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Interpretative History of the Doctrine of the Incarnation as Taught by the Seventh-day Adventist Church, An
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End Time Line Re-Surveyed Parts 1 & 2 - Adventist Layman's Foundation

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Holy Flesh Movement 1899-1901, The - William H. Grotheer

Hour and the End is Striking at You, The - William H. Grotheer

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Seventh-day Adventist Evangelical Conferences of 1955-1956
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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

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So Much In Common - WCC/SDA

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

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by Jon A.Vannoy printed 1982

Revised winter1998-1999

(Part 3 of 4)


p 78 -- SECTION IV -- THE SHAKING -- THE HEPPENSTALL--FORD -- BRINSMEAD ERA: There is no irony in that Geoffrey Paxton should entitle his 1978 publication, "The Shaking of Adventism," as he did. And it is fascinating that it came at the time that it did - in the 1970's. Though it was done intentionally, Mr. Paxton could not have understood the seriousness of that event, at least not from the "traditional" Adventist point of view. The idea of the shaking was developed from the writings of Ellen G. White and others foretelling of a separation of brethren that would occur because some would not tolerate the counsel of the True Witness.

The much-talked-about, long-promised "shaking" or "sifting," was upon the church in Paxton's estimation. What greater deception could be foisted upon the Adventist people than for Satan to bring falsehood from within the church, when the membership look for it to come from outside the church. How well has the way been prepared for its reception by their being taught to depend upon a system of religious organization warning them of its approach and arrival, rather than encouraging them to look to the truths established in the early years of the movement. Even then, in the final time of decision the leadership was foremost in cautioning against any discussion of the issues they believed were polarizing the membership. (See Review, May 24, 1979.) They claimed that there was a great deal more made of the issue than was called for; and if they, the leadership, were allowed the time to decide the conclusion of the issue, all agitation would die down. Their admonition of caution -- in reality silence, on life and death matters is nothing short of crying, "peace and safety." Matters designed to stir the membership into action were not, as a result, heeded; and it was left to the leadership - the "dumb dogs," "cruel and deceitful Hazaels,"  11   "who never again lift up their voice like a trumpet to show God's people their transgressions. . . " - to decide for the membership what is and what is not the truth. (See 5T 77, 211.)

What was the most prevalent "issue" before the people? First, the question must be asked, "what is the 'shaking', and why is such a thing needed?"

11 -- "Who knows whether God will not give you up to the deceptions you love? . . . It may be that ere long all prophesying among us will be at an end, and the voice which has stirred the people may no longer disturb their carnal slumbers. When God shall work Ins strange work on the earth, when holy hands bear the ark no longer, woe will be upon the people." 5 T 77.

p 79 -- The shaking, in simple terms, is the agitation that occurs between truth and error. It was necessary that such a thing come in among God's people because:      "The fact that there is no controversy or agitation among God's people should not be regarded as conclusive evidence that they are holding fast to sound doctrine. There is reason to fear that they may not be clearly discriminating between truth and error. When no new questions are started by investigation of the Scriptures, when no difference of opinion arises which will set men to searching the Bible for themselves to make sure that they have the truth, there will be many now, as in ancient times, who will hold to tradition and worship they know not what.

"God will arouse His people; if other means fail, heresies will come in among them, which will sift them, separating the chaff from the wheat. The Lord calls upon all who believe His word to awake out of sleep. Precious light has come, appropriate for this time. It is Bible truth, showing the perils that are right upon us. This light should lead us to a diligent study of the Scriptures and a most critical examination of the position which we hold. . . ." -- (5T, 707)

In examining the above statement, it appears that because:

1.    God's people are in a listless, self-satisfied condition, He allows falsehood to enter among them. Scripture terms this condition Laodicean.

2.    The effect of falsehood is to stir those interested in the purity of Bible truth to actively oppose it.

3.    The result of the agitation is a polarization between those who love truth and those who do not.

4.    The agitation between the two positions causes a "sifting" or "shaking" which separates the membership into opposing camps - brother against brother, the resolute stand by those who come to know and defend truth contending with those in defense of the opposite.

In consideration of the above four points, another question should be asked. What was the difference between the Ford-Brinsmead-Heppenstall movement of the 1970's and the Brinsmead agitation of the 1960's? The two seemed to be nearly equal in magnitude, though different in objective. The Brinsmead agitation of the 1960's was, basically, a reform movement within the Seventh-day Adventist denomination - a movement vehemently opposed by the leadership. It sought to stem the growing apostasy by encouraging individuals to stand on the platform of truth established in the early years of the movement.

p 80 -- The Ford-Brinsmead-Heppenstall evangelical movement of the 1970's and 1980's was a move within the church structure to destroy confidence in the platform of truth established in early years; and it embraced what they termed "gospel" or "Reformation Theology."

During the early 1950's Brinsmead became aware of certain doctrinal departures initiated by the leadership involving doctrines mentioned in the last section, and those who saw merit in Brinsmead's objection caused a torrent of material to pour forth which exhorted adherence (with one notable exception) to the old doctrinal positions established in the early years of the movement. The exception was in the area of perfection (maturing of the Christian). Briefly, traditional Adventist teaching involves three things:   1.   Justification, (Christ's imputed righteousness) which pardons the repentant from the penalty of sin.   2.    Sanctification, (Christ's imparted righteousness) which is a complete transformation of character. "Born again means transformation, a new birth in Christ Jesus." AH 206. And,   3.    Glorification, which occurs at Christ's coming, in that twinkling of an eye and separates us from the physical presence of sin.

Brinsmead differed with traditional Adventist teaching as to when perfection would take place. Both Brinsmead and the Adventist leadership agreed that the traditional Protestant position of physical and moral perfecting at the second coming of Christ was too late, but the Adventist leadership in turn, opposed Brinsmead's hypothesis because he placed perfection at the close of probation. By then it would be too late, so said the church's leadership.

Even here Brinsmead could not find common ground with the Adventists; for, as Paxton relates, the church's leadership did an about-face and pounded on him - using the theology of Heppenstall, Ford, and those churchmen who taught the impossibility of sinless perfection ever being achieved in this life. (See Shaking of Adventism, pp. 112, 113.)

Generally, the Brinsmead movement of the 1960's was an attempt at reform within the Seventh-day Adventist church by drawing attention to many of the old teachings of the denomination.

The issues of the 1970's and 1980's on the other hand, involving Heppenstall, Ford, now with the "new" Brinsmead joining them, may not be new but are no less serious because of their effect.

p 81 -- "The 1970's is the period when, for the first time, two consistent streams of thought on the gospel emerge in Adventism. One stream carries the Christological gains of the 1950's and the soteriological gains of the 1960's to their logical end. The other stream retreats from those gains into pre-1900 Adventism. This division brings Adventism to the threshold of an unprecedented shaking. It is now our task to trace the steps of this astounding development." -- Paxton, The Shaking of Adventism, p. 121 - (Emphasis supplied.) TOP

THE STRAWMEN: The struggle between the denominational leaders and the Ford-Brinsmead faction was not a struggle over doctrine; it is true especially of the denominational leaders. If the leadership were as interested in doctrinal correctness as they at times represented themselves to be, they would not have continued to support and promote the doctrinal changes arrived at during the Barnhouse-Martin meetings of the 1950's, then condemn the Ford-Brinsmead camps for nearly identical teachings. That is the classic definition of a "strawman" - a person or object used to distract attention from the real issue.

One need only read the church's published material during the 1950's and 1960's, culminating with the latest printing of Movement of Destiny, to know that the doctrinal changes initiated by the leadership then, and accepted without thought, were but the embryonic stages of the Ford-Brinsmead defection of that era. Clearly the struggle between the denominational leadership and the Ford-Brinsmead retinue was, on the denomination's part, a struggle for power. One must give the Ford-Brinsmead groups the benefit of doubt in that these people, for the most part, seemed to be interested in what they believed to be truth; and whatever effort they made along these lines was motivated by what appeared to be a quest for the freedom to announce these beliefs rather than a thirst for power.

On the other hand, the leadership have a history of attempting to promote and preserve what they depict as "unity." They have done it with little or no regard to doctrine, right or wrong.   12    Any move from what they determine to be the status quo seems to be almost subliminally interpreted as a challenge to their authority.

What appears to be a dispute over doctrine on their part is used many times as a convenient vehicle by which to create the above-mentioned strawmen. As

12 -- This is generally true, but there are a few individuals in institutional positions who are interested in truth and who faithfully contend for the faith. Such men appear from time to time only to "mysteriously" disappear in the inevitable swirl of controversy that rises around them.

p 82 -- brought out earlier, the denominational leadership entered into a series of discussions with Evangelical leaders, Donald Grey Barnhouse and Walter R. Martin. The result was a departure from the established positions on the human nature of Christ and the Atonement. Christ's human nature was purported to be as that of Adam before the fall. The atonement was considered finished at the cross. The continuing work of Christ in the heavenly sanctuary was obscured in such a way as to give the casual observer the impression that there was nothing further to be accomplished apart from the cross. Perfection, as a result, became something that could not be achieved this side of the second coming of Christ. There was essentially no difference between the denomination's new teaching and that of the Ford-Brinsmead factions.

Regarding Christ's human nature, Brinsmead originally taught that it was the same as Adam after the fall. He considered the work of Christ in the plan of redemption continuing beyond the cross. He referred to Christ in the sanctuary in heaven as ministering the blood of His sacrifice in behalf of the repentant sinner in a continuing work of atonement. Brinsmead believed that moral perfection was not only possible, but necessary before the return of Christ. And there was one additional notion that the denomination had never taken into their doctrinal system, but Brinsmead had. In his thinking, there existed in the character makeup of man a condition he described at first as "sub-conscious sin." He believed that all Adam's posterity are born with this condition - a condition which would result, if left alone, in the death of everyone, even though they were to live a life free of sin. Later Brinsmead described this condition as "original sin."

It did not really matter what position Brinsmead took; the Adventist leadership depicted him as an apostate and published abroad that he was a source of disunity, and they set about on an agenda of outright persecution of all who expressed even a casual interest in what he had to say. The result of this persecution was destructive - but not so much to Brinsmead and his followers as it was destructive to the very heart of Adventist doctrinal belief. Ellen G. White wrote in the Great Controversy,


p 83 -- As Brinsmead's point of focus centered on the sanctuary, a condition of fear and intolerance made itself manifest to the point that whoever might mention the sanctuary was, for no explainable reason, immediately suspect of being a "Brinsmeadite." This fear permeated the denomination to such proportions that all who desired to appear loyal to the church refrained from anything that smacked of Brinsmead -- whether it did or not. The tragic result was, that to this day, all real, in-depth study of the sanctuary has ceased in the churches.

The real position of the leaders was always a concern over the threat Brinsmead posed to their own survival. To them Brinsmead's "Awakening Movement" proposed the possibility of a shift of allegiance from the organization to something that was alien to their plans, programs, and manner of operating. A shift in allegiance meant a shift in funds. Other things might have been tolerated, but coexistence with a threat to the "getting of money" could not be allowed. While the leaders worried about preserving the "status quo," the real threat was what they themselves brought to it - and, when the time came, that revelation came to light in the public teachings of Desmond Ford. TOP

ORIGINAL SIN: Any discussion of the Heppenstall, Ford or Brinsmead position must include the idea of "original sin." While these men were at various stages of disagreement with each other, original sin was the one thing fixed in all their teachings.

According to the church historian Neander, the idea of "original sin," had its roots in the Latin mistranslation of Romans 5:12:    (pictured below is actual script from manuscript)

"In considering the scheme of doctrine which prevailed among the Latins, it is important to notice, that, in their ancient translation of the New Testament, the words: efw pantes hmapon (Romans 5:12) were rendered, 'in quo onmes peccaverunt.' This furnished some apparent ground for the representation, that all mankind sinned in Adam; though we by no means intend to say that the above erroneous translation was the only ground on which such a doctrine reposed. The ground of it doubtless lay still deeper than that, in facts and enigmas of the moral self-consciousness [of those who formed the doctrine]. . . .At all events, however, this erroneous translation was the means of bringing it about, that the above representation of all mankind having sinned in Adam should be universally revived as an undeniable foundation of doctrine." -- Neander, History of the Christian Church, Vol. II, p. 559.)

p 84 -- The church father Augustine is acknowledged as being the one who developed this early teaching. An example of how old the teaching is:     "A little more than fifty years had passed since the Roman Emperor Constantine had recognized Christianity as the official religion of the Roman State when the idea was being articulated by Augustine. However, two men, Hillary of Poictiers, and Ambrose of Milan, preceded Augustine somewhat in this thinking; and even before that the church father Tertullian first brought out this doctrine in its most explicit form. Therefore, according to Neander, Tertullian should be considered the forerunner of Augustine in its development." -- (Ibid.)

"Original sin" rests on these basic points:

1.    Because of Adam's sin, all mankind stands guilty before God.   13

2.    This guilt should not be confused with the guilt of their own sinful actions. It is a result of the sin of Adam.

3.    It would avail an individual nothing if he were able to live an entire life without sinning. God has no other choice but to condemn such an individual, as he is deprived of "sanctifying grace" in consequence of the sin of Adam.

4.    The gospel makes no provision for the eradication of this condition prior to the coming of Christ; therefore, it is impossible to gain the victory over sin in this life. Those who attempt to gain such a victory place themselves at odds with the gospel. TOP

RALPH LARSON AND THE ROOT OF THE PROBLEM: Ralph Larson, in what he terms his, "consideration of the recent theological emphasis of Dr. Edward G. Heppenstall," a study into what he determined to be at the root of the theological questions agitating the Seventh-day Adventist church at that time, pointed to the seriousness of the conflict as being pivotal to correctly understanding the plan of redemption.

13 -- 0riginal sin in this setting does not address the condition of sin inherited from Adam but rather supposes a collective responsibility for the guilt resulting from the first sin. The argument of Heppenstall, Ford and Brinsmead's that the original sin into which men are born was not guilt, however common sense will reveal the marked similarities between their presentations and the idea of inherited guilt. Of course all of this has a bearing on the human nature of Christ.

p 85 -- "So the nature of the Lord Jesus Christ, the nature of man, and the nature of salvation -- sanctification are the points under discussion; and it is immediately apparent that these are not peripheral elements in any church's theology. They are as basic and central as any elements of theology can possibly be, since what Christ is, relates so closely to what He does.

"This is why it is felt that the present dialogue cannot be taken lightly. It is supremely important that we be correct in our understanding of these matters. The consequences are enormous. . . ." -- (Ralph Larson, "Original Sin." P. 6.)

What, then, was the debate? Heppenstall, Ford and Brinsmead represented it as being over the doctrine of righteousness by faith. The denominational leaders seemed to be in a state of reaction -- moving only when the activities of an individual became what they considered "divisive" or "subversive;" doctrinal position mattered little.

The so-called loyal pastorate, unaccustomed to diligent, thorough study, prattled on Sabbath after Sabbath on the virtues of remaining faithful to "God's church" while never actually grasping the seriousness of the matter, and while a growing number of their peers boldly espoused the wonder of the "new doctrine." Those members who considered themselves loyal to the "church" opposed Ford and Brinsmead for no real reason other than it seemed to them that they were tearing down the thing they thought to be "the church," while others of the membership, straining to be free of the old confining Adventist beliefs, cast off all restraint to jump aboard the Ford-Brinsmead bandwagon. A great separating, it seems, was irreversibly in the making. Larson continued:      "What, then, is the present debate all about? First, let me make clear what it is not about. The present debate is not about the doctrine of righteousness by faith. . . .The present debate is over the doctrine of original sin. The doctrine of original sin is an ancient error which has historically had no place at all in Seventh-day Adventist theology, or in the writings of Ellen White, the inspired messenger to the remnant church. Nevertheless, some have embraced this doctrine and are claiming that it makes the doctrine of righteousness by faith more beautiful and appealing." -- Ralph Larson, Who Needs Original Sin? p. 5. TOP

HEPPENSTALL AND ORIGINAL SIN: The two sides in the contest were:    1.    Those who 

p 86 -- claimed moral perfection to be possible prior to the close of probationary time which occurs when the command is given, "take away the filthy garments" for "behold I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee, and I will clothe thee with a change of raiment" (Zech. 3:4).    2.    Those who claimed that perfection occurs only at the second coming agreed with Edward Heppenstall when he said:     "If sin simply means a deliberate, willful doing of what is known to be wrong, then no Christian should commit this kind of sin. But if sin includes also a man's state of mind and heart, man's bias toward sin, sin as an indwelling tendency, then perfection presents a totally different picture." -- Edward Heppenstall, "Is Perfection Possible?" Signs of the Times, Dec. 1963.

And what did Heppenstall say was the result of the "indwelling tendency" to sin? "The sinful nature is not eradicated until the day of the resurrection, until ' this mortality shall have put on immortality'" Ibid. What then did Heppenstall understand the "sinful nature" to be?

"All men are born into a state of separation from God. This is the original sin, a state into which all of us enter the world. Not until the new birth takes place is this condition reversed. This is the basic fundamental of the gospel." -- Heppenstall, Perfection, p. 64.

Heppenstall's position was this:   1.   The sinful nature is eradicated on the day of the resurrection.   2.   Not until the new birth takes place is the condition reversed. Conclusion: The new birth and the eradication of the sinful nature at the resurrection are synonymous -- that is, the new birth does not take place until the resurrection; therefore, there can be no perfection until then. According to Heppenstall, perfection was not sinlessness, it was commitment to Christ. If Heppenstall actually understood the matter himself, he was, at least, inept at explaining it. TOP

BRINSMEAD'S "CONTRIBUTION" TO THE ADVENTISTS: The doctrine of original sin, as Geoffrey Paxton noticed, is conspicuously absent in Adventist teaching. Robert Brinsmead found the same to be true in the lengthy process of formulating his position. Paxton related Brinsmead's metamorphosis as follows:     "Brinsmead was troubled by the knowledge of original sin in very much the same way as was Dr. Luther in the sixteenth century . . .

p 87 -- "As already indicated, Brinsmead could find little help within Adventist theology on the subject of original sin. In our investigation into the theology of Adventism it has been almost entirely absent. Brinsmead, therefore, turned to the Reformers for guidance.

"It seems that Brinsmead was the first within Adventism to develop and set forth the doctrine of original sin in a systematic way.

"Brinsmead's answer to the problem of original sin became known as the 'Awakening Message' - an inter-church agitation which disturbed Adventism during the decade of the 1960's.

"The awareness of original sin caused Brinsmead to reject the whole idea of reaching a state of perfection in order to be ready for the judgment. Here was a clear break from the general [church] view of sanctification which we have encountered thus far in our investigation. For Brinsmead, no amount of inward grace or 'imparted righteousness' would qualify one to stand in the judgment. Christ alone had enough righteousness to pass the final judgment; and, said Brinsmead, He stands in the judgment as the Representative of the believer.

"The other element in Brinsmead's theology was perfectionism. It will be remembered that the Awakening adherents rejected here-and-now perfection. However, Brinsmead was at this time too steeped in [M. L.] Anderasen's concept of the final generation to deny that those who live in the ' time of trouble' would be altogether without sin. In Brinsmead's own words:

'Yet at the same time we did not, could not, reject the hereditary Adventist idea of being sinless in order to live without Christ's mediation after the close of probation. As far as we were concerned, that part still remained fundamental Adventism. We concluded that this final unattainable experience would be a gift of our Judge's gracious mercy, i. e., effected in God's people by the final atonement and latter rain.'

"As indicated here, the pecular contribution made by Brinsmead was to see those of the last generation as having original sin blotted out of them in the pre-advent judgment. In other words, what orthodox Protestantism saw as taking place at the second advent of Christ,

p 88 -- Brinsmead saw as taking place in the judgment that preceded the advent in Adventist eschatology.

"Notwithstanding the opposition of the church leaders to Brinsmead's theology, it appears that he made a lasting contribution within Adventism. There emerged a small group of Adventist scholars who acknowledged the original sin problem and who said it would remain until the coming of Christ." -- Geoffrey Paxton, The Shaking of Adventism, pp. 96-104. (Emphasis supplied)

Theologically, where did Brinsmead end up? Earlier, in 1964, he unknowingly predicted the course he would take when he wrote:     "Those who teach that Christ took a superior human nature draw the logical conclusion that it is impossible for the rest of mankind to perfectly obey the law of Jehovah in this life. Everywhere today we hear the pronouncements from pen and pulpit that God has not made provision for man to live a sinless life on this earth. Those who accept this 'new-view' of the Incarnation logically take the side of Satan in the great controversy over the law, claiming that God has not made provision for us to perfectly obey it.   14    If God's people accept this delusion, then there will be no third angel's message, no sealing of the saints, no finishing of the mystery of God, no cleansing of the sanctuary, no community of the saints prepared to live without a mediator, no first fruits of the harvest, and no people ready for translation -- at least as far as they are concerned.

"Ellen G. White saw that God had three steps to the platform of truth. (Early Writings p. 258) Satan has three steps down from the platform. The first step is the teaching that Christ took the human nature of man as it was before the fall. This leads to the second step - to the teaching that man cannot find the grace to perfectly obey the law of God in this life. This will inevitably lead to the third step - giving up the Sabbath. This last step must logically follow the original premise, for if it be conceded that we cannot obey all the law all the time, then there is no point in the Sabbath being a test question." -- The Incarnation of Christ, "Adam's Human Nature versus Fallen Human Nature," pp. 7, 8.   15

14 -- 1f there is any confusion regarding keeping the law, it is because it is viewed as an external requirement. God's promise is that He will plant His law -- the divine nature -- in the hearts and the minds of His elect. See Jeremiah 31 and Hebrews 8. Obedience is possible because He imparts His righteousness -- as reflected in His law -- joining His nature with those whom He chooses.

15 -- The Incarnation of Christ, Adams Human Nature versus Fallen Human Nature, (24 pages) was one in a series of publications made available to interested parties by Fred C. Metz, DDS, MD, of - (continued p.89) TOP

p 89 -- THE SDA LEADERSHIP VS. DESMOND FORD: The "evangelicalization" of the Seventh-day Adventist denomination did not make much progress from the mid - 1950's through the 1960's; and it was not until the early-to-mid 1970's that any public notice of significance was given the issues involved in the changes taking place.

Some notice was given to the switch Brinsmead had made. Edward Heppenstall remained remarkably untouched by the hierarchy despite his radical stance apart from the basic tenets of the faith. He was still considered to be a valued teacher and theologian. By 1967 many of the church leaders ( R. A. Anderson, T. E. Unruh, W. E. Read, R. R. Figuhr, and others) who had either taken part in, or given their blessing to, the Evangelical conferences held during the mid-1950's had slipped into obscurity. But the groundwork for change was accomplished. The new ideas needed only public exposure to solidify the changes that had been advanced. Desmond Ford proved to be the man for that undertaking.

In his book, Paxton reveals Ford's long history of proclaiming the "Reformation Gospel":     "One theologian within Adventism in the 1960's who showed a steady reliance upon the perspective of the Reformation was an Australian, Dr. Desmond Ford. In examining the teachings of Ford, it must be said that he showed a praiseworthy consistency in Reformation theology during a period of change. As we have already noted, Ford was explicit in his affirmation of the doctrine of original sin. He taught this consistently through the 1960's and into the 1970's. Ford also strongly repudiated perfectionism as being contrary to the gospel. Likewise, he maintained the Protestant view of forensic justification and the Protestant stance on the sinlessness of Christ's human nature. He not only espoused the gospel aspect of the Brinsmead teaching of the 1960's (i.e., that Christ is our righteousness in heaven in the hour of the judgment), but he did so along with a clear Reformation perspective on perfectionism. Thus, it would not be far from the truth to say that, already in the 1960's Dr. Ford anticipated the clear Reformation stream that was to emerge within Adventism in the 1970's." -- Geoffrey Paxton, Shaking of Adventism, pp. 116, 117.

15 -- continued -- Denver Colorado. It was dated September, 1964. That particular issue compared Robert Brinsmead's position (then) on the incarnation with the September, 1956 The Ministry article by its editor, Roy Allen Anderson on the same subject.

p 90 -- There were a number of men who taught similar notions even years before Ford, but the controversy surrounded him. Why that happened may never be fully known, but when the time was right, Ford was thrust to the forefront of the brawl. Like Heppenstall and Brinsmead, he denied the old position that recognized moral obedience (perfection) to God's law as being possible before the second coming of Christ. He maintained that Reformation Justification made provision for original sin, which, as stated before, held that there is an inherent condition within each of us that prohibits moral perfection in this life.

Ford viewed the central issue of the Reformation to be whether justification means "to declare righteous" or "to make righteous."   16    He held that the righteousness of God is never represented in Scripture as something wrought within the sinner by God's Spirit. It is, he said, something done outside of us, "set to our account and, therefore, not an internal work." -- Ibid. p. 9.

What was said of imparted righteousness? Ford maintained that because of the individual's remaining depravity (original sin), imparted righteousness can never meet the infinite standard of the law of God; therefore, it is not made part of the believer. There is a process of internal transformation that is initiated but it can never be concluded and it will not lead to perfection. Perfection (sort of a "finishing" of the process) is a condition granted the individual at the second coming of Christ. As a result the concept of justification as an external act, an act outside the individual supersedes everything. TOP

FORD'S DIMISSAL: Because of the events involving Ford, PREXAD --the General Conference President's Executive Committee, reviewed his relation to the church on September 2, 1980, and voted to "recommend to the Australasian Division that Dr. Ford be given the opportunity to withdraw voluntarily from the teaching and pastoral ministry of the Seventh-day Adventist Church."   17  Ministry, October 1980, p. 15. So, what prompted PREXAD's recommendations?

Ford's trouble probably started with his coming to the U.S. from Avondale College in Australia. His reputation preceded him. Initially there were only

16 -- Documents From the Palmdale Conference, "The Relationship Between the Incarnation and Righteousness by Faith," p. 7

17 -- It was during this period that Neal C. Wilson was calling for a halt in the discussion of righteousness by faith and the formation of a general consensus (by a select committee of church leaders) forming an understanding of the doctrine. Codification of Adventist belief was accomplished during the General Conference Session held in 1980. Ford collided with all of this.

p 91 -- minor rumblings of dissatisfaction among the membership at his hiring as a faculty member with the Theology Department at Pacific Union College. Such rumblings were confined to a few individuals who did not agree with his teachings. This minority was later opposed by a larger number of the membership who rejoiced at Ford's appointment and took it as the opening of providence. Those who agreed with him took on a certain "bravado", which resulted in open agitation of his views in the churches.

Teachings that had been, at least publicly, confined to the Australian mainland then spread throughout the U. S. like wildfire. The views of such church theologians as Edward Heppenstall, Taylor Bunch, Ralph Watts, Varner Johns, who, with others, claimed that sin will remain in the saints until the second coming, found the greatest expositor of their views in the person of Desmond Ford.

The controversy did not reach its apex until October, 1979, when Ford took part in an Adventist Forum meeting held at Pacific Union College -- a meeting that resulted in, as Paxton put it, a "shaking of Adventism." Ford's trouble resulted in a leave of absence to "research" his position,   18   which was, at its conclusion, to be reviewed by an arbitrary authority assembled for the occasion by the denomination's leadership. In August of the same year the committee came together at Glacier View, Colorado and rendered an "evaluation" of his status with the church. They found him to be immovable in his beliefs. A little more than two weeks later, citing four points   19    which summarized their assessment of his teachings, PREXAD recommended that he be relieved of any further responsibility in the church.

The real reason for his dismissal can be seen in the denomination's charge that, "he seems to have failed to sense his responsibility for the effect of his speaking

18 -- in a letter, dated August 26, 1980, Ford summarized his study of the Sanctuary teaching in twelve points: 1.    it is the little hom, and not the sins of the saints, which defiles the sanctuary,   2.    The cleansing of Dan. 8:14 has to do with restoring the damage done not by the saints, but by the little hom.   3.    The meaning of the key verb in Daniel 8: 14 is not basically "cleanse" but justify, vindicate, restore.   4.    There is no obvious verbal link between Daniel 8 and Leviticus 16.   5.   The year-day principle is not explicit in Scripture.   6.   Hebrews 9 does draw on the Day of Atonement to illustrate that which Christ did by His sacrifice.   7.   "Within the veil" applies to the second veil, not the first, and points to access to the Most Holy Place.   8.   Hebrews does not teach a two-apartment ministry (or two phases)   9.   Christ, not the Father, is the great judge in the final judgment.   10.   We should not speak of our Lords heavenly ministry in terms of apartments,   11.   The New Testament viewed the second advent as imminent in its day.   12.   Sacrificial blood purifies rather than defiles.

19 -- A list of the four points were listed in Ministry, October 1980.

p 92 -- and his widely distributed writings and recordings, which have caused divisive controversy within the church on several continents." And that "he has repeatedly declined to disassociate himself openly and specifically from certain activities considered to be subversive to the well-being of the church." -- Ministry, Oct. 1980.

But Ford's teachings were not at all new to the leadership, and it is a stretch of the imagination to say that in the length of time that Ford was employed by the denomination no one in a responsible position, in either the Australasian Division, or, later in the North American Division, ever knew what the man taught.

Early Brinsmead publications refer to Ford's peculiar views. (Sanctuary Restored - 1968.) In 1976 a formal protest was lodged by a large number of Australian ministers, church elders, and members against him for teaching opposing views of the third angel's message, (Watchman Press, Beecroft, N. S. W.) There was also the Clifford and Standish publication, Conflicting Concepts of Righteousness by Faith, again, from the Australasian Division which point by point refuted the theology of Ford. In the United States, a church elder from Southern Oregon, Paul Miller, compiled a document entitled, "Dr. Ford's Dangerous Doctrines." Several thousand copies of that document were circulated throughout the denomination.

Knowing this, it is difficult to say that Desmond Ford was an obscure teacher from Australia. It is equally difficult to imagine that during his time at Pacific Union College he maintained such a low profile that his views were kept private until the 1979 Adventist Forum address. Why was he invited to join the faculty at Pacific Union College if his theology was so opposed to the "church's" teachings? Obviously his teaching did not matter much until he became prominent to the point of creating what was seen as a divisive atmosphere by "drawing followers to himself."

Whether he drew a following to himself or not was not the question. When his theology agitated the church to the point that it "rocked the boat," then and only then did it become an issue and served as a convenient contrivance to rid the "church" of a personality that had become so visible that he was a cause of schism. "Rocking the boat" would affect the denomination's ability to take in money. Money, not doctrine, was the real cause of Desmond Ford's dismissal. TOP



ORGANIZATION IN THE 1970'S -TOWARD GREATER CONTROL:      "A church which proclaims the priesthood of all believers but does not, in fact, provide ways for the general priesthood to express itself, will teach not initiative but docile obedience as the Christian stance." -- Every Believer A Minister, Rex Edwards, p. 76

The slide into apostasy, hesitant as it was in the 1960's, had developed by the 1970's into a head-long rush to bring the church to meet a popular standard. As in the various departures from the original Seventh-day Adventist truths of the past, different individuals arose from time to time to protest those departures, desiring that things be set right. The 1950's and 1960's were no exception. These periods too saw their protesters, but by the 1970's the climate had become much different: Although in the past a certain amount of free expression of beliefs and ideas was tolerated, by the 1970's the church had come to allow no such thing.

As a departure from truth increased, the leadership sensed a need to maintain control, which was accomplished by strengthening the grip that the Organization had over the church as a whole, with a plea of "unity" as a catalyst and as a cover for their actions. The centralization of the past has been buttressed , this time with repressive measures to silence all dissent.

No longer would the voice of caution and rebuke be heard from those who were Organizational employees. No longer did the shepherd's voice teachings that were true and sound. They had been reduced to the level of automatons -- droll extensions of union and local conference officials, fearful for their jobs, afraid to

p 94 -- vary from prevailing policy, extolling the flock on the virtues of loyalty and unity -- not to God, but to church and organization.

"Preachers, faithful, firm, and true have departed. Their offer of the gospel of peace to the unthankful churches is heard no more and the churches occupy the position of Meroz, neither for nor against, neither cold nor hot and the destroyers, trained under the hand of Satan, speaking with the voice of the false prophet cry, peace, peace, when the Lord hath not spoken peace. The voice of truth that has stirred the people these many years, no longer disturbs their carnal slumber. God has begun His strange work on the earth; holy hands no longer bear the ark and woe is coming upon the people." -- EGW 5T 77. Such is the present condition of the church.

An article published in the Review clearly expressed the move toward greater control by the Organization. The question was asked, "What are the characteristics of a 'real' Seventh-day Adventist - the prime qualities without which a person cannot be considered a genuine, dedicated member of the church in good and regular standing. . . ?" The author related one of six points in the following manner:     "One product of this vital, living, personal relationship (with Christ) is an abiding conviction that the Advent message, as Seventh-day Adventists proclaim it, is, indeed, God's message for the world in our time. Acceptance of membership in the church implies the presence of this conviction, otherwise why should a person submit to the modification in lifestyle and the sacrifice of time and money the church expects of its members? Apart from such a conviction, a person has no valid, logical reason for becoming a Seventh-day Adventist." -- Review, Jan. 6, 1977, p. 13

A living, vital relationship with Christ is foremost in importance. Christianity would be ineffectual and meaningless without it. Adventists should also have an abiding conviction that the Advent message came through the leading of the Spirit, and it is for the world at the present time. But, what if that message is not the one Seventh-day Adventists at the present say they are proclaiming? It can readily be demonstrated that it is not the present Adventist message; and since "the message" is the determining factor of what is and what is not, "Seventh-day Adventist," it follows then, that most Adventists are that in name only, as they have little or no knowledge of the foundation principles established after the passing of time in 1844. Those principles determine who is and who is not a Seventh-day Adventist.

p 95 -- Is it valid that the "church" expect a modification of lifestyle and the sacrifice of time and money? Must a person be firmly convinced of their relationship to what is termed the "church," or have no reason for becoming a Seventh-day Adventist? If a person is converted to and baptized into the "church," as so many are today, the church may rightfully expect these things; and there should be no reason to expect anything different than the present condition of the membership. But, if an individual is converted and baptized into Christ, who is the real church, all things will follow as a matter of course with no need of a dictum from "the church." The article continues:     "Acceptance of church membership also implies a fixed purpose to participate in the appointed mission of the church to the world. In its plans the church makes no provision for the non-participating members, who, in effect, play the same role that drone bees do in the bee world. Seventh-day Adventists are 'saved to serve' - to contribute of their time, ability, and strength to the objective of the church. An army cannot accommodate volunteers whose objective in joining is merely to reap the benefits that accrue from military service without functioning as soldiers.

"Another essential characteristic of a genuine Seventh-day Adventist is loyalty, in spirit and in conduct, to the church and its leaders, as it and they speak and act for Christ. The church is a team; and every member of the team will play with the team and its leaders, not against them. The church and its earthly leaders are human; sometimes they make mistakes. This they themselves would be first to acknowledge. But as a member of the team the genuine Seventh-day Adventist will, even under such circumstances, continue to work in a positive way with the team and cooperate with its leaders," -- Ibid. (Emphasis supplied)

How like Roman Catholics have Adventists become. Consider the following:      "Infallibility is another of her claims, for the principal office is that of teaching; and in this office, as God teaches through her, she cannot err . . . This infallibility does not imply that individual members of the Church may not err, much less that they will not sin; but that the teaching of the Church in faith or morals is certain." -- Lectures on Christian Unity, pp. 132, 133.

What does Rome teach? It is shown in the New Saint Joseph Baltimore Catechism, page 79, that:

p 96 -- "By the authority of the Catholic Church is meant that the Pope and bishops, as the lawful successors of the apostles, have power from Christ Himself to teach, to sanctify, and to govern the faithful in spiritual matters. Authority is the power to command others. All authority is from God, and He gives it to the Church in spiritual matters. To refuse to obey the authority of the Church is to refuse to obey Christ." -- New St. Joseph Baltimore Catechism, p. 79.

Centralization is a child of Rome; it is hostile to truth. It is the totality of human authority and control. As the authority of God through Scripture is set aside, the authority of men through the "church" speaks and acts -- not for Christ, but for themselves in the place of Christ. The Catholic hierarchy states plainly that which the Adventist hierarchy hints at. Both claim to speak and act for Christ, and to refuse them is to reject Christ. TOP

PRESERVING THE LANDMARKS, THE FORMATION OF A CREED: The high handed power that has been developed through control by the centralized Organization has created such an atmosphere of disgust for human jurisdiction that an undercurrent of murmuring has settled in and has resulted in a loss of confidence in the management, even of the few faithful men remaining.  20

"It is selfishness also that prompts the feelings on the part of workers that their judgment must be the most reliable and their methods of labor the best, or that it is their privilege in any way to bind the conscience of another. Such was the spirit of the Jewish leaders in Christ's day. In their self-exaltation the priests and rabbis brought in such rigid rules and so many forms and ceremonies as to divert the minds of the people from God and leave Him no chance to work for them. Thus His mercy and love were lost sight of. My brethren, do not follow in the same path. Let the minds of the people be directed to God. Leave Him a chance to work for those who love Him. Do not impose upon the people rules and

20 -- An example of this can be seen in the mumbled remarks of "cover-up" and "whitewash" in regard to the recent (1998-1999) Robert S. Folkenberg financial scandal. Regardless of his guilt or innocence, confidence in general is not just lacking, it is gone, throughout the denomination. One might ask, " where is the outrage? ", because of the action of the select committee investigating the affair which condemned Folkenberg for his questionable association with a convicted felon, then in the same breath, praised him for his farsighted leadership. There is no outrage because the people are no longer able to distinguish between what is morally right and what is morally wrong; and if by chance they find themselves able, they are unwilling to do anything about it.

p 97 -- regulations, which, if followed, would leave them as destitute of the Spirit of God as were the hills of Gilboa of dew or rain." -- 5T p. 727

While the above described condition can be observed throughout the church, it is more prevalent in its institutions, especially in the gospel ministry (yes, that too, is an institution) and in the schools. Control has, in turn, fostered a state of defiance that has no parallel in the history of the denomination. The leadership senses it and greatly fears it. What has been sown in the past is being reaped in a manner that is both disconcerting and perplexing to those who fancy themselves to be in positions of authority. Loss of control or the sense of it gives rise to attempts at even greater control.

The rebellion in the 1970's of so-called liberals in Loma Linda and Andrews University, and in the denomination's colleges and medical institutions, in part, prompted the leadership to formulate certain guidelines by which the church would be able to determine whether or not its employees, or prospective employees, would loyally serve the Organization, its leaders and their policies.

The Review of May 26, 1977, featured an article by Willis Hackett, a General Conference Vice President, in which he presented the Organizational spin in its push for "certain guidelines" by which loyalty to the denomination could be determined.

"But how open can the church afford to be? How deviant should the church allow a member's viewpoints and lifestyle to be and yet consider him a part of the fellowship? That the line must be drawn somewhere, everyone recognizes; for if it isn't, the church eventually loses its identity.

"Since its founding, the church has insisted that the Bible and the Bible only should be its rule of faith and practice. It has opposed a creed. It has recognized the writings of Ellen White as focusing on the Bible and as instructing members how to live by the Bible teachings." -- Review, May 26, 1977

Hackett continued by stating that in the beginning the church fixed certain landmarks of truth that, ever since, it has held to be non-negotiable. But, in adding new members from time to time it is necessary to spell out clearly, and in contemporary terms, the basic landmarks that give the church reason for its existence. Other churches, he related, facing similar situations have lost their identity by an imperceptible decline in the thrust of the gospel on the part of

p 98 -- those who claimed to be it's supporters. A loss of the original identity is often irreversible.   21

"None of us would like to see the Adventist Church travel down this road. Nor, if it should be nudged down this road, would we wish it to awaken too late to take remedial measures.

"Is the Adventist Church doing anything to forestall possible tragedy? Yes. It is preparing carefully formulated statements on what it considers to be its fundamental beliefs.

"These statements will be presented to a large circle of church leaders and scholars so that there may be wide input. After the input is pooled, these statements will be published in the church's papers, as well as in books." -- Ibid.

The areas in which the church has been challenged are: Science; Unity of the Bible; Mission of the Remnant Church; the Advent; the Sanctuary; Place and work of Ellen G. White; Standards of Christian living; and so on.

"With the spelling out of what the church believes to be the basic tenants of faith, not as a creed but simply as the current majority understanding of the 'Bible and the Bible alone' principle, administrators, church leaders, controlling boards, and leaders at all levels of the church will find it easier to evaluate persons already serving the church, and those hereafter appointed, as to their commitment to what is considered basic Adventism. Thus, the church will be protected against the subtle influence of those who have become unclear and doubtful as to God's self-revelation in His Word and in the counsels of the Holy Spirit." -- Ibid. Willis Hackett (Emphasis supplied)

The leadership seemed anxious that what they had set about to do would not be viewed as their establishing a creed - a thing the Advent forefathers were loath to do. So the question follows, what is a creed? Webster's Encyclopedic Unabridged

21 -- Loss of original identity is always irreversible, is there a single instance, in the whole history of mankind, when any organization - religious or not - that departs from its original premise ever gets back to what it started as? There are many examples of attempts at reform but the original always maintains its drift while spinning off splinter groups as it goes along. Change is in the nature of things. It is the result of generational perceptions and social mores. Attempts at preservation are folly because preservation, as an absolute, is impossible. It is, at best, temporary and should not be feared if as it is evolving, it isgrounded on truth.

p 99 -- Dictionary defines a creed as: "A specific statement of religious belief accepted as authoritative by a church." And what was the leadership preparing? "It is preparing carefully formulated statements on what it considers to be its fundamental beliefs." --Hackett, Review, May 26, 1977. For what reason were these "carefully formulated fundamental statements" being prepared? The reason is secondary to the fact that, though the oxymoronic Hackett said that these basic tenants of faith are not being prepared as a creed but as the majority understanding under the Bible and the Bible alone principle, they are indeed a creed in definition and intent!

As with all creeds or statements of fundamental beliefs, or however one chooses to tag them, it allows the few to rule the many with Pharisaic zeal and to preserve the status quo regardless of Scriptural authority. What will the Adventist creed be used for? "Leaders at all levels of the church will find it easier to evaluate persons already serving the church, and those hereafter appointed, as to their commitment to what is considered basic Adventism." -- Ibid. (Hackett)   22

One need not ponder long the fate of the lowly church member who might find himself at variance with the new statement of beliefs or, even worse, the denominational employee at odds with his superior. What right do the few have in choosing what they consider to be correct for the many? Where was the Spirit of God in all of this? How were hearts to be prepared for the Kingdom when the candidates are bound by man-made rules and regulations?

How much room is left for God's Spirit to write God's law in hearts that are cluttered with the writings of men? How is God to work when "thus saith man" is of more importance than "thus saith the Lord?" And by making a creed, these men purpose to do that which is God's sole prerogative:

"Who are thou that judgest another man's servant? To his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand." Romans 14:4.

"But why dost thou judge thy brother? Or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and

22 -- The Seventh-day Adventist pioneers would find it impossible to be in compliance with at least one of the new church doctrines. Fundamental beliefs #2, codification of the Trinity teaching would prevent their becoming members should it be strictly applied. They, generally, agreed that the doctrine was papal heresy. What good is doctrinal "law" if it is not applied.

p 100 -- every tongue shall confess to God. Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother's way. Romans 14: 10-13.

What greater stumblingblock is there than setting man's word before the people as the Word of God?

"Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honor me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men." Isaiah 29:13

"God's hand must hold every worker, and must guide every worker. Men are not to make rules and regulations for their fellowmen. The Bible has given the rules and regulations that we are to follow. We are to study the Bible, and learn from it the duty of man to his fellowman. 'The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul.'" -- EGW, 1903 General Conference Bulletin, p. 87.

Creeds have a number of undesirable effects. An order of things is put into motion that overrides personal sympathy and compassion; creeds blind the eyes to mercy, justice and the love of God. Moral influence and personal responsibility are crushed under foot. Faith in God is destroyed; souls are separated from Him, and the latitude His Spirit needs to develop His people is restricted. (See TM 363-366) But all of this is gladly sacrificed for the sake of so-called unity and harmony of action, and, above all, for the preservation of the Organization -- which serves solely to require compliance with itself. TOP



In Neal Wilson's Open Letter to the Church, the message is loud and clear that the discussion of "righteousness by faith" that was taking place in the 1970's had approached the point where the leadership considered it schismatic. Since nothing was to be permitted to weaken what Wilson considered the witness of the church, he announced decided steps to prevent further debate and controversy over the matter. Much of this had to do with the subject agitated by

p 101 -- Heppenstall, Ford and Brinsmead. As was said earlier, Brinsmead especially dwelled on what he termed "Reformation Righteousness by Faith." Wilson continued:     "Much has also been said about Reformation History and its impact on terminology and doctrine. Included in such discussions have been related theological concepts such as the nature of Christ, the nature of man, the nature of sin, perfection, and the question as to whether it is possible for a Christian to live a sinless life." -- Ibid.

Wilson perpetuated the tradition set into motion by A. G. Daniells and those who supported his policies in the early part of 1900's. Righteousness by faith was strung on a string, as A. T. Jones put it, with other doctrines. It has, since then, been kept in the realm of the "theological" and has not been presented as A. T. Jones determined it to be, as life from God in the literal sense. According to him, the message must first come to the individual in such fullness that it not only guides the life, but of a necessity, sets first into motion its reformation.

If an individual was so ordered in this manner, then he would, as a result, relate to his brethren in a way that would be in harmony with the expressed will of the Creator. The disputes and the corruption present then, and which are now so prevalent in the Organization, would not exist, because all would be looking to Christ and lifting Him up rather than grappling for position, power, and notice among themselves.

As long as the message of 1888 is thought of as a doctrine along with other doctrines and debated as a matter of "theology," it will never be understood for what it is. Any confusion, polarization or bitterness in the debate about it comes because of opposition to what is capable of being done because of it. If it caused the furor it did when it was first given, can anyone, with their cognitive powers intact, expect it to bring about a purifying influence without causing even greater sifting at the end of the gospel age?

Because of the "open debate and unhappy controversy" was it necessary to attempt to halt all public agitation over the matter when it had the very appearance of God's doing? Was it the last attempt by God to prod a rebellious denomination to an awareness of the abyss it was about to forever step into? Was it safe to follow the leaders in their plan to minimize or better yet, end the church's inquiry when inquiry may have sparked an unconcerned membership into an investigation of a life and death matter? The people must have a clear

p 102 -- understanding of the message before they can follow its instructions. By the spring of 1980 time would run out for the denomination.

True to form, Neal Wilson asked the membership to allow the leadership to decide the truth of the matter, and then accept their findings as final. The plan, revealed in the Review, was as follows:

" 1.    We are proposing that each member and believer earnestly study the Bible and the inspired writings of Ellen G. White in order to understand better the great truth of salvation by grace. We also suggest that our teachers and ministers, in their work and preaching, lift up Jesus in Christ-centered messages that will fill hearts with the assurance and joy of salvation and inspire our people to share the good news of His pardoning and redeeming grace in a great evangelistic thrust.

2.    We are requesting that we refrain from involving ourselves in public presentations of the fine points and controversial aspects of the theology of righteousness by faith. We believe that all of us could use our time and knowledge more profitably by winning souls who are not part of our spiritual family at this time. We are suggesting that in any discussion of subjects that touch the question of salvation in rallies, workers' meetings, retreats, special series, or major discussion groups, great care be exercised to avoid that which is too often not only barren and fruitless but divisive and spiritually hurtful.

3.    We should all seek to diminish the flood of cassettes, brochures, books, and miscellaneous documents, for it is possible to keep talking among ourselves -- to ever be learning and never coming to a knowledge of the truth -- when on the contrary we should be talking with others and ever be sharing the love and redeeming grace of our Saviour." -- Neal C. Wilson, Review, May 24, 1979

All was to be done without public discussion of the message, or as Wilson put it, "discussion of the fine points and the controversial aspects of the theology of the message," when the message, and an understanding of it, was basic to doing points 1, 2, and 3.

But ah! Hope was on the horizon!     "Consequently, the General Conference will appoint a representative group of lay persons, pastors, evangelists, theologians, church historians, Biblical scholars, editors, and church administrators to survey and study difficult theological issues, and to share with the church at large

p 103 -- approaches that will help to heal and bind and keep us together and united." -- Ibid.

"We are appealing to the church today to accept our proposal, refraining from further agitation of the subject of righteousness by faith while helpful guidance for the future is being developed by a representative group of spiritual leaders." -- Ibid.

In this course of action, Wilson believed that he was operating on precedent in the example of the early church and the apostles in dealing with problems that arose at that time. The instance he refers to was presented to the apostles and elders, and their decision regarding the matter was as the Spirit of God would have it.

"This ended the discussion, because the voice of the highest authority had spoken. The question was not submitted to the entire body of Christians for a vote. The apostles and elders, men of influence and judgment, framed and issued the statement, which was thereupon generally accepted by the Christian churches. Some were unhappy with the decision and murmured, criticized, and tried to pull down the work of the men whom God had ordained to teach the gospel message. 'From the first the church has had such obstacles to meet and ever will have till the close of time.'" -- Ibid. (Wilson)

Even though he admitted that the committee to provide guidance would not have inspiration in the same way as the apostles and elders, Wilson nevertheless suggested that the council then, and the committee now, have somewhat the same authority in deciding the truth of an issue; and after that truth is disclosed and presented to the church, all are to keep silent and accept the committee's decision as final.

Wilson was wrong in considering the apostles and the present leadership as differing little in authority. The place of the apostles was unique. In the church as a whole, they stood in a position which corresponded to their peculiar mission in the development of the early church; and for that very reason, their position could not be transferred to any individual or group. They alone were the chosen witnesses of Christ's personal appearance and ministry. They were to testify of His resurrection and ascension to a glorious state of being. Their testimonies were the intermediate links by which the whole church was connected with Christ. Their relationship to the church as a whole was grounded in the very nature of the historical developement, a developement which could not be repeated. There can be no valid comparison, not even the slightest comparison , between the apostles then and the committee now.

This Book is Continued

at:  Under Which Banner - Part 4 of 4



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