by Ervin Taylor
Until the early 1960s, there was no recognition within official Adventism that there had developed, at least within the North American Adventist Church, a conservative right wing and a liberal left wing. The right wing can be characterized as being composed of fundamentalist, historic, and traditional Adventists while the left wing reflects the views of cultural and progressive Adventists. (It would be interesting to attempt to locate the first mention in print of the contrasting words “conservative” and “liberal” Adventism or Adventists contained in the Adventist Review during the decade of the 1960s being applied to individuals or groups within Adventism.)
Since that time, there have been many suggestions as to how one might accurately characterize what constitutes the contemporary Adventist left and right wings. Of course, the reality is much more complex in that there obviously are not just two divisions with clear lines of demarcation between them but a wide spectrum of subsets and subgroups with an overlapping membership. For example, there is Adventist liberalism and conservatism defined in terms of lifestyle as opposed to Adventist liberalism and conservatism defined in terms of contrasting theological perspectives on, for example, the authority of Ellen White and creationism/evolution debate within Adventism.
Despite all of the nuances that one needs to keep in mind when considering the current divisions within contemporary First World Adventism, there are some indices that might be useful when comparing and contrasting the differences and similarities among current Adventist subsets.
For example, I recently received a catalogue listing “downloads, CDs, DVD, mps Discs, Books and eBooks” of Adventist evangelists, theologians, and Church administrators published by “American Christian Ministries.” This organization was formerly known as the “American Cassette Ministries.” (One might wonder why this organization does not use a name such as “American Adventist Ministries” since it appears that all of the individuals whose materials are listed in their catalogues are Adventists and they proclaim that since 1975 they have been committed to “Maintaining the Integrity of the Three Angels’ Messages.”) The return address of the catalogue lists Harrisburg, Pennsylvania and their web site address is www.AmericanChristianMinistries.org.
Reviewing the names of the individuals whose materials and topics are listed, it quickly became apparent that this catalogue can reasonably be viewed as a compendium of the works of a veritable Who’s Who of right-wing Adventism, many of whom were founding members and leaders of the Adventist Theological Society.
Listed alphabetically are some of the names of those whose books, tapes, and CDs are listed for sale in this catalogue: David Asscherick, Doug Batchelor, Joe Crews, Gerhard Damsteegt, Jo Ann Davidson, Richard Davidson, Jay Gallimore, Clifford Goldstein, Leslie Hardinge, Gerhard Hasel, Michael Hasel, Raymond C. Holmes, Robert H. Pierson, Edward G. Reid, Lewis Walton, and Ted NC Wilson.
I recalled that in a previous catalogue assembled by this same organization, books authored by and tapes containing sermons by Samuel Koranteng-Pipim had been listed. There is no listing or mention of him in this compendium.
To get the flavor of the types of topics that are included, I have listed a few of the titles of the materials included: “The Time of the End,” “Preparation for the Final Crisis,” “The Day of the Dragon,” “Human Reason vs. Divine Truth,” “Issues in Contemporary Music,” “1844 Made Simple,” “The Battle Over the Bible,” “God’s Last Generation Remnant,” “Biblically Pure and Uniquely Adventist,” “What it Means to be a Seventh-day Adventist,” “End-Time World, End-Time Church,” “Male and Female: The Ordination Dilemma” (A study of Biblical Headship), “What the Bible Says About Jewelry,” “The Shaking of Laodicea,” “Hidden Heresy,” “Bible Prophecy Made Simple,” “It’s Time to Fight,” “The Final Shaking,” “Why I believe Ellen G. White to be a True Prophet of God,” “Understanding Ellen White,” “God’s Remnant is Formed,” “Standing on the Brink,” “Preparing the Church for the Last Hour,” “Loyal or Disloyal?” “God’s Remnant,” “The Shaking of Adventism,” and “Reforming the Remnant.”
Defining “conservative” and “liberal” within contemporary First World Adventism is very difficult. However, I suggest that the ethos projected by the materials in this catalogue provides vivid illustrations of the nature of an important segment of the Adventist right wing whose ideology is currently being actively advanced by those in positions of power and authority inside the corporate Adventist Church.