Adventist educator pleads a return to the biblical narrative for discipleship and community
Adventist teachers from across Norway met from February 6-8 in Sundvolden, Norway, to learn the skills of sharing their faith within a world of globalization, postmodernism, and consumerism.
“The Christian narrative no longer appeals, because people today are influenced by the new Western imperialism: globalization, postmodernism, and consumerism,” said Daniel Duda, education director of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the Trans-European division, or region, in his keynote address at this year’s teachers’ conference organized by the Adventist Church in Norway.
“Instead of salvation from sin, the modern narrative promises that faith in science and technology will provide a better future,” Duda said. “This metanarrative is reinforced by three trends: globalization, postmodernism and the rise of consumerism.”
According to Duda, this is the global spread of the modern, liberal, humanistic story. In the 20th century, humanism, which began during the Enlightenment, developed into either liberalism or communism. With the fall of communism in 1989, and boosted by rising prosperity, liberalism went global.
Postmodernism emerged as a reaction to the negative aspects of the modern liberal, humanistic story; for example, environmental degradation, increasing poverty, nuclear weapons, economic challenges, and psychological and social disintegration. It challenged the optimism of modernity: Maybe we are not moving toward a better world. Postmodernism insisted that is was natural to question the notion of objective knowledge—also Christian knowledge.
Consumerism is the consequence of the economic growth that followed in the wake of globalization. Economic structures have enriched the West at the expense of all other countries. Postmodernism denied us the Christian metanarrative, and consumerism filled the void.
“We run Christian schools because God exists.”
The modern narratives of globalization and postmodernism do not work. The material question forged from Duda’s presentation must necessarily be: What can we do about it? The answer lies in returning to the central Biblical narrative, fostering discipleship, and a renewed focus on community.
“The only way to restore an abandoned narrative is to incorporate it into a larger one”, said Duda. “God never intended for us to live as isolated individualists. We need each other, and the Christian community fills that role.”
God in the Classroom
Another major theme of the teachers’ conference was how to include God in the classroom, creating awareness of God in all subjects. Teachers often fail to realize or even see their opportunities, because they are conditioned to fulfill the curricular requirements defined by the government. However, the demand for emphasis on Christian values is a growing trend outside of the Seventh-day Adventist school system, underscored and enhanced by the work of people such as David Smith and his web site www.whatiflearning.com.
The Adventist school system must accommodate the holistic view of man included in God’s own metanarrative of life in His universe, presenters said.
“We run Christian schools because God exists,” said Nina Myrdal, education director of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Norway. “Life cannot be compartmentalized, and His existence must be recognised in every aspect of our lives, including school.”