Desmond Ford's New Book Recalls Conflict Over Sanctuary Doctrine, Dismissal from Adventist Employment

It is ONLY in an atmosphere where free dialogue, free conversation can take place where LEARNING can take place.
In most SDA situations where persons come together to discuss questionable topics [ whether Investigative Judgment, when was “It is finished” finished, IS there a “Sanctuary” in heaven exactly like the one in the wilderness and for 500 years later and later Solomon’s and the post-exile sanctuary of Jesus’ time, what does the term “judgment” mean and WHO is being judged, DID Christ sit down on the bench next to the Father on the Mercy Seat – in the “Most Holy Place” or did Christ HAVE to sit on the Table of Shewbread in the “Holy Place” until October 22, 1844, etc] there is ALWAYS FEAR that for some reason the SDA church will FALL if there might be a new revelation.

The SDA church is here to Proclaim the Gospel to the world. The Good News ABOUT God. The Good News that God is Immanuel – God with us. His Kingdom, since the death of the Cosmic Christ [not just Jesus] is established on Earth. And our task is to call all humans to enlist in His Kingdom, to become citizens and witnesses for God.
I think the Church [local members and Administrators of Doctrine], in being Fearful, has lost this directive in the mass of 28 Doctrines. And we feel obligated to force believers to embrace the 28 Doctrines instead of the Gospel – The Good News.
And that is why we have such an issue with persons like Pastor Desmond Ford who desire discussion and learning because he APPEARS to make cracks in our “Foundations of the 28” instead of seeing that he is only attempting to make discussion about the Good News of Salvation and Redemption and bring Love of God the King instead of Fear of God the King to hearers of the Word.

Unfortunately, the Administrators of the 28 Doctrines lost sight of the issues, and demanded that Pastor Ford no longer discuss these questions, and to assure that this would NOT be discussed in the SDA church, took his license to talk away from him.
In olden days, he would have been silenced at the Stake and cleansed of “heresy” by fire.
This not only happens to Pastor Ford, but to others who, like Pastor Ford, bring up Issues for Discussion.

He has not been the 1st, and will not be the last, as we have seen with discussions here regarding LaSierra staff, and Pacific Union University staff, Hollywood SDA, and some other SDA churches who “seem” too “liberal” in membership acceptance and participation.


Does anyone know where I can find a pithy/succinct definition/concept of gospel & salvation from Des Ford?

As far as assurance of salvation…the passage that I think is significant on this issue is…

Romans 5:3 And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience;Romans 5:4 And patience, experience; and experience, hope:

So long as Seventh-day Adventism continues to reject what Cottrell only hinted at in Adventist Currents 1987 article Blame It On Rio, which he in 1995’s The Welcome Table finally coined the “Historical” method—a form of the Historical-Critical Method with its “culturally conditioned” interpretations—doesn’t our denomination continue with ‘business as usual’ after the Historical-Grammatical Method (proof-text) was GC-approved and supported in 1986’s Method of Bible Study document?


I came back to the church in 1980 at the height of the “Ford” crisis. I knew nothing of what was going on. I figured I was okay since I drove a Chevy, not a Ford. “Glacier View” what’s that I pondered. Back then I figured it was a ski resort. I was so thrilled with the messages of righteousness by faith, that Morris Venden preached that I wanted nothing else.

I have never really looked first hand into what Des Ford believed. I was always told that he had apostised, and that I shouldn’t waste time looking at a counterfeit gospel. So about all I ever heard was what others told me he believed. To be labeled a Fordite was tantamount to being called a communist back in the 1950’s. A closer look now reveals that what happened to him in 1980 and subseqent years was a good dose of ecclesiastical McCarthyism.

It seems to me now that the IJ and Last Generation theology go hand and hand. Reject one and you reject the other. Kevin Paulson will probably agree that I am right on that point. @kevindpaulson Beyond that he and I are poles apart.

It now appears to me that Des Ford breathed new life into proclaiming the everlasting gospel, that his opposition was bent on preserving othodoxy at all costs and keeping the church grounded in legalistic perfectionism. The spiritual carnage of the body count of those who left the church rather than be sufficated with LGT is heart breaking. @GeorgeTichy


Ultimately, the church’s only concern is to maintain itself. It’s highest priority is to survive, intact. Those who were moved by Des Ford’s revival of the “gospel” are more interested in what the Bible actually says about salvation and the gospel Jesus came to establish. If the SDA concepts don’t measure up, then they are not worth keeping. After all, the Bible wasn’t written to uphold Adventism per se. If Adventism properly upholds the gospel - fine; if it doesn’t, on closer inspection, it needs to own its mistakes and move on - or die. All Ford did was to investigate the “investigative judgment” and found it wanting.

There are still people who see the truth of what Ford brought out, but they want to incorporate it into the existing SDA paradigm - but it doesn’t work. Either salvation is through grace, based on faith, PLUS NOTHING; or its grace PLUS PERFECTION - in which case salvation is payment for correct behavior. Can’t have it both ways.


The Protestant Commentators of William Miller’s era unanimously taught that Daniel 8:14 was fulfilled when Judas Maccabees reclaimed the “defiled” Jewish Temple from the Greeks, and restored proper Jewish liturgy and practices. They unanimously argued that Jesus’s celebration of Hanukkah in John 10:22-23 confirmed that the 2300 “days” prophecy was fulfilled long before the birth of Christ.

Yet William Miller repeatedly argued publicly, repeatedly, and vehemently that ALL of the Protestant commentators supported his “day-year principle!” He recklessly pulled this stunt, to shore up his severely-damaged credibility, in response to Protestant preachers denouncing his sinful and disobedient day-setting from the pulpits.

This is the real foundation of Adventism; the Adventist Sanctuary Doctrine; the “Spirit of Prophecy” doctrine; The “Remnant Church” Doctrine; the Great Disappointment; and the Investigative Judgment Doctrine.


Thank you Carmen for these comments - I entirely agree. For many years I have suggested to some in authority in the ‘down under’ where I live, that an apology should be made to Des Ford before his life ends. He has been treated poorly and it is shameful for our church to continue their refusal to acknowledge that great hurt has been done and to at least say sorry. Fortunately Des Ford has blessed thousands and his life of utter devotion to truth will continue to inspire us, despite the church administrators who have disappointed us in their refusal to apologise for their shameful treatment to this man. I thank God that I have been privileged to hear, read and be blessed by Des Ford who points me to Jesus as the Saviour of us all.


I find it interesting that Ford claims in this new book that one’s understanding of the judgment is the premise upon which one establishes an understanding of the gospel. The evidence from Ford’s own career, along with the following statement by his wife Gillian in the Fords’ recent book For the Sake of the Gospel, would seem to indicate the reverse is true:

“It was Ford’s emphasis on righteousness by faith that led him to see the necessity for reinterpretation of the SDA scheme of prophecy” (For the Sake of the Gospel, p. 153).

Despite the claims of the Fords and their fellow travelers, classic Adventist theology regarding both the gospel and the judgment is not based on an elevation of Ellen White over Scripture. Rather, it is grounded in a reliance on the Biblical consensus as the foundation of one’s view of both salvation and the divine standard for judgment. (This in contrast to Ford’s frank acknowledgement at the 1976 Palmdale Conference and elsewhere that his own understanding of the gospel was based largely on the elevation of Romans 3-5 as the final word on Biblical salvation theology, rather than permitting the whole of Scripture to define the parameters and means of salvation.) The writings of such SDA luminaries as Stephen Haskell and M.L. Andreasen regarding both the gospel and the judgment—writings replete with Bible references and very few Ellen White statements—bear witness to the solid Biblical basis of the gospel and judgment theology Ford and Co. reject.

Those interested can still write me privately and obtain a copy of my paper, “1844: Embattled Yet Enduring,” which addresses Ford’s challenges to the classic Adventist sanctuary doctrine and the Biblical basis on which numerous Adventists still embrace this doctrine and reject the challenges of its critics.


Joy, if there was one SPD church leader who would be expected to lead that process of apology, it would have been Barry Oliver. why do you think he didn’t?


'Ford saw the fear caused by the notion of a heavenly investigation into the deeds of every human being, preceding the close of probation and the Second Advent. The doctrine, Ford observed, caused many Adventists to question their standing with God, and to doubt whether they were fit to be saved. For Ford, this uncertainty was incompatible with the Gospel."

I agree that the iJ has caused many to fear for their salvation. But I think that most Adventists misinterpreted the IJ and have failed to see its profound beauty. It is a wonderful doctrine.

First, “We will all appear before the judgement seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.” 2 Corinthians 5:10

Now that seems really bad news, yet there is is, right in the middle of a bona fide letter of Paul, the champion of righteousness by faith. How could he say we have hope, if this is the case?

But the IJ helps ameliorate the fear that that text engenders. To blame the IJ because you are worried about the judgement is not thinking. The judgement is going to happen whether there is an IJ or not. Paul teaches it clearly.

So how does the IJ ameliorate the fear of that judgement?

Our names are not removed from the book of life until they come up, no matter what we have done in the mean time.

I have accepted Jesus, so my name is written in the Book of Life (Luke 10:20) as are all those here on Spectrum who have accepted Jesus at some time. All of you, believers or those who have left the church. Your names are still on the Book that matters.

But we know that names can be blotted out of the Book of Life. Rev 3:5.

But our belief in the IJ says that the blotting out does not occur until our names come up in judgement, and we are certainly not there yet, though close.

So, everyone who has accepted Jesus has his/her name in the books, and they remain there even though we slip each day and do not live up to the light we know or even reject Jesus. We are still there.

Now that is encouraging news rather than discouraging, and I can go to God on the basis that he loves me and that my name is in his book. My name is in the Book!!

But, a day will come when I must appear before the judgment seat, as Paul says, to be judged for the deeds done in the body (it will happen whether I believe in the IJ or not). I want Jesus covering at that time.

But the doctrine of the IJ does not take from Christ’s ministry, but just explains it in detail.

So, as usual, a correct doctrine gives hope and peace and boldness to come to the throne of grace. It is a wonderful revelation


Steve, the Investigative Judgement teaching embraced by the Adventist Millerites and endorsed by our prophet Mrs. Ellen G. White will never be erased and thrown into the the rubbish heap of un-biblical doctrines.

The IJ was affirmed by our Prophet. To denigrate this teaching is to bring into question the validity of EGW prophetic ministry, and the birth of the SDA Church as a prophetic church raised up to preach a peculiar message in 1844. What will be the impact of a review of this doctrine and its impact on our message? How will the sheeple respond? If we want to keep our church intact it is wise to leave this issue alone for the greater unity of the church. Eighteen million sheep, billion dollar business, we can’t afford to lose this.

Is this what it’s all about? If so, a baptismal certificate should be presented along with a voucher for a lobotomy.


The Worldwide Church Of God went through this type of upheaval. After Herbert Armstrong died, their leaders, including his own son, had the courage to look at teachings of the church that they believed were unbiblical, and against the gospel of grace. After intense study, they publicly shared their convictions, and called for the church to move in a different direction, according to the truth of the gospel.

Their action caused a huge fallout, and a splitting apart of the denomination. But, today, instead of maintaining united ranks as a cult, they are a Christ centered, gospel centered church.

Jesus caused this kind of fallout amongst his followers…see John 6. In the end, billions of dollars, and even church unity are not the ultimate criteria, if what we believe is built on doctrinal sand. And, if not, truth should not be afraid to be investigated.




This historical report has been very painful to read. Quite apart from the theological issue… Just imagine these words were spoken in a Roman Catholic context - what would we suggest?

“It does not give latitude to create doubts, to undermine faith, or to muffle the message of this church.” (NCW)
“you are not only to be silent on certain things; you have a message to proclaim to the world.” (NCW)
Some of our theologians are hotbeds of doubt.” (Blehm)
One further small step is needed, I think. You should add, “I stand by the position of the church; I am committed to it.” (NCW)
We’ve got to forget our suspicion of administrators.” (Blehm) …
PREXAD recommended that Ford be given the chance to withdraw from Adventist ministry voluntarily, or if not, to be relieved of his position and credentials by the Australasian Division.
Recant, or …” (ah, that actually was the RC church … but for all practical purposes - where is the difference?)

Now, I am not naive to assume a church should accept any kind of teaching. Paul himself talked of “an other gospel” … using the term anathema. Strangely enough that approach was and is not used on “an other” gospel (for which there are plenty of examples in our church), but on a point with some historical significance (to deal with the great disappointment), but little relevance for our daily Christian life - at least not if we have accepted the gospel.


i think this fear issue is a juvenile reaction…i haven’t seen, nor have i known, rational adults obsessed with it…wherever the church was 40 of 50 yrs ago, at this point no-one loses sleep over the investigative judgement…for the most part, i think people who understand and believe in it see it as an opportunity to be vindicated from the claims and accusations of satan, as portrayed in zechariah 3:1-7…they know and accept that the righteousness of christ, imputed to them when they comply with the stated conditions, zechariah 3:7, clears their record of anything out of harmony with god…so the sanctuary records of their sins and shortcomings are being cleansed, yes…but the investigative judgement is really about the vindication of god’s people and their ultimate triumph over satan, based on the all-sufficiency of the righteousness of christ…people really are trusting in the righteousness of christ to save them…they aren’t depending on their own good works…

i feel a bit sorry for desmond ford, actually…i think his obvious fascination with the reformation may have led him to think he was spear-heading some grand new way of looking at things, like another martin luther, at the 1979 forum at PUC, and especially at glacier view…but time has shown that the heart of the people isn’t with him…his demotion of egw to pastoral status - the one thing most people have understood, if they understood anything about glacier view - hasn’t caught on…i think it’s this point that’s particularly revealing: people who believe in egw believe in her more than ever…in fact i think she’s now achieved biblical status, for all practical intents and purposes, not only with people inside the church, but with many independent ministries…meanwhile ford is, well, in australia…the average person in the church has moved on…many younger people haven’t even heard of him…


The issues are psychological. A forensic view of our relationship with God splits us off from our feelings, our bodies, our sexuality and nature, and therefore all possibility of creativity.

Or perhaps, being cut off from our feelings, our bodies, our sexuality and nature spawns tedious mental religions like Adventism, which seems like a complex collective neurosis to me.

I’ve read that Desmond Ford believes explicitly in original sin.

The only answer for that is magic salvation from the God nobody wants to say is going to burn us alive, in some fashion, if we don’t love Him back.

Is that a happy scenario? Is that God morally comprehensible in any sense?

And is that view any less disempowering than believing one has to perfect oneself “in Jesus” to avoid being burned alive?

The whole SDA undertaking is paradoxically built on one or the other of these dismal premises, neither of which will ever achieve lift-off. Both are psychologically imprisoning and developmentally disabling, it seems to me.

Bottom line, I think better of God.

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I think the “fires of hell,” are symbolic of mental anguish. Jesus said people will weep and
gnash their teeth when they see others saved while they are lost. Luke 13:28.

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Very unfortunate events and present situation in our church. Both sides had and have right points and wrong points. Ford was and is wrong in that there most certainly is an investigative judgement. The official church position is wrong in that the judgement is not about what they say it is about. Regarding the question as to whether or not there is a judgement that takes place during the anti-typical day of atonement, one need only look to the typical day of atonement and find there what judgement was made. Regarding the typical day of atonement God states that on that day every Israelite must afflict their souls. On this day God’s people were commanded to humble themselves before Him, afflict their souls, confess their sins, for which the high priest was on that day making atonement. God further stated that the person that did not afflict their soul would be cut off from the nation. This requires a judgement to be made. And who alone can judge whether or not a man has afflicted his soul? God. So we see that there most certainly is a judgement that takes place on the Day of Atonement. God judges the hearts of men. This judgement in no way diminishes one’s assurance of salvation. Have you humbled yourself before God and afflicted your soul on this anti-typical Day of Atonement? If so, then your salvation is certain. This corresponds perfectly with an accurate understanding of the truth of the gospel, which is that Christ died to pay for all your sins and to cleanse you from all unrighteousness, and what remains for you to do is receive the Light that He shines in your heart and walk in it! Have you humbled yourself to the truth that He has shone in your heart? Have you confessed and repented of the sins His Spirit has brought to your attention? Have obeyed the Light when it said to you "this is the way, walk in it? Then you have nothing to fear and Christ and an eternity to gain!


Thank you for this summation Dr. Ford. I’m sure that you have been a blessing to many over the years. I think that well known literary quote sums it all up: "There are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamed of in [Adventist] philosophy. Rene G.


So insightful and persuasive. Without doubt, this is the heart of the matter. So the questions are: If the concept of the “remnant” is not limited to Adventism, what characteristics define this community, if any? If our distinctiveness can be separated from the notion of the “remnant,” do (can) we not possess it on other grounds than the Sanctuary doctrine?

Finally, I would submit that as long as we cling to the doctrine of “inspiration” supported by the most fundamentalist groups in American religion (a view never held in historic Christianity or early Adventism) and refuse to embrace something more faithful to both the rise of Scripture and the work of Ellen White, we will continue these nonsensical battles over WO and the meaning of apocalyptic prophecies. A house so divided against itself cannot stand.