Inspiration and Humanism

During the 2021 Annual Council meetings, General Conference President Ted Wilson tweeted the following excerpts from his Sabbath morning sermon:


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/11792
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We are limiting the power of the Holy Spirit, squabbling about wording. “Truth” is always in the “eye of the beholder”; and is based on the unique personality and history of the Christian. Obviously, if we are tying the moniker “Christian” to our identity, then there needs to be some commonality among those who call themselves CHRISTIAN. That, it seems, is the objective part of the belief system; however, that belief needs to be more than a mental assent to a set of statements from a common source. Even if that source is a Bible, there are many versions of the Bible; so the agreement can’t be in the words and sentences themselves, but in a common faith they produce. Ultimately, the faith can’t be in the source (medium), but in the spirit it conveys. Too often we tie our entire faith system to certain wording and the people that bring us the objective information - the church.

Adventist have a particular problem in differentiating between faith in what the Bible says - and who says what it says. Wording, other than what we’re used to, isn’t accepted, as if the words themselves have some spiritual value. Quite often, it’s difficult to remember if a phrase comes from the Bible of Ellen White. If the meaning is the same then it shouldn’t really matter, but too often the paraphrase is tied to some particular belief that is an interpretation, rather than a straight forward synonymous statement. A good example of that - whenever the “commandments of God” shows up, the SDA assumption is to focus on just the fourth commandment, as if, the other nine don’t matter, or are assumed to be “no problem” for Adventists, so why say more about them.

We have made the “faith base” too wide in Adventism, leaving little room for HS to direct each believer in their unique direction. We have come to call that “cookie-cutter” Christianity. Uniformity is not the same as unity - (not an original observation).

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William,

This is a very timely and hugely important message we need now so we able to continue to deliver “Present Truth”.

As you point out denying the human element of the Bible writers in the crafting of the message they wrote is a great disservice and makes a mockery of the Bibles central themes. God works with people where they are at and he reveals himself in a progressive manner. Jesus told his disciples that there were many things he wanted to tell them but they were not ready.

When church leaders deny the humanity of authors of the Bible they build within the membership a false impression of how God works. Saying that the Bible was written by automatons in order to establish credibility is very dangerous and sets the stage for many evils to follow as history has shown us.

Thank you for this very well thought out message.

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This is spot on and I wish our institutional theologians were more inclusive of colleagues who differ from their hermeneutical perspective.

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As a former SDA, I have little interest in Ted Wilson’s view on humanism.

However, as a human, I’m fascinated by truth claims as I find the assertion that all human truths are subjective-and thus less than objective or absolute-to be irrefutable.

That is, given the limitations of human language, knowledge and intellect, each of us would do well to understand and admit that all of our “conclusions” are temporary, conditional and incomplete.

This lack of finality and foundational uncertainty must, to my mind, also apply to any claim to human inspiration and/or revelation.

For example, the supposedly inspired prediction that “men would run to and fro” is an open ended statement that doesn’t include any specific mention of cruise ships as big as towns, cars as fast as rockets, or rocket ships that would fly beyond the limits of our solar system.

Similarly, whatever “truths” one finds in the Bible, EGW or any other book are not to be taken literally or considered “best and final”, given that we cannot be sure we were on the same wavelength as the write and can only believe but never prove, that any particular prophecy has been fulfilled. Instead, the meaning of the words and text must be allowed to expand exponentially and evolve organically if they are to be understood at all, while assertions that are not verified by subsequent, subjective observation or which cannot be falsified can be rejected out of hand.

Admittedly this is a scary process, particularly for those misanthropes, literalists and conservatives who believe that human nature is essentially and incorrigibly corrupt. Further, the human propensity for eisegesis and confirmation biases are ever-present concerns.

The way I see it, the alternative is even more worrisome though and to do otherwise is inevitably a descent into stagnation, superstition and idolatry where one worships the words, or recites memory verse like a kindergartner, with little comprehension of their original context and no certainty that one understands the author’s mindset or intent.

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When I read : Proverbs 1, 10 : “My son, if sinners (Luther : “bad guys”) advice thee, consent them not!” - this for me is an inspired “command” that had lead me throug my life, safely ! - If EGW tells me about vinegar or playing chess, sorry, this for me is nonsense - - . (the one causing wahtsoever in my stomach, , the latter leading me to gambling - - )

But I compare the “righteous man” of the Old Testament with the “anhr kalos k’agathos” of Greece with Job in chapter 30 - or learn about “untimely love” in Song of Solomon 2 7 or 3 : 5 - - -

It took quite thirty years for me to leave the" proof text mehod" bebehind - alo a German tradition out of the XIX century with the dreadful "important"texts in bold letters - - i took and takes me still to achive an understandig reading of the whole texts - - now with 84 - - -

    • and I eagerly see forward to join the ones as described in Rev. 7 : 9 - - -of all nations and kindred and people and tongues - and not the illusory perfect harmony of Neal C. Wilsons “family” ( (GCC Council of Oct. 16, 1984, calling “Spectrum” to behave - -)

Yes, you ar right ! It was Ted. W.s father who came up with all of us reading only indorsed books - - and wait for the advices from his crew !

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Question: What is the difference between an apologist and a theologian? Answer: It depends who they work for.

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Our BRI may have been patterned after the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith in Roman Catholicism. Needless to say, the X-factor is the GC Executive Committee.

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