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Archives / 2010 / April

 

Book review: Toward a Theology of the Remnant: An Adventist Ecclesiastical Perspective

Hans K. LaRondelle

 

This volume is scheduled as the first in a series on Studies in Adventist Ecclesiology by the Biblical Research Institute (BRI) of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. The director of the BRI, Ángel M. Rodríguez, writes in the preface: “It addresses the very identity of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, an identity that occasionally needs to be examined and reaffirmed.” While some essays deal exegetically with the remnant idea in the Old and the New Testaments (chapters 1–4), the focus narrows to the remnant concept in the book of Revelation (chapters 5–8). Then the book concentrates on the Adventist interpretation of the end-time remnant, particularly as found in the writings of Ellen G. White (chapters 9, 10). The final chapter deals with “God’s End-Time Remnant and the Christian Church.” An appendix, “The ‘Testimony of Jesus’ in the Writings of Ellen G. White” (by the editor) concludes this valuable volume. The book has a scriptural and a thematic index for easy access to its use of Scripture and themes. Of the nine contributors, three are part of the BRI staff, while six others were chosen from Adventist Bible scholars in various countries, a feature that gives the presentations an international flavor and representation. Adventists will find the careful and thoughtful treatment of Revelation 12:17 in the writings of Ellen White by Rodríguez (appendix, 227–243) of special interest.

In his “General Introduction” to this new project of Adventist ecclesiology, the editor states that the time has come for a “serious theological reflection” and “a clearer expression of the identity of the Adventist movement” as “a community of spiritual pilgrims” (17, 18). By doing this, “the church may be revitalized toward the fulfillment of its mission” (18). Another lofty goal the editor hopes to achieve is to be “helpful in properly interacting with other Christian communities and with non-Christian religions” (19). This outreach requires “clear theological and biblical thinking” (19).

It may be regarded as a fortunate decision of the BRI to undertake this timely enterprise as a team of qualified Adventist Bible scholars, so that various approaches in the worldwide church can be represented, discussed, and integrated in this Adventist theological journey. Wisdom resides in the counsel of many advisers (Prov. 15:22). The editor hopes, with this volume, to counteract the trend toward diversification in the worldwide Adventist movement by stressing “the biblical elements that constitute our bond of unity in Christ” (18). He proposes that “the key elements are located in our ecclesiology” (18). There can be no doubt that this first volume in the planned series on the biblical view of the remnant church and how the Advent movement relates to the larger Christian community, will contribute to a new appreciation of our high calling to act as the “members of His body” (Eph. 5:30, NKJV; emphasis added).

 

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