As Boyz II Men sang in the ‘90s, “We’ve come to the end of the road”. Here at Adventist Record, we can let go, but before we do I thought it would be a good time to reflect.
This Sabbath’s issue features the last (but certainly not the least) of our 28 Fundamentals series. When we started this series, a little more than a year ago, I had the impression that many of us, particularly my generation and younger, had lost touch a little with what Adventists really believe. Maybe we were vaguely aware but didn’t have a sense of how we, and all our (insert your favourite descriptor: unique, peculiar, special) beliefs, fit into the picture.
And Adventism paints a beautiful picture when taken in all together. As a Church community we have been blessed with a cohesive, life-giving narrative.
Marcos Torres, pastor in Western Australia and a contributor to this series, has stated many times on his The Story Church Project podcast and blog, “Adventism has a beautiful story.” I agree.
He goes on to explain. “I love our theological narrative complete with our passion for Daniel and Revelation. I love the health message. I love the writings of Ellen White. I love the history of our Church and its legacy. I love our sanctuary hermeneutic, our global structure and haystacks. And most of all, I love the way authentic Adventism lifts Jesus up. There’s just nothing like it.”
Our 28 Fundamentals fit together to outline that beautiful story. They are not isolated islands of information. They are not a smorgasbord of options from which we only enjoy the choicest morsels.
Instead, they are a mosaic that forms a greater picture of God and our lives as we follow His plan. They form a framework for our faith community to see and understand God’s character, mission and our ultimate purpose—“Our Church exists to communicate the heart of God to the whole world,” Marcos continues.
And these 28 Fundamentals, these “understandings”, fit together to help explain our picture and communicate it to others.
I learned a lot while watching this project come to fruition, including that we cannot just hold our beliefs. If we want to get the most out of them; that we need to engage, understand and live them.
Another lesson is that we are not doctrinal drones. Each of us has a different way of expressing, connecting to and understanding our fundamental beliefs. This is a good thing. None of the authors tackled their topics the way I might have, but they all engaged in meaningful ways. It was never quite what I expected yet all that I had hoped for and more.
This project taught me that as a Church we can learn from each other, especially our up-and-coming younger people. I’ve been so impressed by some of the writers we’ve uncovered through this series. Many of them had never written for Record before, but I’m sure they’ll write for us again.
Also, it’s good to remember the basics from time to time. There is much value in revisiting cherished beliefs as a community.
I encourage you to take this journey further than the pages of the magazine. Seek to discover your beliefs more deeply, what they mean to you and how to live them in a way that makes a difference in your life and the lives of those around you. Our beliefs cannot be hand-me-downs from parents, pastors or even things we accepted many years ago. They must be grappled with and accepted personally. Only then will they stick and make an impact; only then are they truly believed.
Challenge yourself, as our writers did, to take these beliefs and make them personal and practical.
And, if you’ve enjoyed the 28 series, keep an eye out for a special compilation coming soon.