October 4, 2018

The Beginning of Adventist Eduction

The biggest need in Adventist education right now isn't academic quality, facilities, or tuition.

Andy Nash

“But as for you, continue in what you have learned . . . , because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures” (2 Tim. 3:14, 15).

When the first Adventist parents sent the first Adventist students to the first Adventist schools they cared about one textbook above all others: the Bible.

Scripture was the entire reason for the existence of the Adventist Church. Those earliest Adventists studied Scripture verse by verse, letting light unfold ray by ray. In those days there were no multiple-choice questions and fill in the blanks about Adventist beliefs—there weren’t yet Adventist beliefs, only Scripture.

When these early Adventists opened Adventist schools, the same hunger and thirst for God’s Word superseded academics, facilities, and tuition. Seeking the light of Scripture was everything to early Adventists. More than 150 years later important questions are being asked about the state of Adventist education: the cost, the quality, the viability.

But may we also ask another question? Are Adventist teachers, students, and parents still immersed in the Word of God? Is our personal study of Scripture overflowing into our classrooms and conversations? Or have we assumed that the Word has been sufficiently studied, that truth has been categorized into a list, and that we no longer need the source of the list?

The biggest need in Adventist education right now isn’t academic quality, facilities, or tuition.

Recently George Knight, Adventist historian and author of the Exploring Bible study series, was asked to speak at an Adventist university. Knight said he had planned to speak on personal Bible study. Instead, he was asked to speak on the subject “Why Be Adventist.”

What’s more important—telling university students why they should be Adventist, or calling them to study Scripture for themselves?

At this summer’s North American Division Adventist Educators conference I visited with Nina Atcheson, Adventist author of the excellent Encounter Bible curriculum and new book As Light Lingers: Basking in the Word of God. Atcheson shared how, when she talks with Adventist teachers about meaningful Bible study, some tearfully express that they’ve never learned how to study Scripture inductively for themselves; but they are hungry to do so.

“There is nothing,” wrote Ellen White, “more calculated to strengthen the intellect than the study of the Scriptures. No other book is so potent to elevate the thoughts, to give vigor to the faculties, as the broad, ennobling truths of the Bible. If God’s Word were studied as it should be, [men and women] would have a breadth of mind, a nobility of character, and a stability of purpose rarely seen in these times.”1

The biggest need in Adventist education right now isn’t academic quality, facilities, or tuition. It’s Adventist teachers, students, and parents immersing themselves in Scripture.

This month, 501 years ago, a university professor on a Christian campus in Wittenberg called his colleagues back to God’s Word, kindling a fire that lit the world. May that fire fiercely burn in our hearts today.

  1. Ellen G. White, Steps to Christ (Mountain View, Calif.: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1956). p. 90.

Andy Nash ([email protected]) is an Adventist professor of communication and religion who leads summer study tours to Israel and Revelation’s seven churches.