On Wednesday of this week, the General Conference Executive leaders and Division presidents released a statement regarding independent ministries. It was a much-needed statement, in our opinion.
The statement accomplishes four things:
- It reminds us of our high calling in the true Jesus Christ, thus implying that there are false Christs which must be avoided.
- It calls for discernment among Seventh-day Adventist members as we evaluate/observe the faithfulness of independent ministries--to the beliefs and pillars of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
- The statement outlines issues of high theological significance and calls us to be faithful to the Lord and His Word in our Christian walk.
- This statement reminds us of the value of periodic re-affirmation in keeping our first love alive (Revelation 2:4-5).
While I don’t know the mind of those who composed the statement, it is apparent that their mention of the One Project is both a warning and a call for accountability towards those who would reinterpret the Adventist message into a liberal caricature.
The One Project leaders and speakers, and its current incarnation The Global Resource Collective, have subtly and overtly sought to undermine aspects of our faith, while claiming to be supportive of the Church. I am convinced that they have a goal to change the theology of our church.
Such serious charges are reinforced by the virtual absence from their pulpits and publications of material that urges obedience to God’s Law in preparation for Jesus’ return. I would challenge you to find material like that in the last seven years in any of the One Project presentations, or in their current Global Resource Collective..
I also note their generous usage of Emergent/mystical authors for recommended reading material as legitimate reasons for concern and caution. I’ll leave that to you to decide.
Just as there is a place for reaffirming our first love experience lest we eventually lose it (Rev. 2:4-5), I believe there is a place for reaffirming our commitment to the biblical truths that define the Advent Movement.
During the Day of Atonement in literal Israel there was an annual opportunity to reaffirm your desire for salvation through humility, self-denial and trust in the Lord. In our current setting, we should have a periodic opportunity for each member to reaffirm their commitment to the biblical truths of Adventism. Perhaps the last communion of the year could be an opportunity for such a recommitment.
“We have nothing to fear for the future except as we shall forget how the lord has led us in the past.” Lest we misunderstand, there is high virtue in recalling our past. Very often the Lord urged the Hebrews to recount the stories of His deliverance, and in fact, a major festival — the Passover — carried exactly this assignment. It is in the purpose of God that we remember what He has done for us in the past. It is not in His purpose that we become antiquarians, cultivating as museum curators the things that come from our past. In fact, I would maintain that the central focus of the Adventist mission relates directly to the task yet to come. And that task is made easier by knowing who we are and where we come from. We call that Identity.
Four months ago, it was my turn to preach at our local church. The topic was "Resolving Rebellion."
I had a time in my life (about 25-years) when I refused to wear a seatbelt while driving. I was a strong kid, and had been in a couple wrecks and just held on to the steering wheel and everything was fine. No big deal.
About 15-years ago, my wife and I decided to open up the Bible and ask God to show us issues in our life that needed to be resolved. We did this for five days, and repented of every sin that He revealed to us. That gave us a new walk with God, a better marriage and a deeper commitment to His Word. But something funny happened the following week.
I started wearing my seatbelt. I’ve been wearing it ever since.
At the end of that sermon, I asked the deacons to pass out an affirmation of faith statement that I had digested from the Adherence Document presented at the 2017 Annual Council. It was only two paragraphs long.
I informed the congregation of some of the events at 2017 Fall Council, and explained that the document was a simple affirmation of their commitment and accountability to the beliefs of the SDA Church. I told them this was an experiment. They didn’t have to put their names on it, and their papers would be kept confidential--the results would be tabulated as a straw poll. They could sign it if their heart would allow them to, but they didn’t have to.
To my pleasant surprise, 91.4% of the congregation signed it. Most of them put their names on it.
In Summary, this week's Statement issued by the General Conference Executive leaders and Division presidents is a very good thing. It is the equivalent of an ecclesiastical seat belt keeping us secure as we navigate the bumpy roads of the Last Days. I believe this statement is the opening signal of an ecclesiastical advance towards accountability and unity of message. And while I believe that the great majority of church members around the world would sign it, if they had an opportunity--you don't have to. You don't have to wear your seat belt, either.
If your heart won’t allow you to affirm what the Seventh-day Adventist Church believes and teaches, feel free to not affirm (or virtually sign) this statement. Feel free to not to dismantle the Church from within. And feel free to go elsewhere your views are shared. That's what integrity does. God bless.
"Like cold water to a weary soul is good news from a distant land" (Proverbs 25:25).