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


I’m sure you would love to get into a discussion about which version is better than others wouldn’t you? :grinning: If the catholics had their way we wouldn’t even have the Bible.


Then are you assuming that you can psychoanalyse Ellen White and her supposed “intentions”?

(Andrew) #225

I am not an expert on translations, so I have no real basis to offer a view on it.

Translating is difficult in modern languages especially when it comes to idioms and technical phrases.

Ancient Hebrew is a completely different league.

(Aage Rendalen) #226

Since I wrote the article, I’d be interested in you pointing out to me where it says so. If that’s your take-away you didn’t understand it.

I would imagine that you’re in your early 20s and have just that “buzz” which sociologists associate with church growth. So instead of swinging at everybody, why not lay out your solution to the problem of stagnation (in case you didn’t read the article, the SdA church in the US and the rest of the developed world has either stagnated or is markedly in retreat.) Why not address this issue? Do you agree with my recommendation, for instance, that colleges should be turned into Bible schools with a vocation angle in order to preserve SdA orthodoxy and passion? Try to be concrete.

PS. Do you have any credible source to back up what you’re saying about the Jesuits? I’m asking because, on surface of it, it makes absolutely no historical sense.

(George Tichy) #227

As you said to Bevin, now I say to you: “Not at all interested.”

However, this statement,

is as “ad hominem” as one can be. I wonder if the WebEd is going to use any lemon this time! Just wondering…

(Read it again. OM is not specifically addressing you. It is an opinion about secular western educational systems in general. Not ad hominem. “You need” is equivalent to “One needs”. - website editor)

(Elmer Cupino) #228

I don’t see any relevance of this to my question. Unless, that is, you are unable to give a satisfactory answer and are making an attempt to deflect the question.

But since you asked, No, I am not assuming I can psychoanalyze EGW simply because I don’t have the training nor the credentials. I am not a psychoanalyst. I am a psychiatrist with a specialty in child & adolescent psychiatry.

Now, would you be kind enough to answer my original question?

(Andrew) #229

I hope you studied and passed your exams. Better that, than digging a hole.

(Rheticus) #230

Let’s see. You claim time and place show EGW did not need to cite.

I show you a main stream well known book

  • from before her time
  • from her book shelves
  • that she is known to have read
    that correctly cites its sources

and you aren’t interested in looking at it.

Okay, I think that says a lot

(Elmer Cupino) #231

I’m still digging holes, except this time I know where to dig, what to find and how to polish the find to make it shine.

(Kim Green) #232

Dear OrangeMan,

You certainly have embraced the small section of the SDA church that is the “Self-Supporters”. I have seen many of your “type” that weren’t so “well-balanced” and did not see the “bigger picture”. I don’t believe that the economy has proven that a college degree is worthless and have known many who believe like you who have regretted that they didn’t go to college. You do sound like you are young and convinced of many things. I wish that I could revisit your life in about 15-20 years and see where your life leads you. If you are similar to others that I have known, you will most likely be changed.

(Ole-Edvin Utaker) #233

Aage, you are correct in pointing out that mainstream churches struggle to maintain their membership. That’s the case here in Europe. However, a sectarian formula does not seem to be the recipe to counteract this trend, except for very small groups. Adventism, that by many here in Europe is considered to be a sect, follow the same patterns as all mainstream churches when it comes to decline in participation and membership. This is documented in a recent research project on the role of religion in the five Nordic countries, soon to be published, and which I participated in.

I believe that much has changed in the religious landscape since Finke and Stark concluded their research, or that the European context may be different from the US. I have previously in this blog expressed my dislike for the narrow SDA identity that is marketed by the present leadership in Silver Spring. But, I think many well educated and resourceful Adventists have their own (and better) reasons for maintaining their membership in the church, than the present leadership’s sectarian power politics.

If the thesis is that Adventism along with other churches will decline because they are not able to stand the tests of verification or falsification as a scientific theory, I do not agree. This Weberian outlook has been thoroughly refuted in the last 20 years, and can, at its best, only be seen as a prescriptive normative theory of how religion “ought” to behave in the modern world.

The issue, as I see it, is not between “reason vs. faith”, but rather between “experiential faith vs. propositional (metaphysical) faith”.

(Elaine Nelson) #234

Ole, you do not agree that Adventism is will decline, are you referring to the world church or the NAD and European churches? If so, where is the evidence? You have documented the Nordic countries and the NAD stats show that there is very little growth but attrition is growing.

What do you believe would turn this around? Can it be successfully demonstrated in those areas of greatest influence? Are will it become only successful as a competitor to the fast-growing Pentecostals?

(Ole-Edvin Utaker) #235

Elaine, thanks for responding.

I‘m myself part of Adventism’s decline. In the early 80’s I was a postgraduate theology student at Newbold College, but I didn’t survive as an Adventist after Glacier View. Today I’m part of the Norwegian Lutheran Church. Despite that, I still acknowledge the importance of my Adventist heritage.

My key issue with Aage’s eloquent essay is that I don’t subscribe to the thesis that religion, to be successful and growing, needs to be sectarian. I don’t accept that premise, though it is one point of view from where to analyse the phenomenon of Adventism. To me, it smells too much of the partly abandoned thesis of secularism, which claimed that religion would disappear proportionally with the growth of enlightened (so-called) reason. This modernistic Weberian notion of religion’s disappearance didn’t happen. Even Peter Berger of Boston University (sociologist of religion), one of its followers, has admitted that he, and many with him, was wrong. This is the Zeitgeist of the post-secular society (Habermas).

Pentecostalism, as you point out, is the fastest growing interdenominational trend in recent years. But, its greatest success is in the developing (emerging) parts of the world. In the Nordic countries, and Europe, it is in decline.

I’m not concerned with the answer to the challenges of church growth. But, from where I stand, I’m looking for a religion that places more emphasis on the condition of human experience vs. a strong metaphysical religion.

Somehow, people can’t stand a life that is without meaning beyond a mere reductionistic, material reality.

(Andrew) #236

I don’t think this can come from an organised religion. By nature, religious organisations are corporate umbrellas with doctrines and rituals. They have systematic methods for imparting those norms upon the membership.

They cannot respond adequately or quickly enough to the multitude of nuances of the individual members.

The human condition is not a constant. It varies according to our experience at any particular point in time. These experiences bring in to sharp relief the existential questions

This is why I believe informal micro structures such as small groups provide the intimacy, flexibility, and meaning needed.

P. S. My father was studying for the ministry at Newbold from 1979 to 1983. You never know, you may have met him.


Interestingly all the schools of the prophets where self supporting, Paul the apostle was self supporting (as a tentmaker), and most of our church’s own schools where at the beginning all self supporting.

The one main benefit to this systly of education is that the student does not have to go into debt - which is the biggest drain on the economy right now. Oakwood College has started opening up industries lately which I believe is a good idea.

There have been some misfits in the self supporting school movement that have given it a bad name, but the idea of the student being able to work and study is a good one and not something that should be thrown out.


You know I was listening to Pastor Walter Pearson giving his testimony. He worked at the EGW estate for some time. While there he found that the Estate keeps a room full of all the criticism and doubts about Ellen White’s books and experience. He started reading them but soon had to stop because he found himself being lead into doubt.

If you read her books with an open mind, you have to admit that they have a texture to them that no other book save the Bible has. The way they speak to your soul tells you that they are indeed inspired. But if you allow your mind to start critically analysing them then you will begin to doubt whether they are true. That’s something I’m not interested in doing.

If you want to nit pick at her books, that’s your business; but I’m not interested in joining you in doing it.


The system has really done it’s job well… :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

(Andrew) #240

Orangeman, at least we have you to bring us some light relief from in depth debates!

(Andrew) #241

… And you’ve read every other book?

(Elaine Nelson) #242

I also left the church in the early 80’s because of Glacier View and other reasons.
But have not replaced it as I feel no need for membership in any religious institution.

If man is the crowning act of God’s creation, which I believe, then our first duty is to each other. To respect, care for and do all we can to aid when needed. This goes for the earth we have: to protect and not destroy it. The Golden Rule is the finest and most simple maxim ever given and the earth is our home and we should care for it and not desecrate it.