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A couple of years ago I presented a study on the doctrine of the Sabbath to a young man who was interested in joining the Seventh-day Adventist Church. I explained that the reckoning of the 24-hour day in Bible times wasn't the same as our current secular reckoning. Instead of the day being calculated from midnight to midnight, as we do now, the biblical day commenced at sunset and continued until the next sunset.
When I read the Spectrum article “Ted Wilson Takes Appeal to 3ABN Audience,” when I watched Pastor Wilson’s presentation in front of the Pacific Union Conference (PUC) constituency, when I perused his statement of response following the PUC meeting, and when I examined the associated materials posted on the Adventist News Network, I was hit by a wave of nausea. Literally.
Prologue and Disclaimers
Over many years I’ve noted a surprising penchant for defaming the victim and defending the perpetrator. Which makes me wonder: If the Gethsemane story had taken place in, let’s say, 2012, what kind of support would Judas get in readers’ comments when news of the betrayal first breaks on Spectrum a couple of hours after Jesus’ arrest? I can only imagine . . .
The Columbia Union Conference's Special Constituency Meeting to determine whether or not women will be allowed ordination into the gospel ministry is tomorrow. Spectrum will be live blogging the event as it happens.
As the North American Division discovered to its chagrin when it had to reverse its decision to modify its constitution and bylaws to allow for the ordination of women, the church’s governing documents can be a hard taskmaster. I’m not certain the union conferences are going to find it much easier. In other words, it’s not over yet.
According to a Religious News Service report available on the Huffington Post, “Seventh-day Adventists have filed a federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of two ordinances in an Alabama city that the church says bars it and other religious groups from door-to-door solicitations unless they first register and pay license fees.
Granted that a violation of church standards provided the premise on which three employees and a board member of La Sierra University were recently pressured to resign from their respective positions, it seems appropriate to briefly discuss Seventh-day Adventist standards. But before going there, allow me to share four disclaimers/explanations.
Disclaimers and Explanations
When I first read about the resignations of the four men associated with La Sierra University, I was sick at heart. The details are "unique" by any standard. And that's understatement. The story provides its own form of gallows humor. It's simultaneously comedic and tragic. There's a kind of primal comeuppance in the turn of events. But what a tragedy, whatever one's perspective.
Before I make a few observations concerning the spiritual implications of the steps taken in the case of three employees of La Sierra University and a board member who were forced to resign from their respective positions, I'm going to share a couple of stories to set the scene.
Story #1. On December 1, 1980, I was one of five pastors ordained at Avondale Memorial Church, Cooranbong, New South Wales, Australia.