Monday, November 17, 2008

Questions on Doctrine Discussion

Here is a discussion between Dr. Walter Martin and William Johnsson, former editor of the Adventist Review, from a number of years ago. It is the first clip from a series of 14 videos posted on Youtube that talk about the book Questions on Doctrine and whether Adventism is a "cult." You can find the rest of the videos here. I haven't yet watched all of them.


Anonymous said...

I watched all these videos last summer. My impression was that Dr. Johnsson gave many good answers, especially in the discussion of Hebrews, but he was overshadowed by Martin's aggressive, bold manner. The latter didn't play fair, it seemed to me.

Martin repeatedly claimed that EGW originally did not believe in the divinity of Christ, but he never provided a quote to prove this.

Martin also indicated that he was warmly welcomed by the GC administration in the 50s when he first approached them with questions; but when he did the same in the 90s, he was not well received but given a run-around. I wondered if that might be why he was so hard on Dr. Johnsson in the debate.

He claimed that Adventists have changed since the 50s by going more toward cultism today.

He took a slam on the investigative judgment by quoting EGW in GC 483: as "their characters are found to be in harmony with the law of God, their sins will be blotted out, and they themselves will be accounted worthy of eternal life." Martin and Ankerberg were both aghast at this, claiming it was nothing but pure legalism. But Martin conveniently cut the quote off before EGW cited three strong passages of Scripture that confirmed her words. If Johnsson was more familiar with that particular quote he could have put the spotlight on those verses and better defended us on that question. I think Johnsson's side might have been strengthened in general if he had given more short, Bible answers to Martin's hard hitting questions - only quoting Scripture. Jesus was a master at this. The difficulty is you have to be a walking Bible in order to do it.

One thing that bothered me was a few of the questions from the audience. There were some SDA present and one of them actually took Martin's side against Johnsson when he was given the mic. Such negative voices from the inside do a good job of making us look like a bunch of misguided cultists, at least in the minds of superficial observers.

Another problem with the debate was differing views of judgment. Johnsson pointed out that Paul says we all must face judgment, but Martin denied that this judgment has anything to do with salvation. There wasn't time to go deep enough on all those issues.

When it is all said and done, I tend to think that even though some people probably thought Martin won this debate, the very fact that there was a debate at all shows that SDA has not abandoned distinctive beliefs and we are making an impact on the world, including the Christian world. And Johnsson's answers were good enough for honest seekers.

Anonymous said...

I also enjoyed the videos. Questions on Doctrine has always been troublesome for me.

I believe that Bill Johnsson did better at the end than the beginning, and I also marvelled at the kind of time a TV show could dedicate to religious inquiry at that time.

How this country has changed...

Thanks again for the videos.