Dialogue: Celebrating a continuing ministry

Of the 25 years of Dialogue’s ministry, I had the unique privilege of spending 22 of them as an editor, and so had an intimate connection with its philosophical thrust and theological assertions. Each in its own way, through every issue that came off the press, challenged me to think and think again, and then reaffirm in my personal life and ministry the core of Adventism. Thus, Dialogue to me is not just a journal but a call to live and reflect Adventist essentials.

The philosophical thrust that Dialogue dealt with boldly for a quarter century offered Adventist young people in secular campuses a way to deal with the issue of personal identity and communal responsibility. Be it Joseph in Potiphar’s enticing home, Daniel in the lion’s den or imperial palace, or Esther in a beauty contest and subsequent spiritual battle, the issue each child of God faces in a strange land is: who am I, and whose am I? Ownership and stewardship are two defining philosophical factors that control the contours of our present life and guide that life into a sure and certain future. No human philosophy can provide a safe and definitive answer to such questions. Such a safe and sure definition can come only in the biblical affirmation of human creation: “Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to our likeness’” (Genesis 1:26, NKJV).

“Made in the image of God” offers the highest form of dignity to human beings. Science cannot match it. Philosophy cannot reason it out. Economics cannot assign its value. Human beings are not cosmic accidents; they are not the cumulative collocation of atoms; they are not meaningless matter; they are not animals. They are the children of God; they are His handiwork; they are the prized possession of the Infinite One who has made them in His image. That image means the Creator has chosen to share part of His own character with His creatures: creativity, freedom, responsibility, consciousness, knowledge. Unlike animals, men and women stand at the center of existence, and survey the past, the present, and the future. History, action, and hope are part of the human journey.

For 25 years, Dialogue has projected the creatorship of God as the fundamental source of meaning and relevance for human life.

That’s not all. The Bible presents not only the high level at which God placed humans in creation, but also the low level to which they have sunk as a result of their own choice. If creation places humans as children of God with all glory and dignity, the choice that humans have made – namely, to rebel against God and turn to sin – has turned them into helpless objects of depravity and death. Isaiah paints a horrific picture of that depravity: “The whole head is sick, and the whole heart faints. From the sole of the foot even to the head, there is no soundness in it, but wounds and bruises and putrefying sores” (Isaiah 1:5, 6, NKJV).

Depravity in all its dreadfulness is not God’s intended destiny for humans. Even though sinners are in constant rebellion against their Creator, biblical anthropology does not leave human beings to the results of their dreadful choice. The account in Genesis that introduces the predicament of humans also joyfully proclaims that the Creator has taken the redemptive initiative to offer humans the choice to come home to glory (Genesis 3:15). Men and women are thus not hopeless. They are not abandoned. They are not left alone. They are redeemed by the precious blood of Jesus (1 Peter 1:19).

For 25 years, Dialogue has consistently proclaimed a biblical anthropology – a creation celebrated by the song of the angels, a fall that wounded the heart of God, a redemption that cost the life of His Son, and an eschatology that promises total renewal.

Within the context of that biblical worldview – God-centered, Bible-based, redemptive, and eschatological – Dialogue has ministered to Adventist students in secular campuses, cementing their faith, augmenting their search for truth, enabling them to be live witnesses for a God who cares. That ministry should continue.

John M. Fowler, Editor


John M. Fowler (Ed.D., Andrews University) has edited Dialogue for the past 22 years, contributed an Action Report to the inaugural issue of Dialogue (1989) vol. 1, and was listed in the journal’s masthead as the regional representative for the Southern Asia Division.