Tuesday, February 14, 2012

To Leave or Not To Leave, That is the Question

For years people have assumed that I want Adventists to leave their church. Well, yes and no.

More than anything I just want people to follow Christ. There are many Adventists who are called to leave and it is extremely difficult for them. They are plagued by fears of deception and of going to church on Sunday, and if you are an former SDA you won't need me to list out the other fears placed in you by Ellen White.

If you are called to leave Adventism, I wrote a book for you to help ease the transition out. I did it out of love because leaving was for me a very traumatic experience. I loved being an Adventist. My Adventism was like living in an episode of "Leave it to Beaver" or "Andy Griffith." My Adventism had been sweet and innocent, comfortable. Sabbath, in my heart, had an ethereal glow from sunset to sunset and it was my favorite day of the week. It just seemed strange to give up such a good culture to walk into a culture that might have been more theologically correct, but a lot less sweet and comfortable.

For me, leaving Adventism was like walking from a sunny day into a cold, scary dark cave, and it took enormous amounts of courage. But I knew I was following Christ and He had my hand.

Our book, "It's Okay NOT to be a Seventh-day Adventist" was my way of helping those after me see a light at the end of the tunnel, to know that someone has gone before and made it through. A field guide to shine the light on those scary shadows in the cave that may make you run back into Adventism.

The other side is better, full of a joy and peace you didn't know existed. Knowing Christ, post Adventism, is like discovering a treasure beyond your wildest imagination.  You breathe differently, more fully, with ease. Things smell and taste better. You feel as if you were let go from a prison that you never knew you were in. It takes so much faith and courage to do that. Often people stay Adventist because they don't realize there is something so much better.

For those called out? Yes, I want them to be obedient to God and enter into a greater life of Christianity, united with the entire Body of Christ.

But I also think that there are some that God calls to stay in, not to defend Adventism but to bring her into a deeper understanding of the gospel.

It is kind of silly to send missionaries out to those who don't understand the gospel when you are smack dab born into one. Some Adventists are supposed to stay in as missionaries within Adventism. After all, the majority of SDA beliefs fall within Christian orthodoxy. They just need to see how a few of their doctrines are not biblical. What would happen if God removed all His people from within Adventism? That would be catastrophic for these wonderful people.

God is leaving a remnant of Adventists within its system to baby step them out of their erroneous doctrines into the light. Inch by inch we are seeing this happen. For the momentum is towards Biblical Christianity and the few who have not yet been liberated from SDA traditions are loudly reaching back towards the past trying to grasp onto the wrong doctrines to prevent any more movement. I think this historic Adventism leadership is temporary.

God has plans for Adventism, for their good and not evil. He isn't going to abandon them, but keep enough people inside to keep the gospel alive that they may grow into a healthier church.

Do I wish that a miracle would occur and instantaneously all SDAs could see the truth and we would all then become united as one Body of Christ, with no more suspicions and skepticism of other Christians? Of course yes, but love is patient....

As anxious as we former SDAs are to grab our family and friends and pull them into our joy, our liberty and show them the beauties of Jesus from outside Adventism, we must trust God in all things.

I know God in-sources SDA missionaries and we need to give them enormous support, (as long as they are not excusing disobedience to God calling them out!) for it has got to be terribly lonely in there.

So if you are one, I stand behind you. Don't see our ministry as against you but pulling for you.

However, I do think the vast majority of Adventists are called to leave, not stay in. While there are those given extraordinary skills to perform self-surgery, I think most of us need to out source our theological healing. We need the fullness of the Body of Christ to be healthy as Christians.