Theology in Crisis
For nearly a decade I "knew" just what form my NYU doctoral dissertation would take; for my 1966 thesis provided its foundation. But in 1975, shortly before I was to take a leave of absence from Columbia Union College to write it, two factors changed everything. First, the needs of my teen age son caused me to resign to direct LaVida Mission in New Mexico; then, immediately after, I learned of Desmond Ford's new-to-Adventism theology. Three years later I began preparing the concepts and materials I had planned to use, but now in a very different configuration, to meet his new questions and issues.
Completed in 1979 and published in 1980, theology in Crisis compares and contrasts Ford's theology to Ellen White's principles, with which he claimed to be in agreement. I affirm many vital principles that were in harmony with her views. But I find wanting his insistence on the doctrine of original sin and challenge his view of the nature of Christ and Perfection -- even while honoring his effort to correct an imbalanced approach.
Ford's central issue, however, was the Plymouth Brethren doctrine of universal and strictly legal justification at the cross, which he claimed covers past, present, and future sin and is the only judgment for believers. In equating legal justification at the cross with the gospel, he thus denied any place in the gospel to either sanctification or the judgment. And this even while claiming to believe the first angel's message, which identifies the everlasting gospel as the proclamation of the judgment (Rev 14:6-7).
My work was completed five months before Ford's repudiation of our sanctuary-judgment message. Yet, I here show this as the logical end product of his theology. My book thus came just in time to offer a key to that larger crisis.