George R. Knight has impacted numerous Seventh-day Adventists through his writing, teaching, and public speaking. Those familiar with Knight and his work will appreciate a new book, entitled Adventist Maverick. This edited volume, compiled by Gilbert M. Valentine and Woodrow W. Whidden II, features essays written by Knight’s friends, colleagues, and former students. Most contributors provide innovative and personal perspectives on Knight’s life and career within three disciplines: Adventist history, theology, and the philosophy of education. Knight also provides some autobiographical material that helps illuminate the man behind it all.
In the essay entitled “George Knight’s Contribution to Adventist Theology,” readers will appreciate Denis Fortin’s concise explanation of Knight’s views on sin, atonement, and salvation. If it is not already clear why “SIN is love” or how Eve sinned before eating the forbidden fruit, readers will appreciate Fortin’s thoughtful treatment of Knight’s stimulating approach to theology.
Other essays within this book provide helpful summaries of Knight’s contributions to theology and biblical studies. Gerald Wheeler, for example, provides a helpful glimpse of Knight’s devotional commentaries on Scripture, which are written “from a pastoral heart” (173). Similarly, Theodore Levterov has provided an overview of Knight’s daily devotionals and explained how they “have had a significant impact on Adventism” (215).
While many have read Knight’s numerous works on the history of Adventism, few may realize or appreciate his revisionist perspective. Numerous contributors help place Knight’s own contribution in its historical context. For example, Gary Land explains how Knight was able to provide a more balanced view of Millerism by accepting some facts pointed out by the critics, while rejecting the flaws of certain apologists. In this way, Land explains, “George recognized his denomination’s origins in fanatical Adventism and described its subsequent development as a ‘disentanglement’ ” (93). The beauty of Adventist Maverick is that it helps people today understand and appreciate how Knight has been able to guide Adventists away from quasi-hagiographical interpretations of their “collective past” (15).
Readers will also be delighted with George Knight’s response at the end of Adventist Maverick. His autobiographical account is fascinating and sprinkled with his usual sense of humor. In fact, I had to set the book down when he described his supposed identity as an “undercover Jesuit” because I was laughing so hard (221, 222).
Adventist Maverick is a valuable sourcebook for pastors, teachers, theologians, and Adventists in general, delivered in nice, bite-size pieces with chapters that usually do not exceed ten pages in length. The reader will enjoy an informing overview of Knight’s major contributions to Adventism and find ways to explore Knight’s own writings in more detail. Those who have not had the privilege of studying with George Knight in his classroom can now drink in the wisdom of Adventism’s most influential author within the last 35 years and better understand his lasting impact on the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
—Reviewed by Kevin M. Burton, who is currently studying toward a master of religion degree at the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary, Andrews University, Berrien Springs, Michigan, United States