Accreditation History in Adventism: Flirting with the World


A very good article that explains the origin of Liberalism in Adventism is the article by W. White in 1983. There is a Trojan Horse of Liberalism in Adventism and it is very important for the Adventist believer to understand this.

Either a fact is biblical or cultural. If it is biblical it is correct. If it is based on culture or environment, it is skew. Full-stop.


What about Slavery in the Bible?

Answer: Paul did not say that slaves cannot be ordained elders. But he definitely did not open the door for women.


Combine the following for a good history of Adventism between 1915-2021.


---Article “Flirting with the World” (below);

---combined and followed by J. Zurcher, Touched with Our Feelings: A Historical Survey of Adventist Thought on the Human Nature of Christ views in Adventism;

---combined followed by the article of A. Timm, “Seventh-day Adventists on women’s ordination A brief historical overview”;

---combined and added to the Glazier View Proceedings and articles summarizing the Ford Preterism of an “F. F. Bruce kind”;

---plus and combined with the understanding of the role of Gerhard Hasel and Robert Pierson in weeding out the chaff of liberalism in Adventism,

---his books against Higher Criticism and its inroads in Christianity and Theology

---the book by John Hurst, A history of Rationalism 1864


is a very good combination to understand the history of Adventism between the death of Ellen White and 2021.


Woman Ordination History Article:


Here is the Flirting with the World article of White in full.




William G. White “Flirting with the World:How Adventist College in America got Accredited” Adventist Heritage Vol. 8/1 (Spring 1983): 40-51


The introductory paragraph of the letter from the American Medical Association announcing the granting

of a "Class A Rating" to the College of Medical Evangelists, on November 16, 1922.

Loma Linda University Archives Medical Evangelists. But despite its threats and increasing pressures from the American Medical Association

after it received an "A" rating, the medical school did not deny admission to other Adventist college students; as a safeguard, Pacific Union and Walla Walla Colleges arranged for accredited Occidental College in Los Angeles to launder their premedical students' credits by placing them on

Occidental transcripts for forwarding to Lorna Linda's College of Medical Evangelists.

By 1928, medical school entrance requirements generally had increased to three years of college work, but Adventist schools r were no closer to accreditation. That year, in an unscheduled address at the Autumn Council, Henry C. Harrower, a California physician, charged Adventist higher education with inadequacy: many graduates of the College of Medical Evangelists were unable to practice in some states because their undergraduate work was taken in unaccredited schools. He claimed that even in the liberal arts, Adventist colleges were little more than glorified secondary schools in need of sweeping improvements. Realizing the necessity of improving the church's higher education, the Council created a Board of Regents to adopt standards and accredit colleges, hoping that the new Association of Seventh-day Adventist Colleges and Secondary Schools would either be recognized as' an equal with regional associations or that Adventist colleges could be accredited as a group by the North Central Association. Educators in the church believed neither outcome was likely, and by 1931 it was obvious to denominational leaders that the "school men" .were correct. The 1931 Autumn Council reconsidered accreditation at length, authorizing junior and senior colleges to secure regional he regional academic accreditation that is now a common feature of Seventh-day Adventist colleges and universities in the United States was achieved only after a decade of debate on all levels of church administration, the expenditure of enormous amounts of Depression money, and, some say, the loss. of souls at secular universities and the introduction of "worldliness" on to college campuses.

The origins of the controversy are unclear, but it intensified with the arrival of Percy T. Magan at the College of Medical Evangelists in 1915. The new denominational medical school had been given a mediocre "c" rating in 1911 and again in 1914, despite herculean efforts toward improvement.

Disappointed, many at the school decided to discontinue the effort for class "A" recognition because of the expense. But when the United States entered World War I, the school's "c" rating allowed students to be conscripted into the armed forces. To prevent their induction and enable students to meet license requiremente in more states, Magan and other staunch supporters of the College of Medical Evangelists strengthened their efforts, achieving the thrill of success in an "A" rating in 1918.By then, the American Medical Association was warning the fledgling medical school that it should only accept students from regionally accredited colleges. Magan urged presidents of Adventist colleges to secure this regional accreditation, threatening that the medical college might organize an undergraduate division if the colleges were not accredited.

During the 1920's, Emmanuel Missionary and Union Colleges had become accredited as junior colleges by the North Central Association of

Colleges and Secondary Schools, thus assuring their premedical students admission to the College of ADVENTIST HERITAGE 41

Walla Walla College, College Place, Washington.


Pacific Union College, Angwin, California. The College of Medical Evangelists, Loma Linda, California. Union College, Lincoln, Nebraska.

All photographs provided through the courtesy of Loma Linda University Archives

Atlantic Union College, South

Lancaster, Massachusetts.

Emmanuel Missionary College,

Berrien Springs, Michigan.

Washington Missionary College,

Takoma Park, Maryland.


Elder William H. Branson

accreditation as quickly as possible. That decision opened a four-year debate on the pros and cons of accreditation and resulted in some positive movement toward accreditation by several colleges.

Those who opposed accreditation, including General Conference Vice-President William H. Branson, Vice-President for North America James

L. McElhany, and Secretary of Educa tion Warren E. Howell, supported their position by pointing out the expense required to expand physical facilities and sponsor faculty for graduate study. Adventist colleges then offered little evidence of campus planning, lacked adequate libraries and science laboratories, and had many neglected frame buildings complete with safety hazards. By the late 1920's, few Adventists had been brave enough to earn post-baccalaureate degrees. Those denominationally employed usually had to do so secretly, with the unofficial approval of a college president.

Beginning in 1928, however, Adventist colleges had begun faculty graduate training programs to meet denominational and, after 1931, regional accreditation requirements. The usual expectation was for department chairmen to have earned doctorates with a mandated minimum percentage of faculty members with master's and doctoral degrees. Those who had previously risked their employment by earning advanced degrees were now eagerly recruited. Opponents of accreditation feared that teachers, having lost their faith and devotion to the


Elder James L. McElhany.

church through exposure to atheistic and evolutionary theories in secular universities, would introduce worldly teachings in the church's schools.

The proponents of accreditation, including most denominational educators, pointed to the American Medical Association requirement that class "A" medical schools only accept students from regionally accredited colleges. Pressure also came from nursing school entrance and licensure requirements which, by 1930, specified credits from accredited colleges and/or high schools. Accreditation of Adventist academies by state education authorities or regional associations required employment of teachers with state teaching credentials. By the early 1930's, many states required non-public schools teachers to have

state certification based on credits from accredited colleges. Thus, pressure for accreditation came to be felt particularly strongly in the areas of education, medicine, and nursing.

Another significant pressure was economic in origin. Prior to 1930, most Adventist college graduates easily found denominational employment.

But increasing numbers of graduates coupled with denominational layoffs in the Depression reduced employment prospects. Most Adventist

educators believed that students and parents expected denominational institutions to prepare patrons for non-church employment, to qualify them to enter graduate and professional schools, and to meet various state licensure requirements. However, Professor Warren E. Howell.

degrees from unaccredited colleges could not do that he proponents of accreditation won the opening battle in 1931, and the six senior colleges worked toward regional accreditation with all possible speed. Adventist

college presidents and faculties had become actively interested in accreditation in some measure many years prior to the 1931 General Conference Autumn Council. They had responded to the developments in American colleges generally as well as to the volleys launched by P. T. Magan. The six colleges which experienced the greatest pressure were: Atlantic Union and Washington Missionary in the East; Emmanuel Missionary and Union in the central states; Pacific Union and Walla Walla in the West. None started from scratch in the thirties, but accreditation was achieved for all in the next two decades through a complex of local, regional and even national influences. Pacific Union College succeeded first, Walla Walla and Union College later but with important consequences for General Conference opinions and actions. The others followed, each with its unique configuration of problems and struggles on the way to achievement.

Interest in regional accreditation at Pacific Union College began as early as 1925 when Warren E.

President Percy T. Magan, College of Medical Evangelists.

Howell of the General Conference Education Department rebuked sentiments favoring accreditation by "outside agencies."

Attempting to strengthen the faculty for regional recognition, President William E. Nelson employed Pacific Union College's first Ph.D. in 1928. –The following year, his board granted the first graduate study leaves for the summer of 1929, and that fall the college was inspected by the new Adventist Board of Regents, with Howell presiding. In his report to the faculty, he indicated that the college needed eight distinct departments with chairmen who at least two years of graduate study, including master's degrees and preferably doctorates, and that better classroom facilities should be provided. Responding, the board voted to construct a science building and to create a department of education. Nelson began a program of professional improvement for faculty.

The board continued to grant requests for summer and part-time study, voting the first full-time study leave in 1930-31.

Following the 1931 Autumn Council decision which granted the school permission to seek senior college accreditation, the administration stepped up its efforts. The board had already approved construction of a music building and had appropriated $3,000 for graduate study for 1931-32. In December 1931, they established a committee to submit a comprehensive plan to secure accreditation. That month Nelson applied for accreditation


President William E. Nelson, Pacific Union


by the Northwest Association of Secondary and Higher Schools.

Since detailed self-study documents were not in use then, the application consisted of a letter to Frederick E. Bolton, chairman of the Northwest Association's Commission on Accrediting Higher Institutions, and a few pages of required information. In preparation for the inspection, the board approved $6,600 for graduate study in 1932-33,established two new departments (secondary education/psychology and speech/journalism), approved construction of a normal building (to house the elementary school and teacher training department) and home economics building, and approved expansion of library and manual arts training facilities. Nelson worked to increase library holdings and usage. In his quadrennial report in 1932, he reported that by the end of the 1932-33school year Pacific Union College hoped to meet the requirements of the Adventist Board of Regents and "incidentally meet the requirements of other accrediting bodies."

Following a visit by Bolton, who was impressed with Adventist lifestyle, Pacific Union College was accredited as a junior college by the Northwest Association of Secondary and Higher Schools in April 1932. Nelson told no one of this but inquired


about needed improvements to secure senior college accreditation. Among other things, Bolton urged that teachers limit their work to one department. He urged the adoption of a realistic plan of faculty ranking and said there should be "a few men with Ph.D.'s from recognized graduate schools." The Northwest Association would have to be assured

that Pacific Union College graduates would be admitted to regular graduate standing at the University of California.

The college complied with these recommendations.

The Universities of California and Southern California expressed their willingness to admit graduates of Pacific Union College. Three teachers were scheduled to complete Ph.D.'s and three to finish master's degrees in 1933. Following a visit in March by the dean of St. Mary's College (a member of the Accrediting Association), the Commission granted the school full senior college accreditation in April 1933.

While the board knew of Nelson's plans to secure Association Accreditation, most of the faculty did not. He announced the full Association recognition in chapel, an almost complete but delightful surprise to all. Walla Walla College was interested in regional accreditation as early as 1920 when it was already financially assisting teachers with summer graduate study. In the state of Washington regional accreditation depended on accreditation by the University of Washington which granted junior college recognition to Walla Walla in 1922. The science building, approved by the board in 1923,was probably built with accreditation in mind. The college's obvious interest in achieving official certification prompted two visits in 1925 by Warren E. Howell, of the General Conference. He warned the board and faculty of dangers in seeking "outside recognition" and of teachers attending universities.

Following his second visit, the board voted in December 1925 to cease efforts for accreditation; it also rescinded a policy of sponsoring teachers for' summer study.

Within two months, ho'wever, problems concerning certification of Walla Walla College's academy teachers forced reconsideration of the issue, although no action was taken. With the development of the Seventh-day Adventist Board of Regents in 1928, the board resumed its practice of assisting teachers with summer graduate study, approved the first full-time doctoral study leaves in 1930-31, and recruited teachers with advanced degrees.

When Howell was at Walla Walla College in November 1929 to inspect for denominational

President William M. Landeen, Walla Walla


accreditation, he admonished the college to continue sending teachers, especially department heads, to graduate school and recommended physical improvements.

In response, the board expanded facilities for science and manual arts and authorized construction of a gymnasium.

When John E. Weaver became President in July 1930, he applied to the University of Washington for senior college---accreditation. Following the 1931 Autumn Council decision, Weaver guided the school in further academic and physical plant improvements, and Walla Walla College finally received junior college accreditation from the Northwest Association of Secondary and High Schools.

Desiring to proceed immediately with senior recognition, the college board appropriated additional money for the library, elected William M. Landeen as President, to replace Weaver following his resignation, and in July 1933, authorized the building of a new dormitory,. At the 1933 Autumn Council, Walla Walla College was urged to secure full


A University of Washington inspection team in January 1934 submitted a report recommending further improvements. By year's end, all recommendations had been met or money appropriated for that purpose, and in January 1935, senior college accreditation was finally secured from the University of Washington. Bolton and a group of Northwest Association inspectors responded with a visit in late March reporting that, among other


President Harvey A. Morrison, Union College.

things,. they were pleased with the college's effective organization, definite objectives, and competent faculty. In April 1935, the Northwest Association of Secondary and Higher Schools accredited Walla Walla College as a four-year College.

While all this was in process, the Spring Council convened. One item for discussion related to accreditation, since 'both Union and Emmanuel Missionary Colleges had asked the General Conference to consider reducing the number of senior colleges in the hope that those remaining would get adequate financial backing for their accreditation efforts. There was considerable support in the General Conference for at least limiting the number of senior colleges that should be regionally accredited. Introduction of a plan calling for the accreditation of only two colleges (excluding Walla Walla College) was averted dramatically when Landeen presented a telegram from Bolton indicating that Walla Walla College would be fully accredited.

By the fall of 1935, however, many General Conference officers were so frustrated by the expensive and seemingly futile efforts of both Union and Emmanuel Missionary Colleges and by the prospect of similar problems at Washington Missionary and Atlantic Union Colleges that they decided to act. In response to a report on accreditation by a survey commission on education, William H. Branson delivered an impassioned half-


President William W. Prescott, Union College.

hour address blasting' efforts for regional accreditation and concluded, ."We have departed far from the blueprint .... We find we have made a mistake." Also commenting on the report, General Conference Vice-Presiden t James L. McElhany said,

"We will see the day when we will rue what we have done. . . . I hope the Lord will lead us some day ... to give further study' in rescuing our educational system from the world."

The resulting controversial decision authorized regional accreditation only for Pacific Union and Emmanuel Missionary Colleges. The other Adventist colleges were to be satisfied with denominational accreditation only. Walla Walla' College would be permitted to keep its regional accreditation provided there was no additional expense.

Union College was devasted by' the decision. It had a longstanding interest in accreditation. President Harvey A. Morrison had quietly steered the institution toward recognition by the North Central Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools as early as 1915 by encouraging teachers to pursue graduate work. When the board of trustees refused to permit application for accreditation, in January 1922, Morrison resigned. Very soon, however, realizing its decision. jeopardized the

President Milian L. Andreasen, Union College.

admission of students to the College of Medical Evangelists, the board voted to seek junior college accreditation after all. This was received in March 1923. In spite of the board's continuation of summer study leaves, Morrison's departure and disappointment with the decision to seek junior rather than senior college accreditation resulted in Union's loss of all teachers with advanced degrees.

Sensing a pro-accreditation sentiment at the 1924 Autumn Council, Union College president William W. Prescott appointed a faculty committee to begin preliminary work. His successor Paul L. Thompson continued and completed the task, applying for four year accreditation in 1929. But the North Central Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools advised against an inspection because the chance for approval was slim. Later, at its annual meeting in March 1930, the regional Association provided another formidable challenge to Union when it decreed that degree-granting schools could no longer be accredited as junior colleges; those currently in that category had until March 1933 to qualify for accreditation as four-year colleges.

Union College's efforts suffered another blow when Thompson resigned in June 1931, accepting a position in" a Baptist college and soon leaving the Seventh-day Adventist church entirely. Milian L. Andreasen became Union's President over General Conference objections. He led the board to approve major expenditures for science equipment, and he

George A. Williams, Lt. Governor of Nebraska.

prepared the faculty for the North Central Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools inspection in the spring of 1933that would scrutinize the testing program, the success of the graduates, library adequacy, the quality of teaching, and data about faculty preparation, teaching loads, finances, buildings, and equipment. Before the inspection, the college established its first student personnel program. The inspectors came and reported progress but recommended that junior college accreditation be continued for another year.

Andreasen pressed ahead with efforts for faculty professional development. Improvements emerged in the physics laboratory. And all the while, faculty committees continued preparation for a 1934 inspection.

In March 1934, Aaron J. Brumbaugh and John L. Seaton inspected the college to find commendable gains since 1933 but also noted a number of

weaknesses. There were many academic inconsistencies in graduation requirements and course prerequisites. There were too few Ph.D.'s on the faculty, too many courses in some areas, need for a new library, inadequate financial subsidies in lieu of an endowment, and a large indebtedness. Union College's junior college accreditation was continued

for yet another year.

The winter of 1934 saw several physical improvements on campus. Library holdings were strengthened, and additional science equipment arrived.



President Henry J. Klooster, Emmanuel

Missionary College.

More important, the board voted construction of a $54,000 library, and the Central Union Conference assumed the college's $65,000 indebtedness. Brumbaugh and Seaton returned in March 1935.

They noted tremendous improvement in many areas, and although they recommended senior college accreditation, the North Central Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools merely extended the junior college ranking for one or two years. Their board of review thought salaries were too low, teaching loads too high, department offerings off balance, and dormitories inadequate.

The resilient administration and faculty had determined to correct those weaknesses when the 1935 Autumn Council decision cast a pall over their efforts. They saw clearly that the decision could cost the college its very existence and determined to contest it. In .December, Andreasen with four board members, including former Nebraska Lt. Governor George A. Williams, traveled to Washington to appeal the 1935 Autumn Council decision. This happened in May 1936, when the General Conference Executive Committee came to understand that the North Central Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools policy did not permit the school to retain junior college accreditation while operating as a senior college. Lack of regional accreditation or reduction to a junior college meant Union College would have to drop its pre-health professions curricula and could not prepare either secondary or elementary teachers for state certification since


President Benjamin G. Wilkinson,

Washington Missionary College.

training had recently been increased to three years in most states. Students would go to other colleges in such numbers that the institution would be unable to operate. The Committee saw Union's problem and the problem facing all Adventist schools. It overturned the earlier Council decision, thus allowing all Adventist colleges to seek accreditation.

Union College's faculty and administration restructured their curricula, responding to advice from Brumbaugh who had been retained as consultant. Physical improvements enhanced the residence halls and the biology laboratory. Friends, including Lt. Governor Williams, enlisted the aid of, the University of Nebraska and prominent Lincoln citizens on Union College's behalf. The Central and Northern Union Conferences agreed to provide the essential annual $27,500 subsidy basic to fiscal

stability. .

When in January 1937, Louis B. Hopkins and Alphonse M. Schwitalla, SJ, spent two days on campus, they commended the college for its significant progress and later recommended accreditation as a four-year institution. This the North Central Association of Colleges and Secondary

Schools finally granted in April 1937 he experiences of Union College and

Emmanuel Missionary College with the North Central Association prior to 1937 present a striking parallel in many respects.

Both became interested in accreditation

President Godfrey T. Anderson, Atlantic

Union College.

early in the century in response to the College of, Medical Evangelists' requirements; both had received junior college accreditation in the early twenties; both had been advised against regional recognition by the impressive Howell. The pattern of escalating expectations and successive improvements challenged faculty, administration and boards at both of these colleges. .

In 1937, Emmanuel Missionary College in Michigan suffered the fourth denial of its application for senior college status, and worse still, lost its

junior college standing! But two years later, under the presidency of Henry J. Klooster, the college in Michigan achieved what it had so long sought.

It does not appear that regional accreditation became an issue at either Atlantic Union College or Washington Missionary College as early as it had in the schools to the west. But by 1930, both felt the same pressures for accreditation, especially in regard to entrance requirements for graduate and professional schools, problems with teacher certification, and (after war began) for the admission of returning servicemen and women.

Self-studIes and consultations with regional educators served at both colleges to identify weaknesses; board and administration efforts

gradually achieved the minimum standards insisted upon by the regional associations. Washington Missionary College, probably unique among Adventist colleges, achieved accreditation in December 1942 on the first application, after a very well guided approach. Atlantic Union College was looking seriously toward accreditation about the same time, challenged also by a General Conference threat of reduction to junior college status because of academic and physical weaknesses.

Faced with what amounted to three refusals by its regional association between 1933 and 1941, the administration, led by Godfrey T. Anderson, worked carefully through the demanding process. In October 1945, the college formally applied for New England Association membership. Representatives again inspected the school in November, said that it still had much to accomplish but gave it accredited status anyway in December 1945.

Thus, after a twenty-five year struggle, all six colleges were fully accredited, and during the next twenty years, the four remaining junior colleges became fully accredited as four-year institutions.

Why did the process take so long? Money was certainly an issue. Even though the amounts were minimal by contemporary expectations, they were staggering to a small denomination with several small colleges, all hard pressed to operate during the Depression years.

A more fundamental reason was enunciated by Hopkins and Schwitalla in the introduction to their 1937 survey of Emmanuel Missionary College. The examiners noted that among Adventists, as in other "recently founded Protestant denominations," an attitude of caution with reference to higher education has resulted in the development of conflicting views concerning the relationship between religious belief and practice, on the one hand, and the objectives and methods of higher education, on the other. This attitude of caution appears to be particularly predominant among Seventh-day Adventists.

The examiners summarized Seventh-day Adventist beliefs and practices that they thought had a bearing on the conduct of institutions of higher learning.

Included were a conservative fundamentalist attitude toward the Bible, a pronounced idealism concerning the objectives of life coupled with rigorous individual demands, an emphasis on the dignity of labor demanding the development of manual skills as part of education, dedication to the aims of the denomination, and the desire motivated by faith rather than remuneration to occupy positions of usefulness in the organization. They concluded,

It is easy to see how these ... principles have a bearing upon educational administration, stimuli to the development of scholarship, aids to growth of faculty, faculty, tenure, the construction of curriculum, teaching methods, the financial administration of a school, and upon the many other phases of educational endeavor.

Indeed, the practical reconciliation of "religious belief and practice" and "the objectives and methods of higher education" was a significant development in the history of the church which permitted denominational colleges to reach a milestone in their development-regional accreditation.





25 years struggle between 1920 and 1945.

White found:

The examiners summarized Seventh-day Adventist beliefs and practices that they thought had a bearing on the conduct of institutions of higher learning.

Included were

1. A “conservative fundamentalist attitude toward the Bible”.

2. A “pronounced idealism concerning the objectives of life coupled with rigorous individual demands.

3. An “emphasis on the dignity of labor demanding the development of manual skills as part of education.

4. A “dedication to the aims of the denomination”.

5.A “desire motivated by faith rather than remuneration to occupy positions of usefulness in the organization”.