Book review: A House on Fire

The cover of A House on Fire.

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A House on Fire
How Adventist Faith Responds to Race and Racism

Edited by Maury Jackson and Nathan Brown

The facts of racism around the world are indisputable. The histories of exploration and colonisation are the histories of racism, often encouraged and justified by a misinterpretation of Scripture by white, European “Christians” who were motivated by greed and the desire to conquer. Sure, they often practised it under the guise of evangelism, but many of the effects were the antithesis of the teachings of Christ.

A House on Fire couldn’t come at a more important moment. The book’s 20 contributors, all Seventh-day Adventist scholars—theologians, sociologists, historians—trace the history and development of racism in our societies, reveal how it has infected the Adventist Church, and address how it must be confronted in our present and future. 

For those afraid of reading some version of the “blame game,” in which all minorities are cast as victims and all whites as oppressors, they won’t find it in this book. Instead, they will find an honest, balanced, frank, and scholarly treatment of a problem that can no longer be ignored. Maury Jackson and Nathan Brown write in their introduction: “Some ideas will be applauded and appreciated; others must be confronting, uncomfortable, and difficult, challenging our assumptions and lives, our faith and our beliefs, our denomination and the Christian church.”

Readers of A House of Fire will find much that inspires a thoughtful, measured response to race and racism throughout the industrialised world. It is not a book someone can read and say, “That doesn’t apply to me.” 

A debt of gratitude is owed to the editors for collecting such a distinguished panel of authors, and for providing a book that is not only long overdue, but one that will set the standard for discussions about race in the Adventist Church for years to come. If our house is on fire, may it be because the Holy Spirit is helping us wrestle with the evil to which we have grown accustomed for way too long.

A House on Fire is available from Adventist bookshops in Australia and New Zealand, or online.

Stephen Chavez, retired assistant editor, Adventist Review and Adventist World.

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