Friday, March 13, 2009

The plain truth

The deeper my study of the writings of Adventist's prophet, Ellen White, the more troubled I become. For instance she had this to say about illness:

"It is a sin to be sick; for all sickness is the result of transgression." (Health Reformer, August 1, 1866)

Huh? Does this mean that the Apostle Paul's thorn in the side was the result of sin? What about Job? He was clearly afflicted with sores from head to toe after Satan
obtained permission from God to so afflict him. God's own testimony to Job's character was this:

"And the LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a
perfect and an upright man, one that fears God, and eschews evil?" (Job 1:8)

There is simply nothing in the scriptural account of Job 's drama to indicate that his illness and sufferings were the result of sin. How then did Ellen White arrive at her conclusion that "all sickness is the result of transgression?" Would God have told her this, by dream or vision, when it so clearly contradicts biblical truth? Hardly.

This following
EGW quote hit me particularly hard. I don't know, maybe it's my maternal instincts rising up in protest, but I could hardly believe what I was reading:

"God loves honest-hearted, truthful children,
but cannot love those who are dishonest . . . the Lord loves those little children who try to do right, and he has promised that they shall be in his kingdom. But wicked children God does not love . . . when you feel tempted to speak impatient and fretful, remember the Lord sees you, and will not love you if you do wrong." (An Appeal to the Youth, pp. 42, 61, 62)

Oh my goodness, doesn't it make you wince to read these words? Think of a little child hearing such scoldings! By such harsh words (which are a lie to the loving character of God), children are groomed and prepared for full-fledged
pharisaism. Can't you just see them growing into legalists by degrees until, by the time they reach adulthood they are no longer capable of trusting in God's grace? Where on earth did she get this message? Compare her words with these:

"But God commends his love toward us, in that,
while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8)

"Love your enemies." (Luke 6:27)

We'd better hope God loves each one of us, even those who have yet to turn to Him. After all, none of us were born loving and worshiping Him.

Do you believe that Jesus was the Lord God Almighty? I guess I'd simply
assumed that this was a foundational teaching of Adventism. But listen to this:

"The man Christ Jesus
was not the Lord God Almighty." (Letter 32, 1899, quoted in the Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 5, p. 1129)

There is so much more I could list here of the things which trouble me in the writings of Ellen White. But for now I must stop, for a sort of spiritual nausea is permeating my spirit. I think of how highly I used to regard her writings, though never actually checking out the veracity of them for myself. I did as probably a majority of those raised in Adventist families have done: accepted without question what was taught. If Ellen White said it, that was good enough for me! I cringe just thinking of how gullible I was.

For those reading this who are current Adventists, I feel I must say once again that I am not writing this blog in order to have a public forum for Ellen White or Adventist
bashing. There's a world of difference between all that "bashing" implies, and a sincere desire to dig down deep into the word of God to discover truth. I've no axe to grind--but if I discover that what I've been taught and believed in for decades is full of many untruths which contradict the Bible, you'd better believe I'm going to be writing about that here. If, as I am suspecting more and more all the time, it turns out that Ellen White has been revered nearly on the level of a Pope, or Christ Himself, it would be wrong of me not to say so plainly.

It's painful to find out that what one has built their entire life around is false to the core. How well I know that. I'd rather not delve too deeply into the Spirit of Prophecy writings. I'd just as soon plaster a smile on my face, go through the rites and rituals I learned by rote during my childhood, and not rock the boat. Can't I just sort of coast along until the time comes for me to cross the Jordan? Well, apparently not.

I'm open to hearing both sides of this. All I ask is that if you leave a comment please do so
respectfully.

28 comments :

  1. Thank-you for your benign honesty. I really do appreciate your desire to remain disconnected from the rancorous spirit seen in most people who try to grapple with these issues.

    I am not going to attempt to answer these questions in either direction. I am basically taking the position of "taking these issues under advisement" as some would put it. I have found that if I don't demand immediate answers but leave questions open to God and keep my own heart open and humble that God is faithful to give me satisfying answers sooner of later.

    Thanks again.

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  2. Clay,

    Thank you, in turn, for your honesty. There is truly no reason for getting hot under the collar when discussing spiritual issues!

    Mostly I am writing my blog to help myself trudge through a lifetime's accumulation of misconceptions to see what, if any, truths are hidden beneath the rubble of my distorted thinking.

    I feel an obligation to share what truths I do find, but I'm nonetheless not trying to talk anyone else into believing as I do. All any of us can do is find truth in our own way and time, and be true to those truths, treasuring them in our hearts.

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  3. All sickness is the result of sin...before sin their was no sickness or death, and after God destroys sin there will be no more sickness and death.

    Read in context, I don't think she was saying if a person is sick it is their personal sin and they are responsible for it...for she mentions that many times children suffer from the decisions of their parents...in regard to following God's health laws.

    It seems to me that she is just pointing out the bigger picture that sickness is a result of sin, and I agree with her.

    That quote about being bad children vs. good children sounds pretty harsh to me too. But I looked at the White estate's explanation which put it in more context.

    One of the things I found is that the Bible too has verses that if looked at alone seem rather harsh..."The Lord tests the righteous, but the wicked and the one who loves violence His soul hates."- Ps 11:5. Then there's that passage talking about "Esau did I hate."

    But I found that when dealing with little kids who can't understand a lot of theology, she sometimes tried to use a simpler method of explaining things to them. Later she made this statement:

    "What I meant--and I believe what the boys understood--was that God will not condone disobedience, even though He always loves little boys and girls, good or bad. Disobedience has tough consequences, and God, in love, doesn't want them to experience the costs of disobedience."

    and this:

    ""Jesus would have the fathers and mothers teach their children . . . that God loves them, that their natures may be changed, and brought into harmony with God. Do not teach your children that God does not love them when they do wrong; teach them that He loves them so that it grieves His tender Spirit to see them in transgression, because He knows they are doing injury to their souls. Do not terrify your children by telling them of the wrath of God, but rather seek to impress them with His unspeakable love and goodness, and thus let the glory of the Lord be revealed before them."

    The White estate says "Yet, how much theology can a six-year-old understand? God had the same challenge when He instructed the recently freed Israelites after their exodus from Egypt. He used kindergarten language and methods--including the sandbox illustration of the desert sanctuary service--for that was the only language level they could understand. Sometimes the threat of disapproval and punishment can get the attention of six-year-olds and recently delivered Israelites when "love talk" would have no impact."

    And they end by saying "Ellen White did not always express her thoughts perfectly in her first attempt, and her later statement indicates that she found a better way to present both God's displeasure and His love."

    I looked up the statement about Jesus being the Lord God Almighty, and I found that it was taken out of context as well. Here is the original statement:

    "Christ left His position in the heavenly courts, and came to this earth to live the life of human beings.
    This sacrifice He made in order to show that Satan's charge against God is false--that it is possible
    for man to obey the laws of God's kingdom. Equal with the Father, honored and adored by the angels, in our behalf Christ humbled Himself, and came to this earth to live a life of lowliness and poverty--to be a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. Yet the stamp of divinity was upon His humanity. He came as a divine Teacher, to uplift human beings, to increase their physical, mental, and spiritual efficiency. There is no one who can explain the mystery of the incarnation of Christ. Yet we know that He came to this earth and lived as a man among men. The man Christ Jesus was not the Lord God Almighty, yet Christ and the Father are one. The Deity did not sink under the agonizing torture of Calvary, yet it is nonetheless true that "God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."

    So you can see that the people who listed these things against Ellen White purposely took things out of context, for the last part of the sentence is "yet Christ and the Father are one."

    The White estate goes on to say this about her statement, and I agree:

    "Notice in its context that Ellen White made it quite clear that Jesus was totally equal with the Father when He came to the earth. So what did she mean then that Jesus wasn't "Lord God Almighty"?

    The key word here is "Almighty" (not whether or not Jesus was "truly God" as the heading of this allegation suggests). Before Jesus became a human, He had:

    1) Omnipotence
    2) Omnipresence
    3) Omniscience

    When He came to the earth He laid aside:

    1) Omnipotence (He said "I can of mine own self do nothing" [He needed the Father] John 5:30.)
    2) Omnipresence
    3) Omniscience (He said that even He did not know the day or the hour of His own Second Coming, but only the Father knew [Mark 13:32])

    Jesus didn't count equality with the Father a thing to be grasped, but for you and I He became a human and was obedient even to the death of the Cross (see Philippians 2:6-8)."

    So anyway...these are the answers I found when I dug deeper into the statements you posted...because they concerned me a lot, especially the one to the children. But what I found was that people are just taking things out of context instead of looking at the whole picture. Just my opinion about it. :-)

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  4. After reading Todd G's response, I see that he has spent a lot of time in researching for you. Bless him! It means he cares about you and what you said.
    There is a recent Sabbath school quarterly out now that answers a lot of these sorts of questions. I would be glad to send you one if you like.
    As for me I found quite the opposite in the books (not letters or compilations of quotes) I chose to read like Desire of Ages and Steps to Christ because they include a lot of God's love. Even nonSDA scholars credit White for turning the church toward righteousenss of Christ and away from legalism.
    I think you will need to look at the subject more objectively. I know that may be hard since you associate the church with the evil of your parents. So perhaps the problem is not White but more personal.
    I have known so many wonderful Christian people in the SDA church that no one can convince me of the false witness that is sometimes out there.
    God is love, White wrote more times than I can count, and in so many different ways.
    Prophet is not the right word, but messenger is what she chose. Any of us can be a prophet if we share the Gospel.
    Thank you for opening your heart and letting us know your thoughts and pain. I pray you will be open also to unlearning all the negative things you have picked up. You were just too hard on yourself in the past.
    EM
    A sister in Christ,

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  5. Thank you for sharing how you presently see things in this particular area of 'living'.

    I saw a very interesting illustration the other day that I feel may have application to what you have presented in your blog.

    A professor showed a picture on a screen. He asked the audience to view the picture through a pair of glasses which had been provided to them. When viewing the picture on the screen using the glasses the picture appeared very different then without the glasses. The professor pointed out the a person's present beliefs affect everything they 'see'. When not using the glasses a person could see things in the picture that were not 'seen' when using the glasses.

    Having read previous blogs written by you I get the distinct impression your 'glasses' are different than 'mine', if you please. My heart hurt to the point of even getting angry as I read how you were spiritually abused - what I consider one of the worst forms of abuse - by coloring God the way it was done to you.

    But even though those experiences were not God's will, they have still 'colored' your perceptions of probably a lot of areas in your life - not just 'church'.

    Having said all of the above, may I suggest that since you no longer wish to have an abusive spirit, you are beginning to 'take off' the 'wrong' glasses already. I thrill as I have been learning about what God is really like recently. The Holy Spirit, I believe, is in the process of setting you free in a unique way just for you as well.

    Finally may I remind you that you are very special.

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  6. Todd,

    I agree of course that all sickness is the result of sin, in that we live in a fallen world. However, there is a vast difference between a statement such as that, and the statement of "It is a sin to be sick."

    One of the problems I'm having with Ellen White's writings (and please keep in mind that I'm trying to sort everything out; I'm not necessarily trying to make a case for discrediting her) is that there are so many contradictions in her writings.

    The one about children is a good example. Yes, she did write that God does not love wicked children. Yes, she did, elsewhere, write just the opposite.

    I don't believe that children are too dense to understand the difference between someone who doesn't love them if they do wrong and someone who doesn't love the wrong things they do.

    I think that for every instance you or I could bring up where there seems to be some kind of discrepancies in her writings, you will (naturally) consider the issue from an Adventist mindset. I'm not even saying you shouldn't, since that's your belief system. It's not where I am right now. I'm wanting to not filter everything through an Adventist lens, but to comprehend (with guidance from the Holy Spirit) from a purely Christian point of view.

    What I'm saying not so eloquently (you'll have to forgive me, I'm rather sick at the moment) is that I need to understand truth by using the Scriptures, and the Scriptures only, as my light or Interpreter. Too often when I used to attend the Adventist church, Ellen White's writings were consulted above and beyond the word of God. For every sermon I heard about the love of God I heard easily 9 more about health and diet, or the Sabbath. I wanted Jesus, but all I seemed to get for the most part were rules and more rules. Some, a lot, of them weren't even in the Bible. They were based on visions and dreams.

    It has become crucial to me at this point in my life to come to God honestly. My belief system needs to be based on what in my heart I truly believe, not what I have been told I have to believe--or else.

    I appreciate your zeal for defending Mrs. White. I understand it. We're at different places in our spiritual journeys. I don't know where my quest for truth will lead me. Will I end up back at Adventism, embracing it heart and soul? Could be. Will I denounce it once and for all, deciding that I simply can't with all honesty walk in harmony with SDA doctrines? I really don't know how this will end.

    One thing about God: following Him is always an adventure!

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  7. Ellamae,

    Thank you for taking the time to comment on my post.

    I understand your saying that maybe I need to be more objective; I actually agree with that, though probably not in the way in which you meant it.

    For the purposes of objectivity, I'm refraining from any extensive reading of the Spirit of Prophecy writings.

    You see, I devoured them to such a degree, for so many decades, that it got to the point where I nearly couldn't read the Bible without their help.

    I do mean to be objective in my thinking about spiritual issues. If that weren't the case I would have divorced myself from Adventism decades ago. If I went purely by emotion, or by the fact that it was my abuser who brought Adventism into my world, I wouldn't be struggling so now. It's because I haven't wanted to throw out the baby with the bath water that I've taken my time in allowing myself to even begin to investigate truth for myself.

    If Ellen White's writings were truly inspired of God (and it doesn't seem of much importance whether she is called a prophet or a messenger: the fact is, she claimed that God is the one who inspired her writings), then they will withstand my scrutiny. If they are valid there is no reason to fear someone questioning them, is there?

    I have to account some day for the life I've led; how pitiful would it be to stand before my Creator and whine that I did this or that, or believed this that and the other simply because I was told to believe it? I believe He desires us to love Him with everything we have, including our minds. That means I need to dig for truth rather than passively take whatever is offered. I have to believe that it is His Spirit who is calling me into a deeper study of the word of God to see whether or not these things be true.

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  8. Bringer of Peace,

    I guess my response to Ellamae pretty much covers your comment as well. She thinks I need to look at this subject more objectively, and you encourage me to "take off the wrong glasses already."

    It's because I've taken off the wrong glasses that I'm even questioning the teachings of my childhood. You're right that my abusive childhood didn't affect only my church life. Of course not, it went much deeper than that.

    Sometimes, as we all know, we have to go against the grain, swim upstream--however one wants to put it--in order to find our own place in this world. I already know I belong to God. That's not in question. But how much of my concept of His character has been colored, perhaps even sullied, by the legalistic pontifications of my earliest years? I want to know. I deserve to know how much of what I was taught was a lie, and how much was truth.

    The Bible tells us there is a definite difference between the profane and the holy. That's what I'm after, I suppose--to be able to tell the difference between truth and lie, light and darkness.

    One of the worst aftermaths of child abuse is that you learn to doubt your own perceptions. At the same time, you believe pretty much anything anyone tells you, because you think that everyone but you is smart, competent, in the know, whatever.

    I want to be able to perceive things for myself (with Holy Spirit guidance, of course.) If I go through this whole journey of uncovering truth only to find myself a die-hard Adventist after all, well, at least I will believe it heart and soul. Not because my abuser pushed it on me, or because Ellen White said I had to believe it.

    I don't know if anyone out there understands what I'm striving for. Maybe you have to be involved in a similar struggle to understand its many complications and nuances.

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  9. I did no grow up in the Seventh-day Adventist Church, but I have always known the love of Jesus. At the age of 22 I chose to be baptized by immersion and join the Seventh-day Adventist Church because I believed, and even more so today, that this is God's final movement--yes, the remnant that keep the commandments of God and have both the faith and the testimony of Jesus Christ. Isaiah writes, all flesh is grass, which withers and fades, but the Word of the LORD stands forever. God is with His Church, even this very small remnant. And there will be others included in this remnant coming from many walks of life who will accept Jesus Christ as both Lord and Savior as we come closer to the time of His Second Advent.

    Now, I tell you that I was not raised in the church, that you think is so abusive due to accepting the writings of Ellen White, to let you know I came from the outside with an objective and even skeptical viewpoint of Adventism. In fact, I thought (wrongly) that they were wrong on the Sabbath and foods etc. But when I actually investigated the Bible I learned the truth by the grace of God. And when I investigated Ellen's writings, I found more of the LOVE of God expressed in writing than any other fundamental, evangelical or other mainstream Protestant denomination or Roman Catholic has written.

    However, if I dissected those other writings like those of Ellen's have been dissected and then took them away from the intended context of the original writers, I could find several exuses to disbelieve them as well. Not only that, I could easily do the same thing with the Bible itself. In fact, that has been done with the Bible and produced several human skeptics and atheists as a result.

    I come from a scientific perspective and I well know (even used to accept) the teachings of evolution and Darwin. Those evolutionary writings were found to be inconsistent and contradictory to the point of silliness upon close investigation. They definitely could not withstand a microscopic dissection like you have applied to Ellen's writings.

    The point? If the Bible writers had lived in our modern day and age and had their writings dissected and assessed by human standards, you would find them in contempt as you have found Ellen. Why? Because you would know so much more about them than you do. I submit that no one has been more unfairly treated and accused of falsehood, or even lunacy (the seizure argument that critics of Ellen use to come up with a reason for her behavior under vision would come under this).

    If you want a comparison from the Bible, just read the prophet Jeremiah and see how his contemporary Church members treated him and his writings. They were torn up at one point and he had to rewrite them. Or look at Elijah's ministry and see how his contemporary church members treated him. Or look at how they treated Moses. Or look at how they treated Jesus. In fact, it was those who grew up with Jesus and therefore thought they knew Him best who believed in Him least. His brothers disbelieved during the entire time of his 3 1/2 year earthly ministry. The people of His hometime tried to throw Him off a cliff. They called Him, "the carpenter's son," not God's Son. They thought He was altogether like them.

    God uses human agents to write His messages to us. So, even though the message is from God, the words are human words, and therefore come in the baggage of imperfect human grammar. It is the thought that is inspired by God. And the human writers use imperfect human language to write God's perfect thoughts of inspiration. Even Ellen has written to defend the Bible on this basis from those who would unfairly dissect it to make it say or not say whatever they wanted. That's why context is so important.

    I believe Todd G. did a thorough job of answering your objections. However, it appears that you still find his response inadequate. I think you are not able to be objective. Perhaps it is because of your past abuse. But even I don't give anyone that excuse, because I know of people who experienced what you did, and worse within their families who were also SDA. And they don't all lash out like you have against Ellen's writings. In fact, for one person who is very close to me, Ellen's writings and the Bible have been a source of healing from a broken and abusive past from a step father who was SDA.

    I am glad that Jesus said, "it would be better for a millstone to be hung around someone's neck and he be cast into the depths of the sea, than to cause one of these little ones to fall." I will pray for your healing, but I also pray that your writings will not be seen by any "little ones" who might then be caused to fall away from Jesus. However, I must add that this might sound harsh, but that does not make it unloving.

    If you truly believe that God is love, then shouldn't you stick with the Bible, like you say, and stop posting arguments against the writngs of Ellen and against the Seventh-day Adventist belief. For I believe that if you stick to the Bible, you will be okay. Ellen would say the same thing, for she also said her writings were not to be used to supersede the Bible (my paraphrase). My question is, why when some people leave the SDA church do they establish ministries that make their living on bashing SDA beliefs or bashing Ellen's writings? Not that you are making a living doing this, but others do. Just check out the multiplicity of websites dedicated to bashing Ellen. And then there are the former SDA pastors who start Sunday churches and make their living on the backs of disgruntled former SDA's. And the devil is more then satisfied by such a baalful work.

    I do hope and pray that you find your way back into the ark. For I truly believe that God's true church, His remnant, is found within the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

    Signed,
    Dean C. Read
    Saved by grace through faith in Jesus and still a member of His Church

    Former public school science teacher of 18 years by God's grace and now a pastor of the Seventh-day Adventist Church by God's grace. Even so, come soon Lord Jesus.

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  10. Dean,

    I very nearly resisted responding to your comment left on my blog, for the tone of it feels very argumentative to me, as well as greatly condemning.

    Why is it that when one desires to seek truth, after decades of feeling like a robot, so many are ready to lash out?

    At the least questioning of the merits of Ellen White’s writings, there are cries of Adventist “bashing.” I’m not bashing anyone. I’ve made it clear many times on my blog that I’m searching for truth. In my sidebar, for everyone to see, I’ve posted the following notice.

    Please note:
    This is not intended to be a forum for Ellen White bashing. I haven't the time or energy, or the interest in doing so. If by careful searching of the Scriptures I should come to the conclusion that she fails the test of a true prophet, it will pain me to do so. Whatever my findings and conclusions, I must accept them with the humility and faith of a little child.

    I have not resorted to name-calling; I have been respectful of both Ellen White and the Adventist church. And yet I am consigned the label of “disgruntled ex-Adventist,” dismissed as if I were nothing more than a troublemaker, rather than a truth-seeking child of God.

    I have to know with certainty what I truly believe. Why do so many find this threatening? If you are so certain of your belief system, my questions shouldn’t bother you so. If your belief system is grounded in truth, the questions of a mere stranger can hardly pose a threat to those beliefs. Why wouldn’t a true lover of God have every desire to lead an erring soul (since you seem to think I’m erring) with loving kindness? Do you think that if I’ve gotten off the right track your harshness will bring me back? (Yes, I know you say your harshness is not unloving, but come on.)

    You will see this quest of mine as “not being objective” because of the abuses of my childhood. Why such focus on that? Most people have sorrows in life; I’m hardly the only one. What has that got to do with the fact that I need to know what I believe, and why I believe it? Doesn’t every sincere person desire the same? As for using my childhood abuses as an excuse to not accept THE TRUTH (by which you mean Adventism), I find that deeply insulting. Who asked you to excuse me? I’m not asking to be excused from anything. I never have used my childhood to excuse myself or gain sympathy, or make allowances for anything in my life which is out of order. You are presumptuous to speak of excusing me!

    I’ve been saying all along that if in my search for truth I find myself back in the “ark” of Adventism, that’s fine with me.

    I agree, I do need to get what I need from the Bible. That’s exactly what I’ve been saying! It’s not so easy, however, to disentangle myself from the Adventist perspective when I open the pages of Scripture.

    As for Ellen’s head injury: my son suffered brain injuries last year from a motorcycle accident. He hasn’t been the same since and will never be. There is nothing wrong with someone questioning whether Ellen’s head injury could have caused her to imagine she was having visions and dreams from God. We are not to believe every spirit, but to try the spirits. We are not to be dupes.

    You ask why when some people leave Adventism they establish ministries that make their living on bashing SDA beliefs, or bashing Ellen’s writings. I don’t know, maybe you should ask someone who is actually doing so. I’m not making a living at this; I don’t consider it a “ministry.” Again, if you read some of my older posts, you’ll see that I’ve stated that I’m not necessarily trying to convert anyone nor convince others to follow me, I’m simply searching for truth.

    I know there are a plethora of websites which are SDA bashing in nature. I’ve stumbled across them. I can’t read very much of them; I don’t care for the tone. I don’t believe in being contentious for the sake of being contentious. I believe in a gentle spirit. I believe in treating others how I would like to be treated.

    Now, you’ve felt no compunction in speaking bluntly to me, so allow me to do the same in turn. You say that the devil is more than satisfied by the baleful work of former SDA pastors who start Sunday churches, making their living on the backs of disgruntled former SDAs.

    First of all, where would you have ex-Adventists worship? You obviously don’t want anyone in your church that doesn’t toe the line or dares to question anything. And yet most of them are still lovers of God who are seeking truth. They are as deserving as you of a place to worship.

    As for the devil being more than satisfied with this, I don’t know if that is true. I rather doubt it, considering that these individuals are still worshiping somewhere. If you are referring to his liking the fact that these former SDA pastors now worship on Sunday—oh, please tell me you don’t think the whole Sabbath issue is of more importance than knowing Jesus?

    One thing I think can be safely said: the devil is surely satisfied if not right out whooping with joy when he sees the pride of those who stand in judgment of those humbly seeking God. I’m glad for you (honestly glad) if you’ve found more of the love of God expressed in Ellen’s writing than anywhere else. It has not been so with me, nor with many individuals I’ve known. (Just for the record, not all of them had abusive childhoods.)

    The whole tone of your comment reminds me why attending church-- back when I was still doing so—was so depressing. I can’t help but wonder if these kind of Pharisee attitudes haven’t done much to contribute to the loss of so many in the “remnant” church.

    And finally, let me just remind everyone reading this that Ellen White is neither an idol nor a pope. Everyone on this planet has the right to believe or disbelieve in her writings. That is between each soul and GOD.

    Dean, it really is not for you to judge; you don’t know my life history, and even if you did it’s a sure thing your judgment of me would be much harsher than His.

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  11. This is _Deb's_ pursuit of the truth. As such, she gets to question whatever she wants, interpret her discoveries by her own compass, and conclude what she will. In the end, does it make her right? Maybe. Maybe not. Who cares? It's between her and God.

    By the same token, in choosing to publicize her journey, she has opened the door to any and all sorts of opinions and beliefs, including divergent ones; just as she has the right to say and think whatever she wants, so does everyone else. Fortunately, debate is a great way to inform one's process. Unfortunately, debate can also make some people feel threatened which, in turn, can prompt them to behave less than Christ-like, e.g., judgmentally, condemning, etc.

    For the most part, I really like the spirit of debate here and think some valid points have been raised -- on both sides of the coin -- that make me consider the issue in new ways. I think that's the point . . .

    As for the assertion that Deb's writings could cause "little ones" to fall away from Jesus -- I think they stand a greater chance of falling away from Jesus when they are denied the option to explore varying points of view. Choice, especially informed choice, is a good thing.

    That's my truth and I'm sticking to it. :)

    Denise
    SDA-raised, Catholic-converted, Jesus-saved

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  12. Wow, Deb, the SDA folks came out in force, and I don't see much from the other side.

    I thought your post was great, and I think you're absolutely spot on to depend on Scripture first and other authorities second. The same Scriptures have been explained in so many different ways, and the task is to learn what one can from the various explanations, and discern which (if any) most closely matches the Scriptures themselves.

    Yes, perspective, glasses, subjectivity, experience, colors everything -- but what I see is someone courageously acknowledging her perspective and seeking the truth that can pierce through the coloring.

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  13. Deb,

    Forgive me for sounding harsh. Jude writes, "On some have compassion, making a distinction; but others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh." Paul added to the Corinthians, "What do you want? Shall I come to you with a rod, or in love and a spirit of gentleness?" Both methods were used by Christ and therefore both are acts of love from God.

    No, I am not threatened by your belief-mindset. My mission in life is to convince people of the truth and thus lead them to Christ who is the TRUTH. And I would be more than happy if any former Adventists would come to my church while they are searching for truth. They would be very welcome even if they did not become members again right away, for I hope to win them back through the work of the Holy Spirit. And I believe that is the best place for them to be, in a Seventh-day Adventist church on Sabbath to hear the sermon and Sabbath school lesson discussions, etc. while they are searching for the truth. And yes, I hope to win you back too.

    But yes, they will hear a strong message and it may cut across the grain of their soul at times. Hebrews 4:12-13 shows that the Word is sharper than any two-edged sword and that it pierces right down into the soul, but all things are naked an opened unto God concerning each one of us. Sounds like a painful process because we humans do not like being told that we are in the wrong. My feeble attempt at writng to you regarding that truth was only undertaken after reading a great deal of what is posted on your website. You are right though, I do not know you. And it is not debate upon which I wish to enter here.

    My purpose was solely twofold. First to show you examples for you to investigate from the Bible, where several negative reactions to God's prophets very closely resembles modern day negative reactions to Ellen by Seventh-day Adventists. My hope was that yo would prayerfully read these stories and consider the implications for today. Second, to have you strongly reconsider Todd G.'s response to your post. It was fair and objective and thoroughly researched. Yet your response to him seemed to disallow his defense of Ellen's writings based on the fact that you only want to use Scripture right now. But, that does not fairly deal with the problems that you originally proposed in your post concerning Ellen's writings. You posed the problems and he answered. Then you basically say, "not now, I'm not ready for that, because I only want to use the Bible." Now, you have asked to know if Ellen is a true prophet or not? That's a fair question. So if I recommend a book to read that deals with such questions, would you read it in your quest for truth? The book is written by Herbert Douglas and is titled, "Messenger of the Lord." Copyright 1998. For there is just no way a proper search could be done using blogs. No one can convince another, and blogging by itself seems to me to be a poor source in the quest for truth. Why? So much opinion is expressed, no footnotes to show validity of sources or reasons for an opinion bysides the fact that the writer usually believes what is written.

    As far as "disgruntled" I was not meaning to refer to you. I take what you said about yourself at face value. But going another step further in my comment, I was strongly refering to Adventist/Ellen bashers who do make their living and/or even experience their catharsis in their quest to deny that Adventist beliefs are true. So, forgive me for posing the question in my response to your post, "My question is, why when some people leave the SDA church do they establish ministries that make their living on bashing SDA beliefs or bashing Ellen's writings?" That question was in my mind and was an extension of my thoughts, but not meant to "judge" you as such. It belongs in a post by itself, for I was just thinking outloud, but I do not wish to debate it in a blog--again, because I believe blogs to be a poor source for debate.

    I do want to answer one thing that you said to me though concerning, "please tell me you don’t think the whole Sabbath issue is of more importance than knowing Jesus?" THE ISSUE IS KNOWING JESUS. But, what if someone said, "the whole murder issue..." or "the whole adultery issue..." or "the whole stealing issue..." or "the whole love thy neighbor as thyself issue..." or "the whole Have no other gods before Me issue..." The way I see it is the way that John the Apostle saw it when he wrote, "He who says, 'I know Him,' and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in Him." But, critics of the Bible say that such statements like John made sound unloving or harsh. I would answer that such critics do not really know what the love of God is. Instead they use a human frame of reference to define love and therefore accuse the God of the Bible as being unloving especially because of the bloody wars and judgments recorded in the Old Testament. But the New Testament also says harsh sounding (to unconverted human ears) things. For examle, "Neither fornicators, nor idolators, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor...will inherit the kingdom of God." (1 Cor 6:10)

    What about those of us, of whom I am one, say things to expose the errors that have crept into the church since the time of Christ? Yes I am speaking about the prophecies of Daniel and the Revelation that expose antichrist as being in the church going forth to deceive if it were possible even the very elect. What about those who expose the truth regarding the mark of the beast? The Bible itself calls upon the last days church to expose these things. Why? So all people can come to Jesus and be saved from their sins and also from the false gospel that is promulgated from "Babylon." Yet, I have heard "unconverted" people call those who preach such things bigots anhd unloving.

    You say when you read the Bible that you have a difficult time separating from your Adventist mindset. I don't think that is a bad thing. If Adventism has the truth (and you know I firmly believe that to be so, yet you are questioning this in your search for truth)then as you read the Bible your past mindset cannot help but come up. Just keep a prayerful attitude and keep reading. If you are honestly seeking truth, as you affirm in your blog, then God will meet you where you are (including your Adventist mindset that you were raised with, and I believe this to be true for any cultural mindset) and lead you into truth.

    May God's grace continue to be with you,

    Pastor Dean C. Read

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  14. Denise,

    Thanks for helping us all bear in mind that there are two sides to this debate.

    For the record, I'm only interested in being "right" so that I am in right standing with God, and pleasing to Him. Other than that, if no one else agrees with me it's okay. Doubtless I will make some blunders along the way. Don't we all?

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  15. Hi Marcy,

    Thanks for stopping by and adding your two cents!

    It's not easy being honest with oneself, that's for sure. Especially in such a public forum. But I seem to have chosen to do this, so no complaints.

    Hope you come by often...

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  16. Dean,

    Thank you for taking the time to reply to my response to your comment. I agree that blogging is not the best forum for these types of discussions, yet here we are doing our best to communicate our individual perspectives of truth.

    It occurs to me I may have clumsily stated my position and, if so, that may be the cause of our communication problem. What I meant to convey (and forgive me, everyone, if this wasn’t made clear) is that I am trying to puzzle out whether or not I was ever “converted” to Adventist doctrine.

    When one is bullied by an abusive father figure during childhood, there isn’t much free will with which to reason and make intelligent, autonomous choices. Living in a state of emotional shock, the ability to think with discrimination or any kind of balance is greatly damaged. Anyone who has experienced such abuse knows that the aftermath lasts a long time, if not for the rest of one’s life. As an adult I clung to what I was taught as a child, just as incapable then as I’d been in my younger years of thinking for myself, especially when it came to discerning spiritual truths.

    What I am trying to move away from is all of the misconceptions and outright lies fostered on me during my earliest years, either by word or example--- not only in the spiritual/religious realm, but in every aspect of life. As it say in 1 Peter 1:18: “...knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.”

    I’m more than a bit surprised that some Adventists would take issue with my quest for truth. After all, as I know so well from my decades as a SDA, Bible study is greatly encouraged, and the pursuit of wisdom and truth is to be cherished above all else. As I commit myself to wading through the rubble of half-truths and distorted thinking of legalistic deadness and shaming, I’m reminded of this verse of Scripture:

    “Sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to every one who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence.” (1 Peter 3:15)

    This is my goal: to be able to give an account for the hope that is in me. I don’t want to parrot back what others have told me all my life, I want truth for myself it all its lovely vitality. I believe God also wants this for me. None of us are to be mere puppets or robots, but thinking, reasoning, feeling human beings who freely love and obey Him from our hearts.

    I appreciate your conviction that I need to be “won back” into the SDA church. But since I’m not convinced that my membership ever came from my own free will to begin with, I don’t think it’s a matter of being won back. I’d like to reiterate that I am not turning my back on God. My relationship with Him is the most important thing in my life. In fact, because this is so I desire all the more to “study to show myself approved.”

    My understanding of the verse in Jude you quoted is that it is referring to those who are sensual, walking in ungodly lusts, and out for gain. They were using the grace of Christ as an excuse for lasciviousness. I don’t believe this applies to me in any fashion.

    I didn’t take Todd’s remarks as attempting to prove that EGW is a prophet of God, so much as a means of saying that her writings had been taken out of context. As for your reference to the treatment of OT prophets—I don’t believe that their mistreatment necessarily proves anything regarding the prophetic gift of Ellen White. The fact that someone claiming this gift meets with ridicule, etc. is no test in itself. This is how the Bible tells us we are to recognize the true prophet of God from the false prophet of God:


    If what a prophet proclaims in the name of the LORD does not take place or come true, that is a message the LORD has not spoken. That prophet has spoken presumptuously. Do not be afraid of him." (Deuteronomy 18:22 NIV)

    The name Herbet Douglas sounds familiar to me. Is he an Adventist writer? If so I think I’ll pass on reading his book, for now anyway.

    Again, thank you for your comments.

    Deb

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  17. 21 but test everything; hold fast what is good. 22 Abstain from every form of evil.
    (English standard version.)

    Keep on being obedient to the word Deb. Test everything, never let anyone tell you otherwise.

    No matter how much they try to discourage you or attack you, remember this passage.

    God wants you to test everything you hear, see, and experience against the word of God. if you find it wanting throw it out and God will bless your heart.

    Remember Deb do not grow weary in well doing for in due time you will reap if you do not lose heart.

    I am praying for you.
    You are loved in Christ
    Travis

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  18. Wish I could say more but I have two classes in the morning.

    If you need prayer Deb let me know

    Travis

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  19. Travis,

    It's always good to hear an encouraging voice. The quest for truth is not easy, and sometimes can be quite lonely.

    I would appreciate prayer that I would hear the voice of The Shepherd and follow where He leads.

    I'd also like to email you if that's ok? I couldn't find an email addy for you on your blog.

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  20. You can also visit my VLOG http://www.youtube.com/TheNew181
    if you send me a message there it goes to my home email address either way I check my email several times a day.

    You are loved in Christ
    Travis

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  21. I just posted an article, it asks the question does E.G. White pass the seven Biblical tests of a prophet.

    I posted it temporarily incase you need any of the information in it.

    You are loved in Christ
    Travis

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  22. Well, I just came back to see what else was posted on this blog since I last visited and certainly got a lot to think about. Deb, I have to say that I am deeply impressed by your spirit, patience, honesty and integrity in all of this. Even though you and I don't necessarily agree completely about some of the details I have to say that I feel very close in agreement with you on your attitude in your search for knowing truth from your heart.

    I have told you before that I chose a different road to find truth. I decided to stay inside the church but still have seriously challenged everything I was taught just as you are doing. And while I am coming up with different conclusions I cannot fault you in the least for the motives that you cling to and are willing to keep reaffirming. I also have to say that I feel your are more mature in your perspective than many Adventists including the pastor commenting here.

    I will make one note however about something you said. While I realize that you were taught and assumed that most Adventists believe in much study of the Word of God, in reality that is a glaring vacancy in the church. While many like to think that their beliefs are based on the Word, in reality they spend far less time even reading the Word than I suspect you do and even less time looking for real insights and meaning for themselves from the Word. The Adventist church of today is nothing like those who originally founded it. Those people were serious about being open-minded and were not afraid to dialog with each other about their disagreements.

    Today I find in most Adventist churches either a total lack of interest in real spirituality or a dogmatism that reflects an attitude that only those in leadership are qualified to figure out truth for the rest of us. Both of these attitudes are extremely dangerous and if not corrected will cause them to not find a place in the fellowship of Jesus in heaven according to His own words. The spirit that I see in your search and the honesty and lack of bitterness that I see in your posts are much closer in my opinion to reflecting a saving relationship with God than most Adventists that I know.

    Again, I am very impressed with how you are handling all of this. I am not sure that I could do as well. I encourage you to pursue an intimate knowledge of God through the Bible only for now just as you have stated. I have no fear that as long as you are honest in heart that God will continue to lead you into all truth. And I don't think it is Christ-like for anyone to insinuate that you have to end up as an Adventist believing in Ellen White or you cannot be saved. That mentality I find very repulsive and un-Christ-like even though I am an Adventist who still believes in Ellen White. I am praying for you to know God and to be enriched with His presence as He continues to teach your heart how to love and to receive love. When that is the highest priority then everything else can find their proper place in due time.

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  23. Clay,

    Your encouraging words gave my spirits such a lift! Thank you so much for taking the time to comment.

    You know that verse about looking neither to the right hand nor to the left? That's what I'm attempting to do here as I continue my quest for truth. I can't be so focused on the criticisms of others that I lose sight of my goal. I must look straight ahead and, more than that, I must follow the voice of the Shepherd.

    I've been troubled by the tone of some of the feedback I've received here on my blog. A stubborn dogmatism blended with spiritual pride is ugly, and tends only to wound and never to heal. To be so threatened by a stranger's search for truth seems so odd to me, but in a way I kind of get it.

    Back when I was a hostage to legalism, I too couldn't bear to hear my Adventist belief system criticized or questioned, for Adventism was my security blanket in an often frightening world. Of course it was THE TRUTH! It had to be or . . . or what else was there?

    I feel I can learn even from the unkindness of others. I can choose to do so rather than retaliating and forgetting what I'm about here. I never meant for my blog to become an open forum for debating the veracity of Ellen White and her teachings. While I will respond to all comments, my main goal is to strip away the veneer of pride and legalism which have for so long covered up my deep sense that there is something troublesome about the core of my dogmatic beliefs. I want to get to the heart (or the gut, if you will) of things. I trust that the Lord will guide my footsteps. My pathway may differ from yours or anyone else's, but that hardly matters. I believe we have the same destination in mind, and a love for the same Lord who Himself is Truth.

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  24. Deb, I sent you an email. I hope it helps.

    If you need me, let me know

    You are loved in Christ
    Travis

    I am praying

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  25. There is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

    You cannot condemn what Christ as set free

    Whom the son sets free is free indeed.

    You are loved in Christ
    Travis

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  26. Looks like there has been some support and encouragement since I was here last -- glad to see it.

    And I think you are doing very well in your responses to everyone.

    I am often afraid that faith is all a big hoax, a way for people to control others -- disallowing questions, or merely asserting authority (with threats), makes that fear stronger.

    I am glad that my therapist pointed out that wrestling is a form of intimacy, and that God wrestled with Jacob in mercy, knowing Jacob *needed* to wrestle. Simple sweet trust is better, but for those of us who need to wrestle, we have God's patient mercy, too.

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  27. Thanks, Marcy, for you insightful comments.

    I guess I really am wrestling, in a sense, and it feels good and right to finally be doing so.

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Comments, anyone? I'd love to hear your point of view.