Good News for Seventh-Day Adventists


The Shaking of Adventism
Geoffrey J. Paxton

Pain and Progress: The 1960's

The 1960's was a time of conflict in Seventh-day Adventism. Whatever is said, either negatively or positively, must be said against this backdrop. The Adventist Church was in conflict with the Brinsmead "Awakening message," and it was in this dialogue that the major theological features of the decade emerged:

1. As mentioned in chapter five, Brinsmead postponed the work of perfection until the judgment. In response to this, the Adventist leadership advocated a view of sanctification radically more simplistic than that of the sixteenth-century Reformers. Its chief aspect was the absence of any appreciation of the doctrine of original sin. That there might be a real vitiating sinfulness in the believer was simply dismissed. This was stage one of the dialogue with the Awakening—a stage when the leaders of the Adventist movement saw the Brinsmead teaching as being antinomian.

2. There then emerged what can only be described as the fruit of religious agitation. Some of the church's more outstanding theologians began to express grave misgivings about the whole question of perfection. The first to openly advocate no perfection in the believer until the second advent of Christ was Dr. Edward Heppenstall. He saw perfection of the believer as inimical to salvation by grace alone. Heppenstall's approach—no perfection until the second coming—was one that not only went against the perfectionism of the Brinsmead message, but it was contrary to the traditional Adventist teaching on perfection. It is surprising, therefore, that Heppenstall's teaching went unchallenged (at least publicly) by the leaders of the church. It may be that the conflict with Brinsmead was so fierce that Dr. Heppenstall's radical deviation from traditional Adventism was able to pass unchallenged. Dr. Desmond Ford and Pastor L. C. Naden were among others who adopted the new approach to perfection against the Brinsmead teaching. This was stage two in the conflict with the Awakening— a stage marked by positive gains if measured by the gospel of the Reformation. In this phase of the conflict there was a serious recognition of original sin and no uncertain repudiation of perfectionism. These two aspects of the 1960's constitute a soteriological advance of Seventh-day Adventism toward the fulfillment of its avowed goal—namely, to further the arrested Reformation of the sixteenth century

3. There was evidence in the 1960's of a real effort to "make good" the Adventist aim of giving the gospel to a dying world and an apostate Protestantism. It is difficult to say how much the conflict with the Awakening influenced this deliberate attempt to present the gospel, void of legalism and un-Protestant elements. Very possibly it was sincerely believed that the best antidote to Brinsmeadism was the forthright presentation of the gospel, especially since the conflict must have appeared to many as little more than theologians squabbling over irrelevant theoretical abstractions. But whatever the reasons, the decade was encouraging in view of some of the teaching on the gospel to be found among Adventists.

4. Notwithstanding the previous three points, the 1960's was also a time of confusion. While struggling to be Protestant, the church also evidenced other irreconcilable streams in her teaching. For example, in the Review and Herald articles of the period there coexisted—presumably in a happy fashion—an obvious attempt to follow the Protestant heritage of salvation by grace, together with clear expressions of Tridentine theology. What is more, in the church's defense of her teaching against the Brinsmead Awakening, the one fountain issued forth material which was mutually exclusive. There are three possibilities open to the interpreter of this phenomenon: (1) It may be that the conflicting nature of the material was not perceived. (2) Perhaps the conflicting nature of the material was perceived, but it was thought that this was a fair price to pay for the removal of the Awakening threat. (3) It may be that the conflicting material was a tacit admission of church leaders that there legitimately existed within the "remnant" church quite different views concerning the core of her confession. Whatever happens to be the correct interpretation is secondary to our aim of observing this contradictory feature of Adventist theology in the last decade.

Before we proceed with a closer examination of this period, we need to relate some of its features to those of the previous decade. The soteriological gains of the 1960's (a recognition of original sin and renunciation of perfectionism in this life) build on and carry forward the Christological gains of Questions on Doctrine. But the 1960's is also an advance over Questions on Doctrine, which had a decidedly perfectionistic flavor. In the 1960's, perfectionism is repudiated and the Christology of Questions on Doctrine is followed through to some important soteriological implications.

The Negative Aspect of the 1960's

As we have pointed out, the Seventh-day Adventist Church was in conflict with the Brinsmead teaching in the 1960's, (1) and that conflict may be divided into two stages. In the early part of the decade Brinsmead was opposed because he postponed the experience of reaching moral perfection until the judgment. But in the latter stage of the conflict Brinsmead was opposed because he wished to maintain, beside his adherence to the Reformation, what he believed was traditional, historic Adventism on the question of final-generation perfection. We are taking up the early stage of the conflict under the heading, "The Negative Aspect of the 1960's." (2)

Brinsmead contended that sinful depravity remains in the regenerate until the judgment. But this contention was rejected on the grounds that it denied the power of the gospel and the cleansing power of the Holy Spirit to eradicate sin from the believer now. Brinsmead was regarded as antinomian and, therefore, a dangerous influence on the members of the remnant community. In the words of Pastor L. C. Naden, the Brinsmead faction

    .... overlook the transforming power of the gospel ministered by the Holy Spirit that makes us new creatures in Him and prepares us for the judgment. Their teaching denies that it is possible for a man to gain complete victory over sin before he appears in the judgment. ... Thank God that the perfecting process is completed before we get into the judgment; if it were not then we would be in a hopeless and helpless position. (3)
The Defense Literature Committee of the General Conference accused the Awakening of denying the present power and provision of the gospel:
 
    We warn our dear people not to be lulled to sleep by the dangerous doctrine that we can expect to come up before the scrutiny of the Judge of all the earth in the investigative judgment, be found wanting, and then expect Christ to cleanse the soul temple by a miracle in order that we may be accounted worthy of eternal life. (4)
Brinsmead complained of being seriously misrepresented. (5) He contended that the issue was not whether one needs to be converted or not before the judgment, but whether or not one continues to be a sinner until the judgment. Yet the Defense Literature Committee, even as late in the decade as 1967, regarded the Awakening teaching as putting off "the work which must be done today." (6)

It appears that the teaching of Brinsmead brought the doctrine of original sin to the forefront in Adventist theology for the first time. Certainly W. H. Branson gave little evidence of being aware of it in Our Firm Foundation. M. L. Andreasen unequivocally asserted that Seventh-day Adventists do not believe in original sin. (7)

Brinsmead had a foundation principle of Reformation theology in the doctrine of original sin. However, at this particular stage in his thinking he could not go all the way with Luther and Calvin because he believed that the solution to original sin had to be in harmony with his traditional Adventist doctrine of the final generation.

Notwithstanding the vitiation of the Reformation's original-sin insight by the doctrine of perfectionism, Brinsmead's message came as good news to many As with the pre-1950 era, Adventism saw justification as only for the sins of the past, and future salvation was on the basis of inner renewal and character development, albeit by the power of the indwelling Christ. But now Brinsmead was preaching the all-sufficiency of the righteousness of Christ right up to the judgment, and then, by a totally gratuitous act, God would perfect the final generation. With this message (with its obvious affinities to the Reformation gospel), the frank acknowledgment of the continuing presence of sin, and the necessary "charismatic endowments," it is no wonder that the Brinsmead agitation made a considerable impact in the period under discussion.

When we examine the Defense Literature Committee's major anti-Brinsmead publication of the decade (The History and Teaching of Robert Brinsmead), it is clear that the real doctrinal challenge presented by the Awakening was barely dealt with. There is an overwhelming concentration on the alleged personal weakness of the "offshoot leader" (8) and the danger that he and his "dangerous doctrine" (9) constitute for the church. Whereas intense concern and the extravagance of language which often accompanies it are understandable, such an approach undoubtedly did not help the case of the Adventist Church to the degree that a thoughtful concentration on the theological issues might have. The real impact on the Awakening was to come from the new insights of some leading theologians such as Drs. Heppenstall, Ford, and LaRondelle.

The Positive Gains of the 1960's

David McMahon makes a point in the context of Adventism in the 1970's which would seem to be applicable to the second stage of the conflict between church leaders and the Brinsmead agitation in the 1960's:
    All too often theological controversy has been regarded as inimical to revivals and the spiritual prosperity of God's church. But the truth is that it is often when debate and contention are at their height that the Spirit of God descends in power among His people. (10)
The ferment and agitation within Adventism was not all negative. For the first time in the movement's history there appeared a clear challenge to the whole concept of attaining perfection in this life. Dr. Edward Heppenstall, in December of 1963, (11) published an article entitled "Is Perfection Possible?" (12) The Reformation tone of his approach is obvious:
    It is fatal to believe that if only we could become totally surrendered to Christ, the sinful nature would be eradicated. The law of sin and death continues to operate within us....

    The basic doctrine of the Christian faith is salvation by grace alone....

    Salvation by grace alone means that absolute perfection and sinlessness cannot be realized here and now.
Dr. Heppenstall has been fond of viewing the essence of sin as egoism. For him, sinless perfection is "a misleading effort for self-idealization, the exaltation of self," (13) the "product of self-seeking," and "results in the worship of some aspect of self." (14 )Sinless perfection "exerts a deadly effect upon oneself and upon one's relationship to others." (15) It is divisive in relation to the church and is self-destructive. (16)

Heppenstall saw sinless perfection as inimical to the biblical understanding of grace. In a booklet published by the General Conference Ministerial Association as a supplement to The Minis
fry, (17) he wrote:
    The biblical use of the word "grace" is one. Grace is the eternal and free favor of God, manifested toward the guilty and unworthy. Grace is entirely apart from every supposition of human worth and sinless perfection. Grace belongs where human sinfulness exists. It superabounds over human unworthiness as experienced by the saints even after the close of probation. Sinners are the only persons with whom saving grace is concerned. Let us distinguish between grace as an attribute of Christ and grace as a method of salvation made possible by the sacrifice of Christ.
Heppenstall unequivocally asserted the reality of remaining sin in the believer clear up until the second coming of Christ. (18) Brinsmead was in error because he advocated a perfection that would take place prior to the second advent. Said Heppenstall: "..... there will never be a point in Christian living at which the believer may know that he has finally arrived at sinlessness." (19)

It is no exaggeration to say that Heppenstall's refutation of the Brinsmead doctrine is a distinct high point in Adventist theology. (20) There is not its equal either before the contemporary period or after the commencement of 1950. It appears that Heppenstall could discern the logical conclusion of Brinsmead's Reformation emphasis more clearly than Brinsmead himself. For a time, Brinsmead could not see that Heppenstall's denial of perfection was the logical and inevitable conclusion of his own denial of here-and-now perfectionism.

It was not long before Adventist theologians began to publicly embrace Heppenstall's position. (21) In the latter half of the 1960's a steady stream of articles appeared in Adventist literature, denying the possibility of reaching a condition of sinlessness before the second advent of Christ. (22) The object of these articles was the refutation of Brinsmead's doctrine of perfectionism in the judgment.

We should not fail to notice the interesting turn of events here. In the early years of the decade Brinsmead was opposed because he placed the attainment of perfection too late. He was accused of putting off until the judgment what needs to be done now. Then there was an about-face and Brinsmead was attacked for putting the attainment of complete moral perfection too soon! He was accused of putting in the judgment what would not take place until after the judgment at Christ's return.

The sharp break with Adventist tradition should also be noted. The leaders of the church—via the Defense Literature Committee and some leading theologians in the wake of Heppenstall's new theology—swept aside the teaching of over one hundred years of Adventist theology! The impassioned perfectionism of M. L. Andreasen in The Sanctuary Service and The Book of Hebrews, the perfectionistic emphasis of W. H. Branson, and the implicit perfectionism of Questions on Doctrine —all were turned out of Adventism in no uncertain terms by this new theology.

The Awakening supporters at that time were only too aware that such a clear break with traditional Adventism had taken place. In response to Pastor L. C. Naden's The Perfecting of the Saints, Brinsmead issued the following challenge:
    I challenge pastor Naden to produce any statement in responsible Seventh-day Adventist literature, written prior to the present Awakening message, which teaches that God's people will not become morally perfect and sinless until Jesus comes in the clouds of heaven. That is simply not basic Adventist doctrine. (23)
It appears that this challenge was never taken up, and this is not surprising. To the knowledge of this writer, it would be impossible to find support for Heppenstall's position in pre-1950 Adventist theology.

What is surprising is how Dr. Heppenstall could teach such a doctrine (and apparently lead others to embrace it), yet avoid the condemnation of the church's leaders. What is even more surprising is that the official Defense Literature Committee and the highly regarded Review and Herald should espouse the same teaching and have no public answering to do. Reflection on the reception of Questions on Doctrine will reveal that it did not enjoy the same privileges as did this new teaching. Certainly Heppenstall and others were advocating no peripheral issue. The doctrine of the perfecting of the final generation stands near the heart of Adventist theology.

The only answer to the above phenomenon that we have been able to arrive at is that the untroubled reception of Heppenstall's anti-perfectionism was an index of the degree to which Adventist leaders saw the Brinsmead challenge as undesirable. On the other hand, those who today see themselves as espousing a faithful Reformation position are inclined to see the situation at the time of Heppenstall's revolution as providential. The breakthrough of Heppenstall into a fuller Reformation position may have been impossible if the church had not been fighting the Brinsmead teaching.

The irony of the period must not pass unnoticed. At the time of Heppenstall's revolutionary anti-perfectionism, the Brinsmead "faction" (as Adventist leaders designated it) was more conservatively Adventist than was the church's own Defense Literature Committee. Because the Brinsmead agitation did not wish to cut loose from historic Adventist theology, it passionately resisted the emphasis of Heppenstall. In fact, so preoccupied was the Awakening in preserving what it saw as historic Adventism that the Reformation emphasis of its platform definitely took a subsidiary place in its teaching during the latter half of the 1960's. The Awakening became preoccupied with defending Adventist perfectionism instead of majoring on the Reformation gospel. (24) The irony of the situation within the Brinsmead group was that Heppenstall's stronger Reformation emphasis against perfectionism lessened the Awakening's stress on the gospel that it had so forcefully proclaimed in the early years of the decade.

To conclude this aspect of the 1960's, we must draw attention to the positive gains that were made toward the realization of the Advent movement's objective: (1) The reality of original sin became embedded in Adventist theology among such scholars as Heppenstall and Ford. (2) The corollary of this position was a clear repudiation of the possibility of moral perfection in this life—an embracing of the simul justus et peccator (at the same time righteous and a sinner) of the Reformers. In these two features there took place a breakthrough into Reformation theology such as had not been seen in the history of the Adventist Church since her inception.

Encouraging Features of the 1960's


A perusal of Seventh-day Adventist literature (especially the Review and Herald) in the 1960's indicates that the church was endeavoring to honor her call to be the special heir of the Reformers. There are repeated warnings against legalism as well as numerous statements to the effect that the future of the church lies in the recovery of the true preaching of righteousness by faith. R. S. Watts is typical: "There is no work in our world so great and so glorious, no work that God honors so much, as the gospel of justification in the Lord Jesus." (25)

The same Watts reflects the perspective of the Reformation in his article on "God's Way Is Grace." (26) Unlike Questions on Doctrine, his view of grace is not in the Augustinian-Tridentine tradition but that of the Reformation. Grace is not a regenerating power but "the favor and loving kindness on God's part . . . wholly undeserved and unmerited." Watts even makes a brief contrast between his view of grace and that of Roman Catholicism. "Roman Catholicism," he says, "teaches that a man is justified, at least in part, by his own righteousness, infused and inherent, rather than by divine righteousness vicarious and imputed." Convincingly, Watts concludes his article with an attack on all human works as contributing to man's salvation in any way.

Watts also directed his attention to the subject of justification and came down solidly in the perspective of the Reformers. Justification unto life eternal is by the imputed righteousness of Christ. Justification does not mean "to make righteous" but rather "to declare righteous." The righteousness by which we attain to everlasting life is what Christ does for us and not what he does in us. (27)

In the Review and Herald of April 21,1960, Dr. W G. C. Murdoch also departed from Questions on Doctrine's perspective of grace. (28) For Murdoch, grace is God's good will and lovingkindness in the Christ event. Murdoch does not look to the work of the indwelling Christ but to the work of Christ outside the believer at Calvary as the meaning and wonder of grace.

One theologian within Adventism in the 1960's who showed a steady reliance upon the perspective of the Reformation was an Australian, Dr. Desmond Ford. (29) In examining the teaching of Ford, it must be said that he showed a praiseworthy consistency in Reformation theology during a period of change. As we have already noted, Ford was explicit in his affirmation of the doctrine of original sin. (30) He taught this consistently through the 1960's and into the 1970's. (31) Ford also strongly repudiated perfectionism as being contrary to the gospel. (32) Likewise, he maintained the Protestant view of forensic justification (33) and the Protestant stance on the sinlessness of Christ's human nature. (34) He not only espoused the gospel aspect of the Brinsmead teaching of the 1960's (i.e., that Christ is our righteousness in heaven in the hour of the judgment), but he did so along with a clear Reformation perspective on perfectionism. Thus, it would not be far from the truth to say that, already in the 1960's, Dr. Ford anticipated the clear Reformation stream that was to emerge within Adventism in the 1970's.

The 1960's witnessed still other indications of the Adventist Church's seeking to remain true to her belief that God had called her to preach the gospel of the Reformation in a way not possible for other Christian bodies. For instance, it was in this decade that H. K. LaRondelle went to the Free University of Amsterdam to study for his doctorate under the Reformed scholar, G. C. Berkouwer. LaRondelle's doctoral dissertation was eventually published under the title, Perfection and Perfectionism: A Dogmatic-Ethical Study of Biblical Perfection and Phenomenal Perfectionism. The study stands squarely in the perspective of the Reformation.

At the beginning of this chapter we indicated that the turbulent decade of the 1960's yielded by no means unequivocal support for the Reformation gospel. The same fountain yielded mutually exclusive material. We have reserved other encouraging features of the period's theological output until this point in order to provide a contrast with elements contrary to the Reformation perspective.

Whereas the Defense Literature Committee of the general Conference was happy (?) to publish the revolutionary theology of Heppenstall on perfectionism, it also published material which was diametrically opposed to his position. The same committee which issued Heppenstall's explicit denial of perfection in this life also issued, in 1967 (some four years after Heppenstall's initial public exposition on perfection), Basic Brinsmead Belief. Written by Alan Starkey, this publication stated:
    ... to say that the corrupt principle of sin, the source of evil, the sinful nature, remains in the subconscious life of the believer until the final atonement puts off the work which must be done today. One woman became horrified when I insisted that sins must be "blotted out" of the life today. She believed that this was the work of the final atonement. (35)
Likewise, in the Review and Herald we have both advocation of perfectionism and the denial of perfectionism. (36) There are articles which assert the Protestant forensic nature of justification, (37) and there are others which include the inward work of regeneration in the article of justification. (38) H. L. Rudy is one of the most explicit examples of the latter. Justification "is the coming of the Spirit of Christ into the heart of those who believe that changes their status from 'children of wrath' to 'children of God."' (39) Yet for Kenneth H. Wood, justification is having the righteousness of Christ put to our account, a legal transaction brought about by God. (40)

It must be said that, in the decade of the 1960's, Adventism's theological output on the gospel comes down in favor of the Roman Catholic perspective to a greater degree than that of the Reformation. (41) Even the more Protestant authors such as R. S. Watts have the tendency to relegate justification to forgiveness of past sins only and to see it as having only initial significance. As with pre-1950 Adventism, this results in a tendency to subordinate justification to sanctification. F E. Brainard puts it as follows:
    This act of justification is wholly the work of God.... The newly converted man, having been cleansed from guilt, is prepared to take the next step toward heaven and eternal life. (42)

E. E. Wheeler can speak of leaning too heavily on the imputed righteousness of Christ and not seeking to strive so that more and more righteousness may be imparted in order that we may need less and less imputed righteousness to cover past sins! (43) The subordination of justification to sanctification is expressed again by F G. Clifford, who says that if we need to have an understanding of what Christ has done for us, there is an even greater need to let Him do His effectual work in us. (44)

It is obvious that, while there are some encouraging aspects in Adventism's articulation of the Reformation gospel in the 1960's, the real theological gains of the decade are to be found in the affirmation of original sin and the repudiation of perfection in this life. This significant advance appears in the theology of men such as Edward Heppenstall, Desmond Ford, and H. K. LaRondelle.

At the Close of the Decade

Let us summarize the decade under discussion. Looked at from one angle, the 1960's perpetuate pre-1950 Adventism. To a greater or lesser degree, the Adventist theology of the gospel has always had two fundamentally conflicting elements—that of Trent and that of the Reformers. This situation does not change in the 1960's. The two streams of thought are still present.

However, notwithstanding this unity with pre-1950 Adventism, there is also distinction. The 1960's was a decade of definite advance in the area of soteriology. Standing on the shoulders of the Christological advance of the 1950's, there emerged a strong doctrine of original sin and a denial of perfection in the salvation process. These aspects were new in Adventist theology.

It is not only that there arose in the 1960's a clearer grasp of what the Reformation gospel meant, but the Protestant message—no doubt due to doctrinal conflict—was brought to the forefront more clearly and forcefully than ever before in the history of Adventism. It was a period in which the Reformation gospel was gaining ground in Adventist consciousness.

Finally, the 1960's was an era in which Adventism was seen more clearly than ever before to be lacking unity on the central area of its theology To illustrate this, we refer again to the church's opposition to Brinsmead's teaching. The Awakening was opposed (1) on the basis of a strong belief in here-and-now perfection. But it was also opposed (2) on the basis of a strong denial of perfection in this life. What was the "official" position of the denomination on this issue? The only answer can be that official Adventism adopted both positions.

The fact that official Adventism sought to publicly adopt both positions throws an interesting light on the situation in the 1960's. The fact is that both official Adventism and Brinsmead contained conflicting elements in their systems. Brinsmead was seeking to effect a synthesis between Reformation justification by faith alone and traditional Adventist belief in perfection. Official Adventism was holding, on the one hand, to a here-and-now perfection based on traditional Adventist reliance upon the perspective of Trent and, on the other hand, to a radical denial of perfection with its roots in Reformation theology and the Christological advance of Questions on Doctrine.

The decade of the 1960's closes with conflict between official Adventism and the Brinsmead group. But there is also conflict within the respective positions. It remains to the next decade to see how these conflicts are resolved and how the gospel of the Reformers fares in that resolution.

———————————————————

1. A sample of the material put out in the conflict with the Brinsmead teaching is as follows:
Robert D. Brinsmead, A Doctrinal Analysis of "The History and Teaching of Robert Brinsmead"; idem, Timing of Revelation 15;
Francis E Bush, How a Pastor Meets the Brinsmead Issue; Errors of the Brinsmead Teachings;
Paul H. Freeman, ed., Evaluation of Brinsmead Doctrine;
Edward Heppenstall, "Some Theological Considerations of Perfection";
A. M. Karolyi, Errors of the Brinsmead Teachings;
L. C. Naden, What Do the Brinsmead Faction Really Believe?;
Lauri Onjukka, The Sanctuary and Perfection;
E. N. Sargeant, Brinsmead;
John A. Slade, Lessons from a Detour: A Survey of My Experience in the Brinsmead Movement;
Defense Literature Committee of the General Confererence, Perfection; idem, Some Current Errors in Brinsmead Teachings; idem, The History and Teaching of Robert Brinsmead.
2. "Negative" is not meant to imply a value judgment. It is a statement of the nature of the output when measured against the Reformation gospel, which Adventists claim to have inherited more than any other Christians.
3. Naden, Brinsmead Faction, pp. 1, 4. See also Brinsmead, Timing of Revelation 18, pp. 34-6.
4. Defense Literature Committee, History and Teaching, p. 37.
5. Brinsmead, Doctrinal Analysis, p. 32.
6. Alan Starkey, Basic Brinsmead Belief, p. 9. Emphasis supplied. Cf. "Firstly, to say that the corrupt principle of sin, the source of evil, the sinful nature, remains in the subconscious life of the believer after his conversion, is to deny the real nature of the rebirth experience" (p. 5).
7. "The law of heredity applies to passions and not to pollutions. If pollution is hereditary, then Christ would have been polluted when He came to this world and could not therefore be 'that holy thing.' Luke 1:35. Even the children of an unbelieving husband are called holy, a statement that should be a comfort to the wives of such husbands. I Corinthians 7:14. As Adventists, however, we do not believe in original sin" (Andreasen, Letters to the Churches, p. 56). Emphasis supplied.
8. Defense Literature Committee, History and Teaching, p. 1. Cf. Brinsmead, Doctrinal Analysis, p. 1, where Brinsmead cites some 30 or so emotively worded attacks on himself and the Awakening.
9. Defense Literature Committee, History and Teaching, p. 37.
10. David McMahon, "Introduction" to Robert D. Brinsmead, An Answer to "Conflicting Concepts of Righteousness by Faith in the Seventh-day Adventist Church," p. vii.
11. Dr. Heppenstall was then Chairman of the Department of Theology at Andrews University
12. Edward Heppenstall, "Is Perfection Possible?" Signs of the Times, Dec. 1963.
13. Freeman, Evaluation of Brinsmead Doctrine, p. 6.
14. Ibid.
15. Ibid., p. 7.
16. Ibid., pp. 8-9.
17. The supplement contained the following essays: Erwin R. Gane, "Christ and Human Perfection"; Edward Heppenstall, "Some Theological Considerations of Perfection"; Robert W Olson, "Outline Studies on Christian Perfection and Original Sin." Dr. Heppenstall's section is on pages 14-24.
18. "The old creature or the old man remains with us until the day of our death or the day of Christ's coming; but as long as we look at Christ the author and the finisher of our faith, sin and self cannot prevail. ... The Christian believes that there still remains in the regenerate man a fountain of evil, that sin always exists in the saints till they are divested of their mortal bodies. ... This original sin remains in Christians and non-Christians until they die or are translated" (Edward Heppenstall, "Definition of Righteousness," in lessons at Andrews University, pp. 18-20). "We find here [1 John 1:8-10] the most solemn warning against the doctrine of sinless perfection in this life.... The Christian knows that there still remains in him a fountain of evil, a depraved nature" (idem, "Is Perfection Possible?").
19. Freeman, Evaluation of Brinsmead Doctrine, p. 8.
20. Once again it needs to be remembered that we are speaking of the degree to which Adventist theology approximates to its avowed Reformation heritage.
21. Theologians such as Dr. Desmond Ford, Prof. Hans K. LaRondelle, Elders Taylor G. Bunch, Ralph S. Watts, L. C. Naden, Harry W Lowe, Norval E Pease, and Dr. Raymond E Cottrell.
22. See Raymond F. Cottrell, Perfection in Christ (This statement of Cottrell is by no means the strongest statement of the new Adventist approach.); Harry W Lowe, Redeeming Grace, esp. pp. 117-47 (Lowe is clearer than Cottrell on the refutation of perfection.); E. W Vick, Let Me Assure You; L. C. Naden, The Perfecting of the Saints; idem, In Quest of Holiness; Defense Literature Committee, Perfection (This gives a scriptural use of the word perfection and recommends Benjamin B. Warfield's Perfectionism.). See also: "Webster defines perfection as being 'blameless' and 'flawless' with characters 'fully formed,' 'completely developed,' 'satisfying the highest expectation,' and having reached 'full maturity' It is stated that perfectionism from a theological viewpoint is 'the doctrine that a state of freedom from sin is attainable, or has been attained, in the earthly life. ... We should remember that only when Jesus comes can we be made perfect" (Taylor G. Bunch, "When Can We Claim Sinless Perfection?" The Ministry, Dec. 1965). "We will never reach sinless perfection in this life" (Ralph S. Watts, "God's Crash Program for the Church," Review and Herald, 19 May 1966). "The consecrated believer has sin in him but no sin on him, just as Christ had sin on Him but no sin in Him..., every converted soul still has his old nature to fight. ... Our old nature will be finally destroyed at glorification when our Lord returns. Then we will have sin neither in us nor on us" (Desmond Ford, Signs of the Times, Australian ed., 1 Aug. 1967).
23. Brinsmead, Timing of Revelation 15, p. 37.
24. Almost all of the Awakening literature reveals this fact. Examples are Robert D. Brinsmead's reply to L. C. Naden in ibid. and Dr. Jack Zwemer's defense of the Awakening teaching in Freeman, Evaluation of Brinsmead Doctrine, pp. 15-24.
25. Ralph S. Watts, "The Message That Brings the Latter Rain," Review and Herald, 20 Oct. 1960, p. 10.
26. Ralph S. Watts, "God's Way Is Grace," Review and Herald, 30 May 1963, pp. 2-3.
27. Ralph S. Watts, "The Faith That Saves," Review and Herald, 4 June 1963, pp. 1, 4.
28. W G. C. Murdoch, "The Only Way of Salvation," Review and Herald, 21 Apr. 1960, pp. 6, 7.
29. Desmond Ford was Chairman of the Department of Theology at Avondale College, New South Wales, Australia.
30. See n. 22 above.
31. For many years Desmond Ford has written a section of the Australian edition of Signs of the Times entitled "Bible Answers." A survey of this section over the years will corroborate what is said in the text of this book concerning Ford. For Ford's views on original sin, depravity, and sinlessness, see Desmond Ford, "Perfect Love," Signs of the Times, Australian ed., Mar. 1964; 1 Aug. 1967; idem, "What About Romans 6?" ibid., Oct. 1969; idem, "Some Children Like Saints," ibid., June 1971; idem, "The Case of the Baptist," ibid., June 1971; idem, "Are They Born with Sin?" ibid., Aug. 1971.
32. For Ford's anti-perfectionism perspective and indeed for other clear statements on his conscious stand in the tradition of the Reformation during the 1960's, see Desmond Ford, Unlocking God's Treasury, esp. pp. 15-18.
33. See Q. 10, "Can a man repent of himself?"; Q. 11, "How only can righteousness be obtained?" ibid., p. 15. See also "Righteousness by Faith" (p. 17). As far back as July, 1959, in response to the question, "What is meant by justification?" Ford unequivocally expressed the Protestant view of justification: "The word 'justification' has a forensic significance,....... it has legal associations and it is vitally connected with issues of law. One definition would be 'The declaring of a person to be righteous law.'... Thus when the sinner personally and gratefully accepts Christ's payment of his sins on Calvary, then God of Christ of his sins.... The divine acquittal imputes innocence because of the sinner's acceptance of One who alone has perfect righteousness .. ." (Desmond Ford, Signs of the Times, Australian ed., July 1959). Cf. idem, "Grace or Works?" ibid., Jan. 1960.
34. When we come to the decade of the 1970's, we shall have occasion to look more fully at this aspect of Desmond Ford's teaching. For a sample of the 1960's, see Desmond Ford, "Christ's Death," Signs of the Times, Australian ed., Sept. 1968; idem, "Did Christ Have Sinful Thoughts?" ibid., Mar. 1969.
35. Starkey, Basic Brinsmead Belief, p. 9. Emphasis supplied. Cf. n. 6 above.
36. See C. J. Ritchie, "Sanctification-Imparted Righteousness," Review and Herald, 1 June 1961; L. C. Naden, "Christian Perfection—How Do We Attain It?" ibid., 17 Sept. 1964.
37. E.g., B. A. Scherr, "The Gospel in Romans," Review and Herald, 7 Jan. 1960, pp. 9-10.
38. E.g., Watts, "God's Way Is Grace," pp. 2-3.
39. H. L. Rudy, "Adopted into the Heavenly Family," Review and Herald, 14 Apr. 1960, pp. 9-10. Cf. the contrary position in "The Faith That Saves," ibid., 6 June 1963, pp. 1, 4-5.
40. Kenneth H. Wood, "The Goal Is Perfection," Review and Herald, 30 Nov. 1967, p. 3.
41. For explicit Tridentine theology of the gospel in addition to the above citations, see C. J. Ritchie, "Justified through Imputed Righteousness," Review and Herald, 27 Apr. 1961; L. B. Reynolds, "The Mystery Finished," ibid., 28 May 1964, pp. 4-6; E. W Marter, "The Meaning of the Law in Galatians," ibid., 17 Dec. 1964, pp. 2-3.
42. E. E. Brainard, "Three Steps to Heaven," Review and Herald, 11 Feb. 1960, pp. 6-7.
43. E. E. Wheeler, "Paul—Preacher of Perfection," Review and Herald, 6 Aug. 1964, p. 3.
44. F. G. Clifford, "God's Righteousness May Be Ours," Review and Herald, 11 Oct. 1962, pp. 9-11.



SDA Home Page   Article List   Next Article