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The church has recently come from a GC session. Most conferences, unions and divisions are going into elections in the next couple of weeks and months. This post is not to condemn anybody or any group. I post it with humility, hoping to understand something from SOP that I did not know before. I would like to be corrected if there is erroneous information I have posted.

 

Over the last few days, I've been reading Last Day Events, a compilation from the writings of EGW on the end times. It turns out that the compilation includes many citations from previously published EGW sources, but also includes some writing never before published. It seems to me that what EGW says about how the church should run and the practice the church has adopted (of electing/appointing singular leaders of the GC, divisions and conferences) are contrary. I was surprised to read the following excerpts:

 

1. (LDE p50) It is not wise to choose one man as president of the General Conference. The work of the General Conference has extended, and some things have been made unnecessarily complicated. A want of discernment has been shown. There should be a division of the field, or some other plan should be devised to change the present order of things. - TM 342 (1896)

 

2. (LDE p53) There are to be more than one or two or three men to consider the whole vast field. The work is great, and there is no one human mind that can plan for the work that needs to be done...

Now I want to say, God has not placed any kingly power in our ranks to control this or that branch of the work. The work has been greatly restricted by the efforts to control it in every line... There must be a renovation, a reorganization; a power and strength must be brought into the committees that are necessary. - GCB April 3, 1901, pp. 25, 26.

 

3. (LDE p55, 56) At times when a small group of men entrusted with the general management of the work have, in the name of the General Conference, sought to carry out unwise plans to restrict God's work, I have said that I could no longer regard the voice of the General Conference, represented by these few men, as the voice of God. But this is not saying that the decisions of a General Conference composed of an assembly of duly appointed, representative men from all parts of the field should not be respected.

God has ordained that representatives of His church from all parts of the earth, when assembled in a General Conference, shall have authority. The error that some are in danger of committing is in giving to the mind and judgment of one man, or of a small group of men, the full measure and authority of influence that God has invested in His church in the judgment and voice of the General Conference assembled to plan for the prosperity and advancement of His work. - 9T, 260, 261, (1909).

 

LDE p50 has a footnote explaining that since 1863 when the Adventist church was organized, it has grown from "3,500 members, half a dozen local conferences, about thirty ministerial laborers and a General Conference of three". EGW urged "a division of the field". This footnote explains why and how the field was divided, but hardly addresses the issue of leadership.

 

Lest anybody be mistaken, the same chapter (God's Last Day Church) of LDE quotes EGW categorically saying it is wrong to refer to the Adventist church as Babylon. She also says "the church militant: is not pure and perfect as "the church triumphant", but Christ has bestowed upon her "His supreme regard".

 

I have been made to understand that conferences, unions and divisions are run by boards. However, the impression I get from elections and the practice afterwards is tend to be a one-man show or a small group of men. Am I mistaken? What is the practice in your local conference/union or church? Does what happens match the descriptions in citations 1, 2 and 3 above? Should the church continue this way?

 

I pray that God will guide His church as He always has in the past.

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Two days and no comment from Adventist online. Perhaps time to close the discussion?
Thanks Zafer.

This is quite confusing to me. On one hand, EGW says not one man, not even a few men (and she gives an example of a time she thought the GC was not Spirit led).

My reaction when I read the EGW quotes was to think of what happened to the church manual. See separate thread on "The History of the Church Manual'. Here is a case where the GC and SOP speak clearly against having a church manual, and after a certain period, a church manual is in place. In this thread, EGW is clearly talking against having one man in authority, then after a while, the church has one man running the GC as the president. Notice that EGW spoke against having a few men as the ultimate decision makers. Strangely, just like the church manual, the explanation for going against the earlier counsel is less than satisfactory. I'll not repeat in this thread the explanation that the current church manual offers for going against what was initially decided by the GC. Read it and see if it makes sense.

But church history bears EGW out. The early church was not run by one man or a few men. In fact, Paul's ministry appears to have been hampered (or at least some attempts were made to hamper it) by a few people at the Council at Jerusalem. Paul's tiff with Peter and with the Jews concerning his ministry to the Gentiles is testimony of this. In the running of the early church, I see no record of local churches calling upon a council or a person in Jerusalem or some other place for guidance on how to run church matters.

History tells us too that the apostate church as prophesied came out of one man (and a few men by his side) abusing their man-made positions to lord it over God's church.

I see saints seeking God's interposition through earnest prayer. And that is the counsel EGW is giving. In earnest prayer, the Holy Spirit will guide the church in all its ways. When the body of Christ meets as a General Assembly as at the GC, the Spirit guides the representative church to make decisions that are binding upon the whole church.

So on one hand we are warned against a few men having authority on how the church runs, and then on the other EGW says the decisions of the GC should be binding. I'll keep studying and praying so I may understand this better.
Zafer, thank you so much for these quotes. They help bring to perspective the clamor for positions in the church currently going on. I think it is the right time for the church, just like Jesus parents who had lost Him for a day after the annual feast, to come back and seek Him, even if it means searching for three days.
Unfortunately our Church has been characterized by deficiencies in leadership as very few are in leadership positions and therefore it entails that every baptized Seventh day adventist shall be responsible enough to speak for the running of the church so as to allow it to smoothly run.

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