The Significance of Unity Now

The timing for the discussion of Unity in Sabbath School this week is fascinating, given that the materials for the lesson study guide are prepared several years in advance. And yet, here we are, post Annual Council 2016 when the topic of unity exploded within Adventism, post the London Unity Conference sponsored by ten unions as a response to what happened in 2016, and awaiting this year’s Annual Council when the topic will again be front and center. Can we discuss unity in Galatians without acknowledging the divisive role the word unity has played within our midst over the past year? 

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at


Yes! Indeed. The Holy Spirit is key.[quote=“jjlondis, post:7, topic:13831”]

Dialogue not monologue, creates respect and understanding when we differ theologically. Instead of accusations that one is “wrong,” we need more invitations that you tell us “why you think that way.” And if we still cannot agree, we “live with disagreement,” not in disagreement.

Dr. Londis, @jjlondis, how can this concept pervade our church leadership’s thinking?


Groucho, let’s start with the Headship Heresy. Adventists have NEVER adopted this theory, practiced or promoted it. It came from a fundamentalist denomination in the 1980s and is now being promoted as “Biblical.” Headship is definitely “another Gospel” that does not support Joel’s views of the Last Days. Would you be supporting circumcision these days, too?

[quote=“vandieman, post:21, topic:13831”]
if we really are following the trajectory of ancient israel, an intelligent prediction would be that TW will get his way, and PUC will eventually be expelled.
[/quote] @vandieman

What a ridiculous, senseless, unnecessary result of forcing a framed and calculated vote in San Antonio, then charging upright Adventist members following their consciences with “rebellion.” May God forgive those pushing the Headship Heresy agenda. The blood of “division” will be on their heads.


“Can two walk together, unless they are agreed?” Amos 3:3

Unity in the SDA denomination is absolutely just wishful thinking.
The consecration, sanctification, worldliness levels are all over the map!

I am informed by influential conference officials that many SDA do not study their SS lesson or attend Sabbath school.
75%-90% of SDA have never read the whole bible once.
Barna polls reveal that SDA, for the most part, are not engaged in devotional studies.

There are 7000 waking minutes each week for individuals of which 2-3% are spent at church. Members are influenced by news and entertainment media, resulting in discord.

SDA seminary scholars, conference officials & pastors do not even agree on basic theology.

Take a survey in your church to see how many even read all of 1 & 2 Peter.

Most will not even read the 149 verses of Galatians for this quarter.

What real benefit is there if a large group of SDA members agree that there is a real need for unity and more love?
It is superficial & shallow thinking if they don’t understand how to apply?

Just saying that we need to rely on the Holy Spirit is just a cliché.

Here we are in the 3rd week of one of the most crucial, relevant new testament letters and so many SDA will react…it’s boring…circumcision, law, and Paul chewing out Galatians.

Of all the books in the bible, this is the one most used & most warped (2 Pet 3:16) by deceived Christians to counter law and SDA theology/members.

So what is most interesting to Spectrum readers.?..institutional infighting & discord.

This quarter is a rerun from 2011.Good for the sabbath school department since it is a crucial book. Maybe a few more might actually start or finish reading the 149 verses of Galatians.


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From the cited article: “And if the unity of the believers is a marker that points to Jesus as the One sent from God—the Messiah, the Redeemer, the Savior of the world—then unity in the gospel of John (and in the prayer of Jesus) supersedes even love itself.”

It is a scary thought that some believe that unity supersedes love, because the Bible says that God is love (1 John 4:8). Does unity then supersede God? The only unity I know of that aspires to supersede love is found in Revelation 16:14, “For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.”

The only “unity in the gospel” that can supersede love itself is a false gospel.


Did the Author[s] read into this week’s S.S. lesson in Galatians too much???
The lesson was on the Authority of Paul, as NOT one of the 12, so WHY did he have the power
and authority to say Jewish Tradition [circumcision] was out the window?
And Paul answers that he was called and appointed by Jesus Christ himself, and appointed by
God from birth [like Jeremiah]. And added that he was “sent” to the Gentiles, Peter was “sent” to preach to the Jews.
Actually, if we read everything regarding the Jerusalem council, there were only a few ‘doctrinal" things [if we could call them that] that the Gentiles had to believe beyond “Christ died, Christ is risen, Christ is coming again message”.
However in chapter 5:19-22, Paul does go on to tell what the Spirit of God removes from the lives of the believers, and what the Spirit of God replaces in the lives of the believers.
It is these Gifts of the Spirit – Love [affection for others], Joy [exuberance about life], Peace [serenity], Patience [a willingness to stick with things], Kindness [a sense of compassion in the heart], Goodness [a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and others], Faithfulness [involved in loyal commitments], Self-Control [able to marshal and direct my energies wisely] – that produces Unity among "the brethren and sisteren’.
It is impure thoughts, eagerness for lustful pleasure, greed [idolatry], hatred, enmities, fighting, strife, discord, jealousy, anger, fits of rage, quarrels, dissensions, envy that produce Dis-Unity among groups, including Christian SDA communities – the absence of any Spirit’s Gifts in person’s lives.

In John, the prayer of Christ, Christ is praying for the Disciples to have a RELATIONSHIP among them that He and the Father have. Has nothing to do with one obeying the other. Is not even a Church Business Relationship. It has to do with being very close friends. Mutual respect. No jealousy or rivalry.
Has nothing to do with Doctrinal Belief differences. Has nothing to do with WHO is welcome as a member of the congregation – having a relationship with God – or WHO is allowed to preach the message.
This prayer was dramatically answered on Pentecost and the 50 days preceding it.
After that they went every where preaching the Gospel.

The ISSUE of WHO is allowed to worship with the group, WHO is allowed to be leader of the Congregation and proclaim the Message are ALL MEN MADE RULES.

Groucho – The OTHER Gospel that was being preached by the Judaizers was this — That Faith, Belief in the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ was NOT enough for Salvation. It also Needed, Required Works. Part of the Works was circumcision.
IS WORKS a PART of SDA-ism? The atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ is NOT ENOUGH for Salvation?

Again – what brings Unity is the Gifts of The Spirit as I described above.
What brings Dis-Unity are the behaviors before the Gifts of the Spirit enter the lives of the community.

Harrpa – LOVE for the person has to be more important than punishing them for their behavior.
Treating the CAUSE is more important than punishing the Symptoms.
We as SDAs have been programmed through Many Decades to punish the Symptoms through shunning, and shaming, disfellowship, discarding. We have never developed Church as a Treatment Center for Sinners.
On the other hand, most disagreements have to do with LITURGY – HOW worship is conducted.
What elements compose worship. What “tools” can be used to facilitate worship. WHO is allowed
to conduct worship. WHO can lead, organize the worship? ONLY MEN? Which men? BOTH Men AND Women? Is a Man AND/OR Woman allowed to be the main Leader of the Congregation–Community?


Once again, I turn to the “family” as a model of unity in love for the church. Within any immediate and certainly extended family, there can be significant differences in thinking, decision-making and behavior. Divisions over lifestyle, religious belief and practice, money, politics, raising children, smoking, drinking, drug-use, divorce, adultery (how many more do we need–we all have families) can strain the bonds that tie together to the breaking point. Yet in most cases I have observed, the passion to hold it together always wins, even when the behavior or beliefs are close to intolerable.

In fact, Scripture teaches (see I Cor. on the disciplined member and his reclamation) that even if one must separate the member from church fellowship (in the family, the member is no longer received when drinking too much, or using drugs, or whatever), at that moment the gospel requires we throw our full resources and energy into evangelizing that one back into the family/church! In too many instances, the threats to unity by certain members who are strict and judgmental fracture the church. Or, on the other extreme, unresponsive and irresponsible members who care little that the church is in pain over them, also fracture the church. But the family that prays for them (prays together) stays with them (stays together), often with tears and heartbreak. Reclamation, not alienation, maintains unity. Dialogue not monologue, creates respect and understanding when we differ theologically. Instead of accusations that one is “wrong,” we need more invitations that you tell us “why you think that way.” And if we still cannot agree, we “live with disagreement,” not in disagreement.


I keep a screwdriver in my tool pouch that is at least 40 years old.
It still works fine.
Why do I need to look for another one ?

The following truth, regarding separation and unity, was re-presented by Alonzo Jones at the 1895 SDA GC session, 122 years ago (sermon #11), having come through the mind and words of Paul to the Ephesus church members at least 1,900 years ago, now.
It still works fine.
Why do we need to look for another one ?

~ ~ ~ * * * ~ ~ ~

“ "For He is our peace, who hath made both one."
Made both who one?–God and men, certainly.
“And hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us,
having abolished in his flesh the enmity . . .
for to make in himself of twain [of two] one new man,
so making peace.”
{February 17, 1895 ATJ, GCB 193.13}

Let us look that over again.
"Having abolished in His flesh the enmity."
Now omitting the next clause (We are not studying that in this lesson.),
what did He abolish that enmity for?
What did He break down that middle wall of partition for?
"for to make in Himself of twain one new man, so making peace."
Does Christ make a new man out of a Jew and a Gentile?
Out of a heathen and somebody else?
Out of one heathen and another heathen?
{February 17, 1895 ATJ, GCB 193.14}

God makes one new man out of God and a man.
And in Christ, God and man met so that they can be one.
{February 17, 1895 ATJ, GCB 193.15}

All men were separated from God
and in their separation from God they were separated from one another.
True, Christ wants to bring all to one another;
He was ushered into the world with "Peace on earth; good will to men."
That is His object.
But does He spend His time in trying to get these reconciled to one another
and in trying to destroy all these separations between men and to get them to say,
“Oh, well, let all bygones be bygones;
now we will bury the hatchet;
now we will start out and turn over a new leaf and we will live better from this time on”?
{February 17, 1895 ATJ, GCB 194.1}

Christ might have done that.
If He had taken that course there are thousands of people
whom He could have persuaded to do that;
thousands whom He could persuade to say,
"Well, it is too bad that we acted that way toward one another;
it is not right, and I am sorry for it.
And now let us just all leave that behind and turn over a new leaf and go on and do better."
He could have got people to agree to that.
But could they have stuck to it?
For the wicked thing is there still that made the division.
What caused the division?
The enmity,
their separation from God caused the separation from one another.
Then what in the world would have been the use of the Lord Himself
trying to get men to agree to put away their differences
without going to the root of the matter and getting rid of the enmity that caused the separation?
Their separation from God had forced a separation among themselves.
And the only way to destroy their separation from one another
was of necessity to destroy their separation from God.
And this He did by abolishing the enmity.
And we ministers can get a lesson from this, when churches call us to try to settle difficulties.
We have nothing at all to do with settling difficulties between men as such.
We are to get the difficulty between God and man settled
and when that is done,
all other separations will be ended.”
{February 17, 1895 ATJ, GCB 194.2}


Excellent analysis of time well spent at meetings by Ms. Dwyer. She writes in a manner that makes me wish I had been there. It is important to remind ourselves often that there is diversity in unity, not a uniformity. The parts do not look alike, they do not function alike, yet, they are all important, needed, interdependent, and all work toward the same end, the purposes for which each member was designed in the function of the body as directed by the head and in accord with the creative purpose of God… When we believe in Christ we are joined into union with Christ by the Spirit’s baptism and become members of the body, but by the regenerative power of the Holy Spirit, we are not merely and add on. We miraculously and spiritually become an organic part of the body of Christ. We can be united in our diversity.

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… “conformity to rituals… that have no spiritual value in and of themselves, but serve it [the community] enslaved.”

Might the setting apart by the “laying on of hands” on some selected invidividuals - from among women and men church employees only - be one of those traditions that have kept us from being united as one body in Christ?


"Unity in the SDA denomination is absolutely just wishful thinking.
“It is superficial & shallow thinking if they don’t understand how to apply?”
“Just saying that we need to rely on the Holy Spirit is just a cliché.”

Yes…wishful thinking but possible through the Holy Spirit. No theology nor Bible study will work unless the Holy Spirit is invited into each individual’s heart and soul and this includes the leadership of the Adventist Church. Without this happening there is no hope for the Adventist Church, or it’s members, to spiritually advance and grow. This is the current part of it’s history that the church finds itself in and it will most likely not find peace within the current state of things.

“So what is most interesting to Spectrum readers.?..institutional infighting & discord.”

The fighting and discord is just a symptom of the dis-ease from which the patient suffers from. It would be better to cure the dis-ease then continually treat the symptoms but the leadership of Adventism isn’t about to do that sort of hard work. Schism is the only lasting solution. Here we find ourselves at the crossroads from which there can be no return.

Yes, the division was healed between God and man through Christ. But, the one new man in Ephesians means one new humanity. The breaking down of the middle wall of partition was an allusion to the wall in the temple where Gentiles could not pass upon the pain of death. IOW, Paul was saying that the new humanity that God had created, was the unity of former enemies, Jew and Gentile, in Christ. The enmity that was broken down was primarily that between Jew and Gentile, as signified by the dividing power of the Torah/ law as privilege, defining who was in and who was out. Christ brought all such distinction and division to an end.

The text of Ephesians is filled with this. He made the two one, he brought those who were far off (Gentiles) near to God, giving both (Jew and Gentile) equal access to God. This is the mystery hidden from the creation of the world now made a spectacle to the universe, the uniting of former enemies into the one people of God.

Jews still remained Jews and Gentiles remained Gentiles, but the miracle was that they could sit at the same table in fellowship, because of Christ. It’s why Peter’s walkout from the table at Antioch was so damaging, as seen in Galatians. He struck at the heart of the truth of the gospel. It is why Paul confronted him, and why Paul’s teaching of righteousness by faith is so important, and linked to that incident in the letter. Because, it fights the idea that God accepts people based on religious or ethnic pedigree or privilege. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, but all are one in Christ Jesus.

God makes no distinction, not only concerning entrance into his family, but concerning ranking or perceived importance or privilege within his family. Neither should we.




It’s why Paul goes to great lengths to level the playing field. Those who were near were equally in need of the saving and reconciling grace of God in Christ as those who were far off. IOW…all have sinned, no matter upon what side of the wall they began. Jews and Gentiles, male and female, slave and free, all needed to become "spiritual Jews, " all needing to come to faith in Christ, and all becoming equally accepted and welcomed by God into his new creation, on that basis alone. God made and still makes no distinction. Sadly, we still do!


Right on, Harry! In Galatians, Paul never portrayed that meeting as if James and Jerusalem had any authority over his mission. Rather, if they rejected his Torah free gospel, the reputed pillars would have been out of step with the Spirit. In Paul’s thought, the gospel had priority over the church, it’s councils, and decisions. The only thing in their power was to acknowledge or reject the diversity that his preaching of the gospel and the power of the Spirit had already created. To reject this would have destroyed united gospel mission. Seems we get this whole order in reverse in Adventism, and are bearing the bitter, divisive fruit that results, which Paul called the works of the flesh. From all reports, that’s what the maneuvering in SA 2015 seemed to be!

Additionally, his gospel truly rendered the law as unnecessary, not only for Gentiles, but for Jews as well. No wonder why he was vilified, misunderstood, hunted, and persecuted. This was a seismic shift under a millennium of religious world view and practice! The messiah had come, the banquet was on, get out of the kitchen and quibbling in there over the cookbook! In our own contemporary way, it seems that we’re good at pointing people to quibbling back in the kitchen, as well. For Adventism and its self identity, the gospel and what it implies, especially in Galatians, also represents a seismic shift.


Of course UNITY is good.
UNIFORMITY is also good.
BUT, they are not synonymous, they are not the same.

A big problem is ignited when leaders like Ted Wilson lack the comprehension that UNIFORMITY should not, and cannot be a precondition for UNITY. Just look at how much confusion, quarrel, and disrespect is induced when one totally disregards a simple principle: Unity does not require Uniformity.

A great example is a family that may be very united, very supportive of each other - although they are all different people, there is no uniformity regarding the individuals per se.

The idea that in order to promote Unity one has to push Uniformity (down the throat) on a group is not only disrespectful and sick, it also reveals a serious tendency to authoritarianism. Dictators do that, since they cannot tolerate diversity of any kind. They want everyone to be like them!!! They require everyone to salute them shouting, “Heil…”

It is a disaster when people who do not conform to the expected Uniformity (defined by dictators as bowing down to them) are threatened with “grave consequences,” i.e., some kind of “execution.” And when it happens in a Church, well, it is just repugnant!!! Any dictatorial leader in a Church should be voted out quickly - or never voted in!!!

@elmer_cupino @robert_sonter @niteguy2 @harrpa @ageis711Oxyain


This is what happens when a child fails to transition from concrete thinking to abstract thinking and enters into adulthood. They cannot conceptualize ideas other than those that can be seen, heard, touched or felt. Worse still, they enter into professions that solidify the psychological walls they have built.

Kudos to Paul the Apostle who was able to conceptualize the rite of circumcision into abstract terms and in an inclusive manner.


There lies the heart of the matter; and there also lies the heart of the problem today. While you may recognize the unity of Jew and gentile IN CHRIST, others see the unity as being created by the gentile becoming a “spiritual” Jew through Christ. BIG difference.

Those, who see themselves on the “right” side of the wall, are waiting for those on the other side to come over and join them (through the blood of Christ). For those whose star passage is verse 13 rather than 14, the job of unification is always for those on the other side of the wall. There can be no unity if either side sees itself as authentic and the faithful one.; and the other, as the gentiles who are “far off”. Putting all of Ephesians together, it is possible for preconceived ideas to make the whole thing say - The gentiles (the renegades) can be redeemed by Christ to join the faithful - to become one in Christ. Their own culpability may never be recognized.

Do I sound pessimistic - yap.


this may be true, but unfortunately we don’t have living inspired apostles and prophets to lead out and pronounce biblical meaning in a way that everyone will likely accede to…the problem we have now, which the apostolic church wasn’t dealing with, is the lack of an authoritative voice to which all are willing to yield…

i think our answer may very well turn out to be the answer that occurred to israel in the aftermath of the period of the judges, which featured signature, sodomic sin in gibeah by the tribe of benjamin, which in turn provoked terrible fighting against benjamin by the rest of israel, which in turn probably set the stage for the split between benjamin and ten of the tribes of israel under rehoboam…that answer was the institution of an authoritative royal line, discouraged by the prophets…

in our time, of course, we don’t have the possibility of a royal line…but we do have the possibility of a GC assuming kingly power, which has been discouraged by our prophet…it occurs to me that TW’s vision and practice of GC power is following the trajectory that israel saw fit to take, over and above the counsel of their egw, or the prophet samuel…there just seems to be a sort of inevitability to all of this that nothing can be done to thwart…certainly TW’s point is valid, that we don’t have unity if everybody is free to do their own thing, and that under such circumstances, there’s no point in having a GC, or any kind of church structure…but PUC’s point is also valid…people should be free to follow their own conscience…

if we really are following the trajectory of ancient israel, an intelligent prediction would be that TW will get his way, and PUC will eventually be expelled…i hope church lawyers are working to mitigate the financial implications of this outcome as much as possibile…a split will be less harrowing if our finances can somehow remain intact…

What an arrogant misrepresentation of ACTS 15. THERE WAS NO CHURCH COUNCIL, no announcement, no delegates, no voting. This was a confrontation between Paul and James before a local audience. Well-meaning “missionaries” had been going out from the Jerusalem church harassing the Gentile churches in the Diaspora with the false doctrine that to be acceptable to God Gentiles must not only be converted to Christianity, they must become converted to Judaism! That is, to undergo the initiation rite of circumcision followed by submission to the requirements of the Law (the Torah, the 613 commandments of Genesis-Deuteronomy).

Paul and Barnabus weren’t looking for “allowance” for anything. The Christians in Jerusalem had no authority over other congregations. Paul hoped that James could be persuaded to stop letting infiltrators from his congregation confuse Gentile Christians.

He succeeded—partially. James wrote a letter saying his people would cease ‘troubling” Gentile converts if they would do a few things that Jewish Christians had found to be impediments to table fellowship. James even asked members of his congregation to personally deliver copies of his letter.
James continued to require Christian Jews under his influence to practice Judaism and resented Paul’s teaching them that it was unnecessary. (See Acts 21)