Standing in conscious innocence before Ahab, Elijah makes no attempt to excuse himself or to flatter the king . . . . He has no apology to offer. Indignant, and jealous for the honor of God, he casts back the imputation of Ahab, fearlessly declaring to the king that it is his sins, and the sins of his fathers, that have brought upon Israel this terrible calamity. “I have not troubled Israel,” Elijah boldly asserts, “but thou, and thy father's house, in that ye have forsaken the commandments of the Lord, and thou hast followed Baalim” - Prophets and Kings, 139,140 ISSUES: The Real Issue the Side Issues
A response to the recent attack against “cetain private organizations” by the officers and the Union presidents of the North American Division.
Does The church have a cancer?
SECTION ONE: THE REAL ISSUE
Chapter I - The Real Issue Of Unjustified And Unauthorized Changes In Our Church's Theology
SECTION TWO: THE SIDE ISSUES
Chapter II - The Side Issue Of Church Authority
Chapter III - The Side Issue Of Christian Unity
Chapter IV - The Side Issue Of Tithes And Offerings
SECTION THREE: THE PSEUDO ISSUES
Chapter V - The Pseudo Issue Of Attacking The Church
Chapter VI - The Pseudo Issue Of Divisiveness
Chapter VII - The Pseudo Issue Of Personalities
Chapter VIII - The Pseudo Issue Of Alleged Financial Irregularities
Chapter IX - The Pseudo Search For Historic Adventism
SECTION FOUR: CREDIBILITY
Chapter X - The Credibility Crisis
SECTION FIVE: INQUISITION
Chapter Xl - How Shall We Relate To The Great Adventist Inquisition?
The Adventist Review of November 5, 1992, contained a sixteen- page, tract style insert titled “Issues: The Seventh- day Adventist Church and Certain Private Organizations.” It is described as an abbreviated and adapted version of a larger book with a similar title. Both the tract and the 467 page book are apparently being published for the purpose of preparing church member's minds for the mass disfellowshipping of thousands of church members who have been protesting against unauthorized and unjustified changes in our church's theology.
It is alleged that these “dissident” members are a cancer in the body of the church that must be cut out.
To have an informal church operating within the regular church is like having active cancer cells in a healthy body. A person diagnosed as having cancer has three options: (1) deny there is a cancer and refuse to recognize the progressive sickness in the body; (2) recognize that there is cancer, ignore medical treatment, and pray that God will work a miracle of healing; (3) recognize that the cancer must be gotten rid of, have it medically treated, and, if possible, have it cut out.— Issues book, page 19.
With this awesome introduction we are ushered into the era of what appears to be an Inquisition of no small proportions.
I have written about The Great Adventist Apostasy in an attempt to alert both church members and church leaders that totally unauthorized and unjustified changes are being made in our church's theology, and that those changes are being effected through our educational system and our church pulpits.—( See articles by Ralph Larson in Our Firm Foundation, January through December, 1991.)
When so warned and challenged, church leaders may respond in either of two ways. They may conduct careful investigations in order to determine whether the charges are valid and take appropriate corrective action as needed. Or they may decide to simply “stonewall” the charges, close ranks, assume a defensive attitude, and try to silence the voices of those who are sounding the alarm and calling for reform.
Tragically, the North American Division leaders seem to have chosen the latter course, and it appears that The Great Adventist Apostasy is to be followed by The Great Adventist Inquisition.
But will this Inquisition succeed in silencing the voices of those church members who are appealing for loyalty and adherence to the principles of our historic faith, or will it have the opposite effect? Perhaps we would do well to look back at similar situations as recorded in the pages of church history.
SECTION ONE: THE REAL ISSUE Chapter I
The Real Issue Of Unjustified And Unauthorized Changes In Our Church's Theology The doctrines of our church are being changed, and this is the real issue. This is the reason for the existence of the “certain private organizations” that are being attacked; and it is the reason that these private organizations are receiving such widespread support from church members who view the changes with alarm, wondering why church leaders seem to be doing little or nothing to interfere with the changes.
The changes are wrongful for two reasons. First, they are unofficial and unauthorized, having never been voted by the General Conference in session. Second, the changes have no valid basis in Scripture but are false doctrines drawn from the Calvinistic segment of Babylon where they have been held for centuries. Our pioneers met them and rejected them, as did virtually all of our church leaders, until we started sending our young people to the educational institutions of Babylon to receive their advanced degrees.
The unauthorized doctrinal changes are being effected through our educational system and our church pulpits. Instead of presenting them to a General Conference in session as a proper procedure would have required, the proponents of these changes have simply started teaching them in our schools. As a result, there is not a Seventh- day Adventist higher educational institution in North America today which is free from the false doctrines of Calvinism.
Graduates of these institutions are now taking their places in the pulpits of our churches, in the administrative offices of our conferences and in the editorial offices of the Adventist Review and Ministry. Notable exceptions to date are the Sabbath School quarterlies of the last few years which have presented lessons in harmony with our historic faith.
Compare, for example, the following clear affirmation of the Calvinistic doctrine of original sin (defined as inherited guilt) in the Review with the equally clear rejection of that same doctrine in a Sabbath School quarterly:
If a baby dies a few hours or days after birth, it is still subject to the second death— the condemnation death— even though it has never broken any commandment.— Norman Gulley, Adventist Review, January 25, 1990, page 13. Some have taught that every human being shares the guilt for Adam's sin, as though each of us had committed that sin ourselves. Adventists reject this unscriptural teaching.— Sabbath School Quarterly, second quarter, 1990, page 42.
Here we see Adventism and Calvinism competing with each other in two of our church's publications. Calvinistic theology offers solutions to the horrible teaching expressed in the
Review by its doctrines of predestination and/ or infant baptism. The Review offers no solution at all but simply leaves us to the awful conclusion that all children who die in infancy must be burned to death in the fires that will consume the earth. If time and space permitted, we could fill a fair- sized book with descriptions of similar outbreaks of tension between the two theologies that are competing with each other in the Adventist Church today. In Australia, suggestions have been sent to ministers from conference offices advising them as to the best methods of sustaining the doctrines of Calvinism in opposition to the doctrines of Adventism presented in the quarterlies. In England, where they print quarterlies, they simply make changes in favor of the Calvinistic doctrines. (I have samples in my files.)
I am grateful to the writers of the Issues tract and book for presenting quotations from my writings which list five major changes in our doctrines that are now taking place in various places and to varying degrees. No doubt the Holy Spirit will use this information to alert church members to their danger, but since some readers of this paper may not have seen the Issues, I will here briefly list the five doctrines:
- The doctrine that we receive weakness from Adam, but not guilt, now being replaced by the Calvinistic doctrine of original sin defined as inherited guilt.
- The doctrine that our Lord came to this earth in the human nature of fallen man, now being replaced by the Calvinistic doctrine that Christ came to earth in the human nature of the unfallen Adam.
- The doctrine of righteousness by faith, now being replaced by the Calvinistic doctrine of unrighteousness by presumption, salvation in sin.
The doctrine of the sanctuary, now being either denied or replaced by vague uncertainties.
Belief in the Spirit of Prophecy, now being denied because it supports all of the Adventist doctrines listed above and firmly rejects the Calvinistic doctrines.
While I do appreciate the printing of quotations from my writings in Issues, I would have been even more grateful if it had been pointed out that I was comparing our present situation with the following Spirit of Prophecy quotations:
Before the last developments of the work of apostasy, there will be a confusion of faith. . . . one truth after another will be corrupted.— ST 5- 28- 94.
God will arouse His people; if other means fail, heresies will come in among them, separating the chaff from the wheat.— 5T 707.
These unauthorized doctrinal changes, these heresies, are the real issue. We are most emphatically not defending or propagating our personal views, as the Issues writers insist more than 20 times. To repeatedly represent to the church membership that the contest is between the personal opinions or interpretations of the “dissidents” and “the church” is reprehensible and sets up a doubly false proposition.
We are defending the theological positions that are set forth in every statement of faith that our organization has ever published (denials notwithstanding) and that are most fully and clearly stated in the 1988 publication, Seventh- day Adventists Believe. In that volume, our position on righteousness by faith is affirmed not less that 140 times, and our position on the human nature of Christ is stated like this:
He took the nature of man in its fallen state, bearing the consequences of sin, not its sinfulness.— page 49.
These are obviously not the personal views or interpretations of the “dissidents,” much less a “new standard of Adventism” as alleged in the Issues book, page 14. And how shall we understand the bald assertions that our views do not even appear in the book SDAs Believe? (See Issues book, pages 13, 49, 241,242.) I have pointed out that we are being confronted with a doubly false proposition that the issue is between our personal opinions and “the church.” Just as we have firmly denied that we are defending our personal opinions, we must with equal firmness deny that the writers and promoters of the Issues tract and book are “the church.” They are a very small group of persons within the church. We must remember that more than nine tenths of our membership live outside of the North American Division, and that the unauthorized changes in our doctrines have scarcely been heard of in most of the countries that we call mission fields. They are beginning to make their appearance there through the influence of the more recent graduates of our educational institutions, but they have as yet hardly touched the lives of the vast majority of the membership.
To a lesser degree the same principle even applies to the North American Division. The ethnic groups in North America are comparatively untouched by the doctrinal changes, as are many of our local Hispanic members, although it is moving in on the Hispanics very rapidly.
The vast majority of our world- wide membership is certainly not involved in the publication of the Issues, nor in the doctrinal controversy that it represents. In view of this reality, for those who prepared the tract and the book to refer to themselves as “the church” is wildly inaccurate and not a little presumptuous. Let us remember the definition of the church that is given to us by Ellen White:
God has a church. It is not the great cathedral, neither is it the national establishment, neither is it the various denominations; it is the people who love God and keep His commandments.— UL 315.
Settle it in your mind forever, my friend and fellow believer. The real issue is unjustified and unauthorized changes in the doctrines of our church, doctrines that have been made clear to us and sealed as to their truthfulness by the Holy Spirit of God. This, of course, gives rise to a question in our minds. Why are the North American Division leaders so reluctant to discuss the real issue? Why do they prefer to emphasize side issues and pseudo issues? We will consider this question in the next chapter.
SECTION TWO: THE SIDE ISSUES
While awaiting the time for an appointment with the Union presidents of the North American Division, I heard one of the presidents address the others in this manner:
We must find some way to stop Ron Spear, but we can't do it with theology because there is nothing wrong with his theology.
Two questions occurred to me. If there is nothing wrong with Spear's theology, why should he be stopped? And if theological questions must be avoided, what methods will be used to stop him?
The first question remains open, but it seems that the second question is now being answered. The Issues tract and book both carefully avoid the real issue of unjustified and unauthorized changes in our church's theology. After listing five of the alleged changes on page 5 of the tract, the writers continue:
It is not the purpose of this statement to provide a theological rebuttal to the views held by the members of Hope International.
Therein lies the tragedy. The concerns of the historic church members are theological in nature, and they need to be dealt with on the theological level. No other means can be substituted with effective results. Yet that is what is happening. Attempts are being made to advance the side issues of church authority and Christian unity while ignoring the real issue of unauthorized changes in our church's theology. As admitted by the Union president, there is nothing wrong with our theology. And he is not alone in this opinion. The president of the Pacific Union wrote to me on May 1, 1990:
I despair with you over the fact that so many of our church members are finding it necessary to turn to independent ministries in order to hear basic Adventist teaching.
And on November 16,1988, Elder Charles Bradford, president of the North American Division, wrote to me:
. . . my views on the nature of Christ are almost identical with some that you and others have expressed. I have preached them at large camp meetings around the world.
When a few persons have criticized my writings, I have responded by asking, “Have I said or written anything that is not true? If so, point it out and I will make an immediate correction.” But nothing has been pointed out. The idea seems to be that even if it is true, I should not have written it. I have difficulty with this concept.
The real issue is unauthorized changes in our church's theology. But since the Issues writers have chosen to place their emphasis on side issues, we will have to consider them.
Chapter II - The Side Issue Of Church Authority
Has God given authority to the church? Of course. Is this authority supported by the Scriptures? Undoubtedly. Is it supported by the Spirit of Prophecy? Beyond question, it is.
No one is questioning the principle of church authority. But can a valid doctrine of church authority be based upon a false theology? Who would answer “Yes” to that question? How could any person, any group of persons, or any church have authority from the God of truth to teach or enforce doctrines that are not true?
False doctrines have no authority, nor can they ever have. A false doctrine, apostasy, cannot apply to itself any promise of God, nor can apostasy claim for itself any right or privilege that God has given to the true church. Let us remember that the church of God is described in Scripture as “the pillar and ground of truth” I Timothy 3: 15.
To describe a church that teaches untruth as a true church is manifestly ridiculous. Our church has been greatly blessed and honored by God because it has steadfastly taught the truth of God, in spite of strong opposition from the world and from other churches. But now, in an eagerness to have acceptance from the world and the worldly churches, some among us are turning from the truth and are embracing doctrines that are not true. Thus, the church is in peril and is in danger of losing the blessing and the power of God.
Contrary to the allegations in Issues, the Historic Adventists are not saying that the church is in apostasy. They are saying that there is apostasy in the church, and that the apostasy is spreading rapidly with no apparent opposition from most church leaders. And to the degree that church leaders condone or support false doctrines, to that degree they lose their authority. When a church member asks, “Why are the doctrines of the church being changed?” it will not suffice to give him a stern lecture on church authority, nor will denials of the changes be effective when the church member is observing the changes in his own house of worship. When truth goes down, authority goes down with it.
It is not possible for church authority to be the central issue in the present discussion. Fullness of truth brings fullness of authority. Therefore, let our leaders set the church's theology in order and questions of authority will quickly disappear. Our doctrinal book states:
No one has any independent authority apart from Christ and His word.—. SDAs Believe, page 146. And Ellen White writes:
Whatever the church does that is in accordance with the directions given in God's word will be ratified in heaven.— 7T 263.
The church. . . must say about sin what God says about it. She must deal with it as God directs, and her action is ratified in heaven.— DA 806.
This brings us immediately and specifically to the heart of the present problem. In ever widening circles within our church, its spokesmen are emphatically not saying about sin what God says about it. They are saying instead that it will be necessary for us to keep on sinning until Jesus comes, at which time He will miraculously fix us so that we will not sin any more. This is a concept which is forcefully rejected in the Scriptures (Revelation 22: 11- 12), and against which we find more than 40 strong warnings in the Spirit of Prophecy.
When the disciples of Jesus were summoned to appear before the Sanhedrin, they went gladly, anticipating an opportunity to express their convictions about Jesus. They found, however, that the Sanhedrin proposed one question only, Do you submit to our authority? Result— the church was split. When Martin Luther and his companions were summoned to appear before the emperor, they also went gladly, hoping for a discussion of the principles of truth. But they were confronted with the same question, Do you submit to our authority? Result— the church was split.
Today we find ourselves caught up in a similar situation, and we may well reflect about the past. Will our leaders respond to our expressions of concern about unauthorized changes in our church's theology, or will they simply demand submission to their authority, putting authority above the truth? The question is fraught with great and eternal results. May God save His church.
Chapter III - The Side Issue Of Christian Unity
The same principles that apply to the side issue of authority are also applicable here. The Scriptures and the Spirit of Prophecy are unmistakably clear in exalting the importance of Christian unity. But Christian unity, like church authority, must be built upon the foundation of truth.
We all believe that unity in the church is precious. It is priceless. Unity was the great burden of the last recorded prayer of Jesus for His disciples (John 17). Unity was what made possible the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. Unity was one of the major factors that gave power to the Seventh- day Adventist Church as it emerged from the Millerite Movement.
What is the basis of this precious unity? Paul calls it “the unity of the faith” Ephesians 4: 13. He further describes it as “speaking the truth in love,” verse 15, and indicates that those who have this unity of the faith will not be “carried about with every wind of doctrine” verse 14.
Ellen White describes the search for unity in 1844: We would come together burdened in soul, praying that we might be one In faith and doctrine, for we knew that Christ is not divided.— TM 24. (All emphasis supplied.)
Their prayers were answered. They did become one in faith and doctrine, and they bestowed that legacy of unity upon us. Our church has enjoyed a phenomenal degree of unity throughout most of its history. We who have spent years in soul- winning work have found it an enormous advantage to be able to tell our converts they were uniting with a world- wide church that had a oneness in faith and doctrine over all the earth.
But notice how God has warned us through His messenger that unity must be based upon faith and doctrine:
Christ calls for unity. But He does not call for us to unify on wrong practices. The God of heaven draws a sharp contrast between pure, elevating, ennobling truth and false, misleading doctrines. ... I urge our brethren to unify upon a true, scriptural basis.— l SM 175. We are to unify, but not on a platform of error.—. Series B, “Freedom in Christ” 47. Our church has not unified upon a platform of error, but upon a platform of truth. Our doctrines have been the foundation of our unity, but if wrong doctrines are introduced, causing the foundation of truth to crumble, we will struggle in vain to preserve our unity. The wise man does not build his house upon the sand.
At various times in the history of Christianity, there have arisen tensions between Christians who had differing views of what constitutes sound doctrines. Instead of meeting this problem on the theological level, church officials have sometimes tried to resolve it on the basis of church authority. This has never been and never will be successful. Ecclesiology must be derived from theology. Theology cannot be derived from ecclesiology, lest it degenerate into ecclesiolatry.
Chapter IV - The Side Issue Of Tithes And Offerings
Again we note that the returning of tithes and offerings to the Lord is the sacred duty of every Christian. God has commanded us to bring the tithe into the storehouse. But only the storehouse of truth can be the storehouse of tithe.
We doubt that anyone would seriously argue that God requires church members to pay tithes and offerings to support the teaching of soul- destroying false doctrines. Let the questions about false doctrines be properly dealt with and the tithe problem will disappear.
It is unfortunate that attempts have been made to show that Ellen White taught that the tithe should only be paid through regular church channels, regardless of the circumstances. These endeavors do not bear up well under investigation. (See booklet The Tithe Problem— Who Is Responsible? available from Steps to Life.)
In summation of the section, let us point out that neither authority nor unity nor tithe paying can stand alone or upon the foundation of a false theology. None of them can be first and the truth second. Truth must be first and church authority second. Truth must be first and Christian unity second. Truth must be first and tithe paying second. The real issue in our church is truth in conflict with untruth, unauthorized changes in our church's theology. SECTION THREE: THE PSEUDO ISSUES We have seen that the writers of Issues have found it necessary to construct their case against certain independent ministries upon the side issues of Church Authority, Christian Unity, and Tithe, rather than upon the real issue of unauthorized changes in our theology. They are forced to admit that there is nothing wrong with the independent's theology. And the reality of these changes cannot be successfully challenged or denied. The changes are being recognized and commented upon even by persons outside of our church. (See Kenneth Sample's survey of the beliefs of Seventh- day Adventist ministers.)
This creates a quandary for the defenders of the Calvinistic doctrines. What can they use against us? Regrettably, they have in their desperation resorted to the use of pseudo issues which under examination prove to have no real substance at all. And these pseudo issues constitute a large part, if not the largest part, of the entire body of allegations.
Chapter V - The Pseudo Issue Of Attacking The Church
The fallacy of identifying the small group of officers of the North American Division who wrote Issues as “the church” has been pointed out in Section One. We concede that they are members of the church and leaders in the church, but by no stretch of the imagination can they properly say:
We are the church! Anyone who disagrees with us is rejecting the authority of the church! Anyone who presumes to criticize anything that we do is attacking the church!
From the human standpoint we probably must recognize that if a church leader is criticized for wrong doing, his most effective defense would be to set up a cry that the church is being attacked. This would be calculated to produce an emotional response akin to that produced by the burning of the flag or an attack on motherhood. Thus we find the Issues tract and book liberally sprinkled with phrases like these:
Increasingly critical of (the church), at stake is the integrity of the church, undermine confidence in the church, threaten the viability of the church, threaten to pull the church apart, criticize and tear down the church, fighting the church, etc.
Perhaps the most astonishing of these misleading phrases is in the line that describes the purposes of Hope and Hartland as “gaining control of the church and ‘purifying' it by purging out those who do not agree with their theology. “— Issues book, page 19. If the reader will pause a moment to reread the paragraph of descriptive phrases above and substitute the word “unauthorized theology” for every use of the word “church,” this will make it a much more accurate statement.
If the emotion arousing purpose of such language as this is successful, it can be counted upon to arouse an unreasoning fury against any persons who would so assault the church of God. But not all Seventh- day Adventists are that unreasoning or unreasonable. Many will reflect that they have not heard or read any such attacks on the church in the presentations of the independent ministries. They have, rather, heard and read many warnings against unauthorized changes in the church's doctrines, and criticisms, by a few, of wrong doing on the part of certain individuals, but nothing remotely resembling a wholesale condemnation of the church.
Under the date of April 3, 1992, a “study paper” was circulated among the leaders of the North American Division which set forth a rationale for taking strong action against certain independent ministries. Portions of this paper were later incorporated into the Issues tract and book.
The proposed strategy is to (a) represent to the church members that certain independent ministries are “attempting to force (their) view on the church” and are planning “to purge out those who would resist them” NAD Paper, pages 9, 11, 14.
The next step in the proposed strategy is to (b) argue that since force is being used against the church, the church is justified in taking forceful actions against these ministries and those who support them.
Though the charge of “using force” is as false as it is ridiculous, this accusation is a device of deception quite commonly used by those who are trying to persuade people to do something which their consciences do not approve. While pursuing my doctoral studies in the liberalradical educational community of Boston, I attended a seminar in which the dean of a liberal theological seminary used the same technique by stating with emphasis that:
If a man overcharges you for a loaf of bread, that is violence!
The intent of this strategy is obvious. If a man is using violence against you, you are clearly justified in taking strong measures in return. So— go ahead and burn down his store, or take whatever other actions seem appropriate. You may quiet your conscience by accepting the concept that he first “used violence” against you.
But is overcharging for a loaf of bread a valid definition of violence? Not to a careful thinker. And is charging certain persons with apostasy a valid definition of “using force”? If it is, then our church has been “using force” against both Catholic and Protestant churches throughout our entire history in that we have been charging them with apostasy. Are we ready to plead guilty to “using force” against these churches, or would it be better to simply reject in its entirety this false definition of “using force”?
Chapter VI The Pseudo Issue Of Divisiveness
This is a charge that is carefully left undefined. It is apparently desired that church members simply accept the testimony of the leaders of the North American Division that the independent ministries are divisive, and not ask, “Divisive about what?” We are reminded of a passage in The Desire of Ages, page 724:
Again Pilate asked, “What accusation bring ye against this Man?” The priests did not answer his question, but in words that showed their irritation, they said, “If He were not a malefactor, we would not have delivered Him up unto thee.” When those composing the Sanhedrin, the first men of the nation, bring to you a man they deem worthy of death, is there need to ask for an accusation against him? They hoped to impress Pilate with a sense of their importance, and thus lead him to accede to their request without going through many preliminaries. They were eager to have their sentence ratified; for they knew that the people who had witnessed Christ's marvelous works could tell a story very different from the fabrication they themselves were now rehearsing.
The purpose of the Issues writers seems to I be to avoid entering into theological discussions of any kind, yet the charge of divisiveness leads directly to theological realities. Repeatedly the Issues writers affirm that the independents are creating division by urging (forcing) their theological opinions upon the church.
We have already pointed out that it is not our opinions that we are defending, but rather the Bible doctrines that are expressed in the book, Seventh- day Adventists Believe. Thus, we challenge the use of the term “opinions,” but we do not challenge the use of the term “theological.” Theology is what it is all about, or more precisely, unauthorized changes in our theology.
Thus we are led directly to the question, Who is properly chargeable with divisive- ness, those who are making the unauthorized changes, or those who are resisting the changes? Surely any fair- minded person would place the responsibility at the door of those who are making the unauthorized changes.
When the Review editor writes that disagreements about the nature of Christ are harmful to the unity of the church and create division, we respond that this is a valid point, but it is 35 years too late. It should have been advanced in 1956 and 1957 when the Review was printing arguments against our historic position on the nature of Christ and the secret writers of
Questions On Doctrine were preparing that ill- fated volume for publication. They are the ones who destroyed the unity of the church on this point. We are not.
In our massive research report, The Word Was Made Flesh, we record 1,200 statements by Adventist writers, including many of our most prominent leaders, that our Lord came to this earth in the human nature of fallen man. Four hundred of them were from the inspired pen of Ellen White. All were published in the one hundred year period 1852- 1952. There was total unity on the subject. In all of our research, we did not find a single dissenting opinion. This perfect unity was shattered in 1957 when the secret writers of QOD foisted upon the unsuspecting church members the Calvinistic doctrine that Christ came to earth in the human nature of the unfallen Adam. Brazenly they declared that this had always been the belief of our church. Possibly never before in the history of Christianity had so many been misled by so few, and so easily.
The perfect unity that our church had enjoyed for more than a hundred years on this point and on other points that depend on it was destroyed and division was created. And now, in defiance of all logic, fairness and justice, the similarly secret writers of Issues are proposing that the independent ministries are responsible for this division. Can judgment be more unfair than this?
Likewise, the literature of our church before the publishing of QOD abounded with statements, sometimes entire articles, affirming that victorious Christian living through the power of the indwelling Christ is possible for all Christians. This statement appears in the writings of Ellen White more than 4,500 times and it has appeared in our statements of faith as well, including 140 times in Seventh- day Adventists Believe. Yet those who are bringing the doctrines of Calvinism into our church are now teaching and preaching, without authorization, that all Christians must keep on sinning until Jesus comes, at which time He will miraculously fix us so that we will not sin any more. Ellen White has written 48 warnings that nothing of this kind will ever happen.
Nevertheless, the writers of Issues are saying that victorious Christian living is a new standard of Adventism invented by the independent ministries, and are charging us with divisiveness. Yet perhaps this should not surprise us. Ellen White wrote:
When controversy is awakened, the advocates of truth are accredited with causing a disturbance.— ST 10- 17- 95.
Elijah was declared to be a troubler in Israel, Jeremiah a traitor, Paul a polluter of the temple. From that day to this, those who would be loyal to truth have been denounced as seditious, heretical, or schismatic. Multitudes who are too unbelieving to accept the sure word of prophecy, will receive with unquestioning credulity an accusation against those who dare to reprove fashionable sins. This spirit will increase more and more.— GC 458, 459.
Should divisiveness be charged against those who are resisting unauthorized changes in our church’s theology, or upon those who are making the unauthorized changes? We submit this question to the considered judgment of every fair- minded Seventh- day Adventist, and we reaffirm that this is a pseudo issue.
Chapter VII - The Pseudo Issue Of Personalities
One of the most time tested realities about discussion and debate is that those who have evidence will present their evidence, whereas those who do not have evidence will attack the man. This has been recognized for so long that it has come down to us with a Latin name: the argument ad hominem (against the man.) It is very disappointing to historic church members when they ask their pastor or even their conference president why wrongful and unauthorized changes are being made in our church's theology, and they are told in reply that certain independent ministry leaders are not good men. In support of this allegation, barrages of hear- say, innuendo and pure gossip are often presented by those who are expected to preach against such things.
But that is beside the point. Arguments about men can go on forever, but this has nothing to do with the problem of wrongful and unauthorized changes in our church's theology. To point to an alleged fault in a man, or even to an apparent and discernible fault, does not provide anyone with authority to change a doctrine of our faith.
One of the most regrettable and indefensible of these arguments against the man is the allegation that the historic Adventists are setting themselves up as the standard for others to follow and imitate. (Issues, page 14, et al.) Surely this is the absolute nadir of discussion, the lowest level that argument can possibly reach.
I have been ministering to historic Adventists for nearly half a century and have become personally acquainted with many of the independent ministry leaders. I have never met nor heard of a single person among them who would dream of setting himself or herself up as the standard for anything. They would all with one accord declare that our standard and example is the Lord Jesus Christ, and that no human being should be regarded as our example. This is in sharp contrast to the theological position of the Calvinist, which places great emphasis upon the sacrificial substitution of Christ and minimizes as much as possible His role as our example. Arguments such as this are obviously pseudo issues, and should be recognized as confessions of the abject poverty of a cause.
Chapter VIII - The Pseudo Issue Of Alleged Financial Irregularities
Since this is a variation of the argument against the man, which was discussed in the previous chapter, we need not analyze it at length here. The same principles apply to both. To state the matter simply, if by microscopic examination of the life records of all independent ministry leaders it could be demonstrated that one or all of them had been involved in an apparent financial irregularity of some kind, would this provide authorization for anyone to make changes in the doctrines of the church? To ask the question is to answer it, because the idea is so ridiculous. This is transparently a pseudo issue.
But if the North American Division leaders insist on trying to make it appear as a real issue, then there are several more chapters that will have to be written and published. We will simply list a few of the chapters that would be needed:
A chapter dealing with financial irregularities involving NEMA and the Kettering law suit.
A chapter dealing with the suit against the Lake Union by Lloyds of London.
A chapter dealing with the Davenport scandal.
A chapter dealing with the unnecessary declaration of bankruptcy by the Harris Pine Mills.
A chapter dealing with the Rebok scam.
A chapter dealing with the solicitation of tithe from well- to- do members in certain conferences in North America and the diversion of that tithe to a mission field in Central America, along with an explanation of the means whereby that tithe was channeled through a North American Division office so that the donors could have a tax exemption.
A chapter dealing with the highly irregular arrangements that were set up whereby money could be channeled through the books of a certain Union in order to provide secret salaries to the wives of certain highly placed church leaders.
Much more might be added, but perhaps this is enough to demonstrate our point. I am proposing that it would be better to give our attention to the real issue of wrongful and unauthorized changes in our church's theology and leave pseudo issues such as this one alone.
Chapter IX - The Pseudo Search For Historic Adventism
Those who are changing the doctrines of our church have endeavored to apply the term “traditional Adventists” to those of us who do not accept their changes. This may be a purposeful ploy. To most Seventh- day Adventists the word “tradition” carries very negative connotations. We have recognized and identified the problem of other churches as following tradition rather than Scripture. So we have preferred to call ourselves “historic Adventists.”
As our published writings have made quite clear, we understand and use the term “historic” to refer to the truths that were held by virtually all Adventists before the book Questions on Doctrine appeared in 1957.
We are not ignorant of our church's history. We are well aware that the formation of our doctrines was a gradual process, with major principles being established in the early years and further refinements coming later. We are also well aware of the difference between “landmarks” and “pillars” of our faith and the less important items.
But these matters had been sorted out and our theology well refined before 1957, and it is to the common faith of the pre- 1957 era that we have reference when we describe ourselves as “historic Adventists.” Again, this is clearly stated in our writings.
We, therefore, look in wonder at the 18 page search for historic Adventism in the Issues book, pages 35- 53. The chapter requires us to look back to the earliest years of SDA experience for definitions of the term “historic Adventism.” Insofar as the present discussion is concerned, this has little or no relevance. We are talking about pre- 1957, not pre- 1857.
We are further mystified by the selection of material and by the treatment of material.
The Selection of Material. Throughout most of its existence, our church has printed and published to a phenomenal degree. The Archives contain untold thousands of pages of material in which our doctrines were expounded, explained and recommended to the world. The writers of this material did not neglect the two points of faith now under consideration— the nature of Christ and sanctification. As mentioned elsewhere, our leading administrators, editors and other writers went into print 1,200 times during the years 1852- 1952 with statements that our Lord came to earth in the human nature of fallen man, and not a single statement affirming the opposite. Four hundred of these statements were by Ellen White. Her statements expressing our historic view of sanctification total more than 4,500. The statements on that subject by other writers are too numerous to count.
There is no lack of source material. If you want to know what historic Adventism consisted of, especially in regard to the nature of Christ and sanctification, spend just a few months in the Archives. My wife and I have done this and have reported our findings in our two research volumes, The Word Was Made Flesh and Tell of His Power.
The Issues authors have not done this. They have chosen a different approach which we view with astonishment. They have chosen to ignore this enormous mass of historical evidence and look only at the few and unofficial statements of faith that can be found in the 1861,1872 and 1931 historical records.
The first statement to which they direct our attention (1861) was not by the general church but only by the Michigan Conference. It consisted of 30 words:
We the undersigned, hereby associate ourselves together, as a church, taking the name of Seventh- day Adventists, covenanting to keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus Christ.— Issues book, page 36.
The Issues writers then lead us to 1872 and a statement composed by Uriah Smith and published in the Review, of which he was editor. Here we find the treatment of evidence no less astonishing than the selection of evidence.
The Treatment of Evidence. We present this as it appears in Issues on page 39 with emphasis supplied and quotation marks to indicate the words of Uriah Smith:
In 1872 Adventists published an anonymous, non- binding statement of beliefs. In the introduction, the unnamed author (Uriah Smith) took great pains to emphasize the unofficial and non- creedal nature of the document: ‘In presenting to the public this synopsis of our faith, we wish to have it distinctly understood that we have no articles of faith, creed, or discipline aside from the Bible. We do not put forth this as having any authority with our people, nor is it designed to secure uniformity among them, as a system of faith, but is a brief statement of what is and has been, with great unanimity, held by them. We often find it necessary to meet inquiries on this subject, and sometimes to correct false statements circulated against us, and to remove erroneous impressions which have obtained with those who have not had an opportunity to become acquainted with our faith and practice. Our only object is to meet this necessity.'
The non- binding, non- creedal status of the statement is of special interest. Even more significant, however, is the fact that the statement is distinctly non- Trinitarian. Jesus is described as Creator and Redeemer but is nowhere identified as God or as eternal. He simply is “the Son of the Eternal Father.”
For those who would wish to define “historic Adventism” in terms of specific doctrinal content, the 1872 date presents a real dilemma. To accept what Adventists considered binding at that time would exclude any reference to the nature of Christ or to a particular type of obedience.
We see no dilemma. We consider historic Adventism as pre- 1957. We observe that:
1- The Issues writers in describing this statement acknowledge that it was the work of one man (Uriah Smith) and was published in the Review on his own initiative. It was, therefore, not produced by the “Adventists” speaking by way of a board, a committee or a constituency meeting.
2- Though Uriah Smith may not have been clear on the eternal pre- existence of Christ, he was clear on the human nature of Christ and on sanctification, as shown in his book Looking Unto Jesus (c189 7 ), pages 23 and 30:
In the likeness of sinful flesh, He reached down to the very depths of man's fallen condition, and became obedient unto death, even the ignominious death of the cross. He came in the likeness of sinful flesh to demonstrate before all parties in the controversy that it was possible for men in the flesh to keep the law. He demonstrated this by keeping it Himself. On our plane of existence, and in our nature, He rendered such obedience to every principle and precept, that the eye of Omniscience itself could find no flaw therein. His whole life was but a transcript of that law, in its spiritual nature, and in its holy, just and good demands. He thus condemned sin in the flesh, by living Himself in the flesh and doing no sin, showing that it was possible for man thus to live.
3— The Issues writers also describe the statement as non- binding, unofficial, non- creedal, non- binding and non- creedal.
Yet in the tenth line following we find this: To accept what Adventists considered binding at that time. . . . So the statement no longer reflects the thinking of Uriah Smith but of “Adventists” and that which was described as non- binding, unofficial, and non- creedal, has suddenly become “what Adventists considered binding.”
While you are catching your breath, we will move on to the next problem. Throughout their discussion, the Issues writers place great emphasis on the alleged absence from the three statements (1861, 1872, 1931) of any reference to our historic view of the nature of Christ and the doctrine of sanctification. But when we examine those statements in the appendices of
Issues, this is what we find:
. . . covenanting to keep the commandments of God.— Issues book, page 36.
That there is one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Eternal Father, the one by whom God created all things, and by whom they do consist; that he took on him the nature of the seed of Abraham for the redemption of our fallen race. . . . That the new birth comprises the entire change necessary to fit us for the kingdom of God, and consists of two parts: first, a moral change, wrought by conversion and a Christian life. . . . That as all have violated the law of God, and cannot of themselves render obedience to His just requirements, we are dependent on Christ, first for justification from our past offenses, and, secondly, for9race whereby to render acceptable obedience to his holy law in time to come.— lbid. 437, 439.
While retaining His divine nature He took upon Himself the nature of the human family. . . .
By accepting Christ, man is reconciled to God, justified by His blood for the sins of the past, and saved from the power of sin by his indwelling life. Thus the gospel becomes “the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth.” This experience is wrought by the divine agency of the Holy Spirit, who convinces of sin and leads to the Sin- Bearer, inducting the believer into the new covenant relationship, where the law of God is written on his heart, and through the enabling power conformity to the divine precepts.— lbid. 444.
The end is not yet. The Issues writers have woven through all of their presentation a very strong emphasis upon the doctrines of church authority, Christian unity, and tithes and offerings. We have taken note of this emphasis in our section on side issues.
Then, turning their attention to the alleged faults of historic Adventists, they argue strenuously that if a doctrine is not specifically mentioned in the 1872 statement it is therefore nonbinding, but rather optional, and different views and practices on those points are not subject to challenge.
We ask. Where in the 1872 statement do we find a reference to the three doctrines that are the basis for their planned disciplinary actions— the doctrines of authority, unity, and tithe? Answer: nowhere. There is not a word in the 1872 statement about any of these three doctrines. Therefore, by their own argument, the Issues writers have pronounced judgment against themselves for preparing to apply church discipline to us.
We rest our case. Section Four: Credibility Credibility is a crucial factor in all church administration. The church is not able to levy taxes on its members like the government does and collect them by force, applying stiff fines and even prison sentences for failure to pay. The vast financial structure of our church and its institutions, involving total annual budgets that doubtless run into billions of dollars, must of necessity rest upon a foundation of confidence, trust, credibility. Let this confidence and trust be lost, let this credibility be destroyed, and the church will struggle in vain to collect money from its members.
How important, then, that wise statesmanship be exercised in all decision making and in the conducting of all church affairs. The question that urgently needs to be considered at every step of the way is, How will this affect the church's credibility? Openness, accuracy, fairness, justice and truthfulness are the vital elements that will enhance credibility. The absence of any of them, in whole or in part, will do enormous damage to the church's credibility and thus to the church's financial structure. financial structure.
We would like to suggest that the expensive publication of the Issues tract and the 467 page book has done nothing to enhance the church's credibility. The many responses that are reaching us indicate that it may have a severely damaging effect. As briefly as possible we will list some potential problems.
Chapter X - The Credibility Crisis
1— Anonymous Authorship. Secrecy does not create confidence. Church members know that individuals have done the writing. They will look askance at the representations that it was done by the officers of the North American Division. They know very well that it was not written by “your church.” They will be unpleasantly reminded of the carefully concealed authorship of Questions On Doctrine, with its baleful results, and will have the sensation of “Here we go again.” Full openness would have been much better, along with full responsibility. As members reflect about the secrecy, some will conclude that, given the quality of the writing, it is understandable that no one wants to assume responsibility for it, but somebody should. Otherwise the onus for the multitudinous errors will rest upon all of the North American Division officers.
2— Inaccurate Accusations. If accusations of a personal and private nature need to be accurate, how much more those accusations that are spread before the entire membership of the church, and that by church leaders. But the Issues publication is riddled with inaccuracies. We have enlarged on this point in previous chapters, but will here mention the repeated charge that the “dissidents” are saying that the church is in apostasy, whereas informed church members know that they are actually saying there is apostasy in the church. Credibility is severely damaged by this sort of thing.
3— Unwise Recommendations. Unqualified recommendations are given by the Issues writers to a series of Review articles by Norman Gulley and to a Review tract by Roger Coon, in spite of the fact that church leaders have been shown that both contain very serious errors.
4— Totally False Allegations. The Issues appendix contains an article written by D. D. Devinich, president of the Canadian Union, and published in the Canadian Union Messenger. In the article, Devinich alleged that he found two evidences of dishonesty in the writings of Ralph Larson. I promptly offered Pastor Devinich two separate rewards of $1,000.00 if he would produce from my writings the evidence to support his allegations, and made this offer known to more than a hundred of the church's leaders. Though months have passed by, neither Devinich nor the church leaders have responded. Yet the North American Division leaders published his false allegations in the Issues book. Why?
Meanwhile, Devinich's article was reprinted in two other Union papers and with slight modifications in Ministry, along with personal recommendations from the Union presidents and the editor of Ministry. This would seem to have established an all- time low in administrative and journalistic irresponsibility in the Seventh- day Adventist Church. Need we comment as to the effect of this upon the church's credibility?
5— Astonishing Claims. Statements are soberly set forth in the Issues tract and book that are breath- taking in their divergence from reality. On page 7 of the tract we find a claim, italicized for emphasis, that:
Seventh- day Adventists have never “formally” adopted a position on the question of just how Jesus' nature compared with Adam's and with ours. Neither has the church ever “formally” adopted a position on perfection and the precise nature of human obedience.
Incredibly, we find this claim immediately following a paragraph which refers to the statement of faith that was voted at the General Conference of 1980, thus making it as “formal” as anything can be in our church. In article 17 of that “formal” document we read that:
One of the gifts of the Holy Spirit is prophecy. This gift is an identifying mark of the remnant church and was manifested in the ministry of Ellen G. White. As the Lord's messenger, her writings are a continuing and authoritative source of truth which provide for the church comfort, guidance, instruction, and correction. They also make clear that the Bible is the standard by which all teaching and experience must be tested.
In the “authoritative” writings of Ellen White described in this “formal” document, there are more than 4,500 statements affirming the reality of victorious Christian living through the power of Christ, and more than 400 statements that our Lord came to this earth in the human nature of fallen man.
Moreover, the book Seventh- day Adventists Believe, which is an explication of the statement of faith, contains 140 affirmations of victorious Christian living, and its position on the nature of Christ is stated like this on page 49:
He took the nature of man in its fallen state, bearing the consequences of sin, not its sinfulness. He was one with the human race, except in sin. As we look back at earlier statements of faith as presented in the appendix of Issues, we find more there than the Issues writers indicate. See the quotations in Chapter IX, “The PseudoSearch for Historic Adventism.”
We submit that these statements of faith, though brief, are clear. Ellen White, who is said to be “authoritative” in Seventh- day Adventists Believe, puts her position on the doctrine of sanctification in print 4,500 times. If we yet insist that it is not possible to be sure of her intention, the problem is most emphatically with us, not with the writer.
6— The Straw- Man Technique. This is one of the most regrettable features of the entire
Issues project. The straw man technique is used in debate like this: (a) You misrepresent the opinions or positions of your opponent; (b) You vigorously attack your misrepresentations, and (c) Unwary listeners will conclude that you have demolished your opponent's argument, when, in fact, you have only demolished your own misrepresentations. It is a very effective technique, but is it ethical?
It is the straw- man technique that is being employed when the writers of Issues allege:
- That we are attacking the church, when we are actually attacking apostasy in the church.
- That we are saying the church is in apostasy, when we are actually saying that there is apostasy in the church.
- That we are setting ourselves up as examples when we are actually setting up Jesus as the example.
- That we are defending our personal opinions when we are actually defending our historic faith as set forth in SDAs Believe, etc.
- That we are defining “historic faith” by looking at the statements of 1861, 1872 and 1931, when we are actually defining it by our examination of the entire body of Adventist literature published before the appearance of Questions On Doctrine.
- That we are trying to establish a church within the church, when we are actually trying to bring a reform message to the entire church and provide a means of spiritual survival for the historic Adventists.
- That independent ministries should be divided into two groups. The good ones operate schools, clinics, etc., and ignore the church's theological problems. The bad ones keep raising embarrassing questions about unauthorized changes in our church's theology.
The list could be enlarged, but perhaps this is enough to illustrate our point. Thoughtful church members will recognize what is being attempted by the straw- man technique, and the damage to the church's credibility will be enormous.
Seventh- day Adventists tend to be an intensely loyal people, loyal to the faith, loyal to the church, and loyal to the leaders of the church. They are extremely reluctant to believe that our leaders could make a mistake. But in view of the clear warnings in the Spirit of Prophecy that many of our leaders will go astray in the last days, church members are being forced to take a clear- eyed look at what is happening in the church today.
When they turn a clear gaze at the Issues tract and book, they are certain to suffer keen disappointment. Their confidence in the church's leadership cannot but be severely damaged. A serious credibility crisis has been created. To avoid further loss of confidence, our leaders should publish corrections as soon as possible, and then make provision for a straightforward treatment of the real issue— unauthorized changes in our church's theology.
It is to be devoutly hoped that church leaders will recognize the dire need to abandon the “good old boy” attitude of “Let's close ranks and stonewall it” that has characterized their approach to the problems thus far. Devastating damage to church credibility is certain to result when church members learn that much of the material in the Issues appendix has already been shown to be grossly inaccurate and untrue, and that the church leaders have had this evidence in their hands long before Issues was printed. I refer in particular to the “Unity” article by Frank Holbrook of the BRI, the Devinich article, the “Tithe” article by Roger Coon, etc. For the leaders to set such articles as these before the people with no hint as to their serious faults is unconscionable.
But though this causes us much concern for the church, let us remember that there isno doubt how it will end.
The Majesty of Heaven has the destiny ofnations, as well as the concerns of His church, in His own charge.— 5T 753.
SECTION FIVE: INQUISITION
Chapter XI - How Shall We Relate To The Great Adventist Inquisition?
If thou hast run with the footmen, and they have wearied thee, then how canst thou contend with horses? and if in the land of peace, wherein thou trustedst, they wearied thee, then how wilt thou do in the swelling of Jordan? Jeremiah 12: 5.
The Jordan is swelling. The horsemen are here. By their publication of the Issues tract and book, the North American Division leaders, no doubt acting in counsel with General Conference leaders, have clearly announced their intention of seeking out those who have been associating with and supporting “certain private organizations” and dealing with them as a cancer in the body of the church, which must be cut out. This will be the historic Adventist's reward for persistently calling for loyalty to our historic faith and for insistently raising questions about unauthorized changes in our church's doctrines.
It will be no small task. The Historic Movement is growing very rapidly in North America and has adherents numbering in the thousands. It also has sympathizers in high places who will come forward like Nicodemus when circumstances require such an action. In overseas divisions, excepting Australia, New Zealand and Western Europe, those who hold to our historic faith are the overwhelming majority. Most of the members in mission fields will be astonished beyond measure when they learn that in North America church members are being disciplined for believing the very doctrines that those in the mission fields have been taught and still hold.
As one considers the magnitude of this Inquisition, the question is likely to occur, Would it not be simpler and easier to just repudiate the unauthorized changes in our doctrines and return to the purity of our faith? But it does not appear that this solution to the problem is even being considered.
This is unfortunate. Such an approach would have brought a positive solution to the problem, rather than a negative solution. Surgery would not be necessary. The dissidents would cease to be dissident and would joyfully give full support to the church administration. Tithes and offerings would flow through the regular channels, and the independent ministries would willingly go out of business because they would no longer be needed.
But we must accept the grim reality. Given the choice between reforming our theology or silencing the voices of those who are calling for reform, the North American Division leaders appear to have chosen the latter course. This is a fateful decision. It will touch off such a “witch- hunt” as has never before been seen in Adventism, although it has been seen before in the history of Christianity.
The early Christians were hounded out of the Jewish synagogues; the Protestants were hounded out of the Catholic church; and the Millerite Adventists were hounded out of the Protestant churches, all for the same reason. All were reacting against apostasy in the church and calling for reform. In each case the church authorities refused to consider reform and chose rather to silence the Reformers' voices.
The Pharisees had just cut one off from the fold because he had acknowledged that Jesus had wrought a wonderful miracle, and had opened his eyes. . . . They were false shepherds indeed, and sought to scatter the sheep. ... in no gentle manner they thrust him out of the synagogue. The sheep was cast out of the fold for being a living witness to the power of Christ. Many have been cast out of the church whose names were registered upon the book of life. Wolves in sheep's clothing were ready to cast out of the fold and devour one who was entitled to the Lord's pasture; but Jesus, the True Shepherd, sought him, and gave him a place within the fold.— ST 12- 4- 1893. (This does not mean that Jesus went to Caiphas and got the man's name back on the roll of the synagogue.)
We seem to be witnessing a demonstration of the principle that those who cannot learn from history are condemned to repeat it. Unless God intervenes in a way not presently foreseeable, many of us are going to be called upon to submit to trial in our various home churches. How shall we meet this situation? Let us consider both the words and the example of our Lord.
We observe first that Jesus did not refuse to stand trial, although He could very easily have resisted arrest or concealed Himself from Judas and the mob. Let us follow His example and not refuse to stand trial. Our testimony there may well bring salvation to someone. Then let us study the records of His trial and the inspired commentary in The Desire of Ages, chapters 75 and 77. (Chapter 76 deals with the sad experience of Judas.) From these chapters we glean lines like these: (Emphasis supplied.)
Of all the throng He alone was calm and serene. Page 704.
He spoke no burning words of retaliation. Page 700.
His calm answer came from a heart sinless, patient, and gentle, that would not be provoked. Page 700.
Patiently Jesus listened to the conflicting testimonies. Page 706.
On His face he [Pilate] saw no sign of guilt, no expression of fear, no boldness or defiance. Page 724.
He stood unmoved by the fury of the waves that beat about Him. Page 726.
Pilate was filled with amazement at the uncomplaining patience of the Saviour. Page 736.
The Son of God had taken upon Himself man's nature. He must do as man must do in like circumstances. Page 729.
Jesus is our example, and to glorify Him by our conduct when we are placed on trial will be our privilege and our honor. If we are faithful, we will be standing in direct line with those of all ages who have been dealt with unjustly by church authorities, including Jesus Himself. We need have no fear. We know it is all going to end in the triumph of truth over error, of right over wrong, of Christ over Satan.