Monday, December 10, 2012

Are Adventists Christians?

This has been a hard question for me to think about and answer. Former Adventists discuss this often. Are Adventists Christians?

From outside their church, Adventists are looked at in a fairly wide spectrum. The vast majority of people (who have heard of them) don't know anything about them except for some vague idea that they are something like Jehovah's Witness or Mormons. They are casually lumped into the cults label. Most people don't think badly of Adventists, they just don't think about them at all.

When I speak to people who live near an Adventism mecca such as Loma Linda, TX or Keene, TX people have a somewhat more favorable opinion of them, but they still look at them with skepticism. They may believe that some Adventists are Christians even if as a whole they are either placed outside of Christianity or hanging on by a thread. They see them as weird but wholesome.

However, I have yet to find any church that will accept the baptism of an Adventist. I was told by several churches where I attended (even though I was not seeking membership) that I would have to be re-baptized into their denomination in order to join. And the fact that several of these denominations did not allow but for one baptism in one's lifetime, this is a very distinctive rejection of Adventism as Christian. They don't even believe the SDA triune baptismal rite is authentic. The Adventists version of, "In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit" in their opinions does not adequately reflect a genuine understanding of the Trinity. So, you have to be baptized for the first time, according to them.

Also, what I have found is that because of political correctness and Christians wanting to open up evangelistic dialogue to Adventists, often they will find the things Adventists have in common with mainstream Christianity and pursue doctrines we agree on. While at the same time not saying what they really believe about Adventism.

Which is all very weird to me because, having a ministry for former Adventists, I find myself having to defend Adventism all the time to those who don't know anything about Adventists and have a radically wrong opinion of their church.

Okay, maybe a few of their doctrines are cultish. I think we are all in agreement on that, even a lot of Adventists. However, Adventists are slowly shedding the thought that Ellen White is a prophetess or even messenger. Her writings are evolving to a place of general "inspiration" like a Beth Moore book and not of absolute truth. That is good! The SDA church is promoting the kinder, gentler Ellen with a softening of her writings and promoting a more biblically and historically founded version of her writings, while burying the rest.

There is a polarizing of the liberal and traditional Adventists, but the liberal is winning and soon I think the doctrine of the Investigative Judgement will be jettisoned, as well as the radical forms of the "health message" and the end-times scenarios that are so shamefully anti-Catholic and anti-Protestant. Christ is getting the true gospel in through the cracks of Adventist doctrine. And many, many Adventists get it and many SDA pastors preach the true gospel of Christ.

I see God working within Adventism to bring her around when, hopefully someday during my lifetime, she will unify with the rest of the Body of Christ. That is my hope and prayer.

It's a weird battle of condemning unbiblical doctrines to Adventists who are looking to leave and those who have essentially already left and defending Adventists to non-Adventists. I always come out looking like the bad guy!

In the meantime, I will probably not try and figure out if the Adventist Church is a Christian church. I hear both sides and agree... and I agree that you can't agree that both sides can be true. That question, at this time, seems above my pay grade. Let me see.... any more excuses I can come up with? (Smile.)




31 comments:

Royce Earp said...

As long as the SDA Religion has the Investigative Judgment as a Doctrinal Belief the SDA Religion is not Christian. If you believe that Jesus' sacrifice on the cross is not all sufficient, as the IJ Doctrine states, then they worship a different Jesus. The Biblical Jesus died once for all men. To take Jesus off the cross and replace Him with our own "good works" is so offensive. The IJ Doctrine and The Clear Word Bible give the SDA Religion cult status. Definitely Not Christian! This is not to say there are not Christians in the religion but the official SDA Religion doctrines remove them from Christianity!
In my opinion.

Stephen Korsman said...

Baptism can be problematic if the understanding of the Trinity is in question, and I think it is not unreasonable to question Adventism's understanding of the Trinity. The argument with Mormon baptism is that their concept of the Trinity is not an orthodox one, and so therefore they mean something entirely different when invoking the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit in baptism. That said, there are plenty of Anglicans who are so fluffy with their definition of God that it could be argued that their baptism would also be invalid; the same could be said of some Catholic priests. Countering that, however, would be the fact that the person is still being baptised into a community that has orthodox Trinitarian theology.

Liberal vs traditional Adventism - from what I've seen, the liberals have the same sort of nonsense creeping in as we see in liberal Anglicanism and liberal Catholicism. They might jettison some of the Adventist peculiarities such as IJ, but they may just end up having fluffy sermons about saving trees and whales and God our Mother loving bunnies. Traditional Adventism, on the other hand, doesn't have a monopoly on the subgroup with questionable Trinitarian theology. The best step for Adventism to take is neither liberal nor traditional Adventism - it would be to align itself with conservative Evangelical Protestantism. Given, of course, that en masse crossing of the Tiber is unlikely.

Teresa Beem said...

Someone sent me a Catholic Answers link about the Seventh-day Adventists where it has the imprimatur that stated Catholics accept Adventists as Christians.

However, if that is so, why would they not accept our Baptism? We had to be baptized into Catholicism in our local parish by order of the Bishop and he said it was because of the dubious status of the SDA Trinitarian doctrine.

Anyway, so I guess the answer has been given for me. If the Catholic bishops accept them as Christians I would not think of opposing them!

Teresa Beem said...

Stephen, I just keep hoping and praying that liberal Adventism will eventually merge into mainstream Evangelicalism and by virtue of that collision Adventist doctrines will be reformed and refreshed by our Protestant brother's faith.

Then when God sees fit, we will all join in unity. And of course they will all be re-baptized when they swim the Tiber! Hee hee

Stephen Korsman said...

There is a difference between recognising a group as Christian and accepting their baptism. Oneness Pentecostals, for instance, would, I imagine, be considered Christians, but their baptism isn't recognised as valid. I would call Mormons Christians too. And don't forget that the decision re baptism often falls to the local bishop, and local bishops are not uniformly informed, or if they are, they may not all form the same opinion on the validity of the baptism in question.

An imprimatur doesn't mean everything in the book is correct. It just means that nothing in the book is contrary to the Catholic faith, according to the bishop issuing it or his appointed delegate. It is not contrary to the Catholic faith to recognise Adventists as Christians, and so something like that will pass the test.

Arik said...

The Investigative Judgement doctrine hardly states that Christ's sacrifice on the cross is not sufficient. It always amazes me that SDA Christians who recognize the Sabbath as the symbol of God's rest, are accused of works oriented salvation. The Sabbath is a day of rest, not works.

By denying there is a judgement, all I hear is that God's sacrifice on the cross is suficient to continue in sin. What you are really saying is that your gospel, which is really not the gospel at all, is not powerful enough to keep you from sinning.

BTW the New Covenant writes the law of God into our hearts, and since the New Covenant, according to Paul, can not be changed after the death of Christ, I'd say the Church's manufacturing of Sunday sacradness well after Christ's ratifying of the New Covenant is not part of the New Covenant and therefore hardly Christian.

The Council of Trent clearly states that it is by its idea of natural law that the 4th Commandment can be changed. This is hardly a Christian idea, God is the aurthor of law not nature.

Sorry Teresa, but your "Protestant brother's faith" is hardly refreshing. It is steeped in much the same tradition of its mother, and it is not Christian as long as it denies God's law.

Teresa Beem said...

So Arik,

The Catholic church recognizes you as Christian, but you do not recognize her as Christian. Interesting....

Marcos David Torres said...

Hi!

I'd like to follow your blog but I dont see a follow button on your page. On any note, my blog is Jesusadventismandi.blogspot.com

send me an invite and I will follow :)

Teresa Beem said...

Marcos;
Went to your blog and it looks very sharp. I have other followers so I think you should be able to follow.

Teresa Beem said...

Marcos, Just added the gadget to be able to follow the blog.

Marcos David Torres said...

awesome thanks!

Mr. Mcgranor said...

The Judaizing is my concern. Go to a Protestant mainline church, and if you can convince the congregation to have their praise on Saturday morning, then do it.

Marcos David Torres said...

Hi Teresa!

I am now following your blog and would like to invite you to follow mine.

The follow widget is on the right side of my page.

God bless!

Jesusadventismandi.blogspot.com

Starla Bernhardt said...

Catholics don't believe that Jesus' death on the cross was sufficient either. They want to throw works in as well so that makes them not Christian either.

Teresa Beem said...

Starla,
Yes we do.

Marcos David Torres said...

As a Seventh-day Adventist, I would like to add that while there are those within our denomination who live as though Christs sacrifice wasn't enough for our salvation they do not represent what we as a church officially believe. Using their theology to label the SDA church is like using the Westborrow Baptist church to label all Baptists. They represent an extreme fringe in our denomination but they do not represent our denomination. If you would really like to know our official understanding of salvation check out my blog post "Do You Qualify For Salvation?"

Happy New Year!

Teresa Beem said...


Marcos.

This is one of the reasons former Adventists have a hard time believing what you are writing:

Seventh-day Adventist Fundamental Belief #18:

The Gift of Prophecy:
One of the gifts of the Holy Spirit is prophecy. This gift is an identifying mark of the remnant church and was manifested in the ministry of Ellen. G. White . As the Lord's messenger, her writings are a continuing and authoritative source of truth which provide for the church comfort, guidance, instruction, and correction. They also make clear that the Bible is the standard by which all teaching and experience must be tested. (Joel 2:28, 29; Acts 2:14-21; Heb. 1:1-3; Rev. 12:17; 19:10.)

EGW's writings ARE A CONTINUING and AUTHORITATIVE source of truth....

That means the book the "Great Controversy" is still considered as truth. That means the church STILL believes that the Sabbath will be the identifying mark of the true church in the last days. That Catholics and Protestants will join together and force a Sunday Law on the world and come after the SDA members to torture and kill them for keeping Sabbath.

This means that these doctrines are orthodox Adventism and not a fringe group.

Marcos David Torres said...

Teresa.

You have brought up two interesting points. The first is the doctrine of spiritual gifts which deals with ecclesiology. The second is the doctrine of last day events which deals with escatology. As interesting as these two topics are however, they are not related to my post.

In my comment I was neither dealing with ecclesiology or escatology but with the study of salvation which is soteriology. So your reply, while bringing up some topics that would be fun to discuss, actually has nothing to do with my comment. If you want to disagree with me you would have to do so on the basis of soteriology first. As an SDA I affirm, as well as our church, that we are saved by grace alone, we remain saved by grace alone, and we will enter eternal life by grace alone. The Sabbath has nothing to do with that and neither does EGW.

Blessings!

Teresa Beem said...

Marcos,
The SDA church has traditionally (based on EGW's writings which ARE authoritative) claimed that THE last day issue for true Christians (soteriology) is the Sabbath. That is not a fringe group of Adventists.

The Investigative Judgement doctrine (depending on which EGW writings you look to) teach a judgement based upon your actions and how well you kept the Ten Commandments.

While I am well aware that most SDA churches currently teach a more righteousness by faith friendly gospel, to say a works-righteousness is fringe is not being aware of the church's past.

If you will read the post it is very positive about the SDA church. I believe the church will jettison some of the outdated EGW writings and become more mainstream. The church has to. to survive. People are reading the Bible more, having access to the internet and reading true Christian history as well as correct interpretation of scripture.

This is not a criticism but a great cry of joy from Christians everywhere. Come join us and live in the freedom of the gospel. WE LOVE ADVENTISTS!! We will never ever EVER sell you out, force you to go to church on Sunday or try to hunt you down and kill you. We love Jesus sooooo much. He is our friend and our Lord. We love you too. Join us in worship to our KING!

Marcos David Torres said...

Teresa,
I appreciate your response and your post on Adventism. I don’t take offense at all to what you guys are doing because I can see that you do it in the spirit of love. This is why, even though we disagree, as soon as I saw you had a blog I wanted to be one of your followers and vice versa. I look forward to dialoguing with you guys in the years to come! If my previous comment had a negative intonation I apologize. One thing I enjoy is friendly conversation about these things. One thing I hate is mean spirited arguments and I know that’s not what you guys are about.

As far as the IJ, I have written extensively on the issue. In preparation for a paper I had to write on the topic yours was one of the books that I read as I studied. Before I began I remained unconvinced that the IJ was biblical but after studying it I had to change my mind. I won’t go into that here but suffice it to say that the IJ doesn’t determine who is saved or lost based on a person’s actions. When I fully understood the IJ in light of the Bible I wanted to leap for joy. If you want to read my conclusions you can read my paper by clicking the link on top of my blog or just reading the blog posts (it’s the same as the paper just separated into different posts). I also deal with the topic of EGW under the heading “Troubling Statements of Ellen White.”

The SDA church has had a bout with legalism that began in the days of EGW. She tried to fight it off in and around the time period of 1888 but was rejected by the church leadership at the time along with two pastors she was working with to remind the church of righteousness by faith. Many of those who opposed her ended up admitting their faults in the end but from that time two branches spread out in the church. The legalists and those who understood the gospel.

Marcos David Torres said...

Unfortunately it has taken many years to undo the damage that the legalistic leadership did to the church and in some places it seems almost irreparable but it does not reflect true Adventism though there are those who say it does. There are also those who say true Adventism doesn’t believe in the trinity which is also not true. In short, these people refer to themselves as “historic Adventists” and they do not represent the church. While the history of our church is bathed in legalism that doesn’t mean that that’s what the official movement, EGW, or any of the pioneers ever intended. You are so right when you say that our church’s past is marked by a works-righteousness theology but it was because the church was ignoring scripture and EGW not because they were reading it. This part of our history represents a period of wandering for our church. To this day I still meet people who believe in a What Jesus did + What I do = salvation. But this is fast becoming the minority as the damage caused by our ancestors is healed. You are however correct in stating that SDA legalists are not a fringe group. I used the wrong phrase there. They are not a fringe group because they are still under the umbrella of our church but they also do not represent true Adventism. But like I said, this group is in the decline and I barely run into it anymore.

You are right that our church is improving. However, this is not because it was never on the right track but because it lost its way (particularly around its 2nd generation). Like I mentioned, even EGW tried to turn the church around and failed. She told them that we had become legalistic and that our gospel was as dry as the hills of Gilboa. However, people passed her off as old and senile and said that she was too old to think clearly so she was being deceived by those who were preaching righteousness by faith. If you ever do a search of 1888 in her writings you will discover that this was the saddest period of her ministry as a prophet. She speaks of how the church rejected the light God was giving them and how she had never seen the Holy Spirit treated so badly before. However, as we can see today, 1888 was not a total loss. Anyone in our church who is a legalist is so in-spite of our history and EGW not because of it.

And finally, the official teaching of our church when it comes to eschatology is that the beast (which is the Papacy according to the historicist method of interpreting Bible prophecy) will persecute Gods people in the last days before Jesus returns. God’s people are everywhere. They are Catholic, Presbyterian, Baptist, Pentecostal, Adventist and everywhere else. God has sheep in many folds not just the SDA church. Therefore when we teach that the papacy will persecute Gods faithful we do not imply that Catholics will, neither do we imply that Protestants will but that those are within these denominations and don’t truly love Jesus will be the ones to persecute not just Adventists but all of Gods faithful people. I appreciate your invitation to join you in living in the freedom of the Gospel and I can assure you that I already have! Pray for me so that God can use me to help other Adventists who have lost their way or who have been misled to experience that same freedom that we so enjoy!

Teresa Beem said...

Marcos,

Thank you for your kind response. I often write bluntly, but always in love. To me, I feel more respected when spoken to straight, rather than too much fluff (so I tend towards writing to others that way)... but over the internet, it is impossible to recognize the emotion in which things are written. Always know I am not emotional. There is only one subject... one alone that I get upset and really emotional about and that is abortion. (So head's up if we are ever to go there.) But the rest, it's all theory to me. Interesting and fascinating, but I don't have any problem at all with people disagreeing with me.

So here goes...

The Adventism you espouse was the one I grew up in. I didn't grow up in a legalistic home by any stretch. My father, an SDA lay pastor, taught grace, grace, grace. If we read any passages of EGW, (which I can't remember any ever even being read in our home, perhaps at the Sabbath Schools our family was in charge of) it was the ones that spoke of grace and mercy. And Ellen has many of those. However, under the pen of inspiration from her accompanying angel, she also wrote about works-righteousness, often in the same paragraph! So you can imagine the confusion people feel when reading her.

Many former SDAs had very traumatic, abusive experiences in Adventism. (Like ANY denomination or religion--all can have people who misunderstand and misrepresent doctrines that are loving and use them to hurt. This is not simply an SDA problem). However, I find that most Adventists who leave the church do so without having a history of anyone misusing doctrine or even being abusive or mean. The majority leave simply because they found the doctrines not in line with scripture.

I think if you will look into the research done outside the SDA church, you will find this to be true. Let me stop here and try and post the research I am speaking of...

Teresa Beem said...

I have it archived here under Former Adventist Survey Summary...

http://arthurandteresabeem.blogspot.com/2011/12/former-adventist-survey-summary.html

More than two thirds (68%) of those who took the survey had been members of the Seventh-day Adventist church for over twenty years. This would seem to imply that their knowledge of the doctrines, culture, and organizational system was quite extensive.

“The primary reason I left the Adventist church,” according to an overwhelming 86% of the respondents, was, “Doctrinal differences: disagreement over what the church teaches.”

I can tell you I did extensive research into the Investigative Judgement doctrine... studying the 1888 Wagner and Jones transcripts, the 1910 General Conference, the Desmond Ford and Glacier Mt. (?) documents. Since I wrote a book on SDA church history and doctrines, I spent five years full-time research on the various doctrines that are unique to the SDA church--with the most emphasis on the Sabbath. You might find our book interesting. You can find it at Amazon. com under "Teresa Beem." It's titled, "It's okay NOT to be a Seventh-day Adventist." So being ignorant or uniformed wasn't a charge an Adventist could credibly level at us.

I loved being an SDA and loved Sabbath. These doctrines just do not stand up when scripture when it is correctly interpreted. I have been debating SDA scholars on this subject (and listened to debates with others) since I was a toddler, so I have listened to all sides. I don't mind reading any of your works, but unless you have something incredibly different to suggest, some really unique spin to the SDA doctrines that Cliff Goldstein hasn't already exhausted... then it would be a waste of both our time.

I understand the whole "its the papacy not the individual Catholics" who will enforce a world-wide Sunday law. But, since none of it can be shown to be scriptural or even correlate to what John was writing about in Revelation, I have to chunk that interpretation. It has way too many holes in it. John was writing for his own time. I think it is possible that it could have a dual last day interpretation, but in general, all we have to do is read contemporary Christian writings and we realize the mark of the beast and the 666 represented the Roman Emperor at the time, either Caesar Nero or possibly Caligula. The remnant who have the testimony of Jesus and keep the commandments are clearly Jewish Christians. This has been the historic position of most Christians throughout history.

I delved into this in our book somewhat.

Adventists will continue to bleed its membership if they do not realize why people leave their church. By far the greatest percentage leave because of doctrine. To blame it on emotions in any way is trying to bind the wrong wound. We as formers need to openly and respectfully communicate to Adventists so that we both can benefit from the dialogue.

From my perspective, I am continually being told I have bitter emotions because of some experience within Adventism. This just is false. I had a good experience within Adventism. Leaving was the most traumatic thing I had experienced up until that time. But it was the leaving part that was painful... not the being Adventist part.

Since you seem willing to have a respectful dialogue I look forward to it! God bless you, Marcus.





Marcos David Torres said...

Teresa,

You remind me of my aunt. She is also Catholic and so loving that it’s out of this world. And thanks for the heads up! Though I don’t often find myself debating abortion :)

The Adventism you grew up with is actually quite different from mine. My father was the proverbial extremist, especially when it came to diet. He has changed a lot since then but he was not pleasant to be around growing up.

As far as Ellen White, what I propose in my discussion of her “troubling statements” is that they are no different from the biblical warnings against sin. There are countless passages that I can take out of the Bible to espouse a works-righteousness kind of gospel. Take for example Matthew 7:21 - 21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” At first glance it seems like Jesus is saying that only those who obey can go to heaven and one could easily suggest that obedience is thus a requirement for salvation and you now have a works-righteousness gospel. Or how about when Jesus said, “For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” I’d better make sure I speak perfectly because my salvation depends on it now. When the Rich Young Ruler asked Jesus how to attain eternal life, Jesus didn’t say “accept me as your personal savior” He told him to sell everything he had to the poor and then to follow him. Again, one could easily suggest a works-righteousness here. And what about when Jesus returns in Matthew 25 and the righteous and wicked are sifted out by their deeds? It seems that the righteous are saved because they did a lot of good works and the wicked are lost because they didn’t do enough. And what of James 2:21 “Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar?” Or Ephesians speaking of the church Christ is looking for refers to her as “a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.” Sounds like perfectionism! By the way, EGW uses these same exact words when speaking of the Investigative Judgment, but she didn’t make them up, they come straight from scripture. And what of Revelation 3:5 “He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.” This sounds like my salvation depends on whether I overcome or not. I better make sure I overcome everything then or else I won’t be saved. Now if I quote these texts to you, you would quickly point me to the ones who say the opposite. I would then say the Bible contradicts itself. You would then reply that it does not but that you have to compare scripture with scripture and study the context. The same goes for EGW. With all of her “legalistic” statements, she has some of the most powerful grace statements I have ever read in any author. Take for example the following EGW statements:

Marcos David Torres said...

A legal religion can never lead souls to Christ; for it is a loveless, Christless religion.

He who is trying to reach heaven by his own works in keeping the law is attempting an impossibility.

A legal religion has been thought quite the correct religion for this time. But it is a mistake.

And my personal favorite:
If you would gather together everything that is good and holy and noble and lovely in man and then present the subject to the angels of God as acting a part in the salvation of the human soul or in merit, the proposition would be rejected as treason.

And one more:

Christ for our sakes became poor, that we through His poverty might be made rich. And any works that man can render to God will be far less than nothingness. My requests are made acceptable only because they are laid upon Christ’s righteousness. The idea of doing anything to merit the grace of pardon is fallacy from beginning to end. “Lord, in my hand no price I bring, simply to Thy cross I cling.”

There are many more and you can see these and where they are found in my blog post, “Ellen White on Legalism” All I am saying though is that with this in mind you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that EGW was either not a legalist or had faulty logic and constantly contradicted herself. If you take the later you have to accuse the Bible of the same thing. If you take the former then every so called legalistic quote of hers needs to be reinterpreted in light of her understanding of the gospel just as we do with scripture. I mean, Jesus said to pluck your eye out if it causes you to sin! It doesn’t get any crazier than that.
As far as SDA’s and traumas you are correct about this but only in the cases that misrepresent our doctrines (as you have stated). In my own experience I have come across Catholics who have had the same experience. My mother was going to become a nun and when she converted to Adventism she was stoked! And she still is though she has many scars from her Catholic upbringing that have never healed. She also couldn’t believe how much she had been “deceived” by the Catholic church and their doctrines. (I am not arguing for or against them I am just sharing her experience). A close Army buddy of mine was extremely suicidal and after much searching we discovered his suicidal tendencies were rooted in his Catholic upbringing. He later joined the SDA church. But none of this proves or disproves a church’s authenticity. In most all cases the victims are recipients of a twisted version of what their church believes.

Marcos David Torres said...

Now you do say that most leave Adventism because of doctrine and not because of treatment. Firstly, the same can be said of Baptists, Catholics, Non-Denominationals and every other denomination. While many leave the SDA church every year many join and experience Jesus in a way they never had before in their own churches. Some are amazed at how much our church focuses on the Bible instead of traditions etc. I myself am an SDA because I have not found any other church whose teachings are as in line with scripture as this one. Even if our doctrines aren’t perfect (I’m not saying yay or nay just even) I have still found our teachings to be the most biblically consistent of any other denomination. Honestly, that’s the only reason why I am still an SDA. In addition, there are many (and I mean like 80-85%) of SDA’s who have been in the church for 20+ years and have no idea how to defend what they claim to believe. I myself have been in the church since I was born and only last year studied the IJ for myself and understood it fully for the first time ever. There are many SDAs who don’t know their Bibles so it would be easy to convince them that we are wrong because they never study for themselves anyways.
I have read your book by the way (though not fully but I intend to). I read the section on the IJ while I was doing my study on it. I even quote you guys on my paper! I hope you are still flattered even though I disagree with your quotations :)

Now as far as reading my paper, I can’t promise that you will find anything new. I am not a cutting edge scholar or anything, just a simple guy with his eyes on Jesus. So while you are welcome to read it, No promises! All I know is this, the IJ does not contradict Righteousness by faith in any way shape or form and that’s the clincher for me. If it did, I would have thrown it away immediately, but I actually found that it solidified it.

As far as the apocalyptic interpretations it simply depends on what system you use. I cannot accept prederism or futurism because both of those systems make absolutely no sense to me in light of scripture. The historicist method is the only one I have found to be consistent and it is that system that leads me to accept the SDA interpretations of prophecy which are not entirely unique to our church (BTW The IJ isn’t either as I show in my paper).

Recent articles have shown the SDA church to be the fastest growing in North America (http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/religion/2011-03-18-Adventists_17_ST_N.htm). So it doesn’t look like we are bleeding our membership. In some countries we are second only to Catholicism.

As far as I can tell you don’t seem like an angry x-Adventist which is why I enjoy dialoguing with you. However, do understand that I am not trying to prove to you that the SDA church is correct or that you are wrong. I am simply suggesting that while Its OK Not to be a Seventh-day Adventist it’s also OK to be one, 28 fundamental beliefs and all.

PS. I would love to keep dialoguing but if we go on any longer at this pace it’s going to take me 5 minutes to scroll to the bottom of your page! I am preaching a sermon this coming Sabbath on the topic of the Sabbath. I know that’s one of your hotspots. Ill post the manuscript later and I invite you to comment there. Then we can continue a fresh conversation on a page that’s no so comment loaded. But of course if you want to keep the conversation here that’s OK.

God bless and have fun at church tomorrow!

Marcos David Torres said...

Hi Teresa!

I noticed my previous comment was never posted. Maybe it didn't go through? (I mess up on that annoying captcha thing from time to time).

PS. Happy New Year!

Teresa Beem said...

Marcus,

Since I get a lot of junk comments (you know the people who post advertisement links rather than real comments) I have been forced to monitor all comments. I threw my back out during Christmas and haven't been checking for comments. Sorry. I think the ones above are the ones you wanted posted, right?

Will be happy to start another thread.

But one more response to your above comments:

After Adventism, I studied and went to almost all the major Protestant denominations church services. One of the things that struck me was the theological musical chairs Christians play. I heard these dramatic stories of the "Lord leading me out of my church" (whatever that birth church was) and into the new one. Baptists turned Greek Orthodox, Lutherans turned Calvinist, Calvinist turned Pentecostal--ad infinitum. God seems to touch someone, shake them up or reach them in a different church than they grew up in. Either the experience or the doctrine surprises and awakens some spiritual need in them that they weren't getting in their other church. Very few then end up going back to their birth church. I don't know if it is simply a familiarity "numbness" that accompanies one's birth church or if Christian education is so poor that NO churches are doing a good job of explaining the gospel to its young people. And they hear it from another church! But it seems like everyone is an ex-some church or another....and all claim it's God's leading them into the truth!

Yes, Adventists are gaining ground in third world countries but in North America, Adventists are indeed leaving the church. I meant this in the most sincere way.... Adventists need to really communicate with former Adventists to find out WHY we are leaving. To continue this myth that we leave for feelings or hurts or bitterness is not going to help any of us. It is creating unnecessary divisions in families with paranoia, suspicion, distrust, etc. Time for a real communication and reconciliation between Adventists and former Adventists. The vast majority are not leaving Christianity and have NO ill feelings towards Adventists. To assume there is bad feelings, just creates family and relationship stresses that don't need to be there.

Again, I am not saying this personally to you, because I trust you are telling me the truth. But as a potential minister, I think it would be a good thing to start letting Adventists know that formers (most anyway) love them and want to continue a relationship with them, even if we are no longer SDA.

I can speak with great confidence, having ministered to former SDAs for more than a decade now... that most of them feel rejected and spurned by their family and friends because they left the church. This is quite sad.

God bless, Teresa

Marcos David Torres said...

Teresa,

I was going to make my previous comment my last one but you struck something very near and dear to my heart in the last comment and I just have to respond. To answer your question, yes these are the responses I posted :) And I am so sorry you threw out your back during Christmas! How horrible! I don't know about you, but I absolutely looove Christmas. I would be so upset if I threw out my back during that time of the year! Anyways, I hope you still had a good one and that you are feeling better.

Now on to my final comments. I wont comment on everything you spoke on, but I will comment on your analysis of the current SDA church and the problems it is facing.

Teresa, you couldn't be more correct with what you have said. The only reason why I am still an SDA is because of our doctrines. But our church is in bad shape. It breaks my heart that many of our people still haven't recovered from the second generation of Adventism. The 50's through the early 90's were especially troubling. This is not because of our doctrines or EGW but inspite of them. Teresa, I get emotional when I discuss these things. Our church has so much potential but we have lost our way! We've created myths about EGW, canonized her, (not officially but we act like it) and worst of all misused, misquoted, and misunderstood her to such an extent that she would have a heart attack if she saw what was going on today. We have created Adventist ghettos, little bubbles of Adventism that are contrary to the great commission. EGW spoke against these but we ignore her. We have turned the gospel into a works-righteousness gospel which is anti-biblical and anti-EGW. We have shunned people of other denominations as "Babylon" by completely misunderstanding what the Bible teaches about end time Babylon. EGW herself worked well with other denominations. Her books are filled with quotes from non-SDA Christians. Her library was full of books from non-SDA authors. She was a member and speaker for the women's temperance movement in her day (an Evangelical movement). She gave her signature book Steps to Christ to be published by DL Moody's (the leading Sunday preacher of the day) brother which the SDA church later took back. She had two sisters, both of which were not SDA and whom she respected and whose Christianity she appreciated and never condemned or shunned. She pointed us to the Bible, the Bible, the Bible but instead we have used her as a divine commentary on the Bible (something she always refused when she was alive).

Marcos David Torres said...

We have made lifestyle issues a test of fellowship. We have preached the law, the law, the law and debated other Christians instead of co-laboring with them for the sake of Christ (as EGW did). We have misinterpreted and mis-taught the Investigative Judgment until it became as scary as eternal hell fire itself. We have misunderstood the gospel and preached a different gospel from that of the New Testament and EGW herself. In short, the true SDA church was on the money, but subsequent generations have strayed far from what our pioneers believed and were like. It breaks my heart when I talk to young kids in our church who still don't know the gospel! This past summer I spoke to two of them, both raised in SDA homes and schools and currently attending an SDA university and they had no idea what the good news are! How could we let this happen? How could we fail our children and our communities and ultimately Jesus like this? EGW spoke of the greatest enemies of our church coming from within, and that is exactly what has happened. She also said that God will not bring many to our church because we are Laodicean. Remember what God said about them? In the last 10 - 15 years ministers in our denomination have begun to return to our pioneers version of Adventism which is New Testament Christianity. A church that preaches grace not fear, love not rejection, and Jesus, Jesus, Jesus. I share your frustrations. Many are leaving our churches, but not because of true Adventism but because of false Adventism. I so long that we would become like Jesus. To love like He loves. To smile like He smiles. To laugh like He laughs. I am excited that our church is turning around and heading back in the right direction but the damage done by the past generations of distorted theology are going to take years to heal. Please pray for me sister. I need all the prayer I can get so that God can use me to help lead this church in the right direction and help heal the damage caused by those who misused and misinterpreted our history and the writings of EGW. I could say so much more on this but I have vented enough. And as for you, don't give up on us either (I know you haven't). Tell those you work with that there is hope for our church. God is raising a generation that will restore this church to its original design. Tell them to have patience with this stiff necked people. They don't have to stay in our denomination, but implore them to have patience with us. As a minister I am dedicating my life and ministry to doing just what you requested in your comment above and more. I, along with other peers of mine in theology school feel identical. We have thrown away the nonsense, the myths, the proof texting, the judging, the condemning, the legalism, and the abuse of EGW. We long for a church that loves and reaches out instead of secluding itself from society. We long to go back to the original design. Other ministers such as Martin Weber, George Knight, Ty Gibson, Mark Finley, Alejandro Bullon, Herb Montgomery and others have already begun this work of healing. Our professors at SDA theology school are also going in the direction of restoration. But many of our brothers and sisters are still in laodicea. Still living in spiritual myopia. Please pray for us. I can say so much more, believe you me! But I will leave it there.

You are a wonderful Christian Teresa, I really enjoy our dialogues.

As for the Sabbath sermon, I will try and post an audio recording of it on my blog by Sunday. I am looking forward to your response!

Marcos

Teresa Beem said...

Wow. You have me teary-eyed at your passion for Jesus! Let me tell you we are soul-mates in Christ! God is lifting you up for this time, Marcos and He is doing great things in every single denomination drawing us by grace to Him.

My sister, who is a female (non-ordained) SDA pastor in Colorado also has your passion too. I have no doubt that God is moving on the hearts of His believers. God bless you and I will, of course, of course pray for you and your ministry.

If the SDA church believes what you say it does, (and even if it doesn't) then it will soon embrace its brothers and sisters in the Body of Christ in every single denomination and church. For one of Christ's commandments is that we all be one. I so look forward to that day.

God bless you Marcos. Let me know if you want to discuss anything else. Having a wonderful time dialoguing with you.