Fulfilled in Jesus

Our pilgrimage with our Beloved in Japan -- Yoko & Ramone on the journey with Jesus!

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Why I Left Adventism


This is the letter I sent to my family, friends, former students and everyone I knew when I left Adventism officially on September 17, 2002. I'm posting it now (I should've thought of it earlier!) for a friend and for anyone who's interested. The first part is an introduction in simple English for former students in Japan. Blessings in Jesus! -RR (8/20/2006)
_____________________________________

Hi,

This is Ramone Romero. I was a missionary at SDA for one year. But I have left SDA now.

I wrote a long email below that explains why, but maybe the English will be a little too difficult.

I love Jesus very much. I have learned many things while I was back in California. And I am getting to know Jesus more and more. I am TOO excited! I can't stop smiling! He gives me so much joy!

I learned many of the basic ideas of Adventism (SDA) and I don't agree with these ideas anymore. SDA teaches about Jesus, but they also teach other things. They add things to Jesus like the "law" and a lot of rules. But Jesus says that He is FREEDOM and JOY. He is REST. :)

So now I am not Adventist (SDA) anymore. I am happy to be a regular Christian now. I belong to Jesus! I belong ONLY to Jesus! And I am soooo happy! I want you to know Him! I want you to know His joy, His love, His rest!

Bless you!
In Jesus' love,
Ramone Romero

***my chotto muzukashii email, gomen-ne**
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"Why I Left Adventism"

Hi,

I imagine that if you read the subject line, the title of this email, then perhaps you are a little confused, worried, or concerned.

I've been Adventist all of my life. But I am leaving now.

If you know me, then you probably know that I love Jesus very much. I'm a Jesus-freak. I can't get enough of Him. So why am I leaving "the church?"

Over my years growing up in Adventism, I was taught many things. I learned that SDA was the "true church" and that we had an important message to tell to the world and to the rest of Christianity. I learned that we had a special day of rest, and that keeping that day of rest would become very important at the end of the earth's history.

I was taught about Jesus, and I was told that we are saved by Him, by faith. But there was very little joy from this. Most of our joy came from being the "true church," from being right. The "truth" was the special things that our church taught. And really, knowing Jesus wasn’t quite enough--you had to know the "truth," too. Because the "truth" was going to be a special test for all people at the end of time, and if you didn't know the truth, then you would be deceived.

These teachings vary in Adventism depending on where you are. There are many "liberal" and "conservative" areas. Some places teach Ellen G. White, some places don't. Some places teach the traditional things that the church was founded on, some places are more interested in Jesus' grace. Most places have a mix of all these things. But in all of the places, we can agree that we have a special, unique "truth."

I didn't receive the gospel (the good news of Jesus' grace) really until after I finished 12 years of Adventist education and entered college. Then I began hearing some of the gospel. It wasn't very loud and clear, but it seemed like it was supposed to be the center of our faith. Yet in my previous 12 years of Adventist education, I only remember the Law, the Remnant, the Health Message, the Mark of the Beast, the Sabbath, and that we had to stay away from "worldly" things. I grew up believing that everything SDA taught was from the Bible, that these were the important teachings God wanted us to know.

While I was a missionary here in Osaka, Japan, I began learning the foundation of Adventism. I studied the "proof-texts" in the Bible and began to learn how we developed our unique doctrines. When I returned to LaSierra University, I began my own research into Ellen White and parts of Adventist history. While I was studying, I discovered 1888.

This will probably not be familiar to many Adventists, especially in liberal areas. In 1888, two ministers began saying that the Jesus' righteousness was the most important thing. Most of the leaders at that time rejected that message because it seemed to threaten the special, unique truths that Adventism was based on.

When I found this, I was excited. Here was something in our history that we had missed, a place that we had messed up when God was trying to speak to us. All we had to do was go back and find what we missed, and repent for resisting God. I wondered why the institution had made so much effort to ignore this mistake in our history?

While I was researching, a friend of mine found a prophecy on the internet written by a lady named Hazel Holland in 1997. But just before I read her dream, I had a shaking.

One night at the LaSierra computer lab, I read an investigative website on Ellen White. In the 90's, I began hearing things once in awhile about plagiarism--about Ellen White copying someone else's work and printing it as her own. Like most good Adventists, I kept my faith in what we taught and I decided that people who said those things were usually bitter or angry at SDA for some other reason. But when I finally looked at one particular website, the information was just too much to ignore. I couldn't rationalize it away any more. There was much more than plagiarism. And the most disturbing part was that over the years, the institution tried to keep it hidden. When people in the institution tried to expose it, they were usually told that they had to leave their jobs.

The evidence was too much for me. I left the computer lab and fell down on some stairs outside. I wanted to run away and disappear in the woods. You see, I had just finished my year as a missionary in Japan. I had taught the Bible, SDA truths, and Ellen White. I taught honest people that these things were the truth, that this was what God wanted them to know. And now, it all looked like it was a lie. The worst part was that for that moment, "Jesus" fell with Adventism. Like most Adventists, I believed that everything we taught was from God, and that Ellen White was God's prophet, writing God's words. If she was false, and everything she wrote was Biblical, then the Bible must be false. I can't describe the sickening fear that I experienced at that time.

So I prayed. I wasn't sure if God was real, but I prayed anyway and tried to forget about what I'd read. Then I began to read Hazel's prophecy. At first, I was cautious about what I was reading. But then my heart began to pound. I began seeing my whole experience in Adventism from a new perspective--God's perspective! He knew that things had been hidden. He knew that when I was growing up, I saw many things inside the church that didn't seem right, but that I wasn't able to talk about it because I was told that nobody was perfect and that it was wrong to criticize God's church. But as I was reading, I began to know that God's heart cries for His children! He loves us, and He knows all the things we go through! He sees all the hidden pains that we often are not able to recognize and cry about. He hears all of His children's cries.

I was so excited, I printed out Hazel's dreams and their interpretation and I stayed awake all night reading it. Then I emailed the director of that website for her email. Then she emailed me back and told me she lived five minutes away from LSU! So I went to go visit. I was more than a little cautious and nervous. I was taught to fear deception. I was told that the very elect would be deceived (in other words, making them "non-elect"). So I did what any Adventist trained in the doctrines would do: I asked her about the Sabbath. After all, it was going to be the test of our loyalty to God in the end, right? She said something I never heard before. She answered with the Gospel. "If Sabbath is the test at the time of the end, then we are saved by works, not faith. Keeping Saturday is a good work, but we're not saved by works, we're saved by faith in Jesus alone." And Jesus' salvation is the same today, yesterday, and forever. He doesn't change. We're not saved by our works. We can trust Jesus to save us, to protect us, to take care of us, and to shield us from deception. Well, this gave me something to think about!

I began studying on my own. I began to learn that I could trust Jesus. I could take Him at His Word.

"No one can snatch My sheep out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of My Father's hand." (John 10:28-29)

"I tell you the truth, whoever hears My word and believes Him who sent Me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life." (John 5:24)

"Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? ...neither angles nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers... nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 8:35-39)

"You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the One who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world." (1st John 4:4)

"There is no fear in [His] love. Perfect love [agape-God's love] drives out fear..." (1st John 4:18)

"I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life." (1st John 5:13)

And then I read Psalm 91! The whole psalm talks about the time of the end and how we will be safe resting in Jesus! But didn't I need a special truth? Didn't I need a special teaching? No! Salvation even in the end is still by faith in Him! I can trust in the power of His hand to protect me!

So I continued reading the Bible and allowing the Holy Spirit to teach me all over again. And He really began to show me some things I had never read before!

There were things about the Ten Commandments and the Sabbath in the Bible that I was never shown in the Adventist way of reading the Bible. Adventism taught me that the Ten Commandments were the character of God, eternal moral principles (including the Sabbath) that would be forever, even in heaven.

To defend these ideas, the favorite text was Matthew 5:17--

[Jesus said] "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished."

Well, first I began to see that the "Law and the Prophets" didn’t just mean the Ten Commandments, but it meant the whole Old Testament! (Sometimes it was called "Moses and the Prophets"--see Matthew 11:13, Luke 24:44, etc.)

Second, I learned that heaven and earth will pass away!

"Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away!" (Revelation 21:1)

Third, Jesus said that He came to "fulfill" the Law and the Prophets. Usually in English we think of this like He is saying that He came to "keep" the Law. However, that's not what 'fulfill' means in this text! It's the same Greek word that the New Testament uses when Jesus 'fulfilled' a prophecy. For example:

"This happened so that the Scripture might be fulfilled which said: 'They divided My garments among them and cast lots for My clothing.'" (John 19:24)

The Law was not only something that Jesus 'kept,' but it was something He fulfilled! Fulfilled? What could that mean?

I ran across a most peculiar text in Exodus 34:28.

"Moses was with the Lord forty days and forty nights... and He wrote on the tablets the words of the Covenant--the Ten Commandments."

The Bible actually calls the Law--the Ten Commandments--the "Covenant" that God had made with Israel when He brought them out of Egypt. (See also Exodus 19:1-6, Deuteronomy 4:13, 5:3, 9:9, 9:11, 9:15, etc.)

I remembered reading in the New Testament and in Jeremiah about God giving us a "a New Covenant... NOT like the one He made with Israel when He brought them out of Egypt." (Jeremiah 31:31, Hebrews 8, 9 & 10, 2 Corinthians 3:6-18)

What did this mean? Adventism taught me that the Old Covenant was only the sacrifices, not the Ten Commandments. But the Bible says clearly that the Ten Commandments are the very foundation of the Old Covenant itself!

I couldn't rationalize away these Biblical passages that clashed with Adventist doctrine. So I let the Bible speak for itself, and passage after passage began opening up. Where I used to read cautiously in Paul's writings about the Law, the confusion now disappeared in the face of Jesus. I didn't have to rationalize and carefully explain away large portions of the New Testament anymore. I could take the Word at its word. The Ten Commandments simply aren't forever, just like heaven and earth--which will pass away and be remade. The purpose of the Law, as Paul wrote in Romans 3:20, was to reveal the knowledge of sin, not the character of God or the way of life in the time of the end. The Law of sin and death is not forever. But Jesus Christ is forever!

My whole life has changed since the Holy Spirit entered my life and began to bring me closer to Jesus Himself. I have looked at Jesus and I have compared the Adventist distinctive doctrines with the Bible, and I have seen the differences. And I want Jesus.

When I used to have a "revival" time in my life as an Adventist, often I would try to start reading an Ellen White book. Or I would try to read the whole Bible. Basically, I would study very hard. I would try wake up early and read every morning. That was how I unconsciously thought I could get closer to God and be more like Him.

Now, things are much different. I am full of more joy than I have ever known in my life. Jesus is wonderful. He never stopped sending His Spirit to talk with His children, just like He spoke to them in the book of Acts. The gifts don't come to perfect people. Instead, they come to people who trust in the grace of Jesus alone! They come to those who are daring enough to ask Jesus for them and wait like He directed! (Galatians 3:2, Acts 1:4)

I had spent so much time as an Adventist studying and studying, as if trying to gain favor with God. Now, I rest in Jesus. The Father is well-pleased with Jesus. And Jesus has given me His favor! I can ask Him and I know He will answer. He's promised.

He has been revealing His love for me and the Father's love for me. He has been healing places in my life that I never thought He was able to heal. He calls me His bride, beloved of the Father. He says "You have stolen My heart" (Song of Songs 4:9).

He says that I am the temple of God. "Church" isn't a building or a membership in an organization. It is an identity. If you believe in Jesus, *you are* the "Church." This is not something that people can always see. We live by faith, not by sight. What people think isn't what's important. If a group of people say they are the "remnant" and try to prove it, who are they trying to prove it to? Whose opinion is the one that counts? God's!

"God's foundation stands firm, sealed with this inscription: 'The Lord knows who are His.'" (2 Timothy 2:19)

God's opinion is the one that matters. The whole "sealing" is not something that *we* see, because we live by faith. We can trust Jesus that He has sealed us by His blood and given us the Spirit of son-ship (Ephesians 1:13, Romans 8:15-16, etc.).

Many Adventists continue keeping the Sabbath as if it is an insurance policy for the time of the end, just in case Jesus' name isn't enough to save you. I realized that's how it was for me. Adventist theology taught it to me that way. That's how our church started, and that's where it built its foundation. Not on Jesus, but on the Sabbath (and the sanctuary, and the shut door, and the health message, and the state of the dead, etc. ... all of these things being the saving characteristics of the "true remnant church").

Most liberal Adventists don't know these things very well. Or if they do know them, then they often ignore them. They'll keep the Sabbath and maybe the vegetarianism, but leave the other things behind. However, these teachings are never very far away, because without these special "truths," the foundation of Adventist identity can't survive. Perhaps that is why the institution has carefully guarded its doctrines from scholars over the years? Maybe that's why so many of our own pastors and professors have been fired or have chosen to leave after the institution refused to let its foundation change after Biblical tests showed it to be faulty?

Yes, Adventism is changing, and often for the better. The Gospel is getting preached more and more, especially in the liberal areas. But following Jesus means leaving things behind, particularly "self." We're still trying to take the Adventist unique foundation with us. We want to bring our uniqueness with us, our special truth. Yes, we're teaching the Gospel more, but we aren't willing to let go of our foundation. And we don't realize that our foundation actually hinders and opposes the Gospel. It always has. The tension continues constantly, even today.

Over the years Adventism has taught that its special truths were Biblical. I have looked and learned, and I've found the "truths" not to be so true after all. I have looked at Adventist history, and I have seen how the institution has continued to cover-up these things in order to preserve its identity. For years we've been studying and studying, trying to attain the peace that really just comes from resting in the grace of Jesus. We've been working very hard. But if we give up our pride and rest in Jesus' own "right-ness," we will find that He Himself is our uniqueness. He is our special-ness. He is everything that we need! The Son is the character of God, not the Law! He is the fullness of the Godhead, and you have fullness in Him! (Hebrews 1:1-3, Colossians 2:9-10)

Sadly, it appears that way back at the beginning of Adventism, our forefathers were unable to make the sacrifice of their right-ness and trust in Jesus alone. So over the years, generation after generation has been raised believing that they needed more than the grace of Jesus, that the gospel itself was insufficient to save them, because that's what the "other churches" preached. We've been tired and burdened by the guilt of never being able to measure up to our own standards. That is because we've returned to the Old Covenant and fallen under the curses of the Law all over again. In returning to the Old Covenant weekly "rest," we've missed the true Sabbath-rest that comes in Jesus' salvation.

Many "keep the Sabbath" in our modern way, thinking that it pleases God. Many think that they will make Jesus unhappy if they don't keep the Sabbath.

But the Bible says that God doesn't judge us by the Law (the Old Covenant) because we are under a New Covenant. A covenant made between the Father and the Son. He loves us so much that He took our sin and has given us credit for His perfect life. The Father looks at us and sees Jesus! He has given us a New Covenant of grace. We aren't under the Old Covenant (the Law) anymore. Instead, we rest in Jesus. The Sabbath was a ceremony that He introduced to Israel to let them know about the rest from their works that they were going to have in the coming Messiah. He gives us rest from trying to please the Father, because the Father is pleased with the Son.

Jesus is rest!

"Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light." (Matthew 11:28-30)

So yes, I have left Adventism. I am having joy learning more about the covenants and the love of the Father in the Son. I don't want to hide anymore. I have tried talking about this in a subtle and sensitive way, but life is too short for me to be shy. And I don't want to hide my joy! I want you to know His joy, I want you to be filled with His Spirit, I want you to know the smile that comes from resting in Jesus!

Bless you as you rest in Jesus, the Father's love.

Joyfully in Jesus' rest,
Ramone


P.S. If you have ANY questions, if you couldn't read the whole letter, if you want to talk, anything, PLEASE email me. I will answer any question and I will be happy to pray with you. I just want to say that I still love everybody in Adventism and I will never stop praying for them. If you've related to or understood any of what I've talked about in this letter, or even if you disagree, please email me and let me know. If you've been shy of "going public" like I have, or if you've suffered under the many stresses of Adventist doctrine over the years, please email me. I may not have all the answers, but I promise to pray with you and cry with you. Our God is love, and He knows us and our hearts. There is no condemnation in my Jesus. :)

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26 Comments:

  • At August 21, 2006 9:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    i love you very much, my boy. and i pray that you will continue studying and learning. however you still have not answered my question, if the ten commandments are the old covenant, then i can now kill and steal and commit adultery and have imgages for gods. and if these (as you say universal pre-existing 'laws' are still applicable, how can you separate the sabbath...

    no matter what i will always love you.

    your father

     
  • At August 22, 2006 1:37 PM, Blogger Ramone said…

    From the email I sent you last month...

    As for your question, "how can I dissect the Ten?" I can do it the same Biblical way that that the authors of the New Testament did:

    Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ. (Colossians 2:16-17)

    One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. He who regards one day as special, does so to the Lord. He who eats meat, eats to the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who abstains, does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God. (Romans 14:5-6)

    There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God's rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his ... Therefore God again set a certain day, calling it "Today", when a long time later he spoke through David, as was said before: "Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts." ... Now we who have believed enter that rest, just as God has said. (Hebrews 4:9-10, 7, 3)

    The Catholic church did not teach these things. They re-instituted parts of the Old Covenant. But the Protestant Reformation recovered these beliefs by searching Scripture. Martin Luther wrote this in his "Small Catechism", p.66-67:

    "Does God require us to observe the Sabbath and other holy days of the Old Testament? The Sabbath was a sign pointing to Jesus, who is our rest. Since Jesus has come as our Savior and Lord, God no longer requires us to observe the Sabbath day and other holy days of the Old Testament. Does God require the church to worship together on any specific days? God requires Christians to worship together. He has not specified any particular day. The church worships together especially on Sunday because Christ rose from the dead on Sunday."

    Protestant Christians are free to worship on any and all days because God has not set a specific "day" we must worship on. The letter to the Hebrews says we can enter His rest "TODAY".. we enter His rest by belief in Christ, not by keeping a day. The Christian church chooses to worship on Sunday voluntarily---not because they are commanded to. They don't have to. Catholics believe they have to worship on Sunday, just like Adventists believe they have to worship on Saturday. Protestants, however, are free from the Old Covenant Law. Catholics and Adventists are not.

    I have told you many of these things before... please re-examine what you believe in the light of Scripture. Scripture is clear that the Ten Commandments are the Old Covenant. It's not an "if". Instead of ignoring what Scripture says, we have to face it, ask God about it, and wrestle with it if need be. But above all we can't ignore it. We have to let Scripture set our beliefs, instead of using our beliefs to interpret Scripture.

    Love,
    Ramone

     
  • At August 23, 2006 7:58 AM, Blogger Johnny said…

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  • At August 23, 2006 10:51 PM, Blogger Ramone said…

    Hi Johnny! Awesome to hear from you... I didn't know you were lurking. Good to "see" you bro.

    Specifically, these beliefs of "the 28" are problematic (formerly "the 27", of course)...

    #8 - Great Controversy

    The true 'great controversy' is not about the law of God. This idea is a unique Adventist spin which implies that God is making effort to "prove" Himself to us, kind of as if the universe is judging Him. In reality, He must answer to no one. The true great controversy was ended on the Cross.

    Additionally, the Adventist belief puts Christ and Satan on a similar level. This traces way back to Ellen White's writings where she claimed Christ was an angel, and to her struggle to accept belief in the Trinity versus James White's Arian beliefs.

    It's a somewhat well-kept secret in Adventism that the founding members and theologians of Adventism were anti-Trinitarian. The denomination's views have been changing over the years, particularly in the 50s. But the great hymn, "Holy, Holy, Holy" still contained the Adventist re-write for the end of the first verse up until the 1981 edition. Prior to that, "God in Three Persons, blessed Trinity" was always replaced with, "God over all who rules eternally" to accomodate & support the original beliefs of Adventism.

    #13 - Remnant and its mission

    The unfortunate application of this belief most used in Adventism is to support the idea of it being "the remnant church"---a concept which is not to be found in the Bible.

    More importantly, the Adventist understanding of John's usage of "commandments of God" is faulty (see what John means by "commandments" in 1 John 3:23), and this causes them to identify "the remnant" by the physical work of keeping the Old Covenant Sabbath instead of by spiritual discernment. Paul wrote that we are not to let anyone judge us by a Sabbath, but the Adventist teaching is that we may indeed judge one another (who is God's and who is not) and that God will be judging everyone in the end by keeping the Old Covenant Sabbath.

    #18 - The gift of prophecy

    After expelling Dr. Ford, the denomination simultaneously re-worded this belief and the belief about the all-sufficiency of Scripture alone. Words indicating that the Scripture is the sole rule of faith and the all-sufficient revelation were removed. In belief #18, however, the words "continuing and authoritative source of truth" were added to Ellen White's writings. In other words, the denomination indirectly admitted that the Sanctuary belief cannot be supported by Scripture, and it is established in Ellen White's writings which are an "authoritative source of truth".

    The belief that the gift of prophecy is "the identifying mark of the remnant church" is completely unbiblical. First, the "remnant church" idea is not Biblical... there is only one church in God's eyes. Second, the usage of Revelation 19:10 is completely incorrect and ignores the context. There is only one Spirit who gives many gifts, of which prophecy is merely one. The same Spirit that lived in the apostles is the same Spirit that lives in you and I.

    The SDA belief about EGW's "spirit of prophecy" is one that is essentially a museum-piece, causing people to reverence what she wrote instead of seeking to hear God for oneself. Further, her little red books are used to effectively neutralize anyone who receives a manifestation of the Holy Spirit. It would be accurate to say that Adventism believs in "the spirit of prophecy" only inasmuch as it establishes Ellen White's ministry. Any living prophecy or manifestation of the Holy Spirit is disallowed the vast majority of the time.

    #19 - Law of God

    Paul's statements about the law "ending" are valid and must not be re-interpreted with the artifical division of "ceremonial/moral laws". Reading Scripture we find that the Ten Commandments are clearly "The Old Covenant". Adventism teaches that the foundation of the New Covenant is......the Old Covenant? This completely contradicts the Letter to the Hebrews, as well as the writings of Jeremiah. Belief #19 is necessary for Adventism in order to establish "the Sabbath". Sadly, this has resulted in a continuing problem with extreme legalism throughout the denomination's history.

    #20 - Sabbath

    The Old Covenant Sabbath is not the sign of believers' sanctification nor their "seal". That is the Holy Spirit according to Ephesians and the rest of the New Testament witness. Scripture does not record anyone "observing" Sabbath prior to Exodus 16, nor anyone receiving any command or instruction to do so.

    In stark contrast, the New Testament declares that the Sabbath was a shadow of Christ. The Sabbath is fulfilled in Jesus, and we are no longer judged by it, nor are we to judge one another or ourselves by it. We enter God's rest "Today" by belief in His Son's finished work of redemption on our behalf.

    #21 - Stewardship

    There is no New Testament command to practice Old Covenant tithing. Further, there is no Old Covenant command to tithe money. Tithing was only for certain occupations such as farmers and those who owned livestock (i.e., not everyone had to do it). If money was to be used, a tenth had to be added to it. Additionally, Old Covenant tithe could be used on one's own family to--ironically--be spent on a party and fermented drink! (You never hear that in a sermon, do you!) Obviously the current Adventist tithing system does not stand up to Biblical investigation, but it will not be done away with because it is the financial backbone of the organization. If the denomination preaches the truth, it risks incredible downsizing, and no one quite has the faith in the power of the truth to take that risk.

    New Covenant "giving" is not compulsive or commanded by law. It is to be done from the overflow of the heart. Ironically, even Jews do not practice tithing. They recognize that it is part of the (Old) Covenant Temple system. If there is no Temple in Jerusalem, then there is no tithing.

    #22 - Christian behavior

    Without arguing about a lot of the specific rules mentioned in this belief, the obvious one is the re-imposition of the levitical food laws is more than debatable. The prohibition of alcohol is completely unbiblical, and interestingly, it's also lacks scientific support.

    The practical and historical application of this belief in Adventism has been its vegetarian tradition, even to the point of Ellen White raining down prophetic condemnation on those who did not obey her recommendations, saying that their prayers "did not reach God's throne" because they were still eating meat, butter and salt, etc. (I'm not going to post quotes for this... please see Dale Ratzlaff's book, "The Cultic Doctrine of Seventh-day Adventism" or any number of Former Adventist sites on the internet for a good list of questionable sayings by EGW).

    #24 - Christ's ministry in the heavenly sanctuary

    Johnny, I know that you and your father have read Desmond Ford's research about this belief, so I won't get into it except to say that no non-Adventist scholar has ever been able to substantiate the Sanctuary doctrine or arrive at its conclusion about 1844. The outgrowth of the doctrine--"the investigative judgment"--is completely unbiblical and completely undermines the Gospel of God's grace more than any other doctrine in Adventism.

     
  • At August 29, 2006 6:38 AM, Blogger Johnny said…

    This comment has been removed by the author.

     
  • At August 29, 2006 8:00 PM, Blogger Ramone said…

    Hi Johnny,

    What "must be believed" varies widely from one SDA church to another. There are many that have begun including a statement to be agreed to prior to baptism. I witnessed one of these at LLJC (which I dearly love).

    Additionally, those who have once professed the Adventist beliefs (having studied them and agreed to them in "baptismal classes") can later abandon or rationalize away many of them. This is most common in Southern California, of course, the largest place in Adventism where beliefs that would be unquestionable anywhere else may be liberally dealt with (pun intended, hehehe).

    While it is a simple thing to take the statement you've said as a "common denominator" for "being Adventist", the practial reality is that you will have a difficult time living in Adventism if you don't adhere to certain historically "Adventist" beliefs. You may be harshly judged by other members, you may be put on trial (so to speak) by pastors, and you may be disfellowshiped. Or have your ministerial credentials taken away.

    Take Desmond Ford for example, Johnny.

    "What must you believe to be Adventist?"

    Let me turn the question around: What is it that makes Adventists Adventist?

    The obvious answer is Adventism's "unique" beliefs and its historical beliefs. While it is easy for some more liberal Adventists to shrug off Adventism's foundational history, I can't quite rationalize away the things that the founders of Adventism said and believed and pretend like it means nothing. The whole Adventist institution rests on the shoulders of its founders and their beliefs. Adventism's "reason for being" and uniqueness as a denomination rests there.

    Why do you think that Ford was "disciplined" so harshly? Why do you think that the denomination's official beliefs were changed as soon as he showed by scholarly study that the Sanctuary doctrine was unbiblical? The answer is simple: the higher-ups know that he was theologically proving false the very thing that began "Adventism" as a church.

    Yes, Adventism since the 1950s has tried to be founded more and more on Christ alone, but it has been unable to let go of its historic foundation or look it square in the face with complete academic honesty. It's tried to hold onto its heritage and Christ at the same time, not realizing that the Sanctuary doctrine's unbiblicalness matters and handicaps the Gospel, not to mention the horrible consequences it unleashes on the its believers' assurance of salvation.

     
  • At August 30, 2006 8:51 PM, Blogger Johnny said…

    This comment has been removed by the author.

     
  • At August 31, 2006 7:46 PM, Blogger Ramone said…

    Hi again Johnny,

    It might be appropriate to say that Adventism believes in righteousness by faith since 1888.

    Yes, you believe we are saved by grace. And I shout hallelujah because you do! But Johnny, I can't be Adventist because the bulk of Adventism's historical literature does not believe the same things you do. Read Ellen White's writings such as the Great Controversy, for example.

    Johnny, at what point does "truth" matter?

    Adventism's founders made very demanding statements. How can we so clearly disregard their beliefs? How can we claim to be their heirs if we disregard what they say so often?

    At what point does the actual "truth" matter, Johnny? What is the significance of Desmond Ford's research?

    I haven't been pushed out or denied communion like you say (although at the church here in Osaka, I was barred from using my guitar to lead worship, and a friend got in trouble for saying it's appropriate to worship God on any day of the week). But no, it was my conscience, Johnny, that drove me out of Adventism.

    I can't recommend Adventism to a seeker, to someone looking for God. They may read the "spirit of prophecy" or other Adventist literature and will encounter a world of confusion. When a denomination censors its best scholars because what they find disagrees with the heritage, that is simply dishonesty, and dishonesty in the name of being "God's church". It's not right to do that when there are honest believers like you & your family who are trying to defend what they do.

    I know you are upset when the American government does dishonest or shady things. But so many people in Adventism turn a completely blind eye to what's being (and has been) done at the higher levels of Adventist government... and this has been going on for over a hundred years.

    I left Adventism simply because I discovered Christ. I learned of the New Covenant -- something that is not taught in its fullness in Adventism (nor can be) because to do so would be to invalidate Adventism's "unique" beliefs. It would invalidate Adventism's reason for being. I left for freedom. I also left because I discovered the living Holy Spirit, not a mere doctrine or a theological argument. There was little or no room in Adventist services for the Spirit to move. More than that, were I to share many things He's done, it would be rejected. I needed some fresh air, so to speak. I had been needing that "air" all my life. I had been needing the freedom that the Gospel brings, that the knowledge of the true Sabbath-rest (Jesus!) brings. Freedom from the lies of Adventism's heritage, freedom from the confusion of doctrines, freedom to simply be honest and look at the truth without having to find a way to bend it so I could keep my "heritage".

     
  • At September 04, 2006 5:49 PM, Blogger Johnny said…

    This comment has been removed by the author.

     
  • At September 04, 2006 11:58 PM, Blogger Ramone said…

    Thanks Johnny.

    Only one comment: You believed Adventism has "something worth sticking around for"...

    But this is where I've departed, and with joy, because I've found identity in Christ alone, and it's an incredible relief. Something worth sticking around for? I'm happy to have lost all things and found Him! I count all things in my "heritage" as loss for the sheer joy of knowing Him and being found only in Him, yes, not having any righteousness of my own or any commendation for my organization or church or heritage, but only the identity that comes from being in Him by faith. What more identity do I need? What more can I want or hope for? In Him is all the fullness of God and everything I'll ever need! And He's all I ever needed.

     
  • At September 05, 2006 9:50 PM, Blogger Ramone said…

    I might add as a P.S. that I wish voices like yours actually represented "Adventism" more, but sadly your voices are not representative. In the last few years Jan Paulsen was quoted reaffirming the historical beliefs of Adventism, saying that since Glacier View many were saying that the SDA views on the Sanctuary doctrine had changed, but Paulsen shot that down saying it had not changed. He added that were "we" (Adventists) to give up these beliefs or Adventism, their salvation would be affected by it.

    Your comments, Johnny, speak of love and righteousness by faith---but sadly your comments don't represent the official beliefs of the church you're defending. I hear you and I see the love in your heart. But when I look at what Adventism teaches (as opposed to what you believe), I wonder, "Where is the love?"

     
  • At September 14, 2006 3:42 PM, Blogger Marcel said…

    Hi Ramone,

    I've arrived a bit late in the discussion, yet just wanted to give you God-sized kudos for your sincerity in sharing such a grace-affirming spiritual paradigm shift. I can clearly see how liberating it has been for you to no longer be bound by chains of legalism. Praise God for that! I can also fully attest to having experienced the exact same shift within Adventism, without having left it. In stating this, I share my fellow blogger Johnny's views in that, my experiences coming to the foot of the cross do not mix with historic, doctrinal or EGW fundamentalism. It is a gospel of faith by grace alone. Period. As a 5th generation Adventist, I can also honestly attest to having never read one of EGW's books! It simply isn't relevant to my spiritual walk. Neither are the 28 fundamentals. Since my conversion to evangelical Christianity back in 1998, I've been too busy immersing myself in C.S. Lewis, Lucado, Yancey and Thielman. My walk is a personal relationship with Christ.

    I wish you the best in your pursuits of truth and finding a new church. I'm excited for those possibilities as know God has a great plan for you.

    Before I go, I just wanted to be absolutely clear that you knew there are many progressive (liberal) Adventists that think exactly like you do, with a sound scriptural understanding of the gospel (not the packaged "everlasting" one, heheh!)but choose to remain to make a difference, fight for justice, offer mercy and spread grace to a lost world.

    Peace,

    Marcel
    Moderator, Re-inventing the Adventist Wheel

     
  • At September 14, 2006 7:17 PM, Blogger Ramone said…

    Marcel,

    Thank you for your post!

    I'm aware there are many liberal/progressive Adventists... I used to go to school with many at LaSierra. (^_^) It was there that I first began to hear of "grace" ...it was there that I first began to hear the Gospel (after 20 years being raised in Adventism... not necessarily strict Adventism, either, but borderline).

    I had a friend who used to talk about "working within" the system, and he would cite how Luther left the Catholic church while Erasmus remained and worked within. It sounded like a good argument, until some years later I learned that Erasmus began to get pressured by his Catholic peers for his views and caved into attacking Luther.

    If something is not merely un-truth, but is false and contrary to the Gospel of God's grace, why must it be held onto? Is heritage more important than truth? If the institution is standing on false teachings, wouldn't the institution be helped by jettisoning that which is detrimental to the Gospel?

    Just before Caiaphas resolved that Jesus must be killed (for the sake of preserving the nation), the religious leaders were exhibiting their fear that following Christ would "take away their place and their nation". They put institutional preservation above following God. Yes, following God might mean the "death" of some things they loved... so they held onto their institution (and crucified Christ), and ended up losing it anyway some years later.

    Isn't it the same as what Christ said? Whoever loves his life (or institution) and seeks to keep it will lose it. But whoever loses his life for the sake of Christ will find and keep it. Those who followed Christ lost favor with their institutional religion, but found eternal life. Those who sought to protect and keep their institution ended up losing it anyway.

    It is truly, truly wonderful to preach the Gospel within Adventism's walls. At the same time, keeping those little red books on the shelf is not harmless by any means. It is like if you had a doorway built into your church office that connected to a seedy back alley where drugs, prostitution, and abuse were all being trafficked. Yes, your office would still be a "church" office, but it's only a matter of time before someone in the office opens the door and lets who knows what inside.

    EGW, the Sanctuary, the Investigative Judgment and the Sabbath (dependance on the Law) in Adventism keep a doorway wide open to condemnation, judgment, legalism, and other things that directly oppose the Gospel and dilute its message of God's grace.

    God has not called everyone to leave Adventism in the same way, nor at the same time. But as it stands today, Adventism is unrepentant of its foundational heresies (sorry for the strong word, but truly there's no better word). At some point each person will be faced with whether to follow Adventism or follow Christ.

    Liberal Adventists understandably have a problem with defining "Adventism" in a way that clashes with their own personal modified definition of Adventism. The problem is that their definition is completely subjective, and does not represent the reality of the positions the institution is founded on and continues to promote.

    Instead of truly changing the institution and helping it to rest on the Gospel alone, liberal Adventists tend to congregate with other liberal Adventists, forming pockets like in inland Southern California. It brings little of the light of the Gospel to the many broad and dark areas of Adventism... such as the historical, conservative and cultic version of Adventism so popular in Adventist evangelism, missions, and in the third world.

    There are children being educated in bondage to the Old Covenant, in bondage to Ellen White, in bondage to legalism. God cares about these abuses, He cares about His abused children. He wants them to know His grace, He wants them to be set free by the Gospel.

    He definitely has His timing, but we need to ask ourselves if our silence is truly because He has told us to wait or if it is because we are afraid of speaking the truth because it might damage our church social reputation or institutional position, salary, standing, etc.

    At some point Adventists who know the Gospel are faced with a choice, whether to call truth & falsehood as they really are, or whether to compromise for the sake of self-preservation (or institutional preservation). Only God is the judge of each person, yet He is not going to stand by and let His children be abused forever.

    Peter wrote that judgment is coming to the house of God before it comes on the world, so that we will not be condemned with the world. Ellen White was right that there is a "shaking" of Adventism coming, but she had it backwords---God is going to shake the Adventist "platform" so that they may rest on Christ alone, unhindered by things that oppose the Gospel of His grace. He is jealous for His children!

    Bless you as you rest on Christ alone. And don't be quiet, man! Stand up and fearlessly declare the Gospel of God's grace!

     
  • At September 21, 2006 4:37 PM, Anonymous Johnny said…

    "The problem is that their definition is completely subjective, and does not represent the reality of the positions the institution is founded on and continues to promote."- Ramone

    Ramone, I take issue with this. You can read our conversation thread and I did say that our point of departure must be official published beliefs and did link to the baptismal confession we make- the closet our denomination comes to a creed.

    I and those who disagree with me both agree that the 28 fundamental beliefs are not creedal- creedal statements are by nature confessed. You are not baptised into the 28 fundamental beliefs, you are baptised into the church.

    Here again is what you have to confess in order to be a member of the Adventist church. From the 28 Fundamental Beliefs-

    “By baptism we confess our faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and testify of our death to sin and of our purpose to walk in newness of life. Thus we acknowledge Christ as Lord and Saviour, become His people, and are received as members by His church.”

    Nothing more, nothing less. That is what baptised members confess and that is the closet we get to a creed.

    You are totally wrong in saying that Gospel loving Adventists are creating a subjective definition of what it means to be Adventist.

     
  • At September 23, 2006 9:37 PM, Blogger Ramone said…

    Again, the "official published beliefs" that you linked to go well beyond the baptismal confession that you say is the only necessity.

    Additionally, baptismal confessions vary from church to church. As I told you, I've heard baptismal confessions where the pastor did ask the candidate if they embraced the teachings of the church.

    The "creed" you cite (or rather the "closet" you believe SDA comes to a creed) is your own selection of one of the "28 fundamental beliefs." If you were to start a church and ask to be under the denominational umbrella, you would need to confess quite a bit more than the one belief you cited.

    You picked one of the 28, and then in the next moment said "nothing more, nothing less"??? WHAT??? C'mon, Johnny. If that isn't a subjective definition (selecting one of twenty-eight "fundamental" beliefs), then I don't know what is.

     
  • At September 29, 2006 9:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I am struggling so much with my husbands adventism. I am removed in heart and mind from their church, and have entered the simplicity of church body of Christ. My husband thinks since my baptism in the Holy Spirit, I have lost my mind. As if so much of the bible is Spiritual. IT IS!!!! I have just discovered it. God IS Spirit and Truth and His true believers are asked to worship Him likewise!!!

    So now I still struggle with wanting to connect with my husband, but we are spiritually on two seperate planes. He will not let go of his believes of "the truth", while he is so filled with anger in whats happening to me which is I am becoming closer to Jesus then ever before. I was in the Adventist church for 9 years. My husband is a generation Adventist. We have 4 children in which are now out of the adventist church thanks to Gods working.

    I am on former adventist website, maybe my e-mail is there as well. I know Colleen has written me before. I can tell by your writtings you are a spiritual filled man. May God bless you and yours,

    Michelle Detweiler

     
  • At September 30, 2006 12:41 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I am sorry, my children 11, 5, 7, and 2 are not out of the church, but the church school. My husband takes them without me every week to Sabbath School.

     
  • At March 16, 2008 3:53 PM, Blogger Cherry said…

    I had no intention of adding any comments to this blog. I read it simply out of interest. But in reading comments posted by Johnny a very long time ago (9/06) I was jarred by one comment, "You are not baptised into the 28 fundamental beliefs, you are baptised into the church." My gut went into a knot and I felt tears come to my eyes. That sentence seems to contain the essence of what's wrong. Adventists ARE baptized "into the church". Christians are baptized into Christ.

    This comment was preceded a few comments before and then followed by quoting the baptismal vow that says, "By baptism we confess our faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and testify of our death to sin and of our purpose to walk in newness of life. Thus we acknowledge Christ as Lord and Saviour, become His people, and are received as members by His church.”

    I find this epitomizes the confusion within Adventism. One thing is spoken, but functionally, another thing is held. Let me shorten and contrast what I've just said:

    1) By being baptized SDA's confess Jesus as Savior.

    2) The end result is being baptized "into the church".

    Those two things are not equivalent. Let me illustrate by quoting the most recent baptismal vows voted and approved at the 2005 General Conference Session. In order to procede with baptism the baptismal candidate must answer yes to all of these questions:

    "1. Do you accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior and Lord, and do you desire to live your life in a saving relationship with Him?
    2. Do you accept the teachings of the Bible as expressed in the Statement of Fundamental Beliefs of the Seventh-day Adventist Church and do you pledge by God's grace to live your life in harmony with these teachings?
    3. Do you desire to be baptized as a public expression of your belief in Jesus Christ, to be accepted into the fellowship of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, and to support the Church and its mission as a faithful steward by your personal influence, tithes and offering, and a life of service?"

    This is the minimum requirement of belief for baptism for a person to become an Adventist. As you can easily see, it includes all 28 of the fundamental SDA beliefs.

    The original thirteen vows still are considered the standard baptismal vows and continue to be enumerated in the church manual. There are no others. Neither of these is consistent with Johnny's statements. They come much closer to is assertion that one is baptised into "the church". Jesus, forgive them. They don't understand what they are doing. Cherry

     
  • At November 14, 2008 7:48 PM, Blogger Jotham and Erin said…

    Hi Ramone,

    I did a search for "Sabbath Rest" and guess who came up?! You!!

    I remember playing drums with you on your kit. I remember I chipped your sticks once -- I think -- on the hats. Sorry about that, and if I ever offended you in any way - being a drummer as well.

    I read through your letter - some of it quite quickly - and some of it slowly.

    Sounds like there's been a lot of pain there. I'm sorry you grew up with a brand of Adventism that did not explain freedom. I guess I did in a way, but it didn't scar me too much... I discovered Jesus back in 1995 at SVA when I was working there - around the time I met you.

    I am so pleased that you have discovered (or more correctly - ARE discovering, because it's a journey of discipline, learning how to rest, hey?) Freedom, Rest, the gracious heart of Jesus, unconditional love...

    There's much more I could add - head level or heart level... but not here in a public blog.

    So email me.

    Jotham Kingston
    (The Task Force Volunteer at SVA, 1995)

     
  • At November 14, 2008 11:08 PM, Blogger Ramone said…

    Hi Jotham!

    Wow, it's awesome to hear from you! Your email address wasn't on your comment on the blog, so I sent a message through Facebook. How are you doing?

    Ha, I don't remember anything about chipping a stick, but I do remember this funny cymbal with screws in it! I think that set is at Sligo Church (SDA) in Takoma Park, MD, now. But don't worry, there was never any offense. More truthfully, I ought to apologize for aiming a waterballoon at you with that insane slingshot! (We who shot it broke a window shortly thereafter!)

    Actually, one of the best *spiritual* memories I have of that time there was probably during that summer when I think we were all getting ready to go to church, but for some reason we ended up staying in my room and talking. I think you were wearing a suit! But it was nice because we all actually got to *talk*, express things, and something real came out.

    There were similar times when friends and I at Sligo in Maryland would skip church or hang out at Taco Bell or McDonald's or just in the car... and somehow it could really be a time of exchanging real things inside, real substance, etc. Church services can be terribly passive most of the time -- or rather, "one-way". The real fun of "church" (ekklesia) is when it's like a relationship in which there is an exchange going on, a two-way thing, or three-way, or four-way, etc. But that's another topic. (^_^)

    Ironically, I can't say I experienced much "pain" in Adventism. The worst thing was something I didn't put on the blog at all (being a missionary in Osaka, some of us tried to help homeless people and the church we were working at gave us a really hard time about it). But that really was more of an institutional problem than an Adventist problem, and I came out of it a stronger Adventist than before. I even spoke about it at the Loma Linda Japanese Church back in California on their first "Worship on Wheels" Sabbath (an event where they went to do similar things helping in the community).

    It wasn't because of pain that I left, nor was it because of lack of freedom, actually. Granted, I probably wrote something about freedom here or there, but it was something I discovered *after* leaving Adventism. I didn't know I lacked it while I was still in Adventism. It's like being in a dark room for a long time -- you don't know what certain things look like in the light simply because you've never seen them, and you don't really even feel that you're missing them.

    Basically, the reason I left Adventism was that the Bible just grew too large for Adventism to contain it. Or rather, Adventism simply failed the Biblical test.

    It was also the culmination of a process of learning to hear and know God more and more. It began in 1998 before I was a missionary, when God saved me out of about a year or two of what I'll call "philosophical depression" and "reluctant atheism". He used a youth pastor (SDA) to help me at that time, and a day later God hugged me from the inside out. I don't quite know how else to express that, but for the first time I knew He was real. I felt Him inside, yet I knew He was outside of me -- that is *not me*. But He was with me and I knew I was not alone. His reality then put a huge dent in my philosophical armor, in my fortress of doubt.

    But it was not something that repeated, and I was left wondering what next. I ended up going out LaSierra University (Riverside, CA) not long after that, and kind of went along in life trying out different goals. After Spring break, though, I ended up taking a missions class and decided to become a missionary. I needed to make sure and really know if God was real, so I decided to gamble my life on it. I figured, "God, if You're real, then I'll find out in Your service." Something like that. He won the bet, like I'd hoped!

    While a missionary, I heard His voice for the first time. Not audibly, but in my spirit. I was head-over-heels about this one girl I knew, and was nearly breaking down about it. Having it out with Him one night, I began to just wait on Him as I looked at the stars from my balcony. When I asked Him about her then, if we'd ever be together, He didn't say "Yes" or "No". Instead, He said "Wait". And THEN I broke out crying like crazy! Because His love came through in "wait" more than it would have in "yes" or "no"! It meant that if the answer was "yes", then I could trust Him to take care of it and didn't need to see it now. And if it was "no", then it meant that He had someone better for me. I was overwhelmed. And as it turned out (thanks to Him), I ended up meeting someone else---my wife. We worked together helping homeless, and ended up taking a lot of flak from the church leadership together. (Not the church members so much... they were more supportive).

    When I got back to LaSierra, I decided to enter the pastoral studies program, with the loose aim of becoming a youth pastor in the future. What ended up happening was that I started investigating some of Ellen White's early books (on a tip from my former mission director), and that led me (as described on the blog) to a point where I faced questions about the Bible that Adventism had never considered.

    From then on, the Bible began to open up more clearly than ever. One thing after another began making more sense. I could read Paul literally for what he was saying! I didn't have to say about "law" that "No, it doesn't mean THAT, but means this and this instead...", etc. There were lots of cases like that. Adventist education and proof-texting simply collapsed as I began to let the Bible interpret itself. There was more than I had ever dreamed!

    And those experiences of being hugged by God and hearing His voice -- they became more common. Not an everyday thing, but frequent enough that I've stopped counting. I don't depend on the experiences, but let's simply say that I never knew God was this interactive! (In practice, Adventism is cessationist and is highly afraid of the moving of the Holy Spirit.)

    I went through a time (probably less than a year) of eagerly searching out the Bible and examining Adventist ideas in its light. It was exciting to see what the Bible said, to read things in context, and to learn about the Covenants especially.

    But the most surprising thing was the *healing* that came as a result of it. Not so much because of wounds from Adventism, but rather just plain *family* wounds. At worst, at that time I hated someone in my family. At best, I felt numb towards them. But the first thing God did as I met at my friend's house for prayer group was to convict me that I needed to reconcile with them. Yes, I had experienced rejection from them, but I needed to repent for rejecting them in return. As I walked in steps of unconditional agape love for them, I became surprised one day when I actually discovered that I *loved* them! It was the first time in my life that I really, truly loved them.

    This kind of thing happened a lot at the prayer group, actually. There was a lot of healing from generational wounds, family things, and even church things. We learned that bitterness holds us captive, and that forgiveness sets us free. As some of us learned the truth about Adventism, it would have been easy to become bitter or upset. But we moved forward in forgiveness. I don't hate the Adventist teachers I had, nor the legalists I encountered, nor the legalistic writings Ellen White penned. Granted, I won't shy from saying that many of these things are incorrect, wrong, abusive, etc. But I don't hate the people. I've forgiven them.

    Again, I'll refer to the member of my family as an example. My family member simply didn't know how to give intimate affection, and still has trouble with it. There are several reasons for that, of course. But I have chosen not to make them "pay for it" anymore, not to punish them or ask them to make up for it. Yet forgiving them (and releasing them from their debt to me) does not mean that I never say the truth about these things. My wounds were real, you know? Forgiving them does not mean that I deny my wounds. On the contrary, forgiving them means that I recognize my wounds more clearly than ever before! And as I recognize them, I give them to God and turn to Him for healing (instead of expecting my family member to make up for them). It simply doesn't help if I deny or try to ignore the wounds I received from my family member. It doesn't help me (it just hides my wounds -- which will manifest in other ways whether I like it or not), and it doesn't help my family member change or improve either.

    I've used the example of wounds received from a family member, but again I need to stress that in Adventism it's *not about wounds*. Pain and wounds do inevitably result from Adventist heritage and theology, but compared to many people's, my own experiences and wounds have been incredibly minor. I've used the example of forgiving someone in my family to illustrate the fact that forgiving Adventist educators/pioneers does not mean that we ignore their errors. And their errors were many and huge (the whole denomination began because someone did what Jesus said NOT to do--try to figure out when He was coming--and then no one could simply come to the cross and repent for it). To ignore the errors is to allow them to continue, to hinder people from more intimate fellowship with God, and to prolong the possibilities of more pain, wounding and spiritual abuse to existing generations and future generations.

    Ah, I've written a lot! Sorry. I'm habitiually long-winded in writing. I've said all this here simply because I need it to be understood that I didn't leave Adventism because of pain or wounding. I left because I found the real, living Jesus Christ, and because of His Word. I studied my way out of Adventism and got swept off my feet by the Spirit and heart of God.

    If you have any questions, please let me know!
    Bless you in Jesus!
    Ramone

     
  • At February 25, 2009 9:57 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I AM A FORMER SDA WHO HAS LEFT THE CHURCH DO TO "JESUIT INFILTRATION" INTO THE SDA CHURCH!!! I HAVE A SERIOUS DILEMA FOR YOU CONTEMPLATE CONCERNING THE SABBATH AND HOW IT RELATES TO THE MARK OF THE BEAST!!! IN THE BOOK GREAT CONTROVERSY ... IT PREDICTS A TIME WHEN MOST PROTESTANTS WOULD CHANGE THEIR ATTITUDES TOWARDS THE CHURCH OF ROME FROM A POSITION OF DISTRUST OF THE ROMAN CHURCH TO AN ALL OUT CHANGE OF HEART RESULTING IN COOPERATION AND THAT TOGETHER THEY WILL PUSH FOR SUNDAY LEGISLATION .... I DONT KNOW WHAT YOU CURRENT POSITION IS CONCERNING THE GREAT CONTROVERSY!!! BUT I CAN PROVE TO YOU THAT AFOREMENTIONED QUOTE IS VALID AND TRUE, IN 1960 JFK WHO WOULD LATER BECOME THE FIRST CATHOLIC PRESIDENT STATED IN A SPEECH QUOTE "I BELIEVE IN AN AMERICA WHERE THE SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE IS ABSOLUTE" .. HE GAVE THIS SPEECH TO A GROUP OF "PROTESTANTS" TO ENSURE THEM THAT HE WOULD BE A PRESIDENT WHO "NOT" OBEY THE POPE, THOUGH HE WAS OF THE CATHOLIC FAITH.... BUT LOOK AT THE PRESENT ATTITUDE OF THE PROTESTANT CHURCHES TOWARDS ROME ,, GOOGLE THE FOLLOWING VIDEO "THE NEW WORLD ORDER-THE DEVIL IN THE VATICAN PART-36" AND THEN READ/GOOGLE THE" E.C.T". AGREEMENT BETWEEN ROME AND PROTESTANTS ... AND ALSO GOOGLE PROTESTANTS WHO CURRENTLY ARE SEEKING SUNDAY BLUE LAW LEGISLATION... ALSO GOOGLE POPE CALLS FOR SUNDAY LEGISLATION IN THE EUROPEAN UNION.... THEN YOU CAN DECIDE FOR YOUR SELF, WHAT IS REALLY GOING ON? THANK YOU FOR YOUR TIME AND GOD BLESS!!! Mr Flores/U.S.A.

     
  • At February 25, 2009 3:58 PM, Blogger Ramone said…

    Hi Mr. Flores,

    Two favors to ask: First, in future comments, could you leave contact info or a link where I can reach you? Second, could you *not* write in all capital letters? It's very difficult to read (and sounds like SHOUTING). Thanks.

    There are several misconceptions in the topics you've raised and the question(s) you asked. I'll try to briefly summarize:

    Firstly, protestants in general are usually not tied to a denominational directive. That is to say, whatever decisions are "made at the top" are not automatically accepted throughout the ranks of the churches. The "top" is generally representative instead of leading. Members look to the Bible for truth and faith, not to the statements of denominational leaders. This is particularly true in the growing trends of churches becoming "non-denominational". Hierarchies are being left behind (thank God!).

    In contrast is Roman Catholicism which is probably the most famous hierarchial church system. Since ancient times, the Bishop of Rome (that is, "the pope") has been more than just a representative, but is said to hold the "office" of Peter (etc.). He is looked to for final authority on matters. Seventh-day Adventism works in a very similar way. The GC is looked to for authoritative statements and final say on matters. While there is great flexibility on certain things (but not on others), the hierarchial structure of SDA remains intact and important, and demands a certain submission from even the most diverging of its churches.

    Now "off the radar" of Adventism is the case of the Eastern Orthodox churches. The Orthodox church is just as ancient as Roman Catholicism, and claims more members than protestant churches in the world. However, Orthodoxy has no "pope". Authority doesn't reside in one person, but in bishops and more importantly, in tradition. The bishops merely hold to the traditions passed onto them from the "church fathers" of the first millenium. (In a similar way that Judaism holds onto the traditions passed through the Mishna & Talmud, etc.)

    I mention all of this to illustrate a fallacy in the question/topic you brought up. The fallacy is assuming that supposed agreements between "leaders" means that whole churches are going to adopt some measure such as "a Sunday law". Leaders in protestantism are not dictators, but are representatives. In Catholicism and Adventism, however, the leader/GC is more dictatorial. The rapidly growing reality of "non-denominationalism" seriously undercuts the SDA belief in protestants "uniting" under Rome.

    Secondly, as "anti-Rome" as Adventism is, it does not hold a candle to how "anti-Rome" many protestants are, particularly those from Calvinistic/Reformed churches (which I would guess are about half of churches that call themselves "protestant" -- and are the most vehement about "being protestant"). Reformed churches base themselves on the teaching(s) of the Protestant Reformation, primarily those of John Calvin, but also those of Martin Luther (particularly his later book, The Bondage of the Will). The basis of their severe opposition to Catholicism is different than in Adventism, and this needs to be understood because it is a far more critical point than the basis of Adventist opposition.

    Protestant opposition to Catholicism is based primarily on the doctrine of justification by faith alone. This was the central teaching of the Protestant Reformation. This is what Martin Luther's message was all about. Salvation is accomplished for us by Christ's finished work on the cross, not by our works.

    Adventist opposition to Catholicism, however, is based on the "day" of worship. Adventism and Catholicism essentially have the same teaching on "justification by faith", which is that it is not by faith alone, but rather is "faith plus works." Adventism wholly misunderstood the Protestant Reformation because it saw the main point as the "wrong" day of worship.

    In short, Protestants have a different doctrine of how salvation is accomplished and how we are saved! Adventist and Catholics, however, have a very similar doctrine of salvation.

    In other words, this means that agreement about a mere "day" will not bring Protestants and Catholics together. It would be easier for Adventists and Catholics to unite than it is for Calvinistic Protestants and Catholics to unite.

    Thirdly, the views of Protestants on "Sabbath" is not as unified as the SDA scenario dictates. There are basically two streams of belief among Protestants about the Sabbath. One is the Reformed view, based on the Westminster Confession of Calvinism, which sees "Sunday" as the Sabbath. But there is another position which is very widespread and can be found in the Augusburg Confession based on Martin Luther's teaching:

    "Does God require us to observe the Sabbath and other holy days of the Old Testament? The Sabbath was a sign pointing to Jesus, who is our rest. Since Jesus has come as our Savior and Lord, God no longer requires us to observe the Sabbath day and other holy days of the Old Testament. Does God require the church to worship together on any specific days? God requires Christians to worship together. He has not specified any particular day. The church worships together especially on Sunday because Christ rose from the dead on Sunday."

    - Martin Luther, "Small Catechism" p.66-67


    This is the position that the vast bulk of most Former Adventists believe, and which makes the most exegetical sense when reading the Scriptures. It is most apparent in Colossians 2:14-17, but also in Hebrews 3-4, Galatians 4 and Romans 14. The Sabbath, like the sacrifices, was a "shadow" of Jesus Christ. It was not the substance. Rather, the reality is Jesus Himself, who said, "I will give you rest." In Him we lay down our "works" (our attempts to justify ourselves by our works) and trust Him to save us. We rest in Him. In other words, the ancient Sabbath "day" was a shadow of justification by faith.

    This was the "first" Protestant position on Sabbath. The "second" Protestant position is that Sunday is the new Sabbath. Ironically, Protestants of the "second" persuasion are more vehemently anti-Catholic than those of the "first". But for both types of Protestants, the doctrine of salvation is paramount; the GOSPEL is paramount.

    That is to say, how we are saved and WHO saves us is the most critical thing of all. It is not about a DAY, but rather it is about a MAN---the SON OF MAN! God the Son, Jesus Christ! We are saved by Him, and the "controversy" in the world is not about a "day", but rather about HIM. We are not saved by the "work" of keeping this or that "day". We are saved by faith through His grace.

    Fourth, the identification of the Roman Catholic church as either of the "beasts" in the book of Revelation is not exegetically correct -- that is, it's sloppy interpretation. The angel tells John that the inhabitants of the world will be astonished when they see the beast,

    "because he once was, now is not, and yet will come." (Rev.17:8)

    At the time of this writing (first century A.D.), "Roman Catholicism" did not exist. But the angel said that prior to 100 A.D., the beast "once was". The Roman Catholic church & the Pope did not exist prior to the book of Revelation. If Catholicism/the Pope is the beast, then the book of Revelation (or the angel that instructed John) is a liar.

    Fifth and finally, the whole "great controversy" scenario of Ellen White and the early Adventists was not based on study of the Scriptures. It was based rather on the failed calculation of the date of Jesus Christ's return.

    The SDA "pioneers" attempted to discover what Jesus said "no man" knew, and they condemned churches that did not follow them (EGW wrote that people who refused to follow Miller "had the blood of souls on their hands"). The message of salvation---the reformation truth of justification by faith---was swept aside. The gospel was considered insufficient to save you. It was more salvationally important to come out to the fields "to meet Christ" on October 22nd in order to be saved. If you didn't "come out", then you "did not love His coming". But Jesus said in Luke 17:20-21 that we are not to follow this kind of leading!

    Sadly, there were people who sold their possessions, went crazy, and some elderly who even DIED out in the fields on the night of October 22nd, 1844, because it was so cold.

    The SDA "pioneers" were people who refused to believe that 1843-44 had been an error. The truth is that it was a simple matter: they had been excited by Miller's calculations (which upon examination are far less than scholarly and border on the ridiculous at times). They had been excited and had "stood strong" with Millerism even when churches opposed them. At the end of Millerism, they simply couldn't admit to having made a mistake. They couldn't REPENT. They couldn't fall on their knees and say, "Jesus, forgive us because we did exactly what You told us not to do."

    The result of their unrepentant decision was the "Sanctuary" teaching, the "Shut Door", and the "Investigative Judgment". A few years later "the seventh-day Sabbath" was added to this package (having been learned from Seventh-day Baptists). The SDA pioneers then set-up camp on the 7th day Sabbath. It then became necessary for them to elevate the importance of the Ten Commandments (which Exodus 34:28, Deuteronomy 4:13 and Hebrews 9:4 call the "tablets/words of the Old Covenant". Unconsciously, Adventism rejected the New Covenant as being sufficient for salvation, and preached the Old Covenant instead.

    The entire "great controversy" scenario was created to shift churches' focus off of Jesus Christ as our salvation and onto the Old Covenant Law instead. The "great controversy" makes the cross a parenthetical thing in the whole grand scheme of the universe, which is "about God's law".

    This can be seen very clearly by examining Miller's most famous calculation for Christ's return in 1843/44 -- see this link: Faith or Fear? (introduction)

    The "great controversy" is a uniquely Adventist scenario that is not based in Scripture, but which is based in Ellen White's writings, which are in turn based on the Millerite experience. Again, it's not based on Scripture, but based on their experience. They rejected Christ's warnings about predicting His return and not running out into fields to see Him. Instead of repenting, they came up with a new set of teachings which continued the Millerite tradition of marginalizing the gospel of Scripture.

    In blessed contrast is God's view of things. He sees that we have all failed and been lawless in our hearts, and that no obedience of ours could procure salvation for us. So He sent His Son to die in our place, taking the wrath of punishment we deserved on the cross, and giving us a new way---a New Covenant. We enter His kingdom and can say WE ARE SAVED because we believe in what He has done for us, not because of the obedience we render to Him. Our obedience is not done to gain salvation, but rather because we have already been saved. We don't have to work "towards" victory, but rather the victory has been accomplished already for us by Jesus Christ. We don't work "towards" being someday saved, but rather we know that today we ARE saved by Him, and we get to live a life of love and good works free of the weight of our actions determining our salvation.

    For one view of the way He sees things, see this picture: Father's Exchange

    How can a "day" distract us from such a great salvation?!! It can't. Jesus Himself said that we worship in Spirit and Truth, not by special location or special times. Hebrews 4:7 says that we may enter His rest TODAY, and Hebrews 4:3 says that we enter it BY FAITH. This is the true Sabbath-rest: Jesus Christ Himself. The "seventh day" was a shadow, not the real rest. The idea of "Sunday Sabbath" is no better, but is as equally off-the-mark as is "seventh-day", because God's rest is not a day, it is a Person--His Son, Jesus Christ!

    Bless you in Jesus!
    Ramone

     
  • At July 23, 2010 1:15 PM, Anonymous Darrell Baudoin said…

    Ramone,

    Revelation 14:12 speaks of those who escape the wrath of God. "Here are they that keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus."

    Keeping our Father's Commandments isn't to obtain salvation but because of our love for Him. Without our Lord & Savior this is impossible.

    Without the transforming grace of the new birth, "the carnal mind … is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be" (Romans 8:7).

    I know exactly where you are coming from, self is the greatest enemy we all face. Matthew 16:24 says "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me"

    I was all the way on that end of the spectrum once. You were on one end, and I was all the way on the other.

    How does our faith operate? Are we serving God because we love Him? Is that the purpose of our obedience? Obedience from any other motive, is unacceptable.

    Remember what Jesus Himself will say to some. They will say, "Lord, didn't we do this and didn't we do that?" Read Matthew 7:22, 23.

    Jesus will say to them, "I never knew you: depart from me."

    Why?

    Because they had no love in their works. They did works only to escape the fire, just as the ones who condemned Jesus!

    About the Sabbath, we are duly warned not to put the traditions of men before the commandments of God.

    John 14:15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.

    1 John 2:4 He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.

    God is looking for people who will love Him in His own right, and who will be glad to go the second mile.

    I'm a former Catholic, former non-denominational, former Assemblies of God.

    May God bless you as you live this special Christian life for Him.

    In Christ, (not in crises)

     
  • At July 23, 2010 2:04 PM, Blogger Ramone said…

    Hi Darrell,

    Friend, I don't think you know where I'm coming from, but God bless you anyway!

    Rather than answer your comments (texts, prooftexts, SDA arguments, etc.), I thought I'd post up two notes I'd put on Facebook and have just now moved to this blog...

    About "commandments", especially in Revelation: Identifying the 'True' Church

    And about trying to change one's motivation to do the law "out of love", etc.: What's Wrong With Legalism?

     
  • At December 07, 2010 7:59 PM, Anonymous bumper.hunter@gmail.com said…

    Hey Ramone!

    It was happenstance that I came across your blog. I left the SDA Church as well, mostly due to the situations you described, I also read lots of material on the net. My mother is still in the church though. After year of searching and studying scripture and other material I have come to the conclusion that the church does me more harm than good. From time to time I prayed to the Lord about the matters, never receiving the command to stay in the church. I always thought if this is truly Gods unique church then God would want me to stay and what is more show it to me. Finally I prayed to God that He may assure me one way or the other and in that week I came across the white obelisk. Well, I have known for years that the obelisk is supposedly a masonic or satanic sign and let it be the final straw. After that I still had my problems, I mean, if this isnt Gods church why did he let me be there for a few years. Why let me teach other people about supposedly valid biblical doctrines trying to convince other people or in other words luring them into church, a former friend of mine even became a pastor. Well, I received an answer, God works in mysterious ways and sometimes he has to allow things like that in order to save somebody; literally and metaphorically. Still life is not easy if you spend your childhood in an organization that wasnt telling the truth at all times and has been manipulating and teaching you how to manipulate. This is why I am very cautious nowadays, somewhat on a distance towards any church and even towards christianity. I believe that Jesus has saved me no matter what and that he will shelter me and guide through the rest of my life, no matter what. I have tried to reach people I knew in the church but learned that they are so firmly entrenched in the believe that they wont believe you, no matter what, the church is doing an outstanding job of manipulation here, people who are not adventists or have left are marked as potentially dangerous, and that one can be deceived by simply talking to them. Well, its nice to see that things work only one way round, and not the other, free reasoning is not allowed. Anyway, keep up this blod! May God bless

     
  • At July 17, 2012 9:41 PM, Anonymous Tomas said…

    The question
    however you still have not answered my question, if the ten commandments are the old covenant, then i can now kill and steal and commit adultery and have imgages for gods.
    Trying to answer
    Killing, stealing, commiting adultery and having images of God is not only breaking the Old covenant, but also breaking the New covenant that is binding for Christians.
    Read
    Matthew 5:21-22
    You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, 'Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.'
    But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, 'Raca,' is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, 'You fool!' will be in danger of the fire of hell.
    Matthew 5:27-28
    You have heard that it was said, 'Do not commit adultery.'
    But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
    1. John 3:15
    Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life in him.
    1. Peter 4:15
    If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler.
    1. Cor 6:9
    Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.
    Gal 5:19-21
    The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
    Eph 5:5
    For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person- such a man is an idolater- has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.
    Revelation 21:8
    But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practise magic arts, the idolaters and all liars- their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulphur. This is the second death.

     

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