As you may already know I have only been a Seventh-day Adventist for 4 years and so I am not "in the know" about all of the wars that have been fought within the confines of the Adventist church.
The Saints Aren't All Saints...
As is the case with many people who come into the Adventist church after God revealing such an enormous amount of truth in their lives, when I came into the church I sort of expected that members of the remnant church I was joining would be these bright shining super-Christians, all full of truth and love and sanctification. After all, any group that was aware of all these profound and beautiful Bible truths must certainly be full of saints. But, as Jim Hohnberger says, "Not all the saints are saints." I have to smile as I write that quote, for what I found when I joined the Seventh-day Adventist church was that it was like any other church in regards to its members, with plenty of knit-picking, criticism, gossip, divisions, sects, etc. etc..
...But They're Still The Remnant
Yet, there is still one thing that sets the Adventist church apart from all other churches: the Truth. The pure, unadulterated, unabashed, naked truth. A truth not come upon by happenstance or by the study of a single man or woman. Instead, the truth as revealed by genuinely God-led study of the Bible by a group of Christians from various denominations who all put their doctrines on the altar of Scriptures to examine them together. What emerged from these series of Bible studies, around 24 sessions in a 2 year period after the great disappointment, was plain Bible truth. God was creating His remnant church, for the end-times had begun. As perhaps the ultimate sign, the gift of prophecy was given to this inspired movement in the person of Ellen White, who confirmed and clarified many of the truths the group had come to through their many lengthy and in-depth Bible studies.
My Introduction To Controversy
Oh yeah, back to the point. Some time ago I had happened upon a set of sermons by a late pastor named Frank B. Phillips. They were very interesting and focused mainly on one grand theme: Righteousness by Faith. Somewhere in his sermons he referenced a book by A.G. Daniells called Christ Our Righteousness which explored the light God revealed to the 1888 Conference in Minneapolis. This message had a very mixed reception by Adventists. Some were indifferent and said, "That's old news, we already know about righteousness by faith," while others were threatened by the message and said, "We cannot remove our focus from the Law of God," and still others accepted the message with their whole heart. Ellen White herself commented a number of times that this message was present truth and should be preached and taken to heart.
Anyway, I was curious about the details of what happened at that 1888 Conference and purchased the book. This was my first introduction to controversy within the church.
The Plot Thickens
Recently, I had downloaded a couple sermons by Herbert Douglass from Audioverse because he left a comment on this blog and I wanted to hear what kind of a message he had. I was thoroughly blessed by his messages, one of which mentioned Desmond Ford and the battle that took place in the early 80's (?). So I did a quick Google search of Desmond Ford and found a little of the story, but not much. I intended to look into the controversy more at a later time.
Then I was listening to a sermon by Stephen Bohr, also downloaded from Audioverse, in which he mentions this guy named Dale Ratzliff whose sole purpose in this life is to destroy the Adventist church he was once a part of. So I did a quick Google search of Dale Ratzliff and found a whole lot of wrong theology attacking Adventist doctrine. This guy's story isn't worth looking at for me since it's just another "Came out of _____ church and now spend all my waking moments attacking that former church instead of focusing on Christ." What is interesting about Dale Ratzliff's story is the chain of events that led up to it. He, and those like him, are the "fruit" of what started with the book Questions on Doctrine, and progressed to the apostasy of Desmond Ford, and ends with the worldliness we see permeating every level of the Adventist church today. Those who apostatize and the doctrines they hold (which are also held by some who remain in the church) are the inevitable result of the very subtle errors introduced by the book Questions on Doctrine.
Long story short there is a new sermon on Audioverse entitled The Apostasy of Desmond Ford which I saw and downloaded. Good stuff! The guy who gave the sermon, Norman Mcnulty I think was his name, gave much more of the unbelievable Desmond Ford story and also some reference to this book that came out in the 50's (?) called Questions on Doctrine, which apparently caused huge theological shifts away from fundamental Adventism. Anyway, I'm going to download the other sermon by this guy where he talks specifically about The History of Questions on Doctrine.
So there's two things I'd like to investigate further to make sure I have the full story:
1.) Desmond Ford's overt attack on Adventist doctrines, and
2.) The book Questions on Doctrine's more subtle attack on Adventist doctrines.
After I get through with a little more research on this subject I'm going to put together a post or two about Desmond Ford and Questions on Doctrine. It's pretty interesting stuff.
Since landing on the Adventist blogosphere a few months ago I have been constantly surprised by the departure from fundamental Adventist theology that I had learned before I joined the church...now it's starting to make a little more sense. Truly, the shaking must be near at hand.