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The End of Progressive Adventism


RonCorson
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There have been several reports and responses to General Conference President Ted N.C. Wilson’s, Sabbath sermon during the 2021 Annual Council in Spring Maryland. I spent some time reading and listening to the last 2 Annual Council Sermons. The 2021 Sermon “Trust God’s Prophetic Word in the Coming Conflict” and the 2020 Sermon “God Will Have A People” This is my analysis of the implications of both together, as usual my take is far different from what one reads on most of the Adventist Media outlets.

Both of Ted Wilson’s sermons are pretty much the same though I will point out that the 2020 sermon does an admirable job of pointing out just what Adventists think the messages of the 3 Angels of Revelation 14 are.  This is important because I have long said that the Adventist use of the 3 Angels messages is simply a shorthand way of saying Seventh-Day-Adventist distinctive doctrinal beliefs. In this sermon we hear that very clearly pointed out with no obfuscation which normally occurs when you ask an Adventist what are the 3 Angel’s messages.

Ted Wilson set forth a list of bullet points which I quote below with excerpts. If you are familiar with them you can skip to the Implications section.

1.     The Word of God Not Accepted as Authoritative

“The Spirit of Prophecy indicates we should read the Bible as it reads…” “…Seventh-day Adventists believe in the historical-biblical or historical-grammatical approach, allowing the Bible to interpret itself line upon line, precept upon precept, verse upon verse. We believe in the historicist approach to prophecy, not the preterist or futurist approaches. The historical-biblical hermeneutical method is the only method accepted by the Seventh-day Adventist Church.”

 2.     Attempts to Diminish the Spirit of Prophecy

The Spirit of Prophecy was given by God through Ellen G White as special instructions to God’s last-day church and is verified by Revelation 12:17 and Revelation 19:10. The Spirit of Prophecy is absolutely reliable and is to be believed and accepted in its entirety. Ellen White was absolutely a prophet of God and her ministry including strong messages from the throne room of God about apocalyptic prophecy and instruction are for all time. As we read the Spirit of Prophecy we are convinced of its accuracy, truthfulness, and relevancy.”

 3.     Misconceptions of Justification and Sanctification

Christ’s righteousness encompasses His justifying and sanctifying power and is at the very core of the three angels’ messages. It is through Christ’s justification that we can be righteous in the Father’s eyes. It is through Christ’s sanctification that we can keep the commandments of God.”

 4.     Denial of the Urgency of the Times 

“However, in the Bible, God has provided many signs indicating Jesus' return. We are very close!”

 5.     Humanism versus Heavenly Inspiration

“My fellow leaders, fight against humanism and lift up heavenly inspiration according to His word!” [He does not define humanism.[ Humanism is defined as:

1.     A system of thought that focuses on humans and their values, capacities, and worth.

2.     A cultural and intellectual movement of the Renaissance that emphasized human potential to attain excellence and promoted direct study of the literature, art, and civilization of classical Greece and Rome.

3.     The study of the humanities; learning in the liberal arts.]

 

6.     Disregard for the Sanctuary Service and the Gospel Message

“…Promote and teach the sanctuary doctrine with Christ, His righteousness, and the everlasting gospel at the center. Biblical prophecies are real and Daniel 8:14 is absolutely rock solid. Don't believe anybody who says, “Oh no, that was only 2,300 literal days and it ended with someone called Antiochus Epiphanes.” No, my friends, don't believe that. We use the biblical day/year principle given to interpret prophecy. Allow the Bible to interpret itself. The historicist approach shows us that history has accurately unfolded according to His Word!”

 7.     Ecumenism versus The Shaking and Sifting of God’s Church

“I strongly urge you to stay away from ecumenism. Instead, focus on the proclamation of the three angels’ messages. Believe what The Great Controversy says about the end time setting when the shaking and sifting of the church will take place…”

 8.     Congregationalism versus God’s Worldwide Seventh-day Adventist Remnant Church

There are those who wish to focus only on local church and community settings ignoring the worldwide family of Seventh-day Adventists in about 215 countries…”

9.     Attacks against the Godhead

“There are those who advocate that the Godhead is not three distinct Persons thus diminishing God. We know from the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy that there is absolutely a Godhead made up of three Persons united in One…”

 10. Opposition to God’s Law and His Ten Commandments

There are those who will say the law has been done away; however, God’s law is eternal. We do not keep God’s law, the ten commandments, through our own power but only as we lean on Christ and His righteousness… This will be our test.”

 11. Evolution versus Biblical Creation

The devil has attempted to obliterate all references to God’s authority as the Creator, including the erroneous idea that the earth evolved over billions of years. Both evolution and theistic evolution are opposed to the account of creation found in the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy. The global flood, also denigrated by non-believers, is another indication of God’s power and authority to remake the world…”

12. Aberrant Lifestyle Behavior versus Biblical View of Sexuality

This subject is a delicate one, but we cannot be silent on what the Bible teaches as correct living and practice. The Seventh-day Adventist Church has carefully studied these topics and has issued voted statements by representatives of the world church that reflect the biblical view on human sexuality including statements on homosexuality and transgenderism. ..”

13. Rejection of Temperance versus God’s Comprehensive Health Ministry and Health Reform

“…The devil will use anything to distract people from God’s laws of health and health reform, but God has given us enormous counsel in the Bible and Spirit of Prophecy for living a healthy lifestyle. Read and follow it as part of the third angel’s message to stay away from anything that will defile you. My fellow church leaders and members, stay faithful to God’s pure health principles. According to His Word!”

14. Disastrous Influences of Eastern Mysticism

The devil is using eastern mysticism to bring in all sorts of syncretistic beliefs into the Seventh-day Adventist Church, including pantheism and other forms of aberrant theological twisting of the Word of God...” 

 

Implications

This article is not an attempt to counter any of Ted Wilson’s points. I have read several articles in the past few weeks from the Progressive Adventist viewpoints that dealt with some of these 14 points.  I want to point out that these 14 points are pretty much in line with the views of Traditional Adventists. There might be a couple that some Traditional Adventist would quibble with, however I can say that there is relatively few on this list that Progressive Adventists would say are important and we must accept and teach these denominational concepts. Most notably I would point to the authority of Ellen White as a prophet and assertion that we must believe in a recent 6 day creation and literal worldwide flood.

As equally to be rejected by the Progressive Adventist is the Historicist view of history and the dismissal of anything but a historical-biblical or historical-grammatical approach, allowing the Bible to interpret itself line upon line, precept upon precept, verse upon verse”. The statement, “line upon line…” is interesting since it reflects an Ellen White viewpoint that is based on a misused Bible verse.  The context of the verse in Isa 28:10 indicates that those erring teachers (vs. 7 “they err in vision, they stumble in judgment”) who use repetition without imagery or illustration and without an appeal to understanding or respect for reason.

Several of the statements on this list would seem to many Progressive Adventists to encourage what is often termed Last Generation Theology. Some of the articles from Progressives also took the political progressive view of LGBT+ non-affirmation as their most important take away from the 2021 sermon.

This leads to the question the members of the SDA denomination should be asking themselves. Which of these points is important and which ones can be discarded. If I as a Traditional Adventist am in agreement with Ted Wilson, I would say none of them must be discarded and all must be proclaimed as essential to our denomination? If I as a Progressive Adventist say I disagree with most all of Ted Wilson’s points, I would think that most of those points should be discarded. What would be my essentials that the denomination must proclaim?

It would be interesting to ask the Progressive Adventists that question and if their websites were not so restricted maybe someone could. I do guess that the Progressive Adventist would say their essentials would be fairly nonspecific. Preach the Gospel and likely essential to reject eternal torment in hell and possibly a respect for the park in time of a Sabbath. That seems to be about it, certainly there are other essentials but those would be common among most Christian denominations.

This is the point where the implications of all this really hits me. Why should the Progressive Adventist even try to change the SDA denomination? The Traditionalist would say save the denomination by proclaiming the things on Wilson’s list and the Progressive SDA would say leave those things behind. If this ever becomes a real struggle for the denomination as in if an actual schism occurs there is nothing that the Progressives would give up to the Traditional Adventists. But the Traditional Adventists would have to give up most of their beliefs.

Does it make sense to take away all these things from the Traditional Adventists? Progressive Adventists believe that many of these things the Traditional Adventist believes are harmful to the cause of Christ. Let us for sake of argument say that the Progressive Adventists are correct and many of these teachings hurt the cause of Christ. Would not the best thing be to leave the Adventist system altogether; spend their time on spreading what they believe is the gospel to the world rather than spending their efforts trying to dissuade the Traditional Adventists to change their beliefs. Having the SDA denomination infrastructure would certainly be helpful to the Progressive Adventists but it is not likely to happen is it?

I would assume that Progressive Adventists likely have most of the faculty of SDA colleges and have had them for the last 20 years at least. But because they still cling to Ellen White as something of an authority even if not accepting all her statements they don’t really have a consistent message that could dissuade Traditional Adventists. When you read the two sermons by Ted Wilson you will see that on much of his sermons he backs himself up by using Ellen White. The Traditional Adventist can always point to anyone not accepting Ellen White as a fulfillment of prophecy (making her of none effect). So in simple terms I see no way that Progressive Adventists can get what they want. They can’t even chip away at the Adventist church as they have been doing, as I have been doing for most of my life, because the church is built on Ellen White. To think that the SDA denomination will give up their distinctive message, that 3 angels messages that they think firmly places Ellen White and the Adventist denomination inside the Bible is something that simply will never happen.

At the Adventist Today zoom Sabbath School Class I asked this question:

“Should there be pluralism in the Adventist church? Should there be pluralism in the Adventist Today publication (and website)?  I am using the last half of the Cambridge dictionary definition of Pluralism: "...different beliefs and opinions, within the same society" (I am not using the different people groups/culture/races meaning…”

No one there really offered an answer to the question but Loren Seibold did reply at one point: “Ron, we don’t expect the denomination to be pluralistic. Not sure where you got that idea. We have seen little evidence that they want to be.”

My question was not is either the Adventist Church or Adventist Today pluralistic but should they be. It has long been my opinion that Adventist Today has become politically progressive and that is their main emphasis. If a person thought that the Denomination should be pluralistic it would seem appropriate for a website serving other members of the church to also be pluralistic.

But if a Progressive Adventist has no expectation of the denomination being pluralistic what is the point of being a Progressive Adventist?

One thing that is quite a big difference between the Traditional and the Progressive Adventist is that the Traditional Adventists are pretty sure that what people believe in the way of doctrines is important for their salvation. I can say that for myself and many of the people who attend the AToday Sabbath school class this is not their belief.  I place myself in the Universalism camp. See my article What About Universalism which interestingly enough was first published in Adventist Today back before I was persona non grata there. While that may still be a minority view of Progressive Adventists, most certainly believe that Adventism is not now or in the future a requirement for salvation. You will notice that ecumenism was one of the things on Wilson’s list.

While I would love to persuade the Traditional Adventist of my Progressive Adventist views because I think it is closer to the truth and better for society and better for the cause of Christ. It is not to me a salvation issue for them to change. The Traditional Adventist expects that people who are not totally in on the Adventist belief system to be shaken out of the church, to be shaken out as non-believers that is a salvation issue!

So I can’t see any reason to be a Progressive Adventist. Certainly not if I was like Loren Seibold and thought that the Adventist church is never going to be open to different beliefs and opinions in the denomination. I in fact do agree with Seibold on that. How much effort should Progressive Adventist put in on changing what does not want to be changed?  Traditional Adventists certainly have the right to their chosen beliefs and it should not be too much trouble for me to accept their beliefs as I accept so many other people’s beliefs. My having been raised in the same denomination as them should at the very least make me more accepting of their beliefs. So again what is the point in being a Progressive Adventist?

There is as far as I can see only one reason for Progressive Adventists to continue. It is not however a good reason, it is a quest for power and control. That is, to attempt to take over churches and schools from the control of the Adventist denomination.

I have been what I have called a Progressive Adventist for over 20 years, (See The Problem of Progressive Adventists ) though back then I always noted it was not at all related to political progressive. 8 or 9 years ago places like Adventist Today and Spectrum merged with political progressivism and I used the term much less. Today I feel it is time to complete the dissolution of the term Progressive Adventist. I no longer see any use for the term and no benefit to continue it at all. Thus it is not only the end of a term but the end of my involvement with Seventh-Day Adventists. I appreciate the history I have with the church and people. I wish the church well and do not want to see a schism disrupt the people. So I offer this to all of Adventism, but as I am always learning if anyone can explain to me a reason for Progressive Adventism I look forward to hearing it.

 

 

 

 

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Ron:  Some years back I went through a time when I asked myself if it was time for me to leave the Seventh-day Adventist Chruch.  That was a time of personal stress for me and I am not going to go into the details, other than to say that I sought professional help.

In working through my issues, I came to the following conclusions:

*  I was going to be exactly what I was in all aspects of my spiritual life and ministry.

*  I was not going to allow others to define the meaning of Seventh-day Adventist.

*  I would not leave the SDA Denomination.  If at some time the SDA Church decided that I was not fit to be a Seventh-day Adventist, so be it.  The Church had the right to do that.  I would accept it.  But, I was not going to make such a decision as to my relationship to the SDA Chruch.

*  I do not consider the SDA denomination to be perfect.  No one who knows me would think that I do.

*  I publish comments in which I tell the denomination how I think that it should change.  In recent times the Adventist Review has published some 200 of my comments on SDA life, ministry and its teachings.

*  I have no idea as to whether or not any of my published comments have effected any change.  But, that is not my concern.  I am who I am.  It is up to people reading what I publish as to whether or not my thoughts have an effect on them.

*  In being myself, I have reached the status where I am content to remain a Seventh-day Adventist.

*  I would wish that you could be free to be yourself and to remain associated with the SDAs.  If you cannot do so, I wish you well, God's blessing on you, and success in your spiritual journey.

*  In any case, you can remain a member of this forum.

 

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Leaving the denomination means to break fellowship with it. it involves finding a new church, new friends, new beliefs or new  emphasis and priorities.  Few people do that. Since the denomination practices open communion, one can still participate in the Lord's Supper. A former member may attend and participate in Sabbath school and prayer meeting. There may be some variation among congregations; however, at least in some congregations, one who is not a member may not participate in church business meetings or hold an office.

Some denominations practice the "ban" or "shunning." A former member may be socially isolated, lose friends, not allowed to do business in his former community. I'm not aware of this practice among SDA. When certain buddhists discovered that my wife and I were Christians, they put us under a ban, shunned us, dreaded our company. We were threatened with curses from from their leaders who practiced occult arts. One elderly lady was particularly hostile. Her young granddaughter died unexpectedly. A former friend who became hostile died in a motor accident. A buddhist institution whose leaders were involved in occult arts was attacked by government authorities and saw a large portion of their community bulldozed. A former friend saw his prized fruit tree fall over.

Some SDA evangelists conducted a crusade on a small island primarily populated by RC. Those who became SDA were shunned by their community. They could not buy food or function in their close knit community. Eventually, they had to leave the island and begin a new life on the mainland. That's what it means to break fellowship. 

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I have not been to an SDA church since 2014 and that was visit when I was in the city for an interview. It was actually a pretty good church. And of course while I thought about visiting some SDA churches where I live now I did not get around to it before Covid. So I have no real church ties and friends to make me think I can just be content to let things be as they are and go along to get along. I have certainly met people like that where church is just a social group. I am sure I could find that with any number of churches. When I first moved to Seattle I had looked into the Mars Hill church but when I read their beliefs I decided I could not fit in there so never visited. This past couple of months I have been listening to the Christianity Today podcast "The rise and fall of Mars Hill" It really is interesting. The last podcast is Nov 23 so it is almost done. It certainly is a good illustration of what a complete disaster a congregationalist system can be. So there are some good things about a denomination.

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Ron,

There can be a lot of things which make it difficult for SDA to make "new friends" which is an important part of church. If you find yourself making more enemies than friends, it is probably time for a change. While you may be open minded, a lot of other people are not. Not drinking alcohol, not eating meat, Sabbath keeping, avoiding lies, brothels, and various other activities make you the "other" to people of the world. Now some "SDA" might not have a problem with any number of those items. Being a vegetarian has impaired more than one potential friendship. It has also contributed   to other good friendships.

Thanks for bringing my attention to Mars Hill. It reminded me of a similar chain of events, probably  not as extreme, at the ICOC under the leadership of Kip McKean. Kip was a charismatic visionary. I heard him preach once or twice. I still remember parts of one of his sermons, which is unusual for me. People who want to get things done sometimes come across as "abusive" to people who get in their way.  I've seen it happen in Adventism, replete with financial irregularities or suggestions thereof.

One  cure for denominational burn out is winning a soul for Jesus, or trying to.

 

 

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3 hours ago, GHansen said:

One  cure for denominational burn out is winning a soul for Jesus, or trying to.

That is probably a part of my biggest part of Adventism today. There is no place to bring a person that has just been introduced to Jesus. The SDA church has too many theological areas that are really problematic. That is true for other Christian churches also though but possibly fewer as it is not that hard to get past eternal torment in hell. Even those churches that believe in inerrancy in the Bible actually only believe that is true of the originals, which of course we don't have!

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Not sure that we need to manage people's Christian experience in its entirety. The Holy Spirit leads people into the truth. I wouldn't presume to tell others how to handle this problem but I do believe God will help us find a way.

I took a friend to an SDA church, her first time.  One of the leaders, a woman, spent a lot of time in earnest conversation with my friend. I was very touched by the interest shown in this new arrival. Later, I asked what the conversation was about. "Oh, she was talking to me about the importance of paying tithe." We never went back. I wouldn't invite or encourage others to go to that particular congregation, either.

I have invited people to read the Bible, share a meal, find a church in which to get baptized. If they like music, I'd refer them to a congregation with a good music program. Some people are interested in Scripture, even believe it but find the SDA church not to their liking or not convenient to attend. What's important is baptism by immersion, if they believe. 

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Of course there is no perfect church. But whatever church there is has to compromise on numerous things because there is a wide spectrum of beliefs. The plain things are the main things  It would be nice if discussion was encourage rather than feared. So that is why I don't see any future in the Progressive Adventist future.

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Ron: I'm worried that you seem to have fallen into the "There are two types of Adventists" trap. The so called "Historic" and false interpretation of Last Generation Adventists in the 1990s had their two types of Adventist list and say that you are either with the faithful US or the apostate THEM. I have not seen that list in years, but still see the implications of that list. 

Seventh-day Adventism is in a spectrum. We have always been in a spectrum, yet in 1888 and 1922 there were people who have tried to push their version of Adventism as the ONLY TRUE VERSION and everyone else is wrong. While not as extreme as the so called "Historic Adventists" false view of the Last Generation group, Elder Wilson tends to have some of this in his approach. 

Of your outline of his messages: some points I am in agreement with. Other points the Bible appears to be more flexible than the traditions he wants to support. Other points are where the views are not in opposition to each other, but because there are people who go to one extreme with one of those views, Elder Wilson believes that we are safe if we fall into the other ditch. Satan usually has two ditches, some that attract some people, and an opposite to attract those who see the danger in the one ditch, where they end up feeling safe and secure in Satan's other ditch. 

Some of the points he is uncomfortable with actually support our understanding of Daniel 8:14 better than the tradition. 

And as I mentioned: the one group has a false view of the last generation. Now Mrs. White does teach a last generation perfection. However, her view and their view do not agree. The traditional "Last Generation" perfection still holds some of the false views from pre-1888 Adventism, and pre-trinitarian Adventism but tries to blend it in with post-1888 and trinitarian growth. They limit being a sinner to do's and don't, and that perfection is doing all the do's and none of the don'ts. That the last generation perfection would be of a different QUALITY than any generation prior. While this theology actually does not need this, they like to give Jesus a sinful nature and set him up as an example of the overcoming. (also, because there is another extreme that needs in their theology Jesus having the nature of Adam before the fall, and have thus fallen into one ditch, this group believes that it is safe to hide in Satan's other ditch.) 

Mrs. White sees us as being sinners because we have the sinful nature, a disposition to esteem ourselves more highly than others, to serve self, to seek the highest place. While we are to gain a victory over this, we are still sinners fully needing the grace of God because we have that disposition inside of us. Jesus had his own unique nature, unlike and like Adams before and us after the fall. But Jesus did not have the slightest tendency to think he was for himself by esteeming him self about others. Satan needed to modify his temptations to Jesus' nature. Mrs. White saw that there was a spectrum of people. On one end were those who committed the unpardonable sin. Nothing can get them to change. At the other side are those who have fully trusted in however they in their background and the Holy Spirit's work on their heart, has such a strong friendship with God, that nothing can shake them. It has been noticed that while she does not mention his name, her description of perfection follows well known descriptions of John Wesley.  Then there are those in the middle, who either have not accepted God into their lives but may as they learn more about him and have their questions answered, and those who have accepted salvation, but are still growing and could still backslide. Mrs. White sees these four groups in EVERY generation in history. But in most of history this has been a bell curve with only a few on each end and most in the middle. In the last generation it will only be the two end groups. She does NOT see the last generation as being of a different QUALITY than any generation before it, she sees people all through history as having reached this perfection. Her understanding is that the last generation perfection will have a different QUANTITY than ever before. Instead of the bell curve, it will indeed be two sides. More of us will come to have that total trust in Jesus, in God as personal friend that has only been a few (Probably like John Wesley) through history. 

 

 

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18 hours ago, Kevin H said:

Ron: I'm worried that you seem to have fallen into the "There are two types of Adventists" trap

Is it a trap or is it reality? If I was to drill down to the biggest problem it would be Ellen G. White. Most of Ted Wilson's points were based upon EGW. The problem I see with Progressive Adventist today is they actually hide behind EGW on a few things and completely ignore her on a whole bunch of other points. They think that this fools people into thinking they are good with EGW as a prophet. Of course they aren't really. So if you were to take EGW's positions you end up like Ted Wilson. I as a progressive SDA (up until the recent end) I would say I don't really care how many groups you find EGW puts at the end time. That same end time where she says there is a predicted sunday law that is the mark of the beast! The same woman who even the SDA believe book (27 fundamentals edition) can't find any predictions that have come to pass so that we can test her. 

So really it is coming down to which Adventists are really being honest with themselves and others. Once a person gets past that line where they hope that just maybe they can help change some Adventists beliefs I think to remain an honest person with others and themselves they  have to say they really have no reason to exist as a Progressive Adventist or Adventist in general.

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I'm sorry Ron, My college professors were very heavy into Mrs. White, and in my Master's my minor was in Mrs. White. There was a topic I kept coming across time after time in just reading through her correspondence at the White estate vault. After the approach to Mrs. White from my college professors, and a campmeeting series by Ralph and Beatrice Neal (spelling of last name?) from Union College, and where it was the time that Ford and Rea were the big issues, I did not realize how important those letters were, but she and/or Willie wrote many sharp letters, on topic after topic to who, due to the similarly of the correspondence on both sides, I thought that it was to the same person. But as I kept coming across them and reading them,  I realized it was a group of people but with similar thoughts. Now, these were not people who were so out of line that they needed church discipline or anything like this, but they were a pain in the neck to the Whites. 

A basic outline of these letters were Mrs. White or Willie complaining that despite these people using massive amounts of her quotes, that they did not understand her message and thus they were misrepresenting her, using her words to give authority to their words that they were forcing on to the church. 

They would write back defending themselves, saying that others were polluting Mrs. White's mind to them (often blaming Willie, Prescott, or Daniels) and that if Mrs. White really knew the truth she would not have written the sharp words to them, but would fully embrace their message etc. They were critical of how Progressive Adventism was infiltrating the church, especially in how Mrs. White, Willie, Prescott, Daniels and others were spreading Progressive Adventism, and would call back to what they were teaching as the true form of Adventism. 

After I finished my classes, I joined the U. S. Army and was stationed at Ft. Lewis Washington. While there I met several church members who appreciated and shared a journal titled "Our Firm Foundation" I read many copies (I think I even subscribed for a while) and while there was much that I appreciated in those papers, there was also a lot, and I mean a lot that sounded VERY familiar. They sounded like those letters that Ellen and Willie White complained about. As I looked at the footnotes, they were full of familiar names. The names of these people who were involved with this correspondence.  

I'm sorry, but I'm not going to give up my honest understanding of the Bible and Spirit of Prophecy to accept the Bible and Mrs. White as filtered through these people, no matter how popular they are with conservative Adventists. Mrs. White and Willie found them to be a pain in the neck, and I concur with what they said about them. 

I find Elder Wilson not fully agreeing with them, but we have groups such as Fulcrum7 and others who just carry on their message. Elder Wilson is close, but a little bit more moderate and critical of some of the more extreme ideas.  

Now, I want to give these people credit by not saying in their letters to the Whites what I read in a handful of handbills I found in the White estate vault from the early 1900s. But the handbills went farther than the letters in that they accused Mrs. White of heresy, including her acceptance of the 1888 message, her becoming a trinitarian, her embracing progressive Adventism,  her unhappiness with the people from that correspondence,, and that we should only read her pre-1888 writings, and that to be completely safe to only read her through those people who she wrote those sharp letters to, because they knew the difference between what she wrote that came from God and what she wrote that came from her apostasy and influence of Willie, Prescott and Daniels. A couple of these handbills even suggested that a Jesuit had infiltrated her inner circle, some suggesting that either Willie, Prescott or Daniels were the Jesuit, and a couple even was suspicious that Mrs. White herself had become a Jesuit Catholic and that she was at that time using her old role as a true prophet of God to now spread Jesuit theology in the church. 

Of course as Mrs. White and the others died, this subgroup suddenly Baptized them into being fully faithful Adventists of these subgroups, and that the ideas that they were complaining of creeping into the church in the early 1900s, and through people like the post 1888 Mrs. White, Willie, Prescott, Daniels and others did not come from these perfect (dead) saints, but were creeping into the church years after they died. 

 

 

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Not really seeing the point there. It still leads to the problem being Ellen White. You are just pointing out that there is a group who think they are the ones who know how to interpret Ellen White and you don't agree or even those people were a pain to Ellen White sort of like the ones that don't believe in Ellen White she did not like either. So what is the common denominator in all of that? Ellen White.

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On 11/18/2021 at 6:11 PM, RonCorson said:

The problem I see with Progressive Adventist today is they actually hide behind EGW on a few things and completely ignore her on a whole bunch of other points. They think that this fools people into thinking they are good with EGW as a prophet. Of course they aren't really.

I agree with much of this. Even as a lad I believed something was "off" with EGW. And the more I read of her writings, the more I wished to distance myself from her.

For decades I thought there was something to be salvaged from EGW - that I could rely on the old adage that she was a "lesser light" and therefore I didn't have to take her more problematic views seriously. But unlike the biblical text, which is of unknown authorship, origin and authenticity, and hence susceptible of varying interpretations, EGW wrote in 19th century American English, which is well understood today, so it's harder to explain away the errors in her writings without concluding that she wasn't really "shown" things that she claimed to have been "shown".

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1 hour ago, pierrepaul said:

But unlike the biblical text, which is of unknown authorship, origin and authenticity, and hence susceptible of varying interpretations,

Would you explain how the Biblical texts "unknown authorship, origin and authenticity" makes it subject to varying interpretations? Certain passages in Hebrews, for example, some people find hard to understand. Certainty regarding its authorship is unlikely to clarify those passages. Would you provide some example that illustrate your remark?

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Hello again Brother Ron:

 

I hope that I did not come down too hard as I was hitting you between the eyes with a 2x4 to get your attention.

 

The “2 types” of Adventism myth keeps us from growing and learning. I don’t like the terms “Liberal” and “Conservative” because most of us are in a tapestry. Some of my views would probably be considered very “liberal” more would be seen as “conservative” and most would be someplace in the middle and be hated by the two extremes. Even in what you shared from Elder Wilson’s sermon, most would be seen as on the conservative side and against the liberal side, but some, such as his defense of some form of the trinity is attacking a more “conservative” side where the anti-trinitarians would say that Elder Wilson was being too progressive.

 

The 3ABN Sabbath School panel for the Sabbath of November 20, 2001, James Rafferty talked about idols, and mentioned “American Idol” and I think he referred to “Sports Idols” and “Celebrity Idols” but he really hit home as he mentioned 3ABN idols. I admit, that James is one of my 3ABN idols. I find him, and a program he was on called “Table Talk” fantastic. 3ABN tends to lean towards what is frequently called “conservative” but “Table Talk” is surprisingly “progressive” for 3ABN. And this is what I find disturbing about your post, and somewhat with Elder Wilson. In Corinth we find that they had different factions: The faction of Paul, the faction of Cepheus, the faction of Apollos, and the faction of Jesus are what Paul pointed out. Too many believe that the solution to the Corinthian problem is to throw out Cepheus, Apollos and Jesus.

 

Satan’s attack is for us to choose our idol among Adventist and religious thought, and to only drink of that fountain and throw out all others. Now there are some ideas that are dangerous that we should throw out. I listen to those from say the “Historic Adventists” I don’t filter out my 3ABN programming to only listen to Table Talk and James Rafferty. I could make a list like what the so called “Historic Adventists” published in the 1980s and 1990s (On the one hand I would like to find another copy of it to have and to share what I see as it’s shortcomings. But on the other hand, I am hoping that they are thinking and growing some away from that horrible list). I could contrast what is taught on Table Talk, and what is taught by, I won’t name him but especially one of the regular 3ABN speakers, and say that you either can be a faithful follower of the Table Talk gang, or you can be an unfaithful follower of that other speaker. The so called “Historic Adventists” see some important truths. But I see both them and the followers of Desmond Ford as two sides of the same coin. They see something that they love and share, but they tend to use what truth they see against the rest of the truth. These are two extremes within Adventism. I’ve had so called “Historic Adventists” and “Fordites” both tell me that I do not exist. That there are only two groups of Adventism, then and the other group. They don’t want to give the rest of us the right to exist, they don’t listen to arguments that may unite both truths. My professors at AUC and Ralph and Beatrice Neal (spelling. We have a couple of Ralph Neals but with different spellings of Neil, but I mean the Ralph married to the late Beatrice, they taught at Union College), and the books by A. LeRoy Moore. My three major concerns about the two schools of the so called “Historic Adventists” and the “Fordites” is how they both offer two extreme but equally non-Biblical natures that they assign to Jesus, and two extreme but equally non-Biblical ideas of last generation perfection, and how they (especially the so called “Historic Adventists”) instead of just sharing the information that they love and allow the rest of us to listen, evaluate and choose. They try to win converts through righteousness by fear.

 

Lucifer had an amazing creative mind when he wrote songs in heaven. Since he has become Satan, we see changes in his creativity as well. We very rarely find him doing something creative, and rarely find him coming out with outright lies. In his post fall mind he takes God’s good creation and truths, and splits them into pieces. He likes to use part of the truth against the rest of the truth. Both the “Fordites” and the “Historic Adventists” start out with a part of the truth, but at a rejection of the rest of the truth. They then build speculation and traditions on the truths they love, but then they build speculation and traditions not on the truths that they see and love, but on their layers of speculation and traditions, and make even more speculation and traditions based on the last group of speculation and traditions. Listening to a wide group within Adventism helps us to evaluate and make the best choices that we can.

 

God wants a teachable spirit. All of us see through a glass dimly. We either take part of the truth and use it to harden our hearts against the rest of the truth, and thus destroy the teachable spirit and we would rather be lost than be teachable. A far worst disease than hardening of the arteries, which will only kill us in the first death, is the disease of the hardening of the attitudes which will kill us in the second death.

 

No mater what field or topic, we are all in one of four locations:

 

Things we don’t know and don’t know that we don’t know it. Ideas that we have never met

Things we don’t know but we know that we don’t know. Ideas that we know exist but that is just about it.

Incompetent Knowledge. We know it exists, we know a little about it, but in a range from not knowing much about it, to knowing a fair amount but not at a level that we can explain or work with it.

Competent Knowledge. Notice it does NOT say “Complete Knowledge” but where we have an understanding where we can apply the knowledge or give somewhat of a fairly competent explanation of the knowledge.

 

Two ideas of incompetent knowledge. One of my spiritual heroes is Lynn Harper Wood. His insights on hell fire are amazing. I met many of his students who were amazed by his understanding of hell fire, but did not know how to teach it, so as they became pastors and teachers they taught the traditional view of hell fire, knowing in their hearts that there was truth much more Biblical and exciting, but they did not know how to present it. More personal, in Revelation class the professor shared a fantastic study by Dr. Waterman from Andrews University, looking at the relationship between 1944 and the Sabbatical years and Jubilees based on the early date of the exodus. It is exciting, I know that it exists and have had it presented twice to me. But I do not know how to present it in a credible way, or even in a way that makes sense to me. If I could come across the information in a form where I can study it better, it may become clearer to me and I’d love to have a competent knowledge of what Dr. Waterman found (and if anyone here has it and wants to share it with me, I am very willing to get the information.)

 

The psychiatrist Dr. William Glasser in talking about how he understands the brain to work is that we have reality all around us, and that we are a part of. As we meet reality, we meet information that we put through two filters. The first is our knowledge filter. We compare what we are meeting with what we already know. Our understanding of what we are meeting is based on what we previously learned. Then we filter it through our ethics filter. Then what we deal with is what we understand and our ethics. From here we can compare it to our ideal picture of reality, and make good or bad choices. As Lois Eggers in Common Sense Psychology points out that we should use the three judges of conscience, common sense and hearts desire to try to make better choices.

 

There is a reason why the story of the 6 blind men and the elephant is so popular. This is us. None of us have total knowledge. We know that we touched and we listen to those who touched other parts. One touched the elephant’s ear and thought that the elephant was like a fan. The second touched the tusk and thought that the elephant was like a spear. The third touched the trunk and thought the elephant was a type of snake. The fourth touched a leg and thought the elephant was like a tree. The fifth touched the body and thought the elephant was like a wall. The sixth touched the tail and thought the elephant was like a rope. They left the elephant insisting that their view of the elephant was the only correct view and refused to listen to the others. Too often we are like this, or I’m going to be unfair here but share a point heavy on my heart. I don’t know if he is still living or not, but there was an Adventist pastor named Robert Brinsmead. He started out a very strict “Historic Adventist” with a view of last generation perfection that I think that even some historic adventists may have found worry-some, but within that school of thought. Later, he completely rejected historic adventism and last generation perfection for ideas more like Desmond Fords. In both situations he held a fundamentalist idea of inspiration in the Bible and Mrs. White. As Walter Rea’s research came to light, he saw that Mrs. White did not fit Fundamentalism and rejected her. Then he discovered that the Bible has the same problems that Rea pointed out in Mrs. White and rejected the Bible. Last I heard he was like the one blind man who touched 4 of the 6 parts of the elephant. When he touched a new part he totally rejected his views from the last part of the elephant that he touched, and finally walked away believing that there is no such thing as an elephant.

 

We need to be fair to what we know. Listen to the different shades of Adventism. Accept what you think you understand at some level and find useful. Reject what you think you understand and don’t find useful, and divide that into three bins. One that you don’t think is useful, don’t think you will find useful, but may pick up and look again as you learn more. One for ideas that you think from your perspective as completely unBiblical and dangerous, but maybe you don’t really understand the argument, and as you understand where the argument is really coming from you may move it into one of the other two bins. And of course there are things that the Bible and Spirit of Prophecy completely warns us against; spiritualism, and just throw that away.

 

Even with someone like let’s say, Desmond Ford. He was an outstanding scholar in the theology of the Reformers. He was also a decent New Testament theologian. But when he was studying the New Testament and Paul was assumed to be what is now known as the “Old View” of Paul. If Ford had limited himself these he could have said “I don’t see how the Investigative Judgment fits, but listen to what the Old Testament theologians present and they might make sense for how it fits.” he would have not gotten into trouble with the church and would have passed as a worthy member. But he spoke not only in the field of his study and research, but also spoke with authority on things that he did not have the background to speak with authority about. When he was at PUC and said his major controversial statement “There is no year-day principle in the Bible” and the congregation sat there gullible accepting his words because he is a scholar, I bet that at the PUC library there was probably a book on the shelf titled “Before Philosophy” by Henri Frankfort and others, 1946 University of Chicago press that explains the day-year principle in the ancient world, as well as in the Bible. Ford filtered the Bible, especially the Old Testament, through his knowledge of what the reformers thought and what we now call the “old view of Paul.” From his knowledge and background, it is only logical for his conclusions. Those who studied the Bible from the perspective of ancient thought, in which Frankfort’s discoveries are standard, the day-year principle is natural, and it is easier to see the points that Ford had problems with. If Ford had read Frankfort’s book, or if someone who had read Frankfort’s book challenged Ford and brought Frankfort’s evidence to his knowledge, Even if he did not read the book or read it but did not understand it. Ford’s history would have been so different.

Part of Ford’s problem is that he saw the point where the reformers reached as total truth, and was worried that Seventh-day Adventists having progressed beyond the reformers had entered dangerous ground. Sadly, too many of us over reacted and just caused a lot of pain all around. But if we progressives shared the knowledge that archaeology has shown from the world of the Old Testament, including Frankfort’s research that includes the ancient world having the day-year principle. To be even more progressive we could point out what is called “The New View of Paul” which studies Paul in his historical context and has a more acceptance of the law, the Sabbath and Kosher, even if they just limit these to Jewish believers, including Paul being a Kosher eating Sabbath keeper.

 

We progress by being willing to evaluate more ideas and information and weighing the evidence.

 

Brother Ron: Please listen to Elder Wilson’s concerns. Please listen to my concerns of some of Elder Wilson’s concerns. I am not going to try to scare you into thinking that you need to totally accept my understanding of Adventism or you will be lost, or totally become a Fordite if you don’t fully agree with me.

 

Progressive Adventism is simply four or five of the blind men discussing the parts of the elephant they touched and trying to make sense out of it. Please don’t dismiss us, or place us all into the same boat

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Jesus allegedly said "This is my body". We don't know his exact words. It's assumed he spoke in Aramaic, and that therefore the written Greek was a free-style translation by the gospel authors, who may or may not have been eye-witnesses. So one can support or refute transsubstantiation. Even for a biblical inerrantist, there is enough uncertainty in the meaning of the original Greek verb to support either view.

Take the plain words of Acts 10 which clearly mark an end to the mosaic and levitical diet laws. SDAs who want to cling to the old food rules can pretend that the passage was written somewhat cryptically and that "unclean" foods was merely a symbol of circumcision and the so-called "ceremonial law", rather than accepting the words as we read them.

Colossians 2:16 clearly indicates that sabbath is a thing of the past. But SDAs wishing to preserve the sabbath teaching can play word games by suggesting the Greek word for "sabbath" doesn't mean the weekly sabbath and means something else. There's enough "wiggle room" to support more than one interpretation.

In Matthew 25, Jesus states that all of the predictions would come to pass in "this generation". Much ink has been spilled over what "this generation" means.

With any problematic biblical passage, one can always claim it was incorrectly translated or that the original Greek/Hebrew meant something else or that the author wrote in code or symbol so as to shoehorn the meaning into what we want it to say. These techniques allow one to pretend to treat the bible as inerrant. In other words, instead of saying that Moses simply got the creation story wrong, we can claim that "evening and morning" means something other than a 24-hour day. Instead of saying that Paul was wrong when he admonished women to be silent in church, we pretend he was only talking about a handful of particularly gossipy women. Instead of saying that Jesus was wrong when he said all would be accomplished in "this generation", we stretch what was meant by "this generation".

But for EGW's writings there's no such "wiggle room". EGW wrote that coal fires caused volcano eruptions - this is a falsehood. Now perhaps in 500 years or so, (if anyone is still reading EGW) some future "scholar" might claim that the word for "coal" used in the 19th century was broad enough to encompass magma and try to explain away her error. But in the 21st century we know that in the 19th century, "coal" meant "coal" and hence EGW was wrong.

EGW wrote that drama was not to be used in preaching the gospel. Progressives pretend she didn't write this. In 500 years a new generation speaking a different language could argue that the 19th century English word "drama" was mistranslated, or meant something else. We in the 21st century cannot do this (and be intellectually honest), and so if we want to keep drama as a tool, we have to claim that EGW was wrong.

Few progressives though are willing to take that logical step and declare that EGW was wrong.

OTOH, many do try very hard to maintain the myth that all of EGW's writing were "inspired" and therefore they embark on the task of reinterpreting her writings. So "theatre-going" is reinterpreted to mean only 19th century burlesque theatre, and thus SDAs are OK attending London's West End, NY Broadway or cinematographic productions. When I was a lad 40 years ago, the proscription against theatre referred only to the building - one was safe watching cinema at home or in the church basement, just not in a building labelled "theatre".

"Card-playing" is reinterpreted by some to mean "gambling", or to refer only to a standard deck of playing cards. So other games involving cards are OK. "Dancing" is reinterpreted to mean only lascivious dancing, and thus folk dances are now OK. Who knows, maybe one day the nonsense written about the "sunday law" will be reinterpreted as being merely symbolic and the church will maintain the illusion that EGW's writings are still truth.

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16 hours ago, Kevin H said:

Even with someone like let’s say, Desmond Ford. He was an outstanding scholar in the theology of the Reformers.

In response to a question regarding the origins of his justification theology, Dr. Ford cited 2 sources. The first was about 50 pages in Selected Messages that address justification. The second source was Spurgeon. He recommended reading "Christ's Glorious Achievements" when asked for a resource. "Christ's Glorious Achievements" is a collection of sermons by Spurgeon, detailing the things Jesus did for humanity e.g., destroyed death, sought and saved the lost, overcame the world, conquered death. As to a source for some of his OT insights, he recommended "Christ in All the Scriptures" by Farrar.

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19 hours ago, Kevin H said:

The “2 types” of Adventism myth keeps us from growing and learning. I don’t like the terms “Liberal” and “Conservative” because most of us are in a tapestry. Some of my views would probably be considered very “liberal” more would be seen as “conservative” and most would be someplace in the middle and be hated by the two extremes.

Yes I have heard that a lot of times. But it is always very generic. The statement I am conservative (a term I don't use in Adventism since it has a real and historic meaning in politics. So it would be I am traditional or historic Adventist but I may have some liberal views but I really can't name any, they just might be there. It is because in the main one is either traditional/historic in their Adventist beliefs or they are not and that pretty much always comes down to in the main parts of a persons beliefs to be one or the other. A lot of time when people don't use precise language their so called liberal beliefs are really just political beliefs rather than anything to do with religious beliefs. 

In any case one of the reasons I finally wrote the article is because of the answer I got about pluralism in the church. If even the editor of a Progressive Adventist magazine and website has no expectation of pluralism in the SDA church, it does not seem a likely possibility. 

Then today I am watching the 3rd  hunger game movie and in one of the speeches the character says to progress takes compromise. When you look at that what compromise would the historic/traditionalist make and what compromise would the Progressive Adventist make? From Wilson's sermon clearly he had nothing in his historic/traditionalist beliefs he would compromise on and I believe in my article I asked what would a progressive Adventist compromise on. Well I think that the Progressive Adventist has already said they would like to see pluralism in the church they have offered the biggest compromise possible. Where else can they go? So it is left to the historic/traditionalist side to accept some kind of compromise and they have steadfastly refused. So it seems that really sets up the end of this debate between Progressive and historic/traditionalists. The historic side sees any compromise with those who are being shaken out of the church to be ridiculous. As such it would be a denial of their faith to do that. I think it is totally unacceptable to ask them to reject their faith. As someone who accepts various beliefs it is no problem to accept their more narrow beliefs but they can't accept a wider view. Thus it is the end of Progressive Adventism, they have no place left to go in the Adventist church.

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I agree that the titles liberal and conservative does not fit in religious beliefs, and should not fit so well politically as they end up being a package set of beliefs, and I can have different views on the particular items. 

Historic/Traditionalists may be clearer but still is difficult. Some who clearly side with a package deal is easier to discuss. When it comes to belief in the writings of Mrs. White for instance, we still tend to read her through the eyes of say Elder Washburn (or Andresen who's views were similar to Washburn except for adding the trinity.) Elder Haskell (often labeled as "main line" Adventism) or through the eyes of people like Willie, Daniels and Prescott. Any of these three groups could consider themselves as historic/traditional, although the Washburn/Andresen group has taken the title of "Historic".  How do we relate to the 1919 Bible Conference and 1922 General Conference. How much do we use discoveries in archaeology/culture/history in our understanding. These and other issues color our understanding. 

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9 minutes ago, Kevin H said:

How do we relate to the 1919 Bible Conference

I can tell you how I react to the 1919 Bible Conference. They asked some good question then shut up to protect their jobs. So really bureaucracies have not changed since then. I also don't use the word liberal in politics anymore. It used to mean too many things. Classical liberalism would be what we call today libertarian. Then in the Progressive era the leftist called themselves progressive. After causing abundant harm to the country they called themselves liberal to run away from the term progressive. Then once they had sullied liberal up a good bit they went back to progressive. When a group is constantly changing the language you soon learn that they only try to protect their cause and to do that they must constantly redefine words and themselves. In politics conservative have always maintained the same definition of conserving the constitutional foundations of the country. Such terms are only useful within a particular country as the starting points are different in different countries. Hence a Russian conservative seeks to conserve a communist government. 

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How true.

In regards to 1919, the way I understand it is that there were those in our church leadership who wanted this information known, but others had been rejecting this information and blinding their eyes to it and attacking those who were pushing the issues, leading to the 1922 General Conference. 

But for example, Stephen Haskell was a very close friend of Mrs. White. However you find that they were in major disagreement in how inspiration worked. Haskell being a fundamentalist, and Mrs. White bringing up the same issues later brought up in 1919. Both were frustrated that they could not convince the other of their view, yet remained cordial towards each other.  Sadly, after Mrs. White died, Haskell had the same conversation with Willie, with Willie saying the same things that his mom told to Haskell, but Haskell was not as cordial to Willie.  Haskell strongly believed his understanding of how inspiration worked, including trying to teach Mrs. White how God was using her and rejecting what she was saying about how inspiration worked. 

Same with others, there was not so much a shutting up to protect their jobs (I'm sure there was some) but there was also strong ideas who did not believe the evidence. 

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16 hours ago, Kevin H said:

Historic/Traditionalists may be clearer but still is difficult.

Just like "conservative" and "liberal" have different meanings in different countries, "historic/traditionalist" have different meanings in different sects or denominations.

Looking at Christianity as a whole, there is nothing historic or traditional about Seventh-day Adventism.

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