Ted Wilson's General Conference Sermon

It is a statement directed at the corporate church, not the church body. I do not see the corporate church as looking for anything new. They are, instead, entrenched and digging in.

I suppose it has to do with what you mean by “present truth”. For example, it could mean, “the truth of the present age” - where the present age lasts for a long, long time. Or, it could mean something that continually develops and changes based on new information. I take it to be the latter - something that changes when new information is presented.

For example, the past truth of the Christian church included the fact that the world is the center of the universe and was unmovable, because the bible says that. I have read that the Church fathers were sincerely worried that if this biblical fact was refuted, the church would collapse. So they fought the ideas of Copernicus, who thought the sun was the center of the universe. And, of course they lost. And now the present truth is different.

Has the Adventist church progressed in similar ways since it was formed? Has the theology of the church changed based on new knowledge, either scientific/medical or based on more sophisticated understanding of scripture?


absolutely…and the more egw is studied, the stronger our conviction becomes that she is certainly the greatest of the prophets, and that god knew what he was doing when he chose her…

i cannot imagine anyone combining more intelligence, artistry, discipline, commitment and sheer grit over 70 long yrs, in the midst of a people who lacked the capacity to understand her, than egw…one does wonder what personal qualities William Ellis Foy and Hazen Foss - egw’s brother-in-law - brought to the table, and what god saw in them when he called them to the prophetic office…one also wonders not only what the Spirit of Prophecy would have looked like had either of these men accepted their call, but what it would have looked like had Foy, Foss and egw all accepted their call simultaneously, and were working in essentially the same time and place…while we certainly know and value what we have in egw, we cannot know or value what we would have had had Foy or Foss, or both, accepted their call…

you seem quite certain about your views on certainty - a bit ironic, i would say…and why should i exchange my views on certainty for yours…

and what makes you think you’re in a position to question your mother’s certainty, when she brought you into the world through a lot of personal inconvenience, pain and suffering, and cared for you when you were helpless…have you considered the possibility that she is intuitive, and doesn’t need granular reasoning to prop up or sustain what she believes…perhaps her answer of no to you was because she could feel that there was no point in discussing her faith with you, and how it was that she was certain about what she believed…

what i think you’re missing is the fact that certainty, as a component of faith, isn’t a dead end street…rather, it is a living, dynamic, expanding principle, as are many other aspects of the born again faith experience…it may be that adventists you know are defensive because they are being relentlessly attacked…but even these, along with many other adventists, if their experience is genuine, are always open to knew understandings of a given tenet that doesn’t unravel that tenet…being strong against challenges that denature belief isn’t the same thing as being closed to new developments and understandings that augment appreciation for what is called truth - your equation of a strong defence with closed-mindedness is inaccurate…and you cannot point to a single biblical prophet or apostle who wasn’t certain about what they advocated, or who wasn’t dead set against anything or anyone who challenged them…

70+ minutes??? I’m surprised there wasn’t a test at the end…heaven help us all.


One experience I had in church as a child was to sit through a 30 minute sermon by a guest speaker and then endure another 20-30 minute addition by my church pastor who was “inspired” by the sermon. I sat quietly throughout. It was a requirement in my family, but that experience contributed to my distrust of church services for the rest of my childhood. Your comment brought the memory back, Linda. I forgive you. :slight_smile:


Oh, I found out there was one! Here are the quiz questions:

  1. Make a list of the 28 Fundamental Beliefs from memory, explain what they each mean, and indicate at least three ways each one is delightful.
  2. Explain away in detail the inconvenient science facts that disagree with Genesis.
  3. Explain why it is no longer important for the church to teach that the world is unmovable and is the center of the universe - even though the bible says it is.
  4. Review the Ten Commandments in detail (all three versions of them) and make a careful list of the things we ignore. Then explain how ignoring them is OK, so that we can continue to claim we follow them - you know, the important parts.
  5. Find the text in the bible that says we should follow the Ten Commandments but we can ignore the rest of the Mosaic Law of which they are part and parcel.
  6. Describe how it is that we can rely on the bible and call it the word of God, when most of it doesn’t even pretend to be the words of God (but are instead stories about people, poetry, and so on), when every word in it was written by translators who used manuscript sources that are not the originals, but are copies, where every copy of every manuscript is different from every other copy of that book. So, even if the originals were directly inspired, transcribed for God, we don’t have them. And if we had them we could not read them without translation. And every translation is different. Sometimes very different.
  7. Describe how you feel as a pastor, when you think about the Sabbath commandment that says to keep the Sabbath everyone must rest - refrain from work - while you work all day on Saturday. Do you wish you had a Sabbath, too? Do you feel guilt for working, for making the Saturday your most important day of work?
  8. Related, and we can keep this confidential, do you take a Sabbath on a different day of the week? If so, which day?

I will never understand why, if you’re correct, that EGW is the greatest prophet, why would God not give her the words to share, rather than more than half of her writings were copied from someone else’s writings? Walter Rae was one of her biggest supporters. He could quote entire chapters of Ellen Whites writing by memory. When he was sent to the White Estate to check out the rumors about her plagiarism, he was the perfect candidate for the job. What he found floored him. It virtually destroyed him, and when he presented his findings, the Church leaders covered it up. But, of course, he wrote the White Lie because he knew it needed to come out. My question to you is simple. Why would God do this to us? Why would he give us a flawed prophet and then expect us to accept her writings? It’s a reasonable question.


As I read this paragraph supporting Wilson and all the teachings you mention, it reminds me of how I felt about the SDA message and even the church and everyone involved with it at the age of 15 and 16 when I was baptized. As time went on, I began to understand "there is none righteous, no not one", and that knocked a lot of church leaders and even Ellen White off their pedestals; and I realized they were only vehicles that carry messages. I had to examine the messages and prove to myself that they were true. Proving the message requires getting rid of bias, which is almost impossible and needs special guidance from the Holy Spirit, not some church official.

One important realization I had was that I had been very proud of the special knowledge I was carrying when compared to others who were going to other churches - especially the unique beliefs this church offers. It almost seems like having those beliefs would make me better qualified for eternal life. That’s what I was being told because I was a member of “the remnant”. Then i realized there are nine other commandments, and Jesus’ description of them in Matt. 5 made them almost impossible to keep perfectly. But I realized that if I did keep all the commandments, I would probably be proud of myself.

I finally realized my only hope was to depend on the gift God has granted us trough Christ. This meant that I had to be true to myself and as honest as I could be - and God would take care of the rest. If I end up believing something that is wrong, God will forgive me. This means that if I believe the earth is round and find out it isn’t, (it actually isn’t - it bulges in the middle) it won’t matter because my salvation doesn’t depend on me being right; and if it turns out that 2 plus 2 is actually 5, it won’t really matter. Right now I can’t believe 2+2=5; or, that the earth is 6,000 years old.


He’s a masterful propagandist who sincerely believes his own simplistic tripe, and has little capacity and a fear of critical thinking. This works in the political realm as well.



Well…when I was a wee young lass and a newly minted (baptized) SDA, I had to sit through sermons by Fordyce Detamore and because I was a girl, I had to wear shoes that hurt my feet…so I guess we can be blood brothers…except that is, for me being a girl.

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This is incredible…your imagination has no bounds. From my vantage point, you get a gold star…Wait…I mean, stars in your crown!

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i believe we’ve discussed and answered this question several times relatively recently here on Spectrum…my take, which is my own take, not the Church’s, or anyone else’s, is that egw’s unattributed borrowing forces us to understand what inspiration is, but also what it isn’t…that is, egw’s practices comport with her own definition of inspiration, which is that it’s a particular union of the human and the divine, and not divine dictation that the inspired prophet, apostle, or bible writer dutifully writes down…the word of god is in fact what the unique nature of Jesus on earth was: it is a seamless blend of humanity with divinity…while the divine side of inspiration is obviously omnipotent and omniscient, and altogether above the possibility of imperfection, the human side is a reflection of the abilities, disabilities, education, ignorance, and time and place of the human agent…inspiration doesn’t lift the human agent out of his or her natural circumstances, nor does it give inspired individuals abilities that they wouldn’t have had had they not been inspired…it definitely doesn’t give them the advantages and improvements that future ages have achieved, nor does it give them general sensibilities characteristic of these future times, even when they are correct, that are foreign to their own time and place…

in egw’s time, when she began her writing ministry, our notion of intellectual property hadn’t been widely established, even though it was developing legally…if you look at other religious writers in egw’s time, including her so-called sources, this use of unattributed borrowing was common practice (we see this same unattributed borrowing in the development of classical music during this time, and previous times)…an examination of religious writing, and writing generally, stretching back even to biblical times, shows that the free use of what had been written was everywhere…in the bible, we see Matthew and Luke use the words of Mark without attribution…we see the writers of the Peters use the words of the writer of Jude, or the writer of Jude use the words of the writers of the Peters, we cannot tell, and we see both use the words of the writer of the apocryphal Book of Enoch…in fact we see this same practice hundreds of yrs earlier: after the exile, the writers of the Chronicles used the words that had been written by the writers of the Kings, and even the Samuels, well before the exile…there is even evidence that the writer(s) of the Proverbs used the writings of surrounding cultures, and that some of the statutes of Moses are a re-write from the Code of Hammurabi, written a thousand yrs earlier…

the mistake Walter Rae, Desmond Ford, and many others, have made, is the assumption that egw was using either words that were dictated by an angel, or her own original words…to be fair, there has been a somewhat understandable misunderstanding of her claim that her message was received from god, as if this meant that the words she used to deliver that message were received directly from god…her denials about being dependent on anyone but god have also been misconstrued to mean that she used only her own words, or the words of an angel, and never the words and phrases from uninspired sources around her…complicating matters is the interchangeability in some of her writings of the use of terms like “words” and “message”, which can take some effort to decipher…egw clearly distinguishes her dependency on god for her message from her use of words and phrases in sources in her library, and elsewhere, that she freely recommended for general reading…but this isn’t always apparent to someone who isn’t familiar with some of the expressions she uses, her specific understanding of inspiration, or her view of Christ’s general ownership of everything uplifting and true, and what she was entitled to use as his spokesperson…

towards the end of her career, egw, in addition to making an effort to attribute sources, explained that the reason for not attributing sources was to call attention to content, rather than the author, as if such a separation was a legitimate choice…this shows that even at this point, after having several of her staff and even relatives broach the subject of unattributed borrowing with her, egw’s concept of intellectual property was relatively naive, and undeveloped…

the way to understand egw is to enter into the spirit and intent of the message itself, without regard to technicalities we normally reserve for dated material…when this is done, it can certainly be felt that egw has the power to lift into a different dimension than what is usual…the entire mind, heart and soul is riveted, and challenged to the utmost…conviction of the truth content of what one is reading is powerful, and unmistakable…taking in egw is a relatively unique experience, altogether different from reading secular sources, including the very secular sources she used…there is the true tracing and description of realities that are known only to someone who has been born again, not to mention her signature eye witness quality that is a direct connection to the world of the unseen…the plane of concern in egw has to do with heavenly realities, which is a very different scope than can be found anywhere else, with the exception of many parts of the bible…

i disagree completely that god gave us a flawed prophet in egw…what is flawed is the approach many take to her writings, as if they can be understood without reference to the very specific, overarching plane in which she writes…the words egw uses must be combined with the spirit evident in the meanings she attaches to these words, or nothing particularly notable is received…

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Detamore, Holly and Turner tent crusades in the Dallas area…remember them well!!

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BS? BS? Is that appropriate language for a discussion of spiritual things? Regardless of the position you hold….

One can believe such statements, and even claim them to absolute certainties, but there is no way to prove them as such.

Indeed, if we are to accept as given that we are fabricated using god as our template, then it is reasonable to infer that our creator is as prone to making mistakes, and can even engage in intentional deceptions, as easily and often as do we.

Further, the attempt to preclude these possibilities by trying to define them away does nothing to change the facts that this premise is not incontrovertible.

Jeremy, I think you did an admirable job in explaining away Ellen White’s “borrowing”. But that is not my primary concern. My issue is with why God would expect us to simply suppress our distrust, and anxiety over material that has come from sources which we, in most cases, don’t even know the original author, and in other cases, from sources that we would question their inspiration. I know many who have left Adventism all together, even theology students who burned their EGW books and left the seminary because of these revelations. I, myself, have deep concerns about much of her writings because of this issue, as well as various pieces she has written that have simply been proven false. How can God hold people accountable to things she has written, when they simply find this issue of her claiming “she was shown”, when that showing was out of someone else’s written works? I am glad God will be the judge, because we, humans, have done a disservice to God by judging people by their acceptance or rejection of her writings, which lots of Adventists use as a yardstick. As an example, I had a SS teacher many years ago tell our class that anyone who ate meat would not be going to heaven. One of Ellen’s sons wrote, after her death, that she had a very hard time giving up eating meat herself…I’m sure there are hundreds of examples of this misuse of her writings.


Explaining away is the key phrase…



After reading the euphoric state some claim to have achieved while reading EGW’s stuff, I couldn’t decide whether to laugh or summon an exorcist….


i call it “borrowing” because experts have looked at this and said that egw wasn’t a plagiarist or copyright infringer in terms of the laws that existed in her time…this isn’t to suggest that that same verdict would be rendered in terms of today’s laws, but i believe it’s anachronistic to impose our laws or expectations onto egw…she wasn’t like us…she didn’t think like we do…the difficulties you cite are all related to an inability to see and accept egw in terms of her own time and clearly stated understanding…it isn’t a question of explaining anything away so much as it’s attempting to see things in their true context…

as for all the horror stories about people throwing out their entire library of egw books, in some cases longstanding heirlooms, not to mention people leaving the church over what she said about meat eating, cheese eating, coffee drinking, and on and on, i’ve heard them all…but i’m not concerned…my view is that anyone with a sincere desire to understand truth in order to do it will benefit from egw, possibly more than they’ll benefit from the bible…it’s a question of the heart qualities people bring to the table…

so it goes without saying that people who read egw in order to find things with which to discredit her, and justify rejecting her and adventism - these two rejections go hand in hand - will not come up empty…they will find what will seem reasonable to them, even though it is entirely wrong…this is the essence of the stumbling block quality, so evident in egw, that is a feature of all sources of truth, including Christ himself…perceiving and benefitting from truth are never cheaply granted…it’s only the people willing to wash in the despised Jordan seven times who will ever be cured of their leprosy…

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Everyone agrees that one doesn’t have to look all that hard to find at least some evidence that EGW was not a real prophet.

Thus despite whatever else we can say about her, we can also agree that at least one characteristic of her ministry is its “stumbling block” aspect. That is, EGW invariably “trips up” those overly intellectual types who refuse to ignore the evidence against her and she effectively “brings down” logic-loving people who can’t or won’t thoughtlessly accept her claim that despite all of her mistakes, failed prophecies and errors of un-Christ-like prejudice, she is still the only person since Jesus to have received messages directly from god.

According to this inescapable logic then, one of EGW’s tasks-and perhaps her most important one-is her two-tiered defense of Jesus good news by 1) making smart people look stupid and 2) convincing those those who rely on faith above examination of evidence, and who intentionally ignore facts, that they are the wisest people on the planet.

However, and given that it seems beyond credulity to consider the possibility that a thinking, loving maker would give his offspring the gift of a mind similar to his own and then not allow his child to open and use it, it becomes a near certainty that such a devious litmus test-while it can be found to be biblical and may even be considered believable by certain credulous types-is of decidedly less than divine origins and that someone other than our creator was the source of EGW’s “inspiration”.


The question is, then: What are the fundamentals?

That’s the rub.

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