“Starting over” implies leaving behind what was (because it doesn’t work) and - starting - over. It does depend on what didn’t work and how deep do you want to go to make changes. This essay wants to reserve Adventism with a different emphasis, perhaps. Too much “naval gazing” has made the denomination self-satisfied and, dare I say, lazy - Laodicean. We can dissect and analyze various aspects of Adventism until the cows come home (like women’s ordination) and accomplish nothing (like women’s ordination); or, we an actually go back to the beginning and “start over”. That takes courage and resolve. We need to go back, not to the roots of Adventism, but to the seedlings that produced it. When we do that we find all kinds issues popping up - cultural biases; long standing distrust of Catholicism; hysteria about the “end times”; even some superstitions and spiritualism, a new phenomenon at the time.
If we want to preserve Adventism in any form we have to decide what to keep and what to discard. This essay is asking for more compassion and social involvement, a legacy born out of the sixties when we became socially aware and dedicated to making a change in the world. Combining it with our church experience come naturally for those for whom both were important. It seems we’re still working on that over 50 years later, and the cows are far from “coming home”.
Our church does not relate to God, or the social ills of the day, “en mass”. Just as we’re not saved through membership to the church, neither are we “made-over” - born again - by shifting some statements in a newly-worded declaration of faith. My recollection is that I made that declaration over fifty years ago - and it was a personal declaration and still is - and it’s made to my God and my Redeemer. Change has to come one member at a time, and combined, we form a statement to the greater world we occupy. The caveat to all this, is a disconnect between our beliefs (Jesus will come at any moment) vs our re-worked message to the world (we need to get busy and solve the worlds’ problems).
How do we reach the heart of Adventism is a serious and daunting question. The truth is, we don’t. We can only reach people by example - not by design, but by heart - meaning, change begins with us. Personally, I believe we need to go back to very beginning, when we were gathered at the cross together, where the eye salve" is applied, and go forth from there.