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A Celebration of George R. Knight’s Contribution to Adventist Thought
Adventist Maverick

By Floyd Bresee
 
 
Purpose of Book – The book is a Festschrift, which Webster defines as “A collection of articles by the colleagues, former students, etc. of a noted scholar, published in his or her honor.” This book has been written by 19 Adventist scholars, most of them Knight’s former students, each writing a chapter. The book is edited by Gilbert Valentine and Woodrow Whidden II, and published by Pacific Press. Few of us will ever read everything Dr. Knight has written, but you’ll find here a significant overview of the man, his lifework, and what he wrote. 
 
As Friend – It’s my privilege to know George Knight as a personal friend. When he and his wife Bonnie retired from teaching at Andrews University, they moved to Medford, Oregon where my wife and I also had retired. George and I both attended the Medford church, took turns teaching the same Sabbath School class and preaching from the same pulpit. (George is an outstanding preacher.) We’ve often enjoyed our friendship and extensive discussions in one another’s homes or vacationing together.
 
As Speaker-Teacher-Writer – George came to Medford to retire, but his seminars and sermons have been in such demand, he’s traveled extensively ever since. “In one of his trademark exaggerations, he quipped almost apologetically, ‘I was basically a writer, and teaching was a job to support my ‘habit.’” (p. 55) On a more serious note, he says, “I discovered that I genuinely loved teaching.” (p. 226) He taught for 37 years and wrote 41 published books.
 
Knight on Knight is the book’s final chapter. Knight gives a brief autobiography. He says he led “the rather precarious life of a ‘provocateur’.” He states, “My real aim in the church was to be a mediator between the right and left wings of the Adventist world.” (p. 246)
 
His Contribution – George insists, “In Adventist circles, thinking has often been treated as a virtue in rhetoric and a sin in practice. (p. 32) He rather enjoys playing the maverick, but he’s a loyal Adventist and leading thinker in three major domains: denominational education, history and theology.
  
“…by recounting its history, Knight shows that Adventism has never been theologically static. Whether realized or not, at any given time Adventism makes its way from tension to crisis and back to tension again. By doing this, it continues to follow the path of its founders who believed in the reality of present truth and the concept of progressive revelation.” (p. 119)
 
Knight writes, “One area where I like to think I have had a bit of success in helping to shape the denomination’s future is in my twenty-year advocacy of trimming down the denomination’s administrative structure.” (p. 241)

“Knight has characterized his stance within Adventism as a ‘radical conservative.’ He considers himself a ‘conservative’ in terms of his loyalty to historical truth and values, but ‘radical’ in that he uses historical truth to assertively prod the church and its educational system toward what he sees as needed change.” (p. 59)

If you enjoy keeping abreast of leading-edge Adventist thought, you’ll enjoy this book!

Floyd Bresee is a retired General Conference ministerial director. He lives in Santa Rosa, CA and is still actively pastoring and preaching to a congregation in his retirement community.