From 1968-1970 I was a student at Avondale College in Australia where Desmond Ford was head of the theology department. He was a charismatic preacher with a phenomenal memory, who could quote from memory many Scriptures and statements of Ellen White. His dismissal in 1980 was a great disappointment to many of his students. The church in Australia lost about 100 ministers following Ford’s removal because they could not believe that he was wrong. Who was Desmond Ford and what did he teach that led to his removal? Ford was born in 1929 in Townsville, Queensland, Australia, into an Anglican family. He had a distant relative who was an Adventist and whose family befriended Desmond. He was baptized into the Seventh-day Adventist Church in 1946 at age 17. A few months later he resigned from his job at a newspaper office and at the beginning of 1947 he began his studies for the ministry at Avondale College. He was a brilliant student and a good speaker who participated enthusiastically in class discussions. His fellow students quipped, “New Testament Epistles was taught by Pastor Kranz and commented on by Desmond Ford.” 1 Ford graduated from the Ministerial Course in 1950 and began his ministry in North New South Wales. In 1952, he married his college sweetheart Gwen Booth, who bore him three children. His articles in various church papers and a successful public debate with a Church of Christ minister on the Sabbath convinced the Australian leadership that Desmond Ford was a future college teacher. He completed his B.A. in theology at Avondale College in 1958, and in the same year the Ford family was sent to America where he studied first at the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary in Washington (M.A., 1959) and then at Michigan State University where he completed a Ph.D. in Rhetoric in December 1960 about the Pauline epistles as written addresses. The family returned to Australia and for the next ten years he taught theology at Avondale, wrote many articles on theology, and was a sought-after preacher and camp-meeting speaker. In April 1970, Gwen lost her battle with breast cancer. After her death, Ford longed for a break from the relentless duties both on and off the campus. He applied for a study leave and was granted leave to go to the University of Manchester to begin a Ph.D. in New Testament under F. F. Bruce. Ford completed his Ph.D. dissertation on the “Abomination of Desolation” in Mark 13 in 18 months and was back in the classroom at Avondale at the beginning of 1973. In the years following, complaints against Ford’s teaching on righteousness by faith, the inspiration of Scripture, Ellen White, and the nature of a two-apartment sanctuary in heaven mounted, and in 1977, therefore, it was thought best to remove Ford temporarily from the Australian scene and have him spend some time at Pacific Union College with which Avondale had an affiliation agreement. Dr. Ford began teaching at PUC in the autumn of 1977 and on Sabbath afternoon, October 27, 1979, he presented a lecture on the investigative judgment to the Angwin chapter of the Association of Adventist Forums in which he outlined the major problems that he perceived with this doctrine. The speech was entitled, “The Investigative Judgment: Theological Milestone or Historical Necessity?” Ford claimed that he had been granted immunity to speak his views publicly at this conference.2 Nevertheless, the church’s leadership responded by summoning Ford to a meeting of over 100 theologians and church administrators at Glacier View Ranch in Colorado to evaluate his views. Before the meeting, he was given six months of paid leave during which he prepared a 991-page document entitled “Daniel 8:14, the Day of Atonement, and the Investigative Judgment.”3 The Sanctuary Review Committee considered Ford’s document, it wrestled with its implications, but concluded that while Ford asked the right questions concerning the sanctuary teaching, his answers and conclusions were wrong.

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