Catholic or Adventist: The Ongoing Struggle Over Authority + 9.5 Theses

On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany. This year the Protestant world is celebrating the 500th anniversary of that event. On May 8, General Conference president Ted Wilson, addressing the faculty of Middle East University, cited Ellen White who predicted that Seventh-day Adventists would carry that Reformation on until the end of time. Beyond that, he quoted 1 Timothy 1:7: “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”1 With that good advice in mind, we will begin our study of the history of authority in Adventism with Luther and his struggle with the Roman Church.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at
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This is the crucial issue: Have we slipped into a betrayal of our own Radical Reformation roots?

Here’s how you will know the answer: No one–neither anyone of influence among current General Conference leaders, nor scholars (if there be any) who identify with them–will even attempt to rebut the substance of George Knight’s argument. Not one will make a counter-argument from Scripture; not one will make a counter-argument from the thinking of the pioneers.

Not one.



There are plenty of individuals at the alt-right blogs who believe they wield influence, and are most certainly attacking George Knight’s message (which they are entitled to) and smearing his personhood (which is a step too far, and reveals their true character). I wish those individuals would come here and tell us explicitly what they believe and demand: that we must surrender our conscience to the GC rather than God. Let’s see if they have the courage to do that.


There is absolutely no comparison between what Luther did, and what the GC is doing. This is more whining because the liberals didn’t get their way at the GC session. No one has been burned at the stake or even “excommunicated.” Although the way some folks are behaving, one would think so. When a legitimate vote is taken, and certain entities take it upon themselves to ignore, and even defy that decision, it is only to be expected that there would be consequences. This was not “top down” like the RCC; this was delegates voting, and then premeditated rebellion by those who didn’t get their way.

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You speak too harshly. The GC is simply acting in good conscience to preserve the orthodoxy of the faith; for it is written;

  1. IN THE OLD COVENANT, “you shall separate the Levites from among the children of Israel, and the Levites shall be Mine … I have taken the Levites instead of all the firstborn of the children of Israel.” (Numbers 8)

  2. AND IN THE NEW, “Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone …” (Ephesians 2)

THE MAN was given the responsibility of rulership in the household of God and endowed with the mind and heart to do so. To God therefore he is accountable; and his rulership ought to reflect that Divine character. At no time at all, was a woman ever given such rulership.

So then, “Touch not the Lord’s Anointed.


Have you not read when God had delivered Israel out of the Red Sea, that Mariam led the people in song and dance, prophesying, “Sing to the Lord, for He has triumphed gloriously! The horse and its rider He has thrown into the sea!”? Nevertheless, it is written immediately after, “So Moses brought Israel from the Red Sea …” (Exodus 15)

And in the New Testament, “These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers.” Nevertheless, " And they proposed two: Joseph called Barsabas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias." (Acts 1)

See now whether Ellen White was ever Elder, Pastor or President of the General Conference. ALL may speak, but ecclesiastical authority, the career of church leadership, belongs to qualified and duly appointed MEN of the congregation.


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Mr Peterson
Well said but how do you count for EGW who in direct rebellion of the counsel of Paul not only preached to the brethern but instructed them also

You cant have it both ways .If you take the Bible as recorded women were to be silent in the public meetings of the Church and could not teach the male members

EGW is recorded as having done both.It is utterly rediculous for the SDA church to have a female prophet and yet be against the ordination of women


Great article! We discussed it in our Sabbath School class last week, where it received critically positive reviews from the group.

It seems clear that the GC has been consolidating power over time, to the point where they now see themselves as not just a coordinating body, but one that needs to be obeyed and with hierarchical an ecclesiastic authority over the Unions, enough to disband them if it decides to. This was not the original plan.


LUTHER!! There WAS MORE to the effects of Luther’s 95 than JUST the 95!

  1. Priests Marrying.
  2. Nuns Marrying
  3. The Laity receiving BOTH the Bread AND the Wine in the Eucharistic Meal.
  4. No need for Confession to men.
  5. A DECREASE in a Work’s Oriented absolution for sins in this life. No purgatory in the after-life.

YES! The Church was creating Doctrines and Mandates to the Clergy and Laity that were extra-Biblical.
Luther was calling the church Leadership on those Doctrines and Mandates.

Luther’s Greatest Inspiration came from the Book of Romans. The SDA church has been given a text book on Romans to those who DO attend Sabbath School. WILL the Editors who created THIS material present what Luther found, OR will it be something else??? Second Question — WILL the S.S. teachers ALLOW what Luther found to be presented in their classes???


I appreciated the history of the Model Constitutions for Unions and Local Conferences/Missions in the GC Working Policy. These have been powerful tools to institutionalize central authority. Administrators and constituencies naturally want to be in compliance, and it is easy to adopt the bold print language when there is no perceivable threat to autonomy or mission. However, it takes more faith to promise adherence to church law than the Scriptures. At least you can easily access the Bible. The only copy of the Working Policy available to most people is “chained” in the conference office.

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what an incredible article…it really puts our GC, and what it did at san antonio, in a negative spotlight (no wonder knight was banned in michigan)…knowledge of what is in this article will likely be enough for many to feel good about breaking with the GC, if it comes to that…


Absolutely Chuck, Knight’s elegant exegesis is potently powerful and radically irrefutable.

When opponents are faced with unanswerable arguments and rational repudiations of their rigid authoritarian positions, the natural response is an angry lashing out.

Hence Jay Galimore’s book banning !

Let us hope that the US pension laws are iron clad in the protection of retirees’ pension rights otherwise Knight might be forced to subsist on his meager social security benefits.

TW’s father, Neil, withheld Walter Rea’s paltry “sustentation” until Rea was forced to promise no further publications after the WHITE LIE.

What spiteful, wrathful, retaliations will Wilson have up his sleeve for this infraction of his papal power?

Echoes of the age of Galileo.


The quartelies on both Romans and Galatians are absolute messes. They twist Paul’s teachings on the Law as covenant, as well as the sufficiency of Christ and his Spirit to create, empower and guide the new covenant community apart from Law/ Torah, all to defend Adventist remnant status…a status based on its own traditional interpretation of Law and covenant. We thus have a denomination that can’t get a handle on how to live in Christian freedom and unity, because we are so letter based… something that Paul said kills.

Additionally, I would emphasize even more than the first thesis that scripture alone is not the basis of true unity. Every protestant denomination claims sola scriptura, yet we live in a divided Christianity and Adventism. I would say that Jesus, his love, and his Spirit are the basis of all true Christian fellowship, especially when we disagree on how to interpret and apply scripture. All the scriptures point to this, according to Jesus himself.

This means that the Christian life and community take the shape not of rules, regulations, commandments, and ecclesiastical policy, but of the cross. The self giving, self sacrificing, and other centred regard and love shown by Jesus at the cross. This practiced, ensures unity.




I was a young college student during the “Thought Purges” of the 1980’s when many respected friends and associates were blacklisted over disagreements with formal church policy on topics like Des Ford and Women’s Ordination. It seems as though another Purge (or Oath) may be in the works. I applaud Mr. Knight for having the courage to continue to publish topics relevant to today.

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This is a tremendous article and may I add one of the best articles I have ever read within Adventism. It puts several issues into context and helps me to understand why things are the way they are within Adventism as it relates to women’s ordination. The actions of the church’s hierarchy are sad and should be regretted but the God we serve is in control Ultimately the very thing which the leaders of our church are doing will backfire and God’s way will prevail. I am sure of this.These articles are the ones we need to truly understand how and why individuals in key positions in the church behave the way they do. May God bless you Dr. Knight.

Aleluya to God, George Knight is right in every point. We should be mindful that when church leaders tried to manipulate or control the people with there agenda, there have become secular in nature, a business enterprise, not a church. That is the present problem with Adventism.

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It seems to me that GC leaders are ignorance of history or just blind to reality. Trying to control the conscience will alway create more rebellions and disunity. Stop it! We are God’s people.

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