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63 Comments

  1. Sam Geli
    30 December 2015 @ 5:55 am

    [NOTE: Comment revised by the AT editors.]

    “Anyone can be different or original. Nobody will remember a specific flower in garden loaded with thousands of the same yellow flower, but they will remember the one that managed to change its color to purple. Being different and thinking differently make a person unforgettable. History does not remember the forgettable. It honors the unique minority the majority cannot forget.” –Suzy Kassem (2008; “Rise Up and Salute the Sun” 2010)

  2. William Noel
    30 December 2015 @ 6:03 am

    Juleun,

    Hallelujah! Amen!

    Proverbs 29:18 tells us that “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” Where would the church be without the visionaries, the people who see a problem that needs solved or an opportunity to do things better, and pursued that dream? Yet we have allowed the visionless, those who are connected more closely with tradition and their suspect concepts of “true” Adventism, to prevail and as a result we do not see the promised blessings of God in the significant degree He wants us to experience.

    Congrats on dreaming enough to write and release your devotional book on Amazon! You know from intimate experience the drive such a dream creates in you and how much work is required to deliver such a project to completion. I just released my third novel on Amazon as a fund-raiser for our church’s building fund. May God bless both of our efforts to His glory. May our actions also inspire others to dream!

  3. Bill Sorensen
    30 December 2015 @ 6:05 am

    “I long for the day where ideas, questions, and disagreements with implementation and structure will be able to be challenged, accepted and implemented.”

    You won’t find this on the liberal forums. They have their own agenda and it is not open to challenge. They will more than tolerate ideas like the ones you advocate, as long as it doesn’t threaten and challenge their own liberal goals.

    • Elaine Nelson
      30 December 2015 @ 9:40 am

      “Liberal” is the inappropriate word to describe antagonism to new ideas. It is the conservatives who want to maintain the status quo who disagree with new plans and methods. Liberals “think outside the box” while conservatives want to hold to the same beliefs they’ve always had.

      Who on this site believes that Sorenson is a liberal?

      • Bill Sorensen
        30 December 2015 @ 10:11 am

        “. Liberals “think outside the box” while conservatives want to hold to the same beliefs they’ve always had.”

        That’s right, Elaine. Liberals think “outside the bible” and conservatives stick to scripture which is the same belief we have “always had.”

      • JC
        01 January 2016 @ 7:43 pm

        I do! I do!

    • sufferingsunfish
      03 January 2016 @ 6:11 pm

      Bill-
      You are so right about the liberals.

  4. earl calahan
    30 December 2015 @ 9:27 am

    Will the visionaries and active energetic people continue to support a “dead in the road” fundamentalism, from one 5 year period, to the next 5 year period, to the next, the next, the next?? Nothing ever changes. Hasn’t in the past 100 years. No vision, no new day truth or light shining, energizing, revitalizing, a dying church in North America. The Holy Spirit
    held captive by a hierarchy whose lack of vision, inactivity, and strident resistance to any changes, fearful of anything that rocks the boat of business as usual. A robot could do as well, without the expense of management. Those members of vision and energy must step up and resist the status quo, or 20 years from now, another GC Constituency under third world cultural leadership, will convene with the same issues being suggested by
    a greatly reduced North American membership.

    • Bill Sorensen
      30 December 2015 @ 10:40 am

      “a greatly reduced North American membership.”

      That’s right, Earl. We expect most will leave the truth and abandon the message. We will not be surprised, nor, shocked and amazed. The liberal agenda will get more and more converts and give themselves massive doses of affirmation that they are right based on what they consider “success” in all their endeavors.

      There is nothing more destructive and devastating to truth than the massive elements of success by way of apostasy. When numbers are the only and final issue to decide what is right or wrong, it is a weak and beggarly standard to decide any issue.

      The simple fact is this, the church will get a lot smaller before it can accomplish the final goal God intended in the beginning. Thus we believe in a shaking where “everything that can be shaken, will be shaken.” EGW

      • Bill Garber
        31 December 2015 @ 5:43 pm

        Bill,

        Talk about numbers, what do you make of the Shepherd who puts his own life at stake for just 1 when he could have spent the night safely with the 99 out of 100 who were already gathered around him?

        And what do you make of Jesus’ prophecy, If I be lifted up I will draw all men unto me?

        And what do you make of the blessing of Abraham resulting in numbers that exceed the sands of the sea and the stars of the sky?

        And what do you make of John’s statement that God sent Jesus because he loved the world in order that the world might be saved?

        And what do you make of Revelation 14 that describes Babylon, which takes it’s name form the word ‘confusion’, as having made everyone in the world spiritual fornicators before they accepted the Firs Angel’s message about their having been created by God and thus becoming patient saints by reason of what Ellen White terms the Third Angel’s message as ‘Justification by Faith in verity?

        Is not the only way for Seventh-day Adventism to shrivel up is for it to trudge on mistakenly believing we must muscle our way to the kingdom, rather than accept by faith Jesus as our creator, savior, and redeemer?

        Is not Paul much more hopeful in describing the ‘better way,’ Faith, Hope and Charity in place of knowledge, spiritual practice, and prophecy, the last three of which Paul declares to be utterly insufficient by being inadequate?

        Relax, we have a creator is the Three Angels Message, right?

        • Bill Sorensen
          01 January 2016 @ 6:39 am

          “Talk about numbers, what do you make of the Shepherd who puts his own life at stake for just 1 when he could have spent the night safely with the 99 out of 100 who were already gathered around him?

          And what do you make of Jesus’ prophecy, If I be lifted up I will draw all men unto me?”

          Mr. Garber, I know you embrace the universal concept that all will be saved in the end. And so you quote these scriptures that seem to endorse your view.

          First, the parable of the lost sheep has several applications, one being that Jesus left all the angels in heaven to come and seek this one lost world, another, Jesus seeks those outside the fold of truth in this world to bring them home again.

          That Jesus died for the whole world does not imply that all will accept Him. In fact, the bible makes it plain the most will not, simply because of the human factor in salvation and deception of sin. Universalism undermines the human factor and how the law applies in each individual case. “Whosoever will may come” is an open invitation for all sinners. But there are other conditions and factors that each individual must accept and adhere to. God offers us “responsible freedom” and the devil offers us “irresponsible freedom”. Which do you think is the most appealing to a sin loving world?

          We don’t have to be a rocket scientist to see what would be the most appealing idea, at least on the surface. But once you carefully consider the implications both…….

          • Bill Sorensen
            01 January 2016 @ 6:54 am

            you realize that irresponsible freedom destroys the value and meaning of humanity because our value is directly related to the level of the intensity of the outcome of what we choose to do and believe. Eternal life vs. eternal death is a high level of accountability when our decisions and actions determine the final outcome. For many, it would be nice to believe there is no such level of accountability. They would like to believe that Jesus canceled any such accountability and the law carries no ultimate penalty of death on any level. In fact, some believe there never was such a penalty attached to the law.

            None of us should minimize the meaning and value of the gospel as recorded in scripture. It opens the door to realize this high level of accountability to obey the law of love that governs God’s kingdom. Jesus is the way. We equally want no law that undermines the full meaning and value of the gospel. The meaning and dynamic of law and gospel can only be understood and maintained as each holds it place in God’s kingdom. Thus, the law is in effect 100 percent of the time, and so the gospel is equally in effect 100 percent of the time.

            Any explanation that denies this truth is outside the biblical teaching and to undermine one is to undermine the other. This principle is eternal and non-negotiable forever. In the end, few are willing to accept it according to the bible record.

    • William Noel
      30 December 2015 @ 1:11 pm

      Earl,

      While that is the battle restraining the growth of the church in North America, God is still working. I don’t have space here to share the story, so I’ll just have to summarize by saying that I’ve just had a fantastic encounter with God where I saw Him working to awaken people who are part of a “dead” church. It happened because they responded to the urging of the Holy Spirit after getting an appeal to help a total stranger. So I am hopeful. Yes, we have problems and we have many dying churches. But God is working to awaken those who are willing to follow His leading and embrace the dreams He gives us for what can be.

  5. Ervin Taylor
    30 December 2015 @ 12:45 pm

    If I might rephrase Mr. Sorensen’s comment: “There is nothing more destructive and devastating to some “truth” to which one is attached by tradition and supposed ‘Thus Saith the Lord” than a dose of clear evidence that the supposed “truth” can no longer be held since convincing evidence against it is overwhelming.” An excellent example is the “Truth” that the Adventist denomination is the “Remnant Church” of the Book of Revelation.

    • William Noel
      30 December 2015 @ 1:13 pm

      Some people have a very hard time recognizing that truth is what God actually says, not some distorted memory of what someone thinks He said.

      • Elaine Nelson
        30 December 2015 @ 1:37 pm

        “not some distorted memory of what someone thinks He said.”

        That’s all we have, however, as there were no recordings available when Christ was here and the only sayings in the Gospels are what humans heard as reports about Him. Every red letter words contained in the NT are fallible human memories of Jesus and there is no unassailable evidence that any writers actually heard those words attributed to Him. Human memories are ALWAYS distorted. Today when tape recordings are made compared with memory, guess which is more accurate?

        • William Noel
          30 December 2015 @ 8:08 pm

          Elaine,

          I wasn’t talking about what we have in the Bible, but the many ways people twist scripture to their own purposes and the growing number of people in the church who have opinions about God, but never take more than an occasional look at scripture. It gets even worse when you look at all the ways Ellen White’s writings get mangled and misquoted.

  6. Ron Mackey
    30 December 2015 @ 9:05 pm

    One person’s vision is another person’s way out of the norm. We have to
    very careful that the vision that is claimed is the vision coming from
    God Almighty and not just some fleeting fancy of selfishness to change
    without counsel from God! Too much of that is taking place today in the
    Church!

    • William Noel
      31 December 2015 @ 5:35 am

      Ron,

      Agreed. At the same time, let’s not reflexively reject another person’s vision just because it doesn’t preserve the status quo or match our ideas of how things should be done. Just as God’s ways are different from our ways, so also are the ideas He gives people for how things should be done differently. Allow new ideas to be tried, then measure the results. If God is behind it, then there will be no stopping it. If it isn’t God’s idea, it will die.

  7. Janelle Smiley
    30 December 2015 @ 10:36 pm

    What if . . . those who consider themselves “conservatives” and therefore the righteous, were wrong about something? 😀

    • Bill Sorensen
      01 January 2016 @ 10:31 am

      “What if . . . those who consider themselves “conservatives” and therefore the righteous, were wrong about something? ”

      Wrong question. Most people already have their answer to this question on this forum. The question that is relevant is “What if they are right, and you liberals are wrong?”

  8. Derek Lane
    31 December 2015 @ 9:41 am

    Great piece, Juleun! Keep up the good work, my friend! A timely and relevant word that needed to be spoken. And thanks for paying homage to 3 great visionaries…

  9. Chris Schaeffler
    31 December 2015 @ 12:39 pm

    Nice article. We need visions. But it is more or less US (North American) minded. Adventist Church is a world-wide church. We have other continents and countries with visions, And they go ahead with it. Happy New Year-

  10. Nathaniel Moore
    01 January 2016 @ 3:09 am

    Do not be afraid, brothers and sisters. The church of God will not fail or die. The religious denominations, including the SDA will falter,and splinter, and morph, and some will die; but God’s Church remains. This process is inevitable, as the order of things go. God made a perfect world, but very soon after there was murder and strife and death and decay; and this pattern will continue until God brings a new order.
    Who are the conservatives you refer to? These are people who want to see things remain as they knew them. They largely reflect ideas and images they meet around; and are afraid to change anything,because they can think about nothing else to replace them. To them stasis is stability,and that is the preferred order of things. Change, and you destroy their world.
    People with new ideas are the endangered ones, whether we speak about Jesus, or Copernicus,or Martin Luther,or Rosa Parks.These are people who suffered to bring change to the world; but whose ideas and changes were gladly appreciated and enjoyed only after people understood the value of these changes. People with new ideas must not be afraid to come forward, for in doing so you may bless the world,even at the risk of your own life. This is a very timely article.

  11. Roger Metzger
    01 January 2016 @ 6:58 pm

    Juleun,

    Can you give us some practical advice about how decisions are made?

    An hierarchical system has the advantage of some people thinking that every member of an organization has the same goal. One disadvantage, however, is that such a system discourages anyone other than the “top” tier in the organization taking any initiative at all beyond making suggestions.

    My wife and I invited some adventists and some non-adventists to attend Bible studies at our home. When the pastor heard about it, he told the “interest coordinator” of our congregation to tell me to periodically (I think it was monthly) submit a report to the interest coordinator to be forwarded to the “personal ministries team” and the pastor.

    There is one sense in which that “instruction” didn’t discourage me. I simply told the interest coordinator I didn’t intend to submit any such report.

    But how many times would a younger, less experienced member have to be told to submit paperwork with regard to missionary activities before he would decide it would be better to either a) not tell anyone what he is doing or b) just give up on missionary work altogether?

    On another occasion, I was elected to an office in a local congregation and, promptly after I accepted the office and was voted into that position by the congregation, the pastor told me I was now obligated to do whatever the “conference” instructed me to do. (To be continued.)

  12. Roger Metzger
    01 January 2016 @ 8:13 pm

    Juleun,

    There was a time when it was practically impossible for every member of every congregation to be involved in every decision about what was done on sabbath morning, for example. Decisions about music could be made by a “music minister” (sometimes a paid position, sometimes not) or, in the absence of a music minister, by the first elder. A member could make suggestions but if the person who made the decisions didn’t listen to the satisfaction of the member, he could hope (or work) for a different person to hold that office during the next election cycle.

    Nowadays, 90% of members have electronic connections that would, in theory, permit many more members to make many more suggestions–even “vote” electronically. (Is there anyplace where less than half the members are thus connected? If so, older methods should suffice.)

    Even in the U.S. there are older members who are electronically challenged (or don’t have the equipment) and I would hope that every effort would be made to include older members in the decision-making process.

    What I’m saying is that, nowadays, there is no excuse for implementing changes (such as ushering people to the front of the auditorium to “receive” the bread and wine where that has not been previously customary) without asking virtually every adult what he sees as the advantages AND disadvantages before making changes.

    It seems to me Christians should be the best-connected people in the world.

    • Juleun Johnson
      02 January 2016 @ 5:46 am

      Roger,

      I think your points regarding decision making and decision makers are different. I think that the persons interested in reporting for numbers sake only encourage a cycle of repetition. The decision makers: leaders, board, pastor, along with congregational insight create high impact or low impact decisions for the local context.

      Certainly electronic voting and other contemporary electronic norms may make life easier but they don’t replace personal touch or face to face conversation.

      Above all don’t stop the Bible study. Kingdom growth is more important than a conference statistic any day.

  13. Sam Geli
    02 January 2016 @ 8:01 am

    Roger Metzger on January 1, 2016 at 6:58 pm said: “Juleun, Can you give us some practical advice about how decisions are made?

    Roger asks a good question.

    The most biblical and Godly way to make decisions in the local church is by consensus. Hard as it is to achieve, it has to be our goal, even if it takes longer than we would like it to take to reach a decision. Now I know how frustrating consensus can be to achieve, and I know how frustrating it is as a leader to have to wait for consensus to surface.

    It would be far easier simply to delegate all responsibility for making decisions to a few (elders or other top-tier leaders) people who could be relied upon always to have a strong view and or personal bias. But that dis-empowers the church and robs the members of their full responsibility to share in the process. It’s far less convenient to make decisions this way, but it might just be far more effective in the long run in terms of re-motivating the church for involvement in God’s mission.

    I wonder if the answer actually lies in calling people into deeper personal relationships. Relationships that are willing to work through the tough things and search out the mind of Christ through consensus rather than call for a vote and settle the matter by majority.

    So perhaps we should have a simply mantra for church meetings and the processes by which we come to any and all decisions: Pray more, vote less!

    • Roger Metzger
      02 January 2016 @ 10:39 am

      Sam,

      I haven’t witnessed much of an emphasis on consensus-building the the context of local congregations. I have, however, encountered it occasionally in other settings. In those settings, it is often code for squelching opposition to what elected officers want to do. Sometimes the goal is not so much to get everyone to agree as to persuade people to not raise any objections.

      I agree the the majority might often be wrong but if the call for “consensus” is employed to discourage discussion, even legitimate objections can be ignored and the objections can be seen as inimical to the goals of the group or organization.

      There is another disadvantage. People–especially young people–who know their concerns are not going to be recognized–that no “vote” will actually be taken so the objection can be “on record”–aren’t much inclined to attend business meetings and, eventually, “drop out” of any kind of active participation.

      In those cases, it is easy enough to say the absent member has “lost his first love” or “wasn’t fully converted” when the actual problem is gradual marginalization and eventual disregarding of almost anybody with ideas alternative to “conference programs”.

  14. carrol grady
    02 January 2016 @ 2:54 pm

    I, too, LONG for the day when we can feel free to ask our questions and express our thoughts without worrying about being considered a heretic!

    • Roger Metzger
      02 January 2016 @ 3:35 pm

      Carrol,

      A person who reads for himself, studies for himself and thinks for himself is, by definition, an heretic. If you refer to yourself as an heretic (as I do), you can save others the trouble of saying you are heretical.

    • Bill Sorensen
      03 January 2016 @ 7:57 am

      “I, too, LONG for the day when we can feel free to ask our questions and express our thoughts without worrying about being considered a heretic!”

      Excuse me?????? This is not the agenda at all. Anyone can express their thoughts and ask questions. But many don’t want to do this. They want to claim they know exactly how it is and affirm the church must change its doctrines to suit their own ideas.

      You obviously don’t know what the issue is and then whine about being called a “heretic” when you join this group of “heretics” who want to change the church doctrine and attack EGW, the bible and all basic fundamental Protestant confessions of bible truth.

      So don’t state some false idea about not being able to question and comment about your views of what you think about this or that concept when you join those who attack the fundamental doctrines of the bible and try to change the church doctrines.

  15. earl calahan
    02 January 2016 @ 3:25 pm

    Decision making for the group, i believe, is most difficult in churches of few members, as one or two charter members can disrupt. Large churches (my only experience) should begin with the Pastor, Board OF Elders, Deacons and Deaconess’es in monthly meetings (or oftener should it be deemed of necessity). Should the Pastor be not encouraged to lead where the emphasis is directed, the Head Elder should schedule a meeting with the Head Deacon, and the Head Deaconess to set an agenda. The Church Business meeting should convene with the Head Elder as Chairman. While serving as Head Elder for a number of years our Pastor recommended this decision. The motion was passed with no opposition. Can well understand how some older more seasoned pastor’s might disagree with this order, as usurping his pastorship responsibilities. However, it may be a responsibility of the Church Elders & Deacons to use this option where a recalcitrant Pastor refuses to lead. Perhaps would lead to having a new Pastor selected.

  16. Roger Metzger
    02 January 2016 @ 3:56 pm

    Earl,

    Where the hierarchical model is employed, the laity serve the pastors, the pastors serve the members of the executive committee of the local conference, the members of the executive committee of the local conference serve the members of the executive committee of the union conference, etc.

    Where the pastor is truly a minister (servant) of the laity, it might sometimes be the case that he, by virtue of his education, is better qualified than the first elder to chair local board meetings and business meetings .

    On the other hand, where the board members of the local congregation are considered to be unpaid employees of the conference committee, it is easy to justify the pastor chairing all board and business meetings. In this model, the pastor functions as a manager or foreman.

    In denominations that are creedal and base their theology on tradition, it is understandable that pastors might be seen as guardians of tradition but my parents taught me that our denomination is not based on tradition.

    My advice?

    Teach the young people that if they diligently study their Bibles for themselves (not be merely followers of other men’s thoughts), they can expect to bring their knowledge of the Bible with them to business and board meetings and not be shot down by the pastor or an elder who is the patriarch of an extended family that represents the majority of the members of the local congregation.

  17. earl calahan
    02 January 2016 @ 4:56 pm

    Agreed.

  18. Ervin Taylor
    02 January 2016 @ 6:03 pm

    Carol Grady commented that “I, too, LONG for the day when we can feel free to ask our questions and express our thoughts without worrying about being considered a heretic!”

    I must be attending a unique Adventist Church because everyone here feels free to ask any question he or she wishes and express any point of view he or she wishes “without worrying about being considered a heretic.” Are there Adventist churches where this is not the norm? If not, perhaps there is a need to attend a local Adventist church that encourages open and free discussion.

  19. Hansen
    02 January 2016 @ 6:18 pm

    Adventism has degenerated to the point that “brethren” often hinder the proclamation of the gospel. John Carter came to Los Angeles in the 1990s. He rented a building, took out some ads in local media, hired some musical talent and an associate, and went into business, leading thousands to baptisms in Russia. He also held major campaigns around Los Angeles resulting in numerous baptisms. Local pastors groused about his activities, as if they were too busy doing stupid nonsense to participate in evangelism.

    Carter was openly contemptuous of conference leadership, local church old boys networks, the lukewarmness of local Adventists. “Want to kill an idea, hinder the Lord’s work, waste time?” he asked? Let your plans get tied up in conference committees, meetings, etc., he said.

    He had no qualms castigating local Adventists for standing in the way of new converts or interfering with his soul winning work. “If you don’t want to help, don’t you dare interfere,” he said. “I don’t need you. I’ll shut this church down. I’m not here to entertain you.”

    That’s the way to get things done.

    • Elaine Nelson
      03 January 2016 @ 11:45 am

      “He rented a building, took out some ads in local media, hired some musical talent and an associate, and went into business, leading thousands to baptisms in Russia.”

      Carter must be a real genius to take out ads and hire talent in Los Angeles that led to baptisms of thousands in Russia. Via the internet or telepathy?

  20. Sam Geli
    03 January 2016 @ 6:58 am

    Really?
    Roger, consider the fact that John Carter’s Report has NEVER given a dime to educational. medical, humanitarian, work in the communities where he has preached and been active in. While the report supports staff and travel expenses it does not lead to actual sustainable church growth.“I don’t need you. I’ll shut this church down.” Did he really say that? That is your quote from Brother Carter. Independent Ministries strike again. They are really having a negative impact in local churches.

    If that is the leadership you admire and wish for our churches you are mistaken. The Carter model is not the way of progress for our church.

    • Bill Sorensen
      03 January 2016 @ 8:03 am

      John Carter is a product of the Dr. Ford heresy and has no use for the traditional doctrines and teachings of EGW about the investigative judgment. Why should the church support him?

      He is doing the right thing. Start your own church and do as you please.

      • Darrel Lindensmith
        03 January 2016 @ 3:12 pm

        Bill,those “traditional teachings …. about the investigative judgment” are heretical to the Gospel/.

  21. Hansen
    03 January 2016 @ 8:51 am

    Sam, That’s exactly why Pastor Carter ignored “ministers” like yourself when planning evangelism on an international scale. If you were a typical pastor, you spent your career “hovering” over existing churches, a curse to them and to yourself. Carter was very honest about his plans to establish a financial base in Los Angeles for the evangelism of Russia

    It’s ridiculous to suggest that his Russian crusades didn’t lead to sustainable church growth. He has been to Russia ~40 times and baptized thousands of people, spawning numerous congregations. I met some of the people who were baptized as a result of Pastor Carter’s ministry, or supported it i.e., people from the music business in Hollywood, a a political figure’s wife, 2 Russian Jews, young people either disgusted with Adventism or seekers from world. They all seemed like genuine “converts” to me. Christian leaders from other denominations became Adventists, as a result of his work as well.

    I attended Carter’s church for about the same length of time I attended Doug Batchelor’s church. If cultic legalism and perfectionism is what you think is good for the denomination, listen to Doug. If you want to hear the Christian gospel, with Adventist flavors, listen to Pastor John Carter.

  22. Sam Geli
    03 January 2016 @ 11:37 am

    Hansen, my point is that Independent Ministries, like Carter’s Or Batchelor’s, usually have a negative impact on the LOCAL churches. I emphasize local because some independent ministries swoop in on a local church and after they are finished with their presentations and appeals they garner energy and resources away from the local program. The members they bring in are usually loyal and understandably more interested in furthering the independent ministry than the local church.

    Independent ministries are usually independent of church oversight. These organizations don’t have the same structure as the local church, which is the “pillar and foundation of the truth” (1 Timothy 3:15). The local church is God’s plan for the building up of the saints to do the work of the ministry, and He has gifted believers to accomplish that goal (Ephesians 4:11-12). Jesus has also designed for the church a structure that includes godly leadership who oversee the members, feeding them spiritual truth, ensuring that they are built up in the faith, and protecting them from false teachers and doctrine. There is no such structure in an independent ministry. While most parachurch ministries have some sort of board of directors that establish and oversee the direction of the ministry, these are mostly made up of persons who of course agree with the speaker-director.

    • sufferingsunfish
      03 January 2016 @ 6:22 pm

      Geli- “The members they(Independents) bring in are usually loyal and understandably more interested in furthering the independent ministry than the local church.”

      Easy to say but where is the proof? Amazing Facts can point to many who have been converted to Adventism.

  23. Bill Sorensen
    03 January 2016 @ 12:57 pm

    “Hansen, my point is that Independent Ministries, like Carter’s Or Batchelor’s, usually have a negative impact on the LOCAL churches.”

    This is correct, Sam. All independent ministries are simply “a church, within the church”. No one “joins” these ministries and they have no “members”. They are accountable to no one but themselves. I support a couple of these ministries, but I am not so dumb as to think I am supporting the church when I do so.

    They may teach and advocate some SDA doctrines but ultimately, they are simply SDA cults, even if many involved are themselves members of the SDA denomination. In which case, ministries like Atoday, Spectrum, ADvindicate and others are just as viable ministries as AF, AD, 3ABN, ASI or any other independent ministry. Even if some claim to support traditional SDA teaching, in some cases, they do not. And they have doctrinal errors they advocate contrary to Scripture and EGW.

    Every church member in some sense is an “Independent ministry” and every individual better know what the bible teaches if they claim to support and believe scripture. The SDA denomination is so fragmented it is no identity to defend, and doesn’t even try to. The leaders have one simple focal point, “We are the church” and in the end, we will tell you what to believe. “Give us your money”.

  24. Roger Metzger
    03 January 2016 @ 1:19 pm

    Sam, Bill, Hansen,

    If it weren’t for Sam addressing a comment to me (or was it another Roger?), I’d simply respond that I’m confused. What do any of the last few comments have to do with improving the way adventists relate to one another?

    • Bill Sorensen
      04 January 2016 @ 6:18 am

      “Sam, Bill, Hansen,

      If it weren’t for Sam addressing a comment to me (or was it another Roger?), I’d simply respond that I’m confused. What do any of the last few comments have to do with improving the way adventists relate to one another?”

      How we relate to the church is often indicative of how we relate to one another. What we believe vs. what others believe creates both harmony and conflict. depending on who you agree with, and who you don’t.

  25. Hansen
    03 January 2016 @ 4:47 pm

    Sam, the local churches in that area had been dead or dying for a long time. Pastors baptised ~8 people, including the member’s children, each year. One local pastor was marketing multi level food supplements out of his office.

    Another pastor in the area described his congregation as “hypocrites”. He should know.
    The ICOC was gathering hundreds of bright, educated, young people into its churches while local SDA churches, except Carter’s, were dying. During Sabbath school, one day, a woman publicly accused the teacher of being a lesbian at a church which now has openly gay leadership.

    Sam, I feel your pain. The denomination has been good to you through the years, paid your salary, provided insurance with an eye glass plan and dental, helped you educate your children. One honest pastor I interviewed described himself as “embarrassed” over his soulwinning efforts but he still took his check every month, perhaps with a “parsonage” allowance and favorable mortgage rate from the credit union.

    Carter collected millions of $$$ for Russian evangelism from the same people who could have given it to local congregations but chose not to. They saw thousands of baptisms in return. For tithe, local members saw young SDA girls dressed like hookers, buried in baptism while their friends from the academy snickered.

    I’m with Carter.

  26. Stephen Foster
    04 January 2016 @ 4:44 am

    One of the most admirable things about Elders Joe McCoy, Bob Folkenburg, and ‘Charlie Joe’ Joseph is that while in terms of programmatic and organizational vision, they were all independent ‘outside of the box’ thinkers and innovators; they were all Bible believers, who did not deviate from SDA Protestant Christian doctrine in their theology or preaching, nor did they advocate any such deviation.

    Thanks Juleun Johnson, for recognizing these gentlemen.

  27. Roger Metzger
    04 January 2016 @ 9:19 am

    If there is someone with the wherewithal to do the following, please let me know.

    Create a LAY evangelistic association that pays LAYMEN, not to do the work of an evangelist but because they ARE evangelists (by the definition of sharing the gospel–encouraging people to trust the Lord) WITHOUT teaching:

    The natural immortality of the soul

    That Sunday is the Lord’s day

    That the saints will live and reign with Jesus for a thousand years upon the earth

    That no one is forgiven until his name “comes up” in the investigative phase of the final judgement

    That God will arbitrarily close human probation

    That Satan is or ever will be our sin-bearer

    That only seventh-day sabbath keepers will be translated at the second advent

    That only vegetarians will be translated at the second advent

    That an organization is the church

    That the only way to “come out of Babylon” is to join a religious organization

    That the Bible should be interpreted by modern revelation

    That everything Ellen White wrote to individuals in the 19th century applies to everyone in the 21st century

    That a list of doctrines should be employed to determine a person’s orthodoxy

    That clergy have spiritual authority the laity don’t have (or more spiritual authority or a different kind of spiritual authority)

    That Christians shouldn’t worship God on Sunday

  28. earl calahan
    04 January 2016 @ 10:50 am

    Roger, i accept your list excepting “the Bible being interpreted by modern revelation”. With this statement you are denying the Holy Spirit’s guidance to modern man, revealing what is to come or to be. That isn’t your belief, is it??
    The Holy Spirit is mankind’s direct influence, giving knowledge, understanding, wisdom and truth, which may negate previous general biblical understandings. As
    you have listed some above.

  29. Roger Metzger
    04 January 2016 @ 12:27 pm

    Earl,

    I believe we should expect modern revelation.

    When I was 14, my parents invited LDS missionaries to hold “discussions” in our home. They gave me a Book Of Mormon and told me to read it, praying to know that it was true. I would be nor more inclined to pray to know THAT a book was true than LDS would read the Qu’ran, praying to know THAT it was true. I did, however pray to know WHETHER it was true.

    The answer I got was that anything purported to be modern revelation should be evaluated an interpreted by older revelation. (How else can we decide which among the various modern revelations is/are true?

    Up until then I had studied my Sabbath School lessons and Bible classes in SdA schools but I hadn’t studied other religions than Christianity. I have the missionaries to thank for awakening my interest in other religions–if for no other reason that I wanted to look for evidence regarding when the supposed revelations were received upon which various religions were built. That was in 1959. To date, I have yet to find anything that even claims to be older than the Pentateuch.

    Have you met members of our denomination who believe the advent movement was built on Ellen White’s interpretation of the Bible? I have met some and I am of the opinion that there are MANY more. If anyone can convince me that that is the case, I will immediately request that my name be deleted from SdA roles.

  30. RonCorson
    04 January 2016 @ 1:10 pm

    Reading through these comments reminds me of the good old days when there actually were Adventist Forums. Now it all gets packed into comments that have precious little to do with the actual article.

    I hope Atoday would consider creating such a forum again. Some of the names here I remember from the old forum. It is amazing how much we got to know each other even when arguing vehemently with each other. Even though My theology has changed so much from those days and I no longer care if Bill S. has his very conservative church or Elaine has her very Liberal church. We are so different and so many different needs to meet there is no way any monolith of a church will serve. Some people need the surety that they have the truth and some like me think the only truth we have is the love of God. I still think we were better for the arguments even if we could not reach an agreement. Well usually…as with anything sometimes the feeling can lead to hurts. But overall.

  31. Roger Metzger
    05 January 2016 @ 6:04 am

    Ron,

    The article is in praise of innovation.

    We don’t need innovation for the sake of innovation. People with “new ideas” should, whenever possible, run them by everyone who will be affected by the changes before they are implemented.

    If you have an idea about how to create a “forum”, try to explain it to people who recognize the same need that you do. Do you have other innovative ideas? What better place to mention them than in a thread about innovation?

    Or how about ideas about how to discuss issues without arguing?

    How about ideas with regard to how an organization can function when either a) there is no agreement about what the word, “protestant”, means or b) many members think the advent movement is a further development of the protestant reformation and many other members think the movement is an alternative to protestantism?

    It wasn’t until I was in my 20s that I gave much thought to the fact that there are so very different concepts in our denomination regarding what “the message” is. It wasn’t until I was in my 30s that I realized that, to many members of our organization, “the message” is essentially the same as what LdS (Mormons) mean when they refer to “the gospel”–a message about the supposed authority of an organization.

    What ideas have you tried locally to solve these problems? Did they work? Even a little bit? If not, let us benefit from your mistakes. If so, please let us know.

    • William Noel
      08 January 2016 @ 5:18 pm

      Roger,

      Running “new ideas” by the people who will be affected by them is the surest way known to guarantee nothing new is ever adopted. Rather, we should obey the admonition of scripture to test all things and prove what is true. By doing that, new ideas can be tested by the harsh reality of functionality and measured by the results the produce. As Gamaliel, the teacher of Paul, observed to the Sanhedrin about the ministry of Jesus, if it is of God then there is nothing we can do about it, but if it isn’t, it will fail.

  32. RonCorson
    08 January 2016 @ 4:44 pm

    Roger, I was referring to the old forums. Adventist Today had one and then they closed it and a replacement was made with the creation of Atomorrow. There was once a heyday of SDANET which at one time was the best forum. It is not an innovative idea, just one to renew.

    As for discuss without arguing there is no such thing. To discuss you make an argument. Making an argument is arguing your point. Arguing is not the problem hurt feeling and personal attacks are the problem, they are usually the result of a failed argument and frustration.

    I never heard any Adventist declare that they are not Protestant, usually they think they are a continuation of the Protestant Reformation. But most still think that Adventism is a alternative to Protestantism because that is our tradition that the other churches are “Babylon” or nominal Christians or apostate protestants.

    As for what I tried…well lots of things you can read some of them at http://cafesda.blogspot.com

  33. Hansen
    08 January 2016 @ 7:47 pm

    Ron, I remember those old days. One of the moderators was either a drunk or a mental case but the place seemed to flourish. What were once open forums about mainly theological/historical issues were hijacked by partisan moderators with specific agendas.

    • RonCorson
      09 January 2016 @ 9:57 am

      pretty much my opinion as well…well not the drunk or mental part, that would take more real world knowledge then I had. But yes the moderation is the key in my view as well.

  34. Loren Seibold
    18 January 2016 @ 8:05 am

    I suspect you’d get quite a different view on Charlie Joseph from others who worked with him. Under Elder Joseph the Lake Union regional conference nearly went bankrupt, because he spent millions of church dollars investing in commercial real estate, without authorization, and it turned out badly. He left destruction in his wake that had less to do with visionary leadership than with poor judgment. It was an embarrassing chapter in our church history, and in the end the union demanded others pay the bill to keep LURC from folding completely. For years, they could barely pay pastors. Is that visionary, or mere arrogance?

    http://articles.chicagotribune.com/1987-03-27/news/8701230850_1_elder-carter-shopping-center-resignation

    • Elaine Nelson
      18 January 2016 @ 9:13 am

      How and why do church employees have such unlimited access to church funds? This is an old story that repeats every few years, but apparently it is still possible.
      How can members be assured that this cannot happen? In most businesses, this is a criminal offense punishable by fines and incarceration. but how many SDA officers have ever been prosecuted or imprisoned??

  35. earl calahan
    18 January 2016 @ 11:51 am

    The organization should have checks and balances on the purse. The treasury should require a signatory of two, on all payables over a maximum permitted. The second signatory should be outside the division. Any collusion or embezzlement should be criminally prosecuted, and assets appropriated.

    • Loren Seibold
      19 January 2016 @ 8:41 am

      Those checks and balances did eventually come into effect, but not before Charlie Joseph had mortgaged one of his large churches to some six-figure number. Norman Miles wrote a piece for Spectrum back then defending CJ, saying that it was entrepreneurial of him, because black conferences are so poor. (And to be clear, no evidence emerged that CJ was benefiting personally from the shopping center project.) But two other African American leaders, Bradford and Carter, enforced the policy and didn’t come to CJ’s defense. Though I remember a friend in the Lake Union who told how Carter sat with the other four conference presidents and told them, “You have to pay for this,” and didn’t take no for an answer. For some years, if I remember correctly, Lake Union conferences had to skim a portion off the top of their tithe to dig out the LURC.

      I’m still wondering what Juleun has to say to this. Presumably he knows all of this history.

  36. Phyllis
    24 January 2016 @ 12:18 pm

    I believe all this criticism of the church is a detour. I went to evangelical churches for years but joined a local SDA congregation because of the gifts they have. We do not believe God would burn people forever, and rejoice to look to a day when the sin problem is eliminated. We do not believe we need to use government to change laws so that we will be a Holy Nation that will usher in Jesus’ earthly reign for a thousand years. We believe in love and service. The folks in leadership are paralyzed by the denomination and are driving my children away the same way I was driven away-through lack of demonstration of the Holy Spirit working in lives and ministry of the church. I will have to feel content that they know right from wrong, know the Sabbath invitation , and don’t beleve in an eternally burning hell-and are learning in the Bible how to defending it. I doubt they will love the SDA church and seek to change it from within-as so many of you have commendably done. If we submit to God, love Jesus and our fellow man-even the most unlovable ones, we have the church within us. Just as the SDA movement started outside any denomination, the latter rain wil fall on any who are willing to get wet.