It has been said that hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue. More than likely, this is because even those not desiring to relinquish certain evil deeds—along with those who do thus desire but lack the power available through Biblical conversion to do so (Rom. 7:14-25)—nevertheless realize that a measure of outward goodness makes for greater success in traversing the grim interval between birth and eternity.
The controversy in modern and postmodern Adventism over whether sinless obedience (character perfection) is possible in earthly lives through God’s power, is no mere abstract argument. It is an intensely practical one. More than any other reason, this accounts for the staying power of this discussion during the past half century and more of Adventist history.
Let us never forget how God has led us, His current guidance, and His future leading. God never changes, and neither does His truth, as we come closer to Christ’s soon appearing.
The theory that Biblical salvation involves no proactive human effort beyond passive belief and a surrender process best defined as “letting go and letting God” remains enormously popular in certain circles of contemporary Adventism. Even among theologically conservative church members this notion persists, often to an alarming rate.
Those in contemporary Adventism who adhere to Biblical faithfulness regarding the issues of human sexuality must certainly rejoice at the outcome of the recent Methodist General Conference session in St. Louis. But due to earlier concessions by so many in the United Methodist Church regarding higher criticism, theological liberalism in general, and women’s ordination in particular, the struggle to hold the line on the sexuality issues will be vastly harder in that community than it might otherwise be.
Whatever lures our hearts from strict faithfulness to the counsel of God is most assuredly a distraction from the mission of the church. But such distractions are not unimportant. They merit the loving but firm corrective hand of Christ's body.
The unbalanced focus of so many in contemporary Adventism on the perils of extreme spiritual rigidity as distinct from the opposite peril, is reflected to a large degree in the disproportionate focus of some on certain episodes in denominational history to the neglect of others.
In our present context, in which church authority and unity are being challenged in various quarters of the denomination relative to the ordination question, it is imperative that our people understand the simple truths of God’s written counsel which undergird the thrice-rendered decision of the worldwide Adventist body on this subject.