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Discussion with Alan Parker -- 3

Part 1
Part 2

Below is the response of Dr. Parker:

I just got back from teaching at Southern, so I’m getting through my emails. I’ll give a quick reaction to your thoughts, so forgive me if it ends up being a little knee-jerk.

First, I agree that we need to have a broader scope and try some new methods. I’m not sure that any programmed approach is going to work well with post moderns, but I think we can certainly broaden our appeal to secular people. Secondly, in terms of the three concerns about the AF lessons, you have to remember that they were written a couple of decades ago! I agree that it’s time for an update and that we need new lessons. We have a number of things in process but it’s a combination of time and money that have prevented us from getting some new material out. The lessons still work really well with a certain audience and are in harmony with the title of “Amazing Facts” study guides.

1. The lessons could be more Christ-centered and focused on the GC. We are looking at rewriting them and adding in these elements, not just as isolated lessons but as an integrated theme. Unfortunately, we haven’t been able to get this project off the ground because of more pressing issues that are driving us right now and because we don’t currently have a publishing director.

2. Social issues are important. I think it’s good to build off a foundation of “message” in developing mission and to lay the doctrinal foundation before becoming a social activist, but your point is well taken. What we need here is really on another level and I have a personal passion to see a set of studies written that deal with meaning and significance and not simply truth and authority. For instance, the Sabbath is not simply about which day but which way. In a world that lives by performance, achievements and popularity, the Sabbath reminds us that God created us “to be” and not just “to do.” In the Sabbath we experience God’s perspective on our lives, our relationships and even our environment. The Sabbath tells us that we are not isolated lords the earth, destroying it at will. Rather, we exist alongside of creation as fellow participants in God’s universe. The Sabbath was all about social issues for it reminds us of God’s original design for creation. This is why the jubilee years were meant to remove slavery, the abuse of land, etc. It also indicates why there was special feeding of the poor and caring for the widows and the orphans on Sabbaths. However, there are no studies that I know of that tackle Adventist doctrines in both an evangelistic and spiritually significant way that deal with these kinds of issues and that explore the deeper elements of our doctrines while remaining simple enough for children to understand. Someday, I hope to get to write something that does this.

3. We actually do have a set of studies that begin with Biblical narratives. Doug Batchelor put together a set called Storacles, a coin he termed out of Stories and Oracles. They begin with a biblical story, develop a main insight or theme and then go into a fairly traditional Bible study. More could be done, but it’s a start. In our school of evangelism, we use narratives all the time. Sometimes, when a person is struggling with a decision, all we have to do is tell a Biblical story (Abraham leaving the land of Mesopotamia and his struggle to follow God’s leading is a favorite) and the person comes to a decision in the middle of our story. We often tell the parables of Christ while we’re giving a Bible study because they work so well to drive a point home. So, narrative is a powerful tool. We don’t have it in our main set of studies because, after all, they are Amazing Facts!

Have to run, but hope this helps.


Ryan Bell said…

Here's a post that I think speaks to where I'm at on evangelism (or at least what I assume AF means when they say evangelism).

I would also refer people to the discussion we had on my blog a while back about whether evangelism "works." You can reference that post at

Then, of course, there's the whole issue of the name of the organization, Amazing Facts. I could never embrace a view of Christianity as "amazing facts" but that is, in fact, what Adventism has created, in some sense - an understanding of Christianity as "amazing facts."

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