Sunday, December 24, 2006

Merry Christmas! (And Happy Birthday Jesus)

Some people love this time of year. Some love the time just after it's all over (but before they have to go back to work of course.) Some (like me) love summer, just because it's...summer :) I mean, why couldn't tradition have chosen June 25, when it's warm?

I've often thought that a "perspective" book, or T.V. special would be illuminating. What are the various perspectives on this time of the year. There's the Christian perspective, of course. This is our time of year. But there is also the Jewish, Muslim, and Hindu view. (Search for "Merry Christmas Southpark" for example) They all, along with the Atheist, see this from an external perspective. Yet if my informal surveys over the years are valid, a lot of them like this time of the year for a variety of reasons. Business is good. People are (ahem, sometime) more cheerful, and hey, kids love ole' saint Nick.

But there is also the perspective of the lonely and the alone. If Christmas is about family and giving, those who are alone and have nothing to give can feel like this is not at all the most wonderful time of the year.

Then there is the perspective of the soldiers stuck in Iraq and other places around the world. A Soldiers Christmas is to be away from family and loved-ones struggling to understand why "we" are still in Iraq.

Wherever you are this year, and from whatever your perspective: Merry Christmas to you. I sincerely hope that this year has been good and the next better. But more than anything, I hope that you are able to brush aside the trees, the traffic, the gifts and yes maybe even the guilt and see through it all to the real point. Jesus Christ, born in mystery, who lived a truly amazing life, was killed and then reported to have been resurrected. Jesus is the reason. Forget our theologies. Forget our politics. Forget our pathetic history and total inability to kindly represent him. Forget us this season and instead understand who He was, and is. Set out on a journey that begins this season - a journey to understand the man who is God, Jesus Christ.

Friday, December 22, 2006

New Chaplain for Southern Adventist University

This post will only be meaningful to Adventists, but is about exciting news. I'm not sure if it is officially public yet so I'm going to speak with a bit of vagueness. Libby was just speaking with a friend who's going to be the new Southern chaplain, replacing the irreplaceable Ken Rogers. This is truly a case of the Incomparable following the Unsurpassed.

This new chaplain has a wonderfully cheerful and enthusiastic personality, is both intelligent and creative, plays the fiddle and loves Jesus very much.

Oh, and even though he's a friend he's not in any way theologically aligned with my theological protests of Adventism. Yet he has a wonderful understanding of grace and of the cross.

Congratulations! I'm thrilled: Southern is lucky and Gordon Bietz and company have made a great choice.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Experimental Wiki

Update: Wiki is currently unavailable.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

In this day in history: December 16

Yes, the infamous and no doubt exhilarating Boston Tea Party. That's right, boys and girls. You think the buzz you get from the caffeine is something, just wait till you see how it feels to defy Britain and toss all that tea into the harbor. The after-party was interesting too.

Also on this day, the The Porajmos. "On December 16, 1942, Himmler ordered that the Roma candidates for extermination should be deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau." Of course, there are those who would like to deny the Holocaust or revise (viewer discretion advised, and see opposing.) our understanding of it. This, of course, all while presently Iran is hosting a "conference" on the Holocaust.

Oh, and also on this day UN General Assembly resolution 4686 revoked Resolution 3379, which essentially called "Zionism" racism. In fact the UN had consistently referenced Zionism as racism along with discussions of the racism in South Africa.

Friday, December 15, 2006

And on a lighter note

I stumbled onto Eskiv, a web-based game. Now, I can't be held liable for lost wages, broken marriages, and starving livestock due to gamer addiction. But the game is interesting. In the age where millions, even billions are spent by game companies to create slick, sophisticated games this one was probably written by a college student while watching reruns of Star Trek. It is reminiscent of classics like pong. See if you can beat my all-time score of 135 (after a frustrating hour, and at first being beaten by my son and his friends - but Dad rose to the challenge).

Now, what does this all have to do with a blog mainly focused on theology and spiritual matters? Just this: At first you'll score somewhere around 35. Then you'll get the hang of it and do 50-65 pretty easily. As you get your timing and concentration down you'll start hitting 90. Once you get really addicted, er, good at it you'll get over 100 and might top my score of 135. But there will be a point where you will fail. It's inescapable.

This is like attempting to keep the letter of the Law. You'll start out pretty bumpy, but as you get into the swing of it you'll starting "doing better". After a few years of struggling and modifying your environment and behavior, you'll start to at least appear to be "better". But the more you understand about the full depth of that law and what it truly means, the harder and harder it becomes to do all the various aspects of the law to the full spiritual extent of it in God's eyes. Eventually you will fail. True, you can ask for forgiveness, and start again, but eventually you will fail again, and again, and again. (Play the game a couple of times for living illustration.)

The New Covenant is based on better sacrifices and on better promises. We have died to the law and live for Jesus. We stop trying and allow the third member of the God-head, to come into our lives and He starts dodging the flying balls and controlling our path. We fail; He does not. Our "Sabbath Rest" is to rest in Christ. "Come unto me all you who labor and are heavy-laden, and I will get you rest." Stop struggling. "Be still (stop trying) and know that I am God".

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Born to be Free

Living Hope Ministries, primiarily focused on exposing the errors of Mormonism and reaching out to those with questions, produced a video on the remarkable transformation of the Worldwide Church of God from genuine cult status into grace.

The Google video of it (dialup format) and the link to the video on their site.

I showed the video to Libby (my wife) last night and it brought her to tears. If you are currently an Adventist or in some other church that has strong legalistic tendencies, please watch that video. If you have a friend or family member who is, buy it and send it to them. Ask yourself this question: Do I see anything familiar in the testimonies of those who came out of cultism and into the truth of Christ?

No, Adventists do not have many of the strange beliefs that Armstrong taught. But yes, we used to (and some still do) take the extreme positions against the Trinity, and yes SDA's took and take the same extreme positions about the Sabbath, Law of God and about being God's only true church.

I remember when this all happened. I was pastoring at the time and had a number of members remark to me that "it was happening" just like EGW predicted. What was happening, I asked? "Widespread apostasy from the Sabbath." Yet these Adventists had no idea what the WWCG taught and believed, and just how legalistic they were.

Note this comment (Update: looks like you need to log in to access it. SDA's hate free-speech :) by "sdazeal" on - the whole denomination apostasized? And see this write-up by ultra-conservative "sdadefend". They bemoan the "apastasy", yet fully admit that Armstrong introduced heresy - but won't consider that "Sabbath keeping" is a part of that heresy. Wow! Watch this video.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Nice to hear an older Adventist say this

He and I probably could find points to disagree on if we were to try. But I sure like what this 85 year old Adventist said in this interview (alas, no longer available), especially the last question.

There are two radical statements that you'd not expect to hear from an older SDA in Michigan.
  1. "Probably this earth was here before the creation week made by God at some time" (I agree btw, no flames please :-) )
  2. "Salvation is a gift. It cannot be earned through good works on our part. It is received by grace, through faith in Jesus Christ our savior"
Bravo to you Robert Borrowdale, age 85.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

On and other "contra" sites

Recently the question came up: "Why if I disagree with and some of the other sites do I repeat what they write and link to them?" Me, disagree with them? Naw. Though I may disagree with some minor point or conclusion on "those" sites - the same can be said of any site. My main concern with them has been one of tone and presentation. (My previous blog posting) When people come to a website that is poorly formatted and presents the content in a disorderly and "bombastic" way, the style and presentation can tend to fan the flames of prejudice. There is a great wall to break through when one is trapped into a closed and warped system of belief. I do wish that could reformat their site. I applaud the work that Dirk has done on, and Dale Ratzlaf's new site redesign is awesome.

I highly recommend that you browse and study the content on,, and and other sites. Look to see if those things are true. We have nothing to fear by viewing true facts, and through prayerful and careful scrutiny, errors are exposed and the truth emerges. But, maybe this is just what Adventist leaders and apologists fear most...

New Danish "ex" Adventist website

Martin Hansen has launched a new website designed to help provide information and materials to Danish speaking Adventists and those seeking details on Adventism. The URL is
"It is my prayer that this site will bless many former Adventists, Adventists and Christians, in their search for truth, fellowship and most of all in their relationship with Jesus our Lord, Savior and awesome God."
It's important to recognize that not all the people who have been approached by Adventism over the decades speak English. In fact, most of the membership is outside the U.S. Adventism is established in 202 countries and materials have been translated into 885 languages.

While we in the U.S. probably have been exposed to the strongest statements and claims about Ellen White and her "inspiration", we also have had the benefit of a strong emphasis on Justification by Faith and on the cross over the past few decades. Other countries were brought into the church under the older, much more legalistic and disturbing version of Adventism. Today they are appalled with how the churches in the U.S. behave. When I was at Andrews in the Seminary, it was said that women's ordination has been blocked largely because of the conservative nature of the World divisions. (I'm for ordination of women, recognizing that the Bible is strangely silent on pastoral "ordination", even of men.) Indeed, lately I've noticed much apologetic writing is by South American theologians. The historic, conservative torch is passing from North Americans to those outside this country.

People in other countries need to understand the errors in the Adventist theological house and the historic oddities that are often denied or trivialized. I'm excited at this new Danish website and hope that materials become available that Martin can use. (Fortunately, most Dane's can read English.) If you know of any materials that have been translated into Danish, please drop me a note.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Beginnings of Sabbath Teaching

I would like to present two quotations just as a thought that I will follow up more on later as it distills in my mind. The first is a quotation from Ellen White from an early vision while the second is a couple of paragraphs of history. The first then:
There I was shown that the commandments of God, and. the testimony of Jesus Christ, relating to the shut door, could not be separated, and that the time for the commandments of God to shine out, with all their importance and for God's people to be tried on the Sabbath truth, was when the door w, as opened in the Most Holy Place of the Heavenly Sanctuary, where the Ark is, containing the ten commandments. This door was not opened, until the mediation of Jesus was finished in the Holy Place of the Sanctuary in 1844.

I saw that the present test on the Sabbath could not come, until the mediation of sins in the Holy Place was finished ; and he had passed within the second vail; therefore, Christians, who fell asleep before the door was opened in the Most Holy, when the midnight cry was finished, at the seventh month 1844 ; and had not kept the true Sabbath, now rest in hope; for they had not the light, and the test on the Sabbath, which we now have, since that door was opened. I saw that Satan was tempting some of God's people on this point. Because so many good Christians have fallen asleep in the triumphs of faith, and have not kept the true Sabbath, they were doubting about it being a test for us now. [The Present Truth August 1849 v1 #3]
The second is from the history of the Seventh day Baptists:
The study of the Scriptures in America brought Samuel and Tacy Hubbard to the Baptist principle of believer’s baptism in 1647, and membership in the First Baptist Church of Newport, Rhode Island. Beginning in 1665, their family and several others became convinced of the seventh day Sabbath and joined in fellowship with Stephen Mumford and his wife who had held Sabbath convictions while members of a Baptist church in Tewksbury, England. ...

A similar separation occurred in 1705 in Piscataway, New Jersey, when a deacon of the Baptist Church, Edmund Dunham, became convinced of the biblical basis for Sabbath observance. Dunham and sixteen others withdrew to form their own church. A third group of churches came out of the Keithian split from Quakerism in the Philadelphia area about 1700. ...
Did Ellen White mean to imply that the Sabbath was not introduced until 1844, and that light about the Sabbath was not available until Christ opened the door to and moved into the Most Holy Place after shutting the door to and leaving the Holy Place? After ending his mediation in the Holy Place (whatever that means...)?

Just a question...cause it looks like people were teaching about the Sabbath a long time before the Adventists latched onto it...

Friday, December 08, 2006

Personal site down/being moved

I'm in the process of moving my site ( and it may be unavailable until Sunday, 12/10/2006. If it is unavailable, the content is mirrored here.

Update 12/9: It appears to be up and working, and the "DNS" (domain naming system, how the name is translated into the actual address of appears to be updated - at least it is in my corner of the world.

You're not gonna kill me are you?

“When the Sunday laws are passed will you persecute and try to kill me?” I was asked this question again and it breaks my heart. Many Adventists, especially those who have been brought up among the more traditional version of Adventism, so thoroughly believe “the story” that they think we who have left will be foremost in pressing for their death.

I can hear my non-Adventist readers: “huh? What the heck?” I share your sentiments, yet with knowledge. The story goes something like this: “We” (that’s Adventists) are God’s true remnant and “you” (that’s the other Christian churches, and we former Adventists) are Babylon. Adventists keep God’s true Sabbath, which is the seal of God while other Christians keep Sunday, the Mark of the Beast. Soon Sunday laws are to be passed forcing everyone to worship on Sunday, and reinforced with a death penalty for those who don’t. Seventh-day Adventists will be odd man out – they will be condemned to death and the nominal Christians, filled with hate, will grab their pitchforks and torches and hunt down Adventists to throw them in prison and kill them. All of this because the Seventh-day Adventists are keeping all the commandments (while the rest of us are only keeping 8 or 9).

Where does this doomsday view come from? Though the Bible does teach of plagues and persecution (which we see even today) this comes primarily from Ellen White. But the origins of it stretch back even into the Millerite 1843/44 movement (and I would argue the sentiment emerges from the Protestant vs. Roman Catholicism conflict); there was a strong “us and them” sentiment between those who heard and believed the “midnight cry” about Christ’s return in 1844, and those who did not – the nominal or popular churches. Later, this sentiment resulted in the shut-door teaching (only Adventists were and could be saved, all who rejected 1844 are rejected by God) and was ultimately injected into the Sabbath vs. Sunday argument.

With that much-too-short background in mind, let me just say this. There have been Adventists who I wanted to chase out of town with a pitchfork. This had nothing to do with Sabbath – they were just obnoxious. But Jesus taught love, forgiveness and long-suffering. “Turn the other cheek” does indeed mean what it says: turn the other cheek even if you are being mistreated for all the wrong reasons. If we are crucified to the world and have risen to newness of life in Christ, we walk in the personality and character of Christ. We believe in kindness to the suffering and obedience to our leaders. As Americans we believe in full freedom for all religious – or non-religious – views. The Atheist, the Muslim, the Hindu, the Sikhs, and the New Agers all have a right to believe as they wish and practice their religion. And yes, Jews, Seventh-day Adventists, and any others have a right to be as legalistic and strict as they desire and worship or keep Sabbath, just as the Evangelical asks for the same grace for not keeping any day above the other.

The bottom line is this: I no longer believe your claims that Ellen White was a prophet and I don’t buy the Adventist eschatology (last day events) any more. It is flawed, confusing, not Biblical, and has suspect origins. Yet you have a right to believe it. I have a right to speak against it and you have a right to speak against me. But I have a responsibility to treat you with love and respect and our government has a responsibility to ensure that the environment we live in allows all religions – even Christianity – equal protection under the law. And if some crazy Evangelical leader (I’m looking at you Dobson) tries to press for any laws that prevent any religion full freedom it is my duty as an American to oppose him. Yet, I don’t see anyone pressing for Sunday laws; against abortion, yes (and rightfully so). But relax: no one hates you. No one’s conspiring against you. The pope’s more worried about Islam and pedophile priests than Adventists. The Jesuits are busy at the moment.

Oh, and one more thing: God loves you more than you know. You have the assurance of salvation even if you don’t feel like it. You are accepted by God because of the perfect sacrifice of His Son. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Creator of the Universe and everything in it, co-eternal with the Father; Jesus has saved us and by grace, through faith we have the full assurance that we can come to the Father and be found acceptable – in Christ. And if you still wish to keep the Sabbath after grasping all of this, and understanding that the Law – the 10 commandments – truly are part of the old covenant that we are no longer under; if you want to worship on Saturday and keep Sabbath no one cares. That is your choice and it will be respected. But understand this: if you tell people that they must keep Sabbath to be saved, we must disagree and help people to understand what the Bible truly teaches.

But please, don’t think that just because many of us can no longer believe the claims of Adventism and have separated ourselves from it that we have become bloodthirsty. Your apologists want you to believe that we have fallen. They want you to believe that we are denying the spirit of Christ and have rejected truth. They want you to believe that we have joined with Babylon; this simply is not true. We simply have studied to see if these things are so and have concluded that there are too many problems to trust ourselves to Adventist teachings any longer. We’re not conspiring against you…relax: we’re still willing to be your friend and to talk to you. Now, are you willing to still be ours?

Update: Maybe there are laws being passed...enforcing Sabbath?

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Reviewing 1843/44 Adventist Materials. Wow.

Over the last week and this weekend I have voraciously consumed materials from the Millerite and early Adventist period. This included articles from Ellen White along with many of the pioneers such as Joshua Himes, James White, Storrs, and Joseph Bates. Additionally I've read later works related to the Shut Door by W.W. Fletcher, "Days of Delusion" by Clara Endicott Sears (1924), and modern compilations on websites. I also have works such as Movement of Destiny (Froom), Origin and History of the Seventh-day Adventists (Spalding) and a rather poorly preserved original copy of The Great Second Advent Movement by Loughborough; I again reviewed some of these materials.

Though I will write more details at some point, a couple of observations are worth noting.

1. William Miller, and the attending preachers, made a false prediction. Not once, or even twice, but multiple times. Amid a din of resounding "duh's", this comes as no surprise, especially to we Adventists; his charts and doctrine were used (though not necessarily by him) to predict the end of the world and set several exact dates for Christ's return.

2. The society of Millerite Adventists can safely be called "cultic". Sears' title rightly employs the word "delusion" - the followers became fanatically deluded to the point of burning their earthly ships behind them. They left crops, sold or destroyed property, and destroyed their reputations and relationships for a message taught from charts by fire-breathing preachers. The heart-wrenching story of Mary Hartwell is especially touching, yet frightening.

3. The post-1844 Sabbath Adventists held and taught the Shut Door: only those who had believed in the 1843/44 experience and had come out in faith for the "midnight cry" were among the wise virgins who had brought oil sufficient to meet the bridegroom when he came. Those who rejected the "midnight cry", and who did not believe were among the foolish virgins, and were forever lost. Probation had closed since Christ had moved from the holy to the most holy place in the sanctuary in heaven.

4. Ellen White was not only a proponent, but supported the false doctrine from vision. Further, the many articles teaching and supporting the shut door were under her watch; I find not one article or statement by her condemning the teaching during this period. James White was editor of The Present Truth and The Advent Review. More Quotes

6. In reviewing the materials, and practices of those early Adventists I would hope I would have been among those to quote "no man knows the hour". Given the rampant lack of Biblical education and sophistication, however, it is not surprising that so many were swept into it. This would have made me part of "Sardis", and as a result, I would be considered lost and a part of the wicked and foolish virgins.

7. Given the strong and erroneous statements on the sanctuary, Sabbath and especially the Shut Door, I find myself recoiling; especially given that Ellen White heartily supported the Shut Door and from vision. Reading a few clipped quotes is amazing enough; reading the whole articles from the original publications is eye popping.

8. Would we today have believed and joined the Seventh-day Adventists? If we had watched the extremes of Millerism, observed the repeatedly failed prophecies, found their concept of the sanctuary teaching un-Biblical, and had seen Ellen White, James White and the other Seventh-day Adventist pioneers for seven years teach that the door of probation was forever shut to all but those who had believed in the 1843/44 "midnight cry"; would we - could we - have had confidence in the prophetic message of Ellen White and the exegetical and doctrinal methods of the Adventists?

I realize that friends who hear that I have "left" or apostatized feel sorry for me and consider me deluded. When ever a person we speak with even hears a hint that we are "out" or don't believe, they almost always say something like, "please don't try to convince me that I don't have to keep the Sabbath." How I wish they could and would read these materials about those early days. These documents are a portal into the thought patterns of these early pioneers. They start to explain the inexplicable and convoluted nature of the sanctuary teachings today.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Crazy Amos Torments the Millerite Adventists

You know doubt may have seen the chat/gamer acronym ROFL LMAO. If you don't know what it means, ask your teenager. When they get done ROFL they may tell you :)

I'm reading some of Days of Delusion - A Strange Bit of History and finding the view of 1843/44 enlightening. Chapter 10, however has a story that had my face hurting from laughing. Yup, strange sense of humor. It's short - give it a read. I don't know who this guy was, but I think I like him.

Friday, December 01, 2006

O.R.L. Crosier - Father of anti-sabbatarianism?

I have been reading everything I can find written from about 1843-1851 that relates to our pioneers, and in particular, the solid belief in the shut-door teaching. (I highly recommend reading this work by W.W. Fletcher. ) In case you're new to all of this and are an Adventist, there are some very stinky stuffs that we find when digging under the rocks of that early period. But that's for another day.

We SDA's considered Crosier as the architect of the sanctuary message, having it pop into his head while cutting through a cornfield. (The idea is pretty corny, so...) (Corrected: it was Hiram Edson who had the thought popped into his head). Crosier published. Ellen White heartily endorsed his article "The Law of Moses". He, after renouncing those ideas and separating from the sabbatarians was written a letter inquiring what his current position was. One of the questions was:
5. Furthermore, if you feel free to do so, will you say whether you enjoyed your mind better while keeping the Sabbath than since? If so, what was the cause. Those here that keep the Sabbath say they enjoy themselves better than before, because they keep all the commandments.
His answer is very insightful:
5. What enjoyment I had while trying to keep the Sabbath is not to be placed to its credit. I had as much before, and more since. My observations and experience have convinced me that there is no real Christian enjoyment in attempts at Sabbath keeping. The enjoyment persons have in such attempts spring from other sources -- from having the prejudice of early and erroneous education satisfied, and from preventing disunion among believers, and from truths they may hold in practice. The Sabbath is legal, not Christian; therefore it cannot yield Christian enjoyment. It carries with it the spirit of "bondage" as all know who have tried to keep it; and torments with a constant consciousness of coming short of meeting its imperious demands. How often have I heard Sabbatarians say, "We can't keep it: we do the best we can; yet we can't keep it according to the Bible." The reason is, it was never designed for Christians to keep. Hence there are no directions in the New Testament how to keep it, nor to keep it at all. The Sabbatarian leaders never considered me sound on that question. I could not "wrest" the plain language of Scriptures to suit my prejudices and theories with so much facility as they. I had to admit it all, though my prejudices made the Scriptures appear to contradict themselves, and then decide what was duty from what seemed the balance of obligation, all things considered. Of this my article in the Day Dawn is proof, which Sabbatarians quote in a mutilated form. I subsequently saw the full and harmonious testimony of the New Testament against Sabbatizing. The testimony being clear and abundant, removed every doubt from my mind, so soon as I dared open my mind to receive it. Then the truth afforded me Christian enjoyment. Excited feeling is no evidence of Christian enjoyment or Christian character. It may spring from various causes and be had by the worst of men. Christian enjoyment, as such, can only spring from a sincere reception, confession and practice of the truth.
I love that last sentence.