Tag Archives: conversations about God

Conversations About God: Summary of Chapter One, “The Conflict in God’s Family”

In the beginning, God created a vast family in the universe. That family existed in the context of perfect love, freedom and peace. There was peace because all the members of God’s vast family trusted each other, and all of them trusted their heavenly Father. The Father in turn could safely trust in them. In the context of mutual trust and trustworthiness, there is perfect freedom. Perfect peace. Perfect security.

But the Bible speaks of a war that began at the very center of God’s family, a crisis of distrust. Sin in its essence is a breach, a breakdown of trust. And thus sin entered our universe for the first time. The story begins with the most brilliant of all God’s creatures, the one who went forth from the presence of God bearing light and truth to his fellow angels. But moved by jealousy and pride, this brilliant, most trusted, even revered angel, set out to undermine trust in God by circulating misinformation and lies about our heavenly Father. And thus he became, not a bearer of light and a teacher of truth, but a bearer of lies. He charged that God did not respect the freedom of His children; that He was arbitrary, exacting, vengeful, unforgiving, and severe. With carefully chosen words Satan hoped to turn his fellow angels away from God, and win them to worship him instead.

God bore long and patiently as He watched this insurrection developing in His family. He watched until one-third of His brilliant, intelligent angels agreed with Satan that God was not worthy of their trust. It was at this point that “war broke out in Heaven” (Rev 12:7-8). Satan and his angels were expelled from heaven, but the war in the universe continued. He wasted no time passing his lies on to our first parents in the garden, thus involving us in the conflict as well. So whether we want to be or not, all of us are now caught up in the consequences of this war. Everyone in the universe is unavoidably involved. And the future of God’s family, to which we all belong, depends upon the outcome of this war.

Through the book of Revelation you see that God has already won this war, and the angels in heaven all agree with Him. This is the good news. Revelation also invites us to join in the celebration; and then to go out to the world and invite all who are willing to listen, to join in God’s victory in the war. When Christians discover this larger view of things, they don’t need to be on the defensive all the time; they have good news to tell. God and those who are on His side will win in the end. God is waiting until the truth about Him, the good news about His character and government, has been spread all over the world. The highest privilege of God’s friends on this planet today is to understand and to present the plan of salvation in the larger setting of the great controversy.

How God wages this war, how He refutes Satan’s lies, and what He asks of us are all issues to be addressed in the chapter summaries to come.

Conversations About God: Summary of Preface

I am in the final stages of editing a book called Conversations About God. The title not only reflects the book’s content, but also its origin in a series of twenty programs by that name presented at the Loma Linda University Church in 1984. In that memorable series, Dr. A. Graham Maxwell opened each evening’s topic with a presentation, followed by questions and comments from the audience, moderated by then-pastor Louis Venden. The book will be an edited version of the original “conversations.” I have sought to preserve the flavor of the original conversations as much as possible; guided by Graham’s daughter, Audrey Zinke, and his close friend Cherie Kirk. The manuscript is also being enthusiastically examined by Pastor Venden. The words that follow here are from the introductory summary by Graham Maxwell.

These conversations offer another look at our heavenly Father in the larger setting of a universe-wide conflict over His character and government. God is infinite in majesty and power. Yet, when He came in human form, He didn’t try to intimidate or overwhelm people with a show of majesty and power. Instead, He sat down among them. He conversed with them. He even invited their questions. As a matter of fact, Jesus taught some of His most important truths while reclining at tables, eating supper with His audiences.

As indicated in the title of this book, these twenty conversations are primarily about God. But one could fairly raise the question, whose God are we talking about? God is not the exclusive property of any particular denomination. For example, the Methodists and the Baptists worshiped God before Seventh-day Adventists came on the scene. The Lutherans were worshiping God before the Methodists and Baptists came on the scene. The Jews were worshipping God centuries before there were any Christians. Adam and Eve were worshipping God before there were any Jews. And before there were any people on our planet, God’s loyal angels worshiped Him throughout the universe.

God belongs to all of us. While there are religious differences among us, and those differences may be important, we are all members of His family. Or should we rather say that only the good ones among us are members of God’s family? Is that the way you count your children? Will you report today that you have only one child; while tomorrow you may report three? And the next day only two? Do you only acknowledge the children who are behaving well? Frankly, we have all misbehaved. And yet God recognizes every one of us, counts every one of us as members of His family. It is this amazing, gracious God that is the subject of this book. And “conversations” like this are needed today and will continue to be needed. Even eternity will not be long to enough to fully understand and celebrate our God.

Chapter 2: “What Went Wrong in God’s Universe”

This blog begins chapter two of the book in process Conversations About God. It originated as a series of lectures of Graham Maxwell in 1984. After each lecture Maxwell took written questions from the audience mediated through the pastor of the Loma Linda University Church at the time, Lou Venden. This marvelous series has never been put into book form, so I am attempting to do so and sharing the results in progress here with permission from the Maxwell family. The words that followed are Maxwell’s oral presentation, edited by me.

In the previous chapter we summarized the war that broke out in Heaven, as described in Revelation 12. This conflict within God’s family began right in His very presence, in the mind of God’s most honored and trusted angel. This raised the question, What really went wrong in God’s universe? This question is important because understanding what went wrong helps us to understand the methods God is using to put right the things that have gone wrong. We often call these methods “The Plan of Salvation.” As we noted in the last chapter, we’re accustomed to thinking of the plan of salvation as God’s gracious provision to save you, me, and other sinners on this planet. But in the larger view of the great controversy, the plan of salvation is God’s way of setting right what went wrong in the whole universe, and setting it right in such a way that it will never go wrong again.

What really did go wrong? To begin with, it helps to consider what made things go so right before the war in heaven began. Before the war there was peace. There was peace because all the members of God’s vast family trusted each other. They trusted their heavenly Father. And He in turn could safely trust in them. Where you have that kind of mutual trust and trustworthiness, there is perfect peace, perfect freedom, and perfect security.

Preface to Conversations About God, by A. Graham Maxwell, edited by Jon Paulien

Beginning today, I am taking renowned oral presentations made in 1984 and shaping them into a readable book. I have taken on this book project and give you a sneak preview here with permission of Maxwell’s surviving family. The words that follow are from the Preface of the in-progress book.

Conversations About God 0

This book is entitled Conversations About God not only because of its content, but in order to make available in written form a series of twenty programs by that name presented at the Loma Linda University Church in 1984. In that memorable series, Dr. A. Graham Maxwell opened each evening’s topic with a presentation, followed by questions and comments from the audience, moderated by then-pastor Louis Venden. The book you hold in your hands is an edited version of the original “conversations.” The editor, Jon Paulien, has sought to preserve the flavor of the original conversations as much as possible.

These conversations offer another look at our heavenly Father in the larger setting of a universe-wide conflict over His character and government. God is infinite in majesty and power. Yet when He came in human form, He didn’t try to intimidate or overwhelm people with a show of majesty and power. Instead, He sat down among them. He conversed with them. He even invited their questions. As a matter of fact, Jesus taught some of His most important truths while reclining at a table, eating supper with His audiences.

As indicated in the title of this book, these twenty conversations will be primarily about God. But one could fairly raise the question, whose God are we going to talk about? God is not the exclusive property of Seventh-day Adventists. The Methodists and the Baptists worshipped God before Adventists came on the scene. The Lutherans were worshiping God before the Methodists and Baptists came on the scene. The Jews were worshipping centuries before there were any Christians. Adam and Eve were worshipping before there were any Jews and, before there were any people on our planet, so were the loyal angels throughout the universe.

God belongs to all of us. While there are religious differences among us, and those differences may be important, we are all members of His family. Or should we rather say that only the good ones among us are members of God’s family? Is it the way you count your children? Today you report you have one child; tomorrow maybe three. And the next day only two? Because you only acknowledge the children who are behaving well? Frankly we have all misbehaved. And yet God recognizes every one of us, counts every one of us, as members of the family of the universe. It is this amazing, gracious God that is the subject of this book. And “conversations” like this are needed today and will continue, because even eternity will not be long to enough to fully understand and celebrate our God.

Conversations About God

I have exciting news. For a little over a year now I have been editing a famous series of lectures (1984) called “Conversations About God” by Graham Maxwell. These 20 lectures were each followed by questions and answers with Lou Venden, pastor of the LLU Church at the time. This series most articulately sums up Maxwell’s theology of the Great Controversy over the character and government of God, but has never come out in print due to it’s oral nature. With the encouragement of his family and a close friend of his, I have been going through the lectures, updating and editing them into language more appropriate to book form than the original. While publication is still probably a year or more away, I have just received permission to publish excerpts in my blog, which I will begin to do in the next week. For those who knew him, this will be a wonderful reminder. For those who have never heard or read him, you will be amazed at his passion for God and the clarity of his vision. Feedback is not only welcome, it will be greatly appreciated. Stay tuned.