Sunday, May 29, 2011

My Review of Babylon Rising, SDA Prophecy Seminar


For four nights in Las Vegas, SDA Pastor John Bradshaw of It is Written (now that Shawn Boonstra stepped down) held a prophecy seminar. It's format was SDA cliché-a dramatic animated, techno build-up promo video... (you are expecting something somewhat cool or edgy was about to happen.... at least a B movie with Kirk Cameron playing a naive reporter shocked at the sudden rapture.)

Then, it opens up with a bald, Swiss Lawrence Welk welcoming watchers from all over the planet (smile) starting a running gag about his accent versus the New Zealander John Bradshaw's. (Which by the way--is a great resonant voice, adding the down-undah accent-wow! His voice alone makes the whole seminar seem brilliant no matter what he actually says). Then the Swiss warm-up act jokes around about the feud between those who think Switzerland is more beautiful than New Zealand. Which by the second or third night they actually poll everyone.... (New Zealand won! Oh the homey repartee as a time filler. I couldn't quite decide if this was a religious meeting or a talent show.)

Then the obligatory special music. Then a poll, with the results being showed in real time on a huge screen, indicated that everyone watching is Adventist--(the 9% who thought that the Lord wasn't coming in our lifetimes was me.... I voted several times....)

Then the expected titillating rundown of current disasters, which nature and the economy and Arnold Schwartzeneggar and Lady Gaga have so amply provided. The theme being of course: Babylon rising. So for four nights Bradshaw does the impossible, he doesn't breathe the word Adventist, or anything remotely Ellen Whitish. The whole seminar is the build up to who or what is Babylon.... Babylon Rising...

Babylon, the Great, the whore of Babylon, the sea beat and the dragon--all the code words found in Daniel and Revelation-- but Bradshaw doesn't yet offer any solution to the puzzle.... Just a dramatic buildup with the gospel awkwardly interspersed.

The New Bablyon is like the Old Babylon, full of rebellion; it is a righteousness by works (a fairly new addition to the SDA theological view of the anti-christ), it is spiritual confusion which worships the sun and the dead and is steeped in paganism and will be a world-wide religious threat. I noted that Bradshaw was very careful to point out that Babylon would be found within Christianity--(I am guessing so that we would NOT accidentally think he was speaking of Islam.)

Then a curious thing occurred. Both Arthur and I looked at each other with surprise. Bradshaw teased those who have thought the Mark of the Beast's number 666 was found in numerology (Ronald Reagan and Henry Kissinger) and conspiracy theorists who think the Trilateral Commission or the Illuminati have anything to do with the last days. (I mean... come on.. for years the church has found the number of the beast in pope numerology.)

He said something to the effect of "Let me tell you, anyone who says they know what the mark of the beast is... (Bradshaw looks the ground with a smiling shake of his head and snickers.) No one knows what the mark of the beast is."

WHAT? I wish we could have rewound and listened to that again. An SDA Revelation Seminar preacher claiming that no one can know what the mark of the beast is? I thought that was plainly written in the Great Controversy by the prophetess Ellen White. It is worshipping on Sunday! That is what I was taught in SDA sabbath school, church, church school and in their writings.

Four hours of build up--Babylon Rising! Beware. But don't worry if you love Jesus. But it is going to deceive, but only those who don't keep the commandments and know their Bibles. This great enemy of God, this idol-embracing, persecuting, idolatrous spirituality--(whisper: that sits on seven mountains) IS RISING!

Then the fourth night Babylon falls--mene, mene, tekel, upharsin--and in the end, the Lord wins. Over and goodbye. Closing special music, closing prayer. A total triumph for progressive Adventists. Nothing whatsoever controversial or mean-spirited or... when you think about it.... what Bradshaw did say could have easily been compressed into a ten-minute sermon. The rest was... fluff. What happened?

1. Our prayers were answered. I thanked the Lord with all my heart. No Apostate Protestantism bashing, no anti-catholicism, no Ellen White, very little fear-mongering, nothing bad said about Sunday, nothing good said about Sabbatarianism or vegetarianism.....basically very little of anything was said other than there is a great controversy and God wins, be on God's side. Hallelujah!!

2. Was this seminar throwing a bone to the Progressive Adventists by the new powerful orthodox Adventists?

3. Arthur believes the whole seminar was a loss leader strategy used in marketing to drum up business because at the end Bradshaw announced a January seminar in which details would be given as to who this Babylon is--specifics of Bible prophecy.


Are Adventists changing their beliefs, are they going mainstream Christian theology as this seminar appeared? Perhaps they have just bent to pressure and political correctness, perhaps it is real. However until the doctrines themselves change, until the announcement is made of disassociating itself from Ellen White's visions and prophecies, (like the Lutherans did concerning Luther's anti-semitic writings) I will go directly to the source--the 28 fundamental beliefs to find out what the church is about.

Whatever the motivation or strategy, the facts are that nothing remotely harmful to the human soul was said. And for this I thank the Lord. Baby steps are good, keep walking Adventists!! GOOD FOR YOU!! Hats off to Bradshaw. It was enormously difficult to say so much and so little at the same time. To be walking such a tightrope and not fall off. I will be watching in January to find out if this was an ecumenical blip on the SDA radar screen or a real change of direction.


7 comments:

Anonymous said...

It seems like you have been hurt. I am sorry for that. Babylon ties with Revelation and is history and prophetic. No matter what church you attend you will have wheats and tares. Just pray for yourself that Jesus can rebuke the adversary from you soul and that you can be converted. I believe the SDA message has a true heart searching message which we need to be searching our hearts in these end days. The people make the church and we have to pray for the world that we can be in one accord and one spirit. In Jesus name......

Teresa Beem said...

Anonymous,

What did I write that indicated that I had been hurt? I ended the post with a great high-five for the church for a possible step in the right direction.

What I am finding more and more is that Adventists who cannot have a biblical discourse default to the emotional. When they see that we are exposing some of the SDA doctrinal rot and they cannot defend their position, they automatically retreat back, holing themselves up in an emotional fortress, soothing their own wounds with the idea that we are the ones wounded.

Please do not be offended. I am just analyzing what I have seen a multitude of times in many Adventists. It is a human phenomena when someone exposes a weakness. We see it today in our culture in many ways. When someone disagrees with you politically, call them bigoted--mock them.

The "world" uses many different ways to intimidate or discredit those who with whom they disagree. For Adventists, they go the victimhood route, they paint former SDAs as mean-spirited, deceived or rebellious. But almost ALWAYS it is prefaced with the idea that formers are bitter or were hurt by the church.

Interesting....

Asoldier1844 said...

Seventh day Adventism won't die, it is a movement, they have a strong message "the three angels messages" of Bible prophecy is what Adventists are told to preach. Those under the spiritual shephards are the ones spreading the "great Contreversy" theme, with the support of the organization or without. Seventh day Adventists know their Bibles, once known as the people of the book.

Teresa Beem said...

Well, you realize that the Muslims have always been characterized as the "People of the Book." The Jews have also used that phrase. Mostly Christians see themselves as people of God, not people of the book. Catholics and Orthodox do not like that phrase at all because we do not follow a book, but a Savior. The closest thing would be "people of the Word of God."

It could be misconstrued as idolatry....

Teresa Beem said...

I did a review on part two of this called, Revelation Today recently.

But basically, it was exactly the same as a Doug Batchelor Revelation Seminar. The SDA church hasn't changed. Same old same old. Oh well, we will keep praying!

Anonymous said...

Well done and said, Teresa Beem. When you decide in these last days to stand for orthodox adventism, you will encounter stiff opposition from even many a 'bright star' in the churches. Anyone reading your comments will know you are not hurt. Perhaps, like me, you are concerned about the abominable things happening in our dear SD church. I was once told by an SDA church pastor to only preach 'love' and 'grace' whe he learnt that I preached the 3 angels messages in his church. God will elevate you as he did Elijah in the past. Keep it up.

Anonymous said...

This prophecy seminar sounds exciting. I love your explanation Teresa about how believers call themselves. I am a Catholic and you are right, we follow a Savior.
I would definitely tell my close friend Tim Jones in Spokane about this.