The history of social movements has taught us that it is neither sheer numbers that win, nor the charisma of a particular leader, the logical soundness of an ideology, the unusual social and economic contexts, military force, nor anything else that is statistically commeasurable. If anything, it is the spirit of the collective movement that determines the success or failure of its objectives.
The aforementioned factors absolutely influence the direction and speed of a movement. Moreover, however, it is the individual’s level of commitment, emotional assurance, and sense of duty amidst the larger whole that establishes this spirit and the transmission of the movement’s interests. Simply said, whoever is most “unashamed” wins.
Nevertheless, in this contemporary culture of relativism, emotional detachment, individualistic hedonism, and the deconstruction of any source, expression, or result of duty, this spirit of assurance is horridly unaccepted. To have an absolute belief in anything or anyone is now reviled. To believe in purpose, meaning, and duty is considered to be infantile. To live with an ethical foundation based on any set of principles is labeled as fanatical and outdated. Everything has failed, nothing has meaning, and all is hopeless. All we can hope for is to live selfishly without offending anyone.
This has resulted in a generation of apathetic, lost, indifferent, and indecisive young people. Political correctness has evolved from mere guidelines to a domineering bully. Passion has degenerated into biological hormones, religion into rhetoric, and spirituality into a neuropathological condition. Any “ism” is seen as a form of social control. Believing in nothing with no emotional attachment or logical rigor is the ideal nirvana to be reached.
The greatest tragic effect on this generation is that simply, boredom has set – not temporary boredom, but boredom on the largest scale possible – with life itself. We used to fear the allure of evil. But now we fear a generation that could care less about good and evil, one that is bored with good and evil altogether.
Amidst this context, there exists an army of dedicated young people who knowingly and unknowingly are fighting against these currents of existential anomie. Injected with the spiritual currents from Scripture, these “young people within the Seventh-day Adventist church… yearn to demonstrate Nehemiah’s leadership, Daniel’s integrity, Mary’s humility, Paul’s passion for evangelism, and Christ’s love for God and humanity.”1
This new movement—the GYC—convenes annually to seek and galvanize such young people, pointing them to a higher cause, if not the highest cause: the distinctive message and mission of the Adventist church towards the proclamation of the Three Angels’ Messages.
The 2009 conference’s theme is “Unashamed.” It is a pushback against the ideological and cultural currents of our day and to reclaim those parts of our identity that not only make us assuredly Christian, but also assuredly created and happy human beings, satisfied with the antibored “more abundant life” that Christ promised to all. It is focused on the raw boldness so thirsted after in every sphere of society.
This issue takes the best articulations of this “Unashamed” reaction and formats them into one compilation. First, this perspective is seen not only from one generation but two current ones. From a more energetic generation, Sebastien Braxton diagnoses the issue where symptoms include the paucity of realness and suggests an etiology of shame. From a wiser generation, Raymond Holmes takes the perspective homiletically to parse a scriptural understanding and answer to the “right way of thinking.”
Samuel Pipim and Mark Howard identify the theological and ecclesiological lack of boldness and originality in the Adventist church. The former takes on the denial of our Adventist identity and mission in the realm of spirituality: prayer, spiritual exercises, meditation, and other movements that have claimed to be the answer to the aforementioned times. The latter takes on the denial of the Spirit of Prophecy and the lack of boldness to believe in one of the distinctive identifying marks of biblical Adventism.
Real-time scenarios of the “Unashamed” reaction have also been collated to prove its efficacy. The testimony of Deniza Hush is an actual conversion story of a Muslim who struggled in this culture with so many “isms,” and finally arrived at truth, regardless of sacrifice, price, or persecution. Nomthandazo Malambo explains the necessity of this unashamed faith not only to survive on secular universities such as Harvard, but also to promulgate the Gospel message on campus itself. Also Paul Howe writes of the missiological necessity of boldness in the Adventist world church, especially when doing evangelistic work in Ethiopia. The lessons learned in Ethiopia have immense global ramifications evangelistically.
Lastly, Dave Fiedler and Mark Finley draw two maps where the former delineates the historical stages of the Great Controversy from the beginning, highlighting what is actually at stake when we forsake our boldness and unashamedness. The latter points forward with five steps to the road to spiritual revival, a formula to repeat the Pentecost event and to move forward the Gospel against the tides of mediocrity, conditional ethics, meaninglessness, and boredom – foremost in our own hearts.
The timing of this conference and this issue could not have been more providential. They are designed to let all Adventists Affirm that they are “unashamed” to preach the everlasting gospel bequeathed to them. We must start now to plead for the Holy Spirit boldly. It is “not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, saith the LORD of hosts.” (Zech 4:6). Let us seek this untreated, unprocessed, organic courage, and audaciously dare to be unashamed in this church, this culture, in this world – for we have not confidence in ourselves, but in Him for His glory!