Friday, December 6, 2013

Celebrate the Magic 12/6/13

The big shells were so loud, they set off car alarms in the cast parking lot, and could be felt deep in your lungs.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Twenty-five Years in the Adventist Church

"Every [Christian] sect is a certificate
that God has not plainly revealed
His will to man. To each reader
the Bible conveys
a different meaning."

-Robert G. Ingersoll quoted in The Christian Delusion: Why Faith Fails (p. 182).

There are six sections here. If you would like to skip to one, use these links:

  1. Those Jokes About it Being a Cult Aren't Funny: It Is A Cult.
  2. Adventism is a Strong, Self-Reinforcing Delusion
  3. SDA Theology is Fundamentalist and Extremely Conservative.
  4. No Private Interpretation vs Present Truth
  5. Selected Resources on Adventism
  6. HubPages Comment Collection

1. Those Jokes About it Being a Cult Aren't Funny: It Is A Cult.

I was baptized on May 17, 1986
in a little country church in southern Michigan
(the Urbandale SDA Church). As of the end of my
SDA career in June of 2011, I have moved
quickly through the "former SDA" phase to "post-Christian."
In at least three ways it fulfills standard cult definitions.

First: Despite official denials, one person dominated the founding years, in the same way Joseph Smith dominated the formation of the Mormon church. Ellen G. White's career as the SDA (Seventh-day Adventist) prophet from her teen years in the 1840s to her death in 1915 shaped a major portion of early SDA history. She and her husband (and in later years, her large entourage of secretaries and servants) crisscrossed the territory of the growing church, molding the thinking of every willing follower after her own.

Her voluminous writings heavily influence church policy and practice today. For a current example, her major work on end-time doctrine, The Great Controversy, was the church's choice as the cornerstone of the 2013 SDA evangelistic outreach to New York City. The reason her book was valued over more recently and relevantly written material is because she directed her followers to value her writings above all others, and her followers still obey her instructions. It is her writings more than other SDA authors which continue to be translated into all the languages of the world. Her books, exclusively, are condensed into versions for younger and more contemporary audiences, as with modern translations of the Bible for younger readers.

Many other examples can be found when one becomes as familiar with her writings as she (and her hoards of acolytes) prescribed. I personally took that prescription very seriously, and soon after I joined the church I became well acquainted with her writings. The observant EGW (Ellen G. White) devotee notices the indebtedness to her teachings in virtually every church publication, in the curricular decisions made throughout their K-12 and college educational systems, and all official church newspapers. Church publications constantly include excerpts of her writings, continually reinforcing her heavy influence on every church member's thinking.

There is scarcely a topic related to how the church should run its congregational life, its educational and health institutions, its church ministries, and its evangelistic efforts upon which Ellen White did not write in extreme and repetitive detail. The true acolyte does not have to wonder about how to behave. For every stage and station in life, Ellen White wrote what she claimed were inspired messages. As a child in school, as a youth in courtship, as husband or wife, as a parent or pastor or teacher or evangelist or conference officer or Sabbath School teacher-- every possible aspect of private and congregational life was described by her in terms that are very easy to summarize: you must live as she describes, or you cannot please God.

Beyond the grave, she remains the cult leader. Only the dishonest or embarrassed Adventist denies that fact. But even knowing all the facts listed above, devoted EGW followers do deny it. I was a faithful denier myself, especially in my role as a high school "Bible Teacher," passing the torch of delusion on to many generations of trusting and malleable SDA youth. I regret that part of my past.

Catching Up

It's been the better part of a year since the last post, although my Twenty-five Years in the Seventh-day Adventist Church post continu...