Monday, February 7, 2011

My Warm Fuzzy Adventism

It’s funny.... yes, funny haa haa AND funny strange when Adventists attempt to explain my departure from the church of my childhood and youth and adult and almost middle age. They believe I left because something or someone hurt me. Something (they grasp at anything as to why I would leave “truth”) made me bitter, perhaps I was abused by a legalistic Adventist. I just have to smile when I read or hear those things.

My childhood was almost idyllic. I had an older brother and three younger sisters and a younger brother. Our lives were chaotic, noisy, and full of fun. We screamed and made up, we put together plays. We sang together. My sisters and I often slept in the same bed and sneaked snacks and would keep each other up till late talking and giggling.

Our family was very active in the Dallas First Seventh-day Adventist Church right off Central Expressway. The church was full of gracious, sweet, completely wonderful people. The Cunninghams, Rices, Leatherwoods, Collums, Gilleys (Of the Adventist Broadcast Network ABN), Mary Zeline Winsett (the piano teacher for generations of people who went through the Adventist Elementary school associated with the church), the Hollons.... these are the creme de la creme of kindness. I remember little or nothing from these friends about Ellen White or any of the distinctive Adventist doctrines.

Our family sang in church, we taught in the Sabbath Schools, we went to the Adventist Elementary school.... We were thoroughly Dallas Adventists. Many would characterize us as “progressive” Adventists for we didn’t believe it was wrong to eat meat or drink wine, Ellen was for inspiration not translation of scriptures. My father taught righteousness by faith and we felt extreme mercy.

My picture of God, thanks to these wonderful people, was truly loving and merciful. I grew up thinking those who actually believed Ellen White to be a prophetess and the Sanctuary Message and all the rules of Adventism were a bit fanatical and naive. Our family belonged to the SDA intelligentsia. We were among those erudite collegiate Adventists who smiled condescendingly towards those “old fashioned” Adventists who actually read Ellen White.

Church and Adventist school were like episodes of “Leave it to Beaver.” Everything was simple, sweet and black and white. It was cozy to be Adventist, secure, it was my personal warm, fuzzy religion. It felt good. I loved Sabbath. In my prayers, I remember thanking the Lord for a special day. It really did feel special and my heart felt pleasingly gooey and emotional as we entered the sacred hours as the sun set on Friday evenings. Our family treated the day with joy, not legalism.

For me, finding out that my sweet, happy little religion was not Biblical was like being coldcocked. Up until that point in my life, nothing had been so devastating, shocking.... painful! It took me years of studying and restudying, asking questions and seeking answers with all my heart and soul before I had to sit down in a devastating daze and admit my beloved church was based on misinformation and error. My pretty picture of life was nothing but a huge lie. Adventism and their precious Sabbath, their Sanctuary doctrines, their remnanthood status were all a figure of the SDA pioneers' imaginations. Adventist doctrines blew away like sand in a storm. Ellen White as a heroine, standing there in the pictures holding up the Bible with her angelic smile, was nothing but illusion, make-believe.

I pleaded with God to somehow make it true, to somehow make it okay to be part of this group. The people were nice, sincere! They did a lot of really good things. For months I rationalized and tried to figure a way to remain. But in the end, I couldn’t. To be a part of a church that preached falsehood and indoctrinated children into the most heretical beliefs, that terrorized people about wacko last-day prophecies. I just couldn’t. It was against my conscience to be associated with lies no matter how nice the people who told them.

It would be impossible to be angry with my dear Adventist family and friends. Bitter? Ah! No. They are so wonderful. But it is extremely important not to confuse the demonic doctrines of Adventism with the people. The people are truly brainwashed. They are utterly sincere. But once the little fake picture shatters and you have recovered from the horrifying blow, you see that the little “lies” of Adventism are not so very benign after all.

The warm fuzzy feeling, the sweet comforting poison is from Satan. Jesus is not okay with lies. No amount of good feelings can cover up deception and falsification of the true gospel of Jesus. No amount of good works and being “nice” can justify repeating spiritual and historical fiction as truth. Adventism’s sugary siren song may sound very inviting, but it is white-washed death. It’s doctrines and culture have a very sincere smile, but the people are carefully conditioned to see only what the church wants them to see. They are educated into seeing all scripture through the eyes of Ellen White.


So, as hard as it is for Adventists to accept, God came in and painfully pulled off the glasses of deception that had been placed upon me since childhood. I didn’t leave because of any hurt, leaving was the only thing about Adventism--my warm fuzzy Adventism--that really did hurt.

Now, the pain of leaving is gone and I live in the blessed joy of reality. Any Adventists want to join me?


Anonymous said...

I read your sad story Teresa, I will pray for you. But I am not unaware you'll probably laugh at this. i became an SDA by a direct sign from God AFTER obeying the FIRST SABBATH in my life, talk about amazing! Rob

Arik said...

Todd Friel would do alot better if he would use actual quotes from EGW and not paraphrased statements from someone else. It is apparent he did not do his homework, EG White did not write Charlottes Web! Nor did she predict Jesus would return in 1844.

Instead of using spurious sources to disprove the doctrines of the SDA Church, why don't you take them head on? Or to proves EGW wrong take her statements in the context she wrote them!

To just chalk up Sabbath Keeping (commandment keeping) as legalism proves that this guy or you have no idea of what the gospel is. Obedience is a result of faith and love (salvation) not a means to it. Is it legalism not to lie? Kill? Steal?

The most important difference that sets SDAism apart from the world is not the Sabbath or our prophetic messages but the Gospel itself. The Gospel is Justification and Sanctification. Though we can define the two separately, we can not have them separately. The Gospel is not merely accepting the free gift of salvation (becoming justified) and then "trying" to live a sanctified life as best we can, falling and being forgiven, falling and being forgiven etc...never loosing the status of being justified.

The true Gospel is accepting God's grace (Justification) and allowing Christ to live in us (Sanctification). Walking after the flesh (engaging in known and willful sin) loses one's status of justification. This is not a popular message even within Adventism, Our nature wants to be saved and continue living a faithless disobedient life, no true sanctification.

If you do not like our prophetic messages and consider them "wacko" or "demonic" than put something better in its place. What do the 2300 days of Daniel mean? What is the power that ruled for 1260 days? Whos is the man of sin and the whore of Babylon? What are the 1290 days? It is the continuity of the Adventist understanding of prophecy that convinces me of its truth, Never has anyone ever given a better explanation, only crticizing which anyone can do. Will you fair any better?

Teresa Beem said...

I think my story is wonderful! Jesus took me from darkness into light.

God has done many miracles for Adventists just like He has done many miracles for ALL his believers. Keep in mind though that the mob about to hang Joseph Smith (the cult leader of Mormonism) all converted when his prophecy of the stars falling came true right before their eyes.

I do believe that God places His people within Adventism for a while, so perhaps that is what He is doing with you. Just stay open to His leading when He starts to show you the demonic doctrines of Adventism and their anti-Biblical basis. He may very well bring you out just as He lead you in.

Teresa Beem said...

Please purchase and read our book. We have indeed given much thought and time to the spurious SDA prophecies in it. It is difficult to itemize and give an apology against the unscholarly and evil doctrines of Adventism in sound bites....

The Charlotte's Web reference was a joke.....

God bless,

*kusje* Y said...

Teresa, I was truly considering getting your book. But two things arose in my mind: 1.) If there were truly wrong teaching in Adventism and you truly were concerned for us (as you infer), you would have likely shared at least one of those wrong teachings with us poor, mislead Adventists (as well as sharing why it is wrong), because you would have wanted us to see that you are for real, and that there really is a problem in the church; 2.) If you were serious, you would NOT have used the video from "Wretched," since it doesn't even come close to being a reliable source since Todd Friel didn't even use a quote from Ellen White to support his theory that she was wrong. It seems that you are more interested in seeking people who know little about Adventism instead of saving those who do.

Teresa Beem said...

If you would read other posts from my blog you would see the specific Adventist doctrines I am speaking of. Every post can't do everything. This was about my feelings about leaving....

karlie mills said...

I have just finished listening to your 2008 interview with Marcus Grodi on The Journey Home, and I share your joy in coming home!!! When I was 6, my parents converted to Adventism. I was raised in the SDA church and attended Adventist schools, graduating from Academy. I was active in the choir, Sabbath school classes, and even helped with evangelistic crusades. I got to know Jesus through the Adventist church, but was always searching. It was like I always had questions that weren't quite answered. I tried to be a good Adventist, keep the Sabbath, not eat cheese, even. But something was always missing from my heart - peace. My journey out of the church began when my husband, who was also raised in the Adventist church and whom I met at Southern College, attended an assembly of God college in 1999 and took religion classes that made him take a long, hard look at the Bible and what he had been taught. He started questioning and I was appalled. In fact, I told him that if he left the Adventist Church, I would divorce him. I would never leave the remnant church!!!! But, I started doing what my husband said he was just doing..... reading the Bible itself. Ellen White was not so appealing anymore. And so, our journey began. We visited the a local Southern Baptist church and then my brother-in law's independent Pentecostal church; we studied with a couple Mormon missionaries; I discussed the Jehovah's witness faith with a work friend. Then we attended a local Presbyterian church associated with our boys' scout pack. We really were blessed and felt we found the truth there. We officially joined in 2010 and our boys were all baptized. We thought we were home. Well, no such luck. Unfortunately, and imperceptibly, I fell away from God. I can't really explain how it happened, except to say that I became lax in my relationship with God and allowed myself to entertain temptations. I won't go into the details, but suffice it to say, I fell away and hurt my family terribly. However, even though I chose to go through this dark valley, God brought me back into the light and into the Catholic faith. I was brought low and found myself begging God to help me. (As it turns out, my husband(whom I had divorced recently) had been praying to Mary for intercession for me.) I started studying with our Director of ministries at my church and we were both confirmed on Easter 2013. At the same time our marriage was mended and our broken family put back together, stronger than ever. I am home now and I am yearning to know Christ better, to be a better Catholic, but I have peace. It's so amazing and ironic that I am a Catholic after so many years of denouncing the Catholic church and waving the battle flag against it. I pray that God will use me as he sees fit to bring as many people of all walks of life to Him and His amazing church. Thank you for your witness. You have encouraged me, and I am so happy for you and your husband. More than anything I want to lead people home and into our blessed communion of saints. God bless you!

Teresa Beem said...

Oh Karlie, what a beautiful testimony!! Bless you for sharing it with us here. I just burst out in tears when I read that your marriage was healed. That is just beyond a miracle. THANK YOU GOD!! My sister left the SDA church and is in the Presbyterian church. So I have so many parallels to your life, or at least things I can relate to.

Please join my Facebook: "Former Adventist Discussions" we do a lot of discussing of Catholicism as well as on my blog, "The Joys of Being Catholic." I think you will find you are among a growing number of former Adventists who either join the Catholic or Orthodox Churches. Amen and your story made my day!