Commentary on "A Perpetual Ministry"
Day 6: Thursday, June 28, 2012 - The Back Door
Today, the author talks about the 'back door’ of the Adventist denomination—the door through which people are making their escape, often quietly with no fanfare.
The author states:
“The decision to leave the fellowship is usually not a sudden one. Rather, most people go through a process of quietly leaving. Just as coming to Christ and His church was a journey, the process of leaving is a journey. Most often for those who leave this is not a consciously planned strategy. They just start to slowly get disconnected, disenchanted, and dissatisfied with things in the church. Maybe, even in some cases, justifiably so. We should therefore seek to be aware of the journey of those around us at church.”
I am in total agreement with the author that we, as the Body of Jesus, are to nurture and love each other. As he says, we must “….get close to people, learning their needs…and meeting those needs when appropriate”. I also concur with the author that the process of leaving the Adventist denomination is a journey—and it’s not one that people can share with their Adventist friends in most cases.
Because of the stigma attached to leaving Adventism (for any reason), many times questioning/disenchanted members are forced underground as they attempt to figure out the next steps of their journeys. Their only refuge is with their non-Adventist friends/family, who may either be believers in Jesus or non-believers. For those who are questioning and work for the denomination, this stage of the process is even more risky because of the consequences of being "caught" seriously considering alternative belief systems. It is not always the case that questioners who are "caught" will be fired right away; however, if they are not prepared to conform to the goals and interventions of the leadership, then they are very likely to be dismissed (http://www.bible.ca/7-white-inpsired-100-pastors-fired.htm)
Admittedly, it is difficult to obtain hard, verifiable data to support just how many Adventist employees are dismissed over doctrinal disagreements because many times these occurrences are not widely publicized. However, there is a good deal of information contained in these YouTube clips of a debate between Walter Martin (Christian apologist and cult researcher who wrote “Kingdom of the Cults: http://www.amazon.com/Kingdom-Cults-The-Walter-Martin/dp/0764228218/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1337543613&sr=8-1) and William Johnsson (Current editor of the Adventist Review: http://www.adventistreview.org/thisweek/staffbio.htm) on the John Ankerberg Show several years back. (My apologies for the inconvenience of the debate being broken into 14 sections. I could not find it posted uninterrupted anywhere else.)
In a portion of the debate (see parts 1 & 2 and again in parts 5 & 13 below), Martin presses Johnsson on the inherent contradiction that Adventists make when they claim to be "mainstream Christian", but yet they fire denominational employees who remain faithful Christ followers while at the same time, renouncing: (a) Ellen White as a prophet and/or (b) the Investigative Judgment doctrine.
In summary, it is my desire that the authors of the Adventist Sabbath School lesson quarterlies be more forthright about the reasons why folks leave the Adventist denomination and how those people should be treated. It is not simply a matter of loving people more so they will stay. It is a matter of facing the facts—facing those difficult places where the Adventist doctrine diverges from the Bible. It’s a matter of how Adventism treats those who openly speak out against the doctrine—both in front of those individuals and in private conversations to others about those individuals.
Copyright 2012 BibleStudiesForAdventists.com. All rights reserved. Revised May 23, 2012. This website is published by Life Assurance Ministries, Camp Verde, Arizona, USA, the publisher of Proclamation! Magazine. Contact email: BibleStudiesForAdventists@gmail.com.
The Sabbath School Bible Study Guide and the corresponding E.G. White Notes are published by Pacific Press Publishing Association, which is owned and operated by the Seventh-day Adventist church. The current quarter's editions are pictured above.
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