A "Great Controversy" Mailing in Portland Sours Many on Adventists

Pastor Katelyn Weakley had no shortage of church business on her mind when she went into her office in early May. The next day, she was going to be kicking off an evangelistic series at the Mount Tabor Seventh-day Adventist Church, a small neighborhood congregation in Portland, Oregon, where she has pastored for almost three years. It would be the first time leading such a series by herself, and she had spent months planning how to make the event relevant to her congregation and community. The theme was “Restoration: A Broken World Turned Beautiful,” and Weakley, who in addition to being a pastor has a background in social work, had scheduled guests who included a representative from the neighborhood association, a mental health therapist, and a member of an organization that works with the city’s houseless population.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://spectrummagazine.org/news/2023/great-controversy-mailing-portland-sours-many-adventists
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Continuing the discussion from Twelve Things the Book of Revelation Means to Me:

Thanks, @NY_G_PA2.

It’s not frustrating at all.

Did you read the essay, above?

Like Remnant Publications, I often repeat what I’m doing in an attempt to make my positions clear, and convey them to others.

Note how they keep sending out copies of The Great Controversy, in order to give readers an opportunity to reconsider the ideas the book presents, and see them afresh.

I’m a writer, by trade. If I got frustrated when taking different approaches or strategies, in order to make myself understood or transmit a concept, I’d have never been able to do what I do so well, or so long. :grinning:

I’ve tried it…and it works!


I think your understanding, here, is flawed, or misshaped.

For example, consider all of the interactions Christ had with the scribes and Pharisees, usually on similar matters related to His divinity.

What do the philosophers you cite recommend?

I’m gonna doubt Kant, or Wittgenstein, would agree with that. :rofl:


Interesting comment by E. White - a principle easily applied to mass mailings:

These small tracts of four, eight, or sixteen pages can be furnished for a trifle from a fund raised by the donations of those who have the cause at heart. When you write to a friend you can enclose one or more without increasing postage. When you meet persons in the cars, on the boat, or in the stage who seem to have an ear to hear, you can hand them a tract. **These tracts should not at present be scattered promiscuously like the autumn leaves, but should be judiciously and freely handed to those who would be likely to prize them. Thus our publications and the Publishing Association will be advertised in a manner that will result in much good. {1T 552.1}


I recently picked up this current mail-out “version” of the Great Controversy - it’s somewhat whittled down from the original, and the back cover has a blurb sensationalizing! the contents! Wait till you see what the pope is doing! You’ll see how the end is coming as the catholics and the political protestants get hooked up! A must-read! Okay, I’m paraphrasing a little here, but you get the idea - not anything like the original GC, with nothing on the back - better to grab attention I guess. I found it on the “free” table at a thrift stone, read the back, and put it in the dumpster. As is my custom.


I wonder if the feeling is mutual, are both GC and Remnant Publication open to reading and considering the teachings of the JW (etc) if 100 million copies of Watchtower and Awake magazines were dropped into their doors?


“The limits of my language means the limits of my world.“
Ludwig Wittgenstein

As a writer, I suspect you have much more to add but for my part, when I say I don’t expect to ever come to any conclusions in my lifetime, other than perhaps my own demise, I’ve reached the limit of what I have to say…at least on that topic.


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this statement does seem to suggest that the surrounding religio-political climate of an area should be taken into account, and that mass mailings shouldn’t always be done indiscriminately…in other words, the best common sense available should be guiding decisions on mass mailings…

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Thanks, @NY_G_PA2.

Fare thee well!


What abject arrogance!

They’re not going on the shelf, Charlene. They’re going into the trash.


Thanks, @sclewis. Brilliant reference.

A question which I’ve not even seen raised in the numerous articles about these The Great Controversy mail-outs: Why doesn’t Remnant Publications, and/or the SDA Church, send e-books?

• They’re weightless, and thus are easy to ship, and don’t break mail carriers’ backs.

• They’re made of electrons, thus they don’t harm trees, and are truly, infinitely recyclable.

• E-books provide all of the notational and other benefits modern e-documents do for consuming information.

• They can be shared without the original document holder losing anything, via copies.

• Etc., etc., etc.

For over a billion dollars — my goodness — and/or the $10 million Remnant spends on this, I’ll bet one could easily send an e-book, plus Kindle® smartphone software, to the entire planet.

For that price, one might even be able to send an actual, free, SDA-branded e-reader, should the church co-promote with a reputable manufacturer and make a sizable enough purchase. Something tells me people will be much less likely to object over receiving a quality piece of free digital hardware than they will a doorstopper with a nearly 200-year-old text inside.

I mean, under such a digital plan, they could send any and all of Ellen G. White’s books, as well. They could at least also include Steps to Christ, or The Desire of Ages, these being the texts even those whom approve of the mail-outs most often suggest as alternative reads.

Of course, I realize even this could backfire. Remember what happened when Apple included a free U2 album with their new iPhone?

I think — in a statement comparing Adventists to Apple for the first and last time, because Apple are amazing marketers, and SDAs are not — Apple thought U2 was their power move…and were wrong.

In a similar way, SDAs think prophecy is our strong suit. In other words, it’s our nail. Hammer time!

Let me ask a slightly different question: Why haven’t Adventists led with our widely trumpeted health message? SDAs dropped the ball on this in the 20th century, as vegan became a mainstream word without our clear help, input, or credit.

It’s a lot easier to make friends — especially the highly desired, very educated, upper middle-class white ones — with a delicious sandwich than it is with a seven-headed beast. Why aren’t we sending out Counsels on Diets and Foods, or its modern equivalent?

All of this sounds like bad thinking, to me. The Great Controversy Project 2.0? What happened to the first one? Probably the same thing that happened to the much ballyhooed NY13: Mission To The Cities, a decade ago:

Remnant Publications can do what they want. It’s their money. Besides, per an absolutely hilarious reveal, “The paper they used is actually perfect for fire tinder, and the book conveniently holds it all together in a compact and portable way.”


But here”s what $1,000,000,000 of the SDA Church’s money, in $100 bills, looks like, above.

Does Ted Wilson live, and work, in an echo chamber? Is there anyone who can look the elder in the eye and tell him spending that much money, this way, is a really dumb idea?



Absolutely Tim! That statement was ridiculous, but not surprising.


This statement alone seems to bar mass mailings. Period. Our tracks, or books, any written material, should only be given to those that would likely “prize them.” This mass mailing of our books is a waste of money, time, and effort (not to mention trees even though recycled paper is used) and tends to blow up in a negative way in our faces. And to think GC tome is going global, a book that is American as baseball, hotdogs, and apple pie, is simply wrong headed. Let’s mass mail bibles to Saudia Arabia, or another prominent Muslim country, and see how well that goes. It’s the same thing in mailing GC to the world indiscriminately.


Wait is that the official word or is this?
"The night trial is nearly spent. Satan is bringing in his masterly power because he knoweth that his time is short. The chastisement God is upon the world, to call all who know the truth to hide in the cleft of the Rock, and view the glory of God. The truth must not be muffled now. Plain statements must be made. Unvarnished truth must be spoken, in leaflets and pamphlets, and these must be scattered like the leaves of autumn.—Testimonies for the Church 9:231.

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That was actually addressed by that Sam Neves Adventist World piece which was linked in the story. Their reasoning against e-books is potential “digital censorship,” probably by those pesky Jesuits:

The past two years have demonstrated, beyond a doubt, that our social media accounts and applications can be removed from their respective platforms and app stores instantaneously. Websites are no different. In one afternoon it is possible to remove everything the church has ever published online.

And I hope this isn’t getting too far from the spirit of the original article, but I feel like that Adventist World piece deserves more scrutiny. It’s one thing when some independent group does their thing. This is the official flagship magazine of the church though, and I’m afraid it’s indicative of what we’ll be getting from now on under the new editor, Justin Kim. It’s full of stuff like this:

There is a dilapidated warehouse full of The Great Controversy books, still in their boxes, undistributed. Our eyes turn to the uprooted forests of the world, also about to be destroyed. Finally, as hell begins in earnest, we set our gaze on the people.

Would we not wish now, with all our hearts, that more of those trees would have been turned into more of those books to be read by more of those people? Perhaps more of them would now be near us, safe and sound, inside the city.

This sort of appeal to emotion is heinous. It’s also dishonest. Perhaps those books were undistributed because people found better ways to witness. Perhaps fewer would be “safe and sound, inside the city” thanks to wasting time handing out GC copies no one would read. Who’s to say what would be most effective in this completely fabricated scenario?

(And why is there an entire warehouse full of something no one wanted, anyway? Does the SDA Church have a warehouse full of Betamax tapes and Laserdiscs as well? Of course not.)

Is Present Truth a Thing of the Past?

The answer is yes, and we all know it, because the official definition of “present truth” is “a book last updated in 1911.” I have to at least credit EGW for keeping the GC updated during her lifetime. Once she passed, it got frozen in place as the source of truth forever.

Now it’s a book about conflict that somehow doesn’t include WW1, WW2, Korea, Vietnam, Communism, or Islam, but there’s still a whole chapter on the French Revolution. What percentage of Americans in 2023 do you think could name three players in the French Revolution off the top of their head?

(I know you can, dear reader. I have no doubt you thought of Marie Antoinette, Louis XVI, and Robespierre.)

Anyway Harry, to answer your other question:

He probably knows how many people disagree. It simply doesn’t matter to him. That’s why you see articles like that in the official publications, using the bully pulpit to flog Great Controversy handouts.

I just don’t think it’ll work (not at getting people to do it, or seeing a positive response even if they do). I’m sure they’ll dismiss any concerns with “a seed has been planted!” like they always do. Given that Remnant Publications has been doing this for 20 years, you’d think some of those seeds would’ve sprouted by now.


One reason which may have contributed to the decision to distribute paper publications is that the demographic of those currently making distribution decisions are not of the demographic that have much awareness, experience, or appreciation for web promotion.


If “truth” is what is to be scattered, why are they mailing “The Great Controversy” which would best be classified as fantasy fiction?


Thanks, @llemans.

Thanks, @mwortman1.

That may be the 2nd dumbest thing I’ve heard since learning Ted Wilson wants to spend over $1B mailing out print copies of The Great Controversy.

It’s true that “in one afternoon it is possible to remove everything the church has ever published online.”

With an appropriate, robust IT infrastructure, however, everything the church has ever published online could be back online in under an hour — far less than an afternoon — or even instantaneously, depending on the nature of the attack and the supportive IT.

What they seem to be saying is we need to stick with Gutenberg, because that technology is tried and true. But if so, we should really go hardcore and use scrolls, which last for thousands of years under proper storage conditions.

As for Michael’s point about an age gap, that seems likely, though I find it hard to believe my church is so hopeless. Even more, if the case, it makes E.G. White’s widely trumpeted charge that “the youth will finish the work” a mere catchphrase; pure game.

And I know that it is. I just hate to see the denomination admit this, in fact, or affirm that God can defend us from lions, fiery furnaces, anything…except a denial-of-service hack.



Possibly someone astute at Google searches could confirm if GC is classified as “fiction” by the Library of Congress. I also recall coming across a copy in a United Methodist church library where I was on staff. There were some rather interesting handwritten side notes by a former pastor who left his personal library to the church. “How did she know? Did Satan tell her?” I actually found myself wondering if I should put it back on the shelf or throw it out.

When I read The Adventist World story, “8 Million Trees: Is the Great Controversy project still worth it?”, I recalled the contention of the just-deceased James Watt, Secretary of the Interior some forty years ago: As a devout Biblical-literalist he didn’t think we needed to be too serious about saving the planet, because the Second Coming may be nigh. The Adventist World’s literate author cleverly contrasts the salvific value of 8-million-trees-to-books vs. the relatively inconsequential burning of these “expendable” trees in “hell.” Besides giving fodder for Alex Aamodt’s fine journalist reporting, this whole TGC distribution project illustrates the significant—even profound—division between the Adventist ostriches and canaries, in Gil Valentine’s parlance.


In my opinion, the main purpose of the “TGC” distribution project is to exacerbate the divide. The current GC leadership appears to be taking a page from secular politics and pushing “wedge” issues in order to force members and clergy into one of two camps. Compromise, dialogue, “agreeing to disagree” are not on the table. They’ve added up the votes and have determined they can remain in power by pushing and pushing.

Distributing TGCs is not about spreading a message to the world (they know full well almost no one will read it; and those who do read it will either laugh at the silliness of the book or be disgusted that anyone takes it seriously). The distribution plan is to shore up political support within the denomination and to identify who is on whose “team”. If you don’t support indiscriminate mailing of “TGC”, you’re marked as an opponent of the regime.