Monday, August 20, 2007

A Reality Check

From the weekly Berkeley Breathed comic, Opus.
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Friday, August 3, 2007

Toward a More Effective System of Church Governance

By Larry Downing

"I'll tell you what I think. I think the Adventist Church in the United States is dying, and I can't see much evidence that anybody much cares." This statement from a pastor friend of mine who has ministered in some of America's largest Adventist churches did not surprise me. I have heard other colleagues say the same thing.

I visited his church one Sabbath while on a brief vacation, and we spent the afternoon together doing what pastors do, talking shop. As our conversation developed, we both observed that we were hard put to find evidence that church leaders and others were attempting to address this crisis in meaningful and responsible ways. We remarked that on Sabbath mornings churches across our country are half-full or less and are in financial difficulty. There are, however, viable options that might help turn around this unfortunate situation and insure the viability of local Adventist churches if we have the fortitude and courage to act.

Numerous business professionals have been asked to evaluate and make suggestions as to how to make the church administrative structure more efficient. Their suggestions have largely been ignored or brushed aside with the comment, "Brother, you are talking about business. You do not understand the church." We in the local church are left to suffer while our organization languishes within an antiquated and ineffective system of governance. We have the ability to change this aspect of the Adventist church, and it will not threaten any doctrinal, moral or biblical principle. Indeed, the opposite will occur. We will demonstrate good stewardship.

An examination of the finances of the typical local church shows that fifty percent or more of its income is sent outside. In return, the local church receives a pastor, or, in many cases, shares a pastor. This represents a return to the local parish of approximately $55,000 to $75,000 per pastoral position. (The difference between the two figures depends on several factors: educational travel and housing allowances, medical costs and other factors that affect a pastor's remuneration.) Amounts received above the pastor's salary are returned to the local conference to support the church structure.

The most effective and efficient way to make more dollars available to the local church is to cut administrative positions and structures. Establish one operative criterion: does this function/office enhance the local church? Unless the answer, from the perspective of pastors and members of the local parish is an unequivocal yes, cut it out!

An interview with pastors and members of local churches will demonstrate that significant services, offices and functions that currently make up union and local conferences provide little or no assistance to us in the local church. Too many offices exist to provide slots for people from a particular ethnic background or to meet the expectations of someone at a higher organizational level.

The Seventh-day Adventist church lacks a viable system of pastoral accountability and acknowledgment of excellence. Our present system rewards mediocrity. It may be time to consider rewarding in tangible ways those who demonstrate superior performance in ministry. In our present structure the pastor, in reality, is accountable to no one. In theory and on the organizational charts the pastor is accountable to the conference president or another designated person. In reality, the president has little knowledge of what the local pastor does, except when a pastor is in trouble. The president spends a majority of his time on institutional matters that are far removed from the local parish. Some have suggested this practice change, and the presidents once again turn their attention to the needs of the local church, its pastors and the parishioners.

The accountability that exists between a pastor and the local board is by mutual consent rather than design, since the local church can neither hire nor fire a pastor. Local conferences have attempted to initiate an accountability system with less than positive results. One reason for the lack of success, I believe, lies in the fact that there is no system wide reward and punishment. Unless such a system is established, we are not serious about accountability.

The Adventist educational system has been an integral part of the church since its beginnings. There is need, however, to recognize that significant numbers of our youth attend public and other private schools. We have largely ignored this segment of our church population. We channel massive amounts of money into our school system, and many are not certain we receive back a commensurate return when compared with those who attend other schools. It might be well to inaugurate a Christian Education program within the local church. Others have proposed that the Adventist Church direct more of its educational funds to establish Christian Education Centers within the local church. These centers would be designed to provide Bible and doctrinal education on Sabbath morning and once or twice during the week. To this point our attention has been directed to the structural and financial components of the Adventist church. We would not do justice to our purpose if we did not turn attention the doctrines, beliefs and polity of the Adventist church.

When I listen to and join in conversation with other pastors, I find that it is our shared opinion that we have a wide diversity of opinion among us as to how we receive and practice our belief system. We find that a significant number of our members denies our traditional and officially defended understanding of cosmology and creation. Our members today attend movies, dance, drink coffee and wear jewelry. Many of our members do not believe that these behaviors violate scripture and, if challenged, will point out that the texts we have used to defend our prohibitions do not speak to the subject or have been taken out of context. This suggests that we take seriously the need to examine some of our traditional beliefs and practices and frame our conclusions in a biblically defensible framework. The call to tradition or the statement, "This is what we believe,” no longer carries the day.

None of the above suggestions alone can turn around the decline in church attendance. It is essential that our pastors preach sound biblical sermons that affirm Jesus Christ and the gospel. It is important that we have the conviction that God speaks to us today, that people are dedicated to the Lord and to the church, and that the Spirit of God is active within the church and among its members. On the other hand, we can preach with conviction, perform our rituals and still lack the resources to meet the competition. The local church is part of a competitive environment like any other organization. Brand loyalty is fast becoming irrelevant. We may do all the right things and yet fail. What is more certain is that if we continue to do the wrong things, our downward spiral will persist.

Larry Downing is the retired senior pastor of the White Memorial Church in Los Angeles, Calif. and is adjunct professor in the School of Business and Management at La Sierra University where he teaches business ethics to Master of Business Administration students. He has also taught in the Schools of Religion at Loma Linda University and La Sierra University. He has been a pastor since 1967.

Knights and their Whole Armor

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The Burbank Case: Do Seventh-day Adventists really have a representative church government?

by Charles Randall

This article is a reprint with minor editorial changes of the article of the same name that appeared in the Summer, 1967, issue of Perspective Magazine: A Quarterly Journal of Discussion and Dialogue for Seventh-day Adventist Laymen and Students.

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age." Matt. 28: 19, 20 RSV.

Every follower of Christ pays at least lip service to this command. Christians of all varieties have organized themselves to accomplish those portions of this commission that they can't individually accomplish. But have we thought about the implication of the universality of the gospel commission to these same organizations? It implies that people from a variety of cultural backgrounds will accept the teachings, be baptized, and perhaps even want to cooperate with a particular Christian church in carrying forward the gospel commission. It follows then that any church with such a cross cultural membership must develop a system of government that enables all its constituent elements to function effectively.

There are four generally recognized forms of church government; these may be summarized as follows: 1. Episcopal . . . 2. Papal . . . 3. Independent (Congregationalist) . . . 4. Representative--the form of church government which recognizes that authority in the church rests in the church membership, with executive responsibility delegated to representative bodies and officers for the governing of the church. This form of church government recognizes also the equality of the entire ministry. The representative form of church government is that which prevails in the Seventh-day Adventist Church.1

In view of the implications of the gospel commission outlined above, this choice of church government by our founding fathers was indeed wise, but it is the responsibility of each of us today to maintain its representative nature. Not only must we be prepared to accept a plurality of viewpoints and reactions to many situations, but we must also insist that these viewpoints be represented in the official organization and in the committees which plan the future and operate the present organized programs of our Church. The problems which can result from a lack of representation can become increasingly serious if the Church grows and begins to contact portions of society who's social backgrounds differ widely from those of its original founders.

The type of problems that can develop when the representative form of government breaks down are clearly illuminated if one examines the recent history of the Burbank Seventh-day Adventist Church. My purpose in reporting in some detail the events which took place within a particular church is not to glorify or vilify any personalities or congregations, but rather to provide a report of what has happened to one congregation and its pastor when it has sought to direct its own affairs in a manner representative of its members. No doubt similar reports could be written about other congregations and pastors.

Burbank, a suburb of Los Angeles, has a population of almost 100,00 drawn from a cross section typical of many American cities. The Seventh-day Adventist Church in this community has been in existence for many years. Until about 13 years ago it met in small quarters. Then under the leadership of their first full-time pastor, Euel Atchley, the church members felt the need for a more outstanding witness to the community and launched a building campaign that resulted in an attractive and functional building. Church membership grew to nearly 400, and laymen were active in the administration of the church. After several years of Elder Atchley's ministry, problems developed between the pastor and the conference which culminated in his being taken from the church over the objection of its membership, sent to the Theological Seminary for further schooling, and being re-assigned to a smaller church.

The following two pastors assigned to Burbank were fine men, having served as effective pastors to other congregations. One resigned after not quite 4 years; the other sought a call after 18 months. During this period the church membership dropped to under 200 members.

The next pastor, Wayne Jones, was intensely interested in making the local church a meaningful Christian witness to the community. About this time it became apparent to the congregation that one of the elements most detrimental to this goal was the type of local church administration in effect at that time. It was felt that the type of organization then in effect required the pastor to function as church administrator which required time and effort on his part which might better be devoted to his primary work of ministry. It was also felt that this type of organization invited financial problems, because each activity of the church was funded separately under this system, making it difficult to see the total cost and adequately plan for the overall support of the local church ministry. The congregation felt that these problems could be solved by making effective use of the demonstrated administrative talents of the members within the church. The problem in a nutshell was a local church organization that was not making use of the modern administrative procedures familiar to its members from their normal professional activities.

As the study of local church procedures was carried out, the congregation voted what they considered to be improvements. For example:

1) The local church administration was reshaped to allow the pastor to carry out his ministry on a full-time basis by releasing him from his duties as church administrator. The duties of church administrator were taken over by a competent layman. To further facilitate the pastor's ministry he was provided, within the local church financial structure, a budget for personal evangelism, worship resources, and pastoral care.

2) The finances of the church were put on a sound foundation by grouping all the separate operating funds of the local church into a church budget and realistically facing the fact that the church required a monthly income of about 2,500 dollars. This budget was then met by pledges of the members. As part of the educational program connected with the raising of the budget, new offering envelopes were printed which listed more simply the various locations to which money could be directed.

3) The door to door solicitation campaign of the Ingathering program was discontinued after a study showed that its overall effect on the witness of the church in the community was deleterious. Furthermore, many in the congregation felt that an inordinate weight was placed on the raising of one particular offering in the measurement of a minister's success. And in addition, a large number considered it to be unethical to kick back to the conference a large percentage of funds solicited in an appeal for humanity.

Because each of these "improvements" represented departures from regular practice, they were viewed with some suspicion by the conference organization. Within a short time after his arrival, Elder Jones had taken the pulse of the situation and told the conference that there were two ways to deal with it. Either make ineffectual the creative contributing leadership of the church, or have continuous study and dialogue between this group and the conference on meaningful ways to improve church organization. Elder Jones stated he was not adept at doing the former, and if the conference desired this solution, he should be moved. The representative approach was apparently chosen when Elder Jones was allowed to remain as pastor. However, there remained a continuing pressure on the pastor to "bring the church into line".

Believing that the work of the conference could be more effective by some relatively minor changes in the conference organization and realizing that the biennial constituency meeting is the correct place within the representative structure of the church to suggest these changes, a progressive delegation to the spring 1965 constituency meeting was selected by the Burbank congregation. The delegation requested published agendas before the next meeting, publication of departmental reports ahead of time to permit in depth study by the delegates, and some restudy of the policies of support given to the local churches for secretarial help.

The conference officials met with the Burbank Church just a few weeks after the constituency meeting because they felt "there has developed altogether too broadly within the conference the concept of a negative attitude toward denominational organization and policies on the part of the Burbank church." In this April meeting some of the actions of the church were discussed and a smaller committee was appointed to meet with the conference and further iron out differences. This smaller committee was unable to meet with the conference officials until the middle of September. When the committee did meet the basic topic was the formation of a church representative of the people within it. This involved a discussion of the Church Manual. Was this volume a guide or an inerrant rule to practice? This also involved a discussion of the function of the constituency meeting. Quoting from the report of this committee

Committee members felt that although the forms and theory are representative, in actual practice there is much that is autocratic. Delegates are sent from the various churches to these biennial meetings as representatives of the churches to the deliberations of the church organization at the conference level. Very few, however, actively get to participate in such deliberations . . . Our committee felt this was one of the reasons why many of the laity had the feeling that our procedures were not as fully democratic as they might be. Many church members decline to be chosen as delegates because of this situation

We must report that in the three hour discussion on these topics there was no complete meeting of minds between the Burbank committee and the conference officers, but that, as Elder Sandefur, [Southern California Conference president at the time] put it, 'Our differences are infinitesimal.' We feel that much progress was made by such an open and free discussion . . . The study committee plans to carry out the commission of our church board to continue to study these areas in depth.

But the committee was never able to meet with the conference officials again.

During the ensuing two years the church grew to nearly 300 members and continued to attract young leaders. It continued to become more deeply involved in the community affairs that the membership felt were appropriate for a Christian church. Principally through its pastor, the Burbank Church became active in the Burbank Interfaith Council, a group drawn from many religious faiths which seeks to improve understanding among the faiths without lessening a commitment to one's own faith. Through the efforts of the pastor and several members, the church also became active in the Burbank Human Relations Council, which seeks to promote better understanding between ethnic groups. The Burbank Church participated in another form of evangelism by supporting for one summer, a concentrated visitation program conducted by a junior ministerial student from La Sierra College. The church actively supported the "It is Written" program and currently has more than sixty persons working on the bible course under the supervision of a bible worker who is partially supported by the local church. The physical plant of the church was improved by the addition of a fellowship hall and additional air-conditioned educational rooms.2

Then came the 1967 biennial constituency meeting. Interestingly, several of the Burbank recommendations that had been voted down at the meeting two years previous were put into effect. Agendas were available to delegates before the meeting convened. Reports were published, and at least the treasurer's report was available to the delegates before the meeting began.

The proposals of the Burbank delegation at this meeting were few and simple:

1) In order to implement the findings of the study committee of nearly two years previous, it was recommended that a lay board be established to "foster and promote vigorous, continuous lay participation in the lay direction of the work in the Southern California Conference of Seventh-day Adventists." The board was to be composed of one elected representative from each church in the conference and was to establish its own rules of operation.

2) Recognize officially the problems in our society in connection with race relations, by establishing a Human Relations Secretariat within the conference organization.

3) Recognize the important contribution that can be made by modern statistical research techniques in directing the church in fruitful areas of work, by implementing these techniques and employing qualified professionals to direct this work.

These actions were carried to the convention through the established channels, being first presented to the appropriate committees, and then brought to the floor as part of the committee reports. The first and third proposals were brought back from the committees, with favorable recommendations, though naturally the wording had been changed somewhat. These two proposals were then approved by the constituent assembly. The favorable response by the convention to those proposals was pleasing to the Burbank delegation, which felt that the representative process was indeed capable of functioning when properly used.

In view of the approval of the Burbank proposals by the constituency meeting, rumors concerning the removal of its pastor were at first discounted by the congregation. Four weeks after the constituency meeting, the rumors became fact when Elder Jones was told he was being sent to be an assistant pastor in another church with fewer members than the Burbank church.3 No preliminary, informal discussions of this move were made by the conference with either the church or Elder Jones. Elder Jones considered this call as he would consider any call. On the basis of study and prayer, he did not accept it.

Because of the obvious implications of conference dissatisfaction with the congregation and the seemingly arbitrary way in which the move was carried out, the entire church was concerned. A meeting of the church board, which in Burbank is open to anyone who cares to attend, was called to discuss this action with the conference executives. The first elder, Dr. William Evans, after reviewing the actions up to that evening, continued:

I had hoped that this evening the officers of the conference would feel free to meet with us and to answer our questions and to engage in a dialogue which would bring the matter to some fruition. As of a few moments ago, Elder Retzer, [Southern California Conference President] felt that the nature of his obligations required that he simply make a statement and retire. This is entirely within his right. I will appreciate the statement and any reason he wishes to give us for whatever action is contemplated. Beyond that, I certainly intend to protect him from any questions he does not wish to answer . . . If he can find it within his heart to stay with us a while and to learn of our concern I will be grateful.

Elder Retzer, after stating that the action was taken "out of love for Elder Jones and for the church," continued:

A change in pastors does not mean that a pastor has failed, or that the church is in trouble. The committee (and we hear all kinds of rumors, of course) did not vote to discontinue Brother Jones. This change of pastors was likewise not voted to punish him, but rather to expand his ministry . . . Usually when we talk about the pastor and the changes of pastors we work with a board of elders. We discuss the outgoing and the incoming pastor with them. When I learned that the entire congregation was here this evening, we felt that in fairness to the committee [Conference Committee] that we could not at this time enter into a discussion. If you wanted to discuss it we would prefer that the entire committee be with us to help answer any questions that you might have.

Elder Jones presented the pastor's view of the situation.

I feel we as a group need to face some issues, face ourselves, and, I believe, as a conference administration, we also need to face some issues . . . I think there are some differences of opinion . . . I think these differences of opinion ought to be worked out . . . I think that we should be old enough and mature enough to put our cards on the table, discuss what our differences are, pray them through, and argue them if need be, to the end that we have some sort of rapport. I've been in the conference office many times to discuss certain things, and I've recognized from the minute I left that what somebody was hoping I would do is next to an impossibility. I've also recognized the reluctance of any conference president to get into the type of dialogue I'm suggesting tonight. I'm not sure I'd want to if I were the conference president. But I do think that closing our minds to each other and walking away only entrenches our own phobias, builds up anticipation of the unknown, stimulates types of rumors like we've all heard, and cripples some people in their abilities to grow in Christian experience. Therefore I think that there ought to be some coming to grips with problems that exist.

It was soon apparent from additional remarks by the conference president that the call was no ordinary one and that the action was, in fact to move Elder Jones under any circumstances. With this action, the conference committee had placed a call to another pastor. Both actions were taken without the normal dialogue with the church referred to by Elder Retzer. That such actions could be taken without representative due process and without citing specific cause was very disturbing to the congregation. More than twenty people speaking extemporaneously from the floor registered their protests. These ranged from the Bible worker and those who had been members of the Burbank congregation for a number of years, to very new members of the congregation and new members of the Seventh-day Adventist church.

Perhaps the best definition of the area of conflict came from a long time member of the Burbank church, Dr. Winston Nethery.

The basic problem and the one I think we will have to face without mincing words is this: does the congregation have the right to rule itself, or must it take complete and minute orders from the conference. We claim that in many things we have the right to make the decisions for ourselves. There are differences of opinion on doctrine in any healthy Adventist church, but that has not separated us one from each other. There is no reason why it should separate us from the conference officials. For every difference of doctrinal opinion among us, we can find our counterpart in the General Conference or in some Union Conference. There are differences of opinion through the entire church, and that is exactly as it should be, because our religion is a personal religion. It isn't a Conference religion or a Union Conference religion or a General Conference religion. It's mine and it's yours. It must not be dominated by other people, because we go to Heaven as individuals, not as a church.

The problem is only a question of organization, and what a little thing that is to make such a big fuss about. I often wonder why the conference was so wrought up about this little two hundred and fifty-member church. We want to operate this church in a fashion we think works best in Burbank and for our personalities. We are not trying to get other people to follow suit. Do as you like, but when a person comes to tell me how to go about converting my neighbor, I'm apt to tell him he doesn't know what it's all about. I'll do it in my way, and that's what Burbank has been essentially doing.

The meeting was concluded after the congregation extended a call to Elder Jones, and requested a meeting with the conference committee in order to determine why Elder Jones was being removed. It was further requested that pending the satisfactory conclusion of negotiations with that committee, Elder Jones be allowed to remain in Burbank.

Though the dialogue with the conference executives during the meeting was limited, following the formal meeting there was a good deal of discussion on a personal basis. Some took place that evening, and much took place in the next few days. Concerned church members took time to talk personally with members of the conference committee.

The conference committee refused to meet with the entire church, but rather invited the board of elders to meet with them. The Burbank board accepted the invitation. No response was made to the other requests. In the meantime, Elder Jones was informed that his ministry to the Burbank congregation was to end as of the thirteenth of May. This action, apparently taken while a request for representative discussion on the problem was in the hands of the conference, alarmed the congregation. This alarm was conveyed to the conference committee when the meeting was held. Elder Retzer explained that while the date on the letter made it seem that the conference had acted in bad faith, in actual fact, the letter had been dictated before the board meeting held in Burbank.

Because of the imminent nature of Elder Jones removal, the discussion at the meeting began on this issue. The Southern California Conference Committee was again reminded that its policy of consulting with the church in the changing of pastors had not been carried out in the present case. The responses to this were interesting.

This committee feels that in the best interest of the overall church work certain changes should be made from time to time. So we move men." "These changes are made without consideration of the individual involved, but with the overall view of the work of the conference in mind, It often comes as a shock to the church to have their pastor moved.

In an attempt to get at the underlying problem, Dr. J. W. Kuzma of the Burbank Church, cited a lack of communication between Burbank and the conference.

Untrue accusations have been made against us: that we are going to secede from the Southern California Conference, that we are not paying tithe. Obviously these are false. Yet they have colored your decision to move Elder Jones. How can you make this decision without hearing our side? The lack of communication can be blamed for most of these problems.

Dr. Evans took the administrative system of the conference to task.

I am disturbed by a system which gives a person no tenure, either in Burbank or in the Southern California Conference. A man can be dropped without charges by a committee-a committee which is made up almost entirely of people in the employ of the conference who themselves don't have tenure; men who themselves could be removed for any sort of real or imagined infraction. To have men who are to teach and preach the truth, whether popular or unpopular, employed in such a way is a complete disruption of intellectual freedom . . . I plead for the gathering together of men who want to work for the cause, not because of financial security but out of the concern for the Christian message.

Perhaps the underlying issue was a difference of opinion as to the executive prerogatives of the conference administration as set out in the Church Manual. Mr. Al Hamra, the Southern California Conference Treasurer, explained, "The constituency elects the executive committee. It is the responsibility of this group to make decisions concerning pastors. We (the conference) feel that the Church Manual is a guiding principle. You in the Burbank congregation feel that it is something that should be accepted or rejected by a local church."

Dr. Edward Westphal of the Burbank church replied:

"The conference presents the Church Manual as an arbitrary rule of order which must be obeyed to the letter. We feel rather that it is a guide, as is indicated in the preface of all editions up to 1959 and still appears in the Spanish edition. The history of the manual supports our position. No manual existed until 1932. In 1883 a strong movement for a manual developed, and the General Conference appointed a committee to study the desirability of a manual. The manual was eventually turned down for reasons reported in the Review and Herald of November 20, 1883.

As the discussion continued, it became increasingly evident why the Burbank church was being deprived of what the congregation felt was a meaningful ministry. Dr. Evans reported later to the congregation:

The conference committee voted to replace our minister, because they conceive a major function of a minister is to transmit the policies of the conference to the congregation; to keep the congregation disciplined so there is not direct confrontation between the conference officials and the church members. It was pointed out that we viewed the church as a redemptive fellowship. If policies were in conflict with this, then we wanted dialogue directly with the conference. This they interpreted as a lack of communication.

The results of this meeting were an extension of Elder Jones ministry in Burbank until the middle of June, and an invitation to meet again with the committee to discuss a successor for Elder Jones. Before the second meeting took place, another open meeting of the Board of Elders was called, at which time a report of the meeting with the conference committee was made. The board meeting then turned into a brain storming session in which names of possible new pastors were noted for further investigation.

The next meeting with the conference committee took place the following week with the Union Conference President R. R. Bietz present, and four of the seven laymen on the conference committee absent. Though the conference committee attempted to restrict the meeting to a listing of names of possible pastors, the Burbank delegation made it their first order of business to present their recommendations as a permanent way to lessen tensions between the Burbank church and conference. This opening presentation of the church's recommendation was interrupted by a member of the conference committee. "Do we have to listen to this?" This indication that the committee did not wish to hear the recommendation of those intimately concerned was particularly surprising to the Burbank board members because none of the committee members, except the Conference Secretary, had ever attended services at the Burbank Church. Thus the committee had no first hand experience upon which to base its actions.

However, after some discussion, the conclusion of the presentation was permitted. The recommendation was for a smaller committee to be appointed from the conference committee to meet with a similar committee from the Burbank church. This smaller discussion group would meet periodically until certain specific problems had been dealt with. Without this continued dialogue, the Burbank congregation felt that simply dropping in a new pastor would solve nothing. Dr. Evans brought this out.

To present a list of names without appointing such a committee and having the benefit of its study, is to put the church and the new minister in untenable positions, resulting in the minister being assigned to discipline the congregation. I intend to try and protect any minister from being put in such a position. We have a meaningful service at Burbank, and we need a man who can wholeheartedly enter into this. It is my conception of this meeting that we are here to work for the best interests of our church.

After lengthy discussion the Union Conference President accepted this proposal, with the assurance to the Burbank delegation that the Southern California Conference would designate the smaller committee. The discussion then turned to names of possible new pastors. It was hoped that some discussion by the conference would enlarge the congregation's store of information about the men, but response was limited to approximate age, educational background, and time in present location.

The smaller committee met nine days later. It was opened with a lengthy lecture by the Union Conference President on various forms of church organization and the necessity of organization - propositions which the delegates from Burbank and the conference committeemen acknowledged to be valid. The group then began to explore the justification of the conference committee's expectation that local congregations be absolutely obedient to it. During this discussion, the Burbank delegation answered some specific questions concerning current, widespread misinformation.

For instance, the persistent rumor was cited that Burbank did not do Ingathering. While it had been voted not to carry out a house to house public solicitation campaign, that action did not prohibit individual lngathering efforts.4 It was further pointed out that the Burbank Church supported missions with a yearly sum larger than its Ingathering goal. Rumor had it that Burbank did not use the SDA church hymnal. This rumor was laid to rest by Elder Retzer who had visited the church on the preceding Sabbath. It was also rumored that Burbank diverted tithe. The fact was that every penny that came to the Burbank church treasurer marked tithe was sent to the Southern California Conference.5 Finally, the rumor had circulated that the Burbank church provided a private "slush fund" for the pastor. The fact was that as part of its regular expense budget, the church provided a budget for the expenses incurred in the pastor's personal evangelism, pastoral care, and the procurement of worship resource material.

Each of these items was discussed in some detail. The lack of consultation with the church in the matter of a change of pastors was again decried. The conference officials stated once again that the reason for moving the pastor was "a lack of leadership in Burbank." The meeting was evidently a very useful means of communication, for Elder Beitz closed the meeting by saying, "There are no problems that require this group to meet again . . . Up to this point you have a clean slate."

Shortly thereafter, the first elder of the church was presented with three names for the church's consideration as possible pastors. This marked a considerable change from the original action of informing the congregation after a new pastor had been called. A committee of elders was formed and proceeded to interview those men who were residing in Southern California. These negotiations concluded in the selection by the conference committee of one of the names as the new pastor.

Though Elder Jones wished to continue in the ministry, he received no additional calls to a specific location. This led the Burbank Church to call him to represent them in a new, experimental "Ministry of Social Concern". This ministry was to those young people of the Southern California area who are having a difficult time relating their faith to the modern world and to religious institutions. If no suitable denominational calls were to come to Elder Jones, he planned to accept Burbank's new challenge and to pursue graduate training to help him in this new ministry.

When reading the minutes of these various meetings, it is interesting to compare the statements made by the Burbank representatives and by conference committee members. These reactions reveal a real difference in thinking between men who have spent their lifetime as church employees and men who live and work in a variety of other professions. This lay thought needs representation within the organizational structure of the church if we are to be representative in more than name only. This different viewpoint is not represented by the quiet laymen who presently sit on the conference committees.6

However, this lack of representation is not entirely the fault of the paid employees of the church. There are a large number of laymen within the church who don't know, don't care, or don't feel they can do anything about this critical problem of representation. Haven't these men and women abdicated their God given responsibility to make the Christian church meaningful in the complexities of an irreligious and cynical modern world?

The Seventh-day Adventist church stands at a crossroads in its history. Will it adhere rigidly to an increasingly complex structure of rules, beliefs, policies, and programs, continually refining these to benefit a group of people with similar backgrounds or personality, emotional stability and culture? Or will the church encourage the flexible Christianity of Christ that measures an idea's worth by its contribution to the basic requirements of love to God and love of neighbor? The second course is much the more challenging. It places on the individual the responsibility of accepting the relationship with God and his fellow human beings which is the most meaningful to him, consistent with his personal understanding of the revelation of God to man. Because of the wide diversity of personalities created by God, this relationship, beyond its basic foundations, will take a multitude of forms. The highest challenge to the Adventist Church is to provide a community based on love, beneficial to each individual's religious progress while not threatening his or her individuality.

It would be unrealistic to deny that organizations which have chosen a narrow organizational route have made significant contributions to society. If the Seventh-day Adventist Church chooses this course, it is choosing to exclude people who don't fit into its organizational mold. This creates what one person has called "a brain drain which the Church can ill afford." The creative individuals presently in the Church will not and can not work with an organization that does not have a place in it for creative approaches to new problems. Even church membership may become meaningless to these people. It further follows that if the energetic and creative individuals within the Church are not valued, there must be a similar group in society as a whole who will never be attracted to this crippled form of Christianity.

If the Church can remain flexible enough to benefit a wide diversity of personalities and personal commitments, the way is open to growth and progress. This flexibility promises us a Church that can help people meet today's problems because it will be a part of today's world. Flexibility is also essential if the Church is to successfully adapt itself to meet the needs of coming generations in an ever more rapidly changing world.

This road of progress will have its bumps and potholes, and traveling along it won't always be a pleasant experience. The Burbank congregation is certainly aware of that fact. But the congregation is also aware that growing up means occasional physical and emotional bruises. To travel this route successfully, the basic requirement is a representative church; a church in which its various creative elements are represented in governing, planning, and operation. We must come to realize that a plurality of viewpoints is valuable and healthy.

What of progress toward this utopian goal? The answer lies not only with the clergy, but with lay men and women as well. The representative form of government is not completely dead in the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Laymen will be heard and acknowledged if they shout loud enough. At the recent constituency meeting, a significant number of the proposals of the Burbank Church were accepted. In the face of determined and united opposition on the part of the Burbank congregation, the Southern California Conference backed away from its action of appointing a new minister without consulting the congregation. The new Burbank pastor was selected only after he had met with the church and the church had given its recommendation to the conference. (There is, however, considerable room for improvement, when it is possible for the mutually beneficial relationship of a pastor with his congregation to be destroyed over the objections of both the minister and the congregation.)

While it is of utmost importance to have a church organization that is responsive to the laity, it is also of crucial importance for the laity to be responsive to the needs of the world around them. Church members must care about making a meaningful contribution to their community through their church, recognizing that in making this contribution, portions of the local church may need to be reshaped. The congregation in Burbank has endeavored to do this in the community where it finds itself. It will continue to do so.

1. Page 43, SDA Church Manual, 1959 edition. All other quotations in this article are from slightly abridged transcripts of the various meetings referred to. In some cases the syntax of the original extemporaneous statements has been altered, without, I hope altering their original content.

2. In planning the church budget, the recurring need for facility expansion had been anticipated and included. This enabled the church to build the addition without launching a special building campaign. is interesting to note in passing that the Burbank Church had been told that it could not have an assistant pastor because of a policy of not providing assistant pastors to churches of less than three hundred members.

4. Because of the previously discussed objections to the Ingathering program by many in the congregation, Burbank's contributions to this fund are admittedly small.

5. There are members in Burbank who have lost confidence in the financial acumen of the conference administration and for this reason are directing their tithe to what they feel to be more promising fields of endeavor. However, this has never been voted as a church policy or encouraged publicly in the church.

6. Not a single comment was made by six of the seven lay members of the conference committee in any of the encounters with the Burbank Board of Elders. The seventh made only occasional comments.

A History of Adventist Iterpretation of Revelation and Inspiration

By Sakae Kubo

This lecture was presented as part of a series which commemorated the 150th anniversary of 1844 disappointment, sponsored by La Sierra University and specifically promoted by Paul Landa, Professor of Church History. Dr. Landa passed away in 1998. (The original title was "Future Adventist Interpretation of Revelation and Inspiration".)


If the histories of denominations are analogous, the Adventist Church stands at the threshold of a crucial period in its history. Adventist theologians are focusing on the meaning of inspiration and the use of the higher critical method.1 The same thing took place in the Missouri Synod before the Concordia Seminary in St. Louis broke away and the church split into two factions. These same issues are threatening to divide the Southern Baptist Convention. Whether the Adventist church will split over this issue, as did the Missouri Synod, has yet to be determined.

A review of the history of the doctrine of inspiration in the Adventist Church sets the stage for our present somber assessment. Since Adventist theologians assume that Ellen White is an inspired writer, discussion of her writings is relevant in evaluating the church's position regarding the inspiration of the Bible. Our topic includes revelation as well, but since there is general unanimity regarding what revelation means, our attention will focus on the meaning of inspiration.

I. The History of the Doctrine of Inspiration

A. 1844-1900

The General Conference action of November 16, 1883, clearly acknowledged that a prophet is not preserved from "grammatical imperfections" and, therefore, revisions of a prophet's work are not out of order. In other words, thoughts and not words are imparted by God. Obviously, our early church leaders believed that inspired writing was not inerrant.

W. C. White's letter to L. E. Froom of January 8, 1928, confirms this fact.3 He states that the action of the General Conference of 1883 reflected the almost unanimous position of the pioneers. The only divergent view was that of W. W. Prescott, president of Battle Creek College (1885-1894),4 who through his forceful manner led many to follow Gaussen's inerrant view of inspiration.5,6 Clearly Prescott's position was at variance with that of the church.7 Yet he must have been influential since this view of inerrant inspiration seems to have become popular in the church during this time and after, even when he no longer espoused this position.

George L. Butler, when he was president of the General Conference, published a series of ten articles on inspiration, beginning January 8, 1884.8 He proposed that there were different degrees of inspiration in the Bible.9 Moses and Christ, the latter much superior to the former, stood at the pinnacle of inspiration because "the subject matter they present is more important, the light revealed is clearer, and their words more impressive and profound."10 He was careful to state that he respected all Scripture in varying degrees, that he did not question any statement anywhere, and that he accepted all of the books of the Bible as inspired.

What is important in Butler's presentation is that he clearly recognized the difference between the various books in the Bible. "The law of Moses and the discourses of Christ stand higher in our estimation than the book of Ruth, the Proverbs, or the Song of Solomon."11 He also believed in the different modes of revelation and inspiration and was very perceptive in his analysis of inspiration as it relates to the different types of biblical literature.12 His articles deserve more serious study than they have been afforded.

In 1886 Ellen White stated that men are inspired, not the words of the Bible. They are imbued with thoughts but not words or expressions.13

B. 1900-1954

Haloviak points out three different attitudes towards Ellen White's writings in the early twentieth century.14 The first group including A. T. Jones, E. J. Waggoner, and J. H. Kellogg can be classed as inerrantist. They were literalists who could not allow for apparent contradictions or inconsistencies. Thus, they concluded that what appeared to be contradictions were not from the prophet but came from some other non-inspired source.15 Haskell, Butler, and Washburn also believed in the literal interpretation of Ellen White's writings but ignored or downplayed the apparent inconsistencies and contradictions. The third group including Daniells, Prescott,16 and W. C. White "emphasized the need for a non-literal, contextual approach. . . ." They allowed for errors, but for them this did not mean that her writings were not inspired.17

While some church leaders held the traditional nineteenth century view of inspiration, there was a strong undercurrent of support for a new ultraconservative view through the first four decades of the twentieth century. During this period a significant shift in the church's view of inspiration is apparent. The mainstream view during the previous period was that inspiration did not mean inerrancy. However, the mainstream view in this period was inerrancy. According to Haloviak the first decade of the twentieth century was characterized by those who held to a more literalistic view of Scripture, probably influenced by Prescott. What Daniells said at the 1919 Bible Conference confirms this. "We have made a wonderful change in nineteen years, Brother Prescott. Fifteen years ago we could not have talked what we are talking here today."18 Yet the fact that the Conference reports show there was fear that what was being discussed would be leaked out belies the fact that a substantial lasting change in the doctrine had taken place.

The 1919 Bible Conference took place because an inerrant view of inspiration could not be accepted by church leaders who were personally acquainted with Ellen White, knew how her writings were put together, and had been involved in changes made in her writings. The fact that these leaders who were acquainted with her spoke out openly, frankly, and yet with sensitivity and respect regarding her writings, make this conference unique.19

A number of significant points concerning inspiration came out of this Conference:

1. Daniells's statement that Ellen White "never claimed to be an authority on history, and never claimed to be a dogmatic teacher on theology"20 is an important one in that it does not support inerrancy in inspired writings. The implication of this, as Daniells further explained, was that there could be historical errors in inspired writings. At one point Daniells even put forth "one illustration of a mistake in the Bible: In Samuel it says a man lifted up his hand against 800 men whom he slew; then in Chronicles this same thing is spoken of, and it says that he lifted up his hand against 300 men, whom he slew."21

2. Clear unanimity prevailed over the fact that Ellen White's writings were not "verbally inspired." These men knew how her books were put together. James White corrected her works, secretaries assisted in making grammatical changes and added historical material that was not included by her.22 Prescott himself made corrections in the Great Controversy.

3. The slippery slope problem was raised but not dealt with. C. L. Benson articulated this problem best when he asked how we can have confidence in Ellen White's writings when we are uncertain about historical references and her theological interpretation of them.23

Theologians need to accept this type of problem as a fact of life. On the one hand, as long as there is human involvement, we never will have an inerrant canonical document, and on the other hand, as long as God is involved, we can be certain that the Bible is trustworthy and reliable regarding what God wants us to know. We must ever search and investigate, while accepting the fact that given our unique differences we can never expect to arrive at identical views even within the same faith community.24

While there was openness and frankness of discussion at the 1919 Bible Conference, once publicized, the ultraconservative reaction to it brought about the dismissal of the religion faculty at Washington Missionary College and later the defeat of A. G. Daniells as president of the General Conference.25 In 1932, F. M. Wilcox noted the consequences of this conflict in that churches were stirred up and students began witch hunting for "modernist" professors.26 This ultraconservative backlash continues to affect the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

C. 1954-1966

Reuben Figuhr became president of the General Conference in 1954. His support of education in the establishment of two universities, the Geoscience Institute, and his encouragement of publications such as Adventists Answer Questions on Doctrine (1957) indicated a shift from the ultraconservative theology of the previous fifty years.27

About this time an important change was taking place with respect to the faculties of the Seminary and religion departments of Adventist colleges. Biblical scholars and theologians trained in non-Adventist universities began to teach in these fields.28 This change stimulated the study of the Bible in ways not possible before, and Adventist scholars had their eyes opened to new concepts and new ways of looking at things. Truth was the object. Different ways of thinking were not verboten. This changed perspective presented a challenge to some traditional ideas, and questions were raised regarding inspiration, Ellen White and exegesis, the proof text method, and generally accepted Adventist interpretations of Scripture.

The Geoscience Research Institute pursued research and field studies instead of merely seeking evidence to support positions already accepted. These studies led to Adventist researchers to question the belief in a 6000 year old earth, thus leading to questions about the inspiration of Ellen White, who supported this view, and the Bible itself.

Again questions were raised about the nature of inspiration, and the thoughtful Adventists of this period began to question Biblical inerrancy and adopt views more akin to those of the pioneers of the church.

D. 1966-Present

This heady period of openness did not last very long. With the election of Elder Robert Pierson as General Conference President, things began to change.29 The Seminary felt intense reactionary pressure. Certain members of the Seminary faculty were removed or were assigned to other duties. The research-oriented personnel in the Geoscience Research Institute were replaced30 when their findings threatened the 6000 year chronology of earth, thereby calling into question the claim that Ellen White's inspiration was inerrant.

An ultraconservative, Gordon Hyde, whose training was not in theology was made Director of the Biblical Research Institute in 1969. The Bible Conferences of 1974 ostensibly to counteract higher criticism were promoted by the Biblical Research Institute. Later similar conferences were held in other parts of the world field.

In 1976, Elder Pierson requested that Richard Hammill prepare a statement on inspiration and revelation which Hammill says was drastically revised.

Two sections of the document were excised: one of these dealt with the human element in revelation and the resulting problems of contradictions or differences where there are multiple accounts in the Bible of certain events; the other excised section dealt with the role of reason in seeking to understand inspired writings.31

W. J. Hackett initiated the development of a statement on the subject of creation and the early history of the earth in 1976.32 This referred to a "short history for life and the human race," which was not acceptable for ultraconservatives who wanted more specificity, i.e., 6000 years. A later statement of affirmation specified approximately 6000 years.33

In spite of these attempts by powerful ultraconservative forces to preserve the status quo, the debate about the nature of inspiration continued into the seventies. The West Coast Bible Teachers went on record in May of 1977, opposing the development of statements on inspiration, revelation, and creation.34 A number of articles and a book, Prophetess of Health, were published. They documented Ellen White's use of sources which included historical errors.35 After reviewing these materials, McAdams concluded that:

1. Ellen White used material from other authors not only as convenient sources describing what she saw in vision but to provide information not seen in vision.

2. Ellen White was influenced and shaped by late nineteenth-century culture including its health reformers and authors.

3. Ellen White was not inerrant. She imported "errors of fact and some of the misconceptions of her generation" when she incorporated material from contemporary sources.36

These conclusions have very significant implications regarding the present debate on inspiration and biblical interpretation.

The decade of the eighties began with the Consultation at Glacier View regarding Desmond Ford's view of the sanctuary. An interesting blip in the history of interpretation was Consultation II (1981) where, ironically, the historical method shorn of its objectionable presuppositions was deemed acceptable for the study of the Bible.37

In 1981 Gerhard Hasel was appointed Seminary Dean. He was very influential with church administrators because of his association with the Biblical Research Institute. In his new position he became even more influential in shaping the thinking of church administrators.

One immediate result was the about turn made in the statement on Methods of Bible Study38 regarding the assessment of the historical critical method. Hasel's contention, that it is not possible to use a modified version of the method without swallowing the presuppositions that its original formulators accepted, appears in this document.39 The chair of the Bible Department at Southern College. was forbidden to use even a modified form of the historical critical method even though it had been (1) argued persuasively that it was possible to use this method without the naturalistic presuppositions, (2) it had been a "long-standing Adventist practice," (3) it was used in The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, (4) Hasel himself had used it, and (5) it helped "the church come to terms with the genesis of Ellen G. White writings."40 The Southern College Bible Department also required signed statements by its faculty on their position regarding the fundamental doctrines.41 In the same year the ultraconservative periodical, Affirm, was published at Andrews University.

Because of the dissatisfaction with the dominance of so-called liberals within the leadership and membership of the Andrews Society for Religious Studies, ultraconservatives began their own organization. In 1988 The Adventist Theological Society was initiated by the Religion Department of Southern College. They began publication of their own Journal of the Adventist Theological Society in 1990. Membership is by recommendation of two members and "receipt of a signed application indicating acceptance of the society's constitution and bylaws, and unqualified commitment to the society's criteria of membership as presented in the preamble" 42

The publication in 1991 of Alden Thompson's book, Inspiration: Hard Questions, Honest Answers was another significant event in the Adventist history of the doctrine of inspiration.43 It is significant because it was the first time that errors and differences in the Bible were fully acknowledged, discussed within the framework of an Adventist view of inspiration, and openly set forth for discussion by the church. The response to Thompson's book by the Adventist Theological Society was swift and hostile.44

II. Summary of the History of the Doctrine

The history of the doctrine of inspiration within the church began by a recognition on the part of the early leaders that inspired writings were not inerrant. However, because of Prescott's influence at the end of the nineteenth century, the dominant position since then has been that of inerrancy. At the 1919 Bible Conference even church leaders who were personally acquainted with Ellen White were not able to return the church to its earlier position on inspiration. During the period 1954-1966 when scholars with specialized training in biblical and geological studies sought to bring the church's understanding of inspiration more in line with those of early leaders of the church, there was as swift a reaction against this trend as there was when these views were expressed by Daniells during the 1919 Bible Conference. This reactionary period extends to the present day.

III. Analysis of Adventist History

Among Christian conservatives the issue is whether the Bible is infallible only in matters of doctrine and practice or whether it is inerrant in all subjects it deals with, e.g., history, science, geography, chronology, numbers, cosmology, astronomy, even when dealt with peripherally.45

Among Adventist theologians, however, the debate does not deal directly with inerrancy or verbal inspiration because enough is known about Ellen White's writings that it is not possible to believe that they were dictated or verbally inspired. In addition Ellen White clearly stated that "Inspiration acts not on the man's words or his expressions but on the man himself, who under the influence of the Holy Ghost, is imbued with thoughts."46 She also accepted the fact that errors were made by copyists and translators with regard to the Bible.47 One can conclude from her statement that she would not be unduly disturbed by mistakes in the autographs, the very documents written by the authors of Scripture.

In opposition to this view one Adventist scholar, Samuel Koranteng-Pipim, makes this bold statement: " . . . all claims that the Bible makes on any subject-theology, history, science, chronology, numbers, etc.-are absolutely trustworthy and dependable (2 Pet. 1:16-21)."48 Similar claims are made by other ultraconservative writers who believe in inerrancy.49 While Koranteng-Pipim has stated his position clearly, others who seem to agree with him are not willing to state it as candidly as he. As one reads the responses to Thompson's book, one gets the feeling that other members of the Adventist Theological Society believe in an inerrant Bible without admitting it.50

Gary Land, after reviewing the White Estate response to Numbers' Prophetess of Health, stated that while theoretically believing in the possibility of error, the arguments used by the Estate also follow an "inerrancy approach to inspiration."51 Lugenbeal says the same thing in regard to the ultraconservatives' approach to geological problems in the Geoscience Research Institute.

They agreed in theory that Ellen White was fallible, but their actions indicated otherwise. They consistently defended every one of Ellen White's published scientific comments-no matter how incidental to the message of the passage. When asked, for example, about her statements attributing vulcanism to the burning of coal or her assertion that giant men had been found in the fossil record, not once did the Geoscience Research Institute conservatives suggest these statements might illustrate the fallibility of a prophet. Without fail they defended each statement's validity in terms of contemporary scientific knowledge. In short, they treated the entire corpus of Ellen White's writings as inerrant.52

Because of the clear statements of Ellen White on inspiration, ultraconservatives have tried to bring the debate onto a different playing field by condemning higher criticism and human reason. The reason for this is that Ellen White condemns the higher criticism of her day and cautions against relying solely on human reason in evaluating the Bible.

Another reason ultraconservatives use these arguments is that they wish to claim literal biblical support for the positions they espouse. They also wish to maintain that all other positions are unbiblical and undermine the authority of Scripture. This shows clearly in the reasons given for the publication of Affirm. In opposing the ordination of women, Affirm contends that if women are ordained, and the argument for doing so is based to some degree on cultural differences, the decision would also undermine the Adventist doctrines of "creation, Sabbathkeeping, clean and unclean meats, footwashing, tithing, etc. The authority of Scripture as a whole would thus be undermined and discredited."53 This indiscriminate attack on the higher critical method was an attempt to safeguard the reactionary conclusions espoused by this group of theologians.

James Smart argues that the inerrant view claims the "divine validation of a system of doctrine and practice."54 In this way, the infallibility they claim for Scripture becomes transferred directly to the doctrines and practices they espouse. Smart sets forth the ultimate case against inerrancy:

The theory of literal infallibility, far from being an expression of genuine respect for Scripture, is open to the accusation of being the means whereby, subtly, under a semblance of extreme respect, an established order of religion makes use of Scripture for its own purposes and subordinates it to itself, thereby removing from God's word in Scripture its power to revolutionize the existing order.55

This view of inspiration controls, subordinates, and imprisons God and Scripture to itself.

Another reason for the above strategy is that this argument is one that church administrators can readily agree to. Since the majority of laypersons have a strong conservative leaning, administrators can readily support the Adventist Theological Society since it claims to be strongly "supportive" of the Bible, the spirit of prophecy, and traditional Adventist beliefs, even though the society is exclusive and divisive and, in fact, is not truly traditional.

The assumption that those who have this inerrant "high view" of Scripture will use correct methods of interpretation and, therefore, arrive at common biblical doctrines, founders in reality. In fact the most heated debates on doctrine take place among ultraconservatives.56 If diverse doctrines are obtained from inerrant Scripture, the doctrine of inerrancy serves no useful purpose.57

Robert Gundry, while president of the Evangelical Theological Society which confesses belief in inerrancy, admitted this.58 He criticizes the two interpretive principles that ultraconservatives use on the "really tough problems." "It can be argued that both contorted harmonization and suspension of judgment deny the clarity of Scripture, which is to deny the view of inspiration they are intended to uphold."59

Surprisingly ultraconservatives grant legitimacy to lower or textual criticism even though here human reason and historical critical methods are also used. One of the basic principles of textual criticism is that when there are two readings for a particular verse, the more difficult reading is probably the original.60 In effect, this principle favors, as the probable readings of the autographs, readings which contain errors. The only difference with this method and that of higher criticism is that the scope of its operation is usually outside the sensitive areas of sources, authorship, and interpretation.61

The opposition to human reason is an argument that cuts both ways. Not to use human reason is to put human beings at the mercy of emotions or feelings. Reason is God's precious gift to humankind. Obviously it can be abused, but like it or not, it has to be used. The question is not whether we should use it, but how we should use it. We have to use reason to help us determine whether the Bible is the Word of God.62 This does not mean that reason is superior to Scripture, since reason, by accepting Scripture, deliberately subordinates itself to it. But having accepted Scripture, reason cannot be left on the shelf. It is stimulated into action when it finds something that is unusual or atypical.63 For example, if it is assumed that the Gospels of Matthew and Luke are dealing with the same story of the temptation of Jesus and in Matthew the second temptation is the third in Luke, the mind seeks a reason for the discrepancy. Both accounts of Matthew and Luke cannot be chronologically accurate and reason is used to explain the difference. Reason is not subordinating Scripture but attempting to understand it. In spite of this disparity in the accounts, the temptation narrative remains a powerful portrayal of how Jesus became human, suffered temptations adapted to his role as Messiah, and chose to rely upon God the way we have to rather than use his superhuman powers. The Bible truths do not depend on whether one blind man is found or two, or whether the cock crowed twice or thrice.

In fact, inerrancy is an inference of the mind. The Bible does not state anywhere that it is inerrant. Neither does the Bible say anywhere what study method is the correct one. While Reason can either subordinate Scripture or subordinate itself to Scripture, reasoning itself is unavoidable.

IV. The Future of the Doctrine

The conservative view of inspiration is in basic agreement with the ultraconservative view in the following respects: (1) The Bible is inspired. (2) Reason must submit to the authority of God. (3) Naturalistic presuppositions must be set aside in the study of Scripture, i.e., methods appropriate for the study of God's word must be employed. (4) There is a basic unity in Scripture. (5) The guidance of the Holy Spirit should be sought in the full understanding of Scripture. (6) The context of a verse, a paragraph, a book, and the whole Bible is important for the understanding of a passage.

The basic difference is simply that the conservatives believe in the infallibility of the Bible in matters relating to faith and practice but do not require inerrancy regarding matters that are peripheral and incidental to the message of the passage. The ultraconservatives want to maintain a "high" view of Scripture so that infallibility extends to everything including theology, history, science, chronology, numbers, cosmology, and astronomy. In doing this they must logically deny the inspiration of Ellen White. Conservatives recognize and acknowledge that Ellen White's writings are not inerrant, and in this respect are no different from the Bible. Therefore, they can view both the Bible and the writings of Ellen White as inspired.

At present the ultraconservatives have gained political power by establishing their own society and authoring publications which have gained the support of many church administrators. By using membership policies which exclude those with differing views and sponsoring publications which criticize and undermine the credibility of those who disagree with their approach to interpreting Scripture, they have placed themselves in a position to determine orthodoxy.64 If membership in the ultraconservative society is used, overtly or covertly, as a means of appointing faculty or of selecting administrators, the future looks bleak. What happened in the Missouri Synod and what is happening in the Southern Baptist Convention may happen to the Adventist Church.

However, one major difference exists between Adventists and these other denominations. Adventists have had a prophet in their midst. Because of this, Adventist scholars are familiar with the way a prophet works and how inspiration operates. Studies beginning in the seventies on Ellen White's writings show that inspiration transcends cultural environment, use of sources, and inclusion of historical errors.

The problem ultraconservatives have is to maintain an inerrant view of the inspiration of Scripture which they cannot establish for Ellen White's writings. Such a view regarding Scripture is easier to promote because we are not as familiar with the biblical writers, their writings, their procedures, and their methods of publication. But this is not so with Ellen White's writings. We are familiar with these matters, and have the eye-witness testimony of persons who were personally acquainted with her and her practices and procedures.

If the ultraconservatives accept Ellen G. White as an inspired writer, evidence and logic compel them to accept the view of inspiration articulated by the founders of Adventism who were not troubled by incidental and peripheral errors which they corrected.

The saving and redemptive feature for future understanding of biblical inspiration in the Adventist Church is the clear understanding we have of the inspiration of Ellen White. Her life and work can and should provide Seventh-day Adventists with an understanding of inspiration that can unite us in our diversity and make our church a shining Christian witness to the world.


1. The word "higher" is used in contrast to the word "lower." The latter refers to textual criticism which seeks to determine the original text of a document. It is "lower" because it precedes "higher criticism" which investigates the contents of the document. "Criticism means making intelligent judgments about historical, literary, textual, and philological questions . . . " (George Eldon Ladd, The New Testament and Criticism [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1967], p. 37). Radical higher criticism begins with the assumption that no supernatural intervention is possible. But conservative scholars make these judgments acknowledging the fact that God is transcendent but also immanent and active. They argue "that the Word of God has come to men through the words of men in given historical situations" (Ibid.).

2. It was voted to "devote critical thought to the grammatical perfection of" Testimonies to the Church.

"Whereas, We believe the light given by God to His servants is by the enlightenment of the mind, thus imparting the thoughts, and not (except in rare cases) the very words in which the ideas should be expressed; therefore

Resolved, That in the republication of these volumes, such verbal changes be made as to remove the above named imperfections, as far as possible, without in any measure changing the thought" (Ellen G. White, Selected Messages, Washington, D.C., Review and Herald, 1980, 3:96).

3. W. C. White wrote, "This statement made by the General Conference of 1883 was in perfect harmony with the beliefs and positions of the pioneers in this cause, and it was, I think, the only position taken by any of our ministers and teachers until Prof. [W. W.] Prescott, president of Battle Creek College, presented in a very forceful way another view-the view held and presented by Professor Gausen [sic]. The acceptance of that view by the students in the Battle Creek College and many others, including Elder Haskell, has resulted in bringing into our work questions and perplexities without end, and always increasing.

Sister White never accepted the Gausen [sic] theory regarding verbal inspiration, either as applied to her own work or as applied to the Bible" (Ibid., 3:454-455).

4. Prescott's influence was extensive since he was president of both Union and Walla Walla Colleges. He also held Bible institutes throughout the world (1894-1895) and helped found Avondale College. (Seventh-day Adventist Encyclopedia, rev. ed., Commentary Reference Series, 10 [Washington, D.C., Review and Herald, 1976, p. 1148).

5. Francois Samuel Robert Louis Gaussen (1790-1863) was a Swiss clergymen who published his book, Theopneustie, at Geneva in 1840. The English translation, Theopneustia; The Plenary Inspiration of Scriptures, was published in London in 1841. Gaussen believed that the Bible came by dictation. William J. Abraham writes: "For my part, I must emphasize that Gaussen really did believe in dictation.

The analogies that Gaussen uses bear this out. The writers are said to be `the pens, hands and secretaries, of the Holy Ghost'; and he compares the relation of God to the writers of Scriptures to that between Racine and a village schoolmaster who writes out a drama at his dictation (William J. Abraham, The Divine Inspiration of Holy Scripture, Oxford, New York, Toronto, Melbourne, Oxford University Press, 1981, pp. 28, 29).

6. However, Gilbert M. Valentine argues that "Since Adventism's earliest days, its writers had strongly affirmed the teaching that Scripture was `verbally inspired.'" (Gilbert M. Valentine, The Shaping of Adventism: the Case of W. W. Prescott, Berrien Springs, MI, Andrews University Press, 1992, p. 248) He supports this assertion with a quote from Moses Hull's book, The Bible from Heaven. While the book argues from a traditional conservative view of Scripture, Hull nowhere explicitly indicates a belief in verbal inspiration. His purpose is to support the trustworthiness of Scripture.

7. Prescott's position requires inerrancy. Though today's proponents of this view reject the dictation method, inerrancy was based originally on dictation and logically flows from it. The official Adventist position has always rejected inerrancy. Kenneth Wood, while Review and Herald editor, wrote: "But though we stand foursquare for the Bible as God's inspired Word, we do not contend for `inerrancy' in the autographs as the hallmark of inspiration" (Review and Herald, "The Divine-Human Word," June 24, 1976, p. 2). Don Neufeld, then associate editor of the same periodical, stated: "If Seventh-day Adventists had not had demonstrated in their midst how inspiration operates, then they would probably stand with Dr. Lindsell in his position with regard to inerrancy. His position is a philosophical deduction based on how he assumes God operates" (Ibid., "The Battle for the Bible," July 26, 1979, p. 15). George Reid as director of the Biblical Research Institute declared: "Adventists also find themselves uncomfortable with Evangelical inerrancy. The idea of defending the error-free status of lost autographs rings hollow. It seems to be a form of shadowboxing" (Ministry, "Is the Bible Our Final Authority?" November 1991, p. 8).

Arthur White wrote: "It [the Adventist concept] partakes neither of the modernistic, liberal views that destroy the authority of God's Word nor the ultraconservative views that make the prophet a mere automaton-a machine, as it were-speaking or writing words he is impelled to utter or to record" ("Toward an Adventist Concept of Inspiration," Review, January 12, 1978, p. 4).

8. The following were published in the Review and Herald:

"Inspiration: The Nature and Manner of Communication," January 8, 1884, p. 24.

"Inspiration: Differences in Degrees and Manner of Bestowment," January 15, 1884, pp. 41.

'Inspiration_No. 3. Visions and Dreams," January 22, 1884, pp. 57-58.

'Inspiration_No. 4. Light Through Visions. The Principal Source of Bible Inspiration," January 29, 1884, pp. 73-74.

'Inspiration_No. 5 The Word of the Lord Came to Men Through Visions," February 5, 1884, pp. 89-90.

'Inspiration_No. 6. How Were the Poetic and Historical Books of the Bible Written?" April 15, 1884, pp. 24-250.

"Inspiration_No. 7. The Books of Solomon, Job, Etc.," April 22, 1884, pp. 265-267.

"Inspiration_No. 8. In What Sense Are the Scriptures Inspired?" May 6, 1884, pp. 296-297.

"Inspiration_No. 9. Is There Any Degree of Imperfection in the Revelation of God to Man?" May 27, 1884, pp. 344-346.

"Inspiration_No. 10. Final Conclusions and Reflections," June 3, 1884, pp. 361-362.

9. Perhaps Butler's articles would have been more acceptable if instead of degrees of inspiration, he had described this phenomenon as primary and secondary revelation as Dewey Beegle does (Scripture, Tradition, and Infallibility, Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans, 1973, pp. 70-72).

10. Butler sites the varied ways in which God gave light to men. (1) He spoke with his own voice in giving the law and announcing Christ. (2) He took Moses and Christ into his special presence and instructed them. (3) He gave visions and dreams. (4) He influenced men by his Spirit. He "illuminated the memory of those who had been acquainted with important events, so that they could correctly place them on record." Butler is, no doubt, referring here to historical works such as 1 and 2 Samuel, 1 and 2 Kings, 1 and 2 Chronicles, and Acts. (5) The Spirit was with Solomon and others, "and especially illuminated their natural faculties," so that they set forth good thoughts which we have in such books as the Proverbs, Job, etc. "These books seem to have been given in a different manner from most of the other books of the Bible" (George L. Butler, "Inspiration: Differences in Degrees and Manner of Bestowment," Review and Herald, January 15, 1884, p. 44.)

11. With regards to the historical books, Butler believed that the writers did not need any special revelation where they were eyewitnesses to events. They "were inspired in the sense that the Spirit of God brought clearly to remembrance of the writers the facts with which they were before familiar, . . . This form of inspiration, a spiritual invigoration of the memory, is all the inspiration necessary to furnish us with the most reliable facts upon which to found our faith" ("Inspiration, No. 8. How Were the Historical Books of the Bible Written?" pp. 249-250).

12. 1889 Ellen White apparently wrote in response to the series of articles by Butler. She opposed those who had taught that "some things in the Scriptures were inspired and some were not" at the Battle Creek Tabernacle and Battle Creek College. However, Butler was not teaching that some part of Scripture was inspired and some not. He believed that some parts of the Bible, such as the Pentateuch and the Gospels, had a higher degree of inspiration than Proverbs and Song of Solomon (Selected Messages, Washington, D.C., Review and Herald, 1958, 1:23. This letter is included in the above work was written in 1889).

13. Selected Messages, Washington, D.C., Review and Herald, 1958, 1:21. This passage comes from Manuscript 24, 1886.

14. Bert Haloviak with Gary Land, "Ellen White and Doctrinal Conflict: Context of the 1919 Bible Conference," Spectrum 12:4 (June 1982): 23.

15. By 1910 most of the first group had rejected Ellen White and left the church (Ibid., p. 32).

16. Prescott apparently had changed from Gaussen's view of inerrancy to the mainstream view of the pioneers.

17. It was during this period also that a number of articles in the Review and Herald dealing with higher criticism appeared. This was no doubt due to the Fundamentalism-Liberalism debate that was going on in the Protestant world at that time. The Niagara Conference spelling out the five fundamentals met in 1895 and the publication of the Fundamentals took place in 1909.

There is nothing in these articles to indicate that they were directed to persons within the church. They refer to:

the destructive impact of higher criticism on true revival (L. A. Smith, "The True Basis for a Genuine Revival," Review and Herald, January 5, 1905,p. 5);

the Hibbert Journal's article on "Shortcomings of the Decalogue" (L. A. Smith, "Modern Criticism of the Decalogue," Review and Herald, January 26, 1905, p. 6);

the Baptist Congress in Baltimore, Maryland on November 12, 1905 discussion of the virgin birth (C. M. Snow, "The Higher Critics and God's Word," Review and Herald, November 28, 1907, p. 4);

the desire of higher critics in the Episcopal Church to change the Ten Commandments (C. H. Edwards, "Facing the Crisis," Review and Herald, May 18, 1911, pp. 3-4);

the fact that liberal theology offered nothing in place of what it attempted to replace (F. M. Wilcox, "Nothing to Offer," Review and Herald, October 5, 1911, p. 10-11);

William Newton Clarke of Colgate University who referred to the Millerite movement as "the great calamity of 1843" which could have been prevented by higher criticism (Earle Albert Rowell, "Higher Criticism the Enemy of Seventh-day Adventists," Review and Herald, November 9, 1911, p. 7).

18. Molleurus Couperus, "The Bible Conference of 1919," Spectrum 10: (May 1979), p. 57.

19. Prescott and Daniells both felt that a disagreement over Biblical inspiration would not cause as much disturbance as a disagreement over the inspirational authority of Ellen White. (Ibid., Prescott, p. 39 and Daniells, p. 43.)

20. Ibid., p. 34.

21. Ibid., p. 42.

22. Ibid., pp. 50, 54.

23. These are the questions he asked: "If there are such uncertainties with reference to our historical position, and if the Testimonies are not to be relied on to throw a great deal of light upon our historical positions, and if the same is true with reference to our theological interpretation of texts, then how can we consistently place implicit confidence in the direction that is given with reference to our educational problems, and our medical school, and even our denominational organization? If there is a definite spiritual leadership in these things, then how can we consistently lay aside the Testimonies or partially lay them aside when it comes to the prophetic and historic side of the message and place these things on the basis of research work?" (Ibid., p. 46).

24. The position taken by Daniells and Prescott regarding grammatical correction and historical errors was based on first-hand evidence, and they could not disavow their position. Whatever else they might be wrong about, they knew they were right in this because of their own personal acquaintance with the method used in editing and publishing Ellen White's books.

25. Haloviak with Land, "Ellen White and Doctrinal Conflict," pp. 30-32.

26. Ibid., p. 32.

27. Hammill attributes to Figuhr the following: the establishment of two universities, Andrews University in 1957, and Loma Linda University in 1961; the publication of The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary (1954); the publication of Adventists Answer Questions on Doctrine (1957) and Problems in Bible Translation (1954); the establishment of a committee to study "sensitive problems" in Daniel; the recommendation to financially support trained geologists to do basic research and the establishment of the present Geoscience Research Institute (1958). (Richard Hammill, "Fifty Years of Creationism: the Story of an Insider," Spectrum 15:2 (August 1984): 34-36.)

It was also during the Figuhr administration that the Theological Seminary was moved from the shadows of the General Conference in Takoma Park, Maryland, where it was isolated from other academic influences, to the campus of Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan (1959).

28. Formerly, Adventist teachers received their doctorates in "safe areas" outside of theology or Biblical studies.

29. Hammill, "Fifty Years of Creationism," p. 39.

30. Edward Lugenbeal's account in "The Conservative Restoration at Geoscience," Spectrum,15:2 (August 1984):23-31.

31. Hammill, "Fifty Years of Creationism," p. 45, fn 3.

32. This was published in the Adventist Review of June 17, 1980. Earlier on May 26, 1977, in the same periodical, Hackett gave the rationale for the development of these statements. One reason given was so that "administrators, church leaders, controlling boards, and leaders at all levels of the church will find it easier to evaluate persons already serving the church, and those hereafter appointed, as to their commitment to what is considered basic Adventism" ("Preserve the Landmarks," Spectrum 8:4 [August 1977], p. 40, reprinted from the Adventist Review, May 26, 1977.)

This trend mirrors what occurred in the Missouri Synod before the church divided (See Harold Lindsell, The Battle for the Bible [Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1976], pp. 76-80).

33. This "Statement of Affirmation" was published by the Adventist Review (December 8, 1983, p. 15) and Ministry (December 1983, p. 27) where it is stated that "the biblical record requires a short chronology of approximately 6000 years in contrast to tens of thousands or millions of years."

34. The West Coast Bible Teachers: A Statement of Concern," Spectrum 8:4 (August 1977): 44-47.

35. Donald R. McAdams, "Shifting Views of Inspiration: Ellen G. White Studies in the 1970s," Spectrum 10:4 (March 1980): 27-41.

36. Ibid., p. 39.

These publications led to the admission by Arthur White that Ellen White did use materials from other sources and that inaccuracies in her historical writings are possible and in fact are found (Arthur L. White, "Historical Sources and the Conflict Series. The E. G. White Historical Writings," Adventist Review, July 26, 1979, pp. 9-10).

37. Alden Thompson who participated in this consultation (the results of which have not been published) affirmed that the consensus reached by the working groups at Consultation II was that "the descriptive aspects of the so-called historical-critical method could indeed be separated from naturalistic presuppositions and thus could be used by Adventist scholars" (Inspiration: Hard Questions, Honest Answers [Hagerstown, MD: Review and Herald, 1991], p. 272).

38. "Methods of Bible Study Committee (GCC-A)-Report," Adventist Review, January 22, 1987, pp. 18-20.

39. Understanding the Living Word of God, Mountain View, Pacific Press, 1980, pp. 24-26, 28.

40. Jerry Gladson, "Taming Historical Criticism: Adventist Biblical Scholarship in the Land of the Giants," Spectrum 18:4 (April 1988): 19-34.

Surprisingly Gladson thinks that the report approves "a cautious use of historical criticism, . . ." (p. 30) even though it states that "Even a modified use of this method that retains the principles of criticism which subordinates the Bible to human reason is unacceptable to Adventists." ("Methods," p. 18) He might argue that the term "a modified use" is not what is significant but rather the clause "that retains . . . reason." Almost every scholar has argued otherwise.

41. See Ibid., footnotes 29 and 30, p. 32 and Adventist Perspectives 1:1 (1987: 50.

42. J. R. Spangler, "Adventist Theological Society," Ministry, December 1989, pp. 24-25.

43. Inspiration: Hard Questions, Honest Answers, Hagerstown, MD, Review and Herald, 1991).

44. "Issues in Revelation and Inspiration", Adventist Theological Society Occasional Papers 1, eds. Frank Holbrook and Leo Van Dolson (Berrien Springs, MI: Adventist Theological Society Publications, 1992).

45. See for blanket opposition to higher criticism, Gerhard F. Hasel, Biblical Interpretation Today, Washington, D.C., Biblical Research Institute, 1985, pp. 73-99, and "The Crisis of Authority of the Bible as the Word of God," Journal of Adventist Theological Society 1:1 (Spring 1990) 16-38 and Richard M. Davidson, "The Authority of Scripture: A Personal Pilgrimage," Journal of Adventist Theological Society 1:1 (Spring 1990) 39-56, and "Revelation/Inspiration in the Old Testament: A Critique of Alden Thompson's 'Incarnational Model,'" Issues, pp. 105-135.

46. Selected Messages,1:21.

There is an apparent contradiction in Ellen White's view of inspiration in Testimonies for the Church (Mountain View, CA: Pacific Press, 1948, 4:9), where she refers to biographical accounts in Scripture. "The scribes of God wrote as they were dictated by the Holy Spirit, having no control of the work themselves." The statement is so explicit that it is difficult to explain it otherwise than written, unless she is implying that there is a difference between her mode of inspiration and that of the biblical writers. Another explanation could be that her statements on inspiration found in Great Controversy were based on an external source (See William Peterson, "Ellen White's Literary Indebtedness," Spectrum 3:4 [Autumn 1971] 79-81) where he gives the source of these statements as C. E. Stowe, Origin and History of the Bible [1867]).

47. Ibid., 1:16.

48. Samuel Koranteng-Pipim, "An Analysis and Evaluation of Alden Thompson's Casebook/Codebook Approach to the Bible," Issues, p. 63, footnote 3.

49. Lindsell, The Battle for the Bible, pp. 30-31, affirms: "However limited may have been their knowledge, and however much they may have erred when they were not writing sacred Scripture, the authors of Scripture, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, were preserved from making factual, historical, scientific, or other errors. The Bible does not purport to be a textbook of history, science, or mathematics; yet when the writers of Scripture spoke of matters embraced in these disciplines, they did not indite error; they wrote what was true."

50. "Faith, History and Ellen White," Spectrum 9:2 (March 1978) 54.

51. Gulley ineluctably accepts an inerrant view of inspiration when he makes it analogous with the incarnation of Christ. "In other words, this unity of the divine and human makes both Christ and the Bible unique, different from any other person or book" ("An Evaluation of Alden Thompson's `Incarnational' Method in the Light of His View of Scripture and Use of Ellen White, Issues in Revelation and Inspiration, p. 75). If the human part of the Bible is like the human part of Christ, the Bible would be inerrant as Christ was sinless. How literally would one want to carry out this analogy? This means that inspired persons became indefectable as Christ when they wrote their books. This amounts to dictation.

Davidson is more specific than Gulley when he says, "Ellen White is not talking about the fallibility of Scripture, any more than she is implying sinfulness in the `imperfect' humanity of Jesus" ("Revelation/Inspiration in the Old Testament: A Critique of Alden Thompson's `Incarnational' Model," Issues in Revelation and Inspiration, p. 112). The Bible must be inerrant because Christ was sinless in his humanity.

52. Lugenbeal, The Conservative Restoration, p. 25.

53. Affirm 1:1 (Spring, 1987) 1.

54. In James Smart's, The Interpretation of Scripture, Philadelphia, Westminster Press, 1961, pp. 182-183, he argues that this is the "method of interpretation that robbed the revelation of Scripture of its freedom. God was no longer free to contradict the established religious order. The doctrine of the infallible inspiration of Scripture had the same effect later in Roman Catholicism, making the Scripture the bastion of an infallible church and denying any possibility that the word of Scripture might seriously sit in question on the order of the church. So also in scholastic Protestantism it was used to validate the established Protestant doctrine and order and claim for it an infallibility similar to that claimed by the Roman church. Doctrines and practices soundly based on an infallible Scripture could not be subject to any essential change. There could be no error in them. Thus has man in different ages used Scripture to establish his own or his own human church's authority over men.

55. Ibid., p. 183

56. Lindsell says some things in the Old Testament are not binding on Christians. He says, "I have in mind dietary laws" (Harold Lindsell, The Bible in the Balance, Grand Rapids, Zondervan, 1976, p. 295). Obviously Hasel does not agree with Lindsell here, nor on the Sabbath, the state of the dead, the sanctuary and other more important doctrines. A "high view" of inspiration does not lead to an orthodox uniform set of beliefs. Even conservative methods of interpretation without "higher criticism" does not guarantee this.

57 . Beegle, Scripture, p. 96.

58. "Unresolved differences of hermeneutical approach becloud the unity of our subscription to inerrancy" (Stanley N. Gundry, "Evangelical Theology: Where Should We Be Going? Evangelicals and Inerrancy, ed. Ronald F. Youngblood, Nashville, Camden, New York, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1984, p. 242).

59. Gundry writes: "On the really tough problems we usually resort to one of two approaches. We can propose a solution that theoretically or technically is possible, but that is something less than a natural or obvious meaning we would assign the passage were it not for the existence of an apparently discrepant parallel. The other approach is to suspend judgment speak of it as an apparent discrepancy incapable of natural resolution at this time.

. . . However, proponents of both alternatives have to be ready to defend themselves against the charge that neither takes the words of Scripture as seriously as the word "inerrancy" suggests. Why? Because, it is charged, neither will accept the obvious conclusion based on the most neutral meaning of the passages: An actual discrepancy exists" ("Evangelical Theology," p. 243).

60. For example, where there are two variants, one that gives the correct Old Testament author of a passage quoted in the New Testament and one an incorrect author, the latter would be considered the original because of the tendency to correct errors in the manuscript. In other words this principle goes against the desire to have a Bible without errors since it favors errors or differences. The basic procedure in establishing original readings is not different from higher criticism. (See Gerhard Hasel, Understanding the Living Word of God, Mountain View, CA, Pacific Press, 1980, p. 93, who subscribes to this principle.)

61. In this sense textual criticism is no different from an investigation in the Scripture itself, even dealing with sources, authorship, and interpretation, as long as it does not diverge from the traditional conservative positions. In other words a conservative scholar can freely deal with these areas using higher critical tools and reasoning even in the liberal Society of Biblical Literature. In fact this is done all the time. It is not possible to present papers to a group whose basic presuppositions are so different that communication would not be possible. Communication and discussion are possible because there is a common understanding of the ground rules for research. The conservative scholar simply has to choose his topic so that it would not affect the area of basic presuppositional differences, e.g., the area of the miraculous.

I am contending that every time a conservative writer presents a paper in a general theological society, a scholarly journal, or writes a graduate thesis, he is obliged to use the higher critical method even though he may not show his hand in the area where his presuppositions come into conflict with those to whom he submits his research. If he wants to communicate with other scholars or have his papers or books accepted for publication in scholarly journals, he has to use the rules of the game accepted by editors and scholars in general.

62. Kern Robert Trembath, Evangelical Theories of Biblical Inspiration: A Review and Proposal, New York and Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1987, p. 34, argues that, "The judgment of the mind which accepts the legitimacy of the Bible as the only valid source of religious data and norms logically antedates the Bible as that source and thus is shown as the source of whatever certainty the person experiences with the Bible. Certainty is a category of the mind, not of external reality. When the mind accepts a particular book as being of ultimate religious certainty and authority, it is the mind that judges it to be certain and not the book which somehow presses certainty onto the mind from without."

63. Randall W. Younker, "A Few Thoughts on Alden Thompson's Chapter: Numbers, Genealogies, Dates", Issues in Revelation and Inspiration, pp. 183-184, when dealing with the problem of Amram's prolific brothers, first, he does not accept the data at face value (Amram and Jochebed were not Moses' biological parents) and second, uses an external norm to support his position. (It was an acceptable practice in antiquity to abbreviate genealogical lists.) Furthermore all through his discussion the use of reason is evident. The only difference between his approach and that of Thompson's is that he is supporting a position different from Thompson's. Both use forms of higher criticism to support their positions!

64. The title of their society, The Adventist Theological Society and their journal, The Journal of the Adventist Theological Society suggest that they are the intellectual representatives of the Adventist church rather than other, more inclusive societies, such as the Andrews Society for Religious Studies.

Sakae and Hatsumi Kubo live in Chico, California and are actively retired. Dr. Kubo holds degrees from Andrews University, Andrews University Theological Seminary, Western Michigan University, and the University of Chicago. He has been a Professor of Biblical Languages, Biblical Greek, and New Testament Theology as well as Seminary Librarian. He has taught at Andrews University and Walla Walla College. He is a past President of Newbold College and retired from the position of Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of Atlantic Union College. He has written numerous books and articles.