To his additional accusations, assertations, assumptions and so-called “principles”, I give the following answers:
Accusation. “One only has to wonder how the denomination has managed to get along in relative unity without it for more than 150 years.”
Answer: Is George Knight not wondering how in 150 years the denomination has managed to get along in relative unity without WO? Is he not wondering how in 150 years practically all leaders of the church accepted the vote taken by the congresses of the world church? Who is effecting a change? Is it the church or George Knight and some union presidents?
Accusation. George quotes the statement of E. G. White to give the impression that “many, very many matters have been taken up and carried by vote, that have involved far more than was anticipated and far more than those who voted would have been willing to assent to had they taken time to consider the question from all sides.”
Answer: I don’t know of any other issue that was given such a long period of time for consideration than the discussions on WO, and on which so much information was given to take a wise decision. How much time does he want the discussions to take?
Accusation. “The big effort the last three years has been largely to discipline those union presidents who have been noncompliant on the single issue of women’s ordination. And some folks can get quite worked up on the topic.” Our friend concludes: “we are looking at the signs of a failed presidency.”
Answer. So, this dissension is all Elder Wilson’s fault for doing his job. Just for the record, it is the president’s job to carry out and defend the actions of a GC Session. That is what they elected him to do. I supposed that if he rebelled against the Session that elected him then he would be a successful president in your eyes. So, what is your solution? Is it to open the way for everyone in the church to take whatever course of action he desires, without caring for what the church decides? Chaos would be the result.
Instead of spending his time the last three years “looking for the signs of a failed presidency” (like Korah, Dathan and Abiram did with Moses), why doesn’t George Knight follow the following advice of the Spirit of Prophecy?
“In the place of turning the weapons of warfare within our own ranks, let them be turned against the enemies of God and the truth. [I paraphrase it with the words of George: in the place of “looking at the signs of a failed presidency” (which our friend wants to pull down, disregarding again the vote taken by the world church which chose Ted Wilson as president), let them be turned against the enemies of God and the truth]. Echo the prayer of Christ with your whole heart: ‘Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are’” (MR 311 13.1).
Accusation. The plan of the GC is a potential danger for the organization of the church in the future.
Answer. We can spend a lot of time dealing with possible scenarios for our church in the future. As a matter of fact, we cannot know up to what point will the foretold Omega apostasy be able to reach within our church. But we know one thing. Measures are to be taken now, and quickly, or the consequences will be worse. The divisiveness being urged by George Knight will disintegrate the church, giving to the world a divisive, confusing, and contradictory message.
“Unbelief suggests that individual independence increases our importance, that it is weak to yield our own ideas of what is right and proper to the verdict of the church. But to yield to such feelings and views is unsafe, and will bring us to anarchy and confusion. Christ saw that unity and Christian fellowship were necessary to the cause of God, therefore He enjoined it upon His disciples. And the history of Christianity from that time until now proves conclusively that in union only is there strength. Let individual judgment submit to the authority of the church” (4 T 17-19).
We must stand for the Word of God and the Spirit of Prophecy as the foundation for every decision. And we believe that God will work to protect His church for that future eventuality. The following well known words were given to us that we should not fear what will happen to our church in the future.
“In reviewing our past history, having traveled over every step of advance to our present standing, I can say, Praise God! As I see what the Lord has wrought, I am filled with astonishment, and with confidence in Christ as leader. We have nothing to fear for the future, except as we shall forget the way the Lord has led us, and His teaching in our past history” (LS 196).
It will be useful to take into account what happened in the Southern Baptist Convention, the biggest evangelical church in the USA. About a quarter century ago they were divided in three factions: one liberal, another conservative, and another one moderate. The discordant points were, in essence, five:
1. Nature of Bible inspiration (which affects its hermeneutic principles).
2. Women ordination.
3. Local church autonomy (trend to congregationalism).
4. Priesthood of all believers.
5. Freedom of the soul.
What is the background of the problem in the Seventh-day Adventist Church in North America, and in some places in Europe and Australia?
It was well summarized by a theologian friend who reacted to what I have shared by saying:
“Alberto, we are seeing the organized appearance of the non-biblical Post-Modernist Adventism, which is taking possession of the administration of several Divisions and Unions. It is not only WO or Homosexuality. It is a completely altered system of thought which operates not only outside biblical Adventism, but also outside of conservative biblical Protestantism. It is not simply a question of distinctive truths. What is at stake is the very essence of Christianity. The dissident administrations are turning back to Babylon. What is operating behind and underground is the evolutionism and pantheism of the Omega apostasy.”
Under those issues, the Manual of the Church and the Working Policy bother them more and more, even the Testimonies of Jesus and the prophetic legacy of our pioneers, because they are considered obsolete and restraining for the new moment the post-modern world is living. However, without an operating system which was developed under the clear principles of the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy, it is impossible to keep ourselves united in the whole world.
“This is what the LORD says: ‘Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.’ But you said, ‘We will not walk in it’” (Jer 6:16).
Statements of E. G. White
Since George Knight concludes his messages with statements of E. G. White that he shifts to a different context, it will be useful to include some additional warnings of the Spirit of Prophecy.
“When any are drawing apart from the organized body of God’s commandment keeping people, they begin to weigh the church in their human scales and begin to pronounce judgment against them. Then you may know that God is not leading them. They are on the wrong track...” (MR 311 13.3).
“Many do not realize the sacredness of church relationship, and are loath to submit to restraint and discipline. Their course of action shows that they exalt their own judgment above that of the united church; and they are not careful to guard themselves, lest they encourage a spirit of opposition to its voice” (MR 311 10.1).
“Those who hold responsible positions in the church may have faults in common with other people, and may err in their decisions; but notwithstanding this, the church of Christ on earth has given to them an authority that cannot be lightly esteemed. Christ, after His resurrection, delegated power unto His church, saying, ‘Whosoever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them, and whosoever sins ye retain, they are retained’” (MR 311 10.2)
“The word of God does not give license for one man to set up his judgment in opposition to the judgment of the church, neither is he allowed to urge his opinions against the opinions of the church. If there were no church discipline and government, the church would go to fragments; it could not hold together as a body. There have ever been individuals of independent minds, who have claimed that they were right, that God had especially taught, impressed, and led them. Each has a theory of his own, views peculiar to himself, and each claims that his views are in accordance with the word of God. Each one has a different theory and faith, yet each claims special light from God. These draw away from the body, and each one is a separate church of himself. All these cannot be right, yet they all claim to be led of the Lord. The word of inspiration is not yea and nay, but yea and amen in Christ Jesus” (3 T 428-429).
“There have ever been in the church those who are constantly inclined toward individual independence. They seem unable to realize that independence of spirit is liable to lead the human agent to have too much confidence in himself, and to trust in his own judgment rather than to respect the counsel and highly esteem the judgment of his brethren, especially of those in the offices that God has appointed for the leadership of His people. God had invested His church with special authority and power, which no one can be justified in disregarding and despising; for he who does this despises the voice of God” (MR 311 11.1).
“There has been altogether too much reliance placed upon independent, uninspired judgment. Self-sufficiency and self-esteem lie at the foundation of the greatest trials and discords that have ever existed among the people of God. The angel of God has said to me again and again, “Press together! Press together! Be of one mind, of one judgment, that God may be your leader. Follow His footsteps, and you will walk safely. The clean heart and the right spirit are the gifts of His Son, purchased with infinite cost” (MR 311 8.1)
“God is teaching, leading, and guiding His people, that they may teach, lead and guide others. There will be, among the remnant of these last days, as there were with ancient Israel, those who wish to move independently, who are not willing to submit to the teachings of the Spirit of God, and who will not listen to advice or counsel. Let such ever bear in mind that God has a church upon the earth, to which He has delegated power. Men will want to follow their own independent judgment, despising counsel and reproof; but just as surely as they do this, they will depart from the faith, and disaster and the ruin of souls will follow. Those who rally now to support and build up the truth of God, are ranging themselves on one side, standing united in heart, mind, and voice, in defense of the truth; while those who do not labor in harmony of purpose and action, who choose their own unsanctified human judgment as perfection of action, are ranging themselves on the side of Satan, and are defending his cause” (MR 311 8.2)
“Satan will become their leader, and they will join him in his constant endeavors to tear down that which God is building up. None of these discordant elements will be able eventually to thwart the purposes of God in the preparation of a people to stand in the great day, and in the final completion of the plan of salvation...” (MR 311 9.1).
“It is a delusion of the enemy for anyone to feel that he can disconnect from agencies which God has appointed, and work on an independent line of his own, in his own supposed wisdom, and yet be successful. Although he may flatter himself that he is doing God’s work, he will not prosper in the end. We are one body, and every member is to be united to the body, each person working in his respective capacity. Men must be like-minded with God,—pure, holy, sincere; not one is to be shut up to himself, to live for himself” (Letter 104, 1894).
“God is leading out a people to stand in perfect unity upon the platform of eternal truth. Christ gave Himself to the world, “that He might purify unto Himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.” This refining process is designed to purge the church from all unrighteousness and the spirit of discord and contention, that they may build up instead of tearing down, and concentrate their energies on the great work before them. God designs that His people should all come into the unity of faith...” (MR 311 9.3).
“Those who are inclined to regard their individual judgment as supreme, are in grave peril. It is Satan's studied effort to separate such ones from those who are channels of light, through whom God has wrought to build up and extend His work in the earth. To neglect or despise those whom God has appointed to bear the responsibilities of leadership in connection with the advancement of the truth, is to reject the means that He has ordained for the help, encouragement, and strength of His people. For any worker in the Lords’ cause to pass these by, and to think that his light must come through no other channel than directly from God, is to place himself in a position where he is liable to be deceived by the enemy, and overthrown. The Lord in His wisdom has arranged that by means of the close relationship that should be maintained by all believers, Christian shall be united to Christian, and church to church. Thus the human instrumentality will be enabled to cooperate with the divine. Every agency will be subordinate to the Holy Spirit, and all the believers will be united in an organized and well-directed effort to give to the world the glad tidings of the grace of God” (Gospel Workers, 443-444; MR 311 11.2).
“Well I knew the meaning of this representation. I had my orders. I had heard the words, like a voice from our Captain, “Meet it!” I knew what my duty was, and that there was not a moment to lose. The time for decided action had come. I must without delay obey the command, “Meet it! That night I was up at one o’clock, writing as fast as my hand could pass over the paper. For the next few days I worked early and late, preparing for our people the instruction given me regarding the errors that were coming in among us” (1 MS 206).
“Oh, how Satan would rejoice if he could succeed in his efforts to get in among this people, and disorganize the work at a time when thorough organization is essential, and will be the greatest power to keep out spurious uprisings, and to refute claims not endorsed by the word of God! We want to hold the lines evenly, that there shall be no breaking down of the system of organization and order that has been built up by wise, careful labor. License must not be given to disorderly elements that desire to control the work at this time” (MR 311 14.1)
“Some have advanced the thought that as we near the close of time, every child of God will act independently of any religious organization. But I have been instructed by the Lord that in this work there is no such things as every man’s being independent. The stars of heaven are all under law, each influencing the other to do the will of God, yielding their common obedience to the law that controls their action. And in order that the Lord’s work may advance, healthfully and solidly, His people must draw together” (May 30, 1909; Testimonies for the Church 9:257-258).
Dr. Alberto R. Treiyer was born in the Adventist community of Libertador San Martín, Entre Ríos, Argentina. Dr. Treiyer is an author, and has a doctoral degree in theology from the University of Strasbourg, France. He has served as the director of the theological department at the Adventist Antillian College in Puerto Rico, where he taught for six years. He has also taught at the University of La Sierra, and Columbia Union College, as well as theology in Costa Rica and Columbia. Alberto is now a retired pastor, giving seminars, and writing books and papers that support our distinctive message.