We Have This Hope: Volume One, compiled by David C. Jarnes
For those few outside of Adventist circles who read these book, this volume and its companion are likely to prompt a complex mix of feelings. Included in this mix of feelings is a certain sense of admiration for a religious culture willing to produce a large number of books for a presumably biblically literate culture (judging by the content of these messages), a certain amount of envy and/or longing about wishing for the same desire to create and read books en masse in one’s own religious culture, and a reflective quality about the similarities and differences between the sermon messages one has given and heard and what one is reading here. And who reads sermons from other denominations anyway? Someone like me, that’s who. As someone more than a little bit familiar with the writings of fellow Sabbathkeepers , this is the sort of book I want to see emulated and made available from others. For those who appreciate sermons as literary constructions and well-organized arguments, this is a good book to read and certainly a book that is easy to appreciate even where one disagrees with the author’s perspective and approach.
So, what kind of book do we have here? In a bit less than 200 pages, this book manages to include fifteen sermons from notable figures in the Adventist movement organized in alphabetical order from Andrews (no Albrights, alas) to White (namely Ellen G. White and her. Before each message the author includes a short biography of the author along with a comment about their work within the Adventist church and their writings. Nearly all of them are writers of other books. The sermons included fit together well because of the consistent editing by its compiler although there is a fair amount of variety to be found here in terms of subject matter and approach, from Ellen G. White’s emotional and perhaps a bit histrionic expression of her love of Jesus to the call and answer of A.T. Jones’ sermon on the Third Angel’s message (the eighteenth (!) in a series according to the editor) to discussions about a woman’s work from a woman to a lost gem of a message from William Miller himself (of the Great Disappointment) on the Kingdom of God. A few of the sermons give a strong biblical defense of the Sabbath, which is something to be appreciated. Overall, this is a solid book that manages to compile some worthy messages whose content is generally solid and often biblical.
To be sure, there are some areas worthy of critique. At times the authors confuse their own interpretation or the culture of the Seventh-Day Adventists for the message of the Bible. At other times the authors feel it necessary at length to quote the writings of Ellen G. White as if they were on the par with biblical verses, which belie some of the claims of one of the speakers that unlike many Christian sects there is no sort of human to which SDAs turn. The various speakers manage to engage in some complex discussions with a lot of tension, making fun of the desire of the United Nations to unite humanity while claiming that Adventists are united in their doctrinal beliefs. Readers whose own denominational histories tend to be far more unified on doctrinal matters than in administrative ones, and who are used to speakers mining current events for witty and biting commentary on matters of prophecy and biblical history will find much to appreciate here from a not entirely unfamiliar perspective. In short, this is a book well worth checking out if you like reading sermons and don’t mind reading from a somewhat critical but also largely respectful perspective.
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