Emphasizing connection to Jesus our Lord, participants learn how to resist pluralism, congregationalism, and other present errors.
Consider Dr. Michael Oluikpe's question to Adventist leaders in his Ministry article, “Keeping Future Faith: Helping Youth Stay in the Church”:
“In a world where postmodernism, secularism, and pluralism, with a wide variety of religions and a potpourri of belief systems, are significantly affecting young minds, will authentic biblical faith among the youth become extinct under your watch?” (June 2018, p. 22)
Principle #9 teaches us to model and teach a connection with Jesus, especially to our youth. As we respond to God's love shining in our hearts (2 Corinthians 4:5-6), we leave the carnal life for the spiritual (Romans 8:6). We now serve One who ever lives to make intercession for His children (Hebrews 7:25). In Him we find our source and our substance (Colossians 1:15-20). Our high priest, made like us, offers grace to help us when tempted (Hebrews 2:14-18, 4:14-16). We seek His mind, His humility (Philippians 2:5-11) as we await our final redemption.
Religious pluralism redefines the truths we affirm about God. It allows two or more religious worldviews to be equally valid. It rejects the way, the truth, the life that is Jesus (John 14:6). Here is a recent example:
In the Autumn of 2018 an ordained Seventh-day Adventist pastor of a 750-member congregation announced he was leaving this denomination to pastor for the United Church of Christ. In an interview with Loren Seibold of Adventist Today, this pastor listed ten beliefs he is “gratefully walking away from.” Here are four:
· The need for theological certainty and being right, orthodoxy over orthopraxy. I believe Jesus taught that loving well is more important than doctrinal correctness.
· A worldview that everything is going to get worse and worse. This perspective often thwarts our investment in making the world a better place, which is exactly what Jesus told us to do between his first and second coming.
· An unwillingness to trust and give freedom to the local congregation.
· A distrust of science. God is the ultimate reality, and science is a means of describing that reality. We do not need to fear it.
Beware of pluralism when choosing leadership for our churches, schools and conferences. Unchecked, it leads to independence of beliefs and actions, to congregationalism. Congregational churches are autonomous. They choose their own doctrines and practices; they hire and fire their own pastors. Any such “denomination” lacks genuine unity of doctrine. It lacks the capacity to fulfill the worldwide gospel commission.
Seventh-day Adventists, when organizing in 1863, adopted the New Testament model of representative government. Our church authority is spread over the whole membership. Decisions are made through duly elected representatives at each level of organization. Executive responsibility is delegated to representative bodies and officers for the governing of the church (see ChurchManual, pp. 28-29).
When questions arise over church beliefs or practices, study and discussion are followed by a vote of the General Conference in its world session. Members and leaders are ethically bound to uphold such decisions, demonstrating true unity.
WCAS encourages every church member and church leader to trust God’s ordained structure. We may bypass pluralism and congregationalism by following the Acts 15 example: “There they were to meet delegates from the different churches…. Meanwhile all controversy was to cease until a final decision should be given in general council. This decision was then to be universally accepted by the different churches throughout the country.” (Acts of the Apostles, p. 190).
Pluralism breeds confusion and lawlessness. It exalts God’s mercy at the expense of His justice; it pits law and grace against each other. Meaningless distortions of Scripture (Romans 6:1-6, 14-23, 11:22, Hebrews 12:6) result.
John Nixon writes, “To speak of God’s mercy apart from His justice is to distort His character. We must not attempt to resolve the apparent contradiction….by separating love from holiness. Rather we must embrace both qualities and hold them together in tension, because while ‘holiness without love is severe; love without holiness is sentimental.’” (Redemption in Genesis, p. 133). Pastors who understand this preach the good news of the pre-Advent judgment hour (Daniel 8:14, Revelation 14:6, I Timothy 5:24-25).
Ellen White links spiritualism to religious pluralism in this prescient statement:
“While it [spiritualism] formerly denounced Christ and the Bible, it nowprofesses to accept both. But the Bible is interpreted in a manner that is pleasing to the unrenewed heart, while its solemn and vital truths are made of no effect. Love is dwelt upon as the chief attribute of God, but it is degraded to a weak sentimentalism, making little distinction between good and evil. God’s justice, His denunciations of sin, the requirements of His holy law, are all kept out of sight,” The Great Controversy, p. 558
In the trans-denominational pastor's case cited above, this pluralism involved a multi-year process, gradually accommodated by the church.
In review, religious pluralism is easily recognized by those who think biblically.
· Godly love is replaced by sentimentalism.
· An “It is written” and “Thus says the Lord” is replaced by post-modern, theological relativism.
· A church organized for global mission is replaced by independent congregations answerable only to themselves - congregationalism.
· True science, which affirms the Genesis account of origins, is replaced by theistic evolution.
Lay-led World Church Affirmation Sabbath urges local church boards and elders to think biblically and act courageously. Help your conflicted leaders. Safeguard your congregations. Impart and preserve authentic biblical faith among our youth.