Adventist Media Response and Conversation

Sunday, January 07, 2007

An Official? Response to the Traditional SDA letter

Abundant Rest Blog has posted an answer from James Cress of the Ministerial Association to the recent Letter by a critical Traditional SDA writer to the Conference.

James Cress Responds to Adventist Issues Letter

In the second paragraph of the letter James Cress states:

First, you have lodged some serious complaints against the church in general on a vast variety of topics. Some of these are, indeed, serious and should be carefully considered in that context. Others of these are frivolous or matters of personal opinion and do not merit consideration of the same level of importance as those which are of importance.

Cress’ response is very diplomatic and tries to explain the church’s stand on fundamental beliefs but the letter does not respond to what he says in the above statement are serious topics. Not surprising as it is doubtful he or anyone else has the ability to address those concerns let alone the frivolous concerns which were the majority of the original letter. The few topics which might be considered serious are:

20. Changing our beliefs and standards through errors in the Sabbath school quarterlies.

27. Confusion over the 144,000, the nature of Christ, and the trinity (The trinity is a Roman Catholic teaching).

33. Promoting books of a “new order” such as those written by Morris Venden, and others. And just as washing his hands before the people did not cleanse Pilot from the blood of Jesus, placing a disclaimer in the front of new books does not remove responsibility from our printing establishments of producing sound, truth-filled literature.

Several times on this blog I have mentioned the lack of Biblical exposition used in the Lesson Study Guides. Far too often the guides merely package Adventist traditions into the guides.

There is very much confusion over the 144,000 as it is from a very symbolic book and there seems to be at least in the traditional SDA world an assumption that they know the answer to all theological questions. As the letter writers own words show, they don’t. The same is true over the nature of Christ. This is not a question in most of Christianity; it is mainly in the SDA church that even the concept that Jesus had a post fall nature exists. The problem is easily solved by Biblical exposition that shows that Jesus is indeed God and therefore as God He is God, whatever his human side may be it will always be under the control of the divine nature.

The Trinity is in fact the major problem for those who hold to certain Traditional SDA views. They want to hold to the semi-Arian view which makes Jesus subservient to God as well as being a creation of God at some point in the distant past. This is why they can still debate the nature of Christ, because they can’t accept the Biblical divinity of Christ. The Trinity is not an easy concept but for most people it is the best they can do and it is a far better understanding then the other alternatives; Arianism, Semi-Arianism and Tri Theism. In my view not quite as good as modalism which sees God as revealed in different ways for different functions. Unfortunately like the Trinitarian view it can be subject to misunderstandings such as limiting God to one mode at a time. Understanding an Infinite God is not well done by those who can’t grasp the infinite but we can do our best. Understanding God as manifest in Christ however is not so difficult.

Morris Venden seems to be a favorite whipping boy of Traditional SDA’s and I am not sure why he over other prominent SDA authors is so despised. I would guess it is because even with his trend toward Traditionalism and his view that Ellen White is a divine interpreter of Scriptures he holds to righteousness by faith for salvation. Good works as a result of that salvation rather then a requirement for salvation.

The church however does support publishing of poor material such as the Clear Word and the church does tend to greatly restrict what kind of material it will publish. Forcing many authors to go to other publishers for publication; such as the new book Understanding Genesis: Contemporary Adventist Perspectives. Since the church has such a restricted publishing policy it is naturally assumed that what they do publish in their publishing houses has the approval of the church in general. The churches publishing practices need to be seriously reconsidered.

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