My three-year-old son found the first booklet on a bench outside our local theater. Then, excitedly, he discovered another one on the next bench over. He kept going. On each bench at our shopping center, someone had dropped paperback copies of “The Hero of Hacksaw Ridge” by Booton Herndon, postscript by Doug Batchelor. It was opening night of Mel Gibson’s biopic Hacksaw Ridge, featuring Adventist non-combatant Desmond Doss.
The last time the church formally stated its position was in 1972. This hasn’t changed:
"Voted, 1. That we accept as our basic view the 1954 General Conference Session action entitled, ‘The Relationship of Seventh-day Adventists to Civil Government and War,’ as amended at the 1954 Autumn Council, and further amended as follows:
"Genuine Christianity manifests itself in good citizenship and loyalty to civil government. The breaking out of war among men in no way alters the Christian’s supreme allegiance and responsibility to God or modifies their obligation to practice their beliefs and put God first.
This partnership with God through Jesus Christ who came into this world not to destroy men’s lives but to save them causes Seventh-day Adventists to advocate a noncombatant position, following their divine Master in not taking human life, but rendering all possible service to save it. As they accept the obligation of citizenship as well as its benefits, their loyalty to government requires them willingly to serve the state in any noncombatant capacity, civil or military, in war or peace, in uniform or out of it, which will contribute to saving life, asking only that they may serve in those capacities which do not violate their conscientious conviction.
“This statement is not a rigid position binding church members but gives guidance leaving the individual member free to assess the situation for himself.”
Officially, it may not be a thing of the past, but in real life, it definitely is. There is little emphasis place on non-combatancy in our local churches, but celebration of our veterans is widespread, which is a hard thing. We are following the Evangelicals in their hyper-patriotism.
I volunteered for the draft during the Viet Nam Conflict and was trained as a non-combatant medic after basic training. During basic training, I was sent with a squad of troops to an area to be shown how to clean rifles.
But, I had also been trained in the “Medical Cadet Corps” while at Lodi Academy (Lodi, California) of our non-combatant status as Adventist Christians. The story of Desmond Doss, his refusal to touch a weapon and of his life-saving heroism in battle was related to all of us. The story had touched my heart.
After politely declining to touch any of the rifles, even for instruction in how to clean them, I very soon learned that any form of refusal to perform a command of anyone outranking me was not acceptable. And, then explaining that I was a Seventh-Day Adventist non-combatant and that we were not required to use or touch weapons also quickly let me know that explanations were unacceptable as an excuse for refusing to obey direct orders. An expected issuance of an “Article 15” disciplinary action, if not something far worse, began to settle in my mind. I was pulled to one side out of hearing range of a group officers discussing what was to be done with me, and I was given an appointment to have a visit with a captain, a Seventh-Day Adventist chaplain. During that appointment, very strong encouragement was given to me to do precisely what I was ordered to do. He told me that he was a hunter and hunted wild game, and that touching or cleaning a weapon would not invalidate my non-combatancy status with the Army. I humbly apologized and acknowledged understanding and respecting his position and opinion, but I stood firmly on my conviction and told him so.
I really don’t know what transpired after that with the officers who were concerned about me because absolutely nothing happened as a result. I went on with my training and my military service just as if nothing had happened. The Lord takes care of His own.
And yet if you suggest any form of gun control on an Adventist site there is a major backlash. Non compatency may be official policy but the American Adventist attitude towards guns totally negates any credibility in this area, and don’t try and tell me it’s different coz it’s not.
I agree. I see it as part and parcel of the right wing, conservative political views of Adventists generally. Every Adventist I know is politically conservative and staunchly advocate the bearing of arms to those who choose to. I’m sure there are some who don’t but I’ve never met them. I’m part of a large Adventist family and most defend the right of all to possess guns. Except me!
Jared is correct. the typical Adventist congregation is in favor of carrying arms. Even in WWII the Columbus, Ga SDA church treated Adventists who were in the para troopers as riflemen as heroes while those who did not were second class. I was among the second class. TZ
Jared manages to take a review of _Hacksaw Ridg_e and turn it into a commentary on–woman’s ordination! But, of course, the link and line is so direct, so straight-forward, and so obvious, why even bother to point it out?
I"m surprised that Nic Samjoulk (unless he has been banned from the site) didn’t make the blatantly obvious tie between Hacksaw Ridge and abortion in SDA hospitals, a link even more direct than that of woman’s ordination.
Maybe I ought to point out the blatantly obvious link of Hacksaw Ridge to the creation/evolution controversy in Adventism. I mean, after all, we who believe in a literal six-day creation are forced to fight an alien ideology that is seeking to infiltrate our church. We don’t want to fight; we are people of peace, but like Pvt. Doss, we must get involved.
Thank you Jared Wright. I have been so weary with all the fighting in our country, in our denomination, among my website friends and in my local church. I wondered how I should focus when each group I belong to, each conversation I am in seems determined to say unkind things often vicious portrayals of those they disagree with. They; consign individuals to a group and then assume all those in said group have the same large number of beliefs and motives
For one reason or another I don’t fit in any where. I dare not let people know the truth about me for there are some in each group who will attack assume the worst and reject me and twist anything I thereafter say.
I often wonder if I should keep on trying to infuse love and courtesy into conversations. People keep saying they need these ( public places) to vent.
But the life of Doss now encourages me to help one more, and bless one more who I disagree with. Be willing to take flack even for those who have attacked me for the things I have done for conscience sake. One more, God. Help me to help one more.
Spectrum is constantly bombarding orthodox Adventism. Are you kidding me? Definitely the mecca of slander against Ted Wilson and the GC.
Just an honest observation from a conservative Adventist. Jared, your job description is to do the very thing you’re protesting.
Spectrum promotes fighting. This is why you had to create “The Lounge”.
A gun is neither noble or evil. It’s just an inanimate object. The fallen nature of mankind is what people choose to carry or to be saved from.
To eat meat or not to eat meat has absolutely no bearing on the kingdom of heaven. We are under the New Covenant, not the Old. What goes into the mouth does not make an individual unclean! I have known scores of men and women who enjoyed vigor and vitality into their eighties and nineties who have “eaten meat” at will. I have known plenty of SDA vegetarians who haven’t lived that long at all despite their best efforts to do so. The Lord numbers our days, not us.
It is comical when Spectrum self-claims to be a peacemaker!
Dear Clifford, Nic Samjoulik makes some very good points you should consider more often.
I am glad that you can see some humor…or did you mean irony, Clifford?
Jared is doing nothing that the other “conservative” and especially “ultra-conservative” SDA paper periodicals and internet publications do in their various articles and posts…why should a bias towards anything be a surprise?? The only surprise is when the publishers/authors think that their view points happen to be “God’s”.
“Why point it out?” Because Jared can…just as you and I can in our various capacities. Most importantly, because there is a vast Adventist audience who does not realize that the “official” Adventists channels present things that are slanted and biased towards their own POV.
“Maybe I ought to point out the blatantly obvious link of Hacksaw Ridge to the creation/evolution controversy in Adventism. I mean, after all, we who believe in a literal six-day creation are forced to fight an alien ideology that is seeking to infiltrate our church. We don’t want to fight; we are people of peace, but like Pvt. Doss, we must get involved.”
Really, Clifford…this is “spin” which is what you accuse Jared of! The article is about claiming to be a People of Peace and you are inserting your own “message” instead.
Two parts of the movie will stick with me:
1)Doss confessing that the world was complex and he didn’t understand all nuance-- yet he stuck with his conviction to not train with a gun. This given as a reply to a senior officer’s query.
2)Doss at the edge of the ridge (early in the battle sequence). Doss wants to hear God’s voice–but does not at first.
Ironically, sounds as if you are anti-vegetarianism, pro-gun, anti-Priesthood-of-ALL-Believers (women gifted for spiritual leadership) and right in the fight yourself at the good ole “open discussion” venue for all brands of Adventists. As an anti-gun, conservative, vegetarian, pro-WO Adventist, I should be horrified at your anti-Adventist ultra liberalism…Pro-life? You, then would encourage me to pick up my neutral gun and shoot.
Such an irony that the Church has a “suggested” take-it-or-leave-it position on taking up arms for killing, even dependent upon geographic location, but a we-are-going-to-discipline-you if you preach (and are female) and are ordained by your official church. Perhaps our most gifted Adventist women should be channeled directly into the military as church policy to take up arms, kill and fight, @kristan_yeaton. Looks like you fit right into the “liberal” profile reputation at Spectrum.
A dear pastor friend, who shall be nameless, was conscripted during the VIETNAM WAR ( as was I ).
He chose to be NONCOMBATTANT and was sent to a unit in the Washington DC area that was involved in “military medical research”
No, he did not have to carry a gun, but was utterly mortified to find out that he was a “Guinea Pig” being used to manufacture bacterial warfare!
I as a physician, was never required to be armed and became a Commander in a US Navy hospital and spent two years treating the most horrifying war wounds in very damaged young men.
War is horrible.
But the whole OLD TESTAMENT is replete with genocides, wars, atrocities that if filmed, would generate an X rating!
And most of those horrors were ordained, even ordered by a supposedly “loving” God.
So the concept of NONCOMBATTANTCY is very TAINTED
with a scriptural/biblical saga/heritage that is the very antithesis of peace and love!
“On each bench at our shopping center, someone had dropped paperback copies of ‘The Hero of Hacksaw Ridge’” Herein lies the problem. I know of very few Adventists who make friends outside of our denomination. Of course the movie won’t have much impact on people if we’re just dropping books on benches. Better to makes friends with people and go to see the movie with them and then give them the book afterwards and engage in a conversation about the movie and book. We just don’t seem to get it.
Christ’s method alone will give true success in reaching the people. The Saviour mingled with men as one who desired their good. He showed His sympathy for them, ministered to their needs, and won their confidence. Then He bade them, “Follow Me.”—The Ministry of Healing, 143.
It is entirely possible that both non-combatancy and the right to bear arms are not different issues (as you have pointed out) but that they are actually the same issue: liberty of conscience. It is liberty of conscience that requires those choosing not to bear arms to be able to refuse them, and it is by virtue of that same liberty of conscience that those non-combatant persons are able to advocate for the right to bear arms for those whose conscience would either allow or demand it.
It is similar for certain people who, due to matters of conscience, would never choose to have an abortion themselves, but would at the same time advocate for a civil right for those whose conscience would allow, to have access to safe abortions. Christians can advocate for the right of their own communities to teach and observe marriage as only between a man and a woman and, at the same time, advocate for the civil right of same sex marriage.
Adventists advocate for the freedom to observe the Sabbath and, at the same time, they are able to advocate for the freedom of others to observe Sunday (or no day at all). They do this because they understand there to be no virtue in behavior that is compelled, legislated, or coerced against conscience. There is no irony when one understands the principle by which the conclusion is drawn.
I think what Hacksaw Ridge can teach Ted Wilson and his enablers is that inasmuch as they demand that the outside world respect their freedom of conscience, they should model respect for the good-faith exercise of personal conscience inside the Seventh-day Adventist Church.