The new coronavirus has not left anyone unaffected and it is significantly impacting every individual. The Adventist Campus of Collonges is obviously experiencing the consequences (several students and staff were affected, fortunately without complications). The Adventist Faculty of Theology implemented a certain number of initiatives in response to the crisis that we are currently facing.
Notably, the Faculty has recently published a special issue of the Adventist publication, Revue adventiste de théologie – Servir, which they decided to provide free of charge for the electronic copy, widely distributed (available on the Campus adventiste du Salève de Collonges website).
«Insights into the evils: Coronavirus put to the test by theology, theology put to the test by coronavirus», such is the global title of this issue which contains 21 articles by various authors. In this issue, the current global crisis is addressed from different approaches.
From the Biblical perspective, the authors address certain keywords :a story of an epidemic in the time of Samuel, the prophet; Psalm 91, used by some as justification for not following health security measures; and even a discussion on the first confinement in history as told in the Old Testament…).
This special issue addresses topics strongly in line with prophecies and signs of the times. A medical-psychological perspective is also included.
Finally, questions that are primarily pastoral and theological are addressed (See below for a detailed chart of topics).
In addition, the FAT professors were invited to respond to questions that are arising from the churches. A presentation online was, therefore, created to bring some theological clarity in response to questions such as : the concept of evil or punishment by God; Satan’s role; the closeness or delay of Jesus’ return; submission to authority in these times of crisis; etc. This video is available on Youtube.
It has provoked numerous reactions, generally positive, even if everyone has their own ideas and convictions.
One interesting point of feedback was posted on the blog by sociologist Fabrice Desplan, a researcher at CNRS. He particularly notes the following :
« The video responds, without digressing, to questions that are very delicate in a religious tradition or in prophetism – and the temptation to assess the world uniquely from its prism – is present. […] It should be greatly noted that no spokesperson fell into the temptation of prophetic fervour.
[…] The fact that the researchers and educators, simply and pedagogically, redefine the notion of end times allows the bypass of catastrophism, which thus allows them to develop the idea of the signs of the times as an “opportunity, an occasion to be seized”, and to intimately re-examine the role of the individual in society. It is therefore, first of all, “an invitation to keep vigil”.
[…] We are well in an exercise that demonstrates that confinement forces religious communities to “deconfine” themselves in order to be audible and comprehensible to their members and the rest of society. Mission accomplished.”
Inasmuch as concerns the courses at the Faculty of Collonges, ever since the directive was given in France to close the universities, the decision was made to keep the usual schedule with courses given via videoconference. This method is working very well, in general, and it is satisfactory to the majority.
Regarding this, Roland Meyer, professor of systematic theology, underlines “the excellent motivation of the students”. He also testifies that “this obliges us to completely rethink our teaching methods and the transmission of knowledge so that the students will not be penalized greatly”.
For Daniela Gelbrich, professor of Old Testament, who “is living the confinement peacefully”, teaching via Zoom is going well but “nothing replaces real face-to-face contact between human beings”.
This being said, vice dean and professor of history, Rivan Dos Santos, appreciates a closer intimacy with students: “Yes, because, via the live-streamed courses, I am able to enter their homes and I sense their family lives. For me, it’s a touching experience.”
As for the students, they are demonstrating engagement and serenity, even if their experiences differ based on their situations. For Gérald, Students’ Association leader, “this time of confinement is not really a time of rest: we have to attend courses, complete the work and, at the same time, take care of our families, and this is not so obvious”, but he prefers to “see the positive: spending more time together as a family, a time of reflection and preparation where our hope is intact since we are finally getting even closer to God and others”.
Neal, another student, affirms the same idea, saying that “the confinement is a means that has allowed for an incredible opportunity to open up to others…and of all horizons”. Being very involved in this technique, he contributes, along with a team, time for ecclesiastical meetings thanks to technology.
On Morgan’s side, she expresses shock and surprise at the situation, but also at the opportunity to be in such relaxing surroundings at Collonges. For the courses, she affirms: “I was a bit apprehensive at the beginning because I really like the interactions that one could have in class but, in the end, it’s all okay and, besides, we can interact every day”; and the student who is completing her first year of theology at Collonges adds that there is a true solidarity among the students as well as mutual support.
“Certainly, this is a spring outside of what we are all living,” affirm Gabriel Monet, Faculty of Theology’s dean, “but the forces of life that comes from the Lord are constantly encouraging us to shine despite everything, while waiting for Jesus’ return! This is the challenge that the Adventist Faculty of Theology of Collonges is living to its best effort, in line with its motto: “You are the light of the world” (Matt. 5:14).
Topics of Servire – Special Coronavirus.
Editorial : « Insights into the evils: Coronavirus put to the test by theology, theology put to the test by coronavirus »,. Gabriel Monet
The epidemic of great compassion. Bernard Sauvagnat
The first quarantine in history. Karl Johnson
Do not tempt God ! Psalm 91 tested by the coronavirus. Marcel Ladislas
“Isaiah’s Apocalypse” or hope in distress. Daniela Gelbrich
In the midst of the storm. Matthew 14 and Covid 19. Roberto Badenas
Covid-19 and Biblical prophecy. Rivan Dos Santos
The (little) beast. Jean-Claude Verrecchia
Transmitting the virus. John Graz
Called out by Covid-19… When will it end? Bruno Vertallier
Vanitas, vanitatum. Roland Fayard
The path of death in front of the virus. Geneviève Aurouze
« Do not be worried ». Akrassi Kouakou
The opportunity for an emphasis on the integration of spiritual healing for the sick. Jacques Yves Nganing Mbende
From today’s confinement to tomorrow’s pastoral ministry.Gabriel Golea
God and the coronavirus. Gilbert Grezet
The breathtaking effect of novelty. Pierre Kempf
“Prayer warrior” or “pray without ceasing”? The challenging pandemic. Roland Meyer
How is the crisis of the coronavirus changing the world and the Adventist Church? Reinder Bruinsma
The remnant Church in the time of Covid-19. Luca Marulli
The churches are closed : Is God affected ? Gabriel Monet
Meditations of a confined Christian.. Xavier Georges Rousset