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Sabbath School for a New Generation

Among Seventh Day Adventists, Sabbath School is a time for discussion and learning. It is the belief of this site that Sabbath School should be an exciting venue for the discussion of new ideas, instead of rehashing old arguments. So welcome to a virtual Sabbath School, a Sabbath School for a new generation.

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I am an Electrical Engineer, working at Intel in the Portland area. I received my undergraduate degree from Walla Walla College and graduate degrees from the University of Southern California. The views expressed on this website are my own and do not reflect the viewpoints of anybody else. I reserve the right to change my mind at any point in time.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Witnessing in a pluralistic setting

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I am reading a book by John Cobb, "Transforming Christianity and the World." So I have finished reading the first three chapters. In the second chapter he talks about dialog between religions. He proposes that we stay open to truth even if it comes outside of Christianity. In the process of dialog, we are changed, but so are the people we are talking to (if they are also open to truth.) To me this is the core of witnessing. In my experience, I have found a truth that is helpful in living on this earth. For example, I find Sabbath rest to be a very helpful truth that I can share with others. But I shouldn't be so arrogant to assume that I have all truth and the people I am talking to have none.

Of course Cobb takes this further, but then again he is not really talking about witnessing but dialog between religious groups. He gives an example of a dialog between Christianity and Buddhism, something he has a great deal of experience in. He proposes that in the process of dialog the two religions will become closer. Christianity will be become Buddhized and Buddhism will become Christianized.

I must admit that at first this struck me as a little out there until I thought about it further. Religions are not isolated, eternal constructs. They change as culture changes and as they come in contact with other religions. Did you know that Judaism (and by extension Christianity) learned about Satan from the Zoroastrians? In fact as you read about the Zoroastrians, you learn that we also obtained our ideas about the end of time and heaven from them as well. So during the exile and post exile the Judaism changed. Christianity for the most part was changed by its contact with Neo Platonism (immortality of the soul.) This is something that we as Adventists have rejected. But I don't think you will ever find an Adventist willing to give up our end-time beliefs and the Great Controversy, which were acquired through Zoroastrianism.

I am sure that God has been more active in the world than we give him credit for. He has been active in leading Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Buddists, Zoroastrians, and others to the truth. It is something we should be open to as we talk about our faith with others.

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