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

(Johnny Carson) #29

Right or wrong, the IJ is not an issue upon which hangs my or anyone else’s salvation. It is at best an interesting rabbit trail that can help inform the interested scholar about his salvation. At worst it is a tool of destruction wielded by those intent on forcing lockstep belief. As such it should be relegated to the “it simply doesn’t matter” file of the church and we should move on. This whole thing, from the Association of Adventist Forums meeting at PUC onward to this day, is an episode that God can never look favorably upon, especially where it concerns the actions of the denomination in regard to so many of it’s leaders and members alike. What a travesty this has been!!!


It certainly is. The failure of Miller’s prediction could not be taken lying down. Too much had been invested in it–property, careers, family and friends, credibility etc. A fix needed to be found to salvage credibility, and IJ was absolutely genius. So, came the explanation: Miller was correct on the date, it was the event that he hadn’t quite understood. There was a cleansing, just not on earth, but in heaven!

Who could disprove that? But it gets better. Couple that with the bold Orwellian spin, if ever there was one, hailing the Great Disappointment (Miller’s failure) as proof of being the true church. “Sweet in the mouth; bitter in the belly… Prophesy again” (Revelation 10:10,11). Whoever came up with this super comeback should be White House press secretary.

(James Peterson) #34

The point of the whole article is expressed at the end.

To the author I say that the SDA denomination is not a cult, but it needs its leaders to be consistent. After all discussion, it is imperative that the leaders express in unequivocal terms, the beliefs which define the denomination and ask those holding office to at least give verbal assent to those beliefs.

Imagine the chaos should some scholar start teaching that Jesus and Judas were in co-operation with each other and that the Devil was created as is to serve the purposes of God; or stranger yet, that the theory of evolution describes the process of creation, that God spoke and a million years went by.

Having said that however, no one in a free society can circumscribe the thoughts and ideas and conversations of another. It is materially impossible even. If someone believes the moon is made of cheese, then s/he is free to invite the public to a meeting to hear the evidence; and who knows, to start a new denomination like, for instance, “The Lunar Dairy Church of Latter-day Saints of Texas” OR “Spectrum Mags - The More Better Spectrum”.

So then, Dr. Jerry Gladson’s memoir is like the light at the end of a tunnel, or a beaten trail one finds when lost in a forest. There is a way out in America after all. In the land of the free, one can find one’s self and live out one’s dreams. Ellen White did it. Charles Russell did it. Joseph Smith did it. Jerry Gladstone managed well. Why can’t you?


(Peter Marks) #35


Greetings from the Marks clan! Tis interesting what you say. But why would you discourage one from reading the sanitized version of the pre-Advent judgement that by your own admission is full of hope and assurance? Doesn’t the preamble to the 28 Fundamental Beliefs anticipate the fact that Adventists may well find better language and a more refined understanding of truth? Why discourage us in this search?

Wasn’t it Wooden Widden who some years back indicated that the doctrine of the investigative judgement, rightly understood is really no more or less than the flowering of Wesleyian-Arminian theology of grace.

According to my understanding the 2,300 day time period of Daniel 8 can only be rightly understood if one first understands the 70 week time period of Daniel 9. In the same way the message of Daniel 8 about divine judgement is founded on an understanding of the truth of the atonement found in Daniel 9. Are not the doctrines of the atonement and of judgement related?

(Gillian Ford) #36

Greetings to the Marks family, Peter. This review is mainly about the way ministers were treated rather than the doctrine itself. And that was my beginning emphasis. And I am not the right person to discuss the IJ in minute detail. I know through the grapevine that this subject is going to be talked about again in the coming months in Spectrum and Adventist Today. A newer generation are asking questions about what happened at Glacier View. Also, affected ministers have retired, and they are writing about their experiences.
I rather like your calling Woodrow Whidden “Wooden.” But I have to say, though Des knows and likes Woody very much, I don’t think Woody’s statement about the IJ being a natural culmination of Wesleyanism makes much sense. Wesley believed in righteousness by faith, and the IJ is not the same as the second blessing. There is no way Wesley would have accepted the IJ.
In opposing the doctrine of the IJ—a blotting out of sins beginning in 1844, [purportedly making believers perfect before glorification]—it does not diminish of the importance of sanctification in the Christian life. It’s just that our sanctification never saves us; it reveals that we have been saved.
There is nothing wrong with trying to improve and make our doctrine more positive, if what we say builds on a biblical case. However, Glacier View at its basis was about Ellen White and her authority. Her main statements on the IJ were in Great Controversy, around pages 482 to 484, and Prophets and Kings, and everyone should read them to find out what Adventists officially believe about the IJ.
A leading scholar who has in his earlier writings made a more positive case for the IJ, told our daughter Elènne a few years back that the Investigative Judgment doctrine is dead. He said that nobody preaches it in America. But he won’t say that publically. Ellen White’s portrayal of the IJ, copied from Uriah Smith and J. N. Andrews, can hardly be called “full of assurance.” My point is that a number of scholars have embellished the doctrine with later glosses and more and more complexity; but they are not teaching what Ellen White and the pioneers taught on the IJ.
The 70 weeks is a marvellous prediction of the coming Messiah, and draws many to Christ. However, the idea that the 2300 days began at the same time and ended up in 1844 is based on assumption not fact. The pioneers believed Jesus was coming SOON. They would be surprised like Del Delker who just died at age 93, that he has not come yet. The longer we get away from 1844, the more unnecessary the investigative judgment becomes. God was vindicated and so were we by the Calvary event. You cannot add to it. The knowledge of Christ’s achievement brings us hope, faith and love. We pass through judgment when we accept the work of Christ for us on the cross. We keep on accepting that verdict of being right with God right now and every day after. God will ratify this in the final judgment, and you might get technical and call it a pre-Advent judgment, but He doesn’t needs any books to do it, and he doesn’t need 173 years to do it. Surely he is the prototype of all computers and the master of infinity. He knows the heart.
I became an Adventist at age 18, but I was not taught the investigative judgment. You don’t need it to be a good Adventist. I was taught Ellen White in a way that caused me to highly respect her, and I don’t think any differently now. But she was not infallible.


I had been in the SDA church less than a year when I stepped into that mess as Southern and, as green as green could be, I finally left after one semester, more befuddled than when I went in.

The only point I’ll make is this, having read with great interest Out of Adventism: Jerry Gladson, in his book, wrote the following about Daniel and Revelation: “Careful examination convinced me that apocalypses were actually works of creative imagination. More akin to poetry than prose, they could not legitimately be read as literal predictions and blueprints of the future. . . . They were not road maps of future events predetermined to take place during the course of human history, as I had been taught in Adventism, and on which the denomination stakes is very existence.”

He also wrote: “Examining the apocalyptic texts against their cultural background,” he wrote, “convinced me that instead of historicism or futurism, a preterist interpretation was most appropriate for apocalyptic.”

Fine, but this just raises the question, if one might humbly ask: Why was he teaching Old Testament theology at an SDA school when he held positions that completely undermined SDA theology?

Just asking . . .

(Sirje) #38

So good to hear that Des is doing well and still busy attending to the gospel. We have never met, but our few times with Des have changed our lives - (long ago in Itasca, Minnesota). Not only that, but he changed the SDA church as well.

What this generation of SDAs doesn’t realize is that the issues Des debated against are no longer in as sharp a focus. The gospel has been making gains since then; but, at the same time, confusing SDA theology - as it tries to navigate both, the “corn-field revelation” and Paul’s, “Christ, and Him crucified” declaration. Not a lot of SDASs can tell you anything about the 2300 days - not that they ever could. Many SDAs (and others) of us appreciate the sacrifices you and Des have made.

Happy birthday and greetings to Des from Bob (eye doc), Sirje and the girls.

(Darrel Lindensmith) #39

Very good question Cliff, I remember talking with you at Wildwood about these problems. The deeper question for me is how one can even remain a Christian if one’s has no faith in Prophecy ?

(James J Londis) #40

Was he given any opportunity to openly and honestly dialogue with any other colleagues about his opinions, other than those who would dismiss them out of hand as you seem to? My sense is that anyone with a true north compass would at the end of open study either leave of their own free will, or persuade the church that it might need to allow another opinion to be tolerated for compelling reasons, even if not official doctrine. When the tent is so small that you are forced out into the open so official lightning can strike, where does that leave any possibility for theological growth? Or is growth itself rejected as an honest possibility?


Perhaps you could fly down to Georgia and ask him, Cliff. He is a true-blue honest-to-the core person. Perhaps you would have quite a fruitful discussion.

(Harry Allen) #42

EVERYBODY SAYS THIS, INCLUDING SATANISTS. Given that, why should anyone believe you?

There’s a reason major journals of record don’t let the actors in, or directors of, a movie review their own film. You’ve just demonstrated why, @ajshep.

Also, correction: When told by AToday, “Your critics have charged that you are a ‘preterist who wears the hat of a historicist and the cloak of a futurist,’” Ford coolly said, “I do not belong to any of these categories because while each has a measure of truth, they also have a corresponding measure of error.” @gford1, of course, is correct.

@ajshep says:

With all due and appropriate respect, @ajshep, you write like this: As though you want people to see the hair on your theological chest.

In fact, no one cares about how sure your declarations are, or how muscle-bound they appear when one reads them. More on this below….

Thanks for the question.

This may shock you, but those who believe me should do so because what I say has the patina of credibility; i.e., it should correspond with their experience, or it should reflect mine in such an authentic way that it hits them with the force of truth.

They shouldn’t believe me because I say it’s true. They definitely shouldn’t believe me because I make the theological equivalent of a lion’s roar:

There is no better way, or better theology than ours.

Not only is this bad, lazy writing, but it takes up the space you could be using to write something that makes that very point.

Put another way: No man believes a woman is sexy because she says so. In fact, the sexiest ones have rarely considered how sexy they are.

@kevindpaulson, I’ve not read the book, though I expect to buy it. You say you’ve read it, or parts of it, but glaze over the subtext: What should happen when a professor feels he disagrees with the theology of the institution that employs him, and why?

You deride the comparisons of Gladson to Graham or Ellsberg, but how come? In other words, what does an SDA whistleblower actually look like, what do they do, and how do we know?

The answer, @CliffordGoldstein, is probably that he believed the church’s position when he was hired, but then came to disagree with it over time. Reflective people do this, often.

A question, in kind: What is the correct protocol for SDA whistleblowing, and how do we know this?

@gford1, I adore the way that, in situations like these, you bring your pen and say exactly what you saw, with clarity and authority.

You do it, not to defend or to protect Des, but for the written record: Not only does he have a duck’s back, but when you look at it, he’s got more ducks on it, and those ducks have ducks on their backs, too.

“How can you be mad at people for not studying?”, says Des. Love that guy. Fearless. Tearless. Peerless.


(Phillip Brantley) #44

What does it mean to be out of Adventism? I understand that as a formal matter Desmond Ford is still a member of a Seventh-day Adventist church. Can one argue that he, therefore, is not out of Adventism? What about the large percentage of members who do not contribute tithe and offerings or attend church? Are they out of Adventism?

Some members believe in justification solely by grace through faith alone. Others believe you must also be sanctified in order to be saved. This soteriological disagreement is well known. Which group is out of Adventism?

Is it those who believe in Last Generation Theology or those who don’t who are out of Adventism?

The Seminary faculty believe in the biblical doctrine of the Trinity. Two professors in the lesser departments of religion and many others who subscribe to male headship theory believe in the anti-Trinitarian heresy of Eternal Functional Subordinationism. Are they out of Adventism? If you oppose women’s ordination, which is undergirded by male headship theory, of which Eternal Functional Subordinationism is the principal component, are you out of Adventism? Perhaps those of us who do not share Ted Wilson’s Neo-Restorationist tendencies and fondness for “historic Adventism” are arguably out of Adventism.

What about all of the scientists who no longer believe in the biblical doctrine of creation? They are members, give tithe and offerings, attend church on Sabbath, refrain from eating unclean meats. Are they out of Adventism?

Maybe Jerry Gladson is still in Adventism notwithstanding his protestations to the contrary. If you ask those who are supposedly out of Adventism where they are, they might not say that they are adherents of Catholicism, Baptist theology, or something else but simply acknowledge that they do not subscribe to any other organized particular belief system. Maybe they are not out of Adventism after all. I haven’t read his book. Certainly, one can in reality be out of Adventism. But I think it’s much harder to tell who is in Adventism and who is out of Adventism than we might initially think.

What is Adventism? The beliefs of the pioneers, the beliefs of our best biblical scholars, the beliefs of the least common denominator, church membership, a particular cultural upbringing, belief in one salient doctrine such as the Sabbath? I don’t think we know.

(Frankmer7) #45

It also raises these questions, Cliff… why would the Adventist church, especially the powers that be, reject out of hand views such as this? Is it because it is out of step with Adventist theology? Is it because it threatens the self understanding, belief system, and reason for being of Adventism?

How about this… what if it ends up being a stronger, more cogent, and more faithful reading of what the genre of apocalyptic really is? And if this were so, wouldn’t it bring the church’s belief system more in line with a solid understanding of biblical truth? Or does defending Adventist belief and the organization matter more than this type of quest?




But what if views such as Gladson’s end up leading to a more solid understanding of biblical truth? Does Adventism retaining its present form matter most, or does the above? Quite a question for an institution that says that a pursuit of truth, "present truth, " is what matters most.


(Cfowler) #47

That’s a bit of a stretch considering he’s been gone 30+ years. He’s a retired (full time) pastor in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). He continues to preach and teach, and is a member of the Academy of Parish Clergy.

I mean, he seems OUT.:wink:

Anyway, here is an interesting review of his book by a gentlemen who also left his faith tradition and became a pastor in the same denomination as Jerry.

(Steve Mga) #49

Edwin Zachrison was also on the theology staff when Jerry was there.


I like the way that Bob Cornwall sums it up at the end:

“What is problematic is the inability to grow intellectually. I take that as a warning to all. If we cut ourselves off from opportunities to grow and learn then we will shrivel up spiritually. That maybe reason enough to read this book!”

(Lawrence Mark Nelson) #52

This is the best review I have read as I personally know some of the participants. In my view it would be in the church’s best interest to allow for dissenting views and different interpretations in a more democratic way and let there be debate and the willingness to explore without fear of being exiled or condemned by those who want their version to be set in stone. My sister says our church is a hospital for sinners…Perhaps our church’s leaders - doctors are poisoning the patients and squashing remedies that could cure the ailments. I am reminded of this from Ellen White:Counsels to Writers and Editors — Ellen G. White Writings

Investigation of Doctrine—There is no excuse for anyone in taking the position that there is no more truth to be revealed, and that all our expositions of Scripture are without an error. The fact that … The message of God will come to the people; and if there were no voice among men to give it, the very stones would cry out" . We have heard the expositions of Scripture from good christian men that are at variance with our church but those in power will not allow opposing views to be embraced thus squashing their research and exiling them…as a 4th generation member of an Adventist family whose father was a prominent teacher,S.D.A. Adventist minister, and chairman of the departments of religion and health-a scholar with two Phd’s who knew first hand of the politics, one’s reputation, and the workings of the church…In his later years not wanting to be restrained by the Adventist power structure he went on to be a self-supporting missionary who befriended Catholic priests and folk of other religious persuasions visiting Africa and Asia as he proclaimed the good news of the gospel. He showed respect for those of a different persuasion and sought to unify them in Christ. His motto was a “soul before breakfast.” .I am reminded he would only speak positive about others.I think that if our church would show love and compassion for all and allow freedom of research without trying to suppress and control it so rigidly and legalistically there would be love instead of condemnation-there would be acceptance of others instead of banishment for opposing views. and lastly I am reminded “If we do not love as Christ taught us it is because we do not truly know God. God is love! He so loved the whole world that He gave His only begotten son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. In John 13:34-35 Jesus states “A new command I give you: Love one another.” This is the lesson that our church leaders need to practice in variance to what has taken place.