The Swiss-born American theologian and campaigner for religious freedom Bert Beverly Beach is dead. He died at the age of 94 on December 14 in Silver Spring (Maryland/USA). The Adventist pastor is considered an important theologian of the 20th century Adventists.
Beach was Secretary General of the International Association for Religious Freedom (IRLA) until 1995. He served in numerous offices in the Seventh-day Adventist Church. He was well respected in international ecumenical circles as Director of Public Affairs for the Seventh-day Adventist General Conference from 1980-1995 and as General Secretary of the Seventh-day Adventist Council for Interchurch Relations from 1980-2005. From 1965 to the 1990s he was the Seventh-day Adventist liaison and adviser at the World Council of Churches in Geneva. From 1970 to 2003 he served as secretary of the Conference of Secretaries of Christian World Communions (CS/CWCs).
Beach has published numerous books and articles in several languages, including Vatican II-Bridging the Abyss (1968), Ecumenism-Boon or Bane? (1974), Bright Candle of Courage (1989), Rotating the World with Rotary (1991), Ambassador for Liberty (2015). Dr. Beach has received several honorary awards, including a special resolution from the Maryland State Senate (1984) for his contribution to religious freedom, a Paul Harris Fellow of Rotary International (1984) and a Th.D. honoris causa from the Christian Theological Academy in Warsaw (Poland).
Bert Beach did more to make the Seventh-day Adventist Church ecumenical than most people realize. His legacy is one of the worst for fraternizing with Rome as a church leader. By giving the Medal of Freedom to the pope, he galvanized his legacy of leading the SDA Church to compromise with Rome. Rome’s obituary is a testimony of their appreciation of his activity.
“The Lord has pronounced a curse upon those who take from or add to the Scriptures. The great I AM has decided what shall constitute the rule of faith and doctrine, and he has designed that the Bible shall be a household book. The church that holds to the word of God is irreconcilably separated from Rome. Protestants were once thus apart from this great church of apostasy, but they have approached more nearly to her, and are still in the path of reconciliation to the Church of Rome. Rome never changes. Her principles have not altered in the least. She has not lessened the breach between herself and Protestants; they have done all the advancing. But what does this argue for the Protestantism of this day? It is the rejection of Bible truth which makes men approach to infidelity. It is a backsliding church that lessens the distance between itself and the Papacy.” The Signs of the Times, February 19, 1894.