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January 28, 2011

BEYOND ADVENTISM: The "Truth" Re-Examined

by Dennis J. Fischer


Welcome to this brief and candid tour that gives you an inside look at Seventh-day Adventism today.  At first glance, some SDA readers may view certain theological elements in this exposition to be utterly shocking, unbelievable, and even grossly overstated. It is my fervent prayer, that as the readers probe the depths of Adventism, they will ultimately come to the conclusion that the information presented herein is indeed concise, objective, and factual.

With intentional ambiguity and complexity, many facets of Adventism are most difficult to examine, understand, and expose (i.e., their stance on abortion, the nature of man, their exclusive investigative judgment alibi, etc.) Many of their leading apologists widely differ in their understanding of the doctrinal pillars in their belief system.  It is not uncommon to find two opposing views, on many topics, in the writings ascribed to Ellen White. 

Therefore, whatever "Spirit of Prophecy" evidence you may present, the Adventist apologists can cite yet another contradicting quotation as also being a "continuing and authoritative source of truth." In short, Ellen White is all over the road on many key doctrines. Consequently, the fragmenting of Adventism can be observed everywhere. The founding members of their conservative and liberal theological societies were known to even refrain from dining together when their meetings were held in the same vicinity.

Beginning in the mid-1950s, Seventh-day Adventists have revealed a deep yearning to appear as authentic, evangelical Protestants.  A very controversial book entitled "Questions on Doctrine" was published in 1957 by a select group of SDA administrators, editors, and teachers in response to a challenge from the late Dr. Walter Martin, a professional cult watcher. This 720-page book serves as a prime example of their desperate strategy to disguise themselves as fully embracing  biblical Christianity and to thereby  long for the  day when their shameful stigma as a cult would be somehow lessened or even removed. 

Since that time, however, the Seventh-day Adventist Church has officially replaced and deleted key words in some doctrinal statements (e.g., the words "all-sufficient" and "unerring" were removed from their statement on the authority of Scripture). This action allowed ample room for the extra-biblical writings attributed to their revered messenger, prophetess, and infallible interpreter of Scripture, Ellen G. White.

Updated:  January, 2019


The "Truth" Re-Examined

Dennis J. Fischer

After being devout, third-generation Seventh-day Adventists for many years, my wife Sylvia and I requested our names to be removed from their membership records.  With several delays despite our reminders for eight months, the College View Seventh-day Adventist Church, in Lincoln, Nebraska USA, finally honored our request on October 16, 2000.  We joyfully consider this date our Freedom Day in commemoration of our inevitable separation from spiritual, psychological, and monetary abuse. 

Having anchored our lives in the New Covenant teaching of Jesus Christ, we thank God continually for removing the "veil" that represents unbelief from our hearts (2 Cor. 3:15,16). With the veil of ignorance and obscurity removed, we are able to  see the glory of  God revealed in Christ (John 1:14). The Law was never intended to save anyone, but rather to lead us to the One who would. Collectively, Sylvia and I have more than 100 years of active experience in Seventh-day Adventism. Without any doubt, a colossal sum of information can be obtained about any religious organization during such a lengthy time span.  It is safe to say that we know far more about Seventh-day Adventism today than when we were still active members.

Belief transitions, at best, are not without trauma. However, in the truest sense, nothing is really lost because our awesome, sovereign God faithfully redeems those many years to His honor and glory. Salvation is a rescue operation from start to finish. It is most important to remember that our merciful God never goes on a rescue mission that fails.  It's all about Him! Our journey in Adventism included dedicated service in both this country and overseas. My wife spent part of her early years in Baghdad, Iraq with her SDA missionary parents. She was baptized in the Jordan River during one of her trips to the Holy Land.

Also, Sylvia appreciated the refreshing reprieve from the Egyptian desert heat while visiting the tomb of King Tut. She even slept in an Edomite cave in historic Petra (south of Amman, Jordan) before tourist hotels were built nearby. Years later, while I was serving in departmental leadership, we went on an all-expense paid trip to the Bahamas that was funded by my employing Conference.  On other occasions, I enjoyed a day of deep sea fishing off the coast of North Carolina with a group of SDA leaders, and I also enjoyed horseback riding with another Adventist group in the scenic mountains of eastern Tennessee. So, we have many fond memories of our Adventist service as well. I have served the SDA organization as a local church elder, credentialed literature evangelist, credentialed missionary, and licensed minister. Consequently, our lives reflected a fervent denominational identity.

First of all, we dearly love the Adventist people. They will always be in our hearts and prayers.  Many of our friends and relatives still remain in the complicated grip of Adventism.  How can so many decent, well-meaning people be caught up in proclaiming a false gospel? The Lord has given me an online chaplaincy ministry, in more than one hundred languages and dialects (powered by Google Translate technology), to reach out daily to struggling Adventists and others with the awe-inspiring gospel of Jesus Christ. Admittedly, it is not an easy task to minister to those who have been heavily indoctrinated to think that they already know everything about the Bible. On the other hand, it is always encouraging and exciting to see how our merciful, sovereign God repeatedly opens the most calloused, resistant hearts when they are called to become members of His wonderful family.

There is never a wrong time to do the right thing. It is often charged that the main reason why people leave the SDA Church is due to some moral failure or secret sin on the part of the disaffected. Though Sylvia and I would be the first to admit moral failings, this is not what led us to leave Adventism. We intensely wanted their teachings to be true. However, our crisis of conscience, coupled with an honest desire to do what is right, led us in the opposite direction. The unsettling realization that we taught our children wrong about the most important things in life was most painful to ponder and endure. Ultimately, our loving, sovereign God took over our spiritual direction by calling us out of Seventh-day Adventism. We give all the honor, glory, and praise to God alone. Truly, our experience reaffirms the fact that His rescue missions never fail.

My wife and I are continually grateful that God did not leave us where He found us. Unquestionably, our awesome God knows how to make friends out of His enemies in the election process. Many times, especially while engaged in exit counseling, there are those who have threatened to throw me out of chat rooms, various online forums, and conversation cafes in the blogosphere. Worse yet, sad to say, they employ very unkind remarks whenever their legalism is challenged and exposed. Using the social media to tell outright lies about me is one of their favorite tactics. Therefore, having a thick skin is definitely required in this outreach ministry. Sometimes I feel somewhat derided like Paul when he was repeatedly thrown out of the synagogues of his day. Even though God called and commissioned the Apostle Paul to preach to the Gentiles, he had a real burden for the struggling legalists he knew so well.

Amid the vastness of cyberspace, many honest-hearted Adventists are discovering, for the first time, that Jesus Christ is indeed their true Sabbath Rest. Jesus is the reality and substance of the Old Covenant shadows, that included the festal, weekly Sabbath given exclusively to the Hebrew people (see Col. 2:16,17; Deut. 5:3). According to Leviticus 23:1-3, the weekly Sabbath was one of the seven appointed feasts (holy convocations) mandated for the "sons of Israel." 

Certainly, under the New Covenant, we are not required to observe the Jewish feasts in order to obtain or maintain our salvation. Moreover, there are no holy days nor any festivals in the Christian calendar (Romans 14:5). Those who still insist upon observing any Old Covenant shadow, pointing forward to our Lord and Savior, are actually denying the glory, majesty, and reality of Jesus Christ. Still others are threatened with the thought of losing their salvation if they leave the Seventh-day Adventist Church.  It is exciting to know that heaven has a party when Jesus is born in a new heart.

Sylvia and I found our time thoroughly occupied with raising our three daughters, working wholeheartedly for the denomination, and later operating a family business. Someone aptly stated that "a wise man changes his mind seldom, but a fool never." Regrettably,  we were too busy to even get into theological matters. Satan truly delights in our excessively busy lives.  After all, we were constantly taught that we were the only ones who had the "truth."  We were arrogantly pleased that we were a part of heaven's exclusive franchise, God's last-day "remnant church," with its suppositional advantages that "outsiders" could only wish they had.

We were comfortable and savvy in a doctrinal proof-text system or "inner canon." Outside of this so-called "inner canon" that reflects serious hermeneutical errors, we were lost in Scripture—especially in the New Testament Epistles.  It always seemed easier to quickly consult the writings of Ellen White than to personally study the Bible in depth. Our home was saturated and imbalanced with stacks of books attributed to Ellen White. These books were beautifully bound with matching color schemes. Some of her books are now being rewritten into a contemporary Easy English format. Unfortunately, this maneuver will make it much easier to hide her rampant plagiarism.

The Ellen G. White Estate effectively practices "selective revelation" by withholding many key pages of her "inspired" writings in their files. Occasionally, they will make a new release or produce yet another compilation to increase sales. There is definitely a lot of secrecy surrounding the safeguarding of Ellen White's writings.  In-person access to their files remains extremely restricted—even for the most devout SDA scholars trying to do some research. Obviously, there are many things they want to keep hidden from the public and especially from their own members.

Having fervently believed that her "inspired" writings are a "continuing and authoritative source of truth," our former devotion to her ministry can rightfully be called Ellenolatry and/or Ellenology—a veneration akin to Mariology in Catholicism.  Ellen White's problematic and blasphemous role, as a latter-day coredemptrix in salvation, is officially verified by the SDA Church requiring that candidates for baptism confess her as being the "Spirit of Prophecy" before they can be baptized into Christ.  For example, Ellen White's authoritative and dominant role in creating distinctive SDA dogma is seen in her embellishment of the Fourth Commandment to include the Mosaic Sabbath also being a "final test" and "seal of God." The real truth is that there are no current SDA beliefs that Ellen White did not sanction or create.

The Bible always had lots of competition from other Adventist publications as well.  With any spare moments, we were engrossed in literally scores of books, periodicals, and newsletters that largely dictated our subculture. We thought we knew everything; you would only have had to ask us for all the right answers.  As a former departmental leader, I well remember the unique feeling of orthodoxy, satisfaction, and acceptance in quoting Ellen White in my sermons.  It remains a powerful symbol of approval in Adventist circles that even translates into job security.  The current SDA General Conference president, with his many quotes from Ellen White in his sermons, is a prime example of this practice.

"Seventh-day Adventism is incredibly complex"

Unlike the basic tenets of the Christian faith, Seventh-day Adventism is incredibly complex.  With an aberrant closed theology, it is no surprise that we found virtue in our closed minds. It was considered meritorious and even salvific to become "settled in the truth."  We felt sorry for the ignorance of those poor "non-Adventists" or "Sunday keepers" who were described in-house as heathen, outsiders, apostate Protestants, whores of Babylon, and their clergy as false shepherds.  Sadly, we even made fun of people who believed in biblical Christianity like we do now. Utilizing typical cultic methodologies, Seventh-day Adventism employs the following spiritually-abusive strategies:

  • Extreme authoritarian accountability, top-heavy organizational structure, and a closed belief system.
  • Information control that denigrates or cuts off outside sources of information—especially if critical of the group. Consequently, they develop a voracious appetite to hear the latest behind-closed-door maneuvers and scandals of their hierarchy. Cognitive dissonance, the anxiety resulting from simultaneously holding contradictory and incompatible beliefs, plays a dominant, troubling role in their mindset.
  • Discouraging critical, rational thoughts and questions; for example, comments like, "Satan is the cause of all doubt; he wants to keep you from the truth," or "Those former Adventist ministers and laymen are actually full of pride. They think they know more than the entire church."
  • Excessive financial obligations that comprise a two-tier membership system (e.g., only "tithers" are allowed to hold local church offices or positions of influence, no tithe funds can be used for local church needs like building expansion, remodeling, maintenance, and church school needs). One hundred percent of the tithe funds go directly to several levels of hierarchical, administrative organizations.  The local church properties are wholly owned by the Conference. Ministers are appointed and paid by the Conference. Generally,  only one offering per month is allowed for church expenses—many non-tithe contributions are also remitted to the Conference treasury. The SDA hierarchy essentially exerts almost total control over the local churches.
  • Language manipulations—ascribing new "inside" or "in-house" meanings in ordinary words or use an excessive vocabulary subtly moving a person to want to become an insider. Largely, these aberrant linguistic problems have roots in their faulty hermeneutics. Others, like their exclusive "investigative judgment" and "shut-door" terminology, are solely reflective of their subculture. Although Seventh-day Adventist apologists often use the right theological terms (i.e., grace, faith, justification, sanctification, forgiveness, Trinity, etc.), these key words have a different meaning  to them than affirmed in biblical Christianity. Consequently, it is easy to fall prey to their stance of utilizing  well-known, salvific terminology. Those who know little or nothing about Adventist dogma are the most vulnerable to deception. With their charming and subtle manner, the top SDA leaders initially managed to even deceive (albeit temporarily) a trained cult watcher, the late Dr. Walter Martin, in the 1950s.
As a young minister, father, and departmental leader, I had little time to even think about questioning anything as I weekly preached perfectionist and promotional type sermons to a receptive Adventist audience.  The Lord has graciously forgiven me. Truly, God redeems our past to advance His kingdom. In other words, He faithfully restores the years that "the swarming locusts" have eaten (Joel 2:25 NLT) and nothing is actually lost. Soli Deo gloria!

"Information is a tool that empowers and enriches...lives"

Eventually, with an empty nest and semi-retirement looming on the horizon, we found extra time to delve into the essentials of the Christian faith.  We soon discovered that sincerity of belief is no substitute for Biblical truth.  Our exodus from Adventism took several years of diligent prayer and intensive Bible study. Even though we were deeply involved in Adventism, we knew very little of what was actually going on.  It was very difficult to obtain information about anything that the church hierarchy did not see fit to divulge. All of this changed, of course, with the dawn of the Internet.  

The arrival of online religion is as consequential as when the printing presses brought the written word to medieval Europe. With religious literacy dramatically on the upswing, cyber-Christians find new appreciation for personal freedom in Christ. Cyberspace affords us the priesthood of all believers—creating an equal playing field. Information technology is a tool that empowers and enriches the lives of even the lowest social class in our society. While cyberspace is no equal substitute for in-person relationships, it does avail us of meaningful, worldwide Christian fellowship. The Internet was a significant and valuable tool in our quest for truth.

A wide spectrum of Seventh-day Adventists know very little about their history, doctrines, organizational structure, and governing policies. When an inquiring member determines that even one doctrinal pillar is not Biblical, it clearly creates concern that other teachings may not pass close scrutiny as well. Being born in the Millerite deception of the early 1840s, Adventism shortly thereafter imposed a vast assortment of cultic views on its ardent followers:

  • The exclusive investigative judgment doctrine, as the central core of their faith, teaches that the atonement was not completed at the Cross, initially delayed for 1800 years, it is still in the process of being completed. Indeed, an anti-gospel message! 
  • The "shut door" teaching, later abandoned, that grace for sinners ended on October 22, 1844.
  • Only 144,00 people would be saved—later abandoned as membership exceeded this number.
  • Soul sleep, conditionalism, and annihilationism were brought from the liberal Christian Connection/Connexion Church, a restorationist group related to the Stone-Campbell movement, by James White and Joseph Bates, early SDA pioneers. However, since Seventh-day Adventists claim not to have an immaterial spirit (soul) entity, their views about death and the afterlife are best described as the extinction/re-creation theory. Not even God can resurrect someone who doesn't exist. Thus, in the truest sense, Seventh-day Adventists are actually denying the doctrine of the resurrection. Moreover, they claim to die just like animals (with the exception of being in the memory of God like a fallen sparrow or a flattened squirrel on a roadway). How can someone await anything, much less a resurrection, when supposedly nonexistent?
  • Those worshiping on Sunday will ultimately receive the mark of the beast.
  • The final test will be Jewish Sabbath observance—even though the word "Sabbath" does not appear in the entire books of Genesis and Revelation. Adventists insist, however, that both books are somehow significant in supporting their Sabbatarian views.  Jesus is not their final test. Instead, they warn that the final test is all about a day of worship—creating a dividing wall in Christendom. The final test centers upon the created instead of upon the Creator Himself.
  • The Law of Moses (also commonly known as the "Pentateuch" or "Torah") is not defined as a mixture of 613 ceremonial, civil, judicial, and moral laws that are basically summarized in the Decalogue as having both ethical and ritual elements. Adventist apologists greatly err in their presupposition that only moral declaratives are found in the Ten Commandments. Conversely, Seventh-day Adventists utilize a pick-and-choose tactic to impose Jewish dietary, Sabbath, and tithing laws on the uninformed as being morally-binding. Importantly, the weekly Sabbath never was a moral injunction, but rather it was a ceremonial, festal convocation given to the "sons of Israel" (see Lev. 23:1-3). On the other hand, God's timeless moral laws never take a break, and they were never trumped by ritual law for any reason (i.e., infant male circumcision on the Sabbath, display of freshly-baked showbread every Sabbath in the Holy Place, and an additional priestly sacrifice of two male lambs every Sabbath morning as directed in Numbers 28:9-10). Furthermore, moral (ethical) commandments are valid 24/7 (every nanosecond of time) and not merely once a year, season, month, or week. God's morality does not change with the rotation of the earth. Truly, God's righteous standards are beyond the constraints of time and space. Unlike ceremonial (ritual) laws, moral laws never allow exceptions for works of charity, mercy, or even purported necessity. In other words, there is never a valid excuse to disobey God's moral commandments. Without the Levitical system being fully in place, it is impossible to properly observe the festal, weekly Sabbath and to faithfully practice the Mosaic tithing codes.
  • In the context of an imminent "National Sunday Law," a death decree will be issued upon all loyal Sabbatarians.  In the final crisis, they warn, "Sunday keepers" are going to actually kill the "Sabbath keepers." Indeed, that is heavy, scary stuff! Moreover, this absurd, sensational,  and unthinkable theory envisions and implies a soon-coming scenario when one billion Muslims and millions of Buddhists and Hindus will supposedly join Christ-followers around the world by worshiping on the Lord's day to celebrate His resurrection and thereby fully unite with Sunday keepers to kill all Sabbath keepers. Remember, Muslims, Hindus, and Buddhists do not even believe in Jesus Christ as their Savior and Substitute. Thus, why would Muslims and other non-Christians have an intense and sudden interest in safeguarding Sunday as the weekly Easter?
  • Satan bears their sins as typified by the scapegoat on the annual Day of Atonement. Thus, Satan has an atoning work to perform for their salvation by finally having to suffer, through his meritorious annihilation, for all their sins that are meticulously recorded in heaven as merely conditionally-forgiven (see Great Controversy, pages 422 & 485; Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 5, page 475; Early Writings, page 178, Patriarchs and Prophets, 1890, page 358).  Only through Satan, the final sin-bearer, will their sins be finally blotted out.  In the truest sense, Seventh-day Adventism teaches that God favorably rewards Satan for his busy deviltry—the more people he can keep from becoming Christians the less suffering he will have to endure for confessed sins that were only conditionally-forgiven. Eternal bliss is ultimately conditional upon the atoning role of Satan.   Sadly and unbiblically, official Adventism claims to have two sin-bearers; namely, Christ and Satan.
  • Arianism, a belief held until the mid-1890s, teaches that Christ was created or "derived from the Father" as Ellen White described it. Most current SDA beliefs were formulated by their Arian pioneers. Consequently, some of their doctrines are still tainted by this heresy.
  • The latter rain or special outpouring of the Holy Spirit is still in the future—a denial of Pentecost. This teaching accounts for their typical begging and pleading, in their public prayers, for the Holy Spirit  to come upon them—even though they deny having an immaterial spirit entity to commune with God. Not surprisingly, SDA apologists are silent about the fact that the Christian Church was born on Pentecost Sunday as foreshadowed in the Mosaic Covenant.
  • The extra-biblical authority of their prophetess, messenger, and co-founder, Ellen G. White (referred to in-house as the "Spirit of Prophecy"). However, in context, the phrase "spirit of prophecy" in Rev. 19:10 denotes the central theme of both OT prophecy and NT preaching as the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ (not a reference to a false prophetess nor to her toxic-faith system). Sadly, Ellen White remains the apple of the Adventist eye, and she fills the role of being their infallible interpreter of Scripture. Interestingly, in many ways, Seventh-day Adventism is a microcosm of what they strongly dislike about Catholicism.
  • In regard to the physical signs on earth and in the heavens before the return of Christ  in Matthew 24:29, they claim the stars fell on November 13, 1833 and the dark day occurred on May 19, 1790 (both in the northeastern area of the United States). Amazingly, Seventh-day Adventists still believe that a meteor shower in 1833 was really the stars falling, and the dense smoke from a raging forest fire was the dark day in 1790 that obstructed the sun and the moon from giving light. However, this passage clearly indicates that these signs will occur after the tribulation and will almost momentarily precede the second coming of Christ. Furthermore, Adventists believe that the Lisbon earthquake on November 1, 1755 was also a key sign of the imminent return of Christ, but there have been many stronger earthquakes in recorded history with far greater consequences. Through the years, an assortment of SDA conspiracy theories and predictions have ultimately failed to be true. Some of their lingering in-house conspiracy theories are so bizarre and unbelievable that they are not worthy of even mentioning nor describing in this exposition. Many devout Adventists delight in retelling these strange conspiracy theories to help  reaffirm their cultic views to each other.
  • That fallen humankind can reach perfection with divine assistance and flawlessly uphold God's righteous standards—a partnership for salvation (see Christ's Object Lessons, page 69). In other words, they believe that God helps the unsaved to save themselves. Moreover, Seventh-day Adventism teaches that fallen human beings are the captains of their eternal destiny. Therefore, our sovereign God is ultimately at the   mercy of humankind instead of the other way around.  In fact, they are actually planning to put God on trial (during the Millennium) to finally vindicate His character and justice by meticulously auditing His records. Amazingly, this certainly implies that those who mistrust Jesus will be in heaven.
  • That the created archangel, Michael, is actually Jesus Christ (akin to the teaching of Jehovah's Witnesses).  This view seriously compromises the divinity of Jesus Christ.
  • In spite of their official claim of now being Trinitarians, Adventists are actually teaching Tritheism instead (three separate beings or gods united in purpose).  Simply log unto www.cultorchristian.com for the factual details. They still have no consensus on the nature of Christ. They further believe that Jesus had the fallen nature of Adam while living in this world. Consequently, they insist that perfection is possible for them as it was for Jesus in His sinful flesh.  This view makes Jesus Christ primarily an Exemplar instead of a Savior and Substitute.
  • Their sins, once confessed and merely conditionally-forgiven, may haunt them again and be held against them until the "blotting out" of sin occurs after the final phase of their exclusive investigative judgment alibi that began in 1844 (when Satan is finally forced to supposedly bear their sins through his meritorious annihilation). There are literally scores of other aberrant teachings, traditions, and unpublished standards that foster wholesale legalism and create uncertainty of one's identity and position in Christ.
  • Ellen White's unique "Great Controversy" theme implies that Satan is not a defeated foe and there is still somehow an equal rivalry between Christ and Satan in their supposed cosmic struggle. Thus, Satan has the theoretical possibility of winning his ongoing duel with Christ. The Biblical truth is that there is no "great controversy" between Christ and Satan—never has been. The divine Creator and His created being, Lucifer, have never been in any form of equality. Christ's superiority and victory over Satan has never been in doubt from day one. Satan became a defeated foe at Calvary. Indeed, Ellen White taught a grave and serious error in stating that Jesus, the God-man, could have failed His divine mission to this world in His sinful flesh. Another amazing heresy!
  • Based primarily upon Revelation 1:7 ("even those who pierced him" ESV), Adventist apologists have created a doctrine known as the "special resurrection" of the crucifiers (including those who authorized and demanded the crucifixion of Jesus). The Apostle John, in this passage, is simply revealing the vast diversity of those who will witness the second coming of Jesus Christ. In context, however, this Johnanine passage does not teach an additional or "special" resurrection of any group. Ellen White said that anyone who died believing the SDA message was a part of the 144,000. But Revelation says the 144,000 are translated, and translation occurs prior to the resurrection. So how does a dead person get translated? Adventists had to concoct a way to make alive the SDA "saints" who had died.  So, they devised the idea of a special resurrection, whereby the SDA "saints" would be raised prior to the general resurrection. Adventists reason that since those who pierced Jesus are alive to witness His second coming, then they must have been resurrected prior to the second coming. However, this is based upon a flawed understanding of Revelation 1:7. This is simply another case where SDA apologists had to devise another false doctrine to accommodate a previous false doctrine.
The Seventh-day Adventist Church was not formally organized until 1863. Since then, however, Adventism has fathered numerous unsavory offspring with names like the Urantia Foundation, Shepherd's Rod, Pilgrim's Rest, Strong City, and the infamous Branch Davidians. It truly boggles our minds how we could have believed all these things for so many years. We give praise to our Lord Jesus for our priceless freedom from the slavery and bondage of legalism. Having thoroughly studied Ellen White's writings, we have come to the conclusion that her works are best characterized as a "multiple guess" type of inspiration. Her largely plagiarized writings cover the delights of vegetarianism (with a strict two-meal-a-day regimen that disallows even a tiny morsel of food between meals), to declaring masturbation the same as "self-murder" or suicide.

Many of her "inspired" books are inspirational and informational; after all, most of her writings comprise the copied or rewritten thoughts of uninspired authors from diverse fields like education, health, history, medicine, and religion of her day. Believing that the "lesser light" will somehow lead us to the "greater light" is like trying to find the sun with a flashlight. The Holy Spirit is fully able, willing, and anxious to lead us into Biblical truth.  Jesus is not merely a philosophical segment of our lives (as an intellectual assent), but rather we have a whole new identity in Christ as His adopted children. Thankfully, Jesus didn't leave us where He found us. With His own timing, our merciful God called us out of Adventism for His honor and glory.

"Christ becomes secondary in many of their doctrines."

My wife Sylvia and I are most grateful for the meaningful insights gleaned from many Christian authors and personal friends. Foremost and best of all, the inerrant Holy Scriptures, in their original autographs, provide us with an unparalleled, all-sufficient revelation for Christian faith and practice (2 Timothy 3:15-17).  All Scripture is fully inspired—meaning "God breathed." Indeed, God is the ultimate author of the Bible in that He had complete control of His inspired penmen. Moreover, the Bible is God's voice speaking to us. Often even one word in a passage makes the difference between life and death. Adventists, on the other hand, hold to merely thought inspiration.  This non-verbal view allows many mistakes and contradictions like Ellen White had in her writings.

The New Testament, being the later, clearer, and final revelation to man, must be allowed to augment the Old Testament teachings on topics less clear as progressive revelation. Growing up as an Adventist in western North Dakota, I well remember an elderly, German-speaking SDA evangelist who emphatically declared that the partition of Scripture into Old and New Testaments was purely "man-made." Similarly, with the covenants, Seventh-day Adventists regard the New Covenant simply as a warmed-over Old Covenant. Thus, Jesus Christ becomes secondary in many of their doctrines to this very day—a point they would readily deny. 

The fact is that most of their doctrines were formulated under the direction of their Arian pioneers. This heretical legacy continues to taint and complicate many of the 28 fundamental beliefs they hold today. For example, it is most difficult—sometimes even impossible—for them to exalt Christ above the importance of the weekly, festal Sabbath. It has even affected their hymnody by changing some key phrases of traditional Christian hymns to accommodate their anti-Trinitarian stance (e.g., they altered important wordage in the beautiful hymn "Holy, Holy, Holy" in their 1941 hymnal, #73, and others as well). Growing up as Adventists, Sylvia and I were totally unaware of singing a variety of edited hymns instead of the authentic, traditional hymns of the Christian faith. To their credit, the current Adventist hymnal does not have the edited version of the hymn cited above. Historically, Seventh-day Adventists have struggled with accepting the Holy Spirit as a "person" in the Godhead. For many years, they wrongly insisted that God, the Holy Spirit, was merely some sort of influence, unseen  force, or a feeling effect like that produced by the wind.

Ellen White sternly warned, "I saw that the holy Sabbath is, and will be, the separating wall between the true Israel of God and unbelievers...And if one believed, and kept the Sabbath,...and then gave it up...they would shut the gates of the Holy City against themselves, as sure as a God that rules in heaven above" (A Word to the Little Flock, page 18). Gratefully, under the New Covenant, there is no "dividing wall" (Eph. 2:14-15). This is a primary characteristic of the New Covenant. Sadly, according to Seventh-day Adventist understanding, Jesus Christ is not the unifying factor among God's elect. Instead, it is the Jewish Sabbath (the created instead of the Creator). Notice that Ellen White, in the statement quoted above, emphatically and unashamedly declared that former Sabbatarians will be excluded from entering "the gates of the Holy City." Almost every religious conversation with an Adventist will automatically turn to Sabbath observance, not to Jesus being our atoning Savior and Substitute. If in doubt, simply give it a try! We rest where God rests—in Christ and His finished work (see Heb. 4:9-10; Matt. 11:28-30). Jesus is our true Sabbath Rest—uniquely our "sabbatismos" in Koine Greek (denoting spiritual instead of physical rest).

Unquestionably, the SDA doctrine about the state of the dead is one of their most aberrant and deceptive beliefs. Soul extinction and conditionalism (related to mortalism), together with their exclusive investigative judgment alibi, affects the nature of Christ, the nature of man, and the nature of salvation (soteriology). This further accounts for the elective abortions performed in some Adventist hospitals (notably in the 1970s when abortion procedures were very lucrative to hospitals). Without believing in the dualistic nature of man, body and spirit, it is not difficult for Adventists to view the fetus as merely "body tissue" that can be sucked into a sink.

Obviously, with this heretical and immoral view, there is a vastly diminished respect for the sanctity of human life. Conversely, how can Adventists loudly proclaim to be "commandment keepers" when they fail to even observe the Sixth Commandment? It is fair to say that they got hung up on the Fourth Commandment. Interestingly, a large segment of Seventh-day Adventists are pro-life, but their official church position is pro-choice. This confirms the fact that there are many conscientious, honest-hearted Adventists that challenge hierarchical statements and position papers from their General Conference.

It can be argued that the  SDA emphasis on physical health stems from their view of the nature of man—the body entity being all they really have. Adventists define the soul as merely their breath (air) or life principle (spark of life) in their nostrils that automatically returns to God at death. They further believe that their body becomes nonexistent, yet somehow sleeps.  In real life, a person that sleeps is not "dead, dead" as Adventists put it. Something that does not exist in any form certainly does not await anything—much less a resurrection. Their view provides absolutely no continuity of personhood.  At best, they are in the memory of God like a fallen sparrow. They further believe that they die just like animals, with the only difference being that they are in the remembrance of God.  To them, the soul is not a separate, immaterial entity that God calls home at one's physical death. On the other hand, the Apostle Paul clearly affirmed that he "would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord" (2 Cor. 5:8 NIV).

Seventh-day Adventists repeatedly fail to utilize and/or ignore accepted principles of hermeneutics in defining biblical figures of speech, metaphors, places, and words (e.g., Abraham's bosom, pits of darkness, death, destruction, devour, eternal, everlasting, fire, forever, gehenna, grave, hades, hell, perish, sheol, and tormented). Biblically, death is defined as separation from God (e.g., the fall of Adam). Linguistically, the same words in Scripture do not always mean the same thing in various settings and time frames. Words must be studied not only etymologically, but comparatively as well, to comprehend the biblical writer's intent. The context, grammar, and syntax, together with other pertinent tools of interpretation must always be considered when reaching a theological conclusion. With their proof-text system of interpretation, they repeatedly incorporate selective and prejudicial evidence to support an extra-biblical hypothesis. Unfortunately, this flawed methodology is frequently employed by their apologists and historians as well. They routinely analyze historical documents and Biblical passages in light of their cultic presuppositions. Their primary focus is to align historical data in such a manner that it fully supports their worldview.

Adam still had an intact physical body immediately after the Fall, but his soul suffered separation or death as God  had promised in the event of disobedience. Adventism attempts to make God into a liar when He warned Adam and Eve about the immediate consequences of sin, "...for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die" (Gen. 2:17 NASB). Interestingly, Adventists agree with the serpent, "You surely will not die" (Gen. 3:4 NASB).  Official Adventism denies the fact that Adam and Eve spiritually died on the very day of their disobedience. Immediately after their disobedience, our first parents sought to hide themselves from their Creator. Thus, man's original sin condition still separates us from God due to our inherent rebellious, fallen nature.

Unlike any other part of creation, man was created to possess the very image of God Himself—the crowning act of creation. Remember, at creation, the Creator was in spirit form without a physical body. Adam was intentionally and meticulously fashioned into the "spirit" image of his divine Creator which enabled him to have a very personal relationship with God. Therefore,  we see the dual nature of man at creation—body (material) and soul (immaterial)—revealed right from the beginning in Genesis.  Also, unlike the animals, God specifically "breathed" the soul or spirit into man (see Gen. 2:7). Human beings, as the crowning jewels of creation, are most honored to be divinely-endowed with a spirit entity as image-bearers of God, the Creator and Sustainer of all life.

"Satan and his hosts never have a good day."

As early as the Second Council of Constantinople in A. D. 533, the heresy of conditionalism/soul sleep was formally condemned. Centuries later the great Reformer, John Calvin, devoted his early literary work entitled, "Psychopannychia" to debunk this aberration of the Christian  faith.  The theory of annihilationism in which the wicked pass into nonexistence either at death or at the resurrection was first advanced by Arnobious, a fourth-century "Christian" apologist [see Baker's Dictionary of Theology, page 184]. Satan still does not want sinners to be concerned about eternal punishment—merely a slap on the wrist will suffice as a quick-fix to culminate a profane life.

"The magnitude of  the punishment matches the magnitude of the sin...Now a sin that is against God is infinite; the higher the person against whom it is committed, the graver the sin and God is of infinite greatness. Therefore, an infinite punishment is deserved for a sin committed against him"  (Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae; Blackfriars ed., 1a2ae.87.4). Interestingly and strikingly, the Scriptures portray how the wicked will actually beg for obliteration in asking for the rocks and mountains to fall on them to hide them "from the wrath of the Lamb" (Rev. 6:16).  However, in spite of their frantic pleas, suicide and/or annihilation will not be permitted to substitute for their "eternal punishment" (Matt. 25:46).

The lead Seventh-day Adventist argument is that God is "too kind and loving" to extend His justice forever. This view wrongly teaches that our holy God does not view sin as being a big deal after all. With the resulting quick fix of annihilation at the end of a profane life, one may easily reason to accept a hedonistic lifestyle. If such a transitory fate were true, many would opt to embrace the worldly view (Ecclesiastes 8:15) to just eat, drink, and be merry today and quickly be extinguished tomorrow. Annihilation does not constitute the ultimate punishment. Rather, annihilation would constitute the end of punishment.  The ungodly in hell would like for annihilation to be true. Hell's worst feature is its duration. Obviously, with this view, the corrupt pleasures of a lifetime of wickedness would far outlive the toughest penalty that the worst criminal in history would have to endure, under the momentary timeline of annihilationism. Indeed, the Bible teaches that we have a heaven to gain and a hell to shun.

Our awesome, holy God does not view wickedness lightly. The primary reason why our Savior told us so much about hell is that He doesn't want anyone to claim in the final judgment that they were not adequately warned. It is noteworthy that Jesus Christ spoke far more often about hell than He did about heaven.  Hell is so hard for people to believe that it required Jesus Himself to verify its existence. It reveals His great love for us.  Those  persons who end up in the eternal torment of hell are without any excuse.  The unregenerate in hell not only realize that they deserve their fate but that they actually chose it as well. Heaven would be hell for the ungodly. God doesn't owe us anything. The fact that God elects or saves anyone makes His grace even more amazing.  Moreover, His saving a few does not obligate Him to save all. Our merciful Father effectively makes friends out of His enemies in the election process. His choosing the elect is not based upon any human merit. Throughout redemptive history, our sovereign God has always reserved the right to select the members of His wonderful family. Truly, "salvation comes from the Lord alone" (Jonah 2:9 NLT). It's all about Him!

The only alternative for annihilationism is quarantine. And that is precisely what hell is.  Our righteous God has created a place of eternal separation for those in perpetual rebellion against Him.  How could a just and loving God eliminate or obliterate His crowning jewels of creation simply because they were not divinely chosen? Since human beings are fashioned into the very image of God, zapping them out of existence would do violence to His nature. "For believers death means being 'away from the body and at home with the Lord' (2 Cor. 5:8). That is why He promised the penitent thief, 'Today you will be with me in paradise' Luke 23:43). That is why Paul described departing the body to be with Christ as 'better by far' than remaining in the body (Phil. 1:23). And that is why Scripture speaks of deceased human beings as souls 'under the altar' (Rev. 6:9) and as the 'spirits of righteous men made perfect' (Heb. 12:23)." (Robert A. Peterson; Two Views of Hell, page 171)

Adventists frequently like to say, "My god is too kind and loving. He would never eternally torment the ungodly."  Those in hell will suffer eternal torment not only for their unconfessed and unforgiven sins they committed in this life, but also for their endless sinning in hell. Not surprisingly, there will be no praying nor hymn singing there. By rejecting what our sovereign God says about death and the afterlife, Seventh-day Adventists seek to mold Him to their mindset instead. They arrive at this conclusion based primarily upon human emotion or sentiment instead of from Scripture alone.  Therefore, they unknowingly worship an idolatrous deity that fits their humanistic perceptions. The sovereignty of God is not considered when something doesn't mesh with their esoteric views.

By creating their own god, they can conveniently sidestep anything that counters their theological comfort zone.  What blasphemy to assert that one knows the thoughts and ways of God!  Let us review the depressing plight of the devil.  God has placed Satan and his angels under conscious torment ever since He cast them out of heaven.  And note this, Satan and his hosts never have a good day. They exist without any hope of regaining their original state. Their constant anguish and despair is merely a foretaste of the reality of hell they will soon begin to experience forever. Is God "too loving and kind" to allow Satan and his angels to suffer ever since their expulsion from heaven?

Furthermore, Satan knows what awesome, unspeakable splendor exists in heaven. The thought of loss is greater than the thought of gain.  If the SDA supposals are true, Satan should have been annihilated or obliterated immediately after his rebellion in heaven, because God is "too loving and kind" to cause him to endure such intense anguish and discomfort for thousands, perhaps millions, of years already.  The truth is that heaven only gets better while hell only gets worse. Adventist dogma is very suspicious and distrusting of God's motives and justice. Consequently, they are planning to put God on trial during the Millennium to audit and verify His records.

According to the SDA view, God is depending upon redeemed humankind to vindicate His righteous character and justice by their meticulously going through all the juicy details of those not found in heaven.  Adventists vividly surmise that engaging in this type of gruesome, detailed investigation of the unsaved will somehow alleviate their initial sorrow and loneliness in heaven. In other words, the spotlight in the theater of the universe will focus upon human beings instead of Jesus Christ during the Millennium. With the reality of Calvary, God certainly doesn't need any further vindication of His character and justice.  What possible credentials do created beings have to judge their Creator?  This is yet another example of how Seventh-day Adventism diminishes the glory, honor, and majesty that belongs to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Let us remember the Adventist depiction of God, as being "too kind and loving," who would never allow Satan and his evil angels to endure such severe, constant suffering all these many, many years already. I can well envision my Adventist friends asking, "How could a kind and loving God inflict such horrific punishment upon a former leader in heaven?" Furthermore, they would likely add, "Only a tyrant would do such an awful thing. I would never worship nor respect a God like that!"

Dear Adventist friend, we serve a just, righteous, and sovereign God. The unconfessed and unforgiven sins of the ungodly (in this life) are forever before the Father. Moreover, hell is also eternal in duration due to the perpetual, ongoing sinning of the unregenerate in hell. The intentional parallelism in Jesus' statement, recorded in Matthew 25:46, is too obvious to miss. Indeed, we can fully place our trust in the Bible. Others will continue to deny any literal interpretation of Scripture because they don't want to face the literal realities that would reveal. Humanly speaking, God's ways may not always seem right or appealing to us. On the other hand, why not just believe what He says? What view of punishment do you think Satan wants us to believe in—eternal agony in hell or the momentary quick-fix of annihilation after living a profane life?

"We persevere because God preserves us."

The gift of our eternal security in Christ should be a most serious consideration (1 John 5:11-13). We are admonished not to be merely "hope so" Christians, but rather to be "know so" Christians. "For the gifts and calling of  God are irrevocable" (Romans 11:29 NIV).  The Apostle John, confirming our eternal security in Christ, clearly stated: "These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life" (1 John 5:13 NASB). Furthermore, Jesus declared, "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow me; and I give [present tense] eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of the Father's hand. I and the Father are one" (John 10:27-30 NASB). These passages, plus many others, certainly do not entertain the notion that our eternal security in Christ is merely "presumption" as our Adventist and Catholic friends like to tell us. The assurance of our salvation, here and now, is vital to our spiritual lives. Without it, our growth is retarded and we are assailed with crippling doubts.

Thankfully, we no longer adhere to a "roller-coaster" religion that teaches a fall from grace with every act of sin.  This translates into Seventh-day Adventists living in fear of losing their grip on God several times a day.  Let us, instead, embrace the promise of "being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus" (Phil. 1:6 NIV). After all, we are sinners saved by grace. The central core of the Gospel is the assurance that we can be right with God right now. This is good news, indeed! Truly, we can trust God's Word.  No true believer ever loses his salvation.  To be  sure, Christians fall at times seriously and radically, but never fully and finally. Jesus is our Savior and Ark of Safety, not our probation officer. We persevere because God preserves us. Christianity, in the truest sense, is not a religion but rather a relationship with Jesus Christ. The rebellious sin problem is of utmost concern to our holy and sovereign God.

In his classic book, Chosen by God, the late Dr. R. C. Sproul summarized this topic very well: "With respect to the assurance of salvation there are basically four kinds of people in the world. (1) There are people who are not saved who know that they are not saved. (2) There are people who are saved who do not know that they are saved. (3) There are people who are saved who know that they are saved. (4) There are people who are not saved who 'know' that they are saved" (page 163). Truly, salvation is a very personal matter. We cannot fool God about anything.

Dr. Sproul further added that, "False assurance stems chiefly from false understanding of what salvation requires and entails" (Ibid., page 164). The Apostle Peter gives us an important mandate, "Therefore, brethern, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing..." (2 Peter 1:10 NASB). "To be lacking in assurance is a grave hindrance to spiritual growth. The person who is not sure of his state of grace is exposed to doubts and terrors in his soul. He lacks an anchor for his spiritual life.  His uncertainty makes him tentative in his walk with Christ" (Ibid., page 168).

Adventist apologists cannot  allow souls to be in heaven before their "investigative judgment" scenario clears their names.  Just when Adventists will need Jesus the most, shortly before His glorious appearance, He will be unavailable to them according to their unbiblical hypothesis.  This esoteric view actually teaches that fallen mankind, prior to glorification, will ultimately be capable of facing a holy God without the intercession of a mediator, due to their achieved perfection status. The Bible clearly teaches that everyone will consciously spend eternity in either heaven or hell. Most of what we know about hell was taught by Jesus Himself. Please note His clear message, "These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life" (Matt. 25:46 NASB).

By the way, the New Testament writers, under divine inspiration, had ample access to the exact Koine Greek words they needed to relate where we will consciously spend eternity. The intentional parallelism in Jesus' words quoted above are too obvious to miss. Indeed, this passage describes an unending condition for all.  The same word "eternal" describes both heaven and hell (see also the usage of the same Greek word in John 3:16 and 2 Thess. 1:9). How can the adjective "eternal" be correct in regard to heaven and not be correct in regard to hell? "Those who teach soul sleep and conditionalism know it is contrary to many Scriptures, as is vividly portrayed in the SDA's Clear Word Bible with over 50 passages changed by additions, deletions, or rewording, so readers won't see what God says about man and death" (Verle Streifling, PhD.; The Nature of Man and Death, page 7).

Thankfully, we don't have to endlessly try to explain away what Jesus meant by "eternal." Since God is the ultimate author of Scripture, it is apparent that the original biblical languages were determined by Providence to provide the best communication with the human family. We can always place our trust in a passage when the hermeneutical principles of clarity, context, figures of speech (metaphorical language), grammar, original language, progressive revelation, and syntax are fully applied.  It is most important to understand what a passage does not say as well as what it does say. This example highlights the importance of seeing that all Christian teachings fit neatly together like a completed puzzle.

In the larger picture, authentic Christian dogma is interrelated to the extent that it reveals unity of thought on the essentials of salvation. Because of their extra-scriptural authority, based on the voluminous writings attributed to Ellen White, Seventh-day Adventists do not officially believe in the all-sufficiency and inerrancy of Scripture. Therefore, they cannot be considered to be truly Protestant.  Let us wholeheartedly embrace the Five Solas (or slogans) that became the battle cry of the Protestant Reformation; namely, Sola Scriptura ("by Scripture alone"), Sola Fide ("by faith alone"), Sola Gratia ("by grace alone"), Solus Christus ("by Christ alone"), and Soli Deo gloria ("Glory to God alone"). The gospel plus anything else is no longer the gospel of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Socrates is credited for the well-known adage that "The unexamined life is not worth living."  Moreover, it is ethically important to add that unexamined religion is not worth practicing, and unexamined dogma is not worth believing.  Charles Spurgeon (1834-1892), the prince of preachers, correctly concluded that "The grace that does not change my life, will not save my soul." Belief usually does not stand still. It grows, develops, regresses, stagnates, and changes. We should be certain that our worldview is biblical, factual, and relevant in our day. For example, generations of devout Adventists have kept their weary eyes on the Papacy and not upon the Muslim jihadists.

The early SDA pioneers spurned the Trinity doctrine primarily because they didn't want anything in common with Catholicism and so-called "false churches" or "apostate Protestantism." Sadly, Seventh-day Adventism officially teaches Tritheism instead of authentic Trinitarianism today (www.cultorchristian.com). The legacy of outright heresy (doctrinal error) continues to plague and taint their belief system in numerous ways. With His precise timing, God called us out of Adventism with a sacred design for our lives. Our journey out of Adventism was completed with the Biblical discovery that Jesus Christ is indeed our true Sabbath Rest (Col. 2:16,17; Matt.11:28-30; Heb. 4:9,10; Gal. 3:11, 13,19, 23-25; 5:1,18; Phil. 3:9,10; Rom. 14:5). Truly, Jesus is the end focus, ultimate goal, and purpose of the Law "for righteousness to those who believe" (Rom. 10:4 ESV).

Under the New Covenant teachings of Jesus Christ, we have a clearer picture of salvation than the Old Covenant, with its shadows, could provide. Through His indwelling Spirit, we are a new creation "sealed for the day of redemption" (Eph. 4:30).  Our focus no longer centers upon the fading shadows of the sun, but rather upon the unsurpassing glory of God the Son. We are not saved by a sunset calendar.  The weekly, Mosaic Sabbath could not save us nor provide divine rest for our souls. However, the only and true Sabbath Rest (Jesus Christ) saved us through His amazing free grace.  To God alone belongs all the glory!

Being transformed by truth, we became members of a Christ-centered, Bible-believing church.  Moreover, Sylvia and I have come to greatly appreciate the high view of God and Scripture as expressed in Reformation theology. The doctrines of grace are aptly and beautifully expressed in the acrostic TULIP; namely, total (radical) depravity, unconditional election, limited (particular or definite) atonement, irresistible grace, and the perseverance of the saints. Furthermore, the doctrines of grace cannot be cherry picked or selected like apples from a cart. Soteriologically, they belong together as a complete unit. In the truest sense, there is really no such person as a Three-Point or Four-Point Calvinist nor a so-called "moderate" Calvinist. These are merely labels for an Arminian in denial. The Calvinist says that if man does anything good, God gets all the glory. It's all about Him! As I indicated earlier, Jonah, the reluctant prophet, declared: "For my salvation comes from the Lord alone" (Jonah 2:9 NLT).

As many are painfully aware, "Calvinism" is a bad word in Adventist circles. For example, it would be unthinkable for a Five-Point Calvinist to embrace Adventism's "investigative judgment" alibi with its heretical teaching that Jesus' death did not fully atone for our sins. In biblical Christianity, the finished work of Christ on the cross is non-negotiable. Although John Calvin effectively systematized what is known as Reformed theology today, it is actually unfortunate that these Christological and soteriological truths bear a particular person's name. Truly, Calvin did not proclaim and safeguard any essential biblical truths that Luther, Augustine, John, Paul, and Jesus had not already taught.

"Salvation is...a rescue operation from start to finish."

Theologically, Seventh-day Adventists are most accurately described as adherents of Semi-Pelagianism (named after the Celtic monk who opposed the doctrines of grace when Augustine was the Bishop of Hippo Regius—the ancient name of the modern city of Annabar, Algeria). Semi-Pelagianism was rightly condemned in the Second Council of Orange in 529 A. D.  Basically, Semi-Pelagianism wrongly teaches that God helps us to save ourselves.

On the other hand,  Scripture clearly teaches that salvation comes from the Lord alone.  Salvation is a gift to be received, not a goal to be achieved. From Genesis to Revelation,  salvation is portrayed as a rescue operation from start to finish.  We wrongly believed, while still devout Seventh-day Adventists, that we are supposedly the captains of our eternal destiny. Our sovereign God is certainly not at the mercy of the fallen human will (Romans 9:16,18).  If that was actually the case, not even one person could ever be saved.  Our choices are determined by desire. As I noted earlier, we cannot choose what we innately do not desire. Without divine intervention first, the unregenerate (spiritually dead) cannot bring themselves to life because they lack the moral ability and passionate desire to do so. Only our merciful God can open calloused, stony hearts (read about the conversion of Lydia in Acts 16:14-15). It's all about Him!

Our awesome and gracious Father is calling ever-increasing numbers of Seventh-day Adventists out of legalism and fear and into the freedom and security found only in Jesus Christ.  Consequently, those who are intent upon accurate answers will no longer remain in a toxic-faith system. Moreover, they are no longer content with observing the ritual shadows pointing to the Cross. Walking in the light, words fail to adequately express our joy and peace that we have found in Jesus. Eventually, their reckless handling of Scripture became too hard for us to ignore. Our Savior graciously declared, "For My yoke is easy and My burden is light" (Matt. 11:30 NASB). Having sipped enough nectar from the roses of life,  my wife Sylvia and I do not regret a mile we have traveled for the Lord.  We love and serve an awesome God. Yes, indeed, there is an abundant, wonderful life beyond Adventism.


The overall purpose in relating my theological journey out of Seventh-day Adventism is to give all the honor, glory, and praise to our awesome and sovereign God.  Now that I have shared my pilgrimage with you in the preceding pages, it is my prayerful request that you will join me in reaffirming the refrain of this beautiful, cherished hymn, "My gracious Redeemer, my Savior art thou; if ever I loved thee, my Jesus, 'tis now." May those inspiring words characterize your testimony as well.  Our loving Father is effectually calling many out of false gospels as never before witnessed. Moreover, our merciful God specializes in things thought impossible.  A Christological and soteriological stance that makes one's heart to sing with gratitude and praise is truly God-centered and God-exalting.

There needs to be an objective distance from Seventh-day Adventism to tell the story accurately.  Current Adventists who take the initial challenge of a six-month break from reading the writings attributed to Ellen White have repeatedly found the experience to be eye-opening, truth-revealing, and highly transforming. Indeed, we can fully trust the Bible as the all-sufficient and unerring revelation of God's will for our lives. It usually takes about three years to be fully deprogrammed and healed from brokenness, despair, deception, disappointment, embarrassment, and resentment after leaving a typical cult—including Seventh-day Adventism.

The healing process includes: (1) learning and unlearning the meaning of common theological words and phrases, (2) prayerfully deciphering the religious landscape in the local community, (3) adopting helpful coping strategies when suddenly shunned, ignored, alienated, marginalized, fired, misunderstood, or persecuted by SDA colleagues, friends, employers, spouse, and sometimes even disowned by devout Adventist parents, (4) effectively separating the ingrained and/or memorized thoughts from a false prophet with those from the Bible, and (5) becoming an active adherent of biblical Christianity.

The most compassionate and loving deed that anyone can do is to warn others against toxic belief systems or false gospels—especially the most subtle ones masquerading in our communities as authentic, evangelical Protestants. Dudley M. Canright (1840-1919), Adventism's most notable heretic, wisely stated: "To criticize, expose, and condemn others is not a pleasant task, but when religious teachers enthrone error, and mislead honest people, silence would be unkind and censurable."  This is why the inspired writers of the New  Testament devoted so much time and effort to dispel and expose numerous heresies. The greatest fortress against any heresy is to be thoroughly grounded in  Scripture.

As a young, inexperienced cult watcher in the mid-1950s, the late Dr. Walter Martin was greatly surprised by his kind and courteous reception by SDA leaders.  After all, he reportedly wore a flak jacket while researching Mormonism in Utah.  He was typically viewed with great suspicion and dishonor by other cults on a continual basis, but the older Adventist leadership team treated him like a son. Yes, they deceived him about what they really believed—to the extent of their even agreeing to publish a book entitled "Seventh-day Adventists Answer Questions on Doctrine" to informally state their beliefs in 1957.

However, this book  lacked the official endorsement of a General Conference Session about doctrine. Thus, that 720-page book, prepared by a small, anonymous group of Adventist leaders, teachers, and editors, was short-lived by discontinuing its publication within a very short time. The majority of SDA leaders disapproved of its Evangelical bent. After being carefully selected for having at least a cursory understanding of biblical Christianity, the anonymous book authors primarily stated what they thought Dr. Martin wanted to hear in order to be removed from his cult list. All in all, if official Adventism could deceive a professional cult watcher like the late Dr. Martin, they certainly can more easily deceive the totally uninformed about Seventh-day Adventism.

The Bible is God's voice speaking to us.  Dear Adventist friend, my wife and I have been where you are right now, so we understand the pain in seeing more clearly the truth as the light of His Word continues to shine out in the darkness. It is most noteworthy, throughout redemptive history, that our awesome, sovereign God never goes on a rescue mission that fails. After all, Jesus came to "save His people from their sins" (Matt. 1:21 NASB).  It is my earnest prayer that our loving Lord and Savior will reach down and transform you with His irresistible, saving grace. Getting the Gospel right should be our highest priority. Your heartfelt blog comments, e-mails, instant messaging, letters, personal visits, informal Facebook conversations, and phone calls are always welcome.  May God continue to abundantly bless your quest for biblical truth.  Soli Deo gloria!

In His power and for His glory,

Dennis J. Fischer, Founder & Director
Worldwide Chaplaincy Services
E-mail: dfministries@gmail.com
Blog: notesfromdennisfischer.blogspot.com
Facebook:  www.facebook.com/dfministries


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