This essay is written as an attempt to explain the recent changes in my life that have led to my rebaptism and separation from the Seventh Day Adventist Church. It is not in anger or resentment that this decision has been made, but with much study and prayer and a firm conviction that I have made the right decision. I have heard it said many times that when people leave Adventism they usually do it because of someone's unchristlike attitude, but I have learned that people are people and we are all sinners, including myself. I don't find that reason enough to leave a church. For every bad example of Christianity in the church there are several more people who are sincerely seeking to follow Christ.
It is also my responsibility to pray for and encourage those who would seek a closer walk with the Father, [Confess your faults one to another and pray one for another that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. James 5:16-17] and not to judge or belittle those that seem not to understand the life-changing love of God. [Judge not that ye be not judged. For with what judgement ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete it shall be measured to you again. Matthew 7:1-2] I only hope that God can use me to reach out to some of those who are indifferent to that great love, and yet think they know the fine points of the Bible. It is sad to know all about God and yet not know Him. [Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess to them, I never knew you; depart from me, ye that work iniquity. Matthew 7:23]
I was raised an Adventist. My parents joined the church when I was five years old and I always enjoyed Sabbath school and church. As a teenager I didn't join the others in the usual rebellion and for this reason soon got bored with the constant obsession my teachers seemed to have with things like forbidding movies, dancing, jewelry, and makeup. I accepted these things with a "God said it, I believe it" attitude, never suspecting that God didn't say it. I wanted to hear about salvation and how to get closer to God. These were not discussed. I was not the only one who was upset about this trend. I remember a group of about 25 of us walking out of youth camp meeting after the 3rd sermon in a row about the sinfulness of sex before marriage. It wasn't that we disagreed, but we were sick of constantly focusing on sin instead of learning about Christ.
The church gave me many things, including a love for truth and a curiosity for spiritual things. I thought it also gave me a knowledge of the Bible. I was complimented while very young that I knew the Bible very well for a child. I prided myself in being good at Bible trivia. I worked with the young people in the Pathfinder Club and taught Sabbath School at all ages. Nobody could say I didn't love my church, but I didn't realize how limited my understanding of God and His Word was. I went through Adventist schools, Home Study Institute, and Walla Walla College.
When I was in third grade I was baptized with several others. We learned the 27 doctrines and, since I had never heard any other view, accepted them unquestioningly. I wanted very much to be a Christian and I believed that Jesus loved me and had died for me. After my baptism, I was voted into membership like hundreds of other people I had seen join the church this way. Nobody had told me that wasn't Biblical. When I met my husband he went to my church a few times and the questions he raised made me unsure of why I was an Adventist. When he asked to be baptized but did not wish to join the church, our pastor told him that was not Biblical. I went home angry and confused and on looking in my Bible I found not one reference to being baptized into a denomination of any kind. Even so I asked several other Adventist pastors about it and received similar answers.
I began attending the New Life Celebration Church in Oregon. I hoped to get help sorting through the discrepancies that I kept finding between what I had learned and what the Bible said. I had been taught false theology at least in the area of baptism. Now I needed to reevaluate everything I believed. If I was taught wrong on one point, how could I know the rest was correct?
At New Life I began to experience worship for the first time. I had thought I knew how to worship. You go to a worship service, you sing the hymn, you kneel for the prayer and you sit quietly for the speaker. Personal worship was a devotional book, a prayer journal and some music. I didn't understand about raising hands or praising God as part of worship. I had no idea how to ascribe value to God in Worship.
In the church I was raised in, demonstrations of worship were unheard of, and the Holy Spirit was almost never mentioned except in condemning "those Pentecostals." I used sign language whenever we sang a hymn because I thought it was beautiful. But there were those who thought I was showing off, or dancing around, and one pastor's wife asked me to "at least sit in the back so visitors won't think we're Pentecostal or something."
At New Life there was an atmosphere of willingness to worship and to stand up for it against those who condemned it. They caught a lot of trouble from fellow Adventists and the official church about lifting their hands, even though there are over a dozen references teaching us to raise our hands. [Lift up your hands in the sanctuary. Ps. 134:2, ...when I lift up my hands toward thy holy oracle. Ps. 28:2, Also Ps. 63:4; 1 Tim 2:8]
I joined a worship dance troup and learned that worship is more than singing, praying, listening and raising my hands. It's spending time one-on-one with God - perhaps using my whole body in a living sacrifice to the King, or quietly sitting and listening to the prompting of the Holy Spirit.
The pastor at New Life Church also started me on my road toward understanding grace. He said that we are both justified and sanctified by grace and not works. I got encouragement from friends at New Life, but whenever I brought up an obvious discrepancy, they would point to Ellen White or make Adventist excuses about the church teaching or say it doesn't really matter anyway. I was frustrated with that and gave up asking questions of my Adventist friends. If you want to hear anything new, you have to go to a new source and I desperately needed a non-Adventist, Christian friend to help me with this sorting process. About 5 years later God sent her my way.
When God led a new friend into my life, I had already decided that the Adventist Church was probably not for me, but because of my belief that the Sabbath was the sign of God's remnant church, I was reluctant to go anywhere else. I felt trapped in a church that I didn't feel I belonged in. I shared these feelings with my friend and was overjoyed to find that she was not only sympathetic to my feelings but also very knowledgeable in the Bible. She had also been studying Adventist doctrine because she had once considered becoming one. She has spent 20 years in study and prayer and is convinced that Adventism is un-biblical. I was always under the impression that if you study long enough, you will become and Adventist. So I asked the obvious question, "How is it that you aren't Adventist?" The journey of Bible study that resulted from that question is what has solidified my decision to be baptized again, this time into Christ alone.
The first issue that must be dealt with is, who do we take as our source? I believe the Bible is the only credible source of doctrine. It is also necessary to have an exhaustive concordance because it will not only show you what is in the Bible but also what is not. Adventists frequently use the writing of Ellen G. White, so I began to compare her writings to the Bible.
Often as a child I was told that Ellen White knew things that modern science hadn't discovered yet, and now it was all being proven. But in Patriarchs and Prophets, chapter 8 and Spiritual Gifts p. 79 she says several things that any modern Geologist would laugh at: mountains formed by human bodies being blown into piles by the wind; limestone burning; large quantities of coal and oil ignited by water, burning with intense heat that causes earthquakes, volcanoes, and fiery issues.
There is also a certain arrogance that I find sickening. In 5 Testimonies p. 672-683 she clearly states that you must believe in her testimonies or you will fall away from Biblical truth. And again in 5 Testimonies p. 19-20 the arrogance shows. "To those who have taken the responsibility to reprove me and, in their finite judgment, to propose a way which appears wiser to them I repeat: I do not accept your efforts. Leave me with God and let Him teach me."
When others wanted her to leave them to God she said, in Spiritual Gifts p. 293, "If reproofs are given I dare not commit them alone to the individual to be buried up by them, but shall read what the Lord has seen fit to give me to those of experience in the church, and if the case demands, bring it before the whole church. The great delicacy which some have manifested lest others should learn that they have been reproved proceeds from a lack of humility and unwillingness to acknowledge their wrongs." Sounds like she can tell everyone about your wrongs, but you'd better not even question her. She has also ignored Christ's express instructions on how to deal with a brother or sister whom you believe has done wrong. [Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he will hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church; but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as a heathen man and a publican. Matthew 18:15-17] Instead, Ellen White wrote nine volumes of gossip.
In order for Ellen White to claim prophethood she must be 100% correct in every detail. [But the prophet which shall presume to speak a word in my name which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other gods, that prophet shall die, And if thou say in thy heart, `How shall we know the word which the Lord has spoken?' When the prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord has not spoken, but the prophet has spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him." Deut. 18:20-22. "if they speak not according to the law and the testimony (not Testimonies) it is because there is no light in them. Is. 8:20] If ONE thing that is prophesied does not come to pass then she is a false prophet. In 1882, on p.75 of Early Writings, she claims that she "saw that Old Jerusalem never would be built up." In her account of her first vision she states that she would be one of the 144,000 of Rev. chptr. 7, and on page 67 she states that "what we have been years learning, they (new believers) will have to learn in a few months." And on page 58 she again promises that Jesus will come in a matter of months, not years. Ellen White has long since passed on, and those new believers she spoke of have also. She told these people that Christ would return in their lifetime, also promising them that they would have the privileges of the 144,000. The Bible clearly states who the 144,000 will be and since the early Adventists were not Jews they do not qualify.
Proverbs 30:5-6 says do not add to God's word or God will prove you a liar. Rev. 22:18 also warns against adding to the prophecy of the book of Revelation. Time and again Ellen White and the church have added to God's Word concepts that are completely non-Biblical. Also in violation of Rev. 22:19 subtracting the idea of a lake of fire that is clearly stated in Rev. 20:9-10, 14-15, and in the much loved passage of Rev. 14:11, as part of the third angel's message.
So in light of these findings, I was forced to discredit Ellen White and take all my beliefs from the Bible and the Bible only. That is what I had been told our church believed anyway, "But God will have a people upon the earth to maintain the Bible and Bible only, as the standard of all doctrines and the basis of all reforms... Before accepting any doctrine or precept, we should demand a plain `thus saith the Lord' in it's support." GC 521 par. 3. This is what I have decided to do. But now I have had to go through my belief system and sort out the Bible from Ellen White, because there are so many major SDA doctrines that contradict scripture. This realization was scary and yet I realized that God was inviting me to really get to know Him and His word.
In the process of reevaluating my beliefs about grace I came head on to the Adventist's biggest doctrine, that of the Sabbath. I always treasured it as a much needed break and thanked God for giving it. But even as a child I wondered why nobody seemed to keep it Biblically. And though the Sabbath and the Passover are often mentioned in the Bible together or with identical instructions the Passover is not kept.
Also in connection with the law, I discovered that the investigative judgement is not biblical, but instead a cover up for the early Adventists who set a date for Christ's return, in spite of His words, "No man knows the day or the hour." (Matt. 24:36) They were disappointed and the church has been calling it the GREAT disappointment ever since. There is nothing great about it and it is nothing to be proud of! We should learn from their mistake. Adventists still focus on the numbers of Daniel 8:14 instead of Christ and His promise that we don't and won't know.
The other so called Christian principles are just as groundless. Take for instance Ellen White's inclusion of dance in the "heaven condemns them" list. [1 Test. 490, 515]. Compare that with Exodus 15:20, Jdgs. 11:34; 1 Sam. 18:6; 21:11; 29:5; 2 Sam. 6:14-23; 1 Chron. 15:27-29; Psalm 30:11; Psalm 149:3; 150:4; Eccl. 3:4; Jer. 31:4, 13; Lam. 5:15; and Luke 15:22-25 just to name a few. The Bible clearly does not condemn dance, and even commands it in worship.
Jewelry is another one. The most commonly used reference against it is 1 Tim. 2:9-10, which does not condemn jewelry, but commands women to make their priority beauty of spirit, not physical beauty. They fail to notice that the verses just before and after it command men to raise their hands in worship and women to remain silent in church. Neither of these commandments are obeyed in the Adventist church, Ellen White being a prime example.
Also the idea that your angel cannot follow you into the enemies territory. [1Test.p.360] It probably kept me out of a lot of trouble, but it also kept me out of service as a Christian. Salt that sits in the saltshaker is useless. When I was 17, I went to the roller rink which had always been forbidden. A young man asked me to skate with him. We skated a while and soon began to talk about God and he seemed very hungry for assurance that God loved him. We had a very nice time visiting and I really feel that God used me to reach him. I don't think I would have met him if I hadn't been in the enemy's territory. Not only my angel was there but Christ Himself was there because He promised never to leave or forsake us. Many times since, I have had similar experiences and have often wondered how Adventists can teach that and then teach their children to pray that Jesus will send His angels to be with the missionaries. If they aren't in enemy territory, then nobody is.
I feel betrayed because it is so obvious that I was intentionally deceived on several major points, some of which could have influenced my salvation. I Praise God that He can lead us out of traps if we are willing to follow Him even when it means going against the flow of everything that we have been taught. I am now free to focus on maintaining my relationship with God by spending time in worship and prayer. I no longer have to worry if I die with sin in my life that is yet unconquered, because God knows that my love for Him is sincere, and He is changing me in His own time. He is in control and I know I can trust Him with my salvation.
I also feel a certain urgency for you as the reader of this writing. Get your Bible out and don't accept anything unless it is clearly spelled out there. Also if you find yourself churchless after reading and studying this information, do not walk away from God as well. Now is when you need Him most. Cling to Him and He will lead you through this time of reevaluation. You will find yourself closer to Him than ever because you will be searching the Word on your own and not just following someone else's interpretations. I pray that God will guide your questioning.
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