I’ve met people who want their religion to be entirely of the head and who go into a tizzy at the very hint of the presence of Holy Spirit in any real way and more so if it is alleged that a demon may be present. But deny the supernatural and we have no real category for dealing with the life of God. Or treating the Bible as a description of reality. Which means we have to create our own sub-reality where we think to control God. Where there is no spirit, there is no vision - but there is religion of a mechanical kind. We can have the kingdom of God or we can perpetuate an institution of church and Sabbath school and run Sanitariums that could do what they do if God did not exist. We can do all this persuade ourselves that we are doing God’s work. We may be doing some of it but only a few drops when rivers of living water are at hand.
‘As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy,drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give’ Matt 10.7,8 NIV.
Adventism is a child of deism. It posits a bifurcated realm of rationalism/materialism versus the supernatural. Versus the supernatural in that Adventism believes in God. It is the product of Ellen White’s visions. (It’s hard to get anything less supernatural than a vision.) Yet mechanical and material in the sense that Adventism is heavily tainted with logical positivism, as one might expect being soaked in a climate of law. It’s not that there is no place for spirit and the supernatural. It’s just that this is in heaven or far off in ‘Jesus’ Day,’ in the ‘island fields’ or ‘somewhere else.’ But definitely not now! Maybe there is one exception. Unless one is so desperately ill that an ‘anointing’ is called for, which sadly is generally recognized by ‘the fading’ as the kiss of death.
‘For He was teaching them as one having authority, and not as their scribes’ Matt 7.29 NIV.
Jesus had authority, not as the scribes and law addicts. All Believers have similar authority if they are living in the new covenant life of Jesus instead of the disabilities of Adam. Adventists are not big on authority in the manner in which Jesus wielded it. More acquainted are they with the authority of the scribes than the kind Jesus wielded over sickness and demons. I had never heard of the word cessationism when I was at Avondale. We assumed that the age of miracles had passed. But anyone who has had some association with Spirit-filled Believers would know that this is not so. Cessationism is the air Adventism breathes. There are those who would advise us to have no interest in those who emphasize experience. Clearly they want us to continue to subsist in an experience where the absence of God is the norm. There is a reason why healing and signs are seen among those who expect and practice them. It’s called belief.
In Adventism, humans are held to have no spirit. This means that the incarnation of the Spirit of Christ in human flesh is more a notion than a reality. And more so because they are into law rather than Spirit. Never mind that the letter kills. The key reality for these Believers is not the Spirit of Christ. It is the law.
‘He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit’ Titus 3.5 NIV.
Adventism believes in the law come in the flesh. The law may be ascertained by reading the Bible, discovering the meaning and putting it into practice by means of the will and assorted acts of self-abnegation and self-discipline. In the religion of Ellen White you think, eat, do and Sabbath your way to heaven. Here Sabbath is ‘the way, the truth and the life.’
‘Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me’ John 14.6 NIV.
I worked with a teacher whose focus was on students being ‘thinkers.’ Their evidence of maturity would be seen in their ability to think their way into the ‘inherent and (according to them) indisputable logic’ of the Adventist belief system. Adventism takes a pride in its watertight interlocking version of the truth. ‘They have an answer for everything’ some wag has said. Adventists belief they ‘have the truth’ and that their truth is supported by the objective evidence of the Bible.
As a small boy I attended an Adventist primary school on our property in New South Wales. Such schools were set up all around the country to teach the gospel of Ellen White and the pioneers because this was deemed to be a new revelation of God. ‘Truth’ to Christianity in general is the gospel of the Kingdom according to the prophets, Jesus and the apostles. The gospel as taught by Paul is the Gospel of the Kingdom and those who preach this gospel continue the apostle’s teaching. Apostolic teaching comes from the Father, through Jesus and the Spirit to be manifest and disseminated by those living in the Spirit of Christ. The Bible is our objective reference when read through the Jesus lens. The ultimate revelation to the church and the world is Jesus Christ. But in Adventism Jesus is smothered in and subservient to the law.
‘And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church’ Eph 1.22 NIV.
Adventism began with a colossal mistake and continued with its revisionist doctrines of law and judgment. It remains as a s subtle undoing of the plan that was instituted before creation and revealed in the person of Jesus Christ - the mystery of Christ in you; of Christ come in the flesh and of Christ our life. It needs to be seen for the ‘ism’ it is - a cunningly devised fable.
‘I have become its servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness— the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the Lord’s people. To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory’ Col 1.25-27 NIV.
Adventism is the gospel that Adventists believe and teach. This is the reason of the Lesson Quarterly and Adventist Education - meant as the means of teaching truth but existing as a system of indoctrination. Truth, to be verified as truth, must be able to be disproved. Dis-provability is a key component of genuine knowledge as compared to wishful thinking and fantasy.
Normally the dis-provability test would occur by an objective comparison of beliefs with the Bible. But Ellen White and Adventism has subtly invented its own interpretation of the Bible where the text is massaged around its law centric culture and distinctives. Thus there is the certain conviction that they are loyal to ‘Bible Truth.’ But such truth is a distortion of the Bible, the testimony of Jesus and the apostles doctrine.
THE THINKING PERSON
To the Adventist there is great merit in being ‘a thinking person.’ The inference is that if all Christians were thinking persons they would all be Sabbath-keepers and Adventists. Ordinary Adventists can be amazed that other Christians ‘cannot see the Sabbath.’ They cannot see it because they know that in the new testament Christ in us has replaced the law outside us. They know that Jesus is our life and our righteousness; they know that Christ is all and in all. They know that the gospel of the Kingdom is Christ come in our flesh - not the law come in our flesh. They know that Jesus is our peace, our Sabbath rest and the guarantee of our union with God. They know Jesus is the certainty our place in eternity with the Heavenly Family
Adventist belief is consistent with itself because it is a closed system. It is verified internally by the inter-locking logic of its beliefs that are in turn supported by the claim to revelation. Adventist doctrine is supported by its Ellen White construction of the Bible text. This is not an ‘official Bible,’ although a ‘Clear Word Bible’ has been made to embody Mrs White’s Other Gospel. The Clear Word is a presumptuous and revisionist contraction of the fullness of Christ into the meanness of Adventism’s gospel of the knowledge of good and evil.
‘As the Scriptures say, "God has put them into a deep sleep. To this day he has shut their eyes so they do not see, and closed their ears so they do not hear’ Rom 11.8 NIV.
These assumptions and view-points may be called the Ellen White lens. But none of these beliefs can stand on their own. Neither can they be supported by scripture that is un-massaged by Ellen White’s assumptions. Yet because of ‘the package’ it can appear to these Believers that they have the right answer for everything and that they are Bible Believing Christians. However Adventism also delivers a strange insecurity. Adventists are sensitive to the questioning of their assumptions. They resent a critique of their views and are destabilized by any attempt to imply that their truth is not the truth, that other churches are not Babylon and that they themselves may be captive to a delusion. Could this be because their heart knows they have put their faith in a straw man? Adventism would do well to address the elephant in the room: Adventism itself.
There is an out. There is a way of escape. Jesus came to set captives free. It comes from asking the real Jesus, the Christ of God (not the one of the Desire of Ages) to reveal Himself. It comes from the prayer where we say, ‘Open our eyes Lord. We want to see Jesus.’ In Jesus all veils like false christ’s and non-gospels are taken away.
‘Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away’ 2 Cor 3.15,16 NIV.