James Lang, a columnist for The Chronicle of Higher Education, is writing a book on alternative spiritual traditions in the United States. He is also blogging on his research as he reads and travels around America as, he puts it, a "participant-observer." In a blog post titled "Belief" he reflects on Seventh-day Adventism.
From the outset of my time with Seventh-Day Adventists, I have been wondering when I would confront some of the doctrines which I find strange or silly. I have noted a few of those in previous posts, such as the belief in the six-thousand year-old earth that fundamentalists find in the literal interpretation of the Bible. Adventists also believe and hope fervently for the imminent return of Jesus Christ, whose coming will initiate a sequence of apocalyptic events that lead to the end of the world.
Last Wednesday, after a prayer meeting held in the sanctuary, I stuck around for a while and talked to one of the prayer service leaders. I have been hanging around the church enough now that I have made a few friends, and so our conversation ranged back and forth between personal and theological matters.
As I was getting ready to leave, I told him how impressed I have been with the warm and welcoming nature of the church, and with some of the specific practices I have witnessed during the prayer service.
“In the end,” I said, “if we were to sit down and talk about some of the specific things you guys believe in, I'm sure we would have some disagreements, but mostly I've really learned a lot here.”
“You're Catholic, right?” he said to me.
“Do you believe in everything that the Catholic church says?”
I laughed. I'm not a very doctrinal Catholic.
“Of course not.”
“Same thing here. People in here believe in all kinds of different things. What's important is that you believe. You gotta have faith.
This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/3097