A sign of the times! An Adventist Today news item is a demonstration of the destructive influence of what is called "Progressive Adventism" within the Seventh-day Adventist Church These "progressive," or "liberal," Adventists are a faction within the Church body which has adopted as a credo the term "progressive." On close examination progressivism (not in its political sense,) should have been adopted by the Church body, and more recetly the Independent Ministries, as a guiding principle for exactly the opposite purpose to that of the "Progressives." Ellen G. White wrote:

The Lord has made his people the repository of sacred truth. Upon every individual who has had the light of present truth devolves the duty of developing that truth on a higher scale than it has hitherto been done." (HM, July 1, 1897.)

We must not think, "Well, we have all the truth, we understand the main pillars of our faith, and we may rest on this knowledge." The truth is an advancing truth, and we must walk in the increasing light." (R&H, March 25, 1890.)

On the basis of these statements, the foundational Truth must always be at the core of progress. This is what it means to be walking "in the increasing light" of advancing Truth from the throne of God. Developing "that truth on a higher scale than it has hitherto been done" never involves abandoning or destroying the Truth, which has been the work of the "Progressives."

The Seventh-day Adventist Church inherited fundamental Truths from the Protestant Reformation, and received from God the special light of the Three Angels' Messages, at the heart of which is the Sanctuary Doctrine. Among the Truths inherited from Protestant Reformation was the identification of the Little Horn of Daniel 7, the "man of sin" of 1 Thess. 2:3 et seq., and the first beast of Rev. 13, as the papacy. The papacy has always cast a dark shadow over all of the fundamental doctrines of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Recognition of this fact has been repudiated by the leadership of the Church, strongly aided by factions such as the "Progressives"/"Liberals." Even so, what amounts to a naked demand for obeisance to the Pope is astonishing, and suggests remarkable confidence that the Church body as a whole is neutralized as a primary opponent of the papacy. The opening explanatory statement added after first publication was disingenuous in suggesting that "there is a tongue-in-cheek element to this column expressing an opinion." Readers' comments were cut off. Incredibly, the Publisher appears to have been taken aback by the backlash from the laity:-

A Proposed Letter of Apology to Pope Francis from the GC President

Readers of the Adventist Today web site and anyone living in Philadelphia who listens to or reads local media in or around that city may be aware of the recent mass mailing of a book, The Great Controversy, to 700,000 individuals living in that city or surrounding area. The mailing was intended to be coincident with a visit to Philadelphia, the “City of Brotherly Love,” by the current Supreme Pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Francis.

As readers of Adventist Today will know, The Great Controversy is a 19th-century work based on an extensive editing of materials originally produced by and under the name of a co-founder of the Seventh-day Adventist denomination, Ellen Gould Harmon-White (1837-1915). Like a wide cross section of many other evangelical and later fundamentalist Protestant authors belonging to a wide range of conservative Protestant churches in 19th- and early 20th-century America, White was very critical of the theology and history of the Roman Catholic Church in Europe. Obviously, the heritage she reflected went back centuries, based on the long-standing, intense hostility that existed between Protestants and Catholics beginning at the time of the Reformation and continuing down into the late 19th century in many countries in Europe before being transplanted across the Atlantic to the United States.

A regrettable part of that heritage was the continued affirmation of conspiracy scenarios concerning alleged attempts of Roman Catholics to establish some sort of political advantage, usually by some nefarious means in America. Anti-Catholic hostility was exacerbated during the 19th century because of the competition for employment with native-born Anglo-Saxon Americans due to the large influx of immigrants from Catholic countries in Europe, especially Ireland. It even had a 19th-century political expression in America with the formation of the anti-Catholic, anti-immigrant, anti-Jewish “Know-Nothing” political movement.

We can be encouraged that the organization which was responsible for the mailing of the Great Controversy volume was not the official Seventh-day Adventist Church. The organization was Remnant Publications, based in Michigan. However, the message that this mailing was clearly intended to communicate is an anti-Catholic message and the source of that message emanates from a part of the Adventist tradition. In light of this action on the part of members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, it is here proposed that the President of the General Conference
of the Seventh-day Adventist Church send the following letter or some version of it to the Pope asking for his understanding and forgiveness.

Here is a draft of the text of such a letter that would be written on the stationery of the General Conference of SDAs

His Holiness, Pope Francis

Apostolic Palace

00120 Vatican City

Your Holiness:

It is recently come to my attention that certain misguided members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the United States have distributed a book, written by the co-founder of this Christian denomination, to many individuals living in the city of Philadelphia, prior to your upcoming visit to that city.

That book is entitled The Great Controversy. That volume was written in the 19th century at a time in the history of the United Sites when the relationship between Protestant and Catholic Christians was much less than ideal. Unfortunately, that book reflected various very regrettable negative aspects of that relationship. A predecessor of mine has noted that the anti-Catholic views that this book endorses have been “relegated to the ash heap of history” by current Adventist leaders and lay persons.

I currently hold the position of president of the General Conference of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, and in that capacity I am writing to you to extend the apologies from a leader of one group of Christians to another, asking for your understanding and forgiveness for the unfortunate actions of a small number of members of the Christian faith tradition which I represent.

At a time when all Christians of good will should be seeking to come together to solve the serious problems facing our world, the actions of a few should not be allowed to confuse and disrupt that cooperation. It is in the spirit of that concern that this letter is being sent to you.

Please accept this apology in the name of all members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church who wish you and the church you represent the blessings of God.

Very Respectfully,

Ted N.C. Wilson

The hard-edged tone of the article, the repudiation of fundamental Protestant prophetic interpretation, the vicious assault on the Messenger of the Lord and the gift of prophecy in the early Seventh-day Adventist Church - all betray a mind foreign to historic Adventism. This is worthy of a Jesuit! Astonishingly, there has been no hint of a public reprimand from the Church leadership for either the brazen heresies of this publication or the embarrassing disrespect shown to the General Conference President.

Ellen G. White wrote, "One thing it is certain is soon to be realized,—the great apostasy, which is developing and increasing and waxing stronger, and will continue to do so until the Lord shall descend from heaven with a shout." The New York Indicator, February 7, 1906. Can anyone doubt that the contemporary Seventh-day Adventist Church is fulfilling this prophecy "on steroids" in its relationship with the Roman Catholic Church? Consider the progression from a medallion given to the Pope by B. B. Beach and the following statement in 1975:

Although it is true that there was a period in the life of the Seventh-day Adventist Church when the denomination took a distinctly anti-Roman Catholic viewpoint, and the term "hierarchy" was used in a pejorative sense to refer to the papal form of church governance, that attitude on the Church's part was nothing more than the manifestation of widespread anti-popery among conservative protestant denominations in the early part of this century and the latter part of the last, and which has now been consigned to the historical trash heap so far as the Seventh-day Adventist Church is concerned. (From EEOC vs. PPPA (1975 Reply Brief for SDA Defendants in Support of Motion for Summary Judgment.)

This was a major landmark in a process of Romanization of the Seventh-day Adventist Church; but it was not the beginning. The present generation of Seventh-day Adventists, starved of instruction in righteousness, is probably not aware of an early manifestation of the process which occurred in 1949 when there was a revision on the Incarnation in the chapter titled "A Sinless Life." Another indirect but major manifestation occurred in 1967 when the Church opened a relationship with the World Council of Churches which led to the appointment of a representative to the organization's Faith and Order Commission. [From the hyperlinked bookmark, read through to "the full Constitutional statement of the WCC which is required for membership in that organization."] There have been other major developments; and harlotry displayed and on the rampage all along the way. [Note the Adventist Review articles that are no longer accessible from the hyperlinks. Special requests, with reason stated, must now be made. The publishers are obviously uncomfortable with collections being used to state the case against a harlot Church. Nevertheless, the titles of the articles are revealing enough.] The apostasy has increased to such a level that the Third Angel's Message is no longer a mission of the corporate body of Seventh-day Adventists. The publication under examination is an outrageous manifestation of the complete repudiation of the Message. Even some of those who profess to hold to the historic recognition of the papacy as the Antichrist go on to exempt Pope Francis and declare that the identity of the "apocalyptic Antichrist" is not known. On Sabbath School Net a posting on the Sabbath School Lessons for the fourth quarter of 2015 contains the following blog posting by an SDA pastor:

Top 3 Mistakes to Avoid When Sharing Prophecy

The last few weeks have been pretty intense in the religio-political world. The arrival of Pope Francis in America has elicited all kinds of responses. For some, he is a breath of fresh air. For others, he is no different from any other pope apart from his “terrific PR”.

Regardless of which position you may take, one thing is certain – Pope Francis is a historic pope. He is the first Latin-American pope and the first Jesuit pope. In addition “[h]is tour [in America] marked several firsts for the papacy: Francis was the first pope to address a joint sitting of US Congress. He also [conducted the]… first canonization to occur on US soil.” And if that weren’t enough, Christianity Today recently published an article titled “From Antichrist to Brother in Christ: How Protestant Pastors View the Pope” which reveals the results of a Life Way Research project which discovered that “[m]ore than half of evangelical pastors say Pope Francis is their brother in Christ.” This is a long shot from Luther, the father of Protestantism, who emphatically declared “I am entirely of the opinion that the papacy is the Antichrist.” . . .

Examples of hateful rhetoric can include articles and memes insulting the Pope with phrases such as “Marxist,” “idolater,” “blasphemer,” or “man of sin.” Now some may argue “but that’s what the Bible calls him!” To which I would say, No. That’s what we call him while borrowing Scripture’s language. Truth is, we don’t know who the apocalyptic Antichrist is. While I share the conviction that the Antichrist is certainly the papacy, that does not automatically mean that a particular pope is the Antichrist. But even if Francis were the ultimate embodiment of the Antichrist, what have we accomplished by promulgating this? Calling someone “Antichrist” outside of Revelation’s narrative does nothing but offend those who do not share our world view. Letting people know who the Antichrist is is not about slapping Antichrist on a picture of Francis and sharing it all over social media. It’s about inviting people into the story of Daniel and Revelation and lovingly helping them to see the entire tale unfold – a tale which has Jesus, not the Pope, as its central theme. . .

In summary, I wholeheartedly embrace the Reformers’ historicist interpretation of Daniel and Revelation. I am all for giving the warning. I am all for preaching final events. But it can never be done via false accusations, hateful rhetoric, or a continual thirst for more anti-papacy discourses which leave the avenues of our souls wide open to the dangers of apocalyptic paranoia. When discussing Revelations narrative we must remember that it is the “Revelation of Jesus,” that our words should always be seasoned with salt, that we are never to bear false witness, and that if there is one thing that we should thirst for more and more it is Jesus and Jesus only. Psalm 42:1 says “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God.” May this prayer be ours.

Those who share the apocalyptic consciousness that Luther and the reformers proclaimed continue to view the papacy (not necessarily the pope) as the Antichrist. (Footnote links deleted.)

This "Pastor" claims to be a historicist (using the Grammatical-Historical or Proof Text hermeneutic.) His conclusions give the lie to that claim. The sacrilegious drivel of this "Pastor" makes a mockery of "The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John:" His concept of the Jesus Christ of the Book of Revelation is a desecration of this last critically important Book of prophecy in the Bible! As to Pope Francis, we must ignore his blasphemous titles (Vicar of Christ, Pontifex Maximus (hyperlink to unique analysis drawn from Rome's Latin Vulgate, exposing the measure of iniquity in this title,) etc,) the gross blasphemy of the Eucharist which he extols, his corruption of the Scriptures, and his propagation of pagan philosophy and pantheism??!! He is a brother in Christ??!! - WHICH CHRIST??

Viewing a Church Romanized to a degree unimaginable six decades ago (with probably more to come) expands one's understanding of this prophecy of Ellen G. White:

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 unbelief, 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. . .

Our own course of action will determine whether we shall receive the seal of the living God or be cut down by the destroying weapons. Already a few drops of God's wrath have fallen upon the earth; but when the seven last plagues shall be poured out without mixture into the cup of His indignation, then it will be forever too late to repent and find shelter. No atoning blood will then wash away the stains of sin. (5T:211-212)

One can feel no sympathy for "These dumb dogs that would not bark;" but one might feel a little sympathy for the decision makers of the family household corporations, who were influenced by them and blindly followed their soothing and deceptive words. One's heart bleeds for the "maidens, and little children" who will perish because of the corporate identity of the family. (Cf. The God of the Old Testament; The God of the New Testament.)