The other night I was up until 1:30 reviewing a large file previously compiled because of what should be called: The Robert Wieland Dilemma.This dilemma has affected our church, and stretches over one-half of a century, yes, before most church members were even born.
In the early 1950’s, a Baptist preacher
named Walter Martin was working on a doctorial thesis: Christian cults
(Before Martin’s death, his The Bible Answer Man program was featured on
major Christian radio networks). Martin was granted access to our General
Conference archives. He studied well but in researching our history he
noticed that one of our nineteenth-century leaders, Alonzo T. Jones, taught
that Christ was just like us, and this “Jehovah-Witness” doctrine created
problems that first appeared about 1,500 years ago by sects called Arians—they
were confused on Christ’s humanity.
Martin contacted the General Conference saying that issue needed clarification or he would classify the Adventist Church as a cult. The G.C. responded and published a book called Questions on Doctrines (I have a copy in my library). This satisfied Martin and although his Kingdom of the Cults details faults with Adventists for keeping the “Jewish Sabbath” and having a prophet, it did not classify Adventists as a cult.
From this incident another problem arose. Some preachers, including Robert Wieland, studied and republished A. T. Jones’ book, The Consecrated Way to Christian Perfection (Perhaps you got their reprint from the literature rack). They believed Jones’ position on Christ’s humanity and accused the G.C. of betraying our historical position to prevent being classified as a cult (Jones adopted pantheism, was not elected G.C. president, abandoned Adventism, and became a Baptist preacher). Wieland and associates styled themselves as “experts” and formed a separatist organization, today known as The 1888 Message Study Committee, Incorporated. Professing to be defenders of the church as “repairers of the breach”, they caused fragmentation as “the accuser of the brethren.”
I first attended Wieland’s meetings in 1980, and he was soon joined by Jack Sequeira who he had baptized in Africa. I found Sequeira a charismatic speaker and he was popular at Wieland’s programs. Sequeira was previously a Catholic and included tenants of doctrines originating with Augustine, a sixth-century Catholic monk. Augustine taught that everyone is forensically guilty of sin because of Adam’s transgression, thus humanity is “corporately condemned.” Thus arose the doctrine of eternal damnation except for those baptized—even infants.
The unsuspecting members who listened to Wieland and Sequeira developed mistrust in the Adventist organization. Some felt we are rejecting "new light" others thought our church has obviously “apostatized.” “We must pray for our church”, Wieland piously told me at a special meeting of “separatists” near the 1985 General Conference Session in New Orleans. Continuing to study independently caused my realization that the 1888 Message Study Committee was falsely accusing the Church and they had added their own “new wine” into Ellen White’s response to the righteousness by faith truths. She emphasizes it in Steps to Christ which was first privately published in 1889 apart from the denomination. Their theories also conflict with A. G. Daniells’ memoirs of 1888 in Christ our Righteousness.
Wieland’s wide promotion of this “new wine” through books, seminars, and newsletters, was so intoxicating that Adventism throughout the United States was polarized. Many “accusers of the brethren” would not speak to others in church who did not believe their “correct position and historical understanding.” Actually, I have read A. T. Jones’ sermons through several times and realized that his theory on Christ’s humanity was not shared by Ellen White--she actually prohibited defining “the mystery of godliness.” White writes, avoid every question in relation to the humanity of Christ which is liable to be misunderstood and that the incarnation of Christ has ever been, and will ever remain a mystery (5 BC, 129; The Mystery of the Incarnation, 7BCA, Appendix B). In addition, Jones changed positions as recorded in his sermon #17 before the General Conference in 1895. That sermon is now posted at www.revelado.org/atjones.htm. Therein Jones notes that Jesus had God’s perfect mind before the fall of Adam, and He offers that impeccable mind to you.
Meanwhile, Wieland and associates added to their amalgamation theories like God never kills and corporate justification, that is, at Calvary humanity was unconditionally saved. Initially defenders of guiltlessness-at-birth, now they hint of Augastine’s humanity-once-born-guilty, adding their own now-born-saved-through-Calvary conglomerate. They proclaim this as the actual righteousness-by-faith message and, as you know, it is emphasized in Sequeira’s book Beyond Belief--his works also cause polarization. Our world church studied these issues personally with Wieland and Sequeira, and condemns their peculiarities—they also pulled Sequeira’s book from the Adventist Book Centers.
The official Adventist organ, The Biblical Research Institute, posts their research on such topics as: the in Christ motif, corporate justification, how to submit new light, Desmond Ford’s beliefs, and much more. With your Internet browser, access: www.adventistbiblicalresearch.org. For their study of “the Wieland dilemma”, select Independent Ministries, then Primacy of the Gospel Committee Report.
With Christian Valentines-day love, Charles, February
14, 2006; Sign my Guest Book at: www.revelado.org