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Matthew Quartey

“The Great Controversy” Shackles Adventist Theology

E. G. White’s (EGW) Great Controversy (GC) is, by all accounts, the most important Adventist publication. And for the same reason, it poses grave problems for the church if concerns that limit its influence are not addressed. Our church spends more to publish and circulate this book than any other because, in the GC, many distinctive Adventist positions are compellingly advocated. These include explanations for the 1844 Great Disappointment, Christ’s Ministry in the Heavenly Sanctuary, the Investigative Judgment, and the Universal Sunday Law/Mark of the Beast.

Do We Really Have the Freedom to Choose?

There are aspects of our current teaching about God’s character that are problematic. But because our leaders generally do not encourage open dialogue about dissenting doctrinal views, some are reluctant to probe into those difficult areas to avoid the “rebellious” tag. Consequently, we “accept” proffered explanations, suggesting that some questions about God are mysteries and are unprofitable avenues to pursue. We intuitively file such inscrutable questions into the mental “mystery” column.

Are All Biblical Stories Appropriate for Children?

Ellen G. White (EGW) did not like fiction. Her aversion to the genre is why she counselled “total abstinence [the] only safety” (Ministry of Healing, p 446). For much of the church’s history, EGW’s statements about fiction have been the official guide to what church members should and should not read. In the following quotation, she compares fiction to warfare and employs military imagery in her call to root it out:

Forgotten Homework: The 2020 Study in Hermeneutics

A convincing case could be made that the last time the global Adventist Church was truly “at study” was during the multi-year Theology of Ordination Study Committee (TOSC) effort that preceded the 2015 San Antonio General Conference Session. For one thing, the subject was important and impactful: it concerned how our church viewed the limits, if any, of women who feel called to gospel ministry.

The False Security of Certainty

“If you can’t support all our beliefs, why don’t you do the honorable thing and leave?” This sentiment, or some variation of it, is often made by some of our conservative church members when doctrinal disagreements occur. Besides being conversation stoppers, such statements do not model a welcoming church. If anything, they may mask the speaker’s apprehension about confronting uncomfortable topics, or betray an incoherent understanding of how our beliefs developed over time. 

What if Abraham Had Said to God: “No! I Will Not Kill My Son”?

A few weeks ago I was re-reading Chinua Achebe’s classic, Things Fall Apartthe pre-eminent exemplar of the tragic results of the African encounter with Europe. The jarring similarity between, Okonkwo, the novel’s tragic hero, and our biblical Abraham, reacting to their different gods’ commands to sacrifice their sons, is stunning. Okonkwo was one of the most successful self-made leaders of his community—the clan Umuofia. But he also had an outsized fear of failure, in dreaded comparison with his good-for-nothing father.

Ted Wilson's Overreach

Outlawing Women’s Ordination (WO) apparently is how Elder Ted Wilson wants to define his authoritarian leadership. We have seen enough of his approach and should want no more. San Antonio ought to have shown him that his methods were flawed, but he has been determined to stay the course. Instead of working toward a consensus position that capitalizes on our church’s enviable diversity, he advocated a tribal position that grossly confused uniformity and conformity with unity.

Michigan Conference Brandishes the Sword of Authority

I live and attend church in Michigan. This makes me a member of the Michigan Conference, which provides some legitimacy for me to comment on affairs within this conference. Michigan has earned the label of being the most conservative conference in the North American Division (NAD). I am not sure whether this designation is good or bad. But over the past few years, actions taken by my conference have caused not only Michiganders, but also the larger Adventist community in the NAD, some unease. 

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