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126 Comments

  1. Jack Hoehn
    25 April 2016 @ 8:34 am

    Monte, thank you, thank you. This article needs to be archived as to why there is and needs to be an Adventist Today.

    • Loren Seibold
      25 April 2016 @ 8:36 am

      Can’t but agree wholeheartedly, Jack. This is a rich and fulfilling explanation of something that we struggle with constantly in our denomination.

  2. Shirley
    25 April 2016 @ 9:14 am

    Great! Now I have permission to do whatever I want! Thanks!

    • Warren Nelson
      25 April 2016 @ 10:40 am

      Shirley! You’ve always had it! 🙂

  3. Cherie Peil, Ph.D.
    25 April 2016 @ 9:31 am

    Hey Monte. You wrote such a well-constructed argument, & I do appreciate great writing–I know it is not easy (well, maybe it is for you). You also make a strong & persuasive & inclusive case for AT. Best wishes!

  4. Warren Nelson
    25 April 2016 @ 10:39 am

    Nicely done, Monte!

  5. Cherry
    25 April 2016 @ 10:54 am

    Wonderfully expressed! I felt very welcomed while reading it.

  6. Sam Geli
    25 April 2016 @ 10:54 am

    I like Monte’s writing because he does not try to think for me. What he writes about makes me think deeper. On this subject I have discovered two “gold mines” of insight and wisdom that AT readers may find very interesting, they are:

    1. “Cultural Corrosion and Consecration,” by Roy Atwood, Credenda/Agenda. Thought-provoking analysis of pop culture.
    Availability: http://www.credenda.org/old/issues/vol7/cult7-5.htm

    2. “Got to be Good Looking Cause He’s so Hard to See”, by Douglas Wilson, Credenda/Agenda, v. 12, n.
    This short article is an absolute must-read in understanding Christianity and culture. The author carefully distinguishes outward manifestations of culture that may or may not be sinful with the intention behind it. He also properly distinguishes various types of culture – high culture, folk culture, and pop culture. You must read this article to better understand the subject of culture and denominationalism in context.
    Availability: http://www.credenda.org/issues/12-3thema.php

    Keep up the good work Monte!

  7. Marygrace Coneff
    25 April 2016 @ 10:55 am

    Thank you for this article! It is affirming of all!

  8. Sam Geli
    25 April 2016 @ 11:16 am

    I like Monte’s writing because he does not try to think for me. What he writes about makes me think deeper. On this subject I have discovered two “gold mines” of insight and wisdom that AT readers may find very interesting, they are:

    Roy Atwood, presented a similar thought-provoking analysis of pop culture. He reminded me once again like Monte has that “All religion is a dimension of culture or a kind of culture.”
    Another Christian speaker and author Douglas Wilson carefully distinguishes outward manifestations of culture that may or may not be sinful with the intention behind it. He also properly distinguishes various types of culture – high culture, folk culture, and pop culture etc. which we need to understand as well as our own Adventist traditions and culture.
    Keep up the good work Monte!

    Keep up the good work Monte!

  9. Bill Garber
    25 April 2016 @ 11:30 am

    Thanks Jack,

    Adventist Today will become more continuously relevant as articles are archived and linked to specific opportunities for Seventh-day Adventists to be inspired.

    Truth be, we are all cultural Seventh-day Adventists if we in any memorable way have come to sense our sense of God in an experience with Seventh-day Adventists … be they family or non-family, whether when we were children or aged or just visiting a congregation and something interesting happened. And whether we were blessed or annoyed, sustained or rejected. Or so it seems.

    One of the great opportunities is being spiritually refreshed by experiencing the Seventh-day Adventist culture. At Adventist Today, that culture is effervescent as well as inspirational! May it ever be … more so!

    And Loren, I like your sense that what others see as struggle, Adventist Today is looking at as an opportunity for fulfillment. Or something like that …

  10. Elaine Nelson
    25 April 2016 @ 11:59 am

    There are many young people who find the best of Adventism while enjoying what other members would find unAdventist. Young people who participate in Pathfinders and church activities, but attend public schools and participate in sports, music and proms, etc. IOW, the benefits of church and a full life not bounded by what may have been taught but have absolutely no relationship to one’s love for God. Actually, a love of life gives someone a wish to enjoy all its benefits. Why must it be “either-or”?

  11. David Neff
    25 April 2016 @ 12:16 pm

    Well said, Monte. Keep up the good work.

  12. Teresa Byrne
    25 April 2016 @ 12:38 pm

    Monte, well done, as always. I was raised Roman Catholic in England, and within an Irish community, my dad being Irish. I went to RC convent schools, mass twice a week, and 14-day prayer retreats when I didn’t toe the line. In 1986, I became an Adventist whilst living in the Middle East, and I became very active in the church. Long story short, in 2007, after a struggle of many years, during which I begged for answers to questions about God’s purpose for humanity, I knew that I was no longer a believer — in the concept of God. I became Ignostic (not Agnostic). Even though I spent more than 20 years in the Adventist church, I consider myself culturally a Catholic. I identify totally with your findings, Monte. One can be culturally tied to a denomination, culturally, and not the
    religion/teachings. With this post, I’m formally ‘coming out’ as an Ignostic. I have many Adventist friends and I respect everybody’s right to believe, or not. It’s taken so long because the decision to stop believing in God has been heartfelt, a struggle, and something I kept private because of three things. 1) Fear of being judged by people who had no answers when I was searching, and, 2) Fear that God will hear me say it (culturally Catholic — a revengeful God). Monte, you are a shining light. Keep doing what you’re doing.

  13. Nathaniel Moore
    25 April 2016 @ 12:41 pm

    An excellent piece, Monte. I hear someone breath a deep sigh of relief, as if to say ,”Great,well I can free up and live as I like now, and still be happy to feel that I am a Seventh-Day Adventist”.
    I am happy you observed that all religions have human elements in their foundation.( My paraphase). I am grateful that I was exposed to SDAdventism from birth. My parents made mistakes,of course; but I vouched for them that they have put all they had into socializing us the SDA way. We were poor, but not the poorest. Our parents believed in Christian Education and in the Inspiration of the writings of EG White. All of us, children, attended SDA schools, colleges and Universities, some of us non- SDA universities as well, Till today all of us maintain a high level of connection to the church, though some of us have grave concerns about the direction to which the church is hastening

    The main point I make is that the SDA church is a socialising factor in our life; and indeed there is such a thing as an Adventist culture. Many of us have serious reservations about a lot going on in the name of God in our church; but the Adventist culture will not let go of us, however some think that we do not represent the church. Some people hold that some of us do not represent the church; but they do not realise how far the SDA church has drifted from its early moorings. It is not in every case that members have left the church: there are many cases in which the church has left its…

  14. Nathaniel Moore
    25 April 2016 @ 12:48 pm

    I repeat the last sentence.
    It is not in every case that members have left the church: there are many cases in which the church has left its members.

  15. Carrol Grady
    25 April 2016 @ 12:51 pm

    Amen! As an 80 year old (????), raised in a very legalistic environment and made to feel condemned because I was often a round peg trying to fit in a sqare hole, I am so thankful for more tolerant attitudes today, and just wish church officialdom could loosen up a bit.

  16. Ephraim Palmero, MD
    25 April 2016 @ 1:06 pm

    Monte, this is very profound and I support your context and felt blessed with your wisdom. God never delegated His attribute to dispense judgment. When we express modes of stereotyping other believers, I believed that such intention is not cool.

  17. Marcos
    25 April 2016 @ 3:43 pm

    Excellent article! Do you mind if I republish? I’d like to do so on my personal blog and also on the haystack.TV where I am a blog manager.

    • Monte Sahlin
      25 April 2016 @ 8:43 pm

      Marcos, I give you permission so long as you identify the source. – Monte Sahlin, CEO of Adventist Today

  18. Michael Wortman
    25 April 2016 @ 4:47 pm

    Thanks, Monte, for this kind invitation. I’m one who has found it impossible to believe in much of what the church teaches, yet feels that the church is still somehow his family, a family that shares a common history and bonds of love. Beyond that, many of my values are values that I share with my church friends. I value Adventist Today, but have in the past felt like I was enjoying something that I had no right to enjoy. Thanks for making me feel welcomed.

  19. Barry Casey
    25 April 2016 @ 5:58 pm

    Thanks, Monte, for your willingness to speak out about things that many feel but don’t say.

  20. William Abbott
    25 April 2016 @ 8:27 pm

    Monte,

    An Amishman of close acquaintance said to me once in a discussion of ‘old order’ Amish and ‘new order’ Amish when asked about the ‘Beechy’ Amish; “Oh the Beechy Amish aren’t really Amish.” My Beechy Amish friend disagreed.

    Laughter, not anger, is appropriate response to, ‘not really an Adventist’. Its like taking Bugs seriously when he says he’s a Christian. I’m sure he is, I just will never know what he means. Just like I know he’s more of an Adventist than I’ll ever be. You might as well laugh. Its too confusing to take seriously.

  21. Claude
    26 April 2016 @ 2:27 am

    At least 80% of our Adventism is culture. Taken to the logical conclusion of this article, which can only be written by a retired church employee, Adventist members around the world should be trusted to read, interpret and apply biblical teachings each for himself/herself and forget about the 28 fundamental beliefs which keep changing anyhow. Our only creed is the Bible, and not even the writing of Ellen G White. I would also say dump the highly prescriptve church manual, while we are at it. We can keep our working policy books as long as they are contextulise for each country, for legal and managerial purposes.

  22. Claude
    26 April 2016 @ 2:29 am

    contextualised … ooops

  23. milton hook
    26 April 2016 @ 5:25 am

    I still attend Sabbath School. Last week the class fell into an earnest discussion about demon possession. “Where did the demons flee after leaving the pigs that ran into the Sea of Galilee?” they studiously pondered. “For how long do demons live,” they asked with serious looks on their faces. I wondered if my salvation depended on knowing the answers. I even broke into a smirk. I think a little comedy never hurt anyone. I used to make comments in class but I have given up after ten years or more, realising it was falling on deaf ears.
    About once every quarter we get a gospel sermon. That is like summer rain in the desert.
    Sometimes I go to church meetings of other faiths. I once listened to a Roman Catholic priest tell how he came to know Christ as His saviour. It was one of the most moving testimonies I have ever heard.
    So why do I continue to attend SDA services? Because I’m a cultural Adventist. I’ve outgrown a lot of the 28 Fundamentals but now and again I pick up a few gems in the sermons. I’m an Addie Addict who can’t leave his Addie circle of friends.

  24. Catherine
    26 April 2016 @ 6:16 am

    Thank you for sharing this article. I was a member of the SDA church for 35 years. Those years were filled with both good and bad experiences. When I began questioning my belief system and studying the Scriptures for myself, rather than relying on others to tell me what I am to believe, I found a resistance from others to support me in my search. (Every denomination has there version of “shunned” believers). I am now a member of a different denomination where my questioning ways are not questioned.

    You wrote a good article, but here is my problem with it. I don’t fit I to any of those categories you mentioned. I no longer fit into even the more gracious “big tent” concept of adventism. I realize this article was probably written for the adventist I used to be. But I no longer carry the name “Adventist” or former adventist, or even ex-adventist. I am a Christian who believes that our God loves me beyond my wildest imagination and that He loves you the very same. I am a follower of the one Christ who will go to ANY length to reach every person. My name is “Christian”.

  25. LaVeta Stankavich
    26 April 2016 @ 7:06 am

    I’m glad I encountered this. I am not a reader of Adventist Today, and would definitely be considered a conservative Adventist. (I do, however, have a number of more conservative friends.) In some of the responses I sensed some antagonism against “conservatives”. I don’t say this is without reason. However, If I understand the point of the original piece, he is pleading for a spirit of friendship and love, if not total understanding among the various kinds of “Adventists.” Point well taken. Human as we are, we all (ALL) tend to have some feeling of rightness, as in “Why can’t they (all of the others) see that they are (to some degree) wrong?” I can’t change anyone else, but I can seek and pray for an adjustment to my own attitude. (It’s possible that we all might profit from an occasional attitude check.) I believe that we must continue to seek an understanding of truth (I mean this in the universal sense, not “the truth” as Adventists often use the term.) and at the same time allow others to seek their own path, without judging , condemning, or scorning. A family (mine, for example) can differ widely in beliefs and lifestyles, but still have a great relationship, because we really love each other. We care about each other; we build each other up rather than criticize and and tear down other members of the group. And this goes both direction, actually in all directions. Now I need to include a larger group. I mean this sincerely, and thank you,…

  26. Loren Seibold
    26 April 2016 @ 8:26 am

    My wife ran across this rather striking letter from W. C. White to Mary White, Nov. 3, 1888, Minneapolis

    My Dear Mary:

    It is Sabbath afternoon, and they are holding social meeting after Mother’s [Ellen White’s] sermon. Tomorrow is our last day here, and then we go to Battle Creek. We shall have at least two weeks of very hard labor there, and then we will decide what comes next. If we find things there as they appear, we may feel it our duty to stay a few weeks longer. Mother wishes to get out a testimony there.

    We have had a remarkable Conference, and there were certain influences that had to be met at every step. There is a great call for having everything brought into perfect harmony, but the steps necessary for harmony are often overlooked. There is almost a craze for orthodoxy, a resolution was introduced into the college meeting, that no new doctrine be taught there till it had been adopted by the General Conf. Mother and I killed it dead, after a hard fight. (emphasis mine)

    The missions have received much attention, and some good moves have been made. We hope to work up a good Christmas offering.

    I have made myself very unpopular at this meeting, by several things that I felt I ought to do, and still more so by things I am accused of, but am not guilty. Well, I shall not cry, but will ask the Lord to let me learn good and useful lessons by it all.…

  27. Jonathan Penner
    26 April 2016 @ 9:21 am

    As Jesus followers we have a mandate to lift up Christ in a way that all people are drawn toward him regardless of their religious background, sexual orientation, political underpinnings, or ethnic heritage. As Monty notes “All religion is a dimension of culture or a kind of culture. Much of what we think is important in religion is a human creation, not a demand of the Most High God.”

    Because of this reality, as Christians we must also hold the culture of our religious heritage loosely. While there may be aspects of Adventist culture that are not wrong, we must always question whether they support God’s call on our lives? Are they cultural identities that tear down or build up barriers to the Gospel? There are some Adventist cultural norms that should be rejected because of their potential to alienate and push people away from Christ. While others may be neutral or even helpful.

    The tension lies in remembering that the people God has called me to reach may require a very different religious culture than the people God has called you to reach. So while the gospel has no boundaries, culture by very nature reveals behavioural norms that draw one group while alienating another.

    I couldn’t agree more with Monty’s conclusion. Let’s stop cutting down and start embracing the diversity of religious culture required to lead more people to an awareness and response toward God.

  28. RuthAnn Wyman
    26 April 2016 @ 11:10 am

    Oh how this spoke to me…we’re all on our own journeys with God & sometimes don’t know “where we fit” in the SDA family, nor should we try & label others’ journeys. What comforts me is that ultimately it comes down to my personal relationship with God & that I seek after Him in my daily walk—-not some rigid list of rules others judge you by….I know in whom I’ve believed.

  29. Wisdom
    26 April 2016 @ 2:42 pm

    Good article Monte and AT does serve many good purposes.

    1 Peter 2:17 tells us to “Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king.”, social commands; the previous verse also states to not use your liberty for a cloke of maliciousness, but to serve GOD. The priesthood and Grace both produce social requirements.

    As Loren stated above, the November 1888 fight was a hard fight. The letter To Brethren Assembled at General Conference (same year) describes that fight.

    “No one must be permitted to close the avenues whereby the light of truth shall come to the people.”

    “We should guard against the influence of men who have trained themselves as debaters, for they are in continual danger of handling the Word of God deceitfully.”

    “Let all yield themselves to that heavenly power which alone can create unity by quelling selfish ambitions and human pride. When the Spirit of God comes in, love will take the place of variance, because Jesus is love; if His spirit were cherished here our meeting would be like a stream in the desert.”

    “We should not reject or oppose the views of our fellow laborers because they do not agree with our ideas until we have used every means in our power to find out whether or not they are truth, comparing scripture with scripture.”

    Remember: Priesthood for all does not remove any of the requirements, only passes them down, creating more requirements.

    Catherine, I love the title “Christian”; good fit.

  30. Bill Sorensen
    26 April 2016 @ 3:35 pm

    “Frankly, one thing that makes me angry is when someone tells me that another person “is not really an Adventist.”

    Well, no kidding. All you flaming liberals want a church with no definition or identity. Blah, blah, blah…….on and on.

    A “Cultural Adventist” is one who has little or no idea of what the church teaches and don’t care. They belong to “the church” their parents belonged to. So the comment was about a non-definitive religion that you all embrace with a “big tent” spirituality that is so ambiguous the church has no discernable identity. Or, we all believe anything we want and no one can “judge” me or what it believe.

    This article is sick beyond comprehension.

    • William Abbott
      26 April 2016 @ 4:36 pm

      Bill,

      You write, A “Cultural Adventist” is one who has little or no idea of what the church teaches and don’t care.

      Now be honest; there are plenty of cultural Adventists who know very good and well what the church has always taught. They disagree. They don’t believe it. Generally to the point they don’t want the church to be what it has always been. They want it to change. They can’t really stand the church the way it is.

      Many, but certainly not all ‘cultural Adventists’ fit your description. The intelligent, highly educated ones, think the church should change and adapt to their way of enlightened thinking.

    • Tim
      27 April 2016 @ 12:10 am

      Bill,

      You’re disgusting — an exquisite example of why I left the church. 🙂

      You’re also spectacularly uneducated, and your disdain for critical thinking is very clear. But to end on a positive note here, you *are* amusing, so there’s that. Godspeed, buddy.

    • Warren Nelson
      27 April 2016 @ 4:26 am

      So, just for my own edification, how does a “flaming” liberal differ from a non-flammable one?

  31. Rocky
    26 April 2016 @ 5:51 pm

    Help, seriously! After reading Monte’s essay, as well as the comments (thru about 5:40pm, PT, April 26), I would really like help with these basic questions: What then is a “Seventh-day Adventist”? Who decides what it means to be an Adventist? If “anything goes” (or, if it’s simply “subjective”), then can there even be such an identity as “Adventist”? Or, if I’m really confused, please help me understand. Thanks . . .

    • Bill Sorensen
      26 April 2016 @ 8:30 pm

      Rocky, you ask the right question, but won’t get a viable answer on this forum. They don’t want any “church identity” so they can believe whatever they please and still claim to be SDA’s.

      This is the typical liberal agenda, not only in religion, but in secular politics as well. Just like many are trying to undermine and destroy the clear and unambiguous definitive SDA doctrine, so many in the USA political arena are working to destroy the constitution. The final demise of the constitution will pave the way to the final destruction of religious liberty and finally an effort to overthrow bible Adventism.

      That’s what this forum and Spectrum is all about. And they should be elated because they are winning the war on the doctrines of the church and their war on the bible.

      God will yet create a bible believing community of believers who not only confess faith in the bible, but actually know what it teaches. That will be a novelty unknown in the SDA church of today.

      • Larry Downing
        29 April 2016 @ 7:50 pm

        Bill,

        To add to what Monte said: A local congregation defines who is an Adventist. In Adventist polity, the congregation only has the authority to say who is or who is not an Adventist. Each congregation is the gatekeeper in its community and what its decision as to who is and who is not a member is final. True, an individual may or may not identify as an Adventist. However,for one to be or not to be an “official” Adventist is a decision made by each Adventist parish. Were it otherwise, various individuals, i.e., Des Ford, Walter Rae, would not be members of the Adventist denomination. Fortunately, there are members of local churches, like Pacific Union College, do not bend to church administrative pressures.

      • Cherry
        30 April 2016 @ 3:43 pm

        I object!! Monte wrote an article about being welcoming like Jesus was welcoming and you are criticizing others characters unfairly. You are just the person Monte was asking to be welcoming and even welcomed. If there is room for you in the SDA church then there is room for those who read the Bible differently then you. The snarky comments do not encourage me to ever want to know you or care about why you think the way you do. It would be a painful conversation. Please try to play nice!

    • Monte Sahlin
      29 April 2016 @ 12:40 am

      Rocky, an Adventist is a Christian who takes Christ at His word, including His promise to return and bring an end to evil and a New Earth where charity and justice prevail. A Seventh-day Adventist is a Christian who also sees a continuity with the Jewishness of Jesus and being a follower of Jesus today, finding a rich spiritual experience (a weekly renewal and rest) in the Sabbath. The reality of human life is that each individual relates to these things in their own way. We human beings (driven by our sinfulness) want to draw lines, define people as “outside” the lines or “over the line,” and condemn others. Jesus graciously accepts each of us where we are and consistently offers His love and forgiveness. That may be too vague and mushy, but I confess I did not invent it; Christ did. He gave His life for it. Does that make any sense to you?

      • Nathan Schilt
        29 April 2016 @ 10:30 pm

        I like what both Monte and Larry have said here. I think they are both right. I like the idea of faith communities within the Institutional umbrella – or sisterhood of churches – being trusted with setting criteria for membership. And I’m okay with a faith community – I’m sure there are many within Adventism – telling me that I’m not welcome in their faith fellowship because I’m not orthodox enough – or because I eat out on Sabbath, and don’t feel pangs of conscious stopping by the grocery store on my way home from Church to get a head of lettuce. The truth is, I wouldn’t want to be part of a faith community that insisted on reforming me to fit the mold that it has every right to preserve.

        I can certainly enjoy dialogue and debate with folks who have a narrow view of what an Adventist should be – especially here on the AToday website. Ditto for those who have a no boundaries notion of ideal Adventism. But I probably would not choose to be in their faith community. Nor would I feel that they should be open to accepting me if they felt that doing so would undermine their cohesiveness and common sense of identity and mission.

  32. earl calahan
    26 April 2016 @ 11:01 pm

    Do i assume you are speaking of the USA Constitution?? Well the most prominent
    founders were all steeped in Freemasonry. The City of Washington D.C. including all of its buildings was planned and built on Freemason geometric designs, including the US Capitol, Reflecting Pools, Washington Monument, and across the Potomac River, in Alexandria, Va. is the massive Masonic Temple. Most of the main people involved were not Christians, but gave it lip service to shield their backgrounds. The French
    were instrumental in bringing their Illuminati lore. The founders were all closet Freemasons, the most brilliant minds in the USA.

  33. Anonymous
    27 April 2016 @ 3:34 am

    I believe that if you are in an organization that does not reflect your beliefs, you should quit and join one that does. Can you be a 7th day Adventist if you no longer feel the 7th day is special or that the world needs a 2nd Advent? I have hung onto most of the 28 beliefs with variable strengths of grip, but still have a love & friendship & dialogue with the dear friends & beloved family who have developed an enlightened critical thinking that eludes those of us who are still benighted. I believe the absolute core of Adventism is the Methodist Arminian belief in freedom of choice & believe the SDA’s in general, & EGW in particular, articulate the ramifications of that as well as anybody–to wit, love is impossible without freedom to choose to whether or not to respond to your Creator with trust, love, & an obedience that searches for evidence, but accepts some things on faith. I also believe in deception, & in my humble opinion, this only occurs when one elevates, no matter how slightly, a pursuit of what you want to be true (because it aligns you with behaviors you would prefer or with people whose respect you crave) over a pursuit of what God reveals to you to be true. The rub in moving as a cultural SDA’s is greatest for those who desire to co-opt the SDA educational institutions, particularly those professors who want to lead the charge away from the benighted pioneer (& plagiaristic?) visionaries & toward the more esteemed & respected secular humanist materialists.

  34. Wisdom
    27 April 2016 @ 4:46 am

    Are we not members of a family when we join here? Should our goal not be to create the community of believers; if we Love others and HIM? Do we each not hold the responsibility of and in approach of that body?

    What is the purpose of being here in this “big tent”? Do we come here to discuss and build up; or to tear down? Do we come here in positive or negative intent? Is the intellectual enlightenment posed for good or bad? I suggest we should always ask these questions before approaching HIM or bodies in represent.

    If you hurt and need to vet in earnest, we are all here for you. If you search for answers, many are here to help. If you come to discuss a point of conviction, here is a great place.

    Is this a church or religion? Of course not; nor would it replace such. Will it save you? Of course not, nor yourself or any church; only HE can do that, just ask HIM. The many in represents will hopefully all agree on this and that the BIBLE is open to everyone?

    I would hope that anyone within representation of any other body would be bound to the will of that body; especially HIS? This would also, in alternate, include the right of others to defend those represent bodies and denominations in this public forum; created from public charity?

    Many complaints, but around 2 issues. The term “mainstream” is to close to “mainline protestant” and “cultural” denotes a negative connotation of worldly. Maybe thoughts of other terms?

  35. David H Evans
    27 April 2016 @ 5:38 am

    Anonymous, Your less-than-charitable assessment of what you imagine to be less worthy Adventists who don’t subscribe to your narrow minded, self-referential, extrinsic Adventism illustrates a major factor of why only 2.8 percent of the NAD Church members who regularly attend church are made up of young adults. You have made the church into an internally focused and externally driven socio-political institution and have set yourself up as a judge of who belongs in the church and who doesn’t. Your definition of church is made up of people who define their faith by following a God who is consumed with needing us to have the right beliefs and the right behaviors order to belong to the church and have entrance into heaven. The New TEstament defines the church as those who belong to Jesus and by extension to the church family; they hear and follow the voice of the Shepherd, Jesus as led by the Holy Spirit in demonstrating His love to others, yes, even you and me, unworthy sinners who are in the church by grace, not works. Good luck with trying to impress God with your behaviors and carefully-worded theological beliefs. It’s so unsatisfying and leaves one feeling guilty and ashamed all the time. Thank God for the cross of Christ. Your assessment leaves Jesus, the Cross, grace, and the Holy Spirit totally out of your picture of God’s church. What does that suggest? Why would hurting people want to join such a Church and caring young people want to stay in such a church?

    • Anonymous
      28 April 2016 @ 3:40 am

      I was sorry to see your reaction to my remarks, particularly since I think we share the belief that an all-consuming relationship with Jesus is the center of a vibrant spiritual life & church life; & I embrace a broad fellowship not linked to precise doctrines. In actuality, much of my deepest Christian fellowship has been with non-Adventists, & the majority of sermons I have listened to & the majority of Christian magazines & books that I read are non-Adventist. Though I believe no person is saved without Christ, I am pretty sure some of them will get to heaven without knowing his name. But I believe that Adventism has been given a uniquely beautiful portrait of a God that even more than a friend, wants to woo a bride & to change us. And His hateful foe is mischaracterizing Him & His plan for changing our lives to lives of peace & holiness. I have experienced & watched the powerful assault on our young with a culture & a media technology more powerful than ever before in spreading & entrenching deceptions & temptations that are drowning out the still small voice of the Shepherd. I, in the spirit of Oswald Chambers, worry that we are choosing activity over action & relationship & are losing our youth because we present a faith that is a mile wide & an inch deep with emphasis on feelings, music & activities that don’t ultimately given peace or a life changing experience with Jesus & are therefore built on sand. I am saddened when God’s gifts are trivialized & rejected.

  36. Dwayne V. Turner
    27 April 2016 @ 6:51 am

    As I see this article… it celebrates three individuals, “me, myself, and I”. You know, following this train of thought, Moses had no business getting upset with the children of Israel for frolicking around the Golden Calf; this was just a “cultural expression” attributed to the “Egyptian Adventists” understanding of spirituality. He needed to be more “affirming”, and less “dogmatic.” Never mind the fact that there was an actual violation of the 2nd Commandment.

    Also, perhaps when Elijah encountered the “prophets of Baal” on Mt. Carmel, he should have sat down with them and engaged in dialogue, to see if they could find a way to “expand the horizons” of the Israelite experience and create a “bigger tent”. Maybe after Elijah tried to “understand” the thinking of the prophets of Baal he would have recommended that they be considered faithful servants; like everyone else. Then he would have said, “How long must we have one opinion? It’s time we have multiple opinions. God is God, so serve Him. Baal is God, so serve Him too. Anyone else have an additional God you’d like to introduce?” My examples may be taken as “sarcasm”, but I really wish it to be seen as “relative illustrations”, germanely speaking to this article. Might I add, that these “hardline”, “one-way” men are now in heaven. They took stances based upon “thus saith the Lord.” Moses, John the Baptist, Elijah and others would not be listened to, under this kind of…

    • William Noel
      28 April 2016 @ 6:21 am

      Dwayne,

      The issue in the Israelite rebellion was accountability for what had been revealed to them. They’d seen God work in mighty ways to save them from Pharoah’s army and God was giving them food and water. So, after seeing all that and knowing who was leading them, why would they return to the ways of Egypt. So Moses was correct and following the directions of God in dealing with the situation. In contrast with that, today we have people who don’t have such dramatic revelations of God’s love and character, yet there are those who want to treat them as if they did and feel that gives them license to condemn people for being in error and that they are God’s appointed corrections officers charged with responsibility for berating them. Those people think berating them for their sins will somehow help them see God as loving and want to be forgiven and redeemed when all it does is portray God as harsh and unpleasant to be around and drive them further away from God. Instead, we should be so focused on our relationship with God so the Holy Spirit can live in us and the love of God can flow through us so they will be attracted to God.

      It is Satan who condemns and God’s people shouldn’t be letting him deceive them into doing His work while thinking they are doing God’s work.

      • Dwayne V. Turner
        28 April 2016 @ 8:48 am

        Bro. Noel…

        you said…

        …today we have people who don’t have such dramatic revelations of God’s love and character, yet there are those who want to treat them as if they did and feel that gives them license to condemn people for being in error and that they are God’s appointed corrections officers charged with responsibility for berating them. Those people think berating them for their sins will somehow help them see God as loving and want to be forgiven and redeemed when all it does is portray God as harsh and unpleasant to be around and drive them further away from God.

        Could you be more specific as to what your referring too?

        Let me say this… Today, hyperbole rules the day. When a politician has his/her record pointed out they immediately claim to be “attacked”. When sin is pointed out people claim “offense” or say you are “unloving”. I reiterate… the most unloving people are the ones who excuse sin and don’t call it by its right name. In Hebrews 12:6 we read “For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth…”. The goal is not to point out people’s personal sin, but point out sin which affects the people.

        I want to reiterate a point I made earlier…

        We seem to want a “big tent” here, respecting all beliefs (biblical or unbiblical) of the members of this church. Yet, we have only one source of truth; the Holy Spirit, which entails all recorded inspiration derived from him. How could and why would one source lead us to multiple…

        • Dwayne V. Turner
          28 April 2016 @ 8:56 am

          How could and why would one source lead us to multiple beliefs?

        • William Noel
          28 April 2016 @ 11:33 am

          Dwayne,

          To be more specific, some in the church and on this forum speak as if they were God’s judges sent to identify and condemn anyone who thinks differently than they do.

          I vigorously disagree when you say pointing-out a person’s sin is an act of love. It isn’t because the person making the charge is at least as guilty of sin as their target, if not more so because in making the charge they often are adding the sins of pride and false judgement to the list condemning them. I have seen that approach destroy the faith of many, including the accuser, and tear-apart churches. Instead, I believe the more loving approach is to show a person the righteousness of God so they will fall in love with Him and want to become like Him.

          The person who sees sin in others doesn’t know God because he hasn’t been looking at God to realize his own miserable, sinful state and his own need of redemption. The experience of being redeemed takes away from us all pretense that we are entitled to judge others and point-out their faults. Instead, we seek to uplift and heal them as God has done for us.

  37. Dwayne V. Turner
    27 April 2016 @ 6:53 am

    complete sentence…
    Moses, John the Baptist, Elijah and others would not be listened to, under this kind of thinking.

    • Elaine Nelson
      27 April 2016 @ 11:20 am

      Only with Adventists, would the OT characters be so quoted. Christians do not regard them as their leaders today but as representing the best in Judaism as its founders. Christ is the head of the church and the instruction for Christians is found in the NT. Christians do not follow the Jewish Law or teachings

      • Nathan Schilt
        27 April 2016 @ 6:20 pm

        I’m not sure what you are saying, Elaine. My sense is that, particularly among liberal Christians and liberal Adventist Scholars, the O.T. is heavily used to promote the coercive aspects of social justice agendas that are sounded by O.T. theocrats. Wealth redistribution, open borders, equality, environmentalism are all advanced by the Christian left using the Old Testament as authority. I should think you would know that. The O.T. is much more earthly minded than the N.T., and theologians who want to read into Christianity a mandate for transforming the world into the Kingdom of God through social justice regularly turn to the Old Testament.

  38. Dwayne V. Turner
    27 April 2016 @ 7:37 am

    Let me add….

    The author of this article attempts to subtly put down strongly-held beliefs in our message by attempting to list essentials and non-essentials together; and, in straw man fashion, make it appear that all things listed are held as beliefs.

    He said…

    …but if you grew up in an Adventist family, you know that there is an Adventist culture. Vegetarian diet, established patterns of Sabbath-keeping, an insider language, Adventist schools, the Pathfinder Club instead of Scouting, a proliferation of Adventist organizations and a pronounced sense of being different all are artifacts of an Adventist culture.

    Of this list, Vegetarian Diet, Sabbath-keeping, Adventist Schools, and “sense of being different” are all under the category of beliefs; beliefs that come from the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy. But, mixing in the others trivializes the beliefs listed within; making them all seem like “just a part of culture”.

    Brother Sahlin, have you considered:
    John 16:13?
    Ephesians 4:5?
    1 Corinthians 1:10 (not to be referred to as One Corinthians)?
    Ephesians 4:11-13?

    My first reference entails Jesus’ job description for the Holy Spirit. He is to mentally galvanize us into God’s truth. Since God is the only source of truth, how can one source produce multiple understandings of truth? “Double-mindedness” is condemned in scripture; not encouraged. (James 1:8). All that’s happening here is that II Timothy 4:3 is being fulfilled.

    • Mike
      27 April 2016 @ 9:46 am

      The problem is who defines what is and isn’t essential. 1 in 4 Adventist drink. Why, because honestly scripture isn’t 100% clear on the subject and if you read the New Testament closely you’ll understand that even the elders back then were drinking. I don’t drink myself but I’m not going to condemn someone who does have an occasional glass of wine with dinner because I know that the bible doesn’t speak out on that. The same goes for eating meat. John Harvey Kellogg was known to write letters to Ellen in regards to members and even pastors who have been eating meat and you know what Ellen told him (and it is what I would say today) which is worry more about your own salvation then what your neighbor is doing. I could go on an pick apart each of the items on your list but the issue comes in when Adventists take pride in their Adventism and when they forget we are all sinners in need of grace regardless of our circumstances. We should be more concerned about defending and serving our God than defending our religion. We need to understand that each of us is at a different level of understand and God is working on each and every heart in His timeline not ours.

  39. earl calahan
    27 April 2016 @ 9:23 am

    Would suggest that there be no divisions between you. Does that mean ye all respond as robots to the heavenly King?? Of course not, otherwise God would have put it in all our DNA’s. Be not so quick to judge so called “cultured SDA’s”, or any other
    person believing themselves to be SDA. We do not know the heart of man. Only the Creator of man knows His own, and accepts their worship and thankfulness with compassion and grace. Those who provide a litmus test for inclusion in the “big tent”
    of fellowship must answer to the Creator of who gave them that responsibility. Are you willing to accept that role, you, knowing the All in All?? Think about it, before you stumble on. Imagine the Chief officer of the SDA Church, separating the sheep from the goats?? Himself saying who is or is not a true SDA?? My, my. That’s who is in charge of the so called remnant, CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST, on Earth?? He should resign in haste. And the rest of us should make a joyful noise to our Eternal Creator, who is ALL in All. We didn’t create ourselves????????

  40. Laura
    27 April 2016 @ 1:23 pm

    I am startled by the lack of diversity in the comments section here. However I will post my perspective. Sneering is always rude regardless of the subject. What I fail to see adequately addressed in this article is the reality many of us face: loved ones who demonstrate their hearts have lost the passion for Jesus that historically characterized members of the SDA Church. Just as it does a disservice to the addict in my family to not be honest about his addiction, it is a disservice to those I love not to engage in frank discussion about spirituality – mine as well as theirs. This article leans heavily toward positing that frank engagement is nearly impossible since we can never know another’s heart or walk. It would seem a non-judgemental conversation about Adventist belief vs action cannot thus occur. I disagree.

  41. Rocky
    27 April 2016 @ 2:31 pm

    Let me post it one more time, as I was not able to find any response that assisted me:
    Help, seriously! After reading Monte’s essay, as well as the comments (thru about 5:40pm, PT, April 26), I would really like help with these basic questions: What then is a “Seventh-day Adventist”? Who decides what it means to be an Adventist? If “anything goes” (or, if it’s simply “subjective”), then can there even be such an identity as “Adventist”? Or, if I’m really confused, please help me understand. Thanks . . .

    • Jim Hamstra
      06 May 2016 @ 11:43 am

      Rocky asks two questions whereto I will offer my own answers:

      1) “What then is a “Seventh-day Adventist”?”
      a) An Adventist is someone who believes that a Divine Personage has and/or will, come to earth in a literal visible manner.
      b) A Seventh-day Adventist is an Adventist who believes that the Seventh-day Sabbath represents Divinely-instituted Holy Time.
      According to these definitions (a, b), many Jews would qualify.
      c) Some might wish to further identify Jesus Christ of Bethlehem and Nazareth as the aforementioned Divine Personage. I would call such persons Adventist Christians (the intersection of Christians and Adventists).
      d) Likewise the subset of (c) who are Sabbatarians I would call Seventh-day Adventist Christians.

      (continued)j

      • Jim Hamstra
        06 May 2016 @ 11:45 am

        2) “Who decides what it means to be an Adventist?”
        a) Adventists self-identify. If you think you are an Adventist you are an Adventist. This definition yields a Very Big Tent
        b) Persons who consider themselves to be Adventists have the right to nullify the Adventist identity of others. This definition yields a Very Small Tent.
        c) Adventist congregations admit others into their particular Adventist associations. If you are a member of an Adventist church then you are an Adventist.
        d) The General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists has registered “Adventist” as a trademark in some civil jurisdictions. This organization has the sole and exclusive right to determine who can use this trademark within the jurisdictions where it is registered, or honor reciprocity with jurisdictions where it is registered.

  42. Nathan Schilt
    27 April 2016 @ 5:26 pm

    I like the idea of big tent Adventism – at least when it comes to the institutional church. But most of the cheerleading accolades seem devoid of critical thought. Laura raises some good questions.

    I think Monte jumps the rails when he confesses that it makes him angry when someone says to him that so and so is not really an Adventist. How does he know that the person making that statement is judging the other person’s heart or mind? Why not ask, “Why do you say that?” If the answer is, “Because they don’t go to church; they claim that it’s perfectly fine to drink alcoholic beverages; and they reject the divinity of Christ,” Monte might then be able to say, “Of course, by your definition that person is not an Adventist. I don’t share your litmus tests for Adventism.”

    It would never need to occur to Monte that the person is being unChristlike, judgmental, or unloving. Monte wouldn’t even have to be angry at them, because he would realize that the statement, “He’s not really an Adventist,” is an opinion statement based upon certain criteria – not a moral judgment.

    Monte offers a fallacious straw man argument when he equates “That person is not really an Adventist” with “There’s only one right way to be an Adventist.” The two are not the same at all. I don’t think Elaine Nelson would take offense if I said she is not really an Adventist. But it would not follow that I, who am a fairly liberal Adventist, think there’s only one right way to be an…

    • Nathan Schilt
      27 April 2016 @ 6:04 pm

      …to be an Adventist. And I certainly would not be making a moral judgment, much less an ultimate theological statement about Elaine’s righteousness. Ditto for Larry Bugs Boshell and others who use AToday as an Adventist voodoo doll.

      Monte says he believes in being kind to judgmental people -whom he of course feels free to define and condemn as unChristlike – but seems to labor under the assumption that those he deems to be judgmental and unChristian, by virtue of having the audacity to draw definitional boundaries, cannot feel loving or be kind to those whom they define. When Monte breaks the news that Adventists who define others as non-Adventist are being unChristlike, is he not presuming to know their heart? Nothing amuses me more than to see how unself-consciously liberals pontificate from the same moral, judgmental perches that they say conservatives should never occupy.

      I wholeheartedly endorse Monte’s vision for “Adventist Today.” “Adventist Today” isn’t just for “real” Adventists. And it’s goal isn’t to evangelize. But I thoroughly reject the notion that it is somehow wrong to define someone as non-Adventist, or that such a description constitutes a moral judgment. Let’s not get so infatuated with postmodern “tolerance” that we “jump the shark,” and abandon definitional thought altogether.

  43. earl calahan
    28 April 2016 @ 9:19 am

    What speaks to a person’s heart?? Heavy and harsh dogma, thou shalt nots?? Or genuine expressions of love?? “Let the children come to me, do nor forbid them, for these are the Kingdom of God”. A very wise man, Dale Carnegie, said “If you want honey, don’t kick over the honey pot”.

    • Nathan Schilt
      28 April 2016 @ 11:59 am

      Fine, Earl. But what does that have to do with defining terms? At what point is a chair no longer a chair? The fact that definition is sometimes fraught with difficulty is no reason to declare a ban on defining/describing people or things.

      Is it wrong of me to believe and say that Caitlyn Jenner is a man? He can dress however he wants and call himself a woman, but that doesn’t change the reality of his gender? Now we may get into a discussion of whether gender is a biological, intellectual or emotional construct. You may complicate the issue by pointing out issues of gender dysphoria, hemaphrodites, intersex, or ambiguous genitalia. And you’ll force me to admit that I can’t definitively put everyone into a particular gender category. But it doesn’t follow that it is wrong of me to state quite unequivocally that Caitlyn Jenner is a real man, and Chaz Bono is not.

      Whether someone is an Adventist is a mixed question of fact and opinion. Whether someone is a “real” Adventist morphs more into the realm of opinion. But I don’t know why we can’t have such a discussion without accusation that a narrow definition of what it means to be an Adventist is judgmental, unChristlike, or unloving – unless of course those doing the defining are saying that only real Adventists are worthy of salvation. I don’t think it’s reasonable to assume, as Monte seems to, that saying someone is not a real Adventist constitutes a moral judgment about the other person.

      • Sean Pitman
        28 April 2016 @ 4:51 pm

        My thoughts exactly. Thanks Nathan…

      • Stephen Foster
        30 April 2016 @ 10:10 pm

        Nathan,

        I couldn’t agree with you more that someone’s salvation is not necessarily contingent on whether or not they are a real Seventh-day Adventist Christian.

        So, that being said; let’s face it, anyone who does not believe that Jesus Christ will return to Earth with power and great glory as described in the Bible is not a real Adventist; no matter what they call or consider themselves; and no matter who it offends or includes. A so-called cultural Adventist who does not believe that Jesus Christ will return is not a real Adventist…and no one can deny that with a straight face.

        I can call or consider myself a billionaire. But if I don’t have a net worth equivalent to at least one billion dollars (U.S.), then I am not a real billionaire.

  44. Warren Nelson
    28 April 2016 @ 2:30 pm

    A friend of mine commented on this article on my Facebook Wall thusly:

    ” Wow. Read the comments after the article. Took longer than usual for the comments to devolve into a spitting hissy fit. LOL! Great article…could identify with so much… Thanks for sharing!”

    I think she nailed it.

    • Nathan Schilt
      28 April 2016 @ 4:16 pm

      And precisely what is the point of sharing your friend’s comment? I would agree that a couple of comments were unnecessarily venomous (Bill Sorensen’s and Tim’s), but for the most part the comments have been pretty respectful and on-topic. Wouldn’t it be nice to keep it that way?

  45. earl calahan
    28 April 2016 @ 6:07 pm

    Nathan, he said, she said. Perhaps you are overacting in your responses. To say someone is or is not a “real Adventist”, depends on who is stating the issue. As i stated previously it was totally out of the question for the GC president to do so. As if he is the Vicar of Christ, on Earth. Instead of documenting his personal doubts, he should be speaking his confidence and encouragement. That is why i quoted Dale Carnegie, the guru of Human Relations. Perhaps there are no “real SDA’s. Who can quote the 28 FB’s flawlessly, and accepts them all??

    • Nathan Schilt
      28 April 2016 @ 7:40 pm

      I’m no fan of Ted Wilson, Earl. And I don’t accept his definition of what an Adventist is. But why get bent out of shape about it? If you felt like he is thinking or feeling that he speaks with divine authority that he hasn’t claimed, isn’t that your problem? Do you think you are better able to read hearts and minds than is Ted Wilson? I’m perfectly okay if Bill Sorensen or Ted Wilson think I’m not a real Adventist. They have no power over me. They’re not part of my faith community. I do not crave their approbation.

  46. Sam Geli
    29 April 2016 @ 5:58 am

    These are a couple of items point that illustrate our Adventist tunnel vision that cultural deficit.
    In the latest Adventist Review (05/16) a short piece (The United States of Adventists) by Monte Sahlin, it identifies the author in a variety of ways but makes absolutely no mention of his present role as as executive director of the Adventist Today Foundation, the nonprofit organization that publishes Adventist Today. I’m sure that Monte doesn’t need the recognition. But why does the official “general paper” of the denomination not include this information for it’s readers.
    The local church library and free distribution table that is full of many copies of Adventist Reviews, old Sabbath School Quarterlies, Adventist Affirm, Guideposts, Time, Readers Digest, National Geographic, removed/discarded of all copies of Adventist Today and Spectrum, “too controversial” for inquiring minds?
    It is the Review’s major loss that they have never asked permission to publish anything by Adventist Today as far as I am aware and yet we use Adventist news services for many of our articles and even some lead postings.
    If my “not so subtle” inferences are wrong please correct me.
    Thank you!

  47. efcee
    29 April 2016 @ 10:17 am

    All Adventists are cultural Adventists. Adventism is one of many particular and specifically cultural expressions of the Christian religion. But it is possible that there exists a subset of them that are also followers of Jesus.

    Jesus had the opportunity to disown some “cultural” disciples who were following him just because of the perks (John 6). But instead, he used the opportunity to invite them into a closer relationship with Him. Do we do the same?

  48. Bob Hawley
    29 April 2016 @ 10:52 am

    Thanks for an excellent article!

    I grew up in a typical legalistic SdA home; church school through three years of academy and a year at WWC. I left 17 years ago because I couldn’t in good conscience call myself a Seventh-day Adventist after I stopped believing in some major tenets.

    For a person to honestly call himself an SdA, he should believe in EGW and the fundamental doctrines.

    I suspect there may be many who cling to church membership despite their disagreement with EGW, the investigative judgment, and other beliefs because they believe membership is tied to salvation.

    The question I ask myself is: Is it the church following cunningly devised fables or is it I? According to my Bible, I believe it is they.

    • William Noel
      01 May 2016 @ 6:01 am

      Bob,

      I’m one of those Adventists who has struggled with how to related to Ellen White, the iJ, etc. and still remain “Adventist.” Some discoveries along the way have significantly eased the distress I once felt. First, Ellen White spoke strongly against the concept that her writings were infallible. Further, she specifically prohibited us against using her writings as the basis for any doctrine or belief, or using them in sermons. But those things have been largely overlooked. Studying the Biblical basis for prophecy has allowed me to not be distracted by those who are devoted to Ellen White’s writings as authoritative, or that they prevent God from inspiring others in myriad ways.

      The other way my study has relieved my conflict was discovering how the church has moved from being devoted to Bible study and being willing to adopt new understanding of scripture to rigid orthodoxy. I have chosen to remain devoted to study and that has equipped me to challenge the rigid orthodoxy that is so stifling the spiritual life of so many and encourage them to get back to actual study of the Bible and a relationship with God instead of just memorizing doctrines. For example, I’m starting a series of Bible studies with a couple who are coming back to the church and we’re going to study more than just a few Bible verses about each doctrine.

  49. Roger Metzger
    30 April 2016 @ 9:27 am

    Rocky,

    In the 19th century, the term “adventists” was applied–both by adventists and by non-adventists–to people who taught that the events of I Thessalonians 4 would occur at the BEGINNING of the millennium–not after a thousand years of peace and increasing prosperity during which time (it was popularly supposed) the entire human race would be “converted”. The term, “adventist” was employed because of the emphasis on the second advent of Jesus.

    Today, the fiction persists that 19th century adventists were “followers” of William Miller.

    They agreed with Miller that the 2300 days of Daniel 8:14 would end in the 19th century but even that was not just “a lot of fuss about a date”. It had more to do with the nature of the kingdom and the nature of the king, the “adventists” believing that the millennial kingdom would be an heavenly kingdom, not an earthly one.

    I submit that a person who subscribes to those basic principles of the advent movement is just as much an adventist in the 21st century as the pioneers of the advent movement were in 1930s, ’40s & 50s before there was any such thing as a Seventh-day Adventist organization.

    It is appropriate for ANY religious organization to have doctrinal or behavioral criteria for voting membership but the argument in this forum is whether people who fail to subscribe to the criteria for SdA membership should be considered adventists.

  50. Nathaniel Moore
    30 April 2016 @ 7:26 pm

    I admire the lively discussion among the contributers in this forum; but I regret that some of us reduce our contribution to the level of “ad hominem”. When we reach that level we rob the discussion of its relevance and authenticity. I like the comments of Efcee and Bobb Hawley, although I do not understand what the latter means by, “he must believe in EGW…”

    Now, tell me if this fellow is an SDA, a Non-SDA, or a cultural Adventist:
    I was born into an SDA family over eighty years ago; and was baptised in my teens. I always attended church, and held offices at various departments and levels. I taught at both primary and secondary levels in our church schools; and at secondary level in the public school system.
    I believe in one Creator God, and in His Son, Jesus the Messiah. Creation was not done in six literal days. The earth and the universe are millions of years old. The emphasis on the 2300 days prophecy is misplaced, and much of SDA prophetic interpretation is mere speculation. Not all parts of the Bible are equally inspired ; some parts contradict some other parts. Mrs White was well meaning in her ministry. Not all her writings are inspired: some she copied from other writers, without credit. The SDA church is one of the many denominations claiming to carry out Jesus’ commission to give the Gospel; and they are doing a fairly good job; but much of the vision is lost through keeping a structure to ensure jobs for the boys. Who, or what am I?

  51. Humberto Covarrubias
    30 April 2016 @ 10:01 pm

    NM, this is a question only you can and only you should answer. In the spirit of Monte’s article you are welcomed in this forum regardless!

  52. Humberto Covarrubias
    30 April 2016 @ 10:06 pm

    And should be a member of the Adventist family. Certainly you are one of God’s children!

  53. Roger Metzger
    01 May 2016 @ 3:45 am

    Nathaniel,

    I believe God knew, before we were born, who of us will be saved and who lost. I also believe humans have free moral agency. Christians who don’t see how both of those things can be true have been arguing about them for hundreds of years.

    I believe the God of Moses is fiat creator–that he can and did speak the universe into existence and that he created life on our planet by willing it so. I don’t find either those beliefs to be antithetical to the theory that the universe–including our planet–is millions of years old. There is a difference between not believing “creation was done in six literal days” as compared to believing “creation was not done in six literal days. Please clarify.

    It is impossible to understand the advent movement of the 19th century without studying various theories about the 2300 days. Is your reference to “the 2300 days” a reference to what Miller thought it was? What Crosier wrote about it? Other doctrines that have been added to what Crosier wrote? Do you think too much emphasis is placed on the 2300 days? Which aspects of the question?

    Do you know of eschatology that isn’t speculation? Please explain.

    How do you decide how inspired a particular part of the Bible is? Please explain.

    When Jesus quoted the prophets, he sometimes mention their names (gave them “credit”), sometimes not. Was that plagiarism? Please explain.

  54. Nathaniel Moore
    01 May 2016 @ 7:11 am

    Thank you Humberto, for your reply. My reason for asking the questions was not to verify whether, or not, I was qualified to join this forum. I feel quite at home here, whether other participants think I am an SDA, or not. It would be profitable for the church to establish a forum like Atoday; but I do not think it will, for fear of critical exposure. Let us keep this good thing going Only let us keep away from unduly bashing others!

  55. Nathaniel Moore
    01 May 2016 @ 8:11 am

    Roger, did you ever teach? You have given me some serious homework here . I will try to answer your questions, though some call for research, the time for which I do not have now.

    Creation: I believe creation was not done in six literal days. The Bible itself gives me the clue. No mention is made of the creation of the land mass and the waters, only of the creatures in them, and the rearrangement of them. The Bible says, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth”. Obviously, the beginning was before the events of that first week. The second creation story, in Gen. 2, does not give any time line like in the other story in chapter one; and this story seem more likely to be the more authentic This situation also has implications for the idea of inspiration. Both stories claim to describe the same event. Which one is accurate, or which is inspired by God?

    On to the 2300 days prophecy: Our prophecy enthusiasts say that the cleansing of the sanctuary is going on now in heaven, by Christ in the most Holy Place. They arrive at this conclusion by mere speculation. If Miller and his group were mistaken, what new information do we now have which makes us sure that we are not again mistaken? The expiation for sins was “finished” at the cross. To think that there must be a day of atonement in heaven, as there was one on earth is speculation. Hebrews 9:23 -28 says that Christ does not enter into a sanctuary… but into Heaven itself, in the pressence of…

    • William Noel
      02 May 2016 @ 6:09 am

      Nathaniel,

      Something Adventist theologians seem incapable of seeing in their focus on the 2,300 days prophecy and the Sanctuary doctrine is that in Jewish history the sanctuary needed to be cleansed only when worship of the true God of heaven was being re-established. We miss this because we pick and choose what facets of history match a particular idea instead of viewing the larger picture that God wants us to see. The whole purpose of the “cleansing of the sanctuary” was so that true worship could be restored! The historic evidence of this is how the Protestant Reformation progressively discovered and restored basic Bible doctrines with the final one, the seventh-day Sabbath, being restored in the 1800s. So the prophetic focus is NOT on the furniture in the Heavenly sanctuary or what Jesus is doing, but on the restoration of true worship. That puts the whole prophecy in a different light.

  56. Nathaniel Moore
    01 May 2016 @ 9:29 am

    … in the pressence of God”. He appeared once… to put away sins by the sacrifice of Himself. You asked me about Crosier. Please spare me Crosier today. I do not know his story.
    There are other areas of SDA prophetic chit chat that fall into the category of speculation, like the lamblike beast is the USA, the falling of the stars ocurred in 1833, the darkening of the sun in 1780, the Lisbon earthquake,…etc,etc. These happened; but there were other stellar displays, other devastating earthquakes, other eclipses of the sun,…etc. These all happened. Why name and date the ones mentioned to the exclusion of the others? Speculation!

    Some parts of the Bible are more inspired than other parts: I worded like this for the sake of modesty; but I admit we have different concepts of what is inspiration. If God inspires the ideas or thoughts, the information given must not be contradictory, as in the two creation stories of Gen. 1 and 2.,
    There is this story in Matthew. The angel told Joseph the child must be called “Jesus”; but the writer says that the circumstances around the birth of the child was a fulfilment of the prophecy in Isaiah 7:14 in which the child is called “Emmanuel”. How do we explain this mix up?
    Then there is the question of those stories about wars and wanderings of Israel through the deserts and the reports of the interactions of the people: what need is there for inspiration here? I do not know of any case where Jesus plagiarised.

  57. Humberto Covarrubias
    01 May 2016 @ 3:59 pm

    You should have continued to teach in the S-dA schools, Nathaniel. You are following EGW’s exhortation: (paraphrasing) a teacher who is not willing to test his/her theological ideas against reason is not fit to teach our youth. Obviously you are/were one of few who have done it.

    I believe the Bible was inspired not to tell us how to behave, natural laws, details of certain every day
    events and historical facts, but to give evidence of the character of God and the way He runs His government.

  58. Wilmer Arroyo
    01 May 2016 @ 5:06 pm

    This article presents a perfect justification for the Laodicean church. Neither hot nor cold. Just blah.

    Perhaps it is equally legitimate to be a cultural Christian. Don’t need to.really follow Christ to be one. Just show up, talk people out of their faith, and generally pour lukewarm water over everything.

  59. EARL CALAHAN
    01 May 2016 @ 7:24 pm

    Interesting questions. A person living with the Holy Spirit, every single day (in house), will be guided to the important elements, of living and understanding, the golden gems of truth and wisdom, contained in the Holy Bible. What parts and forms are poetic. Which stories are object lessons, which are metaphoric and allegorical. North Americans are perhaps of a cultural style, of skepticism, and of a “prove it me” type, “I want to hear it WORD FOR WORD”, and misinterpret the “Poetic Style” of early Jewish writings, which used the “storytelling” methods of expression, delivery, rather than point on point reality, of issue. The Jews, of the times, of which these basic understandings were written for (OT), were familiar of this type of explanations, of matters at hand, as the instruction and knowledge was presented verbally to the
    masses. We aren’t in competition with each other for entry to heavenly places. There is room for everyone. Should a person state they are an SDA, its ok, no need to say
    “NO YOU”RE NOT”. These personal disagreements shouldn’t arise. Love your neighbors, pray for them, encourage them, you’ll never win them to Christ with
    criticism.

  60. Dwayne V. Turner
    02 May 2016 @ 5:13 am

    Bros. Noel, Metzger, Moore, and others in agreement…

    I read your posts with great interest. They seem to me to fit perfectly with the Pen of Inspiration’s prophecy concerning a mindset that would exist in the church in the last days.

    One thing is certain: Those Seventh-day Adventists who take their stand under Satan’s banner will first give up their faith in the warnings and reproofs contained in the Testimonies of God’s Spirit. III Selected Messages pg. 84

    The very last deception of Satan will be to make of none effect the testimony of the Spirit of God. “Where there is no vision, the people perish” ( Proverbs 29:18). Satan will work ingeniously, in different ways and through different agencies, to unsettle the confidence of God’s remnant people in the true testimony. I Selected Messages pg. 48

    The enemy has made his masterly efforts to unsettle the faith of our own people in the Testimonies…. This is just as Satan designed it should be, and those who have been preparing the way for the people to pay no heed to the warnings and reproofs of the Testimonies of the Spirit of God will see that a tide of errors of all kinds will spring into life. III Selected Messages pg. 83
    *Note: I understand that in the last reference I have compiled to sentences.

    One more salient quote to follow in next post…

    But let me first ask this…

    Admittedly having issues with EGW…. would you not agree that she perfectly forecasted your current mindset?

    • William Noel
      02 May 2016 @ 6:02 am

      Bro. Turner,

      If you are thinking my comments about Ellen White are “making of none effect…” then you could not be more wrong. I simply obey her specific command that we use the Bible alone as the basis for our teachings. I was saying that I have learned how to survive in the church in spite of the ways others are abusing the prophetic gift and misinterpreting Bible prophecy. After viewing her writings as authoritative, the most widespread abuse is thinking that her having the prophetic gift is proof that spiritual gifts are present in the church and, since one of the “greater gifts” was in her that “regular” members are not supposed to have and learn to use any oof the spiritual gifts God has placed in them.

  61. Dwayne V. Turner
    02 May 2016 @ 5:30 am

    Continuing with the most comprehensive prophecy of Ellen White, concerning some in God’s Remnant Church…

    It is Satan’s plan to weaken the faith of God’s people in the Testimonies. Next follows skepticism in regard to the vital points of our faith, the pillars of our position, then doubt as to the Holy Scriptures, and then the downward march to perdition. When the Testimonies, which were once believed, are doubted and given up, Satan knows the deceived ones will not stop at this; and he redoubles his efforts till he launches them into open rebellion, which becomes incurable and ends in destruction {4T pg. 211}

    All the ingredients of this prophecy are contained in your posts…and so, I appeal to you: Would you agree that this prophecy was made long before you were born… prophesied to come to pass in these last days… and it, in fact, is now happening and you are one of them she’s talking about? It seems to me that you can’t express skepticism on EGW and the pillars of our faith and not admit to thinking consistent with what she prophesied.

    I would greatly like to hear from those whom I’ve addressed….

    Which leads me to this question…What is the purpose of remaining in this church if you don’t believe what we teach? Bob Hawley’s post of April 29th seems to be the most honest way to handle unbelief in the tenets of the church. He rightly points out that we have teachings that members should believe if they intend to be SDA’s…

  62. Dwayne V. Turner
    02 May 2016 @ 5:48 am

    Continuing… Although I do not agree with his conclusions about cunningly devised fables. But, I do agree that if you don’t believe in what we teach that, in fact, you are saying, “we have followed cunningly devised fables”, without actually saying it.

    This now goes to all….

    I find it quite telling that there are a great deal of posters on Atoday or Spectrum that are no longer in the church or have expressed doubts or outright disbelief concerning many of our doctrines. Yet, many who “have left” are still following all the news, actions, discussions in our church and are as participatory in discussion as regular members; sometimes exceeding members participation. Don’t get me wrong… I’m glad that you are still around… but if what we teach is not the truth, I would think there would be great relief to be rid of those “errors” out of your life and a desire to “move on”. Yet, those who “have left” participate as if they “have not left”, and many who are members, but “doubt our teachings”, don’t leave!

    Let me tell you my 2 cents worth about this…

    What we teach in the SDA Church is, in fact, the truth! Yet, there are many who do not desire to follow “the truth”, but wish to have our teachings tailored to their desires; so that the SDA Church will be consistent with what they want, rather than what God wants. II Timothy 4:3 is sadly very much in effect today… and as I always say… there’s a whole heap of “teachers” available.

  63. Dwayne V. Turner
    02 May 2016 @ 7:59 am

    Brother Noel,

    Ellen White does, in fact, state that the word of God is our one infallible guide (GC88 101.2). This does not diminish or negate what she writes one iota. The SDA Church does not assert that we derive our beliefs from the Spirit of Prophecy; rather we derive them from the Word of God. We further teach that God is amplifying His word in the Spirit of Prophecy. God is teaching in both. Pitting the Word of God against the Spirit of Prophecy is a “false contest”; designed to make it appear that we need to choose between the two. Her “Sun & Moon” illustration makes it clear that the moon needs the sun to get its light.

    What she also says is…

    Yet now when I send you a testimony of warning and reproof, many of you declare it to be merely the opinion of Sister White. You have thereby insulted the Spirit of God. You know how the Lord has manifested Himself through the spirit of prophecy. Past, present, and future have passed before me.
    Testimonies Vol. 5 pg. 64

    Bro. Noel… your statement “After viewing her writings as authoritative, the most widespread abuse is thinking that her having the prophetic gift is proof that spiritual gifts are present in the church and, since one of the “greater gifts” was in her that “regular” members are not supposed to have and learn to use any oof the spiritual gifts God has placed in them”….leaves the impression that Ellen White is just one opinion amongst the members of God’s Remnant Church.

    • William Noel
      02 May 2016 @ 8:30 am

      Bro. Turner,

      Your words describing my view of Ellen White’s writings could not be in greater error.

      Knowing the gifts that God has placed in me and the ministry I see Him doing through me and the experiences I have had with the Holy Spirit, I have the utmost of respect for the gifts God places in others and his messages. So I do not dismiss her writings as her opinion. Rather, I consider to whom the counsel was sent and to what situation. One of the greatest reasons why people are disrespecting her is when people like you beat others over the head with quotes without knowing to whom they were sent or the situation they were addressing, so we can understand whether or not they are applicable to us. Most of her compiled writings are published with little or none of this information so we are often unable to consider the relevance to us. Having that information allows us to discern whether or not the message is applicable and when it is, to draw even a greater blessing from it.

      Since you do not appear to hold this view, I would appreciate if you would be respectful enough of others to not continue assaulting us with accusations and quotes because you re turning something precious into something repulsive. If I were to decide about her writings based on how you use them and the false statements you have made about me, I would neither be attracted to them or wish to consider her credibility as a prophet. Please! Stop abusing the gift and fellow believers.

  64. Dwayne V. Turner
    02 May 2016 @ 8:23 am

    Read these poignant words she uses concerning her writings. This is consistent with what I posted at 5:48 AM (PT)

    Our work has been given us of God. What, then, will be the condition of those who refuse to hear the words which God has sent them, because they cross their track or reprove their wrongs? If you are thoroughly convinced that God has not spoken by us, why not act in accordance with your faith and have no more to do with a people who are under so great a deception as this people are? If you have been moving according to the dictates of the Spirit of God you are right and we are wrong. God is either teaching His church, reproving their wrongs and strengthening their faith, or He is not. This work is of God, or it is not. God does nothing in partnership with Satan. My work for the past thirty years bears the stamp of God or the stamp of the enemy. There is no halfway work in the matter. The Testimonies are of the Spirit of God, or of the devil.
    4 Testimonies pg. 229.2

    You know, last year I returned to Elmshaven for another tour. The guide spoke about a time when Jesus & the heavenly choir visited Ellen White in her bedroom when she was down (coincidentally, she was despondent over how she was being received by the brethren), to encourage her. He also referred to her talking with her angel (the “young man) regularly in the corner room. I came away saying “this is either to be believed thoroughly or summarily rejected by God’s people.”

  65. Dwayne V. Turner
    02 May 2016 @ 8:59 am

    Brother Noel….

    Straw man arguments do not discourage me from advancing truth. Rather than passionately responding to or characterizing unspecified statements I have made or have made about you, it would be more helpful to post specifically what you are referring too. You’ll notice that I have copied and pasted your words (verbatim) and then commented on them. You have not afforded me the same courtesy.

    You said….
    Knowing the gifts that God has placed in me and the ministry I see Him doing through me and the experiences I have had with the Holy Spirit, I have the utmost of respect for the gifts God places in others and his messages. So I do not dismiss her writings as her opinion.

    Bro. Noel…. anyone reading this will take it that you think yourself to be on the same level as Ellen White. If I’m wrong…. please clarify. We don’t believe the Gift of Prophecy is experienced from member to member.

    You said…
    Rather, I consider to whom the counsel was sent and to what situation.

    This is an attempt to contextualize her writings; consistent with the proposed PBHC method of the North American Division. Again, this is not consistent with what we teach in the SDA Church. The OT and part of the NT was exclusively communicated to the Jews; yet we believe it is for all today. Her words suggest an “all or nothing” proposition. You are not saying what she is saying. You propose to accept some of it and dismiss some of it.

    • William Noel
      02 May 2016 @ 11:09 am

      Bro. Turner,

      Once again, you have demonstrated that you are of the opinion that there is your view of the world and everyone thinking differently is wrong. That is erroneous. The negative, condemning tone of your remarks is a powerful argument against wanting to know more about what God revealed through Ellen White and your “I’m right and you’re wrong so you have to be corrected by me” approach is exactly what I have seen drive large numbers of people out of the church. So you are making it obvious that the Spirit of God that was evident in her kind words and heartfelt appeals is not in you.

      Not knowing the context prevents you from knowing how to apply counsel and can be both dangerous spiritually and physically life-threatening. A woman I knew a few years ago read the counsel written to a person that said they were consuming too much salt. So she eliminated salt from her diet. I found her slipping into a coma and called an ambulance. She was suffering from a sodium deficiency.

      No, we don’t believe the gift of prophecy is experienced by all members of the church and I make no such claim. The Bible teaches that all who believe will be gifted by the Holy Spirit to do God’s work and I minister in that power as I am gifted. All I said was that the experience causes me to respect the gifts God has placed in others. But in your desire to correct all others to your opinion, you wrongly thought it was something else.

  66. Dwayne V. Turner
    02 May 2016 @ 10:09 am

    Also….

    You said….One of the greatest reasons why people are disrespecting her is when people like you beat others over the head with quotes without knowing to whom they were sent or the situation they were addressing, so we can understand whether or not they are applicable to us.

    Bro. Noel… Is merely posting a EGW quote “beating you over the head”…. or is “beating you over the head” also not providing the knowledge of “to whom they (the quotes) were sent or the situation they were addressing?” Firstly, to an Seventh-day Adventist, Spirit of Prophecy quotes should be welcomed. Not sighting “to whom they were sent or the situation they were addressing” are your self-made requirements.

    Brother Noel, Ellen White’s words concerning belief in her writing are an “all-or-nothing proposition”. An attempt to segmentize her words into categories of “relevant” or “irrelevant” are inconsistent with what she has said. You may not have said that her writings are her opinion, but in clearly stating that some of her writings are relevant for us today; others are not, you are devaluing the writings on a whole. I would agree that some things she wrote are clearly contextual (such as use of Bicycles or going to Bowling Alleys (Saloons in her day). But the overwhelmingly volume of what she wrote speak to beliefs, standards, prophecies etc. that are timeless. Some contextual issues do not imply that all her writings must be treated the same.

  67. earl calahan
    02 May 2016 @ 2:53 pm

    DR TURNER, Yes Sir.your last sentence is correct. We must accept EGHW at her word, “I am not infallible”. She spoke of the knowledge of the times in which she lived. We are thankful for her gifted inspiration, Personally i was led to the Redeemer by reading “Steps to Christ. All prophets are not infallible. That is perhaps why Jesus said “my Father will send the Comforter (Holy Spirit) to you. He will guide you to truth, knowledge, understanding
    and wisdom. Why do you not believe we are able to receive this which was promised by Jesus, the Christ?? All scribes and translators are and were subject to errancy. The issues were told oer and oer before put to writing and printing. Brother Turner, God has much to reveal to us in the closing days of our sojourn here on Earth, tune in to your private reception
    of what He wishes us to know.

  68. Dwayne V. Turner
    02 May 2016 @ 4:28 pm

    Bro. Noel… It seems as though you must devote significant space in every post to characterize my posts, instead of dealing with the substance. Why must this be? Let’s not go down that road. I raise questions based on what you wrote; you too can and should raise questions on what I write. Challenging is OK. But personalizing is not productive. I believe that your questions and my questions are worthy of an answer. I stand ready to defend what I write, and so should you.

    I strongly disagree that the unfortunate incident that you experienced is an example of improperly contextualizing the writings of Ellen White; rather an extreme misapplication. Going from too much salt to no salt is an extreme application.

    Bro. Noel… If what we believe is true, we should be able to defend it. I would expect that if your beliefs are solid… you should be ready to give an answer. I have not questioned your relationship with God… but have questioned your position on issues. Inspired references, which I have proved… are the final arbiter of truth. If I have asserted any position that you disagree on… at least give me the courtesy that I have offered references to prove my position. Then, perhaps, the disagreement will not be with me, but with what has been cited. But, to ignore that I have offered counsel not coming from myself, but inspired counsel and then to come back at me does our discussion and this forum a disservice.

    • William Noel
      02 May 2016 @ 5:02 pm

      Bro. Turner,

      Let’s be clear: There is no question in my mind that Ellen White was a prophet and I respect the counsel God gave through her. I am also completely clear from her writings that she is NOT authoritative. She gave very specific instructions to pastors that they were to NEVER cite her in sermons. Neither are we to use her writings as the basis for any doctrine or teaching, but we are to use the Bible only.

      It appears that you think only prophets are inspired. Are you aware that none of the apostles is described in scripture as being a prophet? So if you are to be consistent, you must exclude the writings of Paul as not authoritative. Peter, too. While John, the author of Revelation, was obviously a prophet, he was never described as such in the Bible. So, where is the authority in what they wrote? It is in the inspiration they and all who are gifted by the Holy Spirit receive directly from God because all who are ministering using their spiritual gifts are inspired, not just prophets. The same God who gave visions to Ellen White gives me intimate guidance in my ministry to know where to minister His love and how. My gifts are “lesser” than prophecy, but they were given by the same Holy Spirit, so I speak from the substance of actual experience with the Holy Spirit.

      Why are you so wrapped-up in Ellen White instead of discovering the gifts of the Holy Spirit so you can start ministering in God’s power?

    • Mike
      03 May 2016 @ 10:12 am

      Brother Dwayne the Bible has shown that prophets can say overstep their bounds and say that messages are coming from God when they actually don’t. Read the story of Nathan and David in 2 Samuel 7. There are times when Ellen has made statements that directly contradict the Bible. This doesn’t mean she wasn’t a prophet but that she like all other prophets was human. This means you need to very closely examine some of the things she said against the bible. I don’t question the doctrine of 1844 because I have found evidence in the Bible to back that up along with other things that she has said but there are things she has written that don’t hold merit when compared to the greater light of scripture. Sending love in Christ.

  69. Nathaniel Moore
    02 May 2016 @ 5:00 pm

    Brethren Earl, Dwayne, William et al,
    I have no apologies to make to Dwayne, or any one else, on the stand I take on Mrs EG White’s writings. Let me restate my basic stand: Mrs White was a very gifted lady. I do not doubt her sincerity. Before I read up much of her works, and the interaction between her and her helpers and some of her contemporaries, I treated all her work as I did the bible. Subsequently, my whole view of her messages changed.
    When she gives an advice that I think is worthwhile, I respect it and follow it. There is enough evidence out there to convince me that she copied from the works of other writers without credit to them; and that she sometimes used her “testimonies” to assist some of her colleagues, and to silence certain critics. I do not trust her ” I was shown”, as a guide that she received all those messages from God. We claim that our church doctrines are based purely “sola scriptura” – the Bible. Then why is this big worry about the writings of EG White? If the reputed” Spirit of Prophecy” is Dwayne’s Bible, let him have his way! And what is the authority for labeling EG White’s writings, “The Spirit of Prophecy”? I thought that the Testimony of Jesus was the Spirit of Prophecy. as the Bible says!
    Will Bro Turner tell us whether John Milton, William Shakespeare Uriah Smith and James White were inspired as Mrs White was. I am totally unimpressed by people presenting a string of EG White quotes to impress me of Biblical…

    • William Noel
      02 May 2016 @ 7:30 pm

      Bro. Moore,

      I hear you! Instead of focusing on the gift that was in a prophet who died a century ago, I wish people would instead focus their attention on discovering the spiritual gifts God has promised to put in them so they, too, can be guided and empowered by the same Holy Spirit who gifted her. I doubt very seriously that anyone would be arguing about Ellen White if they were celebrating the great things they saw God doing through them.

  70. Roger Metzger
    03 May 2016 @ 6:55 am

    Why is it so difficult for some people to consider to be “truly adventist” anyone who promotes the twin doctrines that Jesus will return at the beginning of the millennium and that the millennial kingdom will be an heavenly kingdom — not an earthly one?

    If there is an organization that prohibits its ministers from teaching the sanctity of the first day of the week, that’s Okay but it doesn’t determine who is and who isn’t an adventist — any more than that question determined who was and who wasn’t an adventist before 1844.

    • William Noel
      03 May 2016 @ 11:18 am

      Roger,

      That’s the real heart of the matter! I remain an Adventist for many reasons even though I reject the IJ based on scripture and historic Jewish sources about the Sanctuary services, such as Alfred Edersheim. Battling over such topics as the IJ and whether or not Ellen White was authoritative are a distraction from achieving the mission Jesus gave us: to proclaim the Kingdom of God. I cannot name a single person who is focused on those topics who is bringing anyone into the church, but I can show you several who are driving people out of the church and even destroying churches with their divisive behaviors.

      God has much for us to learn, the most important of which is to recognize the critical role the Holy Spirit wants to play in our lives and the work we do for God, yet He is the God we ignore. So, maybe the folks in Ancient Athens with their altar to the unknown god (Acts 17:23) were ahead of us moderns.

      • Mike
        04 May 2016 @ 10:11 am

        William, I was with you on the IJ until I did an extensive study which eventually led me to Rev. 11:19. I looked specifically into the word used for seen in regards to the ark and from what I discovered is that construction of the word is more closely related to the concept of seeing a doctor and would probably be better translated as visited. Given that translation I don’t have a problem with the IJ but I do however have a problem with the how people try to make it seem like we should fix ourselves to become ‘perfected’. The IJ implications of the IJ are no different than what any other Christian has faced throughout history because we are never promised tomorrow and we always need to allow God to change us each and every day (i.e. anyone could get run over by a truck or killed by a roman soldier so that means we should just continue to follow the teachings of Paul and apply that to the IJ in the same manner). Sending love in Christ.

  71. Dwayne V. Turner
    04 May 2016 @ 7:02 am

    Ok, back at it…

    Bro. Earl… what is the reference for your claim that Ellen White said, “I am not infallible” or anything close to that?

    Bro. Noel… I pose the same question to you…

    You said… ” I am also completely clear from her writings that she is NOT authoritative.”…
    What is the reference in the writings of EGW for this?
    But while we’re at it…. The statement you made before the one I just reposted was this, “There is no question in my mind that Ellen White was a prophet and I respect the counsel God gave through her.” Bro. Noel… If you acknowledge that she is a prophet and that God gave counsel “through her” then how can the counsel itself become “non-authoritative”? If her counsels come from God, does the counsel become diminished to the point of “non-authoritative” merely because she is the “middle woman”? All of God’s words come through middle men; except the 10 commandments.

    Additionally, you said that EGW “gave very specific instructions to pastors that they were to NEVER cite her in sermons.” I ask for a reference for this as well.

    Will continue responses in next post…

    Mike said…. “There are times when Ellen has made statements that directly contradict the Bible” and also; “there are things she has written that don’t hold merit when compared to the greater light of scripture.” Again… I ask for at least one reference/example of this.

  72. Dwayne V. Turner
    04 May 2016 @ 8:21 am

    Continuing…

    Bro. Noel also said, “It appears that you think only prophets are inspired,” and then proceeded to debunk this idea, as if I had actually said it. By definition this is a “Straw Man” argument.

    You also stated, “Why are you so wrapped-up in Ellen White…”
    I do not know where the discussion of EGW started in this topic, but I do know that, at some point, comments were made about EGW that warranted response. However, with my response, comes this critique, “wrapped-up in Ellen White”. The reason for my passionate responses is that there is a diminishing of the role of Ellen White here that, by her words, can and will prove to be fatal (which I have previously cited). This is not my personally contrived assessment, but her words concerning the lack of respect for her writings by God’s people, which starts an avalanche; resulting in destruction (most specifically, “the downward march to perdition” 4 Testimonies 211.1 ). Knowing this, I can not merely write off the posts that devalue the role of EGW.

    Additionally, references continue to be made between the Holy Spirit inspiring EGW and us also. While it is true that the Spirit inspires both…. What we say or think is not “inspiration”. The “guidance into all truth” referred to in John 16:13 refers to the Holy Spirit leading us to where and what God speaks. Hence, the Bible and “The Testimony Of Jesus” are the authoritative sources He speaks through.

    • William Noel
      04 May 2016 @ 11:51 am

      Bro. Turner,

      If you were truly a diligent a student of the writings of Ellen White, you would be well aware of her specific statements about her not being authoritative, that pastors are not to quote her in sermons, that we are to use the Bible alone as the basis for all doctrines and teachings, etc. The E.G. White Estate has some excellent search tools you can access on-line to read her writings and they have some very good research papers on specific topics such as whether or not she was authoritative. However, I must warn you to read those research papers only if you are willing to have your views about her utterly refuted.

      How many people have your long arguments persuaded? More than that, how many people have you seen become believers in God as a result of your claims about Ellen White? How much church growth have your words produced? As is evidenced in the New Testament, where the Holy Spirit is present in believers, people are persuaded and the church grows rapidly. If your local church isn’t growing rapidly as a result of your arguments, what greater proof do you need that the Holy Spirit is not in you? That you’re not doing what God wants you doing?

      • Dwayne V. Turner
        04 May 2016 @ 3:27 pm

        Bro. Noel…

        “If I were truly a diligent student of the writings of Ellen White?”…. You made the claim and then charged me for not knowing where to find what you never referenced? I didn’t make the claim…. so the onus falls upon you to show me.

        You asked…”How many people have your long arguments persuaded?”
        I don’t think either I or you can answer that question.

        You asked…”More than that, how many people have you seen become believers in God as a result of your claims about Ellen White?
        The Spirit of Prophecy is not the source of inspiration used to win souls to Christ. It contains special messages and counsel for those who have become a part of the God’s Remnant Church.

        You asked….”How much church growth have your words produced?”
        There have been many who were on a course to dismiss the SOP, but decided to take “a second look” and have benefitted greatly from it. No credit to me… I just deliver the message.

        You asked…If your local church isn’t growing rapidly as a result of your arguments, what greater proof do you need that the Holy Spirit is not in you?
        This statement saddens me. Why has our disagreements lead to charges and retorts? I would certainly agree that I need more of God’s Spirit in my life and I hope you would feel the same. I know that you and I don’t know each other. If we did, I can assure you that I would not make it a part of our friendship to assure you that the Holy Spirit is not in you.

  73. Dwayne V. Turner
    04 May 2016 @ 8:58 am

    Additionally…

    The “Testimony of Jesus” shows up after the conclusion of the 1260 days (1798). 46 years later (Dec. 1844) Ellen White has her first vision. But, the Bible does not refer to her as “the writings of Ellen G. White; rather the testimony of Jesus. This is what we teach in God’s remnant church. The testimony of Jesus is manifested in the writings of Ellen White. Somehow, we have gotten to the point where we attribute what she has written to her own thoughts and not Jesus speaking through her to us.

    Bro. Moore says, “tell us whether John Milton, William Shakespeare Uriah Smith and James White were inspired as Mrs White was.”
    To which I emphatically answer “No”. Let me say it this way… people may say or write things that are “inspiring”; but that does not make them “inspired” writers such as the prophets and the apostles. These men were appointed by God and recognized by His church as “dispensers of truth” and they enjoy “final arbiter” status; a status that you and I don’t have. Our responsibility is to respect God’s sources of truth (Bible & SOP) and elevate them as such in the minds of the member of God’s remnant church. Israel of Old devalued their “resident prophets” and Peter’s clear message in Acts 3:12-26 highlights what was the ultimate result. They dismissed the life and ministry of Christ, because of the propensity, on the part of their ancestors, to disrespect contemporary prophets. Is the same happening now?

    • Mike
      04 May 2016 @ 9:28 am

      Dwayne the below is one of the statements I am referring to:
      “I saw that the slave-master would have to answer for the soul of his slave whom he has kept in ignorance; and all the sins of the slave will be visited upon the master. GOD cannot take the slave to heaven, who has been kept in ignorance and degradation, knowing nothing of GOD, or the Bible, fearing nothing but his master’s lash, and not holding so elevated a position as his master’s brute beasts. But he does the best thing for him that a compassionate GOD can do. He lets him be as though he had not been.”
      That is opinion because the Bible says in Romans 14:11: It is written: “As surely as I live, says the Lord, every knee will bow before Me; every tongue will confess to God.”
      Both statements cannot be true because then every knee would not bow so I cannot accept this as truth because it contradicts scripture. I can understand why Ellen might say such a thing because it seems right on the surface but the Bible clearly says every knee shall bow and everyone will be called into judgment. Again, why I compare what she says to scripture which is the greater light. She is just a human being and she was a prophet but that doesn’t make her infallible.

      • William Abbott
        04 May 2016 @ 10:02 am

        Well said. Mrs. White speaks with the prophetic voice but her voice is not prophetic. Discernment is the wisdom to know the difference.

    • William Noel
      05 May 2016 @ 3:18 pm

      Bro. Turner,

      Jesus gave us a simple mission: go and make disciples of all nations. If what you’re doing isn’t making disciples for Christ in your local church and community, then why are you doing it? If it isn’t achieving the mission Jesus gave you to perform, it is obvious that the power of the Holy Spirit is not in you and all of your long protestations about Ellen White are a waste of your time. So, please! Study your Bible and see the commands of Jesus to let the Holy Spirit live in us. See the power that God wants to put in you so you can be effective for Him instead of promoting views that distract people away from God. Start sharing the messages He gives you to share instead of what you think needs to be shared. Do that and your words will be accompanied by convincing power. Still, I fear that my words to you are falling on deaf ears because you have made yourself an zealot for a misguided ideology that is a form of Godliness without the power. The apostle Paul warned Timothy to stay away from such people, so I’m going to heed his counsel and start ignoring you. Though I don’t suggest you obey his counsel because staying away from yourself would make you a spiritual schizophrenic. 😉

  74. earl calahan
    04 May 2016 @ 11:34 am

    Good Morning Brother Turner. The references you request as follows:
    1. “I am not infallible”. Selected Messages Book 1, page 37; Page 415.
    2. Also she stated “Let no one come to the conclusion there is no more truth to
    be revealed”. Counsels on Sabbath School Work Page 34.
    “In reference to infallibility, I never claimed it, God alone is infallible”.
    Have a blessed day, Bro. Turner.

  75. Donovan
    04 May 2016 @ 12:09 pm

    I actually find the premise of this article quite absurd. Being an Adventist……. well being a Christian for that matter is about following Christ. Period. The passion to proclaim the gospel and to share the love of God with others is what anyone who takes name Christian aspires to.
    To compare “cultural Adventist” with Jews who had a crisis of faith because of the holocaust is ridiculous and absurd cultural Adventist is ENTITLED to no such thing.

    Cultural Adventist quite frankly sounds useless and meaningless. It is like saying you are proud to be a nominal Christian. If you don’t want to be an Adventist you are free to be what ever you want. Adventism is distinct, we are not like others.

    There is absolutely NO GRANDCHILDREN in Christianity every one has to know Christ for them selves. Because your parents were Christians does not make you a Christian. Because you grow up around Christians does not make you a Christian and by extension because your parents were Adventist Christian that does not make you an Adventist Christian.

  76. Dwayne V. Turner
    04 May 2016 @ 4:40 pm

    Brother Earl…

    I must admit that, at first glance, the quote you gave (1 SM pg. 37) seemed to prove the assertion that Ellen White says, about her writings, that “she is not infallible.” However, looking at the full text of Letter 10, 1895… it seems as though the usage of the word “infallible” was not meant to discuss her writings. A full reading of the letter provides the context of her writing to her nephew after he has left a position in Battle Creek. He apparently had troubles with “the brethren” while in office and did not resolve those issues well.

    She concludes her letter by saying, “God help you, my dear nephew, to make deep and thorough work, that you may have a living connection with God, and then you can have a safe connection with men who are only fallible like yourself. In regard to infallibility, I never claimed it; God alone is infallible. His Word is true, and in Him is no variableness, or shadow of turning.

    The reference to her nephew and men in general as “fallible” is obviously referring to him being subject to “making mistakes”; which she has outlined in the letter. She then appears to include herself as being “infallible” (subject to mistakes) like him to assure him that she is human like him. I don’t believe she here has “pivoted on a dime” to begin discussing the veracity of her writings.

    Webster’s Dictionary defines fallible as:
    :capable of making mistakes or being wrong

    Which can apply to personal actions.

  77. tom Norris
    05 May 2016 @ 11:20 am

    How big is the SDA tent? Not big enough, because if there is no room for Gospel Reformers, like Dr. Ford, the Denomination is doomed. Let everyone understand, modern Adventism is not based on the Bible, as they claim. Rather the SDA tent is supported by a signifigant amount of propaganda and historical fraud from the White Estate. Those that refuse to embrace Arthur White’s Kool Aid, have no real place within Adventism. Which is why most people leave.

    In fact, when it comes to doctrine like the IJ, or Tithe, no one is allowed to question the heirarchy, much less promote Gospel reforms. Simply put, there is no free speech allowed within Adventism, – not from “cultural Adventists,” much less “cultural adventist scholars.”

    Which is why those like Tom Norris, who was raised SDA and caught the White Estate hiding documents, is silenced and censored, not allowed to speak online in either Spectrum or the Review Forums. This is because the Denomination is not open or honest. Their doctrinal tent is not only full of holes and leaking water, it is falling down for all to see. THIS is why millions of “cultural Adventists” have left the church and more leave all the time. The SDA church is confused and very wrong about numerous points, but yet, the leaders pretend all is well when the church is clearly divided, full of error, anger, and schism.

    It is time to stop pretending all is well and repair the useless and collapsed SDA “tent.”

    • Jim Hamstra
      06 May 2016 @ 11:55 am

      Tom,

      To my knowledge, Dr Desmond Ford was never dis-fellowshipped from the SDA church. If he is no longer a member in good and regular standing (and he was still a member the last time I asked someone who knew him) it would only be because he chose to withdraw from our fellowship.

      • Tom Norris
        06 May 2016 @ 4:00 pm

        Jim, you must be kidding? Dr, Ford was treated like a heretic for telling the truth about the IJ. He was forced to recant or leave the SDA tent. Being a Gospel man of honor and truth, he left without an angry word.

        Let’s not try to re-write SDA history. Propaganda is not truth, and neither is fiction.

  78. Dwayne V. Turner
    06 May 2016 @ 8:30 pm

    Bro. Norris…

    I am curious as to what is your continued interest or participation in the SDA Church. Are you still a member? It baffles me why some are so bothered by what the SDA Church teaches that they become restless to see her make radical shifts in her teachings. The most logical thing to do, if the church will not teach what you believe, is to leave. I find it fascinating that individuals, who “have left us”, continue to have a great interest in the goings on of the church. It would seem that if people have left (escaping the “dreadful teachings of the church”) then there should be a “sigh of relief” for having been “delivered” from such strong delusions. However, this is not the case. Ex-Adventist habitually participate in forums like this and Spectrum, closely following every bit of news, and celebrating any departure from “the old ways” on the part of the church.

    Let me tell you how I see it…

    Everyone, associated with or having been a part of the SDA Church, knows in their heart of hearts that the SDA Church teaches the truth. What people have not come to grips with is that some of the teachings/standards/practices we espouse are teachings that they simply don’t want to believe or practice. Instead, the church is accused falsely; it’s called “misplaced anger”. They then charge those who don’t question our teachings as being “close or narrow-minded”.

    Remember, the “broad road” is not touted in scripture; the narrow road…

    • Mike
      06 May 2016 @ 9:12 pm

      Dwayne, the problem is that to many people try to make that road much narrower than it is in reality. I gave clear evidence that Ellen did give write things that clearly goes against scripture because it was an opinion. I don’t reject her as a prophetess but remember she said of herself that she was a lessor light pointing to the greater which was scripture. Thing like the use of alcohol, eating meat and the wearing of jewellery fall directly into this realm. All where done by both Jews and Christians in scripture and yet none of these practices are prohibited directly in scripture except in their extreme usage such as drunkness, strong drink, gluttony and gaudiness. I’ve even been told erroneously that the doctrine of the sanctuary can’t be found in scripture but God has shown me that it is in scripture but I believe we have become so dependant on Ellen we haven’t been searching the scriptures enough to find out. Ellen said if we had been following God word closely enough her messages wouldn’t have been needed but there are many in the church today paying more attention to the lessor light than the greater. Sending love in Christ.

    • Tom Norris
      07 May 2016 @ 9:04 am

      I was born and raised SDA. In spite of their many problems, I think Adventist theology has some important and necessary truth for the last church.
      http://en.allexperts.com/q/Seventh-Day-Adventists-2318/2014/2/sda-tom-norris.htm
      http://en.allexperts.com/q/Seventh-Day-Adventists-2318/2012/12/belief-1.htm
      Do you think you are the only one with an opinion about Adventism? Many have invested a lot of time and resources into Adventism and they feel betrayed as it self-destructs in doctrinal confusion and corruption.
      Many have a personal stake in seeing this eschatological movement succeed.
      Who are you to censor and complain about their rights and hopes? Did the Pioneers make you their spokesperson? Do you speak for Jesus? Hardly.
      Jesus teaches that at the end of time, the last church is blind; full of false doctrine, and so too does Ellen White. Empirical evidence also proves this point to be true.
      Adventism needs serious Gospel REFORM, not evacuation so that a handful of legalistic zealots can run it further into the ground.

  79. Dwayne V. Turner
    06 May 2016 @ 9:57 pm

    Bro. Mike… you would have to trace from start to finish where a person derives their beliefs. The abundance of usage of Ellen White quotes does not mean that people’s faith is attributable to what Ellen White wrote. That is not the case with me. My faith starts and ends with the Word of God. The Writings of Ellen White provides for us amplification of the Word.

    The key phrase that she used in the example that you cited was, ” He lets him be as though he had not been.” I would reconcile the verse you cited (Romans 14:11) and the statement of Ellen White by simply pointing out that, based on Ellen White’s representation, that the slave, having known “nothing of GOD, or the Bible, fearing nothing but his master’s lash” would not be considered as having ever been borne. Hence, he could not participate in the event which Romans 14:11 describes; because it will be as though he never was. In other words, such slaves will neither come up in the first or second resurrection.

    Your other assertions that things such as, “use of alcohol, eating meat and the wearing of jewelry”, are not found is scripture, is not what I have found in my studies of the Word of God. All such issues are covered directly or in principle.

    The Bible says, “Wine is a mocker” (Prov. 20:1)
    The Bible says, Whether therefore ye eat, or drink… etc. (1 Cor. 10:31)
    The Bible condemns the wearing of Jewelry… (1Peter 3:3-4)

    And there’s more…

  80. Mike
    06 May 2016 @ 11:41 pm

    You error greatly. You fall to principles rather than what is in the word. You say your faith end with God word but you do not heed it and treat Ellen as the greater light which she herself spoke against. I never said those issues weren’t spoken of in scripture but that they were only condemned when taken to places that were sinful. Wine is a mocker when abused but Christ himself would have drank wine and eaten meat during the passover. The wearing of jewellery is only condemned when it is done for vanity. I have read several of your posts and I can say this neither Ellen or the Popes have stood in place of Christ. You take her writings to a place she would never want them to be. Again, I fully believe she was a prophetess but so was Nathan and scripture shows he told David to build the temple saying God was with him and then God had to set Nathan straight. I don’t understand how you can’t see that at the very least with the slavery statement. Romans is clear everyone who has ever been will acknowledge Christ. Begin to understand a deeper truth that just by saying something don’t match with scripture doesn’t mean everything she ever said is rejected. Sending love in Christ.