Why Adventists Should Watch "Under the Banner of Heaven"

(warning: minor spoilers ahead)

Over the last few years, I’ve grown fascinated by Mormons (or, as they prefer to be called, members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints). Seventh-day Adventism and the LDS Church have a lot in common: both religions were founded in the United States in the context of the Second Great Awakening, both have prophets, and both have had complicated relationships with mainstream Protestantism in the past. As former LDS-turned-Adventist pastor Jason Canfield writes in the Adventist Review, “Whether you realize it or not, Seventh-day Adventists are often confused with Mormons. At times, other Christians put us into the same category: cult.” 

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/11974
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Being directly familiar with the scenario described, it’s become painfully obvious that these “faith communities” have been constructed and sustained on the human desire for security. If and when we finally grow up and find ourselves in the midst of a world filled with confusion on every side, we are forced to personalize our beliefs. When every human crutch gets knocked out from under us, what do we have left…

If Jesus is our focal point, we see just that happening on the road to the cross, when we hear the words we understand - “My god, why have you forsaken me?” We may not have the honesty to mouthed out those words, but some time, we understand Jesus’ question as it hangs in the air, even as he died. The church has made it its business to keep us from asking that question.

Ironic, the very question that undergirds our faith, the church tries to remove - much like the priest in Dostoevski’s The Grand Inquisitor. - working to remove our Garden of Gethsemane experience. It’s a strange dichotomy, faith works only in the face of doubt - and asks us to be honest with ourselves. That kind of faith goes beyond what is offered with the baptismal certificate.


We have watched this as well, fascinated by extended family who are LDS. Your treatment of both the movement and the film is compassionate, sensitive and honest. Thank you.


I watched it. It was very well made and has great acting, writing and attention to detail. It could easily be included in college curriculum for social science classes to illustrate any number of points.
The Mormons were portrayed in such a way as to show their kindness and dedication to family and community. The journey of some of the brothers into dangerous fanaticism was well illustrated.

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We can relate to the frustration of being a historically maligned religious group,

I think this is overstating the case. While the mormons have been maligned, the SDAs have been ignored. Many SDAs wish they were maligned, and have constructed a fantasy where the SDAs are so important that the Catholics and Protestants will gang up on them. The truth however is that the vast vast majority simply have no idea who the SDAs are or that they even exist, and that the Catholic clergy, far from plotting the persecution of SDAs, simply treat the SDA church as irrelevant.


Lol. Also SDA get confused with Jehovah’s Witnesses and the members of the Christian Science church (Christian Scientists?)
The persecution of Christians around the world seems to mostly take place in areas that lack human rights in general

I just finished reading Brian McLaren’s new book, “Do I Stay Christian?”. It is a provocative read and at the end, in an appendix, he goes a bit granular and asks the question, ‘Do I Stay in My Denomination?’. It is interesting, that in offering ideas for Evangelicals and Catholics, he lumps SDAs and Mormons together, writing, “A group of progressive Seventh-day Adventists or Latter Day Saints might say, ‘We grew up in this community and love much of our heritage, but our status is unclear because we aren’t sure how much the church will be able to change to accommodate people like us’”.

As a baptized SDA for more than 65 years, that quote reflects my sentiment about the church and my relationship to it exactly.


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