A Multitude of Counselors

By now you’ve likely heard the story of the ill-fated OceanGate submersible that imploded on an expedition to the site of the Titanic. I’m not going to take time to excoriate the choices of those who took part in the trip. To be fair, lots of people embark on adventures with various levels of risk—climbing Everest, skydiving, space flight, white water rafting, etc. So I can’t knock OceanGate for wanting to facilitate exploration. But I can critique the unwillingness to heed warnings from the chorus of voices seeing the dangers.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://spectrummagazine.org/views/2023/multitude-counselors

Thanks Courtney,well said! I would add a well known Scottish poets observation…… “ Would some power give us the gift of seeing ourselves as others see us. It would from from many a blunder free us and foolish notion. …With apologies to Robert Burns…( His poetic language is beautiful! )
Jim Bussau


So clearly written, Courtney. I spoke with a person from my previous church a week ago; they have a new once-a-month pastor (the norm for rural out-back churches), and attendance is down to less than half a dozen. The thing is, most of the 30+ past members are still around - they haven’t moved away or died or even joined other churches, as I have. Legalism, control, holding to the red books, etc by a few newer people just kind of sucked the life away. On top of that, the situation isn’t viewed as worrisome - it’s viewed as “the end-time shaking”. Ah well.



That last paragraph was a doozy!


There are at least two responses to the phrase, ‘save the church.’

  • Embrace the past
  • Embrace the present

Growing up in a Seventh-day Adventist environment in the 50’s and 60’s, it was my sense that to secure eternal life one had to embrace the past. We were to embrace Bible practices and for us Seventh-day adventists the practices of the post Millerite movement that created the Seventh-day Adventist denomination.

And it was not a simple either/or. The future could not be secured. But a lifetime of denying all present needs and desires was the safest life practice if one so much as hoped to eventually qualify for eternal life at the second coming of Jesus. And the second coming of Jesus would surely happen in the lifetime of our parents and if not their lifetime our own lifetime.

By examining openly the varieties of soteriological paths embraced among contemporary Seventh-day Adventists, and then seeking to understand what otherwise keeps us somehow together, we may come to sense the possibilities for our collective future. Indeed spiritual meaning. Perhaps.

The church is actually not dying. In the Third World, it’s thriving, and it is only in Europe, Australia and the United States, the developed world, where the church is fading. Of course we are doing well compared to the more liberal churches which are hemorrhaging members at an alarming rate.

This issue has been discussed multiple times here on spectrum but I don’t see that there has been any real movement towards a more growing process. Perhaps we should consider what the third world is doing and adopt some of their strategies. And of course it should be noted that they opposed women’s ordination.

Perhaps we need to ask why churches are thriving in third-world countries. Like in all places many or most look for what they can get out of joining. If nothing, they often leave.
When leadership at a distant headquarters thinks it’s their duty to fit every culture into the same box, spits happen, not unity. Common sense would dictate each entity decide local lifestyle issues. Yet Christian leadership must step in when immorality, violent politics and laws (such as in Uganda), and thievery come to light. These are clearly in the ten commandments.

There is a need for fundamental beliefs that include treatment of persons and equality not just doctrine; some of which are flexible as biblical knowledge increases. How many of the 28 or 29 fundamentals focus on Christ-centered love and treatment of others? Doctrine without love is meaningless.

I see no wrong in patriotism if it includes love/wanting the best for all people. It’s not new! Nor is it wrong to want a nation under God who includes freedom of all world religions. Perhaps our prejudice started with the fear of Catholics (people) in early America and, like the world, we believed the “old wive’s tales.” when actually Babylon reflects a system found in every corporation, religion, and government that exists to control.


It was not leadership that decided on WO or homosexuality. It was the church as a whole. You might want to blame TW, but he was not the one who decided, he members representatives did.

The Methodists are splitting over homosexuality. Perhaps splits are inevitable. The liberal wing of the SDA church favored WO, and felt it was a moral issue. The rest of the world did not, so voted it down.

Part of this i problem is a black/brown vs white dominance issue. Our people of color do not favor WO, and have seen it is an issue that they feel Whites have pushed. So they voted no, perhaps for antiracist reasons. We have to live with that.

Did you or I miss the point? The church ethically should not attempt to fit everyone in the same box on social issues. Voting down WO was forced by leadership here and in third-world countries when there were alternatives. I think if you would fairly research the circumstances, you would see that. It has decreased our outreach in western countries and caused young people to leave the church. It’s shackled us with an ancient and outdated duplicity in a church founded by a woman and women making up the majority membership.

Perhaps you are unaware of church leaders in Uganda supporting government laws to execute LGBT persons. Can you really believe this is ethical and Christian?


Once again, Dr. Ray has put forward a wonderful essay…and what a terrific analogy, comparing the SDA denomination’s past actions to the OceanGate debacle. It is a fair comparison…and portends a serious warning to the church leaders.


Many do not see WO as an ethical issue, but a cultural one. That idea would argue to let the different divisions dos as they would like, but the liberal folks sort of forced the issue, and the conserviative constituents of color voted it down. As a pastor here, in one of my chruches, I pushed for a certain woman of color to be in the head elder position, and it was her black sisters that squashed it! That is the membership of our church. .

I agree that alternatives were available, in fact, the vote was one to let each go their own way. Some felt a unity of idea was better.

As far as whether this would help membership I am very dubious. The churches with more liberal practice are not growing, but shrinking; Even the ones with conservative practice are shrinking, but must less so. There is just no good argument for adopting libreral polices such as WO. It does not help. And I have researched the the circumstances.

In dialogue I will attempt to respond. It is Interesting that some consider this a liberal vs. conservative issue. I don’t find this at all true among leaders and members I have known over the years working for the church.
I am neither, maybe more conservative moderate. But I do believe in freedom to think and do what is right by biblical principles not cultural ones. The equality of women and all races is biblical in its contexts, though the Hebrews went wrong in many ways like having multiple wives. God may have winked at some human traditions and misuse, but that did not make them right but the result of sin. As in diet, for example, we need to go back to the Eden principle, but relatively few will. It’s not a salvation issue and depends on availability, priorities, and knowledge.

Our leadership is responsible for guiding its members back to Eden by calling out things like slavery, adultery, bad laws, abortion as birth control, (especially the murderous partial abortion), inequality, capital punishment, and any mistreatment of other humans.
Perhaps some missionaries who bought doctrine to these countries did not focus on the value of human life, so converts didn’t give up certain traditions. Interestingly they managed to get them to dress like Europeans! There is also an element of resentment of white dominance, but that is allowing revenge to guide in decisions instead of pointing out the sinfulness of making decisions for other peoples.
It’s also worth noting that many of these lands are greatly influenced by Muslim ideology and its view of women.

Most who believe WO is proper quote Gal 3:28.”There is neither…male nor female… we are all one in Christ. They extrapolate from this statement to the ethical necessity of WO.

But where is the practice of such in the NT? It is not there, and we are not told that we must do so as a command. There is no hint that it is immoral to withhold ordination from women. Then again there is no command forbidding it.

Therefore the culture is what determines its practice.

I say this because of the problem of homosexuality. If you make WO a moral issue, when it is not, those sympathetic to the of gay folk’s circumstances, will extrapolate to making their acceptance a moral issue, when there is nothing at all about such a practice.

Setting up a morality that is not present in scripture is dangerous. That is the problem with WO. It is a OK to do, but is not a moral imperative.

I see these two issues as being identical. That is, there is no morality associated with any sort of consensual adult sexuality nor with WO.

(If you want to talk about psychological or societal issues, those are other matters.)

That some have decided to escalate both of these to the level of supposed moral concerns indicates to me that those people are, and have, problems.

As to Jesus thoughts on the matter, there is no physical or specific evidence to support the claim that he has any concerns about either question.

Your question has been asked and answered. So to ask again means you are either being argumentative, and trying to impersonate a legal eagle on CourTV who attempts to trip a witness up based on a previous deposition or prior testimony. Or perhaps you forgot both asking the question, as well as the reply, in which case a serious chat about dementia with a mental health care provider seem to be indicated.


As to your second statement; IMO, repeatedly trying to defend oneself-particularly to those who’ve clearly indicated that they think you’re wrong-is not only a sign of weakness, both in one’s character and arguments, but the attempt to convert those who have already said “No.” to your position is demonstrably and essentially unchristian.

So if you’re trying to hold yourself as someone to emulate in this manner, or because you have a propensity for repeating yourself, I’ll simply assume this another of your many attempts at comedy and go merrily on my way!


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