Erik: Sean, You have over-emphasized your point. I can agree with …

Comment on Ricardo Graham clarifies LSU Board releases by Sean Pitman M.D..

Erik: Sean,

You have over-emphasized your point. I can agree with you up to a point, but you go too far in saying everyone should obey the edicts of the church. It is as if you are saying, “The Church is infallible. Even if it were to fall, it is still to be obeyed. We ought to obey the Church, rather than God or conscience.”

I never said that the church was infallible – just the opposite in fact. what I said is that any organization that wishes to remain viable must have internal rules, order, and discipline when it comes to paid representation. If you freely take on a position of a paid representative of any organization, to include a church organization, you also freely take on the responsibility to do what your employer asks you to do. If you cannot do this in good conscience, don’t join that organization.

Your first duty is indeed toward God. And, part of that duty is to be honest toward your employer. Taking money from someone who is paying you to do one thing while you are doing exactly the opposite is stealing of both your employer’s time and money. This is a moral wrong that is also against God’s Royal Law.

Skip that. I will obey God, rather than the church. Our church was not built upon the same authoritarian plan that many organizations operate under.

I’m not asking anyone not to following God or their own consciences. What I’m asking is that one not steal money or time from anyone. It is right of the Church to only hire those who accurately represent those positions that it considers to be fundamentally important to present to the world as an organized body. If you disagree, leave and go somewhere else to be paid by those who consider your ideas worthy of payment. That would be the only honest thing to do.

Jesus referred to the common practice in the world of rank under which “their great ones exercise authority upon them” (Mark 10:42). However, His response called for a difference: “But so shall it not be among you: but…whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all” (verses 43-44). Other biblical injunctions counsel Christ’s followers not to be respecters of persons, nor to treat people differently based on their wealth or lack of it (James 2:1-9). So much for the theory that “he who has the gold makes the rules.”

The fact of the matter is that Jesus Himself gave authority to Church leaders to govern the internal workings of the Church – an organization that receives God’s highest regard on Earth. The organization itself is important – not just the individual. If you decide, of your own free will, to join this organization, you take on certain responsibilities which you did not have before.

Although originally opposed to such constraints, it was John Loughborough, together with James White, who first started to realize the need for some sort of enforcement of SDA Church order and discipline – i.e., a Church government.

Consider the following comments and quotes by JN Loughborough in his The Church, Its Organization, Order and Discipline (1907):

“When those who back in the “sixties” [1860s] witnessed the battle of establishing church order now hear persons, as conscientious no doubt as those back there, utter almost the identical words that were then used by those opposing order, it need not be wondered that they fear the result of such statements as the following: “Perfect unity means absolute independence, – each one knowing for himself. Why, we could not have outward disorganization if we all believed in the Lord. . . . This question of organization is a simple thing. All there is to it is for each individual to give himself to the Lord, and then the Lord will do with him just what he wants to, and that all the time. . . . Our only safety, under God, is to go back to the place where God is able to take a multitude of people and make them one, without parliamentary rules, without committee work, without legislation of any kind.” – General Conference Bulletin of 1899.

God Requires Rules:

“Superficially considered, this might seem to be a blessed state, a heaven indeed; but, as already noted on a preceding page, we read of heaven itself and its leadings that “the god of heaven is a god of order, and he requires all his followers to have rules and regulations to preserve order.”
“As our numbers increased, it was evident that without some form of organization, there would be great confusion, and the work could not be carried forward successfully. To provide for the support of the ministry, for carrying on the work in new fields, for protecting both the church and ministry from unworthy members, for holding church property, for the publication of the truth through the press, and for other objects, organization was indispensable.”
– Testimonies for the Church, No. 32, page 30.

As it turns out, the leaders of the early SDA Church at first thought that no enforcement of any kind was needed to keep the Church from fragmenting. This was true as long as the Church was small and made up of originally like-minded people. However, as the Church grew larger, this view soon became obviously untenable. Loughborough was one of the main proponents of this sort of church order and discipline – along with James White. Very quickly all of the early Church leaders changed their minds regarding Church order and discipline when they saw that their original ideas of completely hands-off freedom of Church representatives were quickly failing to do what they thought they would do. So, the leadership started issuing cards of commendation signed by James White or John Loughborough.

Of course, those who were not considered to accurately represent the views of the Church did not receive these cards of commendation. And what was the attitude of such persons? – according to Loughborough?:

“Of course those who claimed “liberty to do as they pleased,” to “preach what they pleased,” and to “go when and where they pleased,” without “consultation with any one,” failed to get cards of commendation. They, with their sympathizers, drew off and commenced a warfare against those whom they claimed were “depriving them of their liberty.” Knowing that it was the Testimonies that had prompted us as a people to act, to establish “order,” these opponents soon turned their warfare against instruction from that source, claiming that “when they got that gift out of the way, the message would go unrestrained to its `loud cry.’ ”

One of the principal claims made by those who warred against organization was that it “abridged their liberty and independence, and that if one stood clear before the Lord that was all the organization needed,” etc. Upon this point, when church order was contested, we read: “Satan well knows that success only attend order and harmonious action. He well knows that everything connected with heaven is in perfect order, that subjection and thorough discipline mark the movements of the angelic host. . . . He deceives even the professed people of God, and makes them believe that order and discipline are enemies to spirituality; that the only safety for them is to let each pursue his own course. . . . All the efforts made to establish order are considered dangerous, a restriction of rightful liberty, and hence are feared as popery.”
– Testimonies for the Church, Vol. I, page 650.

I think you are in danger of falling into this same mindset… of thinking that imposed order and discipline within the Church is somehow evil or against the plan of God. This couldn’t be further from the truth. God is a God of order, of rules and regulations, and of government.

Sean Pitman

Sean Pitman M.D. Also Commented

Ricardo Graham clarifies LSU Board releases

Bravus: My point may not have been clearly made. I did not mean that the church leaders are infallible, or cannot make mistakes. I simply meant that correcting their mistakes and challenging them ought to be done with respect rather than abuse. Someone may be dead wrong, but calling an ordained minister of the Lord “A do-nothing, know-nothing, head-in-the-sand pseudoleader” reflects on the abuser rather than the abused, IMO.

I agree with this comment. It is fine to take the position that an ordained church leader is wrong or mistaken, or even needs to be removed from office, but this should be done with the greatest respect for his/her office and for the individual directly as a servant answerable to God as well as to the church.

Remember David when he showed the greatest respect even for Saul both during and after Saul’s life because King Saul, though clearly evil, was God’s anointed.

Sean Pitman

Ricardo Graham clarifies LSU Board releases

Ron: Sean, you said, “Therefore, there seems to be no moral ground for an employee to take money from an employer who has specifically asked the employee to do something which the employee isn’t about to do.”

If the employer is asking for something that is legitimate, I would agree with you, but when an administrator is asking a science teacher to lie and teach, false, or incomplete data because it happens to be theologically inconvenient, then that is an illegitimate request.

The SDA Church isn’t asking anyone to lie or to teach what a person believes is false or weak. The Church is asking only for those teachers and pastors who actually believe that the evidence in strongly in favor of the Church’s position to accept Church employment. Obviously, if someone believes that the Catholic position was the strongest theological position after much training in theological issues (and there are many such people), that person would not be qualified to be a paid SDA representative – no matter how sincerely and honestly he/she held his/her views.

For example, if I were to accept the position of a paid representative of the SDA Church, as either a teacher or a pastor, I could do so in good conscience because I would not be lying in presenting the SDA message as the truth as I see it. I believe it is the truth and that it does in fact have the backing of the signficant weight of available evidence – even when it comes to the stated SDA position on origins.

Therefore, when you argue that a science teacher hired by the SDA Church isn’t really under any moral obligation to do what the SDA Church has specifically hired him/her to do, in no uncertain terms, you are mistaken. The SDA Church is not asking anyone to perform a civil crime or even to go against his/her conscience. The SDA Church is, however, asking those who accept a paid position to actually believe in and support the stated SDA ideals in their paid capacity of an offical SDA representative.

It just amazes me that this concept is so difficult for some to grasp! It is so obvious if actually considered with a candid mind. You just don’t steal money or time from people – even if you think those people are crazy.

As I recall, there is something in the 10 Commandments about “Thou shalt not lie”. As Adventists, we don’t need to shade the truth, or lie. We can afford to let the evidence lead where it will because we believe that nature is God’s first book, revealing himself. Didn’t Mrs White say something about what this world needs is men who will stand for the truth though the heavens fall? I want to support La Sierra, and any other University in their academic freedom to pursue truth no matter where it leads. Christ is “the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” To deny scientific truth is to deny Christ Himself. What you are asking for is nothing different in principle than the Spanish Inquisition. As a Seventh-day Adventist, I want nothing to an inquisition.

I’m not asking for the Spanish Inquisition – despite this commonly used strawman argument. There is a key difference between expecting an employee to actually do what you are paying him/her to do and expecting everyone to do what you want them to do regardless of their own free will to join or to leave your organization – on pain of civil penalties. The SDA Church is not and should not be involved with civil government. All are free to take on or to leave off a paid position within the SDA Church free of all civil penalties or consequences of any kind.

It is just nonsense therefore for you to compare the request of any organization for an employee to do what they are being paid to do with the Spanish Inquisition! That’s an idiotic comparison! According to this logic the SDA Church would have to pay anyone and everyone for every idea out there! Don’t you see this argument as just a little bit strained?

Sean Pitman

Ricardo Graham clarifies LSU Board releases

Ron: “Why then is LSU so clearly opposed to this legitimate request of its employer?”

Because it is not a legitimate request. It is not consistent which the our Adventist commitment intelectual honesty and Present Truth.

I didn’t say “correct” request, but “legitimate” or “legal” request. In other words, this request isn’t against the law. Therefore, there seems to be no moral ground for an employee to take money from an employer who has specifically asked the employee to do something which the employee isn’t about to do. Yet, the employee still expects to get paid by the employer in this case? How is this not outright theft on the part of the employee?

It doesn’t matter if you, as the employee, think that you are correct in your views and that your employer is wrong. Even if you are right, you are morally wrong in taking money from your employer while doing exactly the opposite of what your employer lawfully asked you to do…

Sean Pitman

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