SDA Leaders on Arms Reduction

Two historical precedents worth considering:

  1. In 1921 SDA leadership sent President Harding a letter supporting his efforts toward arms reduction (see pp. 105-107 in The Peacemaking Remnant).
  2. In 1987 Neal C. Wilson, then church President, spoke against nuclear arms at a forum in Moscow (Adv Peace Fellowship).

Given our growing personal partisan commitments, is it still possible for church leaders–for example, Neal Wilson’s son–to make such statements today? Do leaders have the motivation, courage and support to make public statements in favor of the general goals of nuclear arms reduction? Or would they be overrun with accusations of meddling in politics or even crossing the line in supporting the Democratic party since a Democrat President advocated for the New START agreement?

This is in reference to the treaty that was signed last April, ratified in the US in December, came into effect in February, and effectively resulted in new inspections commencing yesterday.

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6 Responses to SDA Leaders on Arms Reduction

  1. Monte Sahlin says:

    When an officer of the Adventist Church finds partisan political concerns to be more important than historic Adventist positions on moral and social issues (such as arms reduction), then it is time for that officer to step down from leadership. I think this view is a strong consensus among administrators in the denomination. I believe that Ted Wilson would agree with me. One might see the New Start treaty as a partisan issue, although support for it has crossed party lines. Both political parties in the US have a strong stake in this treaty and its development. It is also possible to make a statement along the lines of Neal Wilson’s position paper and not get involved in the specific issue of this treaty. Unfortunately politicians use important decisions as a way to manipulate the situation and that muddies the waters for those of us trying to operae from principle.

  2. Jeff Boyd says:

    Thanks for your input and strong stand, Monte. You raise important issues.

    Readers can follow Monte at:
    1. Adv Today — http://www.atoday.com/blogs/Monte-Sahlin
    2. Faith in Context — http://www.montesahlin.com/

  3. RSM says:

    Monte, that is an interesting position.

    I wonder if those that agree with Monte’s position would be willing to apply the same standard to this slightly modified statement (CAPS used to highlight modifications):

    “When an officer of the Adventist Church finds POLITICAL CORRECTNESS concerns to be more important than historic Adventist positions on moral and social issues (such as CREATION AND HOMOSEXUALITY), then it is time for that officer to step down from leadership.”

  4. Jeff Boyd says:

    RSM, You raise an interesting question. However, I think we need a label other than “political correctness” for those two issues, while leaving your question still open for discussion. I mean, I don’t think the variety of opinions about those issues has to do with “seeking to minimize social and institutional offense…” Well, for some that could well be the motivation for their opinions or the way they express their opinions, but for most I suspect the issues are about science, sociology and biblical interpretation, rather than merely trying to minimize offense for minimization’s sake.

    That said, your question about stances on science and sexual ethics is quite welcome for discussion, especially the sexual/relational aspect (the science question is already hotly debated plenty on other SDA sites).

    Change. How are Adventists to relate to change? This is a difficult issue for any religious group (and other groups), but especially so for us SDAs because we talk of “new light” on the one hand and on the other we are called to follow the light of White’s early vision all the way to the end. What is unchangeable (biblically foundational), and what is open? That is our great struggle.

    Some may be interested in this new book — http://www.chalicepress.com/Banned-Questions-About-the-Bible-P705.aspx.

  5. RSM says:

    I think the statement regarding what is “unchangeable” is a really important issue when discussing change for Adventists. However, in such discussions I almost always want to know what a person considers as having authority and how one applies authoritative writings to their life. That seems to be where there is actual disagreement that leads to the plethora of contested issues.

    Along those same lines, what about Adventist leaders that deny “historic Adventist positions”? Or, perhaps even more important, deny some of the Fundamental Beliefs of the Adventist Church? Could it be disingenous to take a leadership position in an organization while not affirming its core beliefs? It seems that if one would be willing to call for the resignation of a leader simply for not speaking out on a political issue that the church is not directly involved with (even if it were because of a fear of backlash), that person should make an even stronger call for the resignation of leaders that have demonstrated their opposition to the core beliefs of the church.

  6. Jeff Boyd says:

    Tying “core beliefs” back into the main thrust of this blog (social ethics), it seems that something like the peace stance would be much more central to Adventist thought than LGBTQ issues (http://www.adventistpeace.org/465400 for starters). But we’ve significantly edged away from the peace stance over time. I’m not trying to say that peace is more important than sex per se (that type of argument would require a different approach), but as far as “core beliefs” of Adventism go, in my understanding peace was much more central or defining.

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