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Wheat and Tares! 

Part One
None Dare Call It Apostasy
Dt. John Grosboll

Who are standing in the counsel of God at this time? Is it those who virtually excuse wrongs among the professed people of God and who murmur in their hearts, if not openly, against those who would reprove sin? Is it those who take their stand against them and sympathize with those who commit wrong? No, indeed! Unless they repent, and leave the work of Satan in oppressing those who have the burden of the work and in holding up the hands of sinners in Zion, they will never receive the mark of God's sealing approval. They will fall in the general destruction of the wicked, represented by the work of the five men bearing slaughter weapons. Mark this point with care: Those who receive the pure mark of truth, wrought in them by the power of the Holy Ghost, represented by a mark by the man in linen, are those that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the church. Their love for purity and the honor and glory of God is such, and they have so clear a view of the exceeding sinfulness of sin, that they are represented as being in agony, even sighing and crying. Read the ninth chapter of Ezekiel 3T 267.

Part one LAODICEA- the term signifying serious spiritual maladies which is so often applied to the Seventh- day Adventist Church. We have heard it numerous times before and will undoubtedly hear it again. But is it really true that the church is spiritually ill? Some deny it Others acknowledge that fact, but ask, Why does it have to be discussed all the time?

Friend, the most serious problem of the Laodicean church is not her condition of being lukewarm, spiritually blind, destitute of the righteousness of Christ and unfaithful and unloving as described in Revelation 3: 14- 22. The more serious problem of Laodicea is that she does not know this is her condition. The reason Laodicea does not know this is not because the information concerning her condition is not available. This information has been available for decades. The problem is that a large part of Adventists are living in a state of denial of plain facts. They dare not acknowledge and act on these facts because to do so would involve discomfort (maybe pain) and necessitate earthshaking changes in their lives. It is like when a person is told by his physician that he has cancer that is a terrible fact to hear, and a common way to respond to it, initially, is to live in a state of denial, especially if one feels good at the moment. To acknowledge the facts would involve a total revision of ones life, future objectives and plans because cancer will shorten one's life if it is not eradicated or conquered.

In the same way, if Laodicea's problem is not solved she will be vomited out of the mouth of the Lord. Is it being critical for a physician to tell a patient that he or she has cancer? It could be construed that way, but telling the facts is absolutely necessary if the patient is to be motivated to take the steps necessary for recovery. In the same way, the spiritual problems of God's professed people today must be addressed plainly if they are going to be motivated to make the necessary changes so they are not weighed in the balances during the judgment and found wanting.

Friend, as long as God has a church that is in apostasy, He will send messengers to it. These messengers must warn, rebuke and plead with God's professed people to repent, confess and reform or the curse of God will be upon them. Isaiah, one of His messengers, was told to Cry aloud, spare not; lift up your voice like a trumpet; tell My people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins Isaiah 58: 1. Today we are told, In this fearful time, just before Christ is to come the second time, God's faithful preachers will have to bear a still more pointed testimony than was borne by John the Baptist. A responsible, important work is before them; and those who speak smooth things, God will not acknowledge as His shepherds. A fearful woe is upon them lT 321. Everything concerning our future destiny hangs on our accepting God's diagnosis of our problem. The longer we experience a problem, the more used to it we become until finally it becomes difficult to realize how serious the problem really is. This happened in Christ's day. Through familiarity with evil, man had become blinded to its [sin's] enormity DA 752,753. This is one of the main reasons Laodicea is so complacent and there is such a lack of the spirit of Protestantism all of us today have grown up in the midst of apostasy so we are used to it.

What is apostasy?

Paul describes apostasy as being characterized by 1) sin or breaking God's law (2 Thessalonians 2: 3- 8), 2) believing a lie (2: 11), and 3) not believing the truth (2: 12). The Holy Spirit says that in the latter days some shall apostatize from the faith. Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons 1 Timothy 4: 1. For over one hundred years this condition has existed in Adventism. We have had a departure from the historic faith God delivered to us and have been breaking His law, believing lies and not believing the truth, as will now be documented from the Spirit of Prophecy and the historical facts.

One hundred and four years ago the General Conference president, the editor of the Review and Herald and many others in Adventism, rejected the truth God was trying to bring to His people at the Minneapolis General Conference. Although some later repented, the damage which this 1888 apostasy caused is felt even today. One of the principle areas of apostasy in 1888 was the unwillingness to accept the authority of the Spirit of Prophecy one of the two identifying marks of God's people in the last days. But we were not willing to face the facts of this apostasy. We covered it up. Adventism published books showing that we had really accepted the message of 1888 and we were going on to victory. (Examples of such books are Movement of Destiny, Perfect in Christ, Hot Potatoes and Myths of Adventism.) None dared call it apostasy.

But over one hundred years have gone by and we are still here. A few years after the 1888 Conference, Ellen White said that if we had accepted the message God was trying to send us we would have been in the kingdom ere this. There has been an apostasy.

When it was brought to our attention by brethren Wieland and Short that we had not accepted the message in them and none dared call it apostasy. It was not until the 1888 E. G. W. Materials were published that the average Adventist had available overwhelming proof from many testimonies that the 1888 message had been rejected, that our leaders and many others had gone into apostasy.

But that was only the beginning. Another facet of the apostasy m 1888 was authority. Over and over again Ellen White warned against kingly power. There was a power that belonged to God alone and those at the head of the work were not to seek to take some of this power to themselves. In 1888 and onward, testimony after testimony was given in this regard. The words of Jesus in Matthew 20: 25- 28 were to be followed: But Jesus called them to Himself and said, You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many. ' (See also Matthew 23: 8.) Ellen White continued her admonition after the 1888 conference. In 1896 she wrote the following instruction: That which makes me feel to the very depths of my being~ and makes me know that their works are not the works of God, is that they suppose they have authority to rule their fellowmen. The Lord has given them no more right to rule others than He has given others to rule them. Those who assume the control of their fellow men take into their finite hands a work that devolves upon God alone.

That men should keep alive the spirit which ran riot at Minneapolis is an offense to God. All heaven is indignant at the spirit that for years has been revealed in our publishing institution at Battle Creek. Unrighteousness is practiced that God will not tolerate. He will visit for these things. A voice has been heard pointing out the errors and, in the name of the Lord, pleading for a decided change. But who have followed the instruction given? Who have humbled their hearts to put from them every vestige of their wicked, oppressive spirit? I have been greatly burdened to set these matters before the people as they are. I know they will see them. I know that those who read this matter will be convicted TM 76.

At the General Conference Session in l90l, Ellen White delivered a plea for a reorganization GCB 1901, page 25. A decentralization of power, a humbling of self, and a looking to the Lord instead of to man was the call of the hour.

A reorganization was made, one with the approval of Sister White: I am thankful that there is to be a time when the mists will be cleared away. I hope that this time has begun here. We want the mists here to be cleared away. I want to say that from the light given tome by God, there should have been years ago organizations such as are now proposed. When we first met in conference, it was thought that the General Conference should extend over the whole world. But this is not in God's order Ibid. 68. Unfortunately, the plan of reorganization worked out in the 1901 General Conference was not implemented. This caused great sorrow to the heart of the messenger of God.

The result of the last General Conference has been the greatest, the most terrible sorrow of my life. No change was made. The spirit that should have been brought into the whole work as the result of that meeting was not brought in because men did not receive the testimonies of the Spirit of God. As they went to their several fields of labor, they did not walk in the light that the Lord had flashed upon their pathway, but carried into their work the wrong principles that had been prevailing in the work at Battle Creek (Letter to Judge Jesse Arthur from Ellen White, Elmshaven, January 15, 1903).

By the 1903 General Conference, the state of affairs was such (because God's plan failed to be implemented) that the centralization of power gave way in the formation of a General Conference with world- wide dominion, despite protest from a minority. Percy T. Magan who was part of this minority stated that the new plan swept away the organizational principles that had been followed in the 1897 and 1901 conferences and introduced principles that opened the way for a papal form of church government.

In 1901, the Spirit of Prophecy was officially accepted and endorsed. but not carried out in practice. This, my friend. will eventually bring about the same results as an open rejection.

The unwillingness to accept the authority of the Spirit of Prophecy affected not only our ministry, conferences and General Conference, it also affected our educational work.

In 1953, A. W. Spalding pointed out to our educators that we were in transgression of the Word of God in five areas: 1) type of motivation prevalent, 2) type of literature studied. 3) type of recreation, 4) lack of nature study and occupation, and 5) lack of proper parent education. In not a single one of these areas have our denominational schools reformed since 1953, rather we have apostatized even worse than then. In 1953 we were not, for example, engaging in competitive sports with the world as our schools are doing today.

Ellen White herself gave Elder Spalding and Dr. Magan permission to publish the selected testimonies that are now called the Spalding- Magan s Collection. It is in these testimonies that explicit instruction is given in regard to tithe and other matters that is entirely contrary to what we have been taught in the professed Seventh- day Adventist Church. In the late 1950's, when after more than thirty years had gone by and these testimonies still had not been published. a man attempted to print these testimonies and the General Conference threatened a lawsuit

The unwillingness to accept the authority of the Spirit of Prophecy resulted in a large departing from the counsels of God concerning health reform. This fact has been thoroughly researched and documented by Julius Gilbert White in his books. Are our ministers following this counsel in regard to health reform: Let not any of our ministers set an evil example in the eating of fleshmeat? MM 281.

Unwillingness to accept the authority of the Spirit of Prophecy has resulted in theological heresies so subtle that only those led by the Spirit of God and a careful study of the inspired writings detected what was happening.

How bad would it have to get before we would recognize there Is an apostasy?

Item: If we started to hypnotize Seventh- day Adventists in churches, would we then recognize that there was an apostasy?

[The tape of Dr. Bill Loveless is available for those who need evidence that hypnotic techniques are being taught to our pastors to be used on their congregations.]

Item: If we took fellow Adventists to court and put people in jail who were keeping the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus, would anyone recognize an apostasy?

[In 1989 John Marik was put in prison for using the name Seventh- day Adventist in his church in Hawaii, which was not under conference control]

NOTE: When troubles arise in the church we should not go for help to lawyers not of our faith. God does not desire us to open church difficulties before those who dont fear Him. He would not have us depend for help on those who do not obey His requirements. Those who trust in such counselors show that they have not faith in God. By their lack of faith the Lord is greatly dishonored. and their course works great injury to . . . .

These men cast aside the counsel God has given, and do the very things He has bidden them not to do. They show that they have chosen the world as their judge, and in heaven their names are registered as one with unbelievers. Christ is crucified afresh, and put to open shame. Let these men know that God does not hear their prayers. They insult His holy name, and He will leave them to the buffetings of Satan until they shall see their folly and seek the Lord by confession of their sin 3SM 299.

Item: If we started playing intercollegiate and inter- city sports with non- Adventist colleges, would anyone recognize an apostasy? [Intercollegiate sports are happening in more than one of our colleges and the Review and Herald has its own team in an inter- city softball league.]

Item: If fiction became required reading in our denominational colleges, which led to the dramatization of a Greek myth that contained false doctrine of the undying soul, would someone credit it to apostasy?

[ The Mask Man will be presented at Southern College during an assembly program October. . . . The Mask Man is a solo performance that demonstrates the power and magic of transformation. It will be presented by its producer, Robert Faust. The cast of characters includes a guru, a nerd. a hippie, a nun, a turtle, an android and many more. From a tabloid shopper that was sent free to every resident of greater Chattanooga, Tennessee.]

Item: If our college young people were encouraged to do good on the Sabbath by helping non- SDA neighbors by scraping and painting houses, preparing for the foundations of low- cost homes to be poured. etc., would anyone recognize an apostasy?

[See Insight magazine, August 3, 1991, page 6, Holy Heresy, where author Steve Daily reports these and other activities which were performed by 800 students and 50 staff at La Sierra College.]

Item: If the music that has its origin in spiritualism and which is condemned by the Spirit of Prophecy found its place, not only in the homes but also in the churches of professed Seventh- day Adventist people, would someone begin to comprehend something of an apostasy?

[A few years ago we condemned the activities of the Pentecostals as being of the devil another spirit. We recognized their music as being of the devil, their speaking in unknown gibberish as being of the devil and especially pointed out the fact that any spirit that does not speak according to the law and to the testimony has no light in it (Isaiah 8: 20). Now we are doing the same things, some of our pastors having gone to the Pentecostals and brought the same style of worship into Adventism! Does anyone recognize an apostasy'?] [A church youth group in California was taken to a Christian hard- rock concert performed by Petra.] Item: If movie going and worldly entertainment became the norm at our high schools and colleges and reviews of these vile movies were published in some of the college newspapers, would anyone dare credit it to an apostasy?

[At Walla Walla College, reviews of the local showing movies are published in the student papers. (For counsel on theatrical performances from the Spirit of Prophecy on this, see 4T, 652- 653 or RH 2- 20- 66.]

Item: If fornication, pre- marital pregnancies and pornography became almost common occurrence m our schools, would someone begin to question the possibility of an apostasy?

Item: If our leaders maintained fellowship with other leaders who were living in sin and persecuting the true and the faithful, if the sinners were retained in the professed church while the true and faithful were disfellowshipped, ostracized. persecuted and forcibly separated from all connection with the General Conference, would anyone recognize there was an apostasy?

[During the first World War, Seventh- day Adventists who would not serve in armed forces on Sabbath or bear arms were not supported by the Seventh- day Adventist leadership. As a result, many went to prison and some were executed. After the war, an appeal was made to the General Conference to correct this error. The appeal was rejected and to our present knowledge the guilt of this blood has not yet been purged by repentance and confession. Yet, none dare call it apostasy.]

[In 1982, theologians met in Lima, Peru, to discuss unity of doctrine regarding baptism, the eucharist and ministry. They unanimously recommended a statement on these three doctrines for the official response of the churches. On the Faith and Order Paper #11, they state Adventists as one of the churches who agreed to this recommendation.]

Item: If people who are living in open sin are retained in churches and true and faithful Seventh- day Adventists are stripped of their offices and sometimes disfellowshipped. would anyone recognize an apostasy?

[After approximately 1,400 Hungarians were disfellowshipped for protesting the Church's membership in the Council of Free Churches, there was an attempt to bring them under the control of the very organization that had been persecuting them or else ruin them. They were told to stop all gatherings, not hold religious meetings, not receive offerings or early on their religious duties. When the true and faithful Seventh- day Adventists are disfellowshipped, if none dare call it apostasy the curse of God will be on us all (See Pilgrims Rest Tract WM- 140, July 1986; also Our Finn Foundalion article by Marshall Grosboll, 11/ 88)]

Item: If Seventh- day Adventist college alumni associations began sponsoring Easter sunrise services at one of our denominational college chapels, would you think someone would acknowledge an apostasy?

[In 1992, Atlantic Union College's Alumni Association invited the alumni to an Easter sunrise service.] Item: When administrators attempt to cover up sin in the ministiy or the sins of the wealthy and prominent, instead of calling for repentance, confession and reformation of life, would anyone recognize apostasy?

Item: If ministers who teach the people they can live on in sin until Jesus comes and still be saved are retained, but true and faithful ministers who preach the three angels' messages are fired or dismissed. does anyone recognize an apostasy? [List: Ken Knutson, Marshall Grosboll, David Bauer] Item: If a hierarchical church government were developed among those who professed to be the remnant church, would someone recognize an apostasy?

[The apostasy was made evident in the 1970's in the Merikay Silver case (The U. S. vs the SDA Church in EEOC vs PPPA). It was clearly proclaimed in this case that the SDA Church is hierarchical. It was also claimed in this case that the General Conference of the church is the only body having authority to alter the structure of the church, either in doctrine or organization! (No church has the authority to modify doctrine that is a prerogative of Deity alone and to make such a claim is blasphemous.)]

Item: If leaders began to say that Jesus did not come m fallen, human nature, and therefore, was different from you and me in that we cannot hope to overcome sin as He did, would anyone admit to apostasy?

[The Questions on Doctrine apostasy was first pointed out by Elder M. L. Andreasen. He wrote, We have reached a crisis in this denomination when leaders are attempting to enforce false doctrine and threaten those who object (Letters to the Churches, #3, by M. L. Andreason, page 8). A Saviour who has never been tempted, never has had to battle with passions, who has never offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto Him who was able to save Him from death, 'who though he were a son' never learned obedience by the things he suffered, but was exempt' from the very things that a true Saviour must experience: such a Saviour is what this NEW THEOLOGY as given in Questions on Doctrine offers us. It is not the kind of Saviour I need, nor the World Ibid. 7.]

Item: If a majority of Seventh- day Adventist pastors and teachers began to teach that we can be saved in sin, which is to teach a different gospel than has been historically taught in the Seventh- day Adventist Church, would anyone begin to realize an apostasy? [A main tactic for thousands of years by a church that is in apostasy is to attempt to keep the truth from being examined by the people. The leaders in Adventism have repeatedly done this: Included in such discussions have been related theological concepts such as the nature of Christ, the nature of man, the nature of sin, perfection and the question as to whether it is possible for a Christian to live a sinless life.... We are requesting that we refrain from involving ourselves in public presentations [about these matters].

Adventist Review, May24, 1979, Open Letter to the Church, by Neal C. Wilson.] Item: If an SDA minister who has preached the historic Adventist message for approximately fifty years, has pastured some of our largest churches and taught theology in Adventist colleges and seminaries and never been shown to be preaching heresies denied credentials without due process and is not even allowed a hearing~ would anyone recognize an apostasy? This, friend, is a very basic transgression of God's law. But, none dare call it apostasy! Laodicea does not want to hear about this apostasy. Either it is denied or others say, Yes we know there is apostasy in the church, but why do you want to talk about it all the time? Friend, as long as God has a church that is in apostasy, He will send messengers to it (Isaiah 58: 1). These messengers must warn, rebuke and plead with Gods professed people to repent, confess and reform or the curse of God will be upon them. The curse causeless shall not come Proverbs 26: 2.

Part Two

Since many have asked, the following is a statement that was prepared by Elder Ralph Larson to present to the Prex- Ad Council of the Pacific Union Conference on February 18, 1992. This is a group of about twenty administrators of conferences, colleges, hospitals and ethnic groups who consult together before meeting with the Union Committee.

Although Dr. Larson had been told that he would be given thirty minutes and had prepared his paper accordingly, he was cut off when fifteen minutes had passed and was told that the administrators could read the rest of the paper later. Yet the council made their decision to affirm their denial of his honorary ministerial credentials after Dr. and Mrs. Larson left the room, apparently without waiting to read the paper, a tragic lack of due process.

This information is being shared, not for purposes of malice or revenge, but so that others may understand what actually was said and what they may possibly encounter when placed in similar circumstances. Our trust must be wholly in the Lord and in His truth, and we must firmly resolve to stand for the right though the heavens fall.

Part two by Ralph Larson

We come before you today because we understand from the Lord's counsels that this is our Christian duty. We are sure all would recognize that a hearing conducted after judgment regarding my credentials has already been made, would not be described as justice in any judicial system in the world. We find this principle expressed in the question put to the Pharisees by Nicodemus: Doth our law judge any man, before it hear him, and know what he doeth? John7: 51.

In our situation, the answer would appear to be, yes, it does. More troubling still, to those who are concerned about the principles of fairness, is the fact that this group is not the proper body to either conduct a hearing or make judgment regarding my case. Proper procedures would have required a hearing

We would do well to remember that in every' judicial proceeding, not only is the accused on trial, but the court is also on trial.

before the Union Conference Committee, which has been empowered to issue credentials, and that such a hearing have been conducted before judgment was made.

And there is yet another cloud over these proceedings. Elder Castillo wrote to me:

At our past Union Executive Committee, it was voted to deny your honorary ministerial credential.

Yet, four members of the committee have stated that my name was not mentioned in their meeting, and so was neither discussed nor voted upon. Elder Mostert, while conceding that the minutes contain no record of an action denying my credentials, told me over the phone that my name was placed before the executive committee and the reasons for denying my credentials were fully explained. He suggested that the four committee members might have all happened to be out of the room at that particular time.

In any case, it would seem that basic principles of fairness would require that if a minister who has given his life to the service of the church, whose life and character have never been questioned, whose theology and preaching is the same as that presented in Seventh- day Adventists Believe, and whose ministry has resulted in more than five thousand persons being added to the church by baptism, is to be denied honorary ministerial credentials, this should be properly done by a duly authorized body, and the action and reasons for it should be fully and specifically stated in the committee records and announced to the church. This would, of course, require that a hearing be conducted before a decision is made, and that the accused be provided an opportunity to face his accusers and respond to their accusations.

This proper procedure has not been followed. Yet the editors of Ministry magazine have quickly seized upon the action that was taken, and in spite of the grievous irregularities, announced to its world- wide constituency that my credentials had been denied. Since no reason has been given, speculation is now arising as to whether I have been found guilty of financial fraud or gross immorality. Questions of this nature are reaching us and are very troubling, not only to us but also to our two children who are workers in God's cause. We do not believe the Lord appreciates this manner of dealing with one who has rendered Him a lifetime of service and whose present problem is simply that he has been found defending the principles of our faith as set forth in the book Seventh- day Adventists Believe.

We would do well to remember that in every judicial proceeding, not only is the accused on trial, but the court is also on trial. We do not believe that you ~ gentlemen have served yourselves well by the manner in which you have dealt with this case. Neither have you served well the church or the Lord. We believe this group has a moral responsibility to set this matter right, and it should be done now, not after my death, as in the case of Elder M. L. Andreason. We believe I am entitled to a fair trial regarding my theology and ministry before the Union Executive Committee. If that committee, after a fair trial has been conducted, votes to deny my credentials, we believe a full statement of the specific reasons for that action should be made, and the statement published in Ministry magazine.

But now may we suggest that we lift our eyes from the individual tree we have been examining and spend a few moments considering the forest as a whole. it is apparent that there is division in the church. We would like to offer a few thoughts regarding:

Division: Its Nature, Its Causes, and Its Cure.

Division is most easily defined as the opposite of unity. We all believe that unity in the church is precious. It is priceless. Unity was the great burden of the last recorded prayer of Jesus for His disciples (John 17). Unity was what made possible the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. Unity was one of the major factors that gave power to the Seventh- day Adventist Church as it emerged from the Millerite Movement.

What is the basis of this precious unity? Paul calls it the unity of the faith Ephesians 4: 13. He further describes it as speaking the truth in love, verse 15, and indicates that those who have this unity of the faith will not be carried about with every wind of doctrine verse 14.

Ellen White describes the search for unity in 1844:

We would come together burdened in soul, praying that we might be one in faith and doctrine; for we knew that Christ is not divided TM 24. [All emphasis supplied.]

Their prayers were answered. They did become one in faith and doctrine, and they bestowed that legacy of unity upon us. Our church has enjoyed a phenomenal degree of unity throughout most of its history. We who have spent years in soul- winning work have found it an enormous advantage to be able

No one has any Independent authority apart from Christ and His word SDAs Believe 146.

to tell our converts they were uniting with a worldwide church that had a oneness in faith and doctrine over all the earth.

But notice how God has warned us through His messenger that unity must be based upon faith and doctrine:

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 fulse, misleading . . . . I urge our brethren to unify upon a true, scriptural basis 1 SM 175.

We are to unify, but not on a platform of error Series B, Freedom in Christ 47. Our church has not unified upon a platform of error, but upon a platform of truth. Our doctrines have been the foundation of our unity, but if wrong doctrines are introduced, causing the foundation of truth to crumble, we will struggle in vain to preserve our unity. The wise man does not build his house upon the sand.

At various times in the history of Christianity, there have arisen tensions between Christians who had differing views of what constitutes sound declines. Instead of meeting this problem on the theological level, church officials have sometimes tried to resolve it on the basis of church authority. This has never been and never will be successful. Ecclesiology must be derived from theology. Theology cannot be derived from ecclesiology, lest it degenerate into ecclesiolatry.

Our doctrinal book states: Christ exercises His authority through His church and its specially appointed servants, but He never transfers His power. No one has any independent authority apart from Christ and His word' SDA s Believe 146.

Whatever the church does that is in accordance with the directions given in God's Word will be ratified in heaven 7T 263.

The church . . . . must say about sin what God says about it. She must deal with it as God directs, and her action is ratified in heaven DA 806.

This brings us immediately and specifically to the heart of our present problem. There is a wide- spread and rapidly growing conviction among many church members, especially in the North American Division, Australia and Europe, that some of our church leaders are emphatically not saying about sin what God says about It, but rather are saying that we will all keep on sinning until Jesus comes, at which time He will miraculously fix us so we will never sin again. This makes our sanctuary doctrine nonsensical and invalidates the Spirit of Prophecy, which repeatedly endorses the sanctuary doctrine.

These concerned church members recognize that this strange new doctrine is out of harmony with our historic faith, out of harmony with the Scriptures, and out of harmony with the Spirit of Prophecy in which there are literally thousands of statements affirming the reality of victorious Christian living, and at least forty- eight warnings against the idea that Christ will change our characters when He comes. (See our Tell of His Power.)

This is manifestly a theological problem, and it needs to be dealt with on a theological level. Church members do not see this as a minor issue. They see it as one which vitally concerns their eternal salvation. But when they question or challenge this strange new doctrine and ask, Why is the church not saying about sin what God says about it as stated in Seventh- day Adventists Believe? they often find, to their bewilderment, that they are accused of being divisive trouble- makers who are attacking the church.

More tragically still, the response of church officialdom to questions, appeals, and protests, consistently reflects a desire to ignore the theological dimensions of the problem and to issue appeals for unity, supported by stem admonitions about the authority of the church. Within the last thirty days I received a letter from a conference president which said frankly, Most of my response will be from a practical point of view, rather than a theological approach, yet the matter at hand was theological in nature.

Thus we see a tension between a concept of truth and a concept of church authority. When the disciples of Jesus were summoned to appear before the Sanhedrin, they went gladly, anticipating an opportunity to express their convictions of truth about Jesus. They found, however, that the Sanhedrin proposed one question only, Do you submit to our authority?

Result the church was split.

When Martin Luther and his companions were summoned to appear before the emperor, they also went gladly, hoping for a discussion of the principles of scriptural truth. But they were confronted with the same question, Do you submit to our authority? Result the church was split.

Today we find ourselves caught up in a similar situation, and we may well reflect about the past. It has been said that those who cannot learn from history are condemned to repeat history. Surely the lesson of history is clear that theological questions must be

There is a wide- spread and rapidly growing conviction. . . that some of our church leaders are emphatically not saying about sin what God says about it.

given theological answers, and that unity will result if the theological answers are sound and persuasive because they bear up well under scriptural investigation. The introduction of false doctrines into our platform of truth cannot but bring division. Fair- minded people everywhere will judge that the division is caused by those who introduce changes in our theology, not by those who prefer to maintain our historic theology unchanged.

It cannot be denied that, in a certain sense, truth is divisive. Note the words of Jesus on this point:

Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter- in- law against her mother- in- law. And a man's foes shall be they of his own household Matthew 10: 34- 36.

When truth and error meet, division may be the result, but should we blame the division on those who teach the truth?

This leads us to the questions of responsibility and guilt Jesus unquestionably created division when He came to this earth. But was this wrong? Should He have stayed in heaven in order to avoid creating division? Would the unity that might have resulted been desirable? Clearly the apostles created division wherever they went. But again we ask, Was this wrong? Would it have been better for them to have hushed their voices for the sake of unity?

One of the most bitter accusations hurled at us as a people has been that by preaching the Sabbath we created division among Christians. But has this been wrong and has not the accusation of divisiveness been hurled at all reformers? We read in Signs of the Times, January 28, 1886:

Reformers of the present day will meet with the same discouragements as did their Master.

Neither is there anything new about the same, strange misjudgment we meet today: When controversy is awakened, the advocates of truth are accredited with causing disturbance ST, 10- 17- 95.

The following counsel is timely: Now as in former ages, the presentation of a truth that reproves the sins and errors of the times will excite opposition.... Elijah was declared to be a troubler in Israel, Jeremiah a traitor, Paul a polluter of the temple. From that day to this, those who would be loyal to truth have been denounced as seditious, heretical, or schismatic.... This spirit will increase more and more. . . .

In view of this, what is the duty of the messenger of truth? Shall he conclude that the truth ought not to be presented, since often its only effect is to arouse men to evade or resist its claims? No; he has no more reason for withholding the testimony of God's word, because it excites opposition, than had earlier Reformers GC 458- 459.

When truth and error meet, division may be the result, but should we blame the division on those who teach the truth?

Several months ago we received an urgent request to conduct a seminar in a church in this Union. The people there had many questions, which we answered from the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy. As we were leaving, they gave us a tape and suggested we listen to it on the way home.

The tape turned out to be a message that had been presented to them by their conference president a few weeks before our visit. On several points, he had told them the exact opposite of what we had shown them. Here is a sampling of the president's opinion regarding perfection of character.

Is it not extremely discouraging to us to discover, as we look back through the annals of history, to discover [sic] that no one except Jesus has ever reached that perfect standard, at least so far as we know? If Jesus is the only one so far who has reached that perfect standard, it doesn't give us a great deal of encouragement, does it, to be able to accomplish what the great spiritual giants of the past were not able to accomplish.

We, of course, had known nothing about this, so we had walked right into trouble. We had shown them our research report entitled Tell of His Power, which contains 2,500 statements from Ellen White's writings, all of which strongly affirm the possibility of character perfection through the power of Christ. Worse yet, we had shown them a chapter in our book which records 48 warnings from Ellen White that there will be no change of character when Christ comes. We had also shown them a chapter which contains 37 statements from Ellen White regarding persons who have achieved character perfection. Jesus was not the only one, according to the Lord's messenger. Her list of champions includes the patriarchs, the apostles, Enoch, Elijah, Joseph, Daniel and John. She writes:

Souls that have borne the likeness of Satan have become transformed into the image of God AA 476.

Thousands have set the Lord before them, and by beholding have been changed into the same image COL 133- 134.

Some few in every generation from Adam resisted his (Satan's) every artifice and stood forth as noble representations of what it was in the power of man to do and to be Christ working with human efforts, helping man in overcoming the power of Satan RH 3- 3- 74.

In every phase of your character building you are to please God. This you may do; for Enoch pleased Him though living in a degenerate age. And there are Enochs in this our day COL 332.

This is only a sampling. We had shown them many other Spirit of Prophecy passages that could not be harmonized with the opinions of the president. As we were driving along and listening to the tape, Jeanne turned to me and said, This is it, Ralph. This is going to cost you your credentials.

So on that day we began to prepare our minds for the experience through which we are now passing. Yet, what else could we have done? Should we have

Elder Mostert wrote me a letter which began with these words:
I despair with you over the fact that so many of our church members are finding It necessary to turn to independent ministries in order to hear basic Adventist teaching.

withheld the truth from the people in order to protect our position? No doubt the president's visit, followed by ours, created some division of thought in that district Who is responsible for that division? What would be a fair judgment? And what would be God's judgment?

We are not suggesting that this is the only dynamic working in the situation. We had earlier incurred the displeasure of the officers of the Division. Elders Bradford, Crumley and Dale had asked Dr. Frank Holbrook of the Biblical Research Institute to prepare a theological rationale to be used against independent ministry leaders. This paper was then sent to Ron Spear, along with warnings that he must submit to the authority of the church.

But, unfortunately, Dr. Holbrook had spread his net in such a manner that the first victim would have been Elder Bradford himself. After comparing independent ministry leaders with the rebel Satan and the rebels Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, Dr. Holbrook had set forth two theological aberrations that called for disfellowshipping members from the church, views we historic Adventists hold regarding 1) the human nature of Christ, and 2) righteousness by faith.

When this paper came into my hands, I wrote to the Division leadership, pointing out that on November16, 1988, Elder Bradford had written a letter to me containing the following lines:

. . . . my views on the human nature of Christ are almost identical with some that you and others have expressed. I have preached them at large gatherings and camp meetings around the world.

This is precisely the fault for which Dr. Holbrook had recommended disfellowshipping holding a wrong view about the human nature of Christ and disturbing church members in other countries about it. He had also argued that our view regarding righteousness by faith is not in the book Seventh- day Adventists Believe. It is actually stated in that book l40 times!

I pointed these things out in a letter to the officers of the Division, and they were most displeased. Therefore, when Elder Mostert told me that the Division officers were in favor of denying my credentials, I was not surprised.

This paper by a member of the Biblical Research Institute may be taken as a sampling of the incredible theological confusion that exists in the church today. It is beyond question a theological problem which urgently needs to be dealt with on a theological level. The longer this is delayed, the greater will be the damage to the church. Our people have historically had an orientation toward truth. Many have left other churches and united with our church for the sake of truth. They have recognized that placing confidence in church leaders above devotion to the truth is a danger to be avoided. They have accepted the principle of individual responsibility for studying and knowing the truth and have turned away from the concept that the church is the interpreter of Scriptures. They have accepted Ellen White's statement that:

The Bible with its precious gems of truth was not written for the scholar alone ST 331.

Therefore, it is a serious mistake to meet their urgent questions and concerns about our truths that have been held sacred with evasions and dissimulations. Suggestions by leadership that historic Seventh- day Adventists think they are the only ones in the church who know the truth, or that they are setting themselves up to be the judges of the church, or that they consider themselves to be the only holy ones, are recognized by many church members as simply throwing dust into the air. These tactics have a disastrous effect upon their confidence in leadership.

The historic Adventists, numbering in the thousands, are most emphatically not a group of crackpots and weirdos. They are not a group of malcontents and fanatics who turn to independent ministries simply as an expression of their rebellious spirit They are, for the most part, loyal, steadfast church members who have faced Sabbath tests, endured opposition from families and friends and have persevered in their devotion to the Lord and His sacred truth in the face of formidable odds. They turn to the independent ministries for a reason that has been well stated by our own Union president, Elder Mostert. On May 1, 1990, Elder Mostert wrote me a letter which began with these words:

I despair with you over the fact that so many of our church members are finding it necessary to turn to independent ministries in order to hear basic Adventist teaching.

Where will they go to hear basic Adventist teaching when the independent ministries have been destroyed, as seems to be the intention of the present church leadership? No doubt you have heard of the addresses given by our General Conference president at such places as the camp meeting in Hope, British Columbia, in 1991, which seemed to be a declaration of open season on the independent ministries and those who support them. I have tapes of those messages, and some of the statements are as awesome as they are inaccurate, intemperate and inflammatory.

But these messages have apparently set the pace, and in response, equally inaccurate and intemperate tirades have already been published by two Union presidents in their Union papers. I am finding it increasingly difficult to persuade the church members to whom I minister that these false accusations are made in ignorance and not in malice.

If the independent ministries are successfully destroyed, what can we expect to happen then? Can anyone seriously suppose that those church members who, as stated by our Union president, have had to turn to independent ministries in order to hear basic Adventist teaching will then meekly submit to authority and give their support to those who have destroyed the independent ministries? Can we expect them to just forget that their theological questions have not been answered? And, are we remembering a fact that was expressed to me recently by a retired Union Conference president:

I hope that our brethren will remember that our conservative members are the financial backbone of our church.

Which leads us inexorably to the question of tithe. As I have testified that the historic Adventists are not weirdos and crack- pots who support independent ministries simply as an expression of their rebellious spirit, I also wish to testify that neither do they send tithe to independent ministries because they prefer to do so. They would much rather send their tithe through church channels but feel they cannot conscientiously support the preaching of false theology.

I wish to address myself to an enormous misunderstanding that I regard as one of the major factors in our present problem. We hear much talk and many accusations about the independent ministries soliciting tithe. No independent ministry of my acquaintance has ever solicited tithe. Brethren, I plead with you to believe me when I say that the independent ministries do not solicit tithe, because they do not need to solicit tithe. It comes to them unsolicited, unbidden, unrequested. It is freely and voluntarily contributed by church members who are trying to relieve their consciences of a heavy burden.

This is the effect. What is the cause? The cause is the lack of preaching basic Seventh- day Adventist truths in their home churches and often supplanting them with either empty pablum or errors borrowed from Babylon. The cause is emphatically not the eloquence and trickery of a group of skillful con men who are leading independent ministries, as some seem to believe. To suppose that crushing the independent ministries and leaving the problem in the churches unresolved is a fearful mistake.

It was in response to the many urgent questions of such church members that I researched the matter and published my findings in the September, 1991 edition of Our Firm Foundation, in an article entitled, The Tithe Problem, Who Is Responsible? This article was a straight- forward and factual report of my findings on that subject. I stand ready to modify or correct my conclusions at any time evidence is presented to me that would justify such a modification or correction.

Unfortunately, some of the responses to that article have been something less than straightforward and factual, so much so that the office of the White Estate has made clear that the article on tithe published in the Review was a private project of Roger Coon, done entirely independent of either the White Estate Board or the White Estate staff. Of the many problems in the Roger Coon article, I would mention two. Coon argued that when Ellen White used the word means, this generally referred only to offerings and not to tithe. We are presently aware of 168 occasions when Ellen White went into print using the word means in a way that included tithe. Why did an officer of the White Estate not know this?

Again, Coon faults those who make reference to the Watson letter, since Ellen White had stated she did not desire her diversions of tithe to be widely

God has a church. It Is not the great cathedral, neither Is it the national establishment . . . It Is the people who bye God and keep His commandments UL 315.

advertised. This overlooks the fact that the entire relevant portions of the Watson letter were published by the White Estate itself in 1981 (see Ellen G. White, The Early Elmshaven Years, 395- 396), and again in 1987 (see 2MR 99- 100). Why did an officer of the White Estate not know this?

In summary, may I quote the second sentence of the letter written to me by Elder Mostert on May 1, 1990:

Obviously, one of the most unmet needs in the church at the present time is the lack of opportunity for leaders to dialogue with members in a meaningful way that does not create further frustration.

I agree with and heartily applaud this statement It echoes the cries we hear from hurting and bewildered historic Adventists all across the continent: Why will not our leaders talk to us? Why will they not listen to us? Why will they not investigate our condition to determine whether our appeals are valid? Why are we considered trouble- makers because we are holding to the doctrines that are set forth in the book Seventhday Adventists Believe? Can our leaders not recognize that antagonistic doctrines are being preached in many of our pulpits, taught in many of our schools, printed in our publishing houses and circulated in the Review? Is it their intention to support these false doctrines?

Further, they ask, Why do our leaders identify us as evildoers and enemies of the church when we finally give up appealing to them and turn in despair to places where our historic faith is being defended? Why do they use their power and authority against a minister who is widely known as a defender of our historic faith, while the facilities of some of our largest churches remain open to one who is equally well- known as an enemy of our historic faith?

Jeanne and I are presently ministering, by their invitation, to thousands of historic Adventists in this country and in other countries. In the year 1991 we spent forty of the fiftytwo weekends conducting seminars in defense of our historic faith. (We pause to mention that we receive no remuneration whatever for conducting these seminars. The people pay only our expenses. We are sure you can understand how perplexed the historic Seventh- day Adventists are when they read in a Union paper that we are doing this for our own financial benefit.) We are presently fully booked for 1992 and into 1993.

We are able to report to you that the conviction is spreading among these historic Adventists that they are going to be hounded out of the church. They feel this is the only possible understanding of the inflammatory tirades that are being published against them. They are observing closely those situations in which illegal church discipline is being applied and disfellowshipping has already begun in flagrant disregard of the provisions in the church manual. One of the most evident characteristics of these actions has been and is continuing to be a lack of due process.

The historic Adventists remember that when Dr. Desmond Ford launched a vigorous assault against our sanctuary doctrine, the principles of due process were carefully followed. Every effort was made to ensure his case was dealt with in a fair and prudent manner, and rightly so. The historic Adventists are also noting that even though Dr. Ford is now attacking much more than our sanctuary doctrine and contributing very largely to the present apostasy in the church, the facilities of some of our largest churches remain open to him.

They are contrasting this with the fact that in a Pacific Union Recorder of 1991 an announcement stated Ralph Larson would conduct a seminar in the Beaumont Church on July 26 and 27 entitled In Defense of the Sanctuary. Before six weeks had passed, he had lost his ministerial credentials, without due process. This speaks volumes to the historic Seventh- day Adventists. Why, they are asking, is there so much patient tolerance toward those who attack our faith and so little toward those who defend it?

These developments are causing historic Adventists to consider carefully the proper relationship between the truth, the church and church authority. They are asking, Is it a valid theology of church authority that requires us to surrender the truth and accept false doctrines or is this a misuse and abuse of church authority? Is it a valid theology of stewardship that requires us to give financial support to the preaching of false doctrines? Is it a valid theology of church order that brands the preaching of truth as

The present division in the church Is a tension between our true historic faith, as described In Seventh- day Adventists Believe, and the Incompatible doctrines of modern Calvinism.

divisive, while tolerating the preaching of untruth? And, in the ultimate sense, what is the church? Let the Lord through His chosen messenger provide us with the answer:

God has a church. It is not the great cathedral, neither is it the national establishment . . . it is the people who love God and keep His commandments. UL 315.

We are directing your attention to the reality that the present division in the church is a tension between our true historic faith, as described in Seventh- day Adventists Believe, and the incompatible doctrines of modern Calvinism. We hold that it is unreasonable and unfair to charge this division upon those ministers and church members who wish to cling to our historic faith. The responsibility for division should be laid at the door of those who are promoting the false doctrines of Calvinism among us.

We believe that every administrator has a sacred obligation to encourage and support those who are defending our historic faith and not let himself be manipulated or maneuvered into an attitude of opposition toward them by camouflaged accusations of divisiveness, etc.

We are presently hearing that Dr. Desmond Ford is broadcasting that many of our scholars and administrators are now accepting his theology. This charge cannot be well met by silence and inaction, which will cause people to conclude that the allegation must be true.

Kenneth Sample, successor to Walter Martin, reports that when he took a survey of fifty- six ministers in a single conference in this Union, fourteen admitted to disbelief in the biblical basis of our sanctuary doctrine and thirteen more passed by that question while answering the other questions in the survey. Thus, about half of those surveyed could not bear a positive testimony in regard to the doctrine of which Ellen White wrote:

The correct understanding of the ministration in the heavenly sanctuary is the foundation of our faith Letter 208, 1906; EV 221.

Surely it is time for the officers of this Union to resolutely lead the way in ascertaining what persons, in the classrooms of our schools and the pulpits of our churches, are teaching the doctrines described in Seventh- day Adventists Believe, and what persons are substituting for those doctrines antagonistic and incompatible doctrines.

And it is time for a thorough investigation of my particular case, and a full and fair trial to be conducted by the Union Conference Committee. At that trial I will submit evidence that

1. I have appealed to our church leaders and scholars to recognize our theological problem by an investment of much time, many written appeals, and several thousand dollars worth of our two major research reports, The Word Made Flesh and Tell of His Power, that have been distributed among them.

2. I have sought no speaking appointments anywhere, but have simply responded to urgent requests for help from the suffering historic Seventh- day Adventists.

3. The evidence presented in our research reports has not been challenged by biblical or Spirit of Prophecy evidence from anyone. It has been met by sneers, jeers, and arguments against the man.

4. My theology is precisely the theology that is set forth in Seventh- day Adventists Believe.

Therefore, those who oppose my ministry and our doctrinal book are the ones who are divisive.

We are to unite, but not upon a platform of error.


Please read part two!!