Karl Haffner Honors Influential Pastor Morris Venden in Heubach Lecture

By Lauren Armstrong on April 18, 2013

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Karl Haffner, senior pastor at the Kettering Adventist Church in Ohio and author of a dozen devotional books, presented the 2013 Heubach Lecture on April 13.

Commemorating the recently deceased Seventh-day Adventist pastor Morris Venden, Haffner titled his lecture, Keeping Venden’s Voice Alive: Sanctification by Faith Alone. Venden, the celebrated Adventist pastor and Voice of Prophecy member, was a very influential figure in Haffner’s life and ministry.

“Venden pastored the PUC church for many years; he was a strong advocate of both justification and sanctification by faith alone,” commented Leo Ranzolin, department of religion chair and Heubach Lectureship Committee chair.

In his lecture, Haffner outlined the three aspects to our salvation, drawing from a sermon given by Venden at PUC in 1976: “Salvation from our past sins—we call it justification. Salvation from our present sins—we call this sanctification. Salvation from a world of sin when Jesus comes—we call this glorification.”

Haffner went on to examine each of these aspects, positing that we have no trouble accepting justification and glorification. “But somehow,” he said, “we have gotten the idea that in santification, the middle aspect of salvation, that it is faith plus effort, faith plus works.”

“The Bible is not against effort; the Bible speaks against earning our salvation,” Haffner noted, examining the language used in key texts Luke 13:24 and 2 Peter 1:5-10. The texts, he says, are not telling believers to “make every effort” to gain salvation, but to strengthen faith.

“We can’t make ourselves any more righteous than we already are,” Haffner declared. “We are not sinners trying to be saints, but rather we are saints who sin whenever we stop trusting in Christ.”

“Here’s the bottom line,” Haffner confirmed, “it’s all about Jesus Christ. By faith in Jesus Christ we are saved. By faith in Jesus Christ we are sanctified. By faith in Jesus Christ we are glorified. It’s all about Jesus Christ.”

The lecture was widely attended by faculty, staff, community members, and current students. “I appreciated the very Christ-centered focus that he emphasized,” said senior theology major Matt Frias. “One of the main points that hit me was his quote about how it’s not about trying, not about training, but trusting.”

“I thought Dr. Haffner’s theological exposition of the nature of justification, sanctification, and glorification was well done,” Ranzolin commented. “Indeed, they are the work of God and occur by ‘faith alone.’” 

The Heubach Lecture was created in 1998, when PUC established an endowment in honor of Paul C. Heubach, ’34. The biennial lectureship, funded by friends of Heubach, hopes to examine the great central truths of Christianity in light of the character of God by using simple language “in terms understood where people live,” as Heubach put it. The goal for each lecture is to leave the listener with a clearer comprehension of God, and thus with more confidence in Him.