Perspective: Can a Church Survive if It Gives Up Its Sectarian Identity?

(Elmer Cupino) #203

That’s one credible possibility. But if that were credible, why would she say “I was shown…” and then proceed to use other authors’ descriptions? You would imagine that once inspired or taught by God, she would never forget the lesson.


Believe me Satan hasn’t stopped trying to block the advance of her books. Every argument conceivable is be used against her writings and if we a foolish enough to listen; then we will be deceived.

(Aage Rendalen) #205

Orange, at the time of the Millerite doomsday crusade, people with higher education ranked in the single digits. What I meant when I said that there would have been no SdA church had its founders been college-educated, was that virtually the entire educated world turned its back on Miller. And so would virtually every college-educated person today have done had they been confronted with the charismatic founders of the SdA church. Just imagine walking into the house where Israel Dammon was conducting his revival in Atkinson, Maine, in 1845: people crawling on the floor, people kissing one another on the mouth, noise so loud that the sheriff was called–and there you find the young Ellen Harmon in a trance on the floor and James White taking young women into the backroom for special work. Even you, Orange, might have lost your tan at such a sight. (

I’m not saying that you need a college education to be spiritual, but education does tend to change how we perceive reality.

(George Tichy) #206

I don’t know who you are, but I know that you have no business telling such a thing to anybody. This type of obstinate attitude is not conducive to a healthy dialog. Keep a civil attitude otherwise nobody will want a dialogue with you.

(George Tichy) #207

Everyone is entitled to their beliefs and opinions.
Remember, everyone, yourself included.

(George Tichy) #208

Are you assuming that your reading of her books is better than everyone else? What gives you such a sense of entitlement? I am not sure you actually know anything about most people on this forum.

The impression is that you honestly believe that you are talking to a bunch of illiterates here, people who know less about EGW and SDA History than you do.

I will tell you a little secret, though, but please don’t share it with anyone on Spectrum: The majority of contributors are well educated people, with broad knowledge about SDA history and EGW issues. So far you have contributed with nothing new, so why don’t you try to work on something more productive?

(George Tichy) #209

You don’t know who Elaine is this is why you are making a fatal mistake of talking to her like that. I wonder if you have 50% of the knowledge of Adventism that she has?
She can make you go from orange to blue in a few seconds in a discussion on Adventism. Therefore, calm down, take a deep breath, and try to be civil.

(Elmer Cupino) #210

:+1: :+1: :+1:

I ran out of likes!

(Let’s all slow down and be civil. This disagreement and the way it is being expressed in getting reactive - from both perspectives. You don’t HAVE to engage one another. We’d prefer not to be referees. - webEd)

(Robert Sonter) #211

@webEd seeing as you have stepped in to referee this little stoush between @GeorgeTichy and @Orangeman, I’d like to respectfully request that Orangeman be instructed to change his handle.

In case there’s any question about a connection between this name and the Orange Order, he cleared that up for us on another thread when he posted this link:

Anybody who knows a little about the history of Northern Ireland would be aware that the Orange Order has a history of standing up for its rights and celebrating its victories in a manner that really inflames tensions by getting right in the face of the opponents. The 12th July marches frequently turn violent (see above link under heading “Parades”). In short, the Orangemen are known for aggressively pursuing their sectarian rights in a manner that is supremacist and triumphalist. (I could draw comparisons with the KKK, but that would probably be unfair, as there are no specific racial overtones to the Orange conflicts, from what I can tell.)

In any event, it is my view that one should not participate in these discussions while using a handle that so readily evokes feeling that is so contrary to the spirit in which these discussions ought to take place.

(Ole-Edvin Utaker) #212

Aage, you raise some important questions in this article. I agree that the field of sociology of religion opens important perspectives on the role of religion in society.

While Finke and Stark’s study focused on the decline of participation in organized/institutional churches vs. new upstart sects, they did not conclude that religious identification is on the wane in the US. What they did claim is that decline in participation does not necessarily mean a decline in religious believing, but that there is a growing group that “believe without belonging”. This might indicate a change, rather than a decline in religious beliefs.

Religious identification and participation is not simply a function of belief in certain dictatorial bodies of doctrines, or orthodoxies, but is determined by a great variety of social factors. People belong to religious groups for varied reasons. It is not simply a questions of finding the “one and only Truth” to avoid eternal damnation. Religious preferences can also be of lesser importance than social indicators.

My feeling is that the “church vs. sect” dichotomy smells of an outlook that views religion as an irrational force; a form of discourse that we could do without in the public sphere of modern democratic societies. This was the dominant secular narrative of social scientist up to the 1970’s. This form of secularism is now facing heavy critique. Sociologists today have more attention on the resurgence of religion in our modern societies than its decline, implicating a re-evaluation of the relationship between religion and society, and the conceits of secularism. Even Jürgen Habermas, the “last standing logical positivist”, now recognizes the relevance of religious ideas and moral values for the shaping of the social fabric.

What Finke and Stark’s market-driven supply-side explanation of religious participation posits, is that there are not enough “firms” available from which to purchase “high quality religious goods” (Sherkat). They challenge all forms of organized religion, Adventism included. But, leaving the “market-place” to sects is not the only option.

(George Tichy) #213

Your perception of the current scenario is accurate and you described it well.

As for me, I will stay out of this conversation with Orangeman, first because we already know that it will go nowhere since we had similar cases here before, and second, I don’t want the WebEd throwing lemons at me in the end because of an engagement with Orangeman. Those lemons have been flying too quickly lately, and making a lemonade is not always the most pleasant experience.

(George, I trust that in this expression of the situation you take responsibility for the tendencies you sometimes give in to that results in those apparent lemons. You ae a valued “Spectrumite” and your passion is welcome, but it must be under control. The tagging that occurs might be sometimes our mistake, but all we ask is that you exercise tact and the golden rule in your interactions - especially with people like Kevin, types like Orangeman, etc. People whose opinions you find egregious & unsupportable. Do this & you don’t get tagged unless we blow it - which we probably have done from time to time. - website editor)

(Andrew) #214

Or maybe orange to green considering the Orange order history.

(Elaine Nelson) #215

The form that religion has taken as seen by the media is both intolerant and even demonstrates bigotry. The major Republican nominees are garnering pastors with large congregations to support their cause to their members. Religion is becoming an important factor in many states in forming laws, while it is being counter attacked by the larger body of liberals who reject the role of religion in politics. These incidences cause more people to reject organized religion but say they have a spiritual life not bound by any particular religion.

(Aage Rendalen) #216

That may be true, but they do establish quite convincingly that religious groups that minimize their ideological “tension” with their environment are likely to stagnate. But reality is complex. The mere fact of maintaining a passionate “sectarian” distance to society does not guarantee growth and success. The Mormon church in Europe is pitifully small, and few people respond to their massive outreach. Not to mention Scientology, which has been nearly wiped out there and which may be on the skids even in the US. People may be willing to pay a high sociological price to align themselves with a much-criticized movement, but only if the benefits outweigh the negatives. The problem is that with education and wealth, people tend to devalue these benefits, if not entirely dismiss them.

I agree with what you’re saying, but I wrote my article against the background of a religious movement that is obsessed by numbers and growth, and my question is still: can such a growth-obsessed church survive without its “sectarian” identity? Or is it destined to decline?


That is just the problem. They are too well educated. Education can get to your brain. If everyone was a little bit more uneducated we wouldn’t see half the problems we have now from over education.

When people become so engrossed with study that they can’t even take the plain teaching of scripture and face value, then we know that we have a problem.

The Jesuits where masters at getting into a church and taking over that church’s centers of learning. Their system of education would turn the people’s attention to every side issue on a subject and make those side issues ride the day. This is what unfortunately plagues our church. This article is a good example. It goes nowhere, does nothing for the mission of the church and labels us some mixed up sect! Credit should go to where credit is due.

(Andrew) #218

'Education gets to your brain ’ ; that’s novel.!

’ If people were less educated…’ We would still be in the dark ages.

'… Scripture at face value ’ ; You do realise that scripture is already interpreted via translation upon translation from the original. Which version do you want to take at face value? Are you happy there were educated people to translate the Bible for you?

(George Tichy) #219

Well, yes, education usually happens in the brain, doesn’t it?
And sure, more educated people will certainly be dealing with more complex issues in a different way than those with less education. The solution is not to decrease the level of education, but help people to aspire to higher levels of education and increase the amount of knowledge.

Well, it’s sure easier to manipulate people who are less educated, isn’t it?

(Rheticus) #220 is a copy of “The Life and Epistles of St. Paul” by W. J. Conybeare and J. S. Howson

We know EGW or her assistants read this book, because she/they plagiarized from it so extensively that EGW had to stop printing her book because of complaints about it.

Read it for yourself. Notice how they give credit where credit is due.


Ellen White spoke a lot about the ill effects of over taxing the brain on studies etc. She advocated a balanced approach to education by combining it with manual labor - something unheard of in our day.

I believe that a trade is of far greater value than a degree. And the economy proves that fact time and again. God’s original plan for man was that he was to engage in manual labor while still learning and being educated by the things around him.

The educational system the you obviously went through is not anywhere near God’s ideal for man; having to spend long hours in class and studying hard for tests doesn’t make for a mentally well balanced person. You need time to think and work exercising your muscles and letting you brain rest.

Knowledge isn’t everything, it’s only part of a much big picture. But unfortunately psychology doesn’t allow people to see that bigger picture.


Not at all interested.