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 Articles: Raymond Cottrell on Dr. Ford
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Exegesis of Daniel

by Raymond Cottrell


The Rubric of Partnership

At the opening session General Conference vice president Richard Hammill welcomed the Bible scholars as "partners of ours [the administrators] in reaching decisions on doctrine." They were to have "immunity" and were invited to express themselves clearly. As a scholar-administrator Hamill meant precisely what he said, but the conduct of some of his fellow administrators during the conference made evident that they did not share his view of partnership. How effective was this "partnership," how fair and open was the conference, and did the two groups reach a valid consensus? Most of the administrators would probably respond to all three questions in the affirmative, and most of the Bible scholars in the negative. Factors of which especially the administrators seemed not to be aware aborted effective partnership, genuine openness, and the formation of a valid consensus.

Genuine partnership would have placed Bible scholars on the steering committee that guided the conference day by day. Instead of the two co-chairmen for each of the seven study groups being administrators, there would have been an administrator and a scholar. Such an arrangement would have guided the conference in a more even-handed, objective way and protected the administrators from the charge that they planned and conducted the conference in such a way as to guarantee that Ford would be found in error. The two or three administrators with a scholarly background who did have part functioned as administrators, not as scholars. (At their annual meeting in January 1980 the West Coast Bible Teachers9 memorialized the General Conference, recommending a much different procedure than that followed at Glacier View.)

By participating in the Glacier View conference the Bible scholars became unwitting accomplices of administration in appearing to support a doctrinal position from which a majority of them dissented, and to find Ford in error. As several of them later expressed it, they "had been had."

Six facts attest this conclusion: (1) Prior to Glacier View several General Conference administrators stated in private conversation that "Ford must go." At least one administrator said that he had not read Ford's defense of his views and did not need to do so became he already knew that Ford ws teaching heresy. (2) Exclusion of an objective review of Article 23 of the Dallas Statement of Fundamental Beliefs, on the sanctuary, at the conference. (3) Neal Wilson's caustic reprimand of Ford during the plenary session Tuesday afternoon made evident his impatience with Ford for not surrendering his conscientious convictions. (4) K. S. Parmenter's tacit admission Thursday afternoon that the Australian (now South Pacific) Division Executive Committee had instructed him to be sure that Ford was defrocked, irrespective of Glacier View. (5) In the weeks following Glacier View many scholars, individually and in groups, addressed letters of protest to Neal Wilson. One General Conference officer reported that Wilson had received more than 250 such letters. (6) In the Atlanta Affirmation seventeen Bible scholars memorialized the General Conference In protest.

Administration apparently came to Glacier View expecting that the Bible scholars would join them in persuading Ford to submit to their collective judgment. The administrators could not believe that a majority of the Bible scholars dissented from Article 23 and from their intention to defrock him unless he recanted and submitted to it. Administration consistently turned a deaf ear to the Bible scholars before, during, and after Glacier View. For practical purposes there was a complete breakdown in open and frank communication between them--a result of the preceding decade of obscurantism.10

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