Greetings, I will give a brief report/summary of the executive meeting that Daniel, Dustin, and I recently attended. The executive committee welcomed us courteously with Elder Rasmussen as chair, at around 1:45PM (2017). They had some committee members attending by phone, including Elder Ramiro Cano (who was in New Mexico with his father-in-law in the hospital, expected to pass away soon). Elder Rasmussen gave the news that Pastor Ponomarov’s mother-in-law had passed away recently. They had some phone troubles, which were eventually resolved, they noted that one of the individuals invited had not come (Welner). Elder Rasmussen noted that some non-members were present as witness (including Pastor Ponomarov, Daniel Toews and I believe Pierre Steenburg), he read the letter that had been sent out to each of us and we were given one hour collectively “to be heard in your own defense, introduce evidence, and produce evidence.”
The clock started at 1:52 PM, I went first, then Dustin Butler, and Daniel Mesa last. I felt rushed and was anxious, Daniel noted my anxiety decreased after a few minutes and I completed my written presentation at about 2:08 PM. Dustin prayed first and he presented several challenging areas about the trinity such as the problem of the Father and the Son role playing, the idea that Jesus died but Christ did not die and whether the robe of righteousness that is given to us is different from the robe of righteousness given to Adam, Abraham, Elijah and Daniel. Dustin had two pages of notes, compared to my 10 pages of notes, so his presentation was far less scripted than mine, he ended at about 2:30 PM. Daniel Mesa prayed first and then gave his testimony of conversion and into pastoral ministry, presenting evidence from testimony of others that God has always lead in his ministry. He shared how this truth has transformed his Bible study and personal spirituality. He shared how when he was studying Revelation in preparation for the 30 part series he could not understand Revelation 3:14 with the belief about God he had in his mind. He entered the verse by verse study of Revelation as a trinitarian, but finished the study as a non-trinitarian. He shared a few thoughts about how Christ admitting that He was the Son of the Blessed (Mark 14:61,62) lead to His cruel death by crucifixion because the Jews had “a law” as it reads in John 19:7. Daniel also explained that he believed in the Holy Spirit, contrary to many false accusations, and that the Holy Spirit is the third person of the Godhead, the Spirit of Christ. Daniel had no notes with him, completely unscripted; he ended at 2:50 PM.
During the presentations most were listening quietly, I noticed that Elder Rasmussen, the treasurer (on his right) and Nathan Renner (behind Dustin) were taking notes (although it was evident at times Pastor Renner wished he could interact with Dustin and especially Daniel Mesa). After the presentation were over they asked some questions for clarification about the Holy Spirit (we all answered), about why we did not just leave the SDA church if we knew our beliefs were in conflict with theirs (we all answered), it was asked why we defied church authority when E.G. White stated that God does not move on a few isolated individuals but on the body as a whole (Dustin answered). The treasurer asked Dustin to clarify how his views on the issues he presented conflicted with the trinity. One person asked about Scriptures like Gen 1:26, Mat 3:16, John 1:1 and some other passages but the chair prohibited that discussion because the meeting was not for debate, only questions of clarification could be asked of us. Those were the main questions I remember. We noted that Pierre Steenberg was asked to clarify our position to the committee; he asked us to correct him if he was wrong and stated that we were in conflict with the fundamental belief on the trinity, beliefs 2-5. We each agreed.
The committee took a 10-15 minute recess and we were dismissed. During that time, a Sabbath School teacher from my years at Chowchilla (Mr. Walker) approached and with deep emotion and pleaded that I consider a third option that neither the trinity is right or my view is right but that God is too big for my mind to understand. I told him that these are things that are revealed in Scripture, but he insisted with the same viewpoint and pleaded with me that I reconsider. Later, after speaking with Dustin, we concluded that if what he was saying is true then there would be no censure or discipline, yet the Fundamental Beliefs do define God in a way that is contrary to how God is revealed in Scripture.
Thank you all for your prayers, all we know is that they likely have the votes to censure us. Regardless of their decision, we need to continue to “grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen” 2 Peter 3:18.