As you no doubt know by now, Pastor Walter “Chick” McGill was recently arrested in California on a federal warrant, to be held for 30 days in legal custody.
A number of people have written, asking “Why was he arrested?” While the Creation Seventh Day Adventist Church has long been predicting this event, and other – even more serious – penalties to fall on us because of our beliefs, I will attempt here to give a very clear answer to the question of “Why.”
For those seeking information beyond this response, we invite you to make a careful examination of the following website:
A set of Pastor McGill's personal writings that relate to this are found here:
It is my prayer that the voice of the Spirit will speak to all who acquaint themselves with this historical and most significant case.
Now, in order to understand why this arrest has taken place, it is necessary for the reader to think on two “levels.” The Savior once famously said, “If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things?” (John 3:12) There is an earthly, temporary and physical plane with its own reasons, its own causes and effects. And then, there is a “heavenly,” or a spiritual realm where the Great Controversy between Christ and Satan is played out in a higher sphere than that of human motivations and influence.
What we need to realize is that these two realms touch one another. What happens on earth – everything from prayers to persecution – affects what happens in the spiritual world. (Revelation 8:4, Exodus 3:7) Likewise, what happens in the heavenly places, whether good or bad, affects the world that may be seen with natural eyes. (Job 1:1-12, Luke 4:10, 11)
The persecution that has come upon the members of Christ’s people has both an earthly and a spiritual component, and one is inter-related with the other.
On an earthly level, the arrest of Pastor McGill is the result of “civil penalties” stemming from his refusal to comply with a court’s order to cease using the name “Seventh-day Adventist” as a part of his ministerial work. Decades ago, the General Conference Corporation of Seventh-day Adventists applied for, and was granted, a trademark on the name “Seventh-day Adventist.” The United States, by granting this trademark request, indicated thereby that the General Conference Corporation was entitled to sole use of that name, and that it would be protected from others trying to use it in an “unauthorized” manner.
There are several issues that arise with the above that places the General Conference Corporation in opposition to the principles of Biblical Christianity.
First, trademarks are applied to matters of “intellectual property.” Adventist doctrine clearly states that the name “Seventh-day Adventist” is of divine origin. “We are Seventh-day Adventists. Are we ashamed of our name? We answer, 'No, no! We are not. It is the name the Lord has given us. It points out the truth that is to be the test of the churches.'"' [Adventist author Ellen G. White in Selected Messages, Book 2, 384, emphases added] In other words, the Lord gave that name to His people, and though the government, and well-meaning individuals who do not accept this doctrine, and worldlings in general, offer the advice, “Just change your name, and everything will be fine,” it is clearly not that simple.
Because CSDAs accept that “Seventh-day Adventist” is “the name the Lord has given us,” we cannot choose a name for ourselves without violating the first commandment, which states, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:3) It is God’s prerogative alone to give “names” to His people – it is a sign of His authority and headship over the Church, just as Adam naming all the animals was a sign of his dominion over the physical world. (Genesis 2:19, Genesis 17:5, Genesis 35:10, etc.) Thus, although the name “Seventh-day Adventist” does not appear, in that form, in the Bible, and is not one of the 10 Commandments, because we are keepers of the Commandments, we have a direct instruction to accept no authority over us but God’s in matters of doctrine and religious obligation. This includes being faithful to the doctrine that our Father has given us a specific name, and a specific purpose for that name, as a Church.
The General Conference Corporation has attempted to cast this as a purely “legal” matter, with no bearing on the CSDA believers’ conscience; and yet this “legal matter” directly touches on the religious convictions of the Church. Because of what we believe – and for no other reason – we simply CANNOT surrender “ the name the Lord has given us,” for we believe ourselves to be that people, and the remnant of that people, who first received it. We believe that we, rather than the General Conference church, are the faithful Adventist believers.
In fact, the name in question was given to Bible-believing Christians before the Corporation that now claims sole ownership of it was even formed! Further, even the Conference claims (on paper) to accept that the name is of divine origin, endorsed and strongly promoted by prophetic writer Ellen White as an integral part of the faith. And so, its claim that the name is its “intellectual property” is deceptive on at least two counts. First, it cannot possibly be “owned” by the Conference, since the name pre-dated it; and second, it was conceived in God’s “intellect” and is therefore HIS property, not man’s. Neither the Father nor the Son has applied for a trademark, to have the human courts defend Their right to use it as They will. No, that was done by man.
On a physical level, then, the courts have taken it upon themselves to pass judgment on CSDA doctrines, even while claiming not to be doing this. How can we demonstrate this? Very simply:
The CSDA Church says, “We must use the name ‘Seventh-day Adventist’ because it is the name that God has given to His Church.” This is a reason based entirely in Adventist doctrine. It has nothing whatsoever to do with “theft” of identity, or anything else that we have been accused of. We are a group of people who have accepted a certain doctrine, and are being faithful to that doctrine as a matter of conscience and conviction.
The courts have ruled, “You cannot use that name.” This implies that either:
1) The CSDA doctrine that we MUST use the name is invalid, or
2) The CSDA Church is NOT “His Church” and therefore its members are not the ones who have the right to use the name according – again – to doctrinal convictions.
In either case, doctrines are involved, and being arbitrated, by secular intelligence. As Protestant Christians we protest, and we resist, and we thus find ourselves “in contempt” of, or rejecting the authority of, the court in this matter. Penalties were sure to follow, but Peter comforts the true-hearted with the statement, “But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men's matters. Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.” (1Peter 4:15, 16)
As clear-cut as all that is, it will still not make perfect sense unless we take a look at the spiritual component. The apostle is recorded as saying, “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” (2Tim 3:12)
Why is it that the General Conference is coming after the CSDA Church? Their claim is that the CSDA members, by bearing the name “Seventh-day Adventist” and yet teaching different doctrines, is misrepresenting the people that are authorized (by the U.S. Government) to use that name. The concept of God’s authority vs. the U.S. Government’s authority is a whole other (but related) matter. But we might well ask, what are the “different doctrines” that so concern the General Conference leadership that they should seek to bring their “kingly power” to bear against this little movement?
I submit that one of the major differences, in fact the primary difference, in doctrine that we hold is that of the concept of Righteousness by Faith, or The Victory over Sin.
The Bible teaches, plainly, that “whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin.” (1John 3:9) By virtue of merely being “born again,” a man’s heart is replaced. The cold heart of stone is removed, and a warm heart of flesh is installed. (Ezekiel 11:19) In many Biblical contexts, “flesh” is a sign of the human, the flawed, the corrupt; however, here it is contrasted with “stone,” to emphasize its characteristics of warmth, life, and the potential to grow.
CSDA doctrine, which is unique in many respects, teaches that a born-again Christian will never again willingly commit an act that is known to be sinful. And further, the process of “sanctification” that takes place thereafter involves ceasing to do evil, and learning to do righteousness, (Iaiah 1:16, 17) without – as an act of faith – even considering the possibility of “backsliding” into those errors and sins that we have left behind. This is because when a Christian truly repents of a sin, and confesses it, we are not merely forgiven, but it is written, “He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1John 1:9, emphasis added)
It is not our power that cleanses us from unrighteousness, but HE is faithful and just to do so on our behalf, if we truly ask it in faith. It is not that the born-again Christian becomes “perfected” and ready for Heaven immediately – clearly not. It is not that the born-again Christian immediately becomes free from all defects of character, or the consequences of past evil. As the verse after that last one quoted points out, “If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.” (1John 1:10) All “have sinned” (past perfect tense). In fact, Paul tells us clearly that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23)
But nowhere, not any verse, or passage, or doctrine, tells us that in Christ we “continue in sin.” Rather, we are FREE from sin. Because of the Redeemer, and only because of Him, we are “saved from [our] sins.” (Matthew 1:21) This is good news! This is the Gospel!
And yet, dear readers, modern, mainstream Adventism rejects this wonderful promise, this wonderful truth. It’s true. In their publications, and from their pulpits, Adventist teachers associated with the Conference (and, in fact, the independent ministries as well) say that every now and then, a born-again Christian will “lose sight of Christ” and fall into sin. This is presented as a message of hope, for the rest goes that, “He loves you anyway, and will forgive you.”
But the problem is that God’s love (for the mainstream believer) ends with His forgiveness. In the Gospel, forgiveness leads to cleansing, and to atonement, as John’s verse tells us. Not only will God forgive us, but He will also cleanse us, so that we will not repeat that sin ever again – or else we are not truly “cleansed.” The Good News is not that God keeps letting us fall, and get broken, and get patched up to fall all over again. The Good News is that He, in His infinite love and wisdom, picks us up and thereafter – from now to eternity – “keeps [us] from falling,” and presents us “faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy.” (Jude 1:24) What a difference… it makes all the difference in the universe.
Not only do mainstream Adventist believers disagree with this doctrine (and we have spoken to thousands of them over the course of our ministry) but Satan actively hates this doctrine. This is where we return to our topic.
Satan hates the doctrine of victory over sin. And why? Because anyone who accepts it, truly, and without doubting, will begin to live as Enoch did, as Elijah did… as Christ did! We are filled with the Holy Spirit and, though we continue to be tempted, for we have sinful flesh until the Second Advent, we have escaped the power of the enemy, settling firmly and unwaveringly into everlasting life.
Satan seeks to use any means necessary to destroy and discredit this message. However, because this message is of God and Christ, he has no power to do so. He must therefore, necessarily, turn his focus on the messengers. Now, the messengers are vulnerable, and Satan knows this, for he has been permitted by the Almighty to harass, injure, and even – at times – kill Heaven’s ambassadors. He was even given permission to arrange for the crucifixion of the Son of God. And yet, with every such apparent “victory,” the power of the Lord has only increased on the earth.
Satan has inspired the spirit of force, which true Adventists believe to be “the last resort of every false religion,” [Ellen G. White, The Signs of the Times, May 6, 1897, emphasis added] within the most logical enemies of the CSDA Church… their former brethren. What is the true reason why the CSDA evangelists are being persecuted and incarcerated? It is because this doctrine, different from the Conference Corporation’s version of the Gospel, is being taught under the name “Seventh-day Adventist.” This, and other true doctrines of the Bible, are being restored to their place in the Gospel message, in the Adventist message, and Satan is activating anyone who follows his principles (including force, persecution, greed, corruption, selfishness, and various other works of the flesh) to move against the messengers.
The Bible tells us who our most effective enemies will be, if they become controlled by the enemy: “But take heed to yourselves: for they shall deliver you up to councils; and in the synagogues ye shall be beaten, and ye shall be brought before rulers and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them. And the gospel must first be published among all nations.
But when they shall lead you, and deliver you up, take no thought beforehand what ye shall speak, neither do ye premeditate; but whatsoever shall be given you in that hour, that speak ye: for it is not ye that speak, but the Holy Ghost. Now the brother shall betray the brother to death, and the father the son; and children shall rise up against their parents, and shall cause them to be put to death. And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.” (Mark 13:9-13)
The first ones mentioned as potential betrayers are also the most effective – brethren. This story is as old as sin itself, for did not Cain, the older brother, slay Abel, the younger, because of his own unrighteousness? And was not a “mark” placed upon Cain for his deeds, in heeding the spirit of the serpent/dragon and acting like a “beast?” (Genesis 4:8, 15) Dear readers, having understood the earthly, it is time to understand spiritual things!
But note that we can learn other things from Mark’s passage as well. They will deliver us up to “councils,” “before rulers and kings.” In this modern age, those are the courts of the land. It is written that “in the synagogues ye shall be beaten.” This has been fulfilled in two ways. First, we have spoken to Conference Adventists who have admitted to deriding us before their fellow congregants. We have seen some of this for ourselves. Second, and more literally, Pastor McGill was initially arrested for passing out literature in a Church. He is being “held” because of the warrant related to the charges I have mentioned above, but he was initially taken into custody because of an SDA member’s complaint about his presence on the Church property – where all are supposedly welcome (?)
Not every Church that is persecuted is Christ’s Church, that is certainly true. The fact that the CSDA Church is now suffering persecution for its beliefs is not “proof” that we are the Remnant of Yahweh. Our doctrines, our beliefs, our integrity in the face of civil penalties, these are the evidences of our genuine faith. To quote Adventist doctrine regarding the Victory message that we teach, “When the doctrine we accept kills sin in the heart, purifies the soul from defilement, bears fruit unto holiness, we may know that it is the truth of God. When benevolence, kindness, tenderheartedness, sympathy, are manifest in our lives; when the joy of right doing is in our hearts; when we exalt Christ, and not self, we may know that our faith is of the right order.” [Ellen G. White, Thoughts from the Mount of Blessings, p146]
When it comes to what Adventists once believed, and should believe, about genuinely becoming a Christian, we may read, “Not one should be buried with Christ by baptism unless they are critically examined whether they have ceased to sin, whether they have fixed moral principles, whether they know what sin is, whether they have moral defilement which God abhors. Find out by close questioning if these persons are really ceasing to sin, if with David they can say, I hate sin with a perfect hatred.” [Ellen G. White, Letter 26d, 1887, p. 6]
But these teachings, and this doctrine, are not founded on the words of Adventist writers. The CSDA beliefs in Victory over sin are stated in, and built upon, the Bible as their sole foundation. Quotations from Adventist writers may serve to emphasize and highlight what the Scriptures teach, but whatsoever is good, and true, and holy, is found in the words of the Scriptural Canon. We are Bible-believing Christians first and foremost.
We read, from the lips of Christ Himself, “Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more,” (John 5:14) and, “Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.” (John 8:11)
The apostles, in perfect agreement with the Master, tell us, “Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin, that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God.” (1Peter 4:1, 2; emphasis added, and see also 1Corinthians 2:16 that tells the believers “we have the mind of Christ.”)
Again, and we could quote a number of other verses, but this is among the most clear: “Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for His Seed remaineth in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. In this the children of God are manifest [or “openly revealed”], and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.” (1John 3:9:10)
It is the love of God, and the love for our brothers, that has led us to teach these doctrines. This is the opposite of the spirit of Cain. It is the love from On High that gives us the power to cease from sin, for there is nothing “good” in us but that which our Father has placed there: His Seed, Christ Jesus.
It is because Creation Seventh Day Adventists believe these things, and believe that of all people, Seventh-day Adventists are the ones called to teach it under that divinely-inspired title… it is because of this that Pastor McGill, and others, are subjected to the judgments of secular men, the strength of human laws, and the wrath of Cain: the attacks of unjust and unfaithful brethren. This is why Pastor “Chick” has been arrested.
But, dear readers, this is not the end of the scroll. There is more to come, for “The church may appear as about to fall, but it does not fall. It remains, while the sinners in Zion will be sifted out – the chaff separated from the precious wheat. The Remnant that purify their souls by obeying the truth gather strength from the trying process, exhibiting the beauty of holiness amid the surrounding apostasy." [Ellen G. White, Selected Messages, vol. 2, p. 380, emphasis added]
We invite you to watch and pray with us, and to examine the factors of this event deeply and with an open mind. Again, more details of these matters may be found at the following link:
We further invite comments and questions here on this forum.
Yours in Yahshua’s love,
Why Was Pastor McGill Arrested?
Questions, answers, and updates about the trademark lawsuit and related issues
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