Editor’s Note: Last month we looked at the history of New Theology and compared statements by Desmond Ford, Jack Sequiera and Robert Folkenberg. We noted that the same line of false theology ran through the writings of all three.
Many find it difficult to believe that the very top leadership within God’s Remnant Church is teaching false doctrines, such as those referred to in the first article of this series. But the public statements by these leaders leave undeniable evidence. Statements such as this one by the General Conference President: “Our assurance of salvation is based on God’s grace by faith, not on our behavior or character development.” Called in Christ, 22. Sadly, this is not an isolated statement. This is the message of the New Theology that he consistently writes and preaches.
Some fifty-five years ago, when I was ordained to the ministry, I was admonished that I was to be a watchman on the walls of Zion. I have diligently tried to do this over the years. Along my course, I have noticed that there are always some who, when error is condemned, will say “That is criticism.” But I wish to make it clear that I am still a watchman on the walls of Zion pointing out error to alert our people that some of the books and articles written today, by Adventist authors, will lead you to apostasy.
Keeping this in mind, you will see why I am so alarmed as I read the outrageous falsification of the gospel, which Elder Folkenberg expressed in his closing prayer at the Hope, British Columbia, Camp Meeting in 1991. He prayed, “Lord, thank You for the assurance. Thank you for the promise that if I claim Your name and look up to the cross of Jesus, my name is written in the Book of Life. It has nothing to do with how good I am or how I live or anything else.”
This prayer gives a clear example of how this apostate New Theology embraces a Christ who died to keep us from the penalty of sin, but who will, at the same time, allow us to continue to live in sin with the assurance of eternal life. Such teachings are contrary to the Scriptures and the Spirit of Prophecy. Our General Conference President is in need of our prayers that he may awaken from the Omega of apostasy in which he is leading the flock of God.
The basis for this study is in Jude 3, 4, which says, “Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God unto lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.”
As we contend for the faith as delivered to the saints by the Holy Spirit, we need to heed the inspired counsels. Sister White wrote: “Few appreciate the importance of striving constantly to overcome. They relax their diligence and, as a result, become selfish and self-indulgent. Spiritual vigilance is not thought to be essential. Earnestness in human effort is not brought into the Christian life.
“There will be some terrible falls by those who think they stand firm because they have the truth, but they have it not as it is in Jesus. A moment’s carelessness may plunge a soul into irretrievable ruin. One sin leads to the second, and the second prepares the way for the third, and so on. We must, as faithful messengers of God, plead with Him constantly to be kept by His power. If we swerve a single inch from duty, we are in danger of following on in a course of sin that will end in perdition. There is hope for everyone of us, but only in one way, and that is by binding ourselves to Christ, and exerting every energy to attain to the perfection of His character.
“That religion which makes of sin a light matter, dwelling upon the love of God to the sinner regardless of his actions, only encourages the sinner to believe that God will receive him while he continues in that which he knows to be sin. This is what some are doing who profess to believe present truth. The truth is kept apart from the life, and that is the reason it has no power to convict and convert the soul.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 540.
There is no question in my mind that we are entering the Omega of apostasy. Compare how inspiration describes it to what we see today. “Be not deceived, many will depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils. We have now before us the Alpha of this danger. The Omega will be of a most startling nature.” Selected Messages, vol. 1, 197.
Part of the Omega of apostasy will be the making of none effect the Spirit of Prophecy. “Satan is . . .constantly pressing in the spurious—to lead away from the truth. The very last deception of Satan will be to make of none effect the testimony of the Spirit of God. ‘Where there is no vision the people of God perish.’ Proverbs 29:18. Satan will work ingeniously, in different ways and through different agencies, to unsettle the confidence of God’s remnant people in the true testimony.
“There will be a hatred kindled against the testimonies which is satanic. The workings of Satan will be to unsettle the faith of the churches in them, for this reason: Satan cannot have so clear a track to bring in his deceptions and bind up souls in his delusions if the warnings and reproofs and counsels of the Spirit of God are heeded.” Selected Messages, vol. 1, 48.
This, so called, New Theology is really nothing more than the old theology of Satan, for the devil has always tried to make void the law of God. In the days of the apostles, there was a group called the Nicolaitans who were teaching that the law of God could not be kept. Speaking about this false doctrine Sister White wrote: “The doctrine is now largely taught that the gospel of Christ has made the law of God of no effect; that by ‘believing’ we are released from the necessity of being doers of the word. But this is the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which Christ so unsparingly condemned. To the church of Ephesus He says: ‘But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.’
“Those who are teaching this doctrine today have much to say in regard to faith and the righteousness of Christ; but they pervert the truth, and make it serve the cause of error. They declare that we have only to believe on Jesus Christ, and that faith is all sufficient; that the righteousness of Christ is to be the sinner’s credentials; that this imputed righteousness fulfills the law for us, and that we are under no obligation to obey the law of God. This class claims that Christ came to save sinners, and that He has saved them. ‘I am saved,’ they repeat over and over again. But are they saved while transgressing the law of Jehovah?—No; for the garments of Christ’s righteousness are not a cloak for iniquity.” Signs of the Times, vol. 3, 363.
Does the Holy Word make void the law of God through faith, as many claim? Paul answers unequivocally, “God forbid: yea, we establish the law.” Romans 3:31. “Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.” Romans 6:12, 14, 18.
New Theology is so clearly denounced by the Bible and Spirit of Prophecy, why then is it so common in Seventh-day Adventist churches? It is because there is a sinister plan, devised by the mastermind of evil, seeking the destruction of all who follow Christ. Inspiration has forewarned us of what the devil’s device will be. “Many will stand in our pulpits with the torch of false prophecy in their hands kindled from the hellish torch of Satan.” Testimonies to Ministers, 409, 410.
This New Theology, which I believe is called the Omega, is taking a dreadful toll in many of our churches. I will show you four areas where this is most apparent:
- In most churches only about half of the members are present in the Sabbath School. When you examine the church membership list, it is alarming to see that thousands upon thousands of those whose names are still listed as members never attend anymore.
- Another saddening statistic is the divorce rate among Seventh-day Adventists. You will find that it is nearly fifty percent—just like that of Babylon.
- The disaster signal that I find most alarming is the fact that over seventy percent of our youth are leaving the church. And why should they stay, when they have been taught at our colleges and universities to question many of the fundamental doctrines of Adventism, such as the Creation week.
- God’s standards are being pushed aside until it is difficult to discern by dress and jewelry the difference between the remnant church and Babylon.
These results of the New Theology are apparent to anyone who has his eyes open. Recently, I received an unsolicited letter of courage from one of our many faithful pastors. I have never met this pastor, but I praise God that he is awake to the results of the New Theology. He wrote:
“Dear Brother Nelson: “From time to time I have had someone give me one of your tapes or have read one of your articles in one of the independent magazines. I want to encourage you to keep up the good work of warning our people of what is coming and what is happening to our beloved church. I, too, have been a minister for many years and am appalled at what is transpiring today, and it seems it is nearly impossible to stop the tide. If one speaks out, he is labeled as a troublemaker and finds himself ostracized. The liberals have well nigh taken over our denomination. Standards have fallen by the wayside and Sabbath keeping is almost non-existent.
Your brother in the true faith, Pastor___” That is not the only letter that I have received from some of our pastors. This letter, from an active pastor, reveals that he knows what is taking place. Could this be the reason for the delay of Christ’s return?
“It was not the will of God that the coming of Christ should be thus delayed. God did not design that His people, Israel, should wander forty years in the wilderness. He promised to lead them directly to the land of Canaan, and establish them there a holy, healthy, happy people. But those to whom it was first preached went not in ‘because of unbelief.’ Their hearts were filled with murmuring, rebellion, and hatred, and He could not fulfill His covenant with them.
“For forty years did unbelief, murmuring, and rebellion shut out ancient Israel from the land of Canaan. The same sins have delayed the entrance of modern Israel into the heavenly Canaan. In neither case were the promises of God at fault. It is the unbelief, the worldliness, unconsecration, and strife among the Lord’s professed people that have kept us in this world of sin and sorrow so many years. We may have to remain here in this world because of insubordination many more years as did the children of Israel; but for Christ’s sake, His people should not add sin to sin by charging God with the consequences of their own wrong course of action.” Evangelism, 696.
I believe that this Omega apostasy began in the mid-fifties when some of our leaders reached across the gulf to clasp hands with the evangelicals. This was followed by a compromise on the nature of Christ and the atonement, as agreed upon with Donald Barnhouse and Walter Martin. The pillars of our faith, which had been held sacred since our beginning and were the very heart of the precious message given by Ellen White, have been torn down. The results being that we no longer fearlessly preach the Three Angels’ Messages, as we should, with the power of the Holy Spirit, that could have finished the work long ago.
In 1977, Elder Robert Pierson, the General Conference President, explored the ramifications of Omega in ten points, which he took from Selected Messages, vol. 1, 193. Look at what he found would be coming into our church:
- The principles of truth that God in His wisdom had given to the Remnant Church would be discarded.
- It would make of none effect the truth of heavenly origin.
- Our religion would be changed.
- The Sabbath, of course, would be lightly regarded, as also the God who created it.
- There would be a supposition that a great reformation was to take place among Seventh-day Adventists and this reformation would consist in giving up the doctrines which stand as the pillars of our faith.
- A system of intellectual philosophy would be introduced.
- It would seek to weaken the preaching of the second advent by teaching that scenes just before us are not of sufficient importance to be given special attention.
- Books of a new order would be written.
- A new organization would be established.
- Nothing would be allowed to stand in the way of this new movement.
God has promised that where the shepherds are not true, He will take charge of the flock Himself.
“Every wind of doctrine will be blowing. Those who have rendered supreme homage to ‘science falsely so called’ will not be leaders then . . . Those who have proven themselves unfaithful will not then be entrusted with the flock . . . They are self-sufficient, independent of God, and He cannot use them. The Lord has faithful servants, who in the shaking testing time will be disclosed to view.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 80.
We should take courage! God’s truth will triumph. Elder Ron Spear in his appeal to the General Conference President has correctly shown the parallel between the day of Christ and the time just before His return. “Helenism and Humanism had captured the church in Christ’s day. Helenism was operative in all the church’s activities. It infiltrated the Jewish educational system and was taught by Jewish schools. The Sadducees became the Helenistic party within the church and to a great degree the Helenistic philosophy was responsible for the crucifixion of Christ, the second power of the Godhead. The humanistic worldly system of education has crept into the educational system of the Adventist Church and today it must be held guilty for what has happened in the Omega apostasy. Humanism and Helenism are the same philosophy. This philosophy leads to a bootstrap religion. You can do anything your mind decides to do, which minimizes the power of God in the life to keep us from sinning and asserts that we cannot keep God’s law. In the great test to come, it will be Humanism to a great degree that will be responsible for the rejection of the third power of the Godhead, the Holy Spirit, when the door is shut for unprepared Seventh-day Adventists.” Appeal to the General Conference President, 34, by Ron Spear.
Our present situation is well summed up in the following quotation from Testimonies, vol. 5, 210,211. “While others try to throw a cloak over the existing evil, and excuse the great wickedness everywhere prevalent, those who have a zeal for God’s honor and a love for souls will not hold their peace to obtain favor of any. Here we see that the church—the Lord’s sanctuary—was the first to feel the stroke of the wrath of God. The ancient men, those to whom God had given great light and who had stood as guardians of the spiritual interests of the people, had betrayed their trust. They had taken the position that we need not look for miracles and the marked manifestation of God’s power as in former days. Times have changed. These words strengthen their belief, and they say: The Lord will not do good, neither will He do evil. He is too merciful to visit his people in judgment. Thus ‘peace and safety’ is the cry from men who will never again lift up their voice like a trumpet to show God’s people their transgressions and the house of Jacob their sins. These dumb dogs that would not bark are the ones who feel the just vengeance of an offended God. Men, maidens, and little children all perish together.”
According to Ezekiel 9, the only ones on whom the sealing angel can place the mark of God’s approval are those who are sighing and crying for the corruption that is taking place within the church. They are also the ones who are personally striving for perfection of character, as we are commanded, over and over, that we must do.
The following are just a few of these clear Bible commands:
“Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” Matthew 5:48.
“Be ye holy; for I am holy.” 1 Peter 1:16.
“Therefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if we do these things we shall never fall.” 2 Peter 1:10.
“To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with Me in My throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with My Father in His throne.” Revelation 3:21.
“He has made it possible for every human being to obey God’s commandments. When we submit ourselves to Christ, the heart is united with His heart; the will is merged in His will; the mind becomes one with His mind; the thoughts are brought into captivity to Him. We live His life. This is what it means to be clothed with the garments of His righteousness.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 312.
Praise God! We can overcome, fully and entirely. Jesus died to make a way of escape for us that we might overcome every sin and sit down with Him in His throne. Will you follow in His footsteps today?