More than 360 Seventh-day Adventist theologians, college and university professors, and Church administrators convened in Rome, Italy, from June 11-21, for the fourth International Bible Conference (IBC).
The gathering, which takes place every five years, seeks to explore a chosen theme associated with theological studies through the presentation of papers, discussion panels and professional networking.
In Rome, the chosen theme was eschatology, a word that literally means “the teaching of the last things” and describes the study of last-day events and associated subjects.
According to South Pacific Division president, Pastor Glenn Townend, the theme was topical and an important one for the Church at this time.
“Adventist is in our name—it focuses on the return of Jesus Christ to the world. This is our hope,” he said.
“Seventh-day Adventists believe that prophecy is fulfilled in history. However, we need to be certain and not speculative in our understanding of Scripture and the end time. This conference provided a good balance on these issues.”
Plenary presentations began with Angel Rodriguez, former Biblical Research Institute director, providing insight into the intersection of Adventist theology and eschatology in general.
At least 12 delegates from the South Pacific Division attended the conference, presented on various topics and moderated some of the sessions. There were representatives from Avondale College of Higher Education (Cooranbong, NSW), Pacific Adventist University (Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea), Sonoma, Fulton (Fiji) and Mamarapha (Karragullen, WA).
“The 4th International Bible Conference was a tremendous blessing to me personally,” said Dr Kayle de Waal, head of Avondale Seminary. “I was fed spiritually and intellectually and enjoyed worship and fellowship with colleagues from around the world.”
“Eschatology is an important theme in Scripture and as Adventists we have grounded our understanding in Christ and his perspective on the end in Matthew 24. There were a range of papers presented and it was good to see the growth of the church in terms of what scholars are producing,” he said.
Dr John Skrzypaszek, director of the Ellen G White Research Centre, presented on “The Visionary Purpose of the Prophetic Voice in the Context of the Seventh-day Adventist Eschatology”.
“Participation in this conference gave me the opportunity to explore, review and revive my conviction about Christ’s promised return and its relation to life during the time of waiting,” he said.
Dr Skrzypaszek also felt that the topic of the conference was a useful one. “The scholarly presentations focused on the Seventh-day Adventist understanding of eschatology from the perspective of Old and New Testaments, Adventists studies and missiology. Given the variety of extreme positions emerging within the ranks of the Adventist Church on the theme of last-day events, the Bible Conference provided a framework for a balanced understanding of this relevant to our time and historic topic.”
Dr David Tasker, from Advondale College, presented on the year-for-a-day prophetic principle and how Jesus’ first advent can be arrived at using the prophecy of Daniel 9.
Among the memorable aspects of the Rome IBC was the sheer number of papers presented in six parallel tracks. Scholars from all parts of the world presented a total of 102 papers on a variety of topics, not including plenary sessions.