Leaders unpack Adventist understanding of the Trinity

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Leaders and pastors gather for the presentation. (Credit: Craig Bates and Kirsten Oster Lundqvist)

Thirty-five pastors, chaplains and elders from across the south and central north regions of north New Zealand met at Palmerston North Central Church for a day of teaching on Adventist belief in the Trinity on August 4.

Regional pastor for the North New Zealand Conference (NNZC), Anton Van Wyk, invited systematic theologian and pastor of Ilam Seventh-day Adventist church in Christchurch, Dr Limoni Manu O’uiha, to address the Adventist Church’s belief on the Trinity.

Opening the day, NNZC president Pastor Ben Timothy shared the vision for the conference and reminded attendees of “the need to start with Jesus Christ as our foundation”.

Dr O’uiha began the day by taking the group through a presentation entitled “The progressive understanding of the Trinity doctrine among Seventh-day Adventists”, which highlighted how the Adventist Church has developed and reached today’s theological understanding of the Trinity. By taking the group on a historical journey through the development of the Trinity doctrine, Dr O’uiha showed the different problematic theological approaches of various founding fathers, and how they grew in understanding the Trinity.

“Our faith cannot stand on our fathers, pioneers, church traditions, church statements, creed or dogma, but only on the foundation of the scripture of God” shared Dr O’uiha.  “Remembering that while our theology is being progressive, it does not diminish the role of Scripture.”

Pastor Ben Timothy and Dr Limoni O’uiha. (Credit: Craig Bates and Kirsten Oster Lundqvist)

With a recent increase of anti-trinitarian debates among church members, Dr O’uiha addressed where and why anti-trinitarian teachings fall short of Seventh-day Adventist beliefs, and how misunderstandings of one aspect of our theological teachings can have a ripple effect on all other teachings.

“The doctrine of God is the most critical of the issues we face in our church,” shared Dr O’uiha. “This doctrine influences how we understand the Godhead and therefore also salvation.”

The meeting clearly filled a need by bringing leaders and pastors together to deal with current issues in local churches.

Hastings Church pastor Midori Ierome said he appreciated the historical approach and how the presentation provided a better understanding of how to respond to questions about the Trinity that he encounters in his local church.

New Plymouth pastor Tony Parrish shared, “Dr O’uiha showed how our theology is woven together in a colourful tapestry, and if you pull one thread out, the tapestry unravels”

Wellington Regional pastor Joe Tesese commented, that “the progressive understanding we have as a church on the Trinity has given us a continuous growth and has moved us away from being found in a lifeless position and understanding.”

Lay leaders were also impressed with the day. Hawera Church elder Craig Bates said that “Dr O’uiha made the teachings clear and precise.”

Some of the local pastors and leaders. (Credit: Craig Bates and Kirsten Oster Lundqvist)