I will start by saying that I appreciate your honesty that you displayed in the article in the article. I also do not know what it is like to be raised in an ultra conservative setting either. I was raised in an adventist home and I spent the majority of my life as that person that was using drugs and alcohol and having children when unmarried. I don’t believe that that lifestyle is just limited to ultra conservatives. Anyone can go down that path regardless of where we are in life.
I do believe that there is a lot of fanaticism that plagues our church and it isn’t limited to the conservative side either. There is a devil that doesn’t care if you are too tight or too loose as long as he gets you, and as human being we have to strive for God’s guidance more than anything else because for us when we have gone to an extreme in anything because of our nature we will push the pendulum the other way too far. That is why reliance on God is paramount.
An interesting quote that was made here I just have to weigh in on. I think that in the times that we live in every person has a responsibility to uphold the truth in the church, Paul in his letter to Timothy speaks about people departing from the faith and Jesus in Matthew 24 the first words to his disciples was “let no man deceive you.” So does the truth need to be upheld in the church with so many different versions of the truth today? I would say that it needs to be. If I didn’t read my bible for myself I would honestly have to say I wouldn’t know what to believe, there is so much different ideas out there. Is the church backslidden? If you read about the church of Laodicea I would have to say yes, and is it sinful I would have to say yes. But I would have to say that those who defend the truth are the greatest of sinners, but are thankful for what Jesus has done for them. Paul said he was “the chief of all sinners” and If one compares themselves to christ I think one should see themselves that way too.
Not all adventists that are on the liberal side are tolerant, not all adventists on the conservative side are intolerant. I don’t really even like the word tolerant period. It implies that one is tolerating others and I would much rather be loved than tolerated, (Think most would agree with me on that part) I believe that we should love others and treat them kindly even though we don’t agree with them. Jesus treated every person that he came in contact with, with love. I don’t much like the label liberal or conservative for that matter. As for the term fundamentalist it really isn’t a bad thing. If one believes in a literal 6 day creation, that Jesus died on the cross and that he was bodily resurrected and is coming again to earth then one can be deemed a fundamentalist. If believing those things makes me a fundamentalist then so be it.
One last thing what does a “traditional” and “mainstream” adventist look like to you? I also admire that you have answered the call to serve in evangelism in a very difficult part of the world to work. I pray that the Lord will bless the work of you and those that you are working with.