10 October 2022 |
Dear Aunt Sevvy,
Which brings me to ask this question: if you don’t believe in this central point, then why remain a Seventh-day Adventist? Might as well attend another church that preaches the finished work of Jesus and the simple message of being saved by grace.
Signed, Seems Obvious
It is true that the pioneers’ view of the 1844 investigative judgment scenario is no longer affirmed by many Adventists. Even the doctrine as now explained by so-called traditional Adventists—that God is the one on trial, not the saints—would be unrecognizable to the pioneers. The pioneers spoke of God’s judging Seventh-day Adventists in real time, and his progress on their judgment a countdown to the close of their probation. When’s the last time you heard a sermon on the close of probation? Or on the progress of the judgment of Seventh-day Adventists’ determining the time of Jesus’ return?
There are truths to be found here, but we need no longer invest in this entire belief, as some do, as though it is the most central thing we teach.
But this is what Aunty really wants to say to you: a church is more than a set of beliefs. It is a community, and people can love their community even if it is wrong about some things.
One General Conference official has written that religious liberty in the church means you can leave if you don’t agree with what it officially stands for. Because he sees it only from the office at the top, he doesn’t understand what a church is.
A church is people, not beliefs. Which is why the attitude of “submit to every doctrinal detail, and every GC policy, without complaining, or leave” misses the point. Even Ellen White said, “We have many lessons to learn, and many, many to unlearn. God and Heaven alone are infallible.” So we must constantly question and refine our beliefs, and accept new light as it comes—if we hadn’t, we’d all still be Old Testament Jews.
So no, you needn’t leave your Adventist congregation over theological differences if that congregation displays in its words and actions the love of Jesus Christ. Now, if the church isn’t being the loving community that you need, then go elsewhere—with Aunty’s blessing. But Aunty prays we are mature enough that we can have differences in contestable matters and still love one another as Christ loved us.
In other words, you don’t have to stay, but you can, and Aunty hopes you do.
You can write to Aunt Sevvy at DearAuntSevvy@gmail.com. Please keep questions or comments short. What you send us at this address won’t necessarily be, but could be, published—without identifying the writer. Aunt Sevvy writes her own column, and her opinions are not necessarily those of Adventist Today’s editors.