For as long as I have known Nathan Brown he has been playing with words. He not only likes the sounds of words and strings them together in a very effective fashion; he likes to coin words.
Like controphy. He introduced that creation in his article (not a column), "The Art of Grace?" that we published in Adventist Review a couple of years back.
"Controphy," he wrote, "-probably derived by the conjunction of conversational dystrophy-is the name given (by me, as a very amateur sociologist) to the tendency of conversations to degenerate in quality and subject matter; sometimes by huge leaps from the sublime to the ridiculous, sometimes by gradual and almost imperceptible steps down from the point of departure."
Then there is relevation, "the act of making relevant or demonstrating relevance." And here Nathan Brown is no longer playing with words. He is deadly serious as he takes up the task of translating Christian faith into today's idiom.
That's a tough assignment. More and more we live in a society where faith has died out, or is viewed as a quaint relic, or makes no difference to the way a person lives and works, loves and plays. More and more people are biblical illiterates; they lack the vocabulary that has tied people in the West together for 2000 years.
Worse, they don't see the need for faith; they've already made their heaven on this earth. Jesus foresaw our day: "When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?" He said (Luke 18:8, NIV).
The Christian church badly needs men and women-especially young men and women-who will take up the tough assignment. To succeed in it, they need to be alert and informed as well as passionate believers. And they must be able to present the case for faith persuasively and attractively.
In Nathan Brown, Seventh-day Adventists have such a person. These essays, most of which originally appeared as columns in Adventist Review, now collected together for this book, make an important contribution, not only to the Adventist Church, but to Christian thought in general.
I have high regard for Nathan-as a person, as a Christian, as a writer. I applaud his efforts. May he go from strength to strength as he continues to give his best thinking and best writing to "relevating" the Christian faith.
William G Johnsson
Silver Spring, Maryland, USA