The Adventist Church Needs a Martin Luther

I thought this article was excellently written. I do not understand all the nuances that were expounded on but the major points were delivered well. The comments were also thought provoking for me. A few point that come up for me:
*Moral as opposed to ceremonial law. I keep coming up against this in my church. I express the view that I do not see the bible making that distinction. But I get major blow back.I do not really get this from my reading of scripture but it seems to be extremely important to Adventist theology.
*The Sabbath as it is on earth. The earth revolves on its axis every 24 hrs. thus we have a 24hr cycle. What if we are not on earth. How was that expressed in God’s law before earth existed, if Gods law is eternal? What happens to the 7th day Sabbath then? There must be a larger principle involved beyond the 7th DAY OF THE WEEK.
*As for the Sabbath School lesson. Am I the only who noticed that “The Gospel in Galatians” that was studied in July-Sept. 2017 is an exact to the letter repeat of the the same lesson from Oct.-Dec. 2011. For some reason that does not sit well with me. It brings up issues that I will not go into at this time.


I appreciate Luthor21c comments and have an excellent book on Galatians by Avi ben Mordecai showing the law there is the oral torah of rabbis which goes by the majority rather than the law of Moses.
Christ said Elijah is to come and restore all things and Mal 4:4,5 shows the context is the law with statutes that Ellen White said were to guard the Ten Commandments and were “binding upon men as long as time should last.” 1BC 1104, 2nd col.
We have confused the ceremonial law in Moses’ time with the mo’ed, appointed times that came from Gen 1:14, echoed in Lev 23 for those annual sabbaths. We think they were ceremonial, but the 7th day Sabbath had ceremonies and we got rid of them, just honor the time. Why not for the annual Sabbaths?
The wedding parables ALL have Passover imagery–Titus began his siege at Passover (Matt 22:7) The midnight cry in Exod 25:6 is an echo of Exod 12:29,30. "Loins girded in Luke 12:35-37 is first found in Exod 12:11. “Watch” means be awake, also at Passover, Exod 12:10; Matt 26:38-41, and Lk 12:37 is imagery of the Last Supper (Passover).
Christ has waited for us because we wouldn’t be ready to “open unto Him immediately” if we don’t understand Luke 12:35-37 and “He will make [us] ruler over all that He has” if we comply but we are so satisfied with what we think we know that it’s nauseating in Rev 3.
Please get a FREE ebook TODAY at and Amazon offers a free app that you can download to read their ebooks on your computer—they cost less than print + postage, etc… A missionary replied of an excerpt—“Thank you for this wonderful teaching its great to learn this. God bless you more. I wish we could translate in my language and teach our youth in church.” Please get a FREE copy and call if you wish to talk, 928 583 7543.

I thoroughly enjoyed this thought-provoking article. I have recently been studying the lesson for Dec. 23, and was struck with how focused the lesson author(s) were on the law! Their approach seemed to turn the memory text (Rom. 12:2) on its head. The renewing of your mind that Paul speaks of seems to me to be the work of the Spirit to transform our thinking in such a way that we can discern God’s will–“hear his voice”, as it were. The lesson, on the other hand, seems to focus on the scriptures/law, i.e., learning God’s will by studying a text. The first approach seems to be the Spirit teaching us HOW to think (“for ourselves”). The second approach seems to be focused on us looking up answers in a rulebook, i.e., teaching us WHAT to think. The first approach is robust (works even when rules weren’t written) and dynamic (works even when the world has changed since the rules were written). The second approach leads us to being bogged down in disputes and emphasizing that which is out-of-touch with the present.

There were so many points of agreement with your article, and your comments to Joseph that alluded to Rom. 12:2. If I understand you aright, you are essentially calling us towards the “faith OF Jesus”, beyond the “faith IN Jesus”. Can we develop such a trust in God that we have the confidence to ween ourselves from rulebooks and start thinking for ourselves, trusting him to be the kind of Father that will encourage us and help us get back on track if we stumble, developing in us the renewed mind that discerns God’s will for a given situation? It is almost like we are being asked to graduate from high school (where we look for answers in authoritative texts) and move on to university and graduate school (where we are taught to discover new answers, including for research questions that have never been asked before). It isn’t that the old rules/authorities are necessarily overthrown, but that we embrace the universe with confidence that it is OK to question, to reformulate, to even reject what was “present truth” in the past but is no longer, and to step forward in confidence that we can seek God’s will and trust Him to guide our steps.

Dr. Weiss, while I realize you called for a new Martin Luther metaphorically, do you think that perhaps the first Martin Luther may have laid the groundwork for some of the difficulties we now find ourselves in through his emphasis on sola scriptura? Has the resultant emphasis on the biblical text lead to a substitution of faith “in the word of God” for faith “in the God OF the Bible”? Has it deadened our ability to sense the present-day leading of the Spirit? i.e., to the point where Rom. 12:2 is thought to be a renewing of the mind by searching the scriptures to know what they reveal about God’s will, rather than a renewing of the mind so THE MIND ITSELF can detect God’s will as revealed by the Spirit?


Dr. Weiss,
First, thank you for responding. I’m pushing Spectrum’s limits of only one blog post. Perhaps we can take up our conversation through email if you are interested. I’m always looking for interlocutors who are as fascinated with Paul’s thinking as I am and who help me adjust or fine tune my theology.

After reading your response several times in which you pulled snippets of ideas from chapters of Romans and Galatians, I feel as though I am reading a concise summary of Paul’s perspective of the law’s inadequacies and contribution to sin and death (with which I agree) but without his subtle defense of law in which he places the culpability for death, not directly on law, but on the mediating factor of the flesh/SIN. Paul walks the line so closely of indicting the law as the direct cause of sin and death that he is compelled to ask two rhetorical questions along these lines, “That the law is sin?” (Rom. 7:7), “Did that which is good [the law], then, bring death to me?” (Rom. 7:13). As you know, both answers are emphatically in the negative and Paul’s adulation of the law is sandwiched between those two questions (Rom. 7:12). Why would Paul 1)engage in such theological gymnastics to vindicate the law [Torah] from direct culpability if his solution is that Christians are now “discharged” from the law he just got done vindicating? 2)feel the need to introduce another law (What you referred to as the “law of God” which you didn’t clarify exactly what that is. Is it the Torah, the Spirit in the conscience, the principle of love, etc.?)

I see proposed theologies that are trying to provide the best explanation for both Paul’s positive and negative comments on law. The Adventist layman’s quick answer has been to split law in two: moral vs. ceremonial-negative comments are for the ceremonial and positive are for the moral. I think you and I agree this just doesn’t seem to be the way Paul is reasoning. I hear you, if I’m listening correctly, also suggesting a two law solution: Torah is out, a new law is in. I am not yet convinced that we have to posit any other law than the only law all Judaism would have been familiar with, i.e, the Torah (perhaps Occam’s Razor could be invoked here). I believe that Paul’s talk of the “law of sin and death” and the “law of the Spirit of life” (Rom. 8:2) is an expression of two different orientations to the same law, one in which the flesh exploits and manipulates the Torah for its own ends (e.g., “sinful passions aroused by the law”, “sin seizing opportunity through the commandment” Rom. 7:5, 8, 11) and one in which we die to the flesh through participation of Christ’s death so that “the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us” (Rom. 8:4).

I believe this parallels well with covenantal theology in which the same Torah is now written on the heart under the New Covenant/Messianic Age. And lastly, it seems to be in harmony with Paul’s earlier exposition of law in Romans 2 in which he coordinates the law under two realities 1) “law boasters”, “possessors of the written code”, “being outward circumcised”, “by the letter”, “praise from man” “law breakers” VERSUS 2) “keeps the law”, “inward Jew”, “circumcision of the heart”, “by the Spirit”, “praise from God” Rom. 2:26-29. Notice the surprising side in which “law keeping” is on. It is not on the side with those who boast in the law or who have the written code; it is with those who have the Spirit and inward circumcision. (Do you believe that Paul is speaking of a different law than the Torah here?) But this significance would seem to be undermined if we continue to distance the Torah farther and farther away from the Spirit Filled- New Messianic Age-Heart Circumcised-Believer. Is it surprising to comprehend that the law, “being spiritual” would be a content rich source for God’s/Spirit’s will for converted Jews and Gentiles? A final leap into an SDA application would be to ask those who are Sabbath keepers but believe the Torah is not a content rich source for the Spirit’s will, “In what way did the Spirit communicate to you the sacredness of Saturday?” Well, I better stop now before I write a monograph. Thanks again for writing such a stimulating article and response to my earlier post. We can always continue at if you like. Blessings, Joseph

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I think you have pointed out a very significant problem. Appeals to Sola Scriptura are used as cover for creating an amalgam of biblical texts that has an existence of its own, and does violence to the texts used to produce it. Those who put biblical text into a melting pot claim to be basing their teaching on Sola Scriptura. In reality their appeal to Scirpture is to kidnap the authority given to Scripture for themselves. Your distinction between “faith in the Word of God” and “faith in the God of the Bible.” is illuminating but, if I read you correctly, as distinct from you I would think that what we need is precisely faith in the God of the Bible, rather than “faith in the Word” when the word of God has been confined to a Bible written in heaven, and the authors of the Bible are denied their faith In God. The Spirit certainly inspires those with faith in God to demonstrate (prove) by their way of being in the world of the Ultimate Adam what is the will of God. Those who confine the will of God to those parts of the Bible which they choose, it seems to me, do so only to assume power for themselves. I think you read Rom. 12:2 correctly. The problem with Adventist theology these days is that it has no room for the New Creation the Spirit brought forth at the Resurrection of Christ. It has become enamored to a romantic attachment with Jesus who fulfilled the requirements of the the Law and is able to impute his righteousness to those who “believe” in him. I prefer to follow what Paul teaches. Christians are those who are raised with Christ to participate in the New Creation in the Ultimate Adam. Of course, only those who are crucified with Christ to the world, that is to the world of Adam where the law of sin and death rules, are raised with Christ to the world of the Ultimate Adam where the Spirit renews their minds so as to demonstrate the will of God. According to Paul, from the Bible I do not learn about the mind of God, I learn about the faith of Abraham, of Jesus, and of all those authors of the Bible who expressed their faith with the best conceptual tools at their disposal. I want to belong to the long line of witnesses to faith in God. Paul is not concerned about his own righteousness, only about the righteousness of God.


Thank-you, Dr. Weiss. That was a helpful clarification. Regarding “faith in the Word”; I can see that my expression was easily misunderstood. I used quotations around it to quote what many Christians say, i.e., as an expression that seems equate the Bible with the very words of God. I think the Bible captures the expression of faith by many people, and describes also the faith of Jesus (the faith Jesus had). I think if we believe what it says, and if we follow Jesus’ own example of how to interpret/use scripture, we should be looking for the Spirit to lead us beyond a grammatical-historical interpretation of its pages. I’m intrigued by the “Spirit hermeneutics” expressed by Pentecostal/charismatic scholars. I think the receptivity to “present truth” would be transformed if we adopted such concepts, impacting everything from women’s ordination to interpretation of Genesis origins accounts. That would be fiercely resisted by conservative scholars, yet I think it is truer to the early Adventist approach (which was more charismatic).

P.S.–to Joseph Olstad, unless memory fails, which often happens!, I think the Spectrum policy is one post per topic UNLESS the AUTHOR OF THE ARTICLE engages with you on the topic. Since Dr. Weiss responded to your post, you are entitled to an additional post in response, as you have done. That’s the basis on which I am responding here as well. The dialogue must be with the author, not with other posters; in that respect, this postscript is a violation. :slight_smile:


Thanks for that clarification, Robert. I wouldn’t want to “break the law.”


I take it that Paul wrote “To the Romans” to Jews who were now Christians. Apparently, even though he had not been in Rome before, he knew that they understood Christianity to be a type of Judaism. They claimed that God had given the Jews the inside track and anybody who wanted to enjoy the benefits of God blessings had to become a member of the covenant God had made with Israel. Paul disagreed with them and argued that their confidence in their election and in their possession of the law was ill founded. In chapter two he is sarcastically exposing their confidence in the law. In chapter 4 he brings out that the whole thing starts with Abraham and his faith. In chapter 7 he points out that living in Christ does not mean that they have become adulterers. In chapters 9 to 11 he elaborates the fact that his Gospel does not mean that “the word of God has failed” because election is not a one for all event. It is a process in history. Paul’s theology is not based on a covenant, which requires faithfulness to its stipulations. His theology is based on the Promise
God made to Abraham, which requires faith in the One Who Promised.
I think it is clear that Paul uses the word law to refer to several different things. On the other hand, I do not see how one can say that the different characterizations of the law refer to one and the same thing. Here is where you and I come to a dead end. If we were to agree on this point, then we could go on to determine the laws that Paul envisions and characterizes so differently.
If you will excuse me for making a commercial, I would suggest that you read my last book, “Meditations on the Letters of Paul.” There you will find my understanding of Paul’s Gospel.

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I don’t think the Adventist church would have an easy time digesting a new Martin Luther. Augustinian monks who obsess about St. Paul’s epistles always end up believing in predestination.

Our obsession with truth? I guess like this



Your claim reminds me of the highly ironic story of the man born blind in John 9. It ends with Jesus telling the Pharisees: “Now that you say ‘we see,’ your guilt remains.”

Some truth to that I’m afraid.

Clifford, you relate that you are convinced that absolute truth exists and that the Adventist Church is the place to be because in your view the SDA church’s understanding of a series of doctrines agrees with the Bible. Adventism places much stock in keeping the law so it’s not surprising that your list starts with the Ten Commandments.

In your article you don’t mention the gospel or Jesus Christ by name. (To be fair, you do mention both indirectly in your Scriptural references and that the Son is a member of the Trinity). Jesus said that He is truth and He is life. Paul said knowing Him is of surpassing value.
Dr. Weiss says what the SDA church lacks are those to preach the good news and power of the gospel and the resulting new creation life in the Spirit given to each believer.

During the course of the recent SS studies on the letters to the Galatians and Romans, in our comments, several of us have tried to relate our understanding of the gospel. Would you please take the time to give us your answer to the question: what is the gospel?



Chris ARNZEN is a prominent American interviewer of the Reformed faith. His global radio program is called Iron Sharpens Iron
Chris is planning to interview Dr Desmond Ford on 26 December, 2017 at 4:00 – 6:00 pm. EST in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, USA about Des’s departure from Seventh-day Adventism.
(It will be 27 December 2017 at 7:00 – 9:00 a.m. EST here in Australia.)
The interview will be recorded on Skype, and we will be recording it as well. You will be able to hear it later on Chris’s website and other
@gford1 @harrpa @cfowler @timteichman @2humBaby

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Thanks for that, George. Sounds great!

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“Adventists don’t need another Luther. They need Pastors & SS teachers who are not so ashamed of the bible and who are not contaminated by SDA approaches in homiletics/teaching.”
It’s true We don’t need Luthers who are not true to the Protestant principle of reformation, “Sola Scriptura”, the bible only. Martin Luther was never true to this principle of Reformation. He used the traditions and the writings of fathers conveniently to his support when he could not find support from the Bible. the bible plainly says, “the just shall live by faith” whereas, Luther adds “only” to the statement making it read, “just shall live by faith ALONE”. According to him the sabbath a Mosaic institution, was abrogated as it was only for the Jews and Christians are under no obligation to observe Jewish sabbath but a Christian sabbath on Sunday. He placed the 4th commandment in his smaller catechism as the 3rd. In so doing he tampered with the law of god and taught people to observe another day instead of the seventh. “shall think to change the times and laws”. He taught child baptism; believed in consubstantiation; believed in predestination (instead of free-will); believed in auricular confessions, and the list could go on. He would never extend his hand of brotherhood to Zwingle because Zwingle differed with him on his position in regard to the Lord’s Spper. He never called him brother. Luther stuck to the traditions and the Catholic Church while Zwingle stood on the Bible alone. Zwingle was more noble than Luther.
Except for his stand against the indulgences, he (Luther) was one in everything with the papal Church, a true son of papacy! Even today the only church closest to the catholic Church is the Lutheran. It was Pope’s (Catholic) initiative to celebrate Luther’s 500th anniversary to heal the old wounds.
Unfortunately Adventists have been lured into it fulfilling the prediction, “When Protestantism shall stretch her hand across the gulf to grasp the hand of the Roman power…” (5T, p. 451, 1889). By honouring Luther who stood for everything that Pope represents, except the indulgences, we have indirectly made an image to the beast in October 2017. Satan has succeeded again. As gideonjrn had stated: “All of this praise, obsession, fixation toward Luther is just another clue to the fanaticism in the denomination.”

The SDA church had “a Luther” regarding JBF “alone.” Des Ford, Like Luther, was put out because the message was “unbearable.”


There is no amount of “Luthers” than can save the SDAC and make it into a truly Christian Church. The problem in this Church is not the absence of “Luthers” but rather the excess of “Whites.”

Unless, and until (if ever!) the SDAC becomes a “Sola Scriptura” Denomination, the discussion of futile and non-biblical theories will absorb our time and energy. My guess is that the SDAC will NEVER become a Sola Scriptura Church.


Preachers & SS teachers who warp bible can warp SOP as well.

My experience is that both are inept. …inside & outside the SDA church.


Good post.

Archbishop Reggio at the Council of Trent spoke that Protestants were not Sola Scriptura because they held to the Catholic tradition of SUNday keeping of Catholics instead of sabbath observance based on scriptures.

People follow people, blind lead blind, most Earthlings = ROM 8:7 God hating Law trashing rebels.

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