This is old news by now, but I just finally read this great article by Doug Morgan called "Following the Prince of Peace in a Time of War," that appeared in the June 14 issue of the Adventist Review. Since I don't receive the magazine on a regular basis, I missed this when it first came out. Please take 15 minutes of your day and read this. Through Doug, and others, our historic perspective on war and peacemaking is being resurrected and re-appropriated for a new generation.
What Doug does in this piece is show how three issues converged to help our young church forge its views:
1. Determination to follow the scripture in every way
2. Pragmatic concern for the survival of the young movement
3. Passionate opposition to slavery
How to balance all these needs...that was the generative crucible of their time. It is relevant to our church today for several reasons.
First, like our founders, we live in a time of war. Though, to be fair, our war is not destroying our country in the way that the Civil War did. The fear of a draft, the institution of the draft, and the massive loss of life on our home soil made this conflict unique in our country's history. Nevertheless we do live in a time of war. Not only this, but we are being asked by our nation's leaders to envision not "a war to end all wars," but rather, "endless war." Our young men and women need their church to step up in this hour and give them guidance to make these difficult moral decisions.
Second, our ancestor's "passionate opposition to slavery" should inspire our own fight against modern slavery and human trafficking. More on that another time, but I am devoted to this issues and my local church has taken this as an key part of our ministry.
Thirdly, James and Ellen White, and their colleagues, modeled the intellectual rigor needed in our time. They had values in conflict and were unwilling to settle for easy answers. If they condemned violence they might be perceived as being "soft on slavery." If they took up arms for the cause of defeating slavery they would be disloyal to the Prince of Peace. How could they creatively imagine being just peacemakers? Their conclusions and our church's history is the story of how they worked through these issues.
Finally, I can't help but notice that whenever I read Adventist historians like Doug Morgan or George Knight, they always mention how the pages of the Adventist Review where the locus of vigorous debate. It was truly a community paper that fostered conversation - a place where issues were literally being worked out. How wonderful if the Adventist Review could be that paper once again, rather than just being the official, sanitized voice of the church.