Adventists in the Spotlight

When a friend sent me David Corn’s column for Mother Jones a few weeks ago, it was like getting hit with bad news I already knew. Sooner or later, someone was going to peek behind the first serious Seventh-day Adventist presidential candidate, and begin to scrutinize the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Corn gave a fairly accurate description of historical eschatological narratives about how the Papacy, through the agency of the United States government, is gearing up to persecute and condemn those who keep the seventh-day Sabbath.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

I am on page 30 in rereading John Stott’s book on the seven church’s of Revelation. The Church is to witness to Christ in love to their fellow man. At the moment the pope has a better world view than the president of the G.C. I have many Mormon and Catholic friends, I disagree with their belief system and they with mine. But we recognize that we are all pilgrims., There is a wideness in God’s mercy,so also sure be ours. tom z


It is a sad truth that the Adventist church at one time did wish to escape being classified as a cult or as a fundamentalist, but it has become a fundamentalist denomination. In the late fifties and early sixties when the famous dialogue with the evangelicals was taking place those involved in the dialogue did try to have the church seen as evangelical, but not fundamentalist. The sticky point was belief in verbal inspiration and Bible infallibility. Because the adventists would not agree to these doctrines the dialogue with the evangelicals broke down. At the time I was a visiting faculty as a Sabbatical replacement at Emmanuel Missionary College and Dr. Edwin Thiele was my chairperson. He would get quite excited when the details of the dialogue with the evangelicals was discussed and some were pushing for verbal inspiration. He had demonstrated that there was error in the Bible and his demonstration was in a textbook being used in Seminaries around the world. It is a sad thing to see that the number one Fundamental Belief states that the Bible is the “written” word of God and that it is infallible…


Hyperbole aside, the Adventist version of “fundamentalist Christianity” is what our denomination has always espoused - and still does - which comes across quite nicely in Dr. Timm’s paper on inspiration. For example,

“During the 1920s and 1930s, Seventh-day Adventists supported Fundamentalism in uplifting the trustworthiness of the Bible in the context of the Modernist-Fundamentalist controversy. That Seventh-day Adventists had historically held to a view of Scripture that had much in common with Fundamentalism is evident from their former responses to “infidels” and to higher criticism. Thus, F. M. Wilcox asserted that ‘Seventh-day Adventists, with their historical belief in the Divine Word, should count themselves the chief of Fundamentalists today’” (Adventist Views On Inspiration, p. 34).

Considering our deeply-embedded roots, looks like Elder Batchelor’s biblical and balanced fundamentalism is here to stay. Revelation 14:6-12.

The description of an average Seventh-day Adventist hardy does justice to the description of any particular Seventh-day Adventist. And that goes for any Catholic, Muslim, Jew, White, Asian, Hispanic, etc. The world just has to recognize and accept that fact. The 19th and 20th centuries were charming, with their sweeping generalizations, etc., but we live in the 21st century.

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Thank you Loren, I wish you were my Pastor!

Your embarrassment of conservative Adventism’s shines through and you wish it was different, you wish you were more humane , more loving, more like Jesus; but the Remnant missed out on practicing the love of Jesus a long time ago, that is why so many enlightened and critical thinking Adventist are embarrassed.

Unfortunately Carson represents the bigoted and conservative ugly and cruel side of Adventism and decent Adventist are tarred with it.

Carson’s religious beliefs reinforce the view in my community (Geelong , population 3/4 of a million with only one Adventist church established 115 years ago, and today it has less members then it did 85 years ago. )
where the Adventist church is known locally as the “Church of the many Hates” hates the Vatican, the Pope and Roman Catholics in general. Hates other churches and is not cooperating with them. further more the remnant hates Gays and Lesbians, same sex families are not included and are marginalised big time, hates Bi - sexuality ,hates transgender people, hates sunday, the list of hates is very long, views women as inferior, hated equal pay for women for decades, perceptions of being a hateful and frightened church instead of a loving all embracing church are reality and Carson is not helping but reinforcing the hate.

Don’t brag too much about ADRA…the majority of its funding doesn’t come from Adventist members, but are grants given by Governments who give tax payers’ money to organisations such as the Red Cross , OXFAM , and the smaller ADRA.

I would not brag too much about Religious Liberty either, especially when one reframes it to 'Liberty of all beliefs" and that includes religious beliefs, Atheism, Communism, Evolutionary beliefs , that would not fit in with Adventist ideology …especially when Ryan Bell was dis-invited by PUC this week, again demonstrating to the decent world citizens that the Remnant indeed is the Church of Hate.



It amazes me how quickly many of the Spectrum commentariat wish to root out any talk of persecution from within Adventism and Christianity.

Afterall, the Scripture says that “all who desire to live godly will suffer persecution.” Christ himself warned of people who in persecuting others would imagine that they were performing the will of God. I Pet 4: 12 says “Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you.”

Further, the narrative sections of the book of Daniel, which in turn illustrate the principles inculcated in the prophetic sections certainly give a full treatment of how believers should react to persecution.

Recently, I read an article in The Atlantic titled “The Coddling of the American Mind.” (September 2015).

And I wondered if this Spectrum website could handle a similar article titled “The Coddling of the Adventist Mind.” It certainly is true that many of the commentariat on this website are like multitudes of American college students demanding protection from words and ideas they don’t like. And just as this is disastrous for education and mental health within American society, so it is also true of Adventists.

The Atlantic article makes reference to two terms that recently have entered the American campus vocabulary. The first is “microagression.” Microagressions are “small actions or word choices that seem on their face to have no malicious intent but that are thought of as a kind of violence nonetheless.” Examples of such include “Where were you born?”, (implying that the person is not real American; “Aren’t you supposed to be good at math[s]”; “I’m colourblind! I don’t see race”; “America is a land of opportunity”; “I believe the most qualified person should get the job.” It is reported that a Harvard law professor was asked by law students not to teach about rape law or even use the word violate “lest it cause students distress.”

The second term is “trigger warnings” which “are alerts that professors are expected to issue if something in a course might cause a strong emotional response.”

Such thinking, according to this article presumes “an extraordinary fragility of the collegiate pyche, and therefore elevates the goal of protecting students from psychological harm… This movement seeks to punish anyone who interferes with that aim, even accidentally.”

Are we Adventists also in danger of wishing to wrap our minds up in cotton wool so that we refuse to see the history of the Christian church and the prophetic outlines of the very end in all their stark realities.Do we wish to back peddle on the very logical conclusions of our historicist interpretations of Bible prophecy believe that the communities pyche is extraordinarily fragile? Do we resile from our former interpretation just because it is not politically correct? I wonder!!

The Bible story from beginning to end is about a great enmity between two cosmic powers. One is determined to triumph by the power of love. The other will use worldly powers, seeking to triumph through exercising his love of power and all that this entails. In history such rapacious lust for power involves the subtle and sometimes violent harrassment of believers.

“Considering our deeply-embedded roots, looks like Elder Batchelor’s biblical and balanced fundamentalism is here to stay.”

If this is what you consider to be an example of “balanced”- the press will certainly have a field day with the likes of Doug B…plenty of fodder for the fire (and not in a positive way). lol


I noted at the end of this article that the author (Loren Seibold) is a pastor employed by the Ohio Conference. With being employed and paid from the tithe as a denominational pastor of this great end time movement, I’m sure your education and knowledge of the Bible is vastly superior to mine. As a layperson and member of this church, which is the apple of God’s eye, I do wish to respond with a few thoughts that I have after reading your article.

This brought to mind the following verses from bible 1 Thess 5:1 Now as to the times and the epochs, brethren, you have no need of anything to be written to you. 2 For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord [a]will come just like a thief in the night. 3 While they are saying, “Peace and safety!” then [b]destruction [c]will come upon them suddenly like labor pains upon a woman with child, and they will not escape. 4 But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that the day would overtake you [d]like a thief; 5 for you are all sons of light and sons of day. We are not of night nor of darkness; 6 so then let us not sleep as [e]others do, but let us be alert and [f]sober. 7 For those who sleep do their sleeping at night, and those who get drunk get drunk at night. 8 But since we are of the day, let us be [g]sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet, the hope of salvation. 9 For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep, we will live together with Him. 11 Therefore [h]encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing.

It’s time that we awaken and encourage each other (especially you as a pastor to whom people look up to) to where we are in prophetic time. This denomination does not try to win people by fear. The Truth as this denomination teaches it, releases people from the fearful misunderstandings about the beasts and symbols in Revelation. It opens our eyes to the beauties of eternal life and takes them away from this dark world.

Pastor Siebold, There are millions of people like me all over this world (even a few in the Global South and American South) who have been entrenched in confusion. We welcome the new light and “prophetic narratives” that have been lovingly shared by those people who felt an urgent need to share with us writings from both the scriptures and Ellen White.

I found “the Gospel” by reading The Great Controversy. My eyes were opened (as most likely yours or some of your ancestors were whenever the truth came). I found peace and happiness in the teachings of the Bible, the comfort of knowing the truth as it is in Jesus. I had been confused from a child with thinking there were people burning in an everlasting hell, ghosts, so much biblical ignorance. I heard sermons with preachers trying to scare people into Heaven instead of hearing the gospel as it is in Jesus and coming to know Him (the Truth) more fully. Here is a verse that explains more fully what the gospel is beyond John 3:16, more than what I and most other sheep astray in Babylon knew.
—And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, Rev 14:6. Only one church fits that description. Only one church-- the denomination of which, You, Dr Ben Carson an I are members of, and of which now the world is taking note of fits that description. The Seventh-day Adventist Church. And nothing will will stop this message from going forth.

Let us encourage the brethren and press together, press together, press together! God bless you brother Siebold.

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@petersomerset, I am quite aware of the crises in the world, and of the possibility of strife, tragedy, even persecution. I have affirmed this possibility, in my preaching to my church members. How can we deny it? Christians around the world, in places like Nigeria, are in danger. But I don’t speak of this often, not even a fraction of the amount that I affirm that God through Christ is looking out for our present and our future.

What I am objecting to is the idea that crisis and persecution should take such a strong role in our faith that it overwhelms our message of trust in God; that it leads us to spin long and mostly made up stories about what and who is about to persecute us. This is paranoid and unhealthy, and far more when a group is held together by these shared fears. Yes, the RC church has done some terrible things. But so have lots of other groups through world history. We don’t hold it over their heads forever. We concentrate on the Catholics to the exclusion of so much more we should be working on. This is, simply, unhealthy.

Your thesis that we are too wimpy and unwilling to confront pain and difficulty may be true. We should keep our eyes open for problems, to be sure. But there is, as far as I can see, no particular merit in spending your time and energy anticipating enemies that aren’t currently enemies, and may never be; obsessing on problems that aren’t currently problems. The implication that our distaste for facing painful circumstances in our lives is justification for going about paranoid about what a distant enemy, who seems largely unaware of us, might eventually do, is a stretch. I prefer to hold on to the positive parts of my faith, and leave the particulars of future difficulties to the Lord. “Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.”



Thanks for responding! I agree with you Our message of trust in God needs to be front and centre.

As a small boy in the Avondale community, I was led to believe that people had stashed away food supplies in caves in the surrounding mountains for the coming time of trouble. As a teenager at Avondale High School, one of our teachers read to us Merikay Silver’s Now! Another teacher had his theories about the mark of the beast and the money system. He now resides in nursing care. Just a few days ago I was travelling with a friend. She confided her fears that in the coming time of trouble our electricity here at the Resort where we live will be cut off. She spoke of the need for some alternative cooking system independent of the electricity or the gaa grid. How foolish all of this is and was.

My parents, though solid Adventists, blessed my siblings and I with a very healthy skepticism about the how of future harrassment of believers. We just can’t predict future scenarios concerning the time of trouble based on reflections on past modes of duress, distress and death. We just don’t know! To know these things is not helpful nor edifying. Trust in God and in his power of love is paramount. Such trust in a loving God is the real antidote to any real of imagined fears of a real or imagined future.

Having said this, I need to affirm that the gospel that you and I preach, Loren, should be the good news of God’s already and not yet kingdom. In the time of the exile (6th Century BC) God sent Daniel to encourage his people that although hope in God’s kingdom seems futile, God’s kingdom will overcome all the worldly kingdoms. Just so, in our time we are to proclaim that the rapacious worldly kingdoms will soon be overthrown by the everlasting kingdom. The one who has sponsored the development of these kingdoms and great David’s greater Son, the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords will finally see the enmity that was planted between them ended as Christ makes his enemies his footstool.

As this winds to a crescendo, the political dimensions of these things should interest us far less than the moral implications. We distort the apocalyptic prohecies if we use it to gain political advantage, and not to present ourselves with moral challenge.

Yet, in our humble attempts to present the moral choices that are part and parcel of the dissolution of all things that the apocalytic prophecies outline, the preacher will not avoid naming names. Yes, he will do it in love. In ancient times how often did the prophets refer to God’s enemies by name. God was pleading with them through the prophets. At the same time He was sketching the moral dimensions of the choices facing His people.

The apocalyptic prophecies are calculated by their divine author to assist those coming to faith with total worldview transformation. The preaching of prophecy and the gospel are one and the same.


Great piece of writing Loren. I can say that I do fall into the third group “faith doesn’t rely on these frightening prophetic narrative.” The whole obsessing about the end of the world, how it will happen, and who will be at fault seems to be a very unhealthy mindset. It is fine to mull it over occasionally but to make it the supreme focus. End of the world obsession also infringes on currently living life and causes paranoia. Am also extremely amused by the obsessive following of many when it comes to conspiracy theories. Conspiracy theories that have been proven wrong and flawed, time and time again. In fact some conspiracy theories are so demented, I am usually pretty certain that those telling me them have a mental health disorder to even believe them in the first place. With this said. I am married to extremely lapsed Catholic. He finds it uncomfortably annoying how SDA’s spout random bits of information about the Pope and follow that up with the end of the world prophecy. He says, how would SDA’s feel if the Catholic church was running around saying this same unfounded information/gossip about the Ted Wilson and Doug Batchelor along with church leaders. SDA’s would shriek about persecution. Yet, we feel free to do this to the Catholics and live with our own end of the world mythologies as if they are truth and reality. Luke 6:31 covers this: " Do to others as you would have them do to you." and Mark 12:31: "The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these."

Eventually the world will probably end. It may be the way SDA’s predict, or could happen in a far different manner then we ever thought possible. In the meantime, maybe we should stop obsessing over our possible future. Start living in the present. Hug our children, make pumpkin pie, and remember what Proverbs says: There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies and a person who stirs up conflict in the community. Proverbs 6:16-19 (NIV)


The connections between Daniel 7 (the 4 kingdoms, little horn, etc.) and Revelation 13 (Mark of the Beast, forced worship, etc.) are very exegetically solid. And the connection of the 3 Angels of Rev. 14 to the previous chapter is also solid. I don’t think we have anything to be embarrassed of here. Sure some evangelists and lay people present these teachings in a way that isn’t always helpful. But the basic core message is solidly biblical and very reasonable. What any outsider who looks in will see is what any Adventist who is paying attention sees. That we have a very good, hopeful and compelling message but it too often gets lost between the extreme elements in our church. One extreme element majors in name calling and conspiracy theories. The other element doesn’t seem sure of what it believes other than Jesus is nice. But there is a reasonable, moderate element that is soundly biblical and intellectually credible. I hope that’s what any inquirers find.

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Loren, no need to turn to Doug Batchelor for fear. Ted Wilson is happy to provide. Watch:


Loren’s article is helpful in understanding what being in the spotlight means to all of us as fellow Seventh-day Adventists and our brother Dr. Ben Carson.
If life happens to give us or Dr. Carson the opportunity to walk on a stage with a gleaming beam of light on your head, learn to respect this an opportunity to teach and to grow. A spotlight such as Dr. Ben Carson’s candidacy and his membership in the Adventist church will bring full attention to what our church does in real-time, not just on what we’ve done in the past. Many of our previous efforts to teach the world about who we are have fallen short of being accepted and understood.
“So few people are truly themselves when they’re in the spotlight.”
–Lucinda Williams

“The difference is that with fame comes a spotlight, one which has recently made it impossible to ignore the fact that more and more of those folks we place on pedestals aren’t even pausing to consider an option other than lying.”
–Michael Musto

“How do you judge the brightness of a light when you’re the source? A spotlight can never see the shadows it casts.”
–Neal Shusterman

Being under the spotlight doesn’t mean we’re doing great as Adventists, or even Dr. Carson. Come next November in 2016 it will be interesting to see if there is the same interest and “passion” for his candidacy. This media spotlight tends to move around unpredictably. In fact, being in the spotlight just means there are more people aware of every move we make and what we do becomes just as important as what we say. Our chances of successfully becoming better known for who we really are and our many opportunities for screwing up increase exponentially. Just ask our brother, Dr. Ben Carson.


I walk a lot late at night near our home. Suppose I am out walking late some night and I observe a neighbor’s roof is on fire. I know that they are home and since the home is dark, I have reason to believe that they are asleep and totally unaware of the danger they are facing. I do not hear a fire alarm going off, so its either not installed or not working.

Now, you have to realize that these neighbors are very nice people, very good Christian people. Moreover, I REALLY hate to ruin their day by telling them bad news. Now, I can do either of two things. I can ignore the fire and go walking on my merry way, in which case they may be killed by the fire or seriously injured, or I can go up to their door and begin banging on the door and ringing their doorbell and yell fire as loud as I can, hoping that they hear me and get out before its too late. Of course, I also hope that they don’t shoot me through the door, thinking that I am some madman out to hurt them.

If I go my way and do nothing, nobody will know about it except me. And even if other people somehow did find out afterward what I failed to do, the authorities cannot prosecute me for not notifying my neighbor for there is no law that requires I intervene. I am completely safe in this world if I do nothing. But my neighbors will likely be dead. Assuming nobody found out what I failed to do, what would you think of me were I to quietly tell you a couple of years later that I let my neighbors die in a fire because I chose not to do anything when I knew they were in serious danger? Oh, I did not want to disturb them and they are such nice people I did not want to ruin their day by telling them their house was on fire. By telling them such bad news, I would be hurting them! But which is worse, ruining their day or letting them die?

But if I get involved and notify them that they have a major problem, there is some risk, albeit unlikely, that they will refuse to believe me and will simply slam the door in my face. Fortunately, the word “fire” tends to get people’s attention, so its probable that they will at least hear me out and will come outside to see if I am telling the truth to them. Thus, I am likely to be successful in saving their lives.

We as Adventists are faced with a similar situation. We have evidence from the Bible that God is about to destroy the kingdoms of this world and its religions with it. Many will be destroyed if they don’t get out of the way of the fire that is coming. And the only way most of them can know how to get out of the way is if we tell them about their problem. While we should be reasonably discreet about our approach on doing this, we do need to tell them whenever the opportunity arises and they are in a mood to listen to reason. If we do not tell them, are we any better than we would be by letting a neighbor die in a fire because we did not want to bother them, hurt them by ruining their day or even get involved at all?

Revelation 14 tells us of 144,000 virgins, which if you study it the point should be clear that these are Adventists. We are the people who are to give the three angels’ messages. If we don’t give those messages to the world, then what of those who will die because we did not bother to tell them about what was coming?

I had a coworker years ago who overheard me (while at work) tell another person a little about what Revelation 13 predicts about the United States. My coworker, a fellow whose first name was Al, later asked me about this. I briefly told him a little about it and then nothing more was said. I felt prompted that I should follow up on his interest, but because of problems in my own life, I did not do so. But did think about it every now and then over intervening years. A couple of years ago I happened to open the local newspaper and passed through the obituary section where I happened to see his name mentioned, so I stopped to read a story of how he had dropped dead while preparing to teach a scuba diving class, the last one before he was to move to Hawaii and teach scuba there. My heart skipped a beat because I suddenly remembered his interest in Bible prophecy and how I had failed to follow through on that. Its something that most not happen again in my life!

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It only tells me that Carson is probably NOT a fanatic SDA.
He may actually be a Christian SDA rather than a Whiteist SDA, which in my estimation is a very good thing.

My vote will not be for him, or any Republican candidate, but I am glad he can talk about his (and mine) religion without focusing on fanatic ideas. Not many Adventists can do that.

Our primary task is to spread the Gospel. The everlasting Gospel. Focussing on other peoples problems is a different Gospel. Talking about the virgins…remember, they ALL fell asleep. Wendy prophecy is fine, but the Gospel should be first and always the center of your message.

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Loren, @lorenseibold

It is a good thing that Jesus was not afraid of being considered out of the main stream of the religious trends of his days. Where would we be otherwise?

So, what’s the problem?

Are you afraid that the public may disagree with our beliefs? Or is it that you don’t believe in the SDA beliefs any longer?

No, it’s not clear that the 144,000 of Revelation 14 are Adventists. That is a neat piece of eisegesis masquerading as biblical exegesis. Denominational labels have nothing to do with their identity. The 12,000 from each of the twelve tribes of Israel are a symbol for those who follow the lamb wherever he goes. It is a number that John equates with the great multitude around the throne…IOW, it is the saved, the true Israel of God. The context bears this out.

Only triumphalism and/or blind apologetics would seek to limit this to Adventists, or to the Adventist denomination.