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“Authority and Heterodoxy”: the 47th Annual West Coast Religion Teachers Conference Meets at Pacific Union College


“Conversations among Colleagues” was the theme for the weekend when thirty-five religion and theology faculty from the five West Coast Adventist institutions of higher education (including Burman University in Canada) gathered at Pacific Union College on Friday evening, April 5, 2019, for dinner and opening presentations in the Fireside Room.

The topic was “Authority and Heterodoxy, Then and Now.” The meetings were not open to the public — a successful effort to encourage candor — but the group did agree to a brief report for Spectrum.

Specific presentations discussed the problem with creeds (Jim Wibbering, PUC), heterodoxy in the Christian tradition (Katrina Blue, PUC), the 40th anniversary of Ford’s Investigative Judgement presentation at PUC (Kendra Haloviak, LSU), the hidden agendas at Glacier View (Gil Valentine, LSU), the recent editorial changes to the Adult Bible Study Guide (Jon Paulien, LLU), the temperance movement (Rick Rice, LLU), ways of interpreting Daniel 8 (Mathilde Frey, WWU), the impact of Des Ford’s 1979 presentation on Alden Thompson in particular and Adventism at large (Alden Thompson, WWU), Adventist anthropology and thanatology (Steve Reasor, BU), and exclusivity vs. inclusivity in Adventism (Jim Walters, LLU).

Sabbath morning included a focus on worship, with time spent singing, sharing, praying, and celebrating the Lord’s Supper.

On Sabbath afternoon panelists reflected on the 30th anniversary of Desmond Ford’s Forum presentation at PUC, led by Katrina Blue with the following participants: Eric Anderson (PUC), Niels-Erik Andreasen (AU), Alden Thompson, Greg Schneider (PUC), and Gil Valentine. Time was also reserved for a hike on PUC’s 35 miles of forest trails, a visit to Ellen White’s home at Elmshaven, the PUC art gallery — or a nap. Sabbath evening provided dinner and a spectacular view of the Napa Valley from the president’s house.

I was pleased to witness warm collegiality, critical thinking, and gracious fellowship among those who are on the front lines of interpreting the Bible and Adventist thought to young people during challenging times.


Nancy Lecourt is Academic Dean and Vice President for Academic Administration at Pacific Union College.

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