The Closing of the Adventist Mind: Three Reasons and Two Solutions

Freedom Restricted I have given a lot of time trying to understand the possible reasons why the majority of Seventh-day Adventists so readily accepts being told what to believe and what to do by the higher authority. My concern is not about Fundamental Beliefs and lifestyle but more about those issues that are specifically relevant to one cultural environment or another, but are considered to be hugely divisive because they are given wider significance than they effectively have. The church has spent an inordinate amount of time, money and energy dealing with one such issue as if its very survival depended on every single believer having the same views on everything. San Antonio has left a sad legacy of how the church deals with such issues.

Unless one has a clear understanding of the reasons behind a situation one can hardly come up with ways to address it. I postulate that there are at least three reasons that explain the intellectual inertia of the Adventist membership at large. The first two are cultural whereas the third is, I believe, psychological. What follows is my personal analysis resulting from many years of working for the church in four different Divisions on different sides of the North/South and East West divide.

1. The Catholic Element The Adventist Church has a worldwide membership of about 19 million. This figure is spread over thirteen Divisions that represent the major cultural and political areas of the world. The membership in the territories of Inter America and South America numbers some 7 million. If we add to that number the 1 million or so members in the Philippines, and the smaller numbers of Adventists that live in predominantly Catholic countries the total members coming from strongly Roman Catholic (including Orthodox) background and culture is probably close to 9 million.

Culture being something that is deeply attached to the human psyche, it follows that converting to a new faith does not necessarily remove all the trace of the culture into which one is born. Indeed one may be willing and able to adopt some or even much of the Adventist subculture without giving up one’s more traditional customs and habits that define one’s particular society. I remember pastoring a Haitian church in Montreal and was fascinated by the fact that most of the members still had a healthy respect, not to say fear, of zombies.

I will therefore postulate that the Adventists coming from a Catholic background will tend to see the leadership in terms similar to that of the Catholic hierarchical structure. A case in point: In 1972 Elder Robert Pierson, then President of the General Conference visited the mission fields of the Indian Ocean. The news agencies in both the islands of Mauritius and Reunion, splashed across page one of their newspapers something to the effect that Pastor Robert Pierson’s position in the Adventist hierarchy was similar to that of the Pope… “The Adventist Pope is visiting Mauritius” wrote a local newspaper. I am personally aware of many church members who referred to the event as the visit of “our Pope.”

The point is that the Catholic mind will readily submit to and unquestioningly follow whatever word comes from Rome. I submit that the majority of our brothers and sisters who live in the above identified territories unconsciously see the General Conference as some sort of College of Cardinals and the President as the Adventist Pope. Therefore it is culturally very difficult to take a position of belief and praxis that is not approved by the highest church authority. Of course the local leadership in those territories will not agree with this assessment but I would maintain that there was lot of that attitude in, for example, the vote taken to limit the freedom of the Divisions in the matter of women’s ordination.

2. The Tribal Mindset A similar overall attitude exists in some of the other territories but as the result of a different cultural value. It is no secret that tribalism is still a factor that must be taken into account to understand much of what Africa does locally and to some extent on the international stage. Many of the early African political figures when their respective countries became independent were tribal leaders or highly placed individuals within the tribes. The key to a long and successful political career, something very difficult to achieve, was their ability to get the different tribes to unite. This was mostly achieved by getting, often bribing the local tribal chiefs to join. When such did not happen the door was wide open to intertribal warfare and much killing.

It turns out that the church membership in Africa is over 7 million. If the number of members who come from non-African countries (Pacific Islands, India, South East Asia etc.) but still operate within the “follow the chief” paradigm were added to that figure, one would have over 8 million that would find it very difficult to refuse directives that were prescribed by the President and the President’s men.

And what about the members that live in former communist countries and who over the communist years were forced to submit to the Kremlin or Beijing Have these members completely lost their powerful sense of allegiance to the powers that be? If not, I believe that they would easily transfer to the Adventist Church hierarchy the same kind of submission that they experienced in their lives under that regime. I witnessed some of that in Paris when a significant number of Adventists from Romania came over after the fall of Communism and began to worship in French congregations.

Of course, it is most probable that the younger generations of these territories have an attitude altogether different to that of the parents. But then, the Adventist leadership is not known to listen to its younger members unless they belong to GYC or some similar conservative body.

3. The Human Condition The third reason undoubtedly has to do with the human condition? Human freedom is a value/reality that most human beings find very difficult to handle. In fact, the research in sociology shows that when called to choose between guaranteed security and personal freedom most people choose security. Imperial Rome manipulated its citizens by offering bread and games.

In the great novel The Brothers Karamazov, the Russian writer Fedor Dostoyevski describes a conversation between the Grand Inquisitor of Seville and Jesus Christ who is visiting the city. It is not so much a conversation as it is monologue because the inquisitor asks the questions then answers them. Jesus does not utter a single word. The old man’s man accuses Jesus of having spurned the possibility of winning the whole world because he would not deprive people of their freedom by performing miracles like turning stones into bread and jumping from the temple tower.

The Grand Inquisitor contends that: “Man prefers peace, even death, to freedom of choice in the knowledge of good and evil”. The old man adds that the church had therefore corrected Christ’s mistake by taking away the people’s freedom and giving them bread, religious/spiritual security and miracles, in return. People are weak and afraid to take the responsibility of freedom, therefore he and his church had had to work hard to fix what Christ had left undone. People, Dostoyevski writes, would rather have others decide for them than do their own thinking.

The Grand Inquisitor blames Jesus for his unwillingness to accept and use power and authority to impress and subdue the people, forcing their allegiance. Again, the Grand Inquisitor unapologetically states that the church has acted in ways to correct Christ’s lack of insight into the people’s psyche.

Granted that Dostoyevski was pointing an accusing finger at the Catholic Church Orthodox or Roman and maybe in an uncanny way predicting Communism. The point is that the temptation to use one’s position in the hierarchy to dictate conscience, thus curtailing freedom, always plagues the individuals who hold power.

My point is that what I have written so far is the actual reality in nine of the world’s Division, which account for 90% of the Adventist population, mostly conservative. Of the four other Divisions two, NAD and SPD are a mix of the traditional and non-traditional attitudes, whereas the two Divisions of Western Europe, the IED and the TED are mostly liberal. The demographics actually make it easy for the leadership to define policies with little or no opposition because the majority of the delegates chosen to attend the GC administrative sessions come from the huge conservative segment of the church.

I feel as though I am walking on eggshells when I write that the reality is unquestionably the source of much unhappiness in the four Divisions whose members wish for more freedom in matters that are specifically relevant to their culture. Nevertheless, the question is what can be done to give back to the believers the freedom of deciding how to live out one’s faith.

Two Solutions, Difficult yet Achievable

1. Redefining “Unity in Diversity” It seems to me that the first issue that must be addressed is that of “Unity” because “Unity” in the deeper things of faith has alas morphed into “Uniformity” in everything.

The church has long prided itself in the slogan “Unity in Diversity.” But diversity is mostly understood only to mean people of different ethnic origins. At no point in its history has the church given a broader meaning to the concept of diversity. The traditional “Parade of Nations” on the last evening of a General Conference session illustrates what Adventist diversity looks like. People of all colours and languages, dressed in multi-coloured national garb, take a 30-second walk across the stage to the wild applause of the thousands gathered on the tiers of the sport stadium. Adventist diversity on centre stage and lauded. These days, the “Parade of Nations” has lost its appeal, accustomed that we are to watch National Geographic documentaries that take us to all the corners of the world on TV.

But the church has never shown any desire and even less intention to expand diversity to include ideas, concepts and practices that might be culturally relevant and meaningful. Missionaries from the United States and Europe made sure that the Pacific islanders wore three piece black suits on Sabbath not withstanding the 100-degree (40 degree C) tropical heat. Telling the youth that it is not acceptable to go for a swim but OK to take a walk in the woods is another of those uniformity ideas that is the practice worldwide. Traditionally, every Adventist congregation the world over follows the same worship format as outlined in the Church Manual. That may help visitors from foreign lands feel at home on a Sabbath morning but in many cases the format does not reflect the local culture or emotional needs. None of the above practices has any biblical foundation but is expected all the same because it is the Adventist way.

I suggest that the Divisions be given the permission to address the non-fundamental matters in terms of how they relate to the local cultures and environments of the respective countries of their territories. Divisions should establish independent research groups composed of theologians, sociologists, ethicists and knowledgeable members to research how beliefs and policies relate to the local situations. Such groups will meet when necessary and their recommendations passed on to the concerned fields. May I add that the presence of representatives of the GC is not required for such matters.

People are more and more culture conscious and culture impacts most aspects if not all of everyday life. I postulate that to decide how matters of faith relate to matters of culture should be the prerogative of the respective Divisions and Unions only. Here again the General Conference should have no mandate to intervene in such issues and most certainly should not have the right to veto the recommendations and decisions. To a large extent this would limit the type of letter recently sent out to the Unions reminding them that the General Conference ultimately retained the right to decide in all matters of governance.

The time has come for some form of regionalisation that gives autonomy to the Divisions to be put in place. This will reduce the constant travel at every level of the hierarchy savings much money. Another huge advantage is that it will save the church the multi-million Dollars that go into organising the quinquennal sessions which actually leave the majority of the world membership indifferent. The question is whether the Division and Union leaders are ready to take such a stand for the sake of better responding to the realities of their territories.

2. Misusing Ellen White and Anti-intellectualism A second suggestion is about how to fight against the anti-intellectualism that is quite prevalent in the church and threatens to take away the freedom of thought. Again, what I am about to write may be very controversial.

The church has a non-written belief that the final word in every situation and about every issue belongs to Ellen White. Many times this has put a stop to intelligent conversations because few believers dare to challenge the long held position. How often one hears the statement, “I apply the Spirit of Prophecy as it reads,” not realising that in doing so Ellen White is placed above the Bible because large sections of the Bible are not taken as they read. Who today follows the prescriptions of Leviticus 20: 18; 15: 16, 19-35 as they read?

The writing of Ellen White should/must be subjected to close exegesis and hermeneutics as is the case for Scripture. The cultural, religious, political and sociological contexts of her writings need to be taken into consideration before many things that she says are applied today. We readily do so for the Bible, why not for her writings? Is it wrong to believe that the church did Ellen White a disservice when it compiled her many one time statements and personal letters into books with titles, strongly suggesting that they were authored by her under inspiration? The danger of such use of Ellen White was demonstrated in the many times Ellen White quotations were used in an attempt to close the debate in San Antonio.

Ellen White wrote that holding a belief for a long time did not necessarily prove that it was correct. May I slightly alter the statement to also mean that it is not necessarily wrong to evaluate Ellen White’s statements themselves in terms of their relevance to present cultural and social realities? I am of the opinion that cultural relevance is no threat to questions of morality and ethics when it is properly and intelligently addressed.

Indeed, unless the gospel is relevant to the people that it wants to touch its impact will be insignificant. It is a cop out to sit back and smugly suggest that postmodern people have closed their hearts to the truth when in reality it is the church that has lost the art of talking to them in ways that they can understand, appreciate, and respond to.

To address the unease caused by the three actual realities described in this article requires bold and innovative ideas. Concerned believers who hunger for change need to be willing to go where no one has been before and be willing to accept the risks that are inherent to any new venture. There will be accusations of betrayal and breaking the ranks. Pressure will be exerted not to overturn the apple cart. But then, was Christ not accused of the same? Luke records that the crowd accused Paul of teaching things against “our people, our law and the temple” (Acts 21: 28). Paul did not back off from doing what he knew the gospel required him to do if he was to win the non-Jews to Christ. He summarised his approach thus in Romans 1:14: “I am owe myself both to the Greeks and non-Greeks…” Paul pushed the boundaries to reach that goal. “I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the Gospel…”

Are our leaders as willing to do what it takes in order to reach out to every cultural group by facilitating the conversation and being relevant?

Pastor Eddy Johnson is the director of ADRA Blacktown and pastors two churches in the suburbs of Sydney, Australia.

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This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/7071
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ageis711

Pastor Johnson has brilliantly assessed the problems inherent in the church organizational structure. What worked efficiently when it was a very small denomination largely located in certain areas of the U.S. it served to bring some cohesion to the scattered members.

Today, that same method is not working in a world church with many and varied cultural norms and ideologies. Attempting to maintain global uniformity in every detail: identical SS lesson plans; Week of Prayer times; identical order of both SS and church services is totally unnecessary and not even designed with the varied congregations who should plan their own services and SS lesson plans according to local needs.

He cited so many items that not only inhibit personal and congregational growth by not allowing each area to design church beliefs and methods that are individually planned rather than emanating from a centralized location in the U.S. when the majority of members are no longer in the origin of Adventism’s birth.

There should be many comments with such a thoughtful, questioning essay. Thank you, Pastor Johnson.

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Just as I’m ready to chuck the whole thing, I read this. Every point is bang on.

When back at my Alma-mater I bought a tract from the required reading section for theology students - "The Grand Inquisitor. It’s been a favorite “go to” read when I’m tempted to give in to the status quo just for some peace.

There are thoughtful people that call themselves Adventists. Thank you.

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Pastor Eddy Johnson’s well thought out article “The Closing of the Adventist Mind: Three Reasons and Two Solutions” presented an interesting scenario. At this last General Conference there was a designated area where delegates could go (Lost and Found) to find anything they had lost during the meetings. It is sad that many believed that our church lost authentic leadership and that finding it, will not be an easy task.

The ongoing problems in our church leadership over the past five years have underscored the need for a new kind of leader in the twenty-first century. The authentic leaders are missing/AWOL in our church. For example, does anyone recall all the courageous and clear endorsements, bulletin inserts, and grand statements on behalf of Women being ordained, prior to San Antonio? Where are the statements, the study groups, the meetings calling for change? Administrative fear and inertia have so gripped the church leaders that a previously mandated and scheduled North Pacific Union constituency meeting was cancelled abruptly, as a result of a direct “strong counsel” from the General Conference.

Bill George, a Harvard Business School professor, and the former chairman and CEO of Medtronic, and his colleagues, conducted the largest leadership development study ever undertaken. They interviewed 125 business leaders from different racial, religious, national, and socioeconomic backgrounds to understand how leaders become and remain authentic. Their interviews showed that you do not have to be born with any particular characteristics or traits to lead. You also do not have to be at the top of your organization. Anyone who is willing to learn and is an authentic/honest person can become an authentic leader.

The journey begins with leaders who are authentic and are able to understand their life stories. It continues with ethical behavior, and a willingness to listen and learn from the wisdom and counsel of those who have been authentic in their leadership. Authentic leaders frame their stories in ways that allow them to see themselves not as passive observers but as individuals who learn from their experiences and have a desire for personal growth. These leaders make time to examine their experiences and to reflect on them, and in doing so they grow as individuals and as leaders. Authentic leaders also work hard at developing self-awareness through persistent and often courageous self-exploration. Denial can be the greatest hurdle that leaders face in becoming self-aware, but authentic leaders ask for, and listen to, honest feedback. They also use formal and informal support networks to help them stay grounded and lead integrated lives.
The authors argue that achieving positive results over a sustained period of time is the ultimate mark of authentic leadership. It may be possible to drive short-term outcomes without being authentic, but authentic leadership is the only way to create long-term results.

Our church is at a critical point in needing real leaders! Where are they?

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(sorry, long response)

I read Pastor Johnson’s article with great interest. I agree with some but not all. I have certainly not done ministry in the many places that Pastor Johnson has so I can’t say he is correct in his assessment of Adventism and cultural/tribalism. I suspect there is truth to that. However, I’m not sure it is particularly relevant.

Pastor Johnson suggests that what happened in San Antonio, where the conservatives put their stamp on a variety of issues including WO was a result of the fact that 17 million of 19 million Adventists come from geographies where culturalism/Catholicism and tribalism cause them to defer to authority. While that may be true, that in my opinion is not why we had those results.

Instead it’s simply a difference of viewpoint.

While this is a simplistic and imprecise definition, conservative Adventists believe in a literal reading of the Scripture and the writings of Mrs. White and feeling that a more expansive reading of the Scriptures is wrong and therefore sin. Pastor Johnson suggested some texts in Lev. of issues not relevant today. Yet, when you read those texts, a conservative Adventist would argue that those are just as relevant today as they were 4,000 years ago. Those texts in fact support their conclusions, not nullifies them.

While I support women’s ordination, and don’t particularly care if God created the world in 6 - 24 hour periods or over 3 billion years and I don’t spend my time telling people I know who are homosexual that they are abominations; I accept that those who have a conservative viewpoint do so for Scriptural reasons which are legitimate to them. To infer that their belief’s are due to tribalism and cultural conditioning strikes me as being insulting.

Pastor Johnson goes on to suggest a couple of remedies. The first is that local geographies ought to be allowed to practice Seventh-day Adventism in a manner appropriate their location and cultures. I’m not opposed to that, but given that the geographies in question are conservative in nature, I don’t see how that addresses issues such as women’s ordination or adding text to confirm that we really, really believe that God created the world in 6 days. Unless as part of that Pastor Johnson is suggesting it means that Divisions who want to ordain women should be allowed to for cultural reasons. I don’t think that argument flies because the WO issue was voted as a matter of doctrine, not just of cultural worship styles (we might agree to disagree on that last statement, but for those against WO it was a point of Scripture and therefore doctrine).

Secondly Pastor Johnson argues that the use of EGW in Adventism ought to be changed. That we should not take her every word transcribed as inspired writings. Again, while I have no issue with how anyone reads EGW, I don’t see how Pastor Johnson’s suggestion would tame the discord between conservatives and liberals (or traditionalists and others - however you want to call it). Telling a traditionalist that they are in error as to how they read and apply Mrs. White’s writings will not convince them they are wrong and we are right. In fact, it will more firmly cause them to believe that we are in sin and they do well to raise their guards against us.

These differences between the two camps of Seventh-day Adventists are hard issues to bridge. I don’t believe that telling the other side all the reasons why they are wrong and dismissing their logic as simply a product of their culture and tribalism is an effective way to bridge the divide. I think a better, but slower way is to firmly state that while we disagree on points, we understand that their viewpoint is legitimate to them. And we affirm the right for them to think as they do. But, also we feel that our viewpoint is legitimate to us and we are not engaging in sin or apostasy because we have a differing viewpoint - AND more importantly we love them as fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.

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I would add another piece to the puzzle.

I think that part of what contributes to a fear of straying too far from authority is the basic, underlying SDA theology that says people are saved by Jesus, but also by correct belief in certain doctrines.

SDAs share with other Christians the fundamental view that if you accept Jesus as your personal savior, you are saved. However, they then start adding salvational beliefs such as the Sabbath and insist that they are also necessary for salvation. They then top it off by stressing that many will be deceived into believing the wrong things and will lose their salvation as a result. People who are Christians will still be lost because they did not believe the correct things.

There is an emphasis on the importance of right belief for salvation, and those right beliefs are the ones delineated by the SDA church, i.e. the GC. By trusting in God’s remnant church, members are less likely to be one of those deceived and they can feel more secure about their salvation. When salvation can slip through your fingers as easily as believing Sunday works just as well as Saturday for worship, no one is safe. The devil is working overtime trying to mess with people’s minds so that they are easily taken in. Best stick with what is “tried and true” rather than trying to change anything and risk becoming a deceived statistic.

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Very true, Beth.

We come full circle back to the fundamental problem with Adventism…all the doctrines that separate it from all of Christendom. We have the truth, you are deceived. Well, I wouldn’t be too sure about that.

Heb 1 tells us that in the past God spoke through prophets, but in the last days He speaks to us by His Son.

The point is…that Jesus fulfilled the law and the prophets. No need for either of these, now that the Promise has come.

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Caroline
"…But in the last days He speaks to us by His Son."
Perhaps these are the reasons WHY it was so important to have the Four Gospels.
Remember, THEY believed THEY were living in the last days.
Even Paul, in one of his letters, stated, WE which are alive and remain will be caught up…"
The Four Gospels preach belief in God the Father, God the Savior in human flesh, God the Spirit that leads into all truth, and Behaviors and Relationships, not so much belief in Doctrines that were salvational.
Perhaps we need to look at the Book of Hebrews as the FIFTH GOSPEL.
The Rest Of The Story, so to speak.
What would happen if the Words of Christ in RED actually became our Collective Experience as a group of 18 Million members?

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The most difficult and impossible suggestion of all.

  1. They believe those who disagree with them should be “shaken” out.
  2. They believe those who disagree with them are participants of everything from witchcraft to intentionally being Jesuits and/or very flawed theologically.
  3. They cannot tolerate the dissonance created by diversity of viewpoints and a broader tent than their narrow viewpoints.
  4. Their assumptions make it nearly impossible to create meaningful conversations or to find common ground.
  5. Closed minds are closed. It takes the miracle of the God of Saul-to-Paul to open them. A Road to Damascus experience.
  6. They are not tolerant of views that deviate from their own, unlike the toleration of diversity and the right to have a varying opinion that characterizes more open-minded seekers of progressive truth.
  7. What we believe in contrast to them is not welcome and is considered sin, spiritual weakness, and not “true” Adventism. In other words, heretics.

Can this even be changed?

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I’m all for diversity, but I’m starting to doubt if this kind of conservative-closed mindset can still be called just a part of this diversity. I’m sure many of those above described conservatives mean well and will one day turn to Christ. But so far they seem to have not grasped the meaning of the Gospel. Which would also mean, that they preach a different Gospel. Beth already mentioned it…the Gospel of salvation through Jesus plus…

yes, the crowd, but in our case this crowd is a huge majority, and even represented in the highest positions of our Denomination.
What are we to do, if it is true that our Denomination at large preaches a different Gospel?

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‘I don’t think that argument flies because the WO issue was voted as a matter of doctrine, not just of cultural worship styles’

I think it was voted as a directive, but you are right, those who voted for, see it as doctrine. Why were the TOSC recommendations ignored? Another waste of money.

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Pastor Eddy Johnson’s article touched on a number of fascinating points. However it seemed to miss a key issues. 17 million of 19 million Adventists believe that our “very survival depended on every single believer having the same views on everything” because they were taught that by missionaries from the United States and Europe. It is part of the Adventist culture we instilled in them. We suppressed their cultural variations. We are now reaping what we sowed. To now suggest that there is something wrong with them for believing us is likely to create more harm than good. I suspect that a humble acknowledgement of our contribution to this debacle should be the first step in reversing course.

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another question…Is something wrong?? I would have expected much more comments to such an article?? (haven’t been here for the last 6 weeks)

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Nice to see you again Marianne. There is a new comment policy in place. Only one comment allowed per article. It has really slowed things down here.

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Steve, this would not work well considering the Adventist interests regarding maintaining the 1844/IJ theory (aka doctrine) alive as if it were biblical because this book completely debunks it.

-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-
@marianne_faust Marianne, good to see you again. The new policy is that one can write only ONE comment here. If you want to participate in an old fashion discussion, you have to go to the “lounge” where there is some of it going on. Access this:
http://conversation.spectrummagazine.org/c/lounge

If for some reason you are denied access, let @JaredWright know and he will grant you access with no problem. Anyone has been allowed to participate there. Hope to see you there soon.

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I grew up Catholic, and find that this article’s characterization of Catholics in relation to ecclesiastical authority is a caricature, at best. The pope was held in esteem for his office, but often disregarded when it came to religious policy…how we were to live. Contraception, abortion, mass attendance, and now gay marriage, etc., were, and are, held as private convictions, not having to do with what he, or church councils pronounced. If what the author describes is the prevailing attitude amongst Catholics in places such as the Philippines or Latin America, I think that other cultural reasons need to be explored as the possible source of an unquestioning obedience to church authority. It certainly doesn’t represent Catholicism, and Catholic attitudes as a whole in North America. I would bet Western Europe is quite similar.

This leads to the possible conclusion that the gulf in attitudes we see in Adventism parallel rather than arise from those in Catholicism, and find their roots more in culture, than in religion. It’s certainly not just due to an oversimplified view, that Catholic attitudes towards church hierarchy have influenced, or are a real source of, Adventist ones.

Thanks…

Frank

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Thanks for this, Pastor Johnson, but I’m not clear: Which of the three paradigms you offer describes the intellectual liabilities of white Westerners, such as those in the U.S., or your country, Australia?

HA

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I am just not sure of the whole basis for the premises above. I think there is more free thinking going on than he admits to, although what he observes does happen.

The vote for TW was high, about 85% or thereabouts. The vote for WO was 58/42%. if SDAs from the more conservative parts of the world think as the author suggests, how come there was not a more lopsided vote against WO? It seems about 20 to 30% of these Catholic/tribalist supported TW, but also WO, going against his position. That is a pretty large group. A change of another 9% (less than one in 10) would have put WO over the top.

The suggestion of a more congregational governance has been made here before. I think Adventists share a fairly consistent world view among themselves. The more liberal among us, and this is a fairly small minority, think differently, but have not managed to graft their thinking into the whole. There is quite a bit of frustration among this segment of the church. This congregational solution is just an outgrowth of that frustration.

Unless the more liberal minded can come to terms with the thinking of the majority, they will eventually decide the Sabbath and healthful lifestyles and other shared beliefs will not have the power to keep them. I think this would be a shame, as liberal thinkers have a viewpoint that conservatives need, in spite of the conflict it causes.

The author’s suggestions will not be adopted, and the leaders will not take up his challenge. Just to much change. Thinking of a strategy to deal with that personally rather than being in constant agitation might lead to a modicum of internal peace of mind.

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Like Marianne Faust I am astonished .No mor replies ??? Ted Wlson admonishes us to only read the LIttle Red books, Canale in AUSS publishes his considerationas about “Adventist Thinking”, the publication of our publishers in the Western World present depictions of lower middle class environments with all the fantastic experiences in those very
social and ecumenical zones and in an especial style of speech (our specific language shapes our thinking, our specific upcome shapes our thinking) - - -and foster, what a Viennes satiric decades ago wrote :

"I carve my enemies according to my arrows "

The now adays maiority thinks in their ways, strangee to us, with other results - this is their righ tand not wrong - but we just cannot follow.

Another example : Somewhere popular hermeneutics I just can not follow. Mark Finley in his contribution to the SS Quartely paralles Song of Solomon 3 : 1,2. and 5 : 1. with Revelation 3 : 20 and givies the assignemnt to find Gods love in those texts . What ? A teenagers dream, a quite unwise reaction to leave bed, bedroom and house - - - and not finding the man of her desire - - and Jesus at the door , wanting to enter and share the meal ? Just because " knocking = knocking = knocking" ? This sis the result of specific hermeneutics : A house is a house is a house.

One of Ted Wilsons first questions when visiting Vienna was : "How do you cope with the persecutions by RCC ? " In reality RCC is meaningless to us and the whole country; we cope with the States Bioethics Commissions and “Educational Guidelines for Schools” and and and - - For example : Kindergarden compulsory with the age of five - long term plans : with the age of one or two - - and practizing the theories of liberal - left education ! - Maran atha !!

Times are not at all easy for us . The “Great Controversy” is no help.

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Gerhard, sie sind alle in der Lounge…

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