Book Review: Out of Adventism: A Theologian’s Journey


(Spectrumbot) #1

During the Nixon era, under threat of losing her paper and going to jail, The Washington Post’s Katherine Graham published the Pentagon Papers. Why did she do it?

“Once she knew the truth, all else became secondary, including losing her paper, her freedom and all she most cared about.”

A similar conviction animates Dr. Jerry Gladson’s memoir Out of Adventism: A Theologian’s Journey. It is—at best—a sobering, and at worst, a demoralizing read. Count my reaction among the “worst.” It chronicles his tenure at Southern Adventist University (then Southern Missionary College) from 1972-1984 and his life afterward. He writes with a fierce honesty about his personal and professional anguish, his disappointment with specific persons, and the horror of watching his family unravel. An earlier effort felt incomplete to Gladson;1 he now feels he has said it all. A number of current and former Seventh-day Adventist scholars who read this volume will respond sympathetically.

He describes the book’s controversial agenda:

As a cautionary tale, my story is a plea for Seventh-day Adventism and denominations like it to be more open and transparent in their internal political and theological difficulties. It is a plea for denominational openness to change, even when it involves critical, theological matters. No doctrine or belief should be held to be beyond revision, especially when new discoveries in theology or biblical studies plead for it. Even though I have been out of Adventism for more than two decades, I still hold out the hope—albeit slender—that it might eventually change in these respects.2

Gladson began his early life in the church as a deeply conservative believer who immediately felt a call to pastoral ministry. Deep joy filled him during his years as a church pastor. Eager for more learning, he enrolled at Vanderbilt University for an MA in Old Testament, never expecting to be invited to join Southern’s Religion Department. He accepted and was provided financial support to complete his PhD at Vanderbilt in the same area. As one should expect, this experience forced him to ask questions about well-established Adventist doctrine based on Scripture.

Church leaders and laypeople cannot easily imagine what the process of graduate work in the Bible really entails. If you have read the Bible for its spiritual help and clearly articulated theological teachings (this should not be interpreted as intellectual arrogance), such study—while important—offers only a surface awareness at best. Knowing the original languages and how to use them, understanding the history of the transmission of the biblical manuscripts and their cognates, is humbling and surprising. Only then can you appreciate the “shock and awe” felt by a young Adventist scholar who encounters, for the first time, what appear to be significant challenges to even a few of his beliefs. He instinctively seeks out other scholars grappling with the same issues, confident that there must be some way to deal with them.

Platitudes, simplistic explanations, and dismissive comments about being corrupted by “worldly schools” do not suffice. Gladson writes gratefully of faculty colleagues at Southern and elsewhere who, while not threatened by his concerns, nevertheless felt compelled to address them in surreptitious conversations. To his further surprise, he was appointed to the Biblical Research Committee of the General Conference (BRICOM), the group of scholars tasked with reviewing any and all questions about Adventist theology. “At last,” he thought to himself, the group working with or writing Adventist scholarly papers, would address his nagging questions. To his dismay, it was not to be.

The more deeply I became involved in the work of BRICOM, however, the more disappointed I was. When the really difficult, intractable questions about Adventist doctrine arose, the committee turned to scholars who would defend—usually without flinching—the denomination’s traditional teaching…When someone dared to present a paper at variance with the church’s teaching, it was quickly tossed into a dead file at BRICOM office, never to resurface again.3

During his tenure at Southern, other Adventist scholars in biblical, historical and theological disciplines raised similar questions on their campuses. “Is our traditional approach to the Bible (as well as the writings of Ellen White4), a disservice to the church?” “What does the doctrine of ‘inspiration’ mean and how much (and what kind of) authority do these writings possess? The major controversy at that time centered on the translation of the phrase “and then shall the sanctuary be cleansed” in Daniel 8:14. Adventist understanding of the heavenly sanctuary depended on that phrase, one of the issues that gnawed at Gladson who had carefully studied the Hebrew text.

What came next fanned irksome questions into a firestorm. A relatively quiet distress limited to scholars (even some who edited the SDA Bible Commentary), became a deafening community argument.

Dr. Desmond Ford, a professor at Pacific Union College, raised the sanctuary issue at a meeting sponsored by the local Adventist Forum on campus. His theme: the difficulties with the traditional Adventist interpretation of Daniel 8:14 and the “cleansing of the sanctuary” must be confronted, notwithstanding Ellen White’s interpretation of this passage. When a recording arrived at General Conference headquarters in Takoma Park, Maryland, alarms were sounded. For those exposed to the sanctuary class taught by Dr. Edward Heppenstall at the Seminary, this was not news, though Dr. Ford melded that passage with other equally charged issues.

As expected, questions about the meaning of “inspiration” surfaced right away, threatening the accepted views of inspiration and prophetic authority. Spectrum published evidence pointing to Ellen White’s borrowing material for a number of her books; Adventist pastor Walter Rae published a controversial book with the inflammatory title The White Lie. The English-speaking Adventist world was caught off-guard and the pressure mounted for church leaders to do something. Theology professors on many campuses began to feel their support evaporate from church leaders, selected college officials and students, and even community members who once praised them. Gladson and others at Southern had reason to worry.

At this point, the narrative shifts from his theological questions to his very survival as a theology professor at Southern. I found it painful to read, partly because others I knew well also endured a similar torment during that time. A parenthetical observation: as long as theological controversies that might erupt into loss of confidence in some traditional doctrines are kept in-house, informed leaders have more room to pace a response that will help the church grow more deliberately towards a new understanding. Ford’s public presentation took that option away, if it was ever a viable one.

Church administrators at the highest level decided to invest treasure and time to give Ford and the issues a fair hearing; hence, the expensive and infamous Glacier View Conference.5 The hopes that preceded the conference approached euphoria. Scholars believed that leadership would now allow time to resolve the issues theologically, rather than administratively.

While Gladson was not present the first week of Glacier View to hear Ford, he was there for the second week of theological consultation which included many of the earlier participants. When he arrived, he reports, a significant contingent of scholars voiced betrayal. They charged church leadership with abandoning their promises to allow more study and conversation about Ford’s issues. However, at the conclusion of the conference, an unannounced meeting of a select group voted to discipline Ford. When that became known, Glacier View morphed from a step toward theological maturity to a Pearl Harbor that elicited an angry response.

In the wake of that decision, administrators and lay people created litmus tests to evaluate the orthodoxy of theology professors and pastors. Once supportive of their religion faculties earning terminal degrees at non-SDA universities, leaders turned toward the doctoral programs newly developed at Andrews University. Future hires to teach religion would largely come from that program. Current scholars who kept raising questions were mortal threats to church harmony and unity. Why they were regarded that way, as discussed earlier, portends increasing strife for the denomination as we go forward. In Gladson’s case, as in most of the others, school and union leaders not trained as well as their newly minted scholars perceived danger everywhere. Their suspicions that he would “corrupt” his students ultimately made his situation at Southern untenable. Rumors of heterodoxy, fed by respected scholars leadership trusted, persuaded administrators that such professors were a danger to the community.

Like Caesar’s crossing a river into Gaul precipitating the Roman Civil War, Glacier View became an Adventist Rubicon. Reliable estimates of the pastors and laypeople who simply left or were forced out numbers in the tens of thousands. In Gladson’s situation at Southern, a few students, caught up in the frenzy, secretly taped their efforts to bait Gladson into committing himself on “controversial” questions. Refusing to comment was itself “proof” of heresy. Gordon Hyde (not trained in theology) and Gerhard Hasel (himself an Old Testament PhD from Vanderbilt) are named as those most responsible for his eventual termination.

An exodus of religion scholars began in a number of our colleges. Those offered pastoral roles, like Dr. John Brunt,6 went on to become deeply appreciated preachers who could extract from the text “things new and old.” A few, before or in the midst of the uproar, went into college administration such as Drs. Niels-Erik Andreasen, James J.C. Cox, and Lawrence T. Geraty. No such options were offered to Gladson, which strikes me as a scorching ethical failure. Emotional, unfounded charges became “fact.” No reasoning, pleading or counter-arguments could alter what was about to occur. It was time to purge and “purify,” not get sentimental about termination procedures or the future of those being exiled.

In the end, like Katherine Graham, the moral dimension would not allow him to compromise by pretending all was well. “How could such an approach be a search for truth?” Gladson cried. “Wasn’t it a sham?”7 Unable to openly and honestly enter into conversation with other biblical scholars (which would unquestionably have been helpful if not dispositive of his concerns) and church leaders who would listen, Gladson had no choice: he felt compelled to legally challenge the termination, including the illegal practice of recording his conversations. Those who had done so were willing to do the immoral and illegal in order keep the church “purified” of these liberal scholars.

Shortly thereafter, Gladson was done. Alone and still passionate about finding truth, he found another community which embraced him and his quest enthusiastically. The rest of the book details his post-Southern life, with all its blessings and anguish. Still, he concludes his volume with sanguinity.

Will Gladson’s courageous book teach us anything? Will humility about what we assume is “settled” ever soften our approach to those who ask serious questions? Can we move from the certainty that besets us to truly hear these words of Jesus: “Judge not that you be not judged?”

One can only hope.

Notes & References: 1. A Theologian’s Journey from Seventh-day Adventist to Mainstream Christianity. 2. Loc. 142 of 6986, Kindle Edition. 3. Loc. 877 of 6986 Kindle Edition. 4. See the following for detailed information: https://spectrummagazine.org/article/bonnie-dwyer/2009/05/10/most-significant-article-spectrum-has-published%E2%80%94so-far; Alden Thompson, Inspiration: Hard Questions, Honest Answers. 5. The Glacier View Conference was preceded by a committee which met with Ford for an extended period of time, reviewing his lengthy document written for the conference participants. 6. PhD in New Testament from Emory University, taught at Walla Walla College for many years, including a stint as Academic Dean. 7. Loc. 877, Ibid.

James Londis is a retired evangelist, pastor, professor, college president, and Ethics and Corporate Integrity officer.

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This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/8540

(G. D. Williams) #3

During this time period what transpired at Southern still haunts many people today. Let’s not mince words—the college was under attack, and the constant bombardment of negativity from certain individuals in the community, fringe groups, and church officials became a daily reminder of a modern Salem Witch Hunt hysteria against teachers and administrators, especially those in the Religion Department.

Being at Southern during this period tested one’s commitment to the church. Unless you were there, you cannot fully understand what Jerry Gladson and others were experiencing to its fullest extent.

It is so sad that the church lost a number of excellent people. Young people were deeply affected as well.

As a Talge / Jones Hall dormitory dean I had a number of theology majors who worked for me. Sadly, a great number of them graduated and left the church over what happened during this troubling time.

Many lives were damaged. Unfortunately, this spirit of accusation, innuendo and outright falsehood still prevails in certain parts of the church.


(Barry Casey) #4

Thanks for the review, Jim, and for the historical context in which this story unfolds. This is a triple tragedy, first, for Jerry and his family, secondly, for the students who did not and will not benefit from his knowledge and teaching, and third, for the cause of truth itself. Several of my pastor friends were thrown out or left while they could during those days. A searching, worshipping, and rejoicing community has nothing to fear from an honest appraisal of its present truth.


(Pagophilus) #5

What’s new? Gladson swallowed Ford’s and others’ criticism hook, line and sinker, rather than critically evaluating it. Why is it that others who went through this came out stronger? And Gladson hopes the church will change? It will not. Ford’s theology and philosophy doesn’t compute. Why would the church accept it? The church stands on solid ground. It’s the critics that stand on shifting sand, having no plausible, watertight theology to fill the void they have created by tearing down Adventist pillars.

Move along, nothing to see here…


(DENNIS HOFER) #6

Sad, all-too-familiar story:
Inbred corporate Adventist religion repeatedly fails to resolve problems, preferring instead destructive thinking and actions.
Meanwhile, the out-sourcing corporate business world thrives on science and its
creative problem-solving.

There is still a good reason that God expected every Hebrew child-student to learn a trade, just as Saul of Tarsus learned tent-making. Words don’t always have to make immediate sense, but gravity and other forces of nature are unforgiving.

After becoming a licensed electrician, I tried college at SMC during the Desmond Ford explosion.
After learning how to construct things well, I could not enjoy being ripped apart by tunnel-visioned professors, each separate one competing for all-or-nothing of me and my time, leaving me hoping merely to achieve a ‘passing grade’.

‘College’ also wanted to put me out of touch with the ‘real world’ where I had been forced to learn to view reality, simultaneously and harmoniously, through the eyes of architects, engineers, code enforcers, OSHA inspectors, carpenters, iron workers, concrete finishers, block-layers, plasterers, plumbers, tin-knockers . . . and last of all electricians, who were required to work closely with, and submit to, ‘all of the above’.

Electrical conduits and cables bend around ductwork, electricity flows even uphill . . . and so we electricians are the last ‘Division’ (#16) to be considered in architectural specifications, which means we must have a good working knowledge of the other 15 trade groups that ‘get there’ first.

Perhaps that is why college was such a shrinking, destructive experience for me, in contrast with the construction industry. Where was the Architect ? Blueprint ? General Foreman ? Cooperation of trades ? What ‘model’ were we constructing, for real ?

The cause of the destructive relationship between SDA religious scholars and leaders is their minute ‘inbred’ focus on ‘scripture’. Neither is innocent, and yet both appear to be rather naive in their insistence that their ‘trade’, alone, builds the church . Life is not merely religion, or science, or arts, . . . or printed words. It’s also exploration outside of the box, outside of the ‘trade’. It amuses me to remember how I went to college for a ‘universal’ education, and the first question I was asked is, ‘What’s your major ?’ ! In other words, ‘What minor focus will you be obsessing on ?’. Whatever happened to the ‘renaissance men’ that escaped the ‘dark ages’ ?

Just so, it requires far more than a mere scriptural, religious perspective to solve the ‘dark’ puzzle of Daniel 8:14 – What ‘holy’ shall be ‘right’ after 2,300 day/years ?, and What makes that ‘holy’ ‘right’ ? It takes an ‘outside-the-box’, ‘rebirth’ perspective encompassing actual 1844-era history, 1888-era history, consideration of the actual personal experiences of the early Adventists, as well as what was happening then, later, and now in science, and business, and government, and culture, and . . . finally, constructingnot destructing – a viable model that leaves no ‘trade’ behind.

Simply put:
William Miller had been a Free Masonic Deist, then as he read the Bible, some ‘spirit’ moved his heart to love a personally-involved ‘Jesus’, Who is a builder, not a destroyer. The presence of that divine ‘Spirit’ made ‘holy’ the heart of William Miller – set that ‘heart’ apart as a ‘cleansed’ ‘sanctuary’ for ‘worth-shipping’ the ‘right’-ness of Jesus, as being a Friend, who is also God.

William Miller actually experienced the glad ‘cleansing of the sanctuary’ in his own ‘inner man’ ‘heart’, after 2300 years of fearful, merely hypocritical Judaism and ‘christianity’ being the human norm. William Miller became ‘at-one’ with God, and that ‘marriage’ was ‘worth-shipped’ in Heaven, also. The ‘investigative judgment’ is simply the event of Christ identifying and receiving those ‘clean’-hearted individuals who will occupy His ‘New Jerusalem’ ‘Kingdom-bride’. As one of those ‘reborn’ individuals, God was William Miller’s Friendly God, and ‘Bill’ was God’s friend. . . and science – not warring religion and its opposing interpretations of ‘scripture’ – is now proving this viable Daniel 8:14 ‘model’ to be true, even as I type this. But do SDA ‘religion’ scripture-only scholars care to cooperate with the ‘science’ ‘trade’ ?

Buildings are not built by electricians, alone.
Why do we SDAs expect Christ’s church to be built by debating scripture scholars –
either high, or low – alone ?

Ironically, SDA ‘unity’ in church-doctrine ‘construction’ depends on cooperation with a ‘trade’ we have disfellowshipped long ago, in the person of Dr. Kellogg. We threw out the clean baby with the dirty bathwater.


(Steve Mga) #7

James DID NOT tell the WHOLE story, probably for lack of space allowed.
There was one student who complained to a very rich, influential person in the Collegedale
community that Ellen White was NOT being read in class, just the Bible.[ reported in a
spectrum article].
From a Spectrum article long ago, and what I know of what was going on when I was taking
classes at Southern at the time [my lab partner was wife of one of the theology professors],
this person threatened to stop giving money to Southern and also to the local conference.
This put the president of Southern in a difficult position.
WHAT IS NOT said in the article, this President [who was a very wonderful person] ALSO
LOST HIS JOB – FIRED.
The Fall Out was, as James reported, AWFUL!! The President, the Theology program, for
the theology students enrolled at the time.


(Thomas J Zwemer) #8

The High Priests Do the killing by due process.


(Allen Shepherd) #10

It is a funny thing what controversy does. Some are destroyed by it, while others come away even more convinced of the truth of the things that they had believed all along.

I am even more persuaded of the truth of our beliefs than I was 20 years ago. Posting here on Spectrum has convinced me even more. There is no better way, or better theology than ours. I am sorry about those such as Gladson that lost their way. Ford accepted Preterism and on that basis could never have continued an Adventist. That does not mean that our system was inconsistent with scripture.

I am only thankful that God has blessed us with wonderful minds and the freedom to explore all the ins and outs of his world and ways. What gifts are ours! And what responsibility we have to use them rightly! And what joy it will be to receive the “Well done…” Praise his holy name.

Beres,

I don’t know Gladson, but I have seen such as Ford and others given plenty of time to work it out. So, no I do not think he is being forthright. See Paulson’s comments below.

Frank,

Hog wash. What do you expect? That all that are dissatisfied will just give up their ideas? These men were given plenty of time to think over their view and that of the church and make a decision, which they did. We are all free, and because some that are brilliant and or possess great learning or talent, decide to choose against the church, does not mean we are incorrect. Is the church infallible? No. But it has given such men time and has been reasonably patient. That is all that can be expected.

WO comes to mind. A year of debate was allowed. A whole day (unprecedented) was given to it at the GC where all had a chance to speak. It was voted down. But WO advocates will have none of it. There had to be something wrong with the process, because, we, the reasonable and righteous ones, did not win. The administration is at fault, Ted is at fault, the deplorables are at fault, the church is sexist. It goes on and on.

The day comes when one has to take a stand and then stand by it. That time is now.


(Frankmer7) #12

Allen…

The way cases like Jerry Gladson’s, the entire debacle at southern, Ford and Glacier View, Rea, Numbers, and others, have been handled through our history, does not speak well to the truth that we claim to possess. Characters were assassinated, lives destroyed, and transparency eschewed in the name of doctrinal purity, and the purity of the church. These are matters of record, and are of themselves at variance and a betrayal of the highest values, and truths of the gospel.

Truth can afford to be investigated, will allow for such, and will be open to change, growth in understanding, and repudiation of previous understandings when necessary. Adventism has displayed little of this in its history, especially in the period of fundamentalism that we entered into in the 1920’s, and seem to still be mired in.

Thanks…

Frank

@ajshep

Allen…

Read up on how these situations were handled. If you think they were done in a reasonable and honest manner then I have no idea what to say. The greatest truth is not about being right about doctrinal intricacies, which is what Adventist peculiar doctrine amounts to. It is about handling these situations while caring about the dignity of all involved, and being transparent in all that is done. It’s about trying to maintain Christian unity rather than treating doctrinal disagreement as a zero sum game. Our good treatment of one another is of far greater weight on the scale than correctness. Especially correctness that justifies all types of ill behavior in its defense.

Ford, Gladson, and Numbers were treated in that way. The subterfuge that went on was a disgrace. But I guess you feel the ends justified the means. Bravo!


#13

A thoughtful, superbly written piece. But then, who should be surprised that a church institution operates that way. In real terms, every operative’s role, be they pastor, administrator or scholar, is to guard and propagate the orthodoxy. Anything that jeopardizes that priority has to be resisted/eliminared, questioning must be suppressed, for the sake of the church appearing solid and stable. This dynamic is not unique to Adventism, but is in varying degrees a common trait among churches, fundamentalist or otherwise.
Ever since I came into the church I’ve been disturbed by the way dissent is treated by our leaders. There’s very little interest in openly investigating ideas. Instead of dialogue and serious debate, Shepherd’s Rods, for instance, are shunned and bodily thrown out of churches without any of the brethren having the slightest clue as to what exactly their heresies are. Yes, they may be a set of wackos, but the brethren need to understand that in a cogent way. Intransigence is a dubious path to truth.


(Gillian Ford) #14

Allen Shepherd, Des is not a preterist.

Jim, some of the responses to your fine review are disappointing. In my sixties I went back to university and studied history. I have recently finished a twelve-hour video series on the history of Glacier View, mainly for those who might write on it one day. I focused, not so much on the doctrinal issues, but on how the administration fired Des. The bottom line is that the decision to fire Des was made before Glacier View. GC men were witnessed saying beforehand both in public and private that he would be fired.

The consensus statements, largely written by scholars and voted on, during the Friday morning meeting, were never used to discipline Des. Instead, Neal Wilson asked six people, including Des’s best friend, to write ten points where Des differed with the traditional Adventist position, viz the Dallas Statement of 27 Fundamentals. The Dallas Statement, written four months before Glacier View, had actually changed on the sanctuary doctrine, but Neal Wilson insisted that this was only semantics. This ten-point statement (Des vs. the traditional view) was read to the assembly, but it was never voted on.

During the Friday afternoon meeting, where members of PREXAD and the Australasian Division convened to discipline Des, the ten-point statement was the only document used. It contained no biblical evidence. When asked what he thought of the consensus statements, the brethren were gobsmacked when Des said they moved in his direction in at least seven key areas. The brethren denied this was true. This was the only reference to the consensus statements during the Friday afternoon meeting. What this means is, the work accomplished and voted by the scholars at Glacier View was completely ignored. You may choose not to believe me on this, but it is all contained in the notes of Spangler and others written at and after the Friday afternoon meeting. I have these notes, and I have typed them out and read them out in my videos.

The brethren spent a lot of time Friday afternoon on the subject of Bob Brinsmead (he was not discussed in the GV meetings themselves and only vaguely alluded to in the Ministry). Much of the rest of the time was spent berating Des. Remember, though I was an eye-witness to much of this, I wrote my history using the brethren’s notes.

The background for the accusations about Bob Brinsmead was never divulged to us—before, during or afterwards. This meant we didn’t know what was behind the questions. I found out years later that John Brinsmead, upset with his brother, went down to the Division Office about a year before Glacier View (and possibly more than once). John told Parmenter that Des was colluding with Bob. They were attacking separately, and later were going to join forces to attack the church. None of this (abbreviated for lack of space) was true, but we were never informed that this had happened except for a vague reference in one of Parmenter’s letters. Parmenter and the GC brethren believed these accusations, but they did not tell us what was behind them. We both denied collusion, but nobody there believed us. Look, at the same time, there were many followers of Bob upset with Des because he didn’t collude with Bob. Over the years, much of the time, Des and Bob thought differently, but they maintained a mutual respect.

You have to remember that Des had answered questions in the Signs of the Times in Australia for over 30 years, and as head of the religion department at Avondale, he was responsible for dealing theologically with dissidents. While we were in England in the 1970s, Des was called to GC to take part in deliberations between the GC and the Brinsmeads. Des and Bob certainly met and exchanged, but there was no collusion between them. It was Elder Parmenter, Australian Division President, who colluded with John, not Des who colluded with Bob. The rumours of Des’s so-called affiliation with Bob—none of it true—flew around the Australasian Division, but we had lived in USA for three and a half years by then and knew nothing about it till later. There is written and oral evidence about John’s going to the Division from both the SPD and Brinsmead sides.

Des was also accused of leaking the Glacier View manuscript. He did not. In fact, we know one person who did, and it was an ex-GC President who let his doctor read it!

During the Friday afternoon, Elder Parmenter asked Des 1. to damn Bob Brinsmead in the Review; and 2. he must completely change his mind on his views and state he had been wrong. At the time, Bob was preaching the gospel of righteousness by faith, and Des would not oppose him on this. And, to state he had changed his mind would have been a lie. He refused to do either and thus the process for termination began that Friday afternoon.

Des is 89 this weekend. He tells me he was born to go to Glacier View. He is perfectly at peace about it, and his forgiveness of those who treated him so unfairly is amazing. Go ahead if it makes you feel better. All the slings and misfortunes and nasty epithets you can throw at him will only slide off the duck’s feathers on his back. He has peace because he is right with God right now, and he lives in the light of the gospel that he has offered to you all his preaching life.

The doctrine of the investigate judgment needs constant challenging until it dies. Don’t read the sanitized version put out by some scholars, a pre-Advent judgment full of hope and assurance. Go back and read Great Controversy again. Refresh your mind with what Adventists have officially taught. In 1844, an investigative judgment began. Soon, we know not when, the living saints will come into judgment. Every word, every deed will come under scrutiny. Believers will have to be sinlessly perfect by the close of probation. The Holy Spirit will be withdrawn from the earth. Now go and read 1 Corinthians 13 and see how well you match up. The investigative judgment is a mental torture equivalent to the purported physical pain of the doctrine of hell taught by others churches. Time to despatch it as non-scriptural—as many throughout Adventist history have taught and fallen on their swords for the sake of truth and the people and the defense of the gospel. Jerry was one of these noble souls. Despite the intense pain of his experience with the church, he had to be true to Christ and the gospel. As a sign of his continuing love for the denomination and the Lord he serves, he has written a book about it in hope the church will see the light and change.

How alien the IJ is to the gospel of Jesus Christ, where he goes into judgment with us as our substitute and representative. The judgment was at the cross, and we participate in this judgment at the moment we receive Jesus. We continue to receive that judgment “passed from death to life” daily. At the end, God ratifies that decision. How much harm the IJ doctrine has done, least of all in creating generations of miserable Adventists who don’t know they are saved and don’t want anyone else to be, who think their role in life is to judge and condemn those who bring a knowledge of the love to Christ to the people—to put others through the investigative judgment, but not themselves. They forget that the accuser of the brethren, the one who brings a false report about the saints, is the devil himself

The Great Controversy/Prophet and Kings version is contrary to what Ellen White taught elsewhere about the gospel and assurance. In Great Controversy, she copied it from Uriah Smith and J. N. Andrews, and they were wrong. By not admitting Ellen White is a fallible prophet, the church has caused many to hate her and leave the church. In our house she is highly respected, but she is not infallible.

People are sick of this subject, but it wasn’t addressed at Glacier View. The brethren compared Des’s ideas to traditional Adventism and fired him over that. They did not take into account what the scholars said at all. The documentary evidence proves it. In fact, Glacier View was a hoax. The issue over the investigative judgment will keep raising its head until the denomination is honest. It hasn’t happened yet.


(James J Londis) #16

You are addressing Allen Shepherd, I believe, not me. What happened at Glacier View was preventable; nonetheless, your assertion that it was decided in advance what would happen is mind-boggling. In a committee meeting, a leading GC officer whispered to me that he did not understand why we were “going through” all this. Let’s get rid of him, lose the 100,000 members and go on. Reading your account makes me think he was not alone in that attitude, and may have inherited it from the prior meetings of the GC leadership. This did not need to happen!!!


(James J Londis) #17

PS: His spirit and yours since that event are so admirable. Your videos would be amazing to see. Give my best to Des as well as yourself and God bless you both richly.


(Gillian Ford) #18

Jim, I only wrote the first line to Allen, who seems a nice man. The rest was a general comment, background to what happened to Jerry. I am going to reply to Allen next. I remember how hopeful you and Bob Zamora were at Glacier View. You thought it would be a new day. I talked to Elder Hammill on the Friday I think, and he told me that they expected to lose 70,000 people, and basically good riddance to them (he didn’t say good riddance, but he did say we don’t want them). I was staggered. The figure of 70,000 was based on the alpha and omega idea (7,000 left over Kellogg, was it?, and a future loss of ten times as many was predicted). I don’t know the details of the omega apostasy, I may have it wrong, but you get the picture. The possibility of a large defection had been well talked over. I said to Hammill, don’t you care about these people? It was clear they didn’t. You know that Hammill wrote later that he was unhappy about the way Glacier View was handled once he retired. He and Ray Cottrell were considered heretics in old age by Elder Folkenberg on the issues of the sanctuary and Genesis 1…

We were not party to what the brethren thought and said, but I wrote a list of some of these instances of GC people saying that Des would be fired in our book The Adventist Crisis of Spiritual Identity, which is now out of print. I have read this on video. If I write it off the top of my head, I may get names wrong. But someone from GC told Heppenstall at Soquel I think the week before Glacier View that Des would be fired. There was a taxi driver in Washington DC, not an SDA, but a reader of Verdict magazine. He used to ferry GC men to and from the airport, and he heard officers talking about Des being fired in the back seat. There were others. I named them.

Look, you must understand, we understood the plight of the brethren. They were in a very hard place. This was two years before Walter Rea’s publication of The White Lie came out. The issues over EGW’s borrowings were not as widely known. We knew Des would be fired, and we came to terms with it back then. Des has always had an amazing attitude about it. I have know Des for over 50 years, he is very generous to his enemies even at home. He is gentled by the gospel. This is why Neal Wilson said in the Ministry Magazine that Des behaved like a Christian gentleman.

We went to a local Adventist church most of last year, and were greeted warmly by the congregation. Before this Des was actively preaching. Many had no idea who Des was. But others, ex-students, were thrilled to see us there. We stopped going recently because we are active again on these issues, and we don’t think it’s fair to burden the local congregation with the outcome.

Jim, we are in touch with people all over the world. Des gets thanks by mail and Facebook several times a week. You either love him or hate him. Many love him for the proclamation of the gospel.

I am sure that what I have said in my history of Glacier View (on video) is correct. The brethren bypassed the consensus of the group and fired him over the ten-point statement. There was so much going on at the time, it wasn’t clear to everyone. I have supported the videos with documentary evidence. Of course, it’s my view. Anybody there could write their own history.

By the way, even at age 89, Des would be happy to debate a representative of the Adventist Church about the investigative judgment. They would have to come to Queensland, however. His travelling days are over.


(Gillian Ford) #19

Allen, you seem a pleasant man. You are quoting here, I gather, an opponent of Des, who has stuck a label on him—preterist—and implied this is very bad indeed. Preterism is the method used at universities. When Gerhard Hasel wrote his thesis at Vanderbilt University, he would have used the preterist method. The reason for this is that universities do not take the supernatural into account—they generally look at what the text meant to the original people who received it. Even right-wing Adventist scholars who have been through outside universities have to use the preterist method to get a degree. That doesn’t mean they are preterists in general. In writing for the church scholars such as Hasel would not use the preterist method only. This is true of Des too.

In Biblical Studies (and I would love someone who knows what they are talking about to respond), it is the method used to try and express what the text meant to the original recipient. Des, like many scholars, even Adventists, saw Antiochus as having a primary meaning to the Jews who received the text. Antiochus wasn’t very important to the world at large, but he was huge in the history of Israel. Des and other use Antiochus as a prototype of antichrist who would re-appear through the ages—pagan and papal Rome, for example, but culminate in the man of sin in 2 Thessalonians 2. So Des cannot be a preterist who only looks to the past.

You may not know that in Australia, Des was labelled by the right-wing as a futurist. One of his enemies wrote to Professor F. F. Bruce after Des did his second PhD—to find out if Dr. Ford was a futurist. F. F. Bruce wrote back and said, no, Dr. Ford is not a futurist and neither am I (Professor Bruce was a Plymouth Brethren, who tend to be futurists, but he was not). Des is a biblicist. People should get out of the habit of labelling others and damning them. Others say he Des a Calvinist. Look that word represents a wide spectrum of beliefs over the ages. By the way, our date-setting came from Calvinism. Read about Calvinist millennialism. Read about Johann Friedrich Alsted who used the book of Daniel to calculate the coming of Jesus in 1694.

Look, I’m an amateur in everything I do. Please don’t blame Des for what I say.


(James J Londis) #20

What is most puzzling to many, mentioned in Jerry’s discussion of his time on BRICOM, is the unwillingness of leadership to desire more than anything else that any SDA position, ostensibly based on the Bible and not on Ellen White, should clearly be based on the Bible–so much so that nonSDA scholars would admit we had a case. That’s what happened with the immortality of the soul, the doctrine of an unending hell throughout eternity, and to some extent, even the Sabbath. Most of these were liberal scholars who want to be fair to the passage or book regardless of its doctrinal implications. More conservative scholars, especially those leaning toward inerrancy, come at the text with their own historical doctrinal baggage (as we do) and cannot admit the text says what it says. In any event, Gladson’s point seems to me to be on target: we do not let prayer and open discussion among scholars and others play itself out over time until we either reach a consensus or agree to disagree and stay together. Quick fixes of “crises” in theology never heal the church, nor do they “cleanse” it as some suggest. Administrative solutions are, of necessity, brutal, without nuance and often regretted. History will not (and already does not) judge Glacier View kindly.

Maranatha . . .


(milton hook) #22

It is said, " Great minds think alike."
It is not necessarily true.
If two minds think as preterists that does not make them great minds.
If two minds think as historicists that does not make them great minds.
If two minds think as futurists that does not make them great minds.
But it is true that great minds think.
And that is what Des does.
And that is so unnerving for some.
Des was dismissed because he wanted to be an apologist for the gospel rather than the church.
Ideally, he could have been an apologist for both the gospel and the church
But first the church must accept the gospel
of salvation through Christ alone by grace alone and faith alone.
Some members have already accepted the gospel, despite the church.
Hallelujah.


#23

As a student at Southern 1980-1983, I saw Dr. Gladson as a serene, Christlike man. Unfortunately, I did not take a class from him. As a conservative, rule following, naive student, I had no tools or context to analyze what was happening beyond looking at the demeanor of those involved. Gladson and others under attack appeared to be kind people who should be trusted and respected. What could have been a teachable moment for me and the school and for the denomination instead became a time of buttressing a parroting mentality—that is to say truth came to be defined by parroting.

As I entered adulthood I realized the importance of what had happened in my college experience. Loma Linda University helped me process the incident in a way that allowed me to find a reason to stay in the SDA church—indeed, more than a reason, but a passion for a particular way of seeing the purpose of the SDA church. When I moved back to the south in the late 80s I realized more fully the atrocity that had happened at Southern. My husband and I convinced our local SDA church that we might benefit from having Dr. Gladson as an invited guest for Sabbath. He came and we all were blessed.

Now, decades later, I’ll just say that the emphasis on a fear based “parroting” (instead of searching) is stronger than ever, in my view. Such an emphasis denies our denomination the adaptability to appeal to people in this 21st century culture.This is especially unfortunate. Fear never wins. Love wins.


(Charles Scriven) #24

Hello church administrators:

If any of you is listening to your members, would you please chime in? If we hold on to our hope for the church, but never hear from administrators–and certainly never from the higher echelons–it’s just discouraging.

What I can usually count on after a comment to the effect of this one is: some ex- or highly disgruntled Adventist seizing the opportunity to say our leaders are too afraid or too indifferent or too hostile to get involved.

Can someone prove me wrong? I would be happy to be embarrassed by my mistake here.

Chuck


(Kevin Paulson) #25

I have the earlier edition of this book in my library. I may at some point obtain this new one also. But having read the first edition as well as the present book review, I find myself betwixt grief and mirth at the attempted comparison between the author of this book and such whistle blowers of modern American history as Katherine Graham and Daniel Ellsberg.

Far from exposing an alleged cover-up, the author of this book—at least in the earlier edition—claimed that in his classes at Southern he had faithfully taught distinctive Adventist doctrine, despite the protest of students and community members who presented troubling evidence to the contrary. Repeatedly in his book, the author admits he was living a double life by attempting to teach the doctrine of the investigative judgment which he admits he no longer believed.

When, toward the end of his teaching career at Southern, the author was confronted by school administrators regarding his teachings, the author claimed:

"In my classes, it is a matter of record that I have never taught as fact, nor reached as a conclusion, anything that has challenged official Adventist belief, as defined by official church writings. I have intentionally, deliberately, operated within the parameters of ‘orthodox’ Adventist theology, to use your term. I challenge any one of you to show where I have violated this principle at any point."
Jerry Gladson, PhD, A Theologian’s Journey from Seventh-day Adventism to Mainstream Christianity (Glendale, AZ: Life Assurance Ministries, 2000), p. 219.

So obviously it was the author of this book, not the denomination, who was engaged in a cover-up. But as with the Vietnam War and Watergate, to which this review makes reference, cover-ups have a way of unraveling. Does the author of this book truly think that observant college students, with their extreme sensitivity to double-talk and hypocrisy, couldn’t easily discern their teacher’s ill-concealed disbelief in this core doctrine of the Seventh-day Adventist Church?

Attacks on the investigative judgment have generally followed two tracks: (1) the premise of the evangelical gospel, with its belief in justification-alone salvation and the imperfectability of Christian character; and (2) the premise of the higher-critical method of Bible study, with its localized, culture-driven view of apocalyptic prophecy and denial of the principle that Scripture is its own interpreter.

Classic Seventh-day Adventism, by contrast, holds the totality of the Bible to be culturally transcendent, doctrinally authoritative, and internally self-explanatory. Unlike either conservative evangelicalism or theological liberalism, Seventh-day Adventists have historically crafted their beliefs from the Biblical consensus, as is the case with the writings of Ellen G. White.

Despite our differences, I continue to hold a high personal regard for both Des and Gill Ford. But when she faults the investigative judgment doctrine as presented in The Great Controversy and elsewhere for its insistence that our words, acts, and secret motives will decide our eternal destiny, she had best take up her argument with Solomon (Eccl. 12:13-14), Jesus (Matt. 12:36-37), and the apostle Paul (II Cor. 5:10). The same Biblical basis is evident for the belief that Christians are to achieve sinless obedience here on earth through divinely-imparted strength (e.g. Psalm 4:4; 119:1-3,11; Zeph. 3:13; Rom. 6:14; 8:4; I Cor. 15:34; II Cor. 7:1; 10:4-5; Eph. 5:27; II Thess. 5:23; I Peter 2:21-22; 4:1; II Peter 3:10-14; I John 1:7,9; 3:2-3,7; Jude 24; Rev. 3:21; 14:5).

In other words, on this issue at least (along with many others), the case for Ellen White’s plagiarism rests at last—she copied these teachings straight out of the Bible!

Finally Gill, may I kindly advise you to avoid the use of the phrase “no collusion,” as that phrase has acquired a very suspect aura of late here in our land!