New Directions in SDA Theology

Speaker: Categories: Oct 10, 1998


[57min, 11sec / 41min, 13sec]


The timing on this presentation is, indeed, most fortunate. Following only four weeks after the September 12 panel discussion ofWhat's Fundamental about the Twenty-Seven, this discussion will address some of the questions posed, but left unanswered, last month.

The title of Dr. Richard Rice's discussion, suggesting that there might bechangesin the theology of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, causes many devoted SDAs to cringe with concern that in this modern era the message, divinely transmitted and understood by the Adventist pioneers. might become modified, nay, adulterated. For others, equally devoted to the SDA church, they see this as a ray of hope for a church whose set of beliefs may no longer express the conclusions of good biblical exegesis, good Bible hermeneutics, consistent with the denomination's published counsel regarding the study of Scripture.

Rick Rice notes:"Although it may not be true for the church as a whole, some Adventists have steadily become more theologically conscious over the years and appreciate the value of a methodical, systematic expression of the community's faith.” In other words, if the procedures and methods are correct and defensible, the conclusions reached likewise ought to be correct and defensible. That seems reasonable, doesn't it?

But, Dr. Rice counters,“ln the Christian world generally, however, people have become increasingly aware of the shortcomings of [a focus on] method and system and [prefer] to return to [a focus on] symbol and narrative as the primary bearers of religious meaning."

Where does such a shift leave us as SDAs who have masteredproof-texting, have memorized the key passages supporting ourpillar doctrines, and have made ourselves ready to give a reason toanyone who asks-- or seems even remotely interested.

"We will explore the promise that this [new] development has for contemporary Seventh-day Adventist theology,"Rick Rice promises.

Having read thus far, would you see such a shift in emphasis as desirable? What would be its inherent benefits, if any? Would this tend to demean our doctrinal uniqueness? Would our pronounced status as God's remnant be in jeopardy?


A fifth generation Seventh-day Adventist, Rick Rice was ordained to the gospel ministry in 1977. From 1974 - 1998 he was professor of theology at La Sierra University, a position which he just this year left to become professor of religion at Loma Linda University. His graduate studies resulted in earning an MDiv from Andrews University SDA Theological Seminary (1969), followed by an MA and PhD from the University of Chicago Divinity School (1972& 1974). He and his wife, Gail Taylor Rice, a professor at Loma Linda University, have two adult children, Alison (25) and Jonathan (22). He has been published widely in books, articles, and reviews. Dr. Rice has been a San Diego Adventist Forum presenter on five previous occasions.

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