La Sierra appoints atheist ex-pastor Ryan Bell as Divinity School Dean

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Ryan Bell was an outspoken social justice campaigner while he served as senior pastor of Hollywood Seventh-day Adventist Church.
RIVERSIDE, Calif. — Early this morning, La Sierra University’s administration announced the appointment of “Year Without God” ex-pastor Ryan Bell as the new Dean of the H.M.S. Richards Divinity School.  Bell was pastor of the Hollywood Seventh-day Adventist Church before the termination of his church employment.  His subsequent decision to live as an atheist for a year and blog about it resulted in massive media attention which peaked again when, at the end of his experimental year, Bell confirmed that he was an atheist.

“Whether we like it or not, we have a reputation for being the edgiest bunch in Adventism.  We can either flee that identity or embrace it and hire Ryan Bell,” said Strait Chouter, a La Sierra spokesperson.

Chouter stressed that Bell, who earned his doctorate from Fuller Theological Seminary, has excellent academic credentials and a record of campaigning for issues related to social justice and responsible community organizing in addition to his many years spent pastoring.  “Plus he’s got tremendous name recognition,” said Chouter.  “This will put us on the map.”

Bell will begin his official duties as dean at the end of the 2014-2014 academic year.  “I wouldn’t have said ‘yes’ to any other Adventist school but there’s something special about La Sierra,” said Bell.  “People stick their necks out around here.  Even for atheists.”

La Sierra administrators are hoping for as smooth a re-introduction to Adventist academia as possible for Bell, who has previously taught at the institution as an adjunct professor.  Bell, for his part, is exercising caution.  “It’s been a while since I’ve walked around an Adventist campus. Getting stoned hasn’t exactly been high on my bucket list.  Especially not in the biblical sense.”

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  1. Paula Powes

    I wouldn’t call you edgy, you La Sierra people are just flat out crazy. I think it is an insult to the highest degree to have your divinity school named after HMS Richards. Call it Darwin School of Divinity.

    1. Ricky

      It’s called educating students, which involves students learning and discussing two different perspectives, and ultimately allowing students to make up their own minds. Unfortunately, this is sorely lacking in other institutions that should be ashamed to call themselves proper universities.

      1. jon elder

        You cannot teach creationism, only indoctrinate one into it. Teaching involves the study of reality and rational thought. And another thing, how can one be barely adventist. Either you are still in the grip of the church or you have broken free. I guess it could be that some are afraid of losing family or jobs and thus are hanging on to retain status quo. How horrible that must be.

  2. Ray Kraft

    This is satire, of course, but it could be a good idea for real . . . after all, aren’t college students supposed to consider and sort out answers to the thorniest problems?

    What if God isn’t what Medieval theologians thought He was? Why are we still taking their ideas as gospel truth? To paraphrase Einstein, What if God is not only Other than we imagine, but Other than we can imagine?

    And of course the intractable Problem of Evil . . . if God is All-Loving, Almighty, and Omniscient, knows the future, He must have known that Lucifer would rebel and become Satan and cause all kinds of havoc before He created Lucifer . . . so why did He create Lucifer?

    And why not simply “uncreate” Satan, with a word? “Let there be no more Satan!” and, lo, there was no more Satan!

    How many billions of people have to live short, nasty, brutish lives, and die miserable deaths, to prove to the universe that Goodness (God) is better than Badness (Satan)?

    And then, the Dinosaurs. Why did God create gazillions of Tyrannosaurus Rexes and other dinos, and then drown them all, or all but a few on the Ark, and then let them go extinct soon after the Flood, while all other kinds of animals survived?

    And why do the insects outnumber (by far) and outweigh all other species of animals on earth, combined, including Us?

    Ryan Bell, the Atheist Theologian, might be just the guy to ignite these conversations!

  3. “Please note that all characters and incidents appearing in this ‘report,’ including any comments thereupon, are fictitious or parodied. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead (or incidents, past or future) is purely coincidental and/or is solely for purposes of parody, satire, or comedy. If you do not find the stories funny, please see your doctor to check your sense of humor (or perhaps to check your pulse). After all, laughter is the best medicine.”

    To me the funniest part of this story is the name of the alleged La Sierra spokesperson: “Strait Chouter.” I once knew a guy named Justin Case. And a girl named Robin Banks. And a man named Jay Byrd. And a boy named Chris Cross. Even knew a Mexican firefighter who named his twin sons “José” and “JosB.” Their parents were quite creative. . . .

  4. Richard Mills

    I have received an epiphany-Joel 2:1–Hosea 4:1–Amos 6:1.. Woe to the inhabitants of LaSierra. Woe to its Board of Directors. Woe to the GC for allowing such a travesty. Woe is me, I am really undone. What next? A Papal legation wanting to teach at LaSierra? I’m gonna take my medication now. Woe is me!!!!!

    1. todd

      especially for the already disenfranchised reputation…that hopefully they are trying to rebuild. satirical comedy is supposed to confront nebulous concepts and extract/expose a clear stance when one is not present. this just attaches negative connotation, for an institution that is attempting to get back on its feet.

  5. Lawrence Mark Nelson

    At first this seemed so incongruous however now I am beginning to realize that instead of having Adventists who have been brainwashed or that cannot think on their own will be able to study all viewpoints and make their own mind up….I grew up into the S.D.A. denomination having grandparents and a father who was a Seventh-Day Adventist minister and professor at Loma Linda University and I spent all my life in S.D.A. schools and am two time graduate of Loma Linda University and was baptized by H.M.S. Richards. In the 1970’s I had enrolled in the School of Public Health but they didn’t like my long blond hair and jewelry or my degree from Hong Kong in Religion which they felt was incomplete so I had to go back to take what they called a bonafide B.A. degree at La Sierra where I fell in love with a young male art student- I wasn’t able to express how I felt about him or my apparent homosexuality….I was made fun of by a professor for wearing purple. So nowadays for this to take place all I can say is that it took a lot of guts on those who chose him to allow all schools of thought and belief. Again it is with utter amazement that I read this appointment. I am not apposed but I will tell you as a two time graduate of Loma Linda University in the 1970’s and a person who had a hard time finding his identity and his relationship with his church because of my orientation and my inner self rebelling from the conflicting legalism of Adventism and the writings of Ellen G. White and all the dos and don’ts that this cannot be a bad thing.. To allow students and faculty to be open and talk without censorship and condemnation and banishment is a very good move forward in a Christian University. I remember one old friend and teacher Dr. Desmond Ford while I was a student at Avondale College. He challenged the church and some of its teachings and he was let go and now here we have a confirmed atheist who is embraced…go figure! How incredible is this??

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