Why It Isn't Enough to Quote Scripture

Like many people in the United States, I woke up shocked to discover #Brexit had gone from clever hashtag to reality one month ago. On the morning of the E.U. referendum vote, I found a few articles on Twitter to help try to make sense of what had happened. Most people agreed this was bad news that placed the global economy at risk. Moreover, the health of Europe’s ever-so-fragile peace was disrupted now that far-right nationalist groups from France, the Netherlands, Greece, and others saw an opportunity to incite anti-E.U. platforms.

After processing for a bit, I wondered if maybe Facebook might have something to add. One post stood out: a friend had published a status appearing to make light of the entire situation and saying that #Brexit was simply a manifestation of “they shall not cleave together” (see Daniel 2:43).

As the day went on, this public position was assumed by a number of friends—all of them writing that this whole event was just another fulfillment of end-time prophecy and, although not said in so many words, it carried a subtext of “don’t be alarmed,” which began to feel dismissive.

I became upset; to casually dismiss the very real ramifications of the event seemed short-sighted at best and rude at worst.

What of the thousands of lives who will be de-stabilized financially?

What of the thousands of refugees that the “Leave” campaign targeted and scapegoated?

Were we really going to ignore how #Brexit furthered the power of an ever-growing xenophobe, nationalist, and populist public?

The Seventh-day Adventist church is a worldwide community whose top leaders have historically been and continue to be primarily white men. The Seventh-day Adventist church is also a worldwide community primarily composed of “colored” people, and the plight of colored people—including Adventist people—both around the world and here in the United States has recently become even more problematic.

We have seen Black Lives Matter protests and demonstrations galvanized as a result of the tragic deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. Before their deaths, we had not quite finished grieving the horrific hate crime against the LGBTQ Latinx community in the Orlando shooting at the Pulse Nightclub. On top of all this, the GOP nominee, Donald J. Trump, has tapped into the worst of Americans through his blatant immigrant bashing.

Since the Internet has made it easy for organizations to quickly and promptly address their members, I think I speak for most Adventists in saying that we hoped and expected to hear from our church. Wonderfully enough, Ted Wilson did address the global Adventist community. However, what we got from the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists was disappointing.

In the face of tragic events against minorities this summer, and the persistent racist and xenophobic rants from Donald J. Trump, which do a lot more for fueling race wars than anything BLM does, the address made by Ted Wilson, President of the GC, was one that only loosely alluded to doing something about our current social issues. The address focused on admonishing Adventists—encouraging them to study prophecy. Focus not on this world, but be comforted by the Christ who will guide us through even worse end-time tragedies was what Wilson’s message distilled into. Because Ted Wilson failed to acknowledge the events affecting a large part of his constituency, the address did not sound like a call to action. It sounded distant and dismissive.

It hurts for the issues affecting me as a Latino Adventist to be dismissed with prophetic texts.

I know Adventists are loathe to discuss politics, but I am not asking anyone to become politically explicit—or God forbid, Democrats (As Clifford Goldstein once quipped, “So many Republicans?"). All I ask for is recognition and justice.

There is nothing Republican or Democratic about leaving the religious comforts of this-is-all-in-keeping-with-prophecy-nobody-panic and saying, “Hey scapegoating Latinx immigrants is un-Christlike,” or “We recognize this country developed laws and policies weighted against blacks, and we should seek to repair them out of love for our neighbor without taking vengeance against cops.”

Apparently, a large portion of white Americans do not consider minorities integral to their communities; if this was not so, then Donald J. Trump would not be sitting on the Republican presidential bid. But is it too much to ask the Adventist community—whose growth numbers and tithe totals we pad—to consider us important enough to defend us? I am weary of being around Adventist laity and leaders afraid of standing up for an important part of their community because they are afraid to be political or because Hillary Clinton is undesirable.

We minorities know Hillary Clinton is not that great, but what we do not know and want to know is if you see the troubles and issues that plague those with our skin color and are willing to help us fix the issues.

My heart has been encouraged by preachers like David Asscherick who have been willing to acknowledge that yes not all cops are bad, but all black lives matter. My heart was encouraged when NAD churches in Florida offered support and service to the LGBTQ community of Orlando. My heart is encouraged as I see the NAD respond to the race issues of our time. And yes, my heart is encouraged by prophetic insights, by proclaiming the gospel, by the age to come, and by Jesus the Christ.

However, eschatology cannot change my present reality, nor is abstract truth-telling a proper substitute for incarnational truth-living.

Top-level leadership speaking against social injustices would be nothing new; in fact, they would honor the legacy of one of our founders: Ellen G. White boldly condemned this nation for its slavery and racism in the 19th century. Let all our present-day leaders follow in this legacy and speak a popular word addressing and acknowledging the racial pains of today.

As a minority Adventist, this is my plea and this is my cry.

Look at us. Experience with us. Feel with us.

Yes, it may simply be a reflection of clay and iron not mixing when #Brexit, #PulseShooting, #PhilandoCastille, #AltonSterling, #PrayforDallas, and #PrayforNice trend, but for some of us, the issues surrounding those experiences will be with us long after they stop trending on Twitter, and when Twitter no longer speaks on our behalf, who will if not our faith family?

Bryant Rodriguez is a Theogy student at Southern Adventist University who in 2013 completed an internship at the Amazing Facts Center of Evangelism Europe.

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This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/7568

"As a minority Adventist, this is my plea and this is my cry.

Look at us. Experience with us. Feel with us."

An impassioned and a well-written appeal…but I wonder just how far his words will go in the current Adventist Administration?

Some might say- not far. Still others will say- no where.


I still comment for the small chance that it may inspire someone else to think or think differently. Not a lofty purpose but still a noble one.

Keep writing and talking, Bryant…some of us are listening.


May I suggest you watch the RNC tonight for yourself on CSPAN without any networks spin or any pundits telling you what is being said. You may find it a learning experience. You will see all flavors in the audience and you will see an openly gay hi-tech business man speaker on the platform speaking.

I went to Southern 50 yrs. ago before becoming a dentist. I have lived in a Buddhist, Muslim and multicultural Hong Kong. Somehow I was never allowed to enter these “xenophobe” countries without a passport and was not allowed to stay in any without a Visa.

I would suggest you have received a lot of false information and assumptions. Trump and others for at least 20 yrs. have had a legitimate view that we needed to close the borders and allow only for “legal immigration” into our country. I am married to an Asian wife that came to the US with me in 1995. It took 5 yrs. of jumping through the hoops before she became a legal US citizen in 2000.

“Illegal immigration” is breaking the law. It was in every country in the world I have visited. Legal immigrants are welcome here.

Good luck at Southern and I hope you will give “my candidate” a rational look with firsthand information.


Greatest political speech I have heard in 50 yrs. You see, I can separate “secular from religious” issues. This is essential in “separation of church and state.” “Pluralist and globalist” seek to make them one which is the opposite!.


“Nor is abstract truth telling a substitute for incarnational truth living.”

This really hit home. The latter is far more difficult then the former. Thank you for the reminder to put ourselves into the shoes of those who are hurting as you’ve described. How crucial it is for times like these.




Thanks so much for sharing this, Bryant. Listening for the other side of the story is hard, and hearing how our language can sound like spiritual platitudes when there is real hurt going on is very helpful. Thanks for writing!


Wow! I am so sorry!

I was born into this church and doctrinally speaking, as I understand SDA beliefs, could never be anything else.

Having said that, I have always been on the fringes checking in on occasion, perhaps for this very reason. I feel our church is just distant, ignorant if you will, to reality. Being “nice”, or “friendly”, is the goal, not actually caring-and doing, except in a distant manner.

I have seen a few, very few, that were actually Christian in behavior in caring for others in our church, very few, and they were awesome people. But for the most part the real Christians who cared for others and did for them seemed to be outside of the Adventist church. I have felt so much better and safer out than in. :frowning:


Finding hope in the fulfillment of prophecy and deploring racial injustice are both Biblical imperatives, and do not constitute an either/or dilemma. The truly committed Seventh-day Adventist Christian, facing the crisis of the last days and striving through God’s grace to meet the Lord in peace, will pursue both with equal passion.

We are very close to --(Every man did was is right in his own eyes) We live in a label/gun crazy. Society. It is theclosing of The mind, not the borders that is. The prime evil we face. tZ

I’d like to separate this into inside the church vs outside the church.

What is a minority in the church? All are Adventists, so inside the church, being part of a minority should be a non-issue. There are cultural differences, and there will always be, however the onus should be on the minority members to adapt to the majority rather than the other way around. Minority members should always feel welcomed, however the majority shouldn’t be expected to change their culture and practices to make a small number feel more comfortable. An example: I find it interesting that the Filipinos I know don’t feel so comfortable in an all-Australian environment at church, however they seem to make no effort to participate sometimes. Together in their own group they will talk like there’s no tomorrow, but in a Sabbath School class they will say NOTHING, week after week. It’s not as if they don’t understand or have nothing to contribute. They are in a foreign environment, by choice, and can’t expect that environment to change to suit them, so they better adapt to the environment rather than stew about it and complain that Australians are not as friendly as Filipinos or whatever. Do your best to adapt to the situation you’re in.

Outside the church it’s a different story. However, once again, what is a minority? LGBT++ is a group who define themselves by behaviour. I would not call them a minority, rather a special interest group. There is nothing common among them apart from sexual interests and sexual behaviour. We do not have to adapt to all special interest groups.

In terms of racial minorities, all should be given equal opportunities and not discriminated against, however, once again, let’s be realistic about some of the problems that affect minorities. In Australia, Aborigines experience a much greater rate of incarceration than the white majority. Occasionally we hear about the tragedy of the high rate of incarceration. However, what is more tragic is the high rate of crime in that community leading to the incarceration. Rather than blame white society for imprisoning them and looking for ways to minimise that, we need to find out the reasons why such a high percentage of their population are committing crimes leading to imprisonment and address those issues. ALL people of ALL colours and ALL cultures can understand that stealing is wrong, killing is wrong, carjacking is wrong etc. ALL cultures hold these to be unacceptable. Why does one culture find such a high percentage of their youths involved in such activities? Government not providing enough for them to do is not a good enough reason. Where are the parents and parental upbringing instilling into them that this is wrong? Should one culture be punished in a different way to another? All should be punished equally for the same crimes.

In Australia, ALL people have equal opportunity when it comes to education and employment. Discrimination is prohibited by law and cases that are pursued are dealt with appropriately. (I’m not suggesting it doesn’t happen, but in reality it’s rare.) Why don’t we like to admit that sometimes the culture is the problem, and that not all cultures are equally valid? Remember back to the days of cannibals and headhunters. Was their culture equally valid, or were the white people justified in imposing THEIR morality upon them? Were the British justified in eliminating the burning of widows on their husband’s funeral pyres in India? Let’s rise above culture and set a common standard of morality and behaviour that ALL people should aspire to? The Adventist culture, whose foundation is the Ten Commandments and the Golden Rule, should be the model that everyone aspires to and we should model this behaviour to the world and let them marvel at the harmony that exists among us. In fact, I think this is already the case…

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What the Adventist community needs is not to listen to more of those who study the bible to “unseal secrets” about morality. If we as a church we cannot tell right from wrong, we lack empathy and common sense, not religion.


This is the heart of the issue it seems. And very well said.

Kevin Paulson and I share the same conviction that this must not be allowed to be a binary dilemma. And, if perhaps unintentionally, Kevin may have identified the challenge. What if the plight of “The truly committed Seventh-day Adventist Christian facing the crisis of the last days and striving through God’s grace to meet the Lord in peace” as Kevin terms it is the very conviction that denies the Christian access to resources for incarnational truth-living, and all too often not even enough breath for abstract deploring of racial injustice?

What if it isn’t that we haven’t achieved what God would have us achieve, but that we haven’t perceived what God would have us perceive, namely that in a very real way, we are bleeding in the ditch and it is those of a different ethnicity, a different economic status, indeed a different religion who are the only ones who can succor us, no matter our ethnicity, our economic status, our religion?

Perhaps the turning away from all ‘striving to meet the Lord in peace’ is made possible by the simple acceptance of the realization that in Jesus God has already met us in peace and that it is this realization that uniquely precipitates incarnational truth-living?


I agree with the contention that Donald Trump has tied into the fears of this country. Fear is not only a big influence in politic, but also in the Adventist Community. Our heart gets racing every time we feel we can plug an event into a biblical prophecy.

I must share a bumper sticker I came up with that exemplifies this process.

“Who would have thought that the Anti-Christ would have orange hair?”

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My current sermon text is 2 Tim 4:3, rather than Daniel 2 …

And the topics have been very close to the ones discussed above. From Brexit to Trump right down to issues in our own church … we like to follow populists, in fact the text suggests we pro-actively seek false teachers in order to hear what we want to hear. It saves us thinking for ourselves (for those who read a little Greek - have a look at “sound doctrine” in Greek) and it certainly saves us from becoming active. We can pontificate about Bible prophecy all we want … to really become a prophetic movement again, we need to withstand the populism of our day (like the prophets of old) in word and in action.