On 5 July 2001 a Seventh Day Adventist (SDA) came to my Yahoo Chat Room called Hélène's Christian Polygamy and tried to recruit me to his faith. After some discussion and becoming friends I agreed to write to him and tell him that, whilst I agreed with many SDA teachings, there were many things I could not accept. This was what I wrote:
It was nice meeting you in my Yahoo Room yesterday. Here are some observations which I have culled from our main website - they are only a few, and designed to serve as an introduction early. I can document everything, though some is not in English.
1. Before we get into specific doctrines, I want to say from the beginning that I don't believe there is such a thing as a 'one and only true church', though I did at one time. The Bible defines a Church as a 'fellowship' (koinonia) or 'assembly' (ekklesia) of believers. It is never described as a single organisation (e.g. Mormon Church. SDA Church, Presbyterian Church, Catholic Church).
2. And even if it was, then I am sure you would agree that it would only be proper to use the name(s) given in the New Testament like the NT Church, i.e. Church of God, Church of Christ, or Churches of Christ (or to be even more accurate, Assembly of Yahweh, Assembly of the Messiah, or Assemblies of the Messiah). So even assuming that Elohim (God) has a true organisation, one would expect it to be called by one of the proper NT names. And since 'Church of God' or 'Assembly of Elohim/Yahweh' is the most common designation, any claimant to the truth would be calling their organisation 'Church of God' or 'Assembly of Yahweh', wouldn't they?
3. Since the SDA Church calls itself by a name which isn't biblical, one ought from the very outset to be suspicious. That is not, of course, to say, that the Seventh Day or the Second Advent aren't important - of course they are - but they aren't the only distinguishing mark of the Church of God - baptism, the Holy Festivals, the 10 Commandments, etc. are all vital components of the Church's true belief. This being so, is it not a little odd that the Church should single out only two key doctrines, as the Baptists do Baptism, the Pentecostals the Day of Pentecost, the Mormons the Book of Mormon, the Presbyterians government by Elders, and so on? All of these churches emphasise certain things, as proven by their names, when the Scriptures teach us that we are to major in all the commandments, not just some of them?
4. As you visit any of these churches you soon notice what predominates in their teachings. I have visited the SDA church many times and in every occasion I have noticed how utterly absorbed SDAs are with the Sabbath. Important though this is, it is not the most important doctrine of the faith, but only a part of it - the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath - it is a tool, not a slave-master. Yet when I attended an SDA meeting in Germany once they talked of the Sabbath the whole morning.
5. Whenever I see churches consumed by one or more areas of doctrine or practice I invariably discover that they are deficient in others. I notice, in the case of the SDAs, for example, that some of the gifts of the Spirit are rarely spoken of and rarely experienced. Tongues would be one of them, and the gift of prophecy. Like the Mormons, the SDA founder is credited with these things but they are starkly absent from the membership, which sharply contrasts with the NT experience showing that all the gifts were liberally distributed amongst all the congregations. Do SDA congregations have their local prophets, seers, revelators, tongue-speakers and tongue-interpreters? (I don't mean Preachers as the Baptists argue).
What is particularly interesting in the case of Ellen White was that the kinds of experiences she had (which SDA history has attempted to suppress, just as the Mormons have tried to suppress their own origins and early experiences) is that Mrs. White actually had experiences more in line with the modern charismatics of the so-called 'Toronto Blessing' involving collapsing to the floor, rolling and writhing, and showing every sign that she was under demonic influence. I know these things because we are acquainted with a well-known (and much feared, incidentally, by both SDA and Protestants) SDA historian in Scandinavia, Åsmund Kaspersen, who has uncovered aspects of early SDA history which most SDAs don't want to know about. We know, for example, that Mrs. White was a great admirer of the Book of Mormon, and especially liked the Book of Alma, from which she derived much inspiration. What concerns me the most, however, is the fact that the trances Mrs. White went into were more like those of the pagans than the way the prophets of the Bible worked.
6. Following on from this is the undeniable fact that she believed and promoted the false prophecy that Christ would return in 1844. Quite apart from the fact that anyone who has read the NT knows that NOBODY knows the time of the return of Christ except Elohim (God) the Father Himself (showing her disobedience and clearly wrong influence in speculating about things we aren't supposed to speculate about, let alone date-set), Mrs. White went on to 'cover up' her false teaching in the same way that all cultists do - by inventing new doctrines. So she came up with the doctrine of the 'Investigative Judgment' in the same way that the Jehovah's Witnesses came up with the 'invisible return' of Christ in 1914 when He did not show up visibly as they said He would, and just as the Mormons did when Christ didn't turn up on Joseph Smith's date by saying Christ would return twice. Instead of saying, 'I'm sorry, I was wrong', Mrs. White did what all false prophets do - they try to effect a cover-up. This is not to say that everything she taught was wrong, or that she wasn't an otherwise good Christian person (I am not making a blanket condemnation - we are all entitled to make mistakes, even Yahweh's leaders), but it is to say that her lack of repentance in this area led to other sins, not least of which was the way in which she treated other leading SDAs who questioned some of her interpretations. Instead of reasoning with them as the Scriptures teach, she pushed them out of the SDA Church. These are all signs of cultism and are reprehensible.
7. At no time in history has Elohim (God) ever given the government of His Church to women. The Church of God/Assembly of Yahweh was led by 12 apostles, all of whom were men. That is not to say that women are not spiritually gifted or that they do not have ministerial rôles, but they are very definitely not the same as those of men. Which is why, I suppose, the SDA leadership (today) consists entirely of men. Yet ironically its first leader was a woman. The only example of a prophetess and judge in the Bible was Huldah who emerged at a time of great apostacy when Israel had become essentially pagan in its ways. That is not to say there are no prophetesses - there are, as we know from Philip's daughters (though where are modern prophets and prophetesses in the modern SDA Church?), but it is to say that there are no INSTITUTIONAL PROPHETS. If Mrs. White was an exception to the rule, then some provision would have been made for that. As it is, Yah'shua (Jesus) has provided for His Church to be led by apostles in perpetuity, since the original 12 were replaced as they were martyred. Had there only supposed to be 12, they would not have been replaced. As it is, about 18 may be found in the NT. Which leads me to my next question:
8. Where are apostles in the SDA Church? The argument we get is essentially the same as that the Baptists and other Protestants levy, namely, that they aren't needed anymore. But Paul refutes that idea. He says that ALL the ministries and gifts are needed until there is a UNITY of the Faith. Not only is Christendom hopelessly divided, but even the modern SDA Church is currently dividing into two major factions, a liberal and a conservative one (who is to say which is the 'true' one?).
9. The NT mentions the office of DEACONESS (of which Phoebe was one) and there is good evidence both from the NT and early ecclesiasticaly history (before Rome suppressed it) that there were Eldresses too. You can read some PDF files on our homepage which reveals this very interesting but little known fact of early Church history. See www.nccg.org/pdf/church1.pdf. You might like to begin with this very simple article which probes into one of the NT references, showing how translation bias has obscured the original text: www.nccg.org/330Art-Strongs.html.
10. So my question is: where are the SDA Deaconesses and other female ministers?
11. The question of MARRIAGE, monogamy and polygamy is best addressed if you study our website at www.nccg.org/fecpp and another one, which goes deep into biblical exegesis, at www.truthbearer.org . This is a big subject but very important. In a nutshell, the Bible defines marriage as one man married to one or more women. It is enshrined in Yahweh's Torah (Law) which Christ never repudiated or modified. The words 'monogamy' and 'polygamy' are not biblical, and are Greek in origin. The monogamy-only mindframe is a fruit of Roman Catholicism which has infected every Protestant Church since, including the SDAs, JWs and others. I would prefer not to discuss this subject until you have thoroughly absorbed our site at HEM since practically every issue pertaining to marriage is dealt with there. If you can refute the articles there, then by all means come back to me. Otherwise it will just mean a lot of repetition and I frankly don't have time for that.
12. Soul-sleeping and the idea of a mortal soul: this is a doctrine shared by SDAs, WCG, JWs, Christadeliphiansm, and others, all of whom basically use the same kind of logic. They assemble all the scriptures on the subject and by a process of scriptural algebra attempt to create a spiritual anatomy of the soul. It can't be done for two reasons:
The NT revelation was a definite progression in this area. What this means is that not all passages in the Bible are necessarily equivalent in terms of their degree of revealment or the ability of the peoples at the time to express what was for them inexpressible. (I am not, incidentally, challening the inspiration of the Bible - just saying that some parts are more developped than others). If the Law of Moses was defective in certain areas (as we know from what Paul says) then obviously there were defects in the ancients' knowledge in others. The NT has a much more developed doctrine of heaven, for example.
- (a) Hebrew vocabulary was very small, with words like NEPHESH and RUACH having multiple meanings not easily discernable from the context; and
- (b) The Hebrews had a very poor understanding of the resurrection and the life hereafter.
13. Proof that this is so, especially as regards the Soul, if found when you discover that Yahweh has a soul. This in itself proves that words like nephesh (soul) have a much broader meaning than SDAs and others would have us believe. Although the following article doesn't address the SDA position, it contains many elements relevent to it: www.nccg.org/232Art-Hagin.html. Some years ago the Chavurat Bekorot made a detailed word study of the OT and NT on 'soul', 'spirit', etc., and discovered some very interesting things which forced him to modify the way he thought about this subject, and which have forced other honest scriptorians to do the same. Also see www.nccg.org/FAQ244-SpiritSoul.html.
14. The following is an extract from our polygamy novel which briefly touches on this subject and introduces the concept of Hell too:
15. SDA's observe the Sabbath on the 7th Roman day of the week ('Saturday' - the Day of Saturn), failing to realise that the Bible used the luni-solar form of reckoning, not the Roman solar one. They accuse Catholics of Protestants of following sun-worship for worshipping on the Day of the Sun, but don't realise that not only to they worship on the Day of Saturn (or 'Satyr Day') but that the system of reckoning they use is still actually based on sun-worship! See Israel (not to be confused with the modern Israeli Republic which is not biblical Israel). This is called 'Replacement Theology' and is an error of most Christian Churches. The following article will highlight the problem for you: www.nccg.org/Ephr004-CastAway.html.
17. I think that's probably enough for one day and will give you enough to chew on. My great concern for you is what you will do when you discover that some SDA teachings are false. I say that because our family was also passionately involved in a Church that claimed to be the 'true one' and we discovered that it wasn't - that we had invested so much love, passion, enegy, time, money and hope in it - was devastating at first, until we discovered that God's Church - Yahweh's Assembly - isn't an organisation or institution at all. Although the following article is written for Mormons, the same principle applies to the SDA in this respect: www.nccg.org/NCMM/LDS3-2.html -- especially see sections I though II which may be of interest too.
"If I could prove to you that Yahweh, our Heavenly Father, had a soul, would that be enough to clinch the matter for you?" asked Stan.
Pastor Kuusberg's eyes reacted in disbelief. "I should like to see that!" he said, and looked around at his elders, most of whom were also former Adventists. Since Adventists believed that the soul was mortal, a Scripture showing that God has a soul would make Him mortal too, and so demolish the entire doctrinal foundation.
"Fine, But to convince you, I will need a Hebrew lexicon so that you know I'm not making it up," said Stan, smiling. Pastor Kuusberg had one in his hand and looked nervously at Stan.
"Before I start," said Stan, "I just want to say that the truth hurts no-one. Throughout my life as a minister I have had to change my position on one or more doctrines at least once a year! The Lord has more light and truth to reveal through His Word on an almost continual basis. A test of discipleship is a willingness to discard what is false when we find it."
He opened his Bible and invited everyone to turn to Isaiah 1:14 and then invited Pastor Kuusberg to read it aloud:
"Your New Moon festivals and your appointed feasts my soul hates..." (NIV).
The ex-Adventists stared at the text in disbelief and began saying amongst themselves, "That must be a mistranslation!" Pastor Kuusberg opened his lexicon and his face went red with embarrassment.
"Perhaps I can help you," said Stan kindly. "Your lexicon will tell you that the word for 'soul' in this passage is nefesh which is correctly translated in my version at any rate. Now let us look at another passage just to show how the word is used in relation to people. Please turn to the Song of Solomon 1:7..."
There was a rustling of pages from many Bibles.
"Tell me, O thou whom my soul [nefesh] loveth..." (KJV), read Pastor Kuusberg.
"Here you will see in these two passages that Yahweh uses nefesh about Himself in exactly the same way that He uses nefesh about people. In that respect the soul of God and the soul of man are therefore the same.
"The Adventists, Witnesses and others all say that a soul (nefesh) is the ruach or spirit plus the physical body. They teach that when a soul or nefesh dies that the ruach goes back to God as an impersonal energy and the physical body dies. They say that a human soul or nefesh is the impersonal ruach or spirit of God, which they compare to electricity, and a physical body. Thus when the ruach or spirit leaves the body, the whole soul is dead and ceases to exist, a doctrine popularly known as "soul-sleeping". They say the dead person has no conscious life whatsoever but remains in the memory of God, awaiting its recreation in a resurrected physical body.
"If God has a soul, as the Scripture clearly prooves, then He is made up of ruach and a physical body just like man is. But I don't think anyohe here really believes that.
"To make matters worse, the Bible uses the word nefesh to mean a DEAD BODY as well," said Stan.
"No!" said one of the elders in disbelief.
"I'm afraid so. Turn with me to Leviticus 19:28 where it reads: "Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead..." (KJV)" said Stan.
The pages rustled in anticipation again.
"What the Lord is telling the Israelites here is that they should not mutilate their bodies [basar] for a dead person [nefesh]. A dead person is therefore a nefesh. There are other exampels also of where a dead body is called a nefesh - check them out in Numbers 6:6 and Haggai 2:13.
"Brethren and sisters, churches like the Adventists, Christadelphians, Jehovah's Witnesses, and others oversimplify and try to use Hebrew words in too literal and limited a fashion sometimes. The problem with ancient Hebrew is that it had a small vocabulary so that a single word often had multiple meanings. The word nefesh means at least six different things: physical appetite, feelings, will and moral determination, an individual or a person, the self, or a dead body. Add to that the fact that Yahweh Himself is said to have nefesh or soul.
"The trouble with many of the more recent cults and other groups is that they oversimplify matters and arrive at many erroneous doctrines, ignoring the Bible scholarship of the centuries. The Bible is an unfolding revelation about man and God. Not everything that was known latterly in New Testament times was known in earlier times. The Hebrews had very little idea about the afterlife not because they were willfully ignorant but because Yahweh chose not to reveal it to them at that time.
"When it comes to concepts like 'hell' we have similar problems because as a place it was not described in the Bible until Yah'shua (Jesus) described it. The Hebrews had a mental picture of hell which they compared to the rubbish dump outside Jerusalem where the dead bodies of criminals were thrown for incineration along with all the garbage, which is how hell came to be called Gehenna, which was the name of the valley where the dump was located. Similarly, they viewed death in a similar light, so the grave was a perfect symbol of hell for them. Hebrew was, and is, a poetic language, where Yahweh is described as having feathers, breasts, and many other human- or animal-like attributes. This does not mean that He literally has feathers, wings, breasts, seven eyes, or any of the other symbolic terms used to describe His powers and attributes.
"There is a detailed study on this subject on our Church's website for those who wish to investigate it further. Suffice to say that man is conscious after death and that there is a literal hell. I've met many people who have seen it and I have seen it myself."
18. The final article is based on an old SDA pamphlet about the 'true church' to illustrate how such an approach can actually turn against the proponents of the 'one true church' paradigm: www.nccg.org/026Art-TrueChurch2.html.
When these topics have been discussed we can move on to other ones.
But I am wondering: will you face these issues or run away from them? Will you deal with them or do as all cultists do by 'bearing your testimony' that you know the SDA way is right and that Ellen White was a true prophet in an attempt to bypass the issues? There is, if we are honest with ourselves, much pride and fear involved when we have heavily invested in a Church.
However, the good news is that being a part of God's Church/Yahweh's Assembly doesn't necessarily involve being in a particular organisation ... at least not until the Millennium (another topic we disagree on - next time).
May Yahweh our Father bless you through His Son Yah'shua (Jesus) until next time.
No reply was given to this letter