The Church Is Going Through (Something)

From Ellen White, and I quote:

He will take His Holy Spirit from the church, and give [the Spirit] to others who will appreciate Him. There is no greater evidence that those who have received great light do not appreciate that light, than is given by their refusal to let their light shine upon those who are in darkness, and devoting their time and energies in celebrating forms and ceremonies.

That’s from the Review and Herald, July 16, 1895. I ran into it as it was read to a group of North American Division employees not long ago as part of a devotional thought. The funny thing was, everyone heard it but seemed to think it applied to some other church out there. Not our church. Never our church. Nobody was troubled in the slightest—except for me (and that because nobody was troubled in the slightest—except for me).

A church without the Holy Spirit isn’t much of a church, is it? And there’s only one possible church EGW could have been talking about, right? I mean Adventists only believe one church has the Holy Spirit to begin with… so.

And yet you’ve always heard, as an Adventist, that the church is going through to the end (because Ellen White said so).

I guess that really depends on your definition of “church.”

No, I’m not being anti-Adventist any more than Ellen White was in the above statement. The denomination may treat me like an outsider, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have—and hold fast—my Adventist beliefs.

The culture of fear and guilt isn’t going to stop me from seeking the answers to hard questions. I’m simply bored with all of the institution’s regular excuses.

The denomination’s refusal to let it’s light shine upon those who are in darkness bothers me. They’re using a map that is outdated. They are trying to reach people using methods that haven’t changed in hundreds of years. Cost vs benefit analysis aren’t needed in Adventist evangelism. Not when message-filled books, magazines, and tracts need to be scattered everywhere like the leaves of autumn. Not while it’s comfortable to hold big tent revival-style seminars.

I can’t believe this happened (okay, I can), but it did: A “leader” from a major Adventist media ministry actually told the staff in a recent reply to the notion that the church should meet people where they are that, “We don’t need drugs and slang in the church.” You’re right “leader” of a decades old and much beloved Adventist institution. It’s not the sick that need doctors, but the healthy.

I’m also bothered by the church’s lack of creativity in reaching out to the world. In fact, the very image that pops into my head when I hear, or think of, the word “Adventist” is a group that devotes their time and energies to celebrating forms and ceremonies.

But the denomination loves to pick and choose what does and does not apply to it. And that, my friends, is something else that just isn’t okay.

Oh the church is going through all right. It’s going through fire.

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