A Summary of the Memorial Service of Dr. Desmond Ford

(milton hook) #62

I don’t normally respond to anonymous posts but I make an exception here.
I am concerned about your statement that sanctification is “also moral growth in goodness.”
Take out your Greek New Testament and look up the twenty texts where the verbs for “to sanctify” are used. Let me know if you find one that gives the sense that sanctification is a lifetime process of moral growth or character development towards perfection.
I found 75% of the references are in the passive voice, indicating sanctification is not an exemplary life of moral conduct at all but rather is something that is done to a new believer. It is a high honor to be justified and an equally high honor to be set apart or sanctified when one enters into the Christian community.
Des was not antinomian. Des always maintained that an exemplary life was lived in GRATITUDE for salvation, not as a leg-up into heaven to assist salvation. Moral conduct is a way of saying Thank You for salvation. His gospel was justification by faith ALONE, not justification PLUS moral growth. By taking this stand he was quite biblical and removed the platform for perfectionism. That’s why the church hated him from the 1960s onward. That’s what led to the Palmdale Conference where prominent perfectionists such as Robert Pierson, Herbert Douglas and Kenneth Wood went home licking their wounds and continuing their harassment of Des.
Some SDA preachers nowadays preach justification by faith alone even though it is against the official church position. Often those gospel preachers are vilified and ostracized and black-balled in committees. Des is the first one that I know of whose memorial service was banned from an SDA church, perhaps because he was one of the best gospel preachers they ever had. Their ongoing hatred for the gospel knows no bounds.
I’m fortunate to be able to attend a minority SDA church where the gospel is usually uplifted.

(Patrick Travis) #63

One brief comment. Don’t want to go down all the rabbit trails of the issue. I remember in 1961 in a Bible Doctrines class of Pastor Larson at Collegedale Academy He said the “Covenant Theology” of Presbyterians was the only thing similar to EGW’s Conflict of the ages series. Funny how life, exposure and memories works, isn’t it. Covenant theology gives a metanarrative of scripture from Creation to Consummation. Some may remember Emilio Knieckle (sp.) who presented aspects of this view in the 70’s “Eden to Eden.”
Don’t want to detract from Des. who was firmly grounded in classical Protestant theology regarding JBF “alone.” Bless Him!

(David R Larson) #64

I have reversed my thinking about the place of Doctor Ford’s memorial service. At first I thought it most unfortunate that a change had to be made. Now I think it most fortunate. A memorial service for him in an Adventist place of worship would have been treating him better in death than we did in life and the history books would have wronhly said that at long we as a people did right by him. We didn’t and we don’t deserve credit for doing something we didn’t do. I say this even though I would take Wesley over Luther or Calvin in a moment while sound asleep despite the fact that hey all had theological strengths and weaknesses which had positive and negative consequences for everyday life None of this justifies how we treated him. Although I dont know about it, I presume that near the end of his life, but while he could still enjoy it, those who had been most blessed by his ministry had a big celebration in his honor at which st least twice as manly people as attended his memorial service celebrated in word and song Gods amazing grace I’m sure that meant more to him than where his memorial service would be.

(George Tichy) #65

Agree. The worst and the BEST thing that happened was that order coming “from the above” prohibiting the service happening at Avondale. It only confirmed the meanness of the SDA Denomination leadership (aka General Conference) toward him. It was the ultimate disrespect - thus confirming who those “black suited guys upstairs” actually are.

(Gillian Ford) #66

Gillian Ford: No we had a private funeral and no local memorial. This is what Des wanted. We were both reluctant about an Avondale Memorial, but I’m glad I went down. No surprise about the change of venue. That’s how we were always treated. I think I was less upset than everyone else. It was a wonderful memorial, and I was hugged by many, many people who told me their stories of how Des helped them personally. A lot of them knew Des when he lived in the village with his first wife Gwen. Most people at ninety are forgotten, but Des had an enormous tide of love sent his way in his last years. He meant a great deal to many people for bringing them good news about the Cross. The others just didn’t know him. Some of his detractors were just evil.

(George Tichy) #67

I just wonder what the memories about those detractors will be like when they pass away… :thinking:

(Thomas J Zwemer) #68

**Glacier View was ordained of God. finally the true nature of Adventism was unmasked. A self righteous, vindictive, reactionary entity. It also revealed the nature of true Christsinity. Steady as the needle to the pole. **[quote=“enorman01, post:38, topic:18158”]

(Jenny R) #69

Learned of Dr Ford by accident but over the last few years have been expanding my understanding of God (thru Bible study) at the foot of Dr Ford thru YouTube videos. They are such a blessing. They teach the love of God for us sinfull “very far gone” humans. Not of a cheap grace…but a sacrificing profound love.

Favorite Des Ford saying “God is far better than we have ever hoped…while we are worse than we ever suspected”

Thank you and God bless those who helped Dr Ford make those videos thru the years. It has and continues to effect my (and I’m sure others) relationship with God, self, and neighbors. Morisset 05 and Forensic Atonement sermon at Loma Linda are favorites.

(Patrick Travis) #70

The 2008 sermon at the Campus Hill church was the last time I was privileged to hear Des talk. He gave a lucid gospel sermon on JBF. For other interested parties to hear so there is no doubt what Des believed, loved and held to be biblically true.

(George Tichy) #71

Thanks for the link. I hope Des’ detractors listened him speaking at least once…

(Andreas Bochmann) #72

While I wholeheartedly agree with the intention and direction of your argument, I would like to express my surprise at the above quote. I don’t know, where you live, but here in Europe - whether during the Des Ford crisis (when I attended Newbold College) or after it, justification by faith alone has been taught and preached. Sanctification by faith alone as well. Now, to be sure, there are preachers around who misreprsent the gospel … but by no stretch of the imagination would that be considered official church position. If anything … the church in Europe is guilty of not speaking the anathema loudly and clearly enough when a different gospel was being preached. But even that is changing.

In fact, I would even dare to suggest Desmond Ford was less of a prominent figure in Europe, because for most theologians and pastors he was stating the obvious … In other words, the diverse views on justification and sanctification Desmond Ford sought to correct, was not fully comprehended in the reformation regions…

Unity? In Christ alone.

(George Tichy) #73

In order to validate your statement please provide proof that the “official church position” is not justification by faith alone. And if it is not, what is it then???

I graduated in a SDA school of religion in 1972 (college degree), and I was taught exactly this, that justification is by faith alone. I never had doubts about it. I always learned, too, that this was the official position of the church even though many people believed in “faith + works.”

Maybe you know something we don’t. Please clarify asap.

(milton hook) #74

Point taken Andreas. I’m in Australia. For years we suffered under Robert Brinsmead’s perfectionism prior to his acceptance of the gospel about 1970. The longer running problem has been the perfectionism of the Standish twins, the influence of which is still alive and well in my corner of the woods.
You are fortunate to be closer to the Reformation aftermath.

(milton hook) #75

George, I had in mind Fundamental Statement Ten where the word "alone " does not appear. Instead, there are phrases such as “writes God’s law of love in our hearts,” “the power to live a holy life,” and “partakers of the Divine nature” which, to my mind, are not by faith alone but rather is the jargon of perfectionism. After all, if you literally have God’s nature in you and you are living a holy life and have the law of God written on your heart then there’s not much more you can have. Your nature is as perfect as God’s.
I also had in mind TW’s sermon at the recent Autumn Council in which he expressed perfectionism, just as Robert Pierson, Kenneth Wood and Herbert Douglas had championed.
Further, for years I have researched back issues of the denominational magazines. They are full of articles about character development and perfection but the Reformation teaching of justification by faith ALONE is noticeably rare. Justification by faith is there but so also is sanctification by a lifetime process of works. It’s Wesleyan and provides a platform for perfectionism. Wesley is held up as some sort of hero. Wesley is regarded as the superior reformer and Ellen White is regarded as an improvement on Wesley. The fact that all these articles and positions have been taken in Review and Herald and other papers suggests to me that it is the official position.

(Patrick Travis) #76

I an going to have to agree with you. JBF is an official church position but never accepted and taught as meant by the Reformers by “faith alone” as an organization. Youve always had the Andreason/perfectionist wing of “make righteous” as a side meaning of Justification’s work on individuals.
This is why you had a purge at Southern and Des. In reality/practice the SDA church does hold to the official view of the RCC that protested the reformers at Trent and they always as the Wilsons’ present that view or doubt about, JBF “alone.”

(milton hook) #77

Yes Travis, from as far back as I can remember the SDA salvation formula was justification by faith PLUS the sanctified life of good works, the work of a lifetime. Justification was said to be imputed, sanctification was said to be imparted. It is this RC doctrine that Martin Chemnitz attacked so comprehensively in his hefty reply to the Councils of Trent. Most SDA’s have never heard of Chemnitz and have never seen the close similarity between a RC lifetime of sacramental sanctification and a Wesleyan lifetime of sanctification by keeping God’s law.
Here in Australia we suffer under the preaching of Hartland Institute graduates and others whose reading has not been in the Reformers.
Des has been hated since the 1960s when he opposed Brinsmead and his perfectionism. The gospel Des preached was justification by faith alone in Jesus Christ alone in the context of grace alone. Works, he taught, were gratitude for salvation, not in any way an aid to salvation. They hated him for it to the point of rejecting the very mention of his name in a memorial service in one of their churches. The fact that a thousand attended his memorial service at a university and thousands more watched it on line is encouraging. It indicates that innumerable people around the world warmed to his message.

(George Tichy) #78

Yes, I noticed that. In that sermons he declared his belief in Perfectionism. That’s when I realized that the Perfectionist crowd successfully took the GC. That’s the end of the traditional Adventist. Now we are in the hands of religious fanatics, the black suited guys upstairs that want to impose the “Kompliance Kontract” from their Komandatura.

(Patrick Travis) #79

RC Sproul explains the mentality of perfectionism in this article.

SDA’s through Andreason and others. Wesley’s “second blessing.” and RCC “divinization” (theosis diefication) are all cut from the same cloth. All give the Spirit of Christ the glory. All deny JBF “alone” as our pefect and best “reckoned” as righteous before God. Notice also the “perfect love.” Many hold that their love saves. The fact is that none of us is “perfectly loving.” It is just as deluding as “sinless pefection” just presented in another garment in which love justifies…
The fact is that “progressive adventism” along with the above mentioned join the others in rejecting JBF “alone.” While, all heartily proclaim “Salvation by Grace.”
Regards to you…and of course our brother Des.


With due respect Dr Hook, you just proved yourself right again - that you are dealing with the single tree (of the exegetical meaning of sanctification as a conferred status given by the 20+ Bible texts). But you appear to ignore the existence of the forest (of hermeneutics) which give the equally valid theological meanings of sanctification as moral growth, which while one might not be saved by/through it, yet one can be lost without it. So while one is justified/saved by grace alone through faith alone, that faith that saves isnt alone (didnt Des say that?).
Anyway I won’t belabor my point here except to say in brief that in addition to your texts that talk about sanctification as a new relationship and status, Rom 5 and esp. Romans 6 talks about sanctification as moral change. Also Heb 12:14; Eph 1:4; Phil 3:12; etc etc). This doesnt necessarily mean that it is what saves us, for we are saved through God’s objective work for us, not His subjective work in us.
If (so Im told) Des’s general understanding of heresy is correct (being right in what it affirms and wrong in what it denies), then the understanding of sanctification Des/you propose fits it, i.e. your single/tree exegetical understanding of sanctification is right in what it affirms, but wrong in denying the whole forest/theological understanding of sanctification.
As for SDA preachers getting black-balled for preaching the gospel, you’re giving too much credit to the church for that. Some former/retired senior theology lecturers (students & colleagues of Des) in our SPD institutions never got black-balled though they taught justification by faith alone. I know as I was taught by several of them. So I wouldnt paint the brush too widely there.

(George Tichy) #81

Are you sure you really wanted to say that? Isn’t it actually the other way around?

Unless it changed lately, and I missed it, in the past the progressive SDAs supported JBF alone while the conservatives always mixed works into it. Anyway, I know at least one progressive SDA that believes in JBF alone for many decades, but I can only speak for myself… :wink: