Academic Freedom in the Context of Adventist Higher Education

The following in depth look at academic freedom from one of Washington Adventist University's top academics was originally initiated for publication in Adventist Review. Excerpts from the article below have been printed, but the whole article has not appeared in print until now. -Ed

The concept of academic freedom at most religious educational institutions, including Adventist, is a complex issue. The main challenge of Adventist academia in relation to academic freedom is finding resourceful ways to stay true to both academic rigor, which involves free, progressive and scientific exploration of all dimensions of God's truth in Scripture and nature, and deep appreciation of and abiding in Adventist faith tradition. Adventist institutions adhere to the principle of continuing and progressive revelation of God and progressive understanding of God's truth, yet within the boundaries of the biblical context of the inspired revelation of the Word of God and the living faith in Christ. Faith and Science Council, Geoscience Research Institute, and Biblical Research Institute are among the main entities that assist the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists and Adventist campuses in their efforts to meet the needs and challenges posed by the ongoing interaction between faith and science. The main focus has been so far on careful dialogue and thoughtful interaction between faith and contemporary science and scholarship.

I believe that many Adventist scholars and students feel that this engagement should now include also constructive discussions about academic freedom, as the crucial imperative for both faith and science. The responsibility of the church administrators and academicians includes leading in collaborative efforts to generating a statement on academic freedom that will help Adventist campuses and professionals successfully engage their faith and academic standards, and so maintain their reputation as institutions and individuals of faith and learning.

Adventist higher education has recently gone through major transformations. Our higher education has attracted many different cultural and religious groups, and so the number of non-Adventist students has increased on our campuses. This has given us new possibilities and responsibilities, and along with those also certain new challenges. One of the challenges in this regard includes deciding what aspects of Adventist faith (doctrine, life style) and to what extent should be enforced on our non-Adventist students. Yet, we have to stay committed to welcoming all students to our campuses, regardless of their racial, religious, and social background, as a God-given value and requirement. Adventist higher education has to continually search for and implement new ways of sharing its unique values and standards with all students. We do not want any of our students to feel isolated, excluded, or even frustrated by the environment that we create and in which they have to live and study.

Another crucial role of Adventist higher education is offering education that is relevant to academic and spiritual needs. Our institutions have to be equipped to provide competitive academic programs that will enable students to be recognized and appreciated by the professional world. Finally, another role of Adventist education is to demonstrate the way of redemption through education. In other words, Adventist education should generate a sense of belonging to God and His people, and foster love and service to humanity.

The theme of freedom rings loudly in the Scripture. God created human beings with the incredible gift of creativity and freedom of choice (c.f. Gen 2:15-17). Even after the Fall, God continued to uphold human freedom to such an extent that the only way God chose to eradicate evil from the universe and save humankind was through the death of His beloved Son. The plan of salvation in Christ is the utmost proof of God’s non-coercive and loving ways of dealing with His creation (see Deut 30:19; Jos 24:15; John 1:11, 12). Jesus of Nazareth always demonstrated full respect for human dignity and freedom. He directed people to use their freedom for God-given values in life, but He never violated the principle of latitude given to people by their Creator (e.g., John 8:2-11). The apostolic Church provides examples of how people can exercise differences in opinion and remain in Christian fellowship (Gal 2:11-14).

The First Apostolic Council demonstrates that the first church had some serious differences, but was committed to dialogue and prayer until the solution was found and accepted by all (Acts 15). It would have been much easier for James as the presiding over the council to exercise his authority and settle the matter quickly than to listen to a newly converted and ex-persecutor Paul arguing his point (v. 12). Yet for them fellowship, openness to truth and divine guidance, and love were much more powerful principles of securing the right path in which the church should go than institutional coerciveness and limitation of free expression and conscience. Having said this, however, we should not forget that freedom in the Scripture is exercised within the boundaries of the inspired Word of God and God’s law, which is called the law of freedom, namely the core foundations of Christian faith (c.f. Gal 1:8, 9; Jas 1:25).

The responsibility of the community of faith includes careful studying of the biblical message of God’s Word in its historical, literary, and theological context to ensure its correct understanding and proper application to the modern context.

We have to offer freedom for exploration of religious and other truths. If we want to become the competitive 21st century Christian higher education institutions, some latitude should be given to our teachers and scholars to investigate all aspects of truth in its progressive nature. Within this academic dialogue I believe the Church will be greatly enriched and empowered. The Adventist colleges should be the places where the Church does its thinking. Adventist academic institutions need this space where non-coercive and cordial reflection and exchange of arguments and ideas within the broader context of Christian tradition and Christian character can be freely exercised. This principle was deeply embedded in our pioneers’ search for scriptural truth in Christ. Progressive and continual pursuit of truth, and so academic freedom, has been part of our tradition and history. Our movement would have never been created and sustained without these. In this sense, Adventist beliefs and academic freedom are compatible. Yet each new generation has to find new ways of fostering the principle of freedom that will answer the challenge and need of their time. I believe that church administrators and academicians realize that we should be more deliberate in rethinking and defending the principles of academic freedom within the Adventist context. Only if we work together we will be able to consider all the relevant issues and find satisfactory resolutions.

Some have taken issue with bringing in speakers and authors of different faith backgrounds into our schools. What are your thoughts on this?

If we seek to pursue scholarly inquiry and genuine expression of academic freedom in a way that extends and enriches academic disciplines, we need to have events in which the acclaimed participants who do not belong to our community of faith will express their views and engage in cordial conversation with our students, teachers, and staff. These events teach our students some of the core values of Adventist education, including freedom of thinking and expression, openness to learning through exchange of ideas and arguments, respect and appreciation of others, self-examination, tolerance, and other values.

When we invite speakers of different faith backgrounds we also present them with an opportunity to learn something about and from us. We should always remember that the Advent movement was born out of different faith traditions. The Advent movement was not an isolated island nor should our campuses ever be. Hearing something different should not be perceived as an attack on our faith, but as an opportunity to learn, grow, or be reaffirmed in our beliefs. The world and self test our faith every day. Our students have to learn to embrace the challenge and come enriched by it at the end.

Aleksandar S. Santrac is Professor of Ethics and Chair of the Religion Department at Washington Adventist University. He also serves as Extraordinary Professor of Dogmatics at North-West University in South Africa and as a visiting researcher in bioethics at Kennedy Institute of Ethics at Georgetown University in Washington, DC.

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This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/7711

In the context of a SDA school, whether it be first grade, or grad school, academic freedom stops at the threshold of truth. Beyond that our teachers have no business venturing, at least not on company time. Parents have the right to expect that seeds of doubt will not be planted in the minds of their children. It’s one thing to compare our beliefs with those of others; it’s quite another to promote the beliefs of others as truth, especially when we have Scripture to back up our doctrines.

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Ellen White says the Object of Education is to
Create THINKERS,
NOT REFLECTORS of Other Men’s Thoughts.
The PURPOSE of our Universities [and our Academies] should be teaching students 16 and older HOW to become Critical Thinkers. And THAT requires being exposed to a lot of information.
IF they are NOT exposed to a lot of information, HOW are they to actually KNOW WHAT they BELIEVE about a topic – whether the topic is Social, Scientific, Theological???, or Other??
The 16 and Older need to be taught HOW to research information so that an INFORMED Belief System can be acquired, whether it is Social, Scientific, Theological, or Other.

Many commentators here on Spectrum, AToday, other SDA sites want to prevent Learning about things OTHER than what SDA Writers have printed and that come off our presses.
This attitude is Tragic for the person going through our educational system. They are going to graduate, become Blinded by all the Light they are exposed to once they emerge from the Adventist Cocoon. They are going to ASK Why was I not told about this long ago. Become disenchanted with how they were treated and brain washed.
And possibly just leave the Church in disgust, and anger.

A THINKER asks Questions.
Too many SDAs on Spectrum, AToday, and others do NOT like questions on Doctrines.
Questions on Age of the Earth.
Questions on Discrimination [gender, places of origin, sexual orientation, history of 2 churches - black and white].

Jeremy – Question–
When reading Revelation the “Temple” appears as ONE BIG ROOM.
Actually, when one reads PAST chapters 4,5,6 we find that the God head, Trinity, Father, Son, Holy Spirit ARE the Temple and the Temple are Street Walkers.

Was the curtain in the Desert Sanctuary, Solomon’s Temple, the Second Temple just a “functional” piece of separation needed here on earth, but not one that was in use in Heaven?
God dwelt on the Box in the Most Holy Place. No man could see God at any time and live. So did God “for convenience” as that a thick separation be made so the priests could function with the 7 candles, the shewbread table, the altar of incense at prayer time???
When in REALITY in Heaven, there IS NO curtain of separation.
Heaven and Earth are united. The 24 Elders in heaven, the 7 Churches on earth are ALL United in the Throne Room and surrounded by the Angels [messengers] of the Heavenly Empire.

Question – It appears to me there is a transition regarding NOT in the “Sanctuary” but in HOW we worship the Gods of the Universe [the Trinity].
A. The Desert and Pre-Christ worship. A tangible, “I see”, edifice of some sort whether the one in the desert, Solomon’s, the Second Temple.
B. The “no longer need” for a building to worship at as described in Hebrews as WE worship with our Mind and Eyes are in Heaven.
C. Revelation – Where ever the Trinity are IS the Temple as THEY ARE the Temple. The Temple is no longer a Place. The Temple IS the Trinity. They move about – Essentially being "Street People"
So there was actually NOT a Holy Place, a Most Holy Place. It was all representative.
D. I could be wrong.

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Having taught and preached on several SDA campuses, I cannot quite understand your point. What does it mean to say that academic freedom “stops” at the threshold of truth? Can you give an example or two? And from my experience, few if any of my colleagues ever promoted the beliefs of others as “truth.” What does happen is that students ask very penetrating questions that cannot be dismissed without raising more questions and doubts than before. If studying Hebrews, one cannot avoid realizing that Jesus sat at the right hand of God from the moment he ascended, which contradicts even Ellen White’s conviction that he was ministering in the Holy Place until 1844. And dozens more examples could be cited. Many times our understanding of the Scripture that “backs up our doctrines” has come from our founders who did not understand Scripture as well as we do given the explosion in modern scholarship. No fault of theirs. Your remarks sound defensive and untrusting of the intent of this carefully crafted essay. I wish it could be otherwise.

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I taught at three different Adventist tertiary institutions and five different secular institutions. In the secular institutions, the main focus of academic freedom was the ability to explore and teach on the basis of what was acceptable, challenging and even controversial. This was relatively easy as my fields of Economics and Finance had little of explicit moral controversy as compared to subjects such as psychology or biology. It seems to me that this essay by Santrac seeks to thread the needle between faithful adherence to Adventist doctrinal positions and the ability of the Adventist institution to discuss critical ideas in their various disciplines.As this essay makes clear, the discussion of ideas for the purpose of encouraging critical thinking is curtailed by the very nature of the Adventist institution. For example, faculty at Adventist institutions are circumscribed in making a critical examination whether the basic premise of some, but not all, aspects of evolution define the state of nature than alternatives. Discussion of the ideas of the LBGT community should only result in one set of conclusions, if open discussion is permitted at all. The president at one Adventist institution recently disinvited a speaker from appearing at the behest of a faculty(to present only to the class) as that speaker (a former pastor) advocated atheistic views.

Thus, Santrac’s definition of academic freedom is confounded by suggesting that academic freedom at an Adventist institution is only that which is acceptable to the Adventist audience, and on the need to protect young minds!. Academic freedom on an Adventist tertiary institutions should allow for the possibility that the student will conclude that some ideas or practices are based on errors, even if these ideas or practices can be inferred from the Bible or other accepted sources. The acceptance of Federal student loan funds,local bonds for construction or acceptance of accreditation distinguishes the Adventist institution from the “Bible college” and the accompanying view of academic freedom must then be different from that which the “Bible college” takes as academic freedom.

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What, exactly, are “seeds of doubt”?

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This is a potentially divisive and disruptive discussion for those SDA academics who want to remain in the Adventist fold . No Christian denomination ,and perhaps no religion, can survive in an ambiance of the many questions that those who subscribe to unfettered Academic Freedom can raise. And here I am not referring to the extremes of nihilism that “secular scholars” may often advocate.For example, I personally believe that ALL atheists suffer from truncated vision and lack of commonsense. I could never “believe” in evolution nor waste my time trying to prove such a way out theory. Darwin had his day, but no transitional species have been found, unambiguously, on the fossil record.Darwin himself said "Why, if a species has descended by insensibly fine gradations do we not see innumerable transitional forms, I can give no satisfactory answer?"This is not to say however That Christian academics have not come up their own species of non sequitors. Scientific creationism as an explanation for H. sapiens “sudden” appearance on this big ball of almost cooled matter thrown of by our sun, is almost irrefutable, some Christians spoil their arguments by attributing the earth, the sun, (and even the entire universe) to the acts of supernatural means , instead of to the creative acts of scientists some of whom resemble human beings, and some of whom we do not and cannot, it seems, know.

With the recent, highly-disturbing, and unscriptural shift toward top-down Church governance, all academics - particularly at the tertiary level - need to brace themselves for a renewed onslought against academic freedom. The GC and its President want control, and they will scorch the earth if that is what it takes to get it. They see it as their (self-appointed) duty to purge the church. Articles like this excellent one are essential to help us better understand the critical issues.

The control effort is certainly not new. Academics have survived earlier purge efforts, most recently by Robert Folkenberg in the 1990s who tried unsuccessfully to require faculty at all colleges and universities to sign detailed statements of belief. But never before (in recent decades) have we seen such animosity by GC leadership toward higher education and scholarly investigation. There are three groups in particular they are targeting: (1) biologists, who have to negotiate the muddy waters of origins issues; (2) social scientists, who try to resolve the conflicting views between scripture and the science of sexual identity and behavior; and (3) theologians, who struggle with the multitude of hermeneutics used to interpret scripture, including passages regarding male headship. A renewed effort is coming - indeed, it has already begun - to compel these academics to sign statements which severely limit their academic freedom. The only way to halt the inevitable is for all academics to unite in opposition.

We have already reached a point where academic freedom is severly constrained. There was a time when our biologists and theologians, for example, met annually to discuss the difficult issues surrounding origins and the extent and rates of evolutionary change. However, open dialogue has now been replaced by highly dogmatic conferences in which pastors, educators, and scientists are told in no uncertain terms the parameters of understanding and instruction.

If the GC’s pursuit of control actually blows up our colleges and universities, with massive loss of faculty, they will see this as justification that they have done right to purge all the supposed evildoers (“my, my, just look how many there were!”). Again, the only way to stop this hostile takeover of education is for the academics to unite.

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egw teaches, on the basis of a supernatural vision, that god the father is mobile, and was in the holy place until 1844, EW:55…and if we accept that menorah imagery has locator significance, Rev 4 also positions god the father in the holy place…Dan 7 certainly portrays god the father as coming from somewhere before being set on a throne where the judgement commences, which is presumably the most holy place, and Ezek 1 and 10 definitely portray a mobile deity…these facts mean we don’t necessarily have a contradiction…

the usual objection to a holy place location for god the father at any time is the fact that the shekinah glory was located in the most holy place of the earthly sanctuary…but this may simply be an adaptation to the time and place constraints of the earthly sanctuary…for instance, the shekinah glory was not confined to the most holy place during the destruction of korah and his fellow rebels…there is also the disadvantage, inherent in this objection, of assuming that god the father is immobile, like a heathen idol…

I would like to quote several scriptures and offer brief comments in the light of the subject and other comments presented:

Psalm 119:99
I have more understanding than all my teachers: for thy testimonies [are] my meditation.

The Word of God here is telling us that if the study of His Word the paramount and not the sayings of man than the student will have “more understanding” thsn his teachers. Maybee this is the fear of some who advocate “massive information” learning in order to become criticsl thinkers. When I was in one of our SDA colleges taking the religion classes of the Old and Nee testament we were required to read books about OT and NT and very litlle to what the actual Word of God teaches. One teacher was an exception where he assigned the studying of the Bible along with the Desire of Ages which was a great blessing and practical instruction for life.

Ecclesiastes 12:12-14
12 And further, by these, my son, be admonished: of making many books [there is] no end; and much study [is] a weariness of the flesh.
13 Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this [is] the whole [duty] of man.
14 For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether [it be] good, or whether [it be] evil.

If the professors and teachers would only jead this council what a transforamtion would it be to out institutions of learning.

It is because the human heart is inclined to evil that it is so dangerous to sow the seeds of skepticism in young minds. Whatever weakens faith in God robs the soul of power to resist temptation. It removes the only real safeguard against sin. We are in need of schools where the youth shall be taught that greatness consists in honoring God by revealing His character in daily life. Through His word and His works we need to learn of God, that our lives may fulfill His purpose. {MH 440.1}

In order to obtain an education, many think it essential to study the writings of infidel authors, because these works contain many bright gems of thought. But who was the originator of these gems of thought? It was God, and God only. He is the source of all light. Why then should we wade through the mass of error contained in the works of infidels for the sake of a few intellectual truths, when all truth is at our command? {MH 440.2}

How is it that men who are at war with the government of God come into possession of the wisdom which they sometimes display? Satan himself was educated in the heavenly courts, and he has a knowledge of good as well as of evil. He mingles the precious with the vile, and this is what gives him power to deceive. But because Satan has robed himself in garments of heavenly brightness, shall we receive him as an angel of light? The tempter has his agents, educated according to his methods, inspired by his spirit, and adapted to his work. Shall we co-operate with them? Shall we receive the works of his agents as essential to the acquirement of an education? {MH 440.3}

If the time and effort spent in seeking to grasp the bright ideas of infidels were given to studying the precious things of the word of God, thousands who now sit in darkness and in the shadow of death would be rejoicing in the glory of the Light of life. {MH 440.4}

As a preparation for Christian work, many think it essential to acquire an extensive knowledge of historical and theological writings. They suppose that this knowledge will be an aid to them in teaching the gospel. But their laborious study of the opinions of men tends to the enfeebling of their ministry, rather than to its strengthening. As I see libraries filled with ponderous volumes of historical and theological lore, I think, Why spend money for that which is not bread? The sixth chapter of John tells us more than can be found in such works. Christ says: “I am the Bread of Life: he that cometh to Me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on Me shall never thirst.” “I am the living Bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this Bread, he shall live forever.” “He that believeth on Me hath everlasting life.” “The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.” John 6:35, 51, 47, 63. {MH 441.1}

There is a study of history that is not to be condemned. Sacred history was one of the studies in the schools of the prophets. In the record of His dealings with the nations were traced the footsteps of Jehovah. So today we are to consider the dealings of God with the nations of the earth. We are to see in history the fulfillment of prophecy, to study the workings of Providence in the great reformatory movements, and to understand the progress of events in the marshaling of the nations for the final conflict of the great controversy. {MH 441.0}

Such study will give broad, comprehensive views of life. It will help us to understand something of its relations and dependencies, how wonderfully we are bound together in the great brotherhood of society and nations, and to how great an extent the oppression and degradation of one member means loss to all. {MH 442.1}

But history, as commonly studied, is concerned with man’s achievements, his victories in battle, his success in attaining power and greatness. God’s agency in the affairs of men is lost sight of. Few study the working out of His purpose in the rise and fall of nations. {MH 442.2}

And, to a great degree, theology, as studied and taught, is but a record of human speculation, serving only to “darken counsel by words without knowledge.” Too often the motive in accumulating these many books is not so much a desire to obtain food for mind and soul, as it is an ambition to become acquainted with philosophers and theologians, a desire to present Christianity to the people in learned terms and propositions. {MH 442.3}

John 7:15 (NKJV)
And the Jews marveled, saying, “How does this Man know letters, having never studied?”

My apology for a lengthy commentary but I belive it is essential to understand God’s perspective and not man’s only. Blessings!

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I would propose that there is an unresolvable conflict here between two profoundly different epistemologies. The church (and its sponsored educational system) is grounded on the notion that reality is defined by the understandings of ancient civilizations, as captured in historic literary document that have, over time, been elevated to the level of absolute, divine truth. In launching its educational system in the 1850s, the church had no way to anticipate that, a century later, the epistemology of scientific inquiry would become the dominant way of knowing that frames virtually every discipline offered within its institutions of higher education – perhaps except theology. This collision of epistemologies will not be resolved by resorting to the premise of “progressive revelation” or “present truth.” One does not, with integrity, “progress” from the notion of a six-day literal creation of the universe to accept the evidences of a multi-billion year-old universe. At an Adventist university, this is not so much a policy issue as a political issue: How does a professor, who for valid reasons of one’s own, wishes to remain an active church member and teach in an Adventist institution, thread the delicate path of pledging loyalty to its historic foundations while at the same time exposing students to the realities of the universe we now can understand with vastly greater evidences? Perhaps if the professor’s discipline is dentistry or computer technology – or any discipline for which Moses or Paul have not set forth an eternal truth – it’s a problem that can be dodged. But we must not underestimate the private anguish of a professor of biology or cosmology who is deeply committed to the Adventist professorate.

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That’s not what Ellen White says. She says we’re not to learn from other faiths, what we can comfortably call Babylon. Now who do you believe? The professor or the prophet. I think the professor has some explaining to do.

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If the church administration wants to control the curriculum in it’s educational institutions, then it should be legally confined to the teaching of religion. Period.

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I wonder how God inspires an atheist, who does not pray and finds God objectionable, with inspired “bright gems of thought” and “truths”?

How is it that “all truth is at our command?” That seems to me to be a very expansive claim. Consider that Christians believe thousands different Scriptural convictions—held as “truth.”

I wonder if it is wise to be ignorant of “infidel authors,” which make up a vast segment of modern though. A growing trend in evangelism is Christian apologetics. Premier Christian Radio called “Unbelieable” is a podcast that “gets Christians and non-believers talking to each other.” For years, they have matched prominent atheists with Christians for dialog. This approach has been very effective. EGW’s viewpoint is in not in keeping with Post Christian America. Where we need to equip our young people to answer the anti-Christian attitude that pervades our secular schools, entertainment and workplaces.

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Stop at the treshold of truth ??? Truth obviously what we ever have said or what now the maiority says or wants to hear…

A simple “theological” example : Two once dealt with glosolalia in the NT. : there were two “endorsed” books available, one of Gerhard Hasel (+) and one of William Richardson (“Speaking in Tongues, Is it Still the Gift ofthe Spirit?”,) both translated into German and published by Adventverlag Hamburg, quite differing in their conclusions…

OK.
And now we hear : WE know, in unity, and diversity is creeping up ! Beware ! Quick clear statements please ! One teaching !! Eveybody just listening and believing US !

And Kim Papajoannou, of Greek origin, Newbold studies, teacher in the Phillippines, is the very authority to state : HE knows it ! glwssa in his childhoods language and also in NT Greek - he describes himself as well knowing it , why not, of course - always meant and still means nothing else than “language”.

So, is it so ?? - Already in Acts 2 : 3 there are little tongues on the heads of those partaking. What ? - languages ? And my NT Greek concordance names 17 texts where the translation “tongue” in reality or metaphorically is apt and only 16 texts with the clear meaning of “language”

And a Bible reader / student / teacher should have the letter of James in mind ! (And Papajoannoou obviously never has read antique classic playwrights Aischilos`Agamemnon - with Kassandra crying out her upcoming horror with uttering - crying out sounds far off any word or grammar or syntax through 142 lines (total of the tragedy 1675 lines !)
This was general use in ancient Greece and still is in use within people of origin around the eastern Mediterreanean ! - to express their feeling / experience / emnotion / joy / woe - - with unspeakable words. One just has to experience that once .

Around 1970 it was promoted : “Alcohol Damages the Brain - Permanently” - Special issue of “Listen” The illustrations were a hoax, the text was a hoax, the theory was a hoax. Loma Linda affirmed its regret on such unscientific material presented to the public.- - Was it ever withdrawn ?

But, teacher teach our children to quietly listening and not questioning and never discussing - especially - beware - outside sources.

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“I wonder if it is wise to be ignorant of “infidel authors,” which make up a vast segment of modern though.”

Absolutely not…and neither was EGW. Every one educated within the US school system (private or public) has been exposed to many different schools of thought from the Greeks, Romans, Age of Enlightenment, etc., etc. This foolish notion that some have that they are only teaching “Christian” principles, thoughts, etc., at Adventist schools is impossible and is about as likely as our “English” language is “pure” filled only with “English” words!

It appears that there will be a big push towards having only “pure” teachers with the “correct” ways of thinking and believing at all levels of SDA education institutions. Perhaps “Bible Colleges” will be the next step logical step with the death of academic freedom. Doesn’t seem that it would be a hard thing to imagine at this stage of the game (and it is a sadly religiously perverse game).

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Hey brethren, don’t you find the author’s thought pattern fallacious? What we need is a spirit of being open to hear from God what truth is, and a willing heart to obey it. If it is health reform, or dress reform, or etc Christ said my sheep hear my voice…and they follow it. That’s what we need in our universities and school. The problem am afraid, is that our education has become so like that of the world that now it’s all about academia.

The gentleman says “Adventist colleges should be the place where the Church does it’s thinking”…no! brethren, our colleges should be training people to be evangelists. We should do our thinking individually, on our knees, behind an open Bible as God talks to us.

Am sorry, but I’ve never seen so subtle a form of paganism.

Mr. author, am sorry if you feel am picking you out, but what does the three angels’ message have to do with an academic pursuit in a Catholic university?

We need to listen to God. We need to be humble. We need reality.

I listen to God

I hear that multi-million year evolution was the best explanation of all the rocks and life forms we see around us

I hear that the Bible was the product of thousands of years and hundreds of people’s interactions

I hear that humans and not God had suppressed women and not-like-them societies

I hear that humans take over organizations and abuse them for their own purposes

I hear that treating my neighbors like myself was more important than listening to the religious power seekers imposing their beliefs on me

I hear that God gave me a mind to think, eyes to see, hands to do, and that the real evidence was stuff that humans could not distort

I heard that it was time for me to stop wasting my time in pointless religious meetings and get into the back of 911 ambulances and serve - and it was one of the most fulfilling things I have ever done

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According to AAUP a academic institution can limit academic freedom, if such is explicit in the purpose statement and defined in the employment contract. but even then to receive federal support of any sort, the institution must comply to several critical guidelines. The church is on the horns of a delemma in teaching comparative religions or the contest between creationism and evolution, As well as the consistency of Ellen White and Scripture. A university is the place where sound doctrine meets prized dogma. That is where (dire consequences arise). TZ

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I wonder how God inspires an atheist, who does not pray and finds God objectionable, with inspired “bright gems of thought” and “truths”?

I believe God extends his love and grace to everyone, even those who deny him, and that includes revealing truths thru various channels. If an atheist experiences joy thru nature’s beauty, is moved by the acts of love of others, or ponders whether matter/energy and the precise laws that govern them could exist on their own, (s)he is being inspired by God.

The challenges are what processes and supporting sources we should use to filter out the truth in anyone’s sayings or writtings, and in how to select sources to spend our limited time with.

How is it that “all truth is at our command?” That seems to me to be a very expansive claim. Consider that Christians believe thousands different Scriptural convictions—held as “truth.”

We need to distinguish between the Full Truth and our partial glimpses and misinterpretations of “truth.” There are as many different glimpses of the Full Truth as there are people on this planet. That those glimpses resulted in 1000s of convictions is no surprise, especially if we consider the possibility that a deceiver might exist. Truth is at our command if the sense that we can pursue it and use it when we believe we’ve found it. This we should do with the humility and continued searching that our imperfect glimpses should foster.