A “Good-Father” or a “God-Father? On Institutional Paternalism

This characterisation of the 4th International Bible Conference is overdrawn and more than a little jaundiced.

I assume that Adventist Bible scholars and theologians were not compelled to be present at this Conference. They come of their own free will. In my study of the programme book I noted that Audrey Anderson, Executive Secretary of the TED presented a morning devotional. And Wendy Jackson from Avondale College of Higher Education was the moderator of one of the sessions in the theological stream of presentations.

Further, I assume that papers were called for from all Adventist Bible scholars and theologians. Hence all members (men and women) of that illustrious group had equal opportunity to make their contributions. It would also appear that the topics for each of the presentations were self chosen.

As for the suggestion that there should have been presentations from a plurality of perspectives including from non-Adventist perspectives I have but one question to ask in response. Is it permissible to have our Adventist scholars gather together as a group and be prepared to learn from each other without the inclusion of non-Adventist scholars? I believe it is very useful to do so!

There are any number of opportunities for our scholars and theologians to interact with other Christian scholars. We should use these opportunities. Our institutional libraries are full of journals and monographs by Christians of all perspectives. We can interact with their books any day of the week.

I have combed through the Programme Book for the Conference and have noted a very welcome contribution from all sectors of our global movement. Presentations came from the BRI personnel, from the Geoscience Institute, from our General Conference institutions ie. Andrews, Loma Linda, AIIAS (Phillipines). and from the Adventist University of Africa, from large and small institutions in every one of our 13 Divisions. From the South Pacific Division there were 5 presentations, 2 of which came from Avondale and 3 from a variety of our mission field institutions.

There were presentations from well known scholars and emerging Adventist scholars aplenty.

The church has considered this issue three times. Attempts by the first world church to change it have failed each time. The first world is doing WO anyway, despite the votes. Not exactly a way to endear yourselves to the your third world brethren. And to them, apparently it has not been abundantly clear over time that the present policy is ineffective.

You and yours do not like it, so it has to be a problem of the way we have done it, not the actual fact that the majority is not in favor. That is a not a realistic view.

And you do not have personal biases?

I brought the two up together because they are two issues among others that the liberal Christian churches have championed. Those churches are faltering as I have noted. It is not that these two things are the sole cause; it is a constellation of causes. But these two issues can stand in as examples for the whole. I don’t have a problem with WO, but do with the homosexual issue because of its condemnation in scripture. I sense you are a great proponent of WO. Well, it did not pass. The third world thinks it is not necessary. You have to convince them. I don’t think the first world’s present actions will do that when such disrespect is shown for the vote. That is, “We did not win. Therefore everything was wrong.” Sour grapes.

No, that is your interpretation. A majority does not see it as bad policy. And TW was not the cause of its loss.

Again, “We did not win, therefore leadership, process, ego, quest for power were what was involved.” If only they had not been influenced by: (fill in the blank), we would have gotten what we wanted.

Don’t you think that is just a bit arrogant? Don’t you think there might just be resistance to your “lack of ability to grow” idea?

Your attitude is the problem. You cannot see that others may not see it as you do. You make all kinds of excuses for why WO did not pass. Do you not see that it might not be the will of the whole? Not everyone wins every time.

I find it laughable that you would make such a statement. I have been part of constituency meetings. I know the process. Other churches do it the same way. The church is not like two political parties going at it. We give a group the ability to consider candidates and then make a recommendation to the whole. I have been on such committees. We took our role seriously.

There would then be campaigning and a party sprit. I think it would lead to division. Now, members have every right to speak to committee members with recommendations.

But a party type system would probably be a disaster. But perhaps it is worth a try by some part of the church to see if it would work.

They are used aplenty. My brother, Tom Shepherd, is a scholar at Andrews. He organizes the students to attend Biblical meetings that have the widest range of viewpoints expressed so that the doctoral students are exposed. You need not worry.

Yes, Allan! You are correct!

Allen, please, I beg you, do not insult our intelligence! Please…

  1. There is campaigning going on right now. TW has been doing this for a long time on a worldwide basis. Maybe you are not aware of it, but this is not enough to change the facts. I wish the campaign would be allowed for other people, and not only for TW.
  2. Did you mean “a party spirit?” Well, it’s easier when there is only one party, isn’t it? Easier to control everything with no opposition.
  3. If there were not already division they wouldn’t be running an Unity Committee.
  4. Members always have the right to speak and to even offer recommendations. How good is it if nobody even pays attention to those recommendations? Who at the GC level really pays attention?

I am aware that this ill condition is not going to change. The politicking in the Church will continue the same. I only wish you would not say all those things that you must know are not the way you pretend. Because we already know it!


I am not pretending anything. I have not been part of any GC committee, but know how it works, as I have been part of local ones. I don’t think it is so bad as you make out, but I have no direct knowledge. But I do know that the committees to suggest a name for GC president do take seriously the job, and there are folk among them that think. Don’t be so dismissive.

You guys give TW too much credit. Was not his plan for discipling the unions rejected as well as the idea that leaders of the divisions would have to sign pledges? He is not the pope. And it was still the people who voted WO down. But I don’t think there is a taste for disciplining the unions. So, you win!

But often it appears he thinks he has “popeish powers.” Just his recurrent insistence on enforcing the continuation of discrimination of women tells us a lot. Yes, he has been defeated a few times, but what is he doing now? He keeps coming up with new maneuvers, the latest (but certainly not the last) being the Unity Committee - another maneuvering attempt. Hope he will be defeated again.

Oh man, the taste is up there, on TW’s desk. But fortunately the Unions are well protected, with the full support of EGW.

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"They have installed kings, but not through Me. They have appointed leaders, but without My approval. They make their silver and gold into idols for themselves for their own destruction.” Hosea 8:4


And protected by the money they bring to the coffers.


Allen, I stand by what I said. I have been to at least 4 or 5 constituency meetings in my life. No candidate that was put forth for any office was ever voted down. And it wasn’t because they were all worthy. It seems that no one would want to stand up to the “Churches Recommendations” so they all vote like lemmings.

I’m sure you voted your conscience, as did I, but there aren’t enough of us to change the outcome of simply being a rubber stamp.

I still say the process is a joke. If having more than one candidate is a problem, then there needs to be some other solution. But this system is way past broken.


George –
AJ will NEVER concede that the VOTE had to do with DIVISIONS.
AJ will Never Concede that the VOTE NEVER mentioned UNIONS.
AJ will Never Concede that what ever UNIONS desire to do with the Issue
is ALLOWED by the Unions.

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I am starting to consider that for some people religion may actually act in the centers of the brain that control the addiction process. Addicts practice their addiction and apparently develop a protective wall around them and their addictions; this way they can’t look around and see a broader horizon of reality. Reality for them is defined by what they WANT to see, no by what they really see.

You mentioned AJS. I don’t believe he does not see all those things you mentioned. I think he is aware of it, he knows about it, but he made a choice to deny the existence of this reality. We don’t know why he cose that way, but he did. And I am with you, he will never change - he appears addicted to it.

Let’s see if Elmer @elmer_cupino has something to say on this.

TW may not be the pope, but he is the president of a world wide organization. What he says helps to set a tone and drive culture. And what kind of culture is that? Taking the names of two responsible adults, who happen to also be theologians, so that he could pray for them about their sabbath morning attire??? Are you kidding me???

I grew up in Catholicism. The nuns and priests didn’t largely treat us like this, as children. However, we were monitored in terms of hair length in the 70’s in my high school. We found all kinds of ways to skirt around those rules. We were kids.

And there’s the problem! We have a grown man as president trying to enforce a childish view of religion on other adults… as if they are children!! He focuses on externals. He uses shaming tactics and pressure to achieve his ends. His focus and methods sound like a watered down version of what the New England Puritans did.

In short, he is a legalist, seeking to impose his religion of externals on others. From his position of influence, he drives a culture of legalism. And, this is what much of our world church seems comfortable with. The vote to not allow WO reveals this type of mindset. Religious ideals and practice are something to be imposed on all, regardless of honest dissent, particular human need, conscience, or the call for Christian freedom and equality. All in the name of a misnamed unity and righteousness. It is antithetical to the freedom of the gospel, and the diverse unity that the gospel brings.

Sorry, but TW, in his own spiritual immaturity and blindness helps to drive and helps to validate a culture that is spiritually poisonous. This must be stood up to, and called by its right name.




Alas, TW comes across as uneducated, fearful, controlling, and out-of-touch.

  1. They must rescind Ellen Gould White’s ordination certificates immediately and renounce them.

  2. The “large majority” did NOT represent the majority of the membership. More than 60% women who are not represented as delegates since males predominate as delegates by virtue of their positions as ordained officers and presidents of conferences, unions, divisions, etc. and de facto delegates.

This is not "sour grapes as you always claim. These are facts.


George, It becomes obvious that religion has become addictive behavior when the focus becomes laser-thin on rules and blind obedience. Forget about God. Those who do not fall in line become “fools” and those who do not abide by the rules become “rebellious.”



Hanz, may the Lord continue to lead you as you stand up for what is right. Very few have the intestinal fortitude to speak out when wrongs have been committed. I am thankful that men such as yourself are doing all they can to ensure that the way remains open for anyone to walk in our church door and be welcome; for anyone gifted with the ‘freebie’ gifts of love kindness gentleness, patience, long-suffering, etc and the ability to communicate with both men and women in their ‘own’ language will also be welcome. Don’t lose heart. God has a place for you and He has given you a task to do. Cost you what it may.
Warmly (from Down Under)


Amen!!! God bless you !

Very well said Heather.
But, who did you address this to?

Good morning from Australia.

George, I addressed it to Hanz Gutierrez, the author from Peru, currently teaching in Florence.

Your facts speak for themselves; ignoring over 60 % of membership who have very limited representation because of historical headship exploitation and abuse.