Friday, December 08, 2006

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?

1 comment:

Randy Gerber said...

Thank-you again for wonderful comments. I printed off this section to take home as it will garner some discussion on the home front.

Blessings to your ministy here on the WWW.