Last summer I asked Bob Brinsmead to compare and contrast his 1960s message with the decidedly different message in PT/V. He responded in part, and some of what he said matters to my own Part 1, which I’m now sharing with you.
Dr. Robert Wolfgramm, (PhD Sociology), a Pacific Islander native who studied Brinsmead’s thinking in the 1970s, said that, looking at Bob’s 1960s message overall, Bob was the first person in SDA history to attempt a real advance on the doctrine of the investigative judgment. Dr. Wolfgramm summed up the Awakening teaching in one sentence: “Perfection by grace, you don’t have to earn it, it is a gift of the judgment.” (As an aside, Wikipedia entries that address Brinsmead’s 1960’s teachings invariably get it wrong – something I speak to in Part 3.)
If Mr. Brinsmead worked hard in the 1950s and 1960s to get the IJ doctrine right, that sort of makes him a small-c conservative. The irony of that ought not to be lost on those who lived through those years, or those who are now looking back on the matter.
So, what then was the problem? What made this matter so toxic?
Here’s what I think happened.
The mid- to late-20th century witnessed the SDA denomination engaging dissent by further expressing and consolidating its presumed privileged role as custodians of revealed truth. In the late 1970s, Mr. Brinsmead sort of knew this, because it was his wish for either Edward Heppenstall or Desmond Ford to unmask the pretensions of the IJ ideology, as they were more inside the tent than he was. This was around the time I did the heavy lifting research of IJ history and origins. Each demurred, so Mr. Brinsmead published 1844 Re-Examined.
In 1977 Daniel Age and I had an audience with Arthur White in his White Estate office. We were contesting something about EGW’s teaching, and we came with quotes and books. He humored us in a manner of speaking (I am not disparaging him in saying this), but at the end he leaned back in his chair, hooked his thumbs in his trouser waist, and said that these things ought to be simply left to The Brethren.
In 1980 the 27 Fundamental Beliefs first appeared. From thence forward, The Brethren no longer had to engage dissenters, from the margins or otherwise.
After 1980, dissenters or questioners were simply referred to the 27 (now the 28), as William Johnsson did with Walter Martin in a telling 1980s TV program exchange (referenced in Part 3).
Someone weigh in on this: Do LGT groups today support the custodial role of SDA leadership in matters of revealed truth? If they do, isn’t that the real basis of their future influence?