George Knight Versus The General Conference

In a dissident magazine published by liberal SDAs, George Knight once again manipulates history to re-launch a campaign destined to discredit the General Conference. [1]

The discordant historian's current target is the concern of the GC to keep the world church united upon what was voted in three GC Sessions on WO. Since some Unions of the USA and Europe are currently disregarding what was voted, the GC is studying measures for those who insist on working independently of the world church.

George’s wrath is centered against president Ted Wilson, whom he accused of working like Hitler as an authoritarian leader (though now he wants to deny that Nazi reference). But, Wilson is simply trying to uphold a democratic vote taken in General Conference Session, according to the policies of the church.

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George Knight now denies that the delegates in San Antonio received everything necessary to make a conscientious decision, which is a blatant untruth (see 9th Commandment). Some have been arguing that the percentage of votes taken in a former committee [TOSC] of nearly 100 persons, was not mentioned. But Knight fails to acknowledge that this Committee was not a representative body of the church, and therefore did not intend to represent a balanced percentage regarding positions taken by its members. It was only a theological consulting body to study the subject and give a report on the different views. In addition, the result of that vote did not favor WO, as it was presumed by liberals. The majority believed that there is no biblical support for WO.

This paper of George Knight, appearing in a dissident magazine like Spectrum, is a masterpiece of Satan. He accuses the president of the GC and the GC itself of what George Knight and the rebellious presidents are in fact doing. Since George, in his accusation of a presumable dictatorship of the GC, brings into account the protest of the Lutheran princes (and some statements of E. G. White in the book The Great Controversy about the authoritarian attitude of the papacy), why doesn’t he quote what she wrote in the same book about the rebellion of Satan in heaven, who pretended to fight for the freedom of the angels and the well-being of the divine government which a ‘tyrant’ God was obstructing?

Working with mysterious secrecy, and for a time concealing his real purpose under an appearance of reverence for God, he endeavored to excite dissatisfaction concerning the laws that governed heavenly beings, intimating that they imposed an unnecessary restraint. Since their natures were holy, he urged that the angels should obey the dictates of their own will… The discord which his own course had caused in heaven, Satan charged upon the law and government of God. All evil he declared to be the result of the divine administration…

“He reiterated his claim that angels needed no control, but should be left to follow their own will… Thus stubborn and defiant in their disloyalty, seeking vainly to overthrow the government of God, yet blasphemously claiming to be themselves the innocent victims of oppressive power, the arch rebel and all his sympathizers were at last banished from heaven… By the same misrepresentation of the character of God as he had practiced in heaven, causing Him to be regarded as severe and tyrannical, Satan induced man to sin... In the banishment of Satan from heaven, God declared His justice and maintained the honor of His throne” (GC, chapter 29).

Again, why does Knight not quote what she wrote on the rebellion of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, and compare what he is doing with the rebellious administrators who refuse to work in harmony with the worldwide body of believers?

The best efforts of the meekest man upon the earth could not quell the insubordination of this people… A temptation, slight at first, had been harbored, and had strengthened as it was encouraged, until their minds were controlled by Satan, and they ventured upon their work of disaffection. Professing great interest in the prosperity of the people, they first whispered their discontent to one another and then to leading men of Israel… They were successful in alienating two hundred and fifty princes, men of renown in the congregation.

“With these strong and influential supporters they felt confident of making a radical change in the government and greatly improving upon the administration of Moses and Aaron… The discontented ones said that these leaders had exalted themselves above the congregation of the Lord, in taking upon them the priesthood and government, but their house was not entitled to distinction above others in Israel; they were no more holy than the people, and it should be enough for them to be on a level with their brethren, who were equally favored with God’s special presence and protection…

“Korah’s success with the people increased his confidence and confirmed him in his belief that the usurpation of authority by Moses, if unchecked, would be fatal to the liberties of Israel… Korah appeared at the head of the faction, and publicly accused Moses and Aaron of usurping authority which Korah and his associates were equally entitled to share. It was charged, further, that the people had been deprived of their liberty and independence… they applied to the scene of their bondage the very language in which the Lord had described the promised inheritance. They accused Moses of pretending to act under divine guidance, as a means of establishing his authority; and they declared that they would no longer submit to be led about like blind men, now toward Canaan, and now toward the wilderness, as best suited his ambitious designs. Thus he who had been as a tender father, a patient shepherd, was represented in the blackest character of a tyrant and usurper” (PP, chap 35).

George Knight also accuses the GC of not taking measures against the antitrinitarians, and against those who defend the Last Generation Theology which he presumes to have refuted. But those who defend the Last Generation Theology are correct, biblically well-founded, and based on the Spirit of Prophecy. Though some excesses have been seen in that theology, and it has been misinterpreted more than once, the Last Generation Theology is right. In fact, our church has been taking measures against the antitrinitarians here and there. However, antitrinitarianism has not caused a problem that has required a direct intervention of the GC. Measures have been taken by local fields. If a Conference or Union has not yet taken a measure, that measure will come sooner or later.

In essence, establishing himself as the theological leader of the liberal rebellion, what George Knight proposes is that everyone must act according to his will, that the church cannot work in harmony with the divine guidance when there is disagreement, on the base of what was voted by all the world delegates in GC Session. In other words, what our friend proposes is that the Seventh-day Adventist Church stop operating as a world religious entity united in faith and principles as it has being doing up until today, and has been a true miracle in modern missions that no other church has accomplished. His proposition once again is chaos in administrative matters and beliefs – congregationalism.

One of the arguments advanced by those who foment rebellion is that WO has nothing to do with doctrine. This is wrong. A look at the statements found in some Unions in the USA, shows us that they support WO because they believe in “the priesthood of all believers.” This is a matter of doctrine that is, in turn, misinterpreted. Consider this example, taken from the webpage of the Southern Union Conference.

In harmony with the Bible teaching of the priesthood of all believers, the Southern Union Conference is committed to its sustained support of enjoining women in pastoral (including lead pastor), evangelistic, administrative, and all ministry categories through encouraging, empowering, and celebrating their gifted leadership.  However, we will continue to do so only in coordination with the world church of Seventh-day Adventists, as expressed by the actions taken by the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists in business session”. [2]

A Priesthood of all Believers?

The Bible doesn’t employ the term “priesthood of all believers.” It speaks about the priesthood of all Israel. Literally: “you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (Exod 19:6).

This fact didn’t allow everyone to lead the people in every position. The government of the people by the heads of the home, the tribe, and the community of all Israel, was granted only to men (Numbers 1-2, 10:14-28; 34:16-29). The same happens with the new Christian Israel. Literally, said Peter: “You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light” (1 Pet 2:9). Again, this didn’t mean that everyone could lead the people in every position. Despite the fact that all may become “children of God through faith” as brothers and sisters in Christ (Gal 3:26-28), only a man, head of his family, was committed to lead the church as an elder (1 Tim 3:2; Tit 1:6; see Eph 5:23).

Papal Hyperbole

The parallelism that George Knight tries to make between the papacy and the General Conference of our church has no legitimate application here. In the Middle Ages, the refusal to submit to a papal decision meant the death penalty (being tortured and ultimately burned at the stake). But the proposition to the delegates of the leaders of the world church by the GC, backed by the presidents of all of the Divisions, is intended to solve the problems caused by an “Omega” type rebellion fomented by a few leaders of three or four Divisions. What we Seventh-day Adventists request of the rebels—who are losing the sense of mission that was entrusted us—is to respect what was voted in GC Session, or resign from their administrative leadership. They are free to remain in the church, or to leave and organize another church if they so desire, according to the dictates of their own conscience.

This trend to break the divinely established ecclesiastical structure is being viewed at different levels by those who think that in order to favor the mission, it is necessary to sacrifice the structure. Let me conclude with the following statements of E. G. White.

“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 (LED 47).

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 thing as every man's being independent” [From manuscript read before the delegates at the General Conference Session, Washington, D.C., May 30, 1909.]—Testimonies for the Church 9:257, 258 (1909).

“As we near the final crisis, instead of feeling that there is less need of order and harmony of action, we should be more systematic than heretofore” (SM 3:26 [1892]).

“There is but one church in the world who are at the present time standing in the breach and making up the hedge, building up the old waste places...” (LDE 43).

“Light was given by His Spirit that there must be order and thorough discipline in the church—that organization was essential. System and order are manifest in all the works of God throughout the universe. Order is the law of heaven, and it should be the law of God's people on the earth” (Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 26 [1902]). 

 

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.