Faculty Contribute to "Church and Society"
Book addresses difficult contemporary topics
At 800 pages, Church and Society: Missiological Challenges for the Seventh-day Adventist Church is a weighty book both literally and intellectually. Produced and published by the Andrews University Department of World Missions, the book aims to use a combination of sociological research and Biblical perspective to “help Christ’s church to understand how this ‘world’ and the people who live in it think, feel, and react to some of the issues they face in their daily lives, and how to bring peace, justice, and compassion to the society that surrounds our homes, churches, and communities.”
With this goal in mind, Church and Society features 31 essays on globally relevant and often “uncomfortable” topics divided into five sections: Lifestyle and Health Issues, Development Issues, Human Rights Issues, Religion and Public Life, and Family and Domestic Issues (7). The 34 authors, hail from North America, Europe, Africa, and Asia and include church administrators, professors and researchers, doctors, lawyers, and non-profit leaders. They approach their respective topics, which include such pertinent issues as euthanasia, homelessness, prostitution, Christian political involvement, and economic exploitation in a diverse fashion. Some, such as René D. Drumm’s “Interaction and Angst: The Social Experiences of Gay and Lesbian Seventh-day Adventists” or “Domestic Violence in the Pews: Equipping the Church to Recognize and Address Spouse Abuse,” by René D. Drumm, Marciano Popescu, and Laurie Cooper, employ mainly case studies and excerpts from interviews. Others, including Evelyn Kissinger’s “Obesity: A Global Concern” and Héctor Luis Díaz’s “Sociocultural and Biblical Foundations for Working with Immigrants and Refugees,” rely more on statistics and data analysis.
All 31 essays, however, share a common format that splits the text into three sections: description/analysis of the topic, biblical discussion, and missiological application. Each article also includes a series of discussion questions for educators, church leaders, and individual readers, as well as suggestions for further reading and a full bibliography. The essays also share a common conviction that sociological and anthropological research is useful – even necessary – to the directives of a worldwide, mission-minded church. While some will claim that “preaching the simple gospel” is all that is required for effective ministry, general editor Rudi Maier notes that the social sciences “need not call into question a minister’s faith, hope, and commitment,” but rather can be “the mechanisms for determining a better way of doing ministry” that understands individual situations in nuanced and perceptive ways (5).
“As an editor,” explained Rudi Maier to Adventist Today in a December 2014 interview, “I didn’t have a specific agenda for this book except to help people to understand some of the painful issues people face inside and outside the church…I hope that they will be treated with the same respect and compassions that Jesus gives in response to each one of us and our needs.”
Church and Society is currently available for sale through the Department of World Mission at Andrews University for $49.50, with a discounted rate of $25 per book on orders of 10 or more.