Friday, May 31, 2013

Reality Is Better....

Life was always frustrating for me on one level when I was Seventh-Day Adventist. Don't misunderstand, I had a very happy childhood and many things in the SDA were great. But certain things just didn't make sense growing up.

It's not that, as a youth reading my Bible, I was mature enough to compared it to my beliefs and think, "Hum, something is wrong here." That would come much later. No, it was more like a subtle realization that Adventism didn't connect with reality.

Adventism was like those little felts we would put up on the big blue board in school and Sabbath school as a kid. You remember, the dad and mother and sister and brother all going to church in nice clothes--the ladies in hats and gloves--everyone beaming with happiness. Adventism was trying so hard to be that little felt family. But it never got past the felt stage into reality.

I think back on all those Adventist pioneer stories--all the sunny, warm, miraculous stories--like of Ellen White holding up a Bible with the rays of the Lord shining down upon her. It was a world I longed to be in, so sweet and simple. That was God's world. Good, kind, merciful. The Aunt Sue and Uncle Dan world of happy endings around every corner.

Oh, how I wanted life to be that happy little model the SDA church placed in front of us. And I am sure the church tried--truly tried to be that little family! They disciplined themselves to be, they prayed and read EGW's writings of Adventist Home and didn't drink Coke and went to church because they wanted so much to be happy and sweet. They shunned the horrible world. They wanted to isolate themselves, so they wouldn't be stained with drugs, rock and roll, premarital sex and Sunday worship. 

What I saw growing up as an Adventist in the 1960's and 1970's in Texas was that a few adults did a pretty good job of that sweet facade. The Dallas First SDA Church was really full of wonderful people. But SDA teenagers and young adults and some adults themselves? That was different. I saw unhappy, confused, drug-addicted, sexually and religiously abused and suicidal--in a word, "wounded"--kids. 

(There was great relief among the leaders that, even though, their kids fell to the culture with drugs, rock and roll and premarital sex--thank GOD that they were spared attending church on Sunday. Whew! Their lives might be catastrophic failures, but they were sabbatarians. That comforted them.)

Scratch just below that surface of SDA piety and you find failing people who had no idea why their lives weren't sweet and simple, like the SDA model they were taught. They were desperately doing everything right and the more they tried the less they could maintain that appearance. It was so hard to watch, very painful. That is why I write so much about the situation. Because I know how hard Adventists try and how they suffer when they fail.

I can't address everything here, but I would like to make three points:

Wrong Premise

Nagging your spouse or kids to dress for church and showing up looking the part isn't really what you wanted deep down. You wanted the happiness you saw in the little felt-family promise.

Know this: You can never get to where you desire to go by using the wrong road. Adventists may have a legitimate map (the Bible) but they use the Ellen White GPS to listen to instead of looking at the map.

Or another way of putting it: It's like trying to loose weight by not eating. The Adventist diet may work temporarily, but it starves you of the truth you need to be spiritually healthy and eventually you will break and run for the refrigerator. You need to eat of truth and you will be satisfied.

Adventists have constructed a false reality. They live in a world of their own fake history. They don't go to the "deceptive" real history to learn that Sabbath was never changed to Sunday. Constantine wasn't the bad guy they portray--neither were the Catholics for that matter. They carefully cut little snippets of history from their context and strew them together to make a history where they are the stars. That is what I felt intuitively growing up--that Adventists reality was not--real. I'm not just talking about hypocrisy, but unreality. Adventists have carefully constructed their own reality.

When Adventism fails and Adventists actually see that it fails, they blame themselves.

As if Adventism was a math formula. The algebraic equation is good, but you get a bunch of stupid people in there who aren't good at math--of course they never come up with the right answer. They just need to be better educated, practice more. Yet the formula itself is wrong. No matter how genius the mathematician you can't get a right answer with a wrong formula.

Adventists today still struggle using a false premise:

The SDA system of beliefs were and still are  being followed by lots of people unsuccessfully. The most sincere and wonderful orthodox Adventists were and are the most wounded by the system. The liberal Adventists who ignored the SDA doctrines were and are the most well adjusted and happy. The system is a failure, not the people.

They have been so deeply wired to believe everyone out there is going to one day persecute them, they are so entrenched in a paranoid future, that they cannot see through the dark to even know how to get to the light. Or they have been taught the darkness is light.

Getting to the Felt-Family Promise

If it is possible, and I think it is to a point, to get to the warm and sweet happy family, you have to take the right road. And you have to put away error and go towards the truth.

Adventists need to quit isolating themselves from truth. Read mainstream Christian (and secular) writings without the filter of prejudice. Don't assume the authors are deceived or trying to deceive you. Trust other Christians and humble yourself to listen and learn from them. Cling to the clear promises of faith that God will not allow His children to be deceived. He is a good shepherd and will come after His children if they stray. Find the affirming texts of Jesus words and step out in faith.

Engage the world. While Jesus tells us not to be like the world, we are to be a light to it. Take responsibility for the world and don't isolate yourself from it. Don't be consumed with pride and fear of others. 

Listen to non-SDA sermons and find out what Christians have always believed the gospel to be. Read early Christian literature. (It's easy, type in "church fathers" in your search engine online.) Search for the kingdom above anything else in your life. Keep searching until it makes sense. Really. That the gospel you believe fits into reality.

Sainthood isn't going to look exactly like what you were taught

Life is messy. Life doesn't come in a nice little package. Because of sin, our earthly experience will always be fraught with struggles with temptation, relationship struggles, physical and emotional struggles. Jesus didn't say to pick up our Bibles and follow Him to church to sit on a comfy pew and listen to an inspiring sermon. He said, "take up your cross and follow me." Where did Christ's cross lead Him? Well, that's where you're going. He is asking us to do the same. We are to die to self and live for Him. That is a miracle He is asking but He must do it and He will. We must get on our knees and ask Him, over and over--daily.

We can become like Christ. Our life can be full of sweet and warm wonders, but we must be willing to go through mystery and cold shadows we do not recognize first--when we follow Him. Not everything He asks us to do is comfortable. Some things are shocking and hard. Picking up a book and reading about the early church and how they did not believe in soul sleep or keeping Sabbath--now that was truly scary for me. It did't feel comfortable or warm and sweet. It felt like a loud siren of "deception, deception, deception... step away from the book!" But all those studies I did eventually made reality and my beliefs align.

Sometimes God calls us to even re-educate our conscience. (It's not infallible, you know.) Sometimes our consciences need to learn and grow in the Lord. That is hard to believe when we have always been told our conscience is God. (Jiminy Cricket told us so: "And always let your conscience be your guide.) Have the courage to follow what you know to be true, even if it scares you to death. And that may mean taking a sip of Dr. Pepper or even.... (wait for it).... wine. Or even dancing with your spouse or going to a Friday night baseball game or neighborhood cook out. 

There are sins. However, Adventists often don't know what they are! Find out. And don't be muzzled into slavishly following rules that have nothing to do with sin--like not eating out on Saturday.

Walk in faith is a walk sometimes in the dark, but always with God holding your hand.

Seek Christ outside the Ellen White GPS. Follow Christ through that messy, uncomfortable world of reality and truth.

I did. Now reality matches my beliefs. It has given me enormous relief. No more cognitive dissonance. Now I truly see my family becoming that warm, sweet family promised by the little felts. The picture is a little different though. Now, with Christ, that family is a family of spiritual warriors, saints in the making. Wise. Strong. Courageous. Overcomers. Not from shunning the world, but by receiving the grace of courage to confront the world with loving, merciful truth. 


That truth is Christ. I am no longer being disappointed. I quit living inside a world that could only bring disillusionment. I see reality and it may not be what I expected, but it is.... wonderful!


Arik said...

Funny thing, thirty years ago my wife was a Catholic, she looked around and also saw sexually and religiously abused,-in a word "wounded" children, still sees the same today.

Seems to me your expectations is what was not grounded in reality. On one hand you paint all of Adventism as failing because the Aunt Sue and Uncle Dan didn't bring "happy endings around every corner," but life in Catholicism you understand "Life is messy. Life doesn't come in a nice little package. Because of sin, our earthly experience will always be fraught with struggles with temptation, relationship struggles, physical and emotional struggles."

To be quite honest with you I am simply not interested about what other Christians are saying about the Gospel, for that is where the church made its biggest mistake. Listening to mere uninspired men's (church father's) opinions and allegories of Scripture is what corrupted the church. Do you not think Scripture alone is sufficient to understand the Gospel?

Picking up Scripture and reading Paul who said the church would experience a falling away and wolves would enter into the church not sparing the flock sounds more like a "loud siren" to me. So when I read your church father's and how they conflict with Scripture and with each other I think of Paul and his warning of deception, deception, deception!

And what history is Adventism closing it's eyes to? Conatantine? who used the power of the state to compel men to worship against the dictates of their conscience? What Gospel does that? And while we are at it please feel free to show where the Scripture condones the use of torture and murder to compel men to follow it? No, it's not Adventism that has it's head in the sand.

I am glad your wine drinking and Friday night dancing has brought you your felt board paradise, but Paul is clear as to what sin is, it is the trangression of His law. The Catechism is very clear also, the Ten Commandments are still binding and obligatory, and since I see no Scriptural command to keep Sunday Holy, (please feel free provide me with evidence to the contrary) and history and your church make no mistake that Sunday sacredness came by way of the "church" well after Jesus lived on earth and the Apostles died, than I have no problem with concluding the Decalogue as given at Sinai is still in force and still defines what sin is. After all Paul did say the law was holy, just and good, same as Jesus. And I want to be like Him, Don't you?

Teresa Beem said...

You seemed determined to always miss my point. I know you are angry. I'm sorry my opinions irritate you. All I can say is that I have the best of intentions for you and all Adventists. God bless you Arik. May we, as brothers in Christ, have the courage to pray for unifying grace within the light of truth.

Arik said...

"Adventists have constructed a false reality. They live in a world of their own fake history. They don't go to the "deceptive" real history to learn that Sabbath was never changed to Sunday. Constantine wasn't the bad guy they portray..."-Teresa

In your book "Its ok NOT to be a Seventh Day Adventist" you quote Ignatius as saying "Be not deceved with strange doctrines nor with old fables,which are unprofitable. If we still live according to the Jewish law, we acknoweledge that we have not received longer observing the Sabbath, but living in the observance of the Lord's day...let every friend of Christ keep the Lord's day as a festival, the ressurection day." pg. 193.

The problem with this fragmentary quote is that it is not accurate and can not be used to introduce evidence of worshipping on Sunday. In the Epistle to the Magnesians the word for "day" is completely absent from the Greek text. The more accurate translation would be "Lord's life" which is much more consitent with the context of his letter. Also the original epistle does not include "let every friend of Christ keep the Lord's day as a festival, the resurrection day." You have run two translations together, the letter you quote from, which I consider a forgery actually states "And after the observance of the Sabbath,let every friend of Christ keep the Lord's day as a festival, the resurrection day, the queen and chief of all the days."

It is not Adventist that is closing their eyes to history.

Teresa Beem said...


Marcos and I have already had this discussions. It's in the comment section of this series:

I think it is thoroughly dealt with there! God bless.

Arik said...

"Constantine wasn't the bad guy they portray..."-Teresa

Constantine most assuredly was the first to bring into existence the almagamation of church and state, a concept not found in Scripture. His Sunday legislation was not merely to "give everyone of every religion.....a mandatory day off" Its Ok NOT to be a Seventh Day Adventist" pg. 206. You said it well: "he gave a civil law to a church tradition." Ibid.,206.

This is what make his reign so egregious to true Christianity. It is a fact that religious liberty and true faith are mutually dependent upon one another. To restrict and/or to compel religious liberty threatens or restricts truth itself. Truth unfolds to the one who lives and walks by faith. If we are prevented from seeking where it will, when it is demanded that the individual conform to certain religious doctrines or practices, no true spiritual grown can occur.

Those that are in harmony with the government of God will never coerce the will of another to achieve their ends. God's way is to "draw all ment to Himself (Jeremiah 31:3, John 12:32) to receive us (Luke 18:17). When we choose Him (Joshua 24:15) tp turn unto Him (Matthew 11:28) we may do so "freely" (Revelation 22:17). His way and methods allow only for freedom of choice!

BTW persecution did not end with Constantine now that he "converted". His church and state almagamation set up the church, who was the persecuted, to be the persecutor. Jews and those considered non Christians were persecuted by the church. That's a fact.

EGW was absolutely correct "Compelling power is found only under Satan's government." Desire of Ages pg 759.

For more information refer to AD 538 Source Book by Heidi Heiks

Teresa Beem said...

Israel was a theocracy that blended both church and state. That is biblical.

Constantine didn't coerce Christians to worship on Sunday. Since the majority of his kingdom including pagans and Christians had a special day of celebration on Sunday, he gave everyone the day off. He didn't make them worship that day. It was a day off from work. It was with a later Emperor that made Christianity the state religion.

The Romans had a history of persecuting the Jews and the Christians. Once the Christian persecution ceased, the Jewish persecution continued on occasion.

Please be aware though Arik, that the Reformers had no such idea of a separation of church and state. Luther made the state God and Calvin started a theocracy in Geneva.

Luther and Calvin and the early Anabaptist movement did not believe in freedom of conscience in religion. They killed their theological enemies with the same vengeance that is always attributed to the Catholics.

Arik said...

Israel was a theocracy set up by God Himself, this theocracy ended in the first century with the dispensation of the Gospel to the Gentiles. It has no bearing on our discussion unless of course you are promoting a theocracy today!? A non Biblical idea under Christianity.

It is a very curious fact I find in your book. Capter 12 "Sabbath History" you give all this credence to your church fathers such as Ignatius, the Didache, the Letter of Barnabus, Ante-Nicene Fathers etc. to promote your idea of worshiping on the Lord's Day [Sunday]. Yet when it comes to Eusebius you recognize he did say "enjoined on all the subjects of the Roman Empire to observe the Lord's day, as a day of rest" (pg. 206 [no reference given]. And again on pg. 208 you recognize Eusebius' statement, again no referance given, "And all things whatsoever that it was the duty to do on the Sabbath, these we have transferred to the Lord's day," And you write this off as "simply his personal opinion." It is astounding to me how you will not look at history objectively, Constantine under the influence of Eusebius created a union of church and state, something that is not Biblical. It was much more than just a mere day off, it was a holy day created to venerate the day of the sun!

It was not long after that persecution rose again, this time by the very church-state union. This is undeniable. There is nothing new under the sun Tresa, it is not Adventist who are keeping their head in the sand regarding history, thats a fact.

Why mention the reformers? Isn't Scripture enough?

Teresa Beem said...


You said church and state isn't Biblical.

I showed you that God set up a church-state in Israel. So it is Biblical and one day God is going to set up a church-state under Iron rule.

You then write, "It has no bearing on our discussion unless of course you are promoting a theocracy today!? A non Biblical idea under Christianity".

I was merely pointing out that what you stated is in error. If it had no bearing on the subject then why did you introduce it?

Sunday was a day off for the Roman Empire. It might have been a day of rest for citizens but it wasn't a coerced day of worship. Since I don't have my book handy at the moment I will have to assume you are correctly stating what I wrote. I can't remember Eusebius writing that though. Will get back to you when I find a moment to get a copy of my book. I think I might still have a copy around.

However, nonetheless, Christians had always worshipped on Sunday since the beginning. The Bible tells us that in Acts 2:46. Constantine didn't change the Sabbath, he merely allowed Christians to attend worship then.

The idea of a "day" of worship was not really something Jews or Christians understood for many centuries because God's people worship daily.

Blessings to you Arik!

Anonymous said...

It is very hard for me to understand why it's hard for people to understand why Catholics worship God everyday. It's even harder for me to understand why would people have an issue with Christians wanting to worship on the day Jesus rose from the dead giving us eternal life. It is even harder for me to understand why would people think God would be mad and send Christians to hell because we worship Him everyday or only on Sundays. I guess its one of the things I would never understand. It makes me sad that people who love God as much sda's do would believe that God would have an issue with Christians worshipping Him everyday.

Arik said...

Teresa worshipping God on any given day is not the issue. We can and should worship Him every day, See how you entirely change the context? Acts 2:46 says not a thing about worshipping on Sunday, and can not be used to justify any veneration of the day of the sun.

I never said "Contantine changed the Sabbath" he couldn't do that if he wanted, beside at the time of Constantine, the Sabbath was still being kept. Have you even read the law? It most certainly was a coerced day of worship. It commanded "Judges, town people, and occupation of all trades" (except agriculture) to "REST on the venerable day of the sun." The rest is commanded to specifically venerate (reverence, esteeme, honor [all religious connotations] Sunday.

The simple matter of fact is I do not see Jesus or the apostles advocating for civil law to mandate any day whether it be Sabbath or Sunday to be venerated, or even as a day off, as you insist this religious law was. If you were true to history, instead of ignoring the facts, or simply writing facts off as "opinion" or down right deleting them as you did with Eusebius, it would be clear to you this union always results in persecution. Hasn't the church learned anything?

BTW your false translation and omission of Ignatius' letter has not been addressed by the link you gave me.

Arik said...

Anonymous I think you misunderstand, the issue certainly is not merely what day to worship God, we should and do worship Him everyday. The question is are we going to obey God (by grace through faith) and keep His law, including the 4th commandment, to cease from our works as God did from His since the foundation of the world? The Sabbath is a symbol of entering into His rest. The Sabbath itself does not bring the rest, that comes from God, and we can enter this rest any day, Sun-Sat.

The real problem I have is Catholic "apologist" such as Teresa, who lack integrity by not admitting that the church changed the law of God. Case in point:

The Catechism is very explicit that the decalogue has not been abolished (2053) is still binding and obligatory (2068) . Jesus acknowledged the Ten Commandments (2054), Required in the love of God and neighbor (2067), Interpreted in light of the commandment of love, the fulness of the law (2055), Not to be confused with the commanmdents written by Moses (2056). All of which agrees very much with Adventism. And when I look in Scripture I also see the Decalogue as still binding and I see the 4th commandment unchanged. But then the Catechism shows instead of the 4th commandment to keep the 7th Day holy, I see the 3rd commandment to venerate the day of the sun. It does not take a rocket scientist to correctly observe that somewhere in history the 4th commandment was changed to the 3rd. For surely not one mention of it is in Scripture. How can Catholic's such as Teresa maintain the church "didn't change the Sabbath?" Well that is easy, by not being true to Scripture, true to historical facts and true to the teaching of her own church.

"The idea of a "day" of worship was not really something Jews or Christians understood for many centuries because God's people worship daily."-Teresa

From your book "It's OK NOT to be a SDA" pg 205: "Overwhelming historical evidence establishes that the first 300 years after Christ died and before the reign of Constantine the church did in fact keep Sunday as a day of worship."

Anonymous said...

Arik, when you say that you worship God everyday then bring up the 4th commandment to prove your point seems to contradict yourself. Your issue is what day other Christians worship on and I know u will say it's God's law, which I agree with. I'm sure I do not have to tell you that 9 of the 10 commandments are mentioned and the Sabbath command is not. Instead Jesus took over the Sabbath and rose on the first day of the week giving Christians new light. Now I have not read all of your responses but I see you say Teresa ignored historical facts but I must have missed where you listed your evidence for Sabbath keeping after the resurrection. I'm sure some non Christian Jews and others where still keeping Sabbath but I'm interested in facts for Christians keeping Sabbath and understanding Sabbath as the seal of God. I have read Teresa's evidence from early church fathers that you seem to have discredited.

I have taken an interest in the history of the SDA church and it is somewhat confusing and very hard to understand, so please forgive me if I'm not making much sense. You and Teresa some to communicate often and I really can't keep up with all thant is being said.

Teresa Beem said...


Seventh-day Adventist were begun by a small group of illiterate New Englanders who had been a part of a failing prophecy about the world ending in 1844.

They have three distinctive doctrines that keep them from being mainstream Christians. These two doctrines were given authority because of the SDA visionary/prophetess Ellen White. If it weren't for her visions, these ideas would have been utterly dismissed as unbiblical, unhistorical and frankly, bizarre.

1. They believe their little group was given a message by God to go into the world to preach the "everlasting gospel" (a new gospel in that it adds to what Christ and the Apostles). It is basically that in 1844 Christ started judgment in heaven.

2. The Jewish seventh-day Sabbath is going to be the last day test of true Christianity. If you aren't worshipping on Sabbath, and you are worshipping on Sunday you will receive the Mark of the Beast and cannot go to heaven.

3. The SDA church is going to be hunted down in the last days, tortured and martyred for keeping the Sabbath by Catholics and Protestants.

This is the very basics. Again, they read the scriptures through Ellen White's and their other founder's interpretation. Because Ellen White had visions, they take this as God giving her the authority to interpret scripture and add new prophecies.

Teresa Beem said...

Having written that, Adventists themselves are really great people. They are sincere in their faith and follow what they have been sincerely taught. The dilemma about Adventists is that they are taught that everyone who isn't SDA are deceived and/or deceivers, so they are fearful of listening to anyone outside their group. They don't trust them, so they have a huge impediment to judging reality. It is frustrating. Most Christians just allow them to live in their own world, kinda like little Christian pets. Pat them on the head and just let them think what they want. To me that is disrespectful. They need to know truth. God doesn't have second class Christians. He wants all of them to know truth. Everyone deserves that.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your comment Teresa. I noted everything you said. You are right when you say we shouldn't allow other fellow Christians stay in darkness. I can't believe the SDA church was built off of a false prophecy from William Miller. I never knew much about him until I came across your site and read a little about him. I couldn't read your notes on the side of your site so I did some internet searches.

Arik said...


Maybe we have different understandings of worship. Worship is simply devotion of which is something that we should do everyday with all that we do. To recognize the Sabbath as a special day of devotion, one that we rest from our own works just as God did from His, is not contradictory.

I would be very careful in searching the Scriptures of the NT for the an "explicit command" to keep the Sabbath. This is your paradigm being injected into Scripture. Jesus did much better than just simply repeat the command to keep the Sabbath holy, He showed by His example what the Sabbath meant and showed how it is to be kept (even the Catechism recognizes this point-2072,2173). Strange to go through the threat of death to restore the Sabbath if within a few years it was going to be obselote. And what about Hebrews 4? The author speaking particularly about the Sabbath rest that remains, never once links it to Jesus fulfilling it or Jesus' resurrection or Jesus' death(a perfect opportunity) but instaed links it to the rest of God at creation, of which the Sabbath commemorates. If you are going to insist on an explicit command than I think you should be fair and put the same standard of proof for Sunday being a holy day or your 3rd commandment. Jesus says "if you love me keep my commandments" and I look in Scripture and I see no command (explicit or implicit) to keep Sunday as a holy day. What I do see is that the Ten commandments have not been obolished (2053), are still binding and obligatory (2068), are to be interpreted as love (2055,2067), and not to be confused with the laws handwritten by Moses (2058). I look in Scripture and see no command to keep Sunday holy, not one mention of the Sabbath no longer being binding. So the evidence is there, if we let Scripture speak for itself, and not church fathers heavily influenced by pagan philosophy.

I would be careful in using Teresa as a source for historical facts. I have already shown where she has omitted facts and contradicted herself. Truth is when I read her I think of Matthew 5:11-12 "Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My they persecuted the prophets who were before you." If EGW was a true prophet, I would expect all manner of evil to be spoken against her, and if I judge her on all manner of evil spoken against her, I certainly would come to the conclusion she was a false prophet. So she can not be judged by what people say, she must be judged according to Scripture!

Anonymous said...

I'm a SDA pastor's son and I'm with you on SDA's disconnection to reality. In my own search for truth, I obtained an engineering degree and also realized that whole point of religion for most people is to make real life feel easier to bear. We are bound to face disappointment, hardship in family life and life in general, but SDA claimed to have a formula for the perfect family and life, through isolation, changing your personality, diet and behaviors.

I found more comfort in believing life is gonna sucks sometimes but with the knowledge of Jesus loves me, it is bearable. The message of the religion should always be about Jesus, not some prophecies about you somehow being a martyr.

EGW was a fearmonger, creator of a universe where everyone who don't listen to her will prosecute you, where the battle between good and evil hinges on your every moves, and your character and deeds will be recorded by angels and judged by her very high standards.

I have seen many messed up things in SDA churches. They are probably on par with the average messed up level in world religions. =) The author of this post articulated it better than I can ever did.