Feb, 03, 1998
Dear Elder McClure,
It has come to my attention of late, that the General Conference has been taking to court and suing other Seventh-day Adventists over the issue of the name "Seventh-day Adventist". Additionally, I have learned that the General Conference Corporation is pursuing these lawsuits under the power of federal and state courts by invoking the "trademark" law protections. Though I have heard that the reason the General Conference gives for allowing this course of action is "to protect the name" of the church, I find this very difficult to fathom, since such a course would be in clear violation of the teachings of the Bible and of Christ Himself. It would also be in direct contradiction to the counsel given us by some of the founders of the SDA Church including Ellen G. White. Therefore, I would like you to have the opportunity to set the record straight and to tell me the reason(s) that the General Conference has decided to join with the federal and state governments in "protecting the name".
Perhaps it is that I am somewhat naive and uninformed on such an important issue, but I am fairly new to the SDA Church, having been baptized less than two years ago. Since that time, it has been my desire and earnest effort to assimilate the character of Christ and to follow the principles detailed to us in His Holy Word. Now you can imagine my great surprise and consternation to learn that the church I had thought of as the Body of Christ, is taking actions that I believe violate the principles which are so fundamentally important to all Christians. To be clear which principles I am referring to, let me briefly present my dilemma.
1) Religious liberty--a very important principle that I thought the SDA Church stood for, and was not limited to only religious liberty of SDA members or pertaining only to Sunday laws. Surely, anyone who considers themselves a Seventh-day Adventist and believes it is a name given by God, should have the liberty of conscience to call themselves by that name. "To protect liberty of conscience is the duty of the state, and this is the limit of its authority in matters of religion. Every secular government that attempts to regulate or enforce religious observances by civil authority is sacrificing the very principle for which the evangelical Christian so nobly struggled." GC 202 "Let the principle once be established in the United States that the church may employ or control the power of the state; that religious observances may be enforced by secular laws . . . and the triumph of Rome in this country is assured." GC 581
2) Total surrender of self to exalt Christ--relying on our Savior and denying ourselves, resting by faith in God and His protection, and not relying on self or the works of self or the protection of self or of man-made agencies.
3) The Sabbath and the Commandments of God--directly related to resting by faith and to having a living love and total loyalty to God and in service to fellow man. (Can this include denying the power of God by the establishing of idols of men in religious dealings, or of the "spiritual murder" of other Christians or churches by denying them full liberty of conscience?) Romans 13:10 "Love worketh no ill to his neighbor: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law." (Those who work ill to their neighbor make void the law of God.)
4) The response of Jesus Christ Himself to His disciples in Luke 9:49-50. His disciples told Him of someone who had been casting out demons in Jesus' name, but was not a part of their group. Jesus distinctly told them to "Forbid him not!". Indeed, how then can the General Conference or anyone tell another they may not practice their own beliefs including the use of a name they believe was given by God! (Irregardless of any disagreement that may exist between two groups or individuals).
I have been led to believe that it is wrong for one Christian and especially a SDA Christian to take another before the (heathen) courts. I understand that this repudiates the essence of Christianity and indeed the essence of the Sabbath rest. Please correct me if I am in error on this point.
Though this letter in no way fully conveys all of my concerns over the apparent violation of important principles, I hope that it will be sufficient to explain my point of view. Also, that you will see fit to respond to me with a full explanation of the reason and rationality of these actions so that I am able to resolve this matter in some way. My heart has been very heavy and burdened as a result of this matter. So please understand that is the reason I am very forthright and perhaps a little demanding in my desire for an explanation. I do want to be fair, but I also realize the full magnitude of this issue, and that it cannot be lightly glossed over. I thank you for your time and attention. Please respond as soon as possible!
Yours in Christ
Larry R. Larson