Letter to the Leading Brethren--Part 2

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Editor’s Note: In this e-magazine we present the conclusion of a letter from a concerned Seventh-day Adventist sister to leading brethren in regard to the trademark lawsuit brought by the General Conference against a group of Sabbath-keeping Adventists in Florida.

Dear Brother Paulsen, you were elected General Conference president in the wake of the painful circumstances involving the demise of Pastor Robert S. Folkenberg’s presidency, due to his involvement in a shameful financial scandal mounting to millions of dollars. Upon your ascendancy to your position as president of the General Conference, one of the first issues you must have surely had to face was the already ongoing GC lawsuit against the Florida churches of Adventist believers. Fundamentally, this terrible lawsuit was initially started through Catholic attorney Vincent L. Ramik’s "cease and desist" letter to the Perez group dated March 17, 1998, presenting Walter E. Carson’s (a current GC in-house attorney supervising trademark lawsuits) instructions on behalf of Robert S. Folkenberg and the GC. It is not surprising that instead of standing up against this most unfortunate development, Elder Folkenberg actually promoted it, in view of the fact that he had also failed to stand up against the terrible celebration-style worship abomination. This latter tragic apostasy, as you well know, had started under ex-GC President Neal C. Wilson, and it is still on the rampage being promoted by the North American Division and inflicting great harm upon Adventist congregations nationwide. This false Penecostal-style worship intrusion into our churches, was also foreseen and condemned by the Lord’s Prophet in the strongest terms as an ominous sign of the end time we are living in. (See Selected Messages, vol. 2, 36.)

But getting back to you, Elder Paulsen, the question logically follows: why have you, in turn, failed to stand firmly against this blatant violation of Bible and Spirit of Prophecy counsel? It is no wonder that Sister White was shown in 1903 that, "The greatest want of the world is the want of men—men who will not be bought or sold, men who in their inmost souls are true and honest, men who do not fear to call sin by its right name, men whose conscience is as true to duty as the needle to the pole, men who will stand for right though the heavens fall." Education, 57. (All emphasis supplied.) Can you see, Elder, that you have not stood like that?

You wrote the book, When the Spirit Descends. Did you honestly come to believe that our organized Seventh-day Adventist church could openly and publicly disregard the word of the Lord concerning unbiblical litigation, as presented in the clearest and most fearful warnings of Scripture and the Spirit of Prophecy, and still be worthy and fit for the great outpouring of the Holy Spirit? Oh, Dear brother Paulsen, notice the forcefulness of the Prophet’s injunction. "Matters have been presented before me that have filled my soul with keen anguish. I saw men linking up arm in arm with lawyers, but God was not in their company. Having many ideas regarding the work, they go to the lawyers for help to carry out their plans. I am commissioned to say to such that they are not moving under the inspiration of the Spirit of God." Testimonies, vol. 8, 69. This statement is so astounding that it virtually leaves you with the mental picture that the Prophet of the Lord actually saw so many of you, leading men and women, doing just what you have done in this whole lawsuit experience. This is even brought to view in a clearer manner in the following paragraph: " ‘Is it not because there is not a God in Israel, that ye go to inquire of Baal-zebub the god of Ekron?’ 2 Kings 1:3. Men in responsible positions are uniting with those in the church and out of the church, whose counsel is misleading. Is it necessary for the Lord to come to you with a rod to show you that you need a higher experience before you can be fitted for connection with the family above?" Ibid. This testimony is dated June 8, 1898.

There is another inspired principle that is quite relevant in this case. This is the principle of 1 Corinthians 10:11, "Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition upon whom the ends of the world are come." It is also found in Signs of the Times, January 13, of the same year 1898, and it states: "The prophets of God spoke less for their own time than for the ages to come, and especially for the generation that would live amid the last scenes of this earth’s history." By applying this principle to Ellen White’s writings themselves, we would have to conclude that what she wrote in 1898 is particularly more relevant to this most sad violation of principle that you have committed a hundred years later during this turn of the century. Notice carefully the present day applicability of this counsel from the Lord’s Prophet, "This action, of appealing to human courts, never before entered into by Seventh-day Adventists, has now been done. God has permitted this that you who have been deceived may understand what power is controlling those who have had entrusted to them great responsibilities. Where are God’s sentinels? Where are the men who will stand shoulder to shoulder, heart to heart, with the truth, present truth for this time, in possession of the heart?" Selected Messages, vol. 3, 303.

I have been praying that you will see how this warning applies with increasing force to you at this end time period than when it was first written, for you have now entered into these lawsuits in plain disregard of the serious warnings especially under the abominable trademark policy you have instituted. The expression "you have been deceived," is peculiarly applicable today, to the masses of misinformed and unaware believers whom you have misled into thinking that you have done no wrong in this matter.

What a marvel this is! How many clear, God-given entreaties and warnings does it take before our dear, leading brethren, whom I am regretfully having to address in this manner, can see that the whole counsel of God has been set at naught, rationalized and rejected through human reasonings, that are not founded on faith and divine inspiration? In all God’s dealings with Ancient Israel, can you point out, Pastor Paulsen, even one instance where God has witnessed the fact that His counsels have been sidestepped and rejected, then proceeded to ignore the rejection and still stooped down and abundantly blessed Israel in spite of it? I am sure you are aware that the answer is an absolute never! Does the inspired record reveal that God is committed to blessing unfaithfulness? Alas! It reveals, rather, that God will always punish unconfessed and unforsaken iniquity. It reveals, furthermore, that notwithstanding the repentance of the children of Israel, they were still forced to face the inevitable consequences of disregarding light. Please consider the following, "There is no middle path to Paradise restored. The message given to man for these last days is not to become amalgamated with human devising. We are not to lean upon the policy of worldly lawyers… God will not be mocked. A departure from Him has been and always will be followed by its sure results. The commission of acts that displease God will, unless decidedly repented of and forsaken, instead of seeking to justify them, lead the evildoer on step by step in deception, till many sins are committed with impunity." Upward Look, 310.

Pay special attention also to the seriousness of this warning, "I have been shown that God here illustrates how He regards sin among those who profess to be His commandment-keeping people. Those whom He has specially honored with witnessing the remarkable exhibitions of His power, as did ancient Israel, and who will even then venture to disregard His express directions, will be subjects of His wrath. He would teach His people that disobedience and sin are exceedingly offensive to Him and are not to be lightly regarded." Testimonies, vol. 3, 265.

I wish to now specifically address you, Brother Calvin B. Rock, for you have not only been a general vice-president of the worldwide Seventh-day Adventist Church for a very long time, but you have been quite vocal, because of your unique position, in defending the trademark policy, and are well aware of the General Conference lawsuits against other Adventists over the use of the name. I wish to say to you that the whole idea of invoking the support of the state to protect the so-called "good name of the church" is a totally unbiblical idea. Please remember that Christ made Himself vulnerable for the sake of man’s salvation and that we, the church, the body of Christ, must also be willing to become vulnerable for the sake of bringing the good news of salvation to humanity. I here plead with you to behold the clarity of the following denunciations: "Christians should not appeal to civil tribunals to settle differences that may arise among church members. Such differences should be settled among themselves, or by the church, in harmony with Christ’s instruction. Even though injustice may have been done, the follower of the meek and lowly Jesus will suffer himself ‘to be defrauded’ rather than open before the world the sins of his brethren in the church. Lawsuits between brethren are a reproach to the cause of truth. Christians who go to law with one another expose the church to the ridicule of her enemies and cause the powers of darkness to triumph. They are wounding Christ afresh and putting Him to open shame. By ignoring the authority of the church, they show contempt for God, who gave to the church its authority." Acts of the Apostles, 305, 306.

Notice carefully the vividness of the principles invoked in the above italicized and other connected sentences. The first sobering thought that seems to stand out is found in the bolded statement about "Christians who go to law with one another." Here in Acts of the Apostles, 304–307, the Lord’s servant is pointing out the underlying principles as fundamentally laid out in 1 Corinthians 6:1–10, that we are not to take other Christians to worldly courts, but should rather seek church mediation. Note well that in this Biblical passage, the apostles classifies believers who sue other believers with those who should not inherit the kingdom of heaven, namely idolaters, thieves, adulterers, effeminate, fornicators, extortioners, etc.

It must be pointed out that even if brother Perez and his group might have treated you with injustice, you leaders were not to expose them in the world’s court, thus bringing reproach to the cause, plus public wound and shame to our dear Savior. Furthermore, according to the last sentence of paragraph 1, page 306 of Acts of the Apostles, you have also shown contempt for God by not limiting the plea for redress to the circumscription of church authority. I wish to say to you that there are still Seventh-day Adventists independent and/or self-supporting pastors, some of whom were even present at the Florida trial in question, who would have gladly mediated between you and the Perez group. Note the counsel well, "If a Christian is abused, he is to take it patiently; if defrauded, he is not to appeal to courts of justice. Rather let him suffer loss and wrong. God will deal with the unworthy church member who defrauds his brother or the cause of God; the Christian need not contend for his rights. God will deal with the one who violates these rights. ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, saith the Lord.’ Romans 12:19. An account is kept of all these matters, and for all the Lord declares that He will avenge. He will bring every work into judgment." Selected Messages, vol. 3, 300.

I am amazed that being just a little layperson, I find myself having to refer you to all these inspired references involving divine principles you have blatantly failed to apply. Please consider Romans 8:28. In commenting upon this passage, as applied to Christ’s experience, Sister White emphatically states, "The Father’s presence encircled Christ, and nothing befell Him but that which infinite love permitted for the blessing of the world. Here was His source of comfort, and it is for us. He who is imbued with the Spirit of Christ abides in Christ. The blow that is aimed at him falls upon the Saviour, who surrounds him with His presence. Whatever comes to him comes from Christ. He has no need to resist evil, for Christ is his defense. Nothing can touch him except by our Lord’s permission, and ‘all things’ that are permitted ‘work together for good to them that love God.’ Romans 8:28." Mount of Blessing, 71. Thus, Christ depended totally upon His Father for His protection. Moreover, in The Ministry of Healing, 489 she adds, "All our sufferings and sorrows, all our temptations and trials, all our sadness and griefs, all our persecutions and privations, in short, all things work together for our good. All experiences and circumstances are God’s workmen whereby good is brought to us." And Paul also states in 2 Corinthians 13:8, "For we can do nothing against the truth, but for the truth." By your persistent failure to heed these divine principles, you (as representative leaders of our world church) have actually steered the whole corporate church into a path of rebellion which has resulted in leading us further into the present situation where the latter rain has been "withholden."

So, what is the conclusion of the whole matter? The answer is, "No, brother Rock! The church does not need the protection of the arm of the state in order to solve its problems. God is well able to take care of the church." Whatever happened to the church leadership’s faith in God? So…what would you say Elder? Will our church also go against the state in courts of law to defend our constitutional rights when the oppressive Sunday laws are implemented against us in the not-too-distant future? Will you leaders then, as at the present, be hiring Catholic lawyers to defend our Sabbath-keeping rights? Who will protect the "good name" of the church when the little Sabbath-keeping remnant becomes the object of universal execration and we are looked upon as the "hated sect"? (See The Great Controversy, 615, 635.)

You are credited for having written Church Leadership: A Call to Virtue and the Love of Christ. I must ask you the question—Is there any virtue in these lawsuits? Where is the love of Christ in all of this? Are we supposed to do all things to the glory of God? Have God and the church been glorified in the courts of law? Do you realize what embarrassment we have to face when we invite thinking Bible students to join our church and they say to us things like, "You are asking me to join a church that has been publicly suing its own believers across the nation? Give me a break!" No, Pastor Calvin Rock, the church, like its Master, must be willing to be defrauded. God is well able to protect the alleged "good name" of the church. The facts reveal that you are the ones who have actually brought reproach upon the so-called "good name" of the church.

Oh, leaders of modern Israel. I write with great concern begging of you to please listen. Though my church membership may be at stake, I feel compelled to heed specific counsels, such as, "My message to you is: No longer consent to listen without protest to the perversion of truth." Selected Messages, vol. 1, 196. And, "For evils that we might have checked, we are just as responsible as if we were guilty." Desire of Ages, 44. By violating all these principles through unbiblical litigation, you have committed a most grievous corporate sin, and implicated all of us members of the worldwide denomination. Would you please read again the fearful warnings of Desire of Ages, 737, 738, in its entirety? "Pilate then took his place on the judgment seat, and again presented Jesus to the people, saying, ‘Behold your King!’ Again the mad cry was heard, ‘Away with Him, crucify Him.’ In a voice that was heard far and near, Pilate asked, ‘Shall I crucify your King?’ But from profane, blasphemous lips went forth the words, ‘We have no king but Caesar.’ Thus by choosing a heathen ruler, the Jewish nation had withdrawn from the theocracy. They had rejected God as their king. Henceforth they had no deliverer. They had no king but Caesar. To this the priests and teachers had led the people. For this, with the fearful results that followed, they were responsible. A nation’s sin and a nation’s ruin were due to the religious leaders." These are solemn admonitions for us upon whom the ends of the world are come. Please remember again the principles of corporate responsibility, which entails that the sin of the few becomes the sin of the many.

Remember also that you leaders will soon be summoned to a "Higher Court" to answer before the judgment seat of Christ. In that solemn day, unless this corporate sin has gone beforehand to judgment, properly confessed, I most definitely do not wish to be then implicated with you, either through a present display of passive indifference or through fear of discharging my God-given duty to lift up a voice of reproof.

In light of all the clear Biblical and Spirit of Prophecy counsel aforementioned, I am appealing and pleading with you to implement the only divinely-appointed solution and remedy the wrongful course you have been following. What this means is that you must proceed without delay to the solemn work of repentance. An act of true repentance must necessarily result in your prompt emission of a public, specific and thorough statement of confession. This public statement would need to be written in behalf of Adventist leadership worldwide. This appeal is consistent with the instructions of Steps to Christ, 38. "True confession is always of a specific character, and acknowledges particular sins. They may be of such a nature as to be brought before God only; they may be wrongs that should be confessed to individuals who have suffered injury through them; or they may be of a public character, and should then be as publicly confessed. But all confession should be definite and to the point, acknowledging the very sins of which you are guilty." This mandate is also in keeping with the instructions in The Desire of Ages, 811. "Here is given a lesson for all Christ’s followers. The gospel makes no compromise with evil. It cannot excuse sin. Secret sins are to be confessed in secret to God; but, for open sin, open confession is required. The reproach of the disciple’s sin is cast upon Christ. It causes Satan to triumph, and wavering souls to stumble. By giving proof of repentance, the disciple, so far as lies in his power, is to remove this reproach." May the Lore encourage you to move quickly towards this end.

Is this not a time to heed the instructions of 2 Chronicles 7:14? It surely is! "If My people, which are called by My name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways: then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land." Is this not a time to come into harmony with the counsel of the prophet Joel, which focuses on prerequisites for the latter rain? Notice his instructions in Joel 2:12–17, "Therefore also now, saith the Lord, turn ye even to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning: And rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the Lord your God: for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth Him of the evil. Who knoweth if He will return and repent, and leave a blessing behind Him; even a meat offering and a drink offering unto the Lord your God? Blow the trumpet in Zion, sanctify a fast, call a solemn assembly: Gather the people, sanctify the congregation, assemble the elders, gather the children, and those that suck the breasts: let the bridegroom go forth of his chamber, and the bride out of her closet. Let the priests, the ministers of the Lord, weep between the porch and the altar, and let them say, Spare thy people, O Lord and give not Thine heritage to reproach, that the heathen should rule over them: wherefore should they say among the people, Where is their God?"

Please remember also the principle of Selected Messages, vol. 2, 153, "When men endanger the work and cause of God by their own wrong course of action, shall they hear no voice of reproof? If the wrongdoer only were concerned, and the work reached no farther than him, he alone should have the words of warning; but when his course of action is doing positive harm to the cause of truth, and souls are imperiled, God requires that the warning be as broad as the injury done."

I hope that you will not yield to the temptation to ignore the issues that are being placed before you. I have and will continue to remain in steadfast prayer for you to see that your public, corporate repentance is not only an absolute necessity, it is the only safe and appropriate course to follow in the face of the terrible consequences that will surely befall you as leaders. Furthermore, your failure to do what is right in this matter has already and will continue to affect the whole church in general. I hope and pray also that you have not yet disregarded these counsels so extensively and so thoroughly that it would make it virtually impossible for you to heed them now, and proceed to this solemn work of restitution. "God holds His people, as a body, responsible for the sins existing in individuals among them. If the leaders of the church neglect to diligently search out the sins which bring the displeasure of God upon the body, they become responsible for these sins." Testimonies, vol. 3, 269. "He shows us that when His people are found in sin they should at once take decided measures to put that sin from them, that His frown may not rest upon them all. But if the sins of the people are passed over by those in responsible positions, His frown will be upon them, and the people of God, as a body, will be held responsible for those sins." Ibid., 265. What makes this an even more grievous corporate sin is that is has been premeditated and willfully carried out by you—the leaders.

I wish to also address you leaders as individuals. Even if most of the Adventist leadership should reject this appeal for repentance and fail to emit a public statement, it is crucial for you, as individuals, to recognize that you yourselves are responsible for your own soul’s salvation before God, and for the cause of Christ, to move forward alone in this solemn work. This would mean that you should feel free to issue your own public statement of repentance, thus discharging your "personal" responsibility in clearing your souls before God and before all those who are striving to be faithful. Take careful notice of this disregarded warning, "I call upon you in the name of Christ to withdraw the suit that you have begun and never bring another into court. God forbids you thus to dishonor His name. You have had great light and many opportunities, and you cannot afford to unite with worldlings and follow their methods. Remember that the Lord will treat you according to the stand that you take in this life. . . . I tell you solemnly that if you take the action which you now purpose to take, you will never recover from the result of it. If you open before the world the wrongs that you suppose your brethren have done you, there will be some things that will have to be said on the other side. I have a caution to give you." Selected Messages, vol. 3, 304.

It is so disheartening to learn that you have been progressively leading the Adventist church into a "sue-happy" mode for many years now, displaying neither public visible remorse nor the demonstrable sorrow of corporate conscience. No change of policy appears in sight. How sad!

I earnestly pray that you will be gracious enough to try to understand that I have proceeded in this matter solely on the basis of love and concern for you and your salvation as leaders, and for the constituency who are my brethren in the Blessed Hope. I pray, furthermore, and my tears flow as I write, that you will please not credit me with seeking to be just a troubler of Israel. (1 Kings 18:17), or, as Paul asked in Galatians 4:16, "Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth?" My great hope is that you would perceive my sincerest wish, which comes from the depths of my heart, that all modern Israel may be saved, that we all may be ready to give the loud cry of the third angel, bring in the final harvest and soon be ready for His appearing. Let us go Home!

In view of the fearful issues addressed in this letter, I will remain in prayerful expectation of your prompt and appropriate response to these matters. Be assured that the stakes are very high. I fear that after what you have been doing, every unrepentant day that you allow to go by will only mean greater trouble brooding for us as a people, especially in these troublous end times for the church and the world.

"The Lord never designed that His church should seek the aid of civil power, or work through devices of political expediency." Signs of the Times, vol. 3, October 27, 1898.

I remain your sister in the love of Christ, the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.

Miss Morgan of Wisconsin.

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