Dare to Be a Desmond

The following sermon was preached by Jeff Gang for a worship service at Southern Adventist University’s Homecoming weekend in the Collegedale Seventh-day Adventist Church on Sabbath, October 29, 2016. The Sermon was originally titled “He Is Our Peace.” 

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://spectrummagazine.org/article/2016/11/04/dare-be-desmond

Well done Jeff!!

I appreciated your thoughts so much. That concluding quote by Bonhoeffer is stunning and truly goes to the heart of it.

Our church congregation on the Gold Coast here in Australia is hiring a cinema for a movie screening of Hacksaw Ridge for our members and our friends mid next week. We will then have a three hour follow-up show - “The Hero of Hacksaw Ridge: Exploring the Motivations of Desmond Doss” the following Saturday afternoon, in a neutral venue. We will feature the It is Written TV Special “The Faith of Des Doss.” Yours truly will make two short 30 minute presentations divided by a light supper. The first Presentation is “War and Peace - The origins of War and the Source of Peace.” The second presentation will be “Freedom Isn’t Free - Freedom of Conscience & Worship; Worshipping the Lord of Rest.”


I was registered as a 1-A-O, needless to say I was assigned to infantry basic… The Conference has a pastor assigned to men wrongly assigned. I found them to be less than helpful. they vainly tried to butter up the commanding officer. I learned to handle my own affairs. Now every pastor is taking creadit for Desmond. big deal. TZ


While Tom also served in the Pacific Area during WWII, we may be the only ones here who remember that war: he, for his courageous work as a medic, and I only as a civilian who watched her friends and classmates go off to serve.

There was tremendous pressure despite the draft. Those young men who. were rejected by the draft were insulted as “draft dodgers” and worse by strangers on the streets. Academy friends went to Canada and joined the RAF; several others enlisted: one joined the Marine Corp and was killed on Iwo Jima, also a horrendous battle with more than 100,000 casualties.

Another poor Tennessee boy, Alvin York, a "hill billy sharpshooter, also refused to bear arms in WW I because of his religious beliefs. But unlike Doss, because he was not affiliated with a church, the Army demanded that he carry a rifle. When it was realized that he was an excellent marksman, he was issued a rifle and his ability saved many of his comrades for which he he received the Medal of Honor.

Is church affiliation, rather than personal convictions more honored and respected today?

1 Like

I understand comments like Tom Zwemer’s, to the effect that we belong to a broken and hypocritical community.

So who doesn’t? Bonhoeffer’s own community was broken. Many, or at least some, of the students he taught at his underground seminary ended up bearing arms in the German army.

I saw “Hacksaw Ridge” last night, and even though I cannot exactly line up behind conscientious “cooperation”–what would that have meant in Nazi Germany?–I still want to say: Desmond Doss was a hero of moral courage, and is an inspiration still, as I hope and pray, to me. We need to keep his example in front of us. It won’t replace the example of Jesus, but it’s still, for most of us, a wake-up call.

And he was, let’s not forget, a child of his Adventism. Our community, for all its flaws, helped him become the person he turned out to be.

So thanks, Jeff, for the really fine sermon.



If the sixth commandment is potent enough to transcend the need to mitigate an evil mass-murdering Hitler, or to neutralize a suicide bomber, or an intruder into ones home, then why, Adventist, is it not potent enough to protect the unborn from violence and death?

(See Hillary Clinton, the Margaret Sanger Award winner)

I can’t find any balance in the article. I wonder, for example, if say , Chuck were watching Jeff’s kids for a couple hours while Jeff went on some errands, and even tho God forbid, an individual with his heart set on evil deeds happened to come along. What would Chuck do? Turn the other cheek? Not resist an evil person? Offer the enemy food and drink? Love the enemy?

“Thou shalt not kill” actually means "thou shalt not murder " by the way, which is important to note. It is a misuse of the command to apply it to WWII. That’s my opinion.

Pacifism does not and cannot provide the safe environment that allows us to blog, jog, and otherwise go about our business as free as birds. I am full of gratitude for Desmond Doss, but in reality, an army of ten million Dosses wouldn’t have been able to save Europe or the world from the Axis powers.

I am with Peacham on this one…God doesn’t change, and He certainly endorsed great warriors such as David and many other kings, and others such as Samson to eliminate evil; and even used men of the cloth from time to time.

And maybe we need more Desmond-types in the SDA abortion business. Refuse to carry the instruments.


Thanks Chuck. I appreciate your thoughts here. Means much coming for you.

Thanks Peter! Fantastic. I wish I could be in attendance. Have you considered screening Terry Benedict’s film “The Conscientious Objector”? I wish you all much success and blessings. - Jeff

Thanks Elaine. I wonder would Desmond Doss be a heroic figure for so many SDA’s, had he not received the Medal of Honor? The history of conscientious objection in the SDA Church is fascinating to me. There have been many Toms who we do not know about. My wife’s grand father was also 1-A-O in Europe during the war.

Samuel said to King Agag, “As your sword has killed the sons of many mothers, now your mother will be childless.” And Samuel cut King Agag to pieces before the Lord at Gilgal.” (1 Sam 15)

Just thinking about it. It’s amazing to me how culture sets behavior standards, which brings praise or condemnation. I guess Samuel felt that God would be very pleased to see King Agag in a bloody heap. I wonder if we could find one Israelite that was a non-combatant. Is truth flexible?

Hopeful: The faith of the OT is not that of the NT, and we don’t need to go back to the former as Christ’s followers.

Why is that the OT God is so different than the NT God? I thought it was all One God. Do we have to deny the OT God to accept the NT God? If this is the case there would be little room for the study of the book of Daniel. What truth is eternal and what truth is cultural? Are we willing to die for cultural truth? Just thinking about it.

1 Like

Jeff, you have expressed what many have thought: Fame has many friends. A little ditty I’ve long remembered (from a Disney film?) “and always let your conscience be your guide.”

Maybe we have looked to the church for our permission in so many things, even to what attitudes we should adopt or think, that we have undeveloped our conscience and looked for guidance in all the wrong places?

1 Like

The faith of the OT is not that of the NT, and we don’t need to go back to the former as Christ’s followers.


The only one who remembers the war? I assure you those of us who served in the military in any generation are well aware of the war, in particular the battle for Okinawa. As a Navy corpsman for 13 years I can say we all knew of it and paid our utmost respect.

1 Like

It is easy in Israel, simply become ultra-orthodox as they are exempt from military service.

In the annals of Adventism, there are two heroic Desmonds.

1 Like