For those interested in the conversation about the Good News Tour, Desmond Ford, and questions on the character of God, a new from book Pacific Press Publishing entitled "The Character of God Controversy" adds an interesting twist. According to a media release the book, co-authored by Steve Wohlberg and Dr. Chris Lewis, comes “in response to a growing controversy within the Church over the character of God.”
The controversy, Pacific Press says, is that Adventists are increasingly open to the notion that God does not kill. Quoting again from the press release, “The Biblical Research Institute of the General Conference has long expressed concerns about this theory, but no mainstream Adventist author has publicly addressed these issues until now.”
Steve Wohlberg is apparently the “mainstream” author needed to address the controversial character-of-God issue for the Church. Wohlberg, the speaker / director for White Horse Media (whose website prominently features an image of a sword-toting Jesus and an exploding atom bomb), previously wrote Hour of the Witch: Harry Potter, Wicca Witchcraft, and the Bible, in which he attempted to link the popular children’s books to the occult.
The connection between the Potter books and Wicca has been widely rejected by both Christians and Wiccans. As a tangential aside, I had the opportunity to spend an evening at the home of LLU professor of religion, Julius Nam, conversing with the leader of a Wiccan coven in Southern California. When asked about the link between Wicca and Harry Potter, the self-described witch responded that no Wiccan she knew of considered Harry Potter even remotely Wiccan. I wonder whether Wohlberg interviewed any Wiccans before writing his book.
Like countless popular Adventist evangelists and speakers, Steve Wohlberg was raised outside the Adventist church, experienced a period of "wild living", and a subsequent conversion to the Adventist Church.
Dr. Chris Lewis is a surgeon who practices medicine at Loma Linda University. Along with his wife, Dr. Lewis founded Right Arm of Love ministry. The husband and wife team co-hosts the television show Practical Living on the Loma Linda Broadcasting Network.
"The Character of God Controversy" seems to be a frontal attack on the idea that God cannot resort to violent destruction of humanity, arguing instead that God’s wrath, a central concept in the book, is an active wrath against evil, not a passive, withdrawn wrath. Still, the book seeks to present a picture of a loving and just God.
That neither Steve Wohlberg, a TV and radio evangelist, nor Chris Lewis, a surgeon, is employed as a church theologian is noteworthy given the way that this book is being billed as an official Adventist response to a very weighty theological topic. While the task of reading and interpreting scripture is a task in which every Seventh-day Adventist should participate, the Seventh-day Adventist church expends vast resources in providing Adventist theologians the most academically rigorous training possible. Such academic rigor should certainly be a characteristic of every major contribution to the key theological issues of our time.
Watch for a full review of Wohlberg and Lewis’s The Character of God Controversy here on Spectrum, coming soon!