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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.

Friday, July 31, 2009

A review of Samir Selmanovic's book

It's been awhile since I have posted on my blog. But I thought I would start things off again with a review of Samir Selmanovic's book, "It's Really All About God". I have also posted the review below on Amazon.com and the visual bookshelf app on Facebook.

A friend of mine divides the beliefs of Christians into two types: messy theology and clean theology. “It’s Really All About God” by Samir Selmanovic is a clear example of messy theology in all its glory. And for those of us who have a messy theology, who deal with uncertainty and doubt, who revel in the complex mystery that we call God, this book will be a breath of fresh air.

Samir’s book is part auto-biography and part theological treatise. It is firmly based on a life experience that is rich in its variety. Samir grew up in a family of Muslim heritage; he became an atheist, and then converted to Christianity during his year of military service. He uses different aspects of his life to illustrate each point. One of my favorite stories is told near the beginning. At one point in his pastoral career he became friends with a woman who was Wiccan. He invites her to pray at a religious conference that his church is hosting. It is a charming story of the “other” giving encouragement to a discouraged Christianity.

In his book, he talks about how Jews, Christians, and Muslims teach that we are created in God’s image. God is not confined to one belief system and we cannot control him (or even our own body at times.) In fact it is much too easy to domesticate God and create an idol out of our religion. Therefore we cannot exclude the “other,” those who are not from our religion. For one, God may have called them to share His truth for us. Yes, God can use even an atheist (or a Wiccan) to call us into the Kingdom of God and away from the idolatry of our religion. It has radical implications to how we share our beliefs. Instead of attempting to convert others we dialog with them.

Samir has strong words of warning for religion if it is not able to embrace the other. We are in danger of losing our rich cultural heritage that religion provides. Religion is in danger of dying. On the other hand he is able to see hope in that new life coming from death is a common Biblical metaphor.

Although I enjoyed reading the book, there were times when feelings of guilt would creep in. Any many ways this is a prophetic book that calls those who follow God to a higher standard. There have been so many times that I have been a failure when it comes to communicating and interacting with others and so many times that I have not acted in love to those created in the image of God. And there have been times when for me, it wasn’t really about God.