Heading for Another Great Disappointment?
By Dennis Hokama, July 3, 2015: On Thursday evening, July 2, 2015, following the acceptance of the nominating committee, General Conference (GC) president Ted Wilson, delivered a tour de force campaign speech disguised as a “President’s Report” for the ages. In my humble opinion, it secured his renomination beyond all doubt, and virtually guaranteed the passage of the amendment to Fundamental Belief #6 (creation), as well as the failure of the attempt to allow the ordination of women.
Watching his presentation was almost like having an out-of-body experience. I was not concerned with trying to write down or record his every word because there would presumably be a transcript put out by The Review only hours later. It was as if I had been transported 50 years back in time, listening to evangelists like Stanley Harris in a sawdust-on-the-ground evangelistic tent meeting at Auburn Academy (AA). When I graduated from AA in 1965, I was absolutely sure Jesus would return before I could ever hope to get married, have children, and probably even before I could graduate from college.
Wilson weaved in clips of beautiful footage from a trip to Israel and the surrounding territory throughout his speech. Footage included climbing what he claimed was Mt. Sinai, effectively associating himself with Moses and the Ten Commandments. Most dramatic, in my opinion, was a clip of him standing on the banks of the Jordan River that separates Jordan and Israel. He recounted Joshua’s dramatic crossing over Jordan into the promised land, drawing the obvious parallel to the present day where we are about to cross over into the metaphorical promised land, presumably under his (Joshua’s) leadership. The latter rain is about to fall.
Wilson went on to claim that the Geoscience Research Institute’s (GRI) scientists have vindicated the church’s historic teaching regarding creation week, and that “the Bible can be believed as it reads.” However, I was at the GC session at Atlanta in 2010, where in the midst of the landslide to push for a revision of Fundamental Belief #6, Dr. Ben Clausen, a GRI scientist, got up to say before the world church that there was no known scientific model that could defend the traditional Adventist stance on a short chronology. (I have his speech saved on my computer at home.) I have read many books on the subject since then, and to the best of my knowledge, Clausen’s verdict still stands today.
Wilson closed his report by reminding us that Jesus was coming again soon. Then the congregation was led in a rousing song service consisting of a medley of gospel songs whose theme was the second coming, such as “Lift Up the Trumpet,” etc.
All in all, it was a masterful, updated presentation of the Adventist denomination’s faith narrative, the likes of which I have never before seen. I have no doubt that he has the world church enthralled. If only I were 18 again, and could take him at his word, I would have bought it hook, line, and sinker. In a church founded upon the Great Disappointment, it seems that we are headed back there again. But this General Conference, in my opinion, now belongs to Ted Wilson.