Since about a week both the English and the Dutch edition of my book, that targets Adventist believers ‘on the margins’ and those who are close to that state, has been available. As yet I have no figures about the number of copies sold but it is clear that several hundreds have already been ordered. Some have already read the book and the first reactions begin to appear. I hope that the further promotion will be successful and, especially that person-to-person publicity will be effective.
I did not have to wait long before some negative voices let themselves be heard, even from people who have not yet read the book. They simply have the suspicion that I will push people even further from the church by strengthening their doubt. They feel that over the years the stuff I write has become ever more questionable. While at first I was quite orthodox, gradually I have lost my way! But, so they say, I am not the only to have gone astray, for this must also be said of many of my colleagues in ministry.
This kind of criticism does not come unexpected. And I understand the way of reasoning of these critics. They honestly believe I represent danger. However, sadly enough, these people do not realize that they are part of the problem that the church is facing. Many in the church, who have concerns about their church and questions about their faith, feel they are not taken seriously. This is an important factor in their decision (often after a long period of uncertainty) to leave the church. But, of course, the slogan that even bad publicity is better than no publicity is still valid. Therefore, I should, in fact, appreciate this unsolicited publicity.
However, most early reactions are positive and encouraging. Several people already told me they clearly recognize themselves in the picture I have painted of believers ‘on the margins’. Some people totally surprised me by telling me that they ordered the book (and in some cased already read it), because, in actual fact, they belong to the target audience.
Yesterday I talked with a colleague, who is very positive about the book. He criticized a few points (and such criticism is welcome), but underlined that a book like this was long overdue and that the category of ‘believers on the margins’ in the church is probably much bigger (even in the Netherlands) than I think.
This colleague mentioned another interesting point. He said that reading the book he had gotten the impression that I am rather angry at my church. I assured him this is not my dominant feeling. For sure, at times I am angry at certain persons. And yes, I find it difficult to deal with a number of trends in the church and am concerned about the direction in which a large section of the church is moving. But, most of all, I worry (and at times I am almost desperate), rather than angry. I have had a long career in the church in a series of different functions. I do not regret one day. I have usually enjoyed what I did and can only say that, in the main, the denomination has treated me well. If many readers of the book would feel that I come across as being quite angry, I will have to take that into account when the book is reprinted.
Of course, I will follow the reactions in the next weeks and months with keen interest. I hope that those who do not like the book will react with respect and with sensible arguments. I will take positive criticisms to heart. In the meantime I hope that many readers ‘on the margins’ of the church will experience a boost in their faith and in their relationship to the church.
(Orders for the English edition may be placed through Amazon.com and several other prominent online booksellers. Within a few weeks from now orders for copies of the Dutch edition may be placed with bol.com. Those who are in a hurry to obtain a Dutch copy may order directly from the author (firstname.lastname@example.org).