On March 30, 2019 Avondale College will “celebrate” the passing of Dr. Desmond Ford as a “powerful gospel preacher.” Reflections will be made by former colleagues and friends who knew Dr. Ford. Avondale College published the following invitation on their website:
“Join the Avondale College of Higher Education community in remembering the passing of gospel preacher, Bible scholar and former Head of the Theology Department Dr Desmond Ford. Celebrate the contribution of a long and productive life spent answering the call to serve God and proclaim Christ.” 
To some Desmond Ford was a hero. To others, Ford did more than anyone else to damage the Seventh-day Adventist movement by attempting to destroy the foundations of the faith – more than D. M. Canright, A. F. Ballenger, John H. Kellogg, Walter Martin and others.
To some Desmond Ford brought necessary, progressive, theological advancements to the Adventist people. To others (a small minority) Desmond Ford’s teachings are a serious deviation from the Bible and Spirit of Prophecy and a fulfillment that some would apostatize from the historic teachings of the faith.
Desmond Ford advocated many views that have become known as the “new theology.” He has a huge following among administrators, pastors and laity throughout the Seventh-day Adventist Church. He first introduced his views in Avondale College and then throughout Australia and much of New Zealand. Later he traveled to America and taught his message at Pacific Union College. He traveled throughout the United States both on the east and west coasts spreading his message in packed Seventh-day Adventist churches and institutions.
His teaching credentials were eventually revoked and he was fired from denominational work. However, Ford continued to lecture at Seventh-day Adventist events and his views have not only taken root in Adventism, they have become the prevailing emphasis in the church today while the historic landmarks of the faith have nearly become extinct.
What were some of his views? The following summary was published by Loma Linda University on October 17, 1980. These are some of the main beliefs of Dr. Ford. He devoted his life to spread these throughout Adventism.
“Ford contended that the distinctive Adventist teaching on the sanctuary was based on Ellen White’s writings but lacked biblical support.” 
“He argued that in the Book of Hebrews Christ entered the most Holy Place of the sanctuary at his ascension and not in 1844 as Adventists have believed.” 
“The term ‘cleansing the sanctuary’ in Daniel 8:14 referred, according to Ford, to God’s victory over antichrist on our behalf and not an investigation of our sins.” 
“Ford believed that Adventism’s unbiblical understanding of the sanctuary created anxiety in believers who lacked full assurance of salvation in Jesus Christ.” 
“This view called into question the traditional Adeventist position on the 2,300-day prophecy.” 
“The year-day principle had been misapplied by Adventists, said Ford.” 
In other words, Ford basically throws our historic beliefs out the window. During his lectures Ford would attack our fundamental beliefs and question the validity of Ellen White. He would undermine confidence in the Spirit of Prophecy. He would downgrade our pioneers. He taught that 1844 was a non-event and had no Biblical significance. The 2,300 days was all wrong. There is no investigative judgment. The heavenly sanctuary is not being cleansed. There is no final atonement taking place in the most holy place. It’s all a lie.
Desmond Ford’s teachings were not new at all. In fact, Ford doesn’t reveal anything unique. All of his arguments are the same old teachings that were rejected by our pioneers. Ever since the passing of 1844 many individuals from within the church have raised the very same arguments that were made by Ford. The only difference is that our generation is embracing these arguments instead of confronting them – as our pioneers did.
Ellen White confronted certain leaders in the church who were attacking the Seventh-day Adventist position on 1844 and the cleansing of the heavenly sanctuary. In the book Manuscript Release Vol. 8, pp. 244, 245, Ellen White warned the entire General Conference in 1905 that “Brother Ballenger” was spreading “error.” She warned that his views on the “Sanctuary,” similar to those held by Dr. Ford, were not consistent with the revelations which God gave His people just after 1844. She admonished Ballenger:
“You have been departing from the faith. You have helped in confusing the understanding of our people. The correct understanding of the ministration in the heavenly sanctuary, is the foundation of our faith” (Manuscript Release Vol. 8, pp. 244, 245).
Here Ellen White rebukes these doctrinal deviations in the church with regards to the sanctuary message. She did not remain nuetral in a time of spiritual crisis, instead she defended our historic truths. Notice how the “correct understanding” of the sanctuary message was affirmed in Adventism:
“The Holy Ghost was poured out upon us, and I was taken off in the Spirit … the mediation of Jesus was finished in the holy place of the sanctuary in 1844. Then Jesus rose up and shut the door of the holy place, and opened the door into the most holy, and passed within the second veil, where He now stands by the ark, and where the faith of Israel now reaches” (Early Writings, 42).
Ellen White was taken off in vision and was shown by God what happened in 1844. She was not the originator of these truths, she only wrote down what she saw or was told, and her revelations contradict the teachings of Ford. Ellen White and Desmond Ford cannot both be right. Either Sister White was shown these things in vision or she was a liar and a fraud. But before you determine who taught truth and who promoted heresy, read more of Ellen White’s testimony as to what she “saw” and what she was “shown” with regards to the heavenly sanctuary.
“I saw that they were correct in their reckoning of the prophetic periods; prophetic time closed in 1844, and Jesus entered the most holy place to cleanse the sanctuary at the ending of the days” (Early Writings, 243).
“I was shown what did take place in heaven at the close of the prophetic periods in 1844. As Jesus ended His ministration in the holy place and closed the door of that apartment … Jesus entered the most holy of the heavenly, at the end of the 2300 days of Daniel 8, in 1844, to make a final atonement for all who could be benefited by His mediation, and thus to cleanse the sanctuary” (Early Writings, pp. 251, 253).
As a prophet she would convey heaven’s approval or disapproval to certain doctrinal positions. She affirms Daniel 8:14, the cleansing of the heavenly sanctuary, 1844, the investigative judgment and everything that Dr. Ford denies. She did NOT define doctrine, she only attested through the Spirit of God the truthfulness of our fundamental principles. Notice how our historic faith along with the sanctuary message were established by the Bible:
“We would search the Scriptures with much prayer, and the Holy Spirit would bring the truth to our minds. Sometimes whole nights would be devoted to searching the Scriptures, and earnestly asking God for guidance … As the points of our faith were thus established, our feet were placed upon a solid foundation. We accepted the truth point by point, under the demonstration of the Holy Spirit. I would be taken off in vision, and explanations would be given me. I was given illustrations of heavenly things, and of the sanctuary, so that we were placed where light was shining on us in clear, distinct rays” (Gospel Workers, 302).
It was through the prophets and the apostles that God gave us the doctrines of the Holy Scriptures. God gave revelations to the authors of the Bible, and Ellen White was also taken off in vision. She saw events in the heavenly sanctuary and was also shown certain Bible versus that would help explain these events. The points of our faith are deeply rooted in the Bible because our pioneers arrived to those positions through Bible study. Whenever they came to a point where they could no longer proceed, Ellen White was “shown” things that would make their understanding of the Holy Scriptures clear.
If fact, the Bible teaches us that God gives prophetic gifts to the church to help them in their understanding of the Scriptures (1 Corinthians 14:1). And it was this same prophetic gift that helped our pioneers get back to the Biblical Sabbath, the Biblical Sanctuary, the Biblical truth on the non-immortality of the soul and all the rest of the landmarks of our faith.
In addition to revealing the truths of 1844 and the work in the most holy place of the heavenly sanctuary, notice what else we have been warned about in the Spirit of Prophecy:
1. Denying Christ’s Mediation in the Heavenly Sanctuary is “Heresy”
“For the past fifty years every phase of heresy has been brought to bear upon us, to becloud our minds regarding the teaching of the Word—especially concerning the ministration of Christ in the heavenly sanctuary, and the message of Heaven for these last days, as given by the angels of the fourteenth chapter of Revelation. Messages of every order and kind have been urged upon Seventh-day Adventists, to take the place of the truth which, point by point, has been sought out by prayerful study, and testified to by the miracle-working power of the Lord. But the waymarks which have made us what we are, are to be preserved, and they will be preserved, as God has signified through His Word and the testimony of His Spirit. He calls upon us to hold firmly, with the grip of faith, to the fundamental principles that are based upon unquestionable authority” (Selected Messages, Vol. 1, p. 208).
2. Satan wants to Rob us of the Investigative Judgment Message
“We are in the great day of atonement, when our sins are, by confession and repentance, to go beforehand to judgment. God does not now accept a tame, spiritless testimony from His ministers. Such a testimony would not be present truth. The message for this time must be meat in due season to feed the church of God. But Satan has been seeking gradually to rob this message of its power, that the people may not be prepared to stand in the day of the Lord” (Selected Messages, Vol. 1, p. 124).
3. Many Will Depart from the Faith on the Sanctuary Message
“In the future, deception of every kind is to arise, and we want solid ground for our feet. We want solid pillars for the building. Not one pin is to be removed from that which the Lord has established. The enemy will bring in false theories, such as the doctrine that there is no sanctuary. This is one of the points on which there will be a departing from the faith. Where shall we find safety unless it be in the truths that the Lord has been giving for the last fifty year?” (Counsels to Writers and Editors, p. 53).
4. Satan Will Bring in Fantastic Theories to Destroy the Sanctuary and Atonement
“Satan is striving continually to bring in fanciful suppositions in regard to the sanctuary, degrading the wonderful representations of God and the ministry of Christ for our salvation into something that suits the carnal mind. He removes its presiding power from the hearts of believers, and supplies its place with fantastic theories invented to make void the truths of the atonement, and destroy our confidence in the doctrines which we have held sacred since the third angel’s message was first given. Thus he would rob us of our faith in the very message that has made us a separate people, and has given character and power to our work” (Counsels to Writers and Editors, p. 53).
5. Satan Desires to Change 1844 and the Cleansing of the Heavenly Sanctuary
“The passing of the time in 1844 was a period of great events, opening to our astonished eyes the (1) cleansing of the sanctuary transpiring in heaven, and having decided relation to God’s people upon the earth, [also] the (2) first and second angels’ messages and the third, unfurling the banner on which was inscribed, (3) “The commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.” One of the landmarks under this message was the temple of God, seen by His truth-loving people in heaven, and the ark containing the law of God. The light of the (4) Sabbath of the fourth commandment flashed its strong rays in the pathway of the transgressors of God’s law. The (5) nonimmortality of the wicked is an old landmark. I can call to mind nothing more that can come under the head of the old landmarks. All this cry about changing the old landmarks is all imaginary. Now at the present time God designs a new and fresh impetus shall be given to His work. Satan sees this, and he is determined it shall be hindered. He knows that if he can deceive the people who claim to believe present truth, [and make them believe that] the work the Lord designs to do for His people is a removing of the old landmarks, something which they should, with most determined zeal, resist, then he exults over the deception he has led them to believe” (Counsels to Writers and Editors, p. 30).
6. The Sanctuary Truth has been Affirmed by the Holy Spirit Again and Again
“For more than half a century the different points of present truth have been questioned and opposed. New theories have been advanced as truth, which were not truth, and the Spirit of God revealed their error. As the great pillars of our faith have been presented, the Holy Spirit has borne witness to them, and especially is this so regarding the truths of the sanctuary question. Over and over again the Holy Spirit has in a marked manner endorsed the preaching of this doctrine. But today, as in the past, some will be led to form new theories and to deny the truths upon which the Spirit of God has placed His approval” (Evangelism, p. 224).
So thank you Avondale College for celebrating the life of an unrepentant promoter of what the Spirit of Prophecy calls “heresy.” Thank you for celebrating ecclesiastical suicide by so publicly announcing the end of true, Biblical, historic Seventh-day Adventism on your campus.
Error is dangerous. When left alone it only grows and strengthens. Error can take over an entire institution – no, an entire division. Error must be met, exposed for what it is and cast out – not celebrated. Error was dangerous when Satan first introduced it into heaven, and it’s dangerous when spread and tolerated among our own people. And if some are still determined to defend error and teach it or celebrate it – then will the last believer of our true, historic faith please turn off the lights on your way out of a once great institution that is on the road to spiritual extinction.
Note: In part 2 we will debunk Dr. Ford’s allegations and show the strong, simple, Biblical basis for the cleansing of the heavenly sanctuary and the investigative judgment from the New Testament.