Observations on the Compliance Discussion

I. Introduction by Ted Wilson and others (1 hour 45 minutes, Wilson himself used 45 minutes). This very long introduction was exclusively dedicated to explaining and defending the General Conference proposal: a) Wilson reassures the audience that the compliance committees in reality have no authority or power. They merely have an advisory function reporting to GC ADCOM. They have no "teeth" of their own. b) None of this is a "power grab" by the GC administration, it is all within the "system." c) The compliance committees are actually put in place to defend the system, not circumvent it. They are not the KGB or CIA. d) The proposed discipline is not severe, it is of the "mildest order." II. Four more people (Mike Ryan, David Trim, Karnik Doukmetzian, and Hensley Moorooven) explained the methods used by the Unity Oversight Committee: they listened to input, adjusted the document, made it public, all with full transparency. Trim explained in detail why the Questionnaire was a valid method of gathering reliable information about the opinions of the majority of the membership. There was a close consensus that some consequences were needed. Doukmetzian, GC legal counsel, explained the legal validity of the punishments outlined in the document. Moorooven presented this argument: The Holy Spirit is the source of unity, the policies are a consequence of that unity. Non-compliance with policies is therefore going against unity (and by implication the Holy Spirit). Ryan summed it all up, and presented his own personal opinion of the document. III. TW addressed the fact that the vote in the GC Division Officers (GCDO) meeting became known and was leaked to an "independent publication." This leak must have been committed by a member of the GCDO, and was characterized as unethical. IV. Moorooven reads the document out loud and it takes 15 minutes. Comment: Every single person included in this introductory defense procedure presented only legal or technical information, to justify the reasonableness and legal and technical correctness of the document. Not one of them even touched upon the principles that are the foundation and are embedded in this document. The argument was simply, as long as it was all technically correct, everything was perfectly OK. And it was all "within" the present "system," nothing was outside the "system," probably meaning that none of this changed anything regarding the "system" itself. V. The Debate (2 hours and 55 minutes) Everyone assured each other that their main concern was to protect the unity of the church. They differed on how to secure that unity. a) People approving the document: Every single one argued from a "law and order" point of view. The GC in session has voted, then everyone must comply, and those who don't must suffer the consequences. Not one questioned the document on the basis of principle. Their only focus was rules and submission to votes and church authority. Their vision was that unity can only be real and secured through enforced uniformity; enforced compliance with voted policies was the road to that unity. Not one person questioned the validity of using coercion as a means of obtaining uniformity. b) People disapproving the document: Almost all of them based their arguments on principles of governance, justice, and conscience. They defended the bottom-up system put in place by the 1901 GC Session. They pointed out that if this document passed, it would change the SDA church to be a top-down organization, which would result in a totally new cultural environment, characterized by surveillance, suspicion, lack of trust, and fear of possible personal consequences. Voting Results: For: 185 (60%) Against: 124 (40%) Abstain: 2 These results are almost identical to the voting results of the 2015 GC session. Most of those speaking for the document were from Africa and Latin America. This illustrates that social culture seems to be among the most decisive factors of the voters. It was a bit puzzling to observe that through the debate hardly anyone from Africa spoke. Only at the very end was there a line of people, practically all of them from SID, that finally spoke, all of them for the document. Was this a coincidence? Or was it planned in order to be the ones that concluded the debate, all of them being for? The last speakers may be the ones that finally sway those who are uncertain. Is this the end of the matter? Will this vote contribute to unity? Hardly. Conscience and principles of equality and justice cannot be voted away. Nor will the issue of women’s ordination. This vote will probably not accomplish anything positive. It has simply, again, revealed that the split in our church is real, deep, and persistent. Today's vote has cemented the stalemate created by the 2015 GC Session vote. It illustrates the futility of taking a deeply divisive issue to a simple majority vote. Such a vote will only be counter-productive to the declared aims of these actions and documents. The whole process, and the now voted document, reveals again the lack of spiritual and political wisdom in our top leadership. Their course of action may secure a majority vote. It will never create unity, only more divisiveness. In 2015 the appeal was made to accept the results of the vote, focus on mission, and move on. That did not happen then; it will not happen now. The results of the 2015 vote ought to have awakened the top leaders to at least re-examine their course of action. The feedback received in 2017 was not a call for cosmetic refinement of the loyalty document; it was a call to reconsider its foundational principles. They kept the principles, and did a few cosmetic changes. That only brought us back to square one of 2015. The stalemate is not only still there, it is more firmly in place. Edwin Torkelsen is a retired historian who worked for the National Archives in Norway. He also taught Medieval History in the University of Oslo and was an Associate Professor of History in the University of Trondheim with a special interest in the development of the ecclesiastical, jurisdictional, theological, doctrinal, and political ideologies of the Medieval church. He is a member of the Tyrifjord Adventist Church in Norway. Image: SpectrumMagazine.org We invite you to join our community through conversation by commenting below. We ask that you engage in courteous and respectful discourse. You can view our full commenting policy by clicking here.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/9105

Thank you for your feedback regarding the situation as it is unfolding.


the san antonio vote was 58.44% vs 41.34% against WO…AC2018 was 59.48% vs 39.87% for the compliance review committees, which are against WO…

these votes are indeed reflecting the same reality…


As I listened carefully to each speaker, I became more persuaded that ordaining women is the wedge issue, and for the first time I believe the NAD can never move forward with its mission unless it creates a much less connected relationship to the General Conference. After all, the NAD respectfully brought the request to ordain first in 1990. Long enough for other fingers to stiffle the NAD mission strategies. It’s past time to move forward in an inclusive way to empower those called to serve. It’s time to move forward.


Sorry to inform all through your medium that the above compliance discussion in Southern Asia Division never happened on church level, neither Ministrial level. The SUD delegates have simply voted as per GC command. Please ask SUD to publish thier discussion notes and committee action notes…


a) Wilson reassures the audience that the compliance committees in reality have no authority or power. They merely have an advisory function reporting to GC ADCOM. They have no “teeth” of their own.
b) None of this is a “power grab” by the GC administration, it is all within the “system.”
c) The compliance committees are actually put in place to defend the system, not circumvent it. They are not the KGB or CIA.
d) The proposed discipline is not severe, it is of the “mildest order.”

They really think that we are bozos, don’t they? If the above were true, they wouldn’t be making the impossible to implement it.

When TW was saying these things, I thought, “… well, then why are you making it such a big deal, spending so much money again, and disturbing an AC with it?”

There is no remedy for this issue. I hope the PUC and the CUC especially, get some legal counsel on this. They will need it badly! (I bet they already did!)


Thanks for the info. I bet this is just the top of the iceberg. Very revealing.


I could not stomach listening to the entire live stream from AC18 but the fragments I heard emphasized the cultural and ethnic divide.

Will I be labeled politically incorrect and XENOPHOBIC with the following observations?

Those who were heavily accented ( English not their mother tongue )
seemed to be in favor of the punitive compliance committees.

Those whose English was not foreign sounding were opposed.

This simple factual observation shows that the divide is not theological, but cultural and ethnic.

An astute, savvy, shrewd leader would not enforce a non biblical, non theological uniform conformity on heterogenous culturally diverse groups.

This is not going to be a marriage of like minds and portends an ugly and unpleasant divorce.


Boy like we haven’t heard that kind of thing before…lol.

As C.S.Lewis said (sorry for my repetition) “Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”

This is exactly what will happen because it has happened before with the same type of well documented rhetoric and level of thinking.


But people don’t learn! Something major has to happen to castrate the force that is convoluting the Church. The NAD has to act quickly!

By the way, Spectrum went viral tonight uh? Almost can’t catch up!!!


After more than a century you would think the remnant would have had time to reflect on their actions. The fact that this authoritarian mindset persists is a symptom of another kind of problem in our church.

Once again the same level of thinking regarding authority and unity has risen again. Now in the absence of the Messenger but with fully documented case study, not ignorant leadership regarding warnings, against this type of reaction by leadership they pursue and vote what is wrong. Leadership is supported now by a membership, comfortable with letting others think for them and safe in the knowledge that they are the remnant, are comfortable in considering church authority figures as the voice of God and final say as to conscience. After all with Present Truth established and their is no need to think/study/question cause we have it all.


I can only imagine how difficult this afternoon’s session must have been to sit through. It was hard enough to watch on my computer! I don’t know what will happen next, but I cannot see how NAD, Europe, and parts of Australia are going to be able to live with this. Can you imagine the outcry if they try to divest SE Cal Conf of their president?


If the Europeans, Australians, North Americans DO NOT act QUICKLY then ALL
will be LOST and a Reign of Terror from Threats will seize the Unions and they
will be Frozen with Fear.
I would certainly NOT WANT TO BE A TEACHER in any Academy or in any
College–University. And not be able to have FREE DISCUSSIONS in my
classes with my students.
I had Freedom in my Academy classes for over 20 years. I can’t imagine what it would
be like to have an Administration censor what I teach and tell me I can’t.


Isn’t it great that the majority of the church are no longer white, English speakers? Now we truly have diversity.

(Oh, but diversity is only good when you get the result you want. When it goes the other way, blame it all on the primitive, uneducated, culturally backward people of darker skin and heavier accent.)

The implications of the vote are being downplayed. Wtihin minutes of the vote there was an outpouring of sadness and distress among German Adventists on FB - even though it was past 1 am in the night here. I read on FB about a withdrawal of membership, I have corresponded with pastors - male and female that are devastated. I myself feel abhorrence at how we left the foundation of protestantism for the sake of “unity” in policy.

Personally I have decided to no longer comment on this decision in public for the time being, but to bless those who curse me or my sister (call it “reprimand” to be more polite), to comfort the broken hearted (and there are many), strengthen and support those who want to unite in Christ, rather than policies (apparently close to 41% of our church … who exactly are “remnant”?).

Oh, and I encouraged our German leaders to come back to Germany and care for their flocks. No need to be in Battle Creek any longer. Any critical, thoughtful remark henceforce will potentially be deemed “out of compliance” anyway … and they are needed here in Germany, where the church is struggling.

Kyrie eleison.



You state:

That is the crux of the problem — a.diversity of such magnitude it creates a chasm / abyss / gulf of cultural divide.

It has nothing to do with the color of their skin, nor their level of education,

It has everything to do with their partriarchal, chauvinistic, macho, misogynistic, tribal mind sets.

The patriarchal mind set is not merely misogynistic, it is also authoritarian, and therefore supportive,of TW’s autocratic agenda.

I do not condemn them for their cultural heritage. They cannot divest themselves of it, It is the way they were raised.

The AMISH family, on conspicuous display at AC18, and IMHO somewhat exploited by TW, are what I mean by “cultural heritage “. The younger Amish children may blessedly escape their quaint medieval mindset, but the older ones will always be hide bound by their heritage.

This Amish family is a magnificent microcosm of the massive cultural chasm that separates the egalitarian, fair minded westerners from their misogynistic autocratic third world brethren.


And I could think of many other excuses why the minority should rule over the majority. Isn’t it great the church has a democratic system of governance and avoids the kingly power all the dissidents preach against so vociferously but practice themselves?


The minority, being neither autocratic nor authoritarian would never presume to rule over the majority

But they might choose to distance themselves from an entity they find morally repugnant.


I must say I am so saddened by this vote. The manipulative manner that was on display in just how it was presented. If we are a church that we will let the Holy Spirit lead us (or maybe that is now a fear?) why does a leader have to employee every human based manuver to get their idea through. Anyone that has studied how to get a vote or item to be decided in their favor saw on display a welled organized campaign by our leadership.

Unfortunately this is not Christ like and how I wish we could come back to that.

Pagophilus your comments crush me, not because I fall into any of your blacklisted groups, but because those groups you list and others that are treated with contempt by certain groups within our organisation are exactly the ones Jesus would be welcoming to his fellowship along with all the other “outcasts” in different societies (this list is different in every place since cultures are different in every place of those we think are not acceptable varies by culture).

I am proud of my leaders who have been against this attack against Christianity and have actually understood what WWJD actually stands for.

Is this the true identity of our organisation? If so then I must leave as well because this is not in line with the God who created us shown us by Jesus. But my question is if this is an abuse of power by manipulation then am I able to make a difference with the organisation by staying and modeling Gods love for everyone not just the “remnant”? How to support all the good that is taking place but not support the leaders whom wish to use human methods instead of Gods (according to my understanding of the bible).

My dilemma is what to do. I belong to a Division that will be shamed, I am part of a Union that will be shamed and I belong to a congregation that will be shamed as well. But with all of this around me I get to hear from the GC how it is statistically proven that their study is correct. As an economic person we learned first thing that statistics are only as reliable as the person behind them. With watching the manipulation during the meeting yesterday I question the validity of the numbers presented. They state (and pretended sadness) that they could not poll all members. We as members may not have been able to vote directly on this matter but we do have a vote but seem to choose not to use it.

Our economic system is based on members supporting the GC and all organisations of the system through the tithe system. Those that are against these structures must take the time and ask can they continue to economically support leaders that lead in such a manner? If not then find the organisation that does. Stop giving tithe through the local church, give to a project that supports the local conference (if you live in a conference that is against these procedures). Why should my gifts to God be used in such an unchristlike manner to fund committees to hunt down organisations and people that dont do just as the majority say?

If we leave membership (as I am aware in my local area a good deal are doing) I feel like I have less of a chance to help change an organisation that has a lot of good things about it. If instead one makes active choices about their gifts to God maybe we can show that those statistics saying the majority of membership is for this can be proven to be manipulated by the designers.

If I am wrong and the yes vote is actually the feelings of the majority of Adventists around the world I will withdraw in tears, that once again Satan will have won another man made institution even if it was inspired of God from the beginning.


This is so eerily similar to when the serpent in the garden said to Eve “You certainly will not die.” And we know how that story ended.