By Ervin Taylor and Ron Spencer, December 19, 2014: Our first hypothesis in this series of opinion pieces suggested that our current General President, Ted N. C. Wilson (aka Wilson II) and his allies are attempting to encourage a division in the Adventist Church to rid the church of those who do not agree with the Wilson II theological agenda.
Our second hypothesis is based on what seems to us to be a very revealing set of statements that Wilson II made in a keynote speech entitled “God’s Authoritative Voice,” which he delivered at the beginning of the “International Conference on the Bible and Science” held in Las Vegas, Nevada, in August 2014.
We will quote from a transcript of his speech (which was posted on the Adventist Review web site and, in part, published in the October 2014 issue of Adventist World), with the title “God’s Authoritative Voice: He’s Still Speaking.” (This title might raise a question in the minds of our more cynical readers: Does Wilson II really believe that God’s speaking is through Wilson II?” We have our own answer to that question, which we will not state for fear that some might conclude that we are biased.)
If some readers dispute the accuracy of our quotations, we invite them to check up on us and consult the text for themselves. We will cite four statements of Wilson II, taken from this article, and then, in italics following each statement, offer our observations about what appear to us to be the implications of these statements. Following the series of quotations and our comments, we will then offer our second hypothesis concerning Wilson II’s agenda as GC president.
(1) Wilson II: “Regarding origins, in the powerful, heavenly inspired book, Patriarchs and Prophets, the author [Ellen G. White (EGW)] writes: “The assumption that the events of the first week required thousands upon thousands of years, strikes directly at the foundation of the fourth commandment . . . The Bible recognizes no long ages in which the earth was slowly evolved from chaos . . . Of each successive day of creation, the sacred record declares that it consisted of the evening and the morning, like all other days that have followed.” Comment: We note that Wilson II is entirely comfortable with identifying the opinions of EGW on this topic as “heavenly inspired.” Thus, it appears that Wilson II is here advancing the use of EGW as an “inspired” interpreter of the Bible.
(2) Wilson II: “I stand here to say that both the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy [the works of EGW] are absolutely reliable and are inspired by the Creator Himself. Rely on the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy as the basis of your understanding of origins.” Comment: This confirms that Wilson is advocating that EGW is as inspired as the Bible and can be used to interpret the meaning of the Bible when the Bible itself is ambiguous on some particular point.
(3) Wilson II: “In the book [taken from the various collected writings of EGW] Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, we read: . . . ‘When the Lord declares that He made the world in six days and rested on the seventh day, He means the day of twenty-four hours, which He has marked off by the rising and setting of the sun.’” Comment: Yet again, another example of Wilson II elevating the views of EGW to be, for all practical purposes, equal to the Bible and able to interpret correctly what the Bible means when the Bible itself makes no statement of the specific meaning of a word or phrase, in this case, “day.”
(4). Wilson II: Based on what Wilson II states is a “plain understanding” of the Bible as provided by the writings of EGW, if “one does not accept the recent six-day creation understanding, then that person is actually not a ‘Seventh-day’ Adventist . . .” Comment: Yet again, if one does not accept the interpretations of EGW on this point, then, in the view of Wilson II, that individual is actually not an Adventist. Fortunately, Wilson II has no control over who is and who is not a member of the Adventist Church. That responsibility is in the hands of the local Adventist church.
Hypothesis 2. We submit that Wilson II and his allies are seeking to restore among Adventists the earlier status of Ellen White as an oracle and divinely inspired interpreter of the Bible on all subjects, theological, scientific, and historical. Wilson II states in this article that the Bible is the “absolute foundation of our faith and belief” but then immediately also states that the “Spirit of Prophecy [the writings of EGW] point back to the Bible.” On that basis, we are forced to conclude, that according to Wilson II, the views expressed in the Bible and those expressed by EGW are absolutely identical on all subjects and that if there is any disagreement about an interpretation of a biblical text, faithful Adventists have the writings of EGW to determine what the Bible means on any point theological, scientific, and historical.
We suggest that if Wilson II is successful in imposing his views on the body politic of the Church on this matter, theologically and sociologically the corporate Adventist Church would be retreating back to what it was in the 19th and early 20th century, a fundamentalist, sect-type religious body possessing an inerrant and infallible prophet and believing in an inerrant and infallible Bible.
If we wish to retain the advancements that have occurred in Adventism beginning in the 1960s, it is imperative that Wilson II be replaced as soon as possible with a more moderate GC President with views similar to those of the previous GC President, Jan Paulsen.
Regrettably, since Third World delegates to the GC session whom Wilson II has been courting for decades can outvote those from North America, Europe, and Australia, political reality is that he will remain in power to the great detriment of the Adventist Church for the foreseeable future. In the meantime, the North American Division Adventist Church can continue to distance itself from an increasingly fundamentalist-dominated General Conference Adventist Church and its corporate leader, Wilson II and his allies.