A Modern Sabbatarian Framework

I’m a Christian who is a Sabbatarian, who believes prophecy isn’t just a thing of the past and that dead people don’t go straight to heaven when they die. I also happen to think that Jesus is coming again very, very soon.

I’m anything but an anti-Adventist. But while you could call me a Seventh-day Adventist, I’d almost prefer you didn’t. Seventh-day Adventism—the institution—is becoming less relevant to me on a daily basis. I wish it weren’t so.

While it’s certainly true that I share a certain set of beliefs with the Seventh-day Adventist institution, I get neither my identity nor my salvation from the organization. The denomination has made itself optional in my life—rather than a necessity.

Beliefs are, by all means, very important. They are foundational. But they aren’t, in and of themselves, enough to compel me to be a part of an organization (much less to give it money).

Let’s put it this way: I can (and do) believe what I believe regardless of the Adventist denomination. What I believe happens to coincide with what the denomination believes, but, I could take or leave the denomination.

If the denomination wants me to be a part of it, it has to be useful to me. It has to make sense to me. For me to empower it with my tithe it needs to empower me in my walk.

As it stands, the denomination is not useful to me. It doesn’t make much sense to me and it certainly doesn’t empower me in my walk. Rather, the denomination seems to be useful to itself. It makes sense to itself. It empowers itself.

I can only conclude that the denomination does not want me to be a part of it.

In all honesty, that’s fine with me. For years I have striven to make myself useful to the church (body) via institutional employment. Instead, the institution showed me how useless it was to people like me. For years I have given my time and tithe to the church, one Sabbath after the next. In return I got… a bunch of sermons, music, food and relationships I could have done without.

I’m not saying this to be mean. I’m saying this because I want more. I want better. And I want it now.

In the age of the Internet, I can get personalized content (sermons or other information) in vast quantities online and without a middleman. I don’t need the church to act as a distributor or gatekeeper.

I can also (as has always been the case throughout history) get together with fellow believers anywhere that is safe. At the moment, here in America, that’s just about anywhere. I don’t need a brick-and-mortar church building to listen to a sermon and associate with like-minded individuals.

While I continue to hold out a shred of hope that the Adventist denomination can somehow get it together and become useful to me (I’d say again, but if the church became useful to me it would really be a first), I’m not holding my breath. I don’t need to.

It’s no skin off my back if the Adventist organization continues on or not. Let the rocks cry out.

But that’s exactly the denomination’s problem. It’s no skin off my back if the Adventist institution continues to exist or not. In other words, the institution hasn’t made itself useful to me. I can live without it. It’s a shame.

The Adventist church is A framework, not THE framework (regardless of what it has deluded itself into believing and proclaiming). Case in point: this entire blog. If you haven’t already, go back and read each entry. It might take a couple hours or days depending on your schedule, but how can you rest easy until you have?

While I embrace Adventist beliefs, the Adventist framework is not my framework. I don’t need it. I could use it. Part of me would like to use it. But I can’t, at least not in it’s current form. Why? Because it’s not useful—to me.

So what is the best framework for a Christian who is a Sabbatarian, who believes prophecy isn’t just a thing of the past, that dead people don’t go straight to heaven and thinks Jesus is coming again soon?

I’ll take a stab at a possible answer (at least one I’d like to see and be a part of). I would love to see others take a stab as well (so please do).

I’d like to see a framework where personalization plays a key role. Where individuals have a real stake. A say. A synchronous framework that isn’t one-sided or top-down. A leaner framework with less waste. A framework where transparency is fundamental. A framework that is adaptable. A framework that actually matters to it’s members and to the world. A framework that is happy to fade away in place of something better.

Yes, I think technology can and should play a big role in bringing this kind of framework to life.

To help you envision a framework that would help you life your Christian life to the utmost, start on an individual level.

Ask yourself, “What if there WAS no framework?” You don’t need a framework. You don’t need technology. You just have to live out your beliefs.

Okay then, if it was just you—no denomination—how would you life out your beliefs? What would you do? What would you need? What would be helpful?

Make note of what you come up with. You never know when it might be useful.

It’s time to quit asking what can be done within the current denominational framework. It’s far too limiting as it stands. At the moment, it is a disservice to anyone under 30.

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