The ASI 2014 Town Hall meeting on August 8 in Grand Rapids, Michigan presented and discussed questions about the Seventh-day Adventist church’s stance on several major issues including homosexuality, women’s ordination, the Spirit of Prophecy, the NAD moving out of the GC building, and the health ministry.
The meeting was aired on 3ABN and streamed live off their website. The panel consisted of Ted Wilson, General Conference President and Dan Jackson, President of the North American Division. Daniel F. Houghton, President of Hart Research Center hosted the event.
The two church leaders took questions for 75 minutes. Houghton said that about 70 questions have been submitted ahead of time.
To begin, Houghton asked Jackson and Wilson for definitions of Seventh-day Adventists. With Bibles in hand, both affirmed that Adventists are people who believe in the Bible. They reiterated that the Seventh-day Adventist Church currently operates within 208 countries, with the World Church encompassing 13 different divisions. Currently, there are 18 million baptized members.
Houghton next addressed what he called “the elephants in the room.” “Where do Seventh-day Adventists stand on human sexuality, pornography addictions, the gay lifestyle?” he asked, noting that over the summer there had been announcements of different groups supporting gay marriage.
“Interestingly,” Wilson replied, “the SDA Church had a conference in Cape Town, South Africa in March where we focused on this topic. The SDA Church is very clear on its position. We stand firmly upon the Word of God and support what God intended for humans that a man and a woman would be married and form a family.”
“The Seventh-day Adventist church is very clear on its position of human sexuality and all areas related,” stated Wilson. “We stand firmly on the word of God. Variants of God’s ideal are not what God wants. We are opposed to that type of lifestyle.”
Wilson said that this doesn’t mean that all heterosexual activities are godly either. “Jesus has the power to help us to live a victorious life in him. God has a solution and an answer that brings us back to wholeness.”
In regards to pornography, Wilson encouraged those struggling to first go to God and then search online for the Seventh-day Adventist websites devoted to pornography addictions. Also, he recommended that they be in touch with their local pastor who can help them get access to more resources.
“You are not alone,” Jackson said. “God can give deliverance.”
Women’s ordination came up next. Houghton asked Jackson, “What will be the impact upon the church in the NAD if (a) the church votes to ordain women, and (b) if the church votes not to ordain women?”
“There are God-fearing, Bible-believing people who find themselves on both sides of this equation,” Jackson replied. “No matter what the outcome, there will be individuals who will be highly disappointed. There is not just one point of view. There will be some great disappointment.”
He added that in response to that disappointment we must anchor ourselves in Jesus Christ and acknowledge that this is His Church, His movement. “We come to the place where we say, I want to be part of that movement. Let me focus on that mission no matter whatever happens.”
Wilson said, “We will be providing perspectives to those coming to Annual Council and we will be engaging in a very careful prayer process and listening to each other. We want to be careful that people do not become too emotive. We want the Holy Spirit’s presence in a very careful way. The process will be very carefully done. No one will be shown depreciation for their own position. We are looking at a situation where we will have to take some kind of vote.”
Addressing news about a possible NAD move, Jackson confirmed that the Division is looking to move out of the General Conference Building saying that all organizations need to be able to grow and self-differentiate.
“Yes, we are contemplating a move to another area of the US or somewhere else in the area where we are,” Jackson told Houghton. “This is about mission and not about rebellion. The NAD and GC have enjoyed a symbiotic relationship for many years and we see no need for that to end.”
Wilson added, “We’re not pushing them out, we’d like for them to stay. We’ll just leave it in God’s hands.”
Houghton asked the men whether the church’s stance of the Spirit of Prophecy is still relevant today.
“The writings of Ellen White were inspired 100% by God, and are still relevant today as much as they were 100 years ago,” stated Wilson.
Houghton said that the single area about which the most questions were submitted concerned contemplative spirituality. He asked, “How should we relate to movements that draw us away from the special message that God has given to us?”
Jackson responded with a story from his days as a baker in Victoria, British Columbia. He said he used to make mince tarts every day that were delivered to shops across town. One day when he scooped the mince into the tarts he thought the mince looked a little different but he finished up the tarts as usual. Later when he went back to the mince and finally scooped it all out of the container in which it had been stored, he found seven dead mice in it. You may see things that look like truth, he said, but if they don’t fit this book, they are not truth. “We ought never to move away from the plain reading of the Scripture. Rely on what is the reliable—God’s Word.”
As time was winding down, Houghton stated that there is a lot of interest in publishing, and asked how publishing fits into the church’s mission plans.
Jackson noted that Ellen G. White said that the publishing work would go on to the end. “Not the printing work,” he noted, “the publishing work.”
Wilson stated that the goal of the church is to reach the large metropolitan cities and to then penetrate these great cities with the gospel. Where in the past focus has been placed on the rural and underdeveloped areas, the developed cities are facing their own challenges. “The mission field is not just over there anymore, it’s everywhere,” he said.
Wilson closed with a word of encouragement. “By God’s Grace, I am excited, and I hope others are, because soon He will return.”
This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/6175