Adventist Involvement With Nazi Germany, Part 3: The Not Very Apologetic Apology…

Church Leaders Say “We’re Sorry”
German and Austrian churches apologize for Holocaust actions
BY MARK A. KELLNER, assistant director for news and information of the General Conference Communication Departmentoting the sixtieth anniversary of the end of World War II, Seventh-day Adventist church leaders in Germany and Austria have released a declaration saying they “deeply regret” any participation in or support of Nazi activities during the war. The church bodies “honestly confess” a failure “in following our Lord” by not protecting Jews, and others, from that era’s genocide, widely known as the Holocaust. Millions of people perished from war atrocities, including more than 6 million Jews who were exterminated in Nazi persecutions during the 12-year period of 1933 to 1945.The declaration was initially published in the May 2005 issue of AdventEcho, a monthly German-language church magazine, and also will appear in other German publications, said Günther Machel, president of the South German Union Conference and one of three signatories to the statement.

A copy of the statement has been provided to Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Authority in Israel, added Rolf Pöhler, a former North German church area president who is now that region’s theological advisor and was involved with the drafting of the declaration.

“We deeply regret that the character of National Socialist dictatorship had not been realized in time and distinctly enough, and the ungodly nature of [Nazi] ideology had not clearly been identified,” the statement, as translated from German, reads. The church says it also regrets “that in some of our publications . . . there were found articles glorifying Adolf Hitler and agreeing with the ideology of anti-Semitism in a way that is unbelievable from today’s [perspective].”

Church leaders also expressed regret that “our peoples became associated with racial fanaticism destroying the lives and freedom of 6 million Jews and representatives of minorities in all of Europe” and “that many Seventh-day Adventists did not share the need and suffering of their Jewish fellow-citizens.”

A paramount regret, the statement indicated, was that German and Austrian Adventist congregations “excluded, separated and left [church members who were] . . . of Jewish origin to themselves so that they were delivered to imprisonment, exile or death.”

Under various racial decrees, some Adventist congregations expelled members of Jewish heritage. One, Max-Israel Munk, was placed in two concentration camps by the Nazis and survived and returned to his church after the war. He said he did not wish to act toward his congregation in the way in which he had been treated, according to Daniel Heinz, a church archivist at Friedensau Adventist University who has studied Adventist activities during the National Socialist era.

Along with Machel, the other leaders who signed the statement were Klaus-Juergen van Treeck, North German Union Conference president, and Herbert Brugger, president of the Adventist Church in Austria. Pöhler and Johannes Hartlapp, church historian at Friedensau, drafted the statement on which the declaration is based. All three church geographic areas voted to approve the text, Pöhler said.

In the statement, the three assert that the “obedience we owe to the state authorities does not lead to giving up biblical convictions and values.” They said that while only God can judge the actions of prior generations, “in our day, however, we want to take a decided stand for right and justice-towards all people.”

Brugger, in a telephone interview, said, “Our church members really appreciated the publishing of this document.” No indication of a reaction from Austria’s Jewish community has been received, but Brugger said the Adventist Church is not as well known in Austria as some other movements are.

Asked how a church that considers keeping the Sabbath as one of its core beliefs could forsake Jewish Sabbath-keepers during a time of persecution, Brugger suggested that it was political, not theological, considerations that may have led to the strategy.

During World War I a portion of the German Adventist church had split off, opposing any military service. This led the National Socialists in 1936 to ban the so-called “Reform Movement” during their time in power. Brugger said concern over a Nazi closure of the main Adventist churches may have weighed on leaders in that era.

“I think during these times the official leaders of our church were afraid of losing the control over the church and losing the church because the political authorities had already . . . [confused] our church with the Reform movement,” he explained. “I think our leaders were afraid to lose the official recognition of our church, so therefore maybe they were not [as faithful] to our beliefs as would have been necessary.”

The main Seventh-day Adventist church in Germany was also briefly banned under the Nazis, notes Pöhler. A quick reversal by the regime led to relief among Adventists but also to a level of cooperation with the government that was unhealthy.

“We not only kept silent, but we also published things we never should have published. We published anti-Semitic ideas that, from our perspective, weren’t really needed,” Pöhler said in a telephone interview.

“We had to realize that one wrong statement, one wrong move by a person meant he could end up in a concentration camp,” Pöhler said of that era. “[That was the] reason why we excluded and disfellowshipped Jewish-born Adventists from our midst: If a local church had not done this, [the Nazis] would have closed the church, taken the elder to prison, and it would have meant the whole church would be forbidden.”

While some European Adventists took courageous stands to protect Jews, others went along in part because of concern for their families and churches. It would be difficult enough for an individual to reach out to a Jewish person, Pöhler explained, but to risk the lives of those in a congregation was an added burden. Such caution was even reflected in the nomenclature used by German Adventists, he said.

Daniel Heinz, director of church archives at the Adventist university in Friedensau, Germany, said his research into the stories of Adventists who helped Jews during the war led to his discovery of those who acted less honorably.
Resistance to Nazi policies, as well as the compassionate yet brave response of many Christians, among them Seventh-day Adventists, to protect lives of those under Nazi persecution, have been documented throughout Europe, including Poland, Hungary, Holland, and Denmark.

“I found some very impressive stories of Adventists who helped Jews in the Third Reich, risking their lives, and I found the opposite,” Heinz said. Among other church members, one Latvian Adventist family took in a Jewish man, hid him during the war, and survived. The refugee became an Adventist believer and church pastor after the war ended.
According to Machel, “Sixty years after World War II is late-but we saw it as the last chance for a declaration.”

Young adult church members reacted positively to the statement’s expressions of concern and contrition.

“To humbly reveal our sins and failures is the most important thing God wants us to do,” said Sara Gehler, 25. “And even though 60 years have already passed, I think it was necessary for us as [the Seventh-day Adventist] Church to take a stand on the Second World War.” She added, “It is our duty as Christians to protect and help those who are weak, helpless, and in need.”

Said John Graz, Public Affairs and Religious Liberty director for the Adventist world headquarters, “For those who believe in God’s love for every member of the human family, against any kind of discrimination based on race, religion, or gender, this declaration written by a generation which had no responsibility in the Holocaust and the war, but endorse the responsibility of their parents, will stand as a positive landmark and great encouragement.”



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Adventist Involvement With Nazi Germany, Part 2: The Brainwashing of the Children

Source material taken and adapted from
an unnamed article written by a
B. Skillet, August 2009.

nazi-child-image Adventists like to impugn other Christians for allegedly believing in “cheap grace”

They say that Christians merely use grace as an excuse to avoid keeping the Law. But there’s a funny thing about the term “cheap grace.” It entered the mainstream Christian lexicon in a book by Dietrich Bonhoeffer entitled The Cost of Discipleship. Bonhoeffer said that, “cheap grace was grace divorced from discipleship.” It was a false grace that did not call the recipient to submission to Jesus Christ. It was forgiveness without repentance, a justification that didn’t lead to transformation.

Bonhoeffer wrote The Cost of Discipleship in 1937. It was, in a sense, an indirect response to the way the state churches had embraced Hitler and Nazism. They had consented to racial purity laws within their congregation, and generally supported and even worshiped Der Fuhrer. Bonhoeffer, in contrast, had already made himself a source of scorn when, two days after Hitler was installed as chancellor, he tried to deliver a radio address calling German Christians to oppose the Nazi regime. He thought Germany had succumbed to a horrible idolatry. He was right.

But the German state church wasn’t the only denomination that gave itself up to Nazi evil. Adventists like to criticize the Catholic church for its alleged complicity in the sins of Nazism. But they conveniently gloss over the fact that, though several private SDAs tried to help the Jews, the denomination itself, and most of its adherents, were an active supporter of Hitler’s regime.

Dr. Zdravko Plantak, one-time head of the religion department at the SDA Columbia Union College, wrote a book called The Silent Church: Human Rights and Adventist Social Ethics. In it Plantak describes how the Adventist church became an active participant in the Nazi regime.

According to Plantak, Adventists schools embraced the Nazi brainwashing of children, incorporating Nazi symbols, nationalistic observances, and teachings into their curriculum. More, the President of the Seventh-day Adventist Eastern German Conference declared, “under no circumstances did any Adventist have the right to resist the government, even if the government prevented him from exercising his faith.

Adventist writings took on the call of Nazism with Der Adventbote; the official periodical of the German Seventh-day Adventist church, wrote that “the National Socialist Revolution was the greatest of all time, because it made the maintenance of a pure inheritance the basis of its ethnic life.”

In their Morning Watch Calendar, the German Adventists shamefully wrote:


Trust in his people has given the Führer the strength to carry through the fight for freedom and honour of Germany. The unshakable faith of Adolf Hitler allowed him to do great deeds, which decorate him today before the whole world. Selflessly and faithfully he has struggled for his people; courageously and proudly he has defended the honour of his nation. In Christian humility, at important times when he could celebrate with his people, he gave God in Heaven honour and recognized his dependence upon God’s blessings. This humility has made him great, and this greatness was the source of blessing, from which he always gave for his people. Only very few statesmen stand so brilliantly in the sun of a blessed life, and are so praised by their own people as our Führer. He has sacrificed much in the years of his struggle and has thought little about himself in the difficult work for his people. We compare the unnumbered words, which he has issued to the people from a warm heart, with seeds which have ripened and now carry wonderful fruit.


For those of you who don’t notice, the Calendar referenced Hitler’s sacrifices for “his struggle.” Hitler’s famous book that laid out his philosophy was called Mein Kampf, or, in English, My Struggle. Clearly, this is an open endorsement of Hitler’s philosphy by the German Adventists of the day.

Plantak continues:


It is ironic that while Adventists had insisted upon religious liberty, they did not raise a voice against the persecution of countless Jews. Instead, they even disfellowshipped those of Jewish background. At a time when German Adventists were publishing the religious liberty magazine Kirche und Staat [English: Church and State] (an outside observer noticed its primary purpose as being the opposition to the Sunday laws), they kept quiet about the 1933 purges when hundred were murdered, and they said nothing against the persecution of Jews or about the occupied territories.


Because Adolf Hitler let them keep their precious Sabbath, most Adventists didn’t oppose the Nazi Regime.

Corrie Schroder, student at the University of California, Santa Barbara, wrote a seminar paper dealing with Adventist complicity in the holocaust.
Schroder details several interesting facts:

1) The official SDA church in Germany encouraged the Nazi government to investigate and ban the rival SDA Reform denomination because, in Schroder’s words, the views of that SDA splinter group were “were far from German.” So much for “religious liberty.”

2) In exchange for being allowed to keep their precious Sabbath, the German SDA church offered to help cultivate a better image for the Nazi regime among their counterparts in the United States. The SDA denomination sent Hulda Jost, head of their church welfare system and leader of the Adventist Nurses Association, to the U.S. to convince American Adventists to support the Nazi regime. Now, to the credit of American Adventists, when Hulda began touring the U.S. spouting Nazi propaganda, they basically told her to cut out the propagandizing.

3) Though Adventists claim to believe in “separation of church and state,” they allowed their well-organized welfare system to be taken over by the Nazi government. The Adventists actually welcomed this take over. And, without any pressure from the Nazi Regime, the Adventists required that no members of the SDA Reform movement were to benefit from its welfare program.

4) In welcoming the Nazi government’s take over of their welfare program, they also had to consent to the application of racial purity laws to their welfare system. As such, they agreed to give no help to “Jews, anti-socials or undesirables.”

5) The SDA church referred to the law requiring forced sterilization of the mentally ill the mentally disabled, epileptics, drug addicts, and alcoholics as, “a great advance in the uplifting of our people.”

6) Adventists saw fit to remove “Jewish words” from their denominational lexicon. They changed “Sabbath School” to “Bible School” and “Sabbath” to “Rest Day.”

7) German SDA leadership wrote, “The pastors and members of our Church stand loyally by their Volk and fatherland as well at its leadership, ready to sacrifice life and possessions.” Writes Schroder, They were willing to sacrifice their life and possessions for the fatherland, but they were unwilling to do the same for their religious beliefs.

Many German Christians supposed that, because they were under grace, they could compromise their integrity by winking at, or even taking part in, the sins of Nazism. Adventists, in contrast, believed that in order to maintain their Sabbath and the existence of their special remnant denomiation, they had to sacrifice everything else to the Nazi ideology.

So next time an Adventist starts to lecture you about “cheap grace,” give them this article.

The Seventh-day Adventist Involvement in Hitler’s Nazi Germany

Seventh Day Adventists
Text written June 2002 by Corrie Schroder
Last Updated January 1, 2003
This Page Part of the UCSB Oral History Project

Nazi Germany was a horrible place for small denominational churches…

…because there was no religious liberty. One small denomination that survived was the Seventh-day Adventist denomination. When Adolf Hitler rose to power in Germany, the German Seventh-day Adventist denomination (hereafter referred to as Adventists) believed it was time for a strong leader in Germany. Hitler seemed to be the best candidate because of “his personal dedication and his abstinence from tea, coffee, alcohol and meat, practices shared by the Adventists, [therefore] he was welcomed as a savior.”[1]  I hope to point out, because of the willingness to compromise the decent of the German Adventist denomination from the moral issues listed below, to where they ended at the end of World War II.  They ended in compromise, loss of personal integrity, and denominational integrity, splitting of the denomination and were racially damaged as a Christian organization because they were unable to hold fast to the tenets of their beliefs.  They tied the denomination to the German State giving up their religious freedom in attempt to survive through compromises.  This position of compromise brought shame upon the German denomination as well as the worldwide denomination after the end of World War II.

The Seventh-day Adventists evolved doctrinally from the interfaith Millerite movement of 1831. Adventists believe in religious liberty, to such a point that church and state are to remain separate. They are also conscientious objectors. When Adventists are required to join the military they apply for positions where they do not have to bear arms, for example the medical corps. There are 27 fundamental beliefs that the Seventh-day Adventists believe. The following four fundamental beliefs listed are the ones that pertain to my topic:

  1. The “Holy Scriptures, Old and New Testaments, are the written Word of God.”[2]
  2. The God Head or Trinity: “there is one God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, a unity of three co-eternal Persons.”[3]
  3. Spiritual Gifts and Ministries, “God bestows upon all members of His church in every age spiritual gifts which each member is to employ in loving ministry for the common good of the church and of humanity.”[4]
  4. Christian Behavior, “We are called to be godly people who think, feel, and act in harmony with the principles of heaven.”[5]

The Seventh-day Adventist denomination was not officially organized until May 21, 1863, even though the name had been chosen in 1860. At that time, the movement included 125 churches and 3,500 members.[6]  The Adventist church spread first throughout North America. After 1874, the denomination spread throughout Europe. In 1888, L.R. Conradi became the founder of the German Adventist church. He established headquarters for the Adventist Church in Hamburg, Germany in 1889.[7]  Conradi also established the first Adventist school in Germany near Magdeburg, called Friedensau Missionary Seminary.

A Seventh-day Adventist – in Germany – had many difficulties. The two main difficulties were their children had to attend school on Saturday, which is considered the Sabbath by Adventists. The second difficulty was the mandatory military service.[8] Refusing to send their children to school and not joining the military were punishable by imprisonment. The problem with the schools was solved by a compromise. The government authorities allowed Adventist children to study their bibles while in school on the Sabbath.[9]Military service posed two problems, working on the Sabbath and bearing arms. These problems were never truly solved, but “army medical examiners began to find all manner of excuses for rejecting Seventh-day Adventist recruits.”[10] This rejection of Seventh-day Adventist men ended with the start of World War I. This caused a problem within the Seventh-day Adventist denomination in Germany.

The Seventh-day Adventist Reform Movement

The Seventh-day Adventist Reform Movement came about because of the controversy over military service. During World War I, the German Seventh-day Adventists churches belonged to different Unions, North, South, East, and West, but all were under the guidance and control of the European Division. The European Division’s headquarters was located in Hamburg, Germany. The main problem was that most of the members serving as Division leaders lived outside of Germany and because of the war, travel and communication were difficult.[11]

With the outbreak of the war and the mobilization of troops in Germany, the German Adventist leaders decided, “Adventist men could enter the military and serve as combatants and even ignore traditional Sabbath observance.”[12] This caused major problems within the Adventist community, because they had always served in the military as non-combatants. The rank and file members believed that actively participating in war broke the fourth and sixth biblical commandments.[13] The fourth commandment is “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.” When entering military service, keeping the fourth commandment is no longer a priority, because the warring sides do not take into account what day it is. The sixth commandment is “You shall not murder.” If you take a combatant role in war it is nearly impossible not to kill someone.

During the American Civil War in 1864, the Seventh-day Adventists declared,

The denomination of Christians calling themselves Seventh-day Adventists, taking the Bible as their rule of faith and practice, are unanimous in their views that its teaching are contrary to the spirit and practice of war; hence, they have ever been conscientiously opposed to bearing arms.[14]

But during World War I, the German Seventh-day Adventist denomination went against the General Conference and decided to become combatant instead of remaining non-combatant. This caused a small group of Seventh-day Adventists to split from the main body of the German Seventh-day Adventist Church. This small sect called itself the Seventh-day Adventist Reform Movement (hereafter referred to as the Reformers). The Reformers believed they were remaining “faithful to the law of God, upholding the original position, as taught and practiced up to that time.”[15] They were remaining faithful, because they refused to be combatants during WWI. It was acceptable to the Reformers to join the military as non-combatant, but to join as combatants was against God’s law and the doctrines of the Adventist Church.

After the World War I, the German Adventist leaders admitted that they had been wrong when they said it was not against God’s law to join the military in a combatant role. During the European Division meeting at Gland, Switzerland, on January 2, 1923, the German Adventist leaders, to show that they believed in a non-combatant role, stated that,

they were in complete ‘harmony with the general teachings of their brethren of that denomination throughout the world.’ But this declaration was weakened by the additional pronouncement which read: ‘We grant to each of our church members absolute liberty to serve his country, at all times and in all places, in accord with the dictates of his personal conscientious conviction.[16]

The leaders of the German Adventist denomination told the General Conference they were wrong in their policies during World War I. They had realized their mistake and were once again in “harmony” with the teachings and doctrines of the Adventist denomination. But they believed their members had a right to choose their own path. What this meant was the German leaders believed that Adventists should remain in non-combatant roles, but they believed their  members could decided on their own whether or not to be combatant. This statement would cause problems in the future.

There was still the breach between the Seventh-day Adventists and the Seventh-day Adventist Reform Movement after this meeting, which needed to be healed. L.R. Conradi, the president of the European Division, tried to justify the actions of the German Adventist leaders by explaining that the General Conference had “given German Adventists tacit approval.”[17] This tacit approval was to allow German Adventists to work on the Sabbath and bear arms. This explanation only made matters worse between the Adventists and the Reformers. Soon after World War I, the General Conference sent a delegation led by A.G. Daniells to try and heal the growing breach between the Adventists and the Reformers. A.G. Daniells stated that the “German [Adventist] leaders of the church have been wrong, but he also criticized the Reformers for setting up a separate organization and using misleading tactics to promote their views.”[18] In the end, the Reformers were disfellowedshiped from the Seventh-day Adventist Church.[19] The Reformers decided to create their own church where they “refused all military service and insisted on a rigid Sabbath observance”[20] and they would “continue with original teachings and practices of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.”[21] The Reformers no longer believed it was acceptable to be non-combatant during times of war. They believed the Seventh-day Adventists were no longer following the original teachings of the Church. In Gotha, Germany, July 14-20, 1925, “the SDA Reform Movement was first organized, officially, as a General Conference, when the ‘Principles of Faith and Church Order’ were drawn up and the name ‘Seventh-day Adventist Reform Movement’ was adopted.” [22]

Support for Hitler

In the Adventist town of Friedensau, Germany 99.9% voted for the Nazi parliamentary state. Even though the Adventists wanted a strong Fuhrer and supported Hitler, that support varied. The reason was because of Hitler’s contradictions about religious liberty. The departmental secretary of the South German Union Conference, M. Busch, was in support of Hitler and “approvingly quoted Hitler’s statement in Mein Kampf  that ‘for the political Fuhrer all religious teachings and arrangements are untouchable.’”[23] The Adventists believed that Hitler was for religious freedom, while the Nazi Party was against it. “Still, point 24 of the Nazi party program stated that the Party supported positive Christianity, without tying itself to any particular confession.”[24] This was a debatable problem among Christian groups because no one knew what “positive” Christianity was. This problem was never clarified and the contradiction remained. When Hitler became dictator of Germany the discussion on the contradiction ended and very soon Christian groups would know what Hitler meant by “positive” Christianity.

On November 26, 1933, the Nazi state banned the small denominational churches. Among those prohibited were the Seventh-day Adventists. The Seventh-day Adventists decided to seek legal advice on what to do about the ban and within two weeks, the ban was lifted on the Adventist denomination.[25] After this, it was decided within the denomination that “positive” Christianity meant support for the Nazi state. To show their support for the Nazi state, the Adventists sent a letter to the “Nazi Ministry of Interior an official memorandum on Adventist teachings, church organizations, social activities and attitude to the government.”[26] The Adventists also informed the Interior that there church “members hold ‘German attitudes.’”[27] Pointing out that the government’s suspicion and concern should be to a “rival schismatic group, the Seventh-day Adventist Reform Movement, whose attitudes, the Adventists insisted, were far from ‘German.’[28] It seems that the Adventists were more concerned with holding German attitudes then holding Adventists attitudes.

It was because of this letter that the Nazi government noticed the Reform Adventist denomination. In trying to distance themselves from the Reformers, the Adventists led the Nazi government to them. The government investigated the Reformers and decided that they held different views from the acceptable Seventh-day Adventist denomination.[29] The Reformers were then banned on April 29, 1936.[30] The Seventh-day Adventists believe in religious liberty, but instead of voicing their outrage over the persecution of the Reformers and the Jews, the Adventist leaders decided to take action against these two groups. The Adventist leaders “issued directives to prevent the Reformers from joining the Adventist Church.”[31]  And they expelled Adventists who had a Jewish background from the Church.[32] The Adventists were unwilling to even protect their own members if they thought the Nazi government would disapprove. The state was able to control the Church because there was no religious liberty. This is not to say that individual Adventists did not help Jews or other undesirables. The Adventists were notable, for the private and individual help they gave to Jews, for not only were Jewish converts cared for and hidden, as they were in some other sectarian and church circles, but help was also given to unbaptised Jews with whom Adventists happened to come in contact.[33]

In 1935, the privileges enjoyed by Adventists, such as keeping the Sabbath, selling religious literature, money transfers that were necessary for missionary work, and certain publications were forbidden.[34] This made the German Adventists reconsider their position on religious liberty of keeping church and state separated. They knew Nazi Germany was receiving a bad public image abroad because of its treatment of small denominational churches whose home base was in the United States. If the smaller denominations were willing to help improve the Nazi image abroad, the Nazi government was willing to allow those denominations some leniency. This was the starting point of the German Seventh-day Adventist denomination sacrificing integrity and basic denominational principles. The denomination “worked with German authorities to cultivate a better image for Nazi Germany in America in order to get better treatment at home.”[35] This was accomplished through the Adventist welfare program.

The Seventh-day Adventist welfare system was considered the best in Germany. Their organization in welfare made the Adventists stand out. Through their welfare system, the Adventist Church was able to show their “Christian principles and [their] patriotic loyalty to the state.”[36]  The Nazi government was satisfied with the work the Adventists were doing but not with the language. Instead of using “Christian” it was renamed “heroic.”[37] The Adventists welfare program was incorporated into the state’s National Socialist People’s Welfare Department. The incorporation went against their belief that church and state are to remain separate. The German Adventists welcomed the incorporation of their welfare program. They believed they could accomplish greater things and help more people. But with the incorporation, the Adventists had to obey the state’s laws, which were, no Jews, anti-socials or undesirables were to be given welfare.[38] The Adventists – on their own – added that no Seventh-day Adventist Reform Movement members were to receive help.[39] The Adventists were not helping more people, in fact they were discriminating against the people who needed their help the most. Along with the welfare programs of the Adventist, the health reforms and racial hygiene became important.

The Adventists believed that along with their welfare program, their health ideals were leading the way for a new Germany. Adolf Minck, soon to be president of the German Adventist Church, said, “We are not unprepared for the new order. After all, we have helped prepare the way for it, and helped to bring it about.”[40] The problem with supporting the Nazi government in their health program was the government’s belief in the principles of Darwinism. The Adventists denominational stance was against Darwin’s principles. The German Adventists sacrificed this principle for the Nazi government. In order to gain favor with the Nazi government, the Adventists changed what was written in their publications and reformed their health message. The Adventists “frequently print[ed] negative comments about the Jews.”[41] They also tried to show that even though the Adventists teachings about the Sabbath seemed Jewish, they were not Jewish.[42] The Adventists also believed in the sterilization program. Direct statements and the reprinting of non-Adventist articles showed their support for sterilization.[43]

The mentally weak, schizophrenics, epileptics, blind, deaf, crippled, alcoholics, drug addicts – all were to be sterilized. ‘This law,’ an article in the Seventh-day Adventist paper Jugend-Leitstern said, was ‘a great advance in the uplifting of our people. [44]

The position of the German Adventists changed from “caritas, the caring for the less fortunate and weak, to elimination of the weak, as the work of God. Their strong right arm had led German Adventists to a volkisch position.”[45] The Adventists had built a “well organized, efficient welfare system that seemed particularly well suited to work with state authorities.”[46] This system allowed Hulda Jost to be recognized by the Nazi regime.

Hulda Jost was the director of Adventist welfare and the leader of the Adventist Nurses Association. The Adventist Nurses Association operated several nursing homes and provided staff for numerous hospitals within Germany.[47] In this position, she was able to establish contacts within the Nazi government and outside Europe. She was also a big supporter of Hitler and his regime. Because of her contacts, she was able to help the Adventist denomination survive during the early years. This also made her the best candidate to travel to the United States and speak on behalf of the Nazi government.

Hulda Jost’s trip to the United States was planned for 1936 because the General Conference quadrennial session was going to be held in San Francisco. An invitation was sent to Hulda Jost from the Adventist Headquarters in Washington, D.C. Between the Adventist Headquarters and the German Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda, Jost’s itinerary for her trip was planned. Jost arrived several months earlier to travel throughout the United States to speak on the German welfare services.[48]

Once in the United States Jost met with the General Conference vice president J.L. McElhany and her interpreter Louise C. Kleuser. Jost also had a meeting at German Embassy where she was told to avoid political controversy by speaking only on the achievements in the social service sector.[49] Jost spoke on the achievements of Germany under Hitler’s control to Adventist and other various organizations. It was not until April, that problems arose over Jost’s lectures. The problems started over a meeting with a pro-Nazi organization called Friends of the New Germany, which the German consul had set-up. The Chicago Daily News ran a story about Jost under the headline “Hitler Doesn’t want War, says Woman Leader.”[50] In the article she is quoted as having said that Hitler did not want war and the Germans were rearming because they feared Russia. When asked about the Jews, Jost said, “Hitler has merely wanted to take leadership away from the Jews but he doesn’t want to hurt them.” [51] This was the beginning of the General Conference problems with Jost.

The problems increased while in Denver, for Jost had alienated many of her listeners at a lecture by speaking so much about Hitler and the Jewish question.[52]  It seemed to the Adventist leaders that Jost was giving propaganda speeches about Hitler and his regime. She was no longer focusing on the Adventists or the welfare system in Germany. While still in Denver, Jost was pulled aside and asked by the Boulder sanitarium administrator to keep her lecture to the gospel because they did not want to hear any Hitler propaganda.[53] After her lectures in Denver, the General Conference decided it would be a good idea to keep a close rein on Jost. They gave warnings to each person Jost was to contact for her lectures. Even though the General Conference felt that Jost had become a liability towards the end of her lectures in the United States, the purpose of her mission had been accomplished. That mission was to “correct the distorted image of Germany.”[54]

Jost and the German Adventist leaders believed they had done their duty in the United States and hoped the Nazi government would be more lenient towards the Adventist denomination. But while they were in the United States, the German government passed a new decree requiring all school children to attend school on Saturday and the Adventist children were no longer allowed to study their bibles in class[55] There were also soldiers who were having difficulties in keeping the Sabbath.[56] Jost wrote a letter complaining to the high officials she knew about this new decree. She stated how the Adventists had been supporting the Nazi government and the work she was doing in the United States to improve their image. Joseph Goebbels even wrote a letter of his own to the Reich Church Ministry, but the decree was not revoked.[57] This was one case where Hulda’s connections and the trip to the United States did not help the Adventists. Yet there are other cases that show that having a powerful ally was useful.

One such case was about the investigation, by the Gestapo, of nurses belonging to the Adventist nurses association who had been dismissed because they were considered politically unreliable.[58] Jost became upset over their dismissal and did not believe the Gestapo’s report was correct, so she asked her friends in the Propaganda Ministry to look into it. The Propaganda Ministry’s report found the nurses to be “politically cleared.” Another example of Jost’s connections occurred in 1937, when a friend in the Church Ministry – who had a connection with the Gestapo – warned her about plans to dissolve the Adventist denomination.[59] With the help of her friends, Jost was able to contact higher officials in the Gestapo and stop the effort to dissolve the Adventist denomination.[60]

In March 1938, Hulda Jost passed away. Jost believed she helped the Adventist denomination survive the early years of Hitler’s regime. Jost knew she was lying while in the United States, when she said that the “Nazi authorities respected liberty of conscience as a matter of principle, and that [her] church enjoyed complete religious freedom.”[61] But she believed all her efforts and compromises to the Nazi regime would make her denomination free from the harassment of the Gestapo. The Adventist denomination was no longer separate from the state, because of Jost’s connections and actions. The Adventists believe in  the separation between church and state, but Jost went against this principle. Even with all of the compromises made in the early years, the Adventists had no security from the Nazi government. They sacrificed a main principle, separation of church and state, for nothing. Without security from the Nazi regime, the Adventists continued to make compromises with the regime.

World War II

The Second World War began when Hitler invaded Poland on September 1, 1939.  The previous year the Adventists began to remove “Jewish words” from their denomination. The word Sabbath School was no longer allowed and was replaced by the word Bible School.[62] Another word no longer allowed was the word Sabbath; this was changed within the denomination to Rest Day.[63]  With the outbreak of WWII, the government issued an ordinance preventing pastors from taking an offering in church or house-to-house.[64] There was a loophole to this ordinance, which said pastors were allowed to “levy fees on their members.”[65] This allowed small denominational pastors and churches to survive during the beginning of the war.

The Adventists in Germany continued to believe in Hitler and his regime. The publications in the late 1930s were about how Hitler was strengthening Germany and taking back the lands that had once belonged to Germany. They believed that God, himself, was leading this war and the readers of the Adventist journals could take comfort in that.[66] The East German Union president, Michael Budnick, informed the other conference presidents that Adolf Minck had been taken in by the Gestapo and informed that it was unacceptable conduct not to work on the Sabbath.[67]

The Church leaders believed that in order for the Adventist denomination to survive they needed to give instructions on April 30, 1940 to their pastors in a circular stating that “‘in total war there can only be total commitment and sacrifice.’”[68]  The problem with total war was the Church leaders did not want another split in the denomination that had occurred during WWI. In order to prevent this, the circular also told the pastors to instruct their members of the duties owed according to the Scriptures.[69] One of the Adventists’ fundamental beliefs is that the Holy Scriptures is the word of God.  The document stated that on Biblical grounds the church members should submit themselves to armed forces, because “God had commanded: ‘Submit yourselves, for the Lord’s sake, to every authority,”[70] which was quoted from 2 Peter. Along with 2 Peter, the German Adventists used Romans 13 to justify their continued support for Hitler and his regime. Romans 13 deals with the issue of submitting oneself to government authorities. The president of the East German Conference, W. Mueller, has been quoted as saying:

Under no circumstances did any Adventist have the right to resist the government, even if the government prevented him from exercising his faith. Resistance would be unfortunate because it would mark Adventists as opponents of the new state, a situation that should be prevented.[71]

This shows that German leaders did not want to resist the Nazi government. They did not want to be seen as opponents to the Nazi government. It was important to the leaders not to cause trouble in the Nazi regime. Even if the Nazi polices went against the denominational beliefs. The German Adventists leaders ignored or forgot the fact that they were supposed to submit first to God and His authority before submitting to a worldly authority.

This circular seemed to have worked, for in 1940 the government sent out a report naming the religious sects that would be allowed to continue to work in peace because they had limited themselves to religious teachings. The Seventh-day Adventists were one of the sects named.[72] Still this did not make the Adventists feel safe and they continued to compromise with the Nazi regime.

In 1941, the German government once again banned the Seventh-day Adventist denomination, but only in certain districts in the east.[73] These districts were Silesia, Danzig, and Lower Silesia. This caused some alarm within the Adventist communities, but there was nothing to be done to rescind the ban. In order to still have meetings, the Adventists met privately in members homes.[74] The S.D. noted that the Adventists in these districts were ignoring the ban, but little action was taken against the Adventists.[75]

The German Adventists continued to support Hitler and his regime until the end of World War II. The Adventists served loyally in the armed services, but most served in combatant positions and rose within the ranks.[76] This went against the denomination belief that if Adventists participate in war it must be in a non-combatant position. The Church leaders claimed, “the pastors and members of our Church stand loyally by their Volk and fatherland as well at its leadership, ready to sacrifice life and possessions.”[77] They were willing to sacrifice their life and possessions for the fatherland, but they were unwilling to do the same for their religious beliefs. The racial policies of the Nazi regime went against what Adventists believe, but the Adventists did not voice their concern. They also did not voice their objections about not having religious liberty in Nazi Germany. The German Adventists may have served their fatherland loyally, but they did not serve the Seventh-day Adventist denomination loyally.

After the War

The German Adventists continued to believe they had done the correct thing by compromising with the Nazi government. The survival of the church was what was important to the German Adventist leaders, and in order to survive they needed to compromise. Only in May 1948, did the General Conference take a closer look at the German Adventists’ actions during the Nazi regime. The reason why the General Conference took interest was because of a letter written by Major J.C. Thompson, chief of the Religious Affairs Section of the American Military Government in Berlin.[78] The letter wanted to know why the Adventists had not removed all the Nazis from their leadership positions within the denomination.[79] It also compared the Adventists to the Catholics, saying that the Catholics did not have to remove many people because of their strong opposition during the Nazi regime. There was no opposition from the Seventh-day Adventists.

The German Adventist leaders were upset with the General Conference for ordering members to step down from their positions because they had joined a Nazi organization. In order to survive in Nazi Germany, they argued, people had to join Nazi organizations. The German leaders believed the General Conference had no right to make judgments about them because of their actions during the Nazi regime. They were especially upset because the General Conference had “adopted and enforced a policy that prevented publication of any commentaries about Nazism or even fascism,”[80] in order to assist the German Adventists. The German Adventists did not like the fact they were being blamed when the General Conference was assisting them in their survival.

The General Conference had become alarmed in 1939, when they estimated that 10 percent of the German Adventists were working on the Sabbath.[81] The Sabbath is one thing that defines the Seventh-day Adventist church. With the start of World War II there was nothing the General Conference or the German Adventists could do. The German Adventists had sent out a circular telling its members to submit to the authority of the government. While this did not meet the demands of the Nazi government, it was used as evidence in the General Conference case against the German Adventists.[82]

There were several issues the General Conference had with the actions of the German Adventist leaders. Membership in a Nazi organization was of concern but not the greatest concern. The greatest concern of the General Conference was that “the denomination had been misled in its attempt to accommodate the demands of the Nazi state.”[83] The erosion of the Sabbath keeping in Germany led the General Conference to pass a resolution in 1946 on “Faithfulness and Sabbath-keeping.”[84] The German Adventists were still unwilling to admit they had been wrong. They still believed what they did was good, because it allowed for the survival of the denomination. The German leaders did not believe they had compromised any biblical principles.[85] The president of the German Adventist Church, Adolf Minck, wrote to the General Conference president, J.L. McElhany, stating, they had obeyed God’s law and the Ten Commandants. He also said that “‘they might have lived out the one and the other commandment a little different’ than in times of peace. ‘But holy did they remain to us.’”[86] This kind of reasoning of the German Adventist leaders made it hard for the General Conference to show that what they did was wrong. The German Adventist leaders interpreted the Scriptures to suit their situation. They believed that just because they were working on the Sabbath did not mean they had not kept it holy. They believed that “Scripture and Jesus taught clearly that the application of the law, rather then being absolute, was dependent on the circumstances.”[87] Their circumstance was either to work on the Sabbath or go to prison. This was not a viable choice for the German Adventist leaders. The German Adventist leaders never admitted that they made any mistakes, it was against their National pride and their continued rationalization of their actions during the Nazi regime.[88]

In conclusion, the German Adventists connected the Adventist denomination to the German state, which went against their belief of separation of church and state. They did this by allowing the Nazi government to take over the Adventists welfare program and dictating the policy. The Adventists were suppose to help those in need, instead they discriminated against those groups of people who needed their help the most. They refused to help the Jews, undesirables, and the Reformers because it would have cause trouble with the Nazi regime. The Adventists defended the Nazi regime and lied about the regime having religious liberty. Instead of speaking out against the Nazi regime and its treatment of the Jews, the Adventists remained silent. They remained silent to protect themselves. The Adventists also worked and sent their children to school on the Sabbath. Keeping the Sabbath day holy is one of the beliefs that make the Adventists different. This is one of the fundamental principle of the Seventh-day Adventists and when times got tough, they willing sacrifice this principle. The German Adventists willingly became combatants during WWII. The Adventist denomination understands that governments have a right to draft people during times of war, but the Adventists have always refused combatant roles. The German Adventists went against this policy and willingly accepted combatant roles. The Reform Adventists were not willing to sacrifice this principle and were sent to concentration camps or executed. In order to survive, the German Adventists sacrificed the standards and principles, which made them Adventists. The German Adventist leaders said they had to make the compromises in order to save the church. It is the standards, principles, beliefs, and integrity that make up the Adventist Church. By sacrificing the standards, principles, beliefs, and integrity of the Church did not save the Church, it weakened the Church. It showed how far the German Adventists were willing to go against what they believed and taught in order to save themselves. I believe the German Adventists leaders made these sacrifices in order to save themselves, not the Church. If they had wanted to save the Adventist church, the German leaders would not have compromised its integrity or gone against the church’s beliefs. It is always easier to make compromises then maintain integrity.

           

[1] Christine E. King, The Nazi State and the New Religions: Five Case Studies in Non- Conformity, (New York: Edwin Mellen Press, 1982), 92.

[2]  Seventh-day Adventists Believe… A Biblical Expostion of 27 Fundamental Doctrines, Ministerial Association General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, (Maryland: Review and Herald, 1988), 4.

[3]  Seventh-day Adventists Believe, 16.

[4] Seventh-day Adventists  Believe, 206.

[5] Seventh-day Adventists Believe, 278.

[6] “Our History,” http://www.adventist.org/history/ (24 February 2002).

[7] Richard W. Schwarz and Floyd Greenleaf, Light Bearers: A History of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, (Nampa: Pacific Press, 2000), 212-213.

[8] Schwarz,and Greenleaf, Light Bearers, 213.

[9] Schwarz,and Greenleaf, Light Bearers, 213.

[10] Schwarz,and Greenleaf, Light Bearers, 213.

[11] Seventh-Day Adventist Encyclopedia M-Z, ed. Don F. Neufeld, (Maryland: Review and Herald, 1996), 592.

[12] Schwarz,and Greenleaf, Light Bearers, 620.

[13] King, The Nazi State and the New Religions, 110.

[14] Cited from F.M. Wilcox, Seventh-day Adventists in Time of War, p. 58.  “Origin of the Seventh Day Adventist Reform Movement,”<http://www.sdarm.org/origin.htm> (6 February 2002).

[15] “Origin of the Seventh Day Adventist Reform Movement,” < http://www.sdarm.org/origin.htm >(6 February 2002).

[16] Erwin Sicher, “Seventh-day Adventist Publications and The Nazi Temptation,” Spectrum 8 (March 1977), 12.

[17] Schwarz,and Greenleaf, Light Bearers, 620.

[18]  Schwarz,and Greenleaf, Light Bearers, 620.

[19] Schwarz,and Greenleaf, Light Bearers, 620.

[20] King, The Nazi State and the New Religions, 110.

[21] “Origin of the Seventh Day Adventist Reform Movement,” < http://www.sdarm.org/origin.htm > (6 February 2002).

[22] SDARM Good Way Series-Study 13- The SDA Reform Movement Origin <http://www.asd-mr.org.br/sdarm/way/gws-13.htm> (14 February 2002).

[23] Sicher, “Seventh-day Adventist Publications and The Nazi Temptation,” 14.

[24] Sicher, “Seventh-day Adventist Publications and The Nazi Temptation,” 14.

[25] King, The Nazi State and the New Religions,  96.

[26] Sicher, “Seventh-day Adventist Publications and The Nazi Temptation,” 15.

[27] King, The Nazi State and the New Religions, 96.

[28] King, The Nazi State and the New Religions, 96.

[29] King, The Nazi State and the New Religions, 110.

[30] Hans Fleschutz, ed., And Follow Their Faith!, (Denver: International Missionary Society ), 19.

[31] Roland Blaich, “Divided Loyalties: American and German Seventh-day Adventists and the Second World War,” Spectrum 30 (Winter 2002), 44.

[32] Zdravko Plantak, The Silent Church: Human Rights and Adventist Social Ethics, (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1998), 20.

[33] King, The Nazi State and the New Religions, 101-2

[34]Roland Blaich, “Selling Nazi Germany Abroad: The Case of Hulda Jost,” Journal of Church and State, vol. 35, number 4, Autumn 1993, (United States: J.M. Dawson Institute), 808.

[35] Blaich, “Selling Nazi Germany Abroad,” 807.

[36] King, The Nazi State and the New Religions, 105.

[37] King, The Nazi State and the New Religions, 105.

[38] King, The Nazi State and the New Religions, 105.

[39] King, The Nazi State and the New Religions, 105.

[40] Adolf Minck, “Reformation,” Jugend-Leitstern, (April 1933), quoted by: Roland Blaich, “Health Reform and Race Hygiene: Adventists and the Biomedical Vision of the Third Reich,” Chuch History, Vol. 65, (Pennsylvania: Science Press, 1996), 427.

[41] Sicher, “Seventh-day Adventist Publications and The Nazi Temptation,” 16.

[42] Sicher, “Seventh-day Adventist Publications and The Nazi Temptation,” 16.

[43] Sicher, “Seventh-day Adventist Publications and the Nazi Temptation,” 19.

[44] R. Sulzmann, “Erbkrank,” Gegenwarts-Frage, vol. 9, nr.1, 1934, p.8, quoted by: Sicher, “Seventh-day Adventist Publications and the Nazi Temptation,” 19.

[45] Blaich, “Health Reform and Race Hygiene,” 437.

[46] Blaich, “Health Reform and Race Hygiene,” 427.

[47] Blaich, “Health Reform and Race Hygiene,” 427.

[48] Blaich, “Selling Nazi Germany Abroad,” 809.

[49] Blaich, “Selling Nazi Germany Abroad,” 810.

[50] Blaich, “Selling Nazi Germany Abroad,” 811.

[51] Blaich, “Selling Nazi Germany Abroad,” 811.

[52] Blaich, “Selling Nazi Germany Abroad,” 811.

[53] Blaich, “Selling Nazi Germany Abroad,” 812.

[54] Blaich, “Selling Nazi Germany Abroad,” 820.

[55] Blaich, “Selling Nazi Germany Abroad,” 820.

[56] Blaich, “Selling Nazi Germany Abroad,” 820.

[57] Blaich, “Selling Nazi Germany Abroad ,”821.

[58] Blaich, “Selling Nazi Germany Abroad,” 823.

[59] Blaich, “Selling Nazi Germany Abroad,” 824.

[60] Blaich, “Selling Nazi Germany Abroad,” 824.

[61] Blaich, “Selling Nazi Germany Abroad,” 827.

[62] Jack M. Patt, “Living in a Time of Trouble: German Adventists Under Nazi Rule,” Spectrum 8 (March 1977), 4.

[63] Patt, “Living in a Time of Trouble,” 4.

[64] Patt, “Living in a Time of Trouble,” 7.

[65] Patt, “Living in a Time of Trouble,” 7.

[66] Blaich, “Divided Loyalties,” 44.

[67] Roland Blaich, “Religion under National Socialism: The Case of the German Adventist Church,” Central European History, vol. 26, number 3, (United States: Humanities Press, 1994), 270.

[68] Mr. Blaich does not say who this quote is from, but it seems to be from G.W. Schubert to the General Conference Committee, Feb. 7, 1937. Or it is from the Circular to the Conference Presidents of the East German Union, Mar. 27, 1940. Blaich, “Divided Loyalties,” 45.

[69] Blaich “Divided Loyalties,” 45.

[70] Blaich, “Divided Loyalties,” 45.

[71] “An unsere Gemeindeglieder in Deutschland,” Der Adventbote, vol. 39, nr. 17, August 15, 1933, pp. 1-4. quoted by: Sicher, “Seventh-day Adventist Publications and The Nazi Temptation,” 15.

[72] Patt, “Living in a Time of Trouble,” 7.

[73] Blaich, “Divided Loyalties,” 45.

[74] King, The Nazi State and the New Religions, 108.

[75] King, The Nazi State and the New Religions,108.

[76] Blaich, “Divided Loyalties,” 47.

[77] Blaich, “Divided Loyalties,” 47.

[78] Blaich, “Religion under National Socialism,” 225.

[79] Blaich, “Religion under National Socialism,” 225.

[80] Blaich, “Religion under National Socialism,” 266.

[81] Blaich, “Religion under National Socialism,” 270.

[82] Blaich, “Religion under National Socialism,” 271.

[83] Blaich, “Religion under National Socialism,” 274.

[84] Blaich, “Religion under National Socialism,” 274.

[85] Blaich, “Religion under National Socialism,” 275.

[86] Blaich, “Religion under National Socialism,” 275.

[87] Blaich, “Religion under National Socialism,” 275-6.

[88] Blaich, “Religion under National Socialism,” 280.

UCSB Oral History Project Homepage > Research and Teaching Homepage > Pro-Seminar Papers > Seventh Day Adventists
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The Beginnings of Adventism: As the Twig was Bent, So Grew the Tree. Part One, Troubled Roots.

Written by Michael W. Pursley

bent-treeTroubled Roots

It is one thing to talk about the inherent ills and evils of a church or cult and to discuss some of its embedded heresies and heterodoxies, but it is quite another to understand where a particular group headed off of God’s path, and the tensions that seemingly drove them thus. My prayer is that God will let us see the Gospel more deeply and discern error, with its baleful effects, more clearly. .

 “Then if anyone says to you, ‘Behold, here is the Christ,’ or ‘There He is,’ do not believe him. “For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect.…”

                                                                                               –Matthew 24:23-24. .

And o’er thy Church established on the floods
The lurid cloud, e’en now, portentous broods.
Rude schism yawns, and error’s baleful breath
Spreads wide and far the sickness unto death.
                                                      –Ecclesia Anglicana .

It is hard to see in modern times constructive parallels to the decades just prior to the “final” formation of Adventism.

Not only do the times speak to us of their singularity, but so also do the people, the thinking, and the moods of countries and of states.  As there are periods of history that are like the oppressive calm before the storm, where the trees and people seem to stand still, and almost motionless. Yet beneath the surface of it all, the impact of heat breeds a profound tension; a tension which bespeaks of an ending. 

While there seems to be in the heart of man that impulse which softly whispers to us the knowledge of a storm which is about to break; this impulse at once consoles us and at the same time terrifies us. It consoles us, because it portends to us an ending of the tedium of our labors, and yet it terrifies us because it opens before us the yawning chasm of the darkness unknown, and threatens us with non-being.

So too, during these periods in the history of mankind, as in dry Summer weather, there comes those swift and sudden stirrings of people, as a burst of wind, a squall, that seemingly comes out of nowhere, and suddenly trees are flattened at the onslaught, and the presentiment of an ending is replaced by an anticipation and realization of movement. Thus it was in the early to mid-nineteenth century.

For the first time in history of the world, religious and spiritual events were happening in rough tandem world-wide; driven largely by increased communications and speculations concerning end time events which were propounded by people freshly looking into Biblical prophecy. Christians around the world, both inspired and encouraged each other. Feeding off of each others excitement while not having the benefits of self-corrective checks and guidance in real time; religious excitement and fervor often grew to such a pitch as to be nearly uncontrollable.

But even if we were to only examine or survey the United States out of all the nations in the world, and even if we to only look at the institutions and people in that country and do so from solely a religious context, and to that, from a personal life perspective, a “weltanschauung,” of a spiritual and religious nature, we would find a certain continuity of perspective that could indeed be construed as definitive for the period; namely, that the Second Coming of Christ was near at hand. And not just that it was near, but that Christians everywhere had the responsibility and a specific and definitive part to play in the final scenes ushering in this momentous occasion. 

It is with deep tenderness that we must view Millerite convictions, just as we must view with reverential awe their tenacious commitment.

If it were possible to briefly sum-up their stance, it might be: 

Their call:Watchman, what of the night? Watchman, what of the night?”

Their answer:  “The morning cometh, and also the night” -Isa. 21:11 (The morning here was the Second Coming, and the night, was believed to be the eternal second death as referenced in Revelation 20:14.)

Their commission: “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost…” Matthew 28:19

The consequences for refusal: “When I say to the wicked, ‘You will surely die,’ and you do not warn him or speak out to warn the wicked from his wicked way that he may live, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand.” -Ezekiel 3:18

It is not to be wondered at that this part of history is often described as the “Second Great Awakening.”

And it cannot be questioned that this particular “Great Awakening” was gravely distinctive in its nature and character from the first. Whereas the “First Great Awakening,” was championed by great leaders and thinkers such as George Whitefield and Jonathan Edwards who were Calvinistic therefore “Confessional” by nature, so too the “Second Great Awakening” was rigorously “Evangelical,” and tended to be more led by the strong convictions of lay popular thinking which tended toward pietism; as such it can be seen to be championed by the Wesleys. But where the First Great Awakening had its emphasis on inward personal piety and ones personal relationship with God, the latter placed its emphasis on outward evangelism and the conversion of the lost.

However, it was as a result of this new emphasis, spurred by the text and thought of Ezekiel 3:18, that many good and wonderful things occurred: Bible societies flourished and blossomed, missionary boards were filled with people looking to be used in the “mission fields”. Temperance Societies were formed. And a strong stance was once again taken against the pervasive creep of Liberalism that had wormed its way into the mainline churches.  As a result, there was a turning back to scripture, and there was a turning of hearts to the Lord.

With all that being said, statistics show that the Second Great Awakening was really a Baptist and Methodist movement. For while older mainline and confessional denominations remained largely static in their church membership, the congregations of Baptists and Methodists exploded. As never before, church members were motivated towards personal evangelism. True, there were many more females to males that were converted, but what was more important was that young people as never before, were often the first to join. And while things may not have been perfect, there was a spirit and a fervor not largely seen elsewhere.

Because of the large numbers of lay people that felt called to the ministry, there were also large diversity of Biblical thought and interpretation.  And as one may guess, herein lies the rub. Because of the lack of oversight of the Clergy, and because of the lack of education on the part of so many of the rural, self-taught, pastors, many of whom were circuit riding throughout the vast reaches of the American wilderness, divergent views of theology sprang into being, and with them new and strange denominations began to form.

It is from one of these “self-taught roots,” the old Methodist, “Millerite root,” that Adventism sprang. Numerous books have been written on this particular movement, for of all of them it was one of the most spectacular. A casual student might call it spectacular because of its overwhelming and public failure, but in reality that falls far short. Rather, I believe it is stunning in terms of movement’s tenacity to unswervingly interpret biblical prophecy, the commitment of its followers, and the excitement that it generated.  To finish this post, and to demonstrate the excitement and devotion of this unhappy group, let me leave with you the following story.

saints4-16fw

“Most of the towns and villages in western Massachusetts were hot-beds of Millerism, and each had its own experience while awaiting the end of all things terrestrial.

Westford, perched upon a high ridge of granite boulders, holds a most poignant memory of the last night of the great delusion. Mr. John Fletcher, a member of one of the oldest families there, gave the author a vivid account of it, which he had heard from childhood up from his father, who was not a believer in Prophet Miller’s doctrine, but was deeply interested as an onlooker, and was a witness of all that happened to his followers in Westford.

The principal meeting place of the Millerites there was in a fine old mansion facing the green on the site of which now stands the Fletcher Memorial Library. It was owned by a man named Bancroft, and he and his family were held in high esteem by the townspeople, and it caused much comment that they and a family of Leightons and also one named Richardson, all well-to-do people with a certain amount of education, should have fallen so completely under the spell of the delusion, but they did so with great enthusiasm and faith, and the Bancroft house was filled to overflowing with large numbers of persons as deluded as themselves. Every believer in the prophecy in Westford was an ardent one – there was not a lukewarm soul among them. According to Mr. Fletcher’s father, many of them had white robes ready, and each one prayed loud,and sang loud, and shouted loud; and on this last night the unbelievers who were not up to see what was going to happen, lay awake listening to the tumult of sound that issued forth from the Bancroft mansion.

Now there was a man who lived near by who was generally known by the name of “Crazy Amos.” He was somewhat addicted to drink and was one of those queer characters sometimes found in country districts. He was the possessor of a very large horn, and it so happened that, as he lay in his bed listening to the sound of voices that rose and fell like the waves of an incoming tide, a sudden thought flashed through his befuddled brain, and jumping out of his bed he hurriedly dressed himself, and seizing his horn he rushed out upon the village green and blew a terrific blast upon it. The poor deluded fanatics, now congregated in the Bancroft house to await the awful summons of the Holy Angel Gabriel, heard the sound and for a moment a death-like stillness came over the assembly; then, uttering a great shout of exaltation, they rushed tumultuously in a body out of the house and on to the green, hustling and jostling each other in a frantic attempt to secure an advantageous position from which they might easily be “caught up into the air.”

When they gained the green, they gazed about in bewilderment, scanning the heavens, looking first at the east, then at the north and south, then at the west, and to their astonishment they could see nothing unusual in the night skies. Then of a sudden came another terrible blast from a horn – loud and clear – awaking the echoes!

With one accord a great shout went up – “HALLELUJAH! HALLELUJAH! GLORY! GLORY!” and believing the fulfillment of the prophecy to be at hand they strained their eyes upwards, searching the heavens again, expecting any moment to see the angelic hosts appear, and they raised their arms high above their heads in an attitude of prayer and supplication. Then a regular fanfare rang out, and one of them espied their neighbor “Crazy Amos” blowing as though for dear life upon his horn. 

A muffled exclamation of dismay, mixed with anger and resentment, escaped from the lips of the humiliated enthusiasts, who retreated into the house again in dire confusion, exhausted and trembling from the high pitch of ecstasy which they had reached for the space of a few supreme moments, and from the sense of shame at having been so duped, while they clasped their hands over their ears so as to deaden the sound of the gibes and taunts of “Crazy Amos,” who shouted after them: “Fools! Go dig you potatoes – for the Angel Gabriel he won’t go a-digging ’em for ye!”  —“Days of Delusion – A Strange Bit of History” by Clara Endicott Sears, 1924; Chapter 10.

Part 4 of 4. Inconvenient Reflections of Darkness: The Awful Evidence of the Evilness of a False Faith Totally Berift of Grace

Written by Michael W. Pursley

lucifer

“It is very plain that he who modifies the teachings of the Word of God in the smallest particular at the dictation of any man-made ‘opinion’ has already deserted the Christian ground, and is already, in principle, a ‘heretic.’ The very essence of ‘heresy’ is that the modes of thought and tenets originating elsewhere than in the Scriptures of God are given decisive weight when they clash with the teachings of God’s Word …” — B. B. Warfield

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The prophets prophesy falsely,
the priests rule at their sides,

and my people love it this way!
But what will you do when the end comes?

-Jeremiah 5:31 

An Introduction…

[I have been a parent-spectator in the fortunes of war. But now, I am a parent-combatant in the realms of spiritual and theological warfare.

When my daughter as a young Marine was badly wounded during the battle of Fallujah, our whole lives changed. Gone were the rosy expectations of a normal life for our daughter and family. Gone was the peaceful equilibrium of family balance. Gone were the days when we could wake up with expectations of a day’s quiet contentment and harmony. The new normal? Pain was the new normal! Medications were the new normal. Visits to the V.A. Hospital were the new normal. Prayers for healing were the new normal. Nothing was or is the same.

Why? Because, when a family member is hurt, the whole family is wounded… And only people who have had loved ones wounded or hurt, in one way or another, can ever truly understand this. 

When I walked away from Seventh-day Adventism roughly 30 years ago, over the numerous theological errors I knew then, –the same, well-documented, fundamental, doctrinal errors of faith, recognized by denominational leaders since early days of Adventism, I felt as one who had climbed out of a long dark tunnel, as one who had been slimed, perhaps from the inside out; I was very happy to walk away, and I did; not just from the denomination, not just from the theology, but also from the people. –I say this to my shame and condemnation. Therefore, for me, this post is an act of repentance; it is a turning away from the sin of faithlessness. And it is a turning back to that task which God had given me to faithfully proclaim, His Gospel, in whatever circumstances I may find myself, both when it is convenient and when it is not. To faithfully do this; I must paint truth in its whitest white, error in its blackest black and to make sure there is no compromise between the two. “…Consider well Michael, do you not know from where you come? Do you remember whose message you were given? Even the great and mighty God! Who is all present! And who beholds all your ways! Do you not remember, that He is able to cast your soul into hell? Therefore, take care that you deliver your message faithfully!”  May I do so faithfully with God’s grace. –MWP]

A Lament…

A few posts ago, we saw how those who have rejected God’s terms of grace were eternally damned.

There is no equivocation on this. As we saw earlier, the quaker, William Penn thunderously pronounces doom against the false pietistic churchmen,  “There is no flying from his final justice,  for those that reject the terms of his mercy.”  Further, as we saw how Penn goes on to sorrowfully pronounce the reason for God’s righteousness judgment against them,  “Their vain hope silences their convictions, and overlays all tender motions to repentance: so that their mistake about their duty to God, is as mischievous as their rebellion against him.” 

How utterly sad. How utterly forlorn of divine help are those leaders and teachers in Seventh-day Adventism, who have knowingly lead their people down “false paths” and have not repented for doing so. As false shepherds they have led their sheep down false avenues of faith to their own damnation. Why? Simply because they feared what man would say, more than what they feared God would say in that final day.

Though these false religious leaders have had no qualms of having converts giving up their employment on Saturday, yet they fear to give up their own jobs, their own security, their own prestige, and their own power, for the sake of truth and for Jesus. They were, and are, posers and hypocrites of true Christianity. Their false piety was, and is, nothing more than a false compliment to the Son of God. “What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you cross land and sea to make one convert, and then you turn that person into twice the child of hell you yourselves are!” Matt. 23:15.

And when that day does come; that day of the Second Coming of Christ, that day which the leaders of Seventh-day Adventism claim they look for with their entire being, that day when they look up to Jesus, and Jesus says to them, “I never knew you,” they will then abandon all pretense, as they will abandon all hope.  The weeping and gnashing of teeth will begin and it will not end, for they will be cast into that Lake of Fire prepared for the Devil and his angels.

How should you take this writing if you are a Seventh-day Adventist, or a leader in Seventh-day Adventism?

How?

It should make you think, and think deeply, at the very least.

If you have read some of these earlier posts regarding Adventism, you are already beginning to know of  just some of Adventism’s grossest errors. They are just a beginning; indeed, they are not very conclusive at all. They are not but a feeble few of the errors to be found in Adventism. But, if you already know that these errors are wrong, and have decided not to act Biblically upon your knowledge, if you have not come to Jesus and asked for forgiveness and turned from your erroneous teaching, then your attitude, your lack of true repentance, you lack of making Jesus the Lord of your life, may already be enough to damn you for all eternity, for you have already willfully rejected Christ –just as the Jews did. If Jesus is not Lord of all your life, then he is Lord of none of your life!  

Think about that.  Look inside yourself, do you not feel a knot of fear residing there? Is this not that fear which is a pang of conscience? Do you not realize that your conscience maybe the work of the Holy Spirit which is begging you, imploring you, to make things right with God? Do you not realize that your belonging to Seventh-day Adventism, is nothing more than a false compliment to God; that “Sabbath keeping” is a work counted against you if you are not “within the terms of God’s grace?” “Sabbath keeping” is not going to save you! It did not save the Jews! When A.D. 70 came along, they thought to themselves … just as you are doing now, “peace and Safety,” we are part of “God’s Remnant Church!” How utterly wrong they were! There was no flying from his final justice,  for those that rejected the terms of his mercy. Not one stone was left on top of another.  

Luther once related that, “Latomus (Jacobus Latomus) was the best among all my adversaries: his point was this: ‘What is received of the Church, ought not to be rejected.’ As the Jews said: ‘We are God’s people;’ so the Papists cry: ‘The Church cannot err.’ This was the argument against which the prophets and apostles fought; Moses says, ‘They moved me to jealousy with that which was not God, and I will provoke them to anger with a foolish nation’ And St Paul: ‘That he is a Jew which is one inwardly;’ and Isaiah: ‘In Him shall the Gentiles trust.’ ‘It is impossible,’ say they, ‘that God should forsake His Church,’ for He declares, ‘I am with you always, unto the end of the world,’ etc. The question is, to whom do these words, refer? Which is the true Church whereof Christ spake? The perplexed, broken and contrite in heart, or the Romish courtesans and knaves?'” –I would add, “does this not also include the Adventist Leadership who insist that they have the “Sabbath” and Ellen White, and are therefore the true remnant church…even though they have rejected God’s “Plan of Salvation” as inscribed in Holy Scripture and who have also added the profane writings of Ellen White to his Holy Word to support their position?”

You can neither keep the Law nor the Sabbath perfectly, and you never will, and it is that absolute perfection which is all that matters with God.  Perfection of keeping the law, including the Sabbath, was something that Christ did for you.  In your heart you have broken all the commandments, including loving God with all your heart, mind and strength, or soul… Which is what God said was most important. IT was not the Sabbath. Neither is the Sabbath the means of Salvation, though Ellen White says… “It means eternal salvation to keep the Sabbath holy unto the Lord….” –Ellen White, 6T 356.4.  (NOTE: Many references regarding the relationship and linking of salvation to the Sabbath were written by Ellen White. Though these visions and the theology were known to be false by the leadership of Seventh-day Adventism then… and now.

Dear Adventist, do not believe that there are not many, many Adventist professors and pastors, old and young, who do not know their error, they do! But like Nicodemus, they are afraid, …they will only meet with their Savior under the cover of darkness, and like Judas they will sell their Lord for 30 pieces of silver!

Worse, if you are a church leader, and you are knowingly teaching a lie, a lie which you know changes or adds to God’s Holy, Inspired and Inerrant Word, the Bible, what can you expect from God?  Should you not expect “a certain fearful looking for a judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries”?  Do you not feel this fear in your heart right now?

I implore you now, look deeply, do you at least even remember that nagging feeling you had when you realized you were teaching that which was not right? But you washed it away….   Repent!  Repent!  Repent, before it is too late!

Part 3 of 4. Inconvenient Reflections of Darkness: My Thoughts on Seventh-Day Adventism and the Correct Reasons Why I Left.

Written by, Michael W. Pursley

Seventh-day Adventism has lost the three-fold war against the World, the Flesh and the Devil, and there is not a theological “evolution” in the world that will save them from their spiritual malaise… Only a complete, unmitigated repentance, a turning away from the sin of Ellen White idolatry and a turning back to the Bible as the only true Word of God can they hope as a church to find a true covenant relationship with God.

“Those who set up a fictitious worship, merely worship and adore their own delirious fancies; indeed, they would never dare so to trifle with God, had they not previously fashioned him after their own childish conceits.”  ― John Calvin

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Have I not written to you excellent things
Of counsels and knowledge,
To make you know the certainty
of the words of truth

That you may correctly answer him
who sent you?

–Proverbs 22:20-21
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Divine Authority is the foundation of  the Christian religion and the fundamental basis of its theology.

For a Christian denomination to consider itself orthodox the above statement is an essential and rudimentary declaration that must be both fully and emphatically embraced. From there, defining what is, and what has Divine authority, must be taken from something, a source, that has been given directly from the ultimate Divine Source, namely God Himself, and for the Christian Church that is the Bible.

For orthodox Christianity it is no wonder that the authority of Scripture has been an essential ingredient and a basis of its own historical definition. The communication of God to his people have been defining moments throughout the history of man; especially in relationship to those of his own covenanted people. However, it is important to note that simply the appearance of God alone, especially by means of a theophany, though important, was not the singular defining characteristic of the moment. Instead, it was “what God hath said” during his appearance that appears to define such an aspect.  In essence, we see that every time God speaks, he actually defines three things: Who he is, who we are, and what is or will be his relationship with man.  It may seem axiomatic to say that the value we place upon what God says is predicated upon the value and pre-eminence of who he is, but later on in Christian history, that has not always been recognized.

It is impossible to overestimate the importance of the doctrine of the Divine inspiration of Scripture. This is the strategic center of Christian theology, and it must be defended at all costs. It is the point at which our satanic enemy is constantly hurling his hellish battalions. Here it was he made his first attack. In Eden he asked, “Yea, hath God said?” and today he is pursuing the same tactics.

Throughout the ages the Bible has been the central object of his assaults. Every available weapon in the devil’s arsenal has been employed in his determined and ceaseless efforts to destroy the temple of God’s truth.

If the Bible be the Word of God then it infinitely transcends in value all the writings of men, and in exact ratio to its immeasurable superiority to human productions such is our responsibility and duty to give it the most reverent and serious consideration. –A. W. Pink

From the day of its birth, Orthodox Christianity with its emphasis on the “transcendent God,” historically views Biblical scripture in terms of “Holy,” “Sacred,” and “Divinely inspired.” Further, we must also see that orthodox Christianity places high value to the “Word of God”  in relationship of God’s “Word” to his people. See again how Pink links the historical Christian context, “The relation between Divine truth and Christian character is that of cause to effect—”And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32).

However, it would be naive to make the claim that Christianity was left to its own devices and conjectures in determining what value it places in the pronouncements of God. It can be easily seen that the early Church had and did make good use of the numerous statements and incidents in the Old Testament regarding the veracity of the “Word of God.” Further, from the earliest moments of Christianity, including the earliest statements of John the Baptist about Christ, as well as those statements Jesus’ makes about himself, we find that Christ’s Divinity and his inclusion of himself into the context of the “I AM,” is consistent also with his inclusion of Himself as “The Word” as we see in the Gospel of John. But if the early Christians were confused about Christ’s status, as we have stated, it was quickly dispelled in the first chapter of the Gospel of John with its crystal clear perspective of Christ. In these statements we discover that not only does God value “the Word,” he equates himself as “The Word,” and that the “Word” was there in the beginning and is eternal. John 1:1(Ἐν ἀρχῇ ἦν ὁ λόγος, καὶ ὁ λόγος ἦν πρὸς τὸν θεόν, καὶ θεὸς ἦν ὁ λόγος).  Therefore, it is also certainly appropriate to elaborate and enrich the New Testament declarative about Christ, with the Old Testament passages where God states, that his word is infallible, passages such as in Isaiah 55:11: So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.”

The Problem…Divine authority is under attack.

The sanctity of Scripture has been under attack since the beginning, as we have seen above in Genesis 3:1, and it has not abated in the least. This attack, as I see it, has come under five basic forms:  First: To minimize, trivialize or to discredit God and his existence, and thereby discrediting the authority of Scripture.  Second: To minimize the accuracy or the veracity of the Bible, as sacred scripture. Third: The limiting the Biblical authority by period, or else by geographic and/or political segregation of Scripture; Dispensationalism actually infringes into this aspect. Fourth: by casting the Bible into a modern existential or sociological framework.  Fifth: The adding to, or subtracting from, the writings of the accepted cannons of Scripture.

Also, involved in the various inclusions of extra-biblical writings, is another aspect or form of attack, and that is the ascribing of various degrees, levels and kinds of inspiration (that is, levels of so-called Divine inspiration) to the writings being added thereunto or to be used for the interpretation of scripture. The natural assumption of this specious philosophy, is that only something with the credibility of being divinely inspired can be added or used to “interpret” something that is already Divinely inspired. This argument, while appearing logical, is a slippery slope for those who use it in Biblical interpretation, inasmuch as it is a human, existential construct, that has no viable foundation  from Scripture. Biblical scriptures is seen by orthodox Christianity as being both entirely self-sufficient and all-sufficient for the purposes of communicating God’s eternal principles to man.

descent_of_the_modernists_e-_j-_pace_christian_cartoons_1922Also, when it comes to any Divine directive, the Bible does not acknowledge degrees or levels of inspiration in God’s Word. For its purposes, the word of the prophet or such as one who claims to speak for God, is either inspired or not. As a result, for purposes of the Bible, the Word of God is also considered inerrant and infallible, and only from there do we have a starting point from which we can advance. To add now to the sacred cannon of Scripture by adding so-called divinely inspired writings for purposes of interpretation and doctrine is to conclude that the Holy Bible is not inerrant, infallible and sufficient for our present salvation. And it is important to note that we either understand this and accept this proposition to be true or we don’t in its entirety.

Here is the way the argument often evolves in this fifth attack: An individual has a particular thought on a theological or spiritual issue that seems to be out of the ordinary, and it is perceived that this idea or perspective seems to “fit,” with the facts, and on the surface, seems to be a brilliant solution; after which someone then calls it an “inspired” answer; then this “brilliant solution” or “inspired answer” is somehow connected to answered prayer;–now we have God involved with it and eventually, God ends up being responsible for the proposition; whether it be copied or taken from some book in the library,or original to the mindset of the writer. Occasionally, the person who has this “inspired answer” thinks of themselves or is proclaimed to be “a prophet;” as is the case for Seventh-day Adventism and Ellen White.

The problem is that our thoughts are not under the influence of the Spirit, especially as, like those of David, therefore, they should not be considered to be properly the work of inspiration; so much of our weakness mingles with our thinking, that we cannot say of any sentence, This is the perfect work of the Spirit. The Christian must confess that the aid of Divine inspiration is totally distinct from that general aid which the providence of God affords to men in general, even that aid given in order to aid their performance in the various actions of their natural life. -A. W. Pink. To claim any “Divine light” to interpret “all-sufficient Scripture” even if it is claimed to only be “confirming Divine Truths,” challenges Almighty God, and perilously  “adds” to that which God has said. In its most basic form, adding to the Word of God is the same lie that Satan said at the beginning,  “hath God said?” Genesis 3:1.

For our purposes here, we are dealing with this fifth aspect, or the problem of by adding to or subtracting from the canon of Holy Scripture. I say this because I believe that Seventh-day Adventism is transparently guilty before God of adding to the Scripture; in particular by their use of the writings of Ellen White to “Divinely confirm” interpretations of Scripture, that are not necessarily biblical.  However, so as not to be misunderstood, it is not only her interpretations or “mis-interpretations” that are troublesome, but the fact that Adventism is using extra canonical, or extra-biblical writings, to give outside “Divine interpretation” to Holy, Sacred, internally complete, and inerrant Scripture.

Even if the writings of Ellen White were completely correct in all contexts–which it is decidedly not, and in conformity with all of scripture-which it is not, nor theologically shifting in a most problematic manner–which it does, those writings still cannot be considered on par with, nor able to confirm, deny, or Divinely interpret the Holy Word of God.

Why is this so important? 

Because, as part of the process, inevitably, and in some way, Ellen White, and the people who have accepted her teachings have changed the focus of the Bible and resultingly, the Gospel. Most certainly, as a further result, when the focus of the Gospel has been changed, then something has been added to the work of Christ, and in the plan of Redemption.  Therefore, as per the God who cannot lie, they will judged by the Bible and that Gospel which they have changed.  Further, as per scripture, those that do these things are described as “imposters deceiving, and being deceived  2 Timothy 3:13.

What I am saying is, that any writings which claim to be given as Divine revelation, and are used (intentionally or not) for the purpose of adding to the already sufficient writings of Holy Scripture, have to be rejected on the face of it; they are NOT inspired by God and they are being used as a product of Satan and their force is as a result of his work; they are in effect a direct derivative of his first lie to our parents, the same of which is found in Genesis 3:11. To not reject these spurious writings is to face the gravest peril to the soul.

The Three-Fold War

In Christianity, in our three-fold war against the world, the flesh and the devil (ό κοσμος, ή σαρξ, και ό διαβολος), our mutual destruction is assured if the doctrine of the Divine authority of Scripture is diluted in any manner. The distortions of truth, loss of the Christian love and walk, rejection of God, the rise and emergence of heresies, heterodoxies and cults, all point to the demeaning of scripture; whether it occurs by means of direct attacks against its Author, attacks against its transmission, or by the subtler arguments, such as the adding to “the complete Word of God,” however so accomplished.

In a relativistic world, the only protection that a Christian has is the unchanging word of God; “all other ground is sinking sand.” In Ephesians 6:17, one of the points that Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, directs the Christian to is, “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” Without the word of God, the Christian can never win the battle that wars against his soul. That is why Seventh-day Adventism and its early followers were in a movement that was outside a covenant relationship with God.

We cannot not judge these souls and say that all, or that certain ones of those early leaders, including Ellen White, are lost; but if they were, by some Divine providence of God, in a salvific relationship with Him, then at a minimum, their work, shall be defined by that Ultimate Divine Authority as being condemned and outside the foundation that has already laid, and it shall be considered as wood, hay and stubble. “For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work. If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward.” 1 Corinthians 3:11-14

Inconvenient Reflections of Darkness: My Thoughts on Seventh-Day Adventism and the Correct Reasons Why I Left. Part Two.

Written by, Michael W. Pursley

What then? Ought we to be dumb? Certainly not. For: “There is a time to keep silence and a time to speak.” If, then, we are to give account for an idle word, let us take care that we do not have to give it also for an idle silence.  –-Ambrose

IntercessorJan.
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There is an appointed time
for everything.

And there is a time
for 
every event under heaven.

—Ecclesiastes 3:1

 

Now is the time to talk…

Not long ago, in our weekly ministers conference, Brent, a young Presbyterian pastor in our group brought out that, “we minister best where we are broken the most.”  For me, that summed up why I am only now coming out with my testimony after thirty years of hesitation. Not that, “Ok, I’m broken…lets go for it Lord…” No!  Instead, this burden, has been given, and I am only now broken enough to see it and accept it. Alright, I know that this is true for all of us who are Christians. I know that we are commissioned to proclaim the Gospel to everyone –and not just to those in our comfort zones, but wow, sometimes that is so hard.  Why? 

For modern Christians, especially those of us in America and Europe, we usually aren’t faced with physical persecution; yes, we might occasionally lose a job or a promotion, or even a close friend, but admit it, even that is usually very rare. So why is it that many of us have such a hard time professing our Christianity; our belief in the Gospel, or “Good news of Jesus Christ?”  It is usually because we really don’t believe in what God has said, sin has gotten in the way; sin such as our own egos, self-pride, or some personal idol. And we don’t like people not liking us, snubbing us, we don’t like it when they laugh at us, or think that we are “weird.”  We don’t like it when they look down their noses at us and make us feel inferior. And we especially don’t like it when it happens in front of others; people who we like, respect, think of as normal or “cool,” and perhaps people who we want to like us.  

As much as we may hate to admit it, many of us got a lot of that ridicule in Adventism.  It was easy to make us look weird, we got a lot of snickering and subtle snubbing with the Sabbath, and with all the other things that triggered our defense mechanisms. Perhaps, that would have been great if we had been taught to rejoice in our sufferings for Christ. But instead, a lot of us spent our entire childhoods trying to “look normal,” and comparing ourselves to our neighbors, our friends and to all the other people in “our world.” Often our parents would also try to help. Some went overboard, or over compensated to help us look as normal as possible with the other youth we played with; they also didn’t want their child to look different or to “stand out” from the others, and it helped if your parents had the money and could afford to do that.  

Spiritually, what was worse, is that those same children who grew up and stayed in the SDA “church” are still compensating.  That is, they are still doing everything they can to look like the world: Jewelry, clothing, possessions, concerts, gaming events, everything to look like, sound like and fit in with the rest of the world. Many of these poor, fragmented souls you couldn’t tell if they were either Christian, Adventist,or atheist, they are so “of the world.” As Charles Spurgeon once said, “There should be as much difference between the worldling and the Christian, as between hell and heaven.”  However, carnality is the same regardless which cloak she wears; whether it be the scantily clad garments of the liberals, or libertines as they were once called, or else the fuller robes of the self-righteous, pietistic churchmen. In either case, carnality is a garment at enmity and rebellion against God.  

What is the end result of this straddling of the fences? Often, they have ended up as unhappy, guilt-ridden, moralistic souls, who have tried for so long and so hard and so unsuccessfully to find acceptance with God, that they have given up trying, or whose lives are now leading to the place where they are despairing of God and themselves. Others, with their own personal blinders, have self-righteously, slipped so deeply into an inner moral hypocrisy that they believe they have spiritually “made it.” Whatever the case may be, each want to convince you that “they have their stuff together” spiritually, personally and as a group; when they have none of that.

A couple of hundred years before Seventh-day Adventism was even conceived, a godly Christian Quaker named William Penn, framed their condition  like this:  

Sometimes they strive to appease him, by their corporal framed devotion and worship, but in vain; for true worshipping of God, is doing his will, which they transgress. The rest is a false compliment, and is just like him who said that he would go, and did not.” Sometimes they fly to sports and company, to drown the reprover’s voice, and blunt his arrows, to chase away troubled thoughts, and secure themselves out of the reach of the disquiet of their pleasures: but the Almighty, first or last, is sure to overtake them. There is no flying from his final justice, for those that reject the terms of his mercy.  

Their vain hope silences their convictions, and overlays all tender motions to repentance: so that their mistake about their duty to God, is as mischievous as their rebellion against him.

Oh, and there was one other thing that we shouldn’t forget; when we grew up in the church, the ridicule and everything else we received for our beliefs, tended not to effectually to bind us to Christ, but rather, it unfortunately brought us together in the bond of a cult.  Add to that the sickly pietistic statements of Ellen White, and we incurred an incredible “us against them mentality,” which became a hole from which we never wanted to leave. Why? because we could always put our “SDA blinders” on and pull the top down. You see, we had the Sabbath, we had the church, and when things looked really bad, we even had Ellen White (though it made us nauseous and called for protests every time someone brought her name up, even then).  

We also had each other, but we often didn’t like each other, and we often didn’t trust each other.  How many times, when someone in the church hurt us in some way, did we not say, “now that was a real Adventist thing to do.”  But there we were, we had each other, and we encouraged each other that we were the church, and that we were the “Remnant,” we were going to come out of this and God was going to “cook” everyone else.

But there was another side to this thinking.   The other side  to this thought pattern was when we were told to whip the church up for an evangelistic campaign, which I believe, is something that should have a specific spiritual reason, a lot of prayer, and much soul-searching on the part of pastor and congregation before commencing. But almost all aspects of this were handled as a “business campaign,” and it was embarked upon before the membership felt any real need to search for souls.  Why did we do this? Because the “Conference brethren” knew that it would increase our “offering plate” and make our numbers look good.  “It was all,” confided one Conference leader, “a numbers game.”

Worse, these evangelistic endeavors usually involved working to “steal” members from other churches rather than finding lost souls for Christ. But for us this could be easily justified, because we were the only “Remnant Church” out there. Since the other churches didn’t have the “Sabbath,” they were going to hell anyways. Often, we looked for churches in our areas that were splitting up, because we knew that the members would be hurting, vulnerable and susceptible to change.  In short, this wasn’t about searching for lost sheep this was simply about “heads,” and about the numbers. Remembering this is painful, isn’t it?  However, it is as Jesus said, He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them.” Unfortunately, we were both the “hired hands” and the wolves. And I confess, that for a time I ran with those wolves. I also confess that I have asked God for forgiveness for my part in it. Fortunately, I don’t think that for Jesus, the sheep were ever a numbers game; he searches for every last, lost and hurting sheep. My testimony here is that he searched for me, and I know that he has searched for you also. You and I can be thankful for this for you and I are the sheep of his pasture.

Yes, sometimes people can make us feel so “cheap” and so “inferior” that we do just want to tuck our tails between our legs and slink away.  In those tumultuous  moments in the storms of our lives, if our hearts, our trust, our “person-hood,” our ego, and/or self-esteem are not directly anchored in Christ, we may then lose our grip and turn away to hide in our groups or our cults, or we will turn to our idols and addictions, and often will.  It is in these despairing  moments that we will slink away, lie to ourselves, and/or compromise our integrity in some manner. 

However, my dear struggling, tempest-tossed Christian, if you have asked Jesus to be your Savior, and have accepted his finished work in your behalf, then believe that he still loves you.  Even if we do fall and turn away from Jesus, that doesn’t mean that we need to stay discouraged or believe that we are outside of his grace, we are still accepted in the Beloved. Rest assured that Christ is still right there with us, his blood has already been applied to the mercy-seat, once for all, and for each and every one of our sins.  But we need and want to go back to Him, confessing our sins, and thanking Him for his grace and mercy. And yes, we will be compelled to let the Holy Spirit convict our hearts of sin and turn our focus back to him.

The problem when I left Adventism, was that I could not comprehend a God that would or could love me when I messed up. He had to be mad at me, –I was mad at me. I was often so mad at myself, that I would go out and do the same sin again, or maybe even do something worse.  How is that for making sense?  Dear friend, may I make a pastoral word? If your experience has been like mine, where you may have become so ashamed of your betrayal of Christ, your betrayal of yourself, or betrayal of your spouse or family, that you cannot make yourself face God; that is, to face God and ask once again for Him to forgive you of your sins… I encourage you to go and face God anyways and ask him for his forgiveness. There is always a way open to the mercy-seat; there is always forgiveness for you there, you are his child, and he will never let you go.  

Maybe, that is the point… 

It was the German Poet Goethe, who once declared that, “talent is formed in solitude, but character in the storms of life,” so it is in the storms of our life, when God has broken us, and convicted our hearts with the light of the Gospel and turned us around and pointed us back to him, that is when he gives us our commission to proclaim the Gospel, and He keeps giving us different assignments with the Gospel throughout our lives.  To be sure, the Gospel is first given to us for us to be continually preached to ourselves and to be used in convicting us of our own sins; pointing us back to God, but it has also given to us to proclaim to anyone who will listen. The Gospel is not just given to ministers to proclaim–though it seems that we are given an extra burden to do so, but the Gospel declaration is for each of us to “proclaim broadly.”  Paul said that we are to, Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage–with great patience and careful instruction” 2 Timothy 4:2.  That means that we are to preach or proclaim the word, (and for Paul, that Divinely given “word” which was to be proclaimed was always centered on the Gospel, not the Sabbath.) both when that proclamation is comfortable and also when it is decidedly uncomfortable. Further, we are to be “prepared” to proclaim the word. Why? Because Paul says that there is going to be trouble.  Look at the reasons he lists in 2 Timothy 4:3 as to why we should expect trouble, “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires,…” Sound familiar?

Even as ordinary Christians, you and I are part of that surrogation into whose hands God has entrusted his sword of Truth.

Thus, I am encouraging both myself and you, to draw His sword of Truth in His defense against all the enemies of His Grace and the Gospel.  That is  why we are also told to put on the whole armour of God, For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” Ephesians 6:12.  In short, “the people who will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled,” are on “the dark side,” the Bible says that Satan is their father John 8:44, therefore, they have “cosmic powers” and spiritual forces of evil” fighting for them.  Yes, you had better be prepared!  We are to be prepared mentally, physically as well as spiritually.  Look what God says “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies. God wants us in our “A” game. God wants us to be fully prepared for the cosmic battle going on right now, and what we are reflecting about here is part of it; you are either in, or you are out.  By the way, sitting on the fence post means that you are out.

This is where I want to go…  

It is not about me, even though I was a part of that cult and for a while later, part of the walking wounded. It is about the commission to proclaim the Gospel. Seriously, isn’t that what our testimony and our lives should be really about?  Isn’t, the highest form of the proclamation of the Gospel, our own testimony about what God has done for us through the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross?  The Gospel proclamation of necessity involves our testimony of our move out of spiritual darkness into His glorious light.   There is no room for ego here.  As my dear friend and  favorite Old Testament professor once sternly admonished me, “Michael, we are only beggars, telling other beggars where to find bread.”

It is not about the Seventh-day Adventist leadership, even though the leadership, including Ellen White, will be responsible to God for their works as, “seducers deceiving, and being deceived”  2 Timothy 3:13. God is not a respecter of persons. Rest assured, they will be judged in the light of the Gospel. Yes, Jesus will say to them, “Woe to you experts in the law, because you have taken away the key to knowledge [the Gospel]. You yourselves have not entered, and you have hindered those who were entering”  Luke 11:52.  

It is not even about the Seventh-day Adventist cult itself, though it has been a platform of darkness:  The Lord Jesus Christ has already described them and their fate,  “Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews [God’s remnant people], and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee” Revelation 3:9. 

The cause in question requires a worthy defender, not for its own weakness, but for the multitude and strength of its oppositions.

Yes, you and I are called to be those worthy defenders. And though it is not about us, it does involve us. If I may re-paraphrase Thomas Adams, “God has entrusted us to draw the sword of Truth in his defense against all the enemies of his grace and the gospel.  Therefore, if any good may hereby be encouraged, any evil weakened, be assured, our reward is in full.”  “Zion shall be redeemed with judgment, and her converts with righteousness” Isaiah 1:27.   In consideration of the blinders which Seventh-day Adventists have on, it is no wonder that the Gospel is veiled to them.   But understand that Almighty God will not be trifled with, that “even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God”  2 Corinthians 4:3-4.  Remember, according to the Apostle Paul, there is no other Gospel alternative or option, there is no other consideration or human opinion, the fudging of the facts will not be accepted by God, there is only an “another Gospel.”  As William Penn said above, “There is no flying from his final justice, for those that reject the terms of his mercy.”  

No, it is about none of us; it is about truth; it is about the truth about God.  It is about who He is and what He has said. It is about His Glory.

This testimony is not about me, even though this is my testimony. It is not about the leadership of Seventh-day Adventism. It is not about the “church,” or the cult.  It is not about you; even though it involves each of us.  

It is all about Him; it is about the Gospel, and it is about His Glory.

lament-250x300…I just wanted to clear the air.  And I want us to be really sure that our focus is on the Gospel.  It is all about Him. Let us use this information and next talk about the platform by which the theology of Seventh-day Adventism is based, and then contrast it to true Biblical theology, so that the light of the Gospel may shine forth alone in all its splendor …and so also, that the darkness in spiritual places which we identify, correct, rebuke and encourage to change –with great patience and careful instruction, may turn to the light of the Gospel, or if not, to flee…

Rescue those being led away to death;
    hold back those staggering toward slaughter.
If you say, “But we knew nothing about this,”
    does not he who weighs the heart perceive it?
Does not he who guards your life know it?
–Proverbs 24:11-12

[In the modern era of easy religion and seeker friendly churches, the question still needs to be asked, and earnestly answered; what is, or what do we mean when we use the term,  “the Gospel,” or “the Good News?”  The Gospel in holy scriptures is the “Good News” of what Jesus has done for us; it is the declaration of the Great Atonement made by Jesus Christ for sin.  That is, the blood work demanded was completely paid at the cross for all the sins of all of the Elect, of all the ages, who are in Christ Jesus.  God’s Holy Word faithfully helps us to understand that the “Good News” encompasses the fact that Jesus is not just to be our Savior, but that he is also to be the Lord and Master of our lives. Why? Because  Jesus is our salvation from sin, he does not save us in sin. Why is this important? Because salvation from sin not only necessitates and validates the work of the Cross, it also mandates a clear call to repentance of sin from the Christian. You cannot have the one without the other.  If you have accepted Jesus as your Savior and Lord, you Christian, are also called to faithfully walk differently from the world and its values.  You not only have a new Savior and Master, you have a new life! –M.W.P.]

[My intention is, by the Grace of God, to release one part each week as I am able…MWP.]