Adventism in Conflict
As soon as my doctoral dissertation was published in 1980, I began trying to reduce the evidence to a lay level so as to be understood by “the man in the pew.” I had nearly completed the rough draft when a fatal accident took place, with my Commodore ’64, which had no hard drive but operated with floppy disks.
The going had been slow, because of a rather long learning curve and because I was traveling most of the time as coordinator of Native Ministries for the entire continent. The rough draft was nearly complete by fall counsel in 1983. I was using a session break to work on my manuscript when I suddenly deleted the whole disk by accidentally hitting a delete button on the far right. I sat stunned for a moment, then reached for my backup disk, determined to get a new backup immediately. Only God knows how, but seconds later, in my tenseness, I deleted it!
Knowing God could have prevented this unusual and unexplainable loss, I just sat there, thanking Him that “all things work together for good.” Pondering what to do, I was impressed to move directly a second objective. Upon finishing the book I had planned to write another explaining the methods I had used in dealing with Ford. I intended to discuss the nature of truth itself and how to relate both to it and to our conflict over truth.
This proved very difficult to put in lay language. After ten years, during which I made significant progress on a dozen manuscripts only to start all over, I finally submitted a manuscript to the Review and Herald early in 1994. At the editors’ suggestion and with the help of a friend, I chopped out 60% because it was too long for most readers to take time to read. The balance was published in 1995 as Adventism in Conflict.
The first and longest of three segments deals with two principles: the paradoxical nature of truth and priesthood of believer principles. A major part of the first chapter gives the testimony of John Witcombe, a young man who had helped develop a separatist movement called, LOR, at his first ministerial meeting as an intern in the Upper Columbia Conference. President, Jere Patzer had asked him to tell how and why he started a separationist movement and how he got so turned around. Since he had become a member of my church right after leaving LOR but still with the imbalanced theology that led him away, Jere asked me to introduce him and give a bit of this background.
Upon this testimony I proceed to discuss what I call, the paradoxical nature of truth. Truth is always balanced by the presence of often apparently opposite poles (such as faith and obedience), but that each is essential to understand the other and failure to unite these poles properly is the cause of heresy. Moreover, heresy can only be removed by bringing the two poles together. When truth unites with truth it expels the error, which cannot exist when truth is whole.
The second principle is that knowing this does not assure balance; for we instinctively see our view as balanced. Thus we need to develop priesthood of believer principles, which require that we listen respectfully to one another with open minds to Scriptural evidence which might correct unrecognized imbalance. It is God’s purpose in this way to lead us individually and corporately into ever clearer truth.
Part two of the book applies these principles to Minneapolis Conference. It first shows how, from the beginning, the great problem there was failure to follow priesthood principles. In that context we examine the issues on the basis of the paradoxical principles.
Part three examines the theological issues which had by then been in conflict for four decades. These included the nature of Christ and perfection. In this I demonstrate that our problem then and since is failure to apply these two principles: priesthood of believers as a means of developing balanced, paradoxical principles that unify truth and offer to unify us.