The Pandemic, Freedom of Conscience, and the Priesthood of All Believers

So maybe you have seen the viral video, a "functional medicine doctor" regaling an Indiana school board with his expert insights into the Covid virus, and the shortcomings of the vaccines, and why his scientific insights into the matter are vastly superior to the CDC, NIH, and the Indiana Board of Health who, we are told, care nothing about real science.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/11369
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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.

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All theories-mainstream or otherwise-have one thing in common; there are experts to support each of them.

And if I choose to believe that there’s safely in numbers, as in “I have more experts on my side.”, or decide to accept the foolhardy notion that reality is some sort of democracy where science is “settled” by how many “experts” agree on a given hypothesis, there are countless examples even in recent history to show that reality is unimpressed by this type of thinking. E.g., weren’t there plenty of experts saying that the US would never repeat its disastrous retreat from Viet Nam?

Thus, while I have no letters after my name and a degree in nothing, I’m willing to listen to a variety of opinions. But in the end, I don’t believe that anyone knows what’s best for me than me.

Further, if anyone says I’m cynical, un-American, anti-Adventist, a-biblical, un-Christlike, self centered or just plain wrong to think in this manner, my only rebuttal is to say that there is no option available to me, or any other human, other than to do that which seems right. This despite knowing that some experts—and perhaps even lots of them—will insist that no matter what I’ve decided to do, i had no choice, in their esteemed opinion, but to have done the opposite.:rofl:.

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There are none more proud than those who are proud of their humility. :wink:

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I’m puzzled: Experts on war and “experts” on medicine, science and pandemics are very, very different. Listening to a variety of opinion is, as you say, a good thing. But when five oncologists tell me I have an incurable brain cancer, that should settle the matter. Phil’s point about scholarship and theology is different, certainly. But can one say that there are no crackpot theories about popes and climate change? About QAnon? Are all theories equal?

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Where to begin… So let’s start with the title, with the visual of Luther and symbol of justice (don’t know what the has to do with anything here.) Of all three, I wonder which comes first for the individual. The SDA story used to be that we are to be guided by our conscience as led by the HS even if we have to defy state control of the day we worship. That works on the spiritual level.

“Priesthood of all believers” has nothing to do with whether to get a shot for covid or to wear a mask. That is all about WHOM you trust to tell you the truth about the science. The track record of all those listed in the article is abysmal. They have changed the “science”, followed by mandates, more often than their socks. But, oh yes, they are the expert and our “betters”, who in this case means, they have spent their entire careers in the ivory towers of the “halls of ivy” and have very little contact with the real world.

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and their science stinks so image their socks - lol

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Do you really not know the answers to these questions?!?!

Or are you trying to use a not-so-subtle “guilt by association” argument and lump together anyone who questions your preferred experts in with “experts” who write articles about UFO’s, Bigfoot and Connecticut Ave Pizza Parlors that are really Hillary Clinton’s Secret Sex Shops?

Maybe not but either way, I have a question for you. Do you think it’s reasonable to predict that a person who is raised from birth by “experts” who insist that Santa Claus is real, will likely develop an iconoclastic approach to everyone who holds themselves out as being an authority on anything when he finally learns the truth?

Also, do you see any similarities between that child’s inculcated approach to the supposed esteemed opinions of experts and that of a child who, having been raised on an incessant diet of “inerrant” scripture and the unflagging judgementality of EGW, develops a “Show Me” approach to all statements of absolute authority and so-called “settled science”?

BTW, if you learned that the five oncologists who diagnosed your cancer had been trained in a system funded, at least in part, by people with a vested interest in making money from cancer cases, and which doctors now made their lucrative salaries by treating cancer with techniques that they themselves would not subject themselves to and many of which treatments might only prolong your suffering and ultimately fail, would you still side with their recommendations or would you seek a sixth opinion—perhaps even your own—when it came time to decide what to do in this life and death situation?

“What are your credentials? What advanced degrees do you hold?”
If we were to ask Wm Miller, Ellen Harmon, James White, Uriah Smith et al these questions, would we even have a Seventh-day Adventist Church?

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I suspect when Martin Luther, basking in the glory of his “priesthood” during his later years, began advocating for setting fire to Jewish Synagogues, there were lots of Jews—one suspects even a majority of them—who were unimpressed by his reasoning, despite all of his other achievements, scholarship, and expertise!:rofl::rofl::rofl:

Just because one has an advanced degree and considered an “expert” of sorts does not mean they have "common sense " Example Stephen Hawkings, a bright mathematician to be sure but not very logical when it comes to origins of the universe This is a quote that made headlines. "because gravity exists, the universe can and will create itself from nothing " Does that statement make an logical sense?
The following is taken from the Club of Rome website
“The models are convenient fictions that provide something very useful.”

  • Dr David Frame , Climate modeler, Oxford University

“It doesn’t matter what is true, it only matters what people believe is true.”

  • Paul Watson , Co-founder of Greenpeace

“Unless we announce disasters no one will listen.”

  • Sir John Houghton , First chairman of IPCC

“No matter if the science of global warming is all phony… climate change provides the greatest opportunity to bring about justice and equality in the world.”

  • Christine Stewart , former Canadian Minister of the Environment
    So do you still believe that climate change is a real threat or is it propaganda as it appears to be by these so called “experts”
    True science does not censor opinions All question need to be considered or at least allow to be expressed. This “plandemic” is another example of “scientific” suppression. As soon as one mentions the efficacy of alternative effective therapies they are labelled anti-vaxer.It is becoming clearer that there is little science involved in these global issues Christ has some clear admonition for His followers found in John 8 42-47 He does not mince His words “When he (satan) lies ,he speaks his his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies” The lesson is that satan is in control of the global narrative and "science "being co-opted to give the illusion of truth. In these “last days” the battleground is in the minds of people and truth is our only weapon against these diabolical assaults on humanity
    Dave Okamura
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Agree with majority of your points; but to use Des Ford as an example of people speaking of which they know little is a poor choice. He was an expert in Daniel/apocalyptic literature and the majority of Adventist scholars agree with him and his biblically based conclusions.

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You may be right about Des Ford.

I don’t know him personally or anything about his credibility.

But major point in all of this—i.e., that majority of expert opinion should be trusted above one’s own thought processes—has been shown to be unreasonable in too many examples to ever be considered as the most reasonable option.

Otherwise, SDA-ism should be rejected out of hand as a majority says SDA theology is wrong.:rofl:

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