(A review of David Granger’s The Holy family: Adventism and the family.)
David Granger’s The holy family: Adventism and the family reveals a softer and deeply religious side of the former President. In this book, he displays a remarkable grasp of the Holy Bible, a rich knowledge of the Church’s history and a critical understanding of the vital role of the family in society.
Granger argues for the centrality of the family in ensuring happy societies. He writes that “Happy families foster happy households which foster happy communities which, in turn, help us to be a happy state.” The family is the central focus of this book. Its central message is that the Church is charged with safeguarding the family.
The book constitutes the texts of two addresses to the 100th anniversary observance of the Seventh-Day Adventist Family Ministries and to the 130th anniversary of Seventh-Day Adventism in Guyana, respectively. In both addresses, the then President highlighted the importance of the family and the critical role which the Church has been playing, and must continue to play, in protecting that institution.
Granger presents a simple, but powerful, message in his address to the Seventh-Day Adventist Family Ministries, reminding the Church about its mission. The family, he argues, is a divine creation and has existed from time immemorial. Marriage in any culture, he notes, is associated with the family and can protect it. He observes, however, that the family is being destabilized by challenges such as domestic violence.
The Church’s mission, he writes, is also preordained. It is charged with the promoting of happy families which are characterized by mutual love, respect and responsibility to God, to one another other and to children.
Granger calls on the Church to protect the family by upholding the sanctity of marriage, by preparing young couples for marriage, by providing support to families in distress and by promoting parenting and sound values. This four-fold directive is part of the mandate and is within the means and mission of the Church. It can be adopted as a part of a plan of action for family life. Such a compelling charge for the Church could have well come from the pulpit and from a man of the cloth.
Granger is impressive in identifying the biblical roots of the Christian family. He establishes, through biblical references and through Christian doctrine, why the Church has a special and supreme responsibility to protect family life. His identification of the specific areas which the Church should address is instructive. These are all directly linked to the Church’s obligation to protect humanity by protecting the family.
While domestic violence is highlighted, less emphasis was placed on socio-economic threats such as poverty, unemployment and poor living conditions. These have long been identified as major threats to the stability of the family. However, the measures necessary for their redress require political and economic models which are outside of the province of the Church. This may explain the absence of emphasis on these destabilizing factors.
The second part of the book is the text of an address delivered on the occasion of the 130th anniversary of Adventism in Guyana. Granger highlights, again, the importance of the family, describing it as “…the cradle of life, the citadel of safety and the classroom of the culture of loving, sharing and forgiving.”
He traces the evangelical roots of Adventism as a child of the Protestant Reformation. He then essays a most insightful discussion on the origins and development of Adventism in Guyana, demonstrating a profound knowledge of the Church’s history and activities.
Granger uses the encounter to pay tribute to the tireless efforts of the elders and members of the Church. He acknowledges the growth of the Church from a mere five congregations in its first 25 years to 216 congregations located throughout the country and towards becoming one of the country’s leading Christian denominations, today. This success, he argued, is attributable not only to preaching the word but, also, to practising good works, a view which critics of Pentecostalism may consider as more prescriptive than descriptive.
The holy family: Adventism and the family is an insightful work which has relevance not only for Adventists but for all Christians. The mission of protecting the family is universal. The book makes an impassioned plea for the protection of the child. At this time of tension in society, that message rings relevant.
Granger’s four-point proposal – to protect the institution of marriage, provide family-life instruction, support troubled families and promote parenting and family values – is one which can be adopted easily by all Christian Churches since they all share a common mission to protect God’s creation.
(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this newspaper.)
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