Life With God Premieres on ATS YouTube Channel
The early months of 2020 witnessed the world grind to a halt as nations coped with the spread of COVID-19. As the days lengthened into weeks and months, Adelina Alexe, a doctoral candidate from Romania studying at the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary, wanted to make something good come out of a dark time for so many people. “I believe it is up to us to explore ways to reach out during this time and find methods of bringing God more fully into our lives and the lives of those around us,” says Adelina. A conversation with her sister, Larisa, inspired Adelina to pursue fulfilling what she’d been thinking about. “My sister shared her vision of having live discussions in which scholars and young adults could meet and talk about God,” says Adelina.
Initially, Adelina was reluctant to embark on such a task because it involved stepping out of the comfort zone on several levels. However, a growing impulse outweighed the perceived issues. “I thought about the impact this opportunity could carry, and I traded my discomfort for the benefits that could come to others,” says Adelina. The idea of bringing together experts and young adults was on her mind for years, and the timing felt more urgent than ever.
At the end of the summer in 2020, Adelina approached Dr. John Reeve, ATS president, PhD/ThD Program Director, and Assistant Professor of Church History at Andrews Theological Seminary, to explore possibilities, and shared the format she envisioned. Reeve brought Rahel Wells, (ATS president-elect) into this project, and the two presented the idea to the Adventist Theological Society board. An initial funding approval was followed by a request for a program structure and guest list, which took the idea to the next level. For Adelina, this next level involved clarifying some pressing aspects of realism arising from her dissertation research. A final proposal, including topics, structure, and participants was endorsed and the project implementation began at the end of November.
Life With God builds on the idea that we must be intentional in pursuing our life with God. “Towards this end, understanding how concepts such as presence, power, beauty, freedom, and love exist in God can round out our view of Him and offer us a conceptual, as well as a practical model to follow. The program’s title is a simple yet complex expression. It is simple, because this is a key principle of Christianity,” says Adelina. “As Christians, we believe that a life with God is the best life we can live. When we choose to adopt this philosophy and live it out in our lives, it’s because we decide it is worth incorporating into our thinking. At the same time, it is complex because the expression implies a relationship, and every relationship is complex – but especially one with God. “Life with God” explores the manifestation of key concepts in God (one concept at a time one season at a time) and provides us with deeper knowledge of God. As we engage in this pursuit, we discover in God an archetype worth imitating. And by imitating God, we learn more deeply, both intellectually and practically, what life with God looks like – in relationship with Him and with fellow human beings.”
The opening season features Andrews University students conversing with a scholar guest on topics centered on God as Love. “The students know the theme, but they don’t know where the guest will take us in the conversation,” says Adelina. “This allows everyone to engage in the moment.” The conversation opens with a broad question that allows the guest to set the direction of where he or she would like for the discussion to take. As the conversation flows, both the guests and the students share ideas. This freestyle discussion gives the students the possibility to voice out their questions and other issues their peers might have related to the topic. “In preparing the students for their participation, I emphasized the concept of shared leadership,” says Adelina. “I encouraged them to both assert themselves and to make room for others, in order to ensure a balanced and engaging conversation.”
Launching such a program doesn’t occur in a vacuum. “God brought different people together to help get this off the ground, and several individuals played crucial roles.” says Adelina. “My sister’s vision and constant support in all the planning and implementing aspects were essential for the project. Dr. Rahel Wells provided contacts with undergraduate students who wanted to take part. Dr. Reeve and the ATS committee saw the benefit of reaching young adults and provided funding. Pastor Sandro Sandoval offered to help with the technical aspects of production and often went the extra mile with support.
“A providential discussion in November with a friend and PhD candidate, Benjamin Chircan, pointed me to the Jewish philosopher Joshua Abraham Heschel. Heschel’s overtly spiritual philosophical framework echoed my dissertation inclinations and, in a sense, helped give voice to the foundational presuppositions of this program: that (1) God is the first reality, and therefore (2) key ideas (love, beauty, freedom, power, etc.) exist first in Him, and in Him exist perfectly. This reframing of the Greek Ideas in light of Judeo-Christian philosophy is the backbone of the program and an integral – albeit, preliminary – part of my dissertation. Strangely and surprisingly, I get to see this conceptual framework played out before writing out my research conclusions. Dr. Martin Hanna, my dissertation committee chair, gave guidance in the conceptual development and encouragement during the planning phases. I cannot imagine this project coming to life without Dr. Hanna being who he is and working with me in the manner he does. “Gratefulness” does not do justice to his overall support. The students, as everyone can see online, are a wonderful group of dedicated young adults and I feel privileged to spend regular time in their company and to tap into their deep well of spiritual, emotional, and intellectual richness. I truly believe God works behind the scenes and brought the speakers, students, and support team together to take the concept to a live show.”
Life With God
Life With God, new Adventist Theological Society (ATS) program designed to engage university-age young adults launched its premiere season on February 2. Season 1 programs air live on Tuesday and Thursday nights at 7:00 p.m. Eastern Time through March 11. You can subscribe to the ATS YouTube Channel at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCWlMRXWDxfn3NfXvIWamsfg. The program also streams live on the ATS Facebook page @adventisttheologicalsociety7. Season 2 is entitled God is Presence and is planned to air live March 23 through April 29. A podcast of the program is in the works for the near future.
“It is up to us to explore ways to reach out during this time and find methods of bringing God more fully into our lives and the lives of those around us.”
Encountering God Through Order and Design
One never knows how life’s experiences will impact future events. As a child, growing up in the shadow of the Italian Alps Ronny Nalin’s lifelong interest in nature, origins, rocks, and mountains began to grow. “Our family spent a lot of time hiking and exploring nature,” says Nalin. “Our church sponsored an active Pathfinder club, which also provided many opportunities to explore nature, including learning about medicinal plants and the night sky and constellations.” As he grew physically, Nalin’s appreciation for God’s created works and how they demonstrated God’s love for humans expanded.
As early as his middle school years, Nalin’s interest in origins caused him to ask questions about the various models. “I became curious as to why the model of evolution seemed to be the most acceptable to many people,” says Nalin “Once you’ve experienced God in your life, when you interact with models where His presence is absent, the deficiencies in those models become clearer.”
As his interest and passion for geology grew during his undergraduate studies, Nalin pursued his graduate degrees at the Italian Università degli Studi di Padova, where Galileo once taught. During his studies, Nalin also spent several months as an international student at the University of Leicester, UK, and then as visiting scholar at the University of Waikato, New Zealand. He earned his Master of Science in Geology in 2002 and his Doctor of Philosophy in Earth Sciences in 2006.
In 2003, an expedition trip to Peru became Nalin’s first interaction with Geoscience Research Institute (GRI). “I was invited to be a part of the team, and I worked with Raul Esperante,” says Nalin. “I had the opportunity to meet Leonard Brand and Art Chadwick.” The trip was a high point for Nalin as he realized he was part of a team of Adventist scientists. More opportunities to collaborate came from that initial trip. In 2007, GRI invited Nalin to join them as a research scientist. His research focuses on stratigraphy and sedimentology.
With the retirement of GRI Director James Gibson, Nalin was named as his replacement in July 2020. Nalin wants GRI’s broad mission to continue reaching its many target audiences by engaging them in different manners. “There is not a single recipe to share about origins and Creation,” says Nalin. “Some people respond to the evidence of design in nature. Others are more responsive to a relational emphasis. It is important as we share with others about the Bible and the act of Creation that we see ourselves as instruments that God uses. Then we allow the Holy Spirit to move and convict the individual.”
Since Nalin’s appointment as director, the Institute’s scientists have implemented creative ways to continue to interact with audiences. Travel to conferences has been curtailed, but online meetings are now used for presentations. “We have also taken this time as an opportunity to review and catalog a backlog of data that we’ve collected,” says Nalin. “Webinars allow us to reach a broader audience, but there is a loss of relational interaction. And, of course, our travel to research sites has been stalled.”
Another interesting aspect of the Institute are the branch offices located worldwide. “GRI partners with Divisions and other institutions. We have branch offices in South Korea, Spain, Brazil, and Mexico,” says Nalin. “The directors of these offices multiply GRI’s efforts, and they can disseminate information in the local languages. Additionally, 10 other smaller resource centers are located at Adventist universities and colleges worldwide.”
As he looks forward to GRI’s future, Nalin is sure of one thing. “Confronting how sin has impacted this world and examining different origins models causes you to examine your faith deeply,” he says. “I encounter God in my life, in the Bible, through order and design. When you explore and reflect on the details of the natural world, you can better understand and see the wonders of God’s Creation.”
Geoscience Research Institute
The Geoscience Research Institute is sponsored by the Seventh-day Adventist Church. The Institute’s mission is to discover through original research, the study of scientific and biblical literature, and interaction with other scholars. At the same time, the Institute shares information through its website, publications, field conferences and seminars, and interaction with Seventh-day Adventist educators and students.
Geoscience Research Institute website—grisda.org
Geoscience Research Institute Facebook page—@Geoscienceresearchinstitute
You can subscribe to the GRI quarterly newsletter at https://www.grisda.org/subscribe-to-our-newsletter
Reliving Mark Premiers February 28th
Reliving Mark, a six-part docudrama, will premiere on February 28 on Hope Channel. Hosted by former ATS president Dr. Carl Cosaert, the series focuses on the fundamental question in the Gospel of Mark—“Who Is Jesus of Nazareth?”
Filmed on location in Israel, Cosaert guides the viewer through Mark’s account and examines Jesus’ life in historical context and in relation to Jewish customs and practices of that time. Recent archaeological discoveries also bring new understanding to the story.
A lifelong interest in the ancient world filled Cosaert with a desire to better understand the relation between the ancient world and the Bible’s stories. “For over a decade, I've lead hundreds of people on Steps of Jesus tours focused around the Gospel of Mark” says Cosaert. “About five years ago, God put a burden on my heart to share a little of that experience with a broader audience. It is amazing to see how God brought together so many different people, including a superb production team, to help make this series a reality. I am especially thankful to the Adventist Theological Society, the Center for Media Ministry at Walla Walla University, and the Hope Channel for the key roles they played in the production.”
In Episode 1, viewers will visit Qumran, learn about the Essenes and the significance of Jesus’ appearance in the Judean wilderness and His baptism by John.
Episode 2 takes viewers to three ancient synagogues, where Cosaert interviews an orthodox Jew about the role of contemporary synagogues.
In Episode 3, a home in the Golan Heights is the setting where Cosaert examines the story of the paralytic’s healing in Capernaum.
Episode 4 provides insight into Passover Week, what Jesus observed that week, His arrest, and the settings of both the Mount of Olives and the Temple Mount.
Episode 5 delves into archaeological remains and who were the people responsible for the death of Jesus.
The series culminates with Episode 6 and examines the nature of the crucifixion and Jewish burial practice and the hope found because of Jesus’ resurrection.
To watch and learn more about the series, visit RelivingMark.com.
2020 ATS Annual Symposium
The 2020 ATS annual symposium faced the same challenges as many other events during 2020. As the option to host an in-person event became impossible, ATS leadership pivoted to an online event for the weekend of November 20. Christianity and Islam served as the overreaching theme for both the ATS symposium and the Evangelical Theological Society (ETS) annual meeting.
“The presenters provided thought-provoking material during each of the sessions,” says Rahel Wells, ATS president-elect. “One advantage to the online platform is the opportunity for people from around the world to attend. Another positive was the opportunity for viewers to see every presentation, rather than having to choose one and miss out on another one of interest.”
The opportunity to visit and network during the meetings is an aspect that was missed during the weekend. “This is a vital part of the weekend that we believe is valuable to our members,” says Wells. “We are developing an event that will be held in Spring 2021 that will provide this opportunity in a virtual event.” As plans progress, announcements will be made on the ATS Facebook page.
During the ATS business meeting, attendees discussed the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on ATS programming, and asked John Reeve to continue as ATS president for an additional year. Rahel Wells continues in her position of president-elect. A committee was also appointed to review the ATS constitution.
The weekend presentations can be viewed on the ATS Vimeo Channel at https://vimeo.com/user12562169.
To follow ATS’s current announcements, use these social media sites.
Facebook — Follow us at @adventisttheologicalsociety7
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Call for Papers
The Adventist Theological Society invites individuals to submit proposals for the 2021 Annual Meetings held November 17-20. The overall theme is Wealth and Poverty, but papers on other topics will be considered.
A broad range of fields and perspectives including biblical, theological, philosophical, historical, sociological, missiological, and practical theological studies are welcome. Papers can specifically address factors that have shaped our understanding and conceptual development of the relationship between Christianity and wealth and poverty, such as cultural, ethnic, religious, gender, social, cognitive, scholastic, or historiographical, as well as how these have influenced personal religious experience.
Submission guidelines for proposals include:
• MS Word format
• An abstract (200-300 words) summarizing the main thesis and trajectory of argumentation.
• Include in the proposal the paper title, author’s full name, institution, mailing address, email address. In the subject line of the email use the following: Paper Proposal for ATS Annual Meeting 2021.
• First time presenters must also submit a complete outline of their paper for review when they submit their proposal.
The deadline for all proposals is Sunday, April 11, 2021. Send proposals to: A. Rahel Wells, PhD, ATS President-Elect, at: [email protected]
What to Expect If My Proposal is Accepted
Submission of a proposal does not guarantee acceptance. If your paper is accepted, you will receive more information regarding scheduling and location when these details are settled. ATS leadership intends to communicate regarding inclusions of papers for the Fall Symposium by June 2021. ATS does not have funds to assist presenters with travel expenses.
Daniel and Our Life Today
Dr. Felix Cortez presented “Lift Up a Banner Against Babylon: Daniel and the Second Angel’s Message” during the virtual Fall Annual Council meetings. You can watch his presentation that examines the parallels with God’s calling to His people today and the life and ministry of the Prophet Daniel. https://vimeo.com/showcase/7673203/video/468199240
Have You Read These Articles By ATS Members?
Don’t use an argument to win an argument about creation. Read Dr. Leonard Brand’s counsel on the best way to talk with someone who views origins differently. https://www.nadadventist.org/news/kindness-or-set-them-straight
In his article, “Money, Property, and Power,” Gerald Klingbeil contemplates an Old Testament reading of divine economics and how they apply to today’s world.