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Crosscurrents in Adventist Christology

by Claude Webster


Christology has always been important to the life and well-being of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. From its early beginnings in the New England states and its organization in Michigan in 1863 and down past its European outreach in 1874, past the historic 1888 Minneapolis Conference, and on to the present, the Person of Jesus Christ has played a vital role in Adventism.

It is fitting that Andrews University should continue to have a molding influence in this aspect of Biblical truth. Two of the Adventist theologians considered in this work are part of the history of Andrews University. Ellen G. White lived and worked in Battle Creek, Michigan, and was the moving force in the establishment of Emmanuel Missionary College, forerunner of Andrews. Edward Heppenstall of England was professor of systematic theology at Potomac and Andrews Universities during the 1950s and 1960s and as such had great influence in shaping the thinking of the Church on Christology.

The Church has often had to grapple with its understanding of Christ. Not that this truth is beyond the grasp of the simplest Christian for salvation, and yet, because of the very nature of Christ, whom we believe to be God, there lies a depth that is beyond the wisdom of man. This tension between simplicity and complexity must always be held in balance by the Christian scholar and believer.

The quest for greater clarity and understanding of this central doctrine of the Church must never cease. We must beware of those who feel that the quest is over and that they have the last word to say concerning Jesus Christ and His nature and His Person. Men and women must always approach this subject with the humility and spirit of a child realizing hat human wisdom and skill are inadequate in solving these deeper mysteries.

The Church has been promised the presence and guidance of the Holy Spirit in understanding and appreciating Jesus Christ. The Christian scholar must continually submit his heart and life to the Comforter is he or she seeks to embrace the Saviour and make His life and work more understandable to the world.

We have come to the last decade of the twentieth century and the challenge of the times demands the best from the Adventist scholar. It is still true that "of all people Seventh-day Adventists should be foremost in lifting up Christ before the world." The Christ that we lift up should be such that sinners are drawn to the foot of the cross to find salvation by grace, full and free.

May this work play its part in guiding the traveler in his or her theological journey. If it can help in preventing the reader from falling into pitfalls or taking false trails and can lead to safe and sure roads, it will not have been written in vain.

Eric G.Webster
Cape Town. South Africa January 1992

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