June 23, 2014


Looking for a City, Roy Adams, Review and Herald Publishing Association, Hagerstown, Maryland, 2014, 144 pages, US$14.99. Reviewed by Stephen Chavez, coordinating editor, Adventist Review.

I write to get things off my chest,” writes Roy Adams in the first sentence of the preface of his latest book. Those of us who know Adams personally understand with those words that we’re in for a treat. Adams writes about only that which he is passionate about. This is not a book for those who enjoy reading “on one hand . . . and on the other hand . . .” In Looking for a City the author writes with conviction and grace about the qualities that should characterize God’s people at this time in earth’s history.30 1 1 2

Adams, widely recognized for his service as an associate editor of Adventist Review and Adventist World magazines, and highly regarded as a camp meeting speaker, is well qualified to write such a book. Before he was an author, administrator, and theology professor, Adams was a pastor, and his pastoral background is obvious throughout.

In his preface Adams outlines the four major themes of the book: protology (the study of origins), soteriology (the study of salvation), living in the world, and eschatology (the study of final events). Don’t let those fancy words fool you. Adams knows how to take complex concepts and make them simple. His examples are torn from the front pages of our newspapers, news magazines, and Internet news feeds.

That’s the genius, and the challenge, of such a book. The author knows that we live in a complex and often contradictory world, and he acknowledges as much. But his focus is also on the unchanging principles of God’s heavenly kingdom: His love, the Sabbath, forgiveness, mercy, justice, truth, etc.

Adams also isn’t afraid to tackle some of the issues that roil the church from time to time: worship, music, entertainment, materialism, secularism, etc. His purpose in addressing them is not to stir the pot, but to identify the anchor points that keep us grounded as we await the Lord’s return.

Looking for a City is part memoir, part devotional, part apologetic. Much of the material appeared in some form in the Adventist Review, and it will seem familiar to some readers. But the issues addressed in this volume are still as urgent as when he first tackled them. At a moment when so many of our assumptions are being challenged, Adams reveals himself as a fellow pilgrim, one who’s still trying to make sense of things we couldn’t have imagined just a few short years ago. But he always returns to the certainties upon which we can base our faith.

Looking for a City reminds us we’re not alone. We are part of a movement that sometimes stumbles, but will ultimately sing 100 billion stanzas . . . and a single chorus on the sea of glass.