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Historical Documents

“This is not dry theology. It is not a matter to be left to scholars who have little contact with the ‘real world’. This is about your personal assurance of salvation.”

Desmond Ford was given a Bible at the age of 10. It changed the course of his life. He became fascinated by theology, and eventually, at the age of 18 joined the Seventh- day Adventist church, going on to study theology at the church’s Avondale College. He spent several years as a minister of the church, before returning to his theological studies, first at Avondale, then in the USA for his first PhD and England for his second PhD. He specialised in biblical apocalyptic literature and eschatology, particularly the books of Daniel and Revelation.

He became convinced that his beloved church had misinterpreted one of its key doctrines, referred to as the Investigative Judgement. Most importantly, he saw clearly that the misinterpretation was preventing God-fearing church members from enjoying the certainty of their salvation in Jesus Christ.

“This is not dry theology,” he wrote many years later, while reviewing his years of study, and the church controversy that ensued. This culminated in a meeting of church administrators and scholars at Glacier View Ranch, Colorado, in August 1980. It became an inquisition-style ‘trial’ that led to his dismissal from church employment in 1981, and the revocation of his ministerial licence at year later. “This is not a matter to be left to scholars who have little contact with the ‘real world’. Rather, it is about your personal assurance of salvation. The doctrine of an Investigative Judgement that began in 1844 denies the finality of the Cross, God’s omniscience, and the reality of saving faith. Instead of the Gospel being ‘good, glad, and merry tidings which makes the heart to sing and the feet to dance’, it is made an accompaniment to fear.”

If you are reading this, you may recall these events. You may have been personally caught up in them, and you may still be troubled about the issues. You may, on the other hand, have heard about the controversy, and wish to understand more deeply what was at stake. This web page offers a range of material to assist the thoughtful reader to reach his/her own conclusions.

Almost forty years have passed since these events took place. At the time, the ripples from this controversy became a tsunami that tore through a generation of Seventh-day Adventists, leading to the exodus of hundreds of dedicated ministers and thousands of disillusioned members. Many more remained inside the church they loved, but grew old and passed away without the confidence they deserved to have in the certainty of their salvation.

Theology is vital when an understanding of the Gospel rests upon its correct interpretation. And every page of the Bible is there for that purpose: to point us to the Cross that is our salvation, and to the grace, peace and hope that is the birthright of the born-again Christian.

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