Carson: Talk About my Faith, Not My Denomination; Also, Adventists Should Ordain Women

Dr. Ben Carson’s Seventh-day Adventist faith continues to be the source of scrutiny and media interest. Carson, however, as asked people to focus on his belief in God rather than his denomination. He has also told several news outlets that his Seventh-day Adventist denomination made a mistake in not authorizing divisions to make provision for ordaining women in San Antonio.

Echoing a sentiment widely shared within the Seventh-day Adventist Church in North America, the tentative frontrunner in the Republican race for the White House told Associated Press, “I don't see any reason why women can't be ordained,” and added that the vote in San Antonio against allowing divisions to make provision to ordain women was a “huge mistake.”

Carson also told AP that he does not share many Adventists’ suspicion of the Catholic Church. “I love Catholics. My best friend is Catholic. I have several honorary degrees from Catholic universities,” he said.

In response to ongoing media inquiries about the Adventist denomination, the Church in North America rolled out a new website, whoareadventists.org, to fill the information gap about Adventists. The website was in process before Donald Trump’s dismissive comments about Carson’s Adventist faith touched off an explosion of coverage of Adventism in the news.

“The website is simple way to quickly share who we are with the world,” said North American Division Communication Director Daniel Weber. “It’s gotten a positive response. Within the first twelve hours, we had almost 3,000 people visit the site.” He noted that the website will continue to be updated with content to flesh out the picture of the Adventist Church.

For his part, Ben Carson would rather people talked about his belief in God than in his denomination. He has said publicly that he considers his relationship with God to be "the most important aspect" of his life, but added that "it's not really denomination specific."

Carson told the Des Moines Register, “I’m not a religious person. But I do have a very deep and abiding faith in God. To me that is the thing that is most important.”

A headline on Christianity Today’s website quoted Carson as saying people ought to focus “on my ties with God, not my denomination.”

Jared Wright is Managing Editor of SpectrumMagazine.org.

If you respond to this article, please:

Make sure your comments are germane to the topic; be concise in your reply; demonstrate respect for people and ideas whether you agree or disagree with them; and limit yourself to one comment per article, unless the author of the article directly engages you in further conversation. Comments that meet these criteria are welcome on the Spectrum Website. Comments that fail to meet these criteria will be removed.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/7166
2 Likes

I’m just curious to know how Dr Carson defines who a religious person is.

1 Like

i’m really enjoying this constant ben carson dribble happening here on spectrum…i’m seeing things here that i haven’t seen elsewhere…for instance, i think it’s great that ben thought san antonio was a major mistake, and that he’s reaching out to catholics…ben is in an arena where gender equality is assumed, and a lot of people subsist on basic concepts of spirituality…it isn’t appropriate for him to get into anything heavy in terms of adventist doctrine…he’s right to stress commonalities…i just think he’s is a great rep for our church…

2 Likes

Carson was interviewed this morning by George Stephanopoulos on his Sunday morning show. He was much better prepared (as the commentators there agreed) and came across much more assured; although I will not vote for him, he presented himself in a much better light than the previous TV interviews.

He is only reflecting what many Adventists believe, as represented on this website. There is no reason that he should accept all the propositions outlined in the 28 Fundamental Beliefs to be an Adventist. If twenty of those regularly contributing here or random members were questioned, their answers would likely be no different than his. No one in the church defines who is Adventist except his local congregation; it is not any one else whether a G.C. leader or some member.

3 Likes

I would hazard you have that backwards. Most Adventists really aren’t serious about all our wacky eschatology anyway. We are dishonest in Church, not outside of Church. I commend Carson for admitting that Catholics are good people (and good Christians) and that he considers Catholics as friends. It would do SDA’s far more good to go and become friends with some Catholics rather than reading EGW nonsense about bashing them. Same goes for LGBTs.

Tony: What do you think calling someone the Anti-Christ is if not bashing them?

7 Likes

Whatever Carson believes (or doesn’t) in relation to Adventism is fine. But, in the video in Australia, he spoke of Sabbath persecution from the religious right in the US. He seems to want to hide that particular belief of the SDA church, and that he believes it himself.

Do I have it backwards? I think it is both, in reality. You are correct about the dishonesty in the church as well.

3 Likes

Ben Carsons comes across much better that any of the other speakers in the video. They actually sounded like cultists to me.
1.Don’t allow other preaches
2. Only church with the sabbath. What about the churches in Samoa that keep sunday with all the other churches. What about the Seventh Day Baptist church. What about the Ethiopian church that keeps the Sabbath and also many Orthodox churches that keep sunday and also the sabbath. All Anglican churches worship on saturday in Nepal.
3. The belief in Ellen White is put to a higher position than the Pope because according to Adventists Ellen is an interpreter of scripture and what she says goes making her the only prophet in 2000 years.
Even the Popes who has only made two infalible announcements in the last 100 years does not have the authority of Ellen White.
I think Ben Carsons has every right to have his own opinions on something that has been predicted and I don’t believe he is going against the 28 anyway.
I spoke to some people in the Anglican church yesterday and they are greatly encouraged a fine christian may soon be the leader of the free world. They knew more about Ben than I did and they had read his book.
I have been also talking too them about the new movie that may be coming out next year Hacksaw Ridge I also mentioned it to the bishop and a group of us will be going to see the greatest war hero Desmond Doss. Barry

1 Like

Oh, man, this gets soooo tiring. I mean, honestly. Its the same thing from some bloggers; over and over and over again, with twisted and misrepresented, non factual even, statements like the one you just made.

Show me all these quotes where Ellen White says that we should bash Catholics? Here is what she said:

We should NOT go out of our way to make hard thrusts at the Catholics. Among the Catholics there are many who are most conscientious Christians, and who walk in all the light that shines upon them, and God will work in THEIR behalf.—Testimonies for the Church 9:243. {ChS 231.4}


Avoid Unnecessary Barriers—We should NOT, upon entering a place, build up unnecessary barriers between us and other denominations, especially the Catholics, so that they think we are their avowed enemies. We should not create a prejudice in their minds unnecessarily, by making a raid upon them. There are many among the Catholics who live up to the light they have FAR BETTER than many who claim to believe present truth, and God will just as surely test and prove them as He has tested and proved us.—Manuscript 14, 1887.{Ev 144.1}

You seem to have this misguided idea that to disagree with an institution means one must dislike those who belong to it. Not true. You disagree, and strongly at that, with the SdAC and Ellen White, but does that now give me the right to say because of that you hate Adventist? Of course not.

5 Likes

And the crowd said, Amen.

4 Likes

Ben Carson would be a disaster as President of the US (not that it will ever happen), but not because of his denominational affiliation. All conservative churches have strange and appalling dogmatic skeletons in their sainted closets. Adventism has its share, for sure, but it’s not crazier than the stuff Ted Cruz and Jeb!'s churches believe. Just think about the idea that God is a celestial psychopath whose swimming pools are for eternity full of souls on fire. Crazy, when it comes to church dogmas, is only other people’s crazy.

The reason why Ben Carson should not be elected President is that he is ethically and empathetically challenged and doesn’t know how the world or the government function. Electing him would be worse than appointing me to be the CEO of Apple.

That being said, it is quite an irony that Adventists, who have always dreamed of the day when the world would discover them and their church, now cringe in embarrassment when the media searchlight is trained on them. Wasn’t this supposed to be the grand opportunity to stand before the princes of the world and tell them that unless they and their people heeded the 4th commandment, they would be exterminated by God. God’s last message to humanity it used to be called. Somewhere something went seriously wrong.

9 Likes

The more Ben Carson talks, whether about politics or religion, the less sense he makes. The way he is crafting his perspective, he is likely to offend just about everyone. Running from your religious profession isn’t likely to convey an image of constancy, especially with those he is depending on for support. And his endorsement of women’s ordination—not a popular position among conservative evangelicals and fundamentalists—won’t help either.

So far as support for women’s ordination being “a sentiment widely shared” in North American Adventism, I’d be curious as to what data presently available would support this claim. Those with the loudest megaphones in the NAD may believe this way, but my sense is that the grassroots may believe quite differently.

So far as Adventists being presumably embarrassed about our historic eschatology, I’m not sure this is reflected by a majority opinion either. Those of a liberal theological bias may indeed feel this way, but their views regarding classic Adventist end-time expectations have never to my knowledge reflected the perspective of the laity anyway, or even a majority of ministers. And none need be embarrassed, either from Biblical or public relations angles. Our support as a people for the separation of church and state and God’s reverence for free choice in the controversy with evil—together with our support for the Reformation stance on Christ being the sole Mediator between God and man, contrary to what the papacy still openly teaches—holds an appeal for millions of thinking men and women in our society. Unfortunately, Ben Carson’s alignment with the Religious Right and denigration by word and deed of various aspects of our distinctive message, runs counter to these perspectives within our Adventist heritage.

Frankly, it is Ben Carson, not our classic eschatology, that is the real embarrassment to Adventism just now.

But as some have rightly noted in this conversation, I doubt seriously his candidacy will get very far, and for a variety of reasons.

3 Likes

For most of the voting public I doubt Dr. Carson’s faith, or the denomination he is affliated with, really make that much of an impact. The majority of the electorate are looking for someone who can govern, has a temperment for President, and can clearly and substansively articulate policies important to them. Soon this news cycle of denominational scrutiny will pass as the media will start focusing on substance in the candidate, not their belief or associationg with a wacky sounding church.

3 Likes

" And his endorsement of women’s ordination—not a popular position among conservative evangelicals and fundamentalists—won’t help either."

I don’t think that he is trying to appeal to this smaller section of American society but rather to the larger “others” out there. He won’t win solely with the evangelical or fundamentalist vote support anyway (something I am sure he and his team are very aware of).

“So far as support for women’s ordination being “a sentiment widely shared” in North American Adventism, I’d be curious as to what data presently available would support this claim. Those with the loudest megaphones in the NAD may believe this way, but my sense is that the grassroots may believe quite differently.”

And how would we possibly get these vital statistics on this issue: the Adventist church? Hardly…better to be in ignorance than really know what the average NAD member thinks (especially if it doesn’t match up to what their preferred stance might be).

“Those of a liberal theological bias may indeed feel this way, but their views regarding classic Adventist end-time expectations have never to my knowledge reflected the perspective of the laity anyway, or even a majority of ministers. And none need be embarrassed, either from Biblical or public relations angles.”

Glad to know that we should not be “embarrassed”…and where would you have gotten your stats from anyway?

"Ben Carson’s alignment with the Religious Right and denigration by word and deed of various aspects of our distinctive message, runs counter to these perspectives within our Adventist heritage.

“Frankly, it is Ben Carson, not our classic eschatology, that is the real embarrassment to Adventism just now.”

All Adventists are taught from birth that they are “Ambassadors” for the church…in every action, word, or thought. Ben Carson is the “face” of Adventism right now to millions of people in this world. They will care little about what you may consider “classic eschatology” and they won’t be that interested in how much it may stray from current perspectives within Adventist heritage.

“I doubt seriously his candidacy will get very far, and for a variety of reasons.”

This is the only thing we agree upon…but we could be wrong.

1 Like

There are likely no unbiased data whatsoever. But it’s pretty silly to insist - or even suggest - that the overwhelming position of diverse leadership across the division for decades now, not to mention the delegates at the recent and prior GC session votes, has completely misrepresented the sentiment of the division’s membership base. You’re grasping for traction, Kevin.

1 Like

As an Adventist Bem Carson could do much good if he would add to his disagreement with the women’s ordination vote in San Antonio a dissatisfaction and disappointment with the church’s stance on the homosexual community. We have been discriminated against also and yet he claims that giving us our right to marry was the worst Court decision ever.

1 Like

Kevin is right. On a subject as controversial as this, the leadership ought to poll the people in the pews before issuing claims of what the division wants. Even at the conference level, at least in my conference, no one has ever polled their constituency. Why not do it and remove the question?

1 Like

Dr. Carson is entitled to his personal views. What astounds me is what the church says about itself in the whoareadventist.org website. The opening blurb says nothing about the church being called by God to prepare people for the second coming of Christ, much less anything about the three angels’ message. That may be a good thing. I wonder if our leaders realize how they have changed the identity of the church.

“Thank you for visiting our website. The Seventh-day Adventist Church seeks to enhance quality of life for all people in our communities, adhering to the ideals described by the Bible. We seek to share both our faith in God and the church’s commitment to the betterment of all human beings. We are a mainstream Protestant church with approximately 19 million members worldwide and more than one million members in North America. Our doors are always open to the community and to anyone who wishes to worship in one of our more than 6,200 Seventh-day Adventist congregations in North America.”

2 Likes

May I suggest a small correction to the article. The article cited in the last paragraph is not on Christianity Today, but rather on Christian Today.

1 Like

It seems to me Ben Carson is getting a little more politically savvy - no more, no less.

At least in Europe his political positions (Hitler-Obama comparison, abortion=murder, holocaust remarks and his stand on weapons and social issues such as health insurance) lead Adventists to simply shake their head in disbelief … and hope that his name will not be associated with the Adventist church in Europe too much.

3 Likes

I’m having a great deal of difficulty believing Dr. Ben Carson’s claims about what a bad person he used to be. It turns out that everyone, even members of his own family, remember him as a peaceful, calm and really nice person in his formative years. There are no incidents on or off the record about what he calls his “pathological violent past”. Not one friend, fellow student, or neighbor can ever recall observing him being rude, violent or acting in a hostile manner towards anyone. Colleagues at work speak openly of his courtesy and generosity with them at work. His wife describes him as a “gentle person”. Why does he cling to this version of his youth as being so violent and hostility towards others?

Questions linger if lies have been told, and it makes no sense why a lie would be needed, especially in his desire to reveal himself truthfully, and in his quest seeking the office of President of the United States. There is shame in having been a peaceful, calm young boy for Dr. Carson!
There’s no point to unnecessary lies. It doesn’t help but make trouble in the relationship with him and his constituency. Doubt and suspicion are opened up with these kinds of lies. According what I’ve been told men will lie for only a couple reasons: for their ego, or to conceal something. It is a big trust violation.

The sooner we find the truth behind these stories about Dr. Carson, the sooner we can fix the allegations that are piling up. To try an minimize this self-characterization by Dr. Carson as “not important” would be disrespectful to the American electorate.

There are people out there called compulsive liars. People who can’t help but lie, and they don’t even realize it. Some have more severe cases than others, of course. They may even believe the lies themselves. There are realistic mental conditions out there that involve lying, but treatment is needed to get help in any way.
Pathological liars are out there as well. Pretty much doing whatever you want, and just trying to cover your tracks. Let’s hope this gets cleared up and we can believe what Dr. Carson is saying to us not only about his past but his vision for the future as well.

1 Like