Sermon Thoughts: Pastor Edwin’s Kingdom Come Series/ My own Eschatological Bents

Pastor Edwin Rideout of the Family Christian Center is three sermons into a sermon series that’ effectively dealing with the issue of the events of the end times, specifically those revolving around the kingdom of Christ coming. Throughout the sermon series he seeks to convey certain things, all through an understanding of what the eternal kingdom is, and the mechanisms of the final system that in its evil and rebellion will come against the kingdom, resulting in the events of the end time.

A bit more specifically, he delves into issues such as what the final system is, talking about the second coming, the antichrist, the tribulation. He spends a fair amount of time making the case that the system that will be used by God is the false, demonic religion known as Islam. That through the rise, spread, and propagation of Islam- and because of the enmity between Jacob and Esau that was foreshadowed in the scriptures, that the Muslims will play an integral role in the end times. We are told that the Koran is a demonic book, that Islam teaches evil and has evil intentions, and that  more than likely, with the build up of the Muslim population in Russia, that Russia will arm the Middle East and the Muslim nations with weapons, who will then attack Israel in the battle of Armageddon. The Muslim and Islamic system is what Satan will use to destroy Israel, and one might say that the Lord is using Russia and the Muslim Middle-East nations as instruments of God’s judgment and wrath- against themselves.

REFLECTIONS

While I am anxious to hear more of the matter, to see how this sermon series culminates, I don’t have much of a review to do perse, but I did want to share some thoughts, for a reason. Primarily to offer this as an example of an area where we can utterly and completely disagree, and it doesn’t mean it has to blow into some big thing. Because here’s the deal- I don’t have the same eschatological views as he does. I don’t care at all about end-time issues, partly because I don’t see what sort of benefit, relevance or impact having anything other than a broad understanding  of it could possibly have on my life. Eschatology for me is a long, winding and confusing road, and I think this is probably one of those rare times when almost any interpretation could very well be valid.

If I had to classify myself, I would say that I am more than likely some form of quasi-partial preterist/ historicist, who believes that most of the book of revelation was fulfilled prior to 70AD. I don’t believe in a rapture [and in fact, would suggest that if we examine the biblical record, that as far as scenarios are reflected, that you WANT to be left behind. That is to say, throughout the context of the scriptures Jesus uses judgment language reminiscent of the Babylonian destruction of Jerusalem and the subsequent exile of its inhabitants. Those who were taken away were the ones judged by God whereas those left behind were the remnant who received grace.]

That’s what I essentially believe, but I wouldn’t start a new church over it. Furthermore, unless it bled into the rest of their theology in some really destructive and sinister ways, I fully believe this is a tertiary issue that would not affect how I view a Church. I’m not going to write a post critiquing his use of scripture interpretation regarding this sort of thing. That is, in my mind, very unfruitful. I have my opinions, but I could very well be wrong. I hold eschatological ideas very loosely. Part of that comes from surveying the history of the world since the ascendancy of Christ. People say that we are in the end times, and I do believe that in a general sense- that Christ will return one day for his bride. Absolutely. But there is nothing about this time that stands apart or is unique from any other time in history. We are not more evil or more depraved. The world is not worse now that it has been at different epochs throughout history. Immorality is not more widespread that it has been in the past. Nothing about this time in 2011 would leave me to believe that we are anything special.

We don’t know what would be the geo-political situation if Christ should tarry for a few thousand years. Perhaps we’ll have had several world wars by then which will have essentially ravaged and scorched the earth. Perhaps North America will have become the new mecca and the new Muslim power. Perhaps we will be living on Mars and the population of the world will have been decimated to a few thousand people living in underground colonies.  Perhaps Islam will have died out- gone the way of the ancient Greek gods and mythos, and a new world religion will reign that Islam will pale in comparison to.

Who knows. I don’t think I or anyone knows, nor do I think Pastor Edwin knows. For that reason I would caution him to frame his thoughts in terms of educated or probable guesses, possible interpretations instead of assured fact. But even if he wants to roll that way- that’s his prerogative. This is not something worth dividing about. This is not something worth parsing on my end. For that reason, in that context and approaching them with that mindset, I find these sermons to be informative, educational, and edifying. I certainly share his concerns over the Muslim faith and its increasing rise to prominence. I too consider the Koran to be a demonically inspired and don’t believe Allah to be Jehovah in any way shape or form. I pray for people trapped in Islam, that they might repent of their false religion and be forgiven of their sins so that they might have eternal life. I also find this to be an imminently courageous sermon to preach, and look forward to hearing the rest.

Great Quote: Why We Love the Church; by Kevin DeYoung and Ted Kluck

Why we love the church is an excellent, excellent book. In one of the most powerful paragraphs in the book, DeYoung and Kluck point out how most of the criticisms addressed to the church are self-contradictory:

“The church-is-lame crowd hates Constantine and notions of Christendom, but they want the church to be a patron of the arts, and run after-school programs, and bring the world together in peace and love. They bemoan the over-programmed church, but then think of a hundred complex, resource-hungry things the church should be doing. They don’t like the church because it is too hierarchical, but then hate it when it has poor leadership. They wish the church could be more diverse, but then leave to meet in a coffee shop with other well-educated thirtysomethings who are into film festivals, NPR, and carbon offsets. They want more of a family spirit, but too much family and they’ll complain that the church is “inbred.” They want the church to know that its reputation with outsiders is terrible, but then are critical when the church is too concerned with appearances. They chide the church for not doing more to address social problems, but then complain when the church gets too political. They want church unity and decry all our denominations, but fail to see the irony in the fact that they have left to do their own thing because they can’t find a single church that can satisfy them. They are critical of the lack of community in the church, but then want services that allow for individualized worship experiences. They want leaders with vision, but don’t want anyone to tell them what to do or how to think. They want a church where the people really know each other and care for each other, but then they complain the church today is an isolated country club, only interested in catering to its own members. They want to be connected with history, but are sick of the same prayers and same style every week. They call for not judging “the spiritual path of other believers who are dedicated to pleasing God and blessing people,” and then they blast the traditional church in the harshest, most unflattering terms.”

Ask me anything: Answers I

 

1. You seem to have a lot of problems with different Churches that you review. Why do you always nitpick? Do you review your own Church? What do they think about your criticisms?

I don’t have a lot of problems with churches that I review. In fact, I love the church and would suggest that most of the churches in town are doing a wonderful job. For this reason, I would endorse almost all of them. As far as nitpicking, I’m honest when I think I’m reaching that point, and will admit in my posts “this next point is a nitpick” That said, critiquing the misuse of scripture in sermons is not nitpicking. I think handling and rightly dividing the word of God is of supreme importance, and having the expectation that pastors be precise in their use of scriptures is not asking too much. There are some people who are unsettled with the “bereanification” of their sermons, and I can’t help that much. All I can is that it is without malice, and I wish for warm relationships with everyone, despite our differences. As for the last two parts, I do not attend a church regularly, though there is one that I try to attend when I can. I do review the sermons of the Church I attend infrequently, and I am unsure how they feel about the matter, though. I suppose if I were a member it would be a different matter, and they would rightfully have stronger opinions.

2. I love your review’s!!!! I think you should (amp) it up when it comes to the false doctrine that is being spilled out in Fort Mac institutional church program system….. My only beef is you are a little to “REFORMED” in your Theological approach to the scriptures for my taste…But other than that I love your site and your humor…. You need to start a small group bro, in Fort Mac and keep it (MID-RASH) style.. Anyway keep up the good work hommie…

Thanks, Mike! I think I’m pretty good about writing against false doctrine preached from Churches when I see it. You can read my reviews of the TOP Church, for example, to see that I don’t pull punches. As for other stuff, you’d have to give me examples of what the Fort McMurray institutional church program system does that is conducive to false doctrine. Some stuff I don’t care for, and others I may not be the biggest fan of, but their way doesn’t have to be my way, and so I want to have grace with that and that’s not the sort of thing that I’m going to point out.   No church is perfect, and I don’t want to rag against a church when it is simply being institutionally imperfect. As for the reformed comment, haha, I will say that it didn’t come easy. I grew up Roman Catholic, and then after I left town to attend college I found myself in a hyper-charismatic Church with a propensity to teach some very bad things. Reformed theology has been a warm blanket to me, and an awakening

As far as starting a home group,  I have thought about it. I think I would be good at it, and that people would benefit from going deep into God’s word, and that God would gain glory by it. When I was in college, under the ministry of IFCV, I taught a bible study and prayer group that grew from about 3 people to 25 in about three months time, right before I left. That was a little different though. In terms of a local mid-rash style small group, the only thing is that I would be reticent to do that apart from being under the authority of a local Fort McMurray Church. That is to say, I would be too fearful that starting my own thing without any source of tangible ecclesiastical authority over me would aggravate my already existing propensity for pride, and that would not be good for my soul. Rather, my first instinct is to become part of an already existing one, and study the word of God alongside my peers and alongside established elders. I’ve already posted my desire for this here. Perhaps one day I will attempt to start one, but for now I am content to keep on looking.

3. What are your current views on the issue of the Christ’s relationship to the Eucharist? As I understand it, consubstantialism and even the Real Presence are not inherently opposed to Reformed Thought (I’m thinking Lutherans and Traditional Anglicans); moreover, you of all people would be aware of the East’s assertion of the Real Presence (as well as the sacrificial quality) of the Eucharist. So, what do you believe regarding this issue? (I ask because I think this is a central issue in the entire scheme of ecclesiology)

Because your second question involves more than just me, I will answer it privately in a little while. As far as the first question, I believe that eating the body and drinking the blood of Christ is more powerful and potent that most churches give it credit for. In the NT, we see people taking it carelessly and recklessly and being executed by God for it; that has to mean it is more than mere symbolism or memorialism.

On that note, I really don’t like the practice of only taking communion once a month, or even once a season, as some churches do. I find it such an essential, beautiful, and spiritual part of the life of the believer and the function of the church, that I want to take it every week, and would take it every day if I could. As for specific beliefes regarding it, I  honestly vacillate between two positions. One is a form of consubstantiation where  in the communion, the body and blood of Christ, and the bread and wine, coexist in union with each other. Luther illustrated it by the analogy of the iron put into the fire whereby both fire and iron are united in the red-hot iron and yet each continues unchanged. The other would be a form of pneumatic presence that is attractive to me, but which I haven’t thought enough about. I will say though that in the tradition of my reformed brethren, that I would handily reject transubstantiation and anything else that takes God the Son out of heaven and puts him into my body.

fort mcmurray church girls; setting the world afire one mini-skirt at a time

I had the chance to go to Church this past weekend [name witheld to protect the innocent] and I must say that I had  good time. [recognizing of course that Church does not exist so that I can have a good time]. I though the music was worshipful, the message fairly edifying, the people very friendly, and the atmosphere thoroughly joyful. There was only one thing that really bothered me about the whole affair- the fact that many of the teen girls and young adults I saw were dressed in what I would delicately consider “immodest” attire. Plainly said, there was a looooot of skin.

I arrived there and sat back and realized that summer must be in full force, because many people were dressed like they were ready for a day at the beach. At some point, right after the call for the tithes and offerings, I half expected the ushers to bring out beach umbrellas and sunscreen so that these women might enjoy the message while being properly shielded from the sun. Some of these ladies, undoubtedly youth group girls by the way they all sat next to each other and raised their hands during worship, were quite young- probably in their early-to-mid-teens. Other pocketfuls were older, probably in their late teens to early twenties, and unfortunately were dressed no better.

They were wearing bright tank-tops, short skirts, bra straps strewn across shoulders, shorts, and ripped denim short-shorts which were raised up to an impossibly high angle. One girl had on what appeared to be a tube top. When we stood up to greet our neighbors, multiple women had their cleavage was on full display for all to see.  I watched some older men who were easily old enough to be their fathers, glance down at these girls and then quickly away, embarrassedly trying to make eye contact only, as they shook their hands and welcomed them to church that day. The Church boys, less tactful, simply stared and opened their arms;  awaiting with anticipation their greeting  which consisted of side-hugs.

This was not a small church, and while I concede that they may have all been concentrated in one small area  [I seemed to be behind the "youth section"] I think my random sampling was probably not atypical of how many of the women were dressing. And not just in this church, but probably in several churches in the Fort McMurray area.

A random sampling from various local Church websites will show that they would have everyone come to church dressed in what makes them comfortable. That seems to be the general rule; though I’m not sure how helpful it is when expectations are lowered. I also think I would not be overstepping when I say that this level of “comfortableness” is probably not what they had in mind. I understand that you’re always going to have guests who may come in wearing clothes that are sketchy. I think this is unavoidable and I don’t think it’s wise or particularly loving to confront them as they come in or as they leave and tell them that what they’re wearing is immodest, and that they need to wear something else next time. I don’t think that’s right. At the same time that is very different than girls who have been attending for years coming to Church wearing what I would consider objectively immodest apparel.

Part of me wants to say that these young girls should know better, but I’m not sure that’s the case. Many of these women don’t know better, because their parents, pastor, elders, pastors wife, youth pastors wife, or deacons have never told them that being scantily clad for Church isn’t legit. They go to school like this, to work like this, they go shopping like this and hang out like this, and so why should church be any different?  I think in light of scripture that a disservice is being done, and in fact it would not be out of bounds for these women to be gently taken aside and explained that in light of the biblical commands in scripture that women [and men]  should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control. I’m not sure how well they would react to it. I imagine some would be thankful and some would get upset, but I think this would be a gentle aspect of church discipline, for the sake of the strengthening of the church body as a whole.

What do you all think? Have you been in a Church like this? Am I being too critical in my analysis of what might constitute immodesty? What are the girls and young women wearing in your church? Is it unreasonable to approach them and tell them to dress up a little bit? How has this summer-time situation played out in your Church?

“I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling; likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works.” 1 Timothy 2:8-10.

Rethink: the form or appearance of evil

Abstain from all appearances of evil” (KJV)

“Abstain from every form of evil” (ESV)

I have had this verse in the KJV quoted to me many times by other Christians, and have heard it used in all sorts of contexts. Primarily it has been used as a catch-all verse to chide people over things that they felt lent the appearance of evil, such as going to the movies, going out to the bar, being alone with a girl, listening to secular music, staying over at the house of the opposite sex, hanging out with the wrong crowd, etc. I know of a man who was told that he shouldn’t ride his motorcycle, because people would think he was in a biker gang of some kind, and so he should avoid the appearance of that.

Here’s what I would posit and ask. Should we read it as “abstain from all appearance of evil ” or would it make sense to understand it as “Abstain from all evil as it is appearing?” I think the KJV does us a disservice in this, as virtually all modern translations say “form of evil” .  We ought to abstain from the form of real evil, not perceived “this-could-be-taken-by-some-to-be-evil”, as it appears. We don’t want to be in a situation where people get to look at things that are adiaphora and then be the arbiters of whether something is evil, and then tell others they should avoid it because it simply appears evil. No. We are talking about settled, tangible, established biblical evil.

Paul had something specific in mind when he wrote this, which I believe is about the false prophecies. We will see this is true as we retrace the immediate context for verse 22.  Notice the logical flow of the argument about prophetic utterances in vv. 19-22:

-“Do not quench the Spirit” (v. 19) [the general exhortation]

-“Do not despise prophetic utterances (v. 20) [the specific negative aspect of the

exhortation]

-“But examine everything carefully” (v. 21) [the contrasting positive aspect of the exhortation]

-“hold fast to that which is good” (v. 22) [what to do with good prophecies after examining]

-“abstain from every form of evil” or “every evil form of utterance” (v. 23) [what to do with the evil prophetic utterances].

I think thats the proper context to put this in. I also wonder at the fact that Jesus did not seemingly avoid the appearance of evil. After all, He and his disciples picked grain on the Sabbath, and they did not ceremoniously wash their hands before eating. Both of those “appeared” evil. Furthermore, Jesus ate with the tax-collectors, prostitutes, and other sinners, another thing which was regarded as evil.

The reality is that this particular exhortation to avoid the appearance of evil is a faulty moral pillar that needs to be toppled. While we always want to use wisdom and care in our words and actions, we need to reject the wanton needs of people who needlessly lay sin at our door. We should avoid all evil as it appears to us, specifically in regard to prophetic utterances, but there is no command from God in this particular to avoid any and all actions which may appear evil to some.

John MacArthur; 42 years to preach through the New Testament

Fred Butler at the hipandthigh writes

This past Sunday, June 5th, 2011, John MacArthur accomplished something that is extremely rare in Christendom. He finished preaching through the entire New Testament, methodically exegeting verse by verse.

To our knowledge here a Grace this hasn’t been done in over a hundred years or more. The one person that comes immediately to my mind is John Gill, who preached through both the OT and NT, but that was in the 1700s.

It was an emotional moment. John’s last sermon was on the longer ending of Mark, chapter 16:9-20. It was a encouraging message that explained the confidence we can have in the integrity of the Scriptures.

The message can be downloaded here: A Fitting End To Mark’s Gospel

The Sunday evening before that, John did a Q&A with the audience. He opened by sharing a bit about his thoughts and feeling with finishing the NT. A number of the questions asked had to do with his ministry. It, too, is worth the download to listen. Q&A Part 58

You can listen to all 42 years worth of his preaching online for free. This is a gift to the Church, both in its original delivery and its modern availability. Think of it- it took him 10 years to preach through Luke, and 8 years to preach through Matthew, and I was able to download and listen to those particular 18 years of preaching in less than 10 months.  I have been incredibly blessed by John’s ministry, having listened to about half of his sermons thus far.  His impact on my life is incalculable. The main is a wonderful, blessed, imperfect saint, and I love him for it.

The Bible Design Blog

There is a fantastic and innovative blog called the Bible Design Blog, which is run by J. Mark Bertrand. Th stated purpose of the blog, is to be a space where bible aesthetics are reviewed and discussed.  He delves into things like binding, [sewn or glued] paper quality and opaqueness, the quality of the leather,the grain of the leather, paper ghosting, fonts and typeset, layout and design of the text, the colour of the leather, streamers and complicators, rebinding, and everything else that goes into designing a new bible. It is a fascinating look into something that is not often considered, and well worth a look.

Check it out

Example #2

ask me anything- question and answers for the creator of this blog

I thought it would be only fair to open this up for a Q&A about me, where people could ask me anything about what I believe, teach, and confess about theology, morality, how I run this site, or just every day things. I am seeing a bit of growth on the site- or at least I do when I update it regularly, and I don’t want to be known as one of those places that hides behind a  wall and anonymously throws rocks at passerby’s. I don’t think I am, but with no pictures or information about me, I could see how that could be the perception. Transparency is a good thing. Seeing as how this small site only gets between 50-125 hits a day, almost all from the For McMurray area, I in no way expect an inquisitive outpouring. It would be nice though to get a handful of questions that I could respond to. If you are interested, leave your questions in the comment section, and Ill get to them in good time.

A letter from Lijsken Dircks to her husband Jerome Segers.

This is the second letter which was written by Lijsken Dircks to her beloved Husband Jerome Segers. Both Lijsken and Jerome had been imprionsed in Antwerp in Brabant, and send letters to each other, carried by Jeromes mother, to console and encourage each other in the faith, to be strong amidst the torture, to be brave before their imminent deaths, and to cling to Christ even tighter despite the persecution. I am as always struck at the scriptural knowledge and biblical encouragement that she gives her husband. Not many women talk and think and act this way, anymore.  It is, of course, a moving, beautiful, and devastating  letter.

Grace and peace be to both of us from God the Father, and the love of the Son, and the communion of the Holy Ghost be with us, to the strengthening, consolation, joy, and salvation of our souls.

My beloved husband in the Lord, know that at first the time seemed very long to me, because I was not used to imprisonment, and heard nothing but temptations to depart from the Lord. They said, “Why do you trouble yourself with the Scriptures; attend to your sewing. It seems that you would follow the apostles; where are the signs which you do? They spake with different tongues, after they had received the Holy Ghost.”  And they said, “Where is your language which you received through the Holy Ghost?” But it is sufficient for us; that we have believed through their word, as John tells us, where Christ says, “Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word.” . Herewith I commend you to the Lord; the grace of God be with us always.

Thanks be to God the Father, who had and showed such love to us, that He gave His dear Son for us; may He give us such love, joy, wisdom, and such a steadfast mind, through Christ, and through the power of the Holy Spirit, that we may prevail against all ravenous beasts, dragons, serpents, and all the gates of hell, which are now using great subtlety to seize, deceive, destroy, and seduce our souls. Well may we therefore humbly pray the Lord without ceasing, day and night; for the devourer walks about us, seeking whore he ‘may devour; for we are not ignorant of his designs. But though they are very crafty, yet the Lord’s hand is not shortened, in them that love Him, and do His will; for the eyes of the Lord are upon those that love Him, and His ears are open unto their cry; but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil.

Hence, let everyone take good heed, that the face of the Lord be not against him; for the soul that sinneth, it shall die, unless he repent before the Lord come. But we are not assured of the time when the Lord will come; for He shall come as a thief in the night.  Hence, we may well pray the Lord for one another, that our flight be not on the Sabbath Day, when we are idle, nor in the winter, when we have no fruit on our trees, for every tree which bringeth forth not good fruit shall be hewn down, and cast into the fire; but every tree that beareth good fruit, He shall purge, that it may bring forth fruit abundantly. The mouth of the Lord also tells us, “If any man sin willfully . . . there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. The law of Moses was so strict,that he who transgressed it had to die without mercy under two or three witnesses; of how much sorer punishment shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God?”

The Holy Ghost also declares, “If we be dead with him, we shall also live with him; if we suffer we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us: if we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself.” “Seeing we are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame; who threatened not, when he suffered for our sins unto the salvation of our souls.” Thus we also, my most beloved in the Lord, to His praise, and to the consolation of all dear friends. I wish to us both the crucified Saviour for an everlasting joy and strength. I trust to the Lord, who alone is wise, and who has given His wisdom only to the simple, the innocent and outcasts of this world, that He will comfort us till our travail is over.

My dear husband in the Lord, whom I married before God and His church, and with whom they say I have lived in adultery, because I was not married in Baal; but the Lord says, “Rejoice, when all men shall speak evil of you, for my name’s sake: rejoice, and be exceeding glad; for great is your reward in heaven.”

Know, that I have wept much, because you were grieved on my account, having heard that I said that I had often spoken to you about moving away from Assuerus, and that you did not do it; be content concerning this, my most beloved in the Lord, if it had not so been the will of the Lord, it would not have happened; the Lord’s will must be done, for the salvation of both our souls, for He will not suffer us to be tempted above that we are able.

Be of good cheer therefore, my most beloved in the Lord, and rejoice in Him as before, praising and thanking Him for having chosen us to be imprisoned so long for His name, having been found worthy thereto; He knows for what end He has ordered it so. Though the children of Israel were a long time in the wilderness, yet, had they been obedient to the voice of the Lord, they would have entered the promised land with Joshua and Caleb. Thus also we are here in the wilderness, among these ravening beasts, which daily spread out their nets, to catch us  but the Lord, who is so strong, does not forsake His own, who trust in Him; He preserves them from all evil, yea, as the apple of His eye; hence let us be content in Him, joyfully and patiently take up our cross, and wait with a firm confidence for the promises which He has given us, not doubting them, for Hie is faithful that promised; that we may be crowned on Mount Sion, and adorned with palms, and may follow the Lamb, I pray you, my beloved in the Lord, be of good cheer in Him, together with all dear friends, and pray to the Lord in my behalf. Amen.

Seventh Day Adventist Church Q&A Part II

So predictably I’ve received a lot of feedback from the interview I did with David Hamstra of the Seventh Day Adventist Church. For that reason, I thought it might be fruitful to ask a few follow up questions, and then share some of my thoughts about the interview [as well as SDA theology as a whole]. I will include a brief reflection in Part III of this, which I will post in a few days.  To the formers end, I will print his answers below. The first question is for Mark.

1. Does the SDA Church consider itself part of the mainstream Christian movement?  Why do you believe that other denominations may not consider you part of that movement?

The answer depends on how you define mainstream Christianity. With our distinctive beliefs, I don’t think most Adventists would consider themselves “mainstream.” On the other hand, we definitely consider ourselves part of Protestant Christianity, and most Adventist pastors in North America are part of ministerial associations that require ascent to the Nicene or Apostles Creed. So in that sense, Adventists do consider themselves part the “mainstream Christian movement.”

I do not know of any denomination that has taken a position that says Seventh-day Adventists are not a part of mainstream Christianity. Perhaps your readers know of some that I do not. I do know that Adventist theologians have undertaken non-ecumenical interfaith dialogue with theologians of several Protestant denominations including the Lutherans, Reformed, and Presbyterians during which there was mutual affirmation of the denominations’ legitimacy.

2. What would you say to the accusation that some have that the SDA are not Christians, but rather are a cult?

It depends on your definition of a cult. I’ve seen some anti-Adventist critics toss the term around very loosely. I’m probably not the best person to ask whether Seventh-day Adventism is a cult—because I have a horse in that race and because I’m not an expert in cults. Kingdom of the Cults was written by the first evangelical to seriously examine whether we are a cult, and he concluded that we are not. [Walter Martin]

To be perfectly honest, I find the idea that we are a cult laughable. How many cults have accredited theology schools whose faculty are members of the Evangelical Theological Society? How many cults believe in the eternal divinity of Christ, salvation by faith in Him, and sola scriptura? How many cults allow someone to be a member of their movement without believing their founder was a prophet? (To clarify, in our baptismal vows, one need not agree Ellen White was a prophet to join the Adventist Church.)

3. If 1844 was such a big bust, why put any stock in it at all? Why not just write off William Miller as a madman and false prophet like Harold Camping? What reasons does the SDA Church have for saying that something actually happened in 1844? People have been making predictions about Christs’ return since He ascended, so what makes 1844 and the Millerites different from the tens of thousands of people who have predicted the second coming of Jesus and have been disappointed throughout the centuries?”


Regarding 1844, I like to compare it to the crucifixion. Prior to both events Jesus followers expected him, based on prophecy, to establish his kingdom on earth. That idea was also part of the religious zeitgiest of both societies. The disciples lived in a time of messianic expectation and false messiahs. The early-Adventists lived in a time of millennial expectation and false prophets (e.g. Joseph Smith, Mary Baker Eddy). Both groups of followers were disappointed. Both were unwilling to loose faith in the experience with Jesus they had leading up to the event. And it led both to a new understanding of the prophecies involved and to a reinterpretation of the event as having primarily spiritual significance.

The Great Disappointment instilled a painful lesson in Seventh-day Adventists: no more date-setting. Though I believe God was moving in 1844, it doesn’t follow that the humans in the movement were error free. But, praise God, we are able to learn from our mistakes.

I see the experience of the early-Adventists following the Great Disappointment of 1844 as a reminder that God often leads out of his people’s brokenness rather than their successes. In the Bible, I see a pattern that often when God is performing his greatest acts, his people are the most disappointed—usually because of their false conceptions about God. I think 1844 fits that pattern. So I like 1844 because it keeps us humble.

Of course, the other reason I, along with the early-Adventists, decided to stick with 1844 is the conviction that Miller’s basic historicist prophetic scheme regarding the 2,300 days of Daniel 8 was based on sound exegesis (as opposed to Harold Camping’s numerological approach). That convincing prophetic paradigm combined with the experience of God’s power in converting hearts, overcoming sin, etc. leading up to 1844, led the early-Adventists to conclude something spiritually significant happened in 1844.