Preaching from the past

Preaching from the past: A minister’s guide to online resources on Adventist history

A minister’s guide to online resources on Adventist history

Benjamin Baker, Archives, Statistics, and Research

The remnant church

The article titled “The Remnant
Church” (February 2013) by Gerhard
Pfandl concisely summarizes the prophetic
identity of the Seventh-day
Adventist Church. Like John the Baptist
who heralded the First Advent, we, too,
are called by God to herald the second
advent of Jesus. This special message
is both one of hope and warning. Also,
like John, there may be rejection, persecution,
and suffering for those who
proclaim it with similar conviction.
We should today, more than ever,
be confident in our prophetic calling,
in our prophetic message, and with
greater certainty in our prophetic identity
as clearly described in Revelation.
In this excellent article, Dr. Pfandl does
this with humility and without arrogant
exclusivity. However, it is also without
apology or reservation. Amen.
—Lonnie Mixon, Collegedale, Tennessee, United
Gerhard Pfandl alludes to, but does
not fully elucidate Revelation 1:2
as he begins his article “The Remnant
Church.” The article attempts to
connect in traditional fashion “the
testimony of Jesus” to the ministry of
Ellen G. White. He does make his case in
a secondary sense I feel, while missing
the primary point.
At the very beginning (Rev. 1:2),
John, as a prophet, does see his work
as a part of the “testimony of Jesus”
but more specifically “the testimony
of Jesus” being the content of what
Jesus showed him. “[S]ignified it by
his angel unto his servant John, who
bare record of the word of God, and
of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and
of all things that he saw” (Rev. 1:1, 2,
KJV; italics added).
“Even to all that he saw” would
naturally refer to the content of the
book of Revelation. Thus, this is “the
testimony of Jesus” in context. The next
verse confirms this. “Blessed is he that
reads, and they that hear . . . and keep
the things that are written here.”
At the end of Revelation (Rev. 22:7,
10), Jesus Himself refers to “The sayings
of the prophecy of this book” as His
“testimony.” I think it is a disservice
to Christ and exegetically missing the
point to apply this to Ellen G. White.
Such an interpretation can logically
reopen the abusive potential of regarding
Ellen White’s words as authoritative
as the words of Jesus Himself. I believe
she would not want or stand for this.
—Darrel Lindensmith, pastor, Fargo, North Dakota,
United States
Clarification of position
I wish to respond to the article in
the February 2013 Ministry, “A Job for
Superman? A Call to Clarify the Role of
the Adventist Minister,” by David J. Cook
and Ryan L. Ashlock. In that article, I am
extensively referred to regarding my
position on the role of the pastor. First,
I wish to thank them for continuing the
discussion of a much needed subject
in the Adventist Church on the role of
the pastor. However, I feel that I need
to clarify my position since what was
presented in the article concerning me
is not totally accurate.
There is a strong temptation when
one recites history to assume that one
is arguing to replicate history. That,
unfortunately, is the stand taken in the
article, but is not my position in any way.
This is the twenty-first century and not
the nineteenth. We cannot go back as
a denomination to the pastoral role of
the nineteenth century. To do so would
cause irreparable harm. I have tried to
make that position clear whenever I
present this subject. What I advocate is
that we examine the historical evidence
to discover those principles that guided
the early Adventist Church in choosing

the itinerant model and then, from
those principles, develop a role for
the Adventist pastor in the twentyfirst
century. Those principles I have
consistently advocated are the health of
the church, a nonpastoral dependency,
and a mission-centeredness. I have
suggested ways that this might be
done, but none of them has been to
re-create itinerant pastors. That would
be an impossible lifestyle for most
pastors today.
At the present time in North
America, there are many churches that
are run totally by laypeople, and they
are much like the churches of early
Adventism. However, we have discovered
that these churches are never able
to move beyond 100 in attendance. It
is purely a small-church model. Larger
churches absolutely need a local
pastor serving in the equipper role in
order to grow past 100. Our problem in
Adventism is that we subsidize small
churches to have pastors, taking tithe
away from the large churches. As a
result, our large churches are unable to
grow because they are not adequately
staffed. My position is that you need
a resident pastor for every 125–150
people in attendance. However, those
pastors are operating in the trainerequipper
mode, not in the caretaker
mode. They supervise, but only provide
care in the more difficult cases, as
Moses did with the Jethro model. Most
of their time is spent helping members
in their respective ministries.
I have also advocated large districts
of these multiple church districts
in order to free up the resources to
adequately staff the large churches,
especially those in the cities. Also, this
freeing up of the resources would allow
money to be allocated to church planting
as well, which no longer receives
adequate funding and thus hinders the
advancement of the Adventist Church.
Actually, the authors and I are not as
far apart as they think I am. My biggest
concern is that pastors do not lose their
evangelistic function. We cannot ignore
our Adventist heritage or the counsels
of Ellen G. White on the pastoral role,
but we must apply that knowledge on a
principle basis, not a replication model.
Any pastoral role model we advocate
must be based on biblical and Adventist
historical roots, not on the models of
other denominations.
—Russell Burrill, professor emeritus, Seventh-day
Adventist Theological Seminary, Andrews University,
Berrien Springs, Michigan, United States.

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Benjamin Baker, Archives, Statistics, and Research

April 2013

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