Dear Elder Graham Maxwell! He's been a role model of mine for 35 years. I first attended his Sabbath school class in Loma Linda beginning in 1974, when I would travel out there on the weekends to visit my mother. Going to Elder Maxwell's Sabbath school class every Sabbath was the highlight of our weekend. Later, starting in the 1980s, I taught a regular class in my own Sabbath school, and I used Graham's tapes as my study guides -- since they were always recorded six weeks ahead of time.
The highlight of that period was when the Sabbath School Dept. announced that the Sabbath School lessons would from then on be using a book-by-book study theme. Elder Maxwell was at his best when teaching "the Bible as a whole", and not being limited to a "here-a-little, there-a-little" method. I faithfully filed away all my Teachers Quarterlies for those years, with my notes from Elder Maxwell's pearls of wisdom. I never want to part with them.
I loved his use of various versions of the Bible. When he talked about Phillips' translation of the New Testament, he commented that Rev. Phillips hadn't lived long enough to finish translating the entire Bible -- "but if he had, we could now have had 'Phillips' 66'"!
His "larger view" of the plan of salvation is such a reasonable, all-encompassing picture of God and His love for mankind. He pointed out that "God is not the kind of person His enemies have made Him out to be -- arbitrary, vindictive, unforgiving and severe -- but rather, He values nothing higher than our freedom." His picture of God was one of a loving Father who's not waiting to "zap" us for any small sin, but rather, He longs to gather us home to Himself.
I love the stories he told of their family dog, a mastiff, who liked to eat the flowers around the swimming pool, and of all the repeated efforts he and his wife made to try to train the dog not to eat those flowers. He pointed out that our obedience to God should not be "like a well-trained dog," but rather, we are God's friends, because servants do not know their master's business.
Some Adventist theologians criticized Elder Maxwell severely because he did not espouse the "forensic view" of sin and its penalties. But he was the kindest, most Christian of men in his replies. He never said a bad word about any of those who were constantly critical of him. He always pictured everyone in the very best light possible.
He authored several books, but never bragged about them or tried to sell them. I treasure the ones I have of his: "Servants or Friends" and "Can God Be Trusted?"
His memory will long endure for me. I look forward to meeting him soon in heaven. I'm sure he'll be imparting words of wisdom and comfort up there, too, because that was his nature -- actually I believe he fulfilled all the characteristics of a prophet. He was God's servant here on this earth, and we're all the richer because of it.
Catherine Lang Titus