Jack D. Zwemer
Jack D. Zwemer, brilliant scientist, academic, and then Episcopal lay theologian and editor/researcher for Worldview Publications was born March 29, 1924, the eldest of four children. Although of Jewish heritage, his parents were Christian members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
After completing his D.D.S. and working as a pediatric dentist, Zwemer went on to earn an M.S. in Pedodontics and Ph.D. in Bacteriology and Biochemistry at the University of Illinois, graduating first in his class in 1946 with the highest GP in the history of the school.
During his career, Zwemer served on the faculties of the University of Illinois, Loma Linda University, the University of Kentucky, and the Medical College of Georgia. In his work with the Adventist church, the Peace Corps and World Health Organization, he implemented Community Development Programs in Africa, Papua New Guinea and Mexico. Leading up to his retirement, he was for many years Special Project Coordinator for the Office of Institutional Research and Information at the Medical College of Georgia. After retirement, he worked with Pruitt Home Health and the Church of the Holy Comforter, an Episcopal church in Atlanta, Georgia.
Over the years, Zwemer became a close friend and associate of Robert Brinsmead, the founder of what became known in Adventism as the Awakening, with its message of “righteousness by faith.” However, subsequent re-examination led to discarding major doctrines that distinguish Adventism, including the “investigative judgment” in a heavenly sanctuary, seventh-day Sabbatarianism, and the prophetic ministry of Ellen G. White. As Adventism’s distinctive doctrines and legal framework were called into question, the Awakening came to a crossroads in the 1990s. Robert Brinsmead, following the route of previous notable Adventist advocates of righteousness by faith, moved into a possessional view of God in and as everything — including self-divinizing Gnosticism, panentheism and, ultimately, pantheism. Zwemer took the opposite road — a relational view of God as with and in relation to everything.
From then until his death in 2017, the extensive research associated with Zwemer’s deep theological interest resulted in a prodigious volume of material spanning a quarter century (1990-2015), including numerous citations, digests and reviews of others’ work that place his own leading-edge material in the slipstream of history. Years 1997-2015 are now published by Worldview Publications as online Outlook articles, and years 1990-1996 are pending online publication. Thus, although Dr. Zwemer’s life here has ended, he yet lives through his writings. His work explores such topics as the nature and history of God, the origins of the universe and of humankind, and the dawn and importance of self- and “other”-consciousness. He examines the Genesis Creation, the controversial question of why there is natural and moral evil and suffering, the nature of God’s relational covenants with humanity, the error of religion, and the meaning of redemption. And as both an accomplished scientist and lay theologian, he develops a cogent and credible postmodern worldview that includes both scientific and biblical perspectives without conflict or exclusion.
The publishers of Outlook wish to acknowledge our deep indebtedness to Jack Zwemer for his many years of groundbreaking research and writing for Worldview Publications. And with this brief “In Memoriam,” we bid Dr. Zwemer farewell, express profound gratitude for his monumental contribution to the understanding of our relationship with and hope in God, and pray that his work will inspire further study and faith for others as it has for us, his Worldview associates.