By Jack Hoehn
Jack and Deanne attended the San Diego One Project. Jack turns his critical eye on these rascals.
Seven years ago, a group of youngish pastors met and prayed about their ministry and focus, then started a series of meetings called THE ONE PROJECT. The latest meeting was in San Diego, California February 25 and 26 held in a large convention hall, hosting over 1,500 people. This is the 27th conference of the group and the first that I have attended so I am very eager to tell you all the things wrong about this conference.
First and foremost it was not sponsored by any one. I mean the General Conference nor any of the organizations they control did not spend even one small cent of tithe money, reserve funds, trust funds, retirement funds, slush funds, or travel budgets to support this meeting. Oh, yes, someone from the Pacific Union gave a welcome to the meeting, and the “so called president” of the Southeastern California Conference welcomed them and was given the first of only two standing ovations that happened during the meeting, but that was likely because her name is Pastor Sandra Roberts, if you know what that means.
No Box Lunches
And then they held the meeting on Sabbath, but were there any dried out sandwiches or soggy wrap box lunches for the delegates? Oh no, everyone had to go and have a proper meal (well you could charge it to your room, but really 1,500 people eating out on Sabbath, why couldn’t they have had a special pre-paid banquet with non-Adventist servers feeding us like other SDA organizations do?). (I of course solved the problem for myself by paying for my Sabbath meals with a special plastic card I use, so I never have to touch money on the Sabbath, clever no?)
Then there are the speakers. I mean although the first day’s meetings were on Sabbath, I didn’t see one speaker wear a tie, much less a coat. A few nice sweaters. And then the first talk was by a guy with hair down to his shoulders, who does he think he is, Jesus?
No Eye Protection
Then this huge conference hall, well it was pretty much filled with people for 2 full days and was pretty dark most of the time. And the praise band up front of course had, sigh, drums. (Well the young violinists and cellists were pretty good). I’m not sure what the fake smoke was about, and there were laser like lights shining out at us, and as a physician I felt like I should have had some safety glasses on like we use in the hospital around lasers.
The songs had three or four notes in them and repeated time after time after time. Although they did sing a few hymns, many of them were not from the Advent Hymnal, or even Christ in Song. OK so you now know how old I am.
Lots of Talks
But the real issue was the talks. I mean it is hard enough to digest one thoughtful, well delivered, well presented sermon a week, but we were given 8 sermons, sadly each of them putting to shame the usual Sabbath presentation most of us have, and this was just the first day. The second day there were 8 more! And after each two talks our roundtable of 10 or 11 people would talk about what we had heard. And instead of the comfort of the same dear truths we have heard for the past 50 years, how shall I put it, these talks were newish? I mean you had to think about them. Sometimes your spine would tingle, sometimes your ears would perk, sometimes your head would nod, and sometimes your eyebrows would furrow. I mean it was sort of a total body workout just listening.
Shortage of White Guys
And that was just from the women pastors. Oh yes, Kendra Valentine, Dena King, Jenniffer Ogden, Chris Oberg spoke with clarity and authority, you’d think they were real pastors and teachers. And then there were the brownish speakers like Damian Chandler, Iki Tamimi, Japhet De Oliveira, Timothy Nixon. The guy with Jesus hair said he was from the Dominican Republic.
And two old guys, one spoke funny from England although his talk was so interesting his accent wasn’t nearly as annoying as it might have been. And then the old guy from Australia, who got the other standing ovation. More about him later.
At least there were a few regular Pastors, although, like I said they did not wear the coats or ties to let us know who they were, but as they were all males and lead churches some place or other, I am pretty sure they were “real pastors?”
Karl Haffner, Tim Gillespie, Mark Witas, Alex Bryan, Steven Case, and some guy from a place with a funny name like Loma Linda named Roberts. But really 11 immigrants or women and only 6 regular white ordainable males? Shouldn’t we have a little more balance in a big important meeting like this?
Ok, so much for the talkers, but now you really must know the blatant and intentional messages these guys (and guy-like people) gave. You’d think they can’t read the plain Word of God. My Bible clearly states the last book of the KJV Bible is the Revelation of St. John. And all of them are trying to rename the book as the Revelation of Jesus. Oh, did I forget this is The One Project, Jesus is all? So they were suggesting that Jesus in Revelation is what we are to see.
Well, I just have to tell you that I have spent two days listening to excellent speakers, many experts in their field, and not one of them gave a date for the beginning or ending of the 1,260 “days.” Nor when the Thyatira church age ended and the Sardis church age began. They did not clarify how much a hail stone weighing a “talent” weights. I mean come on folks lets have some serious amazing facts.
So Long Lion, Hello Lamb
In fact they kept saying that the whole Revelation is not about the beast, the image to the beast, the image to the image of the beast, the frogs, the two dead witnesses for 3 and ½ days. They kept saying it was about Jesus and that everything in the book is symbolic, a dream, a poem. They said that the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, turns out in Revelation to be a Lamb, that had been sacrificed.
Now how can the wicked of earth become in awe of a mere Lamb? They said that the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, only rides the White Horse of peace, not the Red Horse of war. And that his garment soaked in blood was not the blood of battle and his enemies, it was his own blood, shed for his enemies long ago, whom he wants to make his friends.
They taught that Revelation reveals Christ as Creator and Christ as returning again, which is why we are called 7th-day (creation) Adventists (2nd coming). And that it is Satan who tries to get Adventists so involved in arguing about how and when God created, and next postulating about events that might precede His second coming, so that we don’t reveal the One hope for the world. They taught that Jesus is not coming to slay his enemies on a war horse with a sword in His hand, no matter what pictures show, but He is coming as Prince of Peace with His spoken truth, that will slay ignorance, misunderstanding, skepticism about the character of God, and turn His enemies into his friends.
God Not Controlling, Ruling
They taught that God is Sovereign over all His creation, but that does not mean He controls events.
He controls people who submit to his control, and he works with uncontrolled events from chance and other’s choices, to work us good. He will achieve his goal of the salvation of all who permit it, but not by vengeance, violence, or coercion.
Ha, there are already 40 Facebook comments on this assertion by Pastor Jennifer Ogden. As if President Trump, the breaking of Oroville Dam Spillway, the suffering of those wicked Syrian Muslims, was not caused by God. Isn’t everything caused by God.? I’m sure I sang that in my Hymnal recently.
Danger of Change in Attitude
I’m telling you if you listened to these sermons, you’d think we would have to stop hating Catholics, Illegal Immigrants, and those with sexual confusions. Imagine having the smell of tobacco in our sanctuaries! And think of the cleaning bills if we would open our churches as warming houses or shower stations during the winter to those homeless folks.
Telling you everything I was taught would be like trying to take a drink from a firehose! It so strong, so prepared, so novel that I am still trying to digest it all. So, I’ll just tell you two more things that are wrong with the One Project, and one big disappointment. Brace yourself.
Mr. Adventist Strays to The One Project
The first is Pastor William G. Johnsson, the old Australian I told you about. I mean do you think he is a real Adventist? I guess he was Editor of the Adventist Review for 20 years. But he is old. He sat on a stool when he talked to us. And the crowd gave him the second standing ovation of the meeting. He told us of his life as an Adventist, and of attending a One Project in Seattle, then being so overtaken by the message of Jesus that he has attended all of them since then. And he has the conviction that the One Project is the most hopeful thing in Adventism that he has ever seen.
He seems to see the refashioning of Adventist doctrines to be accurate to Jesus and His character, as a positive force. He seems to have thrown caution to the winds and has dared write a book some might find critical of our church called “Where Are We headed? Adventism after San Antonio.” (Available March 24 in Kindle, and later in print from Amazon. Com.)
He suggested that even in the dark caverns of conventions halls, even with three note praise songs drummed by drummers, that when the speakers begin to talk about Jesus, something happens in those halls. Something happened to him. Whatever, Bill.
I had been warned, so I spent a lot of time looking about the corners for stray Jesuits. I did find quite a few pastors, I found college students, I found returned attenders who come to every One Project they can afford, I found children in the Top Kids program, I saw people who put up their hands into the air when singing praise songs and praying, I saw old people, I saw brown people, I heard accents, but sorry to say, no Jesuits. Big disappointment.
Well one speaker did look a little bit like Friar Tuck, a welcome change I must say from all those beautiful, slender, healthy, articulate types.
Worst of All
So now that I’ve listed a lot of the things wrong with the One Project, I’m going to tell you the thing most wrong with the One Project. The thing most wrong with the One Project is that you and every other Seventh-day Adventist in the world was not there in San Diego to hear these two packed days of concentrated emphasis on Jesus and Jesus Only. The only thing wrong is that your old ideas about Revelation and its world view of our rebellious planet met by the Love of God in Christ were not challenged and redirected into a more positive, holy, and encouraging channel.
The main thing wrong with the One Project is that you were not there to hear it for yourself.
But if you want to see for yourself if I haven’t told you everything that is wrong, or everything that is right, here’s your chance to prove me wrong, or right. Got it?