Rahel Wells, ATS president-elect, and ATS Symposium organizer. “The Sabbath School  program will be ATS Bible Bites, which are short presentations as varied as Ellen White, the sanctuary from the time of the tabernacle to Herod’s temple, the Sabbath, and abolitionism.”

A panel of scholars will review the missional strategies they presented in papers earlier in the week. During his presidential address, ATS President John Reeve will speak on, “What Do Christianity and Islam Have to do with Mani?–An Invitation to a Christian Experience of Jesus Christ.”

“The afternoon’s presentations are divided into two sections–Biblical Studies and Theology and History presentations,” says Wells. “These will be followed by the ATS business meeting.”

If you need to renew your ATS membership or join for the first time, you can do so here. https://www.atsjats.org/membership

Watch your email for Zoom links that will be sent close to the beginning of the events.

Adventist History Goes Digital

Today’s digital access creates opportunities that didn’t exist twenty-five years ago. To remain relevant and accessible, adjusting to an online presence and providing digital resources previously published as a physical product is vital. The global church project of the recently launched Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists (ESDA) is a prime example.

The Seventh-day Adventist Encyclopedia’s first edition, published in 1966, quickly became outdated. Additional updates and revisions were completed in 1975 and 1996. The footprint and face of the Adventist church today differs greatly from those of 54 years ago. Worldwide growth and change in the Adventist church drove the need for an updated resource.

At the 2015 Spring meeting,  the General Conference Executive Committee voted on both the concept of the ESDA as an online resource and funding for the project. The General Conference Department of Archives, Statistics, and Research (ASTR), with David Trim as editor, was assigned oversight of the project.

In early 2018, with the departure of the original managing editor, ATS member Dragoslava Santrac, Ph.D., accepted the position to bring the project to fruition.

The project’s scope included new research and writing of articles. Worldwide input and expertise were sought to bring an international voice to the research and writing.

An editorial team of 35 assistant editors, sub-editors, editorial consultants, and research assistants, along with 15 consultant editors from the Adventist Church’s 13 world divisions, the Middle East and North Africa Union, and the Ellen G. White Estate formed the backbone of the project. Among these were ATS members Felix Cortez, Michael Campbell, Frank Hasel, Alberto Timm, Denis Kaiser, Dennis Pettibone, and Ekkehardt Mueller. Artur Stele, a General Conference Vice President and, also an ATS Member, chaired the editorial board.

In an interview with the Adventist Review, Santrac explained that the new encyclopedia is not an update but a new project. “Writing new articles for the ESDA does not suggest rewriting the history, although it will involve correcting inaccurate information, if such exists in the current encyclopedia,” said Santrac. “New research will bring a fresh perspective that will speak to contemporary generations of Adventists as well as updated information. The authors will verify the old sources and include new relevant materials.”1

The project is expected to incorporate more than 8,500 articles, eventually.  Using an online edition allows for expansion and updates as needed. Employing editorial input from all divisions creates the ability to collect materials from the local field, including letters and diaries, oral interviews, and more.

ESDA was initially scheduled to launch during the 61st General Conference Session in Indianapolis, Indiana. With the Session’s postponement, the decision was made to continue with the original launch date through an online event. On July 1, 2020, viewers tuned in from around the world for the official ceremony. During the event, David Trim, ESDA Editor, and ATS member, said, “We believe you’ll want to dip in and out of it and search it for its content because of its stories, but also because of its scholarship.”

As the ESDA continues to expand, articles are still being accepted. Contact Dragoslava Santrac at [email protected].

To access the ESDA, visit https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/

Watch the official launch of the Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ghb55gmz2ts&t=2s

News Shorts

28 Ways to Spell Your Faith

    Are you looking for new ways to relate to your Bible beliefs? You’ll want to pick up a copy of the new book, 28 Ways to Spell Your Faith. Edited by Gerald Klingbeil, the book brings together reflections of various authors and their interactions with various Bible beliefs. 

ATS members who contributed to the manuscript include Norman Gulley, Clinton Wahlen, John Baldwin, Leonard Brand, Arthur Chadwick, Randall Younker, Alberto Timm, Elias Brasil de Souza, Ekkehardt Mueller, Gerhard Pfandl, David Tasker, Mark Finley, and Martin Klingbeil. You can read a sample chapter here.

Merlin Burt Serves as Director of Ellen G. White Estate

        In September, ATS Trustee Merlin Burt assumed the role of director of the Ellen G. White Estate following the retirement of James Nix.

Burt formerly served as director of the Center for Adventist Research, director of the White Estate Branch Office, and as professor of church history for the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary at Andrews University in Michigan.

Burt earned a degree in respiratory therapy from Loma Linda University in Loma Linda, California, and a Bachelor of Theology from Southwestern Adventist University in Keene, Texas. He completed his Master of Divinity and Doctor of Philosophy at Andrews University.

He’s served as a pastor in California and Ohio, as the chair of Archives and Special Collections and director of the Ellen G. White Estate Branch Office at Loma Linda University and taught in the School of Religion.

In 2004, Burt became the director of the Center for Adventist Research and director of the White Estate Branch Office at Andrews University. He also served as a professor of church history at the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary.

Burt is a published author of numerous articles and chapters and served in various capacities as speaker, editor, and organizer of several conferences and symposiums. He is the author of Adventist Pioneer Places: New York and New England; served as editor of Understanding Ellen White, and is currently writing a textbook on the development of Seventh-day Adventist Theology. 

Central Conference Camp Meeting

            When a pandemic closes the annual camp meeting programming, can a local conference do something that will make a difference?

In March the Central California Conference (CCC) made the difficult decision to cancel their the 72nd annual convocation which typically draws close to 10,000 people.

            The conference’s Hispanic pastoral team decided to launch the first-ever CCC biblical theological symposium. Organizers chose “The Bible and Last Day Events” as the theme of the symposium, which would present topics of relevant messages in today’s world.

            The online symposium was held July 11-18. Organizers utilized social media apps such as Facebook and YouTube to promote the event. The first day that advertising went out, within the first hour 3,000 users had seen the promotion. That number continued to grow. Viewers from around the world including South America, Europe, Asia, and Canada responded to the advertising. Eventually, over 500,000 people saw the presentations.

            Several ATS members were among the symposium presenters, including Richard Davidson, Jiří Moskala, Joel Iparraguirre, Roger Ruiz, Alberto R. Timm, Elias Brasil de Souza, and Gerhard Pfandl.

            After the speakers presented their message, a question-and-answer segment allowed viewers to connect. The successful symposium didn’t end with the closing program. A weekly live program titled “Echoes of the Symposium” airs every Friday night. You can watch the presentations here. https://www.youtube.com/cccsda Several ATS members are featured speakers, including Ranko Stefanovic, Roy Gane, and Jon Paulien

Additionally, the presentations were compiled as articles into a book titled Eventos finales: Una exposición bíblica y contemporánea

which is available for order on Amazon.com.

Featured Articles by ATS Members

If you missed the following articles written by ATS members in the October 2020 issue of Adventist World, this is your chance to read them. You can download a digital copy of Adventist World here. https://www.adventistworld.org/october-2020/

  • In the column ”Bible Questions Answered,” Ángel M. Rodríguez writes about “God’s Glory Revealed.” He discusses the theophany that occurred at Mount Sinai, what this experience contained, it’s central purpose, and how it pointed to the theophany of God on Golgotha.
  • In Heralds of God’s Judgement, Alberto Timm reviews the denomination’s historical interpretations and reminds readers that the mission has not changed through the years and proclaiming the three angels’ messages are just as relevant today as they were for our founders.
  • Tim Standish recounts a chance encounter with a woman whose life is different than his caused him to reflect on moving from an us-and-them mentality to one of us-and-us and how we are all valued by the Creator of the Creation.
  • In Eternal, Unchangeable, and Always Relevant, Gerald Klingbeil and Ángel Manuel Rodríguez discuss the content, significance, relevance, and timeliness of the three angels’ messages within the larger context of Adventist theology.
  • In the October 27 issue of the Adventist Review, Gary Swanson reflects on karma, poetic justice, and grace in his article, Poetic Justice. https://www.adventistreview.org/poetic-justice