Monday, February 22, 2010

Liberals do it too

I recently attended an interesting showing of a documentary film on the Loma Linda University campus called The Last Generation which exposes a new conservatism or "fundamentalism," as the documentary makers would have it, among Seventh-day Adventist youth. The documentary was well-made and interesting but as a non-Adventist I don't really have "a dog in that fight." Even so it was interesting to be in a packed auditorium in the new Centennial Complex filled mostly with Adventists on a sabbath-afternoon. After the showing there were some strong feelings expressed during a Q and A session. Both liberals and conservatives expressed their opinions on the film. Even though I would disagree with both sides on some important theological matters, I certainly resonated more emotionally with the conservatives.

At one point a more liberal questioner posed a question to the panel which included the film-makers and some Loma Linda and outside professors. The questioner basically said something like, "is it possible to have dialogue with these fundamentalists when they might not even think you're a Christian at best or that you are a tool of the devil at worst." I was surprised by the wise answer which was given by one of the panel professors. This professor, who I think was more liberal-leaning, said something to the effect that while conservatives may say those things and that this can shut down dialogue, liberals do exactly the same thing when they question the intelligence or sanity of conservatives.

I thought this was an excellent point. I don't lift up the value of endless "dialogue" anywhere near as much as a lot of people do but I think it was interesting to point out that liberals are just as guilty of shutting down dialogue as conservatives, they just do it differently and in a way which seems more acceptable to many people.


Anonymous said...

Hi Matt,

So, as a "non-Adventist", when you say Sabbath, are you referencing Saturday or Sunday?
My only experiences with the Adventist community were as a student. I did my mental health and chemical dependency clinical rotations at an Adventist hospital. Different world. (Both!) How do you feel about patient care in this arena?

Sorry I was so emo last week...

Scarlet Pimpernel

Matt Perkins said...

Hey SP,

No apology needed. I saw the film on a Saturday afternoon so in this case when I say sabbath I mean Saturday.

That's interesting that you did some rotations at an Adventist hospital. When it comes to patient care, I think Loma Linda does an excellent job. I'm certainly thankful for this medical school where Adventist or not, we are encouraged at the very least to be concerned about a patient's spiritual life and pray for them and at most even to share the gospel. That is very exciting to me. In class and on rotations in hospitals working in an Adventist arena has been a great experience. When it comes to directly talking about religion in chapel and other contexts the experience is often not so great but I see it as a necessary cost to going to a med school where I have a great group of committed Christian (and mostly non-Adventist) friends. In saying that I don't want to imply that an Adventist can't be a committed Christian, I've met some, but my friends here mostly happen to be non-Adventist.

Glad to see you posting again SP, emo or not =)

Anonymous said...

Sounds like it was a very interesting event, especially the Q&A part.I don't have a "dog in that fight" either, being a Lutheran Christian but would have enjoyed hearing different perspectives on fundamentalism. Thanks for sharing Matt.

That is so neat that openly talking about and caring for the patient's spiritual welfare is promoted at Loma Linda. Not every learning facility is like that. I did my pysch rounds at an Adventist hospital too and found it encouraging that prior to going on the ward, the staff prayed for the patients, asking healing and safety for all; also like you mentioned above praying with them during the shift. This is a rare occurrence at other facilities.
Keep blogging Matt, thanks for the fresh perspectives.


Anonymous said...


Okay, now you have me curious..."I don't want to imply that an Adventist can't be a committed Christian".
You're not actually saying that denomination holds any correlation to commitment, are you?
Isn't a Christian anyone who takes upon themself the name of Christ? If professing the name of Christ does not constitute Christian status, what does? (Am I really missing the boat here?)

Also, I recognize tonight that I have neglected a question you posed to me earlier "You're not a doctor by any chance are you?"

I'm an RN. I've worked in pediatrics for two and half years; mostly preventative medicine and patient education, which is why the rare mortality hits me so hard, I think.

God bless you, Matt

Scarlet Pimpernel

Matt Perkins said...

Hi SP,

I think I might disagree with you here. I guess it depends on what you mean when you say that to be a Christian is to "take upon oneself the name of Christ," or to "profess the name of Christ." If you literally mean that anyone who says "I'm a Christian" or "I follow Christ," is actually a Christian then I have to forcefully disagree. Mormons claim to simply be another Christian denomination and I'm sure that Jehovah's Witnesses believe that they are following the true doctrine of Christ. So in that sense "denomination" makes all the difference in the world when it comes to whether one is commited to the true Christ and not to an anti-Christ which was invented by some heretic.

But I'm willing to think that you weren't talking about such folks as Mormons and JW's when you implied that denomination doesn't have any correlation with commitment as a Christian. In a sense I agree with you because I certainly believe there are true Christians in every denomination that doesn't deny certain basic doctrinal points. But I still think denomination makes a difference. And when it comes to Seventh-day Adventists, the fact is that many seem to have a works-based view of salvation and if one has this view they are not trusting solely in Christ and His work for salvation and therefore I couldn't call them a committed Christian. So I think denomination makes a difference. Unfortunately every denomination I know of seems to be lacking in one way or another - Anglicanism is certainly very very far from perfect!