Adventist Laymans' Services and Industries (ASI) recently held its annual convention, this year at Grand Rapids, Michigan. I wasn't there this year (for only the second time in the past six years) but I took note of some of the highlights.
Dr. Eric Walsh: Facing Fire
Many of you have been following the Eric Walsh story here at ADvindicate.com. Dr. Walsh gave the Sabbath Vespers presentation at ASI on August 9. He told the story of his tribulation and persecution at the hands of gay activists in Southern California, which ended his chosen career of public health administration. This inspiring testimony, which I listened to at Audioverse, is not to be missed. Please make a special effort to listen to Dr. Walsh's presentation.
3ABN Late Night Discussion on Women's Ordination
Three Angels Broadcasting Network has for many years been covering the ASI conventions, and this year was no exception. The program "Late Night" featured a discussion about Women's ordination, hosted by Jim Gilley and Danny Shelton, moderated by Michigan Conference President Jay Gallimore, and featuring Doug Batchelor and Stephen Bohr. We've already run a story about the online survey connected with this program, and now the program itself has been uploaded to Youtube and can be viewed here and here.
Those who oppose female ordination have generally been denied a forum in official Adventist media; the Adventist Review and the union organs (especially the Pacific Union Recorder and Columbia Union Visitor) do not allow the biblical argument against female ordination to be made. ADvindicate.com contributor and board member Gerry Wagoner suggested to 3ABN president Jim Gilley that the network should produce and air just this type of program, so perhaps we have Gerry to thank for this presentation. What struck me about this presentation, part of which I watched live, is how effective Jay Gallimore is in the television medium.
On a related note, Doug Batchelor arranged for videographers to come to Maryland for the final TOSC meeting and produce videos of some of those opposed, on biblical grounds, to female ordination. The videos can be found here, and include videos of Kevin Paulson and yours truly.
A Seminar about Abortion
It seems the Adventist Church may be taking tentative steps in a positive direction on abortion. ASI invited Antoinette Duck and Diane Wagner to give a presentation entitled, "Abortion, Redemption, and Restoration: a Need, a Calling, a Hope." It can be viewed here, and is described by ASI as follows:
"For many who have experienced an abortion, life has become a struggle burdened with condemnation, shame, and regret. The message of redemptive grace invites post-abortion individuals to acknowledge certain truths: that their lives are intrinsically valuable; that their child, too, was intrinsically valuable; and although what was done cannot be undone, a Savior awaits—offering forgiveness, hope, and joy inexpressible. Join us as we explore the post-abortion struggle, the need for healing, and the hope of life restored."
Rachel Cabose, who attended the seminar, describes it here. She writes:
"Both women have a strong personal interest in the topic. Duck’s mother was planning to abort her but changed her mind when she saw some of the first photos ever published of an unborn baby. Wagner shared her harrowing personal story of going through two abortions. The trauma of these decisions led her into a life of guilt, shame, and self-harm until she finally found forgiveness and healing through Jesus.
The Seventh-day Adventist Church’s “silence and inconsistencies” on abortion made Duck, a former Southern Baptist, hesitate to join the church. Ultimately she chose to join and work for change through the ministry she founded, Mafgia. (You can read the Adventist Church’s official statement on abortion here.)"
This presentation signals a willingness on the part of at least the conservative wing of the SDA Church to re-visit our stance on abortion, and change a position that, although officially vacillating, in practice is strongly pro-abortion.
Dr. Jon Markovic on the Emerging Church Movement
Dr. Jon Markovic is a professor of history at Andrews University who has taken a special interest in the emerging church movement. He has studied it closely, attended its conventions, conversed with its leaders, written about it, and recently taught a course on the topic at Andrews. I've heard Dr. Markovic in person, and what he shares is of great value. The emerging church movement is influencing all churches and it is important to understand what the emergents are teaching and how it differs from Bible truth.
Part one of his presentation can be seen here, and part two can be seen here. Audio is also available of part one, and part two. Dr. Markovic notes that the emergents are characterized by five core beliefs:
1. Ecumenism. The emergents discuss only what unites; there is a de facto prohibition on discussing anything that divides, especially doctrine.
2. A radical critique of the traditional Protestant worship service--which they see as a dry lecture, with hierarchical overtones--in favor of a more experiential, participatory liturgy that includes colors, tastes, scents, sounds, etc., and is more involving of the senses.
3. Spiritual formation/mysticism. Spiritual formation, with its heavy emphasis on mysticism/self-hypnosis, is a counterfeit of true sanctification. The emergents are critical of Western rationalism and dualistic either-or thinking, preferring instead "both-and" thinking, or what might be called "one-ism."
4. Theistic evolution. Theistic evolution is a central doctrine of the emergents.
5. Rejection of apocalyptacism, e.g., the literal, visible Second Coming of Christ and end of the world. The emergents tend to reject the doctrine of end times and sometimes ridicule it.
As we see emerging church tenets coming into Seventh-day Adventism--which of all churches should be least hospitable to them--we would do well to study the movement more closely. Dr. Markovic has learned that the roots of the emerging church movement are watered by the Tiber.
Dr. Arthur Chadwick on Creation vs. Evolution
In an Adventist world where many trained scientists have gone wobbly on origins, Dr. Arthur Chadwick of Southwestern Adventist University, remains a steadfast creationist. His presentation can be seen here. He has concluded, as have I, that there are strengths and weaknesses in the Darwinist case, and strengths and weaknesses in the creationist case; which case one chooses to believe is a matter of religious faith. He points out that molecular biology is evidence of creation; evolutionists have nothing convincing or compelling to say about the origins of life, or about the intricate, fantastically ingenious mechanisms that characterize life at the molecular level.
As usual, there were many profitable and helpful seminars at the 2014 ASI Convention. I hope to attend next year.