New Book Gives Important Insight into Future of Adventism
You are undoubtedly aware that the Adventist Church is growing at a massive rate in Africa, Latin America and Asia, while the percentage in North America and Europe is shrinking to single digits.
A new book by a Swiss anthropologist gives the first real insight to what is happening in Africa. The Road to Clarity: Seventh-day Adventism in Madagascar by Eva Keller (2005, Palgrave-MacMillan, New York City) is an extremely interesting read and very well written. There is lots of description and little in the way of complex theory. Keller is very sympathetic and insightful, yet with no Adventist background.
Focus of the study: what motivates Africans to flock to the Adventist Church and stay committed for the long term? "The conclusion I have come to is that local people's commitment to Adventism is first and foremost nourished by the intellectual pleasure derived from the activity of Bible study. Adventist Bible study is conducted in a participatory, Socratic style, which is based on reflection and dialogue rather that on instruction by higher authority or the learning by heart of doctrine....The primary attraction of Adventism is the intrinsic worth of the religious activity itself....The core attraction of Adventism for people in [the towns studied] is not the answers it offers, [but]... the very activity of Bible study and intellectual inquiry."
Keller also discusses at length the impact of Adventist faith on community life and the tensions that it creates for believers with their traditional culture. There is detailed description of the methods used for outreach and church growth. There also a very interesting description of gender roles.
INNOVATIONewsletter, November 23, 2005 Center for Creative Ministry