Concerned Seventh-day Adventists have been carefully following every development leading up to the General Conference’s Annual Council of the Executive Committee, anxiously waiting to see the outcome, with special interest in what would be done to the unions that continued to defy voted General Conference policy by ordaining women to gospel ministry. The possibility of the General Conference taking over the rebellious unions was reported, which would result in the termination of union leaders and a transfer of assets to the General Conference; this option greatly increased interest and passion on both sides regarding this issue. However, the outcome of the meeting was the granting of a one-year grace period designed to bring reconciliation between noncompliant unions and voted denominational policies. While this issue of unions going against church policy in the area of the ordination of women is threatening to splinter the denomination, General Conference President, Ted Wilson sounded hopeful, that in mission, all can be united and reconciled. “‘We will work with diligence to bring a good dialogue and discussion,’ world church president Ted N.C. Wilson said after the vote. ‘The Lord is not going to let this church falter,’ he said. “This church will move ahead with mission.”1 He also stated, ‘we know that God has gifted the Seventh-day Adventist Church for effective global mission through every believer.’” 2
It is interesting that whenever there seems to be denominational strife and strong feelings, the “mission” of the church is invoked as the great unifying element. Elder Wilson’s statements are reminiscent of Elder Mark Finley’s remarks at the 2014 Annual Council regarding the same issue; the difference is that Elder Finley’s statements came before the vote. “‘Whatever your viewpoint is on the ordination of women, whether you are convicted on one side of the question or the other, there comes a point when you do not tear the body of Christ apart… There comes a point where you say, ‘We will accept the decision of the corporate body, namely the General Conference session. And whatever my personal view is on that, no matter how I believe I am right, I have come to the conclusion that I will accept as God’s will whatever the session votes and move on with our mission.’”3
What Elder Wilson and some of the other General Conference leaders are denying or failing to see is that a significant part of the North American Division’s (NAD) mission is the ordination of women to gospel ministry; and while General Conference leadership is hoping that rebellious unions repent and come in harmony with the voted policy, the North American Division is determined to accomplish its mission with or without General Conference approval. Hence the open letter to female pastors within the North American Division written by NAD President Dan Jackson, in which he stated, “Yesterday at General Conference headquarters, the Annual Council voted to implement a process to deal with policy non-compliance issues at all levels of the church. We do not know, at this point, what the impact of this will be on the NAD. I invite you pray that the Holy Spirit will guide the church during this period…I want to give you the assurance that the vote yesterday did not affect your status as a pastor. Furthermore, as stated in our press release yesterday, the North American Division remains committed to empower and establish our women in pastoral ministry. We will not give up on this ideal and goal.”4
While General Conference leadership is so concerned with enforcing the policy on the issue of women’s ordination, highlighting this issue above all others, they are overlooking other aspects of mission being carried out by the NAD, that just as verily violate the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy and undermine the distinctive messages of the Three Angels. If the only aspect of mission being carried out by the NAD that bothers General Conference leadership is that of unions ordaining women simply because it violates voted church policy, this is both glaring hypocrisy and a gross neglect of checking apostasy and methods of “evangelism” not sanctioned by the Bible or the Spirit of Prophecy. It seems as though unity and mission, so long as they do not interfere with church policies, supersede biblical standards. If General Conference leaders fail to address and check the current methods of evangelism now being employed by NAD pastors and teachers they are sanctioning such methods and will likely join in so that the denomination can present a united front moving forward in mission. But how can God bring people into a church where apostasy is rife and allowed to continue un-reproved?
“The Lord does not now work to bring many souls into the truth, because of the church members who have never been converted and those who were once converted but who have backslidden. What influence would these unconsecrated members have on new converts? Would they not make of no effect the God-given message which His people are to bear?”5
One NAD mission project that is being promoted and set to launch November 18-20, 2016 in San Diego, California, is the “He said Go Missions Conference.” A special website was set up where individuals can register which also provides information about the conference. Though there will be many presenters at the conference, this article will only look at three and examine their current contributions and what they will offer attendees at the conference. The three that are among the lineup of speakers are Dwight Nelson, Senior Pastor of pioneer Memorial Church on the campus of Andrews University and professor at Andrews Theological Seminary; Carlton Byrd, Senior Pastor of the Oakwood University Church and speaker/director of the Breath of Life television broadcast; and Sam Leonor, Chaplain at La Sierra University.
Firstly it is important to understand who will likely be in attendance at the meeting to receive training regarding how to conduct evangelism. Along with the organizers and speakers, the website states that there are special invitations for “students, lay members, denominational leaders, pastors, medical professionals union and conference leaders, college and university presidents and administrators, chaplains, missions coordinators, youth directors, youth and young adults and anyone involved in community outreach and mission service.”6 Secondly, in order to determine what will be shared from the speakers,as it relates to mission and how to conduct evangelism, a person has only to look at the messages and methods currently being used by the presenters, keeping in mind the theme of the conference is “He said Go.”
Dwight Nelson emphatically and passionately stated in a sermon he delivered in 2010, titled “Star still rising over Islam,” “Allah is the name of the living God, Allah is the creator of the Universe, Allah is the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Ishmael…The Quaran teaches the seeds of every divine truth you and I embrace. The seeds are all there.”7 In case some may be wondering whether Pastor Nelson has abandoned his position of Allah as God and that the Quaran teaches the seeds of every divine truth, in his 2016 devotional for adults, God’s Dream for You (published by the Pacific Press, in three languages and sold at Adventist Book Stores around the world), he stated on page 301 the following: “And who was Muhammad? He was born into the polytheistic Quraish tribe in Mecca around A.D. 570. Soon orphaned and raised by an uncle, at age 25 Muhammad married a wealthy widow. Fifteen years later in a cave he received a vision from the angel Gabriel, visions that continued for 12 years. In obedience to the angel, Muhammad began to teach that there was only one true God, Allah…Twenty years after his death his visions were transcribed and codified into the Qur’an. Could it be that into the darkness of paganism God ignited the faint light of truth?”8 Neither the Bible nor the Spirit of Prophecy affirm that Allah is God or that Mohamed was visited by the angel Gabriel but say contrarily. This is just one of the many erroneous, anti-scriptural statements made in the book. Furthermore, Dwight Nelson also embraces “the new theology” that has flooded into Seventh-day Adventism. Who is the “He” that is saying go? For Dwight Nelson, it seems clear that the “he” is Allah. The follow-up question would be to where is “he” sending Seventh-day Adventists? More could be said regarding Dwight Nelson, but for the sake of brevity, we will move on to Carlton Byrd.
Carlton Byrd is known to preach a popular, social, “feel-good message,” clearly not rooted in the historic, distinctive messages of Adventism. He is also well-known for inviting renowned, worldly, “gospel” singers (from the fallen churches of Babylon) to his church to entertain attendees. He is also known for using money designated for the service of God to bestow various awards upon worldly athletes, entertainers and political figures, some of which include Hollywood producer, Devon Franklin and his wife, actress Meagan Goode, former professional basketball player Earvin “Magic” Johnson, Congressman John Lewis, and Congresswoman Shelia Jackson Lee. Some of the musical artists that have been invited and paid generously to perform at Oakwood University Church and for Breath of Life, mostly on Sabbaths (although any other day is still wrong), include Richard Smallwood, Yolanda Adams, Cee Cee Winans, Vickie Yohee, Smokie Norful, and most recently (October 8, 2016 to be exact), Kierra Sheard. How can Pastor Byrd ever preach the distinctive messages of Revelation 14 along with the standards of reform and lifestyle set forth in the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy when he frequently partners with ministers, singers, and people from Babylon and endorses their lifestyle and teachings by lending them the pulpit to spew their unclean spirits to listeners and onlookers while adorned in their Babylonish garments along with jewelry and makeup.
Pastor Byrd’s friendship with the men of the world has earned him an NAACP award. “Carlton P. Byrd…will receive the 2016 Pastor of the Year Award for the Alabama NAACP…Byrd has a history of support for civil rights issues as he annually recognizes and bestows awards to individuals… for their civil rights, legislative, humanitarian, and activist work to improve the lives of all people. He also promotes justice and equality from the pulpit locally as well as globally through Breath of Life Television Ministries.”9 If Pastor Byrd were using his platform to promote the Present truth of the Three Angels’ Messages, the NAACP would never give him an award, but would likely brand him as a hate preacher. “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own” John 15:18 and 19. Sadly, many Seventh-day Adventist pastors, young and old, are patterning after Pastor Byrd’s ministry. Again comes the question, who is the “he” that said go? It could not be Jesus commissioning his people to go with such methods, when his word prohibits uniting with Babylon, using their music, teachings, and methods for evangelism. Where is “he” sending them to? With the methods of evangelism employed by Carlton Byrd, it is clear that the followers are going into ecumenism and Babylon.
Sam Leonor, as mentioned before, is also scheduled to speak at the “He Said Go Mission Conference.” Pastor Leonor is a board member of the One Project Movement along with Alex Bryan (the chair and founder of the movement) and others. The One Project Movement, simply put, is a part of the emerging church movement, which minimizes standards, contemporizes worship and urges moving away from foundational pillars of faith and emphasizes relationships and various spiritual exercises that are nothing more than forms of eastern meditation techniques rooted in spiritualism. The mission statement of the One Project Movement is “Jesus.All.” or “Jesus…full-stop. All… full-stop.”10 At its first meeting, or gathering, as they refer to it, Sam Leonor made the following statement concerning end-time eschatology: “End-time charts don’t fit with Jesus’ insistence, in Acts 1:7, that we cannot ‘know the times or periods.’”11 Furthermore Pastor Leonor is a board member of a group that believes and teaches the most blasphemous and egregious errors in their meetings as reported firsthand by Jerrod Boling who personally attended One Project meetings (with Sam Leonor as the chief speaker). “The next speaker was Dena King whose message was titled ‘What Jesus taught about the trinity.’ She began by saying that the Seal of God is no longer the Sabbath but is now the Holy spirit filling us (22:03). She also talked about the family of God and how they should be understood. There was God the Father, Christ our brother or sister and the Holy Spirit–our heavenly mother (5:38). As a recent graduate of Union College who appeared to be on fire for Jesus, she gave a talk that made me—as a Bible worker—very uncomfortable.
She quoted Matthew 28:16-20 and said that we were doing discipling wrong. She said that we need to go out and baptize people first and teach them later. She was saying that we need to do it in order as it is written in the Scripture (9:41). I followed up with pastor Jessyka later, to express my concern and to make sure that I understood what she was trying to say. I asked her ‘Are you saying that we need to baptize first and then teach the 28 fundamental beliefs later?’ She said ‘Yes!’”12
Not only are the assertions made completely disrespectful to God and His words, but also the glaring omissions of certain key aspects of the historic Seventh-day Adventist message, as brought out by retired Associate Director of the Ellen G. White Estate at the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventist, Cindy Tutsch. “I’ve been to the One project three times…What I Missed: any positive references to: the three angels’ messages of Revelation 14; the concept of a remnant raised up by Christ for a specific purpose in time; creation in seven literal contiguous 24 hour periods, an act of God which precedes predation; Ellen White’s book, The Great Controversy; the pre-Advent judgment…a Christ whose overwhelming grace inspires holiness in lifestyle and affects our choices in dress, food and drink, entertainment, and sexuality; and the prophetic portions of Daniel and Revelation.”13 The “he” saying go is leading attendees into the emerging church movement, into spiritualism, and away from the pillars of Seventh-day Adventism, all the while considering these methods innovate evangelism.
It is evident that the “He Said Go Missions Conference,” based on the selection of speakers, is leading individuals away from God’s prescribed and approved methods of evangelism and is a fulfillment of the new organization that Ellen White describes and warns of in Selected Messages, Book 1, pages 204 and 205 “The enemy of souls has sought to bring in the supposition that a great reformation was to take place among Seventh-day Adventists, and that this reformation would consist in giving up the doctrines which stand as the pillars of our faith, and engaging in a process of reorganization. Were this reformation to take place, what would result? The principles of truth that God in His wisdom has given to the remnant church, would be discarded. Our religion would be changed. The fundamental principles that have sustained the work for the last fifty years would be accounted as error. A new organization would be established. Books of a new order would be written. A system of intellectual philosophy would be introduced. The founders of this system would go into the cities, and do a wonderful work. The Sabbath of course, would be lightly regarded, as also the God who created it. Nothing would be allowed to stand in the way of the new movement. The leaders would teach that virtue is better than vice, but God being removed, they would place their dependence on human power, which, without God, is worthless. Their foundation would be built on the sand, and storm and tempest would sweep away the structure. Who has authority to begin such a movement? We have our Bibles. We have our experience, attested to by the miraculous working of the Holy Spirit. We have a truth that admits of no compromise. Shall we not repudiate everything that is not in harmony with this truth?”14
God has made it clear that his people are not to go into worldly methods of evangelism, and are not to demote the truths and distinctiveness of the Seventh-day Adventist message. So while the North American Division is calling upon pastors, lay persons, youth and others to go to the “He Said Go Missions Conference,” and the General Conference Leadership does absolutely nothing, and may participate in it as well, God is saying “don’t go;” but rather go and warn others of the dangers of sitting under these pastors who have been falsely educated and are passing on their false education to unsuspecting members. For those who want to undertake missionary work and receive Holy Spirit- directed training, take up the books that God has given especially for His church to conduct evangelism aright—Evangelism, Gospel Workers, Ministry of Healing, Colporteur Ministry, the Conflict of the Ages Series, Welfare Ministry, and the nine volumes of the Testimonies for the Church. Prayerfully read and study these materials and allow the Lord to give you not only a burden but also a fitness for his work.
1. http://www.adventistreview.org/church-news/story4458-annual-council-approves-measure-to-encourage-adherence-to-church-policies 2. http://spectrummagazine.org/article/2016/10/12/three-takeaways-annual-council-unity-vote
3. http://www.adventistreview.org/church-news/mark-finley-offers-5-steps-for-resolving-disunity-on-women%E2%80%99s-ordination 4. http://www.nadadventist.org/article/1073743345/news/current-and-archived-news-stories/2016-news-current-archives/10-12-16-an- open-letter-from-dan-jackson-to-female-pastors-in-the-north-american-division
5. White, Ellen. Testimonies for the Church, Volume 6 (1901), page 370
8. Nelson, Dwight, God’s Dream for You (2016), page 301
9. http://www.nadadventist.org/article/1073743338/news/current-and-archived-news-stories/2016-news-current-archives/10-3-16-breath- of-life-speaker-director-carlton-p-byrd-to-receive-naacp-award
13. http://spectrummagazine.org/article/2016/09/27/response-william-johnsson%E2%80%99s-one-project-concerns-and-some-concerns- my-own
14. White, Ellen. Selected Messages, Book 1 (1958), pages 204 and 205