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Crosscurrents in Adventist Christology

by Claude Webster


Upon the completion of a doctoral dissertation, it is appropriate and necessary to reflect on the factors which have played their part in bringing the task to fruition. As far as the background factors are concerned, I firstly would like to pay tribute to Christian parents, now deceased, for their constant love, concern and inspiration. The course of my life work owes much to their example and moulding influence throughout the years of my youth and ministry. Secondly, I wish to mention the impact of dedicated Christian teachers during my days at Seventh-day Adventist schools, Helderberg College and the church's Theological Seminary. In addition, I owe a debt of gratitude to a number of lecturers at the University of South Africa who guided me through both undergraduate and post-graduate degrees.

Now, in the immediate context of this dissertation, I would like to express my deep appreciation to the Theology Faculty of the University of Stellenbosch for their willingness to open their doors and their hearts in Christian fellowship to one not of their immediate theological tradition. I would like to thank Professor David de Villiers for his helpful suggestions in launching me into the doctoral programme back in 1974, while I was head of the Theology Department at Helderberg College, Somerset West. I have greatly appreciated the interest and kindness shown to me by many different members of the Stellenbosch Theology Faculty.

My chief word of gratitude is extended to Professor W D Jonker, head of the Department of Dogmatology, in the Faculty of Theology, who graciously agreed to be my promoter. His interest and concern, his time and his effort, his knowledge and his guidance and above all his friendship, are all deeply appreciated. Professor Jonker was always ready and willing to give his counsel and advice at every stage of the programme. I am deeply indebted to his theological insights and his Christian dedication.

Many others have played an important part in the progress of this dissertation. I would especially like to mention Dr Raoul F. Dederen, chairman of the Department of Systematic Theology and Christian Philosophy the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary at Andrews University, Berrien Springs, Michigan, for his encouragement and help. With his special expertise in Adventist Christology, he was able to give me valuable counsel on possible routes and procedures to be followed both method and content. Then again, I would like to say a special word of thanks to my son, John, who, while busy with his M.Th. dissertation, shared his time, friendship and theological insights as we had opportunity, rough the past two years, to discuss issues, grapple with problems and clarify concepts. He was, perhaps, one of my severest critics.

Others have also assisted with various technical aspects of the dissertation. I would especially like to thank Mrs. Louise Dederen of the Heritage Room, James White Library, Andrews University; Dr Arthur 0. Coetzee the same institution; Bert Haloviak of the General Conference Archives in Washington, D.C.; Tim Poirier of the Ellen G White Estate; and Ken Cronje of the Pieter Wessels Library, Helderberg College, South Africa. For their assistance in providing me with source material and biographical details I express sincere appreciation. and then a special debt of gratitude goes to Magda Prinsloo for her painstaking effort and expertise in typing this dissertation from the initial drafts through the various stages right up to the final product.

And, now, I wish to express my heart-felt gratitude and appreciation to my wife, Ruth, who through all the years of study and writing has shown such patience, love, understanding and interest in me and my work. The final product is a tribute to her loyalty and devotion.

Finally, I wish to give thanks to God in whom we live and move and have our being for His enabling grace and sustenance throughout the project. And as this dissertation deals with Christology, it is perhaps fitting that my deepest acknowledgement must be given to Jesus Christ who is not only, in the final analysis, the Subject of this study, but is also the unspeakable gift of God to man.

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