The church moves closer to schism.

The Seventh-day Adventist Church (SDA) has taken its strongest action yet to quell the theological controversy that has been erupting over one of the church’s basic doctrines—the investigative judgment of Christ, which the church believes was revealed to prophetess Ellen White in 1844.

Church officials have “annulled” the ordination of Desmond Ford, an eminent Australian theologian who has been kindly—but persistently—denying that anything of heavenly significance occurred in 1844. Efforts are under way to revoke his Adventist church membership. Two of Ford’s colleagues, Smuts van Rooyen and Noel Mason, have also lost their ordinations, and two Adventist college presidents have resigned. Ford estimates that in all, some 150 Adventist pastors and teachers have been fired or forced to resign recently for their theological dissent. (A church official puts that number at far less.)

The action against Ford and the others was precipitated by an official committee, responsible to Adventist World President Neal Wilson and his advisers. The committee held a last-ditch meeting January 14–17 at the El Rancho Motel near the San Francisco airport with Ford and three other prominent men accused of “heresy, apostacy, rebellion” in the rhubarb over the investigative judgment.

They studied hermeneutical approaches to prophecies in Daniel and Revelation, with Ford denying that 1844 or any other apocalyptic date could be found in the two books. Ford presented 80 “implicit” teachings on the investigative judgment, which he claimed were not biblical. None of these were accepted by the official group. Ford maintains that a “cordial spirit” existed throughout the meeting. Nevertheless, the official committee reported ...

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