I wish it were so that there were 3,000,000,000 Christians who have not discarded their faith in the Bible! But to get to that number you must include Roman Catholic and Orthodox believers. Anyway, thank you James Peterson for charitably imputing to me sincerity. Amen. Your logic would be good if I was saying this: “persons who have never tested the gifts of Ellen White are on a slippery slope of unbelief that will, by and by, land them in a swamp of infidelity.” But that is not what I am saying. And your logic would also be good if this were true: Ellen White, quite unlike the Bible prophets, was an unreliable source of inspiration. (That would be Romey’s current take). But my idea stands unrefuted if Ellen White’s inspiration mirrored that of Bible prophets. And my observation, after being an apologist for White to Adventists and for Scripture to non-Christians, is that the tools of the mockers trade are the same. Let me, however, also affirm a certain valuable uncertainty. I am highly uncertain of my views on many things. I am certain regarding the truthfulness of my sources, but not regarding my comprehension of those things. And this is why there are many topics I will not write on…because darkness yet shrouds key passages so as to leave me dissatisfied with my own view. This is not how I feel, however, regarding the reliability of true prophets. That is a stone well tested and true.
Honest and illuminating. Thank you for this account.
I am moved to say: Let us welcome one another. We ALL deal with some quirkiness or another, and we ALL can learn more about who we are from straightforward reporting on the experience of being Adventist. The more we talk to one another the better.
Thanks, Eugene. Can you provide me with the name of your series on EGW or a link? I didn’t see them in audioverse.
Questioning carries with it the risk of coming to new conclusions and abandoning old beliefs. As long as one is dedicated to Truth I don’t see a problem with it. What everyone has to answer for him or herself is the motive for his doubt: do I doubt because I want to believe but struggle (like Thomas) or because I want to doubt?
As to EGW and the Bible I see a number of differences:
- The times and culture of her writings are quite different to that of Bible writers
- I see substantial issues with regards to EGW’s writings in areas of ethics, fruit, conformity to Bible doctrine and the truthfulness of statements which are neither hyperbolic nor literary devices. devices
- Many Christians including a number of former SDA pastors have seen no problem believing in the Bible while rejecting EGW’s authority - some would go so far as to say that it is difficult to understand what the Bible says, while studying it through the lens of EGW’s writings
Anyway, I do appreciate the civil dialogue. Thanks.
Blessings to you, Romey,
here is the link: https://www.audioverse.org/english/sermons/seriess/15/eugene-prewitt-the-spirit-of-prophecy.html
(Either two lectures were unrecorded, or I remembered wrongly the number of lectures in that series eight years ago)
I am pleased that you ask questions and take seriously Christ’s admonition, “beware of false prophets.” The Bible writers themselves, of course, had quite different cultures from each other (I’m thinking of Egyptianized prince/shepherd Moses and Helenized tent-maker Paul).
I would, like the men and women to whom you refer, have no problem with rejecting Ellen White while accepting the Bible, if I could find any consistent way to do so. But I can’t. And that is probably related to the doctrinal issues in your second point. For my take on almost every doctrinal issue that you might have used to contrast EGW with the Bible, see my Bible studies at www.bibledoc.org. Particularly, see there under Daniel materials, an article on the Judgment. And regarding ethics, an article called, “The Law” and a long one that might interest you called “Authority and the Draft” on military participation by believers.
And I also appreciate civil dialogue. Comments on articles aren’t always civil, so feel free to write me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would rather a dialogue that isn’t public.
Clare, I identify with a lot of what you say, even though I was raised in a quite mainstream (but conservative) Adventist home, rather than in the ultra-conservative environment you apparently grew up in. There was a lot of certainty about a lot of things, and like you I am grateful to that environment for sparing me alcohol, drug, and tobacco use that has afflicted so many, as well as the sexual promiscuity that is so common.
Like you, I felt it something of a privilege to uphold high standards—not so much because they were being violated in my church, but certainly because they were being violated in society at large. Just as within your “ultraconservative” environment, there was a lot of emphasis, in the “mainstream,” on following rules. Like you, I gradually became aware that following rules carefully is not what the faith-journey is all about. And there was a lot of emphasis on “certainty”.
I’m not sure I was particularly attracted to the tolerance displayed by some Adventists—if I even knew about it, I might have regarded it as compromise with evil. But eventually it occurred to me that a lot of issues were not so clear-cut as to yield easily to logical reasoning—the outcome of which depends on one’s assumptions. That’s one of the things I don’t like much about Adventism—it’s too obsessed with “getting everything right,” with insufficient attention to the fact that our life in this universe is full of mystery. A bit of humility is in order here.
So in my old age (I’m 80) I too, have found myself a bit of an IDP. You hit the nail squarely when you say that tolerance is nice, it gives people space to grow—but sometimes “there needs to be a warm hand, an arm around the shoulder, that lets us know there’s someone who understands the struggle.”
Isn’t that the Gospel of Jesus? We are Jesus to one another when we are kind, when we are understanding, when we are warmly human to one another. I’m pretty sure that my father, who was an Adventist minister of a pretty traditional type, regarded himself as one who had not followed all the rules—at least not well enough. A few days before he died, he said something to me to the effect that if he made it into the Kingdom, it would be solely by the grace of God. I think he got it right.
Blessings, Don Rhoads
Read “The White Lie” and free yourself even further. The more likely an important EGW statement is that you memorized, the more likely it was a word for word copy from another author.
I finally gave up trying to rehab Ellen White, the SDA church, and ultimately Christianity into something I could honestly defend. So much of it is reprehensible because it comes from a place of authority rather than a contemplation and experience of what actually makes a joyful, peace filled, and meaningful life. The focus on what I now consider trivia and giving it life and death emphasis is stifling to the human spirit. So much of it is based in fear while claiming to love people. It is very difficult to present Christianity without the use of fear and yet even the Bible says that perfect love casts out all fear. I think much of my own struggle to come out of this was to have a place to land because certainty from authoritarian belief keeps people immature because you don’t actually have to solve the issues that life presents. There is this illusion that if you have the “right” answer that God is somehow going to take care of you and then you have the ultimate reward of eternal life. This kept me in a state of living for an imaginary future even though my current authoritarian beliefs weren’t functioning. There was a dishonesty of it. The one thing I can say about some things in the Bible. The truth will set you free, even uncomfortable ones. That’s because reality defends what is true. And when you commit to the truth, no matter where it leads, you don’t have to worry about being “right.”
The White Lie, a book by Walter Rae where Ellen is made to look like a sneaky person copying others slyly. And what are the three primary evidences presented as representing the whole? 1) That in the 1888 GC much was copied from history writers in particular; 2) that in Patriarchs and Prophets the fall of Satan and man was borrowed significantly from Paradise Lost, and 3) that a diary entry regarding Geneva’s beauties was copied from a brochure. To which I would reply: "Rae, are you serious? The 1888 GC’s introduction announced that it would borrow well-worded historical writings without credit for sensible reasons (for the times). And the fall of Satan and Adam wasn’t copied at all, but you allege plagiarism because of many similar story details? Did you think Milton was writing fiction? He used good deduction and Bible study. And EGW’s similar story line only shows his skills, not her dependence. And granted the brochure was copied into her diary, and what has that to do with messages from heaven? Indeed. I do not think highly of Rae’s reasoning.
Bill K. my classmate from PUC was associate minister of Long Beach under Rae, and he explained how it all came about. Rae was a avid promoter of EGW, so much so, that old ladies came to him and said- You love EGW so much, we own books that were part of her personal library, we are going to share them with you. And Rae, took the books and began to read the religious book formerly owned by EGW. Low and behold, he recognized passage after passage similar or paraphrased from EGW writings. Only the books were written years before EGW’s books. So he contacted the church leaders with his research. They patted him on the back, and said -Brother Rae, just go ahead and do your research, and keep us informed. He and his associate B.K. started doing more research, and as they informed the leaders, their work was set aside, ignored, just like it had for a hundred years with others who suggested that maybe the prophet wasn’t all she was cracked up to be. She did on a regular basis, if done by a high school or college student, would result in expulsion, today or a hundred years ago. Stealing others words and ideas and passing them off as your own, was theft in her day as well as now. Covering it up, or making excuses for it, is just as bad.
My bible still has something in the 10 C’s about thou shalt not steal in it.
Someone allowing themselves to be called a prophet should not be given a lower standard of plagiarism.
Rae wasn’t an anti-EGW minister looking to do a hit book on EGW. He was a zealot who accidently had his eyes opened, and could not hide the facts that he discovered.
I don’t have my copy of the White Lie since it was loaned out many times, but the evidences you cite, are enough to expose a false prophet, but I like the passage where she says that she saw angles coming from the throne of God and they relayed a message to her, and then the message she quoted was word for word stolen from someone else’s book. Go back and look it up if you really have the book.
How disappointing that after a lifetime of ministry he didn’t have assurance of salvation 1John 5:11-13
Oh, I think he did. That’s what I took him to be saying. Don
Internally Displaced Adventist
Clare, thank you for your open insights into the challenges you’re feeling as an IDA. By the way, you’ve chosen a good description of the challenge faced by many with Seventh-day Adventist heritages.
During my academy years, a new Bible teacher showed up in the middle of our Junior year. Seems our previous, “extremist” teacher, had been “displaced” by the board. When Jake introduced himself to the class, he told us that he had never been a Bible teacher, and could only “try to introduce us to his best friend, Jesus Christ.” That breath of fresh air became a hurricaine of grace in my soul.
In college, my grace-filled Spiritual journey was reinforced by teachers, speakers, and fellow students who continued to open my eyes and heart to a life of “belonging”, through grace, forgiveness, and New Life in Jesus.
I continue to live and work as a Seventh-day Adventist pastor, an “itinerant pollinator of grace”, as one friend has tagged me, because I believe our spiritual community is truly based on Salvation through the Grace of Jesus only. As Jake taught me - and as Morrie Venden, and Ted Heppenstahl, and Ron Wisbey, and Dan Matthews, and Dick Barron, and scores of others have regularly reminded me, any teaching that assumes I have to perform correctly for God to love me, is “beastly” and leaves ugly marks on my forehead and soul.
“There is nothing I can do that will add anything to what Jesus has already done for me.” That’s how Dr. Heppenstahl used to begin every class. His emphasis stuck like Velcro to my hopeful heart and has helped focus my ministry with grace.
No, I am not perfect. But, I am forgiven. Yes, I can list many ways I continue to fall short of the Master’s life, but I am still tagged in His Book as one to be “Delivered!”
And, yes, I have accepted the message of Christ’s “Sheep and Goats” parable as the essence of Following the Shepherd. As Ellen White puts it in the Desire of Ages, p. 637: “He represented [the final judgment’s] decision as turning upon one point. When the nations are gathered before Him, there will be but two classes, and their eternal destiny will be determined by what they have done or have neglected to do for Him in the person of the poor and the suffering.”
When I agree to allow Jesus to consume my heart, my life re-focuses from “inward on me” to "outward on His Kids”, and I am driven by His determined desire to assure that those kids experience His best.
May I suggest an alternate for the meaning of IDA? How about “Internally Delivered Adventist?”
When you sense those inevitable nasty glances at your pants, or hear a sideways comment about your Sabbath activity choices, just smile. You’re adventuring in the awesome experience of “Living life as God lives it.”
Thank you for your kind reply. At no point have I had vicious or resentful feelings towards any of my former staff or classmates, and I continue to think very fondly of the relationships we had. However, I am not sure that I would agree with you that “many of them were already at the place where [I] have arrived.” But perhaps you have felt that their place of arrival and my place of arrival are the same because I haven’t explained myself clearly enough. I will make another faint attempt — and since you have particularly noted the issue of dress reform I will continue along the same vein.
When I first arrived at the conservative school, I obediently came with knee-length skirts because I had been informed that this was school policy. I was quickly informed by the school principle that my knee-length skirts were not long enough because my kneecaps peeked out when I sat down. I was reminded that it would be a very terrible thing to cause men to sin by showing off my body. So I went to the Goodwill and bought longer skirts. I didn’t buy expensive skirts because we had to wear them to class, to work, on walks through the woods, and even on camping trips. In none of these situations were trousers allowed for women. I remember with acute embarrassment the day I walked down the street with some friends and my long, flowing skirt caught a gust of wind a blew up past my waist. My male classmate looked quickly away but I knew he had seen everything. There are many immodest aspects to skirts, even long, loose ones.
I am familiar with the articles on your website and I must congratulate you on the many helpful documents you have, particularly in explaining traditional Adventist views on Daniel and Revelation. I have also read your article on dresses. What leads me to mention it is a particular section of your comment above, where you mention that the dresses-only message has not had much “sticking power.” I was unclear as to whether you meant this as admonishment or as a mere observation. If you meant it as an observation, I would agree, because as far as I understand, Ellen White’s messages are intended to be interpreted according to time and context. We all know the famous bicycle quotes, and we’ve figured out how to extract the principle behind these particular incidents. And I interpret Ellen White’s comments on dress in the same way. I do my utmost to dress modestly, healthfully, simply, attractively, and femininely. And my style, fitting those requirements with a clear conscience, includes pants. For the dresses-only message to not have “sticking power” is quite clear when I seek to apply the principles to my context.
However, some years ago when I read your article on dresses-only (http://www.bibledoc.org/lifestyle/thoughts-on-dress-a-little-grace-or-looking-at-appearances-2/) I noticed that you repeatedly refer to dresses as the style of clothing that “pleases God,” seemingly inferring that other styles do not please God. The beginning of this particular article states that one of the purposes of the paper is “To bring members of Christ’s church more into line with dress that would be pleasing to Him.” And your conclusion is, dresses only. If you don’t believe the dresses-only message has as much “sticking power” as our fundamental beliefs because, as you say, they were merely “inferred” by the prophets, why do you make such strong statements on your website? Perhaps you have also benefited from progressive revelation but have not had time to update your article yet. I hope I am not misunderstanding your or placing words in your mouth, but the article on your website does not seem congruous with your observation that dress reform is “loosely inferred.”
But, notwithstanding the inherent flexibility in such lifestyle principles, I have personally felt that they are used in the conservative world as boundary markers to signify who is “with us” and who is still “outside.” Recently, while attending the last GC session, I met some old friends from my school. I was wearing jeans and a flowing tunic top that reached halfway between my waist and my knees. One girl looked me up and down and told me, “I didn’t think that was the kind of thing Clare wore.” She stopped talking to me after that. Like I said, I am not resentful, but feeling displaced and hurt.
I have taken great comfort in Romans 14, with the emphasis on God as our judge. I recognize that the passage speaks primarily to those who differed over the ceremonial law, but I find the principles useful for my “lifestyle” situation as well. “Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand.” Romans 14:4. We are commanded, “Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.” And this is what I attempt to do. I believe that Jesus died to not only pardon the sins of my past, but to cover me with His perfect righteousness, making me “accepted in the Beloved.” There is nothing I can do to be more or less accepted. I am either “in Christ” or I’m not. I do believe in sanctification and victory over sin, but I believe that when one becomes a Christian, Jesus takes over that work to complete it in you. My job is to remain connected to the vine and keep saying “yes” when He wants to change me or redirect me.
My main problem with the lifestyle extremes of ultraconservatism is the general belief that certain behaviors can increase or decrease God’s favor. In my understanding, “lifestyle” teachings are a) for my own earthly benefit, b) for the benefit of other people, or c) to safeguard my connection with God (through which every other blessing comes). I had two classmates who used to argue passionately about whether eating white, refined pasta was a sin. One of the two would literally go hungry rather than eat white pasta, because he was really “persuaded” that this was sin and would incur God’s displeasure. I say no — a bowl of white pasta, a pair of jeans, lip gloss, and a potluck dish with cheese in it — these have no power to make God less or more pleased with you. However, if you eat cheesy white pasta every day and don’t exercise, your health will suffer and you’ll probably get a fuzzy mind that can’t hear the impressions of the Spirit very well. Which is why I believe God is interested in the earthly lives we live. We are not gnostics. We don’t believe in dichotomizing the spiritual and physical world. But let’s be careful not to give too much emphasis to one or the other.
Now I have written a tome for you. Sorry for being so long-winded. I hope you will reconsider your views on dresses-only and, as a respected spokesperson for the conservative world, please help to communicate to others who are like I was that the most “pleasing” thing we can do is to be in Christ and let HIM do the work in us. As others in this thread have commented, we can do nothing to make God love us more or less.
Thank you for taking the time write out this very heart-touching response. I have also had those “breath of fresh air” kind of people who show me Jesus in a beautiful new way. May each of us keep learning what God wishes to teach us so that we can bring forth “things new and old” for others around us.
You write: “. . .most of my childhood friends ended up as drug addicts or unmarried mothers.”
I stopped reading at this point. I’m not writing to accuse, just to find out. It seems such an incredible statement from someone raised in the same way and same church schools as I was. While there may be a few of my childhood friends who are secretly using drugs, as do most people who use, I probably wouldn’t know about it even though I was trained, as a clinical psychologist, to recognize such signs as do appear. So it surprises me that you would know, unless a great many of your childhood friends have confided it to you and a huge majority of those are using.
I’ve stayed in touch with my childhood friends at high school and college reunions and in visits, etc. I’d be astonished if “most” are on drugs, even if “most” is defined as “a majority,” rather than “nearly all of.” The great majority of the women I grew up with who became mothers were married to the fathers before any babies came along. I know of none who were not.
To me, these are important assertions you’ve made. I am not accusing you of exaggerating. If I felt sure you were, I wouldn’t be writing to ask. If the line I quoted is an “overstatement” made for rhetorical effect, I certainly wouldn’t consider it a “lie,” but it would undermine my confidence in the accuracy of your piece. If what you wrote are the very sad facts of the matter, and you’d be kind enough to set me straight, I’ll be happy to believe you and continue reading.
I appreciate you and your views. And I think you misapprehend mine. Now when you posted that link to my article, I felt a bit like “uh oh. What did I write in that article so many years ago?” (I think I wrote it about 1995 or so, but I am not sure. When my website was redesigned in 2013 everything had to be reposted, erasing previous viewing data and original posting dates.). So I just now went back and read my own article and I am relieved. I mean, if I wrote it today, it would be shorter and would be easier to follow. But I think it would come to the same conclusion, one that I think you affirm: Namely, that we ought to dress modestly and healthfully and in a way that is gender-distinct. And in the article various iterations of those principles are mentioned. And I think the article presents a fair amount of that “uncertainty” that you wrote of in the article above, that approach that gladly lets other’s chew their own data and spew their own conclusions.
Now one important point: There is a big difference between pleasing God and appeasing Him. The former is done by smiling at a child, for example. The latter is impossible. When we have done everything that we are commanded to do, we are to say, “I am not a special servant. I have only done my duty.” Luke 17:10, adapted. As you teach, we cannot by behavior earn any favor with God. But still, Clare, it is right to seek to please Him. (Without faith it is impossible to do that successfully.)
I do concede that fanaticism exists widely. It is Satan’s most successful weapon against principle. And so your story of an acquaintance who wouldn’t speak to you after spotting you modestly attired, is appalling. It is appalling on two fronts: First, you were conscientiously dressed (a long top). There is no good reason for someone to wish to be conscience for another. But second, it is appalling for the lack of charity. If I encounter you some day wearing a nose ring and bikini, I hope that I would yet be friendly and courteous, warm and approachable. (My own wife, Heidi, of more than 12 years, and who has traveled with me to about 40 countries, and who has listened to me preach about 300 times a year for our married life, has probably never heard me preach about dress. And she wears pants and long tops often. And she is nervous around ladies who wear dresses only. And she would be disquieted to think that such persons would quote me as condemning her choices. I don’t. I very much enjoy the freeing idea that everyone bears their own burden.)
And your friends that argued about white rice…I understand them. But I side with you. Empty calories are better than zero calories. Now on the cheezy pizza, I would probably go hungry instead. But if I saw you eating it, I wouldn’t even notice. Much less would I think ill of you. Why, yes, it is that Romans 14 idea you mentioned. “To his own master he stands or falls. Yes, God is able to make him stand.”
Yes, lifestyle principles are rewarded in the hear and now. On this also we agree. And yes, there is nothing we can do to make God love us more or less. But there are many things we can do that make Him happy and other things we can do that make Him weep. And, yes, it is heart choices regarding trust and love and faith and patience that most affect Him in these ways.
But maybe I would counter one idea that you might have by simply saying the opposite: It was God’s intention to notice our diet and dress and entertainment and money. It was God’s intention to use these things that we encounter daily to be opportunities for developing faith and love. And in a western world without persecution, it is in these very things that we are called to deny self in favor of principle daily. This is good for us.
Finally, I never suspected any bitterness in you. I merely referred to ChS 115 to explain that the bitterness you encountered in conservative circles was a symptom (not of the values, but) of our carelessness for the lost. And as evidence I suggested that you would find such bitterness everywhere among persons of various values across the spectrum. Men yell at their wives and make their children bitter and are consequently disrespected by their wives among the whole bunch.
(your article and responses seem to me, to be more in harmony with the spirit of fulcrum7 than of spectrum. Just saying. :))
I was not “raised in the same way and the same church schools” as you, because I have never attended “church school.” I attended a very conservative self-supporting boarding academy that spiritually frustrated the students so badly that many went wild as a reaction once they left the school. (Before academy, I was homeschooled. But this is why I mentioned that it was probably in my best interests to go through a stage of ultra-religiosity because it spared me of going the way of, say, the non-SDA kids I hung out with, who were smoking pot and sleeping around by the age of 14.) But, you are right. There is a difference between people who “use” drugs/alcohol and those who “abuse” them. It was probably a mistake for me to use the word “addict,” I think “user” would have been more appropriate.
well, look at it this way…if 95% of the church is lost, that percentage must be much higher outside of the church…we know that there are those who will be saved who’ve never heard of the gospel, but i think those will likely be few and far between…
YEC-ers sometimes squabble over whether there were thousands or millions of people living on earth at the time of the flood…but let’s just take a very conservative figure, like 200, which most people agree is vastly under-representative…well, at 200, 96% of the world was lost, since only 8 people were saved…
we often like to think of heaven from the perspective of the saved…but honestly, vast, vast numbers of people aren’t going to make it…statistically, it’s better to be in an organization where at least some people are trying to make it, than to be out in the world where no-one cares…
…and our well deserved reputation for insularity remains intact.
well, insularity is partially why so many are part of the 95% who aren’t going to make it…