Dealing with religious offenders

By Kevin Paulson

The question of how to deal with religious offenders, whether doctrinal or moral, is one deeply troubling to many laypersons and leaders in the Seventh-day Adventist Church today. How are we to properly address challenges to the integrity and practice of our faith? How are justice and mercy to be balanced in such decisions? At what point does responsible firmness give way to brash cruelty. Christian tolerance give way to secular license?

Many in the current scene employ the example of Christ’s dealing with Judas as the model for handling apostasy and carelessness in the church. They cite the protracted patience and gentle reproofs of Jesus in this case as the norm for dealing with persons disseminating heresy or breaching inspired counsel in their daily lives. Those who call for decisive action-for the dismissal of such persons from church employment or membership- are often criticized as unloving, warlike, and guilty of needlessly dividing the community of faith.

This article wishes to examine carefully the case of Christ and Judas, and to compare it with another biblical example of patience with offenders-the story of Eli and his sons. The reader is encouraged to study the chapter “Judas” in The Desire of Ages as well as “‘Eli and His Sons” in Patriarchs and Prophets, as recommended reading along with this article.

Christ and Judas

Included among the disciples, at the urging of the other eleven, Judas quickly acquired prestige and respect in Christ’s inner circle of followers. His personal talents, exceeding by far those of his peers, were viewed as indispensable to the later success of the church. Doubtless many others were convinced, as was Judas himself, that none of the other disciples could match his administrative or financial skills. No wonder Ellen White declares, “Had Judas died before his last journey to Jerusalem he would have been regarded as a man worthy of a place among the twelve, and one who would be greatly missed” (The Desire of Ages 716).

Quite obviously, Judas had many people fooled. His proud, avaricious spirit he had kept well concealed during his years with Christ. His subtle insinuations of doubt, his devil’s-advocate role playing, were largely, if not exclusively, a private matter involving Jesus and the other disciples. His occasional stealing of funds from the treasury was probably unknown to anyone save Jesus and Judas himself. In short, the errors in the beliefs and life of Judas were largely veiled from public scrutiny, even though they were shared to some extent by Christ’s other followers, both within and outside the Twelve. In Ellen White’s words, “Judas made no open opposition, nor seemed to question the Savior’s lessons. He made no outward murmur until the time of the feast in Simon’s house”(Ibid. 720). This statement is highly significant. No observable, humanly perceivable damage had been inflicted by Judas on the cause of Christ until now. Hitherto, almost completely, the problem of Judas had been a problem of the heart, exhibiting itself on secret and subtle occasions in secret and subtle conduct. As such, it could only be addressed by Christ in secret and subtle ways. Even when He rebuked Judas at Simon’s feast He did not disclose the real purpose of Judas in wanting Mary’s ointment sold. Ellen White states, “Secret sins are to be confessed in secret to God” (Ibid. 811). It is probably fair to say that so far as possible they should be rebuked in secret as well. While the public disclosure of secret sins is at times necessary, as shown in the experiences of Ellen White and certain biblical prophets, it might be best to conclude that only an inspired person-with supernatural insight into the inner reactions and receptivity of individuals—is qualified for such work.

Eli and His Sons

Here we find another instance of gentleness and patience in dealing with religious offenders. But in this case the inspired pen records serious divine displeasure at this approach to the problem.

Why the difference? Like Judas, the sons of Eli were avaricious and self-seeking. But unlike the acts of Judas, those of Hophni and Phinehas were done publicly, defrauding the worshipers at the sanctuary in open defiance of the Levitical law (1 Samuel 2:13-16). Vile and degrading practices were freely mingled with their ministry. Thus was the Lord’s work publicly dishonored and profaned. In Ellen White’s words, “The service which God had ordained was despised and neglected because associated with the sins of wicked men, while those whose hearts were inclined to evil were emboldened in sin. Ungodliness, profligacy, and even idolatry prevailed to a fearful extent” (Patriarchs and Prophets 577).

During the time Judas walked with Christ, those persons exposed to the subtle errors of Judas were undoubtedly so blinded by their own errors that they failed to see what was wrong. Inspiration records nothing of any protest movement among Christ’s followers demanding that the offender be brought to justice. But in the case of Eli’s sons, we read a different story. “The people complained of their violent deeds, and the high priest was grieved and distressed. He dared remain silent no longer. But his sons had been brought up to think of no one but themselves, and now they cared for no one else. They saw the grief of their father, but their hard hearts were not touched. They heard his mild admonitions, but they were not impressed, nor would they change their evil course though warned of the consequences of their sin. Had Eli dealt justly with his wicked sons, they would have been rejected from the priestly office and punished with death. Dreading thus to bring public disgrace and condemnation upon them, he sustained them in the most sacred positions of trust. He still permitted them to mingle their corruption with the holy service of God and to inflict upon the cause of truth an injury which years could not efface” (Ibid.)

In this context we find one of the truly great passages in the Spirit of Prophecy on the subject of church discipline:

“Those who have too little courage to reprove wrong, or who through indolence or lack of interest make no earnest effort to purify the family or the church of God, are held accountable for the evil that may result from their neglect of duty. We are just as responsible for evils that we might have checked in others by exercise of parental or pastoral authority as if the acts had been our own” (Ibid. 578).

God’s Church Today

No one will deny that cases similar to that of Judas abound in the Adventist Church today. Ellen White indicates that some in the church who, like Judas, have experienced gentle reproof from godly souls will follow in the steps of Judas by betraying their reprovers (The Great Controversy 43-44). But are there also sons of Eli among us?

In recent years a tidal wave of open apostasy and sin has swept through our ranks. Attacks on the church and its beliefs have resounded through sermons, classroom lectures, and the printed page. Unscriptural divorce, Sabbath breaking, and the misuse of funds have occurred. Institutions are operated in a manner totally out of step with inspired counsel. As in the days of Eli, many have suffered alienation from the organized church as a result. Thousands of truehearted believers have raised their voices in protest to the leaders of God’s work.

But too many leaders, like Eli, have responded with mild admonitions, accommodating policies, and appeasement posing as redemptive love. Persons are granted leadership positions whose public statements and lifestyle patterns are completely out of step with the truth. In such cases the analogy of Christ’s treatment of Judas is utterly inappropriate. We are dealing with the problem of Eli’s sons.

The tension between tolerance and license here depicted is similar to the tension between judging (Matthew 7:1-2) and fruit-inspecting (7: 16-20) in the teachings of Christ, The former involves the motives and the heart, which God alone can read. The latter involves outward conduct and ideas, which believers have a duty to compare with the standards of God’s Word (Isaiah 8:20). Ellen White clearly distinguishes the two in discussing the parable of the wheat and the tares. She writes, “Christ has plainly taught that those who persist in open sin must be separated from the church, but He has not committed to us the work of judging character and motive” (Christ’s Object Lessons 71). Again we find the difference between open and secret sin.

Elsewhere we read:

“I saw that decided efforts should be made to show those who arc unchristian in life their wrongs, and if they do nor reform, they should be separated from the precious and holy, that God may have a clean and pure people that He can delight in” (Testimonies vol. 1, 17).

I believe with all my heart that God’s church will one day be purified. But leaders must be men and women of courage, unafraid of hard choices and the possible removal of personnel. AS in the rearing of children, love must at times be firm and even severe. Perhaps Deitrich Bonhoeffer said it best: “Nothing can be more cruel than the tenderness that consigns another to his sin. Nothing can be more compassionate than the severe rebuke that calls a brother back from the path of sin” (Life Together. New York: Harper & Row, 1954, 107).

Kevin Paulson is a pastor in the Greater New York Conference and an alumnus of La Sierra University.

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85 thoughts on “Dealing with religious offenders

  1. I have had a question for a long time that I think is related to this article. Why does God allow such diversity of religion around the world? There are Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims, various nature religions, etc. If the GC is responsible for the SDA flock, then God would be responsible for the world flock. We’re all His children. It seems to me that God would have brought about some discipline by now.

    It seems to me that it’s more than a matter of freedom and allowing sin to take it’s course. In cases like Eli’s sons, God doesn’t want us to allow sin to take it’s course within the SDA church. By the same token, why would God allow heresy to take its course in the form of other religions?

    One thought is that the SDA church has the truth. So, since we know the truth, if people don’t abide by it, then there must be discipline. But, could the same thing be said about Islam? Muhammad and his followers had the truth from Christianity, but God allowed them to go their course. After the flood, the ancestors of Hinduism must have had the truth, but God allowed them to go their course. Maybe the answer is we kick them out and let them go their course, and if they form a new world religion, then we just trust God to guide history according to His will.

    Yet, this doesn’t quite seem satisfying. If God expects us to discipline our members when they stray like Eli’s sons, why did God not discipline the progenitors of these other religions when He had the chance?

    And, does this “big picture” perspective shed any light on how we approach church discipline today? Or, is this just another example of the Jesus/Judas example from this article?




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  2. We’re all His children.

    This statement is rather hopeful-sounding, but, despite its good intentions, remains untrue.

    Then said they to him, We be not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God. Jesus said unto them, If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me. Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my word. Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it. (John 8:41-44)

    In the above passage, John, who is often considered the most compassionate disciple, quotes Jesus to say that those who do not love God are the children of the devil, and not of God. John further clarifies this truth in later passages.

    He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother. (1 John 3:8-10)

    The devil has many children in this world. God has a few. “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.” (John 1:12) This is why we are to spread the Gospel wherever we go.

    Erik




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  3. Erik said:

    those who do not love God are the children of the devil, and not of God

    If one does not know of God, one cannot love God, right? So, those generations of people who never know God are lost, right? Or, is it presumptuous to judge in this way? We don’t know and we just trust God to judge them.

    The devil has many children in this world. God has a few.

    Why would God allow this? Why would God allow the children of the devil to continue to produce generations of more people who are destined to be lost?

    Is it to allow sin to take it’s course to show the universe for all eternity the results of sin? Does God condemn those who lead their tribe astray, along with the generations of their descendants who never knew the truth. Does God sacrifice the lives of a few billion people over the generations to save an infinite number of lives throughout eternity?

    Or, am I missing something entirely?




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  4. @George:

    Rerarding the claim: those who do not love God are the children of the devil, and not of God

    If one does not know of God, one cannot love God, right? So, those generations of people who never know God are lost, right? Or, is it presumptuous to judge in this way

    The problem with your faulty conclusion above which does not take into account the John 12:32 fact that God “draws ALL men” unto Him nor the fact that the Holy Spirit writes the Law of God on the heart beginning with Love for God and Love for our neighbor – is the same problem that we see with Theistic Evolutionists who have rejected the Bible teaching found in Romans 1.

    Rom 1

    14 I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians , both to the wise and to the foolish.
    15 So, for my part, I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome.
    16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first
    and also to the Greek.
    17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “BUT THE RIGHTEOUS man SHALL LIVE BY FAITH.”

    18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress
    the truth in unrighteousness,

    19 because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them.
    20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen,
    being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.
    21 For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations,
    and their foolish heart was darkened.
    22 Professing to be wise, they became fools,

    Thus by turning from light they are embracing darkness and in so doing – are without excuse.

    in Christ,

    Bob




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  5. George said:
    I have had a question for a long time that I think is related to this article. Why does God allow such diversity of religion around the world? There are Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims, various nature religions, etc. If the GC is responsible for the SDA flock, then God would be responsible for the world flock. We’re all His children. It seems to me that God would have brought about some discipline by now.

    It seems to me that it’s more than a matter of freedom and allowing sin to take it’s course. In cases like Eli’s sons, God doesn’t want us to allow sin to take it’s course within the SDA church. By the same token, why would God allow heresy to take its course in the form of other religions?

    One thought is that the SDA church has the truth. So, since we know the truth, if people don’t abide by it, then there must be discipline. But, could the same thing be said about Islam?

    Islam came out of Christianity in the 6th or 7th century A.D. It IS an example of God “allowing free will” inside the Christian church to the point that an entirely new false religion was formed.

    The SDA church “allows” its memebers to go off and start new denominations or to split off and start their own public universities if they wish.

    But they cannot expect to “get paid by the church” for doing so.

    Just as Mohammed did not get “paid by the Christian church” to start a new religion.

    Surely you see that.

    in Christ,

    Bob




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  6. BobRyan says:

    But they cannot expect to “get paid by the church” for doing so.

    You are correct. And the mission of this website is regarding that issue.

    I thought the topic of this article was discipline within the membership. Maybe I missed the point.




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  7. Doug Batchelor is a Seventh-day Adventist pastor paid by the Seventh-day Adventist Church. He just preached a sermon about women’s ordination in which he said the Bible does not allow women to be ordained neither as pastors nor as local elders. This position is in direct opposition to a voted statement of the local Adventist conference which hires him.

    The President of that conference stated that the local conference voted to recommend women’s ordination. Doug Batchelor is publicly preaching and teaching in clear and direct opposition to a plain statement of the Seventh-day Adventist organization that hired him.

    If the supporters of the EducateTruth website are consistent, should not Doug Batchelor be immediately fired for taking tithe money under false pretenses?




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  8. Erv,

    You have to remember, the Bible is our creed. Therefore, the Bible trumps any vote by any committee or any constituency meeting.

    Adventist preachers are ultimately responsible to God, not conference administration.

    “We receive into our institutions people of all denominations. But as for ourselves, we are strictly denominational; we are sacredly denominated by God and are under His theocracy” (7T 109).

    None of the above should be an encouragement for rebellion. Conference administration and constituency meetings do have authority. But God is the ultimate authority, and His Word reigns supreme. We are under His theocracy.




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  9. Session Delegate
    The delegate’s quick glance at the 56th General Conference
    Session activities in Utrecht, Holland.

    Thursday . July 6, 1995

    No!
    Delegates Reject the North American Women’s Ordination Request
    “It was with fear and forboding that some of us saw to approach this
    debate,” said President Robert S. Folkenberg as delegates prepared to
    vote on Item 208, North American Division Request-Ordination.
    It was with calm determination and poise that Session chair Dr. Calvin
    Rock, moderated the discussion of the anxious crowd.
    And it was with singing, some tears, and a deafening calm that
    delegates, visitors, and members of the press retreated from the
    auditorium.
    Once again, the Seventh-day Adventist Church voted against women’s
    ordination (not the actual request). The results: 673 (31%) for, 1,481
    (61%) against. (1)

    1. http://www.adventist.org/world_church/official_meetings/1995gcsession/070601ann.txt




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  10. Wait a minute- let me get this straight. The GC does not allow women’s ordination, the North American Division requested voted in favor of it (does it allow it?), the confernence voted in favor of it, and a pastor of the conference speaks out against it. That’s pretty amazing! Everyone has their own take on the Bible. And it’s nice that no one has been fired.




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  11. Ervin Taylor says:
    March 21, 2010

    Doug Batchelor is a Seventh-day Adventist pastor paid by the Seventh-day Adventist Church. He just preached a sermon about women’s ordination in which he said the Bible does not allow women to be ordained neither as pastors nor as local elders. This position is in direct opposition to a voted statement of the local Adventist conference which hires him.

    The President of that conference stated that the local conference voted to recommend women’s ordination. Doug Batchelor is publicly preaching and teaching in clear and direct opposition to a plain statement of the Seventh-day Adventist organization that hired him.

    If the supporters of the EducateTruth website are consistent, should not Doug Batchelor be immediately fired for taking tithe money under false pretenses?

    Hi Erv,

    First off, the topic of women’s ordination, as I’ve noted for you many times before, does not involve any of the fundamental doctrinal positions of the SDA Church and is and should therefore be much more open to divergent expression of opinion – even among paid SDA representatives in public forum. You’re trying to compare apples and oranges yet again…

    Beyond this, paid representatives are more answerable to the Church organization as complete body rather than to local churches, conferences or divisions. Subsections of an organization that go out of sink with the overall organization are the ones out of line, not those within these subsections who wish to remain loyal to the main organization to whom they are primarily indebted for the name which they carry and represent.

    It’s similar to a situation I was in when I was in the military. I once received conflicting orders where a General told me to do one thing while a Major, who was directly in charge of my unit at the time, told me to do something completely different. Which order takes precedence? I don’t know what you would have done, but I told the Major what the General had commanded me to do and explained that I could not obey his command contrary to that of the Commanding General.

    I hope this helps to explain and illustrate the position of EdTruth on this topic…

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  12. And while Adventist preachers are ultimately responsible to God, not conference administration, why are’nt university professors?

    We’re all ultimately responsible to God. That doesn’t give me the right to expect, much less demand, that any particular group of people pay me for my ideas – especially if they don’t happen to agree with me.

    Taking money from any organization while going around misrepresenting what that organization is paying me to do is stealing both time and money from that organization.

    A true representative of God wouldn’t think to do such a dishonest thing…

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  13. Bob Pickle says:
    March 21, 2010

    Erv,

    You have to remember, the Bible is our creed. Therefore, the Bible trumps any vote by any committee or any constituency meeting.

    Adventist preachers are ultimately responsible to God, not conference administration.

    “We receive into our institutions people of all denominations. But as for ourselves, we are strictly denominational; we are sacredly denominated by God and are under His theocracy” (7T 109).

    None of the above should be an encouragement for rebellion. Conference administration and constituency meetings do have authority. But God is the ultimate authority, and His Word reigns supreme. We are under His theocracy.

    You’re conclusion is mistaken Bob. While it is true that all of us are ultimately responsible to God, this does not give anyone the right to take money from any organization for doing directly contrary to what that organization is paying the individual to do. Regardless of if you think you’re right before God or not, no true servant of God would act in this manner. It’s called stealing… even if you’re stealing from those you think are clearly wrong before God, it’s still stealing and is therefore a moral wrong.

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  14. George says (March 21, 2010):

    Yet, this doesn’t quite seem satisfying. If God expects us to discipline our members when they stray like Eli’s sons, why did God not discipline the progenitors of these other religions when He had the chance?

    The “discipline” of the Church is to encourage people who are in open rebellion against the Church to leave the Church so that they can start their own organizations independent of the Church.

    Even God forced Satan and his angels to leave Heaven when they rebelled against the order and government of the Heavenly courts. Surely His Church on Earth should behave no differently regarding the maintenance of internal order and government in the face of open internal rebellion. The lack of any kind of internal enforcement of order and government always leads to chaos and eventual non-viability.

    Surely you agree that this concept is self-evident…

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  15. The stand taken by Doug Batchelor against the ordination of women to the gospel ministry is in concert with the twice-voted position of the General Conference in global session on this subject. Lower bodies within the church may waver or seek to reverse the position of the world church, but they will not prevail. The negative vote on this unscriptural proposal has been overwhelming, and would be so again if brought before the world body at any time in the future. What Doug is preaching is in harmony with the position of that body designated by God’s prophet–even at the end of her life (see 9T 260-261)–as having authority over private independence and private judgment.

    Like the evolution issue, women’s ordination involves the exaltation of culture and intellectual supposition over the written counsel of God. The church must stand unreservedly for what God says on all such issues, irrespective of contrary trends or assumptions in culture or society.

    God bless!

    Pastor Kevin Paulson




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  16. “Lower bodies within the church may waver or seek to reverse the position of the world church, but they will not prevail. The negative vote on this unscriptural proposal has been overwhelming, and would be so again if brought before the world body at any time in the future. What Doug is preaching is in harmony with the position of that body designated by God’s prophet–even at the end of her life (see 9T 260-261)–as having authority over private independence and private judgment.” (Kevin Paulson)

    Sounds to me like an awful lot of our employes are going against the Bible and what the church represents. How can Sean Pitman deny this,, Kevin?




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  17. Before everyone gets too involved with the topic of women’s ordination, I’m going to stop it right here. This topic is unrelated to the mission of Educate Truth.




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  18. Or, am I missing something entirely?

    George,

    I think the Adventist church, and Christians in general, are missing something entirely–the URGENCY of spreading the Gospel. Why would Jesus ask us to preach the Gospel if He could save everyone without it–simply by claiming all them as His who were actually ignorant of Him? If such were the case, are we doing people a disservice to teach them about God, so that then they have to choose between right and wrong before they are saved?

    If such were the case, and all people are “God’s children,” then should the church never need to discipline its members? Would that not be tantamount to a child disciplining his sibling, instead of the parent doing so?

    We’re all His children. It seems to me that God would have brought about some discipline by now.

    If what you say is true, then the implication is that those who aren’t “disciplined” are either not loved by God (“For whom the Lord loveth He correcteth”) or they have not strayed. Furthermore, it implies that we should not do any disciplining, but leave that for God to do. But this flies in the face of a command by Jesus Himself given to the disciples. See Matthew 16:19 and Matthew 18:18-19. That latter passage is in direct reference to church discipline, and we frequently refer to it as our guideline for dealing with errant brethren. There is discipline involved.

    Erik




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  19. Ellen White stated that the entire world church – when voting in an official session comprised of elected representatives throughout the world – is to be respected by church members as “having authority”.

    This obvious point has been somewhat of a bitter pill for evolutionists to swallow – in their efforts to promote Theistic Evolutionism at Adventist universities such as LSU.

    So in order to derail that point – they seem to want to “look at something else” instead.

    @Ervin Taylor:

    Doug Batchelor is a Seventh-day Adventist pastor paid by the Seventh-day Adventist Church. He just preached a sermon about women’s ordination in which he said the Bible does not allow women to be ordained neither as pastors nor as local elders.

    Batchelor’s position is not opposed the vote of the world church in this subject. So while I may not agree with every detail of the voted position – I do admit to consistency in Doug’s position.

    This position is in direct opposition to a voted statement of the local Adventist conference which hires him.

    There has never been any argument here by creationists or by evolutionists that local conference exec committees can make up new positions that are in conflict with the voted statements of the World Church – and that they are then to be taken as having authority above or even equal to the world church.

    So it is a nice rabbit trail – but does not go very far.

    However our evolutionist friends seldom let an inconvenient fact get in the way of a good “story”.

    If the supporters of the EducateTruth website are consistent, should not Doug Batchelor be immediately fired for taking tithe money under false pretenses?

    Again – you are simply engaging in “story telling” while ignoring enough key details to show that you are not at all serious in your stated argument.

    Hence the problem.

    in Christ,

    Bob




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  20. @Shane Hilde:

    Before everyone gets too involved with the topic of women’s ordination, I’m going to stop it right here. This topic is unrelated to the mission of Educate Truth.

    That is true – but I don’t think Erv’s point demands that we debate women’s ordination. The common ground issue is whether or not the wild equivocation between “local conference vote of an exec committe” vs the “World Wide GC session vote on doctrinal statements”.

    The real question Erv is asking is whether we should engage in such gross equivocation such that EVERY local conference exec comitte becomes some kind of “new” World Wide GC session vote defining Church doctrine.

    If the TEs were successful in arguing that we should ignore the not-so-subtle details of difference between those two cases they at least come up with a valid side issue.

    However I don’t think the objective unbiased reader will miss the canyon sized gap between the world church in session voting on doctrine – and a local SDA conference Exec Committee voting on policy.

    Also – if the TE’s were anywhere near correct – then local conferences could actually override the world church on both policy and doctrine – and that case the TE’s would simply need to hijack influence over a local conference or Union of their choice to setup a base camp for evolutionism as a valid doctrine inside the SDA church. Sadly for the TE argument in this case – we do not have a “Union trumps GC session” or a “Conference trumps GC session” model in this denomination. Their efforts at historic revisionism seem to never end.

    in Christ,

    Bob




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  21. @BobRyan:

    Islam came out of Christianity in the 6th or 7th century A.D. It IS an example of God “allowing free will” inside the Christian church to the point that an entirely new false religion was formed.

    The SDA church “allows” its memebers to go off and start new denominations or to split off and start their own public universities if they wish.

    But they cannot expect to “get paid by the church” for doing so.

    Just as Mohammed did not get “paid by the Christian church” to start a new religion.

    Surely you see that.

    @George:

    You are correct. And the mission of this website is regarding that issue.

    I thought the topic of this article was discipline within the membership. Maybe I missed the point.

    It fits church discipline to refuse to pay (employ) those professors that choose to undermine the church’s stated doctrine.

    in Christ,

    Bob




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  22. The General Conference: Just another pretty face?

    Sean,

    You wrote:

    “…paid representatives are more answerable to the Church organization as a complete body rather than to local churches, conferences or divisions. Subsections of an organization that go out of sync with the overall organization are the ones out of line, not those within these subsections who wish to remain loyal to the main organization to whom they are primarily indebted for the name which they carry and represent.”

    This seems opposite from what I was taught. The SDA church, I thought, was organized around the local church, Conference, Union, Division and then the General Conference.

    In some of the letters you have received it seems to me that the upper levels of administrators have told you they must defer to the administrators at a lower level regarding what action to take in disciplining or guiding teachers in the schools for which they are responsible. I could have misunderstood, but that was the impression I got.

    In cases when a person loses his membership in the SDA church it is by action of the local church not the conference, Union, Division or the GC.

    Again, not being an authority or trained in organizational and corporate governance, especially in the governance of our church, I could be wrong.

    Lynn

    Hi Lynn,

    If the local churches and conferences were completely independent of any oversight or real governance of the General Conference, what would be the point in having a General Conference? Such a setup would seem pretty expensive to maintain if it were really nothing more useful than a pretty face…

    The fact of the matter is that the SDA Church organization is a world-wide organization which requires the input and cooperation in the government and financial support of this world-wide effort. No individual church, conference, union, or even division, operates by itself and for itself alone, but is required to be a member of the whole and abide by the rules and regulations governing the whole if it wishes to remain part of the “body” of SDA believers.

    It is because of this unified world-wide mission of the SDA Church that,

    “The operations [of the local churches, conferences, unions, and divisions] are defined by General Conference and division policies rather than by a constitution and bylaws… Confidence in, and loyalty to, the leadership of the denomination at all levels shall be evident on the part of the membership. Employees and members shall respect the decisions of responsible committees.”

    http://www.adventist.org/world_church/commission-ministries-services-structures/union-of-churches-final.pdf

    Also in this regard, the central governing body of the Church must be supported by funds from the lower levels of Church government:

    “In setting its percentages, the division needs to make sure that the tithe percentages to the General Conference (8% from NAD and 2% from other divisions) are included.” Link

    As an example, note that it is the General Conference that has the power to recognize a “union of churches” as having governmental responsibilities, but not independent governmental responsibilities.

    “A union of churches is a constituency-based organization consisting of a group of local churches, within a defined geographical area, that has been granted, by the General Conference, official status as a Seventh-day Adventist union of churches…
    Consideration regarding the establishment of unions of churches shall include the following guidelines: a. A clear demonstration that the new status will enhance the mission of the church in the specific territory…
    The president [of a particular union of SDA Churches], who shall be an ordained minister of experience, is the first officer and shall report to the executive committee of the union in consultation with the secretary and the treasurer. He shall act as chair of constituency meetings and the executive committee and serve in the general interests of the union as the constituency and the executive committee shall determine. In his leadership he shall adhere to the policies of the [member] Division and of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists…” Link

    Consider also that the very name “Seventh-day Adventist” is owned by the General Conference and can be removed from any individual group that the General Conference feels is not truly representative of the SDA Church as an organization. This has been done on occasion…

    So, it isn’t quite true that the General Conference is really as powerless as some would like to suggest regarding what it can and cannot do in the governing of the SDA Church as an organization…

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  23. Doing What I Want…

    Sean,

    And so some want a more rigorous application of power from the top and others want less.

    Lynn

    If everyone wanted the same thing all the time there would be no need for a Church government – – or any other kind of government for that matter…

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  24. Kevin Paulson says:
    March 21, 2010

    Like the evolution issue, women’s ordination involves the exaltation of culture and intellectual supposition over the written counsel of God. The church must stand unreservedly for what God says on all such issues, irrespective of contrary trends or assumptions in culture or society.

    Hi Kevin,

    I don’t think it is appropriate to use the same strength of language with regard to issues that are not recognized as “fundamental” by the organized SDA Church. Women’s ordination, while certainly a hot-button issue and evidently very important to many, is still not recognized as a fundamental doctrinal issue by the SDA Church – and I think that is a very good thing.

    Therefore, this issue, while carrying a certain degree of importance to be sure, is irrelevant to the purposes of this particular website. EdTruth is all about upholding the stated fundamental ideals of the SDA Church as an organization and calling those who are paid representatives to be honest and transparent toward their employer with regard to the promotion and support of these clearly stated fundamental ideals.

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  25. @Ervin Taylor: …has anyone had a critical look at this ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EWQSuEV9fRQ&NR=1 ) – here Satan is displayed as bad actor wearing a somewhat shiny breastplate and a very stupid look on his face. Shouldn’t be someone doing something about that, too? Isn’t trivializing the root of all evil an even worse offense than offering a somewhat offensive and not necessarily too enlightened opinion on whether women should be ordained or not?

    …couldn’t help.
    Mark




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  26. Bob Ryan, Islam did not come out of Christianity. Muhammad was influenced by many religious strands, including Judaism, Arab polytheism (which is where the Hajj originated), Persian Zoroastrianism, and Nestorian and Catholic Christianity. Islam seems to incorporate elements of all of these religions, but probably Judaism was the most prominent of these various influences upon Muhammad.

    I realize that you are not trying to make a point about Islam per se, but your point is not furthered by the factual inaccuracy of your illustration.




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  27. @BobRyan:

    Islam came out of Christianity in the 6th or 7th century A.D. It IS an example of God “allowing free will” inside the Christian church to the point that an entirely new false religion was formed.

    @David Read:

    Bob Ryan, Islam did not come out of Christianity. Muhammad was influenced by many religious strands, including Judaism, Arab polytheism (which is where the Hajj originated), Persian Zoroastrianism, and Nestorian and Catholic Christianity. Islam seems to incorporate elements of all of these religions, but probably Judaism was the most prominent of these various influences upon Muhammad.

    David – you are right. That was a mistake on my part.

    Islam is the only non-Christian (ie non-Messianic) religion that claims the God of the OT as it’s God, and claims to believe in the Virgin birth of Christ and also claims to expect the 2nd coming of Christ. So the Bible influence on Islam is apparent, but Muhammed was never a Christian.

    As I recall – the claim is that one of his wives “Khadijah” whom he married at the age of 25 – before he had any of his “visions” was in fact Roman Catholic.

    However this does not represent a case of a Christian group splitting off and starting a new religion – so I stand corrected.

    in Christ,

    Bob




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  28. I wonder what Irv thinks about the editor of Adventists Today. The man is a senior Pastor in the Columbia Union. Should he be devoting his time to a magazine that is subversive at time insofar as the SDA church is concerned?

    Let’s hear it from you, Irv, how your editor can be faithful to his calling and to Adventists Today at the same time.




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  29. @Ervin Taylor:

    Pastor Doug is NOT PAID BY THE SDA church. He receives his pastoral salary from Amazing Facts and NOT the conference. He Volunteers his time as a church pastor for Sac Central but does not receive a salary for it. Thus if he wants to preach the truth about Woman Ordination (which the world conference voted against and the North American conference rebelled and separately voted in support of if)he is able to do so! Thankful he preaches the truth!!!




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  30. No Dominique, I think you have Doug Batchelor’s status exactly backwards. It’s my understanding that he is paid by his local conference as Senior Pastor of the Sacremento Central SDA Church and receives no direct salary from Amazing Facts. I could be wrong, also, but that’s what I believe I’ve heard Doug himself state.

    In Him,
    Byron




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  31. Ordeal of the Sifting Time.–Satan will work his miracles to deceive; he will set up his power as supreme. The church may appear as about to fall, but it does not fall. It remains, while the sinners in Zion will be sifted out–the chaff separated from the precious wheat. This is a terrible ordeal, but nevertheless it must take place. None but those who have been overcoming by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony will be found with the loyal and true, without spot or stain of sin, without guile in their mouths. . . . The remnant that purify their souls by obeying the truth gather strength from the trying process, exhibiting the beauty of holiness amid the surrounding apostasy (Letter 55, 1886). {7BC 911.6}

    Many Backsliders Will Return.–When the storm of persecution really breaks upon us, the true sheep will hear the true Shepherd’s voice. Self-denying efforts will be put forth to save the lost, and many who have strayed from the fold will come back to follow the great Shepherd. The people of God will draw together, and present to the enemy a united front. . . . The love of Christ, the love of our brethren, will testify to the world that we have been with Jesus and learned of Him. Then will the message of the third angel swell to a loud cry, and the whole earth will be lightened with the glory of the Lord.–Testimonies, vol. 6, p. 401. (1900) {Ev 693.2}

    This apostasy will continue until the Sunday law comes, the loud cry swells with the latter rain poured out, and the work will be finished. So we are to cry aloud, show God’s people their sins, keep praying and move forward.
    The devil has a double-edged sword here: he likes nothing better than to cause sin and apostasy at LSU, then have God’s people spend copious amounts of time pointing out to conference officials and school administrators just how they do not follow the 6th fundamental belief, thus tying up everyone in knots preventing God’s everlasting gospel to go forward in the 3 angels messages. The ones in charge will ultimately face God’s judgment.

    Our work should be to prepare for the seal of God, knowing the Sunday law with the preceding disasters coming in the large cities, should move us to action.

    Re-writing the 6th belief will do absolutely nothing for those who refuse to believe anyway. It is a total waste of time that appears to be “progress” but in effect is nothing.

    I believe the best ministry in Adventism today is that of Pastor Dave Westbrook. He has the end-time events message that we as the people of God need to hear. For those who are interested, just type in Back to Enoch




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  32. @Byron Comp:

    No Dominique, I think you have Doug Batchelor’s status exactly backwards. It’s my understanding that he is paid by his local conference as Senior Pastor of the Sacremento Central SDA Church and receives no direct salary from Amazing Facts. I could be wrong, also, but that’s what I believe I’ve heard Doug himself state.

    In Him,
    Byron

    But the underlying principle is whether we have HAVE a church organizational position on “doctrine” such that “local conferences have doctrinal authority that overrides the world church”.

    The answer to that is “no”.

    Which means that should the local conference vote some doctrine that is opposed to the 28FB – they would have no recognized authority in the denomination to do so – a key detail missed in Erv’s post.

    But in this case there is no doctrine on women being elders in the 28FB voted list the way we have voted doctrine opposing evolutionism. So you cannot equivocate between voted doctrine vs voted policy the way Erv suggests — he is just “reaching”.




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  33. Pastor Kevin, you need to forgive, not to witch-hunt.

    Ephesians 4:31-32 ESV

    Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

    OR

    Matthew 18:21-35 ESV

    Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven.”




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  34. Having prayerfully read each and every comment thusfar on this blog site, I find that the only one on topic and worthy of being regarded as consequential to our profession as Seventh-day Adventists and promulgators of the Everlasting Gospel, sans demonically-evolved distractions, is that of Steve Billiter, March 24th, 2010. God Bless you, Steve, for allowing the Holy Spirit to have impressed and guided you to post what you just did! You have hit it, dead on!!! What the Holy Spirit has raised, via you, is the REAL issue facing this forum right now. Oh, the other issues raised here are valid alright–but not nearly so relevant to the topic of the attached article. Throughout Chhristendom today there are myriads of congregations of every faith struggling with the same delusion of power and differences of opinion. We all worship the same God, or try to, and must yet allow time for the tares to grow with the wheat, and for the appointed time of judgment to occur when it it is time for it. To go in NOW with a massive ‘scything’ action would be to endanger and/or destroy the tender shoots which might otherwise become part of the final harvest. The Bible clearly states that the Father has left all judgment to the Son. It is not ours to take! Cultural differences alone would account for a huge percent of the ‘differences’not only in opinions but in theology among us within the world church body. As an example, I offer the following: (not, you understand, in any attempt to start another distractive thread of discussion at all! ONLY as an example…)Within the current membership there are many of us who, not having access to a valid divorce status from our ex’s, are ‘living together’, a status, by the way, which is recognized by the law of the land as ‘Common Law Marriage’. We are monogamous. We are faithful. We consider ourselves ‘married’, not only in the eyes of our country, but in the eyes of God. We hesitate either or both to announce our status to you, our fellow membership, or to attend church among you for fear of censure. Should you ‘discipline’ us? Perhaps, in YOUR mind and opinion, we ‘live in sin’. Do you thus set yourself and YOUR judgments ABOVE the law of the land then? Show me your letter from the Almighty so designating you as my judge at this time in history! Let him or her that is WITHOUT sin…Yet I LONG to worship with you, as does my ‘spouse’, though we apparently risk at least a ‘theological stoning’ of some sort. What purpose would it serve the spirit of free worship and communion thus to censure me and my love one? The loving and compassionate Saviour once said, to a certain woman who had had several husbands, of which fact He was well aware even before He asked her to go and bring her ‘husband’ to the discussion, “Thou has answered truly, for thou hast had five husbands…”, which comment and observation He followed up with absolutely NO CENSURE WHATEVER! and, to another certain ‘notorious’ poor woman, “Neither do I condemn thee, go and sin no more.” And, so, my spouse and i have done so. We have stopped and considered ourselves married, after much prayer and God’s very apparent blessings upon us. Where to go from here, however, will, at least in part, be determined by the reaction of the membership, either individually or corporately, or both… and thus it becomes apparent how important it is, not only to withhold judgment on our part, but to allow for individual growth and spiritual ‘arrival’ and that priceless god-given freedom of conscience, especially in matters which are not ‘salvational’, per se.




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  35. It seems to me that if the biennial Constituent Membership meeting of La Sierra University decides to continue on its same path the time has come that the church should cut all ties with the institution and leave it to continue on its own. The results of such a course will no doubt send a real “shockwave” throughout the whole denomination–especially where other of our schools (as I have been told) are starting to go down that same path. (I am NOT a lawyer, but it seems to me that if this should happen LSU should send any and all credits of any student, without any cost,to the student or their families, who wishes to transfer to another of our schools.)

    Could this be the start of the “shaking” which we have been told would happen before Jesus returns? And there is a sobering question we should ask ourselves–Are we “reaping what we have sown” by refusing to follow the “blueprint” on how our schools should be run? God has promised that if we follow HIS instructions on how ALL of our institutions should be run we would be the “head and not the tails” in this world. But, it seems to me, we have, like ancient Israel, chosen to follow “other voices” rather than God’s.

    God did not raise us up as a people to “blend in” with the world around us but to “stand out” as an example that our God is the true God. If you look at all the Bible “greats”–Moses, Joseph, Daniel and his three friends, Esther, all the prophets of the OT, the prophets and apostles of the NT as well as the reformers and our early pioneers were courageous individuals who definitely “stood out” in the world. It usually brought with it many trials and problems but in all cases it kept the true believers faithful to their God-given message to everyone around–and they changed the world! Israel as a nation usually chose to “blend in” and we see the results today. And, I fear, we as a denomination, have in many ways followed in Israel’s footsteps. Have we “sown to the wind” and are we beginning to “reap the whirlwind?”

    This is not to say that we have not had–and continue to have–many wonderful Christian “Daniels” and “Esthers” among us for we have–and we praise God for them, but, in general, are we as a people sending the world a wrong message by many of the ways in which we live–including the way we educate our children?

    May God lead us at this perilous time to make the right decision in this




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  36. @George:

    Lydian Belknap says: “Yet, this doesn’t quite seem satisfying. If God expects us to discipline our members when they stray like Eli’s sons, why did God not discipline the progenitors [Muslims, Hindus, etc.] of these other religions when He had the chance?”

    In my opinion, how do we really know whether or not God did attempt to discipline them? I understand that God even gave Satan plenty of opportunity to repent. I’m sure not all is as well as we seem to think about these ‘progenitors.’ But we shall know on Judgment Day. Once my children became adults and decided to leave home, they were free to continue in the faith we taught them or to leave ‘the fold.’ The prayer of a righteous person is powerful. However, there are many of these ‘strayers’ whose hearts only God knows. And again I say, we shall know only on Judgment Day of the ‘strayers’ that returned to the fold. In the meantime, it is our own personal duty to God to continue walking in the truth as God gave us light. As far as elected officials of our church are concerned, since they do REPRESENT the beliefs of the SDA Church, they should be held accountable that they, too, ‘are walking in the truth as God gave us light,’ and reflect the true character of our Lord Jesus Christ–righteous as well as merciful.




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  37. The topic is on “Dealing with Religious Offenders”. The 1977 Manual for Ministers states on pg 39 that if a SDA minister is found guilty of a moral fall, “it is clearly indicated that for the sake of the church and the maintenance of moral standards the man must plan to devote his life to some other calling or business than the ministry.”

    This phrase that should prevent a minister who has been found guilty of a moral fall has been changed in subsequent editions. The book has been renamed the Ministerial Handbook and is produced about every decade and voted by the GC. The current 2009 edition only states under “Forgiveness and Restoration-While violation of these standards becomes grounds for termination of service and employment in pastoral ministry, the dismissed should experience the affirmation of God’s forgiving grace and love. The church should seek to restore and nurture such persons in their spiritual and family relationships” pg 43.

    I have witnessed pastors convicted of a moral fall become SDA pastors again. I am unclear on what is current policy. The clear statement of the 1976 Ministerial Manual is now vague as to whether morally fallen ministers might be rehired in the future. Can anyone help me understand when and how this changed. If a Church Search Committee is considering a pastor, do they have the right to know of his past conviction by his past adminitrators of a “moral fall”?




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  38. It’s similar to a situation I was in when I was in the military. I once received conflicting orders where a General told me to do one thing while a Major, who was directly in charge of my unit at the time, told me to do something completely different. Which order takes precedence? I don’t know what you would have done, but I told the Major what the General had commanded me to do and explained that I could not obey his command contrary to that of the Commanding General. (Sean Pittman)

    Good point Sean, apples and oranges;just like the military is to the church.




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  39. Before everyone gets too involved with the topic of women’s ordination, I’m going to stop it right here. This topic is unrelated to the mission of Educate Truth.  (Shane Hilde)

    Here comes the blog police, everybody cower and hide! Is this Educate Truth or Suppress Truth?




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  40. Hi Kevin,

    I don’t think it is appropriate to use the same strength of language with regard to issues that are not recognized as “fundamental” by the organized SDA Church. Women’s ordination, while certainly a hot-button issue and evidently very important to many, is still not recognized as a fundamental doctrinal issue by the SDA Church – and I think that is a very good thing.

    Therefore, this issue, while carrying a certain degree of importance to be sure, is irrelevant to the purposes of this particular website. EdTruth is all about upholding the stated fundamental ideals of the SDA Church as an organization and calling those who are paid representatives to be honest and transparent toward their employer with regard to the promotion and support of these clearly stated fundamental ideals.

    Sean Pitman

    It has everything to do with it. Pastor Kevin made excellent points tying together evolution and women’s ordination. I’m very happy we have a few solid Bible/EGW believing pastors left in the midst of this increasing apostasy. It appears to me that certain types of errors and departures from God’s Word, are “accepted” by some, while at the same time they cry “foul” at the ones that really stand out.

    Gentlemen and ladies, we either stand for all of God’s Word or we do not, as there is no middle ground. LSU is not the only target of apostasy that the true watchmen on the walls can herald.

    Perhaps LSU is fashionable for some, a pet crusade perhaps. But for me, it’s just one more broken link in the golden chain of truth. Instead of chastising our good solid pastors, lets fully support them!




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  41. @Sean Pitman, M.D.:

    I don’t think it is appropriate to use the same strength of language with regard to issues that are not recognized as “fundamental” by the organized SDA Church. Women’s ordination, while certainly a hot-button issue and evidently very important to many, is still not recognized as a fundamental doctrinal issue by the SDA Church – and I think that is a very good thing.

    In the case of Creation and the Bible teaching on origins that stands openly against the atheist-centric doctrines on origins found in evolutionism – we have something that is a Bible doctrine and is a SDA Church doctrine – a voted Fundamental Belief.

    In the case of women’s ordination we have something that some people think of as a “policy statement” by the church and perhaps even a “policy statement” by Paul. Others think that the women’s ordination question is a “Bible doctrine”. But ALL agree that it has not been voted into any of the 28 FB’s. So there is a wide spectrum for “opinions to vary”.

    Furthermore we have no mechanism in our denomination that allows local unions or conferences to override doctrinal statements of the GC session. So again – evolution loses out, but the women’s ordination issue sidesteps it because it is not yet a voted doctrine.

    The question of whether local conferences or unions can opt out of voted “policy statements” that come from the GC session is something that I would like to know more about. Not sure which way that goes.

    It is no wonder that some evolutionists would like to use that less established case to derail the more concrete problem of evolution vs the Bible and our voted 28 FBs.

    Samuel Pipim dealt with this issue in his book “Receiving the Word” pointing out the fact that ATS and Adventist Affirm are united on opposition to a host of Bible-denying movements in society including evolutionism. But they divide on the issue of Women’s ordination.

    Oh well…

    in Christ,

    Bob




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  42. Policy that guides administrators in dealing with ministers that have a “moral fall” is found in the Ministerial Manual now called the Ministerial Handbook. In the 1976 edition page 39 it said, “it is clearly indicated that for the sake of the church and the maintenance of moral standards the man must plan to devote his life to some other calling or business than the ministry.” This phrase has been dropped in subsequent editions.

    I have seen SDA ministers re-enter the ministry after a few years after a moral fall because this policy was changed. Are Search Committees told of the sordid history of ministers they are considering? I suspect just as in the Catholic Church, we cover-up adultery the way they cover-up pedophillia. I would like to know your opinion on what you and your readers feel should be the policy for the “rehabilitation” of fallen ministers.




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  43. There are many issues in our church today that I think need to be dealt with and I would welcome other web sites that deal with each of them.

    However, it is impossible to deal fairly with numerous issues on one single web site. This particular web site is endeavoring to handle that ONE SINGLE ISSUE– LSU. In all fairness to the founder I think we should stick to that ONE ISSUE.

    I admire Sean tremendously for bringing it to our attention–which I had absolutely no knowledge of prior to this.

    I also admire him for so patiently dealing with all of the time-consuming responses in such a kind, considerate manner. It must consume many hours of his time and I have often wondered when the poor man finds time to eat, sleep, spend with his family,etc.–to say nothing about time to be a doctor!

    Come on, folks–stick to THIS subject and when (and if!) that is solved we can go on to other things.

    If someone else has the time and energy to start a new web site on other issues NOW that will be fine but let’s give Sean a break!




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  44. I just noticed that GMF asked what I thought about the current editor of Adventist Today (a minor typo in the GMF post. “Adventist” is used in the singular, not in the plural in the title of the magazine, as in Adventist Today).

    Our current editor continues his distinguished record of dedication to advancing the best that the Adventist Church has to offer to those in need. He previously served as the editor of the Adventist Church journal, Ministry, and was a member of the General Conference Executive Committee. He is currently the senior pastor of a very active and community-service oriented Adventist Church located near the General Conference headquarters.

    He succeeded a member of the faculty of Southern Adventist University who served as our editor for two years (and just published a book with Pacific Press that has been endorsed by Clifford Goldstein entitled “Paper God: Stumbling Though Failure to a Deeper Faith”).

    He, in turn, succeeded another full-time Adventist clergyperson who served as the Adventist Today editor for ten years and continues to minister as the pastor to a very active Adventist church in the Washington Conference.

    In our sixteen year history, all but one of our editors have been ordained ministers of long standing in the Seventh-day Adventist Church. I am honored to currently serve as the Executive Publisher of a magazine with such a dedicated and forward-looking group of former and current editors who have and continue to foster the best in Adventism.

    A concluding footnote: I hope that EducateTruth continues to archive in a safe place all of the comments that have been posted on it since it began. This material will be an excellent source of primary data for historians and sociologists documenting fundamentalist populist sentiment in the Adventist Church in the first decade of the 21st century.




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  45. As I recall it, from what little I have seen and read in the press releases, the ‘issue’ at LSU seems to be centred, at least in SOME minds, around the practice of this offending staff member promulgating evolution as ‘truth’, or, at least, ‘the only logical explanation’. Being employed as he is, under contract, within a Seventh-day Adventist institution of higher learning, he must, however, ‘tow the party line’, at least in practice, if not in heart, and teach the creationist viewpoint as the institutional truth. Teaching evolution, after so declaring, however, would not be an offense, but, rather, furtherance of academic freedom, at least by comparison and contrast of the two.

    In actuality, do his personal leanings have any real place at all within the academic environment? Does he have any right at all to thus regale his ‘captive audiences’ with his own and preferred ideologies? And this is, in fact, what he has done, and continues to do, whilst opportunistically using his tenure as a shield. THIS, then, amounts to pedagogical dishonesty, does it not? Why can he not be disciplined on that basis and that basis solely, and thus produce the desired effect and improvements, at least until he is no longer under contract? Should he no longer wish to work under THIS arrangement, which, in fact, simply honors the contract he signed initially, he could THEN be relieved of duties. Perhaps it is not so simple, however. There are, apparently, some two or three levels of qualification within the institution, at least one of which seems to be a ‘locked-in’ position, and thus protected from at least some disciplinary actioning. There has been very little detail given, during the course of this conflict, so that it is indeed difficult to decide just what really happened.




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  46. “In the case of women’s ordination we have something that some people think of as a “policy statement” by the church and perhaps even a “policy statement” by Paul. Others think that the women’s ordination question is a “Bible doctrine”. But ALL agree that it has not been voted into any of the 28 FB’s. So there is a wide spectrum for “opinions to vary”. (Bub Ryan)

    The same can be said for sexual behavior including homosexuality. There is a wide spectrum for “opinions to vary” and therfore nobody should be dismissed or fired because of their views or teachings on the matter.. There is no officianl Adventist “fundamental belief” or doctrine on homosexuality.




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  47. Geanna Dane says:
    March 25, 2010

    The same can be said for sexual behavior including homosexuality. There is a wide spectrum for “opinions to vary” and therfore nobody should be dismissed or fired because of their views or teachings on the matter.. There is no officianl Adventist “fundamental belief” or doctrine on homosexuality.

    You’re mistaken Geanna. There is a very clear SDA Fundamental belief on marriage as being “between a man and a woman”.

    Fundamental Belief #23

    Marriage was divinely established in Eden and affirmed by Jesus to be a lifelong union between a man and a woman in loving companionship…

    Clearly, this was the original or ideal intention of God in the creation of men and women according to the biblical authors. It is a very clear aberration from this ideal, on multiple levels (physical, emotional and spiritual), for there to be sexual expression between the members of the same sex.

    This does not mean that homosexual tendencies are inherently sinful. They are not. The same thing is true of all human tendencies that do not tend toward God’s ideal vision for humanity. Tendencies that come naturally to us are not necessarily ideal or good for us. We must look to God to know what is and is not good. There are many things that may seem right to us initially, but which ultimately lead toward pain, misery, and even death (Proverbs 16:25).

    With God’s help harmful natural tendencies can be detected as such and overcome so that we can walk on the path of health, joy, and life…

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  48. Steve Billiter says:
    March 24, 2010

    It’s similar to a situation I was in when I was in the military. I once received conflicting orders where a General told me to do one thing while a Major, who was directly in charge of my unit at the time, told me to do something completely different. Which order takes precedence? I don’t know what you would have done, but I told the Major what the General had commanded me to do and explained that I could not obey his command contrary to that of the Commanding General. (Sean Pittman)

    Good point Sean, apples and oranges;just like the military is to the church.

    This is about order and government and who actually runs the SDA Church. Do the individual churches run themselves independent of any outside control from the government of the Church as a unified world-wide organization?

    This Church government issue is really about rank. Who ultimately controls various levels of Church government? Is there really no hierarchy of rank or power within the SDA Church organization regarding internal government and Church discipline?

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  49. Geanna Dane says:
    March 25, 2010

    The same can be said for sexual behavior including homosexuality. There is a wide spectrum for “opinions to vary” and therfore nobody should be dismissed or fired because of their views or teachings on the matter.. There is no officianl Adventist “fundamental belief” or doctrine on homosexuality.

    You’re mistaken Geanna. There is a very clear SDA Fundamental belief on marriage as being “between a man and a woman”.

    Fundamental Belief #23

    Marriage was divinely established in Eden and affirmed by Jesus to be a lifelong union between a man and a woman in loving companionship…

    Clearly, this was the original or ideal intention of God in the creation of men and women according to the biblical authors. It is a very clear aberration from this ideal, on multiple levels (physical, emotional and spiritual), for there to be sexual expression between the members of the same sex.

    This does not mean that homosexual tendencies are inherently sinful. They are not. Sin is the result of dwelling or acting on that which is known to be harmful to ourselves or to others. The same thing is true of all human tendencies that do not tend toward God’s ideal vision for humanity. Tendencies that come naturally to us are not necessarily ideal or good for us. We must look to God to know what is and is not good. There are many things that may seem right to us initially, but which ultimately lead toward pain, misery, and even death (Proverbs 16:25).

    With God’s help harmful natural tendencies can be detected as such and overcome so that we can walk on the path of health, joy, and abundant life…

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  50. “Marriage was divinely established in Eden and affirmed by Jesus to be a lifelong union between a man and a woman in loving companionship.” (Fundamental Belief #23)

    Yes, Adventists have a “fundamental belief” regarding MARRIAGE but no mention is made sex outside of such a relationship other than “Jesus taught that the person who divorces a spouse, except for fornication, and marries another, commits adultery.” You are wrong, dude. There is no more a “fundamental belief” on homosexuality than on woman ordintation. Likewise, there is no “fundamental belief” on premarital sex or any form of sexual behavior outside of marraige..

    If you are going to be picky about what is acceptable to teach or practice “on the church’s dime” then I think you shuold be consistent about what is or isn’t a “fundamental belief” or a “policy” of the church. Thats all I’m saying. If you are giong to require that our university teachers agree to uphold all fundamental beliefs but not church policies I think you’re opening a pandoras box. And I do not appreciate the subjugation of woman that so many of you endorse or the hate talk toward homosexuals.




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  51. I’m sorry but I see the effort to change Fundamental Belief #6 as nothing more than an attempt to codify behavior. It’s easy to dismiss something like woman’s ordination as irrelevant to this topic but you have got to be blind not to see the animosity leveled hear toward homosexuals. I predict that Educate Truth will proompt increasing efforts to enforce not just the Fundamental Beliefs on all Adventist employess to avoid the “not on my dime” senario but also all sorts of other church policies. That’s just my humbel opinion.




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  52. Geanna Dane says:
    March 25, 2010

    “Marriage was divinely established in Eden and affirmed by Jesus to be a lifelong union between a man and a woman in loving companionship.” (Fundamental Belief #23)

    Yes, Adventists have a “fundamental belief” regarding MARRIAGE but no mention is made sex outside of such a relationship other than “Jesus taught that the person who divorces a spouse, except for fornication, and marries another, commits adultery.” You are wrong, dude. There is no more a “fundamental belief” on homosexuality than on woman ordintation. Likewise, there is no “fundamental belief” on premarital sex or any form of sexual behavior outside of marraige..

    The SDA fundamental belief on marriage implicitly addresses the issue of homosexual relationships since marriage, and the sexuality associated with marriage, is defined as being between a man and a woman in a committed life-long loving relationship before God. It is implicit in this statement that sexual activity cannot be engaged outside of this relationship without God considering it harmful – a form of fornication. By engaging in the sexual relationship a person is, before God, declaring ones’ self permanently bound to the other in the marriage relationship. In this sense, there really is no recognized or sanctioned sexual activity outside of marriage. Sex with more than one partner is, implicitly, fornication. I really don’t think there is a need for FB#23 to be any more explicit than it already is in this regard.

    If you are going to be picky about what is acceptable to teach or practice “on the church’s dime” then I think you shuold be consistent about what is or isn’t a “fundamental belief” or a “policy” of the church. Thats all I’m saying. If you are giong to require that our university teachers agree to uphold all fundamental beliefs but not church policies I think you’re opening a pandoras box.

    There is an obvious and clear difference between what any organization holds to be “fundamental” as a basis of the organization and what the organization holds merely as suggested policy. We’re talking about completely different levels of organizational standards and bases for disciplinary action here.

    And I do not appreciate the subjugation of woman that so many of you endorse or the hate talk toward homosexuals.

    Women can and do have, and have always had, leadership roles within the Church – even in biblical times. After all, the SDA Church was itself largely established on the work and leadership of a woman – Mrs. White.

    One more thing. Is it “hateful” to suggest that the polygamous life-style is less than ideal? – hateful toward polygamists? If not, upon what basis is it “hateful” to suggest that God might not consider the homosexual relationship to be ideal for humanity?

    By the way, I have good friends who are homosexuals. This doesn’t mean that I think homosexuality is in line with what God considers to be ideal for humanity…

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  53. “Is it “hateful” to suggest that the polygamous life-style is less than ideal?”

    This is not the type of talk here I’m referring to. You know what people here have had to say about homosexuality which goes far beyond “less than ideal”.

    I disagree with your interpretation of FB #23. You are adding much to it that is’nt there just as you do for FB #6. We could take a critical look at FB #20, on the Sabbath. Attending or playing soccer games on the Sabbath, or watching it on TV, or even swimming is no more forbidden than taking a nature walk. I imagine you have no problem than ifa a teacher organizes a soccer game on the Sabbath or has a group of students over to watch a basketball playoff game on the Sabbath. (But you’ll figure out a way no doubt to make FB #6 say what you, Sean Pitman, believe..)




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  54. When I referred to the situation of some of us in the church re: being uncertain whether to attempt attending the worship services and worshipping with you, it was for precisely the reasons being brought out by some of the bloggers currently on this website. That is, they interpret the Bible as condemnatory of those who, though they are denied a divorce, either by their spouse or simply circumstance, and then go ahead and start a ‘marital’ relationship (marital in the sense that it is recognized by the state or government) with another spouse. I remain unconvinced of the interpretation as it is stated by them. In the somewhat capricious society in which the Saviour Himself lived, it was customary, apparently, to say, simply, “I divorce you”, and repeat it three times, which then made it official. It was also customary, during the early biblical times (that of Isaac and Rebecca, in particular, for this illustration) to go to the marital tent together, which then made it officially a marital relationship of some sort. It is customary in this age to live in what is called a ‘common-law marriage’. To do so is not condemned by the state, in fact, it is recognized by it. Question: are we to expect that those who are far less forthcoming than I have been here on this blog will now be expected to produce and flash a ‘marrriage certificate’ before entering the sanctuary? Oh, and by the way, thank-you to Geana Dane, for your more tolerant and understanding Christianity. It serves well in attracting those in need of Him to the Saviour, for the enlightenment they can get only THERE…




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  55. Geanna Dane says:
    March 25, 2010 “Is it “hateful” to suggest that the polygamous life-style is less than ideal?” – Sean Pitman

    This is not the type of talk here I’m referring to. You know what people here have had to say about homosexuality which goes far beyond “less than ideal”.

    But you’re talking to me here. Just because some might be “hateful” doesn’t mean that all of those who speak for the need to strive for the ideal situation, God’s clearly stated ideal, are being hateful…

    I disagree with your interpretation of FB #23. You are adding much to it that is’nt there just as you do for FB #6. We could take a critical look at FB #20, on the Sabbath. Attending or playing soccer games on the Sabbath, or watching it on TV, or even swimming is no more forbidden than taking a nature walk. I imagine you have no problem than ifa a teacher organizes a soccer game on the Sabbath or has a group of students over to watch a basketball playoff game on the Sabbath. (But you’ll figure out a way no doubt to make FB #6 say what you, Sean Pitman, believe..)

    And you like to do a lot of stretching and distortion of what is otherwise very obvious and clear. It’s like a friend of mine who tells me that competative sports are a religious experience for him that bring him closer to God on Sabbath. Maybe so, but for me that’s a real stretch…

    Yet, if you can reconsile involvement in competative sports on God’s Sabbath day, a day supposed to be set aside as “Holy” to think of and work specifically for the cause of heaven, not personal gain or entertainment, “in harmony with the teachings and practice of Jesus,” my hat is off to you… as it is to those who can interpret “six days of evenings and mornings” as really representing vast periods of time. You might as well live with Alice in Wonderland…

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  56. Glenn Stansal is mistaken about Jewish divorce. Moslem men only needed to say “I divorce you” 3 times in front of witnesses. Jewish divorce was only given by a judge in court and was for cause only. The problem was that some courts were liberal and some were conservative. Jesus sided with the most conservative and said fornication was the only cause for divorce. I think we should broaden that to mean “adulteration”. Insanity, violence, disertion and other things adulterate, in the eyes of observers, any marraige. After an appropriate time of separation to clarify the issues and intents, the church should grant a divorce, even if extramarital sex has not taken place. That period of time should be at least a year. Both parties should remain celibate during that time and respond to the inquiries of the court. Both should wait for a church divorce decree before they start acting as a single person. Until the church starts making the righteous judgements that Jesus expected, we will continue to have high divorce rates within the church and how to administrate “morally fallen” ministers will be problematic.




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  57. @Geanna Dane:

    Yes, Adventists have a “fundamental belief” regarding MARRIAGE but no mention is made sex outside of such a relationship other than “Jesus taught that the person who divorces a spouse, except for fornication, and marries another, commits adultery.” You are wrong, dude. There is no more a “fundamental belief” on homosexuality than on woman ordintation. Likewise, there is no “fundamental belief” on premarital sex or any form of sexual behavior outside of marraige..

    If you are going to be picky about what is acceptable to teach or practice “on the church’s dime” then I think you shuold be consistent about what is or isn’t a “fundamental belief” or a “policy” of the church. Thats all I’m saying. If you are giong to require that our university teachers agree to uphold all fundamental beliefs but not church policies I think you’re opening a pandoras box. And I do not appreciate the subjugation of woman that so many of you endorse or the hate talk toward homosexuals.

    As I am sure we all agree – we have no wild doctrines claiming “it is ok to make images to false gods and worship them” and nothing about “honoring parents” – but we DO have a doctrine about obeying the Ten Commandments – and that covers a number of issues you raised above as well as one about making images to false gods and worshipping them etc.

    Belief 19
    19. Law of God:
    The great principles of God’s law are embodied in the Ten Commandments and exemplified in the life of Christ. They express God’s love, will, and purposes concerning human conduct and relationships and are binding upon all people in every age. These precepts are the basis of God’s covenant with His people and the standard in God’s judgment. Through the agency of the Holy Spirit they point out sin and awaken a sense of need for a Saviour. Salvation is all of grace and not of works, but its fruitage is obedience to the Commandments. This obedience develops Christian character and results in a sense of well-being. It is an evidence of our love for the Lord and our concern for our fellow men. The obedience of faith demonstrates the power of Christ to transform lives, and therefore strengthens Christian witness. (Ex. 20:1-17; Ps. 40:7, 8; Matt. 22:36-40; Deut. 28:1-14; Matt. 5:17-20; Heb. 8:8-10; John 15:7-10; Eph. 2:8-10; 1 John 5:3; Rom. 8:3, 4; Ps. 19:7-14.)

    Belief 23 covers a number of items in your list

    23. Marriage and the Family:
    Marriage was divinely established in Eden and affirmed by Jesus to be a lifelong union between a man and a woman in loving companionship. For the Christian a marriage commitment is to God as well as to the spouse, and should be entered into only between partners who share a common faith. Mutual love, honor, respect, and responsibility are the fabric of this relationship, which is to reflect the love, sanctity, closeness, and permanence of the relationship between Christ and His church. Regarding divorce, Jesus taught that the person who divorces a spouse, except for fornication, and marries another, commits adultery.

    Thus all sexual relationships outside of marriage are label either adultery or fornication and marriage is defined to be a union between a man and a woman.

    Belief number 1 covers to some extent the point of upholding things like the Lev 18 commands against homosexual relationships by arguing that both NT and OT laws still applicable today.

    1. Holy Scriptures:
    The Holy Scriptures, Old and New Testaments, are the written Word of God, given by divine inspiration through holy men of God who spoke and wrote as they were moved by the Holy Spirit. In this Word, God has committed to man the knowledge necessary for salvation. The Holy Scriptures are the infallible revelation of His will. They are the standard of character, the test of experience, the authoritative revealer of doctrines, and the trustworthy record of God’s acts in history. (2 Peter 1:20, 21; 2 Tim. 3:16, 17; Ps. 119:105; Prov. 30:5, 6; Isa. 8:20; John 17:17; 1 Thess. 2:13; Heb. 4:12.)

    However to your point – a more direct FB statement on that current moral issue would be very helpful.

    As for the 28FB – I doubt anyone takes seriously the idea that either the Bible or the 28FB are “preaching darwinism” or “evolutionism” or anything of the kind.

    in Christ,

    Bob




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  58. “Until the church starts making the righteous judgements that Jesus expected, we will continue to have high divorce rates within the church and how to administrate “morally fallen” ministers will be problematic.” (Elizabeth Iskander MD)

    That’s one of the points I’m trying to make (thankyou!). We can do so much MORE to regulate the behavior of church members and employees! Bob gets it too! And yet Dr. Pitman has taken the position that the Fundamentals are clear enough (except for #6) for common sense judgment and we cann just focus instead on the single most pressing concern for the church’s membership- the dangerous employees on the church’s dime who do’nt necesarily subscribe to every single word in Genesis.




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  59. Geanna Dane says:
    March 26, 2010
    That’s one of the points I’m trying to make (thankyou!). We can do so much MORE to regulate the behavior of church members and employees! Bob gets it too! And yet Dr. Pitman has taken the position that the Fundamentals are clear enough (except for #6) for common sense judgment and we cann just focus instead on the single most pressing concern for the church’s membership- the dangerous employees on the church’s dime who do’nt necesarily subscribe to every single word in Genesis.

    When a leader or group of paid representatives in any organization, to include the SDA Church, go about directly countering and undermining a very clearly stated fundamental ideal of the organization, that organization really has no choice but to remove such individuals from their positions as paid representatives. The inability to deal with such subversive behavior does not an organization make, but will eventually lead to chaos and collapse.

    You are arguing for a completely “hands-off” approach to Church government. Such an approach never works. While there is a need for the freedom to be able to join or leave the Church organization without fear of civil reprisals or recriminations, there is also a need for clear organizational boundaries and internal Church discipline and government.

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  60. “While there is a need for the freedom to be able to join or leave the Church organization without fear of civil reprisals or recriminations, there is also a need for clear organizational boundaries and internal Church discipline and government.” (Shawn Pittman)

    Agreed. Let’s rewrite all the Fundamental Beliefs to make things more clear and explicit for the sake of discipline and goverment. That way we can deal with all issues of behavior including the ones that bear on our distinctive message (like health and Sabbath observence) and church governance (like woman’s ordination) and not just theories about origins and change..




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  61. Thank-you, Elizabeth Iskander, for your correction of my mistaken information, regarding the practice of thrice saying, ‘I Divorce You’, as a means of making divorce official and, apparently, legal. Yes, I remember, now, too, reading that it was a Muslim custom–perhaps still is, at least among fundamentalists, I don’t know for sure… My point, however, remains the same. Over the millenia since Creation and the inception of sin, marriage has undergone an evolution of its own. That is, the CEREMONIES attached thereto have undergone evolutionary changes, and, don’t get me wrong here, I understand WHY these same changes needed to occur in each age and according to its specific needs and challenges.

    When it comes to church DISCIPLINE (organizationally, ONLY), I can fully understand the need there, too, for guidelines, be they in the form of fundamental beliefs, handbook, elder wisdom, or other, in order to safeguard not only the image of the denomination and what it professes, but also, and more importantly, to present the image of Christ the Saviour to the world in a consistent and representative manmner. The tragedy is, though, that individual members, sans Divine sanction necessarily (as well as extremely rarely!) take into their own sin-filled hands what even God Himself declines to hold. The Holy Word itself says, “God judges no one; He has given all judgment to the Son.” How dare we, as individual members, take on what God has designated as Jesus’ work then?! The ONLY safe place, then, for judgment of ANY kind to take place, would be WITHIN THE CONFINES of a Holy-Spirit-guided committee of officials so-designated, and qualified to render only an earthly judgment, wouldn’t you agree?

    I sigh and cry for the abominations done among our people, as well as for my own terrible sins of the past, along with those into which I slip in the present. I also lament, greatly, the whole struggle between two extremes: the pharisaical and ultra-conservative right-wingers on the one end of the spectrum, and the ultra-liberal, laissez-faire, left-wingers at the other. I pray and pray that the Holy Spirit will indeed find entrance into such minds and, with time allowed for the necessary changes, convert them more to the admonition, “moderation in all things’, and, “judge not, that YE be not judged”.

    As the beloved Saviour Himself said once, when confronted with his disciples who were questioning why he did not wreak retribution upon his detractors and critics, “Let them alone; this is the only happiness they will ever know”, or words to that effect. I do not LOOK for a shaking time. Oh, I believe it WILL come, alright, but I am not looking forward to it, as, no doubt, are few others. When it does come, and we are confronted with the awful reality of who we have then lost from among us, and terrible agonies of wishing we had done or said this or that in order to produce ANYTHING but this outcome, we will perhaps then more clearly understand what the ‘REMNANT’ really means. Personally, I feel that with only 144,000 left, at least at the VERY END, that will, by then, with current and projected increases in world population, amount to nothing less than an INFINITESIMAL fraction or percent of the world’s population at that most terrible time in history…

    I remember, years ago, in a workshop I took as an educator, learning a very important fact of life (and THIS from non-Christian educators!): Love is the greatest behaviour modifier…




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  62. Question: (and one which I hope will elicit an answer or answers from any and all of you here) Do you regard CIVIL marriage, as in that which is conducted by a justice of the peace, for example, as inherently (or in any other way, for that matter) DIFFERENT from a ‘church’ marriage. Granted, I realize that the civil papers are signed at the church also, so don’t bother with THAT comparison. Obviously, this is not to what I refer. No, the REAL question I am asking here is whether the one is more acceptable in the eyes of God, for instance, than the other?




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  63. Just a note to everyone, by way of explanation: please don’t interpret my apparent absence from this site, after today, as any sign that I have left permanently. I use the computer at my local library and, therefore, what with keeping Sabbath, and other weekend activities, plus the library being closed on Sunday, I will not be here again until probably Monday, at the earliest. My apologies…I look forward to getting back to it, however, and wish every one of you God’s richest blessings and safest keeping, and every possible blessing from your Sabbath worship services. I truly do miss those, after all…




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  64. Glenn Stansal says:
    March 26, 2010 Question: (and one which I hope will elicit an answer or answers from any and all of you here) Do you regard CIVIL marriage, as in that which is conducted by a justice of the peace, for example, as inherently (or in any other way, for that matter) DIFFERENT from a ‘church’ marriage. Granted, I realize that the civil papers are signed at the church also, so don’t bother with THAT comparison. Obviously, this is not to what I refer. No, the REAL question I am asking here is whether the one is more acceptable in the eyes of God, for instance, than the other?

    Civil governments can define marriage in many different ways which may or may not be ideal. What really counts from a morally ideal perspective, however, is how God defines a true marriage… regardless of if the State recognizes that marriage or not…

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  65. The Holy Word itself says, “God judges no one; He has given all judgment to the Son.” (Glenn Stansal)

    The Bible needs to be properly understood before we take statements like this and abuse them.

    There are TWO judgments spoken of in the Bible. One is what Adventists often refer to as the “investigative judgment,” and the other is what most everyone thinks of as “hell” or “damnation.” It is this latter judgment that is given to the Son of God, for He has earned the right to punish sinners, having lived a perfect life and suffered on the behalf of sinners–and having accepted the person of mankind Himself. As one of us, and One who has shown Himself to be decidedly on our side, not wishing any should perish, He has shown Himself worthy to be a fair and merciful executor of righteousness in fulfilling the law which says “the wages of sin is death.”

    In the other judgment, the investigative judgment, Christ is not the judge, but the sinners’ advocate and defender. The Father is the judge. It would make no sense for Jesus to be both lawyer and judge, and for the Father to be uninvolved. If Jesus were the judge, He would not need to play lawyer, as if to convince Himself.

    Erik




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  66. “What really counts from a morally ideal perspective, however, is how God defines a true marriage… regardless of if the State recognizes that marriage or not…” (Seaan Pitman)

    Wow, you are more progressive than I thought! My friends and I have often discussed whether we could have sex without a “legal” wedding if, say, our parents were highly opposed (this happens too often) and God knew in our hearts that our “marriage” was binding and legitimate.. There are other complications too that can happen. I once had an elderly aunt and uncle who did not get married legally because of the marraige tax penalty but they beleived they were married in God’s eyes. I wonder whether the church would require proof of marriage before hiring or if the marraige happened after hiring. After all there are spousal benefits to consider (like insureance).




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  67. Geanna Dane says:
    March 26, 2010

    “What really counts from a morally ideal perspective, however, is how God defines a true marriage… regardless of if the State recognizes that marriage or not…” (Sean Pitman)

    Wow, you are more progressive than I thought!

    Thanks, I’ll take that as a compliment – though I usually don’t do that when it comes to the word “progressive” ; )

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  68. @Geanna Dane:

    Dr. Pitman has taken the position that the Fundamentals are clear enough (except for #6) for common sense judgment and we cann just focus instead on the single most pressing concern for the church’s membership- the dangerous employees on the church’s dime who do’nt necesarily subscribe to every single word in Genesis.

    Ellen White identifies the problem as being “the worst kind of infidelity” when addressing the error of theistic evolutionism. Geanna has downsized that summation of the problem to “does not necessarily subscribe to every single word in Genesis”.

    Facinating!

    in Christ,

    Bob




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  69. Thank-you, to each one of you, for taking the time to write concerning what I have thus far posted, albeit for the all-too-few responses I have received here in reply to my own particular concern, I am feeling somewhat disappointed–what I also recognize, however, that, not knowing all the relevant details of my case, you, of course, cannot comment with any more particularity than you have. I shall trouble you no further with this matter. It has been interesting, although not suprising, to find that no more progress than is here indicated has been made on this issue. For myself, knowing all the details of the situation, I consider our ‘marriage’ to be recognized by God. He has done far too many miracles for us to have cast us out over what I acknowledge did, indeed, begin and continue for a season less than favourably, and perhaps even less than correctly. Having gone on with this in true togetherness all these years, and after much prayerful consideration, and having taken our own vows before the Almighty, and, having sought his forgiveness the same as that exhibited by King David, after his errors with Bathsheba, and believing that the Seer of all things, and the Reader of all hearts knows our inmost commitment, not only to each other, but to Him, we stand forgiven for past errors and are accepted by Him, as ‘one’ in the marital sense, especially since there is absolutely nothing further we can do to change it without sinning further; it is THIS, after all, which is not only far more requisite to salvation than the acceptance or even the approbation of any earthly organization, fallible as they can be, but the final arbiter of standing with the Saviour. I am sure that, could they know all the details of this story, most would agree with our stand.

    Oh, and do not worry, we will never be so bold as to attempt to put ourselves into any position which would ‘waste the church’s dime’. Even holding office within an SDA congregation would be, not only for us, but, apparently for most, at least inappropriate, and, even, perhaps, an abomination. Also, we would certainly not ever again seek employment within the organization, nor have we ever held any since our ‘marriage’ began. I can also assure each and every one of you that there are no hard feelings in us whasoever, for I do respect the stand you feel justified in taking. In the majority of the cases on this issue, you would be absolutely right, too.

    May God continue to bless you and work through you, as He always has with His Chosen People all through the ages, imperfect though they have always been. Our love and prayers will always be with you, especially now, in these ‘final days of history’ when everything is being tested. We are with you at heart, especially each and every Sabbath…




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  70. It is unclear to me how this subject on Adventist professors supporting evolution’s doctrine on origins instead of the Bible doctrine on origins – is now diverted over to a personnal issue about Glenn’s marital status.

    The OP for this blog thread deals with two illustrations — “This article wishes to examine carefully the case of Christ and Judas, and to compare it with another biblical example of patience with offenders-the story of Eli and his sons”.

    But there also I see no opportunity to go off into aspects of Glenn and his wife and how their marriage agreement came into being.

    In any case – it appears that we are done with that topic and can return to the thread’s main topic – which is all fine with me.

    in Christ,

    Bob




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  71. In answer to the remarks of Bob Ryan (March 29, 2010) re: to the effect that he doesn’t get what Glenn’s marital situation has to do with the problem of Adventist professors supporting evolutionistic doctrines; you seem to have either forgotten or simply bypassed the title of this blogsite, Bob, to wit: ‘Dealing with Church Offenders’–therefore,it would seem appropriate to bring up any and ALL pertinent ‘offenses’, as they seem to be of at least equal concern to the church membership–at least to the legally-minded out there. It is just that the one grabbing the headlines currently is the situation (regarded by the locals as a conundrum, apparently) about the professor promoting evolution as the truth to his students. As I pointed out earlier in a post at that time, this appears to be merely a case of pedagogical dishonesty; that is, having signed a contract to teach within the legal and doctrinal parameters set out by the employer (in this case, the SDA church’s LSU campus and faculty) he is remiss to be promoting ANYTHING as the truth OTHER than the church’s stated doctrine of Divine fiat creationism. End of problem!–at least with the information that has thus far been given us, ‘the great unwashed’of the common membership…put him on the hotseat for THIS offense ONLY. If he chooses to cease and desist from using the classroom/lecture hall venue to forcibly indoctrinate his students with non-contractual ‘truth’, as he sees it,(to say nothing of abuse of a captive audience) and the contract comes to an end, as I already said, END OF PROBLEM! The teaching of the tenets of evolution would not in itself be any offense within the confines of any institution of higher learning, so, although some well-meaning conservatives among the membership may feel otherwise, THAT is neither the issue nor the offense.

    Regarding definitions of marriage, as pointed out by Sean Pitman, MD, it seems to be a bit subversive of our belief in ‘rendering unto Ceasar what is Caesar’s’ to somewhat capriciously take issue with the state’s definition of marriage and, when it suits the denominational purpose, (such as in my own case in appealing to the church for acceptance) sidestep the real issue with one’s own definition or, otherwise, an interpretation of that of the church’s fundamental beliefs.

    To claim, for example, that the only basis TODAY for divorce is fornication, sets us up for failure as a church membership. It could invite, for example, a self-serving approach in which parties planning on getting a divorce approved by the church, could enter into a contractual act of fornication/adultery in order the better to circumvent the church on this issue. And how would the church ever be able to prove that such had NOT indeed occurred?!

    Then there is the issue of the Saviour’s broadened definition of adultery: ‘I tell you that even if a man looks upon a woman, to lust after her, he has commited adultery with her already in his heart.’ How many of you can deny that you ever done THIS? Should YOUR marriage be regarded as null and void then? How many of you married someone you lusted after??? How many of you ‘got away with’ having pre-marital sex with your partner??? How many of you have lingered just a little too long near or in front of the pornography rack at the local convenience store? How many of you are living the curse of a lifeless marriage of convenience, with no real love in it at all? I don’t expect answers from anyone, just a heartsearching, BEFORE you rise up in judgment of me for what you regard as adultery and/or fornication!

    And, as I so appropriately invited earlier, ‘Let him that is WITHOUT sin, cast the FIRST stone at ME!’ You do not know, ANY of you, the circumstances of anyone’s marriage, or love relationship with their chosen one, or of their hearts, for that matter, any more than you can dare to pontificate, with any accuracy at all, on another’s relationship with his/her Saviour!

    Another issue no one has had the courage to address, and which I raised, was this: in view of all the questioning and dubious ‘marriage’ relationships out there, will you hereafter consider asking for show of a marriage certificate BEFORE letting anyone in to worship with you, let alone whether they should be considered worthy to hold a job or church office, ‘on the church’s dime’–MY dime, too, actually, for I give offerings still, and I STILL pay tithe.

    And why is it that not ONE of you has appealed to ME and my WIFE to P-L-E-A-S-E continue to attend church and worship with you?




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  72. @glenn Stansal:

    In answer to the remarks of Bob Ryan (March 29, 2010) re: to the effect that he doesn’t get what Glenn’s marital situation has to do with the problem of Adventist professors supporting evolutionistic doctrines; you seem to have either forgotten or simply bypassed the title of this blogsite, Bob, to wit: ‘Dealing with Church Offenders’–therefore,it would seem appropriate to bring up any and ALL pertinent ‘offenses’,

    That is a pretty broad category.

    My own preference is to stick with the subject of evolution vs creation – where evolution is in some cases being promoted by an Adventist university. Hopefully our teaching institutions can find a way to solve that problem.

    As for “who get’s to worship” in church, or what church you and your wife may choose to attend – I leave that up to your free will to choose to make the choices that God leads you to make.

    And now another comment regarding the evolution vs creation subject.

    In a recent Adventist World article we find the statement that Seventh-day Adventists and Muslims are in agreement on the fact that the Bible says that God created all life on earth – instead of evolution doing that job for him.

    http://adventistworld.org/article.php?id=708

    in Christ,

    Bob




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  73. PLEASE! Can’t we keep this web site on the subject of LSU and the progress–or lack thereof–that is being made on THIS topic. Forgive me if I’m wrong, but I get the impression that some folks just like to argue about anything and everything BUT carefully and prayerfully address the current area of concern for which this site was set up.

    I agree that there are other areas in our church that need to be dealt with–after all, God does not call us Laeodociea for no reason at all–and, in love, He points out our many sins of which we need to repent and change but it’s impossible to deal with everything at once! PLEASE let’s keep focused on the evolution in our schools issue.

    (By the way, does anyone know where thing stand at present on THIS issue???? I think it has sort of been “lost in the shuffle”-correct me if I’m wrong–but I haven’t seen much of any real information on IT here lately.)




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  74. As I have already stated on at least two blogs, the issue at LSU is not a major one, at least not in terms of it being unsolveable…it APPEARS, at least, from the information let out so far, if we can trust that we have been given both acccurate and FULL information pertinent to it, that it is merely a breach of contract. That is, the man was hired to teach at LSU, a parochial institution of higher learning, in which setting he is expected and contracted to teach the ‘party line’, in THIS case, creationism by Divine fiat. That he also teaches at least SOME of the tenets of evolution is neither relevant nor an offense. It would, in fact, be absolutely necessary to the teaching of such things, for instance, as biology, for a complete understanding of the nomenclature of things, among other issues. He would also NEED to teach evolutionary theory, at least in an INTRODUCTORY manner in order to familiarize the students with the opposing viewpoint. Wherein he is offending is in using the classroom as a closed-door environment, in an opportunistic manner, and contrary to the contract he signed, by trying to indoctrinate the students with the false idea that evolutionary explanations of In so doing, he is working at cross-purposes to the institution which pays him to doing anything but this! Call him before the institution’s disciplinary committee and have him decide how he will choose: teach according to contract, or having that same contract held in breach, and facing the necessary disciplinary action, and possible dismissal.

    The REAL issue then, is whether or not THIS is the case as it really stands. Are we being deprived of information on this in order to generate some sort of upset where there ils really no need for one? I suspect that maybe, just maybe, the conservatives among us are attempting to use this case somehow, to further their own ultra-conservative agenda. Such a false ‘tempest’ does not represent them well. They would be better served in making sure that moderation is the modus operandi of this organization, in all things, as biblically admonished.

    Now, will at least SOME of you have at least a LITTLE courage, and reflect and comment upon the things I have asked you to address concerning the church’s definition of a legal marriage? –ESPECIALLY my comments and questions of yesterday!

    Thank-you




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  75. @glenn Stansal:

    As I have already stated on at least two blogs, the issue at LSU is not a major one, at least not in terms of it being unsolveable…it APPEARS, at least, from the information let out so far, if we can trust that we have been given both acccurate and FULL information pertinent to it, that it is merely a breach of contract. That is, the man was hired to teach at LSU, a parochial institution of higher learning, in which setting he is expected and contracted to teach the ‘party line’, in THIS case, creationism by Divine fiat. That he also teaches at least SOME of the tenets of evolution is neither relevant nor an offense. It would, in fact, be absolutely necessary to the teaching of such things, for instance, as biology, for a complete understanding of the nomenclature of things, among other issues. He would also NEED to teach evolutionary theory, at least in an INTRODUCTORY manner in order to familiarize the students with the opposing viewpoint. Wherein he is offending is in using the classroom as a closed-door environment, in an opportunistic manner, and contrary to the contract he signed, by trying to indoctrinate the students with the false idea that evolutionary explanations of In so doing, he is working at cross-purposes to the institution which pays him to doing anything but this! Call him before the institution’s disciplinary committee and have him decide how he will choose: teach according to contract, or having that same contract held in breach, and facing the necessary disciplinary action, and possible dismissal.

    The REAL issue then, is whether or not THIS is the case as it really stands.

    Indeed – IF the scenario you paint above were actually the extent of the problem – it would be as you say “Not be a major problem”. One rogue professor hoodwinking adminstrators and parents of students while he crams evolutionism-as-fact down the throats of the students, would be a pretty simple problem to solve.

    But the fact that the problem has been going on for decades – and that it is a problem with the “Biology department” not “a just a single outspoken biology professor”, and that the religion department (in the person of Fritz Guy) was also bought into that project, and the fact that some of those professors may even have been hired to DO the very thing they are doing, and the fact that even at the LSU board level you may well find some members sympathetic to evolutionism… AND the fact that at the GC level in Silver Spring, MD you may in fact find people in favor of evolutionism… and the fact that the 2002-2204 Faith and Science conferences did not resolve the problem between the church and it’s own University science professors… well it is then not the “simple problem” that it would have been had it been limited to the parameters you specify in your post.

    When you look at the courses and the degree to which outside evolutionists were invited to participate in hammering the all-evolutionism-all-the-time mantra for biology students… what you see is well-documented promotion of evolutionism and clear signs that the problem even at the union level has very deep roots.

    I agree that a solution is clearly visible – but it will cost the church and the school to take action and implement it.

    in Christ,

    Bob




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  76. Thank-you, Bob Ryan, for this update. Finally! the full facts! Sounds like a very real problem alright, if , as you have stated, this is what is really going on. Do you have any further info. on where it stands currently.

    Now I can see the ‘Eli’s Sons’ analogy…I suppose in reference to the evolutionary theory being ‘sneaked’ in like ‘strange fire’ …interesting.

    Looking forward to more on this if you find out anything further.

    Meantime, please also respond to the other issues raised by me, if you would, please. would love to know your stand on what I have raised. Not trying to pry into your own personal life here, though…would you mind dealing with that now, too?

    Thank you, in advance…

    glenn




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  77. Glenn,

    I do not claim to know the particulars of your relationship – but I do claim that Christ had the right model in telling us that the only basis for divorce is “real” adultery. (Obviously if we made “thought crimes” the basis for divorce — the divorce rate in the church would be many times higher than the world. Thankfully that is not what Christ said).

    One of my close relatives got married at the courthouse – by a justice of the peace. A simple ceremony – and I don’t recall seeing a pastor there. I think such a public documented statement of commitment shows the bare minimum interest and commitment that the parties must have to be serious about their relationship. We sign legally binding documents to buy a car or a house or simply to rent an appartment. We should be willing to sign some statement of commitment when entering into a marriage.

    Having said that – I have yet to ever ask anyone who comes to my church “what is the publically documented level of commitment between you and your spouse?”. So I am not sure why this is such a focus at this point.

    Anyway – you asked for my two cents on that – and I have complied. 😉

    in Christ,

    Bob




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  78. Interesting discussion I was kinda on the lines with the Author about Eli and couldnt help but think of this in the context of my local church. Sometimes things get by the way side. An example of this is a couple were gropping and caring on (a vast understatement) at a public park (on Sabbath just for context)… And you might say big deal but one was a recent divorcee (the woman) the Man was MARRIED!! (you read that right) The church decided to censure them and to this day I believe something is still up with them and by the way these are long time members and the man’s wife is dying of cancer!

    The Elders and Board decided to not disfellowship them as it would be mean and turn them away! if we are so flippant with sin its no wonder evolution can be taught so openly!

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  79. I stand somewhat ashamed of myself here, at least for YOUR comment to me, Bob, in reply to my query as to whether you thought I was a ‘religious offender’…I actually expected to get a simple ‘yes’, (that you see me as a ‘religious offender’)and be left to think that you were being hypocritical at best.However, the kindly and simply- informative tone of your answer was much appreciated, believe me. Forgive me, please, for expecting the worst, but the nature of past experiences has trained me at least somewhat.

    As I mentioned earlier, my partner and I have had no success in getting her ex to give her a divorce these past several years. This despite the fact that, when she left him due to great abuse, and he picked up with someone else within days, and also that he initiated a divorce prodeeding, several days travel away from where we live, he remains obstinate. He paid for HALF the divorce but, in the end, left it unpaid and incomplete, WITHOUT informing her, and then went on with his life. It was, by that time, according to HIS lawyer, too late for HER to pay the other half, by the time she found out what he had done and not done.

    I have had my own divorce for several years already, on biblical grounds, if that is any assurance to anyone. We are too poor to be able to seek legal help to acquire hers. We took our OWN vows, before God, long ago, therefore, and committed to each other, just as any couple would in ANY marriage ceremony, and for life. The only ‘witnesses’ we have, however, are ‘the heavenly family’. And THOSE witnesses carry much more weight with both of US than any earthly ones!

    We have known and adored each other since we first caught sight of each other, back in high school, in the mid-1960’s. We were just ‘handicapped’ back then, BOTH of us, being too shy to pursue the possibility of what might have been–hah!…Now, years later, here we are, together at last, for the rest of our lives.

    It is probably too much to hope that the church might acquiesce in this case, and recognize the government’s recognition of our ‘common law marriage’, but it would be wonderful, indeed, if they might consider such as us on a case-by-case basis. Probably not…realistically, I’m thinking.

    No, I don’t expect that the church ever would ask for verification of marriage or commitment at the door of the church before admittance were granted. I was being facetious, simply to generate a response different from the usual either condemnatory or blase ones that I usually receive on this issue. I am one of the rare ones, however, whom you will find HONEST enough to admit my real status, and continue to strive for some consideration.

    The second comment here, made by ‘David’, then, you can now see has absolutely NO relevance to OUR case whatsoever. I don’t understand why it was THROWN IN at this point, but it is, after all, a free discussion forum, isn’t it?!

    I would appreciate it forever if any and all of you would keep us in your prayers in the days and years to come. We trust, under the circumstances, as you now can readily see why, that the Good Lord has indeed forgiven us and granted us recognition for His part, anyway, for our obviouis sincerety and commitment in spite of the odds against us.




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  80. Just so there will be no missunderstanding in any way, I wish to add, here, that I will not be visiting this website until possibly next Tuesday, due to the library being shut down for the holiday weekend. Have a happy and blessed Sabbath everyone, and may God richly bless and safely keep each nd all of you.

    Sincerely,

    glenn




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  81. Glenn – I will indeed remember your situation in prayer. God sees the end from the beginning. What is impossible with man – is possible with God.

    in Christ,

    Bob




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  82. Most heartwarming, Bob, to have someone say to me what you just did! Thank-you, from the DEPTHS of both our hearts, for your inclusion of us on your prayer list! I will never forget it. And may God bless all of YOU on this website as you struggle to deal with these difficult and perplexing issues.

    I have always taken encouragement from a statement given in the Sabbath School lesson quarterly of many, many years ago, back before my first wife and our seventeen-month-old son were run down by an impaired driver and killed, (without a doubt, one of the WORST things I EVER faced!), WHATEVER perplexes US, is of note and concern to God…for it was, after all, GOD who so loved the world that HE gave His only begotten Son, that WHOSEVER believeth on Him, Should not perish but have everlasting life–and THAT, I have always understood, and despite WHATEVER I now regret having done, includes ME…praise Him forever. God bless you, Bob, ALWAYS…




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