22 November 2022 |
Dear Aunt Sevvy,
What do you think about the mass mailings of The Great Controversy? Or the “mission trips” where they leave the book on people’s doors? I’m not convinced it’s an effective witnessing technique. People don’t need new fears of the end times as much as they need reassurance. Why not share something about Jesus?
Signed, Just My Two Cents
Dear Two Cents,
It is possible that at one time this type of literature outreach was effective in reaching people. A hundred years ago people viewed various expressions of Christianity with curiosity, or at least as a general good. If they received something Christian in their mailbox, they’d at least look it over.
But nowadays, people feel that bringing your religion into their home is a bit pushy. It doesn’t help that in the last few decades mainstream Christianity has aligned itself with right wing political ideologies, especially in the United States. Now literature associated with Christianity could be accepted or rejected based on people’s politics. While Ellen White isn’t necessarily associated with today’s right wing politics, The Great Controversy is rich in what is today thought of as conspiracy theories, including blatant anti-Catholicism.
It’s also worth mentioning that while Ellen White’s writing can be beautiful and lyrical in books like Steps to Christ, The Great Controversy is verbose, obtuse, and ridiculously long. Even those who overcome their biases enough to open the book and read it find it a heavy lift.
The Adventist Church has always had difficulty adapting to modern times. Many of the evangelistic tools of the past are now ineffective or obsolete. And this is one of them. What do the theories in this book have to do with a modern culturally diverse technological culture?
But what really upsets Aunty about this campaign is how wasteful it is. Millions of dollars spent, millions of trees cut down to publish and mail books to people who will then almost certainly send them straight into the landfills. As an Adventist, I find it embarrassing to see news reports of puzzled, annoyed people who can’t figure out why they and all their neighbors have this book in their mailbox. It makes us look out of touch, wasteful, and cultish. If you must distribute books, why not ebooks?
How much better to use those millions of dollars to help ease suffering in the world! Aunty can think of about a thousand things just off the top of her head that would be more effective, more Christlike, and give a much better picture of our loving God than this dense, grandiloquent tome.
It is Aunty’s view that cluttering people’s mailboxes with this book has a far better chance of alienating people from our church than attracting them to it. The best way to win people to Jesus is with sincere personal relationships.
You can write to Aunt Sevvy at DearAuntSevvy@gmail.com. Please keep questions or comments short. What you send us at this address won’t necessarily be, but could be, published—without identifying the writer. Aunt Sevvy writes her own column, and her opinions are not necessarily those of Adventist Today’s editors.