The sermon delivered by General Conference President Ted Wilson at the October 7 Annual Council meeting was titled, "Chosen for Mission." It was certainly not just a discourse on mission but rather an explicit ideological manifesto of what Adventism should be. Even more importantly, Wilson implicitly framed what contemporary societies—which serve as context to Adventism—represent for him. This was not a classic sermon, with typical and appropriate spiritual edification emphases, but neither was it a penetrating and differentiated theological/cultural analysis. His message was a sincere and respectable testimony, but also filled with clichés, slogans, and downward labels which spoke more to the belly than the minds or hearts of Adventists.
Thanks so much, Dr. Gutierrez, for your careful analysis. It is exhausting to match up “my perceptions of reality” with “the story I’m supposed to telling” as an Adventist.
“We are making ourselves incapable, through our own efforts, of bringing empathy, refreshment, and good news to the world in which we live. Indeed, the news has become bad, even for those who are within the ‘fold’.”
Yes. As I read the sermon, I was struck by how little it did to make me feel supported and inspired to “follow Jesus in the way.” Rather, it left this sixth-generation Adventist feeling alienated and depressed.
I’m so very grateful for this article. It answers many questions, but also creates more. It wasn’t long after I joined the church as a teenager, I began noticing a kind of dichotomy in my experience - especially after I went to AUC. There, I was exposed to many different voices, other than what I was used to the previous couple of years in my home church. The Bible was new to me and I assumed anyone speaking from it, was saying the same thing. In the various “chapel” talks and meetings, a strange dichotomy was developing for me. On the one hand, I was happy and assured with what I was hearing about God, and happy to be part of the assembly; on the other hand, I became uneasy, and I didn’t know why. Not until my later years, I’ve been able to zero in on how I understand the “GOSPEL” (which is the basis of the Christian faith); and this, thanks to Des Ford and his clear Gospel message.
The Adventist church lives with a “dual personality disorder”; and the two sides can’t relate to each other. As a result, I am left with a dissonance, like wearing pink, and orange at the same time; or, in music, it’s comparable to playing a “C” and a “D flat” together. I see now why this is (thank you Prof.Gutierrez) Adventism doesn’t know which side of the “Pelagian” debate to fall on. This raises the question, why Gutierrez and others within Adventism, remain Adventist…
I think I might have developed the answer to that. Adventism is as much a culture as it is a religious denomination. You can’t separate Italians from Catholicism, or Scandinavians from Lutheranism; and, the most obvious one is Judaism from Israel. There might be more to it - I don’t know. In my mind, I can’t see connecting “salvation by faith”; and “you must keep Saturday holy”.
Rom 5:7ff. Seems to be saying, "through Adam sin entered mankind; through Jesus (the second Adam), Life was given to all mankind. That, also raises questions in my semi-Adventist mind. The rest of Paul certainly makes salvation a faith issue - not an obedience issue. While Adventism says that, - the emphasis is heavy on the obedience, like they can’t quite believe the “good news”. For the present directors of everything Adventist, there is no debate.
This I think is the nugget of the issue. It suggests that our leaders are essentially deluded, so much so that to some degree they probably can’t even see it. See the Dunning-Kruger Effect.
Still, I find it harder and harder to respect their stated opinions. Our leaders are overt science-deniers. When we understand science to be the study of nature, the study of reality, then the denial of scientific findings becomes more clearly the denial of reality.
Over the last few years, it has become impossible for me to respect church leaders who are science-deniers. Logically, it seems they are either uneducated in scientific findings, are incompetent, but still feel the need to openly disagree with science, or they are educated and competent and are being purposefully disingenuous in order to continue to promote church teachings that disagree with reality.
You nailed the problem…If the Adventist commission is to tell the “good news” (which is the gospel) Which is not Adventist Legalism, Then we’ll never accomplish it with Ted Wilson in leadership. The moronic notion of spending billions to flood the world with “The Great Controversy” is just one example. Just how long will it take for the rest of the theological establishment to point out that over half of it was “borrowed?” Then we will all become the cultist sect that many of them already say we are. In case you haven’t read it…the GC is not the way to present “the good news”. Probably the worst book you could have picked.
For example, try as I might I can’t relive the first 25 years of my life in an effort to completely excise or overcome the Adventism of my parents and grandparents anymore than can any of the other ethnic groups you mention remove certain aspect about themselves.
But I also think it’s correct to assume that there is more to any individual than just his genetic, cultural or historical background.
As one grows, and hopefully learns, he sees that his past is not determinant and that he can incorporate other philosophies and concepts into his worldview in an attempt to become a child of the cosmos, or literally and essentially cosmopolitan.
For example, I still think some aspects of Christianity as taught to me by my parents, teachers, preachers, etc., are valid. But just as it seems obvious that Jesus probably studied philosophies other than just the OT and incorporated those into his “good news”, I am free to add to the incomplete version of the gospels as found in the canonized gospels and incorporate other concepts from other disciplines which seem to comport with my own experience, or delete those aspects of the Bible which are obviously outdated, outmoded or which evidence has required me to rethink.
All of which is to say nothIng other than what is expressed in the title of the song from the musical The Ozzard of Wiz, called Truth is Where You Find It.
(And, yes I understand the writer of the song didn’t coin the phrase!)
Mostly agree; but I doubt Jesus had a library anywhere in his perimeter to study “other philosophies”. His basic message, as to lifestyle, is pretty simple - “treat others as you would want to be treated”, and the rest of the commandments would take care of themselves. The other concern he had was for us to be honest with others, but also with ourselves.
Good luck! His replacement is already sitting very close to him, the GC Secretary, the Brazilian Erton Köhler. The Wilson dynasty extended wit a different last name., to assure that the cultic sect is preserved and protected against the 21st century reality.
Adventism’s mission has become a “mission to itself,” in an effort to alienate its community from the realities of the 21st century and from the truths revealed by scientific discoveries. It’s an effort to keep the thinking minds confined to delusional ideas that belong to the 19th century and that were created out of the despair resulting from a disappointment. A disappointment that was induced by the idea that a small group had gained access to the mind of God. By utilizing the services of a pretended prophet, Adventism declared success in hacking the mind of the Divine.
Adventism remains a cultic sect that still pretends to have direct access to God’s mind, sometimes appearing to even have the ability to control God’s decisions - as claimed by the LGT branch of the sect.
And for those SDAs that firmly believe that they are right, here is a stunning but unequivocal and clear revelation:
I don’t think God’s word has a copy right date attached to it; and, as the story goes, God loves the whole human family. It’s not impossible that God communicated with others in other cultures. The Hebrews saw God in their Sanctuary services and the various Mosaic laws. Jesus spoke to them from that vantage point, but emphasized he wasn’t interested in a lot of ceremony in place of a pure heart and a loving attitude. Religion based on ceremony tends to become repetitive and meaningless, creating what Jesus called, “whited sepulchres.”