I am heartened.
Paulsen said that at the top of the concerns of this rising generation, one centers on the vision the church has for the world around us.
"Does leadership nurture a church which is so focused on spirituality and eternity that they have no feelings in their hearts for what is happening to society today, except to condemn decaying morality," he said. "Do they think about the environment; do they care about HIV [and] AIDS; and what about poverty? Do they understand what poverty really is?"
He said particular emphasis is placed on issues of poverty and how the church addresses these.
"They asked me in Africa a few weeks ago: 'Have you ever been to the home of a really poor family?' And they follow it up with a 'Why not,'" he said. "And they ask me: 'Does the message of Matthew 25 about Christ's presence in the poor, making the point that what you do to one of these you do to me, does it say anything to us as a church?'"
These members are also asking the church to recognize and celebrate cultural differences, the world church president reported.
"'Diversity' is a word we often use; it covers many things, and it is more than racial," he said. "The Seventh-day Adventist Church must not only tolerate differences - and what they are talking about are differences which are not hostile to historic Adventism and historic Adventist values - we must also exercise discipline to accommodate them. The church must be good at affirming many kinds of differences."
Paulsen said one duty of Adventists is not to make others into "cultural replicas" of themselves, but to "receive people you meet with kindness."
He added, "It is a fact that while we, as a global and multi-cultural Seventh-day Adventist family, have the same spiritual DNA, we do not have to have the same 'fingerprints.'"
Of course it will take awhile for this to seep down through our "Peter principled" church bureaucracy - but, by faith, it will!
Perhaps we are reaching a tipping point where visionary Adventists realize that salvation is more than mental assent - that faith works, but it never just works for me.
The prophetic vision of a religiously-informed private and public goodness was the motivating spirit of the early Adventist ethos. A prophetic Christianity speaks to the times, reinterpreting and recreating an always, already present truth.
Now it's time for our leaders to put their money where the rest of the world's mouths are. It's time to shift policy and money away from mass evangelism, wasteful, dated literature scattering and improve our health, media, and educational systems in the developing world. It's time to stop growth for growth's sake (isn't that cancer?) and start building a community that works for the common good. Hearing Paulsen preach it! makes me hope: integrity and poverty, ecology and health care - now there's the desire of ages and a faith for today.
What is that faith?
The most powerful idea in earth's history - that Jesus Christ saves the world.
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This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/4459