It is not often pastors and elders gather for a full day of teaching in the province, so this month’s special educational session exploring Seventh-day Adventist beliefs about the Trinity was a well-received initiative. Organised by Regional Pastor Anton Van Wyk, the August 4th event saw over 35 pastors, chaplains, and elders from across the South and Central North Regions of North New Zealand make their way to Palmerston North Church for a day of teaching on the Seventh-day Adventist belief in the Trinity.
The event featured Christchurch Pastor and systematic theologian, Dr Limoni Manu O’uiha, who was invited to lead the group in an in-depth discussion of the Church’s perspectives on the Trinity.
Opening the day, Pastor Ben Timothy, President of North New Zealand Conference, shared the vision from the conference and reminding attendees of “the need to continue to start with Jesus Christ as our foundation.”
Dr Limoni Manu O’uiha, known as Dr Limoni, then led the group through a presentation titled ‘The Progressive Understanding of the Trinity Doctrine among Seventh-day Adventists’.
Through the presentation, Dr Limoni demonstrated the importance of learning from history, and how we as a church have developed and reached today’s theological understanding. By taking the group on a historical journey through the development of the Trinity doctrine, Dr Limoni showed the different problematic theological approaches of various founding fathers, and how they grew in understanding of the Trinity.
“Our faith cannot stand on our fathers, pioneers, church traditions, church statements, creed or dogma, but only on the foundation of the Word of God,” Dr Limoni said, “remembering that while our theology is being progressive, it does not diminish the role of scripture.”
Hastings Pastor Midori Ierome appreciated the historical approach and how the presentation provided a better understanding of how to respond to questions on the Trinity that he encounters in his local church.
With a recent increase of anti-Trinitarian debates among church members, Dr Limoni addressed where, and why, anti-Trinitarian teachings fall short of Seventh-day Adventists beliefs, and how such misunderstandings of one aspect of theological teaching has had a ripple effect on all other teachings. “The doctrine of God is the most critical of the issues we face in our church,” stated Dr Limoni. “This doctrine influences how we understand the Godhead and therefore also salvation.”
New Plymouth Pastor Tony Parrish observed that “Dr Limoni showed how our theology is woven together in a colourful tapestry, and if you pull one thread out, the tapestry unravels.”
Pastor Timothy said that the meeting was a good forum for this type of teaching, as it brought leaders and pastors together to deal with current issues in local churches; he further reflected that the meeting clearly filled a need as “people are thirsty for a deeper understanding.”
Wellington Regional Pastor Joe Tesese commented that “the progressive understanding we have as a church of the Trinity has given us a continuous growth and has moved us away from being found in a lifeless position and understanding.”
Lay leaders were also impressed with the day and Craig Bates, local elder of Hawera Church, summed it up well: “Dr Limoni makes the teachings clear and precise.”
The day was deemed a success by all, and several attendees expressed that similar gatherings where other topics and issues could be addressed would be welcomed.
Pastor Kirsten Oster Lundqvist, NNZC Communications and Media officer
Photos: Craig Bates and Kirsten Oster Lundqvist