Open Letter to African Students studying at the Free University of Amsterdam


African students at the University of Amsterdam need to be more critical of their teachers and the prescribed books they are using for their education. They are spiritually too naïve to fall prey of that departments Humanistic Theology where Theology is designed from below and not from above. Sola Scriptura is under the rug and human psychology is placed in the driver seat with God as passenger sometimes and sometimes not necessary.

They are funded very well with scholarships by the Free University of Amsterdam and this is the first handicap to their education. They feel thankful for the opportunity offered to them and feel indebted to appease their overseers. By swallowing the hook and sinker of the ideologies of their teachers and their celebrated books in the faculties. Uncritically.

This reviewer studied as a young African at non-SDA higher-critical theological schools and daily had to confront teachers and books prescribed with the faith-alternative. Thus, today, I thank the Lord for His help with my hyper-critical approach to all my challenges at that University in Africa. I use to read a book from the back to the front. From the footnote or endnote to the text. I was not mesmerized by beautiful phraseology into following their ideology on a plate. I rejected their ideology on the basis of an Adventist hermeneutics and approach. They all knew where I was coming from and that I was not the same. I declared James Barr vocally to them as a Baal-Prophet and they laughed. Laughed because I was not the same. But, they accommodated me. Thanks the Lord. I challenge our African students at the Free University of Amsterdam to do the same.

Human rights as nexus, liberation theology as nexus, feminism as nexus, anti-colonialism as nexus (African students’ Master Thesis and Dissertations as well as articles in journals are relevant here), Marxism as nexus, are all permitted by the University of Amsterdam to be rolled out in designing theology and these structures are then as a net, thrown over the Seventh Day Adventist in Africa to analyze Adventist faith and practice in the light of this structure. This is a fundamental error. They need to read the methodological directives of Adventist theologians like Gerhard Hasel’s works on Hermeneutics, Old and New Testament Theology: Basic Issues…., F. Canale and his dissertation.

In their works, these African products of the Free University of Amsterdam, is hailing F. Schleiermacher as hero. Hero?

Schleiermacher was a new paradigm in a time of conventional skepticism but nevertheless, truth was mixed with error. His truthful ideas are very beautiful and misled many of his disciples to be blind to his errors (see John Hurst, History of Rationalism 1864 online archive available, page 243ff. He denied the Trinity. He denied the Holy Spirit. He rejected the devil and the Fall from Heaven. Sin was hurtfulness not guilt (Hurst, 1864: 245). Farrar said that “he did not attain the firm grasp of objective verity which is implied in perfect doctrinal, critical and orthodoxy”.

Schleiermacher “depreciated the Old Testament” (G. Hasel, Old Testament Theology: Basic Issues in the Current Debate, 1987, page 26-27). Also Hurst, 1864 page 243 in which Schleiermacher denied the inspiration of the Law and the Prophets based on that uninspired law. Hasel indicated that the problem with Schleiermacher is that he discussed the NT arguments on the fulfillment of prophecy only in the context of anti-Jewish apologetics, relevant only for the NT period (Hasel 1987, 149).

A number of names, Wogu, Chigemezi Nnadozie; Koning, Danielle, and Keller, Eva need to rethink their worldviews since it is clear from their products that they were ideologically consumed by the Faculties of the University of Amsterdam’s ideologies suggested in class by either the lecturers or/and their books, articles, research epistemologies. They are challenged by this African who went through the same machine with scholarships years ago to come in line with the Adventist methodology which is based upon Adventist epistemology which is based upon Adventist ontology.

It is going to demand a paradigm shift that is going to put the approach of the University of Amsterdam in a serious critical even rejecting light. Adventists cannot go along with the conclusions of F. Schleiermacher, D. Bonhoeffer who said that “And we cannot be honest without admitting that we have to live in the world – before God – as if God does not exist…”. Bonhoeffer is discussed in the chapter on Atheism! See JJF Durand, Die Lewende God- Wegwysers in die Dogmatiek 1976, 113 where the factual or practical atheism is discussed.

Friedrich Schleiermacher wrote to his father after he was expelled from the Moravian seminary on the 21st of January 1787: “I cannot believe that He, who called Himself the Son of Man, was the true eternal God: I cannot believe that His death was a vicarious atonement, because He never expressly said so Himself; and I cannot believe it to have been necessary, because God, who evidently did not create men for perfection, but for the pursuit of it, cannot possibly intend to punish them eternally, because they may have not attained it.” His father Gottlieb wrote back to him: “Oh, thou insensuate son! Who has deluded thee, that thou no longer obeyest the truth, thou, before whose eyes Christ was pictured, and who now crucifies him?....Alas! Into what a state of delusion has the wickedness of your heart plunged you!...And now, O son, who I press with tears to my sorrowful heart! With heartrending grief I discard thee, for discard thee I must, as thou no longer worshipped the God of they fathers”. Incrimination Schleiermacher admitted and wrote back: “…I recognize in it the tender heart of a father who still loves his apostate son and leaves no means untried to bring him back into the former path.” (Downloaded from In Adventism, Schleiermacher as “lost sheep” cannot dictate to the rescuers what truth is or where the way is.

For a proper understanding of culture and religion, see the longstanding research, papers, dissertation, books, talks, lectures, of F. Canale from Andrews University. The following articles is a must to read: F. Canale, “The Emerging Church – Part 4: Levels of Change,” Journal of the Adventist Theological Society 23/2 (2012): 161-189; F. Canale, “Vision and Mission – Part 1: Historical and Methodological Background” Journal of the Adventist Theological Society 26/2 (2015): 111-148. He lamented that since 2009 there were attempts by some to engage in ecumenical discussion and creates a “loss of identity” in Adventism. In 2014 some tried to “neutralize scripture” and is also embracing ecumenism (page 145).

A.R. Dupertuis’ dissertation was on the dangers posed by Liberation Theology in all its forms (A. R. Dupertuis, Liberation Theology: A study in Soteriology. Andrews University Seminary Doctoral Dissertation Series, Vol. 9. Berrien Springs, MI: Andrews University Press, 1 April 1987) including post-colonial theology or anti-colonial theology. Marxist Theology, Feminist Theology, Anti-Colonial Theology, Promise Land Theology, Poverty Theology, Woman Ordination Theology, Human Rights Theology, Gay Ministry Theology, Rights of LGBTQH Theology – all these and more are theology [small letter] from below and not from Scripture or above, from sola scriptura proper exegesis. It is the carrying into the Bible of political or social emotive factors and then to eclectically pick and choose parts to support this construct and then call it a misnamed “proper/better/new/transitional theology”.

Canale addressed the problem between culture and religion and how it affects worship and liturgy, Canale pointed out that Liturgy, Worship, Life [ontology], Theory [epistemology] that is grounded in culture is anti-biblical and in direct opposition to Liturgy, Worship, Life [ontology], Theory [epistemology] that is grounded in the Bible, F. Canale, “Principles of Worship and Liturgy” Journal of the Adventist Theological Society 20/1 & 2 (2009): 89-112 especially pp. 93-94.

Heppenstall in Christ our High Priest said: “In the light of this judgment now taking place and the imminent appearance of Jesus Christ, the church’s mission is not social reform or world peace or the removal of poverty in the world – although by virtue of the gospel and the love of Christ, social reform does take place” (E. Hepppenstall, Christ our High Priest Chapter 10 paragraph 22).

Adventists make it clear that Revelation is both an act and the word of God. It is both content and commitment. As Heppenstall stated in Christ our High Priest: "center of Christian faith is outside not inside humans" (Heppenstall chapter 1 paragraph 29). "Ultimate truth is not in ourselves but in Christ" (ibid, chapter 1 paragraph 33). Heppenstall also said that "truth is both doctrinal and personal" (Heppenstall chapter 12).

“Theological ethnography” is nothing but human rights theology in a moralistic or eclectic biblical garb. It is also from below as the ingredients to this theology demands the philosophies of Schleiermacher (non-inspiration of Scriptures), E. Troeltsch (Religiongeschichte Schule) (1913), Tillich, Bonhoeffer (practical atheist), P. Berger (1962) who was pushing for a social approach in theology, the works of J. Van der Ven (1993), P. Wade (2012, 2016), C. Scharen (2012), T. Snyder (2014), U. Schmiedel (2016), T-D. Whitmore (2007), N-W. Stevenson (2014), R. Ganzevoort (2004), M. McClintock Fulkerson (2007) who wrote on a theology for the Worldliness, A. Dumas (1971) who tried to sanctify Bonhoeffer whom we know is a practical atheist, N. Adams (2000), C. Elliot (2000). This is the main ingredients of this paradigm which of course A. Depurtuis’ principles in his 1987 dissertation on the dangers of Liberation Theology have given us enough tools to judge them by.

Just as “Emergent Church” or “Postmodernism” has no place in Adventism as F. Canale has demonstrated in his research, so we can add here Theological Ethnography.

Van der Ven is a catholic scholar who is trying to bring human rights as the main nexus of theology even overriding the tenets and core of the biblical text. If they have a choice between a biblical text and its impact and the feeling/reason/own common sense, they will follow own common sense and discard the biblical text appeal as outdated and locked in its own time and space in the biblical period. All who participated here above in this discussion, in one way or another, denied the fundamental reading of the biblical text and argues for a human over bible approach. This is the problem for Adventism.

African students, studying in Europe or elsewhere, with good scholarships, must study double, the classwork and then also how to dismantle or “deconstruct” what you have been taught by Liberation Theologians. It is their God-given right but also their God-given responsibility to stay on course with God and not lose their faith in nihilism, because that is where these machinations of the Liberal Theology of the University of Amsterdam is currently leading them.


Dear God

We pray for our young people of Africa that is blessed with scholarships to go and study abroad. We pray that they keep their faith and not get entangled and wrapped up with non-SDA ideologies that are humanistically attached to nihilism and rejecting You, our Creator and Redeemer. In Jesus name, Amen.