Comment on Summary of 60th General Conference Session (2015) by Sean Pitman.
Yes, a careful reading of Paul clearly shows that Jesus replaced the Old Covenant (Mosaic Law). Galatians 2:16 says: “Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.”
That’s always been true… even during Old Testament times (Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18). This was understood, at least by some, in the time of Christ (Luke 10:26-28). The Mosaic Laws (outside of the Ten Commandments which are eternal in nature) dealt with laws pointing forward to the coming of Christ as a “shadow of things to come” (Colossians 2:17 and Hebrews 10:1) and were therefore fulfilled, not done away with, by the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus (Matthew 5:17). To suggest that something was wrong with these laws and that is why God had to come up with something else is to suggest that God made an error and is subject to making mistakes. This simply isn’t true. God made no mistake in proving the Israelites with laws that pointed forward to the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. However, these laws, while prophetic and hopeful in nature didn’t justify anyone – which is what Paul is trying to explain to those who might be tempted to think that they could earn their salvation through these laws. Of course, the same thing is also true even of the Ten Commandments. None of these laws are able, in and of themselves, to save anyone.
The Royal Law “has always existed”? “Is not something ‘new’ created after the cross”?
Jesus, however, described it in John 13:34 as a new commandment–“A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.” This is confirmed by Jesus’ message on the Mount of Blessings in Matthew 5, better known as the Beatitudes. He repeatedly said, “You have previously heard thus, but I am now telling you this.” “Moses said such and such, but now I am telling you this.” As the Son of God, He had authority to change the Mosaic Law.
Jesus wasn’t saying anything new at all. It is just that people had forgotten the basis of the Ten Commandments and the Mosaic Laws. They had forgotten that everything is based on the Royal Law of selfless love. They had forgotten that upon the Royal Law hangs all the law and the prophets (Matthew 22:40). This wasn’t something new. This had always been true throughout all of history back before the creation of our world. Jesus was simply reemphasizing a concept that had been lost.
While I would very much like to believe that my atheist friend will be “saved” as per your comment, “If he honestly lives according to the Royal Law, he will not die without a Savior”, this assurance does not reconcile with the words of Jesus:
John 14:6 “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”
John 3:36 “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.”
John 3:18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he taht believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”
All these texts are true – given that one has had the opportunity to both hear and understand the truth of them and has consciously and deliberately rejected known truth. When a person has not had such an opportunity, you must deal with the words of Paul on the topic where Paul specifically argues that love fulfills the whole Law (Romans 13:8 and Galatians 5:14) and that even the heathen who have never had the written Law and who have never heard the name of Jesus can be saved by following the Royal Law that God has written on their hearts through the call and power of the Holy Spirit speaking to them (Romans 2:14-15).
As far as your friend is concerned, you simply do not know what he really does or does not honestly understand. That is why you cannot stand in judgment regarding his eternal salvation. Only God knows the heart and moral judgment or savability is based on the state of the heart. Therefore, leave such a judgment up to God who is able to save all those who do not refuse to love the little truth that they have been given to know and understand and have shown love and mercy to others in this life. Such will receive mercy for mercy triumphs over judgement (2 Thessalonians 2:10 and James 2:13).
So, if evolutionists “atheists” are assured of salvation and will not “die without a Savior”, are you not wasting your time in trying to convince people to teach Creationism? Did not my parents waste their whole life as missionaries and church officials in trying to convert people to a belief in Jesus? Why, if all those atheists and evolutionists are going to be saved anyway, why waste your time with futile efforts. Why then, did Jesus command His disciples in Matthew 28 to carry the gospel to the whole world, if indeed everybody was going to be saved anyway?
Where did I ever even suggest that everyone would be saved? That’s not remotely true! Not everyone is going to be saved – for narrow is the way that leads to life and few there be that find it (Matthew 7:14). Come on now, you know very well that I never said that all heathen or all atheists will be saved. What I said is that all those who are striving to live according to the light that they already have are savable – which is, unfortunately, a distinct minority of those who have ever lived.
Beyond this, the Gospel message is a message of hope to those struggling in this life. It has the power to make people’s lives better here in this world and to aid them in the struggles of this life. In this way it also has the power to help people to hang on to the truth and be saved accordingly. Now, I’m not saying here that the Gospel is able to save in and of itself. Salvation is always a gift of God’s Grace. However, the Gospel message of hope makes it easier for one to accept the gift of grace by living according to the Truth that God has given one to know. And, remember, spreading the Gospel message of hope and joy also helps the messenger. Those who hide the light that they have been given and do not share it with others will see their own light dim and eventually go out altogether.
Why then, did Jesus have to die such a cruel death on the cross if there was another pathway to heaven? If everybody could be saved anyway, why did He have to come to this wicked world to be tortured and killed in a very agonizing way? Did not He pray in the Garden prior to His death, that if it be possible, this agony be spared Him?
I never said that there was another pathway to heaven. Jesus is the one and only pathway to heaven for all who enter there. It is just that one need not know the actual name of the pathway that he/she is actual walking upon before heaven itself is reached. Those who live according to the Royal Law in this life, even if they do not know the actual name of Jesus, are in fact listening to His Spirit and following in His Footsteps – even though they do not consciously realize it. They will one day be told, to their own surprise, “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” (Matthew 25:40) – and will then be given the crown of life by Jesus Himself.
Now that’s Amazing Grace…
While your teaching of eternal life for evolutionists is incongruent with the words of Jesus, it likewise cannot be reconciled with the teachings of Ellen White, who taught that even the saints cannot be assured of salvation.
That’s just not true – as I’ve mentioned to you several times now. You would know this if you read her writings in a bit more detail for yourself. Here are just a few of the comments she wrote regarding how one can have, right now, the assurance of salvation:
It is essential to believe you are saved (RH, Nov. 1, 1892).
The perishing sinner may say: “I am a lost sinner; but Christ came to seek and to save that which was lost. He says, ‘I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance’ (Mark 2:17). I am a sinner, and He died upon Calvary’s cross to save me. I need not remain a moment longer unsaved. He died and rose again for my justification, and He will save me now. I accept the forgiveness He has promised.”—“Justified by Faith” (a pamphlet published in 1893), p. 7. Reprinted in Selected Messages 1:392.
Immense interests are here involved. We are made partakers of Christ’s sacrifice here in this life, and then we are assured that we shall be partakers of all its benefits in the future immortal life, if we hold fast the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end.—Letter 9a, 1891, pp. 1, 2. (To Sister D. S. Gilbert, June 3, 1891.)
Christ saw the helpless condition of the race, and he came to redeem them by living the life of obedience the law requires, and by paying in his death the penalty of disobedience. He came to bring us the message and means of deliverance, an assurance of salvation, not through the abrogation of the law, but through obedience made possible by his merits. – R&H, April 29, 1902
We are not to doubt his mercy, and say, ‘I do not know whether I shall be saved or not.’ By living faith we must lay hold of his promise, for he has said, ‘Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow, though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool’ (ST, April 4, 1892, par. 3).
[emphasis added] See also: Link
Now, the quotes from Ellen White that you cite are simply not in conflict with these statements if read in their proper context (particularly regarding the quotes you cite where Mrs. White is arguing against the heretical concept of “once saved always saved”).
Spiritual Gifts, vol. 1, page 198. “The saints, in that fearful time, after the close of Jesus’ mediation, were living in the sight of a holy God, without an intercessor.”
Where does this passage say that they have no assurance of salvation? It isn’t that they have no savior at this time, it is that there is no further need for mediation or intercession because they are in fact living completely upon the saving power of Jesus and are, during this time, perfectly in line with the Royal Law – which is a perfect fulfillment of the whole Law (Galatians 5:14).
Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 4, pp. 314, 315. “Every soul that has named the name of Jesus Christ has a case pending in the heavenly tribunal. It is court week with us, and the decision passed upon each case will be final.”
Again, where does this passage suggest a lack of assurance of salvation on a day-by-day basis? The trial may be pending, but one can rest assured of its outcome as long as one remains in a saving relationship with Jesus day-by-day.
In Matthew 22, Jesus taught the parable of the King who prepared a marriage feast for His Son, and the invited guests were invited to come, as the feast was ready. They refused, however, and even killed the King’s servants. The message then went forth to anybody BOTH GOOD AND BAD on the highways and byways to come to the feast. All they had to do was wear the wedding garment. However, one chap got in wearing his own garment and was speechless when asked why he wasn’t wearing his wedding garment. He was then bound and cast out into utter darkness, where there was “weeping and gnashing of teeth”.
Again, all this is saying is that no one will get into heaven based on their own righteousness. Everyone is dependent upon the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus for salvation. This is standard Christian teaching…
For me, the interpretation is self-evident. The invited guests were the Jews, the Children of the Promise, They rejected the feast (eternal life through Jesus). Then, the invitation was extended to everybody else, BOTH GOOD AND BAD. All they had to do was wear a wedding garment to cover their own filthy garment. The wedding garment was free, and available only from the King and His Son. However, those who pretended to merit attending the feast without the wedding garment and on the basis of their own “good works” were cast out into utter darkness. Those evolutionists who disdained the King obviously did not even want a wedding garment and got nowhere near the feast, as they did not want nor accept the wedding garment.
Again, this is only true for those who have a conscious understanding of what they’re doing. For those who don’t honestly know or who have never heard, their savability is judged based on what little truth they did know and understand and how they responded to this truth in their lives here on Earth.
Beyond this, you do realize that those who would refuse to take on the covering of Jesus’ righteousness are not truly “good”. They may have the outward appearance of “goodness”. However, on the inside they are nothing but filthy rags. Jesus compared these self-righteousness people to whitewashed tombs (Matthew 23:27). It is only through the power of God that anyone, even the heathen who have never heard the name of Jesus, can be or do anything truly “good” (Mark 10:18).
I will pray that you will see the the words of Jesus as being free to all, yet exclusive to only those who accept the invitation and their wedding garments.
And I will pray that you will one day understand that those who have never even heard the name of Jesus, but have lived according to the light that they were given, will gladly accept the invitation and wear the wedding garments before walking into the wedding feast when Jesus comes again to receive all (even your confused but otherwise honest and loving atheist friend) who are pure in heart (Matthew 5:8).
Sean Pitman Also Commented
Jesus replaced the Old Covenant Mosaic Law with the Royal Law, also known as the Law of Liberty.
Not quite. Jesus fulfilled the Mosaic Laws, but did not do away with them or replace them with something truly new as if there was something wrong the laws that God Himself originally set in place (Matthew 5:17). God made no mistake in setting up the Mosaic Laws. Also, the “Royal Law” or “Law of Liberty” has always existed and has always been the fundamental basis of the Ten Commandments. The Royal Law brings liberty to all when it is kept – and can in this way be “The Law of Liberty”. Bondage, on the other hand, comes when we do not keep it. To walk in the “Law of Liberty” and fulfill all the Law is to walk in love – for love fulfills the whole Law (Romans 13:8 and Galatians 5:14). Love as the fulfillment of the entire Law is not something “new” created after the cross. The Royal Law of Love is and has always been the basis of all morality for all time – even in Heaven. It is for this reason that no moral code can be kept by fallen humans without the help of God – not the Ten Commandments; not the Mosaic Laws; not the Royal Law itself (Matthew 22:37-40). The problem is that we are inherently selfish creatures who cannot, in and of ourselves alone, be selfless and truly loving toward our neighbors. It takes a miraculous act of God to implant the Royal Law within our hearts and another miraculous act of God to give us the moral power to actually live by this Law. We may resist God’s power in our lives, or we may accept it. That’s our part to play in our own salvation. And, in this way, even the heathen who have never heard the name of Jesus may be saved – according to Paul who argues that “the requirements of the law are written on their hearts.” It goes against the Bible to say otherwise.
In short, everyone knows, as an internal truth, that the “Golden Rule” is good. Those who do not resist the call of the Holy Spirit to strive to live according to this Law will be credited, by God and through his Grace alone, with righteousness. Even your atheist friend, if honestly confused, can therefore be saved through the blood of Jesus if he is honestly listening to the call of the Holy Spirit regarding the Royal Law and is therefore striving to live according to all the light that he understands. If he honestly lives according to the Royal Law, he will not “die without a Savior”. God’s grace will be extended to Him through Jesus because he chose to follow the call of the Spirit. There simply is no additional requirement that the name and life of Jesus be known or understood before a person becomes savable (James 2:8). So, leave the destiny of your friend in the hands of a God who loves him much much more than you do and will do everything in His power to save him. God will save him if he would be safe in heaven once he knows the Truth and is able to recognize all of the lies of Satan that have blinded him all these years (Luke 23:34). No honest person is going to be tricked out of heaven. The lost will be lost because they love the lies that they know to be lies… i.e., they hate the Truth that they’ve been given to know and understand (Psalm 52:3). They perish because they refused to love the truth that they were given to know, be it ever so small, and so be saved (2 Thessalonians 2:10).
Pellagius was a contemporary of Augustine, and argued that Jesus did not come to die a substitutionary death, but rather, to show us how to live a perfect life. Augustine opposed this teaching, which has subsequently been labeled the Pellagian Heresy. Sadly, you and I were taught a heretical salvation doctrine which was based on the writings of Ellen White, who taught that we could never be certain of our salvation, and that even those living at the end of time will be uncertain of their eternal destiny, as they would have to live sinless lives for a period when their Intercessor was unavailable to them.
None of this is true regarding Mrs. White. Again, many times Mrs. White wrote that we can indeed have an assurance of salvation on a day-by-day basis. What she argued against was the concept of “once saved always saved” (as I’ve already explained above). Mrs. White never promoted the Pelagian Heresies such as the notion that we humans can in any way earn our way to heaven or that salvation is based on anything other than God’s grace alone. Beyond this, it was Graham Maxwell, not Ellen White, who fairy recently argued within the Adventist Church that Jesus did not die a substitutionary death. Mrs. White did not promote this notion either, but strongly argued in favor of substitutionary atonement.
Beyond this, I think we are going around in circles at this point…
Summary of 60th General Conference Session (2015)
Again, you fail to deal with those Biblical passages that deal specifically with those who have never had opportunity to hear the name of Jesus. You say you have no idea why the fate of the honest heathen might be a source of concern for anyone? – which is very strange coming from a Christian. The fate of the honest heathen reflects upon the character of God and the very basis for your own salvation – the reason why you are savable. And no, salvation is not based on mere lip service that Jesus is our savior. Not everyone who says “Lord Lord” will be saved (Matthew 7:21). It is based on a love of the truth, all truth, that is given to us to understand – however little it may be. In a word, salvation is based on motive – the motive of selfless love.
Also, even though I believe that it is indeed possible for the honest evolutionist to be saved by living according to the Royal Law, I also believe that a correct understanding of doctrinal knowledge provides hope in this life and is able to help one better deal with the struggles in this world and makes it easier for one to be saved through the hope that these doctrines provide. That is why I strive so hard to spread the good news of the Gospel message of hope (which includes the good news of God’s creative power).
Regarding more of your arguments against Ellen White:
Ellen White, on the other hand, taught in the 1890 Review and Herald that no sanctified tongue will ever say, “I am saved”, prior to the 2nd coming of Christ. She also taught that no man can say, “I am saved,” until he has endured test and trial, until he has shown that he can overcome tempation.” The Kress Collection, p. 120.
You evidently haven’t read the context of these statements. While Ellen White often talked about having the “assurance of salvation”, in these particular passages Ellen White is speaking against the concept of “once saved always saved”. She is speaking against the idea that one can say “I am saved and therefore I don’t have to worry about trying to keep God commands or laws.” Here is what she said in context:
We are never to rest in a satisfied condition, and cease to make advancement, saying, “I am saved.” When this idea is entertained, the motives for watchfulness, for prayer, for earnest endeavor to press onward to higher attainments, cease to exist. No sanctified tongue will be found uttering these words till Christ shall come, and we enter in through the gates into the city of God. Then, with the utmost propriety, we may give glory to God and to the Lamb for eternal deliverance. As long as man is full of weakness,—for of himself he cannot save his soul,—he should never dare to say, “I am saved.” It is not he that putteth on the armor that can boast of the victory; for he has the battle to fight and the victory to win. It is he that endureth unto the end that shall be saved. The Lord says, “If any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.” If we do not go forward from victory to victory, the soul will draw back to perdition. We should raise no human standard whereby to measure character. We have seen enough of what men call perfection here below. God’s holy law is the only thing by which we can determine whether we are keeping his way or not. If we are disobedient, our characters are out of harmony with God’s moral rule of government, and it is stating a falsehood to say, “I am saved.” No one is saved who is a transgressor of the law of God, which is the foundation of his government in heaven and in earth. – EGW, RH June 17, 1890, par. 8
See also: Link
As far as “departing from clear instruction”, not everything that seems “clear” to you today was just as clear to someone else in some other time and place – not even to a prophet of God. Another example of this same sort of thing is the fact that Ellen White continued to eat meat for a while after writing against it. It seems like it was hard for her to change some of her own habits to bring them in line with what God had told her to write – a very human shortcoming which actually lends credibility to the claim that she wasn’t making up the “revaluations” she was given out of her own head. Again, prophets of God remain human, subject to error and mistakes of various kinds – even open rebellion on occasion. Yet, it is still clear that God still speaks through them. Consider the stories of Jonah and Balaam as particularly clear examples of this. Therefore, your arguments that God clearly did not speak through Ellen White because of various errors she made is not a reasonable argument or else you’d have to throw out the entire Bible. You have to look specifically at what she claimed God actually said to her.
As far as your claim that God would never deliberately allow for His people to make mistakes or reveal truth in stages in order to test the hearts of His people, you haven’t read the Bible very carefully. Remember how Nathan the prophet told David a story about a rich man taking a poor man’s sheep to feed his guests? – and how this story was deliberately calculated to trick David into judging himself? (2 Samuel 12:6-7). Only in this way would God be able to bring David into a clear realization of his own guilt and cause him to repent. The fact is that God does indeed use such tactics on occasion…
Summary of 60th General Conference Session (2015)
You say you have no idea what God will do with those who are long dead and gone who never heard the name of Jesus or understood the true nature of God – but that was exactly who I was talking about in my presentation! Paul clearly claims that many of these will be saved if they lived according to the Royal Law that was written on their hearts. There is simply no getting around Paul’s claim here.
Beyond this, the passages of the Bible you cite, which you say are in conflict with this idea, do not actually deal with those who have never read and understood the Bible or heard of the life of Jesus. They deal with those who are actually familiar with and understand the reality and meaning of Jesus’ life. However, specifically regarding those who have never heard the name of Jesus, the Bible is quite clear that these are judged only on the lesser light that they have been given to know – the light of the Royal Law that has in fact been “written on their hearts”. I’m sorry, but the Bible is very clear hear.
Thank you for quoting John 1:9, which simply states that Jesus is the true Light which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. However, every person is not given a “measure of light”, but rather the opportunity to follow the TRUE LIGHT or to reject it. If Jesus is indeed THE TRUE LIGHT, there is no need to follow a lesser light.
The fact is that God can give “light to everyone” regardless if if they know the actual name of Jesus or not. Of course, you are absolutely correct that Jesus and only Jesus is the “True Light”. However, Jesus can reveal Himself to those who don’t know His name and have never heard of His life. How so? Through the Royal Law that His Spirit has written on the hearts of everyone born into this world. This Royal Law is a revelation of Jesus. Through it, one can recognize in the “least of these” the call to love and selfless service as Jesus loved and served. And, Jesus Himself claimed that all those who actually love and selflessly serve “the least of these” in this life, heathen or otherwise, will be saved since they were actually doing it to Him in the form of “the least of these”. It is His own blood that was shed which makes such a thing possible – such a thing as the ability of the Holy Spirit to speak to the hearts of humans – even those who have never heard the name of Jesus in this life.
Beyond this, you wrote:
“I do not anticipate bumping into evolutionists stumbling around the streets of the New Jerusalem.”
And, of course, neither do I. Once honest evolutionists and atheists who have honestly lived out the Royal Law of love for their fellow man end up in heaven, of course they will realize the error of their ways. They will be told the story of Jesus and of the history of the planet in a way in which they can actually understand and appreciate and they will accept the goodness of the new light just like they accepted the goodness of the Royal Law that was written on their hearts – and they will be changed and be saved.
Regarding your claims against Ellen White, I’ll point out to you yet again that she never did promote the practice of “witching” or “dowsing” for water (as referenced above) and many of those that did use this practice in her day (and our day as well) may not have understood its occult connections. Also, Ellen White may have initially been unaware of all of the implications of phrenology, but did end up speaking against the practice.
You ask why God doesn’t step in and correct certain errors that a prophet may make? I’m not sure, but what is quite clear is that God does not inform His prophets or messengers about all of the errors in their own thinking and/or practice. He does not remove them from the realm of humanity or human frailty. The same is true for the prophets of the Bible. God doesn’t make a prophet perfect before He speaks to them. This is made abundantly clear throughout the Bible…
Recent Comments by Sean Pitman
“Essentially all the administrators, staff and faculty on our campus, including the pastors on our campus already know where I stand. I have never kept any secrets. I have to laugh when I see you say that I am upset because you ‘blew my cover.’ There was no cover to blow.” – Bryan Ness
You’re not the main problem here. I’d have no problem with you personally and what you personally believe at all except that you are a professor in an Adventist school – Pacific Union College.
It’s this school who presents itself as being in line with the primary goals and ideals of the Adventist Church, when it really isn’t. I have friends of mine who have gone to PUC and talked to the leadership about sending their children to PUC. They’ve specifically asked about the situation at La Sierra University and asked the PUC leadership and heads of departments what their position is on teaching the theory of evolution as “the truth” – and if the teachers at PUC support the SDA position on origins and other issues? They were told that PUC does not condone what happened at LSU and that the professors at PUC are fully in line with the SDA position on origins and all of the other fundamental positions of the church.
Of course, you know and I know that this just isn’t true. You, for one, publically speak and teach against the church’s position on origins as well as human sexuality. This reality is not being presented by the leadership of PUC to the parents of potential PUC students. This reality simply isn’t being advertised to the general church membership at all. What PUC should be advertizing to parents and the church membership at large is,
“Yes, we do maintain professors who teach our students that the church’s position on various fundamental doctrinal issues is in fact wrong and should be changed to reflect the more popular secular position on these topics.”
That’s what it should be telling everyone, but this just isn’t what is being done.
I am attacking no one… Since when is a difference of views an attack on the church?
Since it was placed as one of the church’s “fundamental beliefs” by the church (Link). When you publically publish an article stating that the Church’s position is clearly mistaken and should be changed, that’s an attack on the church’s position.
And of all the issues facing the church, same-sex marriage hardly rises to the level of a “primary goal and ideal.”
The SDA Church has chosen to describe the definition of marriage as being between one man and one woman as one of the “fundamental” messages to spread to the world – as one of the fundamental reasons for its very existence…
Now, you call what you’re doing, not an “attack”, but a “plea for compassion”. However, your plea for compassion is presented as a clear statement that the church’s position is absolutely mistaken – that the church’s position is not at all “compassionate” or even biblical. Now, you may be very honest and sincere in your views here, but that doesn’t mean that you’re not attacking the church’s position in a very real and fundamental way. The fact is that you are making a very clear attack on the church’s position while accepting money from the church as a representative who is supposed to be supporting the church as a paid employee.
Why do you want to cause such people so much pain?
That’s not my goal. However, if a person wants to know what the Bible has to say about what they are doing, I’m not going to pretend that the Bible has nothing to say when the Bible does in fact have something to say. If what the Bible says “causes pain” to a person living in what the Bible says is a “sinful” lifestyle, that’s between them and God. The very same thing is true of me and my own sinful tendencies. If what the Bible says about what I’m doing causes me pain, I can either respond to that by ignoring what the Bible has to say, or I can ask God for help in changing my ways.
Jesus himself said that He did not come to bring peace to those who are living in rebellion against God’s ideals for humanity, but a “sword” (Matthew 10:34). The denial of self and what we naturally want to do given our fallen condition, in order to follow God and what He calls us to do, is often quite painful indeed. That doesn’t mean it’s not the best path to follow. There simply can be no peace between God and those who wish to hang onto what God has said to give up. God does not condemn the sinner for being born broken, but He does warn those who refuse to accept His offer of help to escape their broken condition that, eventually, such refusals of help will not end well for those who are determined to follow their own way.
Yet, these professors get very upset when their actions are made public – when they can no longer hide what they are doing from the church at large. – Sean Pitman
Uh, I have never hidden my support and affirmation for LGBTQ+ individuals, and any parent who wanted to know my views on the subject could easily look up what I’ve written, or they could just plain ask me. I openly acknowledge where I stand on these issues on social media too. Essentially all the administrators, staff and faculty on our campus, including the pastors on our campus already know where I stand. I have never kept any secrets. I have to laugh when I see you say that I am upset because you “blew my cover.” There was no cover to blow.
You have not simply let people know what I advocate, you have attacked me personally and impugned my motives and personal spiritual path. You are causing pain not just to me, but to the very people I am trying to comfort and encourage. Your words are not just being seen by the legalistic and judgmental people like yourself, but by parents of LGBTQ+ children and those LGBTQ+ individuals themselves, many of whom are likely already heavily weighed down with self revulsion and depression. And you are doing this for who’s good?
And you wonder why I might be angry and upset? As hard as it is for me to do, I have daily decided to pray for you and those like you that God would soften your heart and show you the grave wounds you are inflicting on God’s beloved. I pray God will help you find compassion and clearer spiritual insight.
Do you really think it’s a “little thing” when our own professors are attacking the primary goals and ideals of the church from the inside? – Sean Pitman
I am attacking no one. You act as if you have not even read my article. I did suggest in there that I think it is time for the church to change and affirm same-sex marriage, but that is not an attack, that is a plea for compassion, a plea that the church return and study this topic again, and I laid out the reasons I think it is fully warranted that we do so. Since when is a difference of views an attack on the church? And of all the issues facing the church, same-sex marriage hardly rises to the level of a “primary goal and ideal.” You are inflating the importance of this topic. the only place where same-sex marriage really rises to a high level of importance is when you are an LGBTQ+ person contemplating marriage, or are the parent, relative or friend of an LGBTQ+ person. Why do you want to cause such people so much pain?
The purpose of the H.E. is not to wall people off by modifying curriculum of every subject to fit dogma. The dogma itself has to be enhanced with broader understanding of how to relate various perspectives to these fields of human enterprise.
Certainly, Adventist schools should by no means isolate students from popular ideas that are prevalent within secular culture. If anything, students educated in our schools should have a much better understanding of ideas like neoDarwinism or homosexuality than students educated in secular institutions. However, the education of students within Adventist schools shouldn’t stop here. Adventist education should also give students a reasonable explanation as to why the Adventist perspective on these ideas is actually supported by the Church – by professors who actually personally hold to the Church’s positions on these topics (like the topics of origins or homosexuality, etc).
Again, it is simply counterproductive to have a church school if professors in that school teach that the church’s position is not only wrong, but downright ludicrous, outdated, and completely opposed to the overwhelming weight of “scientific evidence”. Such teaching, by professors that are respected by the students, will strongly influence most students to be naturally opposed to the church’s position on these topics. Clearly then, this would not be in the church’s best interest. It would be far better, from the church’s perspective, not to form church schools at all than to have professors within their own schools attack the church organization from the inside.
But there is world of difference between presenting it as fact that the teacher believes, and a theory with problems. – @ajshep (Allen Shepherd)
I’m in total agreement here. Again, it is one thing to teach about a particular concept that opposes the teachings of the church. It is a far far different thing to then support this particular concept as “true” as compared to showing the students why you, as their teacher, don’t find it convincing.
That is why a teacher, employed by the church, is actually stealing from the church when they attack the church’s position on a given topic from within their own classroom or via a public forum. Such activity simply goes against what a teacher is being paid to do by his/her employer.
Your presumption and hubris are exactly what Jesus pointed out to those who brought the women caught in adultery. Have you learned nothing from the examples of what it means to be a Christian that you would indulge in such harshness and judgemental words and pronouncements.
Consider that while Jesus most certainly was very kind and gentle and forgiving to the woman caught in adultery (certainly one of the most beautiful stories in the Bible), that He did in fact tell her to “go and sin no more”.
I would say that the very same action and recommendation should be given to all who find themselves part of the LBGTQ+ community. God loves sinners and came to save all of us who find ourselves caught in the web of fallen and sinful lives. He doesn’t condemn us for being broken, but He does offer us a way out and tells us to “go and sin no more”.
In light of this, my problem with the efforts of Dr. Ness is that he is making the claim that there is no brokenness or moral problem with committed monogamous homosexual lifestyles – that the Bible says absolutely nothing in this regard and therefore there is nothing for God to forgive here. There is simply no need to say, “I love you, now go and sin no more”.
I’m also not quite sure why Dr. Ness draws the line with monogamy since he doesn’t accept the Biblical statements, often within the same passages as those discussing monogamy, that speak against homosexual activities? This seems inconsistent to me since it seems quite reasonable, given the arguments presented by Dr. Ness, that polygamy could also be argued as being even more consistent with God’s will and natural genetic mutations that God Himself designed. Upon what “scientific” or “religious” or “philosophical” basis does Dr. Ness draw the line at monogamy as being the clear Biblical standard where God draws the line? – when many have very strong and very “natural” polygamous tendencies?
Of course, I also have a problem with a paid representative of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, who is responsible for teaching our youth in support of the primary goals and ideals of the Church, publicly arguing that these goals and ideals are completely wrong – on the church’s dime. Such activity, even if one is totally convinced as to the error of one’s employer, is unethical since it is a form of stealing from one’s employer.
At the very least, parents who are paying a great deal of money to send their children to one of our church schools should be very well informed as to what they can expect their children to be taught at our schools and what positions the teachers at the school are publicly promoting. Providing this information to such parents is my primary purpose in responding to Dr. Ness’s publicly published article in public forum.
Do you not understand what it is like in academia? Differences of opinion among scholars is not only tolerated, it is valued. I have nothing more to say concerning your accusations. Our church has no “official” stand on this issue, if by that you mean I am disavowing my membership in the church by simply believing that gays should allow ro get married to one another. That is not even how our church operates. I can point to many other church employees who openly disagree about certain issues of belief, including this one, and congregations that are fully affirming of same-sex marriage. They are a part of the SDA church just as I am.
My concern still is more about the tone and stance of your attacks. You are attacking fellow SDAs, some of them being the most vulnerable members of our church, and you seem to have no sense of the damage you are potentially doing to these individuals. By attacking me in the fashion you are you are also attacking all those for whom I am standing up. You may want to take Jesus’ words to heart:
But whoso shall cause one of these little ones that believe on me to stumble, it is profitable for him that a great millstone should be hanged about his neck, and that he should be sunk in the depth of the sea. Matt. 18:6
I know very well what it’s like to be involved in leadership positions within the church and within academia. My own father is a retired pastor and teacher. It’s one thing to publicly present and even promote various opinions that do not directly undermine the church or school one is working for. However, it is another thing entirely to directly attack the fundamental positions of the church while being a paid representative of the church. Such activity is not at all encouraged and is, in fact, unethical – a form of theft from your employer. Sure, there are many pastors and teachers who think to do such things anyway. That doesn’t make such activities morally right. It’s still wrong to do what you are doing.