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Response to the Anonymous Letter-1

Response to the Anonymous Letter-1

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Published by Jason Hines

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Published by: Jason Hines on Jul 07, 2012
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12/02/2014

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1TheAnonymousLetterconcerningthepresidentialcandidacyofDr.AlexBryan,whichhasbeencirculatedto,amongothers,theWWUBoardofTrustees,isnothingmorethanacollectionofhalf-truthsandfabrications.Itsassertionsaremisleadingatbest,andoftensimplyfalse.Thisdocumentgivesapoint-by-pointexpositionofthenumerousfactualinaccuraciesofTheAnonymousLetter.Wewillgothroughthedocumentinorder,refutingeachassertionwithinformationgleanedfrommultiplesources,includingDr.AlexBryanhimself.Note:Unlessotherwisestated,allquotationsrefertoTheAnonymousLetter,andcanbefoundinthecorrespondingsectionofTheLetter’soutline.1.
 
AlexBryan’sBackgrounda.
 
ThisitemclaimsthatDr.Bryancreateda“Sundayservice”churchandleftSeventh-dayAdventistemployment.
 
Thisassertionisahalf-truth.TheGeorgia-CumberlandConferenceestablishedthechurchasauniqueapproachtoyoungadultevangelism.PartofthestrategyincludedaSundayevangelisticmeeting,basedonEllenG.White’sexplicitsuggestionin
TestimoniestotheChurch,Volume9,page233.
WhileDr.Bryanremainspassionateaboutevangelism,hehassinceexpressedsomeregretsaboutthewaythisimplementationoccurred,andhasnevertaughtorpracticedSunday-keepingasanalternativetotraditional Adventistdoctrine.
b.
 
ThisitemclaimsthatDr.BryanreceivedaDoctorofMinistrydegreefromGeorgeFoxUniversityin“emergentchurchspiritualformation.”
 
Thisassertionisfalse.Dr.Bryan’sdegreeisinchurchleadership,notspiritualpractice.
c.
 
ThisitemclaimsthatDr.Bryaninvitedhis“mentor,aself-admittedspiritualistandleaderoftheemergingchurchmovement,LeonardSweet”tospeakforVespersatSouthernAdventistUniversityinanattemptto“indoctrinatetheSouthernUniversityTheologyfacultybybringingSweettospeakwiththemspecifically.”
 
Thisassertionismisleading.LeonardSweetisnotDr.Bryan’s“mentor,”noraretheyregularlyincontactwitheachother. Additionally,SweethasbeenaninvitedspeakeratGeneralConference,NorthAmericanDivision,unionconference,andlocalconferencegatherings.
 
Furthermore,theassertionthatthetheologyfacultyatSouthern AdventistUniversitywouldbesoeasily“indoctrinated”bySweetseemstobelittlethecredibilityofAdventisttheologians.
d.
 
ThisitemclaimsthatDr.Bryan“openedhispulpit”to“emergingchurchleaderShaneClaiborne.”
 
Thisassertionisalsomisleading.ClaibornewasaninvitedguestofWallaWallaUniversity.Hisvisitwaspartofaregularlyscheduledcampusweekendofworship.Dr.BryanplayednopartintheinvitationofClaibornetotheWWUcampus,althoughhedidopenhispulpitincooperationwiththeWWUadministrationandcampusministries.
 
2e.
 
ThisitemclaimsthatDr.Bryan“hascalledEllenG.Whitea19
th
centurymystic.”
 
Thisassertionisahalf-truth.Dr.BryandidrefertoEllenG.Whiteasa“mystic”withtheintentionofemphasizinghersupernaturalpropheticgift.Dr.BryanhassinceclarifiedhisuseofthetermfromtheWWUChurchpulpit,admittingthattheterm“mystic”wasnotthemostprecise.
f.
 
ThisitemclaimsthatDr.Bryan“promotedRomanCatholicMysticsandContemplativeauthorsattheAdventistForumonSpiritualFormation”inOctober2011.
 
Thisassertionismisleading.ParticularlyataninstitutionofhighereducationlikeWWU,standardsofacademicinquirynecessitateathoroughexaminationofawiderangeofsourcesonanyissue.TheworksofauthorssuchasRichardFoster,DallasWillard,BrennanManning,andHenriNouwenhavebeenwidelyrecognizedasexcellentandinfluentialcontributionstothestudyofspirituality.OurownAdventistTheologicalSeminaryatAndrewsUniversityutilizessuchbooks.Thisfactsuggeststhatthestudyofsuchbooksdoesnotimplyendorsementoftheirsubjectmatter.
g.
 
ThisitemclaimsthatDr.Bryanoftenquotesfromthewritingsof“leadingemergentchurchleaders.”
 
Thisassertionispreposterous.Itseemstoinsinuatethatitisunacceptabletoeverquotea“leadingemergentchurchleader”fromanAdventistpulpit.Generalizationssuchasthisaredangerousandunhelpful.Werejectthepremisethatonly Adventistauthorsshouldbequotedfromthepulpit.
h.
 
ThisitemclaimsthatDr.BryanbelittlesAdventistdoctrine“infavorofmysticalexperiences.”
 
Thisassertionisfalse.Dr.Bryanhaspreachedspecificallyonhow Adventistscanmaintaintheiruniqueidentitywhilealsobeingpresentintheworldinwhichtheylive.Furthermore,Dr.Bryanisafifth-generationSeventh-dayAdventistwhohasconsistentlydefendedAdventistdoctrinesfromthepulpit.(ForaccesstoalibraryofDr.Bryan’ssermonsatWWU,pleasevisitwww.wwuchurch.org.)
2.
 
EducationalExperiencea.
 
ThisitemclaimsthatDr.Bryandoesnot“significantly”meetthreeofthe“expectations”identifiedintheWWUpresidentialjobdescription.Theexpectations,accordingtothejobdescription,were1)Possesssignificantseniorleadershipexperience,2)Haveanearneddoctoraldegree,and3)Haveteachingexperienceatthecollegeoruniversitylevel.
 
Thisissuewasseriouslyconsideredbythepresidentialsearchcommitteefromthefirstmoment.Andafteranextensiveprocessofinterviewingandvetting,thesearchcommittee,ledbyElderMaxTorkelson,recommendedDr.BryantotheWWUBoardofTrustees.
1.
 
Inregardstoleadershipexperience,Dr.Bryanhasbeentheseniorpastorofachurchthatislargerinmembershipthan
 
3
someoftheconferencesinthisunion.Furthermore,Dr.BryanhasbeensignificantlyinvolvedintheWWUPresident’sCouncilinhisroleasseniorpastor,andhashadtheopportunitytointimatelyunderstandthedynamicsofleadingWWU.
2.
 
InregardstotheDoctorofMinistrydegree,Dr.BryanwouldnotbetheonlyAdventistuniversitypresidenttoholdsuchadegree.Dr.GordonBietz,presidentofSouthernAdventistUniversitysince1997,andDr.RandallWisbey,presidentofLaSierraUniversitysince2007bothholdtheverysameDoctorofMinistrydegree.Inaddition,formerWWUpresidentialcandidatesDr.DaveThomasandDr.DwightNelsonbothholdthesamedegree.
3.
 
Inregardstoteachingexperience,Dr.BryanhasbeenhighlysuccessfulintheclassroomatWWU.HehastaughtmultipleclassesintheWWUSchoolsofTheologyandBusinesssincehisarrival.Heiswidelyregardedasabrilliantlecturer,withhisclassesregularlyexperiencinglongregistrationwaitlistsduetotheirpopularity.HeisamemberoftheHonorsGeneralStudiescommittee.While,aspastor,heisnotatenuredprofessor,hisclassroomandacademicexperiencecomparesfavorablywiththerestofthepoolofWWUpresidentialcandidates.
b.
 
ThisitemmerelyrepeatsthecommonlyacceptedopinionthatWWUneedsapresidentwith“aworkingknowledgeofhighereducation”and“demonstratedsuccessasagoodteacher.”
 
Onceagain,thisissuewastakenveryseriouslybythepresidentialsearchcommittee.BythetimetheyrecommendedhisnametotheBoardofTrustees,thesearchcommitteehadclearlybeensatisfiedthatDr.Bryanmetthecriteriaenumeratedinthepresidentialjobdescription.
3.
 
SpiritualFormationa.
 
ThisitemstatesthatDr.AlexBryanhas“indicatedthatSpiritualFormationshallbeincorporatedinallvenuesoftheWWUchurch.”
 
Thisstatementishalf-misunderstanding,half-willfulignorance.Atthecorelevel,thosewhoobjectto“spiritualformation”arefundamentallyconfusedaboutitsdefinition.Fortunately,theWWUSchoolofTheologyhasnotbeensilentonthisissue.Dr.DaveThomas,DeanoftheSchoolofTheology,recentlyauthoredaconciseandthoughtfularticleonthistopicthatwaspublishedintheWinter2012issueofSpectrumMagazine.
1
Withstrongstatementslikethisonesoeasilyavailable,itissurprisingthatcontroversyremainsonthistopic.

1
DavidE.Thomas.
TheGreatSpiritualFormationKerfluffle
,(SpectrumMagazine,Vol.40No.1,Winter2012)44-49.

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