NOTE: THIS POST IS PART OF AN "ADVENTIST MINI SERIES." THERE ARE (or will be) FIVE POSTS IN THIS SERIES. WHEN THEY ARE ALL "UP AND RUNNING" THEY SHOULD APPEAR ON THE FOLLOWING DATES 12/27, 1/2, 1/4. 1/6. 1/9. THE 12/27 POST IS REALLY A BOOK REVIEW. IT PROVIDES SOME BACKGROUND. THE OTHER FOUR POSTS COMPRISE THE ACTUAL MAIN CONTENT OF THE SERIES. THIS BLOG IS ABOUT FUNDAMENTALISM. THE ADVENTIST STUFF JUST SEEMED TO HAVE FOUND ITS TIME FOR TELLING. THE BLOG IS NOT MAINLY CONCERNED WITH ADVENTISM, EXCEPT HOW IT FITS INTO THE LARGER PHENOMENON OF FUNDAMENTALISM AS EXPERIENCED IN MY LIFE.
Friday, January 2, 2009
My Journey Among the Seventh-day Adventists
I guess it was my posting on 12/27/08, a review of a recent biography of William Miller-- predictor of the end of the world on October 22, 1844--that has made it clear to me that it is time that I "come clean" on my journey through Seventh-day Adventism. It wasn't just a little "foray"-- though I rarely mention it to anyone. Nope. I was an elder in the church and was employed as a teacher (as was Irene) in SDA church schools. As a (at that point former) preacher, I was often drafted to preach from SDA pulpits, and most of my "audience" considered my "visiting preaching" a treat. All told, we (the whole family) were Adventists for about ten years.
So... Why don't I talk much about it? I guess it is just too hard to explain. I was in "no man's land." What fundamentalism had provided for me was a community. It provided a close group of like-minded folks. When I gave up on fundamentalism, I kept looking for that same community without the political conservatism, the forbidding of the asking of questions, and the cocksureness about everything. I guess I kind of drifted into Adventism because 1.) They were conscientious objectors; 2.) They very much supported the separation of church and state; 3.) They seemed to offer that "sectarian" closeness that I so much wanted-- the relationships it hurt not to have any more.
You might ask, Weren't they just another variety of fundamentalist? That is a sticky question. Since the early 1980's, SDA's have been in flux. Some are pretty cultish and unorthodox, but usually, they live on the fringes of the church. A second group, seems to me to be pretty conservative evangelicals in many ways. A third group, which I call the progressives, would be somewhere on the conservative-liberal theological spectrum where one might find the likes of Tony Campolo or Brian McClaren-- minus the social justice emphasis. This group tends to be middle-aged and younger folks and are represented by Spectrum Magazine. A final group are actually quite liberal and free thinking. These folks are also "fringers." I would say the SDA Church is mostly made up of a mixture of groups 2 and 3. Though they don't ever say it, most SDA's could likely subscribe to the Apostle's Creed.
Why did I leave several years back? I guess I saw that the "we've got all the right answers folks" had all of the "real" power. Though it was a different kind of fundamentalism than I knew among the Jesus Freaks, the absolute truth claims (held to by most, certainly not all) still had me in a strangle hold. I had left all of that and I couldn't go back again.
To read the story of my abandonment of fundamentalism and why I find it intellectually and morally bankrupt, visit my book web site: www.therecoveringfundamentalist.com and read a sample chapter of my book.