Friday, November 8, 2013

Revelation Today 2013: Ron Halverson Speaker

When I attempt some  constructive criticism of Seventh-day Adventist televangelists usually these men are within a decade or so of my age, so I don't feel my critique is disrespectful to an elder. But this year, I am cringing because Revelation Today, the  annual Seventh-day Adventist seminar for proselytizing,  is being performed by Pastor Ron Halvorsen. (I wince.) 

Pastor Ron was the pastor of the Keene Seventh-day Adventists Church in Texas when I grew up. We often drove from Dallas to the little Adventist town to see relatives and attend the yearly camp meetings.  

Keene was a scary place back then because it was so wild compared to Dallas. So it needed Pastor Halvorsen. I remember the scandal of the Keene SDA teenagers sitting up in the balcony gambling during his fiery sermons. I heard that once he stopped in mid sentence at the pulpit, stomped up there and confronted the kids! I kept up with whom his son was dating, because I planned on marrying a pastor (I was called to be a pastor's wife, I thought) and figured he was a prospect, a tall, tall prospect. (Ron, Jr is like six foot ten or something.) 

Then years later when my family moved to Keene so that we could all attend the Adventist college there, that same son, Pastor Ron Halvorsen, Jr., was my pastor.  I think the world of all the Halvorsens and wouldn't want in any way to insult them. So I am praying I can write this in a way that is not seen as disrespectful,  mean-spirited or personally critical. But it will, I am afraid. It's part of the pain of constructive criticism. It never seems constructive. 

Well… on to it and I pray I can write this as sweetly as I mean it. 

This year's Daniel and Revela-thon is being held in Charlotte, North Carolina and is basically the same old, same old. A few weeks of building up to tell us that: we soul-sleep after death, we are being judged investigatively  we need to worship on Sabbath and the mark of the beast is popery. And Adventists are all going to be persecuted for keeping the Sabbath by Catholics and Apostate Protestantism. 

[My family really tries to make it seem like the Adventist church is past its Ellen White last-day prophecies. But it's not.  These seminars prove it year after year.]

I know many Adventists sincerely believe their doctrines. They were weaned on them and are utterly convicted of them and are loyal to the deepest parts of their souls to this message. And they will go to their deaths believing the SDA message is solidly Biblical. But the message is founded upon false information. It is largely based from the mind of a young, uneducated woman who was in a accident and suffered "visions" as a result of a tragic head wound.
The SDA prophetess Ellen G. White twisted history and the Bible to fit what she thought she was being "shown" in visions by her accompanying angel. 

And Revelation Today is recycling these same old inaccuracies.

It is hard for me to understand how grown-ups can  blindly pass on historical fiction year after year. I am so embarrassed for them. It makes them look like cultists. I just don't get it. These men all seemed so much smarter and more holy than me! They were who I looked up to as a kid. And they, I pray, are just either completely blind to the inaccuracies of what they preach or they are, gulp…not brave enough to face the truth. But that turns my world upside down. They were my heroes! They are supposed to be teaching me these things. 

But for the sake of those who might really want to know the truth about the SDA yearly mantra of Daniel and Revelation prophecies, I will force myself to comment.

I hope that refuting a few of Elder Halvorsen's claims will be enough to prove the entire SDA theology suspect and unreliable. And to make certain this post isn't too long, I will be linking you to some answers rather than reposting them here.  

We'll deal with the Mark of the Beast, one of the last of this year's topics. 

To watch the video I am discussing, click here:
  • At minute 38 in the video, Pastor Halvorsen begins to identify the remnant of Revelation 12:17 as those who keep the commandments. (Spoiler alert: It will be the SDA church. Adventists teach that they alone are the remnant church.) 

This is wrong because Adventists really only teach one of the ten commandments: the fourth. I have never heard another Revelation Seminar dedicated to preaching that adultery, stealing, coveting or idolatry is a sin. They focus on one commandment. And notice the text says that the remnant are those who keep--not teach--the commandments. How many Adventists would admit they keep all ten commandments? The remnant keep them, not preach them. 

Also, the official SDA church's position on abortion is pro-choice and some of their  hospitals do abortions on demand. Therefore, they are exactly like all other churches they claim only keep nine of the ten. Because of the "thou shalt not murder" commandment (that would include abortion), Adventists cannot consider themselves a ten commandment preaching church.

At minute 45, Pastor Halvorsen refers to the Donation of Constantine which is a document known to be a hoax for centuries. Even if it were an authentic document, the mythical exchange wasn't even what the pastor presented it as. The Donation of Constantine didn't give Pope Sylvester rule over the empire, it was an honorific.  When Constantine died, he gave the empire over to his four sons. 

  • As always, much is made about the pope being called the "vicar of Christ." Which is simply used to show that the pope represents Christ. 
Here's a video that gives a short explanation of how Catholics see the church which might help Pastor Halvorsen understand why some of his accusations are false:

What we need to realize is what the word Christian means. In Antioch where followers of Christ were first called Christians, it was to mock them as being little Christs. Little Christs would be as much as a title of authority of Christ as vicar! We are in one sense all vicars (representatives) of Christ on earth.

  • Then Revelation 13: 3 prophecy that the "world wandered after the beast" was introduced (the papacy.) Can you show me when the entire world was following the papacy? Never. Christendom was only in the west. And please read history. The Vatican was always in a power struggle with the Catholic kings. They never had any real ubiquitous power. 

Then the SDA interpretation of Rev. 12:14, "times, time and half a time" as the beginning and end of papal rule. This 1260 day prophecy timeline of papal power supposedly began in 538. Yet, Pastor Halvorsen just "proved" the papacy was given power in 318 AD with the Donation of Constantine? So, which is it? Why would the fall of Rome two centuries later be when the papacy gained its power? And then the fatal "wound" was when Emperor Napoleon took the pope into captivity (1798). 

Yet why not choose the wounding of the papacy as the 14th century captivity of the popes in France? Why not choose the sack of Rome by Catholic Charles V in the 16th century or when the papal states were taken away in the 19th century? These were much bigger wounds to the Vatican than Napoleon's. The Vatican has been under siege many times and lost and won back its power. The use of Napoleon as the point where the papacy was "wounded to death" and the 1929 Concordat with  Mussolini as the definitive moment the wound was healed is simply picking out dates to make things fit SDA eschatology.  The pope lost power and land many times and it made concordats with many nations before WWII. These dates are forced and contrived.

  • Then Pastor Halvorsen perpetuated the myth that the Catholic Church killed 50 million people as heretics. (I don't blame the pastor, his sermon topics were already predetermined.)
  • The pastor attacked (as it has become almost obligatory)  the sacrament of confession to a priest.
Here's a bit of a rebuttal on that. Then came the idea that the pope believes himself to be God on earth and the attempt with some misunderstood quotes pulled from billions of words written by the popes. The pope claims to have the chair of Peter. The pope isn't God nor teaches that he is.

Were there a few popes (out of the 266 that have faithfully served God) that abused their power and acted as if they thought they were God? Maybe even written that way? Yes. But look to official titles, official theology. Pulling a few quotes from the ocean of written material by the popes and cardinals and priests to force a point that perhaps one isolated pope or priest or bishop thought the way the SDA's prophecy needed them to think…. is simply bad history.

That would be like a Catholic pulling a quote from Doug Batchelor reporting that the televangelists admits publicly that the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists went against scripture and promoted women's ordination. Or quoting Cliff Goldstein about evolution and then assigning his position to all Adventists. Bad form.
  •  As far as the pope's title "Vicar of the Son of God": 
The Latin, "Vicarius Fili Dei" is not and never has been an official title of the pope, nor is there any evidence that it was imprinted on a tiara. (All photographic evidence have proven to be hoaxed.) Yet, even if it had been an unofficial title, is that truly evidence that the pope is the antichrist? What is so amazing is that Pastor Halvorsen doesn't tell you that Ellen G. White's name adds up to 666 also! ELLen GoVLD VVhIte 50+50+5+50+500+5+5+1=666).
Vicarius Christi is one of the popes titles and it adds up to 214. So the SDA church has some real credibility problems here. Keep in mind that the antichrist isn't mentioned in Revelation. The number of the beast isn't directly related to the antichrist, that is a conflation of the two. In his letters, St. John warns that the antichrist denies that Jesus is the Christ. (I John 2: 22) and that Jesus if from God (I John 4:3) and that He came in the flesh (2 John 1:7). No pope I know of denied these things.

St. John also clearly says that the antichrist comes out of the true church. So if the antichrist comes from the Catholic church it would identify the Catholic Church as the true one. If the SDA church would like to think of itself as the true remnant church, then they would predict the antichrist comes out of it. (Perhaps being a former Adventist.)
  • One of the persistent claims by the Adventists is the idea that some pope or church decree changed the seventh-day Sabbath to the first day of the week. Completely false. The Catholic Church did not change the Sabbath to Sunday
Link: The official documentation. I would extend a challenge to my SDA friends about the supposed change of the Sabbath. And, here's a link the early church writings about the Sabbath and Sunday.
It is hard to watch people I love perpetuate distortions and mislead Christians. And do not be naive, Adventists target ignorant Catholics. They are not out there bringing the gospel message, they are trying to bring all  Christians into their church by convincing them that other churches haven't really been obedient to Christ and scripture. Every other church is Babylon. 
They alone are not apostate from truth. They twist history and scripture to convince other Christians that they are the true and only remnant. 

What is heartbreaking is that by their zealousness to confuse and mislead other Christians they break the commandment, "thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbors."

I hurt for the Halvorsens because I love them. I don't write that flippantly. Ron, Jr. has helped me out in ways he will never know. He is a good man.

Yet…. (despairing sigh) Pastor Halvorsen is  leading the children of God into error. This is a very, very serious situation, for God says it is better that a millstone be place upon the neck of one who leads the little ones astray. He is bearing false witness against his Catholic and Protestant neighbors.