Thursday, January 19, 2012

The GREAT DEBATE: Worshiping on Sunday: the first 3 Centuries

I would like to invite Seventh-day Adventists or any Christian to enter this debate.

CALLING ADVENTIST APOLOGISTS! Come and post your evidence for this important topic. It is silly for me to be arguing your side. We want to be fair to you....! Since Doug Batchelor just wrote a book having a debate with himself, I thought we would invite him here to debate another person. 

If it is not against God's will for us to worship on Sunday today, what scriptural evidence can you bring to the debate that backs up your prophecy that one day worshipping on Sunday will be against God? 

That is your claim. Defend it Biblically.

The topic/proposition being debated is:

Christians worshipped on Sunday for the first three hundred years of Christianity before the time of Emperor Constantine

To avoid confusion, two generic names will head each side:

Non-SDA Christian Apologist 
The Proposition/Positive side (Non-SDA) should attempt to prove this statement.
Adventist Apologist 
The Opposition/Negative side (Adventist) should attempt to disprove this statement.

Sources that will be accepted are:

  •  The Bible: (Catholic and Protestant) mainstream translations such as ASV, KJV, NIV, NASB, RSV, etc. No paraphrases.
  • Primary sources: Sacred and secular writings of the first three hundred years. 
  • Secondary sources: Generally accepted ecclesiastical histories such as written by Eusebius, Bede, Schaff, etc.
Only sources accepted by mainstream Christian churches will be allowed. Sources, when possible, should be easily available for referencing. Internet links are encouraged.

All comments will be reviewed before posting and those with clear, logical arguments will be posted. Sarcasm, insults or rude comments or comments that are deemed irrelevant or illogical will not be posted. Please be clear and concise, keeping all comments related to the topic. Editors may cut your comments if too wordy or redundant and correct spelling and grammatical errors.

We will attempt to give equal time (space in this case) for both sides.

 All are welcome to post in the debate. Questions will come at the end, so as you watch the debate be thinking of questions you wish to ask of either side.


Non SDA Christian Apologist:
The proposition of the debate is to prove that the early Christians worshipped on Sunday. 

Why is this debate important? Because the Seventh-day Adventist Church teaches that the only day of corporate worship that God approves of is the seventh day, Saturday. Their last-day prophecies include a test of Christianity based upon what day you worship God. They predict a law will be passed that forces everyone to go to church on Sunday. Those who attend church on Sunday will receive the Mark of the Beast and will not be saved. Seventh-day Adventist who remain true to God's appointed Sabbath will be imprisoned, tortured and even killed by those who go to church on Sunday.

This elitist doctrine that teaches Sunday is the wrong day to worship wounds us all, permanently cleaving the Body of Christ in direct disobedience to Christ's command that we unite as Christians. 

The proposition is not about a sabbath rest day. It is a debate to prove that Sunday has always been a day of worship for Christians. There is no Biblical evidence, no prophecy, that worshipping on Sunday was, is or ever will be wrong.

We will be looking at historical evidence to prove that indeed, the early Christians from the time of the Apostles up until the time of Constantine worshipped corporately as a body of Christ on Sunday.

If the early church worshipped on Sunday before the time of Constantine then:

  • Worshipping on Sunday will never be a sign of disobedience to God’s laws nor will those who worship on Sunday receive the Mark of the Beast. 
  • The SDA Sunday law prophecy is not from God and causes a unchristian elitism and disunity in the Body of Christ. 
Again, we remind those reading that this is not a debate about Sabbath, so please keep all comments within the structure of the debate topic. This is about worshipping on Sunday. Thank you.
Adventist Apologist:

Since there have been no counter introductory statements, I will attempt to write one for the SDA side. I will happily remove mine and insert an Adventist Apologist side when I receive one.

This is indeed, for the Adventist, a very important subject. And since you have narrowed the field of debate considerably, I feel we cannot get at the heart of the matter. For, as an Adventist, the heart is a rejection of the Sabbath, not worshipping on Sunday. No Adventist believes it is wrong to worship on Sunday or any day of the week. 

There are differing opinions within Adventism about when Christians began to worship on Sunday, and there are differing opinions about how trustworthy primary sources are when using historical accounts outside of scripture. 

So, defending the SDA position, I will point rather to scripture instead of early Christian writings. What man wrote just doesn't really matter, it is what God thinks that is important. Just because the early church practiced something, doesn't give it positive proof that it was of God.

The SDA side will attempt to prove that there are two faulty lines that you have drawn:

1. You presume, Teresa, that even if the early church celebrated the Lord's Day on Sunday, that they did so in obedience to God. It is very possible they worshipped on Sunday to avoid persecution or as a concession to Rome.

2. You also presume that if the early church did worship on Sunday that it somehow negates an end-time scenario where a day of worship is the test for Christians. Your assumption is a non-sequitor.

As an Adventist Apologist, I will attempt to prove that:

  • First, there is no definitive Biblical proof that the early church worshipped on Sunday. That interpretations of certain texts that may give that impression are debated even among non-SDA theologians. 
  • Secondly, there is Biblical proof that a rejection of the Sabbath commandment (the 4th commandment) as a last day test of Christian fidelity to Christ is firmly rooted in scripture. 
Thank you and we are looking forward to a vigorous, logical and Christian debate.

[We will be keeping this Opening Statement available for an authentic Adventist Apologist.]

SECTION ONE: Presenting of the Evidence

Non-SDA Christian Apologist:

Mr. Adventist Apologist, I think you have made two very good points and one of them I must address in my evidence. I agree that I should prove that the early church went to church on Sunday, not out of fear, not out of coercion or compromise, but as a part of following the Apostle's directive. I think we can do that. And I think I can do that with scripture alone, even if I will add to that evidence plenty of primary sources of individual Christian historical accounts.

Your second point, that it is a non-sequitor to assume just because the early church attended church on Sunday does not automatically negate an end-time prophecy pivoting upon a day of worship. Good catch.. you are correct. 

But then I must point out to you that it will be your responsibility to prove that the scriptures do indeed specifically indicate a day of worship as a last day test. You cannot base such a monumental and divisive doctrine on a whim--you will have to prove such a test with direct biblical evidence.

Okay to begin, I must start with the Old Testament because it builds a foundation of worshipping God on Sunday that is used by the Apostles when they meet for worship. Remember at that time the early church was mainly Hebrew. They carried forth a lot of the elements of worship into Christianity. Even worship on Sunday.

The Hebrews in Jerusalem did not have one day a week they worshipped corporately. They worshipped daily at the temple. We know this not only from Old Testament sources, but new. The writer of the book of Hebrews recorded: 

Now when these things have been so prepared, the priests are continually entering the outer tabernacle performing the divine worship. Hebrews 9: 6 
Please note that divine worship is happening daily! (See also Heb. 7:27 and 10:11) 
Every Sunday there was worship going on. All day long people would be coming to worship and give offerings and sacrifices. Everyday worship occurred. Every Sunday worship was going on in the Temple.  Once in the Promised Land, only three times a year was there a mandatory holy assembly for all Israel at the Temple and they would often fall on Sunday.  (Lev. 23 convocation on the weekly Sabbath is debatable, many Hebrew scholars says that this particular command for a weekly Sabbath was only during the Tabernacle period in the wilderness, for travel logistic reasons.)

Exodus 12 and Leviticus 23 record the Feast of the Unleavened Bread (Passover) and specifically called a “memorial” and a holy assembly. It is commanded to be kept as a permanent ordinance. On the first day is a “holy assembly, and another holy assembly on the seventh day; no work at all shall be done on them, except what must be eaten by every person, that alone may be prepared by you.” (v. 47)  “All the congregation of Israel are to celebrate this.” 
Leviticus records the seriousness of this, “any person who does any work on this same day, that person I will destroy from among his people.” The holy convocation of Passover can occur on Sunday. The last one being 2008.
And he shall wave the sheaf before the Lord for you to be accepted; on the day after the sabbath [Sunday] the priest shall wave it. Lev. 23:11
The day of Pentecost, another holy assembly can occur on Sunday. Leviticus 23 requires  
On exactly the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when you have gathered in the crops of the land, you shall celebrate the feast of the LORD for seven days, with a rest on the first day and a rest on the eighth day. 
You shall also count for yourselves from the day after the sabbath [Sunday], from the day when you brought in the sheaf of the wave offering; there shall be seven complete sabbaths. You shall count fifty days to the day after the seventh sabbath [Sunday]; then you shall present a new grain offering to the Lord.
Sundays as well as Saturdays were considered holy assemblies. One was not pitted against the other. See also Number 28:18. 
This year, in 2012, the Jews will celebrate the two holy convocations of Pentecost on Sunday. 
There has never been a time that worshipping on Sunday would be considered going against the commandments of God. God would not have required His holy assemblies of all Israel to occur on Sunday if this were wrong. 
There is no indication anywhere within the pages of scripture that would suggest that any day is a wrong day to worship God. Or that there would be a last day test on a day.

Now we go to the New Testament.  Does the New Testament specify a day, and only one day we should worship God? No!
Where is He who has been born King of the Jews ? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him. Matt. 2: 2
This does not specify a day. Would Joseph have sent them away if they arrived on a Sunday? 
Nothing Christ did can be dismissed as accidental. Everything He did and when He did it was significant. Jesus went to the Temple daily to teach. (Mark 14: 49). If worshipping on Sunday were somehow wrong, wouldn’t Jesus have cleansed the Temple specifically on that day and explained to everyone that Sunday was the wrong day to worship God? 
On Sunday, Jesus conquered death by rising and showed Himself to His followers as the Divine God! (Matt. 28:1; Mark 16:2, 9; John 20:19) On Sunday, Thomas worshipped Him! (John 20:27-28). That evening, on Sunday, Jesus worshipped with them at the Communion meal (Luke 22:19; Luke 24:31) and gave them His Holy Spirit and His peace then commissioned them to be the leaders of His Kingdom by forgiving sins (John 20).
The church was born on a Sunday at Pentecost. (Acts 2: 41)

And if this isn’t enough, these two text alone should wrap up this subject:

Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, Acts 2: 26 
And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they kept right on teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ. Acts 5: 42. 
Every single day the disciples came together to worship, including Sundays. How do you think there were souls being added to their number, being baptized daily? (Acts 2: 4, 47) These early Christians were very Jewish in their rituals and worship of God would be included in all of these baptismal rites. They worshipped every single day including Sunday. There is no evidence anywhere that they avoided worship on Sunday if it were wrong.
Paul worshipped God by having a communion service and preaching on Sunday. (Acts. 20:7)

Then we go to early historical accounts by Christians: 
In the early part of the second century, maybe as early as the lifetime of the Apostle John (c.100-130), a Alexandrian Christian leader named Barnabas wrote a letter to an unknown audience. Although the letter was not considered inspired; it was widely read among Alexandrian Christians as authoritative and historically accurate. In this letter, the presbyter acknowledges that, “we keep the eighth day with joyfulness, the day also on which Jesus rose again from the dead.” This letter shows how early the church was celebrating the Lord’s Day, Sunday. 
Scholars are confident about dating Ignatius’ letter to AD 107. As the third bishop of Antioch who was taught by the Apostles, he was held in great respect for his courageous martyrdom. He clearly shows the early church’s ideas about worshipping on the day of “new hope,” Sunday: in the observance of the Lord's Day, on which also our life has sprung up again by Him...let every friend of Christ keep the Lord's day as a festival, the resurrection-day, the queen and chief of all the days [of the week]" "Epistle of Ignatius to the Magnesians," 
Justin Martyr was a second generation Christian and one of the earliest known Christian apologists. He wrote, in the mid second century less than fifty years after the death of the last apostle (First Apology, ch. 67):
And on the day called Sunday all who live in cities or in the country gather together in one place, and the memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read....But Sunday is the day on which we all hold a common assembly, because it is the first day of the week on which God...made the world; and Jesus Christ our Savior on the same day rose from the dead.
The Apostolic Constitutions, dated sometime in the second century commands that “On the day of the resurrection of the Lord--that is, the Lord's Day--assemble yourself together without fail, giving thanks to God and praising Him for those mercies God has bestowed upon you through Christ.”
Bishop of Lyon, also a mid 2nd century Christian leader, also tells us that the church worshipped on Sunday--all the way in Gaul, “The Mystery of the Lord's Resurrection may not be celebrated on any other day than the Lord's Day, and on this alone should we observe the breaking off of the Paschal Feast.”
Going down south to Greece, we find the Bishop Dionysius writing in AD170 to the church in Corinth that they pass Sunday, “this holy Lord's Day, in which we read your letter, from the constant reading of which we shall be able to draw admonition.” Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History, Bk. 4, Ch. 23
At the end of the 2nd century, we travel farther south to Egypt where Clement, the Bishop of Alexandria, records that the Christian, “keeps the Lord's day.”  Bk 7, Ch. 12. And Bishop of Africa, Tertullian records this in his Apology, “We solemnize the day after Saturday in contradistinction to those who call this day their Sabbath.” He even refutes the pagan claim that the early church worshipped the sun, because they worshipped on Sunday, “[It is supposed] that the sun is the god of the Christian, because it is a well- known fact that we pray towards the east, or because we make Sunday a day of festivity.” The Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. 3, p. 123.
All you have to do is type in the person into google and you can easily find the original source. 
Israel was called by God to corporately worship on Sunday. The early church met to "break bread" or hold communion worship services on Sunday--in fact every singe day. There is no indication anywhere in any writings that they were compromising their beliefs. There is no evidence anywhere, no cry from a prophet or pastor that condemns Christians for worshipping on Sunday. 
Therefore I cannot find a shred of evidence anywhere that God would, all of a sudden, 1800 after the dawn of Christianity suddenly give a new reading of scripture and a new vision of Christianity to a small group of Seventh-day Adventists condemning worshipping on Sunday. 
First presentation of evidence for Adventist Apologists is open for anyone now....please send in your position comments now.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Celebrating the First Ten Years

The first decade of living and worshipping with mainstream Christianity is now behind us and life after Adventism deserves some honest reflection and even a celebration. Though we had been harboring doubts for decades before our official resignation letter, we didn’t really plunge full-hearted into the complete body of Christ, in all its various denominations, until 2001. 
But when we plunged, we plunged with gusto and embraced all the wonderful Christians out there by visiting every mainstream Christians church we could fit into a week. With careful planning often we could get to three different services on Sunday and at least one Wednesday night. There were even services on Saturday evening at some churches. We spent eight years worshipping and researching every denomination from Assemblies of God (Pentecostal), Disciples of Christ, Methodist, Lutheran, Calvinist--and all their different liberal and conservative branches to Anglican, Orthodox and Catholic. It was gloriously freeing!
What an adventure it has been! Even referring to ourselves as “former SDA” seems alien now since today our life as Adventists seems a blurry distant dream.
Yesterday, Arthur and had a conversation about life after Adventism that I would like to share with those of you who are thinking about leaving or have left. I pray you will follow God’s faith journey and will find true peace and joy. I tried to type the conversation as close as it was to being actually said. Sorry about the grammar and stream-of-consciousness.
Extravagant Transformation
We asked each other a pyramid of five questions, starting with the bottom up. Here are our answers. In the past decade since leaving Adventism: 
How has your relationship to other Christians changed?
 Arthur: There isn’t that us against them attitude we all experienced in the Adventist culture. There is no more fear of those who go to church on Sunday. And I think I was shocked to find out that non-Adventists didn’t really care about us. Nobody was focusing on Adventists, planning our demise. No one else in mainstream Christianity has the remnant-hood complex. Lutherans accept Methodists and Presbyterians don’t look at Baptists like they are lost. They have their differences, but they are all accepting of each other as real Christians. There is no paranoia. 
There is freedom to love without fear. There is freedom to have vehement disagreements and still love each other. 
Teresa: I just love that now I can feel in unity with my brothers and sisters in Christ in all churches. There is no more elitism or pride. The freedom I feel is so wonderful because now I don’t have this subconscious fear and judgmentalism against other Christians. If they go to church on Saturday or Sunday or any day of the week, I know God is pleased. He wants our worship any day, anytime. No more lines in the sand.

And the weird thing is as liberal as we are now--we drink wine and I wear jewelry, we dance together and you occasionally have a cigar, we are much more conservative than we ever were! Even though we are relaxed in our faith, we understand the horrors of what is truly sin much clearer than before. Now we know that real sin is about hurting others and failing to love. It is not about drinking coffee or coke. The New Covenant doesn’t have things like “touch not this or that.” In the New Covenant those are man-made traditions. Knowing what is actually sin--what God requires of us--is so much more clear and merciful now. And that makes my relationship to other Christians based on love and not fear. 
Arthur: Going to church... I just didn’t do it after leaving my parents’ house. I was a SDA atheist really. Church to me had been a confusing weaving and bolstering of remnant teachings. To me, it was much more than just what was said. It was this unspoken body gestures--eye brow raising--oh, you know, those unspoken threats of alienation and death if you didn’t do things their way. Now I feel like I have a very good healthy view of church. I went from the SDA plastic-kid’s-pool church to jumping into the Mariana Trench which is bottomless and deep--that type of church experience. 
Teresa: I guess I didn’t have that... because I always loved church. But I did notice, after leaving our Dallas First SDA church that when our family moved to Keene there was this strange Adventist subculture that was very different than the Adventism I had known. I also saw it in other predominately Adventist towns we have lived in. Adventists are afraid to have pain or admit their sufferings to others. There is this pretense of trying to look more together than others in a spiritual sense. To be honest I still see a little bit of that in other denominations, but it is really predominant in Adventism. 
In Keene, there is this need to be cool and if kids and leaders don’t reject Adventism all together and leave, then there is this contest to see if they can be “cool, edgy” about their beliefs. They make a big deal about rejecting certain old-fashioned beliefs--such as the Investigative Judgement and legalistic Sabbath keeping. They will eat shrimp in front of you, but they want to make sure everyone knows that they are still the remnant, just the hip, culturally-relevant and liberal SDA. 
Arthur: Yeah, that wasn’t me at all. A decade ago--I think I knew even as a kid that  Ellen White had a mental imbalance that was transferred to the entire church. I saw that they were trying to reach out and grab a piece of immortality by being the remnant. I think the whole church is still mentally ill--I think that even more so today as I look at them. Adventism creates crazy people or closet atheists who show up to church. Those are the ones trying not to be crazy. 

You become panicked because you know something is sick here, desperately wrong, but you can’t identify it. You hear all the arguments for Adventism and you walk away feeling like they outsmarted you, but you aren’t convinced. God is pulling you on the other side but you don’t know how to clearly articulate it.

Now the panic is over and there is no fear of their intimidation. I can love them confidently knowing the clear reasons I left. They can’t trip me up because I know scripture now and I know why I left.

I can tell you that any distance you get from Adventism you begin to experience peace and you will quickly see that their doctrines become non-issues in your Christian life. 
Adventism is like a narcotic high, you know,-- being the “chosen remnant.” It is a kind of a psychotic paranoia. Once the narcotics wear off you can see clearly and that locked room of logic is opened up and fresh air gets in and you clean it out..... and then peace.

Adventism made me anti-church before, for a long time I was a religious anarchist. But today going to mass, I cannot wait! Celebrating the Eucharist (the Lord’s Supper) means I am perfect, I am forgiven! Before going to church was about a good sermon, which for me were always boring, or about socializing and I didn’t particularly want to socialize with Adventists. Now the focus is totally on Christ, we celebrate Christ’s death and resurrection that saved mankind. Now it is about the power of the Cross. Church isn’t play to me now. 
Leaving the SDA church, it turns out Ellen White’s predictions were the opposite. Instead of leaving the truth and then giving up sabbath and then becoming atheist, I was an Adventist who found out the doctrines were crazy, found out that Christ is our Sabbath and we live in it everyday when we are in Christ. It made me ecstatic--it made sense. That you could read the Bible and believe what it said. You didn’t have to read the Bible and then do all this conjuring in order to make it make sense. So it was the complete opposite. I went to Christ leaving Adventism. 

How has your relationship with your extended family changed? 
Arthur: All spiritual conversations have ceased with my Adventist family and friends. There is this 800 lbs. spiritual gorilla in the room. They don’t want to get into any discussions about us leaving because they don’t know how to defend what they believe in. Adventists aren’t trained to be apologists.  
It is cold and distant. I feel like anything we do out of love for them is inspected, they are suspicious that we are trying to proselytize them. 
It’s hard because we do not relate to them, there is so much change. It has been exhausting and shattering to go through all this change, but it is exhilarating too.
Teresa: My family wasn’t orthodox like your Arthur, so, I think even though they are hurt and can’t understand, we still talk. We just avoid talking about certain subjects.... We stick to something far less polemical---politics!  I do feel like you do. The changes we have been through--fundamental worldviews and theology.... It is so distancing and that it hard. We don’t think alike anymore.

How has your relationship with your children changed?
Arthur: It’s more relaxed. Before I wasn’t really a father--It was kind of a neutral position. I feel like a father now. I am able to love them now. 
Teresa: I don’t think my relationship with the kids has changed. They all left Adventism too and they are so glad for it. We left as a family and we now are so free. You have these awesome male-bonding nights where you go out with the boys (who are now men) and drink a glass of port and smoke a cigar and philosophize--a kind of Beem Inklings night, which I think is so amazing. I love to see how our whole family has grown and spiritually matured together. We have so much fun as a family now. I am not at all worried about our kids spiritually. It is so peaceful--no more paranoia of world events and coming persecution (no matter how peripheral it was in my thinking....). 
In a way, and our kids might never fully understand it, we are their heroes. We had the courage to get them out of all of that convoluted thinking. More than anything--that alone is worth all the trauma of the change. Our kids will not have to be confined to living a false belief. We led them out like Moses! 

How has your relationship with your spouse changed? 
Arthur: Only one word can describe it: miraculous. More than any other person on earth, that relationship has changed the most. This is where the difference going from Adventist to Catholic is the most dramatic. 
In Adventism I was taught that sex was a necessary evil, maybe something to “hee hee” about and feel guilty about. Catholicism celebrates sex and children and the unity of God the Trinity and men and women and children. God commanded us to go out and be fruitful and multiply. Marriage is good and children are good. 
There is a true intimacy that goes way beyond physical contact.
Sex is to marriage as the Eucharist is to the salvation of all mankind. It is declared through God throughout the universe. Sex was commanded, declared from the moment of creation, and the Eucharist (the Lord’s supper) is declared every time you go into mass. It is the living Christ. It is so counter cultural.

We are living in this culture of death that demonizes having sex the right way and having kids. The Lord violently punished Israel when they practiced the evil of the nations around them--and their culture of death. The SDA church is pro-choice and they make abortion an irrelevant issue. There seems to be no pity. In the end, they don’t really care about any non-SDAs because they are “out there--the unsaved.” Just proselytize them not for love but religious obligation.

Off topic, but I didn’t have a conversion experience until I rejected Adventism. And there would never, ever be any temptation to return. Absolutely none. It is not biblical. It is confusion and convoluted. Ellen White knew if you escaped you’d see how disturbed the SDA doctrine is. You can’t be brothers with other denominations because they would refute you by logic, the Bible and history and there would be no chance then you would return to the Adventist church. 
Teresa: Since we are drifting from the question and you already answered it better than I could, let’s go on to the final one: 

How has your relationship with God changed? 
Arthur: Well, I’m not afraid of science. I am not afraid to question anything about Him. The SDA church intimidated you into never questioning as if questioning the religion was dangerously playing with hell. Now I know God is omnipotent. Truth can be challenged, openly questioned. It is wonderfully freeing to question even the Bible and God. It is okay to question. There is logic in the Bible, God is logical. Adventism isn’t logical. 
My perfectionism is gone. Look at St. Peter’s mistakes in front of Christ himself! I always thought that if you were in the presence of Christ, you wouldn’t sin. Now I can admit my faults, repent  and ask forgiveness then grow from them. I don’t have any of that puritanical thinking that is in Adventism. If you are keeping rules for salvation you are not inclined to admit your are in pain. You have this idea that you should always say your happier and healthier than everyone else. Even if your bodies are healthier, (your spirit and mind aren’t.)
When I was Adventist I thought the idea of God was good. You know, it was a good idea on paper--like Santa Claus. Now I know God is a living-breathing eternal God that saves all men who chose Him. My heart has been opened up. It is an exciting way of thinking. God has gone from hard-hearted to a Lord who has poured out so many miracles on me--and I am like a sponge! Miracles and things I didn’t even know that I needed to know. He is a God of power now, a God I respect. He isn’t a good idea, He is the great I AM. 
Any final thoughts?
Arthur: There are no final thoughts. For the first time, there are just beginning thoughts. We’re allowed to think--no, we are expected to think. It is wonderful when we look at the things that Christ expected us to look at--not invented things. 
And something else:
People always go astray and mess up and people do good things. Don’t look at people. Look at the doctrines. Look at what the church stands for. Nobody is questioning whether Adventists are nice or not. There are lots of nice people who are willing to slit your throat because of their doctrine. Look at doctrine. 
Where does Adventist doctrine lead you to. To Daniel and Revelation, the health message, the sabbath. Everything about Catholicism leads you straight to Christ. 
Teresa: I am ready to never think about Adventism again. I don’t want to have a 20-year after-Adventism celebration. I want that whole way of thinking to disappear from my memory and I can ask “Adventism, what’s that?” But that is really not being thankful to God for where He has brought me. We were born into her for the purpose of glorifying God just like the blind man was born blind so that the world could see God’s miracle of healing. There was a purpose that we were taken through Adventism, but I am so so endlessly thankful that God gave us the grace to continue our faith journey into a fuller understanding of His salvation, His Cross and His Kingdom.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Reclaim Your Faith- Review of Doug Batchelor's Series

Reclaim Your Faith, live from Maryland, is Doug Batchelor's attempt to bring inactive SDAs back to church.

Actually, I love Doug Batchelor, even if I dislike his preaching style, his serpent-like hisssing of his "s's", his geriatic humor and I am convinced that his self-deprecating humor masks some serious arrogance issues, amen? Yet, I mean it genuinely when I say that watching him in his own fantasy world is endearing, like a little boy with pillowcase tied around his neck as a cape playing Superman.

SO: If you are a fan of Doug Batchelor and enjoy his speaking techniques, his humor, his style of preaching,

If you are an Adventist who believes in the doctrines of your church,

If you are an Adventist who has become bitter against God BECAUSE someone in the church hurt you,

If you are actually watching the Hope Channel and therefore, must be right on the edge of coming back anyway,

THEN you might think about coming back to church as you listen to this series.... The problem is that Doug either really doesn't understand why people leave or he has deliberately chosen only to address that very minute group that are already tipping towards the SDA side of the fence. Up front, he states that those who have doctrinal issues need to go to the SDA website and sign up for Bible study classes. He knows none of us are coming back, so he doesn't waste his time. Which is smart.

I am now about to finish the third sermon in the series and so far no one had mentioned this being a SDA production. There have been a couple references to Sabbath, and I must admit I fast forwarded during the music, so it is possible I missed something... But in general--no SDA specific sermon--only come back to Jesus.

It is extremely doubtful that anyone will return to the SDA church from this series who isn't already making their way back, and where Doug goes very wrong is in his trivialization of why people leave WHEN they leave because they have been hurt. He tells this story about a dementia-sick grampa who yells ugly words at a guest and compares that to why people leave. Is Doug really thinking that trivializing the trauma some Adventists go through with their church going to win them back? Doug needs to address the incest, the clerical sexual abuse, the abandonment issues kids have from absentee parents who gave all to their church, serious religious abuse... (there are some deeply wounded SDAs out there); if you really wanted them to come back BECAUSE they left on issues of interpersonal relationships then deal with the hard stuff....

The SDA church and its privately-owned affiliates are spending a ton of money to recapture wandering members. Unfortunately, Doug resembles an ER doctor tending a hemoragging car crash victim by an entertaining chorus of "put on a happy face" (with an occasional Adventist-appropriate body sway). This is just the wrong medical procedure.

So far, the series has only fought the departing with an emotional appeal. I suppose that will work for those who quit attending because of superficial emotions. Judging from the loud, defensive "amens" coming from the audience when Doug points out that we who left are angry, bitter at God or hurt over things such as music or money issues--I wonder if this isn't an elaborate show for them. Show the church members that we are really trying to get our lost ones back, without dealing with the issues that will actually get them to return.

This series is definately a kinder and gentler Doug Batchelor, carefully edited of all SDA references and doctrines, as if blurring the church's identity gives all of us formers spiritual amnesia. In the end, I should be glad that the SDA church isn't persuasive, logical nor intelligent in its call for us to return. Less pigs returning to their own vomit, I guess. However, I really wished that the church would tackle the real reason we leave.

Imagine if, instead of playing the spiritual heroes by conquering their own designed strawmen, they would courageously dialogue and listen to former Adventists? Imagine if they would be open to hearing a pure Biblical message untainted with Ellen White and see us who now live in Christ's freedom.


Now I am playing in my own fantasy world. So, I will keep praying and hope....