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Reviewing the Review: 1919 Bible Conference Edition

January 28, 2010 – Vol. 187, No. 3


If you like a Review that is potentially more inspirational than thought provoking, this is your issue. However, I am going to do my best to get you to rip the lid off the theological monologue that accompanies the cover article, SIFTING THROUGH THE PAST, and sober up the saccharine manikins posing for the cover shot.

OPEN DOORS, Gerald Klingbeil uses open and closed doors as metaphors for the Christian life.

BELLA AND TARA: BFF (Best Friends Forever) is a love story about Bella, the dog, and Tara, an elephant. Wilona Karimabadi reminds us that their relationship is a foretaste of Heaven.

I GAVE GOD MY BROKEN HEART by Pauline Beaulieu chronicles her journey from grief to peace after the death of her daughter, Debra.

SIFTING THROUGH THE PAST by Michael Campbell glosses over what happened at the 1919 Bible Conference as a discussion of Adventist hermeneutics and eschatology. He downplays the scandal that attended the discovery of two packages that contained some 2,400 typewritten pages transcribed from the official stenographic notes taken at the meetings. They were discovered on December of 1974, when Dr. F. Donald Yost found them wrapped in paper in a vault at the General Conference.

According to Sidney Cleaveland,* “GC President A. G. Daniells requested that the official, verbatim transcripts of the meeting be locked up for the next fifty years.”

The following exchange illustrates why Daniells was concerned that the minutes of this meeting, if shared with church members, might brand the group as heretics and seriously damage their credibility as Adventist leaders.

H. C. Lacey: Religion Teacher at Foreign Mission Seminary

“In our estimate of the spirit of prophecy, isn’t its value to us more in the spiritual light it throws into our own hearts and lives than in the intellectual accuracy in historical and theological matters. Ought we not to take those writings as the voice of the Spirit of our hearts, instead of as the voice of the teacher to our heads? And isn’t the final proof of the spirit of prophesy its spiritual value rather than its historical accuracy?

A. G. Daniells: President of the General Conference

“Yes, I think so.”

Minutes of the 1919 Bible Conference can be found here.

INSPIRED BY THE GREAT “I AM”, Ellen G. White encourages Biblical scholarship. “Simplicity and plain utterance are comprehended by the illiterate, by the peasant, and the child as well as by the full-grown man or the giant in intellect. If the individual is possessed of large talents of mental powers, he will find in the oracles of God treasures of truth, beautiful and valuable, which he can appropriate. He will also find difficulties, and secrets and wonders which will give him the highest satisfaction to study during a long lifetime, and yet there is an infinity beyond.”

GOING 80 by Beatrice Neall is a gas! “It’s a lot better than being 70. At 70, people begin to notice things about you—you forget where you laid your glasses; you keep asking, “What did you say your name was?”; you miss appointments, or even get there on the wrong day. But when you are 80, people just say, “Oh, well, she’s 80,” and make allowances. Your Asian friends no longer call you “Sister,” or “Auntie,” or “Mom,” but now it’s “Grandma.” People help you out of the car and rush to open doors and carry things for you.”

HELP IS ON THE WAY is Jimmy Phillips message for young adults everywhere.

“If you’re not a young adult, share this with one in your life. Friends, if you know personally the solitude and hopelessness I’m talking about, take solace in this: From October 19 to 22, Adventist leaders from throughout the world took time off from family and community responsibilities. They traveled by plane, train, and automobile to Andrews University for the 180 Symposium. They came to figure out how the church can better support you financially, academically, and spiritually.”

A LAMENT is Clifford Goldstein’s translation of Job 31, and he proves that a “millennia of translating Scripture have not diminished the impact and freshness that a new translation can communicate. Unfamiliar words can cause us to pause and take note. The powerful images and sheer emotion found in the lament of Job 31 can surely stop us in our tracks and cause us to listen and talk (again) to our Creator and Savior.”—Editors (Job’s monologue also provides irresistible motivation to read “the rest of the story”.)

WHAT LIES AHEAD is another astonishing, fresh, brash, wonderful MUST READ story by Andrew McChesney. Russian journalism will never be the same.

“The publisher—a Russian who had been appointed to the post just before the crisis hit—voiced surprise when I told her that I had an explanation for the jump in ads. I shared that I had been worried about the ads at the start of the previous month—a time of year when ad sales traditionally sink—so I had added them to my daily prayer for extra guidance.

“The publisher asked if I really believed that my prayers had made the difference. When I assured her I did, she said she could never pray for ads. ‘I could pray for my children and my husband. But advertising is my responsibility at work. I couldn’t pray for that,’ she said.

“But she asked me to keep praying.”

IN THE LAND OF NOT by Bruce Manners reminds us that our lives in the Land of Not Yet mean the best is yet to come.


The GC treasurer reports more budget support from developing countries. Jan Paulsen marks his eleventh year of service with the declaration that “people are the “most important asset”.

Lester Merklin “Takes Helm” at Church’s Muslim Study Center. And Emmanuel Mulbah, an eighteen-year-old Liberian kid with a million dollar smile, has recorded his story of faith with the help of radio UNICEF.

* Sydney Cleveland was a fourth generation Seventh-day Adventist, and served as an ordained pastor in the SDA church for ten years. He began to see many inconsistencies in relating the writings of Ellen G. White to the Bible and left the church in 1990. He is the author of “White Out”.

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