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The Problem of Progressive Adventists
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Submitted: Sep 15, 2011
By Ron Corson


What does one think of when they hear or read the term Progressive Adventist? Do they think Progressive politics; gay marriage, pro choice (abortion), opens borders, socialism and social justice? Those are all political progressive ideas, however they are not part of what define Progressive Adventism. Progressive Adventism is defined by its beliefs related to the doctrinal beliefs inside the Seventh-day Adventist denomination.
 
Ten years ago I wrote an article for Adventist Today on the differences between progressive Adventists and traditional Adventists entitled Progressive and Traditional Adventists Examined. (Nov.–Dec. 2002 Adventist Today PDF archive for those with subscriptions) The article on Wikipedia quotes the following on Progressive Adventism (quoted without their footnotes):
 
            “Ron Corson identifies four common areas of progressive belief:
  • Investigative judgment. A different view of the investigative judgment, or a denial of its biblical basis.
  • Remnant. An inclusion of other Christians in the term remnant.
  • Ellen White. A less rigid view of the Inspiration of Ellen White, from recognizing her fallibility to perhaps even denying her prophetic gift.
  • Sabbath. An emphasis on the benefits of the Sabbath, but a denial that it is the ‘seal of God’ or that Sunday keeping will ever become the mark of the beast.

Inclusive

Progressives are inclusive of other types of Adventists, and believe different beliefs and types should be welcomed as part of the community. An example is Alden Thompson's 2009 book, Beyond Common Ground: Why Liberals and Conservatives Need Each Other.
 
Besides the definitions of Progressive Adventism in the article I have long used the quote from C.S. Lewis I felt expressed the reason behind progressive Adventism. The quote is as follows:
 
“We all want progress. But progress means getting nearer to the place where you want to be. And if you have taken a wrong turn, then to go forward does not get you any nearer. If you are on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; and in that case the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive man…There is nothing progressive about being pigheaded and refusing to admit a mistake." C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (New York: Macmillan, 1952), Book I, Chap. 5, p. 22.
 
While I still hold to the definitions, in the Adventist Today article times have changed and the term ‘Progressive’ has gained resurgence in use during the last ten years. Those on the political left have begun referring to themselves as Progressive once again. As they attempt to move away from the term liberal, sort of the reverse of the early years of the 20th century when the Progressives changed their name to liberals after the excesses of Progressive Era.
 
We still however have the problem of what is a Progressive? If you are a political Progressive your definition will sound quite enticing and benign. Such as this quote from John Halpin in his article Progressivism in 2004: Transcending the Liberal-Conservative Divide
  "At its core, progressivism is a non-ideological, pragmatic system of thought grounded in solving problems and maintaining strong values within society. The original progressive movement at the turn of the 20th century sought to improve American life by encouraging personal and moral responsibility among citizens; by providing the carrots and sticks to promote efficient and ethical business behavior; and by reforming government to provide a level playing field for all citizens and groups."

If you are a conservative you will define Progressive more like this from The Heritage Foundation, The First Conservatives: The Constitutional Challenge to Progressivism:
"Progressivism was an intellectual and political reform movement that aimed to alter the American constitutional system. At the deepest level, as expressed especially in the thought of Woodrow Wilson and Herbert Croly, Progressives aimed to refound America based on the managerial – administrative political philosophy of the European state. Consequently, Progressives typically rejected the foundational American principles of natural rights and limited government for their own understanding of ‘progress,’ defined as governmental experts management of social change toward an ever more just and essentially socialist future."
 
What is in a name is not so much found in the word but the action of those who hold to particular ideas. A proponent of something can usually make their position seem righteous; a critic can make the other seem bad. Perhaps simplistically, a progressive is for change and a conservative is for keeping everything as it has always been. But not every change is good and not all things that have been should be changed. It is the details that matter not the grand rhetoric. In politics I am a conservative, I want to maintain the founding principles and the American Constitution. But in Adventism I am Progressive and want to change some of the traditions of Adventism and some of the traditions of Christianity as well. But it is the details that matter, the rhetoric of change merely serves to label me as one thing or the other, a shortcut when communicating with people but what the label means is subjective, colored by the expectations and prejudices of the reader/listener.
 
Progressive Adventism has meaning in the details. There may be some Progressive Adventists who are politically progressive and there may be some who are politically conservative or libertarian. The mistaken linkage of Progressive Adventism as political progressive must be rejected or there will cease to be a Progressive Adventist movement as the group becomes divided along political lines instead of united on theology and ecclesiology.
 
As often happens, once politics is mentioned it will consume all other things; even when the equally controversial subjects of religion and politics meet. If Progressive Adventism ever seeks to reform the Adventist church it must stand united on the details that define it inside the denomination. One of those details is that of inclusiveness, which includes the often derided term pluralism. If it were true that we as a denomination had all the truth then pluralism could be justifiably considered a dirty word as some on the traditional Adventist side appear to believe. But as long as we don't have all the truth we need the consideration of a multiple ideas, letting the marketplace of ideas winnow out what can and cannot stand the test of truth.
 
Progressive Adventism stands for the freedom to think outside of a prescribed frame of reference.
  • To be open to a wide variety of interpretative techniques and acknowledge the breadth of Biblical literature forms.
  • To accept the natural world does not say what our religion may have previously claimed.
  • To express the idea that science and religion can work together; that one does not have to be right and the other wrong, but to seek a unified theory.
  • To recognize inspiration is not as simple as, “God said it and I believe it”.
  • That salvation is in the hands of God and not found in what we think we know.
 
What do those who hear the term Progressive Adventists think when they hear the label? It most certainly stands in contradistinction from traditional Adventism. It points out the fictional standard of traditional Adventism since the history of the Adventist church has always been about moving forward and being willing to change their views, whether it was about Sabbath worship or their understanding of the Godhead or emphasis on health reform or the benefits of advanced education. The definition however, should be considered in the context of Adventist doctrines rather than political progressive themes.



 

Pat Travis
2011-09-16 12:39 PM

Ron,

I feel you make some good points but most important is that "labels" must be "specific in a given group to make any sense."  Labels can be useful so that one doesn't have to remake the wheel with each comment.

I feel one at minimum needs to distinguish theological, political, and denominational "labels." The overlap and variety becomes meaningless, I suggest, unless one does.

For example, One could be considered a SDA conservative on doctrine yet a "theological liberal" for depending on external sources and exclusive interpretations of scripture such as EGW. One could be considered "liberal" in denominational terms if one disagreed with any of the 28, yet, they could be theologically conservative.

Theological "liberalism"/progressivism  has usually had a "low" view of inspiration and the ability to take scripture as God's authoritative will for mankind. It always questions various aspects of the Bible to claim authority in thought, words, and transmission.

Political "liberalism" also changes meaning wih time. It used to be associated with "limited government" in the US. As one can easily observe that meaning has changed for a present day understanding of almost unlimited government activism.

So, I suggest for meaningful communication one must always may sure the terms are "specific to a particular topic or subject at hand with meanings understood by all the participants"...to do otherwise just makes for more confusion and muddy water lacking meaning and clarity.

regards,
pat

William Noel
2011-09-16 6:59 PM

Ron,

I agree.  Productive communication requires clarity so there is little doubt about what we mean.

Labels are an easy way to condone condemnation by generalization instead of examining why a person holds a particular opinion.  When we use the term "progressive" are we talking about someone who is questioning church doctrines?  Or someone who is searching to resolve questions arising from their life experience and they haven't arrived at the same conclusion that we have?  When we say someone is a "conservative" or "traditional" Adventist, what is the basis of that label?  Are their viewpoints those that became commonly accepted 50 or 70 years, but were not embraced by church founders? 

The label I prefer is "Child of God."

Carrol
2011-09-16 7:33 PM

To me, "Progressive Adventism" means people who are open to the Holy Spirit leading them into new truth; people whose minds are not closed and irrevocably "made up." It means people who don't just swallow what they are taught, but study to understand for themselves.

But I don't agree that this term only applies to distinctive Adventist doctrines. I believe progressive Adventists also are involved in biblcal ideas that might be considered political, such as helping those who are in poverty, offering refuge to immigrants, and being inclusive of outcasts, such as homosexuals.

Stephen Foster
2011-09-17 5:00 AM

What is included (or qualifies for inclusion) in “the breadth of Biblical literature forms”?
 
Does being “open to a wide variety of interpretative techniques” mean that progressives are open to a wide variety of interpretations?
 
If so, why would that make theoretical sense for the Bible, but not for the American constitution? In other words, who gets to decides which to be sacrosanct? 

Kevin Riley
2011-09-17 6:50 AM

The American Constitution is irrelevant for 80+% of SDAs, the Bible is relevant for all of us.  Perhaps it is wiser to categorise SDAs on something that relates to Adventism rather than politics which will vary from place to place.  If we look at how SDAs relate to the Bible, SDA doctrines and SDA practice, that is sufficient to spend centuries arguing over without bringing in the politics of a single country.

Ron Corson
2011-09-17 1:35 PM

Carrol expresses the reason for this article. She rejects the idea that Progressive Adventists is not made up of open borders, sanctuary cities and gay marriage (or the more gentle sounding words which she used to make it seem non political). It is to a large degree the problem over on Spectrum online as well. The assumption that Progressive Adventists must include progressive politics. Rather then Progressive Adventists dealing with denominational beliefs and may include people who are politically progressive, conservative or libertarian. That is a big difference!

For Stephen:

Some examples of literature forms in the Bible: Didactic / Teaching Sections, Laws, Narratives, Parables, Prophecy, Hebrew Poetry; prose, song lyrics, wisdom, philosophy, love dialog

Lets see there are about 30,000 denominations and independent Christian churches. maybe the problem is people are a little too fixed on their interpretations for their own good.

The subject was not the constitution that was used to distiguish between a conservative and a progressive in the US, which is where the confusion seems to lie with Adventists and the term progressive adventist. By the way the constitution is expanded upon by the federalist papers. The constitution is no where as complex as the Bible as they are written with completely different uses in mind.

Jim Miller
2011-09-17 2:48 PM

I have problems with some of these definitions.  The biggest one is political "progressive."  From the early 20th century Woodrow Wilson is not the prime exemplar.  Rather the most important Progressive from that era was Teddy Roosevelt.  Overall, I find the definitions unsatisfactory, and as a result I find the points made also unsatisfactory.
Within Adventism I am progressive because I believe in diversity and toleration for diverse beliefs.  However, on the Sanctuary I am definitely a conservative -- though I can understand why some have a problem there.  On Ellen White I may be more progressive than conservative, in part because I know her writings, and in part because of Nichol's Ellen White and Her Critics -- a book which cushioned me from the impact of everything written about her during the 1980's.  When it comes to the Bible, I am conservative because I am progressive.  I consider Alden Thompson the same, and consider his book Inspiration to be conservative.
I also hold dearly the ideal of separation of church and state, an old Baptist idea enshrined in the 1st amendment.  That makes me a social progressive.
But mostly, I am dissatisfied with the definitions being used here.

Ron Corson
2011-09-17 5:29 PM

Jim wrote:
"Rather the most important Progressive from that era was Teddy Roosevelt.  Overall, I find the definitions unsatisfactory, and as a result I find the points made also unsatisfactory."

Well you can't be upset about definitions because they don't mention everyone that fits under the definition. Roosevelt was a Progressive Republican, he formed the Progressive Party, but he is not the sum of Progressivism. To be unhappy with a label because it does not mention everyone encompassed under a label or because there may be someone with differences from the label is to disregard the purpose of labels. Labels are not all encompassing truth they are shortcuts in the language to describe something. Just as not all blues look the same they can still be called blue, that is the label a generalization to speed communication.

I rather like this comment from the Huff Post:
"“All words are labels. They are convenient generaliza­tions that allow us to think and communicat­e without being overwhelme­d and paralyzed by the infinite diversity of constantly changing particular­s that appear to constitute non-labele­d (non-categ­orized, non-lingui­stic, non-concep­tual) experience­. All words (labels, concepts, generaliza­tions) are inherently misleading­, but extraordin­arily useful. Always keeping in mind the inevitable distortion­s and (useful) limitation­s of all language and thought - refusing to reify and/or deify any concept - allows us to swim in a finite world without drowning, and prevents us from voicing meaningles­s cliches like "forget labels." Comprehend­e?” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Vegananza/the-problem-with-postgay_b_938380_105092626.html
 

John Andrew
2011-09-17 8:58 PM

I personally reject what is being proposed in this article because its implications and unaceptable: there is no God.

I'd rather have blind faith and live in blissful ignorance which is madness to the world rather than subscribe to the creative readings of the geologic column.

"By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible." (Heb 11:3)

But faith for Erving Taylor = wishful thinking.

Jim Miller
2011-09-17 11:53 PM

Labels do matter.  Sometimes it is all about spin, which often includes deliberately misleading histories.  The Heritage Foundation is well known for this.  Why even mention Wilson's anemic policies, when Teddy Roosevelt boldly attacked corporations, especially monopolies, and created national parks and monuments in the face of stiff corporate opposition?  Also, Roosevelt's support of the womens' vote was far more bold and "progressive" than Wilson.  But the Heritage foundation has its own agenda.  And this goes to the heart of social progressivism, issues of personal liberty, and making sure the powerful cannot ruthlessly crush all opposition (there is something Biblical about that notion).
I guess anyone who promotes the spin of the Heritage Foundation creates in me an inability to assume their integrity.  Sorry, but that is the way it is.  I find the categories poorly drawn and less than useful for a real discussion.
 

Ron Corson
2011-09-18 5:55 PM

Of course Jim if you had read the Heritiage article you will see Roosevelt is mentioned, actually a good deal. Now I did not quote all that but to assume as you do that it is not there because it is not in one quote and yes Heritage foundations has an agenda as does the progressive senior fellow in the political progressive quote has an agenda. As I have an agenda. So I am sorry you can't trust my integrity, the facts are there but it appears your assumptions prevent your understanding of the facts. After all in the agenda game, why hold to either the label of Traditional Adventist or Progressive Adventist if you have no agenda?

Stephen Foster
2011-09-18 3:08 AM

Try as I might to give this column the benefit of the doubt, it is difficult to reconcile. I concur that there is a need to define labels if and when they are used; as this is something that I have recently discovered on this site.
 
What I am having trouble understanding is how the Bible can be viewed as open to varying interpretations, with its narratives subject to overruling by scientific consensus and the “realities” of modernity; whereas the constitution of a given nation is considered to be legitimately interpreted by only one ideological perspective and its provisions not considered subject to contemporary realities.
 
That it should be the other way around, from the Christian perspective, seems obvious.

Ron Corson
2011-09-18 6:01 PM

Stephen do you believe a seed dies when it is planted? Jesus said that. Science says the seed does not die and then grow. Science redefines and changes the meaning of things because science deals with reality. The reality is a dead seed does not grow. Now you may say Jesus was only meaning figuratively dies because it is buried. But the reason you do that today is because you know factually that dead seeds don't grow. To pretend there can be know difference of interpretations of the Bible is likewise to deny reality.

Stephen Foster
2011-09-19 3:11 AM

If Jesus said something Ron, it is true, by definition. He was/is inerrant. If He said something that doesn’t appear to be empirically true, then it is incumbent on us to figure out what it is that He actually meant. When progressives and conservative Christians figure this out, the better off all of us will be.
 
The point is that the Bible certainly can be, and is, interpreted in many ways; but there is only one way that it can be accurately interpreted. In that sense it is different than a national constitution written by unholy, uninspired men who provided for a judicial system and an amendment process for precisely these reasons.

Trevor Hammond
2011-09-18 6:16 PM

The 'progressive' Adventism defined in this blog clearly exposes an 'apostate' Adventism.  Nothing more, nothing less.  Something worse though, they justify such 'apostasy' and attack the church from within.
T

David
2011-09-18 6:38 PM

Hum… now I have an idea of what they mean for progressive Adventism.  I wonder how many churches adopted this view.   Where I live is inexistence, also I wonder how many of their “progressive member”   are reaching to salve souls in the streets or in the fields.  I know the genuine Adventist church is growing more than any protestant church, well the message is better than gold.

Ervin Taylor
2011-09-18 7:07 PM

Although I would not advocate it, it would seem to me that those who oppose the increasing influence of "Progressive Adventism" in the North American Adventist Church, might wish to organize a separate church that would be entirely free of "Progressive" influences--a kind of "purified Adventist Church."  I wonder if Mr. Hammond and David would like to consider that suggestion?

David
2011-09-18 10:05 PM

I may suggest that since I gave my live to LORD I learned the hard way that, He is the only one who knows the hearts and He is the only one who will separate the weeds from the wheat.

Jim Miller
2011-09-18 8:32 PM

Perhaps a better example for Stephen of the Bible being open to varying interpretations would be, let's see . . .
Slavery.  I just ran across an op ed piece about how secular culture shamed the church into joining it in condemning slavery.  Somehow our church, before the civil war, managed to be abolitionist while the Bible uniformly assumes slavery as a fact of life.  Though the Southern Baptist Convention finally condemned racism about 20 years ago, they never got around to condemning slavery -- because they can't find the Bible condemning slavery.
War.  There is good reason why there are a variety of outcomes when people try to reconcile the Sermon on the Mount with various types of warfare in the Old Testament.
I often recommend the book. Slavery, Sabbath War and Women by Willard Swartly, Herald Press.  It tries to provide the interested reader with a variety of writings, historical and modern, on what the Bible teaches on each of these four topics.  It is VERY educational.

Nathan Schilt
2011-09-18 11:50 PM

Thank you for a very interesting column, Ron, as well as excellent comments you have offered to keep the conversation on track. One of the characteristics of progressivism, it seems to me - and yes, I agree that labels are both helpful and necessary, even though they are usually not all-encompassing - is that it seems to have no anchoring principles. Conservatism is about managing change. Progressivism views any attempt to moderate the progressive agenda as an irritating obstacle on the road to utopia.

As an example, since you accurately identified areas of progressive Adventism nearly ten years ago, progressive Adventism has moved far Left, to what is really a post-Christian kind of Adventism, promoting universal salvation, doubting the resurrection and miracles, disputing the doctrine of the Trinity, and viewing with great skepticism the divine provenance of Scripture. For them the Bible is simply a polemical tool to persuade conservative Christians that the political agenda of the Left is really a Biblical mandate. They defend vegetarianism as part of an environmental agenda, while scoffing at abstinence and traditional sexual norms. The progressive impulse refuses to accept the salutary check provided by traditional authority and morality, and thus it destroys the very substance of what it feeds on.

Why don't frustrated progressive Adventists form their own Adventist Universalist Unitarian Church? Because the progressive movement qua movement can only destroy. It can't build anything that will even last one generation. Look what has happened to Adventist celebration churches. They dissolve in scandal or peter out because none of the members want to be in charge of childrens' Sabbath Schools.

In many ways I am a progressive Adventist. But I see the self-proclaimed progressive wing of Adventism way too obsessed with negativity, and I just fail to understand why anyone would want to stay connected to a Church for which they have so much contempt, unless that is the only way they can feel important and superior…or they are dependent on the Church for their livelihood. We do need progressives in the Church. But what we most decidedly do not need, at least  in my opinion, is for progressivism to become a protected identity group within the Church.

Trevor Hammond
2011-09-19 1:35 AM

While I may not fully agree with some of what Mr Schilt posts especially on certain issues, I would say that he's 100% spot on - regarding this one.  He took the words right out of my mouth ☺. 

I like the: "They dissolve in scandal or peter out because none of the members want to be in charge of childrens' Sabbath Schools." line as well.  It epitomizes progressive behavior patterns within the church -  "radical but denying the power thereof"

T

Kevin Riley
2011-09-19 12:34 AM

What do we now call those SDAs who still fit (at least some of) the criteria from 10 years ago but don't follow the political agenda you outline above?  I know many SDAs who don't fit into the traditional mould, yet they wish to hold on to many aspects of Adventism.  It seems at times we are presented with dichotomies - an inerrant Scripture to be read literally or a merely human Scripture with any meaning we like, the traditional IJ or no pre-advent judgement, creation in 6 literal contiguous day about 6,000 years ago or atheistic evolution, etc - when some of us want to reject both options and argue there are other answers other than those given by the far left and the far right.  Perhaps we need more labels?

Ervin Taylor
2011-09-19 12:41 AM

I'm happy to read that Nate can levitate himself intellectually above the real world of Adventism so he can then complain about the negativity of progressive Adventism.  He reminds me a little of the criticisms of Luther expressed by Erasmus. Luther was dealing with the religious world of his time as it existed and Erasmus was up on his own ivory tower making high sounding pronouncements.  Who had the greatest impact on the real world of Western Christianity?     

Elaine Nelson
2011-09-20 4:18 PM

Does geography impact one's views, liberal or progressive?  Check this out:

Click on the following and see the different religions by state and elsewhere by holding the cursor over a state.
 

http://www.usatoday.com/news/graphics/pew-religion-08/flash.htm


Trevor Hammond
2011-09-21 3:27 AM

I would like to rephrase the blog title:  "The Problem IS Progressive Adventists" - tongue in cheek of course.  Come on why not?  They take swipes at trads all the time.  ☺
T

JIMS Seven
2011-09-21 5:46 AM

Mr. Corson,
 'Investigative judgment. A different view of the investigative judgment, or a denial of its biblical basis.'
A different view (Could have explained that a bit)???? A denial of it's biblical basis: Really then where should it be based (I don't understand how one can put his/her belief outside the Scripture and yet claim to be an Adventist Christian)? The Adventist belief on IJ stands correct both logically and Biblically. 
'Ellen White. A less rigid view of the Inspiration of Ellen White, from recognizing her fallibility to perhaps even denying her prophetic gift.' Is there any other unknown or untold or newly discovered facts (by Anti EGW view sporting groups) to support this statement or just those burrowed thoughts from some sites that claim to have exposed her weaknesses (by the way does She claim to be perfect? I don’t think so, She is just like you and me a weak human but then God chose that weak lady to impart those profound truths that’s too clear and is no secret-You find it in her books and even in her lives)
'Sabbath. An emphasis on the benefits of the Sabbath, but a denial that it is the ‘seal of God’ or that Sunday keeping will ever become the mark of the beast.' If there is no seal of God then how do you view those phrases mentioning the mark of the Beast (Keeping in mind that the Devil has always tried to play God-hope it is understood). A contradiction seen here (emphasis and denial). How is that we believe every advantage we get from it and yet deny it is not of God (mark/seal)?

Meaning of Progressive: Moving forward; proceeding onward; advancing; evincing progress;…’'Adventism' ( Web dictionaries give this meaning) 'A member of any of several Christian denominations that believe Jesus’ Second Coming and the end of the world are near' Taking into account this generally accepted meaning of Adventism  it is clear that anything that comes with the Word Adventism has to be rooted on the Bible alone.
So if we add this word 'Progressive' in front of the word ‘Adventism’ my understanding is that you rely more on the word of God than ever rather than deviating from it. Progressive Adventism if it really wants to be progressive then it has to be more vocal about SDA beliefs that are rooted in the scripture otherwise it lands up being the group of children who complain to one another ‘We sang for you but you didn’t dance’. At it’s core Seventh-day Adventism is more progressive than the group claiming to be ‘progressive Adventist’.
How?
Progress in God’s language means (I think so) accepting His word as the final authority, growing everyday in His WORD more and more (‘Fear of the Lord is the beginning of Wisdom). Whether the issue of Sabbath or YEC or IJ etc. there is has to be acknowledgment of the fact that THE LAWGIVER KNOWS BETTER OF THE LAW THAN THE RECEIVER. Coming in and giving a different perspective other than those based on Scripture just because it doesn’t fit in with our limited human wisdom and post modern life is trying to tell God  ‘Hey God you look outdated with those stone tablets lets make you fit into the age of Smartphone and Ipads’ (so pathetic that is). If we take into account what the columnist says so far on these few new INSIGHTS or FEATURES of so called PROGRESSIVE Adventists then I WOULD rather go by the catch phrase Mr. Hammond placed in his post earlier "The Problem IS Progressive Adventists" . Stay blessed 
 

William Noel
2011-09-21 7:09 PM

JIMS Seven,

Your statement presents a curious contradiction between the historic meaning of "progressive" and how it is used to discredit those who hold different views on a scriptural topic.  Adventism has a long history (prior to the last 50 years) of progressive understanding of scripture through intense study of scripture.  But that scholarship has over the last half-century been largely replaced by a static view of doctrines that claims validity more because it is different from other churches than a continuing growth in our understanding of scripture and God.  Such growth requires that we allow people to explore and express ideas that may be different than our familiar views.  It also requires that we respect those views and be willing to explore them to know their fact or falacy.  Does such exploration lead to heresy?  Sometimes.  Do we dare reject the exploration of scripture and seeking a greater knowledge of God because it sometimes has that end?  Absolutely not.  Indeed, such exploration makes our faith dynamic.  Rejecting such exploration of scripture and God leads to the fossilization of faith.  Fossils are not just dead, they've been dead for a very long time. 

God has not revealed everything about Himself to us.  So, how can we be so arrogant as to claim that our understanding of Bible doctrines is complete, that there is nothing left to learn, that God does not want to reveal more of Himself to us, or that our understanding of doctrines will not grow (and possibly change) when He does?  How can we be honest if we use labels like "progressive" to discredit those who are learning more about God and sharing what they are learning? 

Trevor Hammond
2011-09-21 8:14 PM

Pastor Noel, Sir
With all due respect - you're talking chalk and cheese 'progressives' here.  I'm sure you are aware of what those who profess progressivesness believe on these blogs.  Homosexuality? Evolution? Death BEFORE sin?  No Second Coming?  Sunday Sacredness?  Sabbath abrogation?  I would hardly call that progress.  Come on Sir.  It will indeed be 'progressive' to get our heads out of the proverbial sand and take a rain check on reality.  JIMS Seven is spot on.  Traditional beliefs have for far too long been progressively undermined and JIMS Seven is saying "How 'bout NO".  I'm with him on this one.  Progressive (or regressive) Adventistism is the very reason so many in the West have lost there way and left the Church.  They drank too quickly from the cup of 'fornication' offered to them on a silver platter by so-called pseudo-progressives thereby making them 'drunk' with false doctrines.  My advice to anyone especially a Pastor is don't stand in the path of sinners nor sit in their seat of scoffers of God's word.  The trademarks of progressives are the 1] condoning of sin and 2] scoffing at plain biblical truth.  JIMS Seven is right in this statement he makes: "At it’s core Seventh-day Adventism is more progressive than the group claiming to be ‘progressive Adventist’."   ... And I agree with this...
Thanks JIMS Seven for this.
T

JIMS Seven
2011-09-22 2:45 AM

Yes Pastor Noel,
Mr. Hammond puts it right. I mean 'how bout NO'. Do I look arrogant in that. Fine....Please kindly bear with me in this arrogance LOL (please take into account that i don't question God's Word that says 'God's Promises (words) are new every morning'.....in fact i think of heaven as a place of vast learning as well when we get there to be with the Lamb)......Stay blessed

William Noel
2011-09-22 1:03 PM

Trevor,

Again, we have a great example of how labels confuse things and prevent discovery.  I have no idea what you mean by "chalk and cheese" but that really doesn't matter. 

Let me make one thing very clear: I do not condone or endorse the opinions held by those who use the cloak of scholarship to support non-Biblical teachings.  Still, we have the widespread problem of labeling others as "progressives" and lumping them in with the worst such offenders just because their Bible study has led them to a somewhat different conclusion than the one we hold.  Labeling them prevents us from studying and testing as scripture counsels us to do.  There have been several times when my first reaction was to use a label to avoid an issue.  Then when I was forced to study to refute what I thought was wrong, I instead found myself being forced to admit that the other person was corrent! 

If you're merely looking to reject what makes you uncomfortable or what you see as wrong, labels are an easy way to avoid the situation.  What I'm talking about is the progressivism that looks deeper into what we believe so we have a better understanding of why we believe it.  That is a great opportunity for spiritual growth that we risk missing if we keep using labels like "progressive" with a negative or derrogatory meaning.

Ron Corson
2011-09-21 1:39 PM

JIMS and Trevor, I completely understand your perspective, the problem is that Progressive Adventists are not Traditional Adventists. But actually that is a good thing, as when we go back to the Bible we see no IJ, we see nothing at all that presents the Sabbath as the seal of God or Sunday as the mark of the Beast. In fact when we go back to the Bible we see the seal of God is the Holy Spirit not the Sabbath. You see from the Progressive Adventist viewpoint we need to fix the problems rather then enshrining the problems as if they were not even problems but sacred truth. That of course is a problem for traditional Adventists to accept so you want progressive Adventists to be the problem.

Seminary Student
2011-09-21 3:07 PM

Ron , I  agree with your first point that the "Seal of God " according to the bible is the Holy Spirit , on your second point to say that the IJ is not in the bible , that is " debatable "  I am not sure if you have read what the Adventist scholars have written on that subject  or you just have closed your mind to the biblical evidence . I have read on this topic and I know both those who reject and those who accept this doctrine have good arguments  but to say that it is not in the bible , that is just not true . On th issue of " progressive adventism " I  think that people who do not understand the bible claim that title of progressive . I agree we should all be progressive and allow the Holy Spirit to lead in new areas , learn new things and unlearn somethings also  but we need to do this based on scripture Not on opinions . The more I read about what you write  , Ervin Taylor , etc  all you have are opinions . If opinions are being " progressive "  give me traditional biblical adventistm ! 

William Noel
2011-09-22 1:09 PM

Seminary Student,

Here's another example of the meanings attached to labels being inconsistent.  In your last line you said that if opinions are being progressive, you wanted "traditional biblical adventism."  If you use that label to describe how the early Adventist church members vigorously studied their Bibles, that is great.  But if your meaning is the current typical use to defent against having to discuss anything more than the texts and opinions expressed in the fundamental beliefs, that is very different.  The first is what I embrace.  The second is what almost killed me spiritually.  I know a number of "progressives" who are great Bible students and terrific role models for how more Adventists should be spending time in the word.

Ron Corson
2011-09-21 3:31 PM

That is interesting SS, you say the IJ is debateable, and then you say, "If opinions are being " progressive "  give me traditional biblical adventistm " As if traditional Adventism has no opinions. (you note I deleted biblical from traditional biblical adventism, the reason is that that is a propaganda term when people want their opinion to appear to have more authority. They just claim it is Biblical as JIMS did when he said: "The Adventist belief on IJ stands correct both logically and Biblically." Now it is certainly not only my opinion that the IJ is neither logical or Biblical, after all if it was really biblical why is it not seen in any other Christian denominations?

Elaine Nelson
2011-09-21 4:26 PM

The INTERPRETATION of the IJ from the writings of Daniel is a very unique and lonely position by Adventists.  I know no other Bible scholars, either in the past, or present who have interpreted it in the same way. It is "evidence" that they alone have been able to see.  The birth of that interpretation was made by a disappointed man walking through the corn field and adopted by a few people from very humble circumstances, none of whom could read the Hebrew or had any training in biblical hermeneutics.

There are many today:  JWs and Mormons who also have "unique" interpretations.  Choosing to follow non-trained Bible scholars has left Adventism open to ridicule in their positions on Daniel and Revelation, with the self-identification at the last day as being only comprised of Sabbath-keepers.  If there will only be Sabbth keepers in heaven, what a small and dismal place!

Seminary Student
2011-09-21 5:19 PM

 Ron , you said" Now it is certainly not only my opinion that the IJ is neither logical or Biblical, after all if it was really biblical why is it not seen in any other Christian denominations?" point well taken . My question to you would be, why only a few theologians have seen this inside Adventism ? ( Cotrell , Ford ) so if we follow your logic about the majority being always right , then the IJ is in solid ground  since only a few adventist scholars have rejected it . continuing with this , what about Baptism by immersion ? how come the Cathlic church has not seen the biblical view ? you see the problem , if we think that " all Christians " need to see the light in something so it will be biblical . Elaine , no one  is saying that only " sabbath keepers " will make it to heaven , Elaine comparing the Adventist church with the Mormons and JWs and say we don't have capable theologians  is not accurate . Have you read any of  Dr. Roy Gane books on the sanctuary ? if you haven't then you don't knpw what you are talking about .

Ervin Taylor
2011-09-21 5:26 PM

Seminary student argues that progressive Adventists only have "opinions."   May I ask Seminary Student what he has other than his "opinions."?   Do you have some special insights about "The Truth"?  Would not these "special insights" be your opinion?  Please explain.     

Trevor Hammond
2011-09-21 5:56 PM

Mr. Corson uses what I would term 'convenient logic' to sway the vote his way as usual.  He has to acknowledge (if he is a Bible believer that is), that the Bible unambiguously reveals and speaks of judgement.  That is a fact.  The believe or claim otherwise is to be in a 'convenient logic' state of denial.  Traditional Adventism does not chase straw-men: the Investigative Judgement is a reality revealed in scripture.  Progressive's will deny IJ in order to 1] avoid Ellen White, 2] Disbelieve 2300 year prophecy in Dan, 3] Excuse sinful living and worldiness, 4] discredit our historical BIBLICAL position of traditional Adventism for obvious reasons (some already mentioned), 5] usurp the authority of Christ as Judge and replace with a spurious manmade concoction of dodgy theology.
PS.- The rejection of Ellen White forms much of the basis for the renegade half baked religion they subscribe to.
Here are a few passages for starters:
Dan 8:14 And he said unto me, Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed

Dan 7:9 "As I looked, ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​thrones were placed, ​​​​​​​and the Ancient of Days took his seat; ​​​​​​​his clothing was white as snow, ​​​​​​​and the hair of his head like pure wool; ​​​​​​​his throne was fiery flames; ​​​​​​​its wheels were burning fire. ​​​

Dan 7:10 ​​​A stream of fire issued ​​​​​​​and came out from before him; ​​​​​​​a thousand thousands served him, ​​​​​​​and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him; ​​​​​​​the court sat in judgment, ​​​​​​​and the books were opened. ​​​

Rev 20:11 Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them.

Rev 20:12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done.

T


Trevor Hammond
2011-09-21 6:31 PM

typo- "To believe or claim otherwise..."

JIMS Seven
2011-09-22 2:35 AM

Columnist Mr. Corson Sir,
 
‘…. I completely understand your perspective, the problem is that Progressive Adventists are not Traditional Adventists.’
 
My take: Yes indeed, with that sort of points you mention in the beginning of your column citing wikipedia (failing to answer some queries I made in my comment on your points). How can the two walk together with so much of difference. OK-OK you still claim to be an Adventist Christian because the word ‘Adventist’ is after that pseudo ‘progressive progress’ (so I get a sense that you at least believe the Bible). Why not justify your statement on the basis of Bible Alone.
 
 ‘ when we go back to the Bible we see no IJ’
 
My take: It is like that famous lame question ‘Show me the word TRINITY’ a pathetic assumption that there is no ‘Trinity’ because there is no such particular word there in the Bible.
 
Another commentator Mr. Hammond has given a list of verses to support certain traditional beliefs and I will not ask you to agree with each of those as you believe something else but I humbly would just ask you to just explain to me Revelation 22:12 from ‘progressive’ (your) point of view as to how that reward would be given if there is no investigation prior to or before that (Please be practical as to how you buy the groceries or vegetables in the market: Just pack all the potatoes regardless of their condition or chose the best ones for your kitchen after careful inspection etc). You should be knowing this fact very well that the Traditionalist with conviction on IJ can write volumes of things on IJ not just because they were taught that way but because there are many infallible truths that display the truth of IJ in the Bible here and there. You didn’t chose to write this sentence without studying the WORD, but I am afraid that even after studying the WORD you didn’t get the idea of IJ in the Bible then I will have to really doubt that you ever grasped in detail the working style of God in relation to His Judgment done in love.
 
 ‘we see nothing at all that presents the Sabbath as the seal of God or Sunday as the mark of the Beast. In fact when we go back to the Bible we see the seal of God is the Holy Spirit not the Sabbath.’
 
Presenting these lines have been always the favorite sayings of those groups that  are unwilling to accept the Sabbath. Anyone claiming to be a SDA (I believe) will be sporting this belief of Sabbath as the seal of God if for nothing atleast to keep the respect of the name SDA. Me thinks you are trying to not to get a difference between ‘A SEVENTH DAY’ and ‘THE SEVENTH DAY’. Mostly when we talk about Sunday as the mark of the beast people think it’s just a blind attack on RC, how poor is that assumption. God has His people in different places and times. The issue is above RC and SDA Church rather the issue is much bigger and serious than that. At least up till this juncture if Sunday is not to be considered as the Mark of the Beast then I think there is a serious problem with your perception of the Christian Church history (By the way: Can you please explain as to what is the MoB other than Sunday? Is it Monday or Is it the limousine ridden by Mr. Obama or Is it some Microchip? And please would you mind being little more specific as to where the MoB will be placed as per your new progressive light) You know in these issues the Traditionalists can come very strongly biblically but I am simply not putting in those thoughts because you still haven’t answered my concerns on those three points that I asked you. You just make a statement but fail to prove it scripturally. It’s like the other day a respected commentator made a sandy claim of ‘Time prophecies in Daniel’ being sandy foundation of Bible’s divine origin but failed to answer the how and why thing. Good day.

Ron Corson
2011-09-22 1:43 PM

JIMS, I must have missed the questions your referred to, I would expect that they would have been answered if you read the orginal article which is linked above. I am not going to derail the subject or even respond to the error of pretending that any judgement is the same as the investigative judgement. The IJ is not the subject of this column. It is sad however to see the wide range of disparaging remarks used about Progressive Adventists which have nothing to do with Progressive Adventist beliefs. The assumption that Progressive Adventisism is the same as Liberal Christianity and the people like Bishop Spong. but again if you had read the original article you would understand they are not the same thing.

The problem is that if you are going to define something you must define it in the way that those who hold to a particular label define it. Not by how those opposed to the label define it. After all Adventism for much of its existence was defined by many religious people as a cult. Does that make it a cult? No and neither do the disparaging comments of people like Trevor make his statements any more accurate of Progressive Adventism then those folks who defined Adventism as a cult.

Elaine Nelson
2011-09-22 3:46 PM

Does the new book by J. David Newman being advertised:  An Adventist Search for Direction suggest that after more than 150 years it still has not determined what the search is for and where it is going, or what direction it should take?

From its beginning it has taken many twists and turns:  backtracking; changing original concepts; and eliminating or adding new doctrines.  This implies that it has no determined direction but is still searching.


Trevor Hammond
2011-09-22 3:54 PM

RE Mr. Corson's line: "No and neither do the disparaging comments of people like Trevor make his statements any more accurate of Progressive Adventism then those folks who defined Adventism as a cult."
-----
Well, well, this is odd.  Is there another type of Progressive that Mr. Corson is referring to who do not subscribe to the 'disparaging' stuff he falsely accuses me of mentioning.  I just stated plainly what in my opinion so-called progressives subscribe to.  What I have stated is factual.  Do I need to repeat the homosexual compromise, Sabbath breaking, Ellen White bashing, Evolution, etc...? Those who call SDA's a Cult are simply wrong and do it just because we don't practice the popular compromised unbiblical kind of Christianity they subscribe to.  These are governed by the secular (and religious) CULTure of the day which in turn results in a form of Cultural Compromised Christianity made possible by some twisted false manmade doctrines to legitimize it.  The Progressives within Adventism, even though they are a sub-culture within Adventism itself, DO JUST WHAT THE FOLKS WHO DEFINE ADVENTISTS AS A CULT DO, except of course, Progressives do it from within the Church.  This Website, Spectrum and some others, all do exactly what those that accuse us as cults do.  In their enthusiasm to win their flesh and blood war, they are destroying the faith of many, even at the expense of their own children, within the Seventh-day Adventist church, and then blame Traditional Adventism for the mess.  How disparaging is that?

T


Ron Corson
2011-09-22 5:10 PM

Trevor wrote:
"The trademarks of progressives are the 1] condoning of sin and 2] scoffing at plain biblical truth."
No that is not disparaging, I mean you see that all over with Progressive Adventists. Why it is hard to find a progressive Adventist that does not say go ahead and kill your neighbor and cheat a friend, after all we condone sin.  Maybe the biggest problem is what people such as Trevor thing are facts. Which is why I have always said we need critical thinking skills, if not then facts are meaningless and opinions can be all powerful.

William Noel
2011-09-23 10:26 AM

So, what does all this argument about labels, particular doctrines and if a person really is or is not an Adventist have to do with actually bringing people into the Kingdom of God?  Some of the comments in this string present specific beliefs about certain doctrines as a litmus test to measure whether or not a person is a "real" Adventist.  Get over it, guys!  Such arguments remind me of a line from the old Southern Gospel song that says, "You're so heavenly minded you ain't no earthly good!" 

Trevor Hammond
2011-09-23 11:28 AM

Pastor Noel and Mr. Corson make their views known freely on these blogs and say whatever they want  - often with snide remarks without fear of banishment or censureship.  They are allowed to do so because they are from a certain camp.  I have had the editor delete my post which I responded to on another blog.  So it seems progressives aren't ALL that open to robust discussion as they claim and seek to stifle the thoughts and views of those that rub them the wrong way.

Mr Corson refers to my comment that says "progressives condone sin" and then mentions that in this remark I imply "kill your neighbor and cheat a friend".  True critical thinking doesn't use false assumptions to twist what someone says to and try and pass it off as a logical conclusion.  I mentioned "homosexual compromise, Sabbath breaking, Ellen White bashing, Evolution, etc...?"  All these are generally condoned in progressive circles.  Now that's a fact.
T

William Noel
2011-09-23 8:42 PM

Trevor,

I'm not a pastor, just an Adventist who has been redeemed from the traditionalism that enslaves so many to arguments defending particular doctrines and painting people who hold different opinions with broad brush strokes of condemnation.  I praise God that He has given me a love for others that enables me to be friends with others regardless of their opinion about particular doctrines and lead them into an empowered relationship with the Holy Spirit.  I'm in the business of winning souls and encouraging spiritual growth.  I'm seeing God bless my ministry where the evidence is changed lives.  How many people have the arguments expressed by most of the writers in this message string brought into the Kingdom of God? 

Ella M
2011-09-23 9:57 PM

  William Noel:  Why did you consider yourself to be "enslaved?"  No one forced you to be inflexible.  One needs to own up to their responsibility for the past, I believe.  But praise God, you have been converted into serving and loving people into the Kingdom.

William Noel
2011-09-24 2:25 PM

Ella,

I was enslaved because I was surrounded by traditionalism that was unbending and where church leaders taught that adherence to those practices was both the way to find God and the way to serve Him.  My liberation came through discovering that those teachings and practices used the name of God but had none of the power of God.  In fact, many of them were barriers between my and God that prevented having the intimate relationship that I wanted.  The old ways died a lingering and difficult death.  But over time I discovered both the leading and empowerment of the Holy Spirit.  The transformation He has made in my life has enabled me to leave those old chains behind and to live in His power from day to day.  Today I have a ministry that is growing the church, bringing people closer to God and giving me purpose that I did not have before. 

Frank Allen
2011-09-23 2:06 PM

It appears to me that the vast majority of American SDA’s are more on the progressive side. They do not bash EGW but neither do they feel guilty about using vinegar, spices, Starbucks or green tea, forbidden by EGW. They watch movies and TV in spite of EGW’s negative comments of fiction, theater and sports. The 1844 investigative judgment has no effect on their daily lives most rarely think about it or consider it when purchasing property, furnishings or planning a vacation. Most SDA young men and women follow the same modern (progressive) dress styles as their peers.

Most SDA’s ascent to the Testimonies, but few have read them or desire to. They affirm family and marriage but have the same divorce rate as non-SDA’s and the same emotional and family problems. They believe in the soon coming of Jesus but the same power struggles and internal conflicts consistently rock Advent churches. If their job depended upon occasional Sabbath work, many would compromise for the sake of family and mortgage; most medical workers see no conflict, and few would lose membership over Sabbath conflicts.
 
Prayer meetings are not well attended in 95% of SDA churches. In most churches, there is very little serious Bible Study; Sabbath School attendance represents about a quart of membership. Regular attendance of nearly every SDA church is generally one-half, or less, of total membership. Most SDA churches sit empty during the week and if they should close for a year, few in the community would notice or care. This tells me that there is a large percentage mostly lifestyle progressive SDA’s.  

Progressives and conservatives for the most part are found in theological positions, lifestyle and family problems are often very similar. Conservatives do not welcome anyone who questions the authority of the Bible, creation, end time events or EGW; they view them as the enemies of truth, which is not true. To be a wholesome functioning church we need conservatives and liberals, Spanish, English, German, French, and African, with all their different cultures and values, in order for love to be demonstrated and balanced to be achieved. When Puritans took over England, the king was beheaded.
 
As a rule when conservatives gain the upper hand, they become very judgmental and exacting. Calvin required church attendance and was intolerant toward opposition; few of us would be comfortable in Calvin’s Geneva or the Reign of Terror of France.

Progressives need conservatives to keep them focused on the basics of faith. Jesus called zealots, staunch supporters of Jewish nationalism, and Matthew who represented the liberal element, giving us a picture of the true church. Paul represented the liberal wing of Judaism, minimizing circumcision, and welcoming unclean Gentile into full fellowship on faith alone. Whereas James represented the conservative wing of believers with emphasis on the law.  I ask what would the church look like today should James have expelled Paul from fellowship?
 
 

William Noel
2011-09-24 2:18 PM

Frank,

How is Calvin's intolerance any different than the intolerance being expressed today in the use of labels to typify, classify and condemn those who are seen as different because they have a different view on a particular topic?  Was not Jesus the ultimate "progressive" because his teachings were in such contrast to the traditional views held by the church leaders of the day? 

The items you list as measures of declining spirituality should be taken seriously, but the causes and remedies may surprise you.  The root cause for all those negative measures is because of the cavernous absence of the Holy Spirit in most congregations.  Without that power what we hear most is the echo of our own voices as we seek ways to prove that we are empowered by God and doing His work when, in fact, we are not.  The cure is simple: discovering the guidance of the Holy Spirit and following so we can experience the reformation and renewal that He brings. 

Ella M
2011-09-23 9:53 PM

   There is a lot of stereotyping here as usual, and it is hard to discuss with people who hold them.  It would seem any remark could cause one to be labeled.  I won't be labeled--I am conservative on some points and progressive on others.  I am inclusive yet hold biblical beliefs about salvation through Christ alone.  I believe the Bible to be inspired but not dictated. 
   I reject this wholesale labeling of persons.  And I would suggest we are all a mixture.  If not, we need to take long look at our belief system.

Elaine Nelson
2011-09-24 2:24 PM

The church is dominated much more by specific, even detailed doctrine than the Holy Spirit which leads on into truth, not in unformity of such details.  It is much easier to determine if such doctrines are observed externally, but who can discern the Holy Spirit, and base it on certain behaviors?  If the Holy Spirit leads in new directions, as it certainly did at Pentecost, who should dare question?

William Noel
2011-09-24 8:11 PM

Elaine,

There is a widespread fear of the Holy Spirit in the church because people have such false concepts about what He will or will not do when He comes, how we will know when He has come, etc.  Our biggest problem is that we're looking for a "Latter Rain" outpouring of power to come on a dramatic day off in the indefinite future when we're not using the power He has already given to those who believe.  How can we expect God to give us such great power when we don't trust Him enough to use the power He has already given to us?  The Bible is so clear and definite in statements on this topic that we can know who is a believer or not simply by seeing whether or not they are empowered and guided by the Holy Spirit.

Scripture promises that the Holy Spirit will guide us into all truth.  This is one of the areas I enjoy the most about the Holy Spirit because He gives such clarity of understanding on topics.  Since I discovered the Holy Spirit, I have come to understand many things much more clearly than before.  Probably the biggest thing I have learned is that there is so much God wants to teach us that He has not yet revealed that anyone who claims that their understanding of a doctrine is a liar.  More than that, God is not in anyone who attempts to judge whether or not a person is a believer because of how they feel about particular doctrines.  The spirit of condemnation comes from Satan while God is in the redemption business.

The greatest fear about the Holy Spirit is that, when He comes, churches will be divided and false doctrines will abound.  Anyone who claims this simply hasn't studied about the Holy Spirit in scripture and is desperately needful of meeting the Holy Spirit.  My testimony is that the Holy Spirit is already here and, when He comes, the opposite happens.  Divisions are healed, false doctrines are exposed and people come closer to both each other and Him.  People quit labeling each other, start uplifting each other and growing in faith and love.  It is truly a beautiful experience that I wish more could have!  

Seminary Student
2011-09-24 11:48 PM

The Holy Spirit  inspired the men who wrote the bible , so the holy spirit always leads people back to scripture . The problem that people like Elaine  would suggest that the Holy Spirit  leads in different direction than the bible .  Trying to go back to the original topic about  " progressive Adventism ' I don't think it is an option . It so called progressives get their way , all doctrines would disaapear  since for people like Ron , Elaine  and Ervin  , they see these doctrines as something that divides us with other Christians  and we " need to be the same " . The  work of the reformation was to get people back to scripture , So true adventists see themselves as heirs of the reformation and continue to find those truths who had been forgatten or denied by tradition . " progressives " don't have a high view of scripture therefore , whatever they know will never prosper in Adventism .

Seminary Student
2011-09-24 11:58 PM

William Noel ,  you said" that Jesus was the ultimate progressive" I agree with that  however to compare Jesus to so called " progressives " here is" sacrilegious ". I would like to study with Ron , Ervin and Elaine or people who think like them with one condition , that we  give a high view of scripture that is something that they will not agree . You see Jesus was progressive based on scripture remember how much he quoted scripture ?  So progressives ignore what the bible said on things they disagree  , things such as literal 6 days creation , Investigative Judgment , Sababath , second coming etc . You see the bible spends a great deal of time on this but they will just ignore those texts dealing with that .

William Noel
2011-09-25 8:31 PM

Seminary Student,

Labels like "progressive" get used with such broad, inconsistent and varied meanings that offense and confusion are the only predictable results.  Merely pinning a label on someone allows you to accuse from a distance without having to deal with the issue they raise.  Labels create division when God wants us to be healing the wounds that separate believers.  The sooner you stop using them, the sooner you will discover effectiveness in ministry.

Seminary Student
2011-09-25 12:06 AM

I would like to know  how " progressives " can claim to be  Christians and ignore the teachings of Christ ?  doctrines such as the second coming that are mention so many times , how come they don't consider those important issues ? I think as a young Dad , how difficult it would be for be not to take the bible seriously and teach my children to do the same . How can I raise good children if I tell them that stealing is wrong but sababth is not that important .  And if stealing is wrong , on the basis of what ? if I don't take the bible seriously . If I am teaching my child about the love of God  but if I don't believe in the biblical data of creation how can I tell him /her that  the wages of sin is death , if death existed before adam and eve , and then death is not the result of sin .????  

William Noel
2011-09-25 9:04 PM

Seminary Student,

Let's turn the question around.  Using labels creates division, confusion and dissension in the church.  That's the work of Satan.  So, how can you call yourself a Christian if you are defending the use of labels like "progressive" to make broad accusations and question whether or not a person is an Adventist? 

George Tichy
2011-10-21 10:38 AM

"I would like to know  how " progressives " can claim to be  Christians and ignore the teachings of Christ ?"
This is a completely false accusation.
It's true that Progressives are more flexible in their thinking, but this usually applies more to church related issues, like certain peculiar interpretations, or even the creation on non-biblical doctrines (e.g.,Investigative Judgment, 1844, several EGW's "teachings", certain EGW's prophecies,etc).

Ervin Taylor
2011-09-25 12:28 AM

I see Seminary Student has returned.  Earlier, he argued that progressive Adventists only have "opinions."   May I ask Seminary Student what he has other than his "opinions"?   Do you have some special insights about "The Truth"?  Would not these "special insights" be your opinion?  Please explain.     

Ron Corson
2011-09-25 1:55 AM

SS wrote:
"I would like to study with Ron , Ervin and Elaine or people who think like them with one condition , that we  give a high view of scripture that is something that they will not agree . You see Jesus was progressive based on scripture remember how much he quoted scripture ?  So progressives ignore what the bible said on things they disagree"

Indeed Jesus quoted Scripture but not quite the way you think SS. He did not quote it with the high view you are apparently thinking of. For example:


John 10:33-36
33    The Jews answered him, saying, For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God.
34    Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods?
35    If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken;
36    Say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God?
(KJV)

Now the quote from the Psalms was:
"
Ps 82:4-8
4    Deliver the poor and needy: rid them out of the hand of the wicked.
5    They know not, neither will they understand; they walk on in darkness: all the foundations of the earth are out of course.
6    I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High.
7    But ye shall die like men, and fall like one of the princes.
8    Arise, O God, judge the earth: for thou shalt inherit all nations.
(KJV)

So did He shut them down by quoting the context and meaning of the original or did He use a section for His particular purpose. In other words did He submit to the scriptures or use the scriptures. You can submit by taken the wooden literal meaning or ascribing the meaning to a tradition. Or you can use the scriptures as tools in learning and teaching. There is a big difference and which one do you think would be called a high view of scriptures in Adventism today?
 

 


Seminary Student
2011-09-25 1:30 PM

Ervin . I don't believe that there is an individual who has all the truth and I also believe that there is not one individual who has it all wrong . My big challenge is how can we learn from each other , how can we find a common ground .I feel that I am in the middle , on the one side I see " historics Adventists " like Standish , spear etc to be way off and on the other extreme I find progressives .How can we keep our church together without spliting ?  you see historics want to build a wall , claiming to have all the truth  and progressives claim we are just like the rest  of churches .  If we have all the truth are Historics claim , we should be in heaven already and if progressives get their way , then we just erase the name Adventis from our churches and disappear . In my opinion  we have  see scritpure as the word of God , and knowing that there are things we don't understand  but build on the things we understand . Ron , you gave a good example , the difference between us and JEsus is that he is God and he said that scriptures testify about him , he is the center of scripture . We can not do the same , we need to see the texts and compare and humbly accept what God want to tell us .

Ron Corson
2011-09-25 5:21 PM

SS. that is fine we can wait for God to tell us, but we need to get away from this idea of us telling others what God wants to tell us just because we have a tradition that we think is true. As for much of the rest of what you wrote, such as Progressives want to erase the name Adventist and disappear. That seems to simply be an ill informed opinion you have. We have to all get away from those kind of ill informed opinions and think a bit and use some evidence and reason. You may think God just wants us to humbly accept but I think he wants us to think and reason and appreciate Him for what He is rather then simply submit to Him. I think we have Islam for those who just want to submit.

Stephen Foster
2011-09-25 10:26 PM

Ron,
 
From whence do get the idea that Christianity is not ultimately about submission? How can you love God with all that you have, and your neighbor as yourself, without willingly submitting yourself to God?

Is this a key to the differences between “progressive” Adventists and other Adventists? Is it (partially) a question of who is willing to believe that biblical Christianity requires submission; as opposed to what we “think?”

Ron Corson
2011-09-25 11:04 PM


John 15:15
15    I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. (NIV)

Is there really any reason to be friends or to have made known God to us if it is all about submission.


Heb 10:22
22    let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. (NIV)

Why be cleansed of a guilty conscience if it is all about submission? What does our conscience have to do with anything if it is submission that is desired.


Rom 13:8
8    Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law. (NIV)

Does submission lead you to love? To love man or God?

It may well be the bedrock difference between traditional Adventism and Progressive Adventism. You have made a good point. It does make me sad for traditional Adventists however.

Stephen Foster
2011-09-26 6:15 AM

Your question: Is there really any reason to be friends or to have made known God to us if it is all about submission?
 
My answer: Yes; because the human heart is evil, the human will must be surrendered in order for the Spirit of God to lead it.
 
Your question: Why be cleansed of a guilty conscience if it is all about submission? What does our conscience have to do with anything if it is submission that is desired.
 
My answer: Because the human heart is evil, it is only possible to “draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience…”after having surrendered our evil hearts and wills to His Spirit, by faith in the blood with which our impure hearts have been cleansed.
 
Your questions: Does submission lead you to love? To love man or God?
 
My answer: Yes. Because the human heart is evil (Jeremiah 17:9), it is only by submission of the will to the Holy Spirit is it possible to love either man or a God we have not seen.
 
Allow me to recommend that you “try these on.”
 
Psalm 81: 8-16
 
Romans 10:3
 
James 4:7
 
1 Peter 5: 5-7

Ron Corson
2011-09-26 1:21 PM

Well Stephen with those answers, them being your heart is evil, you have just stated that you can not be in submission, in fact you can't even want to be in submission. which pretty much means that your proclaimation of submission is phony. Much like that of the pharisees.

An interesting understanding of traditional adventism it appears.

Stephen Foster
2011-09-26 2:13 PM

No, my friend, this has nothing to do with Adventism per se; historical or otherwise. This has to do with Christianity.
 
Let me get this straight, in the progressive Christian world, the human heart in not evil? The mind (heart) does not need to be transformed? The will does not need to be surrendered to God?
 
How would you, as a progressive, explain/reconcile Jeremiah 17:9, Romans 10:3, and James 4:7?

Ron Corson
2011-09-26 7:07 PM

I don't think you can get anything straight with your attitude, I never said humans hearts aren't evil, only that God works with our reason and with reason we appreciate God and find Him worthy of worship and then worthy of doing what God would like us to do. Apparently that is not to your liking so you want to distort it into something absurd.

Stephen Foster
2011-09-26 8:44 PM

OK, so you actually agreed with me when I answered you that the human heart is evil. Somehow I interpreted your response (“Well Stephen with those answers, them being your heart is evil, you have just stated that you can not be in submission, in fact you can't even want to be in submission. which pretty much means that your proclaimation of submission is phony. Much like that of the Pharisees”) as disagreement with “the human heart is evil and must be surrendered" approach.
 
Never mind what I say about submission; because you apparently agree with what I have said, but disagree with me. Let’s just deal with the texts that I’ve cited. God appeals to our reason to agree with Him that we are inherently wicked, and can do nothing without Him, and therefore need to submit to Him, His will, and His way. How’s that?
 
Now, is that an historical Adventist position; or have we possibly found common ground?

Nathan Schilt
2011-09-27 1:07 PM

Ron and Stephen - I think each of you is coming at this from a different perspective. Fundamentally, you seem, correctly in my opinion, to share a dim view of human nature. But you have different perspectives on the relative importance of reason, revelation, tradition and experience in dealing with the problem of evil.

You have each demonstrated, with your dueling proof-texts, that the Bible can be putty in our hands. The challenge posed by Scripture is whether we are putty in God's hands. If we are putty in God's hands (submitted hearts and minds), the application of reason and intellect to the Bible has transformative power. If, however, we do not approach Scripture with humble, submitted hearts, the application of reason and intellect will turn the Bible into a weapon of human pride and ambition. The same Jesus who said, "Everything that I have learned from my Father, I have made known to you," also said, when asked to show His disciples the way, "I am the way, the truth, and the life." No road map - no set of abstract principles - just Jesus. 

Growth and progress in the Christian life occurs as a byproduct of hearts and minds that abide in Christ. We need not choose between submitted hearts and keen minds. We just have to keep them in the right order. 

Ron Corson
2011-09-27 2:49 PM

Stephen wrote:
"OK, so you actually agreed with me when I answered you that the human heart is evil. Somehow I interpreted your response (“Well Stephen with those answers, them being your heart is evil, you have just stated that you can not be in submission, in fact you can't even want to be in submission. which pretty much means that your proclaimation of submission is phony. Much like that of the Pharisees”) as disagreement with “the human heart is evil and must be surrendered" approach."

I guess the key word there is "somehow" because it appears your interpretation there is a total non sequiter. Which is kind of like that last line “the human heart is evil and must be surrendered" approach.". After all if it is evil why would it want to be surrendered. One of the many meaningless phrases of Christianity I suppose.

Stephen Foster
2011-09-28 3:03 AM

Nathan,
 
Perhaps you can serve as an interpreter between me and Ron. I cannot tell—at all—whether he believes that the human heart is wicked, or not.
 
If he does not, which is what I rather suspect, then I understand why he, and perhaps other progressives, do not see submission as an absolute Christian imperative.
 
If he does, then I agree with what you have written in your post.
 
In either case, reason naturally precedes submission. One must conclude that they must submit; and then the submitted and transformed heart (mind) becomes the controller of the intellect.

Frank Allen
2011-09-28 9:07 AM

@Stephen Foster

Yes, if you have a healthy mind the “transformed heart” can “control the intellect,” our choices. However, millions of individuals have poor mental health. They are depressed, on medication, recently divorced, have sustained head injury, lack of sleep, living in oppressive environments, or in general poor health. Thank goodness, we saved by faith through grace, not through “absolute surrender,” which means vastly different things throughout our world cultures.

Furthermore, submitted heats never make believers better than simple faith can achieve let alone become flawless. Jesus did not teach that your submission makes you whole, but your faith.

Stephen Foster
2011-09-28 6:45 PM

You make good points Frank; in fact you actually make the case for grace. (I never said anything about "perfection," as that is another subject.) A submitted heart, by God’s grace, is the silver bullet for all human issues.
 
If loving God and our neighbors as ourselves is our whole duty, or indeed is all that God asks, we must believe that He exists and that He will reward the very seeking of Him. But since our minds are inherently wicked, we must, by faith, surrender to Him. It seems to me that grace handles it from there. 

Trevor Hammond
2011-10-02 6:13 PM

The problem with progressive Adventists is the dangerous enchanted ground they tread on in open defiance of our fundamental teachings and by engaging liberal views spurred on by socio-political changes and radical cultural mood swings.  The rejection of Ellen White and traditional fundamental teachings of the SDA Church in conjunction with the influence of humanism, evolution and revolution, has resulted in a factional subCULTure within our church which is poised for war and clearly tarnishing the name of Christ.  Herein lies the danger: progressives seek to vehemently justify their dodgy course of action.
♥T

Kevin Riley
2011-10-02 6:42 PM

Is there any faction within the church that does not seek to 'justify their [dogy or otherwise] course of action'?  Of course, much of this could be stopped more easily if the church had not consistently, from the beginning, put forward the proprosition that we should question everything and come to our own conclusions, even on fundamental beliefs.  For some reason, we once had faith that either our beliefs were correct, or we needed to change them, so questioning beliefs could only have a positive outcome.  I believe Ellen White has to take a large share of the blame for this view of our faith.  Had we ignored her and other rebellious pioneers and gone with good, steady believers like GI Butler who believed we should all simply accept what we had always beleived, life in the SDA church would have been, and would be, much easier.  But it would not be half as interesting :)


Nathan Schilt
2011-10-02 7:20 PM

Trevor, the problem with progressive Adventists is the flip side of the problem with traditional Adventists. Both suffer from propositional impotence - a belief that Truth can be contained in theories and doctrines about our experience of reality.  

Preston Foster
2011-10-03 5:30 AM

This is what I've never understood about this polarized conversation: IF one (for the sake of discussion) "rejects Ellen White," but adopts sola scriptura as the Word of God (not necessarily the progressives position, I understand), should they not, theoretically, arrive at the same place as one who "believes in Ellen White" AND the Bible? 

Kevin Riley
2011-10-03 7:15 PM

We assume so, but it is rarely demonstrated in reality.  SDA results come from SDA presuppositions, and we rarely see other Christians with SDA presuppositions.  Ellen White's writings are one of the main carriers of SDA tradition, so to reject her is usually to reject the tradition as well.  So, from the Bible alone we could reach the same place, but we probably won't. 

It varies of course - for the Sabbath we have 2000 years of history of people concluding from the Bible that the Sabbath is the 7th day, and most never read Ellen White.  But,in the same time period, no one came up with the idea of the IJ in its SDA form.  Some of what Ellen White writes is found in other writings, some is unique to her.  I doubt anyone would have come up with the idea of Adam being 12 feet tall from the Bible alone.  We like to think everything we believe comes from the Bible alone, but that is a myth that quickly evaporates when compared with reality.

Kevin Riley
2011-10-03 7:15 PM

We assume so, but it is rarely demonstrated in reality.  SDA results come from SDA presuppositions, and we rarely see other Christians with SDA presuppositions.  Ellen White's writings are one of the main carriers of SDA tradition, so to reject her is usually to reject the tradition as well.  So, from the Bible alone we could reach the same place, but we probably won't. 

It varies of course - for the Sabbath we have 2000 years of history of people concluding from the Bible that the Sabbath is the 7th day, and most never read Ellen White.  But,in the same time period, no one came up with the idea of the IJ in its SDA form.  Some of what Ellen White writes is found in other writings, some is unique to her.  I doubt anyone would have come up with the idea of Adam being 12 feet tall from the Bible alone.  We like to think everything we believe comes from the Bible alone, but that is a myth that quickly evaporates when compared with reality.

Kevin Riley
2011-10-03 7:16 PM

We assume so, but it is rarely demonstrated in reality.  SDA results come from SDA presuppositions, and we rarely see other Christians with SDA presuppositions.  Ellen White's writings are one of the main carriers of SDA tradition, so to reject her is usually to reject the tradition as well.  So, from the Bible alone we could reach the same place, but we probably won't. 

It varies of course - for the Sabbath we have 2000 years of history of people concluding from the Bible that the Sabbath is the 7th day, and most never read Ellen White.  But,in the same time period, no one came up with the idea of the IJ in its SDA form.  Some of what Ellen White writes is found in other writings, some is unique to her.  I doubt anyone would have come up with the idea of Adam being 12 feet tall from the Bible alone.  We like to think everything we believe comes from the Bible alone, but that is a myth that quickly evaporates when compared with reality.

Kevin Riley
2011-10-03 7:16 PM

We assume so, but it is rarely demonstrated in reality.  SDA results come from SDA presuppositions, and we rarely see other Christians with SDA presuppositions.  Ellen White's writings are one of the main carriers of SDA tradition, so to reject her is usually to reject the tradition as well.  So, from the Bible alone we could reach the same place, but we probably won't. 

It varies of course - for the Sabbath we have 2000 years of history of people concluding from the Bible that the Sabbath is the 7th day, and most never read Ellen White.  But,in the same time period, no one came up with the idea of the IJ in its SDA form.  Some of what Ellen White writes is found in other writings, some is unique to her.  I doubt anyone would have come up with the idea of Adam being 12 feet tall from the Bible alone.  We like to think everything we believe comes from the Bible alone, but that is a myth that quickly evaporates when compared with reality.

William Noel
2011-10-03 12:42 PM

Trevor,

The first and foremost problem I see with "progressive" Adventists is the wide variance that is included in the meaning of "progressive".  What does it really mean?  I consider myself a progressive but absolutely reject many of the viewpoints that typically are included in the definition.  As a result, when you use the term you are accusing myself and others of believing things that we do not believe.  Please narrow your discussion to specific topics.  When you do that and we can compare scriptures then we all will have the opportunity to benefit from the discussion.  But when you keep generally decrying progressives as evil or misguided, you're making a broad accusation that I've seen Satan use many times to drivide churches and drive people away from believing in God.  Please, find a more precise term to clearly identify whomever you wish to accuse.

Ervin Taylor
2011-10-02 11:37 PM

I wonder if Nate could enlighen us as to what we views as the nature of "Truth" (I notice that he has an upper case "T" on this word) and how us ordinary mortals can accurately perceive it.  

Nathan Schilt
2011-10-03 9:06 PM

Well, Erv, when I put an upper case "T" on truth, I am referring to the human craving for moral significance, which leads us to make universal and exclusive propositions about reality. Usually, a good clue that a Truth claim lies just below the surface of an assertion is the judgmental, authoritarian, and dogmatic language with which an idea is conveyed. The Ptolemaic theory was a Truth claim, as was much of Aristotelian logic, as is Darwinian theory and philosophical materialism. The Great Controversy, with its chain link theology, doctrinal emphasis, and Adventist-centric Christianity is a Truth claim for traditional SDAs. Truth claims aren't necessarily bad. We just need to recognize when the speaker is retreating to a Truth claim, such as "scientists agree...," or "Sister White says..."  

One of the more pernicious Truth claims, accepted by both believers and non-believers, is that the most important truths for living can best be apprehended and communicated by highly educated, intelligent people; that the most educated, intelligent people in society are best equipped to judge, create and interpret the metanarratives by which humanity collects and passes on its wisdom and learning. Believers and non-believers can communicate well, if not always amicably, because both believe that Truth lies at the end of the dialectic rainbow. Both my experience and the teachings of scripture tell me that this is a great lie. Thus, while I am a great fan of reason and logic, I use Leonard Sweet's phrase - propositional impotence - to refer to the Truth assumptions of progressives and traditionalists. 

Just for the record, my idea of what the capital "T" means is not a Truth claim for me.

Nathan Schilt
2011-10-03 9:06 PM

Well, Erv, when I put an upper case "T" on truth, I am referring to the human craving for moral significance, which leads us to make universal and exclusive propositions about reality. Usually, a good clue that a Truth claim lies just below the surface of an assertion is the judgmental, authoritarian, and dogmatic language with which an idea is conveyed. The Ptolemaic theory was a Truth claim, as was much of Aristotelian logic, as is Darwinian theory and philosophical materialism. The Great Controversy, with its chain link theology, doctrinal emphasis, and Adventist-centric Christianity is a Truth claim for traditional SDAs. Truth claims aren't necessarily bad. We just need to recognize when the speaker is retreating to a Truth claim, such as "scientists agree...," or "Sister White says..."  

One of the more pernicious Truth claims, accepted by both believers and non-believers, is that the most important truths for living can best be apprehended and communicated by highly educated, intelligent people; that the most educated, intelligent people in society are best equipped to judge, create and interpret the metanarratives by which humanity collects and passes on its wisdom and learning. Believers and non-believers can communicate well, if not always amicably, because both believe that Truth lies at the end of the dialectic rainbow. Both my experience and the teachings of scripture tell me that this is a great lie. Thus, while I am a great fan of reason and logic, I use Leonard Sweet's phrase - propositional impotence - to refer to the Truth assumptions of progressives and traditionalists. 

Just for the record, my idea of what the capital "T" means is not a Truth claim for me.

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