In the introduction to this book, I outlined the principal focus of this study of Seventh-day Adventism in Madagascar. The book is primarily concerned with the nature of religious commitment beyond initial conversion and focuses on ordinary church members’ experience as practitioners of Adventism in the context of their everyday lives. The conclusion I have come to is that local people’s commitment to Adventism is first and foremost nourished by the intellectual pleasure derived from the activity of Bible study. Adventist Bible study is conducted in a participatory, Socratic style, which is based on reflection and dialogue rather than on instruction by a higher authority or the learning by heart of doctrine. I began this book with the image of Papan’ i Loricà lost in Bible study for several hours at night, and I propose that it is the joy he derives from the actual process of studying the Bible that explains his commitment, and that of many others, to the Adventist church. For how can one explain the shine in people’s eyes when they receive a new edition of the Bible Study Guide, how can one explain Papan’ i Claude’s concentration when he sits at home on a rainy afternoon trying to make the letters in front of him meaningful, if not by these people’s genuine interest in the very process of studying? Enthusiasm and eagerness for Bible study, as we have encountered it throughout the course of this book, are thus not epiphenomena of some other hidden motivation to engage in Adventist practice.
KeywordsReligious Commitment Church Member Adventist Morality Initial Conversion Bible Study
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