Messenger of the Lord

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Chapter 38—Hermeneutics-Part 7: 1919 Bible Conference/History Teachers Council

“The ‘pioneer position’ urged that the writings could not be divided into ‘inspired’ and ‘uninspired’ sections, but seemed to have no real means of dealing with apparent discrepancies. The ‘new view position,’ with its emphasis upon context, offered a means of explaining those apparent discrepancies. Each side seemed to have additional concepts that could have been useful to the other. Sufficient opportunity for a dialogue seemed to be present.” 1 MOL 434.1

In 1919 a Bible Conference was held July 1-19, and a Teachers Council July 20-August 1. About sixty-five people attended these two meetings, not all present for both. About twenty-eight teachers are listed in attendance at the Council, representing fourteen colleges (2 and 4-year). 2 MOL 434.2

Stenographers transcribed not only the lectures but also much of the ensuing discussions—a massive record of 2,494 pages. However, nearly half of these pages are duplicates, with the first copy totaling 1,308 pages. Of the 1,308 pages, about 1,100 are from the Bible Conference, the remainder from the Council. 3 MOL 434.3

This material lay unnoticed in the General Conference archives until a year after the establishment of the General Conference Archives in 1973. Why were these records placed in the archives? The answer lies in the record itself. Many delegates talked freely, often in strong disagreement. Some would make comments that they would moderate after discussion. The judgment of many suggested that no possible good could come from publicizing the disagreements among leading Adventist thinkers over such colorful topics as “the Eastern question.” Some believed that it would be “a rather hazardous thing to throw this out all over.” Others wanted the material reduced about fifty percent and provided to the delegates only. Some wanted a synopsis sent to all church members, and others wanted nothing sent out. MOL 434.4

After listening to the discussion, A. G. Daniells, president of the General Conference and chairman of the Bible Conference, said: “I sometimes think it would be just as well to lock this manuscript up in a vault, and have anyone who wishes to do so come there for personal study and research.” 4 MOL 434.5