Dr Frank Hasel is an Adventist scholar, currently serving as an associate director of the Biblical Research Institute, based at the General Conference office in Silver Spring, Maryland, USA. As someone whose life and faith has been shaped by books, he talked about his recent books written for wider audiences.
Tell us about your work with the Biblical Research Institute (BRI) and what this involves.
At the BRI, I explore biblical and theological questions and help in the publication of various books projects, such as a new book Biblical Hermeneutics: An Adventist Approach that will come out soon. I am the editor of the digital BRI newsletter Reflections. I am also one of the editors of the new SDA Bible and Theological Dictionary and the revised SDA Encyclopedia. We promote the study of Adventist theology and facilitate dialogue with the theological community in our church through the Biblical Research Committees of the various Divisions. We also organise and conduct Bible conferences and speak at camp-meetings, among other contributions to the church around the world.
What was your background before coming to this role?
I was born and raised in Germany, but I also studied and lived in England and the United States. The book A Thousand Shall Fall tells the true story of my grandfather and his family during difficult times in World War II in Nazi Germany. I grew up hearing those fascinating stories often. They inspired me. I received my doctorate in Systematic Theology from Andrews University and wrote my dissertation on the role of Scripture in theology. Before coming to the BRI in 2016, I worked as an ordained pastor in southern Germany for seven years and for the past 18 years as a Bible teacher, dean of the theology department, and director of the Ellen G White Study Center at Bogenhofen Seminary in beautiful Austria.
I firmly believe that all good theology is eminently practical. In 2009, I lost my wife, who died of breast cancer. Experiencing such significant loss in life and having to learn to cope with the challenges of being a single parent of three sons, you need a very practical spiritual life. Mere theory will not do. This led me to write Longing for God: A Prayer and Bible Journal, which grew out of my experience and helped me stay spiritually sane and even joyful in pain.
What prompted you to write your new book Living For God?
The subtitle of my new book is “Reclaiming the Joy of Christian Virtue.” I believe that deep inside we all crave the joy of Christian virtue because we are created in the image of Love. I explore the beauty of biblical virtues such as friendliness, gratitude, courage, honesty, patience, humility, contentment, and more, but also unfold some unexpected aspects of familiar concepts that deal with prayer, Sabbath rest and digital detox.
What do you consider the single most important element of living faithfully?
Living faithfully has to be grounded and sustained by love. Otherwise it will quickly morph into mere duty and eventually will end up in legalism or fanaticism.
How do we read the Bible at its best?
When you read it for the simple pleasure of it, but also with some determination, because you long to learn from Jesus and you desire to know His will.
How important are books for spiritual growth?
Books can be very instrumental in providing new impulses for spiritual growth and I hope my books contribute to just that. Faithfulness grows best through the inspiring example of a loving and faithful person. That’s why the stories in the Bible are so fascinating and important for our spiritual growth.
Living for God and other books by Frank Hasel are available from Adventist bookstores in Australia and New Zealand, or online.