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Sunday, February 12, 2012

Ignoring Biblical evidence that doesn't fit

A few minutes ago I ended up peeking in on a discussion on an SDA FB page about what happens when you die. I didn't say anything, I was just there to look. Just seeing the posts frustrated me. There was a non-Adventist engaging in the discussion, but it was very one-sided. It wasn't a Bible study - it was a "I-know-the-truth-and-I'm-going-to-tell-it-to-you-and-it-doesn't-matter-what-Biblical-evidence-you-have-because-I'm-right-and-you're-wrong" discussion. It didn't matter what points the non-Adventist brought up. They were ignored and immediately pointed back to the "proof texts". Basically the attitude was, "I know that passage may SOUND like we go to heaven when die, but over here it says we don't so we can just ignore that passage."

That happens with so many SDA doctrines! As an Adventist, the Bible seems like it has a lot of contradictory statements. In one spot it sounds like it says this, but over here it sounds like it says the opposite. So basically the doctrines are supported by a handful of proof texts (many not even a full verse but just half a verse pulled out of context!) and the contradictory points are ignored or explained away.

When I started my study on death (which I still haven't finished), I engaged in a Bible study with an Adventist close to me. I wanted to focus on the clear teaching passages in the NT, but this person completely avoided that part and wanted to start in the OT with the vague texts that mention the soul in passing. And when I attended an Adventist funeral last year, the pastor used a lot of texts about death, but only the ones that "fit" with the Adventist idea of what happens when you die. The obvious passages that deal with death in the NT were missing.

Anyway, my point is this. Since leaving Adventism, I have yet to come across a topic that I've had to do this with. That's not to say one doesn't exist - I just haven't found it yet. While Adventists can make a case for "the state of the dead" (or soul sleep), they have to use less than half the texts that actually deal with the subject and ignore the rest. That's not the case with how most Christians view death. The texts all make sense. Your body is what is referred to as being asleep, your soul goes to heaven (or sheol/hades if you're not saved), your body is what is resurrected when Jesus comes back. Suddenly all the texts make sense! You don't have to ignore any of them!

The same applies to the Sabbath, the law, the covenants... In order to make their case, Adventists have to pick & choose which Bible texts they apply to which law (since they view the law as being divided into "moral" or the 10 Commandments and "ceremonial" or the "rest" of the law). So certain places where the Bible says "commandment" or "law" they apply to the 10 Commandments and other places they apply to the "ceremonial" law. That is the only way they can make their case. There is NO verse in the Bible that tells us the 10 Commandments are God's everlasting eternal moral law (but there ARE texts telling us the 10 Commandments were the words of old covenant). That is the assumption on which their case is built, and can only be reached by reading things into texts that just aren't there. And it can only be maintained by ignoring verses that refer to the Sabbath or the 10 Commandments as being done away with ("ministrations of death written and engraved on stones", the Sabbath was "a shadow of what was to come", etc.).

This can be applied to so many things in Adventism - their position on jewelry, alcohol, dancing, etc. The problem is that because they believe Ellen White was God's messenger and they don't believe she & the Bible contradict each other, they start with the assumption that they are in agreement and then "force" passages to fit. Since Ellen White was opposed to jewelry, they only focus on the passages where jewelry is given in a negative light and ignore the other side of the issue in the Bible. Since Ellen White was opposed to alcohol, they reason that where the Bible talks about "wine" it actually means unfermented grape juice (even though the Bible talks about trading in tithe for money to buy strong drink, and talks about people becoming drunk on wine which clearly can't happen with grape juice), and ignore anything to the contrary. Since Ellen White made vegetarianism a religious thing, they have to ignore the passages where the Bible talks about meat in a positive light.

As I've said before, I LOVE the freedom that I have now to just read the Bible and take it for what it says. If I want to do a study, I get my concordance out and look up ALL the references to the topic so I can get the big picture. When people focus just on one side of the argument they can completely miss the point the person is trying to make. For example, when people focus just on passages that talk about the evils of drunkenness, they believe ALL drinking is wrong, but if you do a study on all the passages you can see that it's just the excess that is wrong - just as it is with eating, resting, etc.

I have a few Adventist friends who follow these posts. To you I would say this - start studying for yourself. Don't follow any church's Bible study format. Don't even use my studies as the basis for your studies! Sit down with your Bible, a concordance, and a notebook. Read everything there is on the subject and see where God leads you. A big fear in Adventism is being led astray, but if you're not being influenced by any person's beliefs or bias and you only let God lead, you will NOT be led astray by studying the Bible!!!

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