Is Dr. Jennings Advancing Unity or Causing Division?
June 6, 2024 Blogs by: Tim Jennings, M.D.

 

I recently received an email from an occasional listener who values much of what Come And Reason Ministries teaches but who also voiced concerns that I am “attacking” the Seventh-day Adventist Church and causing division rather than bringing unity. Another concern is that I criticize positions not actually held by the Adventist Church but, rather, by various outlier Adventist members and ministries and that I cite these views as though they were the dominant views of the mainline Adventist Church, which also promotes division rather than unity.

First, let me say that I appreciate this person for sending the email, for reaching out, for engaging in discussion, for voicing their concerns directly, and for giving me the opportunity to respond. Because these concerns may be held by more than this one individual, I have decided to publicly clarify this issue in this blog.

My Goal for Come And Reason

For those who believe that I am dividing rather than uniting, I would like to suggest that such a conclusion is a misperception. My motive and purpose in the message given through Come And Reason Ministries is not to divide—it is to unite!

But true Christian unity can be achieved only by applying God’s methods and principles—and only while being in harmony with the truth about God and His eternal design laws.

Indeed, it is the belief in the Roman idea of law, that God’s laws are made-up rules which require external enforcement, that leads to all the division. My motive for seeking the unity based upon the eternal truth about God is, as Peter wrote, to hasten the day of the Lord (2 Peter 3:12). I want to see Jesus return!

Moreover, the final outpouring of the Holy Spirit, which leads to the Second Coming, will not be given to empower people to misrepresent God and take a false gospel to the world. Instead, we must return to the eternal gospel—the good news that was true in eternity past, before sin occurred, and was the good news in heaven when Satan started his rebellion and which the angels did not fully understand—which is the truth about God. And our beliefs about God are directly determined by how we perceive His law functions. This is the root, the core concept, the prime idea—such that when this truth is corrupted, it twists and perverts every other doctrine.

If we believe that God’s law functions like human law in any way, then that belief causes us to believe God’s justice is the use of His divine power to enforce His law, to inflict punishment for rule-breaking; thus, God becomes the source of death, inflicted upon Jesus as our legal substitute and upon the unrepentant wicked in the end after He tortures them for the right length of time before killing them.

This is all a lie! This is the worship of a creature, not the Creator. And the message the Adventist Church was given to share with the world is the call for people to return to Creator worship. We cannot do that so long as we are teaching God functions like a creature, with the attributes and characteristics of a creature. This is what the imposed-law lie has done—the lie, creature worship, started in heaven and spread to humans. The Jews had this problem, and Christ corrected it, but then it infected Christianity and became orthodoxy in the Roman Church.

We can have unity only through God’s truth and methods. We can never have genuine Christian unity by embracing, accepting, and compromising with falsehood. Thus, I am advancing the only means and pathway to unity—the same means that Joshua advanced when he “divided” the people by calling on them to choose whom they would serve and not accept the falsehoods being promoted (Joshua 24:15), and that Elijah advanced at Mt. Carmel when he “divided” the people by calling them to choose who is God, Yahweh or Baal (1 Kings 18:21).

I am advancing unity as John the Baptist did when he called the “Adventists” of his day to reject their legalistic teachings, repent, and prepare their hearts for the Messiah (Matthew 3:7–12).

I am promoting unity as Jesus taught us to experience and He Himself advanced when He said that He did not come to bring peace but a sword—the sword of truth to cut out the lies and restore us to unity with heaven (Matthew 10:34)—and when He said,

I have come to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! But I have a baptism to undergo, and how distressed I am until it is completed! Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division (Luke 12:49–51 NIV84, emphasis mine).

Jesus came to divide the holy from the unholy, the righteous from the wicked, and the truth from the lies in order to restore unity—to bring all things under one head (Ephesians 1:10). But this unity is possible only by cutting out the lies about God!

I am also advancing unity as the apostles did when they confronted distortions about God, such as when Paul called out Peter and the Judaizers (Galatians 2:11–16). There is never any unity by compromising with falsehood, with lies about God—even if done to avoid conflict, like Peter was attempting.

The Source of Division

The Bible does not leave us in the dark as to the source of the division: It is always through lies about God, which are rooted in lies about His law.

And who are the ones the Bible documents are the primary sources of spreading to the people these lies about God? Throughout the Bible record and later Christian history, the primary dividers, the primary sources of the lies about God, have been religious leaders—such as Aaron’s sons Nadab and Abihu (Numbers 3:4), Eli’s and Samuel’s sons (1 Samuel 2:12; 1 Samuel 8:1–3), and many other priests:

“Then the word of the LORD came to me: ‘Son of man, the house of Israel has become dross to me. … Her priests do violence to my law and profane my holy things; they do not distinguish between the holy and the common; they teach that there is no difference between the unclean and the clean; and they shut their eyes to the keeping of my Sabbaths, so that I am profaned among them’” (Ezekiel 22:17, 18, 26 NIV84).

“Hear this, you priests! Pay attention, you Israelites! Listen, O royal house! This judgment is against you: You have been a snare at Mizpah, a net spread out on Tabor” (Hosea 5:1 NIV84).

“Hear this, you leaders of the house of Jacob, you rulers of the house of Israel, who despise justice and distort all that is right. … Her leaders judge for a bribe, her priests teach for a price, and her prophets tell fortunes for money” (Micah 3:9, 11 NIV84).

“Her [Jerusalem’s] priests profane the sanctuary and do violence to the law” (Zephaniah 3:4 NIV84).

How do they “do violence to the law”? By presenting the instructions of God as made-up rules and the religion of God as something legal. It was this false view of the law that led religious leaders in the Sanhedrin to reject and fight against Jesus and the truth He brought. Repeatedly, Jesus taught reality, design law, the protocols of truth, love, and liberty (Matthew 5). But the religious leaders protested His teaching because they had a law—but their laws said they could divorce, that they were right to inflict eye-for-eye punishment, and that they were not supposed to pick grain or heal people on the Sabbath. They taught a legal religion, and they ended up rejecting the Creator because of that falsehood!

Likewise, it was the priests in the Roman Church who hid the Bible from people and introduced the imposed-law lie into Christianity, along with many other superstitions and pagan practices. And Paul warned that in the last days,

Men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths (2 Timothy 4:3, 4 NIV84).

They turn away from worshiping the Creator, whose laws are the protocols reality is built to operate upon, and toward the myth of worshiping a creature whose law functions like human law and who is the source of death inflicted as punishment.

The Adventists

The religious leaders of the Adventist Church chose to reject the eternal truth of God’s design law and embrace the Roman view of law at the 1888 General Conference, in which they rejected the truth that the Ten Commandments were part of the added law to which Paul refers in Galatians, and insisted they are eternal rules imposed by God.

E.G. White, one of the founders of the Adventist Church, whom members believe had a special gift of prophetic insight, wrote clarifying which law was added and then about the leadership’s attitude at the 1888 General Conference:

I am asked concerning the law in Galatians. What law is the schoolmaster to bring us to Christ? I answer: Both the ceremonial and the moral code of ten commandments. … “The law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith” (Gal. 3:24). In this scripture, the Holy Spirit through the apostle is speaking especially of the moral law (Selected Messages, vol. 1. pp. 233, 234, emphasis mine).

But all the universe of heaven witnessed the disgraceful treatment of Jesus Christ, represented by the Holy Spirit. Had Christ been before them, they would have treated him in a manner similar to that in which the Jews treated Christ (1888, 1478.2).

By rejecting the truth about God’s law, the leadership rejected the truth about God’s character, methods, and principles, and the Adventist Church has been led into the wilderness of a false legal theology, with a false punitive god, by a legally religious leadership that publishes, in various places, things like this in the Adventist Review, which is certainly not an offshoot movement or mere supporting ministry:

To spare us, God poured out His wrath against the violation of His law (sin), not on the violators of His law (sinners) but on the sinless Jesus, the only way that God could “be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus” (Rom. 3:26). In short, rather than killing us for violating His law, the Father killed Jesus instead. … Or, to put it crudely, the Father killed Jesus so that He wouldn’t have to kill us” (Goldstein, C. “Law, Freedom, Love.” Adventist Review, online edition, Dec 8, 2023, https://adventistreview.org/cliffs-edge/law-freedom-love/?fbclid=IwAR3wAGrpMo-HQQi2KFAlHxfD47q5Aam6lZ6yJTNk-5FH7QZr66b8h_3CqX0, emphasis mine).

The acceptance of the lie that God’s law functions like human law has resulted in the Romanization of Christianity, including the Adventist Church, a system of theology based in imposed law with inflicted punishments and one in which salvation is taught as a legal solution in some court system in heaven.

The Consequence of Rejecting Truth

Further, within Adventism, this has led to the false organizational system of a church run by professional, paid, theologically trained clergy who function to exercise theological and ecclesiastical authority over the membership, a system that obstructs the work of the Holy Spirit in building the church as Christ modeled and the New Testament church implemented. Christ chose 12 apostles upon whom the church was to be built, but none of them had professional theological degrees. Only Paul, the thirteenth apostle (fourteenth if you count Judas), had theological training, but he had to spend years in the desert with Christ to unlearn the legal corruption that his theological education had instilled in him (Galatians 1:13-17, Acts of the Apostles p. 125).

Christ’s true church is composed of the priesthood of believers—meaning that every single person is to function as a priest and there is equality among believers. There was to be no clergy/laity division. There is supposed to be no difference in authority or a hierarchy based on human education or degree completion; there is a difference based on the gifting of the Holy Spirit and the calling of God to different roles and offices (Romans 12:4–8; 1 Corinthians 12:4–11). To be clear, there is absolutely nothing wrong with, and, in fact, great value in, theological training and degree completion—as long as one remembers that such training and education has nothing to do with God’s calling, God’s equipping, spiritual insight, and spiritual authority to lead His people or the ability to discern truth. It is the imposed-law system of Rome that has a central authority based on position and office and the appointment of humans to rule over others to determine orthodoxy and create creeds and official lists of fundamental beliefs.

One Bible commentary makes this observation about how the Apostles found Jesus,

If Nathanael had trusted to the rabbis for guidance, he would never have found Jesus. It was by seeing and judging for himself that he became a disciple. So in the case of many today whom prejudice withholds from good. How different would be the result if they would “come and see”! While they trust to the guidance of human authority, none will come to a saving knowledge of the truth. Like Nathanael, we need to study God’s word for ourselves, and pray for the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit (The Desire of Ages pp. 140-141, emphasis mine).

How much healthier and robust would the Adventist Church be if we filled the various offices with those blessed and equipped by God to fulfill those roles instead of the church being dominated by people who represent only one small slice of human experience and education? Imagine if the church had a fisherman, tax collector, carpenter, or physician as the General Conference president! Has it ever even occurred to you that it would be a good thing—or do you recoil from the idea as preposterous, as heretical, as rebellious, as divisive? Then consider the educational qualifications of the founders of the Adventist Church:

  • Joseph Bates—sailor
  • John Loughborough—farmer, carpenter, blacksmith
  • James White—farmer, teacher
  • Ellen White—mother with a third-grade education
  • Uriah Smith—business background with a secular education
  • Hiram Edson—farmer

Have we been duped by a human law infection since 1888? Would Jesus have had a better church had He chosen His leaders exclusively from the professionally educated theologians of His day? Perhaps we think we have learned more than Jesus—or that we are more righteous than the people of His day or have a better grasp on how to organize things than He did. Then again, Jesus faced the same criticism of not being properly educated to lead:

The Jews were amazed and asked, “How did this man get such learning without having studied?” (John 7:15 NIV84).

Forging Unity

I believe that the Adventist Church has been blessed with a special message that is to bring unity and lighten the world for Christ’s return, but since 1888, her leadership hasn’t been promoting it; in fact, they have been promoting the same lie that the Jews believed and led them to crucify Christ. I am not saying the Adventist Church is teaching wrong individual doctrines; I am saying all these right doctrines are still teaching the wrong god because they are set in the wrong idea of law—just as the Jews did two thousand years ago.

The Jews didn’t disagree with Jesus about the Sabbath day, the sanctuary service, tithing, dress, diet, the belief in the inspiration of Scripture, or the belief in the Genesis account of creation. No! They disagreed with Him about the nature of God’s law. They set all the right doctrines in the wrong law foundation—the human imposed-law lie; thus, when Jesus reset them all in design law (Parables of Jesus—The Overarching Theme), the leaders rejected and crucified Him. Ellen White said this was the same attitude Adventist leaders demonstrated in 1888.

So, I challenge those who believe I am dividing to look in the mirror and inquire what message you are advancing. Is it the eternal good news, the eternal truth about God as Creator, whose laws are design laws, or is it the longstanding lie about God’s law and character: The Lie That Deceived Angels, Infects Christianity, and Delays the Second Coming of Christ?

The only path to true unity is returning to the eternal gospel, the eternal good news about God, and that requires we reject the imposed-law lie and return to worshiping God as Creator whose laws are design laws. This results in the implementation into our lives the methods and principles of God, living again in harmony with God and the laws upon which He constructed life to operate. For it is by beholding that we are changed (2 Corinthians 3:18)—which is the design law of worship. But as long as we retain human imposed-law legal theology, we actively war against heaven, worship a false god construct, and prevent the healing power of God from doing its work in and through us.

I really want to see Jesus return! I want the final message of mercy to go to the world, to lighten the whole earth, so that the Holy Spirit will be poured out, hearts and minds will be sealed, and Jesus will return. The only way to unity is through Jesus, through the truth that He revealed about His Father, His law, and His character and method of governing.

True unity requires the rejection of the imposed-law lie from all our theology, teachings, and, ultimately, our hearts and minds.

 

 

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Tim Jennings, M.D. Timothy R. Jennings, M.D., is a board-certified psychiatrist, master psychopharmacologist, Distinguished Life Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association, Fellow of the Southern Psychiatric Association, and an international speaker. He served as president of the Southern and Tennessee Psychiatric Associations and is president and founder of Come and Reason Ministries. Dr. Jennings has authored many books, including The God-Shaped Brain, The God-Shaped Heart, and The Aging Brain.
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