Desmond Ford, Ph.D., was born in Queensland, Australia, but he has lived and worked in the U.S.A. for the last twenty years. He has been a teacher and minister of the gospel for fifty years.
A voluminous reader from childhood, Dr. Ford’s interests include religion, history, current affairs, biography, science, and health. Ford was a bright student but left high school early because Australia was at war. At age 14, he started working at Associated Newspapers in Sydney, Australia. It was at this time that he developed a life-long interest in the subject of evolution versus creationism. After his conversion to Christianity, he began to write on religious themes and has subsequently written twenty books and numerous articles.
Dr. Ford worked as a pastor in local churches for a number of years before being asked to finish his degree and take up college teaching. He completed a B.A. Theology at Avondale College in Australia in 1958; a Master’s in Systematic Theology at Andrews University in 1959; a Ph.D. in Rhetoric about the Pauline Epistles, at Michigan State University, USA, in 1961; and another Ph.D. in eschatology at Manchester University, England, in 1972. His main expertise and the focus of his education has been apocalyptic (the study of the literature and symbolism of certain Biblical books (Daniel, Ezekiel, and Revelation) and eschatology (the study of the end or last times, as taught in Scripture).
Ford was head of the religion department at Avondale College in Australia for over sixteen years. He was a member of the Biblical Research Committee (the Seventh day Adventist’s chief theological committee) in both Australia and the USA.
In 1977, Ford and his family were invited to come to the United States where he taught in the religion department at Pacific Union College for three years. Subjects he taught over the years included Public Speaking, Homiletics, Evangelism, Life and Teachings of Christ, the Pauline Epistles, Christian Apologetics, Daniel and Revelation, the Major and Minor Prophets of the Old Testament, Introduction to Theology, and Biblical Theology.
In 1979, while still at Pacific Union College, Dr. Ford was asked by the S.D.A. Forum (a network of Seventh-day Adventist professionals) to speak on the ramifications of Hebrews chapter 9 and their impact on the Adventist doctrine of 1844 and the Investigative Judgment. Though he was promised immunity, this talk led to Dr. Ford’s being summoned to the General Conference of S.D.A.s at Washington, D.C., where he was given six months to write up his position. This was eventually circulated in a 900-page manuscript called Daniel 8:14, the Investigative Judgment, and the Kingdom of God.
In August, 1980, 111 chief administrators and scholars of the Seventh-day Adventist Church met for a week to consider Dr. Ford’s paper and decide his future. This took place at Glacier View Ranch, near Denver, Colorado. The group produced a consensus statement that moved towards Dr. Ford’s conclusions in seven out of ten of his major positions. Yet, at the conclusion of the meeting, the official church reverted to their former traditional positions and removed Dr. Ford’s ministerial credentials for moving away from traditional Adventist belief on this doctrine. This event created quite a stir in Adventist circles because Desmond Ford had been a well-known speaker, teacher, scholar, and evangelist for several decades. Articles about his disciplining appeared in Newsweek, Time, and Christianity Today.
For twenty years since, Dr. Ford has worked independently through a nonprofit ministry called Good News Unlimited, in Auburn, California. He has had a daily and weekly radio program for twenty years, and a TV program on health and preventive medicine, called Worth More Than a Million, for ten years. An avid enthusiast about exercise, Ford has covered by foot the equivalent of more than five times around the world. He has flown over a million miles and in his preaching travels, he has covered more miles than the Pope. He has spoken in many countries, including England, Ireland, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Germany, Russia, South Africa, the Philippines, Thailand, New Zealand, and Canada, plus extensive travel within the U.S.
Ford’s special preaching emphasis is the Pauline doctrine of Justification by Faith, made famous by Martin Luther but still too often missing from modern preaching. It is the good news that “makes the heart to sing and the feet to dance, ” that Christ, by his life and death redeemed the world 2,000 years ago, so that now, “whosoever will may come” to God.
Ford excels at expository preaching and practical admonition on how to live a sanctified, Christ-filled life. He is, as mentioned, an expert on eschatology. This subject looms in importance as we have enter the second millennium. While many groups are focused on setting dates for the return of the Messiah, Ford reminds us that Scripture clearly forbids all attempts at date-setting, including the year ushering in the new millennium.