Fulfilled in Jesus

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

Sunday, April 05, 2009

A Brief Response to "Kingdom Adventism"

A friend sent me a link to Steve Daily's new initiave from Celebration Center, "Kingdom Adventism". The following is a brief commentary I wrote after looking at it and praying.

As soon as I read the phrase "Kingdom Adventism", I was disturbed deep in my spirit, and in the Spirit. I can't completely explain why, but I felt and still feel the Spirit weeping inside me strongly.

It seems Steve is trying to integrate as many things as possible of what Cherry Brandstater, Hazel Holland and others spoke while they were at Celebration Center (and also what Proclamation has been proclaiming) --especially the language-- but all the while without admitting the foundational errors of Adventism.

I have a big spot in my heart for Steve, even though I only knew him for a short while before I went out as a missionary to Japan. He was there when I needed him, and he was a sort of spiritual father to me at that time. So I want it clear that I have love for him when I say this: he is still avoiding the repentance that Adventism has been avoiding for over 150 years. He is trying to seek the Spirit and embrace all His manifestations, but he is still rejecting the Spirit of truth -- not letting the Spirit apply His truth to the history of Adventism. In the midst of his efforts to seek & welcome the Spirit, there is a spiritual stronghold guarding the Adventist butsudan (the family altar I wrote about here). That is why the articles are long, why there are many explanations, why his ideas are at the very opposite extreme as Ellen White's "prophetic" pronouncements (I.g., about the importance of the Sabbath), and why it's such a complicated matter to try and hold onto Adventism and seek the Kingdom first.

The "prophetic" is a big problem, especially when considering the idea of "progressive revelation" that he supports. Ellen White said things about the Sabbath with 'prophetic' authority, and yet Steve is trying to embrace the prophetic (as it is in charismatic circles) while simultaneously pronouncing that the Sabbath is non-essential. Is the Holy Spirit confused? Can a prophet speak with such utter 'prophetic' authority and then a prophet will come along later and say the exact opposite? By Ellen White's definition, such people (who say Sabbath is not essential) are doing the work of Satan, Babylon, and are the harlot church, so to speak.

What he said about God loving our passion is true, however, it isn't our passion that saves us, but rather God's passion that saves us. Our passions are often wasted because they go in the wrong direction. C.S. Lewis argued that sincerity alone is not enough to save a man, because just as a drunk man can be completely sincere when he is doing something bad, it is possible to be totally sincere and yet completely mistaken -- lethally mistaken. That is why the word "agape" in Scripture is used in a few cases to describe not only the unconditional love of God, but is also used to describe condemned peoples' passions for the world and for things that are against God. God created us like Himself, with a capacity to give agape love that non-human nature does not yet possess (do you see "forgiveness" anywhere else in nature but in mankind? no, it's against the karma-like laws of nature). When that capacity is given to God and possessed by Him, it is the greatest God-given gift we possess. But when it is turned away from God, when our capacity to agape-love is used to love things that are away from God and against God, we may still be exercising our power to love (to exercise our "passion"), but will find that the object of our love is foreign to us, unknown to us.

In other words, our passion itself --as beautiful as it is-- only finds its sweet aroma as it is directed to God and to our fellow mankind. When our passion is directed towards the enemy and his ways, it may be real passion, but this does not excuse it in any way -- instead it means we fall in love with the enemy. Just because it is "great passion" does not mean that we have not fallen in love with the enemy. Does that make sense?

I understand the need to try and find something redemptive in Adventist history. And indeed, there is a lot that can be found which we can learn from. But the stumbling stone is that in accepting Jesus Christ, we must repent. The Adventist experience has countless, countless blessings, but they flow out of the Rock of repentance, not from ignoring it. Our greatest blessing to the Body at large will not be what we got "right", but rather what we got wrong. It is not our solid-ness that will bless the Body, but rather our brokenness. We can only carry the message of God's grace when we allow that grace to convict us of the terrible sins that our church was founded on -- not merely doctrinal errors, but condemnation of Christians who held to the Word of God rather than follow the errors, the misleading of innocents (some of whom died out in the cold on the night of October 22nd), and the continued cover-ups (and purgings) which go on up to this day.

(To put it in the words of the great hymn, 'Kingdom Adventism' desires to sing "twas grace my fears relieved" but wants to skip the first part which says "twas grace that taught my heart to fear.")

In speaking of "progressive revelation", Steve mentioned various explanations and theologies which arose from 1844, things like the "Shut Door" which arose and were later discarded, and the "Investigative Judgment" and so on. The whole reason that such extreme theologies kept popping up is because they were the fruit of a root which hadn't been removed. The spiritual root of these is the unwillingness to simply repent for 1844. There would have been no peculiar condemnation-filled theologies (such as the Shut Door, etc.) if the founders of Adventism had simply embraced repentance at the Cross for what they had done. The ever-changing subsequent theological evolutions of the early Adventists arose precisely because of the need to avoid repenting for what they had done and proclaimed. And today the convaluted or plainly anti-logical explanations continue simply out of the need to avoid swallowing the pride-humbling pill of repentance, the need to avoid coming to the place the man is at in this picture, falling down at the foot of the cross with the contents of the Adventist package open and exposed to His light:

"Letting Go" - click to read the story about this picture

There are many awesome things that have happened at Celebration Center, and I know God responds to faith wherever His name is called upon in sincerity. At the same time, the reality of the spiritual realm is that there is more than one 'spirit' going around. The Holy Spirit comes, but so do the spirits of the enemy. When we cherish strongholds of pride, or cast out people who are searching for truth and who are not afraid of repentance, we then give the enemy ground to traffick. If at some point we shield our history and hearts from the the Holy Spirit, shielding our heritage from being tested by the truth of the Gospel and exposed in the Light, then we give darkness ground to traffick among us.

At some point there will be shifts happening in the spiritual realm -- a shift from what was Light to a darkness that substitutes itself for the Light -- a spirit that masquerades as the Light but in fact only speaks words puffing us up instead of convicting us of our sins; a spirit that allows us to use the terminology of the Truth, but not give our hearts completely over to Him. Subtly we are taken deeper into "secret knowledge", the "deep things" that appear advanced but are actually a masquerade for sacrificing to the idols of our hearts. Eating the fruit of such teaching brings us spiritual death, not eternal life, and births children who are born dead. (As you may note, I'm applying the letter to Thyatira in Revelation 2 here, yet I don't completely understand that part about children being "born dead", but I am weeping hard in the Spirit as I write it.)

In prayer, and in His love,

Ramone Romero
Osaka, Japan
April 5, 2009

*****

Addendum:

About "Denominationalism"

Daily spoke several times about the negative, divisive nature of denominationalism -- something that is negative, but has been generally inevitable over the years (though not excusable). However, there is a difference between the "denominationalism" of today's denominations and the denominationalism of Adventism.

Today's denominations still recognize that other denominations are full of Christians. They may disagree with their theology, but they believe that other denominations are MISTAKEN--NOT FORSAKEN. This is in complete contrast to the spirit that formed Adventism, which declared that Christian churches were "Babylon", "the fallen churches", deceived by Satan, and so on.

When Daily spoke of the divisiveness of denominationalism, notably he missed the opportunity to repent for Adventism's promulgation of denominationalism. However, as noted earlier, Adventism's version has gone into reigons that other denominations do not go into. Moreover, Adventism is unwilling to completely sever ties with its root of denominationalism (i.e., repent). Before "Sabbath" had even entered the Adventist theological foundation, its denominationalism was already established. The pioneers called people out of other churches with a "saving message". Ellen White declared with her prophetic authority that those who did not follow "had the blood of souls on their hands."

A fundamental difference in types of condemnation is apparent here. When Luther condemned the Catholic institution, he did so on the basis of Catholic corruption of the Gospel of the Scriptures, and on the basis that the institution was abusing the sheep. In contrast, when Adventist pioneers condemned Christian churches, they did so because the Christian churches had stuck to Scripture instead of following Miller. Adventism began by declaring that more than the Gospel was necessary for salvation, and condemned all who would not pervert their understanding of Scripture enough to join Adventism.

If you had any "denomination" today shouting out, "Come out of Babylon" and referring to every Bible-believing Christian church, proclaiming a date of Christ's return and additionally proclaiming that you needed to physically come outside to "meet" Him, you would not call it a "denomination" today. You would call it a cult, for you would recognize that they were setting aside the clear words of Scripture, condemning Christians who stuck to the Bible, and declaring God's holy church to be apostate.

There is something to be said of progressive understanding and having our eyes opened. The phrase of "Amazing Grace" is appropriate in this respect: "I once was blind but now I see." Most denominations recognize that their actions against new Christian groups in the past were simply wrong, and can readily admit so today. However, among Adventism this is much more difficult. "Kingdom Adventism" proclaims "now I see" but will not admit that Adventism began with blindness.

More tellingly, the present institution of Adventism is unwilling to renounce these beliefs of the founders of Adventism... to the point that the General Conference president said that not only were they not accepting Ford's conclusions, but in fact they would jeopardize their salvation to leave Seventh-day Adventism. These are not a "old teachings of the past", but rather are living and thriving roots in Adventism today. And in order to be connected to the Adventist institution, the roots may not be severed.

There is a spiritual stronghold here which Steve Daily is trying to skirt and ignore. It can readily be exposed when an SDA member decides to stop being an Adventist and go to another church. Cautions, warnings and alarm bells go off. Some will chide the person for not sticking around in Adventism. Others will say that it's like breaking faithfulness in a marriage.

Daily is, however, trying to help Adventists be less fearful of the end times, and in a way he is trying to embrace the Kingdom of God. The trouble is that the Kingdom requires complete surrender of our hearts, beginning with repentance, forsaking all that we may receive all. Essentially Steve is trying to graft a dead weed onto a living tree. Even the Popes in Rome have had the courage to repent of things the Catholic church has done in the past. But Steve knows that he cannot repent of what Adventism has done and taught in the past, because he knows that the moment he starts to do that, the denomination will threaten to cut him off. Indeed, when others in his church did begin to start leading people to repentance for what Adventism had done, taught, and the spirits it had harbored, Steve stood up against them and aided in driving them out. And so even in "Kingdom Adventism", today's Desmond Fords are still being driven out.

Yet he is attempting to adopt the very language of people who had been teachers in his congregation but were purged. By linking this to his previous book (Adventism for a New Generation), he is attempting to show a sort of continuity or progressiveness in his teaching or in Adventism itself. Yet when denominational inquisitions blasted people who had been teaching the New Covenant Sabbath, he gave no support to them. Now he is attempting to present the teaching as if he has supported it all along. In spiritual terms, what was left at Celebration Center was a testimony in blood -- people witnessed and were persecuted for it. Spiritually, blood was spilled. Steve stood on the side of those spilling the blood, but is now attempting to claim the message that those prophets had proclaimed.

Spiritually, what does this look like to God? Can a holy God be swayed by our clever arguments and attempts to "re-package" Adventism without repenting for the spiritual "blood" it shed at its foundation, and the "blood" of prophets it has continuously shed over the years--even in Celebration Center itself?

3 Comments:

  • At April 13, 2009 10:34 AM, Anonymous steve said…

    Ramone, I appreciate your feedback, but like many of our Celebration critics you are quick to speak without being aware of much important information. We at Celebration have publicly repented for our denominational errors on more than one occasion, and indeed I have written two volumes referenced in the Kingdom Adventism publication which methodically address these errors and how it is important for us as a denomination to acknowledge and repent of them even as we reframe our understanding of Ellen White in a healthy New Testament understanding of prophecy. I understand that God does not call us all to respond to Adventism in the same way. I have been open to recognizing that God uses those who want to denounce Adventism as a cult to reach certain people, but I find it interesting that those who want to do so seem to have no tolerance for those of us who are called to work for Spiritual renewal within Adventism. I have been the recipient of much venum in this regard and "prophetic" condemnation. Maybe Adventists aren't the only ones who need to repent. God bless, s daily

     
  • At April 13, 2009 5:46 PM, Anonymous Ramone said…

    P.S. I should add a comparative note about the Worldwide Church of God (which will soon change its name to "Grace Communion International"). When they recognized the problems with their foundation and their prophet, when they embraced the New Covenant Gospel and the true Sabbath rest (resting in Jesus Christ, the substance, instead of the shadow), when they did all these things, did they preface it by talking about the evils of denominationalism? Did they use "New Testament prophecy" to excuse Herbert Armstrong or even as a cushion? Did they even show any offense that they had been labeled a "cult" for so many years? When they came out into the Light of the gospel, did they find the need to try and justify any part of the heresies they had been founded on?

    That is the difference between "repentance" and "Kingdom Adventism".

     
  • At April 14, 2009 3:57 AM, Anonymous dailymoore said…

    Hey Roach,
    Good to see you are hungry for the things of the spirit and on a revival wavelength. I think if you actually read what my dad has written in Prophetic Rift I & II you would see that he is in agreement with you about repentance and bringing the ugly truth to light. HE HAS.
    God has a heart of compassion for people locked into lies. I think you know that there is a significant population that can only hear from those inside the community. You reach a different population. But to call the Spirit working within Steve a different one is dangerous in my opinion.

     

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