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2022 Bible Conference Report

Newbold’s Centre for Ministry and Mission hosts its 2022 Bible Conference.

The 2022 Bible Conference titled Challenges, Issues, Opportunities: Adventism in the 21st Century, the first major event organised by the College since 2019, brought together a dynamic team of speakers who shared captivating presentations with their audience at Newbold Church and online on 27-28 May.

Marianne Thieme – Adventist Perfectionism & the Spirit of Meritocracy

On Friday evening, Dr Laszlo Gallusz, Senior Lecturer in New Testament, set the scene for the theme of the Conference with the opening remark, “Every society and organisation run by human beings have their own issues and challenges, which includes the Seventh-day Adventist Church. To deny or ignore the issues is equal to ignoring reality and missing the opportunity for constructive growth.” Dr Gallusz introduced the evening’s keynote speaker, Dr Stephen Currow, Principal at Newbold, who delivered a presentation on the Seven Challenges Facing Adventists Today. Dr Currow ended his talk with an encouraging appeal for everyone to “preach the Word, fight the fight of faith, pursue godliness, be rich in good deeds and take hold of eternal life”.

Julian Thompson – Digitalisation & the Authority of the Scripture

The following day’s programme provided plenty of food for thought with presentations from Dr Laszlo Gallusz, Dr Jan Barna, Principal Lecturer in Systematic Theology, visiting lecturer Pilira Zapita, and sermons by Dr Daniel Duda, Education Director at the Trans-European Division of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, and Pastor Jonathan Holder. The day began with a fascinating presentation by Pastor Julian Thompson on the digitalisation of the Bible. He used the philosopher Marshall McLuhan’s famous quote, “The medium is the message,” to explain how digital technology, mobile devices, texting, and even emojis impact how people interpret biblical text and understand the Bible. Dr Ivan Milanov, Senior Lecturer in Old Testament, followed with a presentation on the pitfalls of conspiracy theories. He unveiled a list of similarities between the views of some Adventists and conspiracy theorists, showing how easily people are lured into a culture of conspiracy. He added that God has already revealed Satan’s intentions and plans in the Bible, so “whatever conspiracy theory you are exposed to, pray for wisdom”, and pointed out that “wise people are a faithful people with a special bond with the Lord”.

Ivan Milanov – Fatal Attraction: Adventism & Conspiracy Theories

One of the day’s highlights included a presentation by Dutch politician Marianne Thieme on the dangers of the theology of perfectionism. She showed its link to meritocracy, a concept rooted in our society where people get ahead in life based on their accomplishments. She said we live in a world “ruled by perfectionism” where “we want to have a perfect life”, pointing to an abundance of mobile apps available for self-help, self-improvement, and people wanting to measure everything in their pursuit of success. Ms Thieme explored the roots of the ‘Adventist perfectionism narrative’, making close comparisons with ‘the meritocracy narrative’, warning that it eventually leads to a ‘winners and losers’ mentality, and the tendency to become judgmental and condescending, all of which leads to frustration and spiritual burn-out. Concluding, she said it is “incompatible with God’s grace”, which is “an unmerited gift of love”, emphasising that “it is Christ’s perfection that saves us”.

Stephen Currow – Issues Facing Adventism Today

The 2022 Bible Conference drew to a close with a panel discussion led by former Principal Dr John Baildam, who presented the speakers with questions from the audience and online viewers. Dr Currow ended the event by thanking the audience and everyone who took part, and Newbold Church for providing the venue and its support in making the Conference a success.