International Bible Conference
Opens In Israel
Adventist Theologians, Scholars, Leaders gather
for discussion and study.
BY MARK A. KELLNER, News Editor, reporting from Nof Ginosar, Tiberias, Israel
Atotal of 304 Seventh-day Adventist theologians, scholars, and church leaders gathered June 11 in a kibbutz on the shores of the Sea of Galilee to begin a 10-day conference on theological issues. The third International Bible Conference, sponsored by the world church's Biblical Research Institute (BRI), began at the site of ancient Gennesaret, and will conclude in Jerusalem on June 21.
"The hope we have is what makes this conference so special," said Pastor Ted N.C. Wilson, General Conference president, in brief remarks during an outdoor plenary session on the shores of the Galilee, known in Hebrew as the Kinneret. Cooled by a soft evening breeze, delegates listened thoughtfully as organizers sketched the plans for the coming days of study tours and meetings.
Noting a "resurgence of spiritualism" in today's world BRI associate director Kwabena Donkor said the "doctrine of humans," a subject also known as Biblical Anthropology, is "a very important issue" for the Adventist movement. "The issue of epistemology hinges on this topic," he said.
BRI director Artur Stele, also a general vice president of the world church, opened the conference with a plenary address. "Exploring the nature of anthropological dualism should be our work," Stele asserted, adding that a proper understanding of the nature of humans "touches on the relationship between a man and a woman" and on "the relationship of humans to modern technology."
Stele added, "we need to explore the significance of Biblical Anthropology and how it impacts all of our doctrines." Adventists are called to address the "challenge of world religions that are basically dualistic" in their view of man, he reminded the delegates.
"We have a treasure," Stele said of the Adventist viewpoint, "why don't we share it more actively? It demonstrates the beauty of the character of God."
The delegates, coming from all 13 of the church's world divisions, were also welcomed by Mrs. Josephine Zinder, president of Tailor Made Travel, herself a Messianic Jewish believer in Jesus. "Something is happening, the whole world is rushing here" to Israel, she observed, expressing her delight in the major conference sponsored by the Adventist Church
The first three days of the event, while including plenary lectures and daily devotionals, largely focused on showing delegates much of the land where Jesus of Nazareth walked, taught and healed. Visitors saw -- and sailed on -- the Kinneret, and visited the traditional "Mount of Blessing" where thousands once heard Jesus proclaim the eight beatitudes. Delegates also visited archaeological sites such as Bethsaida and Chorazin, traditional sites for the feeding of the 5000 and the miraculous catch of fish, and viewed the headwaters of the Jordan River in the the Rift Valley which extends from this region through Egypt and south into East Africa.
Morning devotionals beside the lake were also featured in the Galilee portion of the event. Euro-Asia Division president Guillermo Biaggi and South Pacific Division president Barry Oliver called delegates to personal connection with the Lord who once walked the shores of Galilee. Oliver reminded delegates that God, in the person of Jesus, "has been one with us and [has been] one of us. Experiencing His presence is dependent on seeking His Person, and that can only be done through the Lord Jesus Christ."