Editorial: The Cancer We Must Defeat

Looks like you don’t understand Adventism.

“As a people we are certainly in great danger, if we are not constantly guarded, of considering our ideas, because long cherished, to be Bible doctrines and on every point infallible, and measuring everyone by the rule of our interpretation of Bible truth. This is our danger, and this would be the greatest evil that could ever come to us as a people.”
—Ellen White, 1888 Materials, p830 (emphasis supplied).


Hi Chuck,
The way it was explained to me is that if an employee (theologians and administrators would be taken more seriously than average pastors or retired personnel) has a theological concern or suggestion, it should not be discussed openly, but submitted to the BRI for consideration. That is supposed to be one of their functions. Then if the idea makes it through a bunch of committees, it will finally end up on the GC Session floor for official adoption by a majority (usually rubber stamp) vote. Whether or not that should be the official process is another matter entirely, but those who do not follow protocol may face adverse consequences.

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I think someone may have written a book about that, called “Adventists: A Dinosaur’s View”.


So you think the Seventh-day Adventist Church with its current doctrines is analogous to slavery? I’ve noticed that a lot of Spectrumites feel that way. But the SDA Church is an entirely voluntary organization. No one has to be enslaved. All are free to leave at any time. Many Spectrumites have left, and check in here only for constant re-affirmation that they made the right choice in leaving.

The problem with you, Chuck, is that you will not leave. Instead, you want to re-make the SDA Church in your own image as a liberal church. (It’s this implacable totalitarianism of “liberals” that really bothers me; “liberals” cannot abide that one single, solitary conservative institution shall exist anywhere on earth. It must be liberalized, and it gnaws at you until it is.)

But I don’t want the Seventh-day Adventist Church to become just another liberal church, which are already legion. I want the SDA Church to retain its high view of Scripture and the prophetic authority of Ellen White. So we are bound to be adversaries, you and I, and that cannot be solved with a popcorn social.

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Two points, David:

You are right I will not leave.

As to “implacable totalitarianism,” let me just say that I would welcome you into the congregation where I worship. The only thing that would stymie that welcome would be agitation, by you, to get me thrown out. I want to belong to a church in which many points of view get heard. We need each other’s wisdom.



.[quote=“dcread, post:21, topic:11710, full:true”]
We conservatives (do you really speak for conservatives?) purported fellow Adventists …
strike us (Is this also you and the churchmouse in your pocket, or,again, are you the voice of all conservatives) as loving, helpful, or constructive, but as corrosive, vandalistic and destructive.
I view liberalism as the universal acid that ultimately corrodes and destroys every human institution.

Aside from the global language he ends with, I must caution the honorable Mr Read, (once) Esquire,
that acids, without base are sour. A base without acid is bitter.

The analogy may contain some irony.

They neutralize each other-an unbuffered base is no less corrosive. Further, no less corrosive than your comments such as “purported adventists” and “settled doctrine”, “corrosive, vandalistic, destructive”

In fact, the acid is a generous proton donor, whereas a base is a proton thief. A church full of proton thieves is a quite base place, one I would prefer to not usurp my church, Your animus is clear, but be aware, to purge “your” church of “acid” will cause it to eat itself and destroy the container it is in.

Praise God he has a buffer for the bitter, as much as he has honey for the sour.
Pray that God’s church begins to be the buffer that stands in the breach.
I wonder if this is what the Great Alchemist desires, and is waiting ever so long, for us to do?


Would you really like to know why you are so certain that this adversarial “cannot be solved with a popcorn social?” It is because the conflict lies within you and that your perception of the “liberal church” is but a vehicle to carry your heavy weight. David, it is truly time to heed Matthew 11:28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”


So if I want to uphold the SDA Church Manual, which provides for discipline because of “denial of faith in the fundamentals of the gospel and in the fundamental beliefs of the Church or teaching doctrines contrary to the same” (p. 61), then I would not be welcome into any congregation where you worship? So your tolerance extends only to people who will not try to stop you while you pursue your goal of totally transforming the SDA Church into something unrecognizable and horrifying to conservatives? I see. And yet you pretend to be more tolerant than I am. Tsk tsk.

You are one angry dude and have no insight on how that cancels any claim to being a true Adventist.


Actually you’re not wrong here. The SDA church of today in many places, is totally unrecognisable from traditional Adventism, and it must hurt you to see the modern church completely eclipsing the orthodox SDA belief structures and worship format.

I do feel however that many of your comments are motivated by bitterness, anger and vindictiveness, rather than self-expression and love, David. The good thing is that it’s God’s problem, not yours. Lean on the everlasting arms of Jesus, David. It is in His hands and He will guide you in love towards the changes that you can inact. - His perfect will prevails, that is your blessed assurance.

Let the load off your shoulders!


I would like to weigh in on this issue, and while I am not a high-profile church figure, neither much-admired nor widely known, I am a junior professor at a well-known (and much maligned) denominational university. I post here occasionally, limiting myself to commenting on topics in my area of expertise, as well as making occasional points of order if I feel terms or concepts are being used contrary to their accepted sense or meaning. My personal opinions on issues I generally keep to myself.

While I can not speak for officials in Silver Spring, or even for all colleagues at my own institution, I will say that I believe the perceived silence on many issues is born primarily of fear. It would be wonderful to have the ability to comment freely on the proposition that the author suggested, but many of us know that we are not free to do so without being subjected to many dangers. There are many accounts of jobs lost and careers and reputations damaged or destroyed when one is found on the wrong side of a hot issue; I have only to point to the recent history of my own institution for confirmation.

I can recall a poster here at Spectrum declaring me unfit for denominational employment due to a perceived lack of orthodoxy in my field, gleaned somehow despite the formal and prosaic tone I affect when posting here precisely to avoid such confrontations. Many of us have devoted our lives and careers toward serving the church we love and believe in, but so often the vitriolic tone and lack of an environment of openly working through difficult issues causes us to stay silent. We would love nothing better than to have open and public discussions on any number of topics spiritual, societal, rhetorical, etc. But to do so when there are those who sift every word spoken or written and seem to be self-nominated prophets with the mission of purging the church of unorthodoxy (a constantly-evolving process), it is no wonder that few are volunteering to paint such a target on their own back.

This may be framed by some as cowardice, but many of us do not have the time or energy to engage in what too often is a negative-sum game. We have important work to do in the service of the church, and as Nehemiah said to Sanballat and Geshem, “I am doing a great work and I cannot come down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and come down to you?”

If only this were not so.




David Read,

Your language suggests an attitude remarkably similar to that displayed by the Inquisition. I suppose Chuck Scriven can at least be thankful that should you show up in his church armed with the Church Manual and mount an effort to disfellowship him, this won’t be followed up with a bonfire with him strapped to a stake in the middle!

Are you aware that mid-19th century SDA’s were extremely resistant to this sort of thing–to the point of resisting creeds and voting at the GC to require a 2/3 vote of ALL MEMBERS of a congregation (not just those present at the meeting) in order to disfellowship a member? This is because they had experienced first-hand the attitude you are describing at the hands of the churches that threw them out in the months leading up to Oct. 22, 1844, and they didn’t want that attitude to rule in their new denomination.

We’ve come a long way since then, with essentially a creed and church discipline meted out by a minority of church membership; if you are truly conservative, why don’t you examine why we have departed from the old ways of Adventism to the point where a few voices can destroy an individual’s affiliation with the church? If you were truly conservative, you’d find that Scriven’s view is closer to the view of the church held by the pioneers than yours is. So maybe you shouldn’t just focus on specific doctrines, but also on human and organizational aspects of the church, and apply your conservative instincts there.

Timo–are you a pH-D? :slight_smile:


As a retired church employee, though not a high profile one, I will put my 2 cats in.

Chuck says, "Why won’t any of the [quote=“spectrumbot, post:1, topic:11710”]
person(s) known far and wide in Adventist circles
[/quote] play marble with me?

And then there is an effort to ferret out the motive for such behavior:

  1. [quote=“spectrumbot, post:1, topic:11710”]
    a denominational employee, couldn’t accept because he was forbidden (!

  2. [quote=“spectrumbot, post:1, topic:11710”]
    Either people are afraid to comment, or they just don’t want to

  3. [quote=“spectrumbot, post:1, topic:11710”]
    it’s about distaste for the point of view I represent; or say that people like me are a tiny band, without much relevance

  4. [quote=“spectrumbot, post:1, topic:11710”]
    the sound of silence shows our inability “to love each other.”

  5. [quote=“spectrumbot, post:1, topic:11710”]
    we put up with a culture of fear that disables honest conversation, we are failing at what matters most of all.

I have enjoyed commenting here, from a conservative perspective, but I don’t think any of the above reasons really show why there is not more conversation.

A. it is hard to be a conservative on this site. I remember when I first started: how intimidating it was. There is really no sympathy for a conservative veiwpoint, just mostly attacks. After a while, you just say, well, that i enough, I am weary, and you stop (though positing here can be addicting). But show me one conservative who posts here regularly that has not decided to cease. I don’t post much, Birder is gone, etc.
B. Accept for 3 above, all the reasons for not posting are placed on the ones outside, rather than examining the site itself to see why no conservatives come here. Might be well to look at that.
C. Your proposed discussion statements were terrible. They assume that since we know that polygamy and slavery etc. are bad that we have to just get over the Bible, and substitute our higher morality. They are just too stark and liberal. How about, “How does the Bible’s allowance for polygamy fit into God’s plan for humanity?” That is a much more neutral question. Your questions show an antagonism for the conservative view, sort of throwing down a gauntlet. I would not want to participate in such, just too emotionally exhausting.

Most conservatives know what you think. Your articles are provocative, and edgy. The church teachers and leaders know what it is like to get on here, as Cliff has done it, and it is not a pleasant sight. He is a bit edgy himself. But why torture yourself? I like the repartee of having my ideas challenged, for it makes me better to defend myself in the most diffusely situations. But most clearly do not want to do it.

Probably better to spend time elsewhere.

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Charles, I think recent events answer your questions. The reason you were confronted by the sound of silence at the GC during your recent conference is because the GC was preparing for war.



It is so obvious that you have fear and are intimidated by something other than your own ideal of Adventism. You always sound bitter, grumpy, closed, with lots of antipathy. I pray for your soul.


Chuck, perhaps you are making a category error–one that is not personal to you, but is habitual in Adventism?

I became sensitized to this when my friend David Koresh sat at my dining room table, Bible in hand, and I gradually became aware, and horrified, that he was personally writing himself, and his group, into the Bible.

Perhaps it’s just me, but it seems to me that a person with adequate mental and emotional clarity is never going to make that mistake.

Looking in the Bible and finding one’s institutional denomination, while a long-standing, seemingly unexamined, habit of Adventists, is a habit that suggests psychological inflation/compensation to me, and a habit that perhaps could not bear searching scrutiny.

I imagine that if all Adventists became as loving as you hope they will become, all “we-are-the-Remnant” talk would cease, because people that secure in their position abiding in Christ would cease to be attracted to such labels.

We don’t become loving to “defeat a cancer” among us.

Christ was perfectly loving. He wept over Jerusalem. He said, “Look, your house is left unto you desolate.”

And He was crucified, silenced in the most brutal way. Did He fail?

Did He expect to win over the Sanhedrin, or was He called for the lost sheep of the House of Israel?

Back to the category error idea:

These arguments are fallacious in part due to the existence of emergent phenomena - that higher order properties may just “emerge” from the fact there many individual components working together.

Is it possible that we as Adventists have “seized the archetype” of The Remnant, and that that is analogous to grabbing a 220v bare wire? It certainly seems so for my friend, David Koresh.

Perhaps The Remnant is an emergent property of many people’s spiritual experiences over long periods of time?

Is there any reason at all to suppose that the institutional Seventh-day Adventist Church :registered: has any sort of exclusive claim to what is essentially an emergent phenomenon?

The Jewish hierarchy crucified the Jewish Christ.


The earth brings forth fruit of herself.


It is disingenuous for Spectrum to publish an article decrying silence when silence is exactly what it encourages.
I’m fairly “liberal” by the standards of most but I stopped commenting when the author of an article could respond to my comments but those his response couldn’t be addressed. What were previously discussions began to resemble statements from opponents.
If discussion is limited, full understandings of concepts will always be stunted.
If Spectrum cares about people talking, it will give them a format with which they can do so. Promote discussion by allowing the threads too look like real discussions and require that everyone have respect for the views and beliefs of others.