Archive for November, 2006

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Phrenology–The Adventist Connection

November 30, 2006

Franz Joseph GallAustrian physician Franz Joseph Gall (1758-1828) invented a “science”—that he originally called “craniology” and later “organology”—that pioneered the notion that different mental functions are indeed located in different parts of the brain. Between 1800 and 1812 he worked with Johann Christoph Spurzheim who, after they parted company, renamed the discipline “phrenology”—the science of the mind.
Gall, in his noted work, The Anatomy and Physiology of the Nervous System in General, and of the Brain in Particular, formulated four basic principles:
1. Human moral and intellectual faculties are innate;
2. their function depends on organic structures;
3. the brain is the organ of “all faculties, of all tendencies, of all feelings”;
4. “the brain is composed of as many organs as there are faculties, tendencies, and feelings.” (Samuel H. Greenblatt, “Phrenology in the Science and Culture of the 19th Century” Neurosurgery, 37:4 (1995) 790-805.)
Furthermore, Gall proposed also that the relative development of mental faculties in an individual would lead to a growth or larger development in the sub-organs responsible for them—and that the external form of the cranium reflects the internal form of the brain, and that the relative development of its organs caused changes of form in the skull, which could be used to diagnose the particular mental faculties of a given individual by doing a proper analysis.Phrenology Diagram
Gall carried out numerous observations and made many experimental measurements on the skulls of his relatives, friends and students. Gall thought that he was able to correlate certain particular mental faculties to bumps and depressions on the surface of the skull, its exterior forms or relative dimensions. Then, he proposed that these external landmarks were caused by the growth of internal brain structures, and that this growth was related to the development of the associated mental faculty. Thus, he was able to produce a complete and extensive theory to support his work, and to use it for practical applications in the mental sciences, by means of detailed topological maps. The logical and easy-to-learn structure of the phrenological theory quickly captured the imagination of thousands of followers.Phrenology Diagram
Gall and his followers identified 37 mental and moral faculties which they thought were represented in the exterior surface of the skull. Gall’s initial list comprised 27 faculties, to which his main collaborator, Spurzheim, added ten more. These faculties were divided into several spheres: intellectual, perceptiveness, mental energy, moral faculties, love, etc. Most of the faculties dealt with abstract and hard-to-define personality traits, such as firmness, approbativeness, cautiousness, marvelousness, eventuality, spirituality, veneration, amativeness. etc. Other phrenological traits have modern scientific counterparts which can be evaluated with proper psychological tests, such as constructiveness, destructiveness, individuality, self-esteem, idealism, affection, etc.
The main result of Gall’s theory was a kind of chart of the skull, which mapped the regions where the bumps and depressions related to the 37 faculties could be palpated, measured and diagnosed.

So what has this to do with Adventist history? Well phrenology and Adventism intersect at least twice (I’d be interested if anyone knows of others) as follows.

1. Sylvester Bliss’ Memoirs of William Miller records the following incident:
From the 6th to the 9th of March, Mr. Miller lectured in Medford, Mass. While here a friend took him to a phrenologist in Boston, with whom he was himself acquainted, but who had no suspicion whose head he was about to examine. The phrenologist commenced by saying that the person under examination had a large, well-developed, and well-balanced head. While examining the moral and intellectual organs, he said to Mr. Miller’s friend:
“I tell you what it is, Mr. Miller could not easily make a convert of this man to his hair-brained theory. He has too much good sense.”
Thus he proceeded, making comparisons between the head he was examining and the head of Mr. Miller, as he fancied it would be.
“O, how I should like to examine Mr. Miller’s head!” said he; “I would give it one squeezing.”
The phrenologist, knowing that the gentleman was a particular friend of Mr. Miller, spared no pains in going out of the way to make remarks upon him. Putting his hand on the organ of marvellousness, he said: “There! I’ll bet you anything that old Miller has got a bump on his head there as big as my fist;” at the same time doubling up his fist as an illustration.
The others present laughed at the perfection of the joke, and he heartily joined them, supposing they were laughing at his witticisms on Mr. Miller.
“He laughed; ‘t was well. The tale applied
Soon made him laugh on t’ other side.”
He pronounced the head of the gentleman under examination the reverse, in every particular, of what he declared Mr. Miller’s must be. When through, he made out his chart, and politely asked Mr. Miller his name.
Mr. Miller said it was of no consequence about putting his name upon the chart; but the phrenologist insisted.
“Very well,” said Mr. M.; “you may call it Miller, if you choose.”
“Miller, Miller,” said he; “what is your first name?”
“They call me William Miller.”
“What! the gentleman who is lecturing on the prophecies?”
“Yes, sir, the same.”
“At this the phrenologist settled back in his chair, the personation of astonishment and dismay, and spoke not a word while the company remained. His feelings may be more easily imagined than described. (p160-161)

Immediately following the above story, Bliss gives the following:
The following description of Mr. Miller’s phrenological developments were furnished by a phrenological friend in 1842, and may be of some interest to those acquainted with that science:
ORGANS VERY LARGE. – Amativeness, Adhesiveness, Combativeness, Firmness, Conscientiousness, Benevolence, Constructiveness, Ideality, Calculation, Comparison.
LARGE. – Philoprogenitiveness, Alimentiveness, Acquisitiveness, Self-esteem, Imitation, Mirthfulness, Form, Size, Order, Locality, Eventuality, Time, Language, Causality.
FULL. – Inhabitiveness, Concentrativeness, Caution, Approbation, Wonder, Veneration, Weight, Color, Tune.
MODERATE. – Marvellousness, Secretiveness, Hope, Individuality. (p161)

2. Ellen G. White was influenced by phrenological principles—particularly through her association with Dr James C. Jackson (below) and his health reform institute in Dansville.

Dr James C. JacksonWhite took her two sons Edson & Willie to Dr. Jackson’s health reform institute in Dansville, New York for a phrenology reading—apparently as part of a complete medical examination (for which Dr. Jackson charged five dollars per reading). Following the readings, she wrote to some friends:
“I think Dr. Jackson gave an accurate account of the disposition and organization of our children. He pronounced Willie’s head to be one of the best that has ever come under his observation. He gave a good description of Edson’s character and peculiarities. I think this examination will be worth everything to Edson.” (Ellen White to Bro. and Sister Lockwood, Sep. 14, 1864, L-6-1864, White Estate, as quoted in Ronald Numbers, Prophetess of Health New York: Harper & Row, 1976, 90-91.) Number’s book contains copies of the letter to the Lockwoods and a copy of Jackson’s “medical” report on Willie White.

Similarly, when her husband James was healthy, she had spoken of how “large and active” were his “cautiousness, conscientiousness, and benevolence.” She noted that these had “been special blessings in qualifying him for his business career.” However, during his illness these “special developments, which had been a blessing to him in health, were painfully excitable, and a hindrance to his recovery.” (“Our Late Experience” Advent Review and Sabbath Herald February 27, 1866) Here, she is again clearly utilizing phrenological concepts.
The first reference to phrenology in White’s published writings apparently occurs in an 1862 Advent Review and Sabbath Herald article:
“The sciences of phrenology, psychology, and mesmerism, have been the channel through which Satan has come more directly to this generation, and wrought with that power which was to characterize his work near the close of probation….Phrenology and mesmerism are very much exalted. They are good in their place, but they are seized upon by Satan as his most powerful agents to deceive and destroy souls. The detector, the Bible, is destroyed in the minds of thousands, and Satan uses his arts and devices, which are received as from heaven. And Satan here receives the worship which suits his satanic majesty. Thousands are conversing with and receiving instructions from this demon-god, and acting according to his teachings. The world, which is considered to be benefited so much by phrenology and animal magnetism, never was so corrupt. Satan uses these very things to destroy virtue and lay the foundation of Spiritualism.” (Ellen G. White, “Phrenology, Psychology, Mesmerism, and Spiritualism” Advent Review and Sabbath Herald February 18, 1862, 94-95.

In the above passage White is (in my opinion) clearly saying that phrenology and mesmerism “are good in their place”—that is, they are valuable/useful concepts that have been also used by Satan for evil. As a parallel illustration this is similar to saying that Music is good in its place but has also been used for evil. This interpretation is borne out by the fact that the White’s visit to Dr Jackson takes place two years after her statement in the 1862 Advent Review and Sabbath Herald.
Interestingly, Uriah Smith defends White’s statement along much the same lines. In his 1868 book The visions of Mrs. E. G. White he states:
“I told him the Lord had shown me that mesmerism was from the Devil.” Experience and Views, page 6. “Phrenology and mesmerism are very much exalted. They are good in their place.” Testimony No. 7, page 56. Here the objector stops and claims a contradiction. Mesmerism from the Devil, he says, and yet good! He should have continued his quotation from Testimony No. 7, a little further, thus: “They are good in their place, but they are seized upon by Satan as his most powerful agents to deceive and destroy souls!” It is only by garbling the sentence that the opposer finds his objection; for when it is given in full, it explains the first quotation, and shows in what respect mesmerism is from the Devil, namely, in the use that is made of it. This is all made plain in the work last quoted from. (p115)

White does make a number of other references to phrenology—however it should be noted finally that the subject plays a very minor role in her writings. The exact number of occurrences is difficult to determine because her articles were reprinted multiple times in different magazines & compilations— but it is certainly less than 10 separate occasions. It should also be noted that most references (and all of the positive ones) occur before 1870.
From my perspective this passage where Ellen White writes positively of a now discredited “medical” practice without any scientific or other value, is easy to explain—she was simply reflecting the culture of her time—and the current state of medical/scientific/psychological knowledge. Thus I have no problem with this passage, nor with Ellen White taking her two sons for a phrenology reading.

In all fairness, I will direct you to the Ellen G. White Estate website which addresses this issue also (though from a slightly different approach): http://www.whiteestate.org/books/mol/Chapt43.html#Phrenology

Other occurrences of phrenology in early Adventist writings include:

A letter from Alvarez Pierce was published in the March 6, 1856 Advent Review and Sabbath Herald: “I once attended for a few evenings a Methodist meeting where they thought they were having a great revival and where their preacher instead of going to the great store-house of eternal truth, undertook to prove his doctrine by magnetism and phrenology. Will God approve of such doctrine as this? We answer, No. Then let us take warning and let our hearts and conversation be in heaven, from whence we look for our Lord Jesus.” (p183)

On January 1, 1861, the Advent Review and Sabbath Herald published an article by R. C. Farrar entitled “Religion Illustrated by Phrenology”. (Note: this is before White makes reference to the subject.) It is an quite positive towards the subject:
“The science of phrenology proves conclusively that the seat of the mind is the brain; and so intimate is the connection between mind and matter, that any derangement of one produces a marked effect upon the other. How plainly the results of the fall can be traced in our feeble and shattered frames, as well as in the natural depravity of our hearts.
My mind is carried back to the creation of man. When he came from the hand of God, how perfect he was, physically, mentally and morally. All the faculties of his mind were blended together in just that proportion necessary to the development of a perfect character. Benevolence, or love to our fellow-men, veneration, or religious reverence for the Deity, firmness, or fixedness of purpose, resolution, fortitude, conscientiousness, or love of justice and right, occupy the most elevated position of the brain, showing that they are to govern and control the rest of the faculties. When Adam partook of the forbidden fruit, he reversed this order of things very materially. Appetite is one of the lower faculties, and occupies a lower position in the brain. So do the domestic organs, love of home, family and friends, the principle of self-defense, love of property, &c. These faculties are all right in their legitimate use, but they are designed to be held in perfect subjection to the moral powers….It is the design of religion to restore back the just balance of the powers of mind, that each may have just that development God designed at the first. We must not discard a faculty altogether, because its excessive development has led us into sin. We must curb and restrain it within just the limits that God prescribes.”

Information on phrenology on the internet can be found here: http://www.mtn.org/quack/devices/psychist.htm Some of links are not working, the Internet Archive maintains copies of some of the sites. See especially: http://www.epub.org.br/cm/n01/frenolog/frenologia.htm

References:
Samuel H. Greenblatt, “Phrenology in the Science and Culture of the 19th Century” Neurosurgery, 37:4 (1995), 790-805.

Ronald Numbers, Prophetess of Health New York: Harper & Row, 1976, 90-91.

Robert E. Riegel, “The Introduction of Phrenology to the United States” The American Historical Review, 39:1 (1933), 73-78.

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Bacchiocchi’s Sabbath to Sunday–Take 2

November 20, 2006

Some weeks ago I blogged referencing allegations concerning Samuele Bacchiocchi’s academic credentials and the issue of the imprimatur associated with his book Sabbath to Sunday. Bacchiocchi has recently responded to some of the allegations that were originally raised by Dr. Barbara Bergami–the Secretary General of the Pontifical Gregorian University, who apparently mailed a letter, dated 11 June 2004, about Bacchiocchi’s credentials to the Most Reverend James A. Murray, Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Kalamazoo, Michigan. Bacchiocchi’s Endtime Issues newsletter #159 addressing some of the issues raised may be found here.

As far as I’m concerned Bacchiocchi’s credentials have been shown to exist and to be what he said they were.

I must say that it is difficult to imagine the Secretary General of the Pontifical Gregorian University lying or deliberately falsifying information. It would seem to me that perhaps the problem has arisen because of the somewhat irregular nature of Bacchiocchi’s credentials–a hand-written certificate instead of the official printed one, missing the medal-giving ceremony, etc. (which he himself freely admits).

Stephen Korsman has blogged comprehensively on Bacchiocchi’s response here. He states:

“I await Bacchiocchi’s follow-up. He’s off to Australia now, and when he gets back, there should be more. I hope to see his explanation of a) the imprimatur, b) the continued use of the imprimatur on an edition for which it was not obtained, c) the use of the name of Gregorian University Press on newer editions in a way that looks official, and d) evidence of the initial publication by them.
On this evidence alone, however, I think it’s a very good time for Gregorian University to either recant or to provide their own documentation. Their argument is strong. But now Bacchiocchi’s argument is also strong – nearly as strong. If the images Bacchiocchi has scanned in and put on his website can be verified, they will certainly need to provide an explanation to back up their claims, if that is their intent. If his images cannot be verified, it’s still a case of his word against theirs. But on both sides, the words are strong.”

Korsman does point out that Bacchiocchi has addressed only one aspect of the concerns regarding his work/qualifications that have been raised. I guess we’ll just have to wait to see Bacchiocchi’s response to the issues surrounding his publication of From Sabbath to Sunday.

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Online Historical Adventist Photos

November 15, 2006

There are a number of sites with databases of historical photos relating to Adventism currently in existence. The most comprehensive are those based at the Heritage Room of Loma Linda University:

  • The first is focused specifically on Ellen G. White and contains over 1200 photos from the Ellen G. White Estate that focus on White, her family, associates, and events & places associated with her life. (The Ellen G. White Estate itself offers only 7 photos on their website.) Access the database here.
  • The second database contains approximately 2,000 photos (with more being added) on a wide variety of subjects. Access this database here.

A third site is that of the British Union Conference (BUC) Historical Archive. It contains nearly 600 photos and may be accessed here.

timeoftrouble.com has pictures scanned in from various SDA publications including: J. N. Loughborough’s Rise and Progress of the Seventh-day Adventists (1892), and M. Ellsworth Olsen’s A History of the Origin and Progress of Seventh-day Adventists (1925) here.

The Center for Adventist Research (CAR) at Andrews University has recently established its own database of historical photos online here. OK, great, the more photos available online for research and teaching purposes the better. HOWEVER, to put it bluntly, the CAR approach sucks. As an example, a search for “africa” lists 21 photos—some of them of great interest to me in my research and teaching—such as a picture of students at the first SDA church school in South Africa in 1893. The problem is the database only offers tiny thumbnail-sized photos—so small in fact, that it is difficult sometimes to make out the content of the photo (the picture at right is exactly what the CAR site gives you!)—with the option to purchase a full-sized photo at higher resolution. Now I certainly believe that any photo used for commercial purposes—such as a published book—should be paid for, but to deny church members (not to mention researchers and teachers) like myself, free and open access to such material is just plain wrong. The fees charged are not inconsiderable when converted to currencies other than USD. C’mon CAR, surely you can do better than that!

I have emailed CAR at: car@andrews.edu and will report back on any reply received.

Just out of interest, a search for “Africa” on each of the above sites reveals:

Loma Linda 1 (EGW): 5 results.

Loma Linda 2 (General SDA): 3 results.

BUC Archive: 18 results.

EarlySDA.com (no search capability): c10 results.

CAR: 21 results (with Moslem/Muslim spelled as Mosleum twice).

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Ellen White’s Burial

November 12, 2006

The anti-Ellen White site http://www.ellenwhite.org/ has a post titled “The White Obelisk” which goes to some length to show that the grave marker (pictured above) on the grave of Ellen and James White is a satanic symbol. I’m not going to bother commenting about that issue, suffice to say that while it may be “quite unsettling” for the site’s authors “that a symbol of the Egyptian Sun god appears on the burial site of James and Ellen White”, it doesn’t worry me in the slightest.However, in the first footnote to that page, the authors make the following statement:

Mrs. White’s funeral was on July 24, 1915, the same date that the photograph was taken. However, according to the White Estate, she was not interred until 33 days later. On March 22, 1999, William Fagal of the Ellen G. White Estate Branch Office at Andrews University, emailed D. Fischer: “Her funeral took place on Sabbath, July 24, 1915. She was not actually interred, however, until Thursday, August 26.”

This claim intrigues me.

The Events Surrounding White’s Death & Burial:
On March 3, 1915, White had her last vision. Her words focussed on the young people of the church: “I do not expect to live long. My work is nearly done. Tell our young people that I want my words to encourage them in that manner of life that will be most attractive to the heavenly intelligences, and that their influence upon others may be most enobling.”
At 3.40pm on July 16, 1915 she passed away. Her son, Willie White later described the experience: “It was like the burning out of a candle, so quiet.”

A funeral service was held at her home: Elmshaven in California on July 18.
White’s body then travelled by train to Richmond where a camp-meeting was taking place, and a second service held.

Again travelling by train, White’s body was taken to Battle Creek, Michigan, where, on Sabbath morning, July 24, White lay in state in the Battle Creek Tabernacle for two hours from eight til ten. About 2,000 people filed past as an honour guard of six ministers alternated in pairs every twenty minutes and stood, one at the head of the casket and one at the foot.

White’s third and final funeral service was held in the Battle Creek Tabernacle on July 24 with about 4,500 people in attendance–1,000 more than Battle Creek Tabernacle could hold.

Following the Tabernacle service White’s body was buried next to her husband James in Oak Hill cemetery.

There seems to be no evidence to support the suggestion that White’s interment (burial) took place other than on the same day as her funeral. Furthermore, there seems to be no reason for such a situation to occur.

Questions:

  1. Does this email from William Fagel actually exist? (If it does not, will the authors of the ellenwhite.org site remove the offending staement?–Or offer alternative evidence to support their claim?)
  2. If it does, was Fagel correct in his statement that White was not actually “interred” until August 26?
  3. If White’s interment did not actually take place until August 26, what were the reasons?
  4. Finally, while I’m not a fan of conspiracy theories, (assuming the above is true) has the Ellen White Estate engaged in some sort of cover-up about the events surrounding the burial of Ellen White?
  5. References:
    Herbert E. Douglass, Messenger of the Lord, Boise: Pacific Press, 1998.

    Arthur L. White, Ellen G. White: The Later Elmshaven Years 1905-1915, Washington DC: Review and Herald, 1982.

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Irene Morgan

November 6, 2006

The story of Irene Morgan has been told before—most comprehensively for an Adventist audience here. However, it is good to remind ourselves periodically of our history.

To summarize:
“Eleven years before Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a city bus in Montgomery, Alabama, a young woman named Irene Morgan rejected that same demand on an interstate bus headed to Maryland from Gloucester, Virginia. Recovering from surgery and already sitting far in the back, she defied the driver’s order to surrender her seat to a white couple. Like Parks, Morgan was arrested and jailed. But her action caught the attention of lawyers from the NAACP, led by Thurgood Marshall, and in two years her case reached the Supreme Court.
Though the lawyers fervently believed that Jim Crow – the curious pseudonym for racial segregation – was unjust, they recognized the practice was still the law of the land, upheld by the 1896 Supreme Court decision in Plessy v. Ferguson. Instead of seeking a judgment on humanitarian grounds or the equal protection provisions of the Fourteenth Amendment, they made the seemingly arcane argument that segregation in interstate travel violated the Constitution’s Interstate Commerce Clause.
On June 3, 1946, that strategy paid off. In Irene Morgan v. Virginia, the court ruled that segregation in interstate travel was indeed unconstitutional as “an undue burden on commerce.” But though that the decision was now law, the southern states refused to enforce it, and Jim Crow continued as the way of life in the South. Yet there were those determined to do something about it.”

Extract taken from: http://www.robinwashington.com/jimcrow/journey.html

Interestingly this account—and most others—leaves out the fact that Irene Morgan was a Seventh-day Adventist.
Other accounts:
Washington Post article
A compendium of newspaper accounts
Wikipedia entry
You Don’t Have to Ride Jim Crow! documentary website.

Presidential Citizens Medal website

You can read a copy of the US Supreme Court’s decision here.

Listen to Bayard Rustin sing “You don’t Have to Ride Jim Crow” here. Rustin co-wrote the song with George Houser. The song refers to Irene Morgan’s win in court on June 3, 1946, as the impetus for the first Freedom Ride in April 1947.

Known as the Journey of Reconciliation, riders engaged in direct protest by intentionally violating the segregated seating patterns on Southern buses and trains. Along the way, they were beaten, arrested and fined. Further information on the Freedom Ride can be found here & here.

Irene Morgan changed the world. Let us not forget one Seventh-day Adventist woman who sat down (!) for what she believed in.

The Association of Adventist Women has chosen its Adventist Women of the Year for 2006. You can read about the awardees–women who also changed their world–here.

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The Afrikaanse Konferensie

November 1, 2006

On December 8, 1968, 425 delegates met for a Special Business Session of the Transvaal Conference. Before the session had ended approximately fifty delegates (including five ministers) had walked out, and in protest at the policies of the Transvaal Conference, resolved to establish a new conference—provisionally named the Suid-Afrikaanse Konferensie. The group did not consider themselves as schismatic, but wanted to remain within the established church structure. On the 15th of December, the group held another meeting and over 200 attended. At this meeting the group took the name Afrikaanse Konferensie van Sewendedag-Adventiste.
In an open letter to the leadership of the Transvaal Conference, the group stated:
“The history of our organization has not been a happy one in this country. The ‘Dutch’ have been continually regarded as inferior and not capable of handling their own affairs. The Afrikaners…have had to be content with crumbs falling from the master’s table.”
In response the SDA Church suspended a number of ministers while others resigned. A number of church members were placed under censure.
Despite denying that Afrikaner church members were in any way ignored or discriminated against, the Transvaal Conference and the South African Union Conference recommended in 1968 that Helderberg College be “as bilingual as possible” and add an Afrikaans-speaking theology lecturer to its staff. They also launched an extensive translation, production, and distribution of Afrikaans literature—including the production of the Trans-African Outlook in Afrikaans.
It is somewhat ironic that the church refused to officially recognise or create an Afrikaans-speaking conference when there were already numerous conferences established along racial/ethnic lines. Edwin de Kock (Helderberg College teacher) pointed this out in an undated manuscript:
“We and the Bantu, Coloured and Indian Believers are one in Christ, however do we have the same congregations and conferences?”
Kock also pointed out that separate conferences along language lines were established in Europe in the 1880’s (Danish, Norwegian, Swedish, and German), and that in 1901 the small Swiss Conference was also divided into German and French-speaking conferences.
In May 1969, the new Conference was formally registered with the South African government. For many this was only an interim measure until the orthodox SDA Church made changes.
At least one SDA congregation transferred its allegiance—the Krugersdorp SDA Church. Many groups were started in other areas, and by April 1969, there were 15 groups meeting in various locations.
The Afrikaanse Konferensie also undertook additional evangelistic efforts (and were very strongly opposed by the orthodox SDA church!).
At the end of 1970, the group reported a membership of almost 1,000.
However, by 1972, a crisis was apparent—the Afrikaanse Konferensie was severely in debt and losing members. Antonio Pantalone attributes this to 3 factors:

  1. A dramatic loss of membership,
  2. Excessive spending,
  3. Misappropriation of funds by some leaders.

It seems that many members of the Afrikaanse Konferensie still considered themselves loyal SDAs. They believed that their actions would result in dialogue with the orthodox SDA church and the breakaway group would soon be incorporated back into the existing church structure. When this did not happen, many returned anyway.
The Afrikaanse Konferensie had big plans—a school, a college, a medical clinic etc. They built a large meeting hall in Bapsfontein, a home for the aged was opened at Cottesloe in Johannesburg, another near Belfast in the Transvaal, and a third in the town of Springs. An aerotorium (inflatable evangelistic tent) was bought for R5500 along with a large truck to transport it. When numbers were reduced the group could not even pay their phone bills.
While the exact situation is unclear there were financial irregularities amongst some of the group’s leaders. This resulted in external audits and eventually a court case.
From this, the Afrikaanse Konferensie was unable to recover. In 1973 Pr von Horsten and a small group applied for re-admittance to the SDA church. Following the group’s complete collapse, six pastors were again employed by the orthodox SDA church. Karl Birkenstock and a small group of followers chose not to return to the church.

It is relevant to note that in 2006, many of the issues that prompted the formation of the Afrikaanse Konferensie have not been solved; and that similar proposals for independent, separate, or minority conferences have been proposed as a result of the ongoing merger/realignment of local conferences in South Africa.

Reference: Antonio Pantalone, “A Missiological Evaluation of the Afrikaanse Konferensie (1968-1974) and its Significance for the Seventh-Day Adventist Church in South Africa.” DTh, University of Durban-Westville, 1999.