The cover story of this week's Adventist Review is titled "What Do You Mean: Seventh-day Adventist?1" The author credited and pictured is Lee Roy Holmes, a "retired pastor and academy principal from the Upper Columbia Conference of Seventh-day Adventists."
But if you follow the little superscript numeral one after the article title to the footnote at the bottom, a statement there reads: "This article is adapted from the chapter “Whatever Happened to the Seventh-day Adventists?” that appeared in Samuel Koranteng-Pipin [sic], ed., Here We Stand (Hagerstown, Md.: Review and Herald Graphics, 2005), pp. 741-747."
What? After news continues to come out about Samuel Koranteng-Pipim's "moral falls" (plural; the phrase still favored by the Michigan Conference), or what others have termed "rapes," and the Michigan and Ohio Conferences have both publicly instructed their churches not to invite Pipim to "preach, teach or lead out," his words are still the backbone of the cover story for the Adventist church's official weekly publication going to more than 140 countries, with a paid print circulation of 30,000 and 75,000 unique website visitors every month?
Just this week, Jennifer Schwirzer and Lynda du Preez were given permission to share information about another sexual assault by Pipim on a masters of divinity student at Andrews University, Seana Waters, sometime between 2005 and 2009. Similar to the stories of other victims, Waters said that Pipim insisted he study the Bible with her in her hotel room when they were both at a conference, even though she said she was not comfortable with the situation and wanted to meet somewhere more public. Pipim said that because he was a pastor it was alright. In the room, Pipim made "inappropriate physical advances" until she "fought Pipim off," Waters told a family friend. The experience had a "profound impact" on her. Waters told the friend about her experience after news of Pipim's "moral fall" in Botswana became public.
Waters ended her own life in July last year.
In 2005, when Pipim published Here We Stand, one chapter of which has become this week's Review cover story, he had already sexually assaulted at least one college student, according to licensed professional counselor Jennifer Schwirzer, who received an email from the woman in June of 2012, about the time Pipim had been scheduled to be re-baptized at his home church in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
So back to the Review article. The story urges that we Adventists cease to label each other as "liberal" or "conservative." The reasons listed for abandoning such labels include deception, divisiveness, subverted church discipline, confused onlookers, and diminished soul-winning.
The story includes these paragraphs:
The articulation of our baptismal vows represents a theological breadth and depth unmatched anywhere else in the Christian world. Consistency with that common set of baptismal vows does not allow for rival sets of Seventh-day Adventists. To give the impression that it does amounts to deception. On the other hand, to accept the vows while making only partial commitment to them qualifies as hypocrisy. And to let such hypocrisy go unchallenged only exacerbates the deception—even if attendance increases here or there because we accommodate attitudes and behaviors, broad-minded or judgmental, that are inconsistent with our vows.
Perhaps the most profound deception in all this goes on in the mind of the now-accommodated member. Because “good and regular” standing with one’s church suggests that one also enjoys good standing before God.
This does not deny that every individual is moving along their own path toward “unity in the faith . . . to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ” (Eph. 4:13). Everyone needs time to become “rooted . . . and strengthened in the faith” (Col. 2:7). Everyone is ever pressing toward the mark of God’s high calling in Jesus (Phil. 3:14).
The consolidation of theologically contradictory groups creates division within the church. While admission depends on a unified standard, individuals sometimes feel free to continue to hold membership even after they have disallowed their original commitment to the church’s doctrines.
. . .
Any increased polarity among us increases the odds that the public will be left confused.
At times our effort to improve our public image downplays the negative (against pork, coffee, jewelry, tobacco, etc.) and accentuates the positive (helpful good neighborliness). Thankfully we still go to church on Sabbath. But doesn’t shying away from our distinctive truths lead us toward that gray oblivion known as “modern Protestantism”?
Our “yea”s and “nay”s need to be merged. There is nothing unhealthy about being identified by what we say no to, as well as by the positive contributions we make to our communities. To do less or to be less threatens the mission of the church.
Read the whole story here.
UPDATE JULY 19, 9am: A reader has brought it to our attention that Pipim's book Here We Stand is a compilation of essays by Pipim and other contributors (many from the board of Adventists Affirm) and the chapter adapted for this Review article was originally written by Lee Roy Holmes. This is an important piece of information when considering this issue. However, it is also important to note that the average Review reader would see just see that the cover story was from a Pipim book. See a PDF of the whole Here We Stand Book here.
This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/6132