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January 07, 2011

AN APPEAL TO FORMER ADVENTISTS



Now that God has called you out of Seventh-day Adventism for purely theological reasons, it is important to remember that He didn't leave you where He found you. We serve an awesome, prayer-answering, sovereign God. As former Adventists, we should be foremost in giving God all the honor, glory, and praise for our regeneration (not just partially or mostly but totally). Unfortunately, Seventh-day Adventism has not prepared us to decipher the complicated religious landscape in our world today. Satan doesn't mind if we leave a particular cult as long as we join yet another one or create our own. Two wrongs never make a right. Having formerly embraced a false gospel, we are highly vulnerable to becoming deceived yet again. It is a common and serious overreaction to the spiritual abuse we have suffered for many years to thereby seek freedom from all of God's righteous standards. However, since all exhortations in the Bible are a form of law, it is pointless to be radically antinomian (anti-law) in our approach to godly living. Of course, the inherent flaw of legalism is that it is never consistent nor reliable—thereby diminishing or eroding sound doctrine.

It is most noteworthy that "Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law" (Gal. 3:13) and not from our duty to obey His divine will for our lives (click here for more details). The Apostle Paul clearly informs us that in this life we have new direction, not full perfection (see Phil. 1:6). After all, God isn't finished with us yet. As born-again believers, our glorification awaits us when Christ returns, but our sanctification (Spirit-led life) is designed to make us more and more like Jesus during this brief, transitory segment of time. Additionally, as former Adventists, we have a lot to learn and a lot to unlearn. Learning from experience alone makes us prime candidates for a very confusing and difficult life. Since most of what we learn in life we learn from others, it is advantageous to seek counsel from those who have already journeyed the same path we are embarking upon. Certainly, as we have already learned, the sincerity of one's belief system is no substitute for Biblical truth. Many sincere, wonderful people are sincerely wrong about a lot of things, not excluding their stance on the teaching of God's Word.

Getting the Gospel right should be our highest priority. Are we going to continue the same Christological and soteriological views that we held as devout members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church? Think about it! Is our view of God and Scripture any different from that of Adventism? For example, a former who becomes charismatic and speaks in gibberish tonalities and/or falls to the floor in utter ecstasy is no different from an Adventist who upholds the extra-biblical revelations and reveries of Ellen White. Likewise, former Adventists who embrace Roman Catholicism or Eastern Orthodoxy are largely following the same soteriological stance that they held while in Adventism. He or she may have changed labels but not in doctrinal content. The adherence to "sound doctrine" is a Biblical  mandate (Titus 1:9; 2:1).  All true believers seek and highly value doctrinal purity. The battle cry of the Protestant Reformation ("sola scriptura") will always serve us well in not being deceived yet again.

Still other former Adventists initially look for a group that teaches the extinction/re-creation view like their former church does. Unfortunately, this path only leads to yet another cult, false gospel, or liberal religionist. Changing church labels doesn't necessarily result in sound doctrine. The truth is that not even God can resurrect someone who doesn't exist. Moreover, the very New Testament word "resurrection" denotes raising of the deceased physical body  to a glorified eternal  state whose soul (spirit) has actively and anxiously awaited the call of the Lifegiver (Rev. 6:9-11) to reunite their body and soul—not a re-creation, transmigration, or cloning process. Jesus' excellent metaphor of "sleep" for physical death clearly reminds us that human beings are not nonexistent nor unconscious during any phase of real sleep. How we understand the natures of God, man, and salvation will largely determine how accurate our view is of biblical Christianity. If we don't get Genesis right, it will cloud our entire view of Scripture. In other words, we should seek to discover the essential truths of the Christian faith. Without any doubt, the SDA view of death and the afterlife is their most deceptive teaching.

It is impossible to understand regeneration when one doesn't believe in the dual nature of man; specifically, body and soul (spirit). Seventh-day Adventists, Jehovah's Witnesses, Christadelphians, atheists, and secular evolutionists wholeheartedly agree with each other that man has no immaterial entity. They insist that what you can actually see with your own eyes is what you have and nothing more. Thus, it is no surprise that many people in our culture feel free to act and behave like animals. Far too many Seventh-day Adventists become utterly despondent in their legalistic pursuit of sinless perfection and end up embracing  a hedonistic lifestyle because the quick-fix of annihilation, at worst, is merely a momentary, transitory fate (like a slap on the wrist) for having lived a profane life. After all, with their unbiblical view of death and the afterlife, they have no hell to shun and no soul to save. Consequently and sadly, they become highly vulnerable to irrationally embark upon a sinful path due to seriously misunderstanding the holiness and justice of God.

Lastly, but certainly not least in importance, we should fully acquaint ourselves with salvational truths (i.e., justification, faith, sanctification, common grace versus saving grace, free grace, divine election, adoption, predestination, the extent of the fallenness of man, original sin condition, the preservation and perseverance of the saints, glorification, etc.). These salvific truths should keep our minds occupied for the rest of our lives. Remember, the Bible is God's voice speaking to us. The words of the Bible are the very words of God. Moreover, God's written revelation to humankind speaks with one voice in its diverse, sacred content. Know what you believe and why you believe it. Let us continue to delight in discovering God's will for our lives.

Interestingly, John Dehlin, while a graduate student in clinical and counseling psychology at Utah State University, conducted an online survey of 3000 Mormons who at one time believed their Church was true, but now no longer believe that. Almost half of the participants reported their current status as agnostic/atheist/humanist, while only 11% identified themselves as Christian (non-Mormon). Mormon leaders, like Adventist leaders, have never before faced the powerful challenge of this information age. The arrival of online religion is as consequential as when the printing presses brought the written word to medieval Europe. Studies have revealed that 25% of adult Internet users have gotten religious or spiritual information online at one  point or another.

Moreover, in another online survey, researchers at the nonprofit Open Stories Foundation found that 81% cited loss of faith in Mormon founder Joseph Smith as a moderate to strong factor in their no longer believing in the LDS Church. Likewise, in the SDA Church we can observe very similar statistics. For example, disbelief in the bizarre claims of Ellen White is a very common prelude to eventually leaving Seventh-day Adventism. Sadly, in both Adventism and Mormonism, former members are often so badly wounded from deception, disappointment, and legalism that they don't want to ever risk being burned again. Unfortunately,  they far too often wrongly associate biblical Christianity with their cultic background.

Religious cults, large or small, routinely lead their members to the brink of despair and nothingness (even after they have officially left) which too often results in a needless detour in their Christian journey. This is why my ministry is dedicated to expose the multi-faceted and subtle heresies of Seventh-day Adventism. This mission includes the proclamation of the awe-inspiring, transforming gospel of Jesus Christ to those who are struggling to recover from crippling monetary, psychological, and spiritual abuse. 

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." The greatest fortress against any heresy is to be thoroughly grounded in Scripture. Moreover, in sharp contrast to the SDA gloom and doom verdict reserved for their former members, my distinctive calling is to boldly affirm that there is an abundant, wonderful life beyond Adventism.  Soli Deo Gloria!


In His power and for His glory,


Dennis Fischer, Web Chaplain
DENNIS FISCHER MINISTRIES