Of course, I, first of all, have my personal wishes for 2017: health and personal happiness for my loved ones and myself.
As far as the world around me is concerned, I sincerely hope that world leaders will be able to agree on ways to reduce war, sickness, poverty, and misery. I hope that we will see fewer outburts of populism, and less polarization, and that somehow the Trumps of this world will listen to the more reasonable voices in society.
I hope that in 2017 my church (the Seventh-day Adventist denomination) will be able to get on with its mission—playing its important role in bringing the message of Christ to an ever more secular world—without being distracted and disrupted by radical conservativism. I hope that, more than in the recent past, church leadership will focus on a hopeful and inspiring future, striving for unity in diversity, rather than placing its emphasis on selectively re-creating nineteenth century Adventism.
2017 is now around the corner. I have a habit of making to-do lists in my black Moleskin notebook. Usually, at the beginning of a month I write a to-do-list for the major projects I hope to be working on for the next 4-5 week: sermons, articles, chapters in book, sections of translations, meetings to attend and people to visit. But I also list the topics of lectures that will be coming up in the next 4-6 months, so that I can start thinking and reading about these. I do not always succeed in doing everything that is on the list, and things sometimes get pushed to the next month. But the system works for me, and by-and-large- keeps me ‘on schedule’, while I am flexible enough to adapt if necessary. However, by working in this way I hardly ever have to struggle to meet a looming deadline.
But at the beginning of the year I also make a list of the major projects I hope to realize in that coming year. My mission with the book FACING DOUBT – A Book for Adventist Believers ‘on the Margin’ will continue. Work is under way on French, Danish, and Russian editions. There may be possibilities for German and Czech translations. (And, by the way, we are also looking for someone who would be able and willing to translate the book into Portuguese! Suggestions are more than welcome).
Most likely I will be working on some translation project for a non-SDA publisher. In the spring of this year Wm. B. Eerdmans (Grand Rapids, MI) will publish the English edition of a rather substantial book (782 pages), written by two theologians of the Free University in Amsterdam: Gijsbert van den Brink and Cornelis van der Kooi: Christian Dogmatics. I spent many hours on the translation of this book from Dutch into English. It feels good to see in the publisher’s announcement that is hook ‘is written in a student-friendly tone and is expertly translated!’
A major new project I hope to undertake in 2017 is writing a thorough, yet easily accessible, book about an issue that figures quite prominently in current Adventism: Last Generation Theology. Although it has never been recognized as the church’s official teaching, it has its roots in traditional Adventism and has the support of large groups in the more conservative segment of the church and also among today’s top church leaders. I am convinced that the LGT is based on a number of false premises and has some serious implications. Whether or not I will be able to complete this project in 2017 remains to be seen. I have begun thinking and reading about the topic. I have a lot of relevant material in my own book cases and much is available on line, but I realize that I will also need to spend at least some weeks in a good Adventist library.
And what else? There promises to be a fair amount of travel in the next twelve months, also outside of the Netherlands. A dozen or so appointments for study conferences, lectures and sermons are already either fixed or being considered. However, when all is said and done, I do also plan to read—for my own spiritual nourishment and for entertainment—and there are museums to be visited! And there must be time for family and friends . . . and fun.
I realize that all plans are tentative—depending on good health and many other factors. Therefore, I end this blog with the same words that I put at the end of my previous blog—Deo Volente!
I wish all my blog readers blessed Christmas days and a good 2017!