This is an excellent essay.
I don’t know why so many Seventh-day Adventists struggle with the concept of expertise. We held a major conference in Glacier View to entertain the opinions, particularly interpretations of Leviticus and Daniel, of Desmond Ford, who was not an OT scholar. Samuele Bacchiocchi dominated Seventh-day Adventist interpretation of Scripture for many years, but he was a church historian, not a biblical scholar. Antitrinitarians, Last Generation Theology oddities, and other non-scholars were put on the Theology of Ordination Study Committee. What predictably followed was the corporate sin of voting down the expertise of our scholars in San Antonio. Many Seventh-day Adventists seek spiritual insight from a zoologist, Walter Veith, who has been certified by Biblical Research Institute as a crackpot. A couple of years ago, I was forced to certify Conrad Vine, who has an undergrad degree in business administration, as a crackpot, given that he loves to spout inanities about politics, religious liberty, law, and other matters that are football fields in length beyond his limited scope of expertise.
We have entire churches that have become houses of crackpots. In Berrien Springs, if you want to thumb your nose at Andrews University and the concept of expertise in general, all you have to do is take a short drive down the road to the Village SDA Church and listen to the likes of Conrad Vine and similar others who are invited to speak.
Of course, the most notorious congregation of crackpots today in our faith community is fulcrum7. If you want to sit among the shards of crackpottery and be told that climate change is a hoax perpetrated by the pope in an effort to control the world, that COVID-19 is no worse than the flu, that vaccinations do more harm than good, that black people killed by the police really died from something else, that the 2020 elections were rigged, that no real assault on our nation’s Capitol occurred on January 6, that the Jews are plotting together to replace white Americans with non-white immigrants, that Muslim-Americans are plotting together to destroy our country, that the physiology of women’s brains disqualify them from leadership, that proponents of women’s ordination have a secret desire to ordain practitioners of gay sex, etc., etc., etc., just go to fulcrum7. I am sure you will want to take a shower afterwards.
What most enrages certain persons I converse with online are two little questions that I occasionally ask: What are your credentials? What advanced degrees do you hold? The gnashing of teeth is palpable. If you want to be mercilessly attacked, just ask these two little questions.
Paradoxically, the meekest and most humble Seventh-day Adventists are those who have advanced degrees, principally because such meekness and humility is relentlessly inculcated into everyone who studies at an institution of higher learning. Everyone has a right to participate in the conversation. If you are participating in a conversation with your betters, make a habit of deferring so that you might learn something. Because my deference to those who know more than I do is exceedingly high, I do not mollycoddle, and I urge none of us to mollycoddle, the haughty and arrogant pretending-to-be-learned in our faith community.