On October 29, 2018, Dr. Colin David Standish—noted Adventist educator, author, theologian, devoted husband and father—passed to his rest in the company of his loving family. He was 85.
In the words of King David:
Know ye not that there is a prince and a great man fallen this day in Israel (II Sam. 3:38).
Many words will be written about this fallen champion of truth, but I wanted to offer some memories of my own, some going back more than forty years.
My first contact with Dr. Standish was when I was a junior at Monterey Bay Academy, in the Central California Conference. I was becoming, even at that tender age, both interested and involved in the growing controversy in the church over righteousness by faith. I had learned that Dr. Russell Standish, Colin’s twin brother, along with another Australian physician, had written a book exposing the errors of Desmond Ford regarding the doctrine of salvation and related topics. And I wanted a copy.
Dr. Erwin Gane, then a professor of theology at Pacific Union College, visited the academy on one occasion, and he told me to write to Colin Standish to get this brother’s address in Australia. Colin at the time was president of Columbia Union College.
I wrote to him and obtained the address, and soon thereafter wrote to his brother and obtained the book. It was the first of many contacts I would have with Dr. Standish over a period of nearly four decades.
While subsequently studying at Pacific Union College as a theology major, it was my privilege to hear Colin Standish (and occasionally his brother also) at seminars in nearby communities, as both of them addressed current issues in the Seventh-day Adventist Church. We enjoyed some truly wonderful times together at those meetings. Colin had since become the dean of the newly-established Weimar College (near Sacramento, California), so it was easy for different church groups in northern California to invite him as a speaker.
Soon after Hartland Institute was established in 1983 in northern Virginia, and Colin was asked to become its president, I attended my first Hartland Bible Conference in the fall of that same year in Ontario, California, as I was beginning my pursuit of a Master’s degree in systematic theology at Loma Linda University. Four years later, while I served as student body president on the LLU campus, the religious vice-president and I invited the Hartland team to hold a Bible Conference at the University. Students and community members alike were blessed by the conference. Some traveled long distances—hundreds of miles—to attend the meetings.
Dr. Standish truly loved the young people of the church. He became especially passionate when speaking to them, particularly when the numbers were unexpectedly large. In 1989, when Hope International held a camp meeting near Yucaipa, California, nearly 1,000 people were present on Sabbath, nearly a third of them young people. A panel discussion was scheduled for that particular afternoon, but because so many young people from the Loma Linda area had come, Dr. Standish asked if he could speak specifically to the young people. Of course everyone else chose to stay by and listen! But the message of consecration and spiritual sobriety he delivered that hot Sabbath afternoon is one I will long remember.
Perhaps my fondest memory of Dr. Standish was when he and his wife Cheryl were finally able to attend the annual GYC (Generation of Youth for Christ) convocation in Baltimore, Maryland, in 2010. For years I and others had urged him to come, to see for himself the great youth revival movement that was growing so fast in the church. But that was usually the time when Colin and Cheryl visited their native Australia, so their schedule hadn’t thus far permitted them to attend GYC. But in 2010 they came.
It was the movement’s largest attendance to date—nearly 7,000 on Sabbath. Elder Ted Wilson, newly elected president of the General Conference, was the speaker for the divine hour that Sabbath morning. Colin and Cheryl were overjoyed to hear the truth-filled messages and to hear the young people singing the old hymns with the passion for which GYC is noted. It was my pleasure to introduce Colin and Cheryl to many of the movement’s leaders. Colin’s excitement was palpable as he saw the numbers and witnessed the zeal of those present.
The Special Resurrection
Thousands of Seventh-day Adventists, young and old, have been blessed by the ministry of Dr. Colin Standish. Not only those who experienced his teaching ministry on the educational level, but the many who were privileged to attend his seminars throughout the world, can attest to this blessing. I and many others will honor his memory, and pray that we see him again soon.
Dr. Standish and I had our differences, even arguments at times. But he was always the consummate Christian gentleman. Even Desmond Ford, a fellow Australian, was counted among his friends. Following the Glacier View events of 1980, which saw Ford removed from denominational ministry for his rejection of the classic Adventist sanctuary doctrine, Colin pled with him to abandon his position and return to our Bible-based, distinctive faith. I was the first person, I believe, to bring Dr. Standish the news by telephone that Ford’s ministerial credentials had been taken from him. Dr. Standish showed no tone of triumph or satisfaction in his voice as he heard the news. He only urged that we unite in prayer for Ford and his family. Far from nurturing contempt in his heart for those who differed with him, Colin showed them love and grace, and yearned for their salvation.
The writings of Ellen White speak of a special resurrection, before the general resurrection of the righteous dead at Jesus’ coming, in which several groups will be raised to experience those events immediately prior to, and including, the second advent. Ellen White speaks of how one of the groups that will be raised in this special resurrection will be those who died in the faith of the third angel’s message:
Graves are opened, and “many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth . . . awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame, and everlasting contempt.” Daniel 12:2. All who died in the faith of the third angel’s message come forth from the tomb glorified, to hear God’s covenant of peace with those who have kept His law (1).
I expect to see Dr. Standish, and his twin brother, in that special resurrection—though I still hope to be among those who, like Enoch and Elijah, will be translated without seeing death. May the admonition of the apostle Peter ring within each of our hearts as we honor the life and legacy of one of the Advent movement’s modern champions, and look for the soon return of our Lord:
Wherefore, brethren, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye be found of Him in peace, without spot, and blameless (II Peter 3:14).
1. Ellen G. White, The Great Controversy, p. 637.
Pastor Kevin Paulson holds a Bachelor’s degree in theology from Pacific Union College, a Master of Arts in systematic theology from Loma Linda University, and a Master of Divinity from the SDA Theological Seminary at Andrews University. He served the Greater New York Conference of Seventh-day Adventists for ten years as a Bible instructor, evangelist, and local pastor. He writes regularly for Liberty magazine and does script writing for various evangelistic ministries within the denomination. He continues to hold evangelistic and revival meetings throughout the North American Division and beyond, and is a sought-after seminar speaker relative to current issues in the Seventh-day Adventist Church. He presently resides in Berrien Springs, Michigan.