Reviewed by Dr. Kevin Kuehmichel, April 5, 2015: Recently, Remnant Publications mailed a book to every pastor in North America because they thought this book was so important that none of us could live without it. I receive many books from different sources all the time. Sometimes I get them from parishioners, sometimes from publishing houses and sometimes from my Conference president. I read some, some I just toss, and others are on the “waiting to read” shelf of my bookcase.
I read the introduction of the book and was touched by the inclusion of the author’s statement that he doesn’t always recognize things the way they really are. I was impressed by what I perceived as a position of humility, and feeling I was going to give him a chance, I immediately began to read. As I write this review, I can only pray that I have a similar humble perspective as I analyze and contemplate the author’s thoughts and intent. God forgive me if I stumble.
I am not a historical scholar of Adventism. I have enjoyed reading historical accounts of Adventism and one of my favorite instructors in Seminary was George Knight, an Adventist historian. I also enjoyed the Ellen White classes, and I purchased the Arthur White six-volume set that documents Ellen G. White’s life. I also enjoyed L.E. Froom’s classic four- volume set, Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers. I don’t claim complete knowledge and understanding of all the issues but my awareness of the Kellogg apostasy and the issues surrounding it was part of what intrigued me to read this book. I believe the author did a commendable job discussing that controversy.
My biggest concern with the book has less to do with the history or the theology that Mr. Fiedler wrote about than with his style of writing and ultimately his conclusions based on his research. By style, I mean the method in which he investigates and reports his findings, which include his belief that some of the things he documents in our church today are tantamount to the same issues found in the Kellogg book, Living Temple.
I have questions for the author: Have you ever read any of the authors you denigrate in your book? More importantly, have you done any first-person interviews or attended any of the meetings that you routinely throw on the trash heap? It would seem to me that instead of condemning a person based on association or on your interpretation of secondary sources, you should do first-person research. For example, have you ever attended a “One Project” meeting to see what is being taught? Have you spoken first person to the people you name as the prime movers in this conspiracy to destroy the church?
The majority of the data collected and analyzed in this book was taken from the internet. If internet is the research material, I wonder what type of book could be written about Adventism. One should be very judicious in using internet sources. I wonder if the author would be comfortable with some of the same personal scrutiny and character assassination being applied to himself. Back when I was growing up, we had something tantamount to the internet. It was called a public bathroom wall. There was always something written there by an anonymous person with information that was rarely true and in many cases unverifiable.
I am all for people being accountable for what they say and what they recommend for sources and reading. But I also believe that in our reading, each of us needs to filter out the good from the bad. We all must do this every day as we process inputs. I read a lot of books that are not written by Adventist authors. If I am truly a Bible student, I should recognize the need to, and have the ability to, filter out the good from the bad. I even have to do this with Adventist authors. The fact that a book is published by a certain publishing house, or that an author claims to belong to a certain denomination, does not make that person’s arguments wholly correct or wholly incorrect. I must use wisdom and discernment to filter out what is true and what is not.
One basic theme that occurs to me throughout the book is Conspiracy! Unfortunately, conspiracy theories appear to be what draw many of the book’s readers. In my ministry, I have encountered more Adventists who are ready to flee to the caves and protect themselves than are willing to actually do ministry with the lost and hurting. For me, this is the biggest issue that makes this book not worth reading. It does nothing to move our church to be a more caring, compassionate and serving church, but perpetuates the very stigma of fear and removal from the society and people we are called to serve the way Christ served. This is the primary reason our youth are leaving the church.
I must acknowledge that Mr. Fiedler did assent to the fact that this might be an appropriate issue being raised with the emergent church (page 186). But it seemed to me that after all his criticism, such comments were too little, too late. I seriously don’t think many people will make it that far in the book, or if they do, they will have been so consumed with angst regarding the fearmongering earlier in the book that they miss it.
My basic takeaway is that this book was not worth my reading, nor will it move me to want to read more of what is being published by Remnant Publications. The remnant that they are publishing for seems to have already left the building, but not to do ministry. When they start actually doing compassion ministry with grace, then they can send me another book.