The Teachings of Marvin Moore on the Law and Standards
About a year
ago, we received the following communication from southern Idaho:
I attend one of the little country churches near Nampa, Idaho. Last Sabbath, Marvin Moore was the visiting speaker. Just as he has done on other occasions, he started in, telling us the law of God could not be kept, and that we should get perfectionism (his name for obedience) out of our heads.
Just then, a kindly old man in the audience spoke up and said, That is not right, Elder Moore. In the strength of Christ we must keep the commandments!
At this, Elder Moore became very agitated. Shaking his finger at the old man, Elder Moore's face looked terrible. Angrily he said to him, It is people like you that are the cause of all the trouble in our church!
I will never forget that
experience. I thought the little old man was going to break down and weep,
as a leader in the church reproved him for defending the keeping of
Gods commandments! Elder Moore is one of those in charge of Pacific
Press, in nearby Nampa. Idaho.
had been an influential editor at Pacific Press for a number of years, but
in recent times was elevated to the position of senior editor of Signs of
the Times, the denominations leading North American missionary
journal. As you may recall, for over a decade now, we have noted that Signs
has carried articles in praise of Pope John Paul II. Now Marvin Moore is its
Not long ago,
Moore authored a full-length book, in which he stated his doctrinal position
on how Gods people should relate to the law and the standards of the
In this brief
analysis we will provide you with an overview of Moore's teaching, so you
can be forewarned. It is a tragedy how rapidly our historic beliefs are
being trashed in articles and books published by our denomination.
If you were to
read the writings of our old-time writers and leaders, you would find that
they rarely deviated from a direct presentation of our teachings, as found
in the Bible and Spirit of Prophecy.
But, from the
mid-1950s onward (beginning with Questions on Doctrine), something
strange and new began appearing: articles and books with sentences switching
back and forth between truth and error. One line would teach some truth and
the next line, some error. Marvin Moore's book fits this new theology
pattern. The purpose is to keep you confused long enough to bring you over
to the modernist position.
carries the ominous title, The Gospel vs. Legalism: How to Deal with
Legalisms Insidious Influence. What is inside the book is just as
strongly worded as the cover.
Nowhere in the
book, does Moore have one good thing to say about the Spirit of Prophecy.
Most of the time, he ignores it entirely. He says he did a research study in
the book of Galatians, using the New International Version, and that,
when he completed his study, he was excited to find that a commentary study
on Galatians 3:19-25 by a Protestant theology teacher (R.N. Longenecker,
Wycliffe College, Toronto, Canada) was in exact agreement with his
conclusions. Frankly, that is not something to brag about, but Moore does.
Elsewhere he says this:
Believe it or not, sometimes the Lord can use these Christians of other faiths to help us in our ministry. Sometimes they can help us grow spiritually! In spite of what some of us may think, Adventists do not have a corner on heaven.GVL, p. 44 [italics his].
Moore presents in Gospel vs. Legalism are remarkably liberal. Yet he
is one of the leaders at our West Coast publishing house!
that legalism is the problem in the church, and in this book he identifies
it as those who defend Christian standards.
Adventists can be, I believe, an excellent case study for anyone wanting to study legalism. That's another reason that I'm willing to be specific about Adventist legalism.GVL, pp. 12-13.
comments on pages 12-13, it is clear that Moore believes our historic
standards are just something our people inherited from earlier churches or
thought up themselves. Yet you and I know those standards were given to us
by the God of heaven, through the Bible and Spirit of Prophecy.
In one of his
few comments about the Spirit of Prophecy, Moore tells us that there is
nothing inherently correct in the Spirit of Prophecy to identify it as from
God. The only reason, he says, that some of us adhere to it is because
it agrees with our ideas. Using the same reasoning, he concludes that it
is impossible to find anything wrong with Joseph Smith. He says it is
simply a matter of faith, whether or not we accept or reject either
prophet. But we believe the Bible and Spirit of Prophecy because those
writings teach truth and because the Holy Spirit reaches our hearts through
them. Truth has a self-commending quality.
Can Adventists prove that God spoke through Ellen White? Can the Mormons prove that God spoke through Joseph Smith? No. We can only accept these prophets by faith, and Adventists reject the Mormon claim that Joseph Smith was a prophet because we do not have their faith.GVL, p. 28.
On page 31,
Moore explains that the test of whether something is true depends on
whether the local believers have developed their spiritual gifts. If
they have not done so, they have no way to tell if something is right or
contention throughout the book is that, just as the contentious Jewish
party was the problem in the churches of Galatia, so the problem in
our denomination today is the legalists, for it is they who are attempting
to keep the church adhering to its earlier standards.
I will point out repeatedly in this book that the ultimate issue with the Jewish party was the law and their religion as a whole, yet I will also state that the Jewish party seemed obsessed with just the ceremonial aspects of that law. The answer to this apparent inconsistency lies, I believe, in understanding that the ceremonial aspects of that law were the Jewish party's measure of ones loyalty to the system as a whole. Similarly, the issue with Adventist legalists is Adventism as a whole, with standards as a measure of ones loyalty to all that Adventism stands for.GVL, p. 31.
On page 36,
Moore says the test of whether or not a message is true is whether or not it
is approved by church leadership. But, of course, we know that the test of
any doctrine is whether or not it agrees with the Bible and Spirit of
Prophecy. Indeed, any new light should be clearly stated in those writings.
book, an objective of Marvin Moore is to convince the reader never again to
try to convince anyone else to obey standards or laws. He considers those who
do to be controlled by Satan:
We've all known at least one person who's the self-appointed guardian of the church's integrity . . If you read Galatians 3:1-5 carefully, you will discover that this is exactly the problem Paul had to deal with. Paul began Galatians 3 in an interesting way to say the least. You foolish Galatians! he charged, who has bewitched you? GVL, p. 59.
you say if I told you that there was no way to tell what a Christian
standard was? You would be shocked. Well, that is the position of Marvin
Moore. After saying that it is all right to keep the Sabbath, he says that
it is impossible to say how to properly keep it!
If we cannot
figure out whether or not we should go swimming for fun on the Sabbath, how
can we determine any standard? Notice in the following logical argument,
Moore assumes that Sabbath-keeping and other Christian practices are just
lifestyle. Also notice his effort, using fine degrees of difference,
to blur, and thus eliminate a standard of conduct. He takes a standard and
ridicules it to death.
For years Seventh-day Adventists have been called legalists because we keep the seventh-day Sabbath. I don't think that is what makes us legalistic at all. There is no question that there are many legalistic Adventists, and there's no question that many (if not most) legalistic Adventists keep the Sabbath legalistically. But the Sabbath itself is not what makes them legalists. Its their whole emphasis on lifestyle . .
Because Sabbath-keeping is one of our lifestyle issues, lets use it as an example for a moment.
Is it okay to wade in the water at the seaside on Sabbath afternoon, or perhaps in a river or lake near your home? You just take off your shoes and let the water wash up on your feet. I hardly think any of us would say that that's wrong. But suppose you let the water come up to your ankles. Is that wrong? How about up to your knees? Or you pull up your dress or your pant legs and let the water come up to your thighs? You even get your clothes a little wet. Is it okay to wade in the water on Sabbath as long as your clothes don't get wet?
Well, maybe its okay up to the thighs, you say. But suppose you get your whole body in the water and dunk your head under the surface. Then you start swimming around a bit. Is that bad? Suppose you swim across the lake. Is that worse than your neighbor who hikes around the lake on Sabbath? GVL, p. 61.
takes a little while to build up to it, Moore's point is obvious: There
are no standards! Do what you want on the Sabbath; it does not matter.
(Later in the book, Moore says he regularly buys gas and food on the Sabbath
when he needs to. Near the end of the book he looks favorably on eating out
at restaurants after attending church.)
Using the above
method of slicing standards into narrow pieces, Moore could go from water
drinking to vodka simply by slowly adding or subtracting various liquids and
substances, all the while poking fun at the crazies who believe there must
be a point somewhere where you draw the line.
You see, Marvin
Moore knows that, by dissolving the difference between right and wrong, good
and evil, he eliminates the standard.
swimming on the Sabbath, in the very next paragraph, he defines the
problem people as those who would express any concern about how to keep the
I'm sure that in any group of a dozen Adventists we would find a variety of answers to these questions [about going into water on the Sabbath]. The point is that these are the kinds of questions people who have a strict lifestyle start debating. Arguments like this can go on endlessly, until we realize that were not talking about matters of faith at all. Were talking about obedience to rules and standards.GVL, p. 61.
according to Moore, obeying rules and standards has nothing to do with
matters of faith. By this he means that they have no effect on whether
or not we will be redeemed.
The first thing you know, were asking whether a person who swims across the lake on Sabbath afternoon is saved, whether the person who wears a little jewelry or who goes to a theater now and then is saved. And suddenly the Jewish party's line of reasoning begins to sound familiar!
Let me assure you that the Jewish party would have felt quite comfortable in some Adventist circles. They would have found great satisfaction in debating whether people who wear wedding bands and earrings or who attend the theater can be saved.GVL, pp. 61-62.
explains it, legalism occurs when anyone is concerned whether or not someone
else is maintaining Christian standards. We are all supposed to totally
ignore conduct. Do as
you please, and let others do as they please. Moore firmly believes in the
worldly philosophy expressed in Judges 17:6 and 21:25. Now, as in the days
of Judges, everyone is to do that which is right in his own eyes.
teaches that rules and standards were given by Moses, but a new system of
religion was instituted by Christ.
In its time, the law that God revealed at Sinai was the best He had to offer . . Here's something else I want you to notice about both Sinai and Calvary. Each was the beginning of a new religion. Sinai began the Israelite religion. Calvary began the Christian religion. And each was Gods true religion for its time. Notice also that each of these religions replaced the system that preceded it, and each was a great improvement over the preceding system.GVL, p. 80.
to him, we introduce a system of our own devising when we imagine that
it is good to keep standards, and not good not to.
Are we in danger of introducing a system of our own devising? And the answer, I believe, is yes . . How easy it is for us to think that those who obey the rules are the good people and those who violate them according to our perception are the bad people.GVL, pp. 111-112.
is that we should not return to the old system.
The Jewish party was trying to force Gentile Christians, and indeed themselves, back into a system that had once helped Gods people experience salvation but which Christ's death had abolished.GVL, p. 119.
questions whether we should be keeping the Bible Sabbath at all.
We need to consider the possibility that the Sabbath of the The Commandments might be included in Paul's comments in [Galatians] 4:10 about days, months, seasons, and years.GVL, pp. 122-123.
Here is the
passage he is referring to:
Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years. I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain. Galatians 4:10-11.
relents and says it is all right to keep the Sabbath after all, as long as
we pay little attention to our conduct on that day. (Later
in the book, we will be told of various kinds of wrong things that can be
done on the Sabbath, including transvestism.)
The issue is how we keep the Sabbath. Do we keep it by the rule book, with our primary attention given to what is right and wrong to do on the Sabbath? . . Sabbath-keeping by the rule book is a reversion to the weak and miserable basic principles of the world that Paul spoke about in Galatians 4:9, just before his comments about days and months and seasons and years.GVL, p. 123.
He goes on to
explain that the only people who need rules are little children. But, when
we grow up, we no longer need rules, such as the Ten Commandments.
Please do not think that I'm doing away with rules . . Rules have a very important place in life, especially for children and those who are young in the Christian faith . . Children need these rules to get them started on good habits.GVL, pp. 123-124.
is for children, Moore says. But now that you are grown up and a Christian,
you no longer need such childish things. (Although he says that here, later
in the book he says parents should not teach rules to their children
to castigate independent ministries. The principle problem with those people
is that they are trying to get people to live by Christian standards:
Another thing I've noticed about many of these zealous independent ministries is their fascination with standards . . The problem with these independent ministries and the people who join them is that standards seem to be the major focus of their religion, the chief way by which they judge whether others are Christians. Anytime we allow rules and regulations about lifestyle to become the focus of our religion, we have fallen into the trap of the Jewish party, even if we are not insisting on their particular laws. GVL, pp. 126-127.
From the time
of Cain, on down to our own generation, the wicked have wanted freedom to do
as they please, while the righteous have wanted conformity to the pattern
Christ gives in the Inspired Scriptures.
Christians pray, Father in heaven, I love to do Thy will. The wicked
declare, Obeying God takes the joy out of life!
Never exchange the joy and freedom that you have in Christ for a joyless religion that is centered on rules and regulations! GVL, p. 127.
those who believe in rules are in slavery.
Yet even the most pure form of Judaism [with its rules], which was such a great blessing to Gods people before Christ, was slavery to remain in after Christ had come. Hagar represented Christians who believed that it was necessary for Christians to place themselves under the jurisdiction of law the way Gods people did in the Old Testament.GVL, p. 132.
us against another great evil: people who try to encourage other people to
live better lives! Beware, he says, lest you yourself be found doing it!
Here are danger signs to watch out for:
If you find yourself frequently complaining about people in the church who lower the standards, and if you find yourself bewailing the downward drift of the church, then watch out. You may be a legalist persecuting other Christians. Your greatest need is to let God take care of His own church. Give these people the freedom to live their lives the way they think they should, even if its not the way you think they should.GVL, p. 134 [italics his].
Do you sense
something missing in the above paragraph? Moore talks about our
lifestyle and their lifestyle, but not about Gods requirements.
Everything is made subjective. His message is Do whatever you want, and
let everyone else do as they want. To take a stand for anything is
legalism. Later in the book, he says it is the legalists who are the
persecuting power in the church, and they need to be kicked out.
In the very next
paragraph, he adds:
But in matters of dress, diet, entertainment, Sabbath-keeping, and other lifestyle standards, I am convinced that the less advice we give others, the better, except when we are asked.GVL, p. 134.
these standards are said to just be lifestyle, and that includes
Sabbath-keeping. None of it, according to Moore, has anything to do with
By this point
in the book, Moore feels the reader has been sufficiently well-grounded in
anti-standards theology, that he can be introduced to a deeper truth. It is
this: You need to do more than resist the fanatics who defend standards; you
need to get rid of them!
Galatians 4:30, Moore says this:
I heard recently of a church leader who makes himself the guardian of the purity of the church. If someone does something on the Sabbath that is wrong by his standards, or comes to church wearing a piece of jewelry that he considers inappropriate, within a week that person will find a letter in his or her mailbox advising him or her of the sin. Each year this man goes over the nominating committee report with a fine-tooth comb to be sure that every candidate for church office conforms to his personal standards.
Notice how Paul said we should deal with this problem: But what does the Scripture say? Get rid of the slave woman and her son, for the slave woman's son will never share in the inheritance with the free woman's son. That's pretty tough advice, but its right to the point. Paul told the Galatian Christians to get rid of the Jewish party. Have nothing more to do with them, he commanded. Send them packing.GVL, pp. 134-135.
That is a
logical conclusion of his thinking, considering that Moore considers the
free woman to represent those who are free from the law in Christ, and
the slave woman those who are still enslaved to obeying rules. As
Moore sees it, the slave woman's son will never share in the inheritance
Might others be
right when they urge you to return to Bible-Spirit of Prophecy standards?
Moore's counsel is to not consider such a possibility, but cut such
people short and send them packing.
Today if someone is trying to send
you on a guilt trip because of something you do that he or she doesn't
think you should do, follow Paul's advice
and get rid of the slave woman and her son. GVL, p. 135.
By this time,
the reader might be wondering about Matthew 18, which urges Christians to
try to get others to return to obedience to Christian principles. Wanting
none of that, Moore boxes in Matthew 18 with his own set of rules: The
person must only mention one item, mention it once, never mention it
again, and normally never tell it to the church (GVL, p. 136).
writes like a man who lives in a dark cave of skepticism and hatreds. It
must be difficult for the workers at Pacific Press to associate with such a
man. It must harden the soul to have to work closely with him or edit his
book, as Richard Coffen had to do, or run the presses to print it.
In 7 Testimonies,
pp. 164-168, Ellen White says the printers in our publishing house should
refuse to print vile things. Marvin Moore's book, Gospel and Legalism,
is such a book. It was purposely written to destroy moral standards.
On page 137,
Marvin Moore lists ten items in a short quiz. Reading it over, we see
that the list covers a variety of things which would concern any normal
Christian. Here is this ten-point quiz:
1. I'm concerned about the increasing worldliness in the church, especially as seen in the lowering of standards by so many of our members.
2. I have friends who are also concerned about this, and we discuss it quite often.
3. I wish somehow God could use me to bring the church back to its original purity.
4. I feel that some ministers put too much emphasis on righteousness by faith and not enough on obedience.
5. Sometimes I wonder how members who wear jewelry, do wrong things on the Sabbath, attend theaters, and do other worldly things can have a relationship with Jesus.
6. The Bible and Spirit of Prophecy seem so plain about our standards that you wonder sometimes if people have even read them.
7. I'm concerned enough about these people that I have encouraged some of them to be faithful, or I have thought maybe I ought to.
8. I try hard to bring up my children to follow the standards given us by the pioneers.
9. Sometimes I wish there were a way I could make our members obey the standards, and I sure do wonder why the church cant take a firmer stand.
10. I try to encourage my older children to be faithful to what I taught them.
Near the end of this chapter Ill say a few more words about this quiz, but for now Id like to depart from our study of Galatians and spend some time discussing legalism.GVL, p. 137.
We will quickly
turn to the end of that chapter, and find what Moore has to say about your
response to the ten items of normal Christian experience:
Before we move on to the next chapter I need to keep my promise and discuss the quiz you took at the beginning of this chapter. Count the number of yes answers you gave on the quiz . . The closer your number is to 10, the more seriously you need to ask yourself, Am I a legalist? . . If you scored anywhere near 10 and especially if you scored a 9 or a 10, I urge you to ask God to help you understand yourself and your attitudes. Ask Him to show you what your words and actions are doing to others.GVL, pp. 152-153.
fellow Advent believer, having answered yes to all ten, you are a legalist!
According to Moore, you are among the sons of the slave woman who will not
be going to heaven.
chapter, Moore rather clearly summarizes his antinomian teaching. It is
startling. He tells us that it is those who believe God helps them obey the
divine law and put away their sins who are the legalists. And legalists, he
says, are to be cast out. According to Moore, those who believe that they
will be saved in their sins, are the only ones who will be saved!
write in a complicated style, but a careful reading of the following reveals
a broad theological system, not of truth, but of error:
[This is] a statement a man made to me once: God saves us from our sins, not in our sins. [Matthew 1:21.] Legalists of this variety agree that God accepts sinners just as they are when they first come to Christ. He does not require them to overcome certain sins or reach a particular level of character development before He will save them.
But what does God do about the sins that Christians commit after they have been forgiven and have experienced conversion? This is where the God saves us from our sins, not in our sins theology takes over. The idea is that the power of Christ is sufficient to give Christians the victory over every known sin. Therefore, once people have been converted, perfect performance is not only possible but necessary in order to retain the assurance of salvation. The moment people sin, they break their relationship with Jesus, so the theory goes, and that relationship is not restored until they confess their sins and ask for forgiveness. Sin and justification become an on-off switch for salvation. Justification turns salvation on, and committing a known sin turns it off.GVL, pp. 139-140 [italics his].
In the above
passage, Marvin Moore is unabashed about it: If you believe God saves you
from your sins, not in them, then you are a renegade, a legalist, a son of
the slave woman whom
God is going to cast out from His presence.
Moore next turns
his attention to, what he considers to be, an important aspect of the
twisted thinking of the legalist. He says the legalist tends to think
that behavior has something to do with sin! Of course, we know that
behavior (thoughts, words, and actions) has a lot to do with sin! But Moore
says that is not true. Sin, according to him, has nothing to do with
what a man thinks, says, eats, or does. Here is Moore, explaining one of the
flaws in the legalists thinking:
A behavioral definition of sin. At the bottom of this misunderstanding of the gospel, I believe, is an incorrect definition of sin, the idea that sin is what we do (behavior) rather than what we are (the heart).GVL, p. 140 [italics his].
Moore goes on to
explain that the true definition of sin is based on the Original Sin
concept: Man is born sin. It is not something he does, but something he is.
Yet it is clear that such a theory conveniently removes the
responsibility of sin from us! It really blames God for making us as we are.
The truth is
that sin is the transgression of the law (1 John 3:4). The Spirit of
Prophecy declares that 1 John 3:4 is the only true definition of sin (Great
Controversy, 493:0). But Moore tosses aside that great truth, and,
in its place, accepts the definition of sin invented by Augustine, a
Catholic priest who by his own admission could not stop associating with
prostitutes and mistresses.
Moore goes on
to theologically link sin with godliness, in order to separate our life from
either. He says that our thoughts, words, and actions have nothing to do
with sin, or with righteousness.
to Moore, is the fallacious position of the legalist:
A behavioral definition of sin. A behavioral definition of perfection arises naturally out of a behavioral definition of sin. Accordingly, growth toward perfection is a matter of learning which behaviors are wrong and obtaining the power of Christ to overcome them. Ultimate perfection is reaching the point where one no longer does wrong thingssinlessness.GVL, p. 141 [italics his].
In the above
paragraph Moore is stating what he considers to be an error. He then goes on
to point out that legalists are always concerned about standards. These
people, he says, actually think it wrong to wear jewelry, go to movies, and
break the Sabbath!
Many of the legalists I know have an obsession with lifestyle and standards of behavior . . They frequently make an issue about people in the church who wear jewelry, attend the theater, do certain things on the Sabbath, etc. . .
Arising out of this obsession with standards is another attitude that is closely related to it. Legalists tend to put a great emphasis on lifestyle standards as a measure of progress in the Christian life. When they see a woman in the church wearing earrings and a necklace, their first thought is that she must be slipping in her Christian experience . . Why should we pass judgment on a persons Christian experience because of earrings and a necklace?GVL, pp. 142-143.
Do you think it
is wrong to wear jewelry, go to movies, and break the Sabbath? Moore
reading the words of one of the three top administrators of Pacific
Pressand its most important editor. He holds the place held 40 years
before by Arthur S. Maxwell.
Moore says that,
by their evil attitudes toward fellow church members who do not have
standards, these legalists practice some of the worst forms of social
cruelty, and all in the name of keeping the church pure! (GVL, p.
saying the underlying problem is that legalists are the ones who take
every inspired statement about behavior as a command that is to be literally
obeyed for all time (GVL, p. 143). According to his view, just
because Adventists, a century ago, did not wear earrings and jewelry and
break the Sabbath, is no reason they need do the same today.
Moore says, the Bible does not tell us what is right and wrong. Instead, we
are to do whatever we think bestwhatever
is right in our own eyes. (But the right in our own eyes is not
supposed to include believing in standards enough to talk about them.)
The Bible does not so much define right and wrong behavior as it does right and wrong motive, often leaving the determination of what is appropriate behavior up to the individual.
But legalists find the idea of making up their own minds about what is right and wrong quite threatening. This is particularly true when common sense would suggest a course of action contrary to what Scripture seems to say.GVL, pp. 143-144.
Do you make up
your own mind about what is right or wrong, or do you submit your thoughts
and feelings to the Word of God?
As an example
of what he means by using common sense to violate the command of
Scripture, in the next paragraph Moore says he regularly purchases food and
gas on the Sabbath with a clear conscience.
Let us pause for
a moment and apply Moore's teaching, stated above, to David's
experience: David took another mans wife and then slew the man. According
to Moore, David's behavior would not be sinful (which is on par for Moore;
it appears that to him no behavior is sinful, except that of putting away
sin). It was David's motive which was wrong. But wait! David only used
common sense in an unusual situation; so, in accordance with Moore's
position, although David's actions would seem contrary to Exodus 20, the
adultery and murder may have been expedient.
wants no fixed standards; he wants everything nebulous so he can do as he
pleases. His goal is to bring members and workers down to his own level. He
may say it is wrong to urge ones standards on others, but he is trying to
force his view of standards on an entire denomination.
One way to do
this is by calling standards old-fashioned, something we no longer need in
this modern world.
Another trait that is common among legalists is the tendency to make a standard for all time out of scriptural statements that were almost certainly intended for the culture in which they were written.GVL, p. 144.
As an example,
he cites the thinking that women should not wear clothes which look like
those men wear.
I hear every now and then about Christians who insist that its wrong for a woman to wear clothing that fits around her legs like a tube (we call them pants).GVL, p. 145.
right in Marvin's eyes, is right. That is the stand we find throughout
this book. Not Gods Word but Moore's thinkings is the standard. We find
no quotations in his book from the Spirit of Prophecy, and, aside from the
NIV of Galatians, only a few scattered ones from the Bible.
I have a hard time believing that God intended to make a moral issue out of women wearing men's garments and men wearing women's garments.GVL, p. 145.
It is clear from
the above that, as far as Moore is concerned, men could go to church wearing
women's bras. Everything is right and nothing is wrong. Moore appears to
have no standards of any kind!
I believe that many of the debates we hear today over music, adornment, the length of a woman's dress (should it be above the knee or below the knee?), modes of Sabbath-keeping, how much sugar to eat, and styles of worship have far more to do with personal preference, cultural conditioning, or both than with biblical morality.GVL, p. 146.
sliding standards is another of Moore's ways of undercutting standards
This leads to another attitude that is characteristic of many legalists: absolute certainty that there is only one correct way to interpret the Scripture regarding standards.GVL, p. 146.
Women who wear jewelry or pants, Adventists who eat at a restaurant on the Sabbath, people who go to see a motion picture at the theater, will all hear about it from legalists.GVL, p. 147.
Did you ever
meet a starving Adventist who had to go to the restaurant on Sabbath in
order to keep from dying? You never will. Wearing jewelry, eating at
restaurants after church, and going to movie houses are all preplanned
activities. They are intentional violations of clear Bible-Spirit of
(It has been known for years that many church members in southern California
eat at restaurants after church service and order wine. Is this being done
at Nampa, Idaho, also?)
In the course of
our spring 1983 studies on the Pacific Press crisis, we were told by workers
at Mountain View that nothing is published by Pacific Press which the
General Conference does not approve of. We were told that the leverage
used to maintain this control is the ongoing threat to withdraw permission
for Pacific Press to print certain very saleable books which the General
Conference alone can authorize (such as certain magazines, quarterlies,
Spirit of Prophecy books, etc.)
Marvin Moore's book, endorsing these various violations of godly
standards, must have been approved by the General Conference prior to
The use of candles, crosses, Bible versions other than the King James, Christmas trees, and certain styles of music are among the many practices that will bring on the legalists criticisms.GVL, p. 147.
Legalists feel that they are personally responsible for the purity of the church and that they must speak out about every departure from biblical standards.GVL, p. 148.
finish reading this eye-opening presentation by Marvin Moore of the non-moral
theology that the liberals in our church are teaching in church publications
and meetings, turn to 5 Testimonies 212-216 and 472-475 and
read living truth! This is how you and I are to be conducting ourselves
The people of God are sighing and crying for the abominations done in the land. With tears they warn the wicked of their danger in trampling upon the divine law, and with unutterable sorrow they humble themselves before the Lord on account of their own transgressions. The wicked mock their sorrow, ridicule their solemn appeals, and sneer at what they term their weakness. But the anguish and humiliation of Gods people is unmistakable evidence that they are regaining the strength and nobility of character lost in consequence of sin. It is because they are drawing nearer to Christ, and their eyes are fixed upon His perfect purity, that they so clearly discern the exceeding sinfulness of sin. Their contrition and self-abasement are infinitely more acceptable in the sight of God than is the self-sufficient, haughty spirit of those who see no cause to lament, who scorn the humility of Christ, and who claim perfection while transgressing Gods law.5 Testimonies, pp. 474-475.
he could, Moore would even forbid parents from instructing their children in
Parents talk about their values and the lifestyle that goes along with it; they pound their views in with quotations from the Bible (and in the case of Adventists, with quotations from Ellen White).GVL, p. 149.
eyes, how terrible it is that Christian parents all over the nation teach
Biblical standards to their children! How terrible it is that Advent
believers read the Spirit of Prophecy to their children!
turns his attention to something he values very much: freedom. Freedom from
what? Not freedom from sin! He speaks only of freedom from
standards and freedom from those who mention them!
Paul said it was for freedom that Christ set us free. What does it mean to be free? GVL, p. 155.
reply, It means to be free of sin. But Marvin has something far
different in mind:
It means to be free of the mistaken idea that our salvation somehow depends on keeping the standards.GVL, p. 155.
little word, somehow. That is the same as saying in any way. Moore's
teachings corrupt the young as well as the older ones. Yet what a time in
history for men like Marvin Moore to gain the ascendancy at Pacific Press!
Immorality of all kinds is burgeoning in our world and in the church.
We recently reported on the fact that a shocking number of the young adults
attending our colleges regularly drink liquor. And here we have Moore
writing a church approved book, presenting a sliding scale of
morality, to be selected by personal preference!
standards are really no standards.
Standards do not save us. Keeping them does not save us.GVL, p. 155.
Freedom in Christ sets us free of the notion that keeping the standards saves us.GVL, p. 155.
Moore, freedom in Christ is freedom to sin.
Standards of Christian behavior are a yoke of slavery.GVL, p. 156.
qualifies that statement. When are standards a yoke of slavery? His
reply, essentially, is that it is when we obey them and when we believe that
God approves of our obedience!
Standards of Christian behavior are a yoke of slavery when we impose them on ourselves and use them as a measure of our spiritual experience and our standing with God.GVL, p. 156.
Moore has a
one-two punch to eliminate morality in church members: (1) Stand free of
obedience to standards, and (2) do not allow others to convince you that you
The only way I know to handle this [danger of yielding to moral pressure from others] is to follow Paul's advice: Stand firm. Don't allow it.GVL, p. 156.
Its just as wrong as it was then, either to impose our view of morality onto others or to allow them to impose their convictions on us.GVL, p. 157.
Moore says no
one should discuss personal views of standards. Yet he, himself, has
written a book, sold in Adventist bookstores around the world, intended to
impose his convictions about standards on everybody!
Woe be to any
parent who believes what Moore writes!
Anyone should be free to drink, smoke, and behave sexually the way he or she wants to, so long as that behavior conforms to the law of the land.GVL, p. 157.
concedes that there may be a few serious sins. He says adultery is one of
them. (Earlier we found that Sabbath-breaking was not one of them.) Most
everything else is merely differences of opinion.
The difference with respect to lifestyle issues is the degree of sinfulness involved and the possibility for differences of opinion that can exist among converted people. The church must discipline serious sins such as adultery, but we should respect differences of opinion about less important matters, especially where there are no clear guidelines and its a matter of personal judgment what is right and what is wrong.GVL, p. 157.
As Moore sees
it, guidelines refer only to official church statements, never to the
Spirit of Prophecy.
But the truth is that the Spirit of Prophecy is full of excellent
guidelines. Yet you will not find one time in his book where Moore quotes or
refers positively to one of its statements. To him, if it is not a church
pronouncement, it is a matter of personal judgment as to what is
right and what is wrong.
In the very next
paragraph, Moore says everyone has a different conscience. One persons
good conscience is another persons bad one. But, beware, following
Moores sliding-scale morality, will erelong lead you down the slope to
He then says
that those not agreeing with his new morality are emotionally damaged and
Some people seem to be emotionally and intellectually incapable of acknowledging that such differences of opinion can be tolerated and still have a good church.GVL, p. 158.
They cannot allow for a variety of views, what we sometimes call pluralism. Such people are among the worst legalists in the church.GVL, p. 158.
As Moore sees
it, on one hand is Judaism, which is in the law; on the other is
Christianity, which is out of it.
But enough of legalism for the moment. What is the true Christian like? Paul said: By faith we eagerly await through the Spirit the righteousness for which we hope. The righteousness for which we hope is in contrast to the righteousness according to the law, taught by the Jewish party.GVL, p. 159.
issue is the basis of standards. The truth is that true standards are
founded on the Inspired Word of God, the
Bible and Spirit of Prophecy; they are not the pronouncements of the church
or the opinions of the members. We can know what standards are, because
they are clearly stated in the Bible and
Spirit of Prophecy. Our
source data for these principles are not inadequate.
Legalism is actually the effort to use our intelligence, which is adequate, to judge others based on data that is inadequate.GVL, p. 162.
On page 165,
Moore begins a chapter on how to have victory over, not sin, but legalism.
He says we need to live in the spirit in order to have this victory. I
do not believe I wish to have anything to do with the spirits that guide
Marvin Moore. He wants neither children nor adults to live by standards.
Throughout the book, the only sins he speaks about are adultery and
I find it most significant that legalism is a demonstration of very sinful nature that legalists are so eager to condemn in others. That's why it is such a difficult sin to recognize in ourselves.GVL, p. 167.
Legalists tend to be the last to recognize their own legalism or to understand that it is a sin.GVL, p. 168.
Legalism is a sin, a manifestation of the sinful nature, just as much as adultery.GVL, p. 184.
We know that the
seventh commandment is the commandment against adultery, but which one is
the commandment against defending Bible standards?
Moore says it
is useless for any sinner, including legalists, to try to repent of sin
until the spirit convicts them to do so. Until then, they should just wait
for the spirit.
I can tell you one way that wont work: forcing yourself . . You cant actually repent until the Holy Spirit picks you up and helps you do it.GVL, p. 171.
On the next
page, Moore says that there never had been a way to overcome
alcoholism, until Alcoholics Anonymous was organized in the 20th century.
Only in the past 50 years has the world known of a way that alcoholics could be certain of controlling their habit.GVL, p. 172.
And he adds
that Alcoholics Anonymous has nothing to do with religion and works for
anyone, including atheists!
The 12 steps of AA work with people of all religious faiths who really try them. They work with people who have no particular religious faith. They even work with people who don't believe in God! GVL, p. 172.
Marvin, not even the power of God can change an alcoholic or help him stop
the habit. But a religion acceptable to atheists can do it.
[The "rules" and "standards" here is exactly that which helps the alcoholic. So if man can devise that which can help man overcome addiction, why wouldn't God have His Standards for man to overcome sin. In either case, "faith" is needed for the goal to be met.] Note contribute by a reader.
Moore goes on
to say that an underlying problem of legalists, is that they treat the
Bible as though it were a bookful of instructions to be obeyed!
[Something that is] characteristic of many legalists is a rigid, overly literal interpretation of Scripture, using the Bible as a rulebook, often in ways that seem ridiculously extreme to everyone else. An example of this is the idea that Deuteronomy 22:5 means women shouldn't wear pants.GVL, p. 185.
difficult for Moore to tolerate those who defend standards. But he is quick
to defend his right to oppose them for doing so. He calls it
Pluralism . . means tolerance of a variety of ideas.GVL, p. 184.
Pluralism does not mean that all ideas are right. It means that we should respect the right of others within the church to hold views that differ from ours. Some teachings cannot be tolerated, of course.GVL, pp. 184-185.
his no-standards theory should be the norm, and those who believe in
standards should only mention their strange ideas in private conversation.
As long as legalists are willing to hold their views privately, our approach should be more gentle than firm.GVL, p. 186.
He then fills
two pages with a method to sidetrack those expressing godly principles or
concerns, to get them off the subject.
Here is a summary of that method:
Even if you have a good answer, sharing it right then would probably get the two of you into an argument that could easily lead straight back to your behavior. Just smile and say, Lets talk about my Bible evidence next time. GVL, p. 186.
approach is particularly useful, since the no-standard advocates have no
Bible evidence supporting their position. So, Moore says, it is crucial to
terminate each conversation as soon as possible.
Thank you for your interest in my spiritual well-being. However, I have strong personal convictions about this matter, and Ill appreciate your not speaking to me about it again. GVL, p. 187.
The firm part is setting a limit on what you will allow that person to say to you. That's how you get rid of the slave woman and her son gently.
This approach will stop 95 percent of the harsh legalists in their tracks. Many of them will feel that they've done their Christian duty by talking to you, and you'll never hear from them again . . The third time you should say, We've discussed this before, and I've told you what I expect from you. Then walk away.GVL, p. 187.
He says the next
step is to get the pastor to take action: first a visit, and then taking it
to the church board (so they can take steps to kick the faithful member
When you stop to
think about it, Moore is teaching church members a way to harden their
hearts in a shell that cannot be reached. He is helping them commit the
unpardonable sin. First, he teaches them the satanic error that they can
personally invent their own standards and then, second, he teaches them how
to so encase themselves that they cannot be reached by pleadings of
Christian friends and loved ones.
anyone who reads this to find a book or magazine, published by a major
denomination in America, which contains teachings as demoralizing and evil
as this! Not even the Protestants or Catholics print such trash.
Sliding-scale standards; anything can be done;
standards are only lifestyle; they are only for children; they are not for
children; they are out-of-date; they should not be discussed; those holding
them should be cast out.
am filled with sadness when I think of our condition as a people. The Lord
has not closed heaven to us, but our own course of continual backsliding has
separated us from God. Pride, covetousness, and love of the world have lived
in the heart without fear of banishment or condemnation. Grievous and
presumptuous sins have dwelt among us. And yet the general opinion is that
the church is flourishing and that peace and spiritual prosperity are in all
The church has turned back from following Christ her Leader and is steadily retreating toward Egypt. Yet few are alarmed or astonished at their want of spiritual power. Doubt, and even disbelief of the testimonies of the Spirit of God, is leavening our churches everywhere. 5 Testimonies, p. 217.