Reviewing – God’s Prophetic Movement, Message, and Mission and Their Attempted Neutralization by the Devil
Ted N.C. Wilson’s sermon at the 2014 Annual Council (1), Reviewed by Andy Hanson: I was appalled by this “message” to the Adventist worldwide community. Its narcissistic tone is frightening. Relying heavily on quotations from Ellen White, Ted assumes the ability to speak Truth to all those who question his authority. (2) He is entitled to overrule the decisions of those who disagree with him. (3) His lack of empathy is astonishing. (4) He uses fear and threats in an attempt to manipulate the behavior of others. (5) And he demonstrates a lack of remorse for the feelings of those he castigates. (6)
For the complete complement of Wilson religious pronouncements, see footnote (7).
In this Prophetic Movement message, Ted describes his foundational Adventist belief in “sola Scriptura” this way. “It is in that very Word of God that the Lord reveals that His last-day people would be guided by the prophetic gift! The Spirit of Prophecy is a wonderful blessing to lead us back to the Bible and to make clearer its meaning and application in our lives.” Consequently, Ted’s version of reality is strongly influenced by the writings of Ellen White (EGW), as evidenced by the fact that he quotes and paraphrases EGW’s words twenty-four times, and a third of his words (2025 out of 6530) are direct EGW quotes or attributed paraphrases. (8)
The word grace appears only once. It’s used in the phrase, “grace and righteousness of Christ.” The words love and loves appear only in this sentence: “Church members love what the world loves.” Satan or the Devil is referred to twenty-seven times.
In this speech Ted asserts that Seventh-day Adventists are God’s exclusive remnant because they “keep holy” the fourth of the Ten Commandments; subscribe to the literal truth of the first eleven chapters of Genesis, particularly the creation story; and “are guided by “the prophetic gift” of Ellen White. He demonizes Catholics, independent religious thought, historical analysis of the Bible text, and the questioning of the Church’s administrative authority.
I asked a friend and former colleague in Chico State’s Psychology Department to read the transcript of this speech. He returned it to me with some of the following words scribbled in the margin: “grandiose,” “demonizing,” “this sounds Catholic,” ”I thought Christ’s crucifixion was more than an offer,” “the only chosen?” “His family members are on Satan’s hit list because he is who he is?” “my way or hell?” “dictating worship practices?” “you guys are God’s favorite human beings?” “God’s waiting on his probationers?” “Andy, you are ‘dead meat.’”
When I debriefed my friend, I was surprised by his “so what” attitude regarding Ted’s theology. He was acquainted with the beliefs held by other fundamentalist denominations, and wondered at my consternation. But what he said next blew my mind. “The picture of that guy translating the speech into French as if his salvation depends on getting it right is really disturbing. The fact that your President’s words will be translated into hundreds of languages and considered to be God’s word by millions of uneducated and naive listeners is a moral and intellectual tragedy.”
Ted’s narcissistic and terrifying world is not the one I live in, and his God is not mine. Even though I was influenced by teachers who shared Ted’s worldview early in my life, I met other Adventists who inhabited a different world, a world of inclusive, joyful worship, whose inhabitants loved and encouraged me to fearlessly find my own way in the world; who lived lives of Christ-like service; who believed that scientific reasoning was God’s gift; who inspired me to ask questions; whose words and deeds defined integrity; and who lived the two great commandments: Love God—meaning: honor God by your willingness to do what is right, using Christ’s life as the moral standard; and Treat Your Neighbor As Yourself—meaning: take care of each other because we are all God’s children.
I’m convinced that C. S. Lewis knew religious authorities like Ted. I’ll close with his words. “Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. . . . Those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.” (9)
(6) “We are in the shaking time, the time when everything that can be shaken will be shaken.” “The Lord will not excuse those who know the truth if they do not in word and deed obey His commands.” Last Day Events, page 173
(7) Satan is: “doing everything he can to attack the Seventh-day Adventist movement”; working “from the inside to weaken the church through dissension, discord, and conformity to the world”; trying “to neutralize our efforts by secular diversions”; absorbing “people in financial deals and materialistic matters”; encouraging “poor health habits and lack of respect for God’s natural laws that enfeeble the mind and benumb the senses”; using “skepticism about the veracity of the scriptural record of the origin of life and early history”; bringing in “controversy and discord over Bible doctrine”; encouraging believers to function “independently from the main body of the church”; suggesting “that reformation within the church consists in giving up our unique doctrines”; scheming “to quell our effectiveness with terrible physical challenges”; attempting to “drown out the proclamation of the Advent message through wars and rumors of wars”; tempting believers “to be so cozy with other religious organizations” that it will neutralize “your own effectiveness through unbiblical ecumenical bonds”; fostering “charismatic and Pentecostal music approaches…rather than focus on truly worshiping God”; and “strengthening [the devil’s]cause by sweeping all into the ranks of spiritualism.”
(8) “Time on this Earth is short…those who are living upon the Earth when the intercession of Christ shall cease in the sanctuary above, are to stand in the sight of a holy God without a mediator.” The Great Controversy, page 425
“Disasters, moral decay, and financial woes in this very country will lead apostate ministers to rally citizens to demand the enactment of the Sunday law, and the world will follow this lead.”
The Great Controversy pages 587, 590, 592 and 607
“God’s last-day people, their faces radiating the presence of the Spirit, hasten from place to place proclaiming the three angels’ messages and working miracles.” The Great Controversy, page 612
“Satan will bring a false revival in those churches under his influence. People will think that God is doing marvelous things among them, but the power is not from God. Through this false revival Satan will spread his influence through Christian churches.” The Great Controversy, page 464
“We are in the shaking time, the time when everything that can be shaken will be shaken.” “The Lord will not excuse those who know the truth if they do not in word and deed obey His commands.” Last Day Events, page 173
“God has given us light in regard to the things that are now taking place in the last remnant of time.” Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, page 470
“By giving the gospel to the world it is in our power to hasten our Lord’s return.” Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, page 119