George Knight Talks About Trying to Slow Ted Wilson's Crusade

George Knight's new book about church authority and its history in the Seventh-day Adventist church, seen in the context of our church's present disagreement over allowing the ordination of women, has been causing major waves. His paper Catholic or Adventist: the Ongoing Struggle over Unity + 9.5 Theses, originally presented at the Unity Conference in London, has been published and shared on the Spectrum site, and we have also published history professor Doug Morgan's extensive review of Knight's book. Here Knight answers questions about his book, explaining Ellen White's views on unity and church authority and how Ted Wilson is basically on a one-man crusade.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

Jay Galimore’s banning of your books was a sure fire way to making them BLOCKBUSTER BEST SELLERS.

You owe Gallimore a debt of gratitude for all the free publicity/promotion/press you received through his act of animosity !

With people’s curiosity piqued by the banning ( something forbidden always becomes more desirable ) I am hopeful that your new book’s sales will soar.

Let us hope that Ted Wilson will also denounce your book. ----it will be an absolute affirmation that your book is worth buying !!



Congratulations on your book! I appreciated its confident tone, though I must confess that Douglas Morgan’s review nuances some of your major arguments in very helpful ways.

However, I am allergic to talk of clergypeople in the Adventist context as you do in your article above! I am not certain that this is a term used by Adventists much in Australia and New Zealand and I object to it because to my ears the term implies that those belonging to a special class of individuals have been honoured with a special indelible mark and an imagined resulting superior status. Adventists certainly do not believe that.

And to name Ellen White as a clergyperson, as you do, seems to me to be an oxymoron given all that she wrote about the collegiality and priesthood of all believers. I believe that Adventists are anti-clerical in the best sense of the term! Much like the Salvation Army movement! From the very earliest times Salvationists “imagine themselves to be about mass mobilization in which there was no distinction between clergy and laity, and no ordination or priestly caste.” (words taken from an Australian Broadcasting Commission program Earshot from 6/15/2016). As I understand it, Adventists are aiming for a Total Member Involvement in which like the salvos there is no two tiered ecclesiology, and in which every member is involved in fulfiling the mission and ministry of Christ, according to their gifting and calling. But the universal duty of serving and ministering to others, with a wide differentiation of functions can so easily be forgotten in the pursuit of status. The fellowship of all believers, and indeed the collegiality of all believers and thus the equality of all may easily give way and instead we may adopt a model in which the collegiality of a special ministry is paramount, and even the belief that one of them is first among equals.

The Salvos embraced the following two principles to counter such a process, through much of their history. Yet these principles may in recent years have begun to erode.

Principle One - The absolute equality of genders in ministry. An Australian woman served as Salvation Army General [equivalent to GC President] in recent years.

Principle Two - A rejection of the distinction between clergy and laity, while at the same time embracing the concept of full-time commissioned leaders and a volunteer non-commissioned soldiery. This rejection is made more difficult by the embrace of the practice of ordaining individuals at the time of commissioning, which has happened since 1978, albeit not with the laying on of hands.

These two principles have tended up until recent times to preserve the Salvation Army movement from an almost inevitable drift toward status seeking which may happen either by relegating one gender status to an inferior status or by seeking to exchange the collegiality of all believers for a two tired ecclesiology of clergy and laity.

Policy development that serves to re-establish these two principles of Adventist theology in its polity and policy is sorely needed. Perhaps one way to do this would be to credential our elders and deacons deaconesses, as well as our salaried leaders!


Spot on Robert! Well said! I am only sad that George Knight himself seems not to understand this!

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George Knight and Alonzo Jones may have more in common than not.

Re Principle Two-
In a presentation at the 1980 GC, Dr. G. Oosterwal talked about the role of Laity and role of the Pastor. The key point that he made, was that the Pastor is part of the Laity in the Adventist body of believers, and that as Pastor, they are fulfilling their gift to the church. We each as Laity have our own role to play. The role of Pastor/priest in the Catholic body separated the leadership from the laity and we need to understand the difference. This probably has a lot to do with our misunderstanding and why we cannot deal with “commissioning” and “ordination”.

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“The role of Pastor/priest in the Catholic body separated the leadership from the laity and we need to understand the difference.”

For all practical intents and purposes, Adventism has the same system. “Pastors” are very much a separate entity unto themselves and lay Adventists don’t regard them as “laity”. Pastors have their own special schools (seminaries), special status within Adventism, special retreats and organization, their own publications. The only difference from the Catholics is that they are allowed (even expected) to marry.

“This probably has a lot to do with our misunderstanding and why we cannot deal with “commissioning” and “ordination”.”
I think that the issue is that there is no misunderstanding at all.


“As Ellen White says in The Great Controversy, page 289-290 [in discussing the beginnings of the Church of England]:

“The very beginning of the great apostasy was in seeking to supplement the authority of God by that of the church. Rome began by enjoining what God had not forbidden, and she ended by forbidding what He had explicitly enjoined.” …”

My Comment: How accurate description of what our church has been doing. We forbid Women’s ordination–which is not forbidden in the Bible–, but allow and participate in the abortion genocide–something that is forbidden in the Decalogue…


I find George Knight’s view of Ted Wilson to be generous in the extreme. “I am sure that Ted Wilson is sincere in his belief…”

  • What if I could could show without question, that this view of Ted is not only generous, but completely out of harmony with Ted’s actions? That is to say it directly, Ted Wilson is insincere.

  • What if in addition to being able to show – again without reasonable doubt – that Ted Wilson is in direct violation of the plainest statements in the SDA church manual? Would that be insincerity? Or would it be worse?

  • What if I could show, again without reasonable doubt, Ted Wilson is in direct violation of God’s law? Would the SDA church follow Matt.18? If they were to follow Matt.18, how would that be administered? Practically now. How? And if Ted Wilson were to reject the “counsel of the brethren” and insist on pursuing business as usual with regard to women’s ordination “enforcement of the votes” what is the next practical step in Matt.18?

  • There should be no question, that even if it were shown without any shadow of doubt that all of the above were true, the majority in the Adventist faith would stand solidly behind Ted Wilson. Why would the majority side with Ted Wilson instead of what is stated plainly above? Simple, Ted Wilson was elected based on popular vote. He was not elected president because he spoke the truth in love.

Notice the careful choice of words, what if. But then I wrote the last bullet. In essence I said, none of that matters. I said, Ted Wilson would still be honored, respected and president of the General Conference of SDA. Many would like to take me to task. And some may dare to take me to task for making the above statements without offering evidence for them. I suggest that any such effort would result in extreme embarrassment of those who would seek to “correct my errors.”

Why would there be extreme embarrassment? Is it possible, that there is evidence for those statements? I reread them just now. They are very bold, but then I said it doesn’t matter if the first three statements are correct or not. Do you think I didn’t read and reread that fourth bullet? Maybe you are tempted to say, Roger is not thinking about reality. Short version, Roger is insane.

It doesn’t matter because the election and following of Ted Wilson is not now and never has been based on anything other than his popularity. And if his position is secure based on popularity, then what is all this talk about “the Bible and the Bible only?” Maybe some of you have been under a rock. Or worse, thinking that most of the church believed as they do that our Advent faith is rational and evidence based?

Notice carefully the words… “what if”… “based on popularity” … “still believe our faith is rational and evidence based.”

If you doubt that I can do items 1, 2 and 3, contact me directly. But you should pay even more attention to bullet 4. I have watched carefully for many years. I have seen clearly the evolution of the church views and administration since the early 50s. I remember clearly in 1961 sitting in a large SDA university auditorium and the speaker presented the evolutionary path of all church organizations. I didn’t like the last state of the organization he said was thoroughly established by historical facts. I asked the speaker directly, where is the SDA church organization in you evolutionary path?

As clearly as if were yesterday, I remember his response. The SDA church is in the last and final stage. Frankly, I was shocked. But I also affirm, I began to look for evidence that either supported or struck down his words. Evey one of his words were validated in the early 1970s. Since then, there has been almost no substantive change. Ted Wilson validates that speakers words. The speaker was a Seventh-day Adventist minister. He was not speaking against the Adventist faith, the organization and certainly not against Ted Wilson. Ted had not even graduated from the academy.

In spite of bullets 1 through 3, I am not writing in condemnation of Ted Wilson. I see no value in that. I see no value even if I am 100% correct. The reason why is plain and simple physics. Facts and data. This is the path of all organizations. And if it is the evolutionary path of all organizations, what is the chance that anything I can do or say would change the trajectory of the Adventist church?

Frankly, to every human eye it should be obvious, give up Roger. There is no chance for avoiding “physics.” You cannot change the path of organizational evolution.

That is if I saw and believed “strictly as a human eye sees.” I do not. I believe in Christ. I believe in the irrational acts that lead Christ to Calvary. And because I love my brother Christ, I chose to believe in what is to human reason “not possible.” To say it directly, Christ changed the world forever on Calvary. Do you dare think Christ cannot do it again? In fact, I have direct evidence of that in the lives of those around me today. “Love conquers all.” Don’t you dare say to me, love is powerless in the face of all I wrote above. I will rub your face in facts and data. Facts and data in real peoples lives. These are real people who walk with me daily.

If my brother Christ did it once, He can do it again. He will do it again. Love is not the most powerful force on earth. Love is the way God conducts all relationships. And if that is true, then God, by the power of love will change the entire universe. “Sin will not rise again.” Isn’t that what is predicted as the end point in the great controversy? Do you dare think my brother Christ is unconcerned about me today? The Advent faith today? Is my brother Christ unconcerned about Ted Wilson?

I suggest a simple plan. Offer Ted Wilson your outstretched arms in love.

It seems, given the above excerpts from the article, that it is indeed fair to compare the modern Adventist movement to that of Roman Catholicism: albeit, it is a vocal minority of the church membership that should bring on the comparison. They are starting just where the Roman Catholics did–by enjoining that which Scripture has not forbidden.

“We had to destroy the village to save the village.” This was the paradoxical strategy and tactics that was used by the U.S. government in the Vietnam War when I was an undergraduate at Andrews University. This was the phrase that jumped to mind when I first read about the leadership’s tactics to “resolving” the issue of women’s ordination. “We had to split the church to save the unity of the church.” Ted Wilson was the Treasurer of the Student Association at Andrews University the year I was S. A. President. I thought he had better judgment then.

Levterov, Theodore N. 2015. The Development of the Seventh-day Adventist Understanding of Ellen G. White’s Prophetic Gift, 1844-1889. New York: Peter Lang published a book including arguments against EGW’s gift that included all the current arguments against the ordination of women.

Cameron, Euan. 2001. Waldenses: Rejections of Holy Church in Medieval Europe. 1st. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell documents Knight’s thesis about the Catholic Church and authority. The Catholic hierarchy did not want Waldensian laymen preaching or teaching. The Waldenses did not dispute the Sabbath with the Papacy; they disputed the monopoly of the hierarchy on power.


No, it’s not. The Biblical response to causing a miscarriage is not the same as it is for manslaughter or murder. Look it up.

It seems part of an unavoidable evolutionary process ie once a church is old enough, schism follows as of course.