The Shepherd’s Rod: Cancer Cells or Heavenly Messengers?

by sighandcry on May 22, 2012

Cancer cell sm

Three angels

According to a recent email sent by Georgia-Cumberland Conference Vice President for Pastoral Ministries & Evangelism Harold Cunningham to about 150 pastors in his conference, Seventh-day Adventists who choose to study the Shepherd’s Rod message and practice the reforms its calls for are not be considered Seventh-day Adventists but are to be identified as infiltrators whose intent is to destroy the Seventh-day Adventist Church from within and thus are akin to cancer cells in the human body. Some further accusations in Elder Cunningham’s letter are summarized as follows.

  • The proponents of the Shepherd’s Rod message “are not earnest seekers for truth but hard core aggressors against the church seeking to draw disciples after themselves.”
  • That Davidian Seventh-day Adventists deceptively try “to insert their teachings and plant doubts in the minds of their sympathizers regarding the Seventh-day Adventist church and its doctrines.
  • Praying and studying with Seventh-day Adventists who study and believe the Shepherd’s Rod message is to be shunned because it will “create an atmosphere for their movement to take hold and thrive in the church.”
  • The principles outlined in Matthew 18:15-17 are not to be applied to Seventh-day Adventists who study and believe the Shepherd’s Rod message. These verses only apply to interpersonal conflicts and applying them to address doctrinal differences is a misapplication of the text.

These are a remarkable set of charges to level against loyal church members some of whom are charter members in their congregations and have been faithful to the Advent message in many cases their entire lives! Is such an egregious character attack on Davidian Seventh-day Adventists warranted and stand on a sound scriptural foundation? We will analyze each of these charges in the context of scripture and the historical facts that bear record on the case and demonstrate that they are categorically false and without merit. The true motives behind such vicious and mean spirited assertions by Elder Cunningham in his desperate attempt to keep the pastors and their flocks under his administration from investigating the Shepherd’s Rod will be brought to light.

Now as in former ages, the presentation of a truth that reproves the sins and errors of the times will excite opposition. “Everyone that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.” John 3:20. As men see that they cannot maintain their position by the Scriptures, many determine to maintain it at all hazards, and with a malicious spirit they assail the character and motives of those who stand in defense of unpopular truth. It is the same policy which has been pursued in all ages. Elijah was declared to be a troubler in Israel, Jeremiah a traitor, Paul a polluter of the temple. From that day to this, those who would be loyal to truth have been denounced as seditious, heretical, or schismatic. Multitudes who are too unbelieving to accept the sure word of prophecy will receive with unquestioning credulity an accusation against those who dare to reprove fashionable sins. This spirit will increase more and more.” — Great Controversy, p. 458

Are Davidian Seventh-day Adventists not Earnest Seekers for Truth?

This is a rather bold presumption on the part of Elder Cunningham to falsely charge that Seventh-day Adventists who choose to study the Shepherd’s Rod message and welcome the reforms it calls for are not earnest seekers for Truth. If one considers the reproach an individual endures to investigate the claims of the Rod for themselves, i.e. shunning of other church members, removal from church offices, and eventual disfellowshipment from the church they love this seems like a far stretch from reality. It could just as well be argued that Davidian Seventh-day Adventists are in fact earnest seekers for Truth and that those, especially church leaders, who exert almost superhuman efforts to discourage or prevent members the liberty of their conscience are in reality the ones who are not truth seekers but rather, like the pharisees of Christ’s day, stand in gate not entering in themselves and hindering others (Luke 11:52) from hearing the message of the hour. Such spiritual pride rears its ugly head when the professed teachers are found wanting as the light of Truth shines in their pathway and exposes that many of their positions on scripture do not withstand a rigorous Bible test.

Precious light is to shine forth from the word of God, and let no one presume to dictate what shall or what shall not be brought before the people in the messages of enlightenment that He shall send, and so quench the Spirit of God. Whatever may be his position of authority, no one has a right to shut away the light from the people. When a message comes in the name of the Lord to His people, no one may excuse himself from an investigation of its claims. No one can afford to stand back in an attitude of indifference and self-confidence, and say: “I know what is truth. I am satisfied with my position. I have set my stakes, and I will not be moved away from my position, whatever may come. I will not listen to the message of this messenger; for I know that it cannot be truth.” — Counsels on Sabbath School Work, p. 28

Do Davidian Seventh-day Adventists Plant Doubts Against the Church and Its Doctrines?

Anyone who honestly investigates and studies the Shepherd’s Rod message for themselves will see that this charge is baseless and without foundation. In fact quite the opposite is true, Seventh-day Adventists who have had many questions about certain doctrines and teachings that have crept into the church in recent decades are amazed and quite relieved to not only have their questions answered in such a convincing manner but have their faith thoroughly reestablished in the fundamental pillars of the Advent faith such as the 2,300 day prophecy, the sanctuary, the millennium, etc. This is only possible as new light shines and makes manifest the value of the old established by the pioneers of Advent message. What they come to realize is that the Rod does not remove any true doctrine of the church but rather strengthens and reinforces them by brushing away all of the false teachings and winds of doctrine that have crept into the fold, especially after the death of Ellen White. Perhaps Elder Cunningham should consider that whoever prejudges another will in the end judge himself (John 7:1-5) and the Bible being sharper than a two-edged sword cuts both ways (Heb. 4:12). Could it be that in fact the ones who really planting doubts in the minds of church members about the fundamental doctrines of the Seventh-day Adventist message are the leading men who discourage others to investigate the Rod for themselves and in its place offer private uninspired opinions on many portions of scripture which they have no real understanding, e. g., the seven seals, the seven trumpets, the “daily”, the judgment for the living, Dan. 11:40-45, etc.?

In every age there is a new development of truth, a message of God to the people of that generation. The old truths are all essential; new truth is not independent of the old, but an unfolding of it. It is only as the old truths are understood that we can comprehend the new. When Christ desired to open to His disciples the truth of His resurrection, He began “at Moses and all the prophets” and “expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning Himself.” Luke 24:27. But it is the light which shines in the fresh unfolding of truth that glorifies the old. He who rejects or neglects the new does not really possess the old. For him it loses its vital power and becomes but a lifeless form.”  Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 127

Why Are Shepherd’s Rod Believers Denied the Right of the Counsel in Matthew 18:15-17?

Since when did the Bible tell us that the principles outlined in Matthew 18:15-17 apply only to “interpersonal conflicts” and cannot be applied to address doctrinal disagreements within the church body? It must have been at the opinion of Elder Cunningham and higher up leaders in the church administration as there is no historical or interpretative foundation for such a view. What is ironic is that this radically deviant view of scripture is taken only to apply to adherents of the Shepherd’s Rod message and not for other dissident groups within the church such as the Anti-Trinitarians or the 2520 prophecy folks. In fact the Newport Washington SDA church has recently experienced much controversy with the proponents of the 2520 prophecy yet church members who held these views were given a hearing before the church board and elders to discuss their beliefs (for a report from the Newport church board click this link). Why is it that the followers of the Shepherd’s Rod are not granted such a right? The answer is simple. On the one hand the church is capable of mounting a fairly robust defense against the teachings of Jeff Pippenger and his divergent views of the latter rain, the judgment of the living, the trumpets, etc. In contrast, any church member who is well versed in the teachings of the Rod can never be allowed to present a study before the church body as it would cause great fear and trembling amongst church leaders which know they cannot refute it using scripture thus allowing their uninspired views to be exposed. What the Rod teaches it proves from the Bible and the SOP. The opinions of man and the theories of church theologians who resort to scholarly commentaries written by uninspired men crumble like ropes of sand in the face of plain scriptural evidence and this is what they fear the most for the laity to see. Their house of theological cards will fall under any sort to close examination when set beside a divinely inspired interpretation on topics they have no light on such as the judgment for the living, the seven trumpets, the “daily”, etc.

What Would Christ and Other Reformers be Called Today in the Church?

It is interesting to think about what reformers of the past that God has called to bear a message to His church would be called if they entered the Seventh-day Adventist church today? If Christ himself, the spotless Son of God was called by the church leaders of His day a “winebibber” (Matt. 11:19), “Beelzebub” (Matt. 10:25) one wonders what they would call Him today if He suddenly made an appearance at one of their meetings? Martin Luther who sought to reform the apostate Catholic church was called an outlaw and “notorious heretic”. William Miller, the father of the Advent movement, was likened unto a fanatic and spiritual wolf who produced subjects for the insane asylums by the leaders of the popular churches for preaching the message of Christ’s immanent return. And what about the two young young preachers Elders A. T. Jones and E. J. Waggoneer who brought the most precious message of Christ and His Righteousness to the 1888 General Conference Session in Minneapolis? The then Conference President, Elder Butler publically likened these messengers unto fledglings (12 MR 377.1, 1888 Mat., p. 99). It is certain that if any of these past reformers showed up today to bear God’s present truth message to the Seventh-day Adventist church they would be likened unto cancer cells just as are the Shepherd’s Rod believers.

Opposition and resistance only serve to bring out truth in new, distinct lines. The more truth is spoken against, the brighter it will shine. Thus the precious ore is polished. Every word of slander spoken against it, every misrepresentation of its value, awakens attention, and is the means of leading to closer investigation as to what is saving truth. The truth becomes more highly estimated. New beauty and greater value are revealed from every point of view.–Manuscript 8a, 1888.  Evangelism, p. 305.1

Do the Church Leaders Use the Holy Bible to Refute the Plain Teachings Coming From the Rod?

Elder Cunningham’s letter to his colleagues also includes resources for them to consult in a vain attempt to refute the plain teachings from the Rod. This includes the scholars at the Biblical Research Institute (BRI) and a former disgruntled member of one Shepherd’s Rod group who turned coat and rails against it and now enjoys much popularity and benefits traveling the globe promoting his anti-Rod book and movie. In a subsequent post we will analyze each of these sources more thoroughly and expose their unsound and misleading efforts contradict the Truth. Until then, please investigate for yourself and ask the Holy Spirit to guide, lead, and direct you unto all the Truth we need today as a people to save us from our Laodicean slumber. Also, please pray for Elder Cunningham and our church leaders that they may wake up and stop the senseless warfare against God’s Truth before it is to late for their soul salvation’s sake.


{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Brian Graham May 23, 2012 at 1:28 am

Right on, brother. Amen.

Godsloveandlaw May 30, 2012 at 11:47 pm

Unbelievable! These sleeping preachers speaking to a sleeping church are quite pathetic. Keep up the good fight bro. The Lord is right there for us, we know who prevails.

Henry Shaner June 16, 2012 at 12:09 pm

The 144,000 are Christian and represent Jesus and His Kingdom. So to say Christ is the Rock of Daniel 2 or the 144,000 its all the same. All the worldly kingdoms will be knocked down and Gods(Christ) Kingdom will take over. The Son of David and Jesus (Christ) are the same so to say Christ(Gods) Kingdom or Davidian Kingdom its all the same.

Alli July 31, 2012 at 10:59 pm

Sorry but shepherds rod deceive SDA’s…they make sites that are supposedly SDA..they tell people they are SDA,,and when discussion takes place on a few SDA teachings..shepherds rod people tell them they are wrong, that is not what SDA believes..eventually they reveal they are not SDA but shepherds rod. I have personally experienced this over and over and over on the internet.
There is a shepherds rod person that comes to my church. The pastor was talking to him and asked him if he wanted to join. The shepherds rod person said he was not there to join but to get people to leave the SDA church to go to shepherds rod.

This is the agenda so many shepherds rod people deny..they make sites like this to try to pretend it is the SDA’s who are lying about them…in fact it is they who over and over and over…in SDA groups, SDA chatrooms…SDA sites..all over the internet..and in actual SDA churches..they pretend to be SDA’s at first then wait for awhile and watch them at work. Deny it all you like shepherds rod people..but it is true..too many of us have experienced are deceptive and liars and are being used by satan to deceive.

SR-admin August 1, 2012 at 6:13 pm

Dear Alli:

Greetings in Christian love!

We are sorry to hear of your bitterness and rancor against the Shepherd’s Rod even to the point of trying to deny that we are even Seventh-day Adventists! If you were honest enough to investigate the Rod for yourself rather than allow your pride and prejudice to becloud your mind, you would find that the Shepherd’s Rod are the true Seventh-day Adventists who advance with God’s unfolding truth of the judgment of the living which completes the entire understanding of Christ’s ministry as our High Priest in the heavenly sanctuary. This doctrine is unique to Seventh-day Adventists so how can you judge that baptized Seventh-day Adventists who freely choose to investigate the claims of the Rod for themselves and put into practice the reforms it calls for all of a sudden are no longer Seventh-day Adventists? Unless of course you believe that a Seventh-day Adventist is simply a card-carrying member of the corporate trademarked SDA clubhouse here on earth. This will avail nothing in soon coming day of judgment as we will each stand according to the records in books which are in heaven. Then it will be seen who are the true Seventh-day Adventists and who are about to be spued out the Lord’s mouth (Rev. 3:16) unless they repent and take the extra oil (truth) into their vessels while the door of probation is still open. This is no pretending brother, just simple plain Truth.

“The Lord forbids us to proceed in any violent way against those whom we think erring, and we are not to deal out excommunications and denunciations to those who are faulty.
Finite man is likely to misjudge character, but God does not leave the work of judgment and pronouncing upon character to those who are not fitted for it. We are not to say what constitutes the wheat, and what the tares. The time of the harvest will fully determine the character of the two classes specified under the figure of the tares and the wheat. The work of separation is given to the angels of God, and not committed into the hands of any man.” — Testimonies to Ministers, p. 47

SR-admin September 2, 2012 at 8:58 pm

Henry, it is important to make a distinction and not blur the prophetic picture. The stone in Daniel two is Christ’s kingdom (v. 44) which is comprised of a king, subjects, and a territory. Christ himself cannot be represented as all of this but rather stands as the invisible kings of kings while the Loud Cry goes forth and the 144,000 first fruits represented by the stone go forth and gather the second fruits, the Great Multitude of Rev. 7:9, represented by the stone which becomes a great mountain showing rapid growth of the subjects (v. 35). This does not happen to Christ himself.

Kevin Mwenda January 3, 2013 at 6:05 am

How can we better understand the 2520 year prophesy in Leviticus 26?

SR-admin January 8, 2013 at 9:53 am

Dear Kevin:

Thank you for your question of timely importance as this subject of the 2520 is being agitated around the S.D.A. church presently and we should have an adequate response. Several points to note and bear in mind.

1. The Spirit of Prophecy is silent on this idea of a 2520 year prophecy.
2. A number a thoughtful and well researched replies to the various claims to this idea of the 2520 being the longest time prophecy in the Bible have been forthcoming and their conclusion based on sound Bible evidence is that this is not a time prophecy at all in the sense of a day for a year that is used with the 2,300 days, 1,260 days, etc. that we know for certain are time prophecies. The links to some of these studies are provided below. (this site has several articles on the subject and provides much evidence to refute the claims of the 2520 as a supposed “pioneer S.D.A. doctrine).

3. Adventist pioneers such as James White and Uriah Smith refuted and published against the idea that the 2520 of Leviticus 26 was a time prophecy.
4. The use of the 2520 as a time prophecy was dropped from the revised 1860 S.D.A. Bible prophecy chart.

We hope that these sound evidences will convince you to shun this and related winds of doctrine that have arisen in our midst in the enemy’s effort to divert souls from the straight and narrow path of truth that will lead us into God’s soon coming kingdom.

Yours in that blessed hope,
The Publishers

Dorian Harkins January 25, 2013 at 3:19 am
SR-admin January 30, 2013 at 10:01 pm

Dear Dorian:

We see your link is to a website of Jan Marcussen, the author of the National Sunday Law. Regarding your request to come home, you and pastor Marcussen need to learn about God’s soon coming kingdom because that most beautiful and amazing truth found in all of the Holy Bible is going to be the place of perfect peace and safety God will bring His faithful saints prior to the outpouring of the seven last plagues, after probation closes for the world. You need to hear this message now before it is too late. Please go to our publications under the “Publications” link on the menu bar and download copies of Tracts Nos. 8 and 9 to learn about this wonderful kingdom, our future home.

May God bless your search for Truth as for hidden treasure and to come home to that blessed hope throughout all the ages.

The Publishers

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