2015

General Conference Session Supplement

The BRI team includes (from left) Ekkehardt Mueller, Kwabena Donkor, Clinton Wahlen, Elias Brasil de Souza, and Artur Stele.

Artur Stele

Director

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GC Department Report

Biblical Research Institute

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he Biblical Research Institute (BRI) serves the needs of the Seventh-day Adventist Church worldwide in the areas of theology, doctrine, and Christian lifestyle. Five Adventist theologians with expertise in several fields carry forward the work of BRI: Elias Brasil de Souza (Old Testament), Kwabena Donkor (systematic theology), Ekkehardt Mueller (New Testament), Artur Stele (Old Testament), and Clinton Wahlen (New Testament). In addition, Ángel M. Rodríguez (Old Testament) and Gerhard Pfandl (Old Testament) have lent their expertise in a part-time capacity. We have three full-time assistants: Brenda Flemmer (administration), Marlene Bacchus (desktop publishing), and Marly Timm (administration).

The responsibilities of BRI can be grouped under three main headings: First is research. It identifies areas and issues requiring biblical research in the Seventh-day Adventist Church; organizes and conducts the research together with other Adventist theologians; and attempts to enhance and deepen the understanding and expression of biblical truth. Second is apologetics, responding to challenges to the Adventist faith. Third, the BRI serves as consultant to church leaders on matters related to biblical interpretation, doctrine, and theological trends within the church.

This quinquennium BRI was asked to take a leading role in organizing International Bible and Mission Conferences (IBMCs) for the world church. In consultation with division leadership about the needs of their local fields and in response to their requests, 65 IBMCs were conducted. Vital topics for pastors and administrators were addressed in the areas of hermeneutics, Daniel and Revelation, the remnant, the sanctuary, Adventist identity, righteousness by faith, the Trinity, and Creation. Special emphasis was also given to mission, evangelism, nurture, and retention. Selected presentations from these conferences are now available in one of BRI’s latest books, Preach the Word.

Other books published during the quinquennium were The Church, Culture, and Spirits: Adventism in Africa (2011), Message, Mission, and Unity of the Church (2013), as well as five new volumes so far in 2015: The Great Controversy and the End of Evil; Jesus of Nazareth (two volumes); Marriage: Biblical and Theological Aspects; and “What Are Human Beings That You Remember Them?” Proceedings of the Third International Bible Conference.

Committee Work

Much of BRI’s work is done through committees. These include:

Biblical Research Institute Committee (BRICOM). This committee, consisting of about 40 theologians from around the world, and several church administrators, meets semiannually to advise BRI regarding the books we publish, and other issues.

Biblical Research Committees (BRCs). During this quinquennium each division, through its local Biblical Research Committee (BRC), contributed to the study of ordination and a review of our 28 Fundamental Beliefs, as did the members of BRICOM, which includes BRC representatives. In addition, the division BRCs addressed local issues such as Seventh-day Adventists and military service (EUD), Adventists and politics (SID, SSD), and the prosperity gospel (WAD). The work of the BRCs is vital in fostering our theological and doctrinal unity for a rapidly growing church.

Biblical Research Institute Ethics Committee (BRIEC). This committee was established in 2012 to help respond to inquiries from divisions and other entities concerning practical issues. Recently it has dealt with topics related to Sabbath observance, marriage and sexuality (including transgender issues), assisted suicide, tithe from gambling, and more.

Sola Scriptura Research Group. BRI, together with the Theology and Christian Philosophy Department of Andrews University, meets periodically to assist the worldwide church in developing a methodology for its theological task that is biblically grounded and theologically sound in order to further its ministerial and missiological dimensions.

Publications

In addition, staff members of BRI carry forward other writing assignments. Seven new BRI releases have been published during this quinquennium on topics ranging from the Trinity and the substitutionary atonement to the sanctuary and Daniel and Revelation. BRI also leads the theological subcommittee of the Faith and Science Council (FSC), which is publishing a two-volume set on Creation. The first volume, The Genesis Creation Account and Its Reverberations in the Old Testament, is now complete, together with a more popular version. Future projects with the FSC include the companion volume of this set, which looks at the topic in connection with the New Testament, and a prospective volume on theodicy.

BRI staff are also writing for the new Seventh-day Adventist International Bible Commentary series and the one-volume Andrews Bible Commentary, and chapters of the book being prepared for this year’s symposium on Ellen G. White. Future volumes will be published during the next quinquennium on the Sabbath, marriage, and textbooks on a range of subjects. A new biblical-theological dictionary and a new committee for the study of Daniel and Revelation are also planned.

BRI also publishes a quarterly newsletter, Reflections, issues of which, along with other publications, papers, and e-books, is available on adventistbiblicalresearch.org. The newsletter helps busy church pastors and leaders worldwide stay up-to-date on a variety of theological and practical issues. During this quinquennium Reflections has published statements on creation, hermeneutics, care for the dying, the involvement of Adventists in politics, and transgenderism. BRI also works together with other entities of the General Conference in reviewing materials for the Adult Bible Study Guide, Adventist Review, Ministry, and other publications.

Finally, BRI personnel teach intensive courses in theological seminaries around the world, advise students in their research, serve as speakers at camp meetings and workers’ meetings, and share their expertise in dozens of television broadcasts.

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