Adventism at the Crossroads

Speaker: Categories: Jun 09, 1990


[50min, 48sec / 1hr, 2min, 42sec]


Just what is "an Adventist" today? With all the apparent changes in the church, does one really know an answer to that question? Does a shift of emphasis in typical Seventh-day Adventist sermons and in articles published by the SDA press portend a simultaneous shift in what makes one "Adventist"?

The above paragraph relates to the concept of "Adventist" North American style. If the context is expanded to include "Adventist" worldwide, how does one then answer the question, "What is an 'Adventist'?"

And that latter question offers the backdrop for our June FORUM presentation. In 1985 Dr. Lawson shared with us "A Sociologist’s View of Adventism." The content of that meeting provided an introduction into the focus of this month's discussion.

Since 1985 Ron Lawson has conducted research though much of Africa, Eastern and Western Europe, Indi a, Southeast Asia, and the Far East. "His research," he writes, "has taken him to fifty-seven countries and fifty-nine colleges in every division of the world church." He has completed "three thousand independent interviews with administrators, pastors, educators, medical workers, college students, and leading laypersons."

His research will be completed through interviews and observations at the 1990 General Conference Session. When published, his book will be the broadest sociological study of any denomination!

Needless-to-say there has been significant interest in the findings of this study, the conclusions which may be warranted, and the implications for the world church. It has been rather commonplace to hear questions raised about the researcher and his study whenever groups of informed and concerned SDAs meet.


Ron Lawson received his Ph.D. degree in History and Sociology from the University of Queensland (Australia), 1970. He studied as a Post-doctoral Visiting Scholar in the Sociology Department of Columbia University, 1971-73. He is currently Professor of Urban Studies,Queens College, City University of New York, a position he has held since 1984. He has also taught at Hunter College (CUNY), and at Columbia University.

The son of a mother who was a Seventh-day Adventist missionary in India and a father who was a literature evangelist, Ron has received a strong sense of Adventist "roots." He is personally involved in various SDA organizations in New York and serves as President of the Greater New York Chapter of AAF.

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