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Song of Solomon - Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary

Ten Commandments - as Compared in the New International Version & the King James Version & the Hebrew Interlinear

OTHER BOOKS, MANUSCRIPTS & ARTICLES:

Additional Various Studies --
"Saving Faith" - Dr. E. J. Waggoner
"What is Man" The Gospel in Creation - "The Gospel in Creation"
"A Convicting Jewish Witness", study on the Godhead - David L. Cooper D.D.

Bible As History - Werner Keller

Canons of the Bible, The - Raymond A. Cutts

Daniel and the Revelation - Uriah Smith

Facts of Faith - Christian Edwardson

Individuality in Religion - Alonzo T. Jones

"Is the Bible Inspired or Expired?" - J. J. Williamson

Letters to the Churches - M. L. Andreasen

Place of the Bible In Education, The - Alonzo T. Jones

Sabbath, The - M. L. Andreasen

Sanctuary Service, The
- M. L. Andreasen

So Much In Common - WCC/SDA

Spiritual Gifts. The Great Controversy, between Christ and His Angels, and Satan and his Angels - Ellen G. White

Under Which Banner? - Jon A. Vannoy

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WWN 1991 Jan - Mar

 

1991 Jan -- XXIV -- (1)91 -- WHERE GOD PLACES THE PERIOD -- God will not place a period on salvation history until Jesus completes His work as Hlgh Priest of the Heavenly Sanctuary. In the earthly prototype when the High Priest had "made an end of reconciling the holy, and the tabernacle, and the altar," then the live goat was brought into the picture for disposition of judgment. (Lev. 16:20) Then and then only did God place a period on the year of services. They were finished. Throughout the time in which the gospel has been proclaimed, the objective and activities of Heaven have been directed to this point of time prefigured in the earthly services. Throughout this period proclamations have been given which either clearly set forth the relationship of grace and works, or which mingled grace and works in an unholy alliance. Various theological terms have been used to describe the outworking of the salvation provided by and through Jesus Christ - justification, sanctification, the "new birth" and in Adventist nomenclature, the final atonement.

Today as a result of the study of the book of Galatians and Romans in the Seventh-day Adventist Church's Sabbath Schools, the controversy over grace and works has again risen. The officers of the South Pacific Division of the Church deemed it necessary to issue a statement in their Record (Oct. 27, 1990, p. 5) on "The Plan of Salvation as Set Forth in the Epistle to the Romans." Further, the Division's Biblical Research Committee sent representations to the General Conference charging "confusion and bias" in "the Sabbath School Quarterlies, especially in the books of Galatians and Romans."

There is an ironical twist in this whole picture. The editor of the Sabbath School lessons, Dr. Erwin R. Gane, is a native son of Australia. However, what he has permitted to be placed in the Quarterlies is questioned by the leadership of the Division. Yet when Gane served in the Religion Department of Union College, he presented in a Supplement of the Ministry (October, 1970) a study on the doctrine of the Incarnation which sought to affirm the heresy in the book, Questions on Doctrine.

p 2 -- The question, simply put, is what kind of a yo-yo game is Gane playing? Has he been swinging on a pendulum, and how far has the pendulum swung?

In the mail this week, there came a publication Thinking Outloud (#4) - in which a comparison was made between the teachings of Martin Luther, the present controversial Sabbath School Lessons, Ellen G. White, the Bible, and the teachings from the Roman Catholic Council of Trent. The bottom line of this paper was that Roman Catholic doctrine as set forth at the Council of Trent was the same or similar to that which was taught in the questioned Sabbath School lessons. In the light of the drift toward Rome since 1974, which can be documented, this charge has merit. While the visible affinity during the years has been in association, there has also been modification of our prophetic understandings. It would be no small thing to assimilate their teachings in theological areas such as soteriology.

We could get bogged down in assessing details of this present controversy, but rather than approaching the subject from that angle, we shall look at the whole picture from the message of the sanctuary, the prototype of the ministry of Jesus Christ in Whom and through Whom we have redemption. To put the question clearly so that there be no misunderstanding, are we going to put the period where God puts he period, or are we going to place the period where men in their limited perceptions have placed their periods. That we may better perceive the salvation provided by God both in Christ and through Christ, we shall discuss in three phases, God's grace to usward who believe. This is Biblical to perceive of God's provision for salvation as both "in Christ" and "through Christ." Compare Ephesians 2:6-7 and I Corinthians 15:57. Keep in mind that salvation is ever God's initiative and solely a gift from Him. God's action in us is as it was in Jesus the Example who declared -   "The Father that dwelleth in Me, He doeth the works." (John 14:10)      Why? Because it is just as with Jesus who confessed -  "I can of rny own self do nothing." (John 5:30)     To give structure to this study of God's work of grace, we shall borrow a sentence from the Writings. It reads:     Divine grace is needed at the beginning, divine grace at every step of advance, and divine grace alone can complete the work. (TM, p. 508)

"Divine Grace...at the Beginning" -- No man can forgive himself of his sins. He may ignore them; he may even deny them, but they are still there, registered against hirn both in the records of Heaven and in his mind and body. (Rev. 20:12; Jer. 17:1) When a man does recognize the reality of himself as a sinner, he is overwhelmed with guilt. He cannot so much as lift his eyes unto heaven, but can only cry out - "God be merciful to me a sinner." (Luke 18:13) God stands ready to receive and to forgive. He had provided "the redemption...in Christ Jesus" by which "He might be just, and the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus." (Romans 3:24, 27) In what then can I rejoice? In my works? Absolutely not! They are as filthy rags. (Isa. 64:6) In what can I have confidence that the sense of guilt may pass from me? In God's word, and His word only. He declares me justified. By faith, I believe, "therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law." (Rom. 3:20)

God declares a sinner justified. He stands approved, accepted of God, declared righteous. "But He does something which is far better: He removes the guilt, so that the one formerly guilty does not need to be cleared, - he is justified, and counted as though he had never sinned." (Christ and His Righteousness, p. 64, Waggoner's emphasis)  I can arise from the foot of the cross, the source upon which this great salvation, this marvelous grace, is based and rejoice with exceeding great joy knowing that I am accepted again as a son of God.

Are there any conditions? Here is where the controversy begins. The work advocates say, yes; those who advocate, grace plus nothing say, no. Jesus was asked,  "What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?" He replied -  "This is the work of God, that ye believe on Him whom He hath sent." (John 6:28-29)  To Jairus who had just received the report of his only child's death, Jesus comforted him with these words -  "Fear not, only believe, and she shall be saved." (Luke 8:50 Gr.) While the daughter would be physically restored by Jesus, the same faith in Jesus grants a restoration of life to the sinner. But the condition is "only believe" in Jesus.

This condition set down by Christ and mandated by the Father - "only believe" - is anathema to the "work" advocates for salvation. However, it was taught in the typical sanctuary services. The sinner who recognized his sin, "put his hand upon the head" of the prescribed sacrifice. This Hebrew word for "put" in Leviticus is the same word for "leaned" in Amos 5:19. The

p 3 -- force of the word is for one to put his full weight on, or dependence in. The sinner complied with the offering prescribed and depended upon that typical substitute for a forgiveness which would restore him once again to an at-one-ment with God. (Leviticus 1:4; 4:29-31) So we, by faith, accept the Offering provided and place our full dependence in Him. We accept the gift of God's grace. Because we change our mind - repent - of the way we lived which produced sinful acts, God accepts us anew in the Beloved.

Jesus enlarged this concept further in His story of the Prodigal Son. Was there a condition? Yes, "when he came to himself," he said - "I will arise and go to my father" and admit my true situation that  "I am no more worthy to be called thy son." (Luke 15:17-19)  But did he change his clothes? No! - he had none into which to change. He came just as he was to confess his unworthiness, his destitution, and to throw himself upon the mercies of his father. "Works" here? Yes, but really not the "works" which the "work advocates" want, but the works which the "grace only" advocates wish to avoid. The genuine "work" - note the singular in John 6:29 - required of God - the cross - is still despised and rejected. Crucifixion with Christ, the just reward of our deeds, is unwelcome, because we want our deeds to count toward our salvation. But to want grace without the cross is equally as fatal. We will not recognize the Lord as "a just God and a Saviour," and that there is no other saviour or means of salvation except through Him, which in turn involves a cross. (Isa. 45:21-22; Acts 4:12; Luke 9:23) "Divine grace is needed at the beginning."

"Divine Grace at Every Step of Advance"-- Martin Luther restored in the Protestant Reformation the Pauline concept of justification by faith, that is, a man is not justified by the deeds of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ. It is at this point that the advocates of grace plus nothing want to place a period. But neither God, nor Paul echoing the purposes of God, so place a period. Walking is but a series of progressive steps forward. Paul wrote plainly - "As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in Him." (Col. 2:6)  Even as by grace, we are justified by faith, so we walk with God by faith because of grace. It is just as impossible to direct our steps and walk aright as it was for us to provide forgiveness for our sins. Jeremiah of old confessed - "0 Lord, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps." (Jer. 10:23) Every forward step as sons and daughters of God would be impossible were it not for God's grace. He alone is able to keep us from falling, from reverting back into the old patterns of sin. (Jude 24)

The walk with Christ by faith is difficult. There are those, advocating righteousness by faith, who would have you believe that it is easy to be saved and hard to be lost. Do not be deceived by them.  "The evil tendencies of mankind are hard to overcome. The battles are tedious. Every soul in the strife knows how bitter, how severe, are these contests. Everything about growth in grace is difficult, because the standard and maxims of the world are constantly interposed between the soul and God's holy standard." (Faith I Live By, p. 135)

To walk as restored sons and daughters of God requires guidance. That guidance is supplied by the Spirit of truth because of the redemption which is in the Lamb as it had been slain. (Rev. 5:6) There is not a day that comes or goes but that we need to realize anew that first experience of crucifixion with Christ. The very daily dying to self requires the power of God's grace. To walk in the light that proceeds from the Throne rather in the sparks of our own kindling, requires grace. To sense this need and to respond to God's provision is what makes a practical Christian, one who lives his religion, exemplifying in bis daily life the character of Jesus.

Often we stumble and fall; often we must plead anew God's mercy. The closer we come to Jesus, the more faulty will our lives appear, the more we will sense our unworthiness and our need to rely wholly upon the merits of our Divine Intercessor. Even as Paul we will confess, I have not attained, or am already perfect: "but I press on, if so be that I may lay hold on that for which also I was laid hold on by Christ Jesus...I press on toward the goal unto the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 3:12, 14 ARV) " Divine grace [is needed] at every step of advance."

"Divine Grace Alone Can Complete the Work"
-- We have reached the hour and the end when God intends to send Jesus forth to bring about the restitution of all things as proclaimed through "all His holy prophets" since the reign of sin began. (Acts 3:20-21) Whether, therefore, we sleep or live till that hour, something

p 4 -- must be
done for us so as to live eternally in an environment where affliction will not arise a second time. If we should sleep, we cannot resurrect ourselves, or change the vile body of our human existence like unto the glorious body of our Lord. (See Phil. 3:20, 21) Divine grace alone will accomplish the objective in those who have walked with Him day by day in their earthly sojourn.

Those who are translated without tasting death will have lived in the sight of an Holy God a brief period of time after the Divine decree has fixed human destiny. There will be no Divine-human Mediator to minister the benefits of forgiving grace during that period, for He has stepped aside. (Rev. 15:8) A work will have been accomplished in them, and that work will have been by grace alone.

Herein lies the tragedy of the present theological confusion. Those who would place a period after justification reject the whole rationale of a final atonement. They believe that they will keep on sinning until Jesus comes. Those who place a period after sanctification believe that through their attainments in the process of sanctification - by their life style - will have fitted them for translation. It is divine grace alone that can complete the work. It is so humiliating to acknowledge our poverty, to accept the final "hand-out" of heaven. But to fail to accept the garment woven in the loom of heaven which has not one thread of human devising will exclude us from the marriage feast!

The very ceremony connected with the typical day of Atonement and the laws governing the conduct of the Children of Israel on that day should tell us something. Only the High Priest accomplished for the Congregation of Israel the typical cleansing. He alone went into the Most Holy Place to offer blood over which no confession of sin had been made - the blood of he bullock and the blood of the Lord's goat. (Lev. 16:11, 14-15, 17) While the High Priest was in the Most Holy Place, the people were to be afflicting their souls before God. Unique to he requirements of this day, the people were to do no work, even as in the observance of the Sabbath. Other feast days excluded only "servile work." (Lev. 23:27-31; cmp. 23:24-25) The failure to afflict one's soul, or to perform any work, meant their severance from the household of God. These regulations and service emphasize that the final work is indeed by grace alone. In their soul affliction, they could not rely on their works, human merit. Nothing they could do would cleanse. But a failure to recognize themselves for what they were, unclean, denied to them a cleansing.

God has been gracious to His people. Realizing the direction the Movement He inaugurated was drifting, He sent Jones and Waggoner to call them to justification by faith. He told them through His messenger that "the message of justification by faith...is the third angel's message in verity." (Review, April 1, 1890) God even defined it for them. "It is the work of laying the glory of man in the dust and doing for man that which it is not in his own power to do for himself." ("Give Me Thine Heart," Adelaide, Oct. 12, 1896) Man can neither declare nor make himself righteous. Even the process of regeneration cannot begin until man senses "what is his own real nature, that in himself he is worthless." (ibid.)

There are those teaching that the message given in 1888 was some unique message entirely different than had ever been previously given. This is simply not true. It was a message to call the Church back to the Gospel perceptions given to Paul and which had been revived by Martin Luther. It was unique in that it was a preparatory revival of righteousness by faith with the objective of getting the Church prepared to receive the fulness of the Final Atonement. For unless God's called people could understand justification by faith - "Divine grace is needed at the beginning" - they would be unable to perceive that "divine grace alone can complete the work," and would through a salvation-by-works program seek to accomplish the objective. Sadly, most of the "many voices" heard today in the community of Adventism are echoing the stand and position of those who were opposed to Jones and Waggoner in 1888. These "voices" are merely repeating the Roman Catholic teaching as set forth in the Council of Trent. Well did Waggoner state the issue - though concerning another Catholic doctrine:       "We need to settle, everyone of us, whether we are out of the church of Rome or not. There are a great many that have the marks yet." (1901 GC Bulletin, p. 404)

Summary -- The current theological conflict generated by the recent Sabbath School lessons can be summarized as follows:      There are those who perceive the true Gospel as set forth by Paul and revived by Martin Luther, but who have lost the vision of what God's objective is in the final atonement. These reject the sanctuary message which was given to this people. Then on the other side are those whose perception of the Gospel includes the Roman Catholic concepts stemming from the Council of Trent. These but vaguely perceive that there is a final atonement, but because of their perceptions of their own righteousness, they believe that they can make a contribution to God's final work through Jesus Christ. Neither extreme permits a walking in the light of God' grace that is needed to advance so that true fellowship might be realized and through the blood of Jesus, we might all be cleansed. (1 John 1:7) We put periods where God puts semi-colons. When God does place His period, sadly many will be found wanting, trusting either in their own goodness and human merit, or professing a faith that is mere presumption.

p 5 -- ENROUTE TO CANBERRA -- The Seventh Assembly of the World Council of Churches will meet in Canberra, capital of Australia, during the month of February, this year. The Assembly theme will be, "Come Holy Spirit - Renew the Whole Creation." As at all Assemblies since Nairobi in Kenya, invited guests will include observers from other world religions.

A sub-unit of the WCC - Dialogue with People of Living Faiths - organized a multifaith consultation in Hong Kong in August of 1990 in preparation for the Seventh Assembly. Representatives from ten of the religions of the world attended, induding Buddhists, Confucians, Hindus, Jews, Muslims, Sikhs and Christians. Also participating was a Zoroastrian, a Shintoist and a scholar of Taoism. The emphasis of this consultation was "renewal" as it related to the theme of the Seventh Assembly. At the conclusion of the meeting in Hong Kong, the participants drafted a message to the up-coming Assembly in Canberra. From this message, we will excerpt certain concepts which should have meaning for us in the light of Bible prophecy. The source of all the direct quotes will be either from the Ecumenical Press Service (90.10.41), or the parallel account in One World (November, 1990, pp. 8-9)

Quoting a saying of Buddha:        "When you have crossed the river it is foolish to carry the raft on your back"      - a Buddhist participant commented,      "the Buddha taught us this about carrying with us that which hinders our journey."        The thrust of his viewpoint incorporated in this drafted message was that      "we need to set aside those things that are not essential to our faith and that have stood in the way of creative relationships between peoples of faith."       It is perceived that all religions of the world     "have come to a moment of truth. The time to speak and act is now, for [all] share one life on one earth."

"At no time before in history has the image of a 'global village' been so evident. A Hindu participant told us, ' We are one family. The Supreme Being granted us this gift. We belong together.' A Muslim participant reminded us, ' Biologically we all belong to one single common species. Ecologically we are a part of the one planet's biosphere. Historically we all drink and are fed from the same subterranean streams. Culturally we are becoming increasingly multinational. Spiritually we all sense that we are embarked on a common journey. ' As a people of faith we hold that there is but one source of life nourishing and sustaining the whole inhabited world. The modern communications revolution makes our interdependence clearer day by day. We face a common future or a common extinction. Our life contexts are increasingly multireligious. Dialogue between people of many faiths is the basis of our common future."

"We must scrutinize the forms of religious education in all our traditions to see what has gone wrong and how it can be rectified. The time is ripe for what in the Jewish tradition is called Teshuvah, a radical turning - repentance and renewal. From the Japanese Shinto tradition we were challenged, ' We as religious people, I believe, should repent of our ignorance and negligence and apologize to Kami, Nature and Life itself.' We need to recognize in our neighbors the sense of the divine, spoken of in different ways in different traditions: the Shekinah in the Jewish tradition, the Holy Spirit of the Triune God to the Christians, the Atman to the Hindus and Sikhs, the Ruh to Muslims."


The drafted message concludes by stating,      " We therefore call upon people of all religious traditions to open themselves to a new pattern of working together and living out our faiths. We must be true to our own tradition but in solidarity with one another, so that we can become bearers of hope for our time."

It should be obvious to any observer that the stance taken by the WCC enroute to Canberra nullifies the thrust of the Christian witness over the centuries. If the God of the various world religions is the same God with only a different name, then modern missions had a faulty objective. Instead of proclaiming Jesus Christ as the only way and the only hope, the missionaries sent to the areas where these world religions dominate should have taken only a "social gospel" by which the living standards and life style of the adherents to these faiths might be enhanced.

Herein is a warning. Let the concept of pluralism motivate a religious entity; let the conviction of the uniqueness of the message proclaimed by that movement be relegated to a "trash heap of history," and you will see substituted for that "form of doctrine" which brings deliverance from the evil one, a "gospel" whereby we seek to cure the ills of society. As a concrete example, contrast the content of the Adventist Review under the editorship of Dr. W. G. Johnsson with the Review and Herald under the editorship of F. M. Wilcox, or even Kenneth Wood. The Church has gone a long way toward embracing in a modified form the concepts of the WCC. Thus while not a member of that body, nevertheless the Church can find fellowship with them and receive the warmest greetings from them as having so much in common with them.

The book of Revelation tells us that frorn three great religious forces, symbolized by the dragon, beast and false prophet, mankind will be drawn into a unified command for the battle of the great day of God Almighty. (Rev. 16:13-14) We even know who will head this command against the God of Heaven. Isn't it time to recognize who are symbolized in Revelation and see them gathering together on the world stage. I am no prophet, nor a son of a prophet, but you can be assured that the Seventh-day Adventist Church will have observers at the Seventh Assembly of the World Council of Churches in Canberra along with the observers from the religions of the world. What fellowship hath light with darkness, or has all become darkness, like attracting like?

6 -- LET'S TALK lT OVER -- Several weeks ago at our midweek service here on campus, we were discussing the Sabbath. The fourth commandment begins - "Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy." (Ex. 20:8)  How can we keep the day, holy, unless we ourselves are holy? We are called to holiness. God said to Israel - "Ye shall be holy: for I the Lord your God am holy." (Lev. 19:2) Interestingly, the very next words connected with this call to holiness are - "Ye shall fear every man his mother, and his father, and keep my sabbaths: I am the Lord your God."  Parental respect and the observance of the Sabbath are linked with holiness. In the proclamation of the gospel, the call to holiness in all manner of life was fundamental. (1 Thess. 4:7) It evidenced the contrast between the former mode of life in lust and ignorance, and the new life reflecting the One who had called them in the gospel. (1 Peter 1:14 -16)

The Sabbath as a day to be kept holy, free from the profanations that mark the other days of the week, sets before the observer each week the challenge to holiness of life and a conviction of how far short one is of that holiness. Can it be that we have digressed so far in our convictions of that holiness that our observance of the Sabbath reflects that digression? Have we sought to substitute a style of worship which gives an emotional satisfaction yet leaves us in a life style removed from the holiness of God? Do we worship God as did Cain according to our own "Order of Worship," rather than as did Abel, according as commanded? Nothing short of true worship - worship in Spirit and in truth - is acceptable to God.

Before even assessing the style of worship celebrated on the Sabbath which involves, at most, only a few hours of the holy day, we must settle the question as to proper observance of the whole day. First, there must be an attitude toward the Sabbath. We must  "call the Sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord, honorable." (Isa. 58:13)  What we find delight in, we look forward to with anticipation. We can hardly wait to experience that delight, and this delight the Sabbath brings does not begin in an emotional experience when we gather in corporate fellowship. It begins when the Sabbath begins in "the cool of the day" as the Lord God through His Spirit draws nigh to fellowship with us whether alone or in the family circle.

Do Pharisaical rules and regulations make the Sabbath a holy day? Hardly. While each day of creation was bound in time - "and there was evening, and there was morning" - no such time delineation marks the Sabbath. The command, "from even unto even shall ye celebrate your sabbaths," is written concerning the ceremonial sabbaths, not the Sabbath of the Lord thy God. (See Lev. 23:32 and compare with Gen. 2:1-3) To keep the Sabbath holy, the fellowship with the Divine must begin before the sun sets, and linger after the set of sun the following evening. The "rat race" of modern existence to see how much can be done prior to, or to get everything done one wants to do, just before the minute of sunset with the plans all laid as to what one intends to do the moment the sun sets twenty-four hours later, means only a legalistic observance of the Sabbath. Tragically, many professed Sabbath keepers today do not even adhere to a strict recognition of the 24 hour period, infringing on both the beginning and the ending hours of the Sabbath. This is interpreted as "liberty" in the Gospel. How few are the families today who gather together in worship and the reading of the Word as the sun is setting on Friday evening and linger in worship after the sun has set on Saturday evening. Yet the call to holiness is tied to both keeping of the Sabbath and the family relationship.

I recall when the Sabbath truth first came to our home, I being only a teenager at the time. Instruction was given as to how to keep the Sabbath. It was to be different from the Sunday we had observed. Never did we arise at midnight to welcome the day of the Sun. But the retired Bible Worker, who was leading my mother, sister and me through the series of Bible Studies, brought an old Hymns and Tunes for us to use. She pointed out the hymn, "Safely Through Another Week," and suggested that we sing this as we gathered for family worship as the Sabbath arrived, and then another hymn to the same tune, "Closing Sabbath, 0 How Soon," to be sung as we closed the sacred day. I do recall as I look back over the years, that I didn't especially sing at all times - "0 how soon, have the sacred moments passed" - with joyful meaning as I should have, because there were too many times I had other things more "delightsome" scheduled for Saturday night. Such a response to the Sabbath is actually encouraged in the colleges and academies of the Church when Saturday night is made the time for the key "social" event of the week.

Consider eternity when all flesh comes to

p 7 -- worship before the Lord. Will we be so anxious to get back to the activities of our daily lives - perfect and satisfying as they will be - that we will watch for the closing moment of the Sabbath, or will we be lothe to leave the presence and communion with the God of the universe the Sabbath afforded us? Should not our Sabbaths now be as in the words of the hymn - "Here afford us, Lord, a taste of our everlasting feast"? If we truly realized the proper meaning and observance of the Sabbath would we need on Sabbath morning an emotional jag to satisfy our sensual perceptions and quiet the "Voice of Gentle Stillness" which would call us to true worship.

 "The Lord is in His holy temple, let all the earth keep silence before Him." (Hab. 2:20)  
 "0 come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the Lord our Maker." (Ps. 95:6)  "0 worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness: fear before Him all the earth." (Ps. 96:9)

"  With reverence let the Saints appear,
And bow before the Lord;
His high Commands with reverence hear,
And tremble at His word.  "


Such a worshipful experience begins when we welcome the Sabbath as a delight, holy of the Lord, honorable, as the sun is setting - not set on Friday evening.

" The most profitable meetings for spiritual advancement, are those which are characterized with
solemnity and deep searching of heart;
each seeking to know himself, and earnestly,
and in deep humility, seeking to learn of Christ. "
Spiritual Gifts, Vol. IV, p. 153.

--- (1991 Jan) --- End --- TOP        

1991 Feb -- XXIV -- (2)91 -- "IN DISARRAY" -- Evangelical, Traditional, or Liberal? -- "Which is the true Adventism?" -- Periodically, the Peoples Church, one of the largest, if not the largest evangelical church in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, sponsors a series of lectures on the "cults" and/or false religions as their pastor perceives them. In times past, they never failed to include Seventh-day Adventism as one subject of the lecture series. (I remember attending such a lecture presented in their old church on Bloor Street when serving as pastor of the Seventh-day Adventist First Church in Toronto.) The founder and long-time pastor, the late Oswald Smith, has been succeeded by his son, Dr. Paul Smith. This past year from August through November, another series was held by a Ron Carlson. It included, Christian Science, The New Age Movement, The World Tomorrow, Mormonism, the Jehovah Witnesses, and even two lectures on Roman Catholicism. But Seventh-day Adventism was not on the list!

Some friends in Toronto with whom we have had continued contacts over the years decided to call and find out why Adventists were no longer on the "hit" list of the Peoples Church. Reaching one of the assistant ministers, they were told, ,We couldn't cover everyone, and besides, the Seventh-day Adventist Church is in disarray. How sad, but how true! Presently divided over issues which should never have been issues in the first place - women's ordination to the ministry and the "celebration" type of worship services - had the Word of God been followed, the Church has lost its bearing - the message given it by God as a sacred trust. No longer sounding a prophetic warning - it has gone to the trash heap of history - the trumpet is now giving an uncertain sound. The sanctuary teaching, uniquely Seventh-day Adventist, is not perceived by the rank and file of the laity of the Church, and the ministry and theologians are in disarray as to its importance and meaning. Discarding chart and compass, the Church is adrift.

The Laodicean blindness of the church's leadership does not keep others from seeing the true state of

p 2 -- affairs. In an article appearing last year in Christianity Today, Kenneth Samples, correspondence editor of the late Walter Martin's Christian Research Institute, wrote:       The last three decades have brought much controversy to Seventh-day Adventism as key doctrinal distinctives were challenged from within the denomination. This in-house doctrinal debate has resulted in several distinct factions and strong disagreement as to which doctrinal perspectives represents "true Adventism."

Seventh-day Adventism is experiencing an identity crisis. Ironically, the present confusion is in direct contrast to the confidence of Adventism's pioneers. (Feb. 5. 1990. pp 18-19)


Samples, then categorizes Adventists into three groups as embracing either Evangelical Adventism, Traditional Adventism, or Liberal Adventism. Then the question is asked, "Which is the true Adventism?" He admits that every member of the Church does not fit "neatly" into these defined groups because "many are theologically neutral." This only compounds the disarray because many of these "neutralists" are church administrators bent on maintaining the status quo power-wise, who themselves know little Bible and less of their own church history.

Perhaps, we could obtain a clearer picture of the present disarray in Adventism by using a graph with the center point representing the teachings of the pioneers. (See Column 2) The first self-evident fact is that the divergence between those on the extreme right and those on the extreme left is marked by their difference of attitude toward the Writings of Mrs. Ellen G. White. Those on the extreme right hold the Writings to be either equal to, or above the authority of the Bible. Vance Ferrell in his publications combines the Bible and the Writings calling the combination, the Sacred Scriptures. Dr. Colin Standish teaches that "the acceptance of the prophetic gift in the ministry of Sister White is essential not only to the preparation of God's people for the eternal kingdom, but also to the acceptance of the Scriptures as inspired." (Our Firm Foundation, April 1989, p. 15)

THE "DISARRAY" IN THE SEVENTH-DAY ADVENTIST CHURCH +

Left Wing
<<<<<<
<<<<<<
The "Teachings" of
the Pioneers
>>>>>
>>>>>>>
Right Wing
AAF - Spectrum
Desmond Ford
The "Official" Church Position
<<<<< | >>>>>
Wieland & Short
 
Jorgensen-Wold Spear-Standish Vance Ferrell
 
Charles Wheeling
"27" Statements*
<<<<< | >>>>
 
Charles Wheeling
 

* -- These "27' Statements contain formulations of belief which confirm the compromises made during the SDA-Evangelical Conferences in 1955-56.

The "remnants" of the Brinsmead Movement which arose just following the SDA-Evangelical Conferences are now scattered across the full spectrum, that is, those which either remained in, or returned to the Church. Vance Ferrell is one example on the extreme Right wing.

+ -- The names on this "graph" include only those known to have their names on the roll of some local Seventh-day Adventist Church. There are "Many voices" on the periphery of Adventism, but these for the main part are clustered around the extreme right wing.

~~~~~

Standish's position is not only contrary to the very teachings of Ellen G. White, but also completely out of harmony with the position of the pioneers of Adventism. In an article on the "Benefits of Bible Study," Ellen White wrote - "In the Word of God is contained everything essential to the perfecting of the man of God." (ST, Jan. 30, 1893) The position of the

p 3 -- pioneers was well stated by George I. Butler in an article, "The Visions," where he wrote:       We do not hold them to be superior to the Bible, or in one sense equal to it. The Scriptures are our rule to test everything by, the visions as well as other things. That rule, therefore, is of the highest authority; the standard is higher than the things tested by it. If the Bible would show the visions were not in harmony with it, the Bible would stand, and the visions would be given up." (R&H, August 14, 1883) [Butler wrote this as president of the General Conference, and received no rebuke from Ellen G. White for so stating.]

This very issue over the Writings is used by Samples in Christianity Today to categorize "traditional Adventism." He wrote:
      Traditional Adventism rests squarely upon the authority of Ellen G. White. Traditionalists strongly defend distinctive Adventist beliefs, especially those that received their stamp of approval from Mrs. White's prophetic gift. Some among Traditional Adventists emphasize her writings to a degree that they become the infallible interpreter of Scripture, using them as a shortcut to Biblical understanding. (CT, op. cit., p. 20)

Now we have the authority of the Writings carried even further by Colin Standish: you cannot even accept the Bible as inspired unless you derive that fact from the Writings. Further, Ron Spear in publishing the Standish brothers' article took this position and placed it in an enlarged block to focus attention upon it. Really there is no need to wonder why Adventists are in such a state of disarray as they are today. I was taught by my Baptist mother that the Bible was the inspired Word of God long before we ever heard of Ellen G. White.

Those on the right can be differentiated among themselves by their attitude toward the 1888
Message of Jones and Waggoner, as well as the un-Scriptural position on the Writings. Those who take such a position on the Writings also take a position on righteousness by faith contrary to the stated position of Waggoner and teach concepts in harmony with those who opposed the two men at Minneapolis. Wieland and Short accept the position of the pioneers on the Writings and are the evident spokesmen for the message of 1888.

Coming now to the left, we find the "official" church expressed in the 27 Fundamental Statements of Belief. These beliefs do not reflect the teachings of the pioneers on the doctrine of the incarnation or the atonement. While "official" Adventism gives lip service to the Writings of Ellen G. White to shore up the authority of the organization, there is little belief in, or practice of counsels contained in the Writings.

To the left of the Church is Dr. Desmond Ford. He is still a member in good and regular standing as far as this editor knows, and I dare say that there are many among the theological elite of the Church who are more in agreement with him than they are with the official stand of the Church including the Editor of the Adventist Review. The fact is that Ford has merely carried to the ultimate and logical conclusion the compromises made with the Evangelicals by the leadership of the Church during the 1955-1956 Conferences. Keep in mind that Desmond Ford, and the late Walter Martin were good "buddies."

On the extreme left, one finds the Association of Adventist Forums with their publication, Spectrum. These are the liberals. The reason for their liberal stance is well described by Samples in his article He wrote:       The theological perspective represented by Liberal Adventism does not arise out of the same doctrinal controversies as the [Evangelical and Traditional] perspectives. In part, Liberal Adventism comes out of that church's attempt to achieve theological and cultural respectability. In the 1950s and 1960s, many Adventist students began receiving graduate degrees from non-Adventist universities. In many cases, the schools attended by these Adventists were theologically liberal. Thus, Adventist scholars were influenced by modern biblical criticism and liberal theology. (ibid. p. 21)

Into this disarray of Adventism, come the "mavericks." There is Charles Wheeling on both
sides of center, teaching Dr. Ford's perceptions of prophecy plus some of his own speculative interpretations, besides proclaiming his belief in fundamental Adventist Christology, and printing and distributing The Great Controversy. Then what should one say in regard to "Yo-Yo"Osborne? One minute he writes about the Spirit-filled meetings he has had with the leadership of the conference; the next minute one receives letters telling how bad the "brethren" are. There is a change every time Osborne finds a new " windmill " to attack. The bottom line is simply that whoever or whatever at the moment will best serve the furtherance and support of his"ego trip," that organization or issue receives his focus. Sadly, there are those who will serve as promoters and convenors for Osborne because his current emphasis coincides with theirs.

p 4 -- Besides all of this disarray within the organized Church, and all named are members of the Church as far as I have been able to determine, there is the "community" of Adventism outside the perimeters of the Church which forms a large segment of Adventism today, and which is steadily growing. The vocal part of the "community" of Adventism would be placed to the right of center, and mostly in the extreme right sector. This sadly, because the same factors which distinguish the extreme right within the Church, also mark for the most part those who make up the "community" of Adventism. Those of the liberal wing who have left the confines of the Church say little because they believe to do so would be an exercise in futility. They simply go their own way.

There is a question which those on the periphery of Adventism must answer. Is their stance anti-church, or pro-truth? There is a vast difference in these two positions. There can never be true spiritual growth which prepares one for entrance into Heaven merely with an "anti-menu." Not only must one hate iniquity, but he must also love righteousness to reflect the image of Jesus fully. (Heb. 1:9)

Truth and truth alone can bring an end to the present disarray within Adventism. But truth demands a selfless honesty, a willingness to lay aside preconceived ideas whether derived from one's perceptions of what the Writings say, or from worldly educational influences. One must ask forthrightly - What does the Bible say? - and then re-order one's thinking to harmonize with the teachings of Scripture. The conflict then - and such will come - will be truth versus error. The lines can be clearly drawn, instead of the present disarray because now you have error proclaimed for truth on both sides of where the pioneers stood. Because of this, confusion now reigns.

The selfless honesty demanded by truth requires something more. Those involved in "independent ministries" whether in the Church, or in the "community" of Adventism must be willing to say what God wants said rather than what the people want to hear. But to do so would involve in many instances the "cash flo," and here enters the human "ego." This present disarray will continue as long as the "messages" given are used as a facade to cover the real motive - money and personal acceptance.

Another factor must be considered. The Bible teaches that "the path of the just is as a shining light, shineth more and more unto the perfect day." (Prov. 4:18) Truth is eternal for its source is the Eternal. However, our understanding of truth is progressive. "We have many lessons to learn, and many, many to unlearn. God and heaven alone are infallible." (TM, p. 30) History also has a lesson to teach us. It reveals that even God-ordained movements or messages have not been free from error because those whom God has chosen to lead the movement or give the message did not perceive all aspects of even "the present truth" for that time. Consider John the Baptist. Consider William Miller and the Great Second Advent Movement. What about our own Adventist history and teachings? If, however, we have indeed reached the end-time, and the path of the just is about to be transferred from earth to heaven, then should not the light from the Throne be such that present truth be pure and unadulterated? Is not this what Heaven intended when it sent the message of Christ's righteousness to His professed people in 1888? See TM, p. 65. Where only can truth, pure and unadulterated be found? In the Bible, and the Bible only! "The Bible, as the word of God (is) the only sufficient, infallible rule." (GC, p.173)

In answer to all the disarray must come a study of the Bible such as has not been seen since
the "upper room" which preceded Pentecost. The counsel reads:       God would have all the bearings and positions of truth thoroughly and perseveringly searched, with prayer and fasting. Believers are not to rest in suppositions and ill-defined ideas of what constitutes truth. Their faith must be firmly founded upon the word of God, so that when the testing time shall come, and they are brought before councils to answer for their faith, they may be able to give a reason for the hope that is in them, with meekness and fear. (5T:708)

If this present disarray in Adventism continues, and there seems to be no prospect on the horizon of a change, how are we going to stand when "the testing time" comes, and come it will. The answer is simple, we won't unless we have our positions based in the Bible, and know what that book teaches. Where then can I place myself in the family of Adventism whether in the organized church or outside its perimeters? First, I must be pro-truth, being neither pro-church, nor anti-church. Then I must be willing to advance in the study of that truth, correcting errors in my faith received from tradition. In other words, I must be a progressive Seventh-day Adventist being neither an evangelical, nor a traditional, nor a liberal Adventist. Being such an Adventist, I will appreciate the rich heritage received from the pioneers, yet willing to correct their errors which further deep searching of the scriptures may reveal that the bright light which shown at the beginning of the Movement might shine with full intensity today.


p 5 -- BEACH GAMES --
In the last Issue of the Adventist Review for 1990, a feature article by Dr. B. B. Beach was highlighted. (Dec. 27,pp. 16 - 18) It was actually more of a book review of The Church in Anguish, co-edited by Hans Kung, well known Roman Catholic theologian, and Leonard Swidler. Some 25 respected Roman Catholic theologians and priests contributed to the book. The subtitle more accurately conveys the intent of the book - "Has the Vatican Betrayed Vatican II?" The original German title states that the book is written ' against the betrayal of the council. ' "

Beach suggests that "Seventh-day Adventists would do well to read this book." The analysis given of the book in the feature article indicates that the suggestion has real validity. However, it is the introduction to this part of the article where one finds the games Beach is playing with the laity of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Ostensibly written to discuss the problems in the Roman Catholic Church 25 years after the Vatican II Council, Beach pats himself on the back as having perceived immediately after the Council what the Roman Catholic theologians are indicating has happened within their church.

In 1968, Beach wrote a book - Vatican II - Bridging the Abyss - in which he concluded:       "To adopt the view that Rome has taken the path of reformation is reading much too much into the adopted documents and events of Vatican II." He observes that "some starry-eyed journalists and Protestant observers waxed downright eloquent regarding a changed Catholicism."       What he did not say was that among the journalists and observers was the late Arthur S. Maxwell who did just this. Read Maxwell's sermon after returning from Rome given at the Loma Linda University Church - "The Outstretched Hand." (Present Truth, #3, 1968) Maxwell's enthusiasm for the "reformed" Roman Catholic Church is reflected in his son, C. Mervyn Maxwell's commentary on Daniel - God Cares, Vol. 1. (pp. 126-127)

Beach credits his insightful evaluation of Vatican II Council to his belief in the Writings of Ellen G. White in an off-handed way. He writes in his article - "Some considered my view too pessimistic. I was told by one writer [Was it Maxwell?] to take off my " Ellen G. White glasses "'* and see things as they really were and would become!" The asterisk indicated a footnote at the end of the article directing the reader to Chapter 35 of The Great Controversy. Indeed the warning is there - "And let it be remembered, it is the boast of Rome that she never changes." (p. 581)

This stance of Beach, with the connivance of the Editor of the Adventist Review, is a wonderful note to end the year which saw one of the department heads of the General Conference refer to a tract quoting from the book, The Great Controversy, as "trash." Now as the old year closes, it is heralded as a book to keep our perspectives of the Papacy in balance. But if Beach based his conclusions on his faith in what was written on page 581, he evidently failed to read carefully what was written ten pages prior. It counsels:       The papacy is just what prophecy declared she would be, the apostasy of the latter times. It is a part of her policy to assume the character which will best accomplish her purpose; but beneath the variable appearance of the chameleon, she conceals the invariable venom of the serpent. "Faith ought not to be kept with heretics, nor persons suspected of heresy," she declares. Shall this power, whose record for a thousand years is written in the blood of Saints, be now acknowledged as a part of the church of Christ. (p.571)

Beach did not tell his readers that he was so carried away with the results he worked out through contacts made during Vatican II, that on a visit to Rome, he had an audience with the Pope which "marked the first time in history that the Seventh-day Adventist Church, through an official representative, had met with a Roman pontiff." (RNS, May 19, 1977) He did not tell the readers that he on that occasion"submitted to Radio-Vatican an announcement in which he distinctly emphasized the importance of that first meeting of an Adventist with the pope," referring to the pontiff as "the Holy Father." (Glas Koncila, Katolicke Dvotjedne Novine, 5 Ilpnja 1977)

Further, Beach did not mention the fact that at this audience with Pope Paul VI, he presented to him a medallion. "The medallion was a gold-covered symbol of the Seventh-day Adventist Church." (Review, August 11, 1977, p. 23)* How can Beach who placed in the hands of the Pope, the Seventh-day Adventist Church in symbol, now talk about wearing "Ellen G. White glasses"? This is a part of the game Beach is playing.

We can go one step further. When Beach was called to head the Department of Public Affairs at the 1980 General Conference session in Dallas, Texas, this department was given a new status - General Conference State Department. (Liberty Sentinel, 1980). This year as the General Conference Secretary of State, B. B. Beach invited the Vatican to send an official observer to the 1990 Session in Indianapolis. This the Vatican did in the person of Thomas J. Murphy representing the pontifical Council for Christian Unity. (See "GC Snapshot," Bulletin #6, p. 7) Where has Beach's "Ellen G. White glasses" gone since 1968? But the laity are being told in regard to Indianapolis that the reason for so doing was to witness, the same reason used to justify giving the gold medallion to Pope Paul VI. Games, yes, the Beach Games - and condoned in the highest circles of power in the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

* -- The full story of Medallion given to the Pope, Paul VI, is documented in the manuscript - Steps to Rome - may be requested from Adventist Laymen's Foundation.

p 6 -- LET'S TALK IT OVER -- Samples' analysis In Christianity Today - "The Recent Truth About Seventh-day Adventism" - has much merit. (See first article) He pin-points a disturbing fact in discussing the category of Adventism which he defines as "Traditional." He writes - "Traditional Adventism rests squarely upon the authority of Ellen G. White." This category includes the vast majority of the concerned Adventists both within the Church, and those on the periphery. To even discuss this fact places one in jeopardy. The charge is immediately hurled with emotion, "You don't believe In Sister White!" This is not the issue. I can believe that Ellen G. White was used by God as His "messenger" to the Remnant without resting my perceptions of truth upon her authority. The problem is created when one rests all of his concepts of truth upon her Writings rather than on the Bible. To do so will result in serious eternal consequences. Let me illustrate.

Among various groups who have chosen to meet either separately from the Church for their hour of worship, or have chosen to meet in study groups at a time which does not conflict with the Church's hour of worship, their study menu has been some book or compilation of the Writings of Ellen G. White. One of the choice books for reading and study is The Great Controversy. But you can read and study this book until the last great crisis envelopes us, and you will come up short at that time. The book itself teaches - "None but those who have fortified the mind with the truths of the Bible will stand through the last great conflict." (p. 593) It is good to know about what is coming, and the nature of the final crisis, but if one is not prepared to stand, how much good did the reading and studying The Great Controversy do him? We need to stop thinking with our emotions, and start thinking with our heads. One of the things which the gospel is to accomplish is the restoration of "the kingly power of reason."

These concerned people are not wholly to blame for their predicament. There are pastors, and men who call themselves pastors, who are by their very presentations leading the concerned people down a path which will cause them to be unprepared when "the last great conflict" breaks in all of its fury. These "pastors" become "circuit riders" either literally or through their missives giving the hungry people of God only continuous quotes from the Writings, instead of seeking to fortify their minds with the Bible. The people having faith in these men come to assume that the reading and the studying of the Writings is the order of the day. What a fearful accounting will have to be given by these men in the final day of reckoning.

To place the basis for our authority for truth where it ought to be placed - on the Bible - is not saying that on occasion we should not study and present the rays of light given on a vital topic solely from the Writings. I have done so, but in so doing I have sought to follow the guide lines laid down in the Writings themselves for such study. For example, the study - "End Time Line - Resurveyed" - is not only wholly based on the Writings, but it is prefaced by the specific injunctions which Ellen G. White laid down for such study. The real puzzling question in this whole picture is why men who are pastors indeed, and by this I mean men who have been ordained, are setting this example. Every man ordained is charged at the time of his ordination with the words of Paul to Timothy -        I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom; preach the word." (II Tim. 4:1,2)

What answer will we give when we stand before God for not so doing?

On April 1, 1901, Ellen G. White spoke to a group of ministers in the Battle Creek College library. As she concluded her lengthy remarks on "Kingly Power," she said:       But don't you quote Sister White. I don't want you ever to quote Sister White until you get your vantage ground where you know where you are. Quote the Bible. Talk the Bible. It is full of meat, full of fatness. Carry it right out in your life, and you will know more Bible than you know now. You will have fresh matter - 0 you will have precious matter; you won't have to be going over and over the same ground, and you will see a world saved. (Spalding and Magan's Collection, p. 174)

Then there are those who either call themselves "pastors" or parade as pastors, who have not been so ordained. In this case they veel free to preach as they choose to preach - and they do! Every wind of doctrine is blowing today from such voices. We were warned by the Lord's messenger that the "many voices" who come at this time in the final events and they have come. (See R&H Dec. 13, 1892) The justification for such activity is that at the end time men will be called from the ordinary vocations of life rather than from literary

p - 7 -- institutions of higher learning. This I do not question. But the context is that these humble men are called to reveal "the fearful results of enforcing the observances of the church by civil authority, the inroads of spiritualism, the stealthy but rapid progress of the papal power." (GC, p. 606) In other words, as Timothy was instructed - "Do the work of an evangelist" so as to make proof of one's ministry. (II Tim. 4:5) But where do these unordained "voices" want to work? Not as evangelists, but as teachers of God's concerned people, when they themselves need first to be taught.

Why do first the work of an evangelist? Go out and see how many people you can interest in the truth and quote nothing but Ellen G. White. An evangelist must know the Bible If these "voices" would do this, then when God calls them to minister to His flock, they would know how to do so. They would not deceive God's concerned people by the false example they set in placing the authority for truth where it ought not to be based. They would indeed be a help to the scattered and bruised flock by helping them to fortify their minds with "the truths of the Bible."

" It is a backsliding church that lessens the distance
between itself and the Papacy. "
Signs, Feb 19, 1894

--- (1991 Feb) --- End --- TOP

1991 Mar -- XXIV -- (3)91 -- THE FACTS ALL IN NOW? -- What About the "Dirty Tricks Bag"? -- Some fifteen years have now passed since the events occurred involving Merikay McLeod Silver which ultimately forced the Pacific Press into a legal suit with the Federal government. There are still some unanswered questions concerning the briefs and affidavits submitted on behalf of the Church. Further information is now available giving the Pacific Press's side of what happened prior to the initiation of the legal action by the Federal government.

A booklet, written by Richard H. Utt, Merikay's immediate superior at the Press, just recently came to my attention. This booklet is captioned, Pacific Press Lawsuit: The Other Side of the Story. Written in 1988, it was published independently by the author. It no doubt got lost in the mass of material being published at the same time in commemoration of the 1888 Centennial. (A question arises at this point, Why didn't the Pacific Press publish it?) I was happy to receive a copy from whatever source it came so that a full picture might be given. In his publication, Utt calls attention to a review of Merikay's book, Betrayal, in Spectrum where a reviewer wrote - "I occasionally wished that I was hearing a more balanced presentation with both sides being granted equal time." (Vol. 16, #5) Utt's booklet does give balance to the picture painted by Merikay of the inter-working relationships within the Press prior to the legal suit. However, he does not deal with key issues which have arisen as a result of the contents of certain briefs and affidavits submitted during the trial nor with the actions taken against a minister of the Church because of his pastoral concern for Merikay. We need more light on these facets, or else are left to conclude that the facts presented in Merikay's book, Betrayal, stand as stated by silent consent.

In this review of the data now available, we will begin with the information which Utt gives from his viewpiont as the then English language Book Editor of the Pacific Press. Passing over the monetary

p 2 --questions and issues involved which Utt documents well, we will note a charge made in the section, "The Critic Critiqued." Utt writes:         As a novice editor, Merikay was not adverse to slipping her feminist bias into others manuscripts, to their resentment and dismay. Assigned to work on a manuscript written by a young missionary wife [whom we'll call Jane] and her husband, Merikay found an opportunity to inject her own view and to caricature the General Conference ...

Merikay also compiled a small feminist magazine in which she excerpted this missionary couple's story from the unpublished manuscript without their permission. When Jane and her husband learned of both of these actions they were displeased more than a little. They wrote: " We were hurt and discouraged with the way the manuscript and another article were written in a magazine without our permission. We dislike very much having women's lib take over our work that we have put into this manuscript. We are now offering our services to the Pacitic Press any way we can be of help, even coming home [from Africa] to testify, if necessary. lf anyone has a right to sue anyone we have the right to, after the article she put in her magazine without our permission." (pp. 10-11)


Utt does not place the exact time of this incident in the sequence of events. But if this occurred prior to the initiation of the legal suit and he knew about it, he should have called Merikay into his office, and noting the evidence, dismissed her on the spot. (lt is evident that the letter written by the missionary couple was written after the suit was initiated, but were the actions which prompted the letter known prior?) Unethical conduct cannot be justified no matter how sincere may be the convictions one holds. If a book editor cannot professionally do his job without introducing personal bias into a manuscript, then he, or she needs to seek another vocation.

Utt in his review of the case calls attention to the fact that Merikay refused to talk to the Pacific Board chairman, Elder R. R. Bietz, but went directly to a lawyer, Joan Bradford, about the problems. The lawyer in turn wrote to Elder L. H. Bohner, Manager of the Press, "demanding money for Merikay and ordering Bohner not to communicate with her client on the matter except through her, the attomey." (p. 15) Utt observes:        With her attorney in the picture, it was no longer a simple matter of the Press meeting Merikay's demands or of paying "head of household" allowance to Press women. Now there were other unacceptable requirements such as that Attorney Bradford be given a role in Press management to monitor hiring and employment matters, and that the Press initiate a program leading to the employment of at least 40 percent women in every department of the Press. (ibid., p. 15)

After a short period of further negotiation in seeking an out-of-court settlement,"the General Conference advised the Press to defend itself in court on constitutional grounds, and settle the question, Does the U.S. Govemment intend to entangle itself in the internal affairs of the Adventist church in violation of the First Amendment?" (ibid.) And it was on this issue that the case began in the suit of EEOC v. PPPA. The opening Brief for the Press stated:        This is a suit by the United States against the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

That simple statement is enough to suggest that the case is unusual; but there is more, which shows that the case is fantastic: The Govemment seeks an injunction which would control the internal affairs of the Church and dictate the manner in which the Church carries on God's work in the world.

The First Amendment -- without which there would have been no Constitution -- became effective one hundred eighty-three years ago, on December 15, 1791, and provides in its opening words, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."

We cannot find that such a case as this has ever before arisen.

The question still remains, why do the briefs and affidavits use such words as, "hierarchical," - "first minister," - "ecclesiastical superiors," - "orders of ministry," - "the sacraments," and a comparison to "a cloistered nun"? Further, why does one Brief state, "lt is not good Seventh-day Adventism to express ... an aversion to Roman Catholicism as such"? Notice, it does not say "Roman Catholics" as individuals, but "Roman Catholicism" as a system.

The quote from the Briefs which has been used most frequently by the dissidents, and improperly credited, perhaps even deliberately, is a footnote in the "Reply Brief for Defendants in Support of Their Motion for Summary Judgment" dated March 3, 1975. This footnote reads:       Although it is true that there was a period in the life of the Seventh-day Adventist Church when the denomination took a distinctly anti-Roman Catholic viewpoint, and the term, "hierarchy" was used in a perjorative sense to refer to the papal form of church governance, that attitude on the Church's part was

p 3 -- nothing more than a manifestation of widespread anti-popery among conservative protestant denominations in the early part of this century and the latter part of the last, and which has been consigned to the historical trash heap so far as the Seventh-day Adventist Church is concerned.

It has been stated in writing and published that this statement was made by Elder Neal C. Wilson in a sworn affidavit. This is simply not true. To deliberately so state is to lie and to misrepresent the facts. To indulge in such unethical practices, no matter how much one dislikes Elder Wilson, calls in question all of what one has written. The first one to my knowledge to do so was Robert Sessler. In his manuscript, Abomination of Desolation (p. 157), he writes - "In a sworn affidavit from our SDA General Conference President, Neal C. Wilson, he states; quote," (sic) - and the above footnote from the Brief is copied. The reference is even documented as coming from the "Reply Brief." Not to know the difference between a "sworn affidavit" and a "brief" should signal to sincere seekers of truth a warning signal to beware, here is a novice. Another to "run" with this false assertion is David Mould. And he knew better. He had made contact with a brother on the West Coast who had the documents and who told him the facts from these documents, but he went ahead and misrepresented the facts. Further, the facsimile reproduction of the major briefs and affidavits in the EEOC v. PPPA case were available through the Adventist Laymen's Foundation for some years prior to either Sessler or Mould's misuse of the Footnote. These men are without excuse.

What are the facts?

Neal C. Wilson was not appointed president of the General Conference until the Annual Council in 1978. He did not assume office until January 3, 1979. During the tirne of the Press suit, he was "Vice President for North America of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists" as stated in his sworn affidavit, November 27, 1974. The major thrust of his affidavit was to assert the authority of the General Conference into the activities of the Church at all levels. After stating that the term, "church" has "a very comprehensive and broad meaning" in Seventh-day Adventist nomenclature, he indi- cated that the word "is used to apply to the organization and headquarters ... under the name of General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists." He then declared that it was "necessary" for that "Church to establish its authority in the community of believers."

lt was Pierson's sworn affidavit given November 30, 1974, which used papal concepts and terms. He plainly stated that he was "president of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, which is the Seventh-day Adventist Church." He indicated that he was its "first minister." He spoke of "the orders of ministry" in the church, some of which were authorized "to administer the sacraments."

Who wrote the Footnote in question? No one knows at this point, except that the lawyer who signed the Brief was Malcolm T. Dungan, one of the Counsel for the Defendants, which included Boardman Noland, a Seventh-day Adventist lawyer, in the employ of the General Conference. Who authorized its inclusion in the Brief? There is no question but that it had to have had the approval of the leadership of the Church. lt was a Church decision in the light cast by the two Affidavits, wherein the General Conference is defined as the Church. Appearing in the Brief, and not in either Affidavit, it was a corporate act.

There are two other points which Merikay makes in her book, Betrayal, which are neither noted nor discussed in Utt's The Other Side of the Story. We must conclude the accuracy of Merikay's account based on Utt's silence in not even mentioning nor alluding to these allegations.

Elder Leonard Mills at the beginning of the Press problem was pastor of the Milpitas, California, Seventh-day Adventist Church. He had been a pastor in Michigan when Merikay was a teenager there. He invited Merikay and her husband to join the church, since they were feeling very uncomfortable in the Press "family" church at Mountain View. Mills was also called as a witness at the trial in behalf of Merikay. For this he was threatened by Elder Neal C. Wilson. Wilson is quoted as telling Mills - "If you testify in Merikay's behalf you'll be disfellowshipped; and you'll loose your job and your retirement." (Betrayal, p. 295)

Apparently this was not all of the "dirty tricks" in the Church's bag. One Sabbath, February 22, 1975, when attending the Milpitas Church, Merikay discovers that Elder Mills is no longer the pastor. "A parent whose children attend the church day-care center filed child-molesting charges against him, and the Conference asked him to step aside." (ibid., p. 276) The case was finally dropped for lack of evidence. However, Elder Mills went to the police station to examine the records in the case. The record indicated "that the president of the local, employing conference, the Northem California Conference, told the police that the conference

p 4 -- and he would cooperate in any way necessary to secure Mills' conviction." (ibid., p. 329)

This was not the first time such "tricks" have been employed, and it is doubtful it will be the last time. While it is essential that the whole picture of the Press case be presented in as balanced a way as the human emotions of those involved can portray it, honesty also requires that those seeking to balance the picture as Utt tried to do, address some of these other facets raised by Merikay in her book. Either contrary evidence should be given, or the accuracy of the allegations admitted. By a clear, honest admittance where demanded - Utt would have strengthened the integrity of his position. But with his silence, we can accept at face value, the revelation of threat and undercover acts from the Church's "dirty tricks" bag as revealed by Merikay in her book. It is a rather dark, black picture of the behind-the-scenes working of the Church to achieve its objectives.

All the dark side of the EEOC v. PPPA suit does not justify the unethical use of the now infamous Footnote by those who wish "to vent their spleen" on Neal C. Wilson. What he did - his administrative techniques - were bad enough without adding unethical misrepresentation of facts. A professed Christian shows his integrity by his honesty and his dishonesty shows his lack of such integrity.

"Geopolitics Within Seventh-day Adventism"-- In the final issue of The Christian CENTURY for 1990 (December 19-26, pp. 1197-1203), the editors published an article on "Geopolitics Within Seventh-day Adventism." Written by Ronald Larson, a teacher in sociology at Queens College connected with the City University of New York, the main thrust of the analysis was to show the growing tension within Adventism between the home base in North America, and the growing membership in Latin America, sub-Saharan Africa, and the Pacific islands.

Lawson highlighted his analysis by noting that in 1890, 91% of the membership of the Seventh-day Adventist Church came from North America, but by 1989, only 12%. In a one man, one vote mentality, the home base is out voted. However, the North American Division supplies 97% of all the tithe received by the General Conference. Based on actual support of the Church, the voice of the constituency outside of North America would be but a whisper. But this is not the reality of the situation. The representatives of the two largest divisions, both Latin American, were the largest block on the 1990 General Conference nominating committee. While they could not of themselves topple Wilson, their power did influence the selection of a successor. Instead of the Spirit of God at work, it was power politics in the election process.

There appears to be a reason for this present imbalance in the geopolitics of Adventism. Lawson notes that unlike other mainstream Protestant churches who have carried on an extensive missionary program, Seventh-day Adventists did not develop national churches, but rather created a centralized system reaching out from Washington D.C. (now Maryland).    "The influence of this American-based hierarchy has resulted in an Americanized church."    This is being challenged, and the discord is beginning to surface in the General Conference sessions.

An illustration of this discord is in the issue of women's ordination to the ministry. While support for this un-Biblical innovation is far from unanimous in the North American Division, it is totally unacceptable by the Latin American divisions. Beyond this is the demand for a voice in the power structure. lt is even referred to as the appointment of "cardinals" (vice presidents) to the top hierarchy of the Church. This has resulted in unqualified and inexperienced persons being elevated to high places in the Church. On the other hand some well trained men from outside of the United States now have been given both voice and leadership in certain departments of the Church. In other words, the developing geo-politics within Adventism seems to be a "mixed bag" with no apparent means available to control the process.

This analysis by Lawson pinpointed a basic problem within Adventism which underlies most of the present disunity and apostasy within the Church. He noted "Harvest 90," the outreach program which aimed at adding 2 million members to the Church between 1985 and 1990. Statistically, the goal was surpassed by 500,000 bringing the membership to 6.4 million. But the weaknesses of the program were never addressed. Competition between divisions led to

p 5 -- such pressure on the ministry to win converts that people were often baptized who barely understood the faith. Further, these ministers under pressure failed to nurture the converts with a resulting high apostasy rate, which was covered up. Keep in mind that the delegate strength to the General Conference sessions is based on membership including apostates still on the church records. But beneath all of this is the lack of and the nature of the instruction being given to baptismal candidates.

The present "numbers" game began in earnest at the 1950 General Conference in the election of W. H. Branson to the presidency. He called for the doubling of the Church membership in four years. At the 1952 Bible Conference, Branson declared:        We are engaged in an effort to double our church membership in a four-year period from January 1, 1950, to December 31, 1953. Some have reckoned such a goal to be preposterous. But is it? When the first Pentecost came the church doubled its members in one day. The reception of the righteousness of Christ by the church today will bring a second Pentecost. Revelation 18:1-3 will be fulfilled. Thousands will be converted in a day as the message of salvation through Christ swells to a loud and mighty cry. (Our Firm Foundation, Vol. II. p. 617)

Prior to this, Branson had rationalized that "the message of righteousness by faith given in the 1888 Conference has been repeated here" (meaning the 1952 Bible Conference) with much greater power than at the 1888 session because of the added light cast upon the subject in the Writings. (p. 616)

It is true that a review of the messages given at the 1952 Bible Conference contained the theory of the truth. One discordant note was Heppenstall's presentation. How much and what was edited from his presentation when it appeared in the two volume report of the Bible Conference would be a research paper in itself. It is a verified fact that a questionnaire sent to pastors and church leaders prior to the conference probing their belief in the nearness of Christ's return was deleted from another presentation. lt revealed that "the blessed hope" was growing dim in the hearts of the church's ministers.

Two years prior to the Bible Conference Wieland and Short called for a "denominational repentance" as the answer to the Church's need for revival. lt went unheeded; the Bible Conference was used as a facade to cover the rejection of the call to such a repentance. The substituted "numbers game" began in earnest. lt has not ceased. But into this picture must be programmed several important factors.

Large scale evangelism was carried forward during the 1950s in the cities of America and overseas. Big name evangelists in Adventism mark the period. These men in the long series of meetings they held proclaimed the basic truths. The weak link was the preparation given those who accepted the message prior to their baptism. One of these evangelists with whom I worked actually accepted as a fact that 20% of those baptized would apostatize, but it was the total number baptized which counted. Gradually into this picture came the doctrinal apostasy resulting from the SDA-Evangelical Conferences of 1955-1956. The teaching of the sanctuary truth was muted and now practically abandoned. This same deemphasis marked the training of the ministerial students in the colleges and seminary. Enough decades have now passed so that very few people in the pew know what the truth committed to the Advent Movement really was. They know little or nothing of our church history, or what has taken place since 1950. The younger ministers due to their training cannot now preach "the faith once delivered unto the saints" - they don't know it!

Now we have apostasy accepted as orthodoxy; we have disunity unified under a central command system; and we have dissident voices mouthing every wind of doctrine. Yet the "numbers" game goes on. We try to shake the tree instead of hand-picking the fruit. As a result bruised fruit which soon turns rotten becomes a part of the boxes (churches) of fruit. Issues arise within the Church exactly like the issues the other churches of the world face because we have made converts after the manner of the world leaving in these new adherents to the Church, the same philosophies which they had in the churches from which they came. They are not converted. Instilled in those who aspire to be future ministers of the Church, are the same social agendas which the seminaries of the churches of the world teach their ministerial graduates. Instead of being in the world, but not of the world, we are both in the world and of the world.

If we would have taken the Bible and its message for this time, and would have modelled our social agenda around the counsels of the Writings, the picture today would have been different and the "geopolitics" within Adventism would not be as described in the article in The Christian CENTURY.

p 6 -- LET'S TALK IT OVER -- Yesterday (January 17), I received a packet of documents and tapes from friends who had forwarded the same to me in the same envelope in which they had received the material. Interestingly, on the outside had been placed a label on which had been printed Proverbs 18:17 from the Living Bible. lt read: "Any story sounds good, unless someone tells the other side and sets the record straight." In this issue, we endeavored to add balance to the Merikay Silver case involving the PPPA by noting some things Richard Utt wrote in telling the Press' side of the story. But how can one give a full picture where very serious allegations are made, such as we have noted, and there is no rebuttal forthcoming, and more than five years have passed since they were made?

The packet of material contained the tapes, letters, and documents which Charles Wheeling has prepared to justify his teachings in light of the fact his membership in the Seventh-day Adventist Church is being called into question. The other side, the Church's side, of the story was also included by these friends. I doubt that the original packet contained these documents. He is being charged with using Roman Catholic hermeneutics invented by the Jesuit Ribera in explaining Bible Prophecy. lt might be closer to the truth to allege that Wheeling is in the camp with Desmond Ford and his apotelesmatic concepts, plus a few of Wheeling's own meanderings.

Wheeling is not the only one coming under fire. A letter from Florida brought a copy of the action taken by the Florida Conference's Executive Committee against John Osborne. In it, the Cornrnittee charges Osborne with having "borne false witness." Our own experience with John Osborne leads us to believe that the Committee has "hit the nail on the head." Then this same week, I received a telephone call requesting some documentation involving Ron Spear as the Church is seeking to zero in on him in regard to some of the false doctrine he is teaching under the guise of being on "the firm foundation." For the present, I will watch developments, and then when it appears all of the facts are in, or the preponderance of evidence is available in any of the above cases, we will comment in WWN, or the Commentary with the documentation. At the moment, the Wheeling case has already reached the "preponderance of evidence" level, but needs to be carefully analyzed. While what Wheeling claims has been his motivation has merit, and I can emphasize with that, the avenues of Biblical interpretation he has pursued are totally at variance with his motivation, and a radical departure from truth.

In the first article, seeking to add balance to the EEOC v. PPPA legal suit, we challenged the ethics of certain dissidents in their use of the legal data. The reader might assume that in the case of Robert Sessler, we were calling him into account on the matter of only one misrepresentation of fact, and that this was too harsh an evaluation. This is not the case. While it is true that the citation had to do with this legal suit and his comments on one of its briefs, the pattern of faulty assumptions and documentation which mark a novice, are rather consistent.

His first publication - The Abomination of Desolation - was reviewed in our first issue of Commentary. While this issue did have a limited circulation, and is presently exhausted, it was read by one of his close supporters who responded vigorously. This past Fall, Sessler was in this area speaking. I attended his meetings which promised a question and answer period, which didn't materialize during the time I could stay. I finally took leave at an opportune moment, but requested that he answer just one question: "Did he still stand by his first publication, The Abomination of Desolation?" To this, I received a positive affirmation. In this book, besides the inaccurate allegation regarding Elder Wilson, there are other glaring jumblings of truth. We will note one of these.

In the manuscript, p. 127, Sessler charges that the Church has "tampered with Mrs. White's testimony." He underscores this for emphasis. The testimony to which he refers is Spirit of Prophecy, Vol. IV, p. 232. He uses this to document his assertion - "Some still refuse to believe that our professed SDA church has been denounced as Babylon," indicating this testimony so states. He then quotes it with the emphasis as indicated:         The term Babylon, derived from Babel, and signifying confusion, is applied in Scripture to the various forms of false or apostate religion. But the message announcing the fall of Babylon must apply to some religious body that was once pure, and has become corrupt. lt cannot be the Romish church which is here meant; for that church has been in a fallen condition for many centuries.

Sessler would have you believe that Ellen G. White means by noting "some religious body

p 7 -- that was once pure" but "has become corrupt," the Seventh-day Adventist Church. But he did not cornplete the paragraph which tells to what Ellen G. White was referring. The very next sentence reads:      But how appropriate the figure as applied to the Protestant churches, all professing to derive their doctrines from the Bible, yet divided into almost innumerable sects. (ibid., pp. 252-253)

Sessler quotes the parallel statement as it appeared in the 1911 edition of The Great Controversy, noting one alteration and one addition. Then he writes: "What deception! They change the writings of Mrs. White because they do not like the straight testimony." (Emphasis his) But what do you call pulling a statement out of context, and trying to make it say what it does not? Then to deliberately ignore the explanatory sentence which clarifies the quoted statement, what does one call that? Aggrevated deception?

In October, 1987, a dissident magazine published a letter written by Sessler to Ron Spear. In this letter, he wrote:         But she [Ellen G. White] also says: "There is hope neither in Sardis nor Laodicea. Out of this experience must come the victors into that of Philadelphia - brotherly love. He has no promise for Laodicea as a whole." (Signs of the Times, Jan. 17, 1911)

Ellen White did not write this!! lt was written by the editor at the time, Elder Milton C. Wilcox. But the conclusion drawn by Sessler compounds his error. He wrote - "Our leaders just happened to leave this article out of Vol. 4 [of the facsimile reprint of the Ellen G. White articles from the Signs] but Praise God it got into our hands." The leaders did not "just happen" to leave lt out; they were reproducing Ellen G. White articles, not Wilcox's. But when it did get into Sessler's hands what did he do with it? Pervert its authorship to give it more weight and authority.

It is my understanding that Sessler was professionally in a paramedical field before becoming one of the "many voices" described by Ellen G. White to come at this time. (See R&H, Dec. 13, 1893) If his accuracy in that field was as it is now in his documentation, how many lives were placed in jeopardy? But his present misrepresentation and falsification involves eternal life. Isn't it time to "cast off the works of darkness" and "put on the armour of light?"

The prayer "Thy Kingdom come," if we only knew, is asking God to conduct a major operation. "
(George A. Buttrick, So We Believe, So We Pray)

Isn't it time for such an operation?
Then daily, let us so pray!

--- (1991 Mar) --- End ---

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