Saturday, June 1, 2013

The Last Sentence of "It's Okay NOT to be a Seventh-day Adventist

The last sentence of my book was going to read, "If you love the Lord and know the authentic gospel then it's okay to be a Seventh-day Adventists but it is also okay not to be a Seventh-day Adventist." 

Christian publishers, editors and friends all told me to take that out. No, they firmly insisted, it is not okay to be a Seventh-day Adventist. I finally caved on that one and now it reads only that it's okay not to be a Seventh-day Adventist. 

But that is the only place I caved. 

Sometimes I want to laugh to keep from crying with ironic laughter. 

When publishing our book, I had to hold firm to my convictions and for that I ended up not being published by some pretty big Christian publishing firms. 

The top American Christian Literary Agent took on my book. He didn't think it had a prayer of being picked up because it was too accommodating of Adventist doctrine.

He pitched the book to many top publishers and I repeatedly was turned down because I was being too politically correct or "nice." Those who were willing to publish it wanted it to be much more controversial. 

All of them said the book was unbelievably sweet and generous in tone. (And that was the problem.) It's weird to hear so many Adventists call the book bitter and mean-spirited. Goes to show you that you will hear it read in your mind the way you think the author wrote it. Adventists assume I am upset so they read it with Cruella DeVille evilness.  (Ahhhhaaahaaahaa!! I throw back my head and think about puppy fur coats!)

Christian publishers read it as if I was Joel Olsteen when they wanted a Dr. James White! (Rrrrrrr....)

One of the largest Christian Publishers wanted me to adjust the book to their "cult" section model so that the book could easily fit into their religious sect sections along with Mormonism, Christian Science, Jehovah's Witness, etc. 

A cult? Don't know. Cult isn't a good word even if it is true because it means something so different to whoever hears it. People get faint when you use it because often they think "occult." I wasn't comfortable calling Adventism a cult.

So, two publishing agencies responded, "no thanks" because I was unwilling to re-write it with a more direct criticism against Adventism. I thought the book hit just right. Some Adventists need to know the gospel, and some are saved and have an authentic relationship with God.

You know, I have gotten in some huge trouble with pastors and associate pastors and Sunday School leaders for saying that. Many American Christians really believe Adventism is a dangerous cult and no one inside it's belief system is saved. And if you argue with them, you will be suspect and it will be assumed you don't know Jesus and the authentic gospel either. 

I find myself in a peculiar situation. Adventists are, understandably, angry at me for writing the book, former Adventists and fundamentalist Christians thinking I have caved on the gospel message for not writing the book stronger. 

Some formers just want me to be angry. I'm not. Never was. But I do understand their anger because I have heard the stories of many, many former Adventists and many of them have a great reason to be angry. I'd be angry too if I had to go through their lives. 

As many churches as I attended once I left Adventism, most of them treated me like I had a contagious disease when I told them I had been an Adventist. They wanted me to go through all kinds of theological purging: studies, re-baptism, laying on of hands. I even went to one Southern Baptist Church for years and I was treated with a polite distancing the whole time--because I had been, ya know... an (whispered) Seventh-day Adventist. 

One pastor even asked me if I had been part of the Waco incident with the Branch Dividians (I was from Keene, Texas--and David Koresh was an Adventists).

And the other Christians: the non-fundamentalists such as Anglicans, Lutherans, etc--Adventism doesn't even cause a blip on their radar and they don't care. Adventists? What's that?

If Adventists could only see how strongly I stand up for them when they are accused of silly things (mostly when they are confused with other sects). 

Most former Adventist need a clear line of who the bad guy and who the good guy is. Since I won't draw a line, neither team sees me on their side. 

I want unity among Christians, not division. Interaction will help bring truth to light. We need to keep talking, keep being respectful even if we don't agree doctrinally with each other. God's truth will win out with those of goodwill. 

I still think it's okay to be an SDA if you know Christ and the authentic gospel. God has us each on a journey of faith and perhaps He has Adventists in a pit stop at the moment. I trust His will for each of us who love to obey Him.


Arik said...

"It's weird to hear so many Adventists call the book bitter and mean-spirited. Goes to show you that you will hear it read in your mind the way you think the author wrote it." Teresa

The first time I challenged you about something you wrote in your book, where you took something EGW completely out of context, your response to me was almost the same. It was how you heard it in your mind.

Case in point: pg 92 & 93 you take EGW's writings on never saying you are saved out of context. Mainstream Protestantism is most guilty of the false doctrine "once saved, always saved." Their misunderstanding of justification (saved, born again) gives them a satisfied and false security thinking salvation is the experience of Paul in Romans 7. No real victory over sin, no real walking in the Spirit why should I, afterall I am saved, I am resting in a "satisfied condition" of not being "cleansed from all filthiness of flesh and spirit", thinking Christ will cover their sins "I need not keep the commandments of God."

Christians do not want to hear that though the Gospel is free, it is conditional! Every one of her statements that you quote has a qualifier in them such as "rest in a satisfied condition", "[not] being cleansed from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit" "in doing nothing", "I have nothing to do", no real understanding of what it means to receive Christ", "do not obey God's commandments".

This is another example of hearing what you want to hear instead of considering the context. And you ignore so many statements of EGW's about having assurance "in Christ".

"In Christ is life, original, unborrowed, underived. “He that hath the Son hath life.” 1 John 5:12. The divinity of Christ is the believer’s assurance of eternal life." The Faith I Live By" pg. 47.

Teresa Beem said...

I have never believed once saved always saved. But I do believe like Christ said, we can be assured. But that assurance is not infallible. God doesn't remove our freewill. Even under those conditions we can rest in Christ knowing that HE is faithful and we can trust HIM for our eternal life.

I studied all the EGW quotes about saying you are saved thoroughly and some of them are indeed as you said. They are simply saying that we cannot live willfully a life of sin and then flaunt it in front of God and demand that He save us. However, some of the texts do reflect the idea that until you are perfect, sinless, you cannot say you are saved.

While we shouldn't be presumptuous, we also cannot fall into the error of perfectionism either and White's quotes about salvation have the context of both.

Arik said...

I really like your response to me regarding this matter. I can see how you would think that the "idea" of "until you are perfect, sinless, you cannot say you are saved", even Adventist have read this "idea" into her writing. But taking context into consideration of these statements (satisfied condition, not being sanctified, once saved always saved) and coupled with the many statements she has made about having assurance of salvation in Christ, the evidence is clear that this "idea" is non existant. It is my opinion that those that suffer from this "idea" are those that have most likely suffered from a legalistic view of the Gospel.

What I think bothers me the most is that your explanation to me was not included in your book. No, you took this false "idea" and ran with it, painting a picture that Adventist are taught we can never have assurance of salvation in Christ. Nor did you include the many of EGW's statements available (like the one I provided) to give your readers a balanced view of what Adventist's believe regarding assurance of salvation. This is a perfect example of misreprentation! Jesus does not work this way. Like you said "reality is better."

Teresa Beem said...

I wrote in the book (granted it has been a decade since I was writing it, so I don't remember well) that Ellen writes so voluminously about so many subjects you can find what you want.

My point was that she did say many times that you cannot say "I am saved."

It is unnecessary to repeat to former Adventists what they already know. I am pointing out where she was wrong, not where she was right. Adventists already know that. Her errors need to be exposed.