Two more successful Seminary Field E tension Schools have just been held in the British West Indies, in the Inter-American Division. These were conducted in sequence the first one on the inspiring mountaintop at the West Indian Training College, near Mandeville, Jamaica; the second in the verdant valley in which the Caribbean Training College is situated near Port of Spain, Trinidad. In Jamaica some fifty preachers, teachers, and Bible instructors were in attend ance, including twelve theological students and Bible instructor seniors from the college. In Trinidad a slightly larger group of workers participated.
The same teaching team of three W. G. C. Murdoch, director, Melvin K. Eckenroth, and the writer, with Arthur L. White as a special instructor gave identical courses in the two schools, including essentially the same chapelhour instruction and approximately the same evening lectures, the latter being attended by the respective communities as well. Vernon E. Berry, the Inter-American Division representative, efficiently handled the administrative details and coordinated all activities. Also R. M. Mote, of the college in Jamaica, and Percy Manuel, president of the college in Trinidad, gave valuable help in the respective schools. The two student groups and faculty are pictured on pages 24 and 25.
Helpful administrative backing and the presence of leading officers made for abiding results. And the students have not been surpassed anywhere in eagerness and application. A full but balanced program ensured the great est returns from the time allocated for the session. A rather rigorous schedule was followed in each school. In each instance Dr. Murdoch opened the first chapel hour with the words, "In the beginning God." He stated that our great desire was to have God occupy the pre-eminent place in our search for knowledge, because we recognize that, when we have God at the beginning, then everything that follows is "very good." He made an appeal to the students to prepare their hearts for the studies that lay before them, because we believe that heart preparation should take precedence over all else.
Old Testament Fundamentals Restudied
Dr. Murdoch endeavored to make his chapel hours times of deep spiritual refreshing, and presented some of the great virtues, such as faith, hope, love, patience, and courage. He stressed the truth that these traits of character must be more and more manifest among God's people as we near the close of time. The messages we give to the world may be unassailable, but if the messenger does not possess these Christian qualities in his own life, his message will be of little avail. Seventh-day Adventists living in these last days, he urged, should be examples to the world of what genuine Christianity can do for us in refining our characters, ennobling our lives, and sanctifying our services. Let us listen in for a moment on the opening class in Old Testament Backgrounds:
"We have come to a new day in the study of the Old Testament. The interest of Biblical scholars everywhere has been aroused in the messages of the Hebrew prophets to a degree unparalleled in many years. The 'documentary hypothesis,' which has held such popular sway for so long, is now being very seriously questioned, and already many have discarded it. The popular practice known among theologians as 'conjectural emendation' no longer holds the dominant place that it did. Every where there is now greater reverence for the Masoretic text, and the general reliability of the Old Testament is now assumed. The discoveries of archeology have done much to substantiate the Biblical records and have thrown great light upon the life and times of the patriarchs and prophets.
"We have come to 'a day of marked revival in the study of the Hebrew language and literature. This is most encouraging, and is long overdue. As Seventh-day Adventists we have always been consistent exponents of the Old Testament, and we believe that revived interest in this section of the Bible is one of the signs of the last days." His class in Old Testament Backgrounds created much interest. Present trends in Old Testament study were surveyed, and fundamental doctrines were restudied in the light of modern research. Such topics as creation, the Sabbath, the fall of man, life after death, and the Flood received special attention. The times of the patriarchs and prophets were surveyed in the light of the most recent, archeological discoveries. Faith in divine revelation was greatly strengthened and respect for the Word of God was in creased as a result of the ground covered in this class.
Sound Evangelistic Methods Studied
Next we step into the Evangelistic Methods class. "The welfare of the Advent Movement depends upon fidelity to its evangelistic mission." With this statement Professor Eckenroth began the study of finding a basic methodology for our evangelism, established upon Scriptural and Spirit of prophecy principles. The course centered in the basic necessities of evangelism, the proper approach in prejudiced areas, and the distinctive message that we are commissioned to bear. The concluding portion was on fundamental principles involved in "drawing in the net," and obtaining larger numbers of thoroughly converted adherents to the faith. Attention was also given to consolidating our gains. A primary key to sound evangelistic method, he held, is recognition of the "vertical" as well as the "horizontal" character of the mes sage we are commissioned to bear.
The evening lectures, which alternated with the pictured recitals of the development of prophetic interpretation, emphasized Christ-centered preaching of the third angel's message. The centrality of Jesus Christ in all of our faith and practice is the rallying point around which both ministry and laity are to gather. A third facet, in the broad field of practical theology, studied in certain chapel periods, concerned ministerial conduct. There was candid examination of ministerial ethics, and the perils and dangers peculiar to men of the ministry were frankly faced. Alerted to the subtleties of the enemy, all unitedly determined, by Christ's enabling grace, to keep unspotted from the world. In one interesting chapel period toward the close, the faculty united in panel discussion of how the content of their individual fields and courses could be integrated to the maximum degree during an evangelistic campaign. The effective giving of our message is the ultimate goal of all our study, whether in the area of "content" courses, or in the specific field of methodology.
Inheritors of the Truths of the Centuries
In the third course, on the Progressive Development of Prophetic Interpretation, by the writer, it became evident that fully as valuable as the necessary content instruction in these extension schools is the indirect widening of horizons, the lifting of the sights, and the broadening of the workers' concept of the firm foundations of the Advent faith, as well as the fundamental soundness of the bulwarks of our foundational prophetic interpretations and doctrinal positions. Consciousness of the oneness of our positions with the basic expositions of the Protestant Reformers, and with those of the sound early church leaders, strengthens faith and deepens conviction. We are seen to be the inheritors of the truths of the centuries, and the raisers up of the foundations of many generations.
The inherent strength of our positions, and the consequent appeal to thoughtful minds who wish to have the full facts and to know the relationships of our movement to the church of the past, are beyond calculation. A grasp of these facts gives a tremendous advantage to our workers in forestalling opposition, detecting and parrying subtle fallacies, and affording the greatest appeal to minds that might not be reached by any other medium.
In each school a series of eight illustrated evening lectures by the writer reinforced the oral classroom studies. More than twelve hundred impressive pictures, gathered from the archives of both the Old World and the New,
highlighted the lectures with impressive historical settings and artists' portrayals. These visualized our priceless heritage and portrayed our unique place and mission on earth today. The series, well attended by the community, served to document and authenticate the fundamental positions of our prophetic faith, and showed how we are the custodians and heralds of the restored and consummated truths of the ages.
Confidence in the Spirit of Prophecy Strengthened
Special attention was given to the Spirit of prophecy throughout the school, both in the regular classwork and in a special section of chapel talks and evening lectures. Arthur L. White, the special instructor, gave a number of studies designed to strengthen confidence in the operation of this priceless gift. Better acquaintance with Ellen G. White and the operation of the prophetic gift in her experience contributes to this end. Through Kodachrome pictures, interesting recitals of divine guidance, and exhibits of original documents, Ellen White was presented not only as Heaven's special messenger to the remnant church but as a Seventh-day Adventist mother, neighbor, and friend. The series was based on the premise that the better we know Mrs. White, and the clearer our understanding of how the Lord used her and communicated messages of guidance, illumination, and protection through her, the sounder is the basis for confidence in her mission and the better the understanding of the counsels given. At the weekends the members of the teaching team, transported by car and even by plane, each spoke from two to six times.
Thus the blessings of the school were extended far and near. In some of these churches, it might be added, the singing was both unique and inspiring. Especially was this true of the singing of the students in the larger evening assemblies. One favorite was an effective arrangement of "What a Friend We Have in Jesus," with vocal obbligato. It lifted the soul, and is a gem worthy of widespread use. The score will be reproduced in a later issue of THE MINISTRY. In both schools the impressive closing exercises included an earnest consecration service, a helpful "baccalaureate" sermon, and an inspiring "commencement" address in connection with the presentation of certificates. Heartfelt responses by student representatives closed the exercises, along with the presentation of a commemorative shield for the parent Seminary.
The farewell feature in Jamaica was a sacred serenade. The teachers had just retired, when strains of sweetest music came floating through the air, like the songs of the angelic messengers nineteen hundred years ago. Quickly donning dressing robes, we found the student group outside our cottage. With further songs and with words that came from the heart, they told of their gratitude and appreciation for those who had come from afar to lead them to higher ground in study, understanding, and service. It was a scene that will long linger in the memory. And as the melody of "God Be With You Till We Meet Again" died away, followed by a response by Elder Murdoch, they left us. The first school was over. Our work there was done. Another tie of mutual love, understanding, and inspiration had been formed between the home base and an important overseas bastion.
In Trinidad, on the evening preceding the closing exercises, the entire student body of the Caribbean Training College united with our Seminary Extension School students in a blessed consecration service. A marvelous demonstration of the Holy Spirit's power was evidenced, as the two student bodies and their faculties surrounded the altar for consecration prayer, heart-searching testimony, and praise. It was a moving sight, a spiritual finale. The following afternoon, before the closing exercises, the Seminary students and faculty shared a beautiful fellowship around the Lord's table, thus tightening the bond of devotion to our Saviour. Elder Eckenroth led in these exercises, with the other members of the Seminary teaching team sharing in the prayer appeals. As a final fare well symbol of spiritual unity, all joined hands as we sang, "Blest Be the Tie."
After the impressive closing exercises and the presentation of an appropriate plaque to the parent Semi nary, the Trinidad school came to a close. It is evident that one of the greatest contributions of the Theological Seminary to our world field is this succession of strong molding extension schools, each reaching from fifty to eighty workers in their own divisional territory, and each grappling with local ministerial problems and conditions, with the minimum of expense and the maximum of results. They continue long enough to ensure abiding results. They are devoted to one supreme objective, without other interests to divert or diffuse this concentrated study. They teach men to study and to think things through, and they give appropriate recognition for the work done. Their success depends upon strong, united teamwork, the practical nature of the courses presented, and a deep spiritual undertone. Nothing less will suffice.