by Julene Duerksen-Kapao
Relevation isn't just another Adventist book written by an Adventist for Adventists about Adventist stuff. Rather, Relevation-a collection of Nathan Brown's contributions to Adventist Review and Record-asks real questions about Adventism encouraging church members and non-members alike to consider the big picture.
The word "relevation: the act of making relevant or demonstrating relevance"-a word coined by Brown when beginning his monthly column for Adventist Review-reflects a keen thinker, ready to ask the tough questions and seek to formulate responses to the big questions facing Christianity today, while constantly seeking relevance. Brown doesn't shy away from being honest and open about who he is and what he believes, and Relevation is an open testament to his own journey.
Thought-provoking and fresh, Brown suggests that if we stop, step back and take a look, we could get a new perspective of our church, ourselves and Jesus.
Wherever our life experiences might take us and whatever other aspects of faith, fun or philosophy might catch our attention, we must ever return to the story of Jesus. . . . We must keep telling the old story of Jesus, hearing again and again the music of the gospel. But at the same time we also need to be prepared to see Him in new ways."
Brown is not afraid to say things like they are and he speaks for many when he writes, "There is a growing element of young adults stepping back from the church, not because they don't believe in the church and its mission but because-from their perspective-the church doesn't seem to believe in the church and its mission. They do not give up on the church, the church in reality gives up on them." Many of his articles have sparked debate and given voice to church members who may feel disenfranchised, particularly around the topic of young people. Others have received scathing words of criticism, but Brown's humble attitude is "if everybody agreed, there would be no progress."
From The Da Vinci Code to session meetings, mowing church lawns to angry letters, headline news to the great music debate, Relevation touches on a myriad of issues that make Christianity, and more specifically Adventism, unique and special. But Brown doesn't provide nice, succinct little answers. Instead, he gets us thinking by encouraging readers to consider what is beyond the norm and to be real in their worship, their relationships, their church and especially with Jesus.
Brown could be the voice of this generation, not just of young people but of those dissatisfied with where our church is today and desperate to make a difference. Not only does Brown discuss issues, but he dares to dream: "Imagine if our church realised that a concern for social justice and humanitarian action are not optional extras to our Christianity, but that reaching out now to HIV/AIDS sufferers and future victims of this pandemic is at the heart of what Jesus and the gospel is about."
Relevation is timely and speaks to the heart. Brown hasn't given up on church, but he urges the church he loves to be centred on the God he loves. Relevation is about being relevant in our Christian walk every day; working and reworking words, creating new words and ideas, Brown challenges us to think big in how we respond to the big issues of our world and to seek God-"Ultimately, the quest for God finds its end in the person, life, teachings, death and resurrection of a poor Jewish preacher in the first century . . . that must be a continuing challenge to our understanding of God and spirituality."