Why We Should Reform Our Theology after Ted Wilson

Part of the difficulty of any sort of unification, Milton, is that the SDA denomination believes it has The Truth, that it is The Remnant Church, that it has the true Spirit of Prophecy, and that all others had better come into line or else they will be classed with the RC’s as apostate. I often heard, growing up, that those who leave SDAism have nowhere to go, having left the last, best hope. This indoctrination is hard to weave one’s way out of, especially for multi-gen Adventists (I know this; my other church is wonderful, who knew?). So imagine how hard it would be for an entire worldwide denomination to make that leap. I don’t see it happening, but splits/schisms? Maybe.


I want to be respectful here. I’d like to fulfill the duty to improve the conversation. I think about an instruction of construction. Can I begin by drawing a few conclusions? Firstly, I chose to offer a few sentences of humble observation on a magazine website known for its challenge of Adventist norms or perceived conservativism and other such labels, add yours here:

This is my first agreement to enter/ re-enter a reality of churchianity that defies my ability to cope or explain to myself the impossibility that modern Adventism offers a person of my background. What is my background? I did not grow up as a Seventh-day Adventist, yet saw the special nature of it’s humble beginnings as the Millerites and subsequent pioneer, fledgling, post-disappointed movement/denomination. Now, after having been exposed to the modern Seventh-day Adventist mentality of questioning the very foundation upon which their very builders stood, I am nowhere in the mix. Is that okay? It probably is with many or most who stir the waters in this pool of refuge.

I’m not here to defend Mr. Ted Wilson. I’m certainly not here to defend the 28 fundamental beliefs. I’m here to ask the ones who are wanting to make these proposed “reforms,” what is the picture you see forming as a result of your proposed changes? As a young person in this church, it must be exciting wielding such power over the elder brethren who have been in the faith a great many years. What of them if your changes stick? What are the fallout elements of your engine for change? Change is very necessary for this faith but the right kind and the right magnitude. What is the scriptural motivation here? Why do you need a code of “fundamental beliefs?” Is that so you know what you believe or so that people who want to believe differently won’t be able to and still be called a Seventh-day Adventist? That’s pretty sad wouldn’t you think? Throw this silly book out your window and don’t look back. We already have a book of fundamental beliefs. The Holy Bible. The end.


actually the amplification of individual culpability highlighted in Ez 18 and Jer 31 isn’t a negation of corporate responsibility, upheld in Rom 5, among other passages…it is still the case that parents transmit Adam and Eve’s acquired guilt and alienation against God to their offspring…this is why no-one is born in Eden, and why everyone must be born again…that is, everyone is conceived and born in sin, and in need of a Saviour, irrespective of what kind of life they eventually choose to lead…this inherited lost state is why no-one can work their way into heaven…

the reality is that both corporate and individual culpability coexist…God wasn’t changing or adapting to changing times when he emphasized a phase of culpability that wasn’t understood at the time…

i agree…while it is arguable that WO, given that it is no longer being punished, is a reform that has occurred during and despite TW’s presidency, it is clear that FB #14 has little chance of clarification as long as TW is president…i do think clarification will likely be one of the first orders of business under a new President…

there’s no chance FB#18 will be changed, or watered down…the vast majority of Adventists see egw as the peoples’ prophet, and one of two reasons the Adventist Church is the Remnant Church of
Rev 12:17…there is a way of understanding egw’s unattributed borrowing of uninspired sources that doesn’t diminish her inspiration, that wasn’t available when her unattributed borrowing was first noted…most Adventists have moved past this particular issue…

FB#6 also has no chance of changing…the 7th-day Sabbath, along with God’s ability to miraculously sanctify us, really does hinge on a supernatural six-day fiat creation…the issue of the actual date of this event, unspecified in scripture and only in terms of 19th century jargon in egw, has no nexus to the actuality of the event itself…without a literal acceptance of Gen 1 and 2, there’s no reason anything in the bible should be accepted, and very little reason why the 7th-day Adventist Church should exist…

As for FB#24, again, there’s no chance of this changing…the book of Hebrews is clear, as is the book of Daniel, when a heavenly context for Dan 8 is chosen (there isn’t convincing evidence that it shouldn’t be)…Ford’s largely preterist take has been dismantled by several Adventist scholars…there’s no reason for anyone to hold to it in the absence of a settled intent to do so…

IJ, when properly understood, has nothing to do with legalism…it has everything to do with justification, although it does frame works as an indicator of intent, as many biblical texts do…dismantling IJ is tantamount to dismantling Adventism…i don’t see it ever being allowed to happen…

i think this third option is the best approach…there is, after-all, always the chance that dissent can produce genuine progress, as the case with WO shows…and if, after attempts to shake things up fail, the Church is better off understanding what it has resisted…there is value in examining and reexamining positions, for all concerned…

As always, nobody understands quite as well as Jeremy.


Out of school I worked with a non-SDA who said of our SDA employer, “There’s nothing wrong with him. Everybody else is just [messed] up!”


No correction needed, Rachel. It indeed would split the church if the IJ fundamental were dropped. What is fascinating about the IJ teaching is its history. The IJ was a means to understand the Edson views of Christ changing ministry in heaven in 1844 and was first publicly stated in 1857 by a Elon Evers, I think that was his name, then James White in the same month (January). Not until June 1857 does EGW use the term. Then, not until 1884 in Spirit of Prophecy Vol. 4 does she use the term (at least what I have found). That is a 27-year span of time which makes the whole history of the doctrine fascinating. In Vol. four she dedicates an entire chapter on it. I would be interested in how much the IJ, during the year prior and after, was being discussed and how widely the discussion was. Another final point, the IJ also helped address another teaching in early Adventism, and that was the early group forming after 1844 was seen as being in the stage of Laodicia by the 1850’s.

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on this front, i think many agree, particularly in the wake of San Antonio, that Church governance needs reform…personally, i think a second voting body to the primary delegate voting body should be adopted…this second body should give each division in the Church equal weight, irrespective of membership…something should not become Church policy without passing both bodies…the GC President should sign into policy the voted will of both bodies, or veto it if it represents less that two thirds of delegates of both bodies and infringes his or her feeling on the matter…

this american style governing system has served the world’s greatest democracy well, and it forces some accountability if delegates to both bodies are subject to a periodic membership vote…

let’s go all U.S. and see what happens…

Not quite sure if you are being facetious or not. This is absolutely not the way to go. Much need reforms could too easily be sweep away.

The power of the GC, and GC President needs to be wound back. The Union’s need to be given a greater autonomy in the way their territories are worked. The GC is a consultative body, not a legislative body.

On one thing I agree. The Divisions need to have equal weight, regardless of membership, but this should be the main body, not a second voting body.

There also needs to be more transparency around the nomination process for GC admin roles. Otherwise we might as well have a college of cardinals and wait for white smoke every five years.

I would also like to see term limits (max two) at every level to move away from professional administrators. At the same time bring in qualified people. Just because someone has a theology degree doesn’t make them a good administrator. Have ministers that minister, not administer.

Do away with the term “president” at all levels. The term seems to bestow a degree of authority that is not warranted. Change it to chairman, or something else less authoritative. The problem starts with how we name the positions.


not if voting bodies have the ability to override a Presidential veto…i’m thinking there should be checks and balances that prevent a President from dictating things that don’t enjoy broad support, but that assist a President with implementing things that do…obviously this puts tremendous responsibility and onus on the President, but that’s why he or she should be sworn into office on the basis of a worldwide membership vote…it’s also why he should only be able to remain in office for two 5-yr terms…

i just think voting directly for a GC president would engage the general membership in a way they aren’t now…a presidential campaign through major camp meetings and other venues for a year or two would clarify issues, and no doubt lead to new, unheard of solutions, that everyone would have the opportunity and incentive to think through, knowing that their opinion actually counts for something…and a series of televised debates among frontrunners, shortly before a vote at a general GC session, would absolutely energize the Church…membership would instantly mean something…i doubt we’d see the amount of recidivism we’re seeing now…

what we definitely need is a check on the ability of larger divisions, with massive delegate counts, to dictate to the Church what they want to see happen, irrespective of the wants or needs of smaller divisions…a voting body where delegates are weighted equally among divisions, in addition to the representative delegate body we have now, together with a functional presidency, and where a majority of delegates and presidential assent are needed for policy passage, could prevent this…and reforms that enjoy broad support wouldn’t get bogged down in Annual Council maneuverings…i think a lot could get done in a hurry, a lot of time and expense could be spared, and everyone would feel better about their Church if a tripartite check and balance governing structure were implemented…

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I would not mind commenting on the Doctrine of Creation, for NT theology is destroyed by denying a biblical Creation and Fall, but I’ll just go with the IJ for now. The IJ is a Biblical doctrine. It was taught by the apostles and Jesus. You guys and gals get all hung up thinking it teaches legalism…

2 Cor 5:10. “For we must all appear before the judgement seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.

Matt 16:27. “For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done.

That is an IJ, and that is the teaching of Jesus and Paul. They both warn us and we should be ready for it. Disobedience will not work. But are we then saved by our works? No, not at all.

John 6:28. “Then they asked him, ‘What must we do to do the works God requires?’

29, Jesus answered, ‘The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.’”

We are not saved by works, but by grace through faith. However, our works will be judged. Deal with it, get over your silly objections, and make allowances. Allow God to change you so you can work under Jesus’; supervision. Allow the blood to cleanse you, then you will be clean, and can be obedient and do the work God has called you to do, and receive his “Well done!”

But our lives will be examined; have your sins blotted out, keep short accounts and be secure in Jesus.


For some of its subsects, one of Christianity’s most fundamental understandings of biblical teachings is that human nature is corrupted from birth by sin and that if left to their own advise and counsel, all humas are on a misguided path to self destruction.

This is an arcane argument, which is not made any more true simply due of its timeworn nature nor by the rationalizations used to prop it up, but if it were so, logic insists that no human should ever be allowed to govern himself in any regard. Instead, a poll should be taken and the role of the governing body of any institution would be quite simple; i.e., the powers that be should set about doing exactly the opposite of fulfilling the governed wishes.

This proposal, as absurd as it seems to both more reasonable and sensitive persons, also clearly jives with those “proof texts” about man’s righteousness being as filthy rags, and how “there is a way that seems right to a man” but that way is wrong, as well as the biblical-but ultimately unprovable-assertion that god’s logic is infinitely advanced beyond that his fallen creatures.

Maybe some day everyone will realize that thinking an entire race could be condemned for one person’s sin is as ludicrous as the idea that one person’s death could repair all of the damage done by 6,000 years of humanity’s alleged alienation from its maker.

But then again, maybe not. And until then, perhaps surprisingly but probably not, aspiring autocrats such as TW seems to be, will almost certainly continue to endorse “somebody else knows best”, top down forms of governance.



Another proof texter.

I thought those were as extinct as the dodo bird but obviously I was mistaken.

Oh well. I made a mistake that one other time back in the 80’s, so I’ll just have to find a way to get over this one.

In the meantime. maybe some others will eventually figure out that an Easter Egg Hunt for Bible passages that “prove” one’s point is exactly like a magician pulling a rabbit out of his hat; these parlor tricks, while perhaps mildly amusing, actually prove nothing.


Yeah, nearly extinct, but a few survive….

Here are a couple more “proof texts.” And there are actually quite a few….

Romans 2:6. … who will render to each person according to his works.

1 Peter 1:17. If you address as Father the ONe who impartially judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay on earth.

Revelation 20:12. And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened….and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds.

Matthew 25:31-46. The parable of the sheep and the goats.


I might add that this allows for the wrongs of the world to be righted. The righteous and wicked are judged at different times, but all must appear before God. A sobering reality.

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The Founders were skeptical of human nature, as is taught in scripture, but also, studying history, realized that most all of human governments lead to tyranny. They therefore set up a system of checks and balances, not to change human nature, but temper its tendency to tyranny.

Marx, on the other hand, had a positive view of man, thinking that eventually a sort of utopia would emerge from the defeat of the bourgeoise. The proletariate would govern justly.

It is ironic that this positive view has led to such evil. Tens or even hundreds of millions killed and thrown into concentration camps as a result of that thinking. Those with the skeptical view have not been nearly so wicked.

It’s time for bed Bruce! At least I am going there. Sweet dreams.

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So you’re saying there are degrees of sin?

Sure, skeptical, nihilistic Christians who believe that the best a person can do only leads to death, have killed thousands but purported atheists have killed millions?

My HS dean refuted that one for me back in the seventies.

Besides, if we’re just talking numbers here, an omnipotent god who allows even one person to suffer for decades and then die-much less who condemns countless billions to similar fates-would necessarily qualify as the most evil monster in the cosmos.

Oh. And instead of addressing the point that proof texts don’t prove anything you go back to proof texting.

Kinda makes the whole conversation pointless as far as I’m concerned.

Tell you what, I don’t know any of the people you quote as sources so maybe we can all get together “soon” in the afterlife and determine who said what and what they meant when they said it.

Until then, I’m not gonna just take your word as a substitute.

I don’t care that the NL has finally caved and joined the AL in allowing it. I’m old school and don’t believe in designated hitters.

(Oh, and BTW, while it seems I shouldn’t have to say this, please note that this is supposedly an adult forum and no one here needs to be told when to go to bed anymore than Jesus needs you to explain his gospel to me.)


We are not saved by works, but by grace through faith. However, your works will be judged.

I practical terms, how does that oxymoron work?


Someone (maybe Yogi Berra?) said:

In Theory There Is No Difference Between Theory and Practice , While In Practice there is.

Does that help explain the contradiction?


But probably only in theory.


The old tired explanation that I heard was that one is saved by grace (justification) and that the natural outgrowth of such justification is that one’s nature changes as one is “sanctified” and such sanctification is evidenced through works. Thus one is not justified by “works”, but “works” is the evidence that one is justified.

Of course this is sheer unadulterated nonsense. It would be as silly as a school headmaster saying “we don’t give achievement awards, only effort awards; but high achievement is the evidence of having put in the effort, so our “effort” awards will go to the highest achievers; but we don’t reward achievement, only effort”.


the meandering answer to this oxymoron is:

  1. because Adam and Eve sinned, all of humanity are guilty sinners and estranged from God…this is because sin is more than the commission of sinful acts or the omission of good deeds…it’s a genetic condition that everyone has inherited…

  2. in addition to being sinful in it’s own right, our fallen human nature predisposes us towards sin…it also defiles and contaminates all the good we think to do, meaning that even our good deeds, inspired and enabled by the HS, truly are filthy, even though this is not our perspective…

  3. because this situation means humanity is lost, and cannot not be lost, but also because God loved us, Jesus consented to save us by paying the full penalty for our situation, even though no-one understood it at the time…the currency of this full payment is an infinitely sin-free life and death…Jesus’ human life was different from ours…he was a fallen human being with a uniquely sin-free human nature at birth…he was able to maintain his sin-free state through numerous direct tests and temptations…because he is God, and therefore infinitely pure, Jesus’ life and death, to the extent he was able to die, atones for the sinful state and acts of all humans who have lived in the past, who are living now, and who will live in the future…had Jesus been born with a sinful nature like us, he would not have been able to be a sin-free sacrifice for our sins and sinfulness…had he been born with Adam and Eve’s pre-Fall human nature, he wouldn’t have been able to leave us an example of overcoming sin in a fallen human nature…had he been born without his divine nature, his sin-free state would not be sufficient to atone for all humanity’s sin and sinfulness for all time…Jesus was what he was in order get the job done that he set out to do, which is our salvation…he was nothing more, he was nothing less…

  4. Jesus is now humanity’s High Priest in heaven…he is continually paying the price for the sinfulness and sins of all those who have accepted him into their lives…he is not continually paying the price for the sinfulness and sins of those who haven’t accepted him, or who say they’ve accepted him, but really aren’t…the way Jesus determines whether we’ve truly accepted him is through our works…our works, because they are contaminated by our sinful fallen human nature, cannot be anything other than sinful…but they do demonstrate, over time, where our heart and intentions lie…the fact that our works cannot save us, or atone for our past, even when they are inspired and enabled by the HS, isn’t a problem…this is because Jesus’ works and life are more than enough to save us…we are always and only saved by Jesus’ works, but our works are important because they indicate what we truly think and feel…it doesn’t matter how our lives stack up with other people’s lives…if the way we are living shows we have truly accepted Christ, this is all that matters…this is because a true acceptance of Christ triggers the transfer of the full sinlessness of Christ to our side…after that transfer, God looks at us as if we are like the sin-free Christ…

  5. ultimately, IJ is a look at works in order to determine who have truly accepted Christ…it isn’t looking at who’s works meet God’s standard for salvation…IJ reflects the assumption that everyone is lost, and that only Jesus can save…it is therefore the use of works to effect a separation of those who show over time that they have accepted Christ from those who haven’t, or who say they have, but really haven’t…

the short, direct answer to this oxymoron is:

  1. our works never, and cannot, save us…but they do indicate, over time, our true relationship to Christ, who is able to save us by his infinite sin-free life and death…


And all without making one falsifiable assertion or verifiable statement of fact.

Thus, every bit of it can be gainsaid without further consideration and for no other reason.

Kind of like receiving a letter grade for a “pass/fail” course that one was only auditing?!?!


Not my actual point, but, sure, there are degrees of sin. You think that there aren’t?

I’m not sure the terms “skeptical” (Christians are supposed to have faith) and “nihilistic” (they generally believe that there is purpose) can be logically attached to the term Christian.

This is a statement of the problem of evil in an omnipotent God’s universe. The best answer is the free will argument, which I believe is adequate to answer this objection. But you may not feel the same.

I never said that I thought proof texts did not not prove anything, you did. You did not answer the proof texts with a refutation, so I am not sure that my providing more was not really the best answer. As far as the judgement goes, the Bible does seem to indicate such a thing, but if that authority is not accepted, we are left with the idea that all the injustice here will go unresolved. But that is part of a worldview without God.

Jesus saves us by grace and then graciously rewards the righteous for the deeds done while in the flesh. .

The righteous recognize that they do not deserve a reward, as all was done through strength and existence that they have received from God, so they cast their crowns at the feet of Jesus. (Rev 4:9-11)

This judgement is described in a way in 1 Corinthians 3:10-16

The wicked are rewarded for the deeds done in the flesh. Since they have rejected grace, they do not receive it. Just a fair just punishment.