Friday, September 11, 2009

9-11 and Adventism

I had just left the Adventist church when 9-11 happened, but I still had an Adventist worldview.


It was because of sin that the World Trade Centers were targeted. They probably did very wicked things there. They were standing there as a symbol of Babylon’s chaos and greed. It was God’s justice. (Now I thought these things with a very sorrowful heart, not with any malice at all!) Then I figured this was just part of the Last Days events. Even if not specifically, these types of moments were foretold as part of the weary struggle towards a better place. Now I am not saying every Adventist thought these things, but I bet EVERY Adventist connected it somehow with the Last Days!

I still read and hear Adventists who see everything that happens as a dreadful sign of the Apocalypse. Every papal encyclical, especially this last one called “Caritas et Veritate,” as proof that the Catholics are about to mount a world-wide takeover! Every catastrophe, every new announcement that the sky is falling from the environmentalists, every new president is just fodder for Adventist paranoid prophecy tabloids.

Living on the edge like that can be thrilling, like a spiritual daredevil defiance of Satan! “WE STILL PRESS ON SATAN, you cannot get us Adventists!” I don’t mean to sound critical, I just remember what it was like to be one of their ranks for almost forty years. I thought those things like all other Adventists. I thought those things because I believed God had given Adventists a special end-time message and I was passionate about loving God, so I loved Him in the way I was taught to love Him, the ADVENTIST way.

Now, I realize that not every tragedy is God’s proof of Adventist prophecy. There is kind of a sickness about getting an unspoken thrill at catastrophes because they seem to affirm our beliefs.

I love Adventists. I really, sincerely do. They are my sisters, my brothers, my parents and in-laws. They are my dearest friends. I never, even for a second, let my feelings about the errors in their doctrines cloud my opinion of them as people. I know too well how much it took out of me to purge myself of the Adventist worldview. Judging anyone who cannot let go of Adventist doctrine would be the height of arrogance.

Adventists, in a strange way, are victims like those of 9-11. They are lovely people who are just busy doing what they believe is right. Each Adventist may at one point of their lives see the plane truth coming at them and it will be terrifying. The structure of their worldview will collapse and they may very well experience a trauma and aftershock every bit as catastrophic as the Twin Towers falling. They will experience what their forefathers felt at the Great Disappointment. I have seen it happen more than once.

Then amongst the ruins, a new light will shine and hope does return. The scars will always remain, but as all tragedies, time will heal the wounds.

Then one day you realize that no longer do black helicopters and tsunamis have anything to do with you or Revelation. All of a sudden, you begin to see that tragedies call you towards acts of compassion and relief, rather than towards judgement. You begin to live in a world where the pat you feel on your back after a 9-11 isn’t God’s affirmation, but His gentle pushing you towards charity.