Presidential Perspectives

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How can I communicate my concern about church leaders who are opposed to the Adventist Church’s working policies and may be leading others astray?

Q: Some church leaders are writing things that lead me to be concerned. I wonder what they are implying, even though it may sound “biblical” on the surface. Furthermore, it’s not uncommon for these writers to be vocally opposed to working policies of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. I am concerned that others may be led astray. How do I communicate my concern to others without being judgmental or sounding bitter or negative? — Cam, from the United States

A: Cam, the best way is to let the Bible speak — first to our own hearts, and then to others. 

In Romans 12:18 we read this good counsel: “If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.” And in Galatians 5:15 we are warned: “if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another!” 

Divine instruction tells us, “Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers” (Ephesians 4:29). 

Clearly, the Bible steers us away from being judgmental and condemnatory and encourages us to speak words that will “impart grace to the hearers.” 

Regarding whether or not something is biblically sound and trustworthy, the Bible encourages us to be like the Bereans, who “searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so (Acts 17:11). The Bible also instructs us to “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good” (1 Thessalonians 5:21). 

The gold standard for determining real truth is found in Isaiah 8:20: “To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.”

It doesn’t matter if the most eloquent preacher is saying it, or if the most persuasive author writes it, of if the most popular people believe it — if it does not agree with God’s Word, the Bible, then do not believe it. This is the approach we just used during the Total Member Involvement evangelistic meetings at the Amanuma Seventh-day Adventist Church in Tokyo, Japan, in May 2018. We had attendees to the meetings repeat the very wise counsel, “If it’s in the Bible, I believe it. If it disagrees with the Bible, it’s not for me.” This is the approach for all sincere, Bible-believing Seventh-day Adventists.

This, of course, means that we must ask the Holy Spirit for guidance as we diligently study God’s Word to know the truth. The Spirit of Prophecy is also a God-given gift to help us navigate between truth and error, especially for these last days. 

In speaking with others, I encourage you not to criticize the author(s) of what you find concerning, but rather to point people to the Bible and recommend that they prayerfully study the issue for themselves, comparing what has been written with what the Bible says. In addition, the Spirit of Prophecy contains a wealth of helpful wisdom and counsel and always points us to the Bible. 

Doing word searches on the topic of study can be very helpful. A good concordance (whether online or hard copy) is an excellent tool for Bible study. Biblegateway.com and Biblehub.net are two good sites for searching key words/topics in the Bible. Regarding the writings of Ellen White (also known as the Spirit of Prophecy), you can search at egwwritings.org.