We, at Crossroads, are always thankful that God gives us an opportunity to support questioning SDA pastors and those who are on the journey to resignation. It always helps to talk to someone who has traveled this road. The following interview tells the story of the journey of one such pastor who is on the cusp of resigning. What is his journey like? Why has he decided to make such a drastic move? Read his answers below. For obvious reasons, we are not sharing his identity. Part 2 will be posted next week.
Q. How long have you been a Seventh-day Adventist pastor and what made you start questioning the doctrines?
A. I have been an SDA pastor for 10 years. I grew up in a home where you didn’t question what you were told, you simply did it. However, since childhood there have been many questions in my mind. I continually noticed that there were “loopholes” and many inconsistencies with doctrinal points, but just held it all to myself.
Q. What kind of tension has this created for you as an SDA pastor?
A. I’ve always advised folk who were contemplating Sabbath employment to choose their conscience. I advised them to never choose income over conscious. This is the tension it has created for me – it is now my turn to take my own counsel. Sometimes I feel like I have chosen income over conscience. I don’t believe in what I am doing and it is causing me to have a “distant” disposition. My elders and church board have been saying for the last few months that I seem distant & disinterested. Most of the tension has been internal, as I feel like I am living a double life. At times, I feel like I am 007 James Bond – a double agent. I am ready to get off this roller coaster and live life free for Jesus Christ.
Q. What types of things do you do to share the Gospel with your
members, on the sly?
A. I have already informed my church that I am on a journey with God and that it is my duty & responsibility to bring them along with me. Most recently, I preached a series on the Ten Commandments. When we spoke on the Sabbath commandment, I shared with them how many times SDAs turn the Sabbath into an idol – therefore, breaking commandments 1 & 2. I also informed them that many SDAs are more concerned with “religiosity” than “spirituality.” Anytime our focus is on the “what” of the Bible rather than the “Who” of the bible, we become self-righteous. I was bold in my statements and I preached with conviction. You could tell that the members were a little surprised that we spoke on it from “that angle,” but no one complained. A friend advised me that if I keep that up, I’ll probably get fired before I actually resign. I suppose.
Q. What are some of your fears about leaving?
A. I think I have 2 main fears. The first fear is the potential financial instability. I am about to plant a church and because of the denominational employment, I am accustomed to a bi-weekly check. My family has 6 people and my wife isn’t working outside of the home, so this is a HUGE jump for us.
The second fear is loneliness. I believe, based on what I am currently noticing, that family and friends are going to shun us as “heathens” and “lost sheep.” It hurts me to know that families are willing to split with each other because of doctrinal differences.
Q. How does your wife feel about leaving the SDA Church?
A. She has said to me that she has mixed emotions – happy & fearful. She is happy because she finally gets to worship God without inhibitions. The feeling of reading her Bible without “SDA scales” over her eyes is rewarding. She says continually that she loves the feeling of grace. She has fear because of how she feels she will be viewed by her family. She comes from a family of strong SDAs and fears being ostracized and disowned because of her new understandings.
Q. Have you discussed these issues with anyone? Do you feel free to? Who can you talk to?
A. My wife and I mostly talk to each other about it. I do have a few friends (former SDA pastors) that I have begun reaching out to. I really enjoy talking to them because they “get it.”
I haven’t told too many people that I am leaving, but the very select few that I have are happy for me. One prominent SDA minister said, “If I knew then, what I know now, I too would have left a long time ago.” My colleagues are middle-of-the-road. I believe there are many of them that want to do it too, but are afraid, so they are remaining where they are.
I have become much bolder in opposing what isn’t biblical. Before, I wouldn’t speak up too much against what the brethren say; now, I am the first in opposition. Feels good to finally have the courage to speak out!
Q. What is keeping you in the SDA ministry right now?
Find out the answer to this question and more in Part 2. Click here to receive Part 2 in your inbox. Do you have questions for this pastor as he contemplates his exit? Ask in the comments.
Dear Pastor, Thank you so much for sharing your feelings in this interview. My husband and I have been studying the bible for 2 years and have some very similar feelings to what you described. Reading the Bible without the “scales” is truly amazing and I am so excited for a day when I can worship God in freedom. Assurance of salvation and a true understanding of grace is what keeps us going in this battle for our freedom. I do believe it is a battle because there are forces at work that want to keep us from our freedom in Christ and keep us discouraged and trying to work our way to salvation. If we never realize the gift is free, we certainly won’t be able to share it with others. We will remain in our little bubble of discouragement and not proclaim the “good news” to the world. Because the truth of the matter is, if we have to work for it, none of us are worthy to stand before God and our chances of being accepted are very slim to nothing at all. The only one who is worthy to stand before God is Jesus and praise God He has done it all for us, kept the law perfectly and died for our redemption. So I no longer live in fear of whether I will be good enough when my name comes up! I know I am not worthy and it makes the gift of salvation all the more precious to me. It also encourages me everyday to live for Christ, to do whatever He asks of me because He has done so much for me, I want to do whatever I can for Him. I am willing to become whatever He wants and listen to the Holy Spirit as He asks me to do things that are uncomfortable and out of my comfort zone such as witnessing to others or giving something up that is damaging to our relationship. And contrary to what most Adventists believe, understanding grace gives me a desire to change and be molded into who God truly wants me to be so much more than when I was just focusing on the law, the rules and the suggestions. When you talked about the ten commandments being an idol, I was so grateful to hear that you are sharing that with others. I realize now how easy it is for Sabbath to become something that is more important than Jesus. Many times I hear “I don’t know what I would do without the Sabbath” or “the Sabbath is such a blessing” Just insert the word Jesus into those passages and you can see that Jesus can easily be misplaced with a day of worship. So I make sure that my blessing comes completely from Jesus not a day of the week. I believe that the choice you are making with be blessed by God, even though it will most likely be a painful journey. You now know the real “truth” and He will bring joy to your life like never before. Also I wanted to say thank you for not staying and continuing to lead others on the wrong path, instead choosing to reveal truth to them and ultimately showing them that God has a better way for us that is based on the Bible and the Bible only. His salvation, His instruction and His will for our lives is revealed through this beautiful book, which is available for all of us to read and enjoy. For the first time in my life, I live free of the guilt that I am not reading the other 80 books that were sitting on my bookshelf. Instead I spend my time in His word, soaking up the words of promise, instruction and salvation. God is good, He is showing people the truth about Him and the simplicity of the gospel all over the world. May God bless you on your journey, I look forward to the second interview.
Sorry I meant when you talked about the Sabbath as an idol.
I am so very glad that my interview was a blessing to you. The Lord has been opening our (me & my wife) eyes for some time now. I know that I have been been REALLY nervous about the move, but I am more comforted by your words of encouragement.
May the God of peace continue to bless you.
I’m not understanding the term “scales” on your eyes. When as particularly a shepherd studying Gods Word I suspect the Holy Spirit participates in that giving you full understanding of what you’re reading. If you are reading for knowledge wisdoms and a closer walk with God, what scales could possibly be or remain covering your eyes? And what about the fact that possibly the wisdom you have been given in your study was to teach your flock not rind from it. The sabbath truth is not a seventh day Adventist truth. It’s Gods truth, just like all the commandments. We didn’t create them, we share them. Often like a belief in justifying slavery we share them for our own personal gain but that is not Gods fault not purpose. I say stay where Hod had placed you and make it Right. Preach the Word of God and all else will fall in place. If you aren’t led by the Holy Spirit. Then maybe this was never your calling. This isn’t Adventist truth it’s Gods. Blessings.
I think this is hypocritical and if you dont feel free to read the bible as an adventist you should leave cause you’re doing it wrong.
What you are saying is partially correct; it is VERY hypocritical to remain in something that you believe is wrong – which is the reason for my departure. As for the reading of the scriptures; I never said we don’t feel “free” to read the scriptures, but rather we have been taught to read the scriptures with a certain bias – we are glad that we no longer read the scriptures with certain denominational biases, that’s all.
Dear Pastor and Family — Your story has very much touched me. I want you to know that I am lifting you up in prayer before our Father. I do know that the way must be difficult, but you are in safe hands with Him, for sure.
My situation was ever so much different from yours, but how I do remember the horror I felt at the thought of abandonment by my family, whom I love. As it turned out my leaving cut them deeply, but love overruled anger, even as Paul says that it must (1 Cor. 13).
I am convinced that things will always go best when we remember in Christ that, “Love is patient and kind. Love is not … boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.” 1 Cor. 13:4-7 NLT.
In the end, it is not our the job to win the ones we love. That task belongs Holy Spirit God, alone. He will move in the moment and the way of His choosing. What He has given us is to love them, while staying patient in awaiting His direction. Again, I will be keeping you and your families close in prayer. May God richly bless all of you. — Peggy
I am befuddled by what I am reading here. I am a Seventh-day Adventist Christian, “born and bred” as they say. I wonder what SDA experiences, teachings and understandings this pastor has had!
I am anxious to know what are the ” “loopholes” and many inconsistencies with doctrinal points” that this pastor is speaking of.
He talks of living “life free for Jesus Christ.” Isn’t this the message of Jesus? If the Son has made you free, you are free indeed! John 8:36. Isn’t this the message that SDA’s believe, preach and live? If one is not experiencing the grace of God, the freedom that Jesus offers, the assurance of our salvation in our walk with Him day after day, what or who really is the problem?!
He refers to his wife saying that “she loves the feeling of grace.” Why has she not been experiencing God’s marvellous grace all along? We teach, we preach God’s marvellous grace, we even sing of it in celebration (see Hymn 109 “Marvelous grace of our loving Lord, Grace that exceeds our sin and our guilt! Yonder on Calvary’s mount outpoured, There where the blood of the Lamb was spilled. Refrain Grace, grace, God’s grace, Grace that will pardon and cleanse within; Grace, grace, God’s grace, Grace that is greater than all our sin.”)
I am bewildered as to why all the teaching and preaching of the Word of God on this and everything else, has not been the experience of this family! And if it has not been their experience as ministers, what might be the state of the congregation to whom they have been ministering?
He talks about SDAs turning the Sabbath into an idol! Is any of this SDA teaching?! We all can make anything an idol – our spouse, our cars, our house, money, education… Well, isn’t it the role of the spiritual leader to teach and lead his ‘flock’ as the undershepherd the true meaning of the Sabbath, the deep spiritual significance of the Sabbath – salvation rest? Matt. 11:28 “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Has this pastor led His congregation to the Lord of the Sabbath? Mark 2:27, 28. Again the pastor speaks of “many SDAs [who] are more concerned with “religiosity” than “spirituality.”” My Lord and My Father, what is this? Where we see this, isn’t it our responsibility to lovingly pray for, pray with, and teach and model in our own lives genuine spirituality? If I were to get hung up on the ‘faults’ or failures of brothers and sisters, (which have nothing to do with the teachings of the church, by the way), I would have lost my way many years ago. I remember reading some time ago an article by Clifford Goldstein, in which he describes “folk adventism”. In my own words, ‘folk adventism’ is an unenlightened state of understanding, belief and experience… There is what the church teaches and lives through the indwelling power of Holy Spirit, and there is a pitiful state of misunderstanding and practices that the love of Christ must constrain us to respond to with compassion using the clear teaching of Holy Scriptures.
“Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.” Rev. 3:11.
I am praying for you and your family.
I would like to begin by stating that I am grateful for your comments – it shows that there is a passion. Passion is always good, it means that there is a serious love for something. If you are an active SDA, I believe you should have passion for your teachings. Again, that’s good.
As for the “loopholes” that I referred to in my article… I mentioned that I started noticing these “inconsistencies” during my childhood. As a child, I was taught that we do NOT go to the movie theaters. I discovered that belief is an SDA doctrine – Ellen White says, “shun all questionable worldly amusements such as the THEATER and dance.” She also says, “our angels will not be found in those places if we visit” meaning that those who go to the theater are without the protection of their guardian angels. THAT’S ABSURD!!!! It was also a part of the SDA baptismal vows for kids – about no theaters; which means that it was a doctrine. I did, in fact notice that SDA’s did not seeing it as “doctrinally” wrong to go to theaters to see plays OR for religious purposes. So, I noticed that SDA’s allow theaters for some things, but not for others – that’s just one of the inconsistencies.
Another inconsistency I noticed in church is that SDA’s say we can’t conduct business on Sabbath, but they will accept donations on Sabbath. There is no difference in “paying” for a CD on Sabbath or putting a “donation” in the tithe envelope. SDA’s say not to “cook” on Sabbath, but you can “warm food” on Sabbath – same thing. My point is, as a child, these were serious inconsistencies and had NO biblical basis.
As for living a life free in Christ, SDA’s do in fact teach the message of grace; however, it is NOT the message of the Bible. The message SDA’s teach is that Jesus’ death pays the penalty for our sins. However, if you don’t keep the Sabbath or some of the other SDA mandatory deeds, your salvation will not remain. I like how someone once put it, “Jesus’ death was the down-payment for our sin, but we need to keep making monthly/weekly/daily payments.” This thinking suggests that His death was not sufficient – that’s inconsistent with Scripture.
As for the Sabbath being turned into an idol – that is a lengthy discussion which, if privileged, I’d like to discuss at length, possibly in a “part 3” to my article. But please understand, I am not referring to individuals turning it into an idol, I am totally referring to it’s very existence being made an idol by SDA legalism.
I’ll contact Pastor Ben to see if we can arrange that part 3…
I have been an Adventist for 38 years. One of the things that has really upset me over the years is that any place on the internet that has a discussion about Adventism, such as book reviews or websites such as this, Adventists will always post little reviews meant to make you look stupid. They will either outright accuse you of being from Satan or if that tactic won’t work they will try to appear with a Christlike attitude but at the heart of it they will attack your integrity and your intelligence and your bible knowledge. This is one of the biggest problems within Adventism, if you don’t see things from the perspective of the church you will be condemned and ridiculed and basically called a liar. I know this to be true because it has absolutely embarrassed me for years, I used to try and write things to smooth the waters, like ” I am sorry that these Adventists have been so rude and disrespectful to you. Not all Adventists belief this way, in fact I believe that Jesus love you and accepts you too.” etc, etc. . In fact it has been one of the reasons I started to question whether SDA’s are the remnant church. I do not believe that a Christian who loves Jesus with all of their heart will criticize others, condemn them or otherwise try to make themselves look superior, just because they disagree with what is being said. For instance in the above quote we learn that The pastor interviewed has not had the typical experience, teachings and understanding of a “true” Adventist. His wife also has not been experiencing God’s grace and she should have been. If she had read the hymnal she would known the truth of God’s grace all along. We also learn that this pastor has not been ministering correctly to his church members, had he been he would not have neglected to teach his congregation about the proper role of the Sabbath. Also this pastor has neglected to pray for his congregation, teach and model to them the correct behaviors. And we know this because this pastor is obviously confused in what he has written, he has just not had the experience of a “true” Adventist!
Here is the truth of the matter, I have attended a church for some time now that only appreciates pastors that will preach on doctrines and behavior based religion. We have had two wonderful pastors who preached about grace, the first one was basically kicked out (thank goodness after he has introduced many people including myself to grace). The next pastor is on his way out as well because he preaches too much on Jesus. People have said about the first pastor, “Well he was good but he preached about Jesus too much!” “I mean every week! I find that to be really interesting, because I didn’t believe that was even possible. When I say that I was introduced to grace through this pastor, I do mean that I was introduced to grace at the age of 30. I had never even heard the true gospel preached until then. My husband and I were ready to leave that church at that point not because we were unhappy with other people but because , we had experienced so much convoluted gospel preaching and we knew something wasn’t right. Grace is not truly grace in the Adventist church because there is always something attached. What I knew of grace was this, I accept the gift of salvation and then I get to go to heaven based on my ability to be obedient to God and keeping His commandments to the best of my ability. Anyone who wants to argue that point can compare it to this Ellen G. White quote. “Perfection of character is a lifelong work, unattainable by those who are not willing to STRIVE for it in God’s appointed way, by SLOW AND TOILSOME STEPS. Testimonies for the church vol 15 pg 500. Or this one “A well balanced character if formed by single acts well performed. One defect CULTIVATED instead of being OVERCOME, makes man IMPERFECT, and CLOSES against him the gate of the Holy City. He who enters heaven MUST have a character that is without spot or wrinkle or any such thing. Naught that defileth can ever enter there. In all the redeemed host not one defect will be seen. Messages to young people p. 144. Here is another one “Now while our great high priest is making atonement for us, we should seek to become perfect in Christ. GC 623. Another – Those who are living upon the earth when the intercession of Christ shall cease in the sanctuary above, are to stand in the sight of a holy God without a mediator. Their robes must be spotless, their characters must be purified from sin by the blood of sprinkling. Through the grace of God AND their OWN DILIGENT EFFORT, they must be conquerors in the battle with evil. GC pg 425. And lastly Death entered the world because of transgression. But Christ gave his life that man should have ANOTHER TRIAL. He did not die on the cross to abolish the law of God, but to secure for man a SECOND PROBATION. Testimonies to Ministers 134. Emphasis mine. So unless you are an Adventist who does not believe in Ellen White it is easy to see that what the Pastor is speaking of does exist in the Adventist church. This life is a second trial, we must overcome through help from God and our diligent effort. If one does not do this, then they do not pass the test there is no place for them in heaven. The true gospel states that when we accept the gift we have been perfected in Christ already. And by that will we HAVE BEEN SANCTIFIED through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ ONCE FOR ALL. Hebrews 10:10. For by a single offering he has PERFECTED for all time those who are being sanctified. Hebrews 10:14. It also states that God does the work within use, it is not by our own diligent effort. And I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion. Phil 1:6 It may be the experience of some Adventists that truly understand grace, that they see grace being preached in the Adventist church. But by far, the majority of my Adventist friends struggle daily with thoughts of depression (for not living up to the impossible standards), feeling a lack of assurance (one day they feel saved and the next day they aren’t sure) and a misunderstanding of justification and sanctification (one is the part of Jesus (justification) and sanctification is a co-operative experience with God). When the bible is read without filters there is a freedom in Christ that is not the norm in the Adventist Church, it is an assurance of salvation that is rarely found. I have one girlfriend who believes that she has received salvation. She know that when she stands before God, she will claim the blood of Jesus and march into Heaven. The rest of my friends are not so sure. If we are not sure that we are going to make it to heaven, then what good news do we have to share with others? Is it appealing if I witness to others by saying “If you accept the grace of God and apply your own diligent effort, then you too have earned the right to another trial and second probation. This will be so exciting for you that I am sure you will want to leave your belief that if you are just a good person you will make it to heaven.” I KNOW their are true Christians in the Adventist church but many of them struggle with these feelings on a daily basis and it is not because they misunderstand what is being taught but because they believe what many preachers are saying.
You have some VERY valid points. Also, one of the most serious results of legalism is the feeling of “not being good enough.” When we are trying to live to please someone for their approval, we run the risk of feeling inadequate. In Christ, because of grace, He is saying that “no matter how ugly sin makes you, I’m still here with you and for you.” It is almost impossible to become depressed when the One you are trying to please tells you that you are already pleasing in His sight. Whew, what a load coming off your shoulder.
When ministers preach Jesus and only Jesus, it goes against nominal SDA beliefs. Why? Here is the sad truth… in order to be an SDA you can’t believe in solo scriptura. I read once that if you believe and follow the Bible & pope, you are a Catholic. If you believe and follow the Bible & Joseph Smith, you are a Mormon. If you believe and follow the Bible & Ellen White, you are a SDA. If you believe and follw the Bible alone – you are a Christian.
When I first got hired by the local Conference, my Ministerial Director advised me that I needed to KNOW three things equally – The Bible, The Church Manual, and The Spirit of Prophesy. Wow… He is literally telling me that the Manual & Ellen White are of equal importance as the Bible. SDA’s, for the most part, are taught to preach/teach the Bible only secondary to Ellen’s writings.
I am praying for you, my friend, as you continue to study His word and pray for continued enlightment.
I encourage that we read statements in context to have a clearer sense of an author’s message. So here is an expanded selection showing what was said before and after the statement:
“Adam and Eve transgressed the law of God. This made it necessary for them to be driven from Eden and be separated from the tree of life, to eat of which after their transgression would perpetuate sin. “So He drove out the man; and He placed at the east of the Garden of Eden cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.” Man was dependent upon the tree of life for immortality, and the Lord took these precautions lest men should eat of that tree “and live forever”—become immortal sinners.
<> He did not die to make sin an immortal attribute; He died to secure the right to destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil. He suffered the full penalty of a broken law for the whole world. This He did, not that men might continue in transgression, but that they might return to their loyalty and keep God’s commandments and His law as the apple of their eye.”
The same applies to the other quotations.
***Here is an example of the importance of context from the Bible:
Phil. 2:12. “work out your salvation with fear and trembling;”
What does it mean to work out our salvation with fear and trembling? Could Paul really be encouraging believers to live in a continuous condition of nervousness and anxiety? That would contradict his many other exhortations to peace of mind, courage, and confidence in the God who is the author and source of our salvation. What may appear to be a command to the Phillippians to ‘*WORK* it out themselves’ to achieve right-standing with God, to attain salvation, is understood in context, when verse 13 is read…”For it is God which worketh in you both to WILL and to DO of his good pleasure.”
**See below for my expanded statement on this text.**
What about Matt. 24:13 where Jesus says, “But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.” Is He saying that it is up to us to ENDURE so that we may be saved? Certainly not! We always need to examine context particularly where we perceive a conflict… In regard to understanding the Bible, we must look at the general tenor of scripture, what is says elsewhere in regard to a topic or teaching that appears to be at odds, to determine what it really is saying.
Quote from Anonymous….
“So unless you are an Adventist who does not believe in Ellen White it is easy to see that what the Pastor is speaking of does exist in the Adventist church. This life is a second trial, we must overcome through help from God and our diligent effort. If one does not do this, then they do not pass the test there is no place for them in heaven.”
You provided the response I thought of, to your statement immediately above… THANK YOU for saying it so concisely and so well. You said, “sanctification is a co-operative experience with God.” I understand your words -“cooperative experience”- as our response to God’s GIFT of salvation. What good is a ‘gift’ to me if someone offers it to me and I refuse to accept it? As we grow each day through God’s power in sanctifying us (the process through which we are being made holy; the process through which He is reproducing His perfect character in us), this only happens as we continually ‘cooperate’ by daily dependence on His strength which is there available to us!.
We cannot save ourselves no matter how hard we try. Eph. 2:8, 9 says, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” We cannot work our way to heaven. We bring nothing to the table as far as our salvation is concerned. All we can do is choose to accept the free gift of salvation provided through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. And, by the way, even the capacity to choose to accept is enabled through Jesus! Praise the Lord! “For it is God which worketh in you both to WILL and to DO of his good pleasure.” **Phil.2:13** (emphasis mine). As we allow Him, God unleashes His power and He works in us to “will” i.e. to have the “desire”, to “want” to.. and then on top of that, He gives us the power to “DO” the good works.
Praise God! So even the “good works” that are seen in us, comes not by our strength, but by the power of God working in our lives as we submit to Him. I have likened this to teaching a child to write his/her name for the first time. Only as the child submits his/her hand with the pencil, to the guiding hand of the teacher, will the child be able to see the letters formed on the page that reads “JIM” or “JENNIFER”. The teacher celebrates with the child by saying “Good Job!” That is what God does in our lives as we submit to His awesome grace, holiness and power. Phil. 4:13 says, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” He is our strength. He gives us the power to “will” and to ‘do’!
I am deeply saddened that there are still people out there who are under the false notion that their salvation is based on their own effort, their independent work! How can that be, when that is not what the SDA church teaches! Are we being plagued by “folk” adventism? i.e. false notions/misunderstandings being passed from person to person, the proverbial “blind leading the blind”?
I could say much, much more, but I will end by saying that I deeply regret that I have to say to you that I feel that I have been unfairly judged and put in a box, by your statements at the beginning of your message.
” Adventists will always post little reviews meant to make you look stupid. They will either outright accuse you of being from Satan or if that tactic won’t work they will try to appear with a Christlike attitude but at the heart of it they will attack your integrity and your intelligence and your bible knowledge. This is one of the biggest problems within Adventism, if you don’t see things from the perspective of the church you will be condemned and ridiculed and basically called a liar.”
Since you were responding to my message, I see these statements as being directed to me.
My sincere concern and bewilderment having read this account expressed as questions and hopefully as a Godly challenge for further seeking God leading and will in His life, is apparently seen as an attack. I have asked a number of people to join me in praying for this brother.
This must be a deeply emotional ordeal not just for himself, but his family as well, and for others as well, who are aware of the possibility of his leaving.
I do not know you, but I regard you as my sister in Christ. I owe it to you to ask you to reflect on these statements, which may be true of some as you are able to determine, and not applicable to others.
God bless you,
Dear Astley, you rebuked me gently and for that I am grateful! The truth of the matter is that I was speaking of people I have seen on the internet who are essentially tearing apart those who no longer believe in Adventist doctrines or truth. I made the assumption (most likely incorrectly) that you were also trying to demean or put down the pastor who was being interviewed. It was wrong of me to assume that without knowing you personally. I am hypersensitive to the treatment of ex-Adventists and other Christians because of my past experience and I am sorry to have judged you without actually knowing your intentions. I am glad you are praying for the pastor and his family, God is moving in so many ways and I know that you want what is best for Him and His family. Before I wrote in response to you, I had just spent several hours with my best friend of 20+ years speaking about her experience in a SDA foster home and 8 years in the Adventist school system. It has taken her 23 years to feel like she can be around another SDA (with the exception of me, only because we have stayed good friends for years) without becoming angry and frustrated for their judgments. She was so affected by the church in a negative manner that she is just now starting to believe that maybe God is really good and that Jesus may be the way after all. This is not an isolated incident. The majority of my graduating class from high school is no longer Adventist or Christian. My husband’s class that was three times the size of mine had about a 90% drop out rate. They have no interest in Adventism and most of them are completely turned off by religion in general because of their experiences. I am so bothered by this that I make the assumption that many Adventist believe they can get people back by proof-texting and badgering. So I apologize if I placed you in that category, as I can see now that you do truly care about the family of Christ.
I will however respectfully disagree with you that the context of the EGW quotes will make them valid and classify them as quotes that are acceptable with mainstream Christianity. The first quote “When speaking of a second trial and second probation. Death entered the world because of transgression. But Christ gave his life that man should have another trial. He did not die on the cross to abolish the law of God, but to secure for man a second probation.” Testimonies to Ministers 134 Even if it is sandwiched between quotes about Adam’s transgression. I still do not agree that the main reason why Jesus died for us was to give us another chance to do things right or in other words as the rest of the quote says “but that they might return to their loyalty and keep God’s commandments and His law as the apple of their eye. Jesus was the only one who ever keep the law perfectly. He did it for us, so that when we make mistakes as we always do, He has us covered. But this gets into a whole other argument about whether the controversy between God and Satan is about vindicating God, and also whether the controversy has been won or not. I also looked at the context of the other quotes (the paragraphs before and after) and I do not see how it changes the idea that we do get to heaven based on what we are able to do (whether by ourselves or in co-operation with God).
As far as co-operation from God, I do not believe we are saved by our co-operation with God. Let’s say for example that I give a really great gift to my child, a trip to Hawaii. I tell her that it is a free trip and that I did it for her because of love. So the weeks before the trip arrives, because the gift is free my daughter shows her love and appreciation for the gift by hugging me often, telling me she loves me, obeying as much as possible, helping out around the house, helping with the laundry before we go. No she did a lot of great things, out of love for me but what she did was not a contributing factor in her being able to go to Hawaii. The trip was already planned and paid for, she only had to accept and away we go. If she had not helped around the house, I wouldn’t take it away from her, because it was free with no strings attached. But on the other hand let’s say that I tell her that I am going to give her a gift and that it is trip to Hawaii, I am giving it to her for free. But before we go, I have a few requirements for her. I would like her to obey me in the things I ask her to do, help out around the house, help with laundry and give me some hugs and love. Then when she has done all these things, I say “thank you for what you did, you may now go on the trip”. So even though I said the gift was free, the truth is that it was not free, there was a requirement. If there is a requirement, of a change of behavior it is not a free gift. Of course when we accept God we wish for change in our lives and we welcome it but that is different than believing that we are co-operating with God for changes in our life that will secure our chances of eternal life. I believe that this is the subtle difference between what Christianity says and what Adventism says. One says that salvation is acceptance and confession of Jesus period and the other one says that salvation is acceptance and confession of Jesus AND our own diligent effort. If we do not put forth the effort, we are not co-operating with God and will not receive eternal life. Some may call the first example of the trip cheap grace and say if that is true then we have license to do whatever we wish. But the truth of the matter is that if we truly understand the gift and the realization that none of us are worthy, we will serve God out of love for Him and what he as accomplished for us, we feel even more accountable to God and rely on His Holy Spirit to guide us. When we serve out of duty and belief that we are contributing to our own salvation, somehow it is never enough. One of our friends said “I have a lot of work to do before Jesus comes, I need to start witnessing more, start eating right etc.” He says this because even at 60 + years old and years of service, he has no assurance. He believes that His sanctification process is never enough, he should always be doing more and more and even then, may not be ready when Jesus comes. It is a place of insecurity that I lived in for 30 plus years. I am grateful if you already have this understanding that you do have the gift of salvation and assurance of eternal life. There are some Adventist who can answer that yes they have an assurance that God accepts them where they are and that they have received eternal life and I know they are the ones who have a smile on their face because they have been accepted by God.
I do not believe that many of the people who believe that their salvation is based on their effort are getting that from “Folk Adventism” or other misconceptions, as this has been the teaching in many if not all the sermons by certain pastors that I I have heard, the quotes spoken by members of the church and countless articles and books published by the church. I am not sure if you grew up in the Adventist system but where I live it has completely permeated the churches that I have attended. If I post a quote on facebook or a bible verse speaking of grace, and how it is a free gift, the immediate response I get from some of my Adventist friends is “And because we love Him, we keep His commandments and obey Him. Grace can never be stated as a free gift, it must always be followed by an but, or an and.
Thank you for a friendly debate (sorry mine wasn’t so friendly to begin with)! God bless.
Praying for your move in the direction you feel called. Yes, there are many unanswered questions may God give is the answers!
Dee, I have been out of the SDA church now, for about 3-4 months. My family is GREATLY enjoying the joy of Christian service and ministry. Thank you for your prayers…