Jesus' Manifesto on the Mountain Challenges and Inspires ONE Project Participants

(Spectrumbot) #1

We say Jesus, you are Lord of all.” --song from the One Project

On day one of the One Project conference, the felt need the speakers seemed to address was Adventism’s need for deeper unity—the need for safety and mutual generosity that could liberate the church for a more expansive mission to the world.

Another “gathering” of the One Project has brought some 1,000 Adventists to a San Diego hotel and convention center for 36 hours of Jesus-focused preaching and conversation—and not a little prayer and song. The enthusiasm of participants—hospital and college presidents, pastors and lay leaders, some from as far away as Norway and New Zealand—was as palpable as San Diego sunshine. “This is so rejuvenating,” said one young professional who allowed that he had been having “troubles with Adventism and with religion in general.” Said another, repeatedly, “This gives me hope.”

Sunday at 8:30 a.m. the music began. A new song--with the repeated affirmation, “We say Jesus, you are Lord of all”—rang out along with others as a prelude to each segment of short homilies based on the Sermon on the Mount. Arranged around tables, participants heard commentaries at once good-humored and unflinching on the divine call to bear Christ’s image.

Randy Roberts, pastor of the Loma Linda University Church, began, so he put it, “at the end,” with Matthew’s remark (in 7:28) that having heard Jesus the crowds were “amazed” at his “teaching” and “authority.” This could only have happened, Roberts said, if listeners had felt his words touch precisely on what they themselves were feeling and living. What Christ “spoke” back then could “speak” today—a goal, he said, for any preacher, and the rightful expectation of any Christian gathering.

Japhet De Oliveira, pastor of the Boulder, Colorado, Adventist Church, spoke on the Beatitudes. To be “pure in heart,” he said, is to be “a vulnerable church.” To generate peace is to be a “safe church,” and so to live together in “unity without oppression.”

Chris Oberg, pastor of the La Sierra University Church, followed with an interpretation of the “twin metaphors” of salt and light. Referring to a recent Christianity Today headline that spoke of the burgeoning Adventist Church as “separatist,” she exclaimed that we “need a better headline.” The point is not “saltless salt” or “invisible light.” Jesus’ “manifesto on the mountain” calls for a new conversation about “remnant identity,” one that will turn us into people who “set a table for everyone.”

Following the “Recalibrate” feature—a break for facilitated table talk—participants took 25 minutes off. Then, summoned by song, they re-assembled. Alex Bryan, pastor of the Walla Walla University Church, said that Jesus’ message of the Kingdom of Heaven toppled scribal and Pharisaic expectation. Jesus would not overthrow the enemy by violence, but suffer crucifixion himself; he would not build a physical temple but create a “house of prayer for all people.”

Tim Gillespie, pastor of the Crosswalk Church in Southern California, commenced discussion of the “you have heard but I say” section of Jesus’ Sermon. “Extrinsic legalism” misses the point, he said. The “heart” is the key to recovering the “deep unity” Jesus imagines for his followers. The frame of mine that produces insults and hostility is unworthy of a community called to reconciliation. “How much fear,” he asked rhetorically, “exists in our church due to simple disagreements?” The “arrogance of being right” must give way to the communion table.

Ivan Williams, the North American Division Ministerial Director, took on Jesus’ remarks about lust, adultery and divorce, calling participants to “sexual exclusivity and sacred trust.” The “gospel of my preference” is no gospel of Jesus, who declares in effect: “You have heard one thing, but I declare a new thing.” A “Recalibrate” session followed, then a welcome and a prayer of blessing from Southeastern California conference president Sandy Roberts. Her gracious words, and perhaps also her singular presence—no other woman occupies such a role in Adventist leadership—drew a standing ovation. The lunch break began and lasted until 2:30 p.m.

As the afternoon session began, Laurence Turner, an Old Testament scholar from Newbold College, preached on the “no oaths, just Yes and No” remarks of Jesus. Oath-taking in his day could be twisted into an excuse for lies, Turner said. Jesus forbade all efforts to “wriggle out of responsibility for integrity.” Lose the “weasel words,” Turner put it, so you can be trusted. And swear off character assassination, too. Imitating Jesus means being a people of “transparent integrity.”

John McVay, president of Walla Walla University, addressed the wisdom of Matthew 5:38-48. Here Jesus repudiates “proportional retribution” and sets forth the most difficult of all standards, that of love even for the enemy. On these things “we must hear Jesus,” not explain him away, said McVay. His is a call to “amazing generosity.” But if it is the “scandal of the new lawgiver, Jesus,” it is also a message of God’s own grace: what God asks of us, God does for us, sending rain and bestowing love whether it is deserved or not.

Show conviction, don’t seek applause. Sam Leonor, pastor to students and faculty of La Sierra University, took this as the sense of Jesus’ warnings about practicing piety “before men.” Self-forgetful generosity and simple praying—after the example of Jesus—both please God and bring meaning, joy and satisfaction. Emily Whitney, a graduate student now and formerly pastor for spiritual development at Walla Walla University Church, followed with reflections on money and the management of God’s resources. The God we love with all our hearts asks us to be “all in”—to put our treasure where it counts for most, not where moth and rust consume and thieves break in to steal.

Adventists of the sort who come to One Project events think often of the shortfalls of their community and so find great energy and solace in inspiring words and gracious fellowship. Hope sprang alive on Sunday, or so it seemed. But if hearts were uplifted, they were challenged, too. This year’s theme tells of the grace so many yearn for, but it also calls those who hear to humility and obedience. At the end of the day, after one last opportunity to “Recalibrate,” Jonathan Duffy, president of ADRA International, told participants that the call of God is a call to “change society.” Words are no substitute for action. Prayer is no veil to hide behind. In defense of his point Duffy invoked Ellen White, Tony Campolo and Adventist World War II hero John Weidner. He said, too, that Jesus made good news for the poor, the blind and the lame the criterion of his movement’s authenticity. We may wonder, Duffy added, why God allows poverty and injustice, but the better question may be this: Why do we?

Earlier, someone had quoted Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Here in San Diego, it seemed that Adventists were echoing, or at least considering, this modern saint’s refusal of “cheap grace.”

Charles Scriven served as president of Kettering College from 2001-2013, and is board chair of Spectrum and Adventist Forum.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

(George Tichy) #2

Borat would say that the event was a “Grrrrêêêat Succêêêss”… :smile:

Criticism Alert:

Now let’s wait for the critics to voice their vibrant opposing views…

(jeremy) #3

the fact that so many of our favorite leaders are involved in this san diego one project really means that if the one project is the omega of deception, as some have suggested, we have a serious crisis on our hands…

(Thomas J Zwemer) #4

Jeremy I read the One project as getting a doctrinal load off the backs of membership. Christ’s yoke is easy and His burden is light. Time will tell if it is the real thing or a momentary fascination. Certainly the report is encouraging. the church is still fighting several key issues, Is the Redeemer also our Creator? Who is our brother? What does headship mean? The manifesto on the mountain was also the Action Plan of Christ… he and He alone has fulfilled it in all particulars. Tom Z

(Sirje) #5

What’s wrong vandieman, does this sound too much like a reformation? Be careful what you pray for.

(Steve Mga) #6

Re-Vival AND Re-Formation of the Church AND
Re-Vival AND Re-Formation of the Church Members.
Are not these what President Wilson asked the church to pray for along with him?
Did we not have Sabbath School Lessons to point the Church Members in this direction?
Re-Vival AND Re-Formation are Social, Spiritual, Emotional, Theological Earthquake words.

WHY should we be surprised when THIS is what we were asked by President Wilson to pray for?
The Earthquake Tremors are here, but the 10 Magnitude is Coming! REJOICE!!

(Steve Mga) #7

Innumerable times a whole Christian community has broken down because it has sprung from a “wish dream”…God’s grace speedily shatters such “dreams”…By sheer grace, God will not permit us to live even for a brief period in a “dream world”…Every human “wish dream” that is injected into the Christian community is a hindrance to genuine community and must be banished if genuine community is to survive … God hates visionary dreaming because it makes the dreamer proud and pretentious…The man who fashions a visionary ideal of community demands that it be realized by God, by others, and by himself. He enters the community of Christians with his demands, sets up his own laws, and judges the brethren and God Himself accordingly. He stands adamant, a living reproach to all others in the circle of brethren… When the morning mists of “dreams” vanish, then dawns the bright day of Christian fellowship.
… This applies in a special way to the complaints often heard from pastors and zealous members about their congregations.
---- Dietrich Bonhoeffer, “Life Together”, 26 to 29.

(Mercy triumphs over judgment. James 2:13) #8

On the contrary, what it “really means” is that those who suggest such a thing are mistaken.

(Steve Mga) #9

When the Program ends one likely goes back to being exactly who you were before you started. NOT CHANGED — the SAME. Old sameness is especially disheartening for those seeking spiritual insight and change.
SPIRITUAL PRACTICES are more like CRAFTS than programs. They are activities that deepen your love of God and Neighbor.
Activities you discern, choose, learn. Actions that develop skill and mastery to help you become a different sort of person.
---- Diana Bass, Christianity After Religion, pg. 163.

(Eric Webster) #10

Jeremy, I suggest that you carefully reread Matt. 12:22-32 before you ascribe to Beelzebub the work that has gone on in San Diego. It was the Pharisees who accused Jesus of performing His miracles through the power of the devil. Christ linked that accusation with the sin against the Holy Spirit, which He called the unpardonable sin. I suggest that it is dangerous for you or anyone else to suggest that the presentations of the Sermon on the Mount by these presenters consist of the omega of apostasy. I think it is flirting with the unpardonable sin.

(Thomas J Zwemer) #11

yes Jeremy. It is the Omega of apostasy as Ellen White defined it “To make of none effect the Spirit of Prophecy”. This to balance Ted Wilson who is attempting to make Ellen White the full effect. Tom Z

(Peter) #12

Who are you to define “the omega of deception”? That seems pompous to me.

Who are you to define who “our favorite leaders” are? I assume you are being judgmentally sarcastic here.

I’m shocked at the judgmentalism you exhibit about people, some whom you’ve never met or even heard speak. Have you even heard the presentations being given in San Diego this week? Probably not. Then who are you to so quickly sit in opinionated judgment of them? There are 1,000 people at this gathering. They are probably in a much better position to evaluate the meetings than you are.

You harm your credibility by your opinionated, flippant comments.

(Thomas J Zwemer) #13

I might add in the words ofCarl Trueman The Kevin Paulson and Tem Wilson the command is “pull up the drawbridge and wait for the end of the world”. If the centrality of the Cross is proclaimed then we can be sure that the center holds-- neither can such a one be out flanked. Tom Z

(jeremy) #14

eric, you misunderstand me…i’m not saying the one project is the omega of deception…i’m saying there are people in our church who are saying this…while my initial impression of the one project is colored by what i have read on conservative sites, it is a fact that i have felt that one presentation from one project - accessible here on spectrum not all that long ago - was a blessing…if i’m remembering correctly, it was a presentation by sam leonor at newbold college about the significance of 1888 in our church…i can’t say i’ve looked into one project thoroughly enough to assess it personally…

(le vieux) #15

And I would suggest that you watch the symposium on the emerging church which took place at Sacramento Central Church last October before you dump on Jeremy.

(le vieux) #16

He didn’t define it that way. Others have suggested that it may be part of the Omega. One must analyze it carefully before either jumping on the bandwagon, or denouncing it. Many people have done just that. That’s why a symposium was held at Sacramento last fall. It was very enlightening.

(Richard Ludders) #17

Birder, I have. The claims against the One Project do not match the reality. My soon to be son-in law was a moderator at the One Project a couple of years ago and assures me that it is not even remotely involved with spiritual formation, contemplative prayer and the abandonment of our fundamental beliefs. So calm down and go on to something else to condemn.

(Interested Friend) #18

I fully agree with that advice.
Someone mentioned the multiplicity of organizations which support the OneProject. When did might make right? Such support does not as a matter of fact disprove a thing with respect to the areas it critics have found it wanting.
In The Grip of Truth

(George Tichy) #19

Some of my parakeets told me that there will be a huge 10 earthquake happening soon in San Antonio. And that nobody is aware of what it really is…
What could that be?

(Richard Ludders) #20