The General Conference Inquisition
(The General Conference versus the Historic Adventists)
Inasmuch as we believe the General Conference has launched an Inquisition,
which may result in the separation from the church of several thousand
believers, it will be necessary for our response to be couched in unvarnished
terms and expressed with unmistakable clarity. We would prefer to not do this,
but the circumstances make it necessary.
The Apostasy Begins
Let us take a moment to explain the background and to establish the context
of the present situation. Several years ago certain of us, who were Seventh-day
Adventist ministers with many years of experience in the work of the church and
in proclaiming the truths of the Bible, became aware that some utterly false
Calvinistic doctrines were being brought into our churchís theology. We
endeavored to alert our church leaders regarding the problem, in full confidence
that appropriate corrective measures would promptly be taken. To our surprise
and dismay, our warnings were ignored, and we were dealt with as
"troublemakers" who were disturbing the peace of the church.
We eventually began to warn church members ourselves, by whatever means we
could. This gave rise to a number of ministries, programs, publications (both
books and magazines), schools, etc. But administrative resistance to our work
increased and hardened into bitter hostility. A book called Issues was
published by the leaders of the North American Division, which, along with other
absurdities, alleged that we were trying to "force" our own
peculiar ideas on the church. It described us as a "cancer" on the
body of Christ, which needed to be cut out. This, remember, was because we were
warning church members about the invasion of false doctrines into our church and
were defending the historic Seventh-day Adventist faith in its purity.
Now the General Conference leadership has decided that the time for that
surgery has come. Hence the Inquisition. An Inquisitorial Committee was set up,
which did its work and published a report in the Adventist Review and in Ministry
magazine. It is this report that is the subject of this response.
The Inquisitorial Committee
This group is represented as being most august, qualified and competent, but
this cannot be taken seriously. "By their fruits ye shall know them."
(See Matthew 7:20.) The committee has testified to its own incompetence and
unfairness by the report that it has produced and is now spreading around the
world by every possible means. The report is filled with accusations against
historic Adventists, which range from the utterly false to the outrageously
false. There is absolutely no way that a competent, fair and factual
investigation could have produced such a report as this.
The Inquisitorial Procedure
The procedure consists of three parts: an "investigation" (see
above), some meetings, and the issuance of an ultimatum. According to the
ultimatum, the accused historic Adventist leaders are being given twelve months
in which to "repent" and bow to the authority of the Inquisitors or
suffer the consequences. There is no hint that there will be any fair trial in
which the accused might be given an opportunity to defend themselves. They must
simply accept the judgment of the Inquisitors as infallibleóall of which
reminds us of the Catholic Inquisition in Spain.
A word about the "meetings" referred to above. They may be
represented as "fair hearings," but they were nothing of the kind.
They were only occasions in which the historic Adventist leaders had to spend
time responding to barrages of false accusations. Their concerns about apostasy
in the church were never considered. Nothing remotely resembling a fair and
factual hearing has ever occurred.
The Inquisitorial Falsehoods
Inquisitions work with falsehoods and misrepresentations. This is their stock
in trade. Unfortunately, the General Conference Inquisition is no exception to
this rule. The process begins with a seemingly innocuous statement in the
Öthey affirmed agreement on many of the major elements of the
Seventh-day Adventist faith. Adventist Review, August 2000 (Emphasis
A totally truthful statement would have said all, not many. Using the
word many prepares the readerís mind for the assertion to come later,
that the historic Adventists are holding and promoting some theological ideas
that are simply their own private and peculiar opinions. This is absolutely
and unconditionally false. We have originated no part of our teachings. We
are not promoting our own opinions. We are defending the faith that we were
taught when we joined the church, that we were taught again in Adventist
schools, that we read in Adventist publications until the 1950s, and that are
now set forth in the official statement of faith, Seventh-day Adventists
Believe. And the accusations get worse.
The Inquisitorial Ultimatum
In the Inquisitorial Ultimatum it is alleged that we have added a "new
fundamental belief" to the doctrines of the church that:
"Such change illustrates an independence from the church in doctrinal
matters, as they constitute their own particular views into tests of
faith, independent from the remainder of the church.
Review, August 2000.
The alleged new doctrine is that Christ "took upon Himself our fallen
nature." The claim is set forth that this is only our own particular view
and that such a statement has never been part of the Seventh-day Adventist
Baptismal Vow or of official statements of fundamental beliefs.
Note that the allegation has two parts. First, the idea that Christ took upon
Himself our fallen nature is simply our own particular view. This is not
only false; it is outrageously false. It is an insult to the readerís
Research Proves Us Right
While serving as chairman of a department in the Far Eastern Theological
Seminary, I engaged in research on this subject. I found in the historical
literature of the church a total of 1200 written statements that Christ took
upon His divine nature our fallen nature, yet without sin. These statements were
published between the years 1852 and 1952 in the churchís journals and books.
The testimony of the church to the world was clear, consistent and wholly
uniform during this time. But in 1957 the infamous book Questions on Doctrine
was published. This book totally repudiated the long standing position of
the church concerning the nature of Christ and used utterly disgraceful methods
to introduce a new view, that Christ took upon Himself the unfallen nature of
Adam. A recent volume, Touched With Our Feelings, by Dr. J. R. Zurcher, a
noted Adventist scholar of Switzerland, details how and by whom this was done.
Who were the authors of these 1200 published statements that Christ took upon
His divine nature our fallen nature? Eight hundred of them were written by
Adventismís first line of leadership. The list includes General Conference
presidents, vice-presidents, and secretaries; union and local conference
presidents; college presidents and professors; Signs of the Times, Review
and Herald and other magazine editors; and other ministers and writers. See
my book, The Word Was Made Flesh, for a chronological listing of them
What of the other 400 of the 1200 statements?
They were written and
published by Ellen White, Godís chosen messenger to the remnant church.
False Reasoning and Misrepresentations
So what of the allegation that this is only our own particular view?
Do you see now why I wrote (above) that this allegation is not only false, but
it is outrageously false? It ignores the testimony of Adventismís first
line of leadership in 1200 published statements, of which a full 400 were from
the inspired pen of Ellen White, and it advances the ludicrously false
accusation that the idea that Christ took upon His divine nature our fallen
nature is only our own particular view. Can misrepresentation be
greater than this?
I pause here to point out that this kind of misrepresentation has been a
consistent characteristic of the Calvinistic apostasy from its very beginning.
When the book Questions on Doctrine was published in 1957 it led the way
with a grossly false statement about the nature of Christ. From then until now
that example has been unscrupulously followed by the teachers of false
Calvinistic doctrines among us. Their writings abound in self-contradiction,
false reasoning, and outright misrepresentations. I have written elsewhere about
these matters, and so will not restate them here.
This leads us to the other Inquisitorial allegation, that the statement that
Christ took upon His divine nature the fallen nature of man has never appeared
in any official statement of our faith.
Continuing and Authoritative Source of Truth
If you will secure a copy of the 1980 statement of our faith, which is called
"Seventh-day Adventists Believeó27 Doctrines," (SDAs
Believe), and which was made official at the General Conference of that year,
and turn to page 216, this is what you will find:
Seventh-day Adventists BelieveÖOne of the gifts of the Holy Spirit
is prophecy. This gift is an identifying mark of the remnant church
and was manifested in the ministry of Ellen G. White. As the Lordís
messenger, her writings are a continuing and authoritative source of
truth which provide for the church
comfort, guidance, instruction, and
correction. They also make clear that the Bible is the standard by which
all teaching and experience must be tested. (Emphasis supplied.)
If Ellen Whiteís writings are thus officially described in our statement of
faith as a continuing and authoritative source of truth, and she wrote
400 times that Christ came to this earth in the human nature of fallen
man, how can it be said that this has never been a part of any statement of
And the more meaningful question is this: In view of the fact that our
doctrine of the nature of Christ had been testified to in our publications 1200
times by Adventismís first line of leadership, including 400 statements by
Ellen White, why was this not included in the statement of faith? It
certainly should have been.
A statement of faith is a report. It is supposed to tell us what a
group believes. The only certain way of getting this information is to examine
what the group members have written. This provides evidence that cannot
be challenged. To add to it something that the church has not believed would be
most improper. To leave out of it something that the church has believed
would be equally improper. That would make it a false report. In view of the
enormous body of written evidence that our church believed that Christ took upon
His divine nature the human nature of fallen man, to leave that out of the
statement of faith was in itself a misrepresentation. And we continue.
(Do not misunderstand or misapply the reference to the Bible as "the
standard by which all teaching and experience must be tested." Ellen Whiteís
writings pass this test with flying colors.)
Turning the Accusation back on the Inquisitors
One of the more significant of the Inquisitorial accusations against the
historic Adventists is that we use the writings of Ellen White
"selectively," quoting passages that seem to support our views and
ignoring other passages. We are going to have to turn this false accusation very
firmly and very forcefully back on the Inquisitors. There is an abundance of
What did the church leaders do with the 400 Ellen White statements that
Christ took upon Himself the human nature of fallen man, that I researched out
and sent to them? They simply ignored them.
What did they do with her more than 2000 statements that, by the power of
God, man can stop sinning (which Calvinism denies), that I researched out and
sent to them? They simply ignored them.
What are they doing right now with her clear and Scriptural testimony against
law suits between church members? They are simply ignoring them, while
they continue to launch more and more lawsuits against members. (They try to
cover up by having the members expelled from the church before the suits, so
that they can claim that they are not suing members.) This technical charge may
serve to mislead church members, but will it mislead the God of truth and
righteousness? What do you think?
What are they doing right now with her writings against a false unity that is
based on false doctrines? They are simply ignoring them, while they
continue to publish her appeals for unity. Look carefully at these quotations:
Christ Calls for Unity Based upon Truth
I urge our brethren to unify upon a true, Scriptural basis. 17 Manuscript
Releases, vol. 17, 306.
"We have a testing message to give, and I am instructed to say to our
people, ĎUnify, unify.í But we are not to unify with those who are departing
from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils." Selected
Messages, Book 3, 412.
"Christ calls for unity. But He does not call for us to unify on wrong
practices. The God of heaven draws a sharp contrast between pure, elevating,
ennobling truth and false, misleading doctrines. He calls sin and impenitence by
the right name. He does not gloss over wrongdoing with a coat of untempered
mortar. I urge our brethren to unify upon a true, Scriptural basis." Notebook
Leaflets, vol. 2, 164.
"We are all to unify on the proper basis of unity." Testimonies
for the Church Containing Messages and Warning and Instruction to
Seventh-day Adventists, 55.
"Öharmony and co-operation must be maintained without compromising one
principle of truth." Counsels to Writers and Editors, 79.
The Ostrich with its Head in the Sand
Thus there can be no unity between Adventism and Calvinism. Several
vitally important principles of truth are being grievously compromised at many
levels of the Seventh-day Adventist Church today, and we who have pointed this
out have been called troublemakers. We are now being told that if we do not stop
sounding the alarm, we will suffer the consequences. Consider this comparison: A
ship is traveling through the ocean, and a crewman discovers a dangerous leak in
the hold. He rushes to notify the captain and is met with a stern rebuke.
"Keep quiet," the captain says, "you are disturbing the peace of
the passengers." The crewman persists, and so the captain orders him thrown
overboard. Will this save the ship? What do you think?
"Duly Constituted Church Authority"
Another Inquisitorial accusation against us is that the historic Adventists
refuse to submit to "duly constituted church authority," unless it
agrees with "their own particular views." This is wholly false.
We believe in "duly constituted church authority" as firmly as anyone
does. But we do not put church authority over Bible authority. No true
Seventh-day Adventist does. And we emphatically do not advance our own
particular views as to the meaning of the Scriptures. We accept the statement of
faith in SDAs Believe. But if we are forced to choose between Scripture
and the authority of men unsupported by Scripture, we will without hesitation
take our stand upon the Scripture. No true Seventh-day Adventist would do
otherwise. We reject as unconditionally false the following Inquisitorial
Hope International and associates appear to have taken the
position that their interpretation of the Bible and the Spirit
of Prophecy is the final arbiter over the ChurchÖ
Review, August 2000 (Emphasis supplied.)
We say again, in response to this recurring allegation, that we are doing no
such thing. We are defending the faith of our fathers, not our own
interpretations. Every point of our faith is on record in the book SDAs
Believe. To call this our own interpretation is emphatically to bear false
witness against us. We protest against this misrepresentation and call upon all
fair-minded persons to protest with us.
You Be the Judge
There is only one of the main Inquisitorial accusations against us that is
partially true. Most of us have testified that there is apostasy in the
church. Some others have become so appalled and disheartened by the kind of
thing that we are examining here, and other similar things, that they have gone
further and said the church is in apostasy. Who has it right? I submit
that there is room for honest and reasonable men to disagree on this point. When
we look at the false Calvinistic doctrines being preached in so many of our
churches, being taught by so many teachers in our colleges and seminaries, being
published in so many of the magazines and books coming from our presses, it is
hard to avoid a sense of profound discouragement about the church. Yet we are
warned by Godís messenger that there will be a great apostasy in the church in
the last days. In Testimonies, vol. 8, 41, we read of a great last day
interchange, when "companies" will leave us and "tribes"
will take their place.
How does it all fit together? When our concerns seem to overwhelm us, we may
benefit by looking at this statement:
God has a church. It is not the great cathedral, neither is it the
establishment, neither is it the various denominations; it is the people
who love God and keep His commandments. ĎWhere two or three are
gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them.í
(Matthew 18:20). Where Christ is even among the humble few, this is
Christís church, for the presence of the High and Holy One who
inhabiteth eternity can alone constitute a church.
The Upward Look, 315.
We Canít Do it with Theology
By this time there must surely be some large questions forming in your mind.
Why all of this shadow boxing? Why are the historic Adventists continually being
accused of doing so many things that they are not doing? In order to help you
understand, let me tell you about a personal experience of mine.
I was standing at the door of a room where all of the Union presidents of the
North American Division were in council. I had an appointment with them, and I
was waiting for my proper time to step into the room. As I stood and waited, I
heard one of the presidents say to the others:
"We have to find some way to stop Ron Spear, but we canít
do it with theology, because there is nothing wrong with his
Please read those words again, slowly and thoughtfully. Say them out loud. Do
it several times. When you have these words firmly fixed in your mind, you are
prepared to understand the strange things that are happening in the increasing
tension between the church organization and the historic Adventist people and
their ministries. Let us ask some questions:
- Why are the historic ministry leaders being accused of being rebels?
We have to stop them, but we canít do it with theology.
- Why are they being accused of refusing to submit to church authority?
We have to stop them, but we canít do it with theology.
- Why are they being called troublemakers?
We have to stop them, but we canít do it with theology.
- Why are they being accused of being critical?
We have to stop them, but we canít do it with theology.
- Why are they being accused of starting another church?
We have to stop them, but we canít do it with theology.
- Why are they being faulted for doing things that other groups are not
faulted for, such as
printing, publishing, meeting separately, etc.?
We have to stop them, but we canít do it with theology.
- Why canít you stop them with theology?
Because there is nothing wrong with their theology.
- If there is nothing wrong with their theology, why do they need to be
Because they are rebels, critics, and troublemakers, who refuse to submit
to our authority.
So the dog chases its tail, around and around and around. More could be
added, but perhaps this is enough to give you the picture. Obviously there is
something strangely wrong here. What is it? Bear in mind, dear reader, that it
is all about theology. The questions that the historic Adventist people and
their ministries are raising are theological questions. Their concerns about the
false doctrines being preached in our churches and taught in our schools are
theological concerns. Many of the historic Adventists recognize these false
doctrines as the very ones they left behind when they came out of Babylonish
churches to join the Adventist church.
Dust in the Air
Theological questions require theological answers. Exercises of church
authority will not do. Evasive answers will not do. They are simply throwing
dust in the air. They are applications of the ancient principle that
"those who have evidence will present their evidence, while those who do
not have evidence will attack the man." The historic Adventist ministry
leaders are not evil men. They are not rebels, critics, and troublemakers. They
are dedicated and sincere men who have given their lives to the service of the
church. They have brought thousands of people into the church, and they have a
right to be concerned when they see those people being fed the soul destroying
poison of false doctrines.
And they are entirely correct in their position that teachers of false
doctrines have no authority. They believe in "duly constituted church
authority" as firmly as anyone else does. But God has never authorized and
will never authorize anyone to teach false doctrines. No teacher of false
doctrines could possibly have "duly constituted church authority." And
neither could any church administrator, who supports and protects a teacher of
false doctrines, have "duly constituted church authority." How much
authority did the high priest Caiaphas have over Christ? Absolutely none. How
much authority did the Sanhedrin have over Stephen and Paul? Absolutely none.
How much authority do teachers of false doctrine have over us today? Absolutely
none. Consider this quotation: "We see here that the men in authority are
not always to be obeyed, even though they may profess to be teachers of Bible
doctrine." Testimonies to Ministers, 69.
You Cannot "Balance" Truth with Error
A General Conference vice-president wrote to me that my messages should be
more "balanced." I answered that I could understand how two truths,
such as law and grace, can be kept in balance, but I saw no way that truth could
be balanced with falsehood. I do not think we would like to hear a man say,
"I have been telling the truth all morning. This afternoon I must tell some
lies in order to stay in balance." In similar vein, another high ranking
church official alleged that when a church member stops giving his financial
support to the church, he is violating his baptismal vow. This overlooks the
fact that the baptismal vow, like the marriage vow, is a reciprocal vow,
not an individual vow. The church vows to tell the truth about God. The member
vows to give financial support to that truth-telling. If the church breaks its
vow, and starts telling untruths about God, it no longer has any right to claim
the memberís financial support.
Several references have been made in this article to the false doctrines of
Calvinism that have invaded our church. How has this been done?
When the book Questions on Doctrine was published in 1957 its secret
authors put in it a statement of the false Calvinistic doctrine that Christ
came to this earth in the human nature of the unfallen Adam, rather than in
fallen human nature, as believed and taught by Seventh-day Adventists. A
ludicrous attempt was made to show that even Ellen White believed the false
Calvinistic doctrine, in spite of her 400 published statements to the contrary.
This is how they misused one of her statements in order to accomplish their
On pages 650-651 of Questions on Doctrine the secret authors presented
a passage on the nature of Christ over which they placed this heading:
"TOOK SINLESS HUMAN NATURE"
On pages 497-499 of the book Movement of Destiny, which was published
four years later as a follow-up to Questions on Doctrine, L. E. Froom
presents a similar statement over which he places this heading:
"TOOK SINLESS NATURE OF ADAM BEFORE FALL"
Both headings are followed by a series of brief quotations from Ellen White,
including this line: "He did not in the least participate in sin."
If you look at those three lines for a moment, you will surely have some
questions. What sin was there in the sinless nature of Adam before his fall in
which Christ might have participated? None whatever. There was no sin of any
kind in Adam before his fall. Why, then, did Ellen White write such a senseless
statement? What was the matter with Ellen White? Deeply perplexed, we go to the
source, and discover that as Ellen White wrote it, the statement actually looked
like this: "In taking upon Himself manís nature in its fallen
condition, Christ did not in the least participate in its sin." Selected
Messages, vol.1, 256. (Emphasis supplied.)
Secret Writers Violate Context
The secret writers of Questions on Doctrine cut her sentence in half,
laid the first half aside and put in the last half beneath their own contrary
headings. We gaze at this in disbelief. This is the ultimate violation of
context. The writer has been represented as having said the exact opposite of
what she actually did say. This was done by a scholar with a Doctor of
Philosophy degree, a seminary professor. And this is not an isolated example. It
is typical. In my book, The Word Was Made Flesh, I devote 33 pages to
exposing, point by point, the wrongful manipulations of evidence in the
paragraph presented by Dr. Froom. I also present conclusive evidence that the
statement given to Walter Martin that our church had never believed that Christ
came to earth in the human nature of fallen man was a methodological monstrosity
and a historical fraud. How could it happen? In common parlance this is called skullduggery
(underhanded or unscrupulous behavior.) That is how the false doctrines of
Calvinism were brought into our church, and that is how they have been
maintained and promoted ever since.
What has been the result of this gigantic fraud being perpetrated upon the
Adventist people? Confusion, dissension, strife, and plummeting church
standards. Our colleges and university Bible departments are in a free fall. The
falsities of higher criticism are being taught, and the teaching of evolution is
being urged. A videotape has been sent out from the headquarters of the North
American Division of the General Conference, giving ministers detailed
instructions as to how to convert all of their churches into centers for
celebration worship (read Satan worship).
The teaching of a false doctrine about the nature of Christ has made an enormous
difference. If Christ came to earth in the unfallen human nature of Adam, He
could not have been tempted as we are tempted, and it would be altogether unfair
for us to be called upon to live like He lived. That would be impossible. He
could not be our example, but only our substitute. Thus this false doctrine of
Calvinism leads directly to the second false doctrine of Calvinism, that
Christians can never stop sinning, even through the power of God.
Amazing New "Doctrine" Appears
The two false doctrines are inseparably linked together. Where one goes, the
other goes. Within a remarkably short time, as theological trends go, Adventist
congregations all over the country were listening in astonishment to sermons
affirming as truth the false Calvinistic doctrine that Christians cannot stop
sinning, even through the power of God. A very highly placed theologian at the
theological seminary at Andrews University became so enamored with this false
doctrine that he actually began to teach that Christians sin because God
wants them to sin. Here are his exact words: "It is by the wisdom, not
by the impotence of God that no believer is ever perfect here below. The Lord so
conducts the saints in this life that there should always remain
something to give them freely when they ask, or to pardon them mercifully
when they confess to Him.óFrom notes that he wrote and passed out to a class
of ministers. (Emphasis supplied.)
The Inquisitors allege that the historic ministries are supporting
"dissidents" in other countries of the world. We have no way of
investigating this claim, and we are hindered by a credibility problem. If we
cannot believe what the Inquisitors write about this country, why should we
believe what they write about other countries?
Love for the Pure, Unvarnished Truth
The lowest point in the list of Inquisitorial false accusations is reached in
the statement that it is criticism of the church that keeps the historic
ministries going. This unchristian slur is entirely unjustifiable. It is grossly
false. Nothing could be further from the truth. What keeps the historic
ministries going is the love and devotion of the historic Adventist people to
the pristine purity of the true Seventh-day Adventist faith and their desire to
preserve that faith undefiled by the false doctrines of Calvinism and
Liberalism. It is the steadfast and stubborn refusal of church leaders to
recognize this that is a large part of the problem.
This is why we are confronted today with the appalling spectacle of a large
group of high ranking church leaders sitting down together to concoct a list of
totally false accusations against church members, whose only crime is that they
will not accept the apostasy that is sweeping through the church. Thus the
leaders align themselves with the apostasy. The grossly false accusations that
the Inquisitors have prepared and published would compare favorably with the
work of the Catholic Inquisitors in Spain.
Do I expect that this rebuttal will cause the Inquisitors to turn back from
their folly? Not really. Once men have rebelled against truth in its purity and
embarked on a course that can only be maintained by monstrous
misrepresentations, it is unlikely that evidence of any kind will dissuade them.
Ellen White wrote in Selected Messages, Book 2, 393: "I question
whether genuine rebellion is ever curable."
I have written this rebuttal for the church members. Many of them have been
so deceived by the false accusations, along with the firm refusal to recognize
that the present problem is a theological problem, that they are bewildered and
confused. I trust that this article will help clarify the situation in their
"Reform," is Our Cry
One of the most frequently repeated false accusations against us is that we
are wanting to start a separate church. Nothing could be further from the truth.
We are trying to reform the church that we have loved and served all of
our adult lives. But it is sobering to compare our situation with that of the
Reformers. Neither Luther, nor Calvin, nor Wesley wanted to start a separate
church. They all wanted to reform their own churches. But the stubborn
resistance and opposition of authoritarian church leaders made reformation
within the churches utterly impossible.
"When the Reformers preached the Word of God, they had no thought of
separating themselves from the established church; but the religious leaders
would not tolerate the light, and those that bore it were forced to seek
another class, who were longing for the truth." The Desire of Ages,
232. (Emphasis supplied.)
It has been said that those who cannot learn from history are condemned to
repeat history. We had hoped and we had prayed that this would not prove to be
true in our church. We had shared the hope expressed by Ellen White in these
words: "We hoped that there would not be the necessity for another
coming out." The Ellen G. White 1888 Materials, 357. (Emphasis
But with the General Conference Inquisition moving in on us, what shall we
do? Should we tremble in fear and agree to accept the false authority and the
false doctrines if they will just let us stay in the church?
God forbid! That would be spiritual suicide. We will stand firmly on this
"God has a church. It is not the great cathedral, neither is it the
national establishment, neither is it the various denominations; it is the
people who love God and keep His commandments. ĎWhere two or three are
gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of themí (Matthew
18:20). Where Christ is even among the humble few, that is Christís church,
for the presence of the High and Holy One who inhabiteth eternity can alone
constitute a church." The Upward Look, 315.
The Lord who inspired those words is watching over us and saying:
"Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall
say all manner of evil against you falsely, for My sake: Rejoice and be
exceeding glad, for great is your reward in heaven. Ö" Matthew 5:11, 12.
The General Conference Inquisition
Like the Most High
By Ralph Larson
If I were to ask you, What is the similarity, the likeness,
between a bank president and a town drunkard, what would you say?
If I were to ask you, What is the similarity between a
bartender and a college professor, what would you say?
And, if I were to ask you, What is the similarity between a
thief and a scientist, what would you say?
What about a gambler and a college president? What is the
similarity between them?
I think I know what you would say, and I think I know what you
are thinking right now. I believe you are thinking, "Ralph, those are dumb
questions. There is no similarity at all between those people."
But I would respectfully have to disagree with you. I believe
that there is a point on which these people are not only similar, they are
practically identical. It is on the point of self-idolatry, which Ellen
White describes as "the foundation of all sin." Testimonies,
vol. 9, 27.
Self-idolatry lies at the foundation of all sins.
When we hear the word "idolatry" we think of idols
and images, things carved out of wood or stone, before which people bow and
pray, and even offer sacrifices. In Honolulu I lived for awhile across a narrow
street from a Bhuddist temple where the people bowed and prayed before an image
of Bhudda. In Japan, I visited a temple of a thousand Bhuddas. There were
actually a thousand idols there, standing on their feet in order to use less
room than the more familiar seated Bhuddas. Sri Lanka, the island kingdom to the
south of India, is a land of many idols and images. Idolatry is not always
practiced with images of wood or stone. In Manila I watched a man and a woman
walk with bare feet across a bed of hot coal, and afterward bow before the fire
and pray to it.
I have seen idols and images of many gods, but I have never
seen an image or idol of the god "self," have you? Yet self-idolatry
must be very common, if it lies at the foundation of all sin. We may remember
that Lucifer laid the original foundation, as we read in Isaiah 14:12Ė14:
"How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art
thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said
in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the
stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides
of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the
When we read these words, we think that surely this was the
ultimate insanity, for a created being to think that he could put himself above
his own Creator. Such craziness could happen only once in the history of the
universe, we feel sure. But actually, this self-idolatry is happening
every day, all around us. People on every side of us are daily saying, "I
will be like the most High; I will make my own rules; I will be my own
god." Why do they do this? Because of a grim reality that we do not often
think about but should. We remember that in Genesis 3:15 the Lord said to Satan,
"ÖI will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and
her seed." Let us look carefully at some Spirit of Prophecy comments on
The Lord says, ĎI will put enmity between thee and the
woman.í The enmity does not exist as a natural fact. As soon as Adam
sinned, he was in harmony with the first great apostate and at war with God;
and if God had not interfered in manís behalf, Satan and man would have
formed a confederacy against heaven, and carried on united opposition
against the God of hosts. Signs of the Times, July 11, 1895.
"There is no natural enmity between evil angels and evil
men; both are evil through transgression of the law of God, and evil will always
league against good. Fallen men and fallen angels enter into a desperate
companionship." Youthís Instructor, October 11, 1894.
Note carefullyóthe evil in both men and angels is defined as
transgression of the law of God. That would include everyone in the
world, except sincere Christians, for they are all transgressing the law of God.
This is the basic point in their similarity. Do you see now why I said there is
a point in which the people I mentioned are not different at all? We may divide
them into two separate groups. We would put the bank president, the college
professor, and the scientist in one group and the drunkard, the bartender, the
thief and the gambler in another group and say that the two groups are
completely different, but we would be wrong. Except for the few Christians who
might be found in the first group, they are all alike in their transgression of
the law of God. On this point there is no difference between the drunkard and
the bank president or the thief and the scientist, or any of the others who were
mentioned. They are all practicing self-idolatry. They are all saying, "I
will be like the most High." In their rejection of Godís Law they are
rejecting God, and putting self on the throne, just like Lucifer did.
They are also alike in their association with fallen angels.
There is no enmity between them, and they are in a "desperate"
companionship, although they may not realize it. And what of their relationship
Evil will always league against good.
If you question that statement, just read the newspapers for
awhile. They will convince you. I used to read the well-known statement by Ellen
White, which calls for men who, among other things, are not afraid "to call
sin by its right name." (See Education, 57.) I would wonder then why
calling sin by its right name should require courage, but I do not wonder any
more. People are being criticized, denounced, and even sued for calling sin by
its right name in our time. The "bad guys" are declaring war on the
"good guys" all over the country. Even the Bible is being attacked
because it clearly states that certain practices are an abomination to God.
Add it up. There is no enmity between fallen angels and fallen
men. Fallen angels and fallen men are in a "desperate companionship."
Fallen angels and fallen men are alike in their transgression of Godís Law.
Fallen angels and fallen men are united in a league against good, for
will always league against good.
Once we get this picture clearly in our minds, we are better
able to understand some of the peculiar things that are being done around us by
highly trained and highly educated persons. I once hired a university student to
help me do some work on my evangelistic equipment. As we worked, he told me
about some of his classes. One of his professors, he said, made a point of
telling the students, every few days, that Christianity is dead. "He must
be a frightened man," I said.
"Why? What do you mean?" the student asked.
"If you really believed that a man was dead," I
answered, "would you go back and stick your knife into him every few days?
It looks to me like your professor is afraid that Christianity is not
I digress to make a point of which you might not be aware. You
have probably understood that Christianity must not be discussed in public
school classrooms. This is only partially true. You may freely discuss
Christianity in the public school classrooms as long as you are putting it down,
discrediting it. If the professor mentioned above had taken time, every few
days, to tell his students something favorable about Christianity, he would soon
have been in trouble. Evil will always league against good. We must not
draw the conclusion that highly educated men are exceptions to this rule. They
are not. On this point they are not different from the drunkard, the gambler, or
Getting Away with Murder
I read with astonishment how a highly respected judge, on the
Raphael Perez case, (The General Conference Corporation of Seventh-day
Adventists of Silver Spring, Maryland vs Raphael Perez and the Eternal Gospel
Church of Miami, Florida, Case #98-2940-CIV-KING) let the lawyers for the
General Conference "get away with murder," to use a familiar
statement, in the first few minutes of the trial. The first witness that they
called to the stand was a Seventh-day Adventist lawyer named Clark Floyd. The
questioning went approximately like this:
"Do you have any degrees in theology?
"Are you a member of any theological society?"
"Do you subscribe to any theological journals?"
"Your honor, I move that this witness be dismissed
because he is not qualified to testify in this case." Ibid.,
And the judge dismissed him! And he dismissed the second
witness in the same manner. What a mockery of judicial procedure!
What should the judge have done? He should have addressed the
lawyer and said to him very firmly, "Counsel, this is not a theological
court, it is a court of civil law. We are not dealing with questions of
theology; we are dealing with a matter of civil law. You will please confine
your questions to matter of civil law, and say no more about theology." But
the judge permitted theological questions all the way through the trial. How are
we to understand this? Evil will always league against good. Was the
judge consciously trying to do evil against Raphael Perez? Possibly not. He may
not have even been aware of what he was doing, but the wrongful trial and the
wrongful decision make us keenly aware that Bible Christians cannot expect
justice from worldly courts.
This is underscored by the results of the appeal to a higher
court. The last report that reached me was that this court was trying to settle
the matter through arbitration, whereas they should have declared it a mistrial
because of the mixture of theological matters with matters of civil law. This is
contrary to the constitution, which guarantees our freedom of religion. But we
should not be surprised. Evil will always league
Most Americans are familiar with the tragic story of Aaron
Burr, who challenged Alexander Hamilton to a duel because of some small matter,
and shot and killed Hamilton, while Hamilton, who did not believe in duels,
fired his shot into the air. But public opinion turned strongly against Burr,
and his life went downward and downward until he finally committed suicide. Most
Americans know that story, but few people know of the experience that lies
behind it. While Burr was a student at Princeton University, an evangelist came
to town and preached the gospel. Burr attended several of the meetings, and felt
a strong conviction that he should become a Christian. Feeling the need of some
advice, he asked the President of the University what to do. The President said:
"I cannot tell you whether you should be a Christian. You will have to
decide that for yourself. But I would advise you to wait until the meetings are
all over, and the evangelist has gone on to his next appointment, then think it
over and make your decision, by yourself, as to what you want to do."
Burr accepted this advice. He ignored all of the evangelistís
appeals, and waited until the meetings were over. Then one night, while Burrís
fellow students were studying in their dormitory rooms, they heard a sudden
noise. Looking out, they saw that Burr had thrown open his dormitory window, and
was leaning out and looking up at the sky. He looked for a long moment, and then
the other students heard him say:
"Goodbye, God. I have made my decision."
That is the experience that lies behind the tragic story of
Aaron Burr. We know that the president was not a Christian, because no Christian
would ever give that kind of advice to anybody. The president may have thought
that he was giving Burr good advice, but he was a fallen man in league with
fallen angels, whether he realized it or not.
always league against good.
Put not your trust in princes.
We have to face it, folks. We cannot put our trust in princes
of science, or in princes of education, or in princes of industry, or in princes
of politics. And we cannot put our trust (are you ready for this?) in princes
of the church. Let us go without further delay to the very heart of the
The August 2000 issues of the Adventist Review and Ministry
magazines present a report to the church regarding the activities of such
independent ministries as Hope International, led by Ron Spear; Hartland
Institute, led by Colin Standish; and Remnant Ministries, led by Russell
Standish. It proposes that 12 months will be given to them in which they may
either submit to the authority of the church or suffer the consequences. The
report is filled with grossly false allegations. I have written a firm
rebuttal of the false allegations, which is in the November issue of LandMarks
magazine, and so I will not repeat them here. But it is my painful duty to point
out that these false allegations were concocted and published by princes of
the church. It is an appalling, unbelievable, spectacle, but we must face
it. As in all times of trial, we go to the inspired writings for guidance. Here
is a sampling of what we find there:
As the storm approaches, a large class who have professed
faith in the Third Angelís Message, but have not been sanctified through
obedience to the truth, abandon their position and join the ranks of the
opposition. By uniting with the world and partaking of its spirit, they have
come to view matters in nearly the same light; and when the test is brought,
they are prepared to choose the easy, popular side. Men of talent and
pleasing address, who once rejoiced in the truth, employ their powers to
deceive and mislead souls. They become themost bitter enemies of their
former brethren. The Great Controversy, 608. [Emphasis supplied.]
The "men of talent and pleasing address" may well be
princes of the church. And carefully consider this:
Through his evil angels, Satan contrives to form an
alliance with professedly pious men,ÖHe knows that if he can induce
men, as he induced the angels, to join in rebellion, under the guise of
servants of God, he will have in them his most successful allies in his
enterprise against heaven. Under the name of godliness,he can inspire
them with his own accusing spirit, and lead them to charge Godís
servants with evil and guile. Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary,
vol. 4, 1142. [Emphasis supplied.]
Would you like to sample a foretaste of what she was writing
about? Roy Adams, associate editor of the Adventist Review, provides us
with a sample. In a book that he wrote called The Nature of Christ he
uses the following words to describe historic Adventists and their leaders:
Sour, festering, self-appointed, infected with the virus
of judgmentalism and suspicion, disease, martyr complex, seasoned
controversialists, spirit of accusation, outraged, aghast, scandalized,
pathetic, self-confessed expert, misguided, wrong-headed, steeped in their
cherished position, impenetrable to any theological logic, irresponsible,
almost dishonest, deluded self-appointed gurus, disgruntled, pious
self-appointed prophets, turncoats, charlatans, and scoundrels, like Jim
Jones and David Koresh. The Nature of Christ,
He then describes our reasoning and our writings in these
Mumblings, innuendos, broken faith with the church,
specious theology, perfectionistic agitation, picayune, disgusting,
speciousness, repetitive, exasperating, subtle spin, overblown, vacuousness,
subtle legalism, anger, irritation, anger to new heights, radical
articulation, fuss, ingenious theological gymnastics, willfulness, mischief,
dishonesty, far-fetched explanations, artificial and contrived, totally
fabricated, thoughtlessly, narrow, shallow, facile admonitions, simplistic
pietism, shrill, provincial, manipulate, dogmatism, trap of perfectionistic
legalism, heated, quoted piously, specious reasoning, vehement, inordinate
insistence, maliciously accusing, sharpened tongues, navel-gazing, and
Look again at what Ellen White predicted. The devil will
inspire professedly pious men with his own accusing spirit, and they
will charge Godís servants with evil and guile. Did she know what she was
writing about? Need we wonder what part Adams will take in the court procedures
against true Adventists who are on trial for their faith? And how can we doubt
that Ellen White was inspired? You would think that she had been shown a copy of
Adamsí book. And the book carries on its back cover recommendations from
Adventist scholars and from then General Conference President, Robert Folkenberg.
Make no mistake about it, dear friend. The report and the ultimatum to historic
Adventists that were prepared by princes of the church and published in the Adventist
Review and in Ministry magazine, with all of their grossly false
accusations, are not to be taken lightly. They are obviously inspired by the
same spirit that inspired Adams.
As for the theology that Adams recommends to his readers, here
is a sample. In his argument against the idea of character perfection, Adams
says that some sins, called chataíah in Hebrew, cannot be overcome,
that they are not counted against us, and that they have nothing to do with our
fitness or unfitness for heaven (See Ibid., 97). Let us therefore go to the Old
Testament to see what kind of sins are there defined as chataíah. The
- The sin of adultery into which Potipharís wife tried to
lure Joseph. Genesis 39:9.
- The selling of Joseph into slavery by his brothers.
- The sin of idolatry. Exodus 23:33.
- The rebellion of Korah against Moses, for which he died.
- Eliís sonsí rebellion against the Lord, for which
they died. I Samuel 2:25.
- The planned murder of David by Saul. I Samuel 19:5.
- The multiple sins into which Jereboam led Israel, which
caused God to reject Israel. I Kings 14:16.
- The sins of Manasseh, who filled Jerusalem with blood and
caused Israel to do worse than the heathen. II Kings 21:9, 16.
These sins, according to Adams, cannot be overcome, are not
counted, and have nothing to do with out fitness or unfitness for heaven. Need
we wonder what spirit is inspiring all of this? Put not your trust in
princes, not even the princes of the church.
So How Shall We Relate to These Horrifying Circumstances?
Rejoice. The evidence shows that the
end is near; thank God that we have been given ample warning in advance through
the precious writings of the Spirit of Prophecy. Marvel again at the uncanny
accuracy of Ellen Whiteís words: Professedly pious men
will charge Godís servants with evil and guile.
Do not Panic.
The God who was able
to tell us in advance about the great apostasy in Adventism is well able to
bring us safely through that apostasy and the great time of trouble that will
Do not Retaliate.
Bitter as it is to
be betrayed by church leaders, and to see our beautiful truth trashed by persons
in high church office, we must not return evil for evil. Jesus was calm and
undisturbed while being falsely accused, and by His grace we may do the same. It
may be that some of the false accusers and truth trashers will yet repent and be
Stay Close to the Lord.
and reread the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy. Guard carefully your prayer
program, and cultivate the habit of talking to God while about your daily
Keep Your Guard Up. Put no blind
confidence in anyone. We can no longer take it for granted that persons
in high church office will be truthful with us, either in their words or in
their writings. The situation is grave now, and it will certainly get worse as
the end draws near. But we have read "the last pages in the book," and
we know how it is going to end!
Courage in the Lord!