Mark Finley Defends & Urges Seventh-day Adventists To Silence The Protest Against Great Hope: A Controversy Over The Great Controversy

Time is almost finished and all who will be saved will need a thorough education and experience in the present truth, truths especially applicable to our times; they will need a preparedness to stand faithful in the final conflict.  Because of God’s unwillingness that any should perish but that all should come to repentance, He has clearly charted out the path for us so that none need to be ignorant or lost. He has appointed the means (the Bible, The Great Controversy, and His faithful people that will present the messages contained therein) in carrying forward the final messages of mercy to the world–the First, Second, Third and Fourth Angels’ Messages. The purpose of this is that individuals will arouse and take their stand on the side of truth.  The book The Great Controversy is divinely inspired and from the very time of its completion, it was to be distributed in its entirety so that people can be educated, warned and prepared to meet the final test. It is a woeful, inexcusable and outright rebellious spirit that would cause the individuals to whom have been committed the sacred trust of heralding the everlasting gospel to the world, to reduce The Great Controversy into not even one-fourth of the original, making it into a mere pamphlet and claim that the abridged book should be distributed for evangelism. There is a great controversy concerning the book, The Great Controversy and relentless assaults upon it both from people in the world, and from people in the Church. Since Satan did not succeed in killing Ellen White to prevent the writing of this book, he is attempting to mutilate and kill it so that individuals will be deprived of the experiences so needful to stand in these last days. Nowhere does the Lord authorize the minimization or changing in any manner of The Great Controversy—the people need this book in its entirety. 
Sadly, the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists has taken upon itself to do such a work. “Seventh-day Adventist world church leaders embarked upon a literature sharing campaign two years ago that surpassed in scale any literature project to date. The goal was to share more than 100 million copies of The Great Hope around the world… The abridged version of the book would be updated in its language and include 11 chapters of the original Great Controversy which was originally written in 1888 and revised in 1911.”[1] What makes it even worse is that The Great Hope evangelistic initiative was presented to members of the denomination as an effort to mass-distribute The Great Controversy. Still more egregious is the defending and justification of this gutting of The Great Controversy by men in responsible positions, who may have not been on the committee to vote in favor of such an action, but approve of it nevertheless, such men as Elder Mark Finely, who recently made a video justifying the use of The Great Hope in place of The Great Controversy. The video which is titled “Mark Finely responds to false claims about the book The Great Hope,” can be viewed here. 
After viewing the video and the various reasons given to justify the publishing and distributing of The Great Hope in place of The Great Controversy my response is that there can be no rationalization for man extracting from God’s Word the portions that he chooses to while claiming to be doing so for the purposes of evangelism, eliminating prejudices, and giving the people a quick and easy read. The very book The Great Controversy was intended for the purpose of evangelism, to enlighten both the world and the church. While Mark Finley insistently states in the video that he was not on the committee that decided to abridge The Great Controversy, he makes sure to endorse it at the close of the video, while at the beginning of the video, he takes a neutral position; which simply suggests that if he were on the committee, he would have approved it for the sake of “mission” and “unity” just like he would have been willing to accept women’s ordination if the General Conference vote would have went that direction in 2015. And I quote: “‘Whatever your viewpoint is on the ordination of women, whether you are convicted on one side of the question or the other, there comes a point when you do not tear the body of Christ apart,’ Finley said, referring to the church. He added: ‘There comes a point where you say, ‘We will accept the decision of the corporate body, namely the General Conference session. And whatever my personal view is on that, no matter how I believe I am right, I have come to the conclusion that I will accept as God’s will whatever the session votes and move on with our mission.’”[2]
Firstly, since Elder Finley was not on the committee, why is it that since the inception of the undertaking of The Great Hope project, no one has stated anything publicly until now; and why is it that someone who was not a part of the committee has become the spokesperson for defending The Great Hope? Could it be because of Mark Finley’s reputation, influence and ministry within Seventh-day Adventism that he is being used to publicly defend the abridging of The Great Controversy so that individuals will stop protesting against The Great Hope, and join in with the evangelistic initiative. Finley begins by stating that his ministry over the past 50 years has consisted of delivering the uncut, undiluted truths of God’s Word—the Sabbath, The Second Coming, the Sanctuary—with special emphasis on Revelation 14.  However for him to defend the publishing of The Great Hope, a watered down version of The Great Controversy, wherein the controversy, the testing truths, have been extracted, is contradictory to what his ministry has been about. His ministry, as he stated, has been about unapologetically proclaiming the distinctive truths that comprise Seventh-day Adventism, yet conspicuously missing in The Great Hope are the portions that deal with both the foundation and the central pillar of Seventh-day Adventism, Daniel 8:14, the 2300 prophetic days, as well as other important truths of Seventh-day Adventism.  Again, if the primary reason for the publishing of The Great Hope were for the sake of evangelism, one must ask the question; to what church are recipients of this book being led to? The chapters that explain the birth, the message and the mission of Seventh-day Adventism cannot be found in The Great Hope.
Another reason that Elder Finely gives in defense of The Great Hope is that some of the leaders in various countries were fearful that the distribution of The Great Controversy in its entirety would arouse the prejudices of the people, therefore, entire chapters and portions that were considered to be “controversial” were removed.  But just think about the title of the original book, it was written to unveil the controversy between Christ and Satan, from the time that there was war in heaven throughout earth’s varied eras and dispensations; if the controversy is removed, it becomes an altogether different book telling an altogether different story.  Christ has never and can never give his approbation to individuals dulling the message, watering it down or sugar-coating it to escape prejudice and persecution; let the truth cut! Nowhere in scripture do we find the assurance that as the gospel is preached that all will be peace for those who proclaim it and they will encounter no persecution. Christ says to the contrary, “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword” Matthew 10:34. The Great Controversy is the book, above every other book that should be given to the world.
“The Great Controversy should be very widely circulated. It contains the story of the past, the present, and the future. In its outline of the closing scenes of this earth’s history, it bears a powerful testimony in behalf of the truth. I am more anxious to see a wide circulation for this book than for any others I have written; for in The Great Controversy, the last message of warning to the world is given more distinctly than in any of my other books.”[3] For this very reason, Satan attempted to take Ellen White’s life while she was in the process of writing this book (see Life Sketches of Ellen White, page 163).
Additionally, using Elder Finley’s argument of disarming prejudice, if it were all about catering to those particular countries whose leaders were fearful about inciting prejudice against Seventh-day Adventists, why was not the book The Great Hope circumscribed only to those specific countries? The Great Hope mass-distribution was a worldwide effort and books were given out even in those countries where there exists no prejudice.  By removing the portions that reveal the “man of sin,” his characteristics, his manner of working, how then will individuals know from whom and from what they are to flee or come out of.  Furthermore, if the controversy and testing truths are removed, what standards are left for individuals to follow? “We dare not tamper with God’s word, dividing His holy law; calling one portion essential and another nonessential, to gain the favor of the world. The Lord whom we serve is able to deliver us. Christ has conquered the powers of earth; and shall we be afraid of a world already conquered?”[4]
Sadly, this is not the first time that Seventh-day Adventist leaders have tried to demote The Great Controversy, keeping it on the shelf while placing other books in the forefront. Since the leaders cannot prohibit members from giving out The Great Controversy, they have gutted out significant portions containing the great controversy between Christ and Satan, promoted The Great Hope as the primary evangelistic book and assert that it is the same and will have the same results. To further silence any protest, they have placed in the back of the book ordering information for those who would be interested in the full edition. In this age of post-modernism, it is a rarity to find individuals that would send in for the full-version; people have become so accustomed to making no effort to obtain what they desire. If the objective truly was for them to be led to The Great Controversy through The Great Hope, why not hand out the two books together as a set, volume 1 and volume 2.  Or simply give them the entire book and allow the Holy Spirit to lead them to specific chapters or portions that they are prepared to receive; in other words, allow the Holy Spirit to be the one who breaks down the prejudices (see Gospel Workers, 1892, page 409).
The reason was given, which elder Finley praises as beneficial, that a smaller book should be published because individuals may be intimidated by a 600 page book, referring to The Great Controversy. Again, taking that argument of using a smaller book for evangelism that does not arouse prejudice, it is obvious that there are such small books written by Ellen White already in existence and readily available for mass-distribution, which some are already doing, which destroys any justification for tampering with The Great Controversy. Such books as Steps to Christ, Thoughts from the Mount of Blessings and Christ’s Object Lessons are perfectly calculated to do the very work that The Great Hope was supposedly created to do. This confirms that the castration of The Great Controversy was absolutely intentional. Furthermore, these smaller books should be combined with The Great Controversy; and again, the Holy Spirit will direct the readers step by step.
A few more questions to be considered are the following: 1. Do either God or Ellen White authorize the abridgment of The Great Controversy to be given out as a means to win souls to the truth or do they support The Great Controversy in its entirety being given out? 2. Would God approve of His Word, the Holy Bible being significantly reduced, or reduced at all for that matter, causing it to say something entirely different than the whole of it conveys? 3. Should an abridged version of the Bible be produced to make it more palatable for the world? (That is what LGBTQ proponents are advocating) 4. Is it accidental that the history of the rise of Seventh-day Adventism is excluded as well as the history of the papacy omitted from The Great Hope? Finally, are only the sections selected for The Great Hope divinely inspired or of greater inspiration than the omitted portions; or is the entire The Great Controversy divinely inspired? It must ever be remembered that finite, limited human beings have not been given the work of the Holy Spirit in deciding how much of the truth people in the world need, and what portions of the truth they need.  If given the entire book, God will lead them to the particular portions to read at particular times as He directs them.
A comparison between The Great Hope and The Great Controversy reveals just why Satan exults when The Great Hope is promoted above and has supplanted The Great Controversy in the work of evangelism among those in the world. The following are a few of the startling findings, doing a word for word comparison.
The Great Controversy (GC) has 42 chapters and 678 pages (not including the appendix), The Great Hope (GH) has 11chapters and 92 pages (the actual book begins on page 5; actually 87)
The word “Sunday” is mentioned 45 times in GC and only 16 times in GH.
The words “Revelation 14” are mentioned 37 times in GC and only 2 times in GH.
The words “Revelation 13” are mentioned 19 times in GC and only 1 times in GH.
The word “wine” is mentioned 15 times in GC and only 1 times in GH.
The word “Babylon” is mentioned 27 times in GC and only 3 times in GH.
The word “Catholic” is mentioned 45 times in GC and only 2 times in GH.
The words “Papist” and “Papists” are mentioned a combined 53 times in GC and only 2 times in GH.
The word “Papacy” is mentioned 50 times in GC and only 1 time in GH.
The word “reformation” is mentioned 127 times in GC and only 3 times in GH.
The word “protestant” “protestants” “Protestantism” are mentioned a combined 117  times in GC and only 5 times in GH.
The word “sanctuary” is mentioned 85 times in GC and only 1 time in GH
The word “atonement” is mentioned 34 times in GC and 4 times in GH and none of those references referred to the Most Holy Place of the Heavenly Sanctuary
The number “2300” is mentioned 23 times in GC and zero times in GH
The number “1844” is mentioned 35 times in GC and zero times in GH
But the most astounding is that the words “Pope” and “Popery” are mentioned a combined 132 times in GC and ZERO times in GH
Every single reference to the pope was removed from The Great Hope. You decide, is this a coincidence, or a conspiracy? If The Great Hope is a book for evangelism, the question remains, what movement and message are recipients of this book being led to; and likewise, what church and errors are they being called out from.
[1] https://news.adventist.org/en/all-news/news/go/2012-07-10/millions-worldwide-continue-to-receive-hope-through-literature-campaign/
[2] http://www.adventistreview.org/church-news/mark-finley-offers-5-steps-for-resolving-disunity-on-women%E2%80%99s-ordination
[3] White, Ellen. Colporteur Ministry (1953), page 127
[4] White, The Great Controversy (1911), page 610

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