Should Adventist products at Logos represent a "big tent," theologically?

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Martin Weber | Forum Activity | Posted: Tue, Jul 9 2013 2:57 PM

Should SDA products from Logos reflect “big tent” philosophy regarding doctrine, or should we pursue a particular theological agenda?

That’s a core question for me as your SDA product manager at Logos. Over the decades, as an author I’ve communicated my convictions on a number of controversial topics. Even as an editor I could editorialize with my own opinions. But if I’m going to faithfully serve the Seventh-day Adventist Church as a publishing gatekeeper—essentially a one-person book committee—I must be inclusive of others, even those with whom I may fervently disagree.

This discussion came up in reaction to the suggestion that Logos seek publishing rights to The Clear Word, which is not a translation of the Bible or even a paraphrase but rather what I would call a running commentary on Scripture by Dr. Jack Blanco, which many have regarded (against the stated wishes of the author himself) as Scripture itself.

Let us be clear: The Clear Word is not the Bible. Should it not then be published—or is there a legitimate place for it among Adventist publications?

I certainly have my own opinion about The Clear Word. While I respect commentator/theologian Dr. Blanco—who has blessed so many students in his classrooms—I have concerns about how Clear Word is being used (and I think Dr. Blanco would also agree that his work has been abused). In fact, when TCW was released about 20 years ago, we editors at Ministry went on record expressing concerns about it. But remember, I’m not an editor anymore. I’m a product manager serving Seventh-day Adventists everywhere across the theological spectrum that exists within the church’s fundamental beliefs. (More on this shortly.)

Besides, Logos has a "big tent" philosophy--otherwise there would not be a Seventh-day Adventist product manager sharing office space with various denominational reps (all of whom have become my dear brothers, even as we disagree doctrinally in many key areas). It's like a big classroom, with books being read across such a theological spectrum that no clear-thinking person could endorse them all. But in the marketplace of ideas, God's truth can and will triumph over its counterfeits.

   That's how it was with the early Christian church as truth battled heresy and doctrine was formulated (e.g., even the Biblical canon itself). This was also true in early Adventist history at the 1848 Bible Conferences. Truth emerged victorious amid its rivals when it has a chance to be seen and heard.

   And that's my goal here at Logos--not to restrict our Adventist publications according to those I personally agree with, but rather to engage all of those who seek to teach within a reasonable interpretation of the 28 Fundamental SDA Beliefs.

Dr. Blanco certainly fits that category, and thus I am planning to seek the publishing of TCW--just as today we signed a publishing contract with a leader of the One Project (who may have some distinctly different theological perspectives from Dr. Blanco).

   And that's how I plan to move forward here at Logos, hoping to publish materials from 1P and GYC, from both Amazing Facts and Spectrum magazine--and everywhere in between theologically and philosophically.

    The one proviso is that I will not knowingly publish anyone who is openly involved in moral behavior that is condemned in Scripture--against whom we are admonished to abstain from doing business with.

     One more thought--I intend to operate in collaboration, not competition, with established Adventist publishers (both official denominational publishers and independent ministries). Logos has win-win partnerships with 150 publishers, including longstanding agreements with such entities as the Review & Herald. I am keenly aware that Adventist publishing in North America is going through a crisis right now, and I want what we are doing at Logos to give them a boost by increasing their business through their association with us. (The ultimate goal of all religious entities is to build up local churches—but that’s another blog post.)

   To summarize:  Personally, I will continue to contend for the faith and argue against beliefs that I consider opposed to Scripture. But when representing the corporate body of 17 million Seventh-day Adventists here at Logos, I must be inclusive of views not my own in what I approve for publication. And I must operate collaboratively with Adventist publishers (both official and independent) in seeking to expand the Adventist market for the good of all.

     There's a lot I just said there! Any reactions? (I anticipate a wide spectrum of opinion!)

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Matthew C Jones | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Jul 9 2013 3:16 PM

Martin Weber:
Let us be clear: The Clear Word is not the Bible. Should it not then be published—or is there a legitimate place for it among Adventist publications?

I am not SDA.  If you will be so kind as to consider my thoughts...  I have works written by men I do not agree with. Some of those men have done questionable things. Some have said outrageous things. I respect your decision not to publish works you disagree with but I prefer to have access to a wide berth of writings. I don't mean to offend anyone but I would welcome Walter Veith's writings as well as Arthur Maxwell's The Bible Story. I hope to have Ellen White's writings indexed properly. I am looking forward to the Andrews University Press Sabbath Studies Collection (3 vols.) currently in Pre-Pub.  Thank you for listening.

Edit: So to answer the question in the thread title; "Yes. Big tents encourage thinking."

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Lynden Williams | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Jul 9 2013 3:29 PM

Ok Martin, my suggestion is the author (s) must be Seventh-day Adventist in regular standing, and taking a moderate, conservative and not too far left. As you said, supportive of the Church's core fundamental beliefs. 

Have not read too much of Spectrums stuff, but from what I have read so far I have reservations, as the sole purpose seems to be to attack. As I said I have not read much of their material. 

In the words of the song, Children keep in the middle of the road, children keep in the middle of the road, don't you look to the left, don't you look to the right, just keep in the middle of the road.

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tom | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Jul 9 2013 3:29 PM

Super Tramp:
Yes. Big tents encourage thinking
Yes

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Lynden Williams | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Jul 9 2013 3:31 PM

Yes, go with the big tent, just do not try to cover everyone. There are some who believe that if your do not think like they think, you are bound for Hell. Drop the flaps before they get in. Big Smile

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Matthew C Jones | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Jul 9 2013 3:39 PM

Martin Weber:
And that's my goal here at Logos--not to restrict our Adventist publications according to those I personally agree with, but rather to engage all of those who seek to teach within a reasonable interpretation of the 28 Fundamental SDA Beliefs.

I am counting on you to publish works that are good representations of the SDA community. (I would welcome Amazing Facts material Big Smile)

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Martin Weber | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Jul 9 2013 4:06 PM

ST, you might not be SDA, but you are obviously more connected with the Adventist world than many members are.

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Lynden Williams | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Jul 9 2013 5:13 PM

Martin, I also suggest that we start by getting the "accepted" resources in Logos first. Those published by our press, and those representing mainline Adventist Theology even when published by other publishing houses.

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JPH | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Jul 9 2013 6:21 PM

Super Tramp:
Some have said outrageous things.

Well, we're publishing Zane Hodges, so why not Jack Blanco Stick out tongue

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Thinking | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Jul 9 2013 7:49 PM

Martin Weber:
Any reactions?

In general I agree. Of course, there is the practical matter of what sells that has to be considered. Really good material that no one purchases doesn't bring a sustainable business model.

When I go to the ABC I purchase the books that fit my interest, need, and budget. There needs to be material that will fit a wide variety of needs for a variety of interests and people. Your job, as I see it, is to make certain that as many Adventists as possible will find a reason to purchase Logos and buy Logos products.

There are at least three major categories you must address:

(1) The a. researcher, b. scholar, c. teacher. This is important because what the teacher uses the  d. student will use.

(2) The avid believer. These tend to be at polar ends of various spectrums. They have intense views and for this reason tend to purchase, but purchase in more limited and very specific venues. They will be interested in history, prophecy, sanctuary, doctrine, apologetic, and polemic works.

(3) The minister and other lay leaders. These have needs for preaching and teaching Sabbath School lessons.

Why did I buy Logos? Because the SDA Commentary was available. Frankly, I hated Logos, but needed the program for that one series. I have had Logos for a long time, used it seldom. Still don't use it a lot, but Logos keeps improving and I am using it more and more. Adding more memory to my computer helped a lot. And I still use Logos primarily for the commentary. But I like to have the ability to have wide searches and I find this very helpful, too much information usually!

Now I have purchased a ton of stuff, but the reason I have Logos was this was the only way to get the Commentary. I fit category 2 and 3. I will be very selective in my purchases, unless there is a great price for sets. I would love to see the Review update the Commentary and EGW for Logos 5.

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Matthew C Jones | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Jul 9 2013 7:54 PM

JPH:

Super Tramp:
Some have said outrageous things.

Well, we're publishing Zane Hodges, so why not Jack Blanco Stick out tongue

We also have published The Living Bible and The Message, so why not The Clear Word? Stick out tongue

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David Salazar | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Jul 9 2013 8:12 PM

Lynden Williams:

Ok Martin, my suggestion is the author (s) must be Seventh-day Adventist in regular standing, and taking a moderate, conservative and not too far left. As you said, supportive of the Church's core fundamental beliefs. 

Would tend to agree.  The resources and author's should align in support of the 28 Fundamentals. I'd suggest starting with those resources that fully support our church's teachings. Having a strong foundation of trustworthy resources is important. Then it can spread a little more toward the left and also the farther right.

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JPH | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Jul 9 2013 8:13 PM

Super Tramp:
We also have published The Living Bible and The Message, so why not The Clear Word? Stick out tongue

Now THAT is funny.

Concerning the "big tent" - Yes

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Thinking | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Jul 10 2013 3:13 AM

Super Tramp:
We also have published The Living Bible and The Message, so why not The Clear Word?

That was my thought originally.

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Lynden Williams | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Jul 10 2013 4:50 AM

If we publish the Clear Word, should it be categorized as a Bible or an expanded commentary?

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David Ames | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Jul 10 2013 7:12 AM

Lynden Williams:

If we publish the Clear Word, should it be categorized as a Bible or an expanded commentary?

As a devotional and with every reference tagged so the reader can easily find the full original quote [NOT from the compilations but the original in context statement]  [I have nothing against the Clear Word when the reader knows what they are reading]  [Has the author documented all of the quotes yet?]

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Thinking | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Jul 10 2013 9:01 AM

Lynden Williams:

If we publish the Clear Word, should it be categorized as a Bible or an expanded commentary?

I would recommend that it be published like "The Message." That would make it most helpful and useful. I would personally use it like I use "The Message"—I never quote it, but find some of its thoughts interesting. Since some actually use these study aids for "study," it is helpful to see how a verse is being portrayed in these pocket commentaries.

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Philana Crouch | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Jul 10 2013 12:31 PM

I say as big a tent as possible. I think let the user decide what books they will buy. I would like to see all perspectives available.

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JohnB | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Jul 10 2013 12:45 PM

An expanded commentary and tagged as a commentary.

Although I am very unhappy about The Clear Word in any shape or form, the more I think about it the more I feel that I could live with that classification. I MIGHT even buy it in that format!

Since the classification determines the tagging and hence how it can be used, I am tempted to suggest that it is classified as a monograph but think that this would be totally unrealistic of me.

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David Salazar | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Jul 10 2013 12:56 PM

I'd call it an expanded paraphrase or amplified paraphrase.

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