Gregory Matthews

A Divided Adventism

See:

http://spectrummagazine.org/article/2017/01/18/reinder-bruinsma-“-long-shepherd-same-it-doesn’t-matter-sheep-are-not-clones

Dr. Reinder Bruissma is a retired denominational executive who speaks his mind.  He is typically challenging as he speaks to current issues as he sees them.  Of interest in this article is mention of books that he has written and is writing.

 

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2 hours ago, Gregory Matthews said:

See:

http://spectrummagazine.org/article/2017/01/18/reinder-bruinsma-“-long-shepherd-same-it-doesn’t-matter-sheep-are-not-clones

Dr. Reinder Bruissma is a retired denominational executive who speaks his mind.  He is typically challenging as he speaks to current issues as he sees them.  Of interest in this article is mention of books that he has written and is writing.

 

One interesting point mentioned there:

Quote

You have written that the Adventist church today is divided into two main groups: those who are comfortable in the church and those who are not. If I understand you correctly, you also see this as a worldwide phenomenon, although the issues may vary. Could you elaborate on this?

I think there is some truth to what is focused on by the question there.

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A very interesting interview. I like the direction of Dr. Bruissma thoughts/ideas.

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Excellent article, Gregory!  Thanks for posting it!  While this article was written to and for Adventists, I think it rings true of many other Christian denominations.

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Dr, RB is a very interesting person.  In his positions of denominational leadership, there have been times when he has openly (written about it) pushed boundaries that were considered unusual.  In the past when similar boundaries have been pushed, it was done  on the quiet with denominational officials seemingly looking the other way and not noticing.  With Dr. RB, it has been quite open.

 

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16 hours ago, Gregory Matthews said:

Dr, RB is a very interesting person.  In his positions of denominational leadership, there have been times when he has openly (written about it) pushed boundaries that were considered unusual.  In the past when similar boundaries have been pushed, it was done  on the quiet with denominational officials seemingly looking the other way and not noticing.  With Dr. RB, it has been quite open.

Yes, he is definitely "open."

Gregory, the reason I posted the above link is because I thought you had stated you were not sure where part 1 could be found. But it looks like you now have the same link posted as me...not sure what happened there. There is a part one and a part two. The bit that I listened to was from part two. I dont really go for that type of material myself, I get very little out of it. But I know others feel differently. :)

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Thank you for sharing! I really enjoyed it, wish I could have met and have some discussions with him. I'll need to get the books.

Now with the Last Generation Theology,  I see Andresen as more moderate than what he pictures here. When the contributors to Questions on doctrine they were caught off guard and they gave a half answer.  I think part was shame of our semi-ayran past. I think a more complete answer would be "our pioneers included people who questioned the divinity of Christ. However this was not an official part of the church. While ministers were encouraged to speak against the trinity, members were free to be either Trinitarian or non-Trinitarian. However as we dealt more with Mrs. White's issues in the Great Controversy and looking at them in relation to the three angels messages the trinity moved from a side issue to become more central in our church. As we became more open to the trinity of course we turned to the traditional understanding of the nature of Christ" and let them read the Mrs. White quotes that are quoted in the back of the book and refer them to the sources where Mrs. White borrowed them from. Had we done that things would have been fine and dandy.

However, our leaders gave a partial answer focusing on the divinity of Christ. I find Andresen's criticizes different from others. From what I understand about Elder Andresen was that he said that we only gave a partial answer(which we did). The problem lies in that other critics did not want to support the full answer that Elder Andresen appears to have supported, but to build a whole theology on the missing parts and reject the stated parts. This included that some of our popular pastors such as Elder Wilkinson had not accepted the trinity. Thus they gladly embraced the missing parts and rejected the stated parts and formed the idea that Jesus had the sinful nature and got the total victory over sin in the sinful nature body. And poor Elder Andresen is dragged into this group instead of what to me appears to have been a more balanced view. And taking Andresen's LGT only from the perspective of those who only grabbed on to the one aspect is what has lead us into trouble today.

  

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Howdy Kevin

May I ask what "Last Generation Theology" is please? I am really out of the loop and behind the times on stuff. Would appreciate a brief summary of what it is, and maybe a link where i could read a little on it? :)

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14 hours ago, The Wanderer said:

Howdy Kevin

May I ask what "Last Generation Theology" is please? I am really out of the loop and behind the times on stuff. Would appreciate a brief summary of what it is, and maybe a link where i could read a little on it? :)

There is a good summery of it in the article, only it laid all the blame on Elder Andresen. Granted he's involved but he, from my perspective at least, appeared to have a more balanced presupposition than others who have grabbed on to this theology.

The basic premise is that the Bible talks about the 144,000 having gone through a special experience and Mrs. White talks about how with the Lord comes every character will be fully developed.

This has developed into two different threads in the church with one thread causing a backlash. The first is that you can somewhat divide people into 3 or 4 groups. Those who through the years have developed an unshakable trust in God. The kind of faith where say John Wesley could be stoned and beaten but continue to preach and do his job. The kind of faith that would hold fast when being persecuted and burned at the stake. Then there are others at the other extreme who is completely hard hearted towards God and nothing can change them. They live totally selfishly and in only looking out for their own interests no matter what. Then there is the rest of us, and maybe you can divide the rest of us into people who in one way or another have started reaching out to God and following him and those of the rest of us who have not yet started reaching out to God.  We are not fully settled into the truth or fully rejected God. We could change. Most of history has been like a bell curve with a few on each end and the vast majority of us in the middle. However through the intensity of the last days and the increased work of the Spirit and Satan during that time we will be by necessity either fully depend on Jesus and care for others in this trying time or become completely selfish and look out for number 1 at all costs. As we experience a world wide time similar to the French Revolution and Nazi Germany, Satan will temp us to feel that we are for ourselves by going along with the system even though our conscience is not comfortable with things in the system. Will we stand for truth or will we cave in because it appears to be to our advantage.

The second way this has developed in the church is that God is waiting for a people where his character is fully reproduced. Here the issue of the nature of Christ plays a role.  Outside of Andresen, who was a Trinitarian and from what I've read appears to have held the view that the church reached over centuries of debate and argument that Christ has his own unique character, that he was fully God and fully man. That he had the issues that all humans face of getting tired and hungry etc. But that he did not have the sinful nature. When the contributors of a book "Questions on Doctrine" were asked about the understanding of the nature of Christ they focused on his divinity. Elder Andresen pointed out that this was only a PARTAL answer. That he was fully God and fully man.

During this time the view of the trinity was growing in the church but there were still those who did not accept the trinity. They held a view similar to the Jehovah's Witness on how Christ had a beginning. Making God the Father God in total and Jesus a little lesser and fully in submission to God (and yes he is fully in submission to the Father and the Spirit but that's because the law of God is self sacrificing love and all three members of the trinity submit to each other). Making God the father, God as power, being God in total, by beholding they become changed. Not holding in their mind the tension between the 3 aspects of the Godhead, the one of God as supreme power and authority encourages a character of authority and submission. This is how by 1888 we were preaching the law the law the law until we became as dry as the hills of Gilboah. The pre 1888 views were still held by a number of our members. In the 1950s this group had a major modification of their views. It was with the publishing of the book "Questions on Doctrine" which they saw as the absolute worst book ever written. They would filter their views through that book and anything they had that agreed with that book they threw out. They took Andresen's criticism of a partial answer on the nature of Christ and they latched on the missing part and rejected the stated part. They (whether they gave lip service to the trinity or not) became very focused on Christ submitting. They started seeing Jesus as being so fully human that he had the sinful nature. They picture Christ as a man with the sinful nature who so submitted to the Father and to the law that despite his sinful nature never committed a sin. And thus they see the idea of every character being fully developed as God waiting for us to completely stop all sin.  Thus they have a long list of dos and don'ts that they focus on. The issue of women's ordination is that they have picked texts and put them together to form the theology of male headship and that women must therefore constantly submit to men. You tend to find some very strong and demanding leaders with followers who are willing to have these leaders control their lives. They keep trying to reach the goal of the complete victory over sin and the sinful nature that there is nothing for God to forgive so no more need of intercession and thus Jesus can stop interceding and finally come.

A back lash to this has been things like the Desmond Ford issue, where they are focused on God's forgiveness, and that once you accepted Christ you are perfect and you have to just constantly hide from God's wrath behind Jesus' righteousness. Some involved in this movement give up the Sabbath because that is my work which is filthy rags and I need to hide behind Christ so let me not do my own work.

I understand these last two groups basically dividing the truth among them using portions of the truth against the rest of the truth. For a good book on the second view and how they view the rest of us see http://hartlandbooks.mybigcommerce.com/with-cloak-dagger/ They like to divide the issue into just two camps them the grand master champions of total truth and the horrible wicked villains teaching the "New Theology" and they refuse to acknowledge that any other view besides these two views exist. I have agreements and disagreements with the two sides presented in this book, but they refuse to even acknowledge that there are more than these two approaches to Adventism.  

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22 minutes ago, Kevin H said:

There is a good summery of it in the article, only it laid all the blame on Elder Andresen. Granted he's involved but he, from my perspective at least, appeared to have a more balanced presupposition than others who have grabbed on to this theology.

The basic premise is that the Bible talks about the 144,000 having gone through a special experience and Mrs. White talks about how with the Lord comes every character will be fully developed.

A back lash to this has been things like the Desmond Ford issue, where they are focused on God's forgiveness, and that once you accepted Christ you are perfect and you have to just constantly hide from God's wrath behind Jesus' righteousness. Some involved in this movement give up the Sabbath because that is my work which is filthy rags and I need to hide behind Christ so let me not do my own work.

I understand these last two groups basically dividing the truth among them using portions of the truth against the rest of the truth. For a good book on the second view and how they view the rest of us see http://hartlandbooks.mybigcommerce.com/with-cloak-dagger/ They like to divide the issue into just two camps them the grand master champions of total truth and the horrible wicked villains teaching the "New Theology" and they refuse to acknowledge that any other view besides these two views exist. I have agreements and disagreements with the two sides presented in this book, but they refuse to even acknowledge that there are more than these two approaches to Adventism.  

Thank you, Kevin, for the reply, and the effort. I still dont quite get what the main point of "Last Generation Theology" actually is. Are you saying it is simply two different sides (in the Church) who each have a line of doctrine that, in effect, oppose one another, and challenge one another regarding the "character being fully developed?"  Is there any chance you could give a statement, say just one or two sentences, with a scripture reference for each, that would clearly state what this Last Generation Theology is? I would find that very helpful, to understand what it is.  I am thinking that there are several lines of understanding that seem to dote on our character being "fully developed, and all of these oppose one another. The main problem, as I see it, with the church being "divided" is that so many are so worried about their characters being "fully developed," that they miss out on the important fact that we will also have our characters "fully tested," and thats why so many fall apart when trouble hits. (Rev 22:11). Development of character, and testing of character are two different things. I dont often hear much preached on the testing of our character, and how to understand it. Am I making any sense yet? :)

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I will check out the link that you posted and come back a little later. Thank you. :)

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The link is just a link to buy the book that says that the current teachings of the Seventh-day Adventist church are corrupt and that if you want true Adventism come to their side.

 

Basically I was trying to point out different aspects being discussed both here and in the church as a whole. The idea of last generation are those living through the time of trouble and are alive with Jesus comes; and different theories based on Revelation's description of the 144,000

  • Revelation 14:3–5 (ESV)

And they were singing a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and before the elders. No one could learn that song except the 144,000 who had been redeemed from the earth. For it is these who have not defiled themselves with women, for they are virgins. It is these who follow the Lamb wherever he goes. These have been redeemed from mankind as first fruits for God and the Lamb, and in their mouth no lie was found, for they are blameless. (cut and paste from Wicopedia)

and Mrs. White's comment that all characters will be fully developed.

Our current set of TV and Radio evangelists, such as Doug Batchelor and Elder Bohr (can't think of his first name now) are very much into this and to a greater or lesser extent Elder Wilson and they tend to see it as their mission to make all Seventh-day Adventist fit this version of Adventism. It is very popular in places like Africa and South America where they see the Americans as heretics and were very pushy and protective of their views at the last General Conference.  

 

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1 hour ago, Kevin H said:

The link is just a link to buy the book that says that the current teachings of the Seventh-day Adventist church are corrupt and that if you want true Adventism come to their side.

 

Basically I was trying to point out different aspects being discussed both here and in the church as a whole. The idea of last generation are those living through the time of trouble and are alive with Jesus comes; and different theories based on Revelation's description of the 144,000

  • Revelation 14:3–5 (ESV)

And they were singing a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and before the elders. No one could learn that song except the 144,000 who had been redeemed from the earth. For it is these who have not defiled themselves with women, for they are virgins. It is these who follow the Lamb wherever he goes. These have been redeemed from mankind as first fruits for God and the Lamb, and in their mouth no lie was found, for they are blameless. (cut and paste from Wicopedia)

and Mrs. White's comment that all characters will be fully developed.

Our current set of TV and Radio evangelists, such as Doug Batchelor and Elder Bohr (can't think of his first name now) are very much into this and to a greater or lesser extent Elder Wilson and they tend to see it as their mission to make all Seventh-day Adventist fit this version of Adventism. It is very popular in places like Africa and South America where they see the Americans as heretics and were very pushy and protective of their views at the last General Conference.  

 

Thanks! Now I get the picture. :)

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20 hours ago, Kevin H said:

I understand these last two groups basically dividing the truth among them using portions of the truth against the rest of the truth. For a good book on the second view and how they view the rest of us see http://hartlandbooks.mybigcommerce.com/with-cloak-dagger/ They like to divide the issue into just two camps them the grand master champions of total truth and the horrible wicked villains teaching the "New Theology" and they refuse to acknowledge that any other view besides these two views exist. I have agreements and disagreements with the two sides presented in this book, but they refuse to even acknowledge that there are more than these two approaches to Adventism.  

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the thought was shared with me that there are only two groups in the world and then inadvertently reflected in the SDA church... those who live by faith and those who live by their works. Righteousness by works takes a myriad of forms, as represented in every false religion, and system of thought and living that leaves a person standing in their own defense when they meet God face to face. This is the element present in every false religion and was also lived by people who held the living word in their hands but it gave them no life when they still lived by their own strength. Jesus experienced this in those who went about to kill him even though they claimed to follow the word of God.

the line between those who live by faith and those who do not... is not necessarily able to be easily recognized.  between the sheep and the goats... the goats believed they were sheep and the sheep believed they had done nothing.  The two women are at the grinding stone,  one is taken one is left.

Having true scriptural dogma is no defense against living by works and not by faith.

Their is an incredible diversity of education thought and experience in the SDA Church members.  This is well and good.  But to have the finger pointing and judging, by the "perfect" among us...  this is not going to draw other's to Christ.  Those who live by faith recognize everyone's humanity and everyone's dependence on God, even the "perfect"

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8 minutes ago, debbym said:

-Their is an incredible diversity of education thought and experience in the SDA Church members.  This is well and good.  But to have the finger pointing and judging, by the "perfect" among us...  this is not going to draw other's to Christ.  Those who live by faith recognize everyone's humanity and everyone's dependence on God, even the "perfect"

"And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me." (John 12:32, KJV)

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Both groups have things to say We are all "looking through a glass dimly" The gospel does change us as we look more towards Christ and learn more of him. On the other hand I see both of these groups actually focusing on works. One is focusing on the works that Jesus is to do in us, but in a way that too often encourages strong demanding leaders and meek followers. The other just focused on the works of Jesus for me where often changes do not end up coming in their lives but an attitude of "It's Jesus' works in my place" they call it righteousness by faith, but often end up having no room for the Sabbath and 1844.

God's love should awaken love in us. Both groups in my understanding appear fearful of the judgment and one group wants to show God that they are ready to be with him the other just wants to hide behind "Jesus" since only his righteousness will get them in. One has a long list of works and often is focused on the good news that the church is going to hell in a handbasket and love to lament that Shakespeare is taught in the English department, etc. The other has a short list, say the magic words about Jesus and be saved, that's all there is to it, and some do stay here as good members of our church, but others end up leaving the church for typical Fundamentalist Evangelical churches, give up the Sabbath and 1844 and try to force us to give these up and in the typical evangelical churches they end up adding additional works such as becoming strict Republicans and enforce the strict Republican agenda on the world. Also, in my traveling I have developed some very close friends who are Palestinian Catholics, Jewish, Muslims, and Buddhist. I understand the Holy Spirit to be working with everyone and people are either following the spirit's prompting or rejecting it. In the "Say the magic words about Jesus and you are saved that's all there is to it (oh, join the Republican party)" religion there is not room for these dear souls without making them say those magic words and give the history lesson about how Jesus died for them on the cross.

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There is so much to learn...

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From my understanding Adventism has always been divided. Even when looking at the preamble to our early beliefs list it appears to be talking about what we tend to have in common so that people know that they can join us and not believe exactly like brother so and so who holds these beliefs as well as his own understanding of scripture.

In our good times we learn how to play together; allow sharing and people listening and deciding if what is being taught is useful to them or to agree to disagree. In our bad times one of our sub groups thinks that they should be the only true form of Adventism and force their views on the rest of us.

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2 minutes ago, Kevin H said:

From my understanding Adventism has always been divided. Even when looking at the preamble to our early beliefs list it appears to be talking about what we tend to have in common so that people know that they can join us and not believe exactly like brother so and so who holds these beliefs as well as his own understanding of scripture.

In our good times we learn how to play together; allow sharing and people listening and deciding if what is being taught is useful to them or to agree to disagree. In our bad times one of our sub groups thinks that they should be the only true form of Adventism and force their views on the rest of us.

thats very true. I recall accounts of our early formative years and hearing how the first one or two to even know about, much less believe in the Sabbath had to convince the rest of them. They even had to inform and convince Ellen White about that. If I recall correctly, she did not adopt it right away; and yet they did not let the doctrinal division divide their fellowship and outreach. The second coming was the "biggie" back then, and thats what all the tent meetings tended to focus on! Wish I could have been there!

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Not to mention the health message. Bates had that down before there was an SDA church. He incorporated that into his sailing work before giving it up in favour of the Lord's employ.

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1 minute ago, Gail said:

Not to mention the health message. Bates had that down before there was an SDA church. He incorporated that into his sailing work.

Yes, I used to recount some of those stories about Bates as an aid to help sell the Daniel and Revelation sets we used to sell as Literature Evangelists.

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On 1/21/2017 at 3:28 PM, Kevin H said:

The second way this has developed in the church is that God is waiting for a people where his character is fully reproduced.

This is just my point. We hobble along on our many and variant "justification" theories and we never get anywhere. Our characters cannot come close to being "fully developed", until they have also been fully tested, I dont see too much talk about this point, yet it is so important.

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God knows the events that will come when we are prepared to experience them.  When we receive the hatred and punishment of the worlds hatred for God, while loving them and only desiring for them to see Jesus and live.... we will have our Gethsemane experience and we will grow more fully into the likeness of Christ when we experience the likeness of his suffering.

My dad would say to me, how do you know when Jesus is about to come?  He would pause and let me think of all the signs of His return. Then he soberly said... when they want to kill you.

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On ‎1‎/‎23‎/‎2017 at 2:35 AM, The Wanderer said:

This is just my point. We hobble along on our many and variant "justification" theories and we never get anywhere. Our characters cannot come close to being "fully developed", until they have also been fully tested, I dont see too much talk about this point, yet it is so important.

Between the testing, serious Bible study (which means more than reviewing the key texts for our traditions but taking advantage of learning the history and culture and things that the linguists teach us) increases the objective knowledge of God. If we have a relationship with him, this knowledge can deepen our love for him and the changes naturally take place.

But too often we study the Bible for ammunition for our side and when we do this it mostly feeds our sinful nature, and yes, it is the Bible so it does not only feed our sinful nature, but if we read it as a student, willing to follow where it leads us, then there is our subjective response which balances out the theories about Justification and Sanctification. Justification is to have an open heart for the evidence and Sanctification is the result on our hearts.

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