Desmond Ford Will Address Controversial Adventist Topics This Weekend in New South Wales

Desmond Ford, who two days ago celebrated his 87th birthday, will speak this weekend at two events in Morisset, New South Wales. Among the topics of discussion: Ordination and the Investigative Judgment.

Ford was famously dismissed from Adventist employment in 1980 over his strident opposition to the Adventist Church’s doctrine of the pre-Advent Investigative Judgment. He recently released a book about the ordeal.

On Saturday, February 6, Ford will speak at the Uniting “Church in the Trees” Meeting Hall (the event was previously to be held at an Adventist high school in Cooranbong).

The 11:00am church service will feature interviews, topical discussions, worship music and Ford as the primary speaker. Ford will discuss his conversion, how he found the gospel and his experiences with and observations of women in ministry in the Seventh-day Adventist Church. He will also offer thoughts on the 2015 General Conference Session ordination vote in light of what the Bible says on the topic.

An afternoon program at 3:00pm (attendees are asked to bring their own lunches if planning to attend both events) will feature a Q&A discussion with Ford, focused on the Investigative Judgment. The event is titled “Investigative Judgment: Fact or Heresy?”

The event’s promoters have listed the following framing questions for the discussion:

What relevance and meaning has the Seventh-day Adventist teaching on the Investigative Judgement had through the Adventist church community's history?

How has the theological and biblical understanding of it changed over time in your understanding and in that of the church's culture?

What actually is the Investigative Judgement in both official theological statements and Adventist folk religion and mythology? How crucial is it really to the Adventist Church's identity and mission?

What would happen to Seventh-day Adventism without it's traditional Investigative Judgment doctrine?

How different are the church and you today as a result of the events of the late 70s and early 80s and the way the leadership responded?

How did the Gospel help you deal with the Seventh-day Adventist Church's Investigative Judgment on you, your theology and your career and the resulting hurt, innuendo and betrayals, and upheaval of your life, family and career?

How can we find healing and extend grace as many of us face challenges in the current state of the church? What can we learn from your experience in our way forward? What could the church, especially leadership, learn from hindsight about how to deal healthfully with change, divergence, diversity and conflict?

The event is hosted by a group including many former Adventists who call themselves NOW that regularly gathers “to share worship, music, ideas, faith, the arts and insights gained.” The group’s mission statement says the group values “inclusiveness, gender equality, creativity, a calm environment, meaningful congregational singing, stimulating spoken word, good food and conversation.”

In a Facebook video message posted on his 87th birthday, Ford seemed to suggest that leaving a legacy of a life well lived is on his mind. “You and I both know that it’s not how long you live, but how well you live,” he said in the video. “What will be the harvest from your life and mine?”

“Look to Jesus,” Ford said, “and then you will live very well indeed.”

Jared Wright is Managing Editor of

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This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

the questions are Taylor made for Des. I hope they are recorded and published. tom Z

I have no way of attending this meeting, as I live abroad. Will it be recorded and available on demand? Maybe on YouTube or Vimeo, or something similar?


Great to see this inspiring pastor still preaching the Word. I attended one meeting when I lived in New South Wales and heard a true gospel message. More power to you Dr. Ford. Rene G.

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Although he lost his position and credentials, DF’s teaching has had a huge impact on the doctrines of the SDA church in California. I don’t believe that the doctrine is preaches or taught in California. I haven’t heard anyone speak of it since the late 1980’s and my children have not been taught it throughout any of their schooling in Adventist institutions.

Questions about IJ don’t seem to be on anyone’s mind anymore. I wouldn’t consider it to be a “controversial topic”.

Here are the major questions for Des Ford.
In a succinct/pithy manner please answer…

  1. What is the gospel?
  2. What is grace?
  3. What does it mean to be saved?
  4. Can & will any humans stop sinning before the 2nd coming?

These are the most important questions for the Adventist church today. While it had palpable meaning to those who accepted in in 1843, how can it possibly be made important to younger Adventists today who cannot be expected to duplicate their experience?

It is no different than a student studying the founding of the U.S. as a nation and how George Washington and the founders are still so important to us today: Only in the historical context as information, but without immediate importance today. While our Founders gave us liberty and freedom to pursue our own religious beliefs, the IJ greatly constricts that personal choice of belief and is a fantasy that can never be factually proven: only to be believed with not a shred of evidence.

It is foreign to Christianity’s simple requirement to believe in Christ as one’s Redeemer and Savior, nothing added.

To the question: How did this affect an understanding of the Gospel and personal life; I studied the NT and found freedom in the Gospel as taught there and eventually realized that no church or religious system contained all truth and it will always be an ongoing search.


While the investigative judgment may not be big in some places, it still is being taught and defended. The investigative judgment ideas and notions surrounding the doctrine that were presented to many of us in the mid 1900s and earlier included ones that were fear and guilt inducing, psychologically unhealthy and sometimes damaging, unbliblical and worth letting go of. I do not hear of most of those things now. Even the promoters and apologists for the investigative judgmement are often saying many different things now than back then. Yet I have yet to hear the defenders or church leadership acknowledge that the way the doctrine has been taught and promoted has evolved and changed.

To many, the investigative judgment doctrine is no big deal in church consciousness, other than a box to tick to be baptised, but wait until you start challenging it, bringing Des into it, or trying to have an open discussion (rather than a kosher bible study about it) and watch the repercussions and the emotions that surface. I’ve seen it recently.

Des lived and worked for many years in the community where these two events are taking place. There are many, including those who didn’t go along with his approach to 1844, who heard Des preach (before the great controversy in Adventism at the end of the 70s and into the 80s) who found Jesus in a new light and found liberation in the Gospel from his refreshing presentations and his deep love for Jesus. Adventism is much different in my experience now than when I was growing up. Des was one of a number of those who have played a significant role and left a legacy in influencing Adventism to move a more Gospel focus (although some of us would say there is a long way to go in some places and with some people and leaders!)

Des is an elderly man now, with some of the frailties that come with that. Perhaps to many to have him speak is to revisit the past rather than live in the present and move on. There is a time to learn and listen to one of then “elders” of our church tribe who has lived out his calling and values with high commitment and courage as he has been true to his conscience and the call to share Jesus no matter what pressures or pain come his way. There is time to honour the legacy as well as to learn from the past.

For those close to it, the early 80s were a dreadfully painful and traumatic period. The church addressed conflict in an unhealthful and destructive-to-many way. As a church we are not the best at finding healthy ways to deal with disagreement and people that don’t conform. To reflect on how things were done, how we can learn from that constructively, and how we can live out the spirit of Jesus in the challenges and controversies of our times and the future are worthwhile.

This is not a time for more shouting matches, debates and division. But for a time of learning, reflecting and healing - and for honouring the strong and powerful commitment that Des has had to Jesus for most of his life, and the impact his sharing of Jesus has had on untold numbers of people who have found or renewed their understanding of Jesus and His commitment to us as fallen, broken and wounded children of God.

Thank you Des for championing Jesus and His Good News. Thank you for helping me and many others to learn to think rather than just accept unquestioning what I was earlier told to believe. Thanks for the impact you have had on our church in letting go of baggage that we carried around certain doctrines that was the antithesis to the Gospel. Thank you for modelling standing true to conscience as we were taught to value in the reformers like Luther and Ellen and the early Adventist pioneers.f


Again I invite all who are interested, who would like to consider simple but concise answers to Dr. Ford’s challenges to this core teaching of classic Adventism, to contact me privately for a copy of my paper, “1844: Embattled Yet Enduring.”

This document is not presently available online, though we hope soon to change that. In the meantime, inquirers can contact me via e-mail, at and I will happily send them a copy of this paper.


O.R.L Crozier is the one who mostly came up with the whole Sanctuary message in the beginnings of the “little flock” of Adventists. Soon after Ellen became a follower of Crozier and endorsed his message.
Google his name and you should be able to find the – The Daystar Extra – where his views were published and broadcast. There are 4 parts. There is also a picture of him in old age. And a statement by him about 1899. He lived until about 1913. Same time frame as Ellen.
In light of Des Ford, it all is very relevant to the topic, including his 1899 statement.
When I was at Madison College, taking the class Hebrews, this Daystar Extra was available in the library for voluntary outside reading. I read.
Hiram Edson was the person walking through the corn field. But it was Crozier that formulated the Doctrine that we have now. And since it was stamped OK by Ellen, it is probably impossible to make changes. Would be nice to be able to hear Des’s presentations though. As stated, U-tube or Vimeo.
Hebrews and Revelation is the new sanctuary, the heavenly sanctuary.
Thanks for posting Jared.

To answer EZBORD
Daniel 8:14 in the 1600s in English KJV says “CLEANSED”.
Daniel 8:14 in modern translations says, 'The Temple Will be made right again"
The New RSV has it "sanctuary will be restored to its rightful state."
Perhaps “Cleansing” isnt the only way to translate that word. And so another English word changes the nuance for other denominational Bible scholars. They dont see what we see. That it relates back to the Day of Atonement practices.

2/6= Robert – Did Des say anything about O.R.L. Crozier and the Day Star Extra which later Ellen said was OK, and the church adopted it?


“The Investigative Judgment: Fact or Heresy” - We know Des’ answer even before this weekend!

I wonder whether the Avondale College of Higher Education Church will be open this coming Sabbath morning or whether all church members will be at the Uniting “Church in the Trees” by some rapturous means.

My family of origin and Des have had long association together. Both my late father and Des are originally from Townsville, though my father is about 20 years his senior. When our family arrived in Cooranbong in 1965, my parents found the almost reverential awe that Des’ preaching engendered in local Adventists difficult to understand. My father and Des would on occasion go for long walks together to talk theology.My oldest brother was a fellow student at Avondale with Des and then 4 of the 5 of my other siblings, plus me, have tremendously appreciated his teaching us at Avondale in the 1960’s and 1970’s.

Finally, my late mother was a member of the Avondale College Board of Management in the second half of the 1970’s when the decision was taken to invite Des to swap places with Niels Eric Andreasen, Des going to teach at PUC, Niels coming to Avondale in his place. In 1980, my mother began the first of two terms on the South Pacific Division Executive - the body that annulled Des’ ordination. Mother was the only non-denominationally employed woman to attend the regular fortnightly or monthly meetings of said Executive for that 10 year period. My father was the only non-ordained member of the original ‘Concerned Brethren’ who were concerned at the huge differences between Adventist theology and the ‘new theology’ as Des’ teachings were often called. In those times, both Des and the South Pacific Division personnel were at pains to emphasize the similarity between the two theologies. My father and his friends thought it valuable to emphasize the huge differences between them in terms of righteousness by faith, the nature of Christ, the doctrine of the sanctuary and the historist understanding of prophecy. Of course in Oct, 1979 Des himself blew the lid on the heretofore supposed similarities between mainline Adventist theology and Des’ understanding of theology. Despite all this water under the bridge, Des has always been most gracious to all my family members.

Thus, through a good portion of the 1970’s and into the 1980’s I was very close to the theological and organizational rumblings that swirled around Avondale and Wahroonga.

There is little doubt that the ascendancy of Des Ford in the popular South Pacific Adventist thinking spelt the end of an era in which Australian and New Zealand Adventist evangelists were at the forefront of norming and forming Adventist theology in the South Pacific. Des Ford’s role as chief heresy hunter in the South Pacific region, in an era when we didn’t have a field secretary to fill that role, began in his battles with Robert Brinsmead. He became our theological goliath.

Fernando Canale in recent years has written two extremely helpful books. Vision and Mission: How a theological vision drives the mission of the emerging remnant (2015) and Secular Adventism? Exploring the Link between Lifestyle and Salvation. (2013). [Available on Amazon]. In both these works Canale emphasizes the role of the sanctuary doctrine as the foundation of the Adventist hermeneutical vision - a vision that rejects the notion of neoplatonism and it’s timeless God in favour of an historical God. Canale points out that a timeless and spaceless God cannot deal with humanity in space and time. If this is true, the Adventist doctrine of the sanctuary is incorrect as is our understanding of prophecy according to historicist principles and the related cosmic conflict world view and even the doctrine of soul sleep. However, if we humans must relate ourselves to an historical God who inhabits time and space, then we do not depend on the eternal decrees of God for salvation. We may love God freely as John Peckham from the Seminary at Andrews points out in his latest book The Love of God: A Canonical Model (IVP, 2015). We may accept that there is a real continuity between the OT and the NT and between law and grace. The resulting arminianism is completed by the doctrine of pre-advent judgment. Also, such an understanding of God and his relationship with humanity may help to bring us to a resolution as far as the nature of Christ is concerned.

Yes, it is true that if we accept the mainline Protestant understanding of justification by faith we must reject the doctrine of a pre-advent judgment.


Oh good! Its been at least a couple weeks since we had our last dose of Des. And he’s going to address SDA controversial issues? Hudathunkit? As Gomer Pyle used to say,

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The most influential image of the Lutheran Reformation:

Lucas Cranach, The Law and the Gospel (or Law and Grace), c. 1529, oil on wood (Schlossmuseum, Gotha, Germany)

SDA Fundamental Belief #27: The Millennium and the End of Sin

The millennium is the thousand-year reign of Christ with His saints in heaven between the first and second resurrections.

During this time the wicked dead will be judged; the earth will be utterly desolate, without living human inhabitants, but occupied by Satan and his angels. At its close Christ with His saints and the Holy City will descend from heaven to earth.

The unrighteous dead will then be resurrected, and with Satan and his angels will surround the city; but fire from God will consume them and cleanse the earth. The universe will thus be freed of sin and sinners forever.

(Jer. 4:23-26; Ezek. 28:18, 19; Mal. 4:1; 1 Cor. 6:2, 3; Rev. 20; 21:1-5.)

Ellen White: The elements melt with fervent heat, the earth also, and the works that are therein are burned up. Malachi 4:1; 2 Peter 3:10. The earth’s surface seems one molten mass–a vast, seething lake of fire. It is the time of the judgment and perdition of ungodly men–“the day of the Lord’s vengeance, and the year of recompenses for the controversy of Zion.” Isaiah 34:8.

The wicked receive their recompense in the earth. Proverbs 11:31. They “shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the Lord of hosts.” Malachi 4:1.

Some are destroyed as in a moment, while others suffer many days. All are punished “according to their deeds.”

The sins of the righteous having been transferred to Satan, he is made to suffer not only for his own rebellion, but for all the sins which he has caused God’s people to commit. His punishment is to be far greater than that of those whom he has deceived. After all have perished who fell by his deceptions, he is still to live and suffer on.

In the cleansing flames the wicked are at last destroyed, root and branch–Satan the root, his followers the branches.

The full penalty of the law has been visited; the demands of justice have been met; and heaven and earth, beholding, declare the righteousness of Jehovah.

We are left with a God whose vengeance must be appeased by human sacrifice, by blood, one way or another.

This vengeance, this outpouring of wrath without measure, we are told, is God’s way of administering Justice.

This, we are told, is Good News.

As good Adventists, we must “love His appearing,” which brings on this:

The Harvest of the Earth

So the angel swung his sickle to the earth and gathered the clusters from the vine of the earth, and threw them into the great wine press of the wrath of God.

And the wine press was trodden outside the city, and blood came out from the wine press, up to the horses’ bridles, for a distance of two hundred miles.

–Revelation 14:20

(Bellevue Seventh-day Adventist Church)

This. This we must love. An unspeakable bloodbath promised by God in both the Old Testament and the New Testament.

A bloodbath that renders all human holocausts insignificant, and makes Satan’s powers of destruction paltry.

At what historical cost have we believed these things about God? Only God can calculate that tragic history. Only God can bear feeling that ponderous weight of suffering.

I agree with the Bellevue SDA church about this: “It’s time to rethink what we think about the end times.”

Friends, have we so learned Christ?

Perhaps this strange little sect, bad theology notwithstanding, had a viable intuition that there would be a period of reconciling the books, as it were, when a certain fullness of time ripened and fruition came.

Perhaps this Ripening makes the ancient good of the Reformation uncouth, its influential images cartoonish, and Luther’s narcissistic preoccupations a remnant of a dark and childish past.

Perhaps Christ really did reconcile the world to Himself, and perhaps He really did give us the ministry of reconciliation.

Perhaps the creation really does wait eagerly for the sons of God to be revealed.

Perhaps Rob Bell is right.

Perhaps Love wins.

@niteguy2 Thank you for your reply which was deleted without note by Spectrum.


I think that tells you more about California than it does about the SDA church. California is also home of Hollywood SDA church, which is at the forefront of (to put it in such a way as to avoid being deleted) pushing the limits.

Other parts of the church hold firmly to the church’s foundational teachings.

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Great. As an American, I have been taught to value freedom of speech. I wish he were close by (Baltimore, MD). I would love to hear him live and in person. I have his book 1844 and found it academic and very informative. I hope to read a comprehensive report hear of his presentations and not just a Pope-like alert.


Congratulations to Dr. Ford on his 87 Birthday! His longevity and mental agility are a testimony of his lifestyle and the fact that with age can come wisdom. Current studies at the University of Montreal have shown that when the older participants learned that they had made a mistake, these regions were only recruited at the beginning of the next trial, indicating that with age, we decide to make adjustments only when absolutely necessary. It is as though the older brain is more impervious to criticism and more confident than the young brain. It was also reported that the young brain is more reactive to negative reinforcement than the older one. When the young participants made a mistake and had to plan and execute a new strategy to get the right answer, various parts of their brains were recruited even before the next task began.

An old brain that some of us have is not necessarily a slow brain, as wisdom allows older adults to achieve an equivalent level of performance to younger adults, say researchers from the University Geriatrics Institute of Montreal. “The older brain has experience and knows that nothing is gained by jumping the gun. It was already known that aging is not necessarily associated with a significant loss in cognitive function. When it comes to certain tasks, the brains of older adults can achieve very close to the same performance as those of younger ones,” said Dr. Oury Monchi, of the Institute in Montreal.


Ford’s attack on the Sanctuary Doctrine is not his only heretical belief. In his book, Genesis Versus Darwin, he claims that “Adam and Eve in Genesis 1 were not the parents of Cain and Abel . . … The idea that there are two Adams, separated by vast ages, may confound those who think literally . . … [T]he Adam of Genesis 1-3 is different from the Adam of chapter 4. . … The Adam of chapters 1-3 is prehistory whereas the Adam of chapter 4 onwards lives in a world of about ten thousand years ago. The Adam of chapter 4 is a different man.” Yeah, right, and the Abraham Lincoln who grew up in a log cabin is not the same Abraham Lincoln who lived in the White House. Ford also rejects a 6-day creation and a worldwide flood, instead buying into the idea so prevalent among apostate churches, that these are merely stories to illustrate truth, and are not true stories. This idea is only an attempt to explain away the obvious truth, a truth which has no room for evolution. We might just as well explain away the virgin birth and the resurrection of Jesus, since they are not any more in harmony with mainstream science than is evolution. Paul says that if Jesus did not rise from the dead, then Christianity is a hoax. Well, if evolution is true, then the whole Bible is a hoax.

As Sam Geli said, “with age can come wisdom.” Sadly, in Ford’s case, he seems to have not learned from his mistakes. One can only hope that he sees the error of his ways before it is too late.


if "with age can come wisdom, what have we learned who may still make mistakes?

I have listened to Sermons from Des for over 30 years, as well as been associated with CNU. Des has always preached the Gospel, "‘It is not Laws that brings us peace. It is a person who brings us peace, and that Person is Jesus Christ’’.

Des’s Book ‘‘Jesus Only’’ tells the whole story. The Christian journey is about Him and Him only, not a Church movement, the movement should only be in response to what Jesus has done for us.

As for Des’s thoughts, and a number of others on Genesis, Des’s has made people think !!!. I recall that he always stated ‘‘Don’t believe me check it out for yourself’’.

So I have investigated and found knowledge that has come about by ''Thinking ‘’.

If there is one thing most people, and I will say about Des, is that he is so humble and caring, even to those who wish him harm.

He has stayed true to the Gospel, and Jesus is all the world to him, so may it be our prayer as well.


California is not apart from the church! Many places in California would be right up your alley in being very fundamental.
There are “parts” of the church all over the world that see things more like Jesus would want us to see them.