Elder Graham: “Why I Support La Sierra University”

Elder Ricardo Graham

From the July, 2010 issue of the Pacific Union Recorder, Elder Ricardo Graham, president of the Pacific Union Conference, wrote the following article:

As many of you know, biology classes at La Sierra University have been discussed widely and passionately in recent months.

It all started in 2009 when a biology student [Louie Bishop] asserted that one [actually most] of his instructors was [were and still are] teaching evolution as fact.  A leader of a donor-supported ministry [Pastor David Asscherick; Director of ARISE] circulated a letter supporting the claims of the student, and soon LSU’s biology classes were the subject of heated debate on the Internet [David didn’t circulate his letter – it was intended as a private letter that was unintentionally leaked by E-mail and then spread very rapidly].

As chairman of the LSU board and president of the Pacific Union Conference, I have devoted more time, energy and prayer to this matter in recent months than to anything else. I don’t think a day goes by that I, along with LSU administration and faculty, are not working to assure LSU provides not ony a thorough education, but also a faith-building experience for every student.

As constituents of this union, you deserve accurate information.

First, I would like you to know that I accept the biblical account of origins.  This is a statement of my faith.  I believe all life on earth was created a few thousand years ago in six 24-hour days, followed by the first Sabbath. And I expect to believe that until the Lord comes. For me, the biblical story of creation contains important foundational truths for what I believe about God, about myself, about others and about the mission of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

Not everyone agrees with my understanding of the Genesis story of creation.  Many people, including some Seventh-day Adventists, have concluded that the evidence that life has developed on Earth over long periods of time is conclusive, and that the Genesis story must be understood in light of scientific data.  I don’t agree with that position.  My views of science are informed by my faith in God’s Word, not the other way around.

I am proud of LSU, and you can be, too.  I don’t believe there is a finer Adventist university anywhere. The board, administration and faculty are committed to building and developing the Christian commitment of every student. And they are committed to making whatever adjustments might be necessary to provide the best Seventh-day Adventist Christian education possible. As a true university, LSU will always be on the cutting edge of science as well as other disciplines.  If the day ever comes that no one challenges what is being taught in one class or another there, it will probably be because the school has lost its commitment to genuine learning and discovery.  I hope that never happens.

I believe in La Sierra University, and I believe in academic freedom, but I also believe that no one who teaches in any Seventh-day Adventist school, including a university, has the freedom to teach as fact things that contradict or undermine the beliefs of the church.

At the same time, the school must be open to the challenges of contemporary life and open to making adjustments or even serious changes, if needed.

Many have wondered why the discussions and adjustments have continued so long.

To understand this, one must look closely at our history as a church and at the organizational structure that has served us for more than a century.  In response to fervent appeals from Ellen G. White and others at the dawn of the 20th century, the Seventh-day Adventist Church was reorganized to prevent what she called “kingly, ruling power.”  Authority was distributed to committees and boards as close as possible to where ministry and education were facilitated.

As one who has served the church for more than 30 years, I can speak with conviction and passion about the importance of these organization structures.  I believe that they are among God’s greatest gifts to our church.  Our growth as a church, the way in which we have been able to minister in such diverse circumstances and such diverse ways, our capacity to minister in so many cultures, languages and settings, and our ability to stay in sync – in unity – with one another across widely varying situations, all can be attributed in large part to the organizational structure that was developed by our pioneers.

Adventist universities are not like elementary schools or even academies, where one or several people can make changes overnight.  At a university, the process is often as important as the outcome.  Those processes involve discussion, planning, experimentation, review and more changes until the goals are met.  Those process are ongoing at La Sierra University and I am pleased with the directions both the discussions and the adjustments are moving.  I have no fear at all about where we will end.

And where will we end? What are the goals of this process?  I speak as the board chair, and for the LSU board and faculty, in making two assertions.

First, LSU will be a school where the biblical account of a recent six-day creation will be respected and supported, and where the faith of our students will be encouraged and strengthened while their knowledge of science develops.

Second, LSU will be a school where every student – regardless of their beliefs about origins – will be respected, and where they will find every possible reason to believe in a loving God, accept the Lordship of Jesus Christ, value the Sabbath, seriously consider and choose to become Seventh-day Adventists, and commit themselves to the mission of preparing the world for the second coming of Christ.

It is my prayer that as we continue to think and talk and pray – and provide leadership for LSU – our members can exercise patience, confidence in local leadership, and mutual respect.  I invite your continued prayers and support.

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35 thoughts on “Elder Graham: “Why I Support La Sierra University”

  1. Perhaps I am not aware how slowly committees are supposed to work, but it seems to me like this issue does not need decades to resolve. That’s right – decades. Many of the science professors at LSU have long been promoting the idea that life has existed and evolved on this planet for hundreds of millions of years – since the inception of LSU. This problem has only become worse and the evolutionist professors more and more bold in their open defiance of the Church’s stand on this issue over the years.

    I myself have been trying to get this particular problem substantively addressed at LSU for over 6 years. Then when David Asscherick’s letter made this issue generally known over a year ago, LSU continued to drag its feet and hope, as usual, that everything would just “blow over.” Well, it hasn’t blown over this time and over a year has gone by with no substantive action by LSU’s boards and committees to address this problem – despite repeated assurances of action.

    The new freshman class added last year to introduce students to the interplay of science and religion was supervised and taught by the very teachers who openly admit to believing in and actively promoting the evolutionary story of origins while considering the 6-day creation week an outdated notion believed in by only the ignorant “lunatic fringe” within the SDA Church. The guest lecturers weren’t much better. Even those from the religion department at LSU cast doubt upon the validity of a literal reading of the Genesis account of creation in this new freshman class – a class originally touted as a solution to this whole debate.

    Now, whole conference are starting to question the resolve of LSU to really do anything substantive to solve this active undermining of the Pillars of the Seventh-day Adventist Faith at LSU – the literal six-day creation week in particular. The Michigan Conference no longer recognizes LSU as a truly Adventist University and will no longer subsidize conference workers who send their children to LSU. The Central California Conference (CCC) has also recently warned LSU that it has had plenty of time to do something about this problem and that if it continues to drag its feet the CCC may have to take additional actions to encourage LSU to act in support of the Fundamentals of the SDA Church. I hear that the Texas Conference is thinking of doing the same thing as is the Gulf States Conference.

    I’m sorry Elder Graham, but the time for the dragging of LSU’s feet on this issue is over. Now is the time to stand up for what is right by the SDA Church as a body and act decisively on an issue that is and has dramatically affected the lives of thousands of our young people – many of whom no longer believe many of the Pillars of the SDA Faith because of the doubts that were taught to them by their loved and respected LSU professors.

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  2. I wish to acknowledge Elder Graham’s letter to the LSU constituents. I am broadly interpreting his letter to be meant for those of us who are no longer Pacific Union constituents, but are alumni or members of the world church as well. My first reaction to his letter was that the letter was carefully constructed by a politician and draws an irrelevant conclusion. The irrelevant conclusion is strengthened by a straw man’s argument (misrepresenting the historical Adventist viewpoint on the evolution controversy). The final breaking point leading to Elder Graham’s irrelevant conclusion is his use of argumentum verbosium (using so much rhetoric that it is hard to distinguish between the facts of the situation, therefore making the argument appear plausible). I will deconstruct Elder Graham’s letter as I understand it, from a historical Adventist perspective.

    “I don’t think a day goes by that I, along with LSU administration and faculty, are not working to assure LSU provides not only a thorough education, but also a faith-building experience for every student.” This is noble on the onset, but what faith-building experience is being provided? Sister White tells us, “Evil angels in the form of believers will work in our ranks to bring in a strong spirit of disbelief. We are never to catch up the words that human lips may speak to confirm the evil angels in their work, but we should repeat the words of Christ. Christ was the Instructor in the assemblies of these angels before they fell from their high estate” (3SM 410). I would caution us not to begin to point fingers at who is working in conjunction with Satan, but when “Some depart from the faith, and give head to the doctrines of devils” (8MR 345) we need to stand up for Jesus.

    “First, I would like you to know that I accept the biblical account of origins. This is a statement of my faith. I believe all life on earth was created a few thousand years ago in six 24-hour days, followed by the first Sabbath. And I expect to believe that until the Lord comes. For me, the biblical story of creation contains important foundational truths for what I believe about God, about myself, about others and about the mission of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
    Not everyone agrees with my understanding of the Genesis story of creation. Many people, including some Seventh-day Adventists, have concluded that the evidence that life has developed on Earth over long periods of time is conclusive, and that the Genesis story must be understood in light of scientific data. I don’t agree with that position. My views of science are informed by my faith in God’s Word, not the other way around.”

    I am glad to know that Elder Graham believes in the biblical perspective of creation. The problem is with his next statement that others may not believe in the literal Genesis story. The Holy Spirit counseled us through the inspired pen that “Inferences erroneously drawn from facts observed in nature have, however, led to supposed conflict between science and revelation; and in the effort to restore harmony, interpretations of Scripture have been adopted that undermine and destroy the force of the word of God. Geology has been thought to contradict the literal interpretation of the Mosaic record of the creation. Millions of years, it is claimed, were required for the evolution of the earth from chaos; and in order to accommodate the Bible to this supposed revelation of science, the days of creation are assumed to have been vast, indefinite periods, covering thousands or even millions of years.
    Such a conclusion is wholly uncalled for. The Bible record is in harmony with itself and with the teaching of nature. Of the first day employed in the work of creation is given the record, ‘The evening and the morning were the first day.’ Genesis 1:5. And the same in substance is said of each of the first six days of creation week. Each of these periods Inspiration declares to have been a day consisting of evening and morning, like every other day since that time. In regard to the work of creation itself the divine testimony is, ‘He spake, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast.’ Psalm 33:9. With Him who could thus call into existence unnumbered worlds, how long a time would be required for the evolution of the earth from chaos? In order to account for His works, must we do violence to His word?” (Ed. P. 129, 130).
    “As in the days of the Apostles men tried by tradition and philosophy to destroy faith in the Scriptures, so today, by the pleasing sentiments of higher criticism, evolution…the enemy of righteousness is seeking to lead souls into forbidden paths. To many the Bible is as a lamp without oil, because they have turned their minds into channels of speculative belief that bring misunderstanding and confusion. The work of higher criticism, in dissecting, conjecturing, reconstructing, is destroying faith in the Bible as a divine revelation. It is robbing God’s word of power to control, uplift, and inspire human lives” (AA, p. 474).
    “In the study of science, as generally pursued, there are dangers equally great. Evolution and its kindred errors are taught in schools of every grade, from the kindergarten to the college. Thus the study of science, which should impart a knowledge of God, is so mingled with the speculations and theories of men that it tends to infidelity (Ed, p. 227).
    “As a true university, LSU will always be on the cutting edge of science as well as other disciplines. If the day ever comes that no one challenges what is being taught in one class or another there, it will probably be because the school has lost its commitment to genuine learning and discovery. I hope that never happens.
    I believe in La Sierra University, and I believe in academic freedom, but I also believe that no one who teaches in any Seventh-day Adventist school, including a university, has the freedom to teach as fact things that contradict or undermine the beliefs of the church.
    At the same time, the school must be open to the challenges of contemporary life and open to making adjustments or even serious changes, if needed.”

    Here is where argumentum verbosium occurs. Granted, as a true university we want our students and teachers to be on the cutting edge of science. We want our students to learn to challenge, but not challenge the word of God. This leads to destruction and speculation of things God has chosen not to share with us—a dangerous path. I believe that each person who is concerned about the great controversy taking place on the stage of La Sierra is a proponent of academic freedom, binding this freedom to God’s Word and the historic teachings of the church. The problem is that contemporary life and making adjustments as needed is a slippery slope. This is a similar tactic to re-interpreting the constitution, and not taking it for what it is and says. Contemporary life does not change God. Is He not always the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow? Our understanding of contemporary life does not impress God. Be careful Elder Graham and all who would follow this logic!

    “To understand this, one must look closely at our history as a church and at the organizational structure that has served us for more than a century. In response to fervent appeals from Ellen G. White and others at the dawn of the 20th century, the Seventh-day Adventist Church was reorganized to prevent what she called “kingly, ruling power.” Authority was distributed to committees and boards as close as possible to where ministry and education were facilitated.
    As one who has served the church for more than 30 years, I can speak with conviction and passion about the importance of these organization structures. I believe that they are among God’s greatest gifts to our church. Our growth as a church, the way in which we have been able to minister in such diverse circumstances and such diverse ways, our capacity to minister in so many cultures, languages and settings, and our ability to stay in sync – in unity – with one another across widely varying situations, all can be attributed in large part to the organizational structure that was developed by our pioneers.”

    Here is more argumentum verbosium. The argument is not about the organizational structure of the church. While I am personally grateful for Elder Graham’s service to the church, the paragraph about his service is neither here nor there. This would be like me stating that because I have worked for the church for 10 years, and served in a public school setting for 14 years, I understand both sides of the educational coin better than Adventist pastors or teachers who have only served the church. This is fallacy! The argument is also not about our vast diversity, which is another blessing of the Holy Spirit, and which our pioneers would have wept at if they could have seen the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on this remnant church on the global stage. Furthermore, we cannot cite Sister White when it is convenient, and leave her inspiration out of the discussion when it doesn’t please us.
    Adventist universities are not like elementary schools or even academies, where one or several people can make changes overnight. At a university, the process is often as important as the outcome. Those processes involve discussion, planning, experimentation, review and more changes until the goals are met. Those processes are ongoing at La Sierra University and I am pleased with the directions both the discussions and the adjustments are moving. I have no fear at all about where we will end.

    Why are the faculty members of the colleges and university unable to make changes or for that matter, state they do not agree with the church’s historical teaching, overnight? This makes it appear as though university professors have some type of extra special clout or privilege that the local Adventist kindergarten teacher or academy bible teacher does not posse–somehow they are more important because they are at a university? It asserts that the active role of dialogue and communication are not important to the leadership of our elementary and secondary schools. Also, were does Elder Graham believe the end will lead to in this great controversy? He stated,

    “First, LSU will be a school where the biblical account of a recent six-day creation will be respected and supported, and where the faith of our students will be encouraged and strengthened while their knowledge of science develops.
    Second, LSU will be a school where every student – regardless of their beliefs about origins – will be respected, and where they will find every possible reason to believe in a loving God, accept the Lordship of Jesus Christ, value the Sabbath, seriously consider and choose to become Seventh-day Adventists, and commit themselves to the mission of preparing the world for the second coming of Christ.”
    I am glad to hear that LSU will again be a school where the biblical account of a literal, recent, six-day creation is respect and supported. Will it also be preached in the classroom, supported by the faculty, administration, and board? Will the strengthening of student science concepts be developed from a biblical perspective, or are our young people going to continually be at-risk at this Adventist institution for losing their faith in, “Thus saith the Lord…?”
    The second statement is a statement of respect, but leans towards tolerance (two different perspectives). The issue is always Christ, and Him crucified. But Adventists have been called to be a unique and peculiar people. We cannot, should not, and for me and my house, will not adhere to the current conditions and understandings of the world, regardless of the liberal academic elite who believe as talking heads they know more than the common person. For me and my house, we will serve the Lord, and will rely on what His word has plainly said. We cannot have students going out to preach the gospel and preparing the world when they don’t have a clear understanding of their origins. We are told that angels will be sent in the final days (which we are in) to finish the work that men had the blessing to partake in, but neglected the claims of God (RH, Dec. 15, 1885).

    I pray that the Lord will bless the new leadership of the General Conference, Elder Wilson, as president, and all those who serve the Lord for this mighty church. We have a message to save, and people are begging us to “tell it again!” Let us not fail because we cannot clearly see what is before us, we listen to the doctrines of evil, seducing spirits, and are found wanting on the scales of heaven.




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  3. Sean, Regarding your comments on how LSU thinks this will just “blow over” Ervin Taylor, on his AT blog months ago, predicted this website was on its death bed. We see how accurate Erv is in his futuristic prognostications!




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  4. It is not insignificant that Elder Graham finally updates us on his thoughts regarding this debate after the new GC President is selected. We are looking for leaders to stand for truth and principle regardless of circumstances! Elder
    Graham was aware of intimate details of this creation issue at LSU from the outset and waited until now to make a statement, but with no real position. What specifically are you going to do?




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  5. It is not insignificant that Elder Graham finally updates us on his thoughts regarding this debate after the new GC President is selected. We are looking for leaders to stand for truth and principle regardless of circumstances! Elder Graham was aware of intimate details of this creation issue at LSU from the outset and waited until now to make a statement, but with no real position. What specifically are you going to do?  

    Graham has no “specifics” and no position. He thus says we just have to “wait it out” for a few more eons of time.




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  6. @MLB: The article was written before Ted Wilson was elected. Despite personally knowing his views on creation from conversations with him, I’m disappointed that he’s taken this long to mention them. Perhaps he has published them else where and I am unaware.

    I like what he says here:

    As constituents of this union, you deserve accurate information.

    That’s exactly one of the reasons Educate Truth exists, because LSU is being dishonest about their biology department.

    And they are committed to making whatever adjustments might be necessary to provide the best Seventh-day Adventist Christian education possible.

    Really? How can he say that when LSU has done absolutely nothing to address what is happening in the biology classroom? Even their attempt with the biology seminar class was a utter failure.

    If his his two goals are all we are to expect then the board will have accomplished virtually nothing. There should be more than respect and support for the biblical creation account. It should be taught and promoted.

    If anything happens at LSU to address the situation, it would not surprise me if it was because of out side intervention. The Board isn’t addressing anything.




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  7. Thanks Shane, for the timeline update, but President Wisbey had or has friends in high places in the GC which had a effect to what was being said by church officials. The point is our leaders at all levels need to stand and be counted! This GC session was greatly influenced by the creation debate, many of our leaders I’m afraid have been waiting for the outcome before they speak up. My prayer is for Elder Wilson to be bold in support of creation so others including Elder Graham may follow. Look at the support for the Michigan Conference!




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  8. Thanks Shane, for the timeline update, but President Wisbey had or has friends in high places in the GC which had a effect to what was being said by church officials. The point is our leaders at all levels need to stand and be counted! This GC session was greatly influenced by the creation debate, many of our leaders I’m afraid have been waiting for the outcome before they speak up. My prayer is for Elder Wilson to be bold in support of creation so others including Elder Graham may follow. Look at the support for the Michigan Conference!  (Quote)

    Graham should not be a “follower” at all. He should be a leader, which is what he was elected to do. If Wilson does decide to be bold, the first thing he should do is fire both Wisbey and Graham, since they are the “leaders” accountable in this travesty.




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  9. Perhaps someone is trying to set a new Guinness Book of World Records for stalling–“La Sierra University has set an unmatched record after decades of stalling,” which would tie with their “deceptive advertising” record. You’ve spelled it out clearer than day, Dr. Pitman, thank you for your efforts. And thanks to the many others who have been and currently are trying to bring the truth to light, despite personal attacks and more obstacles than a military training course.

    What has been happening at La Sierra–the absolutely non-Adventist philosophies that are being promoted–is truly not acceptable. How can anyone listen to the videos of the classroom lectures, or read the “scriptural” promotion of homosexuality article just published in the Criterion and think these represent Seventh-day Adventism? I have concluded that there really are two diametrically opposed strands within our church. Elder Graham apparently is trying to swim between the two chasms. This cannot continue indefinitely.

    The foot dragging has been going on so long, it’s a wonder there are any body parts left to drag. Hiding behind “process” excuse and “academic freedom” excuse or “kingly powers” excuse is not an answer. It is very sad that the local entities have not done their duty long before now and other conferences are forced to step forward.

    Despite the hazards to my health I have been reading Spectrum and A-Today website blogs. For those who are so bitter against this church or dissatisfied with its basic tenants, I have a solution: form a new organization called: Seven-day Progressives. Membership would only require self-designation as a superior intellectual and a commitment to love-everybody (except those backward, deluded, judgmental conservatives). SDPs can practice “progressiveness” seven days a week along with whatever “personal relationship/journey” suits them (or do they really believe in the seven day week? Oops!). That way they won’t be mired down with any particular dogma, day or method of worship, moral or life-style constraints or methods of Biblical interpretation, or even bother with the Bible, just use “peer reviewed” science textbooks. Then all this controversy can stop! Enough already! This tremendous expenditure of time and energy publishing back and forth volleys can stop and people can move on with their real lives. Now wouldn’t that free up a great deal of time and resources that could be put to much more productive use?

    Great idea! – except, perhaps, for the fact that the initials of my own name are “SDP” ; )

    Sean DeVere Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  10. Susie, every conflict between good and evil is a reflection of the controversy that began in heaven. Lucifer did not simply “pull out of heaven” and start his own church. Issues had to slowly develop to a point where all could see and understand the implications of the points he had made against God and His government.

    The present conflict over creation vs. evolution in the church is simply typical of this heavenly controversy. While we defend the true bible faith, sometimes we must be careful to let others come to a clear understanding of the implications of this issue. Some of the angels understood almost immediately the issues in heaven, some did not.

    We agree that this issue seems obvious to us as well as many issues. It is true that in some cases, people act like they are more forgiving than God. That is, they apply the “gospel” in such a way, that even God would not apply it. So they claim to “forgive” and have a forgiving spirit that is not in harmony with the true spirit of Godly forgiveness.

    Such individuals attain positions of trust, influence and authority and undermine the true biblical context and meaning of forgiveness and preach and teach a view of tolerance that is more in harmony with Satan’s kingdom than the kingdom of God. We know it is a “false gospel” for its fruit is not unto holiness but more akin to an easy believism that tolerates sin and actually advocates and advances its principles.

    At some point in heaven, Lucifer began an open rebellion. And of course, he was expelled. Have we reached this point here on earth in the church? Maybe. Even probably. None the less, God will no doubt create the scenario in this world where individuals must necessarily decide if they will follow the bible, or human ideas and concepts.

    So, we need to “blow the trumpet in Zion”. And make it clear where each of us stands on these important issues. Many leaders would like for us to “get in, sit down, shut up, and hang on” so they can continue their present agenda. This we can not do, nor will we do so.

    And finally, persecution will no doubt come more from within than without. You will eventually not be a very popular person in your church. If you are now. The fine line between defending the faith and defending ourselves is not so easily discerned. The prophets had to struggle with this reality and sometimes failed. We need to take care and not needlessly cause contention while standing up for truth. Not an easy issue, to be sure.

    Much prayer and careful consideration is needful.

    Keep the faith

    Bill Sorensen




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  11. The false gospel will always attack the biblical givens. Things that are clearly stated and revealed are obscured to the point where there are no non-negotiables. Everything in the bible takes on some “spiritual” meaning not preceived by the average person, and only the “highly enlightened” and highly educated have the ability to define and interpret scripture.

    This false spirit has taken over much of present Adventism. This conflict between creation and evolution is typical of how false teachers endeavor to obscure the obvious in the name of “higher spiritual enlightenment”.

    It covers many issues in the SDA church today, from celebration style of worship, dress, jewelry, women elders and a lot more. It always points with scorn and contempt on those who simply follow and believe the word of God. Today, one of the favorite tactics is to label people as legalists if they hold to non-negotiable truths and of course, such people are not considered loving, kind, generous and condecending. They are accused of being harsh, demanding, unloving, judgmental with no comprehension of the “gospel” or its meaning and application.

    And the liberals will stoop to any low level to mis-represent those who hold firmly to the word of God and its clear and obvious meaning. And to those who may read this, let me say if you stand firm for truth, you will, in the near future be a hyper minority, not only in the world, but in the church. EGW saw it this way in vision…..

    ” I dreamed of seeing a temple to which many people were flocking. Only those who took refuge in that temple would be saved when time should close. All who remained outside would be forever lost. The multitudes without, who were going their various ways, were deriding and ridiculing those who were entering the temple, and told them that this plan of safety was a cunning deception, that, in fact, there was no danger whatever to avoid. They even laid hold of some to prevent them from hastening within the walls. {EW 78.3}
    Fearing to be laughed at and ridiculed, I thought best to wait until the multitude were dispersed, or until I could enter unobserved by them. But the numbers increased instead of diminishing, and fearful of being too late, I hastily left my home and pressed through the crowd. In my anxiety to reach the temple
    79
    I did not notice or care for the throng that surrounded me. On entering the building, I saw that the vast temple was supported by one immense pillar, and to this was tied a Lamb all mangled and bleeding. We who were present seemed to know that this Lamb had been torn and bruised on our account. All who entered the temple must come before it and confess their sins. {EW 78.4}
    Just before the Lamb were elevated seats upon which sat a company of people looking very happy. The light of heaven seemed to shine upon their faces, and they praised God and sang songs of glad thanksgiving that seemed to be like the music of angels. These were they who had come before the Lamb, confessed their sins, been pardoned, and were now waiting in glad expectation of some joyful event.” {EW 79.1}

    The “joyful event” was most likely the second coming. But she make clear how true believers will be treated by the church community. If we expect less, or otherwise, we will miss the reality and be swept into oblivion by spiritual delusions.

    Keep the faith

    Bill Sorensen




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  12. My apologies, Sean, for the inadvertent linking of your name to my suggestion for a “Seven-day Progressive Church!”

    Seriously, in my own life I know that I fall short of reflecting all the ideals of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, but to assuage any feelings of inadequacy, I do not try to fundamentally change the definition of Seventh-day Adventist. Even if I disagree with some areas, as long as the church’s standards are clearly stated then I know what I am choosing to align myself with. If the discrepancy is too great with my own convictions and understanding of truth or even my lifestyle choices, then I am free to leave. I have had to accept at least one area where I do not think the church made the right decision, but I have chosen to remain with the church.

    What I find unacceptable is when the church’s foundational pillars are redefined by pockets of individuals or institutions bearing the Seventh-day Adventist name, but still pretending to uphold the church.
    It is underhanded, deceptive, unethical and ought to be illegal. The church is being redefined for every member without the benefit of full membership knowledge. How can I or anyone make an informed decision of what we want to be a part of? If my spouse is secretly having an affair how can I make appropriate decisions about everything from handling of money to how and where I want to live? It is only when there is full disclosure that informed decisions and choices can be made by all affected parties. La Sierra University officials and even Ricardo Graham have been less than forthcoming. Case in point: note the twitter from the GC session where several La Sierra Board of Trustee members have been threatened with “discipline” because they evidently tried to provide some disclosure to GC vice presidents! (Can’t allow that, oh no!)

    Back to my original conclusion, I still think a “Seven-day Progressive Church” (sorry for the initials, Sean) would be a very good solution for those who prefer total flexibility in defining church standards, the Bible, origins, life-style, worship style, God, whatever…




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  13. Anent new, more accurate, more honest, more meaningful, more transparent, more inclusive, more relevant name for our new offshoot, should the courage and honesty be mustered to shoot off: Postadventism, for symmetry with Postmodernism, the model, the inspiration from which their philosophy, operating protocol, tactics, and tone of voice are drawn, even the whimsy. SDPA.




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  14. Even their attempt with the biology seminar class was a utter failure.

    Can someone please explain why the biology professor lectures from this seminar class were never posted online? Did they undermine SDA beliefs as you repeatedly claim?




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  15. Wow! Awfully one-sided here. Does anyone here truly belive LSU has some master-plan to change the church? If you do I have a great pice of land to sell you – 400 acre ranch in Wyoming! This attack on LSU was clearly a tactic to get an ultra-conservative to preside over the world church – following the trend we see in the republican party on a national level.

    What Louie Bishop has done was tremendously un-christian. Moreover, those that use him as a puppet will have to answer to God – my supposition is that He is none too happy with those folks. They are ruining people’s lives (both students and employees of LSU). The students they proport to be “protecting” are being negatively effected in that, LSU has to thwart false claims in the stead of focusing on producing an educated base for the future of the chuch as a whole.

    Fundamentalism doesn’t equate to truth; look at fundamentalist in the Mormon church. However, open and mutually respected conversation will lead us closer to the Truth.




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  16. Educate Truth is like a puff of smoke compared to the vast number of members in the SDA church. Very few have a clue this forum even exists, let alone see it as a movement to help return the church to its fundamental bible truths.

    Many, if not most reforms in Adventism eventually dwindle into nothing, or, are incorporated somehow into the whole and lose their dynamic.

    It is likely that few in Elijah’s day knew much about him or his ministry except that he was some religious fanatic who was causing trouble for the nation. Ahab and his wife were probably very charasmatic and liked by the majority of the people. And politicial influence that holds the “bully pulpit” has more influence and power over the people than truth in many cases.

    The GC sessions were probably more like a political convention than a spiritual revival. I attended the one in St. Louis five years ago and this was the impression I got there.

    Maybe when a church gets too big, it can not really do the job God has in mind for His ministry and mission? The devil has a way of corrupting everything God begins and ends up destroying it in the end. This has been the history of the human family from Noah to our day.

    “The church” crucified Jesus. “The church” killed the prophets. “The church” hated and tried to destroy the reformation. “The church” changed the day of worship and became the antichrist of bible prophecy.

    How can we believe Adventism will be any different given enough time. It would seem the longer a movement exists, the more likely it will abandon its mission and purpose. History testifies to this reality.

    If the church is to succeed, it will get a lot smaller before it can or will accomplish God’s will. Gideon started with many, but in the end, ended up with few. The cross is no more acceptable today in all its implications, than it was in the past. Human nature for the most part is unchanged, and the reality “Ye must be born again” soon loses its dynamic in a mass of hyberbole and triumphalism.

    The fear of being lost is abandon for a false assurance coupled with massive doses of affirmation just like in every past movement God has ordained to represent His kingdom on earth. Adventism is no less suseptable to this affliction than any past movement. But few seem to be concerned about this reality. We seek popularity at the expense of losing our identity and finally our souls. It is a “God size problem” and His method of correction is less than what we desire, for only affliction and persecution can accomplish the final goal.

    Keep the faith

    Bill Sorensen




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  17. WM says:
    June 28, 2010 Wow! Awfully one-sided here. Does anyone here truly belive LSU has some master-plan to change the church?”

    When the early church changed the day of worship, it was not some “master plan” to attack God and His kingdom. It was sincerely deluded individuals who thought they were doing God a favor and advancing His kingdom in the name of “love and the gospel”.

    The “master plan” is not LSU. It is the devil, who will use any and every means available to advance his agenda. And if LSU will cooperate with his agenda, then he will use this avenue to dis-credit the bible and bible Adventism.

    Bill Sorensen




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  18. I am appalled at the anger and antagonism being projected towards La Sierra University – not only on this website, but seemingly everywhere! Where is God’s love? Where is the Christianity? It is apparent that ignorant people will only believe what they want to believe if it fits their own agenda, and that is exactly what is happening now. Tongues are lashing out at La Sierra, demanding for their separation from the Adventist church. And for what? Because of one student’s perception that La Sierra “promotes” evolution? What about all the other students’ voices, not to mention all the faculty and staff, that say otherwise? Why aren’t these voices being projected as well?

    It doesn’t seem like anyone really cares about hearing what REALLY goes on at La Sierra. And what a shame. As the verse says, “Pride goeth before a fall.”

    There is abundant undeniable evidence, to include lecture materials, videos of lectures, the personal testimony of the professors themselves, numerous student witnesses over many years, quotes of the professors involved in secular journals, and my own personal witness that most if not all of LSU’s science professors, and many of the religion professors, believe in and actively promote the idea that life has existed and evolved on this planet over the course of many millions of years of time. They also actively deny the literal 6-day creation week as an outdated “fundamentalist” notion within their classrooms and even in secular journals. Even the previous LSU president, Larry Geraty, argued against the literal 6-day creation week in a recent article posted here on Educate Truth. Please do read his comments and the comments and lecture materials of the professors involved and let me know what you think…

    The facts are clear. So, why is LSU saying otherwise? Why are they being deliberately deceptive (because that is what they are doing). Obviously, because the truth of the situation makes them look bad before the overall constituency of the SDA Church – a Church they are suppose to represent.

    People don’t take it well when they spend a great deal of time and money to support someone or something that claims to be doing one thing, but is found out to really be directly undermining what people have been sacrificying a great deal to support… especially when their own children are involved.

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  19. I take issue with Elder Graham’s statement from the outset:

    It all started in 2009 when a biology student asserted that one of his instructors was …

    The whole first paragraph is riddled with omissions [indicated by square brackets] that appear designed to misrepresent what has actually happened.

    Is Elder Graham truly ignorant of the fact that this issue has been ongoing for decades? If he were, he should have made a better effort to inform himself before going public. “It” did not “start” with the assertion of “a” biology student.

    This looks like an altogether too transparent effort to minimize the problem and assure his constituents that there really is nothing wrong at LaSierra, and that it is the finest Adventist university anywhere.




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  20. Anonymous, God’s love is found in Creation, the fall and His death and resurrection. Take away any one element of that equation and you end up with nothing.

    It is not one persons word this issue is based on, it’s based on many peoples words, including the president of LSU. The concern is that the professors who are openly promoting evolution at the expense of Creation are undermining the fundamentals of Christianity. All the beliefs of Christianity are rooted in Creation. It is the love of God and for His church that some of us are concerned about what is happening, not just at LSU but at other schools as well as secular humanitarianism is replacing the clear word of God.




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  21. Well, it is certain some people are “deluded”. Apparently each side considers the other side the ones afflicted with this blindness.

    Each scenario of conflict reflects the “war” in heaven. Those who cry “love, love, love” coupled with tolerance and acceptance with out demanding accountability are reflecting Lucifer’s reasoning and arguments in his opposition to God’s government.

    True love calls for discipline in a biblical context. God offers responsible freedom. But the world and some of the church want an irresponsible freedom.

    LSU may be doing some good. This is not the point. Notre Dame is no doubt doing some good as well. Just like many other institutions of learning. The purpose of Satan is to mingle good and evil until they can not be distinguished.

    But we have the bible. And only those elements that support all the scripture are to be commended. LSU must be exhorted to repentance, or they must be censored. This is a Christian duty and obligation.

    Creation vs. evolution is no minor offense. It calls for and demands accountability. Can and will the church demand accountability of LSU? In my opinion, it is doubtful, but I am still optimistically hopeful and like many continue to pray that this issue will be resolved in a way that the University can and will be useful to the advancement of God’s kingdom. There can be no compromise if this is to take place.

    It would seem that politics have taken the place of pure bible truth in many instances where difference of opinion has arisen in the past. Our schools, hospitals, and even churches are being affected by political manuevering and compromise more and more. It seems apparent that “the church will get smaller, before it gets bigger.”

    Keep the faith

    Bill Sorensen




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  22. I am disappointed in Elder Graham. I come away understanding that, although he believes the truth, it isn’t important enough to insist that it be upheld in our schools and universities–without delay!




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  23. I take issue with Elder Graham’s statement from the outset:
    The whole first paragraph is riddled with omissions [indicated by square brackets] that appear designed to misrepresent what has actually happened.Is Elder Graham truly ignorant of the fact that this issue has been ongoing for decades? If he were, he should have made a better effort to inform himself before going public. “It” did not “start” with the assertion of “a” biology student.This looks like an altogether too transparent effort to minimize the problem and assure his constituents that there really is nothing wrong at LaSierra, and that it is the finest Adventist university anywhere.  

    Graham is not “ignorant” of anything. He simply has not done his duty as Chair of the Board and President of the PUC. He is a major part of the problem we have at LSU. He will continue to deny any responsibility, however, as we will see.




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  24. Why aren’t these “educators” being censured/disfellowshipped from their local congregations?

    “But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel,…So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes, which thing I hate.” Revelation 2:14,15




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  25. I am disappointed in Elder Graham.I come away understanding that, although he believes the truth, it isn’t important enough to insist that it be upheld in our schools and universities–without delay!  

    Exactly Bettie, Graham tries to isolate himself and his Board, as if he and they “don’t know nothin'” about what has been going on. As I’ve stated before, he SHOULD have known! That was his job and the job of the Board as well as Graham’s staff.




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  26. It seems more and more evident the church has no control over LSU. In the future, more and more spiritual minded SDA’s will cease to send their young people to this institution.

    Some liberals could care less, and will continue to support the institution. The conflict must increase until the majority of SDA church members are aware of this situation and see the need to carefully evaluate the situation.

    It must not simply “blow over” as LSU would like it to. Some high level accountability is required and some people must be let go.

    So now, we must ask, “What are the legal implications involved in cleansing the school?” “Can individuals sue the University if they are terminated?” “Is LSU in too deep to be restored?”

    If so, who is accountable for allowing this to happen?

    The Southern Cal. conference is culpable for what has developed. So is the General Conference. Nobody is that dumb. They have known for years of this development and done nothing about it. Who is responsible?

    Will this affect the whole church structure? Why are the leading men in the GC sitting on their hands and doing nothing dynamic? Aren’t they simply hopeing the whole thing will blow over and they can continue “business as usual”?

    Is this the beginning of the final shakeing? If so, a lot of other issues will surface big time in the near future. Aren’t the conferences for the most part controling their pastors with intimidation and threats to keep them in line? What pastor who wants to keep his job would dare challenge their conference leaders on any issue?

    Will some pastors now come forward and put their jobs on the line to defend the traditional faith? If so, how many? Not many, I would suggest.

    This situation at LSU is only the tip of the iceberg of the corruption in at least some, if not most of the SDA church. Decisions have been based on political expediency instead of pure bible truth for years.

    Many new pastor are novices in scripture and have little understanding of basic historic Adventism. It would seem they are taught to avoid any dynamic discussion on doctrine and/or theological issues.

    We are living in interesting and perilous times. The spiritual preception of many is at an all time low. The world has marched into the church with little protest, or no protest at all.

    “Unconditional election” for the church breeds this kind of attitude with no accountability demanded. Massive doses of self affirmation are passed around generously and no one dare call it apostacy. The words of Jesus come clearly to mind in this situation…..

    “Ye compass sea and land to make one convert, and when he is made, he becomes two fold more the child of hell than yourselves.”

    Hopefully, the agitation will continue until the whole church is involved. And LSU is only a small part of the controversy.

    EGW calls the shaking a “terrible ordeal” and obviously, few really believe her. It would seem few even believe in a shaking. And if they do, they think it will be one or two here and there. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, will simply walk away when the time comes. And many will say, “I didn’t really believe in Adventism anyway, especially now that I understand the true teaching of the pioneers.”

    Were our pioneers called “legalists”? Then you can count on being called the same if you defend the historic faith. We are thankful some are willing to speak out, and would pray many more will join the ranks to expose this apostacy in the church.

    Keep the faith

    Bill Sorensen




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  27. In response to No-Names (Anonymous and some other) blogs, yes, I admit it–I am angry and appalled at some past and present happenings at La Sierra. This is not to say that there aren’t many good programs and experiences occurring there. (From what I’ve read and heard, the SIFE program, for example, is excellent.) If you wish to label me un-Christian, that’s your prerogative; I make no claims of being a perfect, unfailing example of Christ-like behavior. I’m ignorant of some things, certainly, but not ignorant of at least a few of the issues pertaining to La Sierra. After doing a Google search about the back ground of Louie Bishop and then reading about the treatment that he received at LSU, I was mortified and embarrassed for LSU and the Seventh-day Adventist Church That alone was enough to convince me that something was very, very wrong.

    Louie was a wonderful Christian witness for the Seventh-day Adventist Church while he attended U.C. Davis. Read the tribute given to him by his coach: (http://www.ucdavisaggies.com/sports/m-golf/spec-rel/082609aaa.html

    I am fervently hoping that LSU’s dirty dealings haven’t filtered out to the people who, because of Louie’s witness (used to?), have a favorable impression of SDA’s. (Or I can hope they’ll be able to differentiate between the SDA Church and LSU’s actions.) It appears that Louie, as had been his practice at UC Davis, was trying to be a genuine witness for God, not knowing he was breaking some rules at La Sierra when shared his concerns about the evolutionary slant of his biology classes. I looked through the student handbook and I challenge anyone to show me where Louie’s handing out information after class, to about 20 fellow students, is a punishable offense. However, Christian gentleman that he is, when Louie was admonished for rule-breaking, he wrote letters of apology. If the administration had handled Louie’s “offenses” in a kindly and discrete way, they would not have had such a bright spotlight pointing on themselves, revealing even more glaring problems.

    At the same time that I read about the harsh and unusual punishment meted out against Louie Bishop, I picked up a copy of the Winter 2010 Criterion. In this La Sierra student publication–approved, published and paid for by the school–I read in the religion section an article entitled: “Homosexuality and the Misinterpretation of Biblical Text,” written by another La Sierra student. This article painstakingly explains away the obvious meaning of many Biblical texts and purports that homosexuality is not condemned in scripture; it is merely inhospitality and lack of inclusiveness that is condemned. Yes, I find the contrast between how La Sierra has handled these two different student’s “professions of faith” outrageous and shocking!

    Can anyone find an SDA college or university that doesn’t teach ABOUT evolution in some way or another? It is ludicrous to think that LSU is an innocent, wrongly maligned, target of attack simply because it allows “teaching about evolution.” No, it is because there is too much evidence that La Sierra has lost its raison d’être. And that includes being Bible-based. Bible with a capital B.

    Has LSU administration apologized for (or learned) anything? No way! From GC twitters, it sounds like the latest development in La Sierra’s path of self-destruction is to investigate and discipline (remove) board of trustee members who shared some information and concerns with GC officials! If board members cannot speak out in any way, shape or form, what good is a board? It ought to be abolished instead of simply being another level of cover-up or a (cumbersome) rubber stamp. The prevailing powers in control of La Sierra are working over-time to keep a lid on a pot that has gone past the point of simmering. The boiling-over-point has occurred and they’re still frantically, desperately pretending “all is well.”

    Unequivocally, there are two irreconcilable, mutually exclusive and totally divergent points of view being expressed in this controversy. The bloggers who chastise, character malign and threaten with God’s judgment those of us who object to this “enlightened” version of “Adventism” are free to do so. But you can be sure there will be people who are alarmed at what is happening under the La Sierra flag of a Seventh-day Adventist institution who will not be shamed, threatened or “guilt-ed” into silence.




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  28. I could suppose that LSU would want to take the hand of an evolution teaching educator, saying, can you please soft-pedal the evolutionistic theories in the classroom, then you may continue as instructor.

    That approach is not satisfactory. The instructor would be expected to teach AGAINST HIS CONSCIENCE. Romans has enough to say about following our consciences before God. No, the instructor must be honest to his belief system.

    It is only acceptable that the teacher resign (choice given here) or be fired. We have no right to tell others what they must believe. BUT THE CHURCH–if this still is a church-run school–HAS THE RIGHT TO SAY, IF YOU CONSCIENCIOUSLY BELIEVE AND SUPPORT CHURCH BIBLICAL DOCTRINE, YOU MAY REPRESENT US IN THE CLASSROOM.

    How dare we require the teacher to teach against his own beliefs? How dare the teacher teach against well-developed church beliefs while representing the denomination?

    HR needs to evaluate their role in selecting representative teachers.




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  29. It is now time for the General Conference to do what the Michigan Conference has done. If La Sierra will not come into harmony with the plain teachings of God’s word, then the GC should declare that the school is not fit for a Seventh-day Adventist student to attend. This will get action. Enough is enough!




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  30. There comes a time when we must take a stand, either for or against Gods word. The LSU President and Board, by their non action have shown where they stand. By not taking action the local conferences, Union and GC are being complicit. Why is the Michigan Conference the only entity that has the courage to stand for truth? As individuals we can only vote with our feet and with our funds. Although I and my sons attended La Sierra my Grandson will attend Southern. I will always support my local Church but will be sending my tithe to the Michigan Conference.




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  31. It is now time for the General Conference to do what the Michigan Conference has done. If La Sierra will not come into harmony with the plain teachings of God’s word, then the GC should declare that the school is not fit for a Seventh-day Adventist student to attend. This will get action. Enough is enough!  

    Enough is enough all right, but Graham and his Board have done absolutely NOTHING over the past year to indicate they have any intention of doing anything about this problem. Therefore, I agree that somebody or some other denominational group must step up to the plate.

    Will they? I have my doubts!




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  32. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I saw an awful lot of “double speak” in the article by Elder Graham. He says he believes the creation account as stated in the Bible, then he makes some kind of excuse for not upholding this doctrine in the University because some people don’t agree with it. Duh! If these people are faculty members, that should speak volumes to him about where their allegiance really is. In that case, those people should be removed from their positions as faculty.

    Throughout this article Graham states what he knows he should be upholding and then states the case for the other side instead. Come on. This is fence-sitting at its very worst. No wonder it is now 2011 (and the very end of it at that) and nothing really has been done about this situation.

    They try to blame it on the fact that we are dealing with a university here, not some kindergarten or academy–as if these instutions of learning are inferior to them. Posh! If they wanted to clean up this mess, it could be done in a huge hurry. They are undoubtedly dragging their feet and Graham appears to be part of the problem rather than part of the solution. How long does it take to say to the faculty, “We are an Adventist institution and it is our mandate to comply with the beliefs of the church. If there are any here who believe this goes against the conscience, then you may tender your resignation immediately and go to where you can teach what you truly believe.” See? How hard was that? And that, folks, is what Graham’s job is. He has utterly failed to do his job. He has failed the students, the church, LSU itself, and, worst of all, he has failed God. And he is not alone. There are others in power in LSU that are sailing on the same leaky raft. I leave the results to your imagination.

    Happy Sabbath and Merry Christmas everyone. Hopefully the coming New Year will have better results than the past for LSU.




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