Why Do People Leave the SDA Church?

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"People leave the Adventist Church only because they've had a bad experience, right? Not anymore. A new study indicates that more and more church members are leaving because they have changed their beliefs." - Adventist Review article, Beyond Belief by Andy Nash. Click Here for the article.
My Response: Nash's article on the contemporary reasons why people leave the SDA church was long overdue. I really enjoyed reading it and felt that it was about time someone shared this with the world church. Although the SDA church  is still the fastest growing church in north America and has, in my estimation, the most beautiful message of Jesus and his work of salvation, we are definitely not perfect. For everyone who walks in the front door we have another who walks out the back door - and these days its for a different reason than what it used to be: doctrine.  Nash offers five suggestions on how to deal with the issue. His suggestions were excellent especially number 3:


3. We should clear up false understandings. For a myriad of reasons, many former Adventists seem to have serious misunderstandings of Adventist beliefs. One survey respondent wrote: “Keeping the Sabbath does not save anyone.” Another respondent wrote that she believed Ellen White was inspired by God—but that she is not our way to salvation. “I don’t think you have to believe in her to be saved,” she wrote.
It’s truly sad that these former members were taught so erroneously....
Many survey comments falsely reflected an impression that Ellen White dreamed up Adventist beliefs—when in reality her own study and writing complemented, and often trailed, that of other Adventists.


I really resonated with this suggestion because in my experience, people who leave the SDA church because of beliefs have misunderstandings, sometimes serious ones, as to what the church actually believes and teaches. Growing up I used to think that the New World Order conspiracies were all part of our message. I could have easily walked out and said Adventists are nuts. But when I dug deeper I discovered I was simply influenced by the nutty people around me whose views did not represent the SDA church. I also used to think the Investigative Judgment doctrine was inherently legalistic until I studied it for myself and found it to be the Bibles strongest affirmation of salvation by grace through faith. I used to think that salvation was "What Jesus did + what I do = eternal life" until I discovered the church doesn't teach this at all! And failure to understand Ellen Whites view on this left me confused when reading many of her books. When I discovered salvation is what Jesus did alone, I didn't even want to believe it. I thought it was too good to be true. So I went on the official SDA church site and checked what I had learned against our fundamental belief, and to my surprise - it was there! And I could share countless more stories of the times I have come to the edge of leaving the Adventist church only to discover that the problem isn't the church at all but my own misunderstandings (often influenced by highly conservative Adventists or extremists within the church). My wife has her own share of stories like being told that one little sin like drinking coffee or eating a steak could keep her out of heaven. Or, as I wrote in my paper on the Investigative Judgment, 

Growing up, my wife was taught that she did not know when her name would come up in the judgment. If it did and she was found not “worthy” of eternal life because she was sinning at the moment (or some other reason), then she would be lost forever and not know it. She could continue to strive to follow Jesus for the rest of her life, but this would be in vain since she was already lost. - The Pre-Advent Judgment and Righteousness by Faith. 

I wonder how many people were raised like my wife and I were, with extreme ideas and misunderstandings, who still think that this is what the SDA church believes and teaches. My only suggestion is that we clear up misunderstandings, not only with those outside the church, but with those still inside of it - especially the youth. Many of them have as their teachers people who have grown up with the same misunderstandings and errors that point us away from Jesus and his grace to legalism and self.

In conclusion, this article really gives me hope. Hope that we can right the wrongs. It's OK for people to leave the SDA church. But if they leave because of doctrine, let it be for doctrine that we actually  teach and not false ideas of those doctrines.

Also see: Why Do People Leave the SDA Church? (Revisited)

59 comments:

  1. http://arthurandteresabeem.blogspot.com/2011/12/former-adventist-survey-summary.html

    Marcos,
    Sandy Whetmore did a very comprehensive survey of former Adventists. You can find a summary at the above link.

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  2. Marcos,

    For a decade, I have ministered to former Adventists. Most have a good grasp on the SDA doctrines. There is not a misunderstanding there. Many, in fact most, grew up reading daily devotionals from Ellen White's writings.

    I do think that all people will latch onto certain ideas and then focus on them. Those, like myself, who had a father who taught us righteousness by faith, will pretty much ignore Ellen's legalism and only pick up on her more faith-based writings. People who were raised around legalists will latch onto those. Ellen has copious evidence on both sides. That's kinda why a lot of us formers think she was a little schizophrenic. Anyone can cull from her work pretty much anything they wish.

    Here is a list of SDA doctrines we cannot find explicitly or implicitly in scripture or Church history. We do not believe Ellen or the SDA church has interpreted them rightly:

    1. The SDA Church is the exclusive remnant church.
    2. The Sabbath will be an end-time test of faith.
    3. Saturday Sabbath rest is required in the New Covenant.
    4. That Ellen White is a prophetess of God.
    5. The Christian Churches are Apostate (or will be).
    6. The Catholic Church is the Whore of Babylon.
    7. Jesus moved from the Holy to the Holy of Holies on Oct. 22, 1844.
    8. That corporate worship on Sunday is wrong.
    9. That Constantine changed the Sabbath to Sunday.
    10. That the early church taught that resting on Sabbath was required.
    11. And for many of us, we cannot give any moral authority to a church who will not teach that abortion is wrong.

    All of these things are legitimate beliefs of the SDA church. We do not reject what we misunderstand. We reject what the church teaches.

    But, most former Adventists have no bad feelings at all towards Adventists. We love you even if we don't believe like you do. We want unity in Christ! Another thing God commanded. (It's not just the Ten!) God bless!

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    1. Hi Teresa!

      Great to hear from you! I can totally sympathize with the "schizophrenic" view of Ellen White. For some time I would have the same struggles when reading her. AT times she seemed so grace oriented, at other times she seemed so legalistic - it left me pretty confused! As a matter of fact, my wife Candice almost ended up in a mental institution from reading "Messages to Young People." It left her with an overwhelming feeling of hopelessness, as though she could never be good enough to go to heaven. So why in the world do both Candy and I read her books today and consider her to be a prophetess? Here are the reasons why:

      1. If I accuse EGW of being schizophrenic because of her conflicting grace and law statements I will have to accuse God, Jesus Christ, The Holy Spirit, Paul, James, Peter, and John etc. of the same exact thing. I can easily compile a list of verses from the NT that make it seem as though salvation is by works alone and if I slap you with the book of James after that you would be devastated! The reality is that truth is paradoxical by nature. Each doctrine has two poles which balance each other out. To emphasize one pole at the expense of the other will leave you, as in the case of grace and law, as either a legalist or an antinomianist. So unless I am willing to accuse the Bible of being inherently schizophrenic, I cannot do the same to EGW who so eloquently presents both poles of truth exactly as the Bible does.
      2. The reason why I found it hard to understand EGW's so called legalistic statements is because I grew up in a culture that did not teach me how to read. This was the same issue my wife had. We had no concept of historical, cultural or literary context and we had no concept of the evolution of language either. So when reading EGW its important to note that she lived in the Victorian era - a time when people were a lot harsher in their language (or should I say, not as sensitive as we are today in our "easy to offend" society). She also used many words that mean different things today and in many of her "legalistic" statements she is rebuking people who have taken an antinomian or cheap grace attitude toward the gospel. Understanding all of these factors, plus factor number 1, helped me to interpret her writings properly. Another extremely important factor is that EGW was Arminian-Wesleyan in her understanding of the gospel. Those who read EGW a lot will have a hard time distinguishing between her writings and the writings of John Wesley. As a matter of fact, understanding Wesley's approach to perfection is key in understanding EGW's perfection statements.
      3. The worst problem my wife and I had was that due to the influences around us we already didn't understand the gospel. So when we read EGW we read her through legalistic glasses which made us feel hopeless at times. Some of her books are not intended for those who are not born again and filled with a knowledge of the true gospel. But now that we understand the gospel we can read her joyfully and are immensely blessed. I just finished reading through Ministry of Health and Healing and wow! What an awesome book.

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    2. 1. The SDA Church is the exclusive remnant church. (Not so. We proclaim the remnant message and are Gods visible remnant church in the world but we alone do not compose the remnant that Revelation discusses. The Remnant is Gods faithful people, not a denominational institution. While we believe that God has entrusted us with the remnant message we in no way feel that t be a true child of God you must be SDA. For anyone to tell me that my aunt, a Catholic who is the most amazing Christian I know, is not a true child of God would be appalling. My aunt is a part of the remnant and so are you and everyone else who I a true child of God. As a church we are called to ask people to join us in proclaiming the remnant message - we are not exclusive.)
      2. The Sabbath will be an end-time test of faith. (Got that one right)
      3. Saturday Sabbath rest is required in the New Covenant. (The word required has a lot of baggage tied to it. If by it you mean that the Sabbath is salvific then no. If by it you simply mean that the Sabbath was never done away with then yes. No commandment is salvific, but all commandments are the delight of the saved.)
      4. That Ellen White is a prophetess of God. (Yep)
      5. The Christian Churches are Apostate (or will be). (Christian churches as in institutions not as in congregations)
      6. The Catholic Church is the Whore of Babylon. (As an institution, not as a congregation)
      7. Jesus moved from the Holy to the Holy of Holies on Oct. 22, 1844. (yep)
      8. That corporate worship on Sunday is wrong. (Not at all! I would love to have corporate worship on Sundays or any other day for that matter. The only time it will become wrong is when the issue is forced upon conscience. At that time we will have to chose to either obey God and keep the Sabbath or obey man and honor Sunday. Even then, EGW tells us that to avoid needless provocation we should continue to have services on Sunday and to refrain from labor.)
      9. That Constantine changed the Sabbath to Sunday. (This is not a doctrine of the SDA church. Maybe the idea of some bad history professors? Or uninformed evangelists? But definitely not a doctrine. Sunday was kept way before Constantine and was introduced by the Gnostics. The Church did in fact play a role in transferring the solemnity of Sabbath to Sunday but as far as I can remember Constantine didn't have much, if anything to do with that. On any note, not an SDA doctrine.)
      10. That the early church taught that resting on Sabbath was required. (I would nuance it this way: The early church did not teach that Sunday was the Christian Sabbath.)
      11. And for many of us, we cannot give any moral authority to a church who will not teach that abortion is wrong. (This is a hairy subject and one that I am not very familiar with. Abortion is extremely sad but SDA's have always stayed out of debates involving the enactment of civil laws due to our own personal beliefs - separation of church and state that is, But kids are a precious thing and abortion dude, its terrible that's for sure. If the SDA church is wrong in this area, and we are wrong in many areas, then I just pray that God will lead us in the right direction. But like I said, I have never looked into the variables that pertain to this issue.)

      Also just to clarify, I have no problem with people leaving the SDA church because of what we teach, it’s when they leave because of misunderstandings that I find sad.

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  3. I was third-generation SDA and have a degree in Theology. I discovered the Gospel while at Avondale and spend a couple of years in the ministry attempting to reconcile SDA fundamental beliefs with the Gospel. I found that I could not even reconcile most SDA positions with the Biblical literature.

    If you are serious about finding out why people leave have the courage to ask. One place to begin is on CARM forums Seventh-day Adventist board where current SDA's and several formers engage in lively discussion about the differences.

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    1. Hi Anonymous!

      Thanks for your comment! And thank you for your intellectual honesty. There is no sense in remaining an SDA if it doesn't make sense to you. There are many who do because of less than noble motives, but I commend those who take the step in accordance with their conscience. May God bless you I your spiritual journey!

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  4. only use the Bible to prove to me this statement:
    "Jesus moved from the Holy to the Holy of Holies on Oct. 22, 1844"
    if you need any other writings other than the Bible to explain this, than SDA is a Cult and teach heresy.
    To put EGW next to James, Paul, Peter is Blasphemy !

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    1. Hi Karin!

      Great question. First of all let me start out by saying that I can't prove that statement to you. While I am willing to share with you why I believe what I believe there is no way I can prove those beliefs. So I hope that even if we disagree we can at least appreciate one another's faith.

      Now I also want to tackle another statement you made.

      "if you need any other writings other than the Bible to explain this, than SDA is a Cult and teach heresy."

      If this is true then all churches are cults that teach heresy. The reason why is because when we are dealing with apocalyptic literature such as Daniel and Revelation, there is just no way of fully understanding it without using extra-biblical historical resources. Adventists are Historicists in their interpretation of scripture and as such we use extra-biblical historical resources to help us understand the events that the prophecies are delineating. If this approach makes the SDA church a heretical cult then Victorinus, Arnuf of Orleans, Eberhard II (all Catholic) and Martin Luther, John Calvin, Isaac Newton (all protestant) are also heretics for they all followed the Historicists method of interpreting prophecy. In addition, even if you are not a Historicist but are instead a Futurist or a Prederist (the majority of Christendom)you still have to use extra-biblical historical sources to explain the prophecies. So I conclude that when the SDA church uses historical writings and calendars that are extra-biblical in order to arrive at their understanding of 1844 they are simply doing what every body else does and are thus not a cult and not heretical.

      What would make us a cult is if, like the Mormons, we relied only on Ellen White or other pioneers such as Uriah Smith in order to teach the 1844 doctrine. But this is not the case. 1844 was understood by William Miller and many others without the help of Ellen White (she hadn't even begun her ministry yet) and the consequent revelations of the sanctuary being in heaven do not necessitate EGW to be understood. In short, SDA's don't need EGW for any of our doctrines. They stand on the Bible alone. In addition, the SDA church does not put EGW next to James, Paul, Peter or any other Biblical writer. We place her beneath them. She did the same when she was alive. While there are some SDA's who treat her as though she was scripture this goes against the church's stance and even against EGW's own position. We consider her writings to be authoritative and inspired but they do not interpret scripture for us, they do not replace scripture for us, and they sure don't have an equal standing with scripture.

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    2. Now onto your question. Like I said, I cant prove it but I will simply explain to you why I believe it is true.

      Most Christians teach that the judgment took place on the cross. Others teach that it will take place at the second coming. There are numerous NT verses that show the apostles were looking forward to a future judgment. This was after the cross, therefore, biblicaly speaking the judgment did not take place at the cross. Then there are the passages that say that when Jesus comes he comes to award both the righteous and the wicked including those who have not seen death (others teach the judgment happens at death). This shows us that a decision was reached before the second coming. Then there is Revelation 14:6, a message that is pronounced before the second coming and says that the judgment has already begun. Thus, the judgment did not happen at the cross and it will not happen at the second coming but since Jesus comes with rewards it cant happen after the second coming either. So the message is clear, the judgment happens sometime between the cross and the second coming. 1844 happens to between those two events.

      Now that doesnt prove the date per se, in order to come to the actual date October 22, 1844 we would have to interpret Daniels prophecies using the Historicist method of interpretation. To do that would take so long that Im not going to do it here. But at this point Adventists establish the start time of the prophecy which Gabriel gives to Daniel and we count the 2300 years and we arrive at 1844. Using more complex historical sources such as calendars etc. we arrive at the October 22 date. None of this necessitates EGW or any other Adventist pioneer. If you are really interested in reading about the evidence for this then I recommend Clifford Goldsteins "1844 Made Simple" and Marvin Moores "The Case for the Investigative Judgment." Not that they can prove it either, but at least you will be able to see two very well written books on the topic that do not use EGW at all.

      Anyways, understanding that the sanctuary of Daniel is the sanctuary in heaven (of course we are not suggesting that there is some building in heaven that looks just like the OT sanctuary)we then conclude through a systematic study of the sanctuary, its type and anti-type etc. that Jesus began his final work of cleansing the sanctuary in 1844. If you want to read my views on the theology of the Investigative Judgment then I recommend my paper (The Investigative Judgment) which you can access in the tool bar above.

      Honestly Karin, I am not a stickler on October 22, 1844. While I agree its the best interpretation of the time line I don't get hung up on it. The judgment could have begun in 1922 for all I care. The date doesn't change the theology of the judgment at all. The point is that God is now doing his final work on behalf of man, he is trying to get as many people into heaven before time runs out for us, and Jesus is coming soon. In my paper which I mentioned to you I don't deal with the timeline at all, just the theology and implications.

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    3. Well Karin I know I didn't prove anything to you, but I just wanted to share with you why I believe the doctrine to be true. You are welcome to disagree and even pose more questions and I'll be more than happy to share more.

      Blessings,
      Marcos

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  5. Hi. I found your answers to Teresa's statements really interesting. What caught my attention the most is your agreement with the very common Adventist view that the Sabbath will be a end-times test of faith -- which basically means that, at the end of days, if you don't agree with the Sabbath, you're not a follower of Christ and therefore, not saved.

    I love Jesus, has been saved by his grace through faith. But I'm never going to be convinced that Sabbath is commanded for Gentile Christians -- 'till probably the end of days, if I ever make it until then. What does that make me? Most importantly, how does this view change the way you see other Christians that disagree with the Adventist interpretation of the Sabbath? Can you honestly call them your brothers in Christ? Or you don't?

    By the way, I'm a 3rd generation Adventist. Left the church last 2000.

    -Arnold

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    1. Hey Arnold,

      Great question dude. When I answered Teresa I made the mistake of forgetting other people would be reading our conversation. I should have been clearer. Since Teresa is so well acquainted with our teachings I skipped over an explanation of the Sabbath end time test. So allow me to clarify:

      The mark of the beast is not about Sabbath or Sunday, its about false worship. The seal of God in the end times is not about going to church on the first day as opposed to the seventh, but about worshiping God in spirit and in truth. Many Sabbath keepers don't fall into this category and will end up with the mark of the beast while many Sunday keepers will refuse to worship the beast on pain of death.

      So when we talk about the Sabbath being a test of loyalty in the last days it is a mistake to oversimplify that doctrinal position and claim that those who rest on day 7 will be saved and those who don't will be lost. That's not our position at all. What we teach is that according to Revelation 13-14 there will be a final crisis between the dragon and gods people (the woman) and the crisis will be over worship. The message during this time is to worship God (chp 14) and not the beast (chp 13). Gods people are then described as those who have the faith of Jesus and keep his commandments. In the absence of any NT evidence that Jesus changed Sabbath to Sunday we simply conclude that in the final crisis Gods people from all over the world will evidence their loyalty by their faith in Jesus and their obedience to the 10, including the Sabbath.

      Are those who refuse to keep the Sabbath in the end times not saved? I cant make that call as a human being. That's Gods call. All I can say is this: Martyrdom doesn't save anyone, but if you are confronted with death for Jesus, will you say "i'm not going to die for Jesus because its not salvific so whats the point?" I doubt it. I think you will die for him regardless because you love him. Its the same with the Sabbath. It doesn't save anymore than martyrdom does but as Jesus said, "if you love me keep my commandments"

      Now you say that you wont be convinced of the Sabbath until the end times if you make it till then. What does that make you? It makes you nothing more or less than what it makes me - a follower of Jesus clinging to his grace for salvation. The way I see other Christians who disagree with this view is the same way I hope they see me - as a sincere follower of Jesus, filled with the spirit, and taking steps in accordance with the light that I believe God has given me. You are my brother in Christ whether you are Adventist or not. This is the same position EGW took and it is the same position every Adventist I know (besides the ultra conservatives) takes as well. I love fellowshipping with Christians of other denominations. Some of my favorite preachers aren't even Adventist (Francis Chan, Greg Laurie, Kyle Idleman, Billy Graham) and my library is full of non SDA books.

      Hope that helps a little bit!

      Marcos

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  6. Marcos,

    Hi! Nice to talk with you again! Always love your considerate tone. You are a great guy.

    I believed, like you, that the SDA church didn't consider itself the sole "remnant" church. I suggest that you read the minutes of the 2000 General Conference Session (in Ontario).

    http://docs.adventistarchives.org//doc_info.asp?DocID=1470 (this may not be the specific day of the conference, but try all of them and you will find it. I can't open it for some reason. )


    A delegate suggested to the conference to put into the official SDA doctrine that the "remnant" consisted of more than just the SDA church. I was shocked that this addition was promptly debated and voted down almost unanimously. The church does indeed believe itself to be the sole remnant church.

    I think you can get a copy of the minutes of this in a back edition of the Adventist Review. It should be in the July, 2000 edition. (I have a copy in storage in Texas.) I remember that I did a lot of calling around to verify this, because I was in shock. I was appalled that this had happened. It was one of the things that solidified my decision to leave. It is not known among Adventists in general that this was debated. Because in general I think Adventists would disagree.

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    1. Hi Teresa!

      Thank you for the compliment. I always remind myself that the true purpose of doctrine is to know Jesus better. If it leads me to argue and hate those I disagree with then I am misusing doctrine. Through the teachings of the SDA church I have come to know Jesus in a way I don't believe I could without them. Knowing him and his grace is really the power behind my "considerate tone." Without him I can be quite unpleasant to converse with so I think a praise God is in order, lol. :)

      I read the document you discuss above in the Adventist Review 2000 edition. The proposal was, and I quote:

      "I would like the sentence changed to read: 'I accept and believe that the Seventh-day Adventist Church is part of the remnant church.'"

      This is in reference to the baptismal vows. This proposal was turned down. Now I would like to state that I too disagree with the wording in this proposal. When I say that I believe Gods remnant are Gods faithful everywhere I am not saying that I don't believe the SDA church is not the remnant of Revelation. Allow me to use two theological terms that I am sure you heard of before. Visible remnant and invisible remnant. Visible remnant refers to the SDA movement while invisible remnant refers to Gods faithful wherever they are, inside and outside the SDA church. I believe that Gods invisible remnant is everywhere and the SDA movement, being the visible remnant, invites all of Gods faithful everywhere to join them (hence the lack of exclusivity). So you don't have to be an SDA to be saved and being SDA doesn't make you saved either. Its about being in Christ. Yet we still affirm that Christ does indeed have a visible church on earth and that church is described in Revelations description of the remnant. So I don't agree that the SDA church is part of the remnant. It is the remnant but that doesn't imply that all other Christians are false. This is why I stated that the fallen churches, according to SDA eschatology, are institutions not congregations.

      In the 2005 edition of Seventh-day Adventists Believe, fundamental belief 13 (the Remnant...) it states that "The universal church is composed of all who truly believe in Christ (invisible remnant) but in a time of widespread apostasy, a remnant has been called out (visible remnant) to keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus. And in page 197 it states, "God has his children in all churches (invisible remnant) but through the remnant church (visible remnant/ SDA church) He proclaims a message... (remnant message I referred to in my last post).

      That same document indicates that they proposed to change remnant to visible remnant and that was also turned down, but it was turned down due to the many other reasons besides theological ones. I personally do wish that someday they can edit it to the visible remnant.

      At the end of the day, no orthodox Christian agrees with theological pluralism. At the same time, no church considers itself a false church. So if you don't consider yourself a false church and yet disagree with theological pluralism then you must, out of logical default, consider your church to be the only one that has the truth (since all churches have theological positions that disagree with another). Thus, the SDA church only does actively what every other church does passively - it proclaims itself as Gods true church. But this doesn't mean you aren't part of the invisible remnant it just means you are not part of the visible and that's OK. Time will tell if the SDA church is correct since time alone will vindicate or condemn our prophetic message.

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    2. Now with that said, as I study scripture I can find no other church that is as close to Bible truth as the SDA church, so for me, the Bible is the vindicator for the SDA church. But for others who don't agree I believe time will vindicate us. This whole business of remnant and Babylon etc. is simply the rational conclusion of the Historicist method of prophetic interpretation. SDA's did not invent it, we inherited it from our Catholic and Protestant forefathers.

      Now I want to quote my intial statement on this whole remnant issue because I think there are some semantical issues that can lead people to think I am self contradicting with this new post. So here it is:

      The SDA Church is the exclusive remnant church. (Not so. We proclaim the remnant message and are Gods visible remnant church in the world but we alone do not compose the remnant that Revelation discusses [We alone are the visible remnant but not the invisible. There are many SDA's who are wolves in sheep clothing and many non-SDA's who are faithful followers of Jesus.] The Remnant is Gods faithful people, not a denominational institution [by remnant here I mean invisible remnant who exist both within and without the SDA church.] While we believe that God has entrusted us with the remnant message [Visible remnant] we in no way feel that t be a true child of God you must be SDA. For anyone to tell me that my aunt, a Catholic who is the most amazing Christian I know, is not a true child of God would be appalling. My aunt is a part of the remnant [Invisible] and so are you and everyone else who I a true child of God [invisible]. As a church we are called to ask people [the invisible remnant] to join us [the visible remnant] in proclaiming the remnant message - we are not exclusive.)

      Some people will not like this teaching no matter how well it is explained and how careful we are in denying any "you must be SDA to be a true child of God" heresy. But as I said before, every church does this, they just use different language. If no one thought their church was the right church who had all the truth then there wouldn't be any denominational distinction. There is no way that Augustine, Aquinas, Luther, Calvin, Arminius, and Wesley can all be right. Each church ahs always claimed to have truth that the previous church did not have. During the reformation one denomination was formed that had broken form the Catholic church. Then another broke from that denomination claiming to teach new light that the previous group was denying. Then another broke off and on and on. Today we have a plethora of protestant churches who all claim to teach the truth that the other church doesn't have. The SDA church is simply doing the same, so how does that make us heretical? If we claimed that you had to be SDA to be saved then yeah that would be heresy, but we don't claim that.

      Anyways, I could go on and on but I think I have made my point. Now I have to study for finals. Grrr.

      Blessings Teresa!
      Marcos

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    3. We are in total agreement. Absolutely no reason to be an a denomination that you know is wrong!! So we all believe our church is the closest to scripture.

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  7. I think the reason most people leave the SDA Church is because God leads them to. In His infinite wisdom, He provides more than one path to Him.

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    1. I left the Adventist Church after more than a decade of Bible Study. Every key doctrine, the Sabbath, the Investigative Judgement, the State of the Dead, fell one by one when compared to the Scriptures. I will be eternally grateful to God for allowing me to study my way out...

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    2. Hi Anonymous! (Wow, I have like 3 Anonymouses here)

      I always commend people who, when looking at the Bible and finding discrepancies between what they read and what their church teaches, have the courage to walk out. Right now there are many people in the SDA church who are constantly bickering about how the Investigative Judgment is not true, how the 7 days of creation in Genesis are not literal, how EGW is not really a prophet and so on and so forth. Then they spend their time criticizing the church and putting it down all the time. I wonder then, why in the world are they still in the church? This is why I respect people like you and others in this conversation who have decided to be honest and just walk away.

      May God bless you in your spiritual journey!

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  8. Marcos, as a former SDA who studied my way out, I feel I must address some aspects of your argument. In some above posts, you're contending that if one decides that Ellen White is inconsistent and can no longer be trusted as a true prophet, that person would have to conclude the same thing about the Bible authors because they are similarly inconsistent.

    This is something that is very serious because it implies a choice. Carried to its logical conclusion, one is either obligated to accept Ellen White and the Bible together as one package or reject them together. This is a terrible choice. .... And what if it's a false dichotomy? So many former SDAs leave Christ altogether because SDA apologists have tried to impose this decision on them. In their intent to defend Ellen White and historic SDA, current SDAs are leading people to believe that if Ellen is wrong, so is the Bible. Marcos, I invite you to imagine that IF you are wrong on this, there is a gravity of consequences. If Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, you are perhaps leading folks away from Him by tying Him and Ellen together in this manner. Is it worth it? If folks reject Ellen, wouldn’t you at least want them to hold onto Christ?

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  9. Continued...

    Secondly, the contention that Jesus, John, Paul, and the other Bible authors are at times inconsistent just like Ellen White needs to be called into question on logical grounds alone. By removing the Bible as the standard by which Ellen is to be judged, you’re taking away any method for testing the veracity of her claims. In so doing, you're elevating her claim to prophet status as un-falsifiable and above scrutiny.

    In this view, how would we test if Joseph Smith, Mary Baker Eddy, or David Koresh are true prophets? If someone says that they contradict Scripture, we can simply reply that Scripture is also contradictory. If someone says that they’re logically inconsistent with one another, we can appeal to paradox and that Scripture also seems inconsistent.

    Bottom line: What evidence would you personally need to be exposed to that would lead you to step back and consider the possibility that Ellen White is a false prophet and should be renounced and rejected as such? Is there an *outside* standard to which you would appeal that is authoritative enough to ultimately prove her wrong?
    I’m not sure it’s fair to write off anything that is ostensibly contradictory in scripture as a ‘paradox’, using this as a method for defending Ellen White. This thinking gets us off the hook of having to struggle through the relevant passages, in their contexts, harmonizing these apparent contradictions such that they are consistent when viewed in the broader redemptive narrative. (Other amazing theological thinkers have gone before us and done a very decent job of this. I’m happy to point you to some fantastic resources).

    Additionally, Ellen White’s statements that contradict Scripture cannot be ‘balanced’ by other statements where she’s in accordance with Scripture. Error cannot be balanced with truth. Error needs to be exposed and repented of. If she says even one thing that is not true, she needs to be disregarded, as per Scripture’s instruction re: false prophets. If you open the door for Ellen to be a prophetess, excusing her ‘schizophrenic’ tendencies, why not open the door for Joseph Smith? He said a lot of truthful, helpful things, too. And what do we do with his statements that contradict Scripture and himself? Well, Paul said contradictory things too, so what does it matter?

    If Jesus is TRUTH, wouldn’t it be better to spend all our energy defending HIM alone, rather than a supposed prophet? If HE is sufficient, why do we need an extra-biblical source to provide additional information? If HE is the full and final revelation of God (Heb 1:1-3), wouldn’t it be better for SDAs to simply leave former SDAs alone who’ve placed their trust in Him, rather than (a) implying that they never understood SDA in the first place (Perhaps they’re just not enlightened enough?) or (b) making statements to degrade their faith in Scripture that points to Him?

    Is defending Ellen White important enough to justify this?

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    1. Hi Dana!
      You pose some excellent questions and I will be more than happy to share my point of view with you. I can tell you are a good thinker and although your faith differs from mine I appreciate your perspective.

      I want to start out by clarifying two things. Number one, I am not an SDA apologist let alone an Ellen White apologist. If you want to dive deeper into the whole EGW thing I would recommend reading Jud Lake, George Knight, and Clifford Goldstein or just going to the White Estates web site and exploring there. Of course, none of this can prove that we are right but it will at least help you understand our worldview. This leads to my second clarification. This blog is not about proving anything to anyone. It’s simply a place where I share my thoughts. Along the way I try to share research and insights that I believe will be helpful to Adventists who are searching for answers (particularly those who have been inundated with false Adventism such as the “Last Generation Theology” camp). However, none of what I say will convince someone who is already sure they are right. I welcome disagreements on the basis that we are saved by grace not doctrine and that in heaven many of us will have to learn and unlearn much. I also have a deep appreciation for others beliefs even when they contradict mine.

      So with that said let me respond to your good questions. I am in no way proposing that if you reject EGW you must reject scripture. My only point in that argument is that the same tension that exists in scripture between grace and law also exists in EGW. So if I am going to accuse EGW of being schizophrenic because she sounds law focused in one statement and then grace focused in another I can easily do the same with the Bible. In fact, skeptics and Bible critics do just that. They point to so called “self-contradicting” texts and then say the Bible is inconsistent and thus a faulty book. What they fail to realize is that the Bible does not contradict itself in theological issues. What may appear like a contradiction on the surface is really only a paradox, two poles of truth which when united form a whole. So if I read only grace statements out of their context I can preach antinomianism all day long. If I read only law statements out of their context I can preach legalism all day long. But when I recognize that the Bible unites those two poles of truth I realize that grace leads to obedience and the so called contradictions are gone. My argument was simply this: The same exact rule applies to EGW. I have read many of her so called legalistic statements. Not only do people quote them out of their literary context but they also quote them out of their historical and theological context and then they interpret them legalistically (what my wife and I used to do).

      So in short my point was simply this: The same exact grace and law tension exists both in the Bible and EGW. The same way we relieve that tension in scripture is the same way we relieve it in EGW. Based on that equivocation how can I reject EGW for something scripture does as well?

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    2. You stated:

      Secondly, the contention that Jesus, John, Paul, and the other Bible authors are at times inconsistent just like Ellen White needs to be called into question on logical grounds alone. By removing the Bible as the standard by which Ellen is to be judged, you’re taking away any method for testing the veracity of her claims. In so doing, you're elevating her claim to prophet status as un-falsifiable and above scrutiny.

      I was honestly confused when I read this argument because I didn’t understand what you were trying to say. Then I realized you misunderstood me. I was not suggesting that the Bible writers were inconsistent at all. They are never inconsistent. They only, at times, appear to be. My point was this false inconsistency is also found in EGW. You then said, “By removing the Bible as the standard by which Ellen is to be judged…” and here is where I got really confused. I wasn’t removing the Bible as the standard to judge EGW at all. I was merely suggesting that when it comes to the issue of grace and law the same tension exists in both and so does the same solution. EGW is always beneath scripture and is always to be tested by scripture.

      Now please understand. None of this proves that EGW is a true prophet. All it proves is that if she is a false prophet the schizophrenic argument is not a good one to establish that. In order to show that she is a false prophet we will have to find other arguments. In this case the argument fails because the same exact problem appears in scripture. Again, that doesn’t prove she’s a true prophet but it does show that the schizophrenic argument doesn’t work.

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    3. To your bottom line: The only evidence that I would need is the Bible. The Bible is the standard by which I test everything. To date I have not found any biblical reason to reject EGW. I have read many arguments. Some of them excellent ones. But upon further study I have found them to be very weak. I continue to be open minded about the whole issue but I have yet to see anything convincing.

      However, allow me to comment on your question about those who do reject EGW. EGW is not the door to heaven. Jesus is. There are many people who reject EGW and then turn their backs on Jesus. This is unfortunate. No matter what happens in this life we should always hold on to Jesus. When I get to heaven perhaps I will discover she was a false prophet and perhaps you will discover she was not – but the point is we never let go of Jesus. There are many people who become convinced of certain theological ideas that contradict EGW. To such I would say study hard with and open mind and let the Holy Spirit guide you. If in the end you cannot reconcile the two then put EGW away but keep reading your Bible and keep walking with Jesus. If EGW was necessary for salvation then what will become of the Calvinist? EGW was an Armenian-Wesleyan in her understanding of systematic theology. A Calvinist will never accept EGW as a prophet because EGW’s theology is very different from that of Calvinism. Does that mean a Calvinist won’t be saved? Heavens no! As Paul said, we must each be fully convinced in our own mind. We must each live according to our conscience. To say that EGW is necessary for salvation would imply the opposite if she were a false prophet – that believing in her would mean you are going to hell. Neither is true. If we are in Christ, we are saved. Period.

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  10. You stated:

    Additionally, Ellen White’s statements that contradict Scripture cannot be ‘balanced’ by other statements where she’s in accordance with Scripture. Error cannot be balanced with truth. Error needs to be exposed and repented of.

    I say AMEN! You are 100% correct in this. My argument was not that we have to balance EGW’s error statements with her truth statements but that her so called error statements (legalism was the context of our discussion) are always quoted out of context and out of harmony with her overall understanding of salvation. As you well know, context is everything.

    If she says even one thing that is not true, she needs to be disregarded, as per Scripture’s instruction re: false prophets. If you open the door for Ellen to be a prophetess, excusing her ‘schizophrenic’ tendencies, why not open the door for Joseph Smith? He said a lot of truthful, helpful things, too. And what do we do with his statements that contradict Scripture and himself? Well, Paul said contradictory things too, so what does it matter?

    Once again. AMEN! But once again, EGW has no schizophrenic tendencies. And while Joseph Smith said much that was true Joseph Smith also openly denied scripture as the only rule of faith and practice while EGW constantly placed herself underneath the authority of scripture. And again, Paul did not say contradictory things. They only appear to be to the shallow reader. Here is a short article I wrote on the issue of Sola Scriptura that will help you understand my position more:

    http://www.jesusadventismandi.com/2013/02/why-sola-scriptura-is-not-enough.html

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    1. To your final comments:

      If Jesus is TRUTH, wouldn’t it be better to spend all our energy defending HIM alone, rather than a supposed prophet?

      It is true that Jesus ought to be our main focus. However, this doesn’t mean that we should disregard anything that isn’t Jesus because when it comes to doctrine Jesus is the center of everything including EGW. Christians also spend a lot of energy defending the authenticity of prophets like Isaiah against the Jews who reject him and argue against him as prophet. A Calvinist would never allow an anti-Calvin book to go unchallenged. A Lutheran would never allow an anti-Luther movement to go unchallenged either. Adventist’s believe EGW was a genuine prophet. Is it wrong for us to defend her against critics? I don’t think so. Of course, this should never detract from Jesus having our utmost attention but it should not be ignored either.

      If HE is sufficient, why do we need an extra-biblical source to provide additional information?

      I am providing a link here to a short article that deals with this issue. However please keep in mind that this article is not going to prove to you that EGW is a true prophet. It will simply share why I, and other SDA’s, believe she is. There is also a lot that has been written with regard to this topic. In short, EGW never teaches anything the Bible doesn't already teach. She may have extra info like the serpent in the garden had wings, but nothing new regarding doctrine. Here is how I responded to a Catholic friend who had a similar question:

      "If arbitrary rule [Pope as the only one who can interpret scripture properly] results in spiritual darkness and “every man for himself” results in spiritual confusion [thousands of protestant denominations with different teachings] then what alternative is there? Here is where I as an Adventist would say that the only alternative is the prophetic gift. Ellen White is the only alternative to these two extremes and she falls smack into the middle of these two extremes. EGW neither has arbitrary rule over doctrine and neither does she support the every man for himself idea. EGW’s prophetic gift was not intended to be a divine commentary on the Bible that everyone had to blindly follow, but neither is it “just another interpretation to throw into the pile” so to speak. EGW’s prophetic gift always pointed back to the Bible and never to herself. When discussing difficult theological issues her only role was to tell the leaders if they were on the right track and occasionally the angel would give her scriptures and she would tell those studying to look up the scriptures the angel gave because they would point them in the right direction. As such, not a single one of the doctrines of the SDA church depends on EGW nor on her interpretation of scripture. In fact, every single one of our doctrines are shared by Christians of all denominations none of which rely on EGW. So the prophetic gift is the perfect balance between arbitrary rule (Papacy) and no rule whatsoever (Protestantism [with its many divisions]). In the end, the most qualifying factor of the prophetic gift is that it always points back to the Bible and not itself.

      Now what about EGW’s non-biblical statements? O dude, she has tons of them! Adam and Eve were clothed in light, the chapter on Jesus childhood in Desire of Ages, and so much more. However, not a single one of these statements is doctrinal and not a single one contradicts scripture. As far as doctrine, none of what EGW teaches is an invention she came up with because it is taught by many others, not just EGW, and if I was to throw out every EGW book in my library today I would still be an Adventist. Our teachings are strictly biblical.

      Here is the link I promised :)
      http://www.adventistreview.org/article/6175/archives/issue-2013-1509/why-a-modern-prophet

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    2. If HE is the full and final revelation of God (Heb 1:1-3), wouldn’t it be better for SDAs to simply leave former SDAs alone who’ve placed their trust in Him, rather than (a) implying that they never understood SDA in the first place (Perhaps they’re just not enlightened enough?) or (b) making statements to degrade their faith in Scripture that points to Him?

      Your final statement is very emotional I can totally understand why. I think a simple clarification is in order. Number one, I appreciate your faith and esteem it as true and sincere. I am so happy that you have placed your trust in Jesus and, as a child of God, am happy to be a part of your family – the family of God. Number two, the above article does not say that all x-SDA’s left because they misunderstood the doctrines. Some really did get them. Didn’t agree with them and so they left. That’s OK. I only emphasized the “misunderstandings” aspect of the article because I have seen it a lot. I didn’t even know what true Adventism was until a few years ago and continue to meet people within and without the church who have misunderstandings. But this doesn’t mean every former Adventist is simply such because they weren't enlightened enough while they were in the church. Finally, if I made any statement to degrade you faith in scripture and Jesus please forgive me. I don’t consider myself a better Christian because I am an Adventist. I have been to many non-SDA churches and know many non-SDA people whose faith and Christianity blows my mind. It is not my mission to degrade another’s faith. I simply like to share what Jesus means to me and how my faith as an Adventist has helped me to know him more.

      I hope that was helpful,

      Blessings, Marcos.

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  11. "The same way we relieve that tension in scripture is the same way we relieve it in EGW."

    Marcos, your argument assumes that both Scripture and EGW are true and that, therefore, any apparent inconsistencies must be able to be reconciled. However, many of us former Adventists believe that EGW's writings contradict Scripture and are thus in error, disqualifying her as a true prophet. You may disagree with that conclusion, but I think you will agree that Adventism teaches that Scripture is the standard for testing her or any other alleged messenger of God.

    By holding both her writings and the Bible to the same standard, you establish a different standard for testing both, a standard external to Scripture. The Bible itself would have to be tested by whatever that standard is in the same way that we would test EGW. One can't be used to test the other if both are held to the same standard and if both are in need of testing.

    The problem with this is that EGW can't be tested by the same standard as the Bible without removing Scripture as the standard for testing non-canonical claims of prophetic inspiration. Christianity has already established the canon of Scripture as the standard of truth. Therefore, the Bible doesn't need to be tested; EGW does, and anything contradictory to the Bible can't be balanced with truth; it needs to be renounced as error.

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    1. Hi Kristine,

      Thank you for your comment. I don't pretend to convince anyone who thinks EGW is a false prophet. I believe that she is and have found no reason to believe otherwise while people who reject her say they have found ample evidence. There are certain issues we will never agree on in this world but if we can hold hands and worship Jesus then I think we have accomplished much.

      I don't agree that rejecting an argument as invalid because of its dual application to scripture is the same as placing EGW's writings on par with scripture. If I say "Katherine doesn't understand the gospel because she quotes the Old Testament a lot in order to explain it" you would quickly respond that Paul and Peter did the same exact thing. However, that doesn't make you equal with scripture. It just shows that that argument is faulty.

      On any note, others have done a much better job at defending EGW's prophetic ministry. If you remain unconvinced then we will just have to agree to disagree. :)

      Blessings,

      Marcos

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    2. Marcos, I can relate to many of your comments because I used to believe much the same way as an Adventist, about EGW and other issues. I, too, thought for a long time that there must be a way to reconcile her apparent disagreements with herself and with the Bible. The sticking point for me was that I couldn't reconcile all of her statements with the Bible, so I couldn't continue thinking that they were only APPARENT contradictions and still hold the Bible as my standard for testing truth.

      I disagree with you, though, in your statements about internal consistency--of EGW with herself and of the Bible with itself. By asserting that both are internally consistent if understood in their proper context, you do hold both to the same standard because you assume both to be true. But what if only one were true?

      If that were the case, as I believe it is with the Bible, then I would agree that any apparent internal inconsistencies are only apparent and can be reconciled. As a Christian, I approach the Bible with the fundamental belief that it is true and the only standard of truth for testing any non-canonical purported prophets.

      On the other hand, if EGW were not a true prophet, there would be no reason even to expect internal consistency (except as a measure of her writing skill). The reason that I, as an Adventist, wanted to find consistency in the apparent inconsistencies was that I approached her writings from the outset in agreement with the Adventist belief that she was a true prophet. That made it difficult for me to see apparent contradictions as real contradictions, but when I couldn't reconcile her apparent contradictions with the Bible, I had to rethink my belief about her prophetic status so that I could test her by the Bible without the preconceived assumption that she was true.

      In other words, the apparent internal inconsistencies in EGW's writings are not the problem. The problem is the underlying reason for believing that those inconsistencies can be reconciled, which is the premise that both the Bible and EGW are true. That requires holding both to the same standard, so that calling into question the one calls into question the other as well. And that is, unfortunately, why some Adventists who reject EGW end up rejecting the Bible as well, but they are set up to do so by that false standard.

      The important question, in my view, isn't whether EGW contradicts herself or whether the Bible contradicts itself. It is whether EGW contradicts the Bible. That is the true standard, and I believe that her writings fail to meet it.

      I appreciate very much your willingness to allow comments that disagree with you on this blog. I have strongly held beliefs, as you do, but I value civil discussion of different viewpoints. :)

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    3. Hi Kristine,

      You are right in that I assume both the Bible and Ellen White to be true. I obviously cant assume shes false because I don't believe she is. Everything I have read and researched convinces me she is a true prophet. Now as I stated before, I don't read EGW uncritically. I read her very critically. I write notes about things I disagree with and even argue with her writings at times. Then I look deeper and have, in each case, I found the Bible to be saying the same exact thing. You had a different experience and I value your experience. We are all on a journey of faith through this crazy world and so long as Jesus is the heart and soul of that journey we will be led by his Spirit into all truth. Some feel that Jesus leads them into the SDA church, others feel he leads them out. I cant speak for everyone, but as for me, I am blessed to be in this church and to have learned its teachings.

      Kristine, your last paragraph really made me smile. I too enjoy talking with people that different beliefs in a friendly way. After all, you re my sister in Christ. I wouldn't hate my real sister if we disagreed on something, so why would I hate you? The hate fueled divisiveness so common in our churches makes no sense to me. Doctrine is meant to help me know Jesus more, not cause me to be angry at people who disagree. In addition, I don't believe the truth needs me to defend it. If what I believe is true God will vindicate it and he doesn't need my help.

      I recently posted a new blog on the Adventist understanding of the gospel. Would love to hear your thoughts! (Its on the front page).

      Blessings,
      Marcos

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  12. I don't have time to read through all the comments right now, but I would like to share my story with you, Marcos. I am attaching a link to a Youtube video of my testimony that I gave at the Former Adventist Fellowship conference in Southern California this year. I am 22 years old and left the SDA church just over a year ago at 21. If what I was taught was a "misunderstanding" of Adventist doctrines, then my parents had better get their money back that they spent on an Adventist education for me; I received straight A's in all my Bible classes. When I was baptized into the Adventist church at the age of 10, the pastor said from that pulpit that, in studying with me, he could tell that my parents had done a wonderful job in teaching me doctrine. You would be hard-pressed to find an Adventist in my generation who knew and understood Adventist doctrine better than I. Marcos, the things that I will say about Adventism in my testimony ARE the real Adventism. Some have tried to explain these doctrines away while still clinging to an Adventist worldview, and it doesn't work. Anyways, if you have time, please take a look at my testimony. I would love to chat with you some more about your article after I have time to read all the comments. Thank you, Marcos! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w-WvqPQZX7w

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    1. Hi Musicalchik!

      I would love to take a look at your video. I may not get to it for a while but I promise I will eventually. I m going to quote myself from a comment above to avoid retyping but here is a clarification.

      "...the above article does not say that all x-SDA’s left because they misunderstood the doctrines. Some really did get them. Didn’t agree with them and so they left. That’s OK. I only emphasized the “misunderstandings” aspect of the article because I have seen it a lot. I didn’t even know what true Adventism was until a few years ago and continue to meet people within and without the church who have misunderstandings. But this doesn’t mean every former Adventist is simply such because they weren't enlightened enough while they were in the church."

      The truth is human beings are complex creatures. Ever denomination has countless people who have left and they all have a story behind their leaving and finding what they were searching for elsewhere. There are many who leave Catholicism and become SDA, others who leave SDA and become Catholic. There are even those who turn their backs on Jesus to follow Buddha. All of these journeys are interesting and important and I enjoy following them. You may very well have understood Adventism and walked away from what we would consider sound doctrine and that's OK. That phenomenon is repeated in every church but the real question is, Is Jesus yours? Are you his? If so, we will have eternity to sort out all of the theological wrinkles that exist this side of heaven.

      God bless!

      Marcos

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    2. Hi Musicalchick!

      Marcos here. I finally got a chance to watch your video (as promised). Sorry it took me so long! Anyways, I would love to dialogue about your experience. I really related to lots of what you had to say.

      Right now I am so crazy busy (just had another baby) I'm not sure when I will have the time but I thought I would message you to let you know that I have not forgotten our chat and would love to keep it going. What I am hoping to do in the future is share your video on a new blog post along with some comments and I am inviting you to dialogue with me there (this post has so many comments it would be annoying to do it here).

      Anyways, hope this message finds you well.

      Blessings,
      Marcos

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    3. Musicalchick! Marcos here again. OK, so I finally posted my response to your video. I messaged you about it on your blog but being that you only had one post on there I wondered if you even check that blog anymore so I decided to re-message you on here. Id love to hear your thoughts!

      Blessings,

      Marcos

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  13. Marcos, until a person makes a firm decision to allow the Bible to override Ellen White in every case, we'll all be talking past one another.

    All I humbly ask is that, in the conversation, SDAs refrain from:

    1. Implying in any way that EGW and the Bible come together as a package and if a person is to be consistent, they should either accept both together or reject both. This implies that Ellen White and the Bible are on the same plane as far as authority. I know that's not what you mean, but that's the message that comes across to others.

    2. Implying in any way that formers who leave do not understand the doctrine. Many formers hear this over and over from well-meaning folks, to the point that they start to question their own sanity and sometimes their faith in Jesus is weakened. It can also come across as insulting and alienates formers because many of them stand to lose a lot by coming to certain conclusions. In many cases, they would have done anything to be able to conclude Ellen was correct and keep their jobs, friends, and reputations. But, they were forced to make a choice, and it came at a high price to follow Christ over Ellen White. So implying that they 'didn't get it' may be a good technique to keep people inside SDA (by discrediting the formers' credibility), it just doesn't comport with the experiences of many of those who've studied their way out.

    My suggestion is that SDAs kindly stop this kind of speculation about why people are leaving, and chalk it up to 'irreconcilable differences'. If the reason for the speculation is to try to stop the bleeding, I honestly don't think there's much SDAs can do to keep people in. Folks are leaving who knew the doctrines inside out and folks are leaving who didn't know them well at all. ...Who were treated well in the church versus those who were treated badly. Folks are leaving who were schooled from k-college in SDA institutions. As internet access becomes available around the world, I expect that this trend will continue internationally, also.

    I guess it's only natural to wonder why, and I suspect we won't ever be able to fully understand one another on this issue. The underlying assumptions seem too disparate at times to create a bridge to cross the divide.

    The bottom line is that I know what Ellen White says about those who, with eyes wide open, reject her. The picture is not pretty. I know what I'm in for, if I'm wrong and she's right. When I was leaving, the SDAs around me made it abundantly clear what I was facing. I had to work through that fear and cling to Christ alone as truth. At some point I had to decide: Jesus or Ellen? The choice was painful, and some days I was frustrated at God for asking me to make it. But, in the end, I had to believe that He is sufficient--and not just "enough", but abundantly more than we could ever need!

    Thanks for listening. I so appreciate that you're allowing an open dialogue here.

    Blessings,

    Dana

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    1. Hi Dana,

      I wholeheartedly agree with your opening statement. In every single case, without exception, the Bible should override Ellen White. That’s exactly what she wanted herself. Ellen White never placed herself on equal ground with scripture and rejected the notion that she was some “divine commentary” on the Bible. Many SDA’s have done 1 of 3 things with her. 1. They have practically canonized her. 2. They have taken a, “Ellen White is not the Bible but she alone can explain the Bible” view (this is the divine commentary on scripture view) and 3. They have completely rejected her. I don’t believe in any of these positions. The Bible is my only rule of faith and practice but I have not found any reason to reject EGW and have been super blessed by her writings. They always point me back to the Bible (the opposite effect of a false prophet who always points people away from Scripture).

      Now allow me to respond to your points.

      1. Amen! I wholeheartedly agree and so did EGW. This is why she said that accepting her as a prophet should never be a test of fellowship or a requirement for baptism into the church. EGW recognized that the Bible was the only rule of faith and practice. She also recognized that accepting her as a prophet could take many years of study and prayer.

      2. I also wholeheartedly agree. However, it would also be false to assume that no one leaves due to theological misunderstandings. If I had left the SDA church 5 years ago I could have written a book exposing it that would have been entirely false because I was exposed to a false version of Adventism. There are many who leave and understood our doctrines. That’s OK. But there are also many who left and didn’t understand our doctrines. A balance is needed here as well as an appreciation of the faith-journey of other people.

      The phenomenon of people leaving the SDA church exists in every church and is a very complex phenomenon. There are many who leave Catholicism and become Adventists (like my mother) who practically glow as to their joy in their new found faith in Jesus while there are others who leave Adventism and join Catholicism and rejoice in their new found faith in Jesus. The same goes for Protestants and even people who leave Christianity altogether and write books as to the joy of entering the New Age, Buddhism, or even Wicca. The variables here are endless and complex.

      As far as EGW’s comments on rejecting her as a prophet what you stated is key to understanding what she meant. Did you reject her while fully convinced that she was a prophet of God? Or did you reject her while experiencing doubts? What EGW was referring to was people who are fully convicted she is a prophet but reject her because they have a personal agenda. That doesn’t sound like your story. It seems to me that you were simply struggling with your faith and chose to cling to Jesus alone and there is nothing wrong with that. There are tons of variables that go into this kind of scenario and EGW did not speak to all of those scenarios. Her warning was for those who reject her because they have an ulterior motive that she got in the way of. I don’t remember their names, but the first anti-Ellen white critics were two pastors. They rebuked a woman who had sinned and EGW stood by their side in so doing. The men railed about what an amazing prophet she was and spoke very highly of her. Then she discovered that in their rebuke they had crossed the line and so she rebuked them. Instead of humbling themselves and admitting their fault they went from “EGW is an amazing prophet” to “EGW is a false prophet!” Why? Not because they had studied scripture and wrestled with some theological issues (as you have) but simply because they got their feelings hurt. This is the kind of thing she was talking about.

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    2. Pray for me Dana, because I am the first to admit that as a church we have caused much damage by misrepresenting our beliefs. When I say people leave the SDA church because they misunderstood our beliefs I don’t mean they weren’t smart enough. What I mean is we, as a church, taught them wrong. We are the ones that told them that the Sabbath is salvific, that EGW is a divine commentary on scripture, that Sunday Christians are wicked. We did that. Not them. We messed the whole thing up because as I read the Bible, SDA history, and EGW I find none of that nonsense there. There are two Adventism’s. The true, Christ-centered message of God’s love, judgment, and soon return, and the false perfectionistic, watch out for them Catholics, conspiracy theorizing deception that seems to have taken over. I truly wish you hadn’t left because we need people like you who are intelligent and Christ centered and unwilling to stand for error to help take this church back to what God called it to be. But pray for me and the many like me who are still here. We can’t fix this. Fixing this is Gods responsibility not mine or anyone else’s. But we are tools in his tool bag to bring it to pass and we need prayer.

      Blessings,
      Marcos

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  14. Hi Marcos;

    As a second generation Seventh Day Adventist I would like to salute your grasp of the Adventist faith and ability to defend it with such grace and wisdom. It comes across that you walk your talk. And your wisdom is of the Holy Spirit. At the end of the day theres are some answers we will only get at the feet of Jesus in the earth made new. So spending hours debating on these issues will make us none the wiser at the end of it all. As you mentioned human beings are ininherently complex. The ways through which we arrive at the decisions and choices we make are complex too! Sometimes the real reasons are not even apparent to ourselves; the decision makers! So trying to justify why someone should or should not ; did or did not ; will or will not leave a certain church or denomination becomes an exercise in futility.
    At the end of the day we are called to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling. What impresses me the most and comes out in your posts is your conviction. You know what you believe in and are willing to stand by it and defend it if necessary. Truth be told that is something few people can do. It's a lot like faith. No one can argue with faith. It just works. Whether one likes it or not. You cannot explain it or rationalise it because that is how God works. So you have something special there and that I'd your conviction in what you are doing and believe in. That can be a challenge to those people who may not have the same level of conviction in their beliefs. My God continue to bless you and increase your wisdom and understanding. All the best for your finals!

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    1. Anonymous!

      Thank you for your affirmation and encouragement. It brought a smile to my face.

      Blessings,
      Marcos

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  15. Hi Marcos

    I am a 2nd Generation SDA, who as soon as I felt I was free to choose my own path, I left the church.

    God was never far from my mind and heart though.

    I am 41 now and in the past 6 months I have been searching again, searching for the truth....and it's amazing how misguided my views of SDA doctrines were!

    For example ....I was brought up thinking that we were saved by works. I am not saying that is what I was taught exactly, but that's how I viewed certain things that I must have picked up along there way. So it's been an eye opener to finally discover what SDA's truly believe.

    In my eyes, the SDA truth is Biblically sound. Much more sound than other views I have researched....ie Calvanism and the likes.

    I don't know much about Ellen G White to be honest. As far as I can tell, with the SDA's doctrines being the closest thing to truth that I have found, then I am happy to believe that she was a Prophetess, as I can now see why God needed the Truth to be taught again to the world after so many false teachings were beginning to guide people away from the truth.

    Sorry for probably not making much sense, but have loved reading your blogs and comments Marcos. A real refreshing view of all things SDA and beyond. You have helped open my eyes even further and I thank you for that.

    God's Blessings.
    David


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    1. Hi David,

      Sorry it has taken me so long to respond. I am currently preaching an evangelistic seminar and have been very busy. However, your comment brought a smile to my face. I am thankful that I can, in some small way, be a blessing to someone in this world. I am excited to hear that you are seeking the truth. Always remember, doctrine without Jesus is not truth, it is Biblical fact but when Jesus is at the center that is when we discover truth. He said, "I am the way, the truth..."

      If you ever have any questions or something to share feel free to send me an email.

      God bless!

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  16. Hi Marcus,

    I am a 5th generation SDA and PK, raised in all SDA schools. I read nothing but EGW for 30 years because I wasn't taught to read the Bible. I lived my life in hopelessness and despair. (and I did end up in a mental hospital a few times) Amazingly, I did have a born again experience in Adventism, but I had to put Ellen on the shelf. Periodically I would pull down DA or Steps to Christ, but I would never get far before ending up in a black hole. I used to give all the excuses you talked about and defend her to the end, even though I could not reconcile her in my personal life. I went round and round with Jesus on this and the only answer I got was just leave her alone. I never once considered leaving SDA. After all, it was the remnant church and we had the "truth". God had to intervene big time. Sitting in an SDA church listening to a sermon on the "Remnant" the cognitive dissonance was nearly unbearable, and I suddenly heard a voice inside me saying "this is NOT the remnant church." I was shaken to the core and had to leave immediately. Searching for answers, I found the website "ellenwhiteexposed" which I had been taught to leave alone. After finding she had visions early on that were not fulfilled, I knew she was a false prophet. I could go on and on on this, but I'm sure you have heard it all. Then someone suggested I read Pauls epistles without Ellen glasses on, and was shocked to discover the truth about the New Covenant and the gospel. Shocked to discover Jesus had already entered the most holy place long before 1844.

    No, i am not leaving SDA because I don't understand the doctrines of the church. I am leaving because the doctrines grossly distort the true gospel of Jesus. There is nothing that could ever bring me back. Looking back, is only darkness. Like Paul said in Galations..."what has happened to all your joy" after rebuking them for going back to keeping "special days, months, seasons and years". The biggest dissonance for me was the joy of christians I knew in "apostate babylonian churches" compared the the joyless existence of most SDA's I knew. I love my adventist friends and family. I have no judgment on where God has them on the journey to the pure gospel of Jesus. I see you and others trying to salvage it from the wreckage of Ellen White and the church...but unless the church does like the World Wide Church of God did and repent of it's false teachings and renounce EGW as a prophet, it can never be reconciled. What I don't get is that you say our salvation is based on Jesus alone, but the fact that so many of us are choosing that path and leaving SDA seems to be problematic. I end up in circular conversations with friends or family on this.

    Paul repeats himself twice in Galations 1...."But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned!" SDA is a "gospel" that is no gospel at all. My biggest fear is that it may be the biggest deception of satan that is deceiving if possible the "elect" as Jesus prophesied. Don't be afraid to find out the truth about Ellen White. The material out there is not written by people who hate SDA's. (that quite surprised me actually)

    God be with you Marcus on your journey for truth. Your love and kindness for former adventists is refreshing.

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  17. Hi Kathy!

    Thank you so much for your comment. It was heartbreaking and exciting
    to read at the same time. I can relate to many of the things you have stated and while I have had a different experience and my journey in Adventism has come to different results I’m just happy to know that you know Jesus and that you are experiencing the joy of salvation. I will never forget when I first discovered the gospel. I could literally feel it flooding my soul! It was so good I didn’t want to believe it but praise the Lord by his grace I was able to embrace the good news.

    Since having this experience I have turned back to the teachings of EGW and Adventism and have, thus far, found no contradiction. I am not a patriotic Adventist. I don’t defend the SDA church because I am loyal to it. I simply defend it because it has been maligned and misrepresented, not by former Adventists, but by current Adventists. The biggest heresy and deception within the SDA church today is known as “Last Generation Theology (LGT).” It was born in the 50’s and has become so huge that most people think it is the core of Adventism. The danger of LGT is that once you believe it you read everything, including EGW and the Bible through the LGT glasses. LGT is basically this: What I do (attainting sinless character perfection during the judgment) + what Jesus does = Salvation. Its baptized legalism and it has high jacked SDA theology. Once you buy into this theology it is impossible to read EGW and the Bible accurately because it completely distorts the two. Most LGT proponents quote EGW so much that unsuspecting Adventists think that they are preaching orthodox SDA theology. I have found that most SDA’s and former SDA’s today have bought into LGT. Once the Lord freed me from LGT I was immediately able to read EGW and the Bible properly and thus far have found no contradiction between SDA theology and grace. My wife has had the same experience. When she read EGW with LGT glasses she almost ended up in a mental institution. Once those glasses were removed she has had no problems with EGW. I’m not saying there aren’t challenges. Sometimes I read EGW statements that make me cringe. However, I have the same experience when reading the book of James and Revelation, or when listening to Francis Chan (one of the most popular evangelical preachers today and a favorite preacher of mine). At the end of the day I need to interpret those cringy statements through the lens of the cross. This is what EGW said every truth should be seen through. However, many Adventists have replaced that lens of the cross with the lens of Last Generation Theology. So sad.

    But I am confident that the Lord will come through and stories like yours are what encourage me all the more to take a stand for true Adventism and the true Gospel. Thank you so much for sharing!

    Blessings,
    Marcos

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  18. Marcos

    I am a third generation sda. I am at a cross road in my spiritual life. This is a very challenging time in my life. Leaving the Adventist Church is very difficult for me. I have a wife and kids and family and friends in the SDA Church. What do I tell them without shaking their faith in the Bible and God.

    Marcos what if you are wrong? I used to defend EGW. I believed wholeheartedly in her. I believed that she having a third grade education got her message directly from God. I was wrong. The
    evidence is there if you which to search for it.

    Marco, may God remove the scales from our eyes so that we may see the truth as found only in his inspired word.

    One thing, if EGW was an inspired prophet God would have confirmed her ministry through signs and wonders and healings the same way that he did with bible prophets. But she was just as inspired as Mary Eddy Bakker and others.

    Marco, there is sufficient information available on the internet that were not available 10 years ago. The scales have been removed from my eyes. I am no longer deceived. It was a challenging journey I almost lost total faith in God in the process. Now I am trying to pick up the pieces of my life.

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    1. Hey Anonymous!

      Sounds like you are going through some rough stuff man. My heart goes out to you. I have been at crossroads many times. I want to encourage you to just hang on to Jesus. Salvation does not belong to a church or a doctrine but to Jesus Christ. It is his finished work. If you just rest in his finished work you will never go wrong. He will lead and guide you always.

      Many people ask me that same question - Marcos, What if you are wrong? If I am then I suppose I will have to unlearn a lot of things when I get to heaven. I am not saved by theology but by the blood of Jesus in whom I have placed all of my trust.

      On the flip side, What if you are wrong? Only you can answer that question.

      I too pray God removes the scales from my eyes. There are many things I don't understand. I don't have the market on truth and I need to learn more but I also pray God removes the scales from your eyes so that we can both grow in truth.

      As far as EGW is concerned, God never worked miracles through her. However, even if he did it wouldn't prove she was a true prophet. The Bible says demons can perform miracles and in the last days the false prophet will call fire down from heaven just like Elijah the true prophet did in the Old Testament. So miracles are no proof of a prophetic ministry. In addition, not all prophets performed miracles. John the Baptist, whom Jesus called the greatest of all prophets never performed a miracle.

      While there is sufficient information on the internet attacking the prophetic ministry of EGW there is likewise much defending it. The White Estate, along with SDA church historians like George Knight and Jud Lake, have responded with satisfactory answers to each attack that has been labeled against EGW. I would encourage you to read both the attacks and the responses. That way you can have both sides of the story before you make up your mind. It was investigating the attacks and then the response to those attacks that convinced me even more that EGW was a true prophet. [You can go to Whiteestate.org or go to ellenwhiteanswers.org to see the other side of the coin. Ellen White Under Fire is a great book that deals with each of the attacks as well.]

      However, even if I threw EGW out the window I would still believe in the 28 fundamental beliefs of the SDA church because none of them depend on EGW. Unlike Mormons, the SDA church does not depend on anything except the Bible for its beliefs. We received not one doctrine from EGW - all of them come from the Bible and can be substantiated from the Bible alone.

      I know you are going through a rough experience right now friend, and I will pray for you. Just let Jesus lead you heart and mind, and you will never go wrong.

      Blessings,
      Marcos

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  19. Hi Marcos,

    I am thankful for your comments and answers here. It makes alot of sense. I am also thankful for all the other comments, expereinces, and questions from the rest of the respondents; because I learn from them too.I was not baptized knowing EGW and none of us had EGW books- I was taught to believe she was a Godly woman who was obedient to God and she did many wonderful works to help people understand God...a lady who points people back to God)I am one of those affected by the EGWexposed and all the faults of Adventism and their false doctrines. I heard of the white lies and other books written by ? There was a time when I went out to different churches searching for truth or the church I thought that teaches what Jesus really taught. I also have come across numerous Websites falsifying the SDA teaching. When I checked the real source it was not identical of what was being said. After a while I gave up searching. I decided to restudy and investigate it myself and I decided to stay put. Though I know there are many disagreements and criticisms even within the church circles I settled to rest my case and understand... Like you said human beings are complex and that leaving the church and coming in is common and the same happening in all church denominations. Now I do not focus on the criticsms but focus on Jesus alone and I study the bible more than ever before. Afterall the church is made up of people who are imperfect and only Jesus can cure that. Defenitely I believe there is no perfect church. Now I am looking forward for that perfect day when Jesus will come to gather His faithful home. I wonder if such a time in heaven ...all the saved ...both from the visible and invisible remnants talking about where they had misunderstood the gospel and there Jesus will make it plain:-) I do not worry about EGW or the SDA church no longer. I simply rest my case in the Lord. To me the SDA church teach the closet to the bible because it can be defended from the bible alone. (at least this is my expereince...not speaking per every single SDA)I would like to have a good view about the case of the very end where I was taught there will only be two groups of people in the end. Will that be between the unbelievers mix with all the evil people and those who may be good but did not accept Jesus; and the other group with all the believers coming from all denominations who solely believed and accepted Jesus?

    Again, thank you so much for your blog.

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  20. Imagine I was in the church many years and I never understood God. I often heard people commenting on the Old Testament God. It sound like God completely changed His position or character in the New Testament. For awhile I was on the cross road. I restudied and reading it carefully. (NO EGW but I do believe in what she has written as it does not contradict what I read in the bible yet) Only now then I understand God was not a tyrant in the Old Testament as I heard from most comments from Christians and non-Christians. I regret I was not really a seeker in my early life beside just living on what I was taught was truth.

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    1. Hey Anonymous!

      I am glad that you have been enjoying the dialogues. I have personally enjoyed them and learned from them. Your story has also been a blessings. Thanks for adding it to our conversation.

      About your question: "I was taught there will only be two groups of people in the end. Will that be between the unbelievers mix with all the evil people and those who may be good but did not accept Jesus; and the other group with all the believers coming from all denominations who solely believed and accepted Jesus?"

      There are many Bible passages that help with this like Matthew 24 (the sheep and the goats) Matthew 25 (wise virgins and foolish virgins) Revelation 13 and 14 (worshipers of the beast and worshipers of God) Revelation 20 and 21 (those outside the city and those inside the city) etc. The deciding mark in each seems to be between those who have a genuine relationship with Jesus and those who don't. These two groups (the lost and the saved) are all that will be left at the end of time. Within the lost there will be those who were all out wicked (Revelation describes them as the liars, fornicators, etc.) but Timothy also tells us of people in the last days who will be religious "having a form of Godliness" but worldly. So there appears to be many religious people within the group of the lost.

      The saved all have one common denominator - Jesus. Jesus as Savior and Jesus as Lord. This seems to be it in scripture. Sure, they are often described as keeping the commandments of God (Rev. 12 and 14) but these passages are descriptive of what the saved are like, they are not suggesting that they earned their salvation by commandment keeping. So I think the description you gave in your question is actually correct. The two groups at the end will be determined by those who have a relationship with Jesus and those who don't. That's it.

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  21. I am a convert to the Seventh Day Adventist Church. Before I joined, I struggled with the Ellen White question. After reading her writings for myself, I found them to be true and biblical. I have a stronger love for Jesus today because of Ellen G. White. With this, my love for others has grown considerably too. Thank you Marcos for your knowledge and defense of the truth. Keep lifting up Jesus. The greatest argument of the gospel is a loving and lovable Christian. When Seventh Day Adventist live the message they preach, more people will see and recognize the truth as it is in Jesus. Hope your evangelistic seminar was fruitful and many souls were won to Jesus. Take care and God bless.

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  22. The Adventist faith really is lovely and a good path to Christ. I don't believe Adventism or being an Adventist is wrong. However, there is an arrogance in saying that Adventism has the absolute truth and people are leaving simply because they don't understand the truth is... arrogant.

    Truth is I did grow up with many false beliefs. I don't think I really understood the Gospel. I think Adventist culture perpetuates a lack of understanding of God's Grace. With Ellen Whites role in the church, to the health message, to the doctrine of the Sabbath, it's easy to lose what really matters. I prefer not to be in a culture where I am to feel like a "Badventist" because I watched TV on the Sabbath or had pepperoni on my pizza. I prefer not to be in a culture where HOW we live as Christians is more pervasive in WHY we are Christians.

    The Adventist church is flawed. It is not perfect. It is not wrong, but it's not right, either. I have chosen to leave the Adventist church at this time in my life because I feel as if I need to strip away the dogma and the false teacher and come to the lord with out any preconceived notions or baggage from my past. And if God leads me back to Adventism, I welcome it with open arms. As of now, I do not feel as if I can experience the love of God and his grace and mercy and navigate through the garbage that comes with being an Adventist.

    From what I think your article said, people's problem is that they don't believe in Adventism right. It's a shame it's a faith that can so easily be believed wrong. It's a shame it's a faith that can be so easily misinterpreted and misunderstood. At this point in my life, I need the Gospel to be simple and clear. And maybe it being simple and clear is all I need to have a committed relationship with the Lord.

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  23. I notice several comments ago a mention was made of working out one's salvation with fear and trembling. What does this mean exactly? That we should shake in our boots every time we make a mistake? Fear the possibility of losing our salvation, or that it can be taken away if we don't measure up? Ellen white and the bible both mention fear and trembling in regard to one's salvation, and one may well tremble about it when one takes her investigative judgement doctrine into account. Because this one doctrine alone is enough to ruin one's hope. I left the SDA Church long ago, and God as well unfortunately. But i can say i am now happier as a non christian than i ever was in that church.

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    1. Hi Gordon!

      Excellent question brother. Anonymous has already answered what "fear and trembling" means and he did an excellent job at it so I wont deal with that. However, I do want to highlight something he touched on as well and that is your statement, "What does this mean exactly? That we should shake in our boots every time we make a mistake?"

      This statement sounds an awful lot like the "light switch" version of salvation. This heresy teaches that every time you sin you lose your salvation until you repent. Salvation is then like a light switch that is constantly being turned on and off. This heresy causes deep psychological damage and is false. We don't lose our salvation because we don't measure up. The only way a Christian can lose his salvation is to make the conscious choice to turn their back on Jesus. So long as we trust in him and his saving blood we will be saved. Salvation is of Jesus only, not Jesus + works.

      Now you also mentioned the scary "investigative judgment" doctrine Ellen White speaks of. Since anonymous didn't respond to that I'll take a few lines to address it.

      I live by a simple rule: Any teaching that contradicts righteousness by faith (which I often refer to as "Jesus only") is suspect. Our responsibility is to study and discover if the doctrine in question is truly contradicting the message of salvation by grace through faith. If it is, get rid of it. If it is not, then we come to a new understanding of said doctrine. This is the experience I had with the investigative judgment. I studied it with the conviction that if I found it to be false I would not only get rid of it but I would leave the SDA church as well. What I discovered was pleasantly surprising. There is nothing scary, or hopeless about the investigative judgment. Just the opposite is true. The problem is the way it has been taught by teachers who didn't understand the gospel. If you would like to explore this more I recommend the following articles:

      Just As I Am Without One Plea: The Truth About the Investigative Judgment: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ACpBLKV1alg

      The Pre-Advent Judgment (paper I wrote which covers issues like what you mentioned): http://www.scribd.com/doc/110113700/The-Pre-Advent-Judgment

      At the end of the day, whether you accept this teaching or not I truly hope that you would rediscover Gods love for you and his desire to have you live with him forever. You don't have to be either Adventist or nothing else. If you simply cant embrace our teachings, by all means, find another faith group you can identify with, but don't turn your back on Jesus. There is no grand thing that you have to do to be a part of Gods family. Just believe that Jesus is your Savior placing all of your trust in him and as it written, "Whoever has the son has life..." (1 John 5:12).

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  24. Hi Gordon. I am the one who put the comment about working out ones salvation with fear and trembling. I believe what the bible means is that salvation is a serious matter as it pertains to the ultimate destination of your soul. Not necessarily that we should live in fear of being denied salvation at every mistake or sin we commit, for the bible also says that God is love, and perfect love casts out all fear. We also know that the bible says where sin abounds grace abounds even more. So salvation truly is by Grace alone. Our righteousness is like filthy rags, so when we fail to live up to Gods standard, Christ steps in for us and He covers us with His cloak of righteousness, so that when we are saved its not about how "good" we are or in our strength, but it's wholly about Christ's finished work on Calvary. I hope this clarifies my statement somewhat. We are not to live in bondage. To the contrary, Jesus says His yoke is easy and His burden light. So if you find yourself living in fear of the proverbial "large stick" every time you mess up thats not the interpretation of scriptures that I believe God wants for us.

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  25. Thankyou Marcus for your reply. Even though i would never return to the SDA Church, i know there are many real Christians in it. I would say that you are certainly one of them. Having said that, i would also say that if i were to return to Christ, and i knew it was His will for me to go back to the SDA Church, then i would do it with no hesitation. Thankyou too Anonymous for your comments also. It did help clear up some doubts in my mind, regarding fear for one's salvation.

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  26. It is interesting to me that the whole Old Testament pointed toward one culminating event, and that was the birth, death and resurrection of Christ. It was as if New Testament spends the rest of the time pointing back toward what was completed on the Cross. So it would be logical that the end time events would center around the ONE BIG EVENT (Christ's death and resurrection)in our earth's history. Making end time events about the Sabbath kind minimalizes what the whole Bible has to say about the most important event. False worship or not, it still comes back to Christ. If you have heard anything about the new age agenda and in particular the false christ maitreya he makes it clear that the one world goverment cannot procede if people hold to a one savior theme. Those who believe in a sole savior are to be eliminated.

    I am still a SDA church member but as I read and study the Bible, without the EGW filter, things just do not fit our doctrines. As much as I want to cling to the past, it just does not make sense anymore. Sometimes I read a verse and decide to take it literally, and I am just blown away. Such as In Rev 19:20 - Then the beast was captured, and with him the fase prophet who worked signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who received the mark of the beast and those who whorshipped his image. These two were cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone. And then in Rev 20:10 The devil, who deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet ARE. They ARE, as in a present state of being.
    The time has come for us to read our bibles, and to believe what they say, not to interpret them with EGW. God gave us the bible that is simple enough for anyone to read, not people with special degrees (not that special degrees are bad). I don't need a priest or a prophetess or a pastor to interpret it for me. I can go to the store and buy one and read it and believe it. I spent my whole life reading a verse in the Bible, pausing and then making it fit by what I had read in EGW or heard from a sermon or pastor. Like this, oh yeah the comma was placed in the wrong spot, that is why the thief on the cross won't be in paradise with Jesus today. Or of course when it says they have no rest day or night, it wasn't literal because eternal doesn't mean eternal in reference to hell, but it does mean eternal when we are going to live eternally in heaven. God with bring with him those that sleep in Jesus (no explaination for that one). Or to be present with the Lord doesn't actually mean at death, it just means we will be present with the Lord someday. We are not under law but grace actually means that we are not under all the ordinaces of the law (with the exception of the unclean meats). I don't want to sound rude but no wonder I felt schizophrenic at times. If we spend the majority of our time fitting things we read in the Bible into a box of what we know to be true, how can the Bible really touch us, how can we gain wisdom from the bible, how can we really get to know God, how can we enjoy His promises. When I started taking the Bible literally, I experienced moments of pure joy just from reading a verse. He promises came alive to me and I was filled with hope. I had given up an intellectual scrutiny of verses and enjoyed them for what they were meant to be, a blessing to me. The beauty is God loves us all and He is a just and fair judge and if we believe in Jesus, whoever we are and whatever denomination we are afilliated with, we are His church. Praise the Lord for that! The special message for a special time is this....... Jesus is the only way, accept Him and you will receive eternal life.

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    1. Hello Anonymous! I really enjoyed reading your comment. It shows evidence of a thoughtful Christian who has not checked his/her brain at the door. It also shows evidence of a sincere Bible student and I want to commend you for that.

      You also raised some super important points in your comment that I think are worth interacting with, so allow me to do so now. You said, “It is interesting to me that the whole Old Testament pointed toward one culminating event, and that was the birth, death and resurrection of Christ. It was as if New Testament spends the rest of the time pointing back toward what was completed on the Cross.”

      You are absolutely correct in this. The entire Bible is a cross centered book. Everything before points to, and everything after points back toward the cross. This is a truth that the SDA church affirms wholeheartedly. You then say,

      “So it would be logical that the end time events would center around the ONE BIG EVENT (Christ's death and resurrection)in our earth's history. Making end time events about the Sabbath kind minimalizes what the whole Bible has to say about the most important event. False worship or not, it still comes back to Christ.”

      I actually agree with you. Not only do I agree with you but so does the SDA church and Ellen White. It appears to me that your experience in Adventism is colored heavily by the conservative tradition which is why you are making these statements as being contra-Adventist. But the reality is all of your main points are actually compatible with centrist (main stream) Adventism including this one.

      Allow me to respond by first saying that the end time Sabbath controversy has nothing to do with who can read the calendar better or who can determine which day is the 7th vs. the 1st. It also is not exclusively related to the law of God. In fact, the Sabbath controversy has more to do with the grace of God than the law of God. In order to understand what the Sabbath controversy will be about we first need to see what the Sabbath represents. I invite you to listen to the following two sermons that my friend Michelle Doucoumes and I did on this topic:

      Resting in Gods Finished Work: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NtCK4QWanIc
      War on Grace: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kI3eUaVK0Qs

      These two sermons center on the Sabbath controversy in the book of Revelation and demonstrate that the real issue that is on trial is grace, not law. I think you will find them both interesting (though I do apologize for the poor video quality).

      “I am still a SDA church member but as I read and study the Bible, without the EGW filter, things just do not fit our doctrines.”

      “The time has come for us to read our bibles, and to believe what they say, not to interpret them with EGW.”

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    2. And I say Amen! In the conservative Adventist tradition Ellen White is often viewed as a divine commentary on scripture. Everyone interprets the Bible according to Ellen White. This actually elevates her to a position she never claimed for herself, consistently rejected during her life, and goes contrary to the SDA position. Ellen White is not an umpire over scripture. Her word is not meant to be the final say on what a Bible topic means. Her constant theme throughout her ministry was that the church would uplift the Bible and the Bible only as the rule of faith and standard. Think of it, if the SDA church believed Ellen White was a divine commentary on scripture, why do we have theologians? Why do we have scholars? Why did I spend the last 4 years at an SDA university studying theology from sola scriptura? This Ellen White interprets scripture idea is very popular in the conservative tradition but it is not an official view of the SDA church. We are not meant to read the Bible with an EGW filter. She never promoted such an idea and neither does the church.

      All of our doctrines are built on the Bible alone. I can defend all of them from scripture alone and don’t need Ellen White for any of them. If you choose to disagree with my doctrine that’s fine, but that doesn’t mean I can’t present a biblical case for them.

      “I spent my whole life reading a verse in the Bible, pausing and then making it fit by what I had read in EGW or heard from a sermon or pastor.”

      I am so glad you aren’t doing this anymore! Praise God. However, you also mentioned that you no longer approach the text intellectually but literally. I want to encourage you to not throw the baby out with the bathwater. If we approached everything in the Bible literally, without wrestling with the text and seeking to come to a full understanding of its historical, cultural, and literary context plus its rational, logical, and systematic implications then we would have a church in which women are not allowed to speak and are told they must have babies in order to be saved. Those are both statements Paul makes. And if we take them literally, without seeking to understand his intended meaning, we end up with some quirky theology. In addition, the Bible is written in many different genres. Narrative, history, poetry, proverb, prophecy, and apocalyptic literature are all different and must be interpreted differently. This doesn’t mean you need a degree, it just means we need to be students of the word, not just readers.

      Now you also raised a lot of issues related to how SDA’s interpret scripture. Issues like the state of the dead, the law and grace etc. I don’t think you are actually interested in debating those (though I am open to it). But I would like to add that those are teachings that are not unique to the SDA church. Rethinking Hell (for example) is an evangelical movement that teaches the mortality of the soul, hell, and the state of the dead as we do. There are also men like John Stott and Edward Fudge (both non-SDA) who taught the same thing among many others. So this isn’t about SDA interpretation VS everyone else. It’s about honest Bible students wrestling with scripture and coming to different conclusions.

      I hope this response was helpful to you. Again, I enjoyed reading your comment and wish the best for you in your spiritual journey. If you want to continue chatting feel free to write back. If you get a chance to hear those two sermons, I would love for you to engage me in dialogue over them.

      Blessings,
      Marcos

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  27. Marcos,

    You seem like a sincerely nice guy. I can sense the level of frustration that some bloggers feel with trying to “save” you or helping you see the “light.” I don’t believe it’s a competition to see who finds the real Jesus Christ first. It seems you are well on your way to getting to know Him. He desires a relationship with everyone. I am going to do something very simple. I am going to pray to the God of Isaac, Abraham and Jacob who loves both Jews and Gentiles for you and your family. That is all. I believe this will do more than I could ever do with all my knowledge. Think about it … tapping into the source of everything is really not such a weak thing to do. He knows it all anyway! May God richly bless you and lead you in His ways in Jesus Christ’s name Amen! God is love! Walk in His love and don’t stop seeking His face.

    Former SDA

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