The Seventh-day Adventist Church's Five-year Council is an opportunity for reflection on the organization's future. Many votes or decisions are taking into account the possible implementation of scenarios that take shape in the social and theological realms. For this reason, on Monday morning, November 8, Dr. Adolfo Suárez, dean of the Latin American Adventist Theology Seminary (SALT), challenged all present to think about the theological challenges that are part of the world landscape and in his view, constitute a threat to biblical beliefs historically held by Seventh-day Adventists.
Suárez pointed out that the big problem behind these theological aspects is an attempt to revise what is taught in the Bible. “This is much more than an annoyance, but a new way of interpreting the Bible”, he emphasized.
Suárez listed at least ten points that summarize current theological challenges for Adventists. These topics were originally presented at a worldwide Adventist leadership meeting held in October: the authority of the Scriptures, Adventist identity, prophetic interpretation, creation/evolution, Jesus and doctrine, moral issues that deviate from Scripture, discouragement in waiting for Jesus to return, the sanctuary and pre-Advent judgment, Ellen White and divine inspiration, and change in Adventism.
From the dean's perspective, these theological challenges are often more widespread and amplified by dialogues and discussions on digital social media. For him, such concepts fully hit the concept evidenced by fundamental biblical beliefs. This is the case of the Holy Scriptures, the divinity of Jesus, creation, the purpose of the church, the gift of prophecy, Christian conduct, and the role of Christ in the heavenly sanctuary, among others.
How to Face It
The reflection outlined by Suárez was not limited to a diagnosis of what these theological questions propagated today represent to the Adventist faith. At the end of his speech, he stressed the importance of what he classed as doctrinal training. “Dear leaders, it is not enough to be aware of criticisms and challenges. We need to go a step further. We need to present to the church a strong program of theological education accessible to all”, he proposed.
For Suárez, “lies and heresy only thrive in the terrain of disinformation and doctrinal superficiality”, he pointed out. According to the evaluation of the South American Adventist theological leader, in a short time, it is possible to have a website, for example, that offers theology classes at a good level for any member or friend of the Adventist Church.
Dr. Reinaldo Siqueira, who was the director of SALT at the Adventist University of São Paulo (UNASP), took advantage of the comments portion to talk about a very positive experience. He explained that initiatives like UNASP Next seek to bring short, non-academic classes to the community that enable people to study the Bible more deeply.
Pastor Udolcy Zukowski, director of the Pathfinders and Adventurers Ministry at the South American headquarters, said the idea is to add 28 new specialties. The purpose is to insert, within the weekly program developed with children and adolescents, this material that will address the biblical beliefs upheld by Adventists.