A Once and Future Adventism

Paging through past issues of Spectrum is like removing the contents of a time capsule. Here’s the 1980’s discussion of the Davenport bankruptcy case and its implications for the finances of the church. Here are the stories of discipline voted and then abandoned for the conflicts of interest of many key employees. What should be done? Here are the problems with the publishing industry, a near bankrupt Pacific Press, forced to sell its valuable property and moved to a different location to resolve its problems. To Spectrum editor Roy Branson, these problems of the church meant members “must assume responsibility for transforming recent reversals into occasions for renewal.”

His optimism in the face of disappointment was tied to the significance of worship and apocalyptic literature. In a 1988 article “Trumpet Blasts and Hosannas: A Once and Future Adventism” (1988, Vol. 18, No. 3), he meets disappointment head on.

“Many mistakenly think that the Apocalypse, so important for Adventist identity, merely points Christians to the future, to the second coming of Christ; that it is a detailed history of the future. Actually, the apocalyptic imagination spends more time drawing the heavenly realms-the sanctuary, the emerald throne, the risen and active Lord of thousands times thousands-into the Christians' present experience,” he wrote.

Recounting the cosmic loneliness of disappointment, first of his mother on the death of his father, but also in Adventist history, he calls upon contemporary church members “to embody the apocalyptic vision: a community whose disappointments are overwhelmed by its experience of the divine; a church empowered by God's presence. The Adventist church is to be a visionary vanguard, revolutionaries of the imagination, propelled into action, shattering the routines of oppression with the shock of the holy.”

It is an invigorating read at times like these. The entire article can be read here: "Trumpet Blasts and Hosanas: A Once and Future Adventism."

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/7007

In the face of reality, go esoteric. It’s bigger than all of us. Not quite up to Where is God When it Hurts. Institutionalism is man made. salvation is God accomplished. If one can believe in IJ then one can believe in the riches of strip malls. (Excessive. The constant bashing does not become you. - website editor) Tom Z

Web editor You maynbe correct. but At this late date why bring up Davenport. I was a member of the Georgia Cumberland Conference and was an early questioner of the investments of the Conference in Davenport. An accountant followed up and uncovered the entire mess… I see no way to honor a recently departed by referencing an obtuse article. The issue with men in power is alway more power that means greed. This time they got caught. So tell it like it really is power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. All the Post A S commentary dances around that possibility. more likely probability. The temple has always been troubled by money changers. Tom Z


Roy Branson and the other founders and continuers of an independent press within Adventism are to be both congratulated and honoured. We need it to continue, and more of it. Thank you Roy and Spectrum for championing the speaking of truth, as uncomfortable as it may be at times, in a denomination that champions truth but often likes to hide a lot of it - and hide from it.

Unless we learn, we keep going round and round in circles. Each generation reaping the results of the cyclical misadventures - theological, administrative, sociological and financial.


Don’t worry Tom, my parakeets told me this morning that this issue is so old and dead that only a few people will have interest in reading it, much less keeping a discussion about it here. Discussing what?

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thanks George. my reaction was that Roy desired better as a parting tribute. I believe he both understood the Gospel and his Sabbath School classes demonstrated that… at best to honor him with a Davenport era editorial is faint praise indeed. during that period I was putting 20% of my income into raising the local Advebtist church out of a basement into a then state of the art Church and adjoining Church School and gym. at that time I had recruited 8 Adventist dentists to the dental faculty. after Davenport all all but two returned to California. Tom Z.

We both probably have already figured out that the Adventist mentality is pretty much “consistent” and not “vulnerable” to many changes throughout the years.

Look at us in 2015… still fighting against discrimination of women in this Denomination. How can that be possible? And in a CHURCH!!! In name of God, of course… :anguished:

And you mentioned the IJ issue, for which the WebEd scorched you. Remember: The IJ is the central pillar of the Adventist faith. I heard this from the SAD’ Secretary (Mario Veloso) some time around 1985, in a private conversation with him in my home. He was adamant that this is the central pillar of the SDAs and can’t touched. I didn’t believed so at that time, I thought the central pillar was something else. Man,… was I wrong!!!



Tom, did you miss the date on the article? This is not a “parting tribute” so much as it is part of a walk down memory’s lane as to what was said long years ago. This was in Volume 18 of Spectrum magazine … 1988.

It’s value to us now lies in the similarities… or dissimilarities… between then and now.


Yes I noticed the date… I thought it unseemly to bring that issue forward. this all happened shortly after a glacier View so I thought to make that connection. If I understand the scholarly mind of that era. It was where to go. Denominationalism all has warts. I’ll stick with the warts I know. There is much Truth that can be address were I am. If I lived in California I likely would have done the same. Dr. Ed Zackersen is about to publish his view of that era of which he was a victim. it should be interesting.He was raised and educated at La Sierra. Tom Z

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I’m married to Davenport’s wife’s niece (they introduced her to me) and I probably know more about him than most. My father went with him on many trips in SoCal scouting out post office locations starting in the late fifties. I never considered him greedy and looking out only for himself. What got him into financial trouble was over leverage at a time in the late seventies and early eighties when interest rares got as high as twenty percent. Post offices were a conservative investment and not speculative. Whatever he did wrong was to salvage the situation and keep the church from losing money. It was never his intent to bilk the church and friends of their money.

To his dying day he thought he could have salvaged the situation if given a little more time as interest rates were coming down. Whether he would have been successful we will never know.

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this is quite an interesting article, particularly the concept that apocalyptic means the influence of the supernatural in the here and now, as opposed to some future event…certainly this is the great contribution of egw, and i completely agree she was to our pioneer church what the apostles were to the early christian church…her unparalleled descriptions of the ministry of christ in the heavenly sanctuary occurring in the here and now of earth time, and the role of that ministry in negotiating temporary present reality in terms of what certainly lies in the future on an eternal scale, not to mention the invisible agency of heavenly angels and the constant threat from evil angels, are the legacy that, i believe, makes adventism unique and exciting…

i really think an awareness of the ongoing meaning of the apocalyptic of egw is the key to realizing the dream of the awakening roy describes…without that awareness, adventism probably can’t live up to what has been bequeathed to us as children of the disappointed…

Ed Zackrison is a good scholar.
I have been reading his book – In The Loins of Adam [A Historical Study of Original Sin in Adventist Theology]. Someone on Spectrum recommended it some time back.

A lot of good people were caught in the purge at Southern. I was completing my BSN in 1983 during that time. My lab partner was the wife of one of the Professors in the Religion Dept.

From what I heard he was as concerned as others. And he did his best to salvage the principle that was invested. And I also heard discussed that it was not his intent to “make money” off the church.
I think what made it difficult for him as well as the church was the way the issue was handled due to all the “fire and brimstone” being slung around by Independent Voices at the time. These Voices caused a lot of panic among the brethren.

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He clearly had major conflict of interest problems, because part of his strategy for getting church money was to offer very attractive (read outrageous) returns for key church individuals on their own money. Anyone with a mild clue about financial dealings understands that is a no-no.

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A good friend, physician’s widow and former missionary, invested a large sum with Davenport and lost it all. Going to church members gives the false sense of security. The story of many such investments offered is the false security given fellow church members.

If someone from the church offers an investment opportunity, too good to be missed–run away fast. I know several church members and friends who lost lots on such deals from fellow members. My advice: don’t do such financial dealings with members. Seek a professional with no such ties.


A similar scheme was articulated in Brazil in the 1980s by the (well respected…) Head Elder of the SDA Central Church in Sao Paulo. His initials, E.P. Many people, including pastors and retired members from everywhere lost tons of money. It was actually a Ponzi scheme. Some retired people sold their homes… (well, this is really idiotic, right?) and gave the money to “the good brother”… Pastors at the Conference were referring church members to that guy. Just an horrific scenario. Worst it became when it all blew out!!!

Charlres Ponzi started that:

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Roy Branson
A man ahead of his time.
He wanted the church to go out INTO THE WORLD to Save The World.
When everyone else wanted to keep the World OUT. To be Reclusive, Seclusive, prevent the “wrong ones” from coming into the Church Communities and contaminating the Church.
A powerful article.
We ARE STILL living in the Great Disappointment, mourning in our Darkened Rooms.