Stopping by After Forty Years — Part 1

Ah, Kim, you’re on to me.

Posting one 6k+ missive on Spectrum is too clunky. I broke it up into three pieces so as to make everything more understandable.
Part 1 is a quick outline of my own story. We all start somewhere. We all build on what we’ve been given, for better or worse.

Part 2 is the theoretical model I’ve used for thirty years to help a variety of thought leaders to understand themselves and their social systems. I began that process so as to better understand my own story.

Part 3 briefly surveys a community of theologians and academics whose body of work over the past forty years suggested to me that they are on to something. Their disciplined efforts have helped me to more responsibly understand the earliest Christ-followers, how they lived and moved and had their being.

Could any of this benefit the Central California Conference? I’m thinking so.


Thank-you for more “fleshing out” of the upcoming series. :grinning:

I have absolutely no doubt that the CC Conference could benefit from the sharing of your and other’s expertise.

So far, what they had tried doesn’t seem too beneficial. (Unless, of course, they are writing a religious tragedy-comedy. :laughing:)

George @GeorgeTichy only ask questions when he knows the answer. Typical mental health professional. :rofl:


The first of the eight Bowen concepts is “Triangles.” Triangles can absorb more emotional tension but at an exorbitant cost. It fosters paranoia, the “odd man out” complex. For instance, one cannot maintain a stable relationship between God, EGW and self without one of the three feeling diminished. Oh, unless one is GC worker.


I wanted to add to this comment…there seems to be quite a few damaged and very hurt people that grew up SDA. I’m not one of them, but they are out there with painful experiences. I’m sure they wish that their negative experience only consisted of being offended, or some other mildly negative type of interchange. I also have to say, I think there are warnings to be given.

That being said, I’ve enjoyed your story! I too was not raised SDA, and like you, I’m not one now. But, I guess I will always have an interest after being in the SDA church for 25+ years.


Doug is building his own denomination…It is kind of like Danny, your face and your name become large in your own eyes, and pretty soon you start to believe that it is you that people are attracted to and not God. He will either get you by pulling you away from God or he will get you by believing you are overly important to God…either way he gets you.

Don’t become enamored with human beings…they are flawed.


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?

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What were your thoughts when he said this? What was the conversation between you and Daniel when you left the White Estate office?

Yes…this was telling, to say the least.


As to your first question, the conversation with Arthur White occurred around 1977. I don’t remember specifics, but I can ask Dan what he recalls the next time I get a chance. I remember not being impressed with us taking time to frame questions/comments and having them dismissed with an appeal to, well, nothing.

In Part 3 I reference the Jon Ankerberg-facilitated TV conversation I mentioned as “telling.” Rather than repeat now what shall be posted very soon, I invite your questions or comments after you’ve had time to read Part 3.


You can catch up here:

I don’t have a broader grasp on the state of LGT as it relates to the regional preferences. Our church has loosened up on that quite a bit in the few recent years, but that’s largely because the emphasis shifted from perfection to “just hang in there”, and a lot of the people are struggling to hang on.

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You won’t believe this unless you try even harder to distinguish between ideas that come from the Bible on the one hand and EGW on the other. Some points to confirm:

There was no Lucifer in the original Bible Greek. The Latin word that was coined later was the name of the Morning Star, the bright “star” that sometimes heralds the rising sun. Light bringer–get it? Isaiah 14 says he is talking about the King of Babylon, who claimed to be the Morning Star, rising above the clouds, above the Most High sun,etc.–not necessarily sedition at all.

The fall of Lucifer, the angel, was invented by church fathers, then borrowed by John Milton for Paradise Lost, then again by EGW and her Copy Crew for you-know-what,


In Elaine Pagel’s “The Origin of Satan” is an interesting interpretation of Satan and his role in the Jewish and Christian traditions.

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If there is no biblical adversary (the correct term), then it makes it really difficult to believe in a God who loves or any god. How do you get to this in light of the book of Job?

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To me the writer’s background comes across as a convoluted scenario that conjures up pity and wonder how one can embrace at separate times two total extremes. We are all different, and I believe in a big tent while not attacking beliefs held by others. We are free to choose the Gospel or not, and the most important thing to me is having a relationship with our God and the rest is up for grabs. so much of our theological debate seems more like trying to determine how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. No administrator or pastor is telling me what or how to believe. I am free.
I am not qualified to comment on the Bowen concept and have never heard of it, but apparently the author has found it works for him as a belief system does for others.
I suppose I am just finding all the negativity in our intelligentsia to be getting a bit old and perhaps I shouldn’t participate. Yes, it’s wrong to deny women ordination, and we know why but it’s getting so repetitive like the impeachment news. I have liberal views on inspiration and literalism causes much of the disparage found in the church. Interestingly the so-called liberal or those who leave the church are as literal as any ultra-conservative seeing in terms of absolutes; black and white. Perhaps some qualified person should write an article on how one’s mindset and peers influence theology or lack of it. The extreme subjectivity we see in recent times makes one wonder how much freedom we allow ourselves.

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Yes, but it’s not a point you can successfully argue in churches today. I went through a whole range of theological exploration in objective scholarship universe.

The issue of Satan unravels even further in early Hebrew henotheism, before it was consolidated into monotheism later. But Elohim were a tribe of gods, which Christianity later casts into a Trinity. A prime example of henotheism is “no other gods before me” commandment, with “God of gods”, which in later Biblical translations is “Lord of Lords”.

But all of that is debatable, since Christian narrative is made to be very coherent, and from coherence POV it works. Even Adventist eschatology … it’s a coherent narrative. And for a believer, facts come secondary to coherence.

And if this framework helps them structure a positive environment in which communities could thrive, I don’t mind it at all. Unfortunately it has been more a source for intergenerational anxiety than anything else.

Harry didn’t write that there is no adversary. He wrote no Lucifer, and based on conversations we’ve had he means also that there is no Devil as we understand him in popular (Roman Catholic) tradition.

The bible has an adversary, as seen in Job and in the NT where Jesus spars with him in the desert. That’s all, I think.

This is mostly right:

From the article:
“A figure known as “the satan” first appears in the Tanakh as a heavenly prosecutor, a member of the sons of God subordinate to Yahweh, who prosecutes the nation of Judah in the heavenly court and tests the loyalty of Yahweh’s followers by forcing them to suffer. During the intertestamental period, possibly due to influence from the Zoroastrian figure of Angra Mainyu, the satan developed into a malevolent entity with abhorrent qualities in dualistic opposition to God.”

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