5 March 2021  |

Dear Aunt Sevvy,

My wife and I visited a church this weekend in a small city. There were maybe 25 people in attendance. The sermon was a fiery one about Biden being in cahoots with the Pope, and how environmentalism is going to turn to socialism which is going to turn into Sunday laws and persecution. There were many quotes from the red books and prophecy, but nothing about the Jesus of the gospels. 

Oh, and not one mask in the whole joint.

It was all I could do to not get up and leave. I went away wondering, “Is this what Seventh-day Adventism is?”

Signed,
Never Again


Dear Never,

I’m sorry you had this experience. I hope you know that not all Seventh-day Adventist congregations are like that. But enough are that it’s disappointing when that’s all you get as your Sabbath “good news.”

Adventists easily stumble into conspiratorial thinking because that’s what we started out with. While we insist we’re not political, our 19th-century great controversy scenario was political when it was crafted from the tension between white northern Europeans and Roman Catholic immigrants.

Our eschatology is still political: you heard in that sermon how easily contemporary right-wing talking points mesh with Sunday law expectations. 

There is probably no way to avoid this: some Adventist preachers are inevitably going to descend into this snake hole. You could mention what you heard to the conference, but I’m not sure what they could do, since the denomination’s most famous evangelists wander into prophetic paranoia themselves. 

What to do if that’s the only congregation in the place where you live? Aunty has no hesitation in saying you’re better off not going to church than to be force-fed that false gospel, which has nothing whatsoever to do with “Christ and him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2). 

The congregation’s refusal to “mask up” would be the nail in the coffin for Aunty. 

Fortunately there are now many, many online services that, while not in-person, are nonetheless warm and kind Adventist communities. Aunty attends the Adventist Today Sabbath Seminar, which meets each week at 1:30 PM eastern time. And there are many others that you could join. 

Indeed, a time of solo prayer and Bible study would be preferable. 

Aunt Sevvy


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