Thank you for the excellent August 2018 issue of Ministry. I’ve taken the liberty of using part of your editorial (Pavel Goia, “People, programs—and prayer”) in our Sabbath School. I also issued a challenge to those in attendance to invite people to come to our prayer meetings. By God’s grace and power, we hope to see quite an increase. Our regular attendance to midweek prayer meeting is almost 20 percent of the attending membership of the church.
I was also very, very taken with the article by Elder Valley (Clinton Valley, “The making of a Christian leader”). I have copied this article in full to distribute to my elders, deacons, and deaconesses—they all need this counsel. Thanks again.
—Mervyn D. Jackson, senior elder, Stanthorpe Seventh-day Adventist Church, Queensland, Australia
The lead article by Flavio Prestes III and Elmer Guzman, “Making the Seventh-day Adventist International Bible Commentary: An interview withJacques B. Doukhan” (April 2018), is an expertly done interview article with a profound, experienced Seventh-day Adventist professor-scholar. The win-some but weighty verbal exchanges between interviewers and interviewee enrich the reader intellectually and theologically and whet the appetite for the projected completion of the SDAIBC in 2020. It is to be hoped that the completed volumes of the SDAIBC will find their way into libraries of Seventh-day Adventist institutions of learning around the globe and that pastors and other church employees will have opportunity to acquire these nourishing volumes affordably, perhaps with book and equipment allowances.
It is refreshing to note the editorial intent to maintain the prioritizing of health in the SDAIBC that is evident in the Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary. Witness the followingstatement by Doukhan: “That is why the Seventh-day Adventist faith . . . also concerns our lifestyle, the way we eat and drink and work, and the way we think and behave in this world.” Responding to inquiry about his personal contribution of the first volume of the SDAIBC, commenting on Genesis. Doukhan aptly makes mention of “the ideal of a plant-based diet (1:29, 30; 9:3), the distinction between clean and unclean meats (7:2, 3; 8:20).”
This continuation of a fine tradition of articulating balanced positions on diet and lifestyle on the scholarly (theological and scientific) level is contextually important in Seventh-day Adventism. There promises to be much to chew over pertaining to diet and wellness in a commentary endeavor spanning the entirety of Scripture, if the editorial perspectives will be tastefully followed through. Appropriate reference, properly corroborated by science, to matters affecting the personal well-being is one sure-footed approach to ensuring the relevance and practicality to all of a deep, scholarly work.
—John Tumpkin, district pastor, Cape Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, Port Elizabeth, South Africa
In his article “It’s all Greek to me” (Petronio Genebago, October 2018), the writer admirably extols the value of learning the original Biblical languages. However, as a former theology student who was ungifted in Greek, the only way I could possibly master them would be to almost drop all other studies including the more vital subjects such as the Word itself, the art of ministry and preaching. Alternatively, I could have sacrificed all family and free time. (God enabled me to become a pastor despite academic barriers imposed).
Let’s get realistic and recognize that there are profound differences in spiritual gifts among ministers. To force Biblical languages upon students is like forcing all ministers to be expert writers or public evangelists. To mandate Hebrew and Greek upon theology students poorly gifted in this area is to guarantee the dubious value of a shallow learning in order to get a pass.
While Ellen White extolled the value of education for ministers, she also got it right in writing, “There are times when Greek and Latin scholars are needed. Some must study these languages. This is well. But not all, and not many should study them.” In the preceding paragraph she wrote, “If Jesus Christ had deemed this kind of education essential, would He not have given it to His disciples?” (Fundamentals of Christian Education, 468).
Without being qualified in Biblical languages, ministers can deeply study difficult texts with the help of Strong’s concordance, Greek-English interlinears, and authors like Kenneth Wuest, all of which are language experts. Yes, various reputable Bible translations do often give different meanings to texts, but the article suggests that Greek-deprived ministers like me have no better alternative. Not so! We can get in-depth info from these aids just as those with Biblical language skills need to do occasionally. All theology students should be shown how English translations can significantly differ in difficult texts and should be taught how to use these aids to ascertain the original meaning of the Bible authors. This may not be as good as being expert in Biblical languages, but it could be the most sensible alternative for those who may have weak language skills yet are blessed with giftedness in other areas of ministry.
In making Biblical languages optional, are we lowering educational standards for ministerial graduates? A thousand times, No! We are freeing students to pursue the best education in all-round ministry and the vital subjects in which they can realistically excel.
—Jack Lange, retired pastor, Queensland, Australia