“Authority and Heterodoxy”: the 47th Annual West Coast Religion Teachers Conference Meets at Pacific Union College

“Conversations among Colleagues” was the theme for the weekend when thirty-five religion and theology faculty from the five West Coast Adventist institutions of higher education (including Burman University in Canada) gathered at Pacific Union College on Friday evening, April 5, 2019, for dinner and opening presentations in the Fireside Room.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://spectrummagazine.org/news/2019/authority-and-heterodoxy-47th-annual-west-coast-religion-teachers-conference-meets-pacific

My alma mater - wish I had been there for the weekend!

the burning question is —How to teach the truth and keep one’s paid position. The GC is heterodox and the Scriptures are orthodox, Yet the power structure would reverse roles. Dad told me in 1939 choose a career that is independent from the church… And then work within the church until it is necessary to walk. Great advice which I took.

What a pounding*— Harris Pine Mills, Dallas, Glacier View, Walter Rea, Davenport, Ted Wilson. Greed and power, not Truth- Rule.,


Quite ironic to have a closed meeting in order to promote openness – as if this were AA.

What vice are they trying to overcome? Adventist theology?


Ever since the theological consultations of the 70’s an 80’s there are no gatherings in which religion teachers can interact on such questions with church administrators, thus reinforcing the divide and the misunderstandings that plague us in the present. Those meetings literally frightened primarily administrators so nothing was done.


When it is not safe to have open and intellectually honest communication among peers in public it is sometimes necessary to have it privately.


If there were total academic freedom in our institutions of higher learning, this awesome assembly of Adventist academics would have no twinge about releasing transparent transcripts of their august proceedings. ,

All SPECTRUM aficionados would have wished to eavesdrop —- the topics were so tantalizing.

Regrettably, these transcripts will probably never see the light of day…

Because the participants would be fearful that some stray statement, some random remark, would be misinterpreted as heretical by the warlords / watchdogs in Silver Spring.

Theology teachers walk a tightrope between transparency and truth on the one hand, and an anxious need to adhere to every minutiae of doctrinal dogma.

Jobs and salaries are on the line.

It must be fearsome to always be looking over one’s shoulder so as to protect one’s livelihood and career!


Assuming this is true–the church has created a stagnant faith (loss of vision & passion) where nothing can be questioned without fear. Where EGW is as important as Virgin Mary to church leaders, with the exception that we do not prayer to her. We reverence her teachings as always valid with everlasting divine truthfulness.

The second condition created–is faith in the church. Its teachings, dogmas, in its self-conception as the last true church, belief in its leaders and institutions. Sadly this condition is similar to the Roman faith which centers on the church, its founding leader Peter, its leadership and teachings. Such as prayers to Virgin Mary are efficacious (something not to be questioned).


Yes, I would love to have listened in on some of those topics.

I spent 2 years at PUC and enjoyed it immensely. I left because I felt that when you have areas of knowledge that are dogma and unable to be questioned, that also spills into other areas of knowledge, so nothing can be questioned - and isn’t the point of college to question everything?

So went to a public university for that reason. I also went from a 1,200 student campus to a 37,000 student campus. To be fair, at the public school you could question everything - but everyone was so apathetic that no one questioned anything at all. You also really didn’t get to know your professors, fellow students, etc. because it was so big and impersonal.

Advantages and disadvantages in each. However, at PUC I met my eventual spouse and we’ve been married over 30 years, so I guess the primary reason you have SDA higher education worked :slight_smile:


I think it’s a shame that the “powers that be” hold such power over the livelihood of religion teachers that we who probably agree with what they have to say are unable to hear it.


I think that’s very accurate. Most church employees I know feel trapped. They are unable to speak openly about their faith and are unable to act accordingly in their jobs.


What good is having candor when no one knows about it? Will it ever be disclosed?

As a politician once said of his opponents who were known for pontificating, “They all sit around tables pontificating, inhaling their own exhaust and getting high on it.”

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Let’s just remember what happened to Desmond Ford when he went public with his presentation at PUC some 40 years ago…


How ironic… “SS”…

I can’t imagine how miserable life must be when one cannot address certain issues at work because it could get them in trouble. When I finished college (theology) I got a teaching position in one of the SDA boarding schools (EDESSA - Educandario Espitito-Santense Adventist), in Brazil. Just married, we moved to that place that was 1,250 km from where we lived, ca. 750 kms north to Rio de Janeiro. I knew the director of the school (Aluisio Gabriel) from the time he was a student in the seminary in São Paulo). The guy was a dictator, doing crazy things. Guess what? FIVE MONTHS, and I resigned! A month later an American missionary in charge of the farm resigned and returned to the US. I wrote a detailed report to the Union, and by the end of the year the school got a new, this time competent director.

This was my short career as a full time SDA “worker.” But I would not bow down to any “SS” agent acting crazy.

I see that you got a good grade in that class… :wink: :laughing:

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Exactly! Des was fired, Cottrell and some others were not.

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I completely understand people being scared of losing their jobs. What I find troublesome is not standing for what you believe. Interesting twice today on different radio shows I heard something to this effect we are known for what we stand up for. I rather don’t think that means we are known for what we stand up for in secret! Leaders who only lead in secret are not much in the way of really being leaders. It works in things like a war where there is an underground resistance and to stand up means being killed. But that is hardly the condition of a church denomination.

Ron, you do not believe the Adventist Church was at war with Des Ford?

You do not believe the Adventist Church is at war with Sandra Roberts and all “noncompliant” entities that ordain women?


Maybe I missed it but how many people has the SDA church killed. Pretty sure they did not Kill Des Ford though.

They killed his career, his academic career, and do you know what happened to his family? Children who observe these wars often want nothing to do with the organization ever. Spouses, too. Extended family, friends, etc.

Are children war collateral damage? Are spouses and those who were studying for the ministry at that time who knew they had no future, collateral, too?

Wars always have collateral. And injuries. Losses. Disease.

The war on women is taking a huge share. And the church wonders why the back door swings.