This letter was originally intended to be private, but went viral after David Asscherick emailed his letter to a few people for review. The letter voices his concern for La Sierra University regarding their promotion, as the true story of origins, the Darwinian theory of the evolution on life on this planet over hundreds of millions of years.
April 30, 2009
Pastors Jan Paulsen, Don C. Schneider, Ricardo Graham
General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists
12501 Old Columbia Pike
Silver Spring, MD 20904
Dear Pastors Paulsen, Schneider, and Graham,
Greetings in the name of Jesus Christ. Like each of you, I am an ordained pastor of the worldwide Seventh-day Adventist Church. I write these words with my heart on full display–from pastor to pastor. This letter concerns the teaching of evolution at La Sierra University. While I am not a formally trained scientist, I am, however, familiar with many of the apologetic, philosophical, and theological issues surrounding the theories of naturalistic evolution. I have made this an area of special study in my life and ministry. So, I feel both comfortable and qualified to speak to the issue, especially in its ecclesiastical ramifications.
It is a matter of incontestable fact that naturalistic evolution is being taught at La Sierra University. This is not in and of itself a bad thing. Evolution should be taught at our denominational universities. But it should be taught as a competing and inimical worldview to the biblical worldview. We need our young people to know what it is they are up against, yes, but when naturalistic evolution is taught as fact or as the preferred and normative worldview, then we can be sure that the enemy has breached our lines.
There is no point in equivocating. I have seen the class materials with my own eyes. Frankly, I think every Seventh-day Adventist deserves to see them. Our people need to know what is happening. Many of them have heard various rumblings, but being the conscientious, confiding, and hopeful people they are, they have generally assumed the very best. We are making capital of their trust.
In 2003 I preached a two-week evangelistic meeting on the Loma Linda University campus. The event was student-led and university-sponsored. Many students from La Sierra University attended those meetings, and I personally visited with many of them. They told me what was being taught in some of their science classes. I shall never forget the looks and questions of unadorned incredulity that I witnessed among those students. I have talked to many more since. “What should I do?”, “Should I say something?”, “Should I just attend a non-SDA school?”, “Do our leaders know about this?”, “How come these people are allowed to teach at a Seventh-day Adventist University?” These young people, and many others like them, are justifiably nonplussed. Frankly, I share their confusion!
What deeply concerns me is that the faith of many students, who look up to their Adventist professors as more than just academic instructors, but also as spiritual leaders, is being undermined. Jesus’ words in Luke 17:1, 2 – about causing one of these little ones to stumble – carry inestimable weight, and they should be reason enough to propel us to responsible action. Brethren, what are we doing and allowing? Will not God hold us accountable in our respective spheres for what happens on our watch?
I am aware, of course, that the church’s governmental structure gives institutions like La Sierra University a necessary degree of administrative freedom. This is a good and wise arrangement. But this freedom, surely, is not synonymous with virtually unaccountable autonomy. La Sierra University is, after all, a denominational university. If the board has not yet adequately addressed this matter, then doesn’t that evince a kind of complicity, if not outright mismanagement and denominational disloyalty? I genuinely ask, at what point is La Sierra University’s board accountable and answerable to you men and the levels of church government that you represent? When, if ever, can someone step in and save our children and the institutions they attend?
Governing and administrative structures are not the church. The people are the church. The governing and administrative structures are the scaffolding of the church. Scaffolds are for building and strengthening a thing; they are not the thing itself. But what if some are using the scaffolding to tear down the very church they were commissioned and created to build up? What then? I genuinely want to know. Where does the buck stop?
Perhaps you feel that your hands are tied by policy and protocol. But surely they cannot be tied completely. What should I, as a church pastor, do if someone is teaching doctrine that undermines the church’s biblical positions in one of my Sabbath School classes? Wouldn’t it be expected of me, the pastor–shepherd–of the flock, to address it? To ask this question is to answer it. Of course, I would work though the Sabbath School council and the church board, but you can be sure that I would deal with the problem. My conference president, to say nothing of my Lord, would surely hold me in contempt if I told him lamely that my hands were tied, no?
Furthermore, the greater the errancy, the greater the urgency. As even a cursory analysis plainly reveals, few doctrines are at greater philosophical odds with Seventh-day Adventism than naturalistic evolution, the arguments of well-meaning theistic evolutionists notwithstanding. Our Magna Carta is Revelation 14:6-12. If naturalistic evolution is true, Creation is cremated, the Sabbath is sabotaged, and our very name is neutered. What becomes of Scripture? And of our unique eschatology? We are not talking about bongo drums, wedding bands, and Christmas trees here.
If our hands are tied, then surely we must let an unfaltering love for God, for His Word, and for His young people dash these fetters into so many deserved pieces! We must do something. You must do something.
Who knows but that you have come to your positions for such a time as this. My ministry places me in somewhat of a unique situation in the world church. In partnership with the Central California Conference, I run ARISE, a mission training school that has seen hundreds of young people over the last seven years. I also have the privilege of preaching regularly on 3ABN and the Hope Channel. Too, I travel all over the world holding evangelistic meetings and preaching at camp meetings, youth conferences, weeks of prayer, etc. I genuinely feel that I have my finger on the pulse of the average lay person in the Seventh-day Adventist church the world over. Especially the young people ages 15 to 30. I can say with unblinking confidence that God is working in His church! Praise Him!
I just arrived home from the Youth Mission Congress in Frankfurt, Germany. Over 1600 young people attended the meetings. Night after night I preached the Adventist message–I preached Christ! The theme chosen for the congress was Follow the Bible, and what an indescribable joy it was to see, at the end of my last sermon, hundreds and hundreds of young people streaming forward. All of them had personal decision cards in their hands. A beautiful, five-foot-tall wooden Bible had been constructed for just this moment. On the side of the Bible was a slot designed to receive the decision cards the young people clutched in their surrendered hands. One by one, each placed his or her card in the Bible. The symbolism was rich and thrillingly profound. It was impossible to not be moved at a fundamental level as each eager young person placed their decision, and thus their life in that wooden Bible. My translator openly wept at the sight. “We will follow the Bible,” they were each saying. All over the world, God’s people–and in particular, it seems, His young people–are saying We will follow the Word–the Living Word, Jesus, and the Written Word, the Bible.
God has entrusted us with these young people. They are His. He has given us His wise counsel to raise up institutions of learning to educate, equip, and empower them. To build them up.
But what do we do when one of our institutions turns from this inestimably important responsibility, a responsibility that is fraught with eternal significance and involves the souls of those Jesus died to save? This is what I want to know.
And so do many, many others.
I thank each of you for your time, and, in advance, for your thoughtful responses.
23 thoughts on “David Asscherick letter to the General Conference”
Thank you sincerely David for your care & concern for these precious souls whom Jesus laid down His life for… You have voiced something that needs to be addressed immediately!!! Daniel’s 3 friends hands were tied as they stood in the the fiery furnace, but as they stood firmly for Jesus what bound their
hands was burnt away…
May the Holy Spirit be poured out on all concern that the truth of God as it is in Jesus be the teachings for these precious souls to equip them for salvation.
This is my prayer in Jesus’s name.
In His Love – Sonia
Sonia Burke(Quote)View Comment
This is the first time I have seen this letter. Thank you so much for writing this on behalf of God’s people. Where are the leaders of our church in this matter? My heart aches for the terrible things being done under our banner. And every day, more damage is being done for eternity. Leaders, you will answer to God for your inaction.
Pastor David, between you and me, if i were God, you would be my favorite…and i will put you in place of these 4 professors combined. You are a great leader. Why? Common sense. What do you call “intellectuals” who choose to resign and later on sue? If its true that they want money in exchange for their resignation by using the court, then, we should not worry about it…Our Heavenly Father knows best. and of course…Romans 8:28 …Your letter is already answered..and we are getting stronger than ever…Praise God.
As it turns out – David is one of the SDAs that NAD president Dan Jackson said he wished to see sternly disciplined specifically for daring to take the stand he took in this letter above.
I wonder how that’s going.
I have a very big poroblem!…It’s to do with the SABBATH day, you see I’ve asked my work if I can have start of the SABBATH to the finnish of the SABBATH day and they wont let me, the way I feel is to just leave my job, this will proberly couse me to lose my marrage and brake up my family, I really except the SABBATH day, and as it’s the 4th camandment of GOD I feel really gilty about having to work it and i do want to be in those numbers when the saints go marching I really do, I know its not GOD’s way but on the SABBATH day I’m constantly preying all through the day I even try to fast I do my best! I do put all my trust in GOD and Crist JESUS, if it means i walk out of my job and lose my famialy, and start again i’ll do that, I’ve preyed and preyed and even left it in GOD’s hands, I need some advice please what should I do, I’m really stressed out.
P.s could you please get back to me.
Miguel Anderson(Quote)View Comment
First off, I praise God for men such as Pastor David. I wanted to let you know M Anderson that you can contact the North American Religious liberty Association at:http://www.religiousliberty.info/index.php
They deal with people who have had their religious rights violated. God bless you.
@Miguel Anderson: Please see the North American Religious liberty association
The help they can provide if you are trying to observe the Sabbath can be invaluable. Please contact them and see if they can help with your work situation. Check out the website for their contact info.
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Dear David, I am so happy that you responded to this new teaching, God needs men that will stand up for truth and never waver. May the Lord continue to guide you and keep you true to His word.
Where are our leaders? Well, out here in the Pacific Union Conference, they are all sitting back in their desks “dialoging” with the heretics and apostates that are trying to destroy our SDA Church.
Don’t believe me? Then email some of them such as Ricardo Graham, Larry Caviness, and Jim Pedersen and see how they respond.
Holly Pham(Quote)View Comment
What are our leaders doing? Well here in the South Pacific division our Samoan fellow SDAs are being told to keep the same day as the sunday keepers, not the day before them. In Tonga SDAs have done this for years. These “leaders” have lost the plot.
Colin Maunder(Quote)View Comment
This is disgraceful!!!! If ever there was a time for a housecleaning at the GC, now is the time. What is going on with the pastors who are supposed to be doing God’s work? Why do they think they have the authority to tell people to keep the spurious Sunday as Sabbath? Where is Ted Wilson in all this?
I am trying to see things from Pastor Wilson’s viewpoint. I know he is a new leader and has stepped into what appears to be a viper’s nest. I know he will have to get to know his fellow workers and see where they stand. I know that there needs to be a major overhaul in the GC and among the workers in general, and I know that it isn’t going to be easy. I also know that the seminary in Andrews U needs a thorough housecleaning as well. If the new pastors are being indoctrinated with heresy, who will be able to fill the postions vacated by the heretical pastors?
I suppose that he feels that if he was to fire all the pastors who are spreading heresy, half the jobs will be unfilled. However…isn’t it better to recall the missionaries who are teaching heresy? After all, what is the point of having missionaries if they aren’t teaching the people truth? Isn’t it better to have churches without a pastor rather than a pastor teaching heresy? I would think it would be. Our church has been without a pastor several times and sometimes for more than a year. We managed.
What an awful mess our church is in! May God help us.
Yes, the word is Jackson wanted to “spank” Pastor Assherick. Would Jackson please step forward to attempt this? I don’t think he could move fast enough to even get close to Pastor Dave!
Holly Pham(Quote)View Comment
Being told by who? The Conference President? The pastors? Please give us the names of these heretics and apostates, so we may have the complete story.
Holly Pham(Quote)View Comment
The problem is that when they bend the international date line in places like the Marshall Islands – this issue of which is the real 7th day comes up. And when the switch it back again – the same issue comes up again.
A sticky problem because that dateline is a line drawn by man.
“The problem is that when they bend the international date line in places like the Marshall Islands – this issue of which is the real 7th day comes up. And when the switch it back again – the same issue comes up again.
A sticky problem because that dateline is a line drawn by man.”
I think we understand the problem, Bob. But, if the world moves the date line, and make it a different numbered day, then we need to still keep the day before Sunday.
We don’t want to keep the same day as Sunday keepers. If they move the day, so can we. I know it is a unique problem. But in one sense, it is a false dilemma.
Apparently, they moved it back to the original line. So we moved when they did the first time. All we have to do is move again. There is probably not that many people involved.
The devil will create as much obscurity as possible so biblical issues become confusing.
I guess one question I would ask is this, “What are Sunday keepers doing about the change?” Let’s just keep the Sabbath before they keep Sunday.
If they keep Sunday as the seventh day, then they can not honor the resurrection. The authority of the Catholic church is at stake here. It is the church vs. the bible.
I’m sure the devil has more tricks before the end. His main goal is to create confusion, and claim the bible is not clear in defining the will of God.
And if it is not, then who do we ask? The Catholic church, of course.
Same as this creation/evolution discussion. In that case, we ask the scientist. And then claim the bible is not sufficiently clear to draw a viable conclusion. Ask Dr. Taylor.
Bill Sorensen(Quote)View Comment
The Western Samoans have shifted the dateline around their country to join a similar timezone as New Zealand and Australia, their major trading partners and neighbours. This meant skipping a day to move 24 hours into the future. They did this at the end of the year by dropping Friday 29th Dec. So they went from Thursday to Saturday, making that week a 6 day week. Some of the local SDAs sought advice regarding this from the SDA “leaders” in this part of the world and were told to stick to the old calender and keep the old Sabbath which is now sunday. The official church is now keeping the same day as the sunday keepers while a separate group is keeping the official Saturday, same as Kiwis and Aussies. The official SDA church in Tonga has been keeping their supposed 7th day Sabbath on sunday with the local sunday keepers for years. There is only one 24 hour period on earth at a time and those of us near the dateline just start the day earlier (west side) or later (east side) than those in Europe and the Middle East. Travellers crossing the dateline will end up with a 6 day or 8 day week but it is only a one off and local time always becomes the norm. For SDAs to keep the same day as sunday keepers, especially at their “leaders” urging, is nonsense, unbelieveable, and a triumph for the devil.
Colin Maunder(Quote)View Comment
I agree with you. Our SDA Church has become one of continual compromises with the secular world. La Sierra is not the only place this is happening!
Holly Pham(Quote)View Comment
To be fair – AHS is not under the direct control of denominational mandate even though they have someone from the church sitting on their board. There are some practices going on under that separate group that would not be condoned by many conservative administrators in the church.
Recall that when Ellen White had a problem with the Battle Creek Sanitarium should not simply press a button or throw a switch and make the problem go away.
And by the mistyped “should” – I mean “she could” not simply press a button or throw a switch and make the problem go away.
Bob, I agree there is not “direct” control by the Church. However, there IS a close relationship with it. A recent example is in the Feb 2012 Pacific Union Recorder on page 31, about how Adventist Health sponsored teams at the California International Marathon.
AHS is featured in many articles in numerous SDA Church papers. So, our SDA Church has some responsibility to assure that AHS represents our SDA values, since we are “advertising” them as part of our SDA “family!”
Holly Pham(Quote)View Comment
Re Bob’s Quote
“To be fair – AHS is not under the direct control of denominational mandate even though they have someone from the church sitting on their board.”
Wouldn’t this be similar to the situation at LSU?
Your agnostic friend
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