Adventist Media Response and Conversation

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Present Truth Propaganda

The Seventh-day Adventist denomination retained the doctrine of “Present Truth" from the Millerite movement. To the Millerites "Present Truth" was the soon second coming of Jesus and destruction of the earth which they later determined to be scheduled for 1844. Early Adventist pioneers like Joseph Bates held that the “shut door” teaching that Ellen White once also taught was similarly "Present Truth". Christians outside of the Adventist denomination also hold to their beliefs as "Present Truth" as in the set of sermon titles of Charles Spurgeon. The term is applied to ideas believed to be given by God to any group especially for their time or stated as follows on the website Heaven Dwellers:
“In each of God's ages and dispensations there has been truth generated from God that was peculiar and particular to that age or dispensation to which it pertained. By that we mean that in each age God made known a truth which related directly to the calling that then stood before God. It has ever been the responsibility of God's people in each age and dispensation to distinguish "Present Truth"…”
We may think of a few biblical examples of “Present Truth” which would be specifics to a particular situation. Israel was told to return from their false religious practices and seek justice, mercy and repentance. Those would be specific to the general truth, that truth of returning to following God. Justice and mercy would be the enduring truths, the "Present Truth" was the particular application of the need for the general truth. Another example might be the specific requirements for the city of Jerusalem when they attempted to re-establish Sabbath observance.

Let's look at the application of "Present Truth" used by Joseph Bates in regards to the shut door theory of early Adventism. (The shut door theory as held by certain Millerite Adventist between 1844-1854 maintained that Miller gave the final call for salvation and those who did not accept his message were lost. The theory was abandoned when they decided the cleansing was of the sanctuary in heaven and not a cleansing of earth.)
“Why this third angel's loud cry about the commandments of God, because the fourth one, which had been trodden down for many generations, is to be restored and kept as the commandment requires. The second angel's message and voice from heaven required God's people to leave the churches. The seventh-day Sabbath could not, nor can not now be restored there. It is to be done in the Philadelphia state of the church, and no where else. This is the "Present Truth" in the commandments in the Ark of his Testimony. The "Present Truth" in this is: That the master of the house has risen up and shut the door, and now stands beside the Ark containing the commandments. The ""Present Truth"," then, of this third angel's message is, The Sabbath And Shutdoor.” (See also the picture on the Chart. ) An Explanation of the Typical and Anti-Typical Sanctuary, By the Scriptures. With A Chart Revelation III:
The problem with "Present Truth" is that it often takes general truth and distorts it to support the presuppositions of the times. The general truth is that at some time Christ will return and the opportunity for decisions will end. The "Present Truth" of the shut door meant if one had heard Millers exhortation and no longer believed them they were lost. "Present Truth" became a term to make their beliefs appear to have more import then they would have if they were simply acknowledged it to be predictions or suppositions.

"Present Truth" took on the most peculiar incarnation: that is propaganda for a particular belief. If you and others believed it and it was a contemporary belief it must be true and God must have given it to you to perceive. It is now a powerful tool to tell people that you have some unique truth, not some old truth that everyone else could have from reading their Bibles, but a particular truth that is special for your time and place as a special gift from God to you and your church.

Adventism has taken "Present Truth" farther in that nothing can contradict "Present Truth", because once held it stands forever. P. Gerard Damsteegt writes:

“New light will not manifest itself in a form that is altogether different from the light the church already possesses. It will take the form of a further advancement of "Present Truth". It is a fuller, clearer, and brighter unfolding of the old truth. There will be harmony with the theological landmarks, the Spirit of Prophecy, and historicist principles of Bible interpretation. Thus it will not replace, substitute, radically change, or tear down the foundations of Adventist faith and practice.” (Seventh-day Adventist Doctrines and Progressive Revelation © P. Gerard Damsteegt Journal of the Adventist Theological Society, 2/1 (1991): 77-92)

Thus the propaganda of "Present Truth" becomes institutionalized. "Present Truth" becomes a euphemism for Adventist beliefs. If we (or the Adventists pioneers) believe it, it was or is called "Present Truth." This institutionalization becomes very much like the authority of the Roman Catholic Church and tradition becoming equal in authority to the Bible and dictating how the Bible must be interpreted. “Present Truth" becomes the theological landmarks. Thus, traditional Adventism has placed itself as the holder of “Present Truth” from an America of the late 1800’s which now is seen as “landmarks” that cannot be changed.

This traditional view of "Present Truth" is now arrayed against the Progressive Adventist view. (“Progressive Adventism” should not be confused with the unfortunate mixture of progressive or left wing politics and theology that so characterize the dialogue in some circles.) The Progressive Adventist seeks to learn how and when to reinterpret beliefs to maintain a reasonable theological view. It holds that "Present Truth" is progressive truth -- it is a new truth or a revised understanding of an old truth for this time or situation. For example at one time Ellen White condemned the use of bicycles for their impracticality and expense while today they are practical, good exercise, better for the environment and far cheaper than many forms of transport. Thus even if something was assumed to be divinely inspired instruction, with time and change the instruction is no longer valid, the general truth of not wasting ones money remains true but the "Present Truth" of a past age does not apply today. Most traditional Adventists understand this example. But they will not apply the same reasoning to what they consider an Adventist landmark doctrine. “Present Truth” will instead be used as propaganda to prop up a potentially irrelevant or discredited older understanding.

Besides being stuck with paradigms now 150 years old the emphasis on being the special recipients and defenders of “Present Truth” fosters the remnant triumphalism that is both offensive to others and in some instances just plain silly.

The rediscovery by Adventists of the Sabbath was “Present Truth” to them. But, somehow when the Seventh-day Baptists taught it a hundred years earlier it was not “Present Truth?” It makes little sense until we realize the value was in the perception that we Adventists had something special and of greater truth value than anyone else: “Come and get it, new and improved, now with 50% more truth.”

“Present Truth” is a fiction, a meaningless term whose only value lies in its advertising potential.

Friday, December 21, 2012

The Death of Adventist Media

Not long ago a couple of alternative Adventist media publications announced that Walter Veith was being accused of Antisemitism. No source of the accusation was given and no context of the actual statements were given just a couple of words.

Here is how Spectrum reported the accusation:

Because it is not clear who complained, Walter Veith has falsely lashed out at Spectrum and another independent Adventist magazine in Germany, EANN, edited by the former Euro-Africa Division communication director. EANN published an article, "Veith's dangerous game with the Jewish question - a disturbing fact-check" on Veith's talk titled "King of the North-Part 2." In it Veith, a noted conspiracy theorist, mixed interpretations of the Bible with theories about Jesuit and Masonic roles in the Holocaust, offensive language about "little yellow cloth" and "herding" of Jews and a positive citation of Benjamin Freedman, a "professional antisemite" according to the Anti-Defemation League.

Here is the original statement and first accusation of the Antisemitism from EANN (Independent Journal of Religion, Church and Society) as translated from German by Google translator:

Reason is the opinion of the lecture "king of the north", Part 2, by Dr. Walter Veith, an Adventist from South Africa, on 20 October 2012 in Nuremberg held and was also webcast. "In it, he defended the thesis that Freemasons and Jesuits had used the Nazi era, the Jews finally get to Palestine to Christianity get distracted from the real biblical statements and misled," said the statement. Embedded in this "conspiracy theory" approach using the speaker terms, such as "Verherdung" of the Jews in the sense of cooperation and bustle. He also plays down the Star of David as a "yellow handkerchief". "We believe that such designations antisemitic discriminatory and get a criminal trivializing the Nazi reign of terror, very close."

That either of this two publications ran with this story shows just how journalistic inept Adventist media has become, there is definitely a story here but they are not reporting it. I would go so far as to say it is inept on both the right and the left leaving us with no viable source of Adventist news. The EANN report lists a couple of words and the subjective view of the writer that the word are somehow Antisemitism. In fact the EANN article does not even list an author. Apparently the rumors were enough to get an official banishment for Veith in Germany. Where apparently rumors are enough for the church to condemn whether or not the government finds anything out in their investigation. But “herding” and “yellow handkerchief” in regards to historical actions of the Nazi's is enough to be accused by fellow Adventists of being anti-Semitic.

I have little agreement with Walter Veith on probably any of his beliefs. But that does not give anyone cause to report such completely subjective personal views as if they were facts. That this is what has become of the Adventist media is in my view one of the reasons that the church is so fractured. People have no objective source of information about the happenings in their own church. This story has been ongoing for about a month now and it has never even been mentioned by Adventist News Network (ANN). No mention of Veith's ban from German Adventist churches either.

What this means is that Adventism has no reliable source of church related news. What news we do get is often biased and poorly reported like that from EANN and Spectrum and Adventist Today.

Veith denies the charge saying in part:

Dear Brethren in Germany

I wish to briefly respond to the allegations of anti Semitism during my recent visit to Germany.
Let me assure you brethren that I am not by any stretch of the imagination an Anti Semite. Indeed, any form of racism is abhorrent to me and having grown up in South Africa I have firsthand experience regarding this issue and have been an ardent campaigner against racist injustice all my life. Also, as South African, I was probably not attuned to the hypersensitivity of the current German nation regarding the injustices perpetrated on the Jews by the N a z i regime and my comments have thus been misinterpreted. As you well know, German is not my first language and I believe that some of the supposed statements regarding belittling remarks such as “gelbes Tuechlein” stem from my linguistic inadequacy in this department and certainly not from malicious intent as some hope to surmise. Moreover, the treatment the Jews received in Germany and for that matter from many other nations as well can only be described as diabolical and there was certainly historic ‘herding’ involved to the shame of all who practiced it. Moreover, ‘herding’ is the modus operandi of Christ’s adversary, who is herding the whole world into a collective mindset which will result in the final persecution of God’s antitypical Israel. This is not a conspiracy theory but a prophetic reality and the Spirit of Prophecy warns that if we associate with those who war against Christ we will soon come to see matters in the same light as they and lose our discernment. I plead with you dear brethren to note the serious times we are living in and heed the warnings that God has so graciously given us through the Spirit of Prophecy.

Adventism has long had a conspiracy theorist mindset, it is no wonder that Veith has the same and he defends himself by the selection of quotes from Ellen White. As most SDA traditionalist do. His defense is damaged by the victimization he sees as his lot, though in this case he is being victimized by rumor and poor reporting and likely even false reporting. I say false because when you really have a case you are able to give the context and the statements. When a report does not have those then they likely have no facts either. There are actually politically liberal websites that exist by taking quotes out of context and editing things to make them appear quite different from the reality and these sites are often read by those in charge of Spectrum at least. It is often noticeable in their articles as well.

We are in the information age but sadly we are finding that information is so often twisted and biased and so contrary to the facts that people don't know what to believe and far too often make poor assumptions about what to believe. Choosing sides instead of acting upon facts to make informed decisions.

I do doubt that my little article with a plea to actual reason and facts will do much good. As propaganda has taken the place of knowledge. But I will put it forward and next week demonstrate how propaganda is often pretended to be present truth. We as a church are not really growing in knowledge and reason and that is why I don't think there is much future in the Seventh-day Adventist church.

Update: 12-22-12-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Just today I see over on the Spectrum Website more journalistic malpractice. They complain about a Ugandan SDA leader. They begin with the following:

..."As is part of the church's offical statement and was also happening behind the scenes, there were attempts to discredit the New Vision report. The church states: 
Recent comments in the Ugandan newspaper New Vision attributed to the head of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in East-Central Africa do not convey an accurate representation of his intentions or the voted position of the church regarding homosexuality. . .

The newspaper reports suggest that Pastor Blasius Ruguri fully supports the proposed legislation before the Ugandan Parliament that may include incarcerating and even executing people for same sex intimate contact.

In response to those reports, pastor Ruguri today said, "It is unfortunate that the media took the liberty to extend my statements to suggest what I did not say or imply. I have never seen that bill. Mine was a general statement to disapprove of homosexual practice and behavior.
Ruguri might want to work on his communication skills since he appears to have misled another reporter for a different newpaper on the same day. (This has not been reported until now.) ..."
Yet in fact there is no anti-homosexual bill written yet as the Huffington Post reports: 
Parliamentarian David Bahati said the bill, which is expected to be voted on next month, had "moved away from the death penalty after considering all the issues that have been raised."
"There is no death penalty," he told The Associated Press.
Bahati said the bill now focuses on protecting children from gay pornography, banning gay marriage, counseling gays, as well as punishing those who promote gay culture. Jail terms are prescribed for various offenses, he said, offering no details. The most recent version of the bill hasn't been publicly released.
In 2009, when Bahati first introduced the bill, he charged that homosexuals threatened family values in Uganda and that gays from the West were recruiting poor Ugandan children into gay lifestyles with promises of money and a better life. He said a tough new law was needed because a colonial-era law against sodomy was not strong enough.
The bill, popular among many in Uganda but condemned abroad, has been under scrutiny by a committee whose members now say they are ready to put it forward for a vote. One of the members, Krispus Ayena, said Friday that some parliamentarians spoke strongly against certain provisions in the bill as well as the death penalty itself.
"There was a dissenting voice in the committee," Ayena said. "They argued very forcefully that we should not do a thing like that: to regulate what goes on in bedrooms. First of all, is it practicable to regulate that? And there are those who say this is very oppressive."
The bill's original wording proposed the death penalty for cases where HIV-infected homosexuals had sex, where gay people had sex with minors or the disabled, and where gays were discovered having sex for the second time. Bahati said at the time that these offenses amounted to what he called "aggravated homosexuality."

Then you read the comments and you see how people fall into line not knowing any facts because the original article did not give a balanced view but assumed the lying of the Adventist official. It is sad that such political agenda's can so distort actual news reporting. But it is goes on constantly. Just know you can't trust these people...and that is the saddest part as if there is anyone you should be able to trust it is a Christian. My advice to these organizations: deal in facts and then in a separate article deal with you interpretation of the facts. Don't merge them together.


Saturday, October 13, 2012

The Great Controversy, if it only worked

There is an interesting conversation over on the Spectrum Blog under the article written by Herbert Douglass entitled The Great Controversy.

The conversation in the comments is not between others and Mr. Douglass but with the various views set forth on this unsatisfactory notion of the place of evil in the world if it is ruled by a loving God. Adventist have long thought they had the answer with what they often call the Great Controversy Theme or Motif. Though it is exceedingly rare to find anyone actually spell out what they mean by the Great Controversy theme or motif. Herbert Douglass does spend a small portion of his article describing what he believes the GCT (Great controversy Theme). He sums it up as freedom. God's love demands the gift of freedom because love only exists in the reality of freedom to choose.
The central issue in the Great Controversy between God and Satan is “freedom.”  Over that mysterious word, that word that has summoned unspeakable courage, honor, and unselfishness in its defense, the well-being of the universe has been wrenched and jeopardized.  Why did God risk all on freedom?
The problem I see with the GCT is that it requires us to make concrete, mythological Biblical stories. In this case Herbert Douglass mentions both Eden and Lucifer. Lucifer by tradition being Satan rather then the metaphor for the king of Babylon actually found in the Bible in Isaiah 14. Thus the foundation of the GCT is based upon what to many seems an allegorical creation story of Eden in perfection and metaphor's about one in a series of opponents of Israel in the book of Isaiah. The foundation therefore is a bit weak. But what about the overall philosophy of freedom and love being the root cause of evil.

That sounds bad doesn't it, but that is what this theory says. Because of love God gives the freedom to people to do whatever they want. So people can choose to be cruel. This theory does not explain how diseases and pathogens infect and shorten our lives, nor why the animal may stalk and kill the child on the edge of the village or why the storm or famine causes desolation. So the GCT is not really even that specific on what evil is. A literal reading of the book of Genesis does not let God off the hook for such things. God curses the ground and then with a flood because man is wicked he kills off everything but what is put in the ark. Yet somehow the GCT is all about love and freedom.

If one were to hold to the literal Eden story then when the two people disobeyed God they started events rolling that could not be stopped until billions were affected. Instead of God explaining to them about choices and consequences and that there was an evil being God had created and allowed the freedom to lie and deceive about anything and everything and that there were such things as facts and that God could in fact present a case for why His ways were better. He cursed them and kicked them out of Eden. Which kind of throws the whole love and freedom thing on the bonfire pretty early. It is rather like your 3 year old disobeying you and you kick him out of the house. Do you really think anyone is going to believe that what you did was out of love?

Herbert Douglass actually acknowledges this problem in his article when he writes:
The risk of granting freedom was not only that God should have a forever heartache.  He would also put Himself on trial. He became One charged with the meanest, most unfair accusations that could be leveled against our Holy Lover.  For millennia, it has seemed that Satan with his accusations has been winning.  More people, it seems, have believed Satan’s lies about God than those who have had faith in His Word, His promises, His trustworthiness. All this trading sad, self-destructive independence for genuine freedom will be covered in lessons to come.
Sounds like because of the rash act of not talking about the problem but kicking them out of Eden God opened Himself up to even more charges. So these people through the millennia don't know the truth of the situation yet somehow they are supposed to now judge God Himself as if He is on trial. They can't tell the difference between true and false yet they are supposed to judge God! Fat chance. Perhaps if God gave them all the data they need to judge, reveal to them the complexities of history and the very thought process of God maybe they could make some kind of judgment, though we have to assume then that what God grants them in knowledge is in fact true and if the question is what God says is true then we being dependent upon God for all this information are back to square one, why believe what He says or shows. Maybe He is just manipulating us?

I wish there was some unified theory of Evil and God. But there is not. Is a volcano evil or a prion or virus? Or are they part of a natural scheme to maintain an indefinitely functioning life cycle of an entire planet filled with life. That is what I tend to think, but then I don't subscribe to the literal nature of the Genesis stories. If those things are the results of curses by God...then the GCT just does not work at all. But like any theory there is elements of truth in the GCT. People do choose to love and they do chose their actions. Those actions will be good and evil. Sometimes evil may even cause something good to happen and sometimes good might in some way promote evil. So we can't simply disregard the importance of freedom. But as with any religious teaching there will be those who disagree and they will even abandon freedom. God did it, such as good old Calvinism, God chooses some to be saved and some to be lost.

The real question when one searches for reasons to understand God and evil is going to come down to what will your theory do for you and others in the here and now. That unfortunately is a judgment call for each individual. However much we may want to declare our truth, we are ill prepared to document the evidence for our truth. We don't like that, we want to think we have special truth that we can share and of course the other religions and denominations and philosophies have the same desire. It is uncomfortable to actually know so little. But honestly that is where we are.

Feel free to talk me off of this ledge, it is not a nice place to be.

Saturday, October 06, 2012

Truth in name only

Anyone who has been following this blog could probably sense that I have been on a path that takes me away from the the feelings of certainty and truth that are claimed for Adventism. The last couple of weeks I have seen 3 different mailing for Adventist programs that set forth to explain the truth of the book of Revelation. It seems that this is a push of either the Washington Conference or perhaps the North Pacific Union. Whatever it is I received these 3 mailing with none identified as Adventist or Seventh-day Adventist or even the Seminary denomination training of the speaker. Who I was assured in all 3 mailings that the speaker was seminary trained. Truth is really important to Adventists, well normally, apparently not when they send out fliers but the pictures of the beasts were there and the provocative titles. Unlocking Revelation's Mysteries, Greatest End Time Signs, Revelation's Star Wars Battle!

I have been to many Revelation Seminars in my lifetime. None were convincing and most all were historically flawed. Flawed history used to explain future prophecy. It never seemed to work out and the concept of guessing the correct method of fulfillment of prophecy seemed to always elude us humans. Just think about it, have we ever once done it. Throughout all Christian denominations have we ever once made and accurate prediction? Even the Left Behind books had the thoughtfulness not to make their predictions, instead hiding the predictions inside of a fictional story. No one does well at predicting the future based upon ancient prophecy.

When we think about this wholly inadequate experience with predictions how do we reconcile it with truth. Adventists have the Sanctuary Truth, the Present Truth, the truth for these last days, the truth about the Bible, the truth about the Sabbath and of course the truth of Revelation. The funny thing about truth is that it should be objective and clear as reality, as indisputable as any fact. But our truth is never like that.In SDA President Ted Wilson's Inaugural GC address he says:
 “Look WITHIN the Seventh-day Adventist Church to humble pastors, evangelists, Biblical scholars, leaders, and departmental directors who can provide evangelistic methods and programs that are based on solid Biblical principles and “The Great Controversy Theme.”'
He prefixes this by saying not to reach out to other Christian groups or thinkers because they have faulty theology. Stay within the Adventist truth is his message. By this technique he claims only the “Historical-Critical method of explaining the Bible” should be used and decries all higher Criticism. Naturally along with this we must literally interpret the Bible and ignore science. What you ask has this to do with truth? The answer is nothing. What it does do is inform the membership to not question the truth as found in Adventism. To leave behind all questions and all knowledge from those not in Adventism. In simple terms it suggest our truth cannot stand unless we have a very narrow fundamentalist Adventist religion. We maintain this by only looking at and studying those who carry the fundamentalist Adventist message.

The other day I received an email to this blog's address which said: “Your website is absolutely devilish.” I certainly don't say all the things that I may believe on this website but it is hardly devilish. Possibly if I was a little more radical in my statements it could be viewed that way and perhaps someday may, but still as of today it is not. What it is however is not safe Adventist fundamentalist viewing and as such it is devilish to a large segment of Adventism.

I however am not content with my version of truth over your version of truth. Mainly because I don't see the truth in the factual non disputable formulation of Adventist truth. It is so much easier to say what is not true than to say what is true. But of course even history is often the record of the winners so maybe we should not even be so certain of that. But what I do know is that knowledge is so much more available today then any other time in history and so are other peoples views and interpretations and ideas. Often just a few clicks away on the Internet. What I therefore know is that we cannot find our surety of truth in comfortable exclusion of everyone else. That is what the leadership of the Adventist church has chosen as their course. It will not work. The questions of truth are far too big and our explanations far to small. The Adventist church has left the building, perhaps they went to the bunker to wait it out. But I don't think I can wait there with them any longer.

Saturday, September 01, 2012

Misquoting Voltaire

The internet is an amazing thing. Why don't Adventist leaders use it? It is not hard to use if you pay attention you can easily tell who has substantiated facts from the drivel. Take the following column from

A Tale—or Two—For Our Time Aug 27, 2012 by Cindy Tutsch. She writes after asserting that a particular sermon she gave was all true she just might not have expressed herself better she writes:
Maybe the skeptic Voltaire is the “stones crying out” to us today when he wrote, “I may disagree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”
A brief internet search would have shown that the quote as she expressed it within the quotation marks is not from Voltaire and not even from the person who recorded her interpretation of what Voltaire believed. The following is from
A column in the Daily Telegraph of February 2006 on freedom of speech referred
to ‘Voltaire’s famous maxim – “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to
the death your right to say it.” ’

In De l’esprit [‘On the Mind’], published in 1758, the French philosopher
Helvétius put forward the view that human motivation derives from sensation:
a course of action is chosen because of the pleasure or pain which will result.
The book was seen by many as an attack on religion and morality, and was
condemned by the French parliament to be publicly burned. Voltaire is supposed
to have supported Helvétius with these words. In fact, they are a later summary
of Voltaire’s attitude to the affair, as given in S. G. Tallentyre’s The Friends of
Voltaire (1907). What Tallentyre wrote was:

What the book could never have done for itself, or for its author, persecution did for
them both. ‘On the Mind’ became not the success of a season, but one of the most
famous books of the century. The men who had hated it, and had not particularly loved
Helvétius, flocked round him now. Voltaire forgave him all injuries, intentional or
unintentional. ‘What a fuss about an omelette!’ he had exclaimed when he heard of the
burning. How abominably unjust to persecute a man for such an airy trifle as that! ‘I
disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it,’ was his
attitude now.

(The comment ‘What a fuss about an omelette!’ had been recorded earlier, in
James Parton’s 1881 Life of Voltaire.)

Reprinted from What they Didn’t Say – A Book of Misquotations,
edited by Elizabeth Knowles (Oxford University Press, 2006), p.55.
By permission of Oxford University Press (
Now I am used to journalists being lazy today and just asserting things that aren't true but at least the Daily Telegraph got the actual words of the book for the quotation right. Though not necessarily a provable statement by Voltaire, it is not even written as a quote of Voltaire but of his attitude.

Why does this matter. I think it reflects a common religious narrowness where people don't really analyze what they are saying. They don't check their sources and they are certain they are right even when wrong. Then they assume the truth of what they deliver in sermons as all true. I having read many of the above AToday's authors columns, am pretty sure that she has never given even one sermon that is all true.

Religion in general and  Adventism really needs to re-examine itself and its writers and leaders. You won't see the comments on the column pointing out this error because errors have become so common that the readers only look at the general tone or position and agree or disagree but rarely get involved in the details. This allows poor research and reasoning to continue and that ultimately harms us all.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Women's Ordination and the quest for power

The Adventist church is currently all abuzz about the subject of women's ordination as Pastor/Ministers. Even if we agree to set aside the man created tradition of ordination and the idea that there should even be a head pastor at a particular church...both of which are concepts taken from the early Roman Catholic church. The question arises for the SDA church what to do when Conferences vote to ordain women as Pastors. At first some in the SDA church felt that playing word games would do as they “commissioned” instead of “ordaining” women. A semantic peculiarity which seems to have stalled the actual showdown for several years. But the showdown is now here as another Conference prepares to vote on the subject and like the previous Conference it will probably pass.

In an attempt to end this uprising of SDA church divisions (the SDA church has Conferences, Unions and Divisions for more details see this) The President of the SDA church who is elected by a popular vote of delegates at the convention but is assumed to be chosen by God because he was elected (sort of a divine right of kings concept) which again is based upon human traditions. As set forth his opposition to the ordination of women. His plea is to unity. Unity defined as submission to previous General Conference decisions.
[President Ted]Wilson quoted White’s statement in Testimonies to the Church, Volume 9, pages 260-261: “But when, in a General Conference, the judgment of the brethren assembled from all parts of the field is exercised, private independence and private judgment must not be stubbornly maintained, but surrendered.”
He added that submission to the collective decisions of the world Church is an essential part of living in unity: “We have a worldwide administration; we have working policies – agreements we abide by collectively to provide for a strong push for the mission of the church. When we don’t see unity in what we are doing, then we see a fractious and divided spirit,” Wilson said.

The desire to control is pretty clear from Ted Wilson's comments here. He wants the Conferences to surrender to the will of the General Conference and somehow equates the community decision of the Conference vote as private independence and private judgment. Of course if Wilson had actually used the full quote his attempt at equating the Conference vote with private independence would be shown to be at odds with what Ellen White was actually saying.
“I have often been instructed by the Lord that no man’s judgment should be surrendered to the judgment of any other one man. Never should the mind of one man or the minds of a few men be regarded as sufficient in wisdom and power to control the work and to say what plans shall be followed. But when, in a General Conference, the judgment of the brethren assembled from all parts of the field is exercised, private independence and private judgment must not be stubbornly maintained, but surrendered. Never should a laborer regard as a virtue the persistent maintenance of his position of independence, contrary to the decision of the general body.

At times, when a small group of men entrusted with the general management of the work have, in the name of the General Conference, sought to carry out unwise plans and to restrict God’s work, I have said that I could no longer regard the voice of the General Conference, represented by these few men, as the voice of God. But this is not saying that the decisions of a General Conference composed of an assembly of duly appointed, representative men from all parts of the field should not be respected. God has ordained that the representatives of His church from all parts of the earth, when assembled in a General Conference, shall have authority. The error that some are in danger of committing is in giving to the mind and judgment of one man, or of a small group of men, the full measure of authority and influence that God has vested in His church in the judgment and voice of the General Conference assembled to plan for the prosperity and advancement of His work.”

Ellen White's objection is to one man or small group of people acting as the General Conference or going against the General Conference. So it does not really fit any situation here as these Conferences are not really small groups of people. What it does try to do through manipulation of the Ellen White quotes is to assert supreme power in the General Conference and sadly the small group of people at it's head. So in simple terms he has turned the quote on its head to further his goals. What I have found is that people who misuse information in this way are; first not honest and second using the power of selective information as a tool of manipulation. It is often called propaganda today and since the first half of the twentieth century we have seen the devastating effect of propaganda, even so it has become common place in politics, church politics not being an exception. Though if people took Paul's advice to study things out like the Bereans propaganda would have only a negative effect upon them, which is how it should be, we should deal with factual information and reject those who twist information.

The question of Women's ordination will ultimately come down to two things. First are women due equal pay for equal work. Second can such work as women Pastors be Biblically acceptable. In many places around the world the answer to the first is no they won't pay women equally and the answer to the second is no women must not be Pastors because they must be submissive to men or a man. This is generally the view of the third world countries. In other parts of the world First and Second world equal pay is expected and women can be Pastors as the cultural attitudes of the first century is not expected to have been forever enthroned because it is mentioned in the Bible. (for those who don't know First world is defined as the Western World, it is of cold war era where first world is US aligned and Second world is Soviet aligned and Third world are the none aligned countries, but today is still has some geographical meaning see this.)

The issue is not unity as in a culturally divergent world there really is no unity. Unity in the cause of Christ is noble but unity to traditions and cultures which are foreign to us can not possibly by called unity. It is sadly an argument of power based upon misinformation. From my perspective those who traffic in misinformation are usually on the wrong side of truth, and thus on the wrong side of right doing.

Monday, August 06, 2012

The Future of Liberalism/Progressivism

The recent weeks have given us a frightening look at what the future of this nation will be like under liberal/progressivism. It is a world defined by prejudice and intolerance clothed in the guise of tolerance and progressive understanding.  In all comes from the strange reaction to the following quote of Dan Cathy COO of Chick-fil-A on the Ken Coleman show, as Ken Colman writes:
While discussing fatherhood with me, Dan Cathy expressed the following thoughts that have contributed to the media firestorm:

"I think we are inviting God's judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at him and say, 'We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage,'" Cathy said. "And I pray God's mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to define what marriage is about."
In modern liberal/progressive political circles this rather traditional support of traditional marriage definition became a rallying cry of hate. Somehow this religious statement is hate filled. But of course there is nothing hateful about it. He did not condemn Homosexuals or say anything against them or indicate that he discriminates against them. No those things are read into his statements.
To get to these extreme views the liberal/progressives have worked hard to redefine the language. Not simply trying to make the word marriage fit same sexes but by making hate groups out of normally mainstream religious groups. Thus Since Cathy supports certain religious groups those groups become known as hate groups. For example here is a comment from a recent article on Spectrum magazine website:
Keith doesn't mention that this business owner contributes huge amounts to anti-gay groups that spew hatred, prejudice, and lies about gays and lesbians.
Of course to actually name these anti-gay groups would show that they are not in fact anti-gay groups but religious groups holding traditional religious beliefs. The liberal/progressives get here by…well you guessed it lying. People like the writer of the comment simply believe the lies and then repeat them. One of the chief liars in all of this is the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). The Chick-fil-A corporation gives to the Family Research Council. SPLC names David Barton as anti-gay as well. Of course if they wanted they could put most any traditional religious group as anti-gay. They could have even put President Obama as anti-gay as just over 3 years ago he also opposed gay marriage. But of course opposing gay marriage is not being anti-gay. There are even gays against gay marriage

But why is an individual’s freedom of speech when expressing traditional marriage and traditional religious values hate speech? The answer is that in the new future delivered by the liberal/progressive movement their views are the correct views and anything opposed to or not in alignment with their view has to be hate. They are unable to make the case so they rely upon false generalizations against those who don’t think like them.

This is because these political movements do not respect freedom they desire power and control and their chosen method is through the government.  “Liberal” no longer even mean classical liberalism, which is more akin to what we call libertarianism and Progressive does not mean moving forward toward more freedom and individual responsibility but Progressive in terms of more centralized governmental control and decreased freedom of thought. Propaganda is the method they chose to employ and propaganda is frequently composed of lies and misinformation.

This is a future that we cannot afford to allow. Fortunately Millions of Americans still see the foolishness of the liberal/progressive movement and as we saw last week they took much time out of their busy lives to show their support for the Chick-fil-A even when numerous political figures like the Mayor of Chicago the protégé of President Obama Rahm Emanuel declared that “They disrespect our fellow neighbors and residents. This would be a bad investment, since it would be empty.” It may well be that the Chicago way has no place for traditional Christians. 

This blog often takes on traditional Christianity but we must fight for their freedom of expression and belief; because their freedom is our freedom. The biggest disrespect comes from those who refuse to give others the respect of their beliefs and ideas.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Adventist Codes and Primative Godliness

The Adventist church has it own code words and like most code words you need to be in the know to understand what is being said. It is rather sad because when you use code words you are using words that are meant to exclude the real meaning of what you are saying. Instead the code is given and as a replacement or place holder for a particular thought. Sometimes there is general agreement about what the code word is and sometimes there are varying views. Variations of course destroy the whole attempt at using a code word because it then becomes whatever anyone wants the code to mean. This is why code words are such a foolish idea in any open conversation.

Yet Adventism fills it's literature and conversations with code words. For example some Adventists code words are: Present Truth, Spirit of Prophecy, Pen of Inspiration, Three Angels Messages, Third Angel's Message, the Truth, the Investigative Judgment, Judgment Hour, the Remnant, the Great Controversy, and the one I am going to talk about today: Primitive Godliness.

I don't mean to be too hard on Adventism for the use of code words, it is likely all religions use them. The short hand to imply broader messages in a limited use of words. As religion in general has become more and more confused it needs more and more code words to attempt to make sense of its beliefs. This then presents us with the oxymoron of Primitive Godliness. Primitives really never had a good conception of God...any God. Nor did they really follow after their gods in any particular way. What we know about their practices especially in Christianity is found mainly in references made in the Bible. When people don't have a lot of data it is easy to adjust the data to fit their own assumptions.

A few days ago over on the Spectrum website the following comment was made when someone was asked to explain what Primitive Godliness would look like today:

Read in "Great Controversy" her description of the revival and reformation that took place among believers just before the Great Disappointment in 1844. That should give you some idea of what is meant by "primitive godliness." Or read about the early church in the book of Acts. Better pass over the part about Ananias and Sapphira. "Progressives" might consider that incident to have been extremely judgmental on the part of Peter.

These people were focused on Jesus as the center of everything. and they were consumed with spreading the gospel. They weren't hung up on petty things like WO.[Women's Ordination] They weren't trying to tear apart the Scriptures, like so many "progressives" are today.

The question could be asked where these people really focused on Jesus as the center of everything? Most of those people in 1844 had a pretty limited idea about who Jesus was. As the later controversy between the Semi Arians and the Trinitarians played out in the Adventist church it is hard to see them being centered on Jesus. But many did stop their farm work to tell people that Christ was returning on a particular year and then even a particular day and then many set another day a year later to try again.

The New Testament writers like Paul and Peter clearly thought the second coming was going to be in their lifetimes as well. Perhaps that should be the hallmark of Primitive Godliness? Adventists get the term Primitive Godliness from Ellen G. White and she never bothered to define her meaning. As with many who claim prophetic ability vagueness is often their best friend. So the term has been defined by her followers. As the above comment writer may think that the people before 1844 were good Bible students, most today would say they used proof text methods and verses taken out of context. But then maybe that is the hallmark of Primitive Godliness? Anyway they were proven to be wrong just as the New Testament writers were proven wrong in their expectations. But at least they were not given their expectations as prophecies or truth. Though I suppose some might disagree with me on that and say that since the whole Bible is the Word of God it is all prophecy and all truth and no human feeling and expectations enter in to it. Though if they did that then they would have signaled the death knell of Christianity as one could say their prophecies were proven false already why accept anything in the book at all. That might be another hallmark of Primitive Godliness, people who don't think about what they are saying by making claims that are proven false.

One writer on Adventist Online tells us his view of Primitive Godliness after quoting Ellen White he writes:

This primitive godliness includes the reversal of many of the trends in the social structure where roles have been confused and changed from the way God established them.
Men need to take up their God given responsibilities to be the spiritual leader in the home, both by precept and example and women must allow this to happen and not usurp their position.
Women need to learn to submit to their husbands in the Lord.  They need to be a “helpmate,” one who stands beside their husband, not attempting to compete or be a back seat driver.
Children need to learn to be obedient to their God fearing parents.  Children are to learn from their parents and not attempt to rule the home.  Yes, parents need to listen, but always remember that they are accountable for their opportunities to learn from experience and to guide the inexperienced feet on that pathway of life.

All this is part of the “primitive Godliness” that we must posses to be ready for Jesus to come.  Does it go contrary to popular and cultural ways?  Yes, many times yes.

Even with his usage of Primitive Godliness he only says that his list is part of the things that make up Primitive Godliness. A person is usually pretty safe in defining things with only parts of the definition, the person is rarely really wrong that way. I can say that part of the definition of the United States is that the people speak English. I could also say they speak Spanish or most any other language because there is probably some person in the U.S. that speaks that other language. Being a part of a list is really not a good form of definition. But if you can connect to something with your particular emphasis, well that is the ultimate use of code words.

That is really what this is all about, making your ideas sound authoritative because they are connected to an authority, the Bible, in Adventism Ellen White, or simply to the common terms of your chosen religion. Even if the person using the term can't really define it there is power in the term. In fact why not test my opinion on this by simply going to the Adventist church and asking them to define Present Truth or Primitive Godliness, see what kind of answers you get. Or my personal favorite which was to ask someone the definition of the Great Controversy to which I was once answered read the first three chapters of Ellen White's book Patriarchs and Prophets. Which I encourage anyone to do if they think that Ellen White does not contradict the Bible, well not contradict as adding all kinds of things to the story is not a contradiction unless you take the Bible story as a complete story with all things necessary for ones salvation, then contradiction works well.

Friday, July 20, 2012

More biased reporting from Atoday

It is no secret to any of the readers of this blog that I have had significant differences with the folks who run the website As a column writer I found the editor to have nothing of value to say and was pretty poor at making decisions. Their news is significantly biased and often poorly reported. Something that I think should not be allowed by any consumers of news. The people have to stand up against biased and distorted news not just in the main stream press but within our own church organizations. It should not be too hard to work at being objective, the news is not the place for commentary, opinions or speculation.

Consider this from the Atoday newsletter mailing from

Leader Jailed for Use of Church Name – Breaking News on Ordination of Women Pastors

On the website they are a little more accurate and entitle the news article:
Tennessee Man Jailed for Insisting on Using the Name “Seventh-day Adventist” Despite Court Order
At least on the news article the title hints at the actual reason the man was jailed...violating a court order.
All this leads me to ask the question: Who is in charge of the news at Atoday and  what procedures do they use to monitor their quality. Are they trying to be objective?
In the above article we read this:

" Seventh-day Adventists are generally not aware that there are a number of small denominations that use a version of the same name. This is much more common to Baptists, for example. There are hundreds, perhaps thousands, of different denominations with some variation of “Baptist” in their name."

What part of the news is that from? Does it have any significance to the court's decision? It is not as if Adventists arrested the man! 
The article also states:

"The GC did not take any specific action to have McGill jailed, but it could ask the judge to have him freed. McGill was jailed because of contempt of court due to his refusal to follow a court order. The court order came as a result of a lawsuit filed by the GC to enforce its trademark and after a Federal judge examined the facts in the case."

Yes they could ask whatever they like but that does not mean the court will or wants to hear from them or they have any standing to request anything. But this leads to the assumption that the arrest is done because of the Adventists rather then because of contempt of court by the man who refuses to follow the court order. This is simply bad and biased reporting.

If Adventist Today wants to make a difference in the Adventist church they can't do this kind of poor reporting and editing. Of course this leaves them open the rejection as simply biased by Traditional Adventists which makes the site pretty useless as a voice for change. 

But don't hold your breath as those who work behind the scenes in anonymity have little call for accountability.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Concerns over Alex Bryan Email posted for the curious

 I debated with myself whether to post the internet email that went out entitled Concerns Regarding Alex Bryan as the New President of WWU. The blog that I had linked to in my previous article to the pdf file of the email removed the file The letter is unsigned and thus of little real value for any substantive meaning. When it was attached to the blog I figured it had that blog"'s support so it seemed of some importance. But if we have no one standing behind the email anymore it of little use other then a curiosity of what some anonymous people think. Who really cares what people who don't even stand behind their beliefs of opinions say? But then I saw a recent news article on the website where they reported what people who had seen the email said. From the Atoday article: "Sources who have seen the email have told Adventist Today that it contained dishonest and unethical allegations." Which I thought was kind of sad that their news team had not even seen the email even though I had posted the link and it had been circulating around the internet. So I decided I would post it as plain text taken from the PDF email except this does not have the pictures or the names and addresses the email included. I have not taken the time to fix the formatting since as I say it appears no one stands behind it so it is now a curiosity. But since the news continues on the issue here it is [though just because I am posting it does not mean I stand behind it in anyway, this for informational purposes only]:

Concerns Regarding Alex Bryan as the New President of WWU Page 1 of 8
Walla Walla University (WWU) is a Seventh-day Adventist University located in Washington State. The board that controls WWU is chaired by the President of the North Pacific Union Conference - Max C. Torkelsen II. John McVay, the 23rd WWU president and former Dean of the Seminary at Andrews University has chosen to step down from his position and return to teaching.
The presidential search committee1 announced an opening2 and is recommending3 Alex Bryan to serve as president of Walla Walla University. Alex Bryan is currently the senior pastor of the Walla Walla University Church and has affirmed his willingness to serve as president. The committee will formally present this recommendation to the university's Board of Trustees at a special meeting that has been called for Sunday, July 1, 2012, at the offices of the North Pacific Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists in Ridgefield, Wash., at 10 a.m.
As a group of constituents, alumni, educators, pastors, church members, medical professionals, students and parents, we feel that Alex Bryan, at this point in time, is not a good candidate for the next WWU president as evidenced by the concerns expressed in this document.
Out of multiple areas of concern, three follow as to why Alex Bryan, at this point in time, should not be appointed as WWU’s next president: 1) his background, 2) his educational experience, and 3) his views and relationships with spiritual formation.
1) Alex Bryan’s Background
a. Created a “Sunday service” church and left Seventh-day Adventist employment. Alex Bryan began his ministry at the New Community Fellowship in Atlanta in 1996 under the blessing of conference administration. However, the methods used to reach secular young adults resulted in the creation of a “Sunday service” and, as the conference administration was considering his termination, Alex Bryan resigned his denominational employment in 2002 and remained independent for the next five years. The resulting Sunday observing church still meets and its web site is here. The church meets Sunday from 10:30 AM to 12:05 PM. The current pastor is Alex’s brother, David Bryan.
Note: Alex is not currently affiliated with the church he helped start, even though current websites, e.g. corporationwiki and Manta list either Alex Bryan and David Bryan or just Alex Bryan as the current pastor.
Documentation shows how the church Alex Bryan started described itself in 2004, while Alex Bryan was the pastor:
“We are an independent, interdenominational, evangelical church. ‘Independent’ means we are our own organization, not legally connected to any other church. ‘Interdenominational’ means we welcome people of all faith traditions. ‘Evangelical’ means we emphasize the gospel of forgiveness and life transformation through personal faith in Jesus Christ, and we affirm orthodox Bible doctrines. See our ‘Statement of Faith’ for further details.”
1 The search committee members were: Max Torkelsen, John Loor, Lanny Hurlbert, Bob Folkenburg, David Prest, Bruce Thorn, and Barbara Prowant, and WWU VPs Ginger Ketting-Weller and Steve Rose, two faculty, one staff, and one student.
2 The announcement for the presidential search and job position is located here.
3 On 6/15/2012 the committee recommended Alex Bryan to be the next president: Link to WWU Recommendation.
Concerns Regarding Alex Bryan as the New President of WWU Page 2 of 8
( accessed September 24, 2004. 3:42 PDT).
In 2004, meetings at this church occurred on both Saturdays and Sundays; today the web site shows only Sunday services.
For a detailed study of the failures of these types of break-away churches, see the following study.
b. Professional degree in emergent church spiritual formation. Received his Doctor of Ministry4 degree from George Fox University, under the direction of the spiritualist and Emerging Church leader Leonard Sweet.
c. Invited his mentor, a self-admitted spiritualist and leader of the emerging church movement, Leonard Sweet, to Southern Adventist University, to speak for Vespers Jan '09 and attempted to indoctrinate the Southern University Theology faculty by bringing Sweet to speak with them specifically.
d. Opening his pulpit (April 2012, both services) at Walla Walla University Church to emerging church leader Shane Claiborne, a proponent of the “Kingdom Now” theology embraced by the emerging church movement and a teacher of universalism, and founder of the New Monasticism movement. Claiborne’s staff admitted one of their objectives, while at WWU, was to recruit WWU students to join them in the work of their ministry.
e. Alex Bryan has called Ellen G. White a 19th century mystic. He has stated this from the pulpit and included references to this in his book5, page 22, “In 1842, during this era of Advent hope, fifteen-year-old Ellen White6 had a mystical experience.”
f. Openly promoted Roman Catholic Mystics and Contemplative authors at the Adventist Forum on Spiritual Formation, October 2011. These authors included: Richard Foster, Dallas Willard, Brennan Manning, and Henri Nouwen. See the last page for a photo and comment on his book promotion.
g. During his sermons he often quotes from leading emergent church leaders, such as Leonard Sweet and Catholic contemplative authors such as Brennan Manning, and many more.
Note that these authors are also listed as “My Favorites” on his brother’s blog, the current pastor of the Sunday church Alex helped to start. Also, these authors and their books are listed on Alex Bryan’s blog as “Must Reads,” shown on the last page of this document.
h. Belittling Adventist doctrines in favor of mystical experiences during his One project sermon February 2012, Seattle Wa. He suggested that our fixation on doctrine and identity as Seventh-day Adventists has kept us from becoming a great religion.
4 The Role of Human Emotion in Christian Discipleship, dissertation by Alex Bryan, March 2009.
5 The Green Cord Dream by Alex Bryan, 2012. Pacific Press Publishing Association.
6 Note that Alex Bryan uses the name “Ellen White,” but at 15 years old, her name would still be Ellen Harmon, she married at 19 years of age.
Concerns Regarding Alex Bryan as the New President of WWU Page 3 of 8
Summary of Alex Bryan’s Background
Alex Bryan’s background shows that he is capable, while having good intentions, of leading those under his charge in the wrong direction. He can get in trouble. He desires to be a soul-winner. We commend this. Still, results have been problematic. In Georgia-Cumberland, the price was alienation from the Seventh-day Adventist church, and a decision by the conference to terminate Bryan from employment. (He resigned before being terminated.) This resulted in a separation of the Congregation from the Seventh-day Adventist church. Most of the group became a Sunday observing church under Bryan’s leadership.
With Bryan’s history of resigning from Seventh-day Adventist pastoral ministry before the conference could fire him, pastoring a church on Sunday, leading what became a congregational church, one asks, how is it that he is under consideration for the presidency of one of our Universities? He states that he has learned from his mistakes, and the Georgia-Cumberland conference rehired him and placed him as an associate pastor for Mission and Ministry on the staff of the Collegedale Church, to be mentored by the Senior Pastor, in December 2007.
Bryan’s inexperience contributed to the loss of the church plant entrusted to him. Georgia-Cumberland conference leadership sought to implement a plan for corrective ministry action by placing him with a strong pastoral team. This plan was not carried to completion because of Bryan’s 2009 call to the WWU church.
Bryan wrote in 2009, “We also need, in this local church revolution, a major transfer of funds from the many layers of governance back into local settings.” 7 Such thinking is similar to the ideas which led to Bryan’s resignation from the ministry in 2002.
His failure to properly shepherd his misguided Roswell, Georgia flock is disappointing. Former Seventh-day Adventists today are worshiping in the church he started, now led by his brother.
Less than 5 years ago, Alex Bryan was associated with the leadership of a Sunday observing non-SDA church outside Seventh-day Adventist denominational employment. This experience is not compatible with being appointed the president of a Seventh-day Adventist University.
Bryan continues to promote Spiritual Formation in his church. One assumes, as President, he would continue this injection of Spiritual Formation into the WWU campus. We should “Stay away from non-biblical spiritual disciplines or methods of spiritual formation that are rooted in mysticism such as contemplative prayer, centering prayer, and the emerging church movement in which they are promoted.” Elder Ted Wilson, President of the General Conference, July 3, 2010.
2) Educational Experience
a. The presidential search process started with a document that outlined the job description of the new president. This document concluded with 10 performance expectations, the 10th being:
“Possess significant senior leadership experience, and have an earned doctoral degree and teaching experience at the college or university level.”
There are three “expectations” identified in this single expectation item. Bryan does not “significantly” meet any of the three:
7 Adventist Today, Winter 2009 edition, page 9. “The End of American Adventism?”
Concerns Regarding Alex Bryan as the New President of WWU Page 4 of 8
Expectation of “Significant senior leadership experience.” The announcement recommending Alex states that this is met by “Bryan leads a pastoral staff of 10.” The ten are actually five associate pastors, an office manager, worship director, treasurer, and two custodians.
Expectation of “Have an earned doctoral degree.” Alex Bryan has a Doctor of Ministry, a professional degree designed by Universities for pastors to obtain for becoming professional ministers. It is not an academic degree like the PhD, which is meant for academic scholars who wish to work as professional researchers or in academics as professors or administrators.
Expectation of “teaching experience at the college or university level.” Bryan has taught classes at the university level, but the experience gained by his teaching would qualify him to be hired as a teacher at the Assistant Professor level, an entry teaching position, requiring nearly six years of successful teaching at this level to obtain the rank of Associate professor. The rank advancement requirement is based on the value of experience. Remember, 5 years ago Bryan was pastoring a Sunday-observing church.
b. Walla Walla University needs a president with a working knowledge of higher education, with demonstrated success as a good teacher practicing sound scholarship and engaged in research -- within a context of being in unambiguous support of the Seventh-day Adventist church, its teachings and its mission. His teaching experience is limited to that of part-time contract teacher while maintaining a full-time pastor’s position.
3) Views and Relationship with Spiritual Formation
a. Introduction of Spiritual Formation. Alex Bryan has indicated that Spiritual Formation shall be incorporated in all venues of the WWU church.
b. Attitude and Communication.
i. Perception of humility issue. Several attending the WWU Adventist Forum of October 2011, dealing with Spiritual Formation, described him as cocky and arrogant. He reported that “he had not lost two minutes sleep” over the concerns expressed by others about his introduction of Spiritual Formation from the leading emergent church authors of the world. Bryan needs to be willing to listen to people having differing opinions from his own concerning Spiritual Formation.
In one case, a long time member of the WWU church was dismissed from volunteer duties by Bryan, when there was a disagreement with him over the introduction of Spiritual Formation in the WWU church.
ii. Your opinion is not of interest: In the same SDA Forum, Alex was asked questions dealing with concerns about Spiritual Formation in the WWU church by several church members. These were either disparaged or ignored. See Figure 1 on the last page.
Concerns Regarding Alex Bryan as the New President of WWU Page 5 of 8
c. Ecumenical Focus
i. Some constituents were at the One Project gathering February, 2011. Bryan presented a bowl with puzzle pieces that he used to demonstrate that the SDA church, even as we are unique; we are only one of the pieces of the puzzle.
ii. He speaks often of the need to be ecumenical. This emphasized joining with other denominations and leaving behind our Adventist distinctiveness and practice. For example, at the ONE project, Bryan stated that if a Seventh-day Adventist called themselves part of the “remnant church” then they are “arrogant and extremists.”
d. Doctrinal Concerns
i. Seventh-day Adventist beliefs are rarely presented from the pulpit. The Three Angels’ Messages, the Sanctuary message, the Remnant, the distinctive messages of Adventism are not being heard.
ii. Bryan writes (Winter 2009 Adventist Today pg 10) “We need pastorates, pulpits, committees, boards, and initiatives filled with very young adults. Not tokens. Not the one 27-year-old who is really a 77-year-old in a 20-something body.” Bryan should take the opportunity to visit a GYC annual meeting. He would observe over 7,000 young people on fire for the mission of the Seventh-day Adventist church8 which is no small “token.” Statements like these tend to run down the conservative young and old alike and act to disregard the wisdom of elders.
iii. Parents weigh many things as they determine which university they will entrust with their precious financial resources. They send their children to Seventh-day Adventist institutions because they are Seventh-day Adventist institutions.
Bryan’s influence from the pulpit presenting Spiritual Formation principles in place of the distinctive message of the Seventh-day Adventist church should not be propagated throughout a University via the president-level influence.
We believe Alex Bryan should not be WWU president at this time. Please consider choosing an interim president until an academically and spiritually qualified candidate can be chosen.
If you agree that there are concerns with Alex Bryan being appointed president at this time, please call or email the chair of the board of trustees at WWU and express your concern.

[Snip names and addresses]

8 Their identity is defined as: “A youth-initiated and-led movement of Seventh-day Adventists from diverse backgrounds, united in a common commitment to serious Bible study, intense prayer, uncompromising lifestyle, and boldness in sharing Christ with others.”
Concerns Regarding Alex Bryan as the New President of WWU Page 6 of 8
If you know any of the board members of WWU, please express your concern to them directly, as they will be voting whether to appoint Alex Bryan as the new President on July 1, 2012. Here is a list of the board members that will be voting whether or not to appoint Bryan as the next president of Concerns Regarding Alex Bryan as the New President of WWU Page 7 of 8
Figure 1. Alex Bryan displays his favorite Spiritual Formation books at the Adventist Forum meeting held at Walla Walla University, October 2011.
He described these books as “the most helpful.” Bryan described how others, with differing views about Spiritual Formation from his have spoken negatively against these “helpful” books. He says his favorite authors have been “lambasted in some very poorly written books that are very popular in Adventism right now by the way, there are three of four of them which I will not name that are doing great destruction and are very poorly put together (he holds up the books shown above and reads the names of his favorite authors) Manning, Foster, Yaconelli, Foster, Willard, Eldredge, Foster, Manning - so yea, I think the comments made about those authors – I would disagree” and then shakes his head and speaks inaudibly.9 At the end of his statement, he is asked why the Seventh-day Adventist church’s president would speak negatively about the content of those books, Alex is silent and does not answer the question and goes to the next question.
9 Adventist Forum DVD, time stamp 1:11:43 to 1:12:12.
Concerns Regarding Alex Bryan as the New President of WWU Page 8 of 8
Figure 2. A screen shot from Alex Bryan’s blog page, showing his “Must Reads” page. Bryan recommends reading Contemplative Pastor Eugene Peterson, Emerging Church leader Brian Mclaren’s Generous Orthodoxy, and Universalist Rob Bell’s Velvet Elvis.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Group Opposes Pastor Alex Bryan

There is a new controversy going on from the Adventist Traditionalists. It concerns the Pastor of the Walla Walla University Church; Alex Bryan possible appointment to become the New President of WWU. I personally was a little skeptical of such an appointment since his educational experience seems to be greatly lacking when it comes to being the President of a University, but then Presidents of universities are probably mostly political appointments made up of who you know not what you know, I can't be too upset about it.

The Traditional Adventists seem to object to Bryan based largely upon his use of other Christian thinkers and writers. Under the rubric spiritual formation and the new Adventist fear that is popular in certain articles over on Adventist Today about the emerging church movement. Most specifically see the rantings of Herbert Douglass.

Here is the PDF article currently going around the internet expressing the concerns of some of these Adventist Traditionalists. It only has any power of persuasion if you are already afraid of new ideas of spiritual formation and the emerging church. something of course against any good Traditionalists conceptions as... well tradition is all you need. I find it hard to take this people seriously but I realize that they are on an arc of ascendance in Adventism. My thinking is they will rise and they will drive the rest of the people out of the church, creating their very own self fulfilled prophecy of the shaking (and Ellen White prophecy not a Biblical prophecy).

Really you think they would be more concerned about Bryan as a Pastor of an influential church rather then being a University President. But I don't pretend to understand their thinking. I am just passing it along.