The Advent Christian "Renaissance"
by Thomas Loghry
Something is happening in the Advent Christian denomination. There has been a pain that we have been carrying within us, the sharp hurt of hopelessness, the heavy burden of futility, a bitter irony for a denomination conceived in hope. If as Bob Dylan says, “He not busy being born is busy dying”, until now it has seemed that we made the latter our business, sauntering our way to a denominational dustbin. There has been no reason to believe anything else.
But I saw something last week.
I saw Advent Christians from across this country gather together for a Triennial Convention that was to be laced with tension. As has happened so often throughout our history, publications had come to the fore in drawing out the respective positions regarding the proposed Statement of Faith (e.g. Roller, Ross, and McIntyre). Lines were drawn, arguments were set, and everyone wondered what would happen next.
We were in for a surprise.
Many people expected the Statement of Faith to be ratified, and a vote of 88.4% in favor appears to have proven those people right. The surprise was found not in the result, but in the way in which it was rendered. The surprise was that this was achieved, not by scratching and clawing, not by hissing and spitfire, but by a burgeoning wave of love for Jesus Christ and his Gospel. All present were swept together to seek unity in our Lord Jesus Christ, whom we now unapologetically confess to be God.
The tense landscape melted before our eyes.
You understand that there would be no Renaissance without the Dark Ages. We have seen dark times the past 30 years. Nevertheless, even in the darkness, God has manifested his presence in those faithful servants who have tarried in our midst; they have served as guiding stars to bring us through our dark night to this moment. Behind us, we now see the wreckage of the past, all those places we stumbled and the consequences that have been wrought. Before us lies a promised land.
I have hope for our future.
I have hope because I saw Christ’s love at work in a hotel down in North Carolina. Only the love of Christ could bring us through the sort of storm the Statement of Faith promised. Only the love of Christ could compel our denominational leaders to unabashedly confess our piling failures. Only the love of Christ could make possible the sort of the partnership between the young and the old that now appears on the horizon. It is the sort of love that produces obedience in a people, that pushes aside comfort, that lays down pride in humble surrender.
“If you love me, you will obey my commandments.”(Jn14:15)
I think we are ready. I have hope that our self-consumption has come to an end. This just might be our “Renaissance”, the moment wherein the love of Christ consumes us, conforms us, and constrains us to not remain idle in the face of Christ’s return. That of us, it might also be said, “For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.”(2Cor.5:14-15) My prayer is that what I witnessed in Charlotte is only the start of Christ’s work in us. May we recklessly surrender everything we are to him.