In a Recent editorial in the Pacific Union Recorder Tom Mostert presents the type of fundamentalism that infects so many leaders in the SDA church. His article entitled:
0 + 0 + 0 + 0 = 0 demonstrates the all or nothing attitude of many of the Traditional SDA’s, which is, unfortunately either agree with us or you have nothing. My comments are interlined with the following copy of his editorial.
Dear Pacific Union Member:
As some of you who regularly read my letters know, I tend to focus on issues impacting the personal or collective faith and mission of our members and the Church in general. Matters we recognize are there, yet for various reasons are not discussed. Here is my latest hot button issue!
The Zero Sum Equation
More and more Adventist members and some pastors are modifying their faith according to what is or is not convenient to believe and practice. Most do not admit this is the reason, but I have noticed most of the modifications are in the area of sanctification; the process of progressive development of a God-like mind and lifestyle. Few tamper with the basic free gift of salvation. Let me illustrate how it works...
He begins as do most fundamentalists with a gratuitous assertion. An assertion he admits most who modify their faith would not admit and I would say more likely not accept. But because it is his belief and he feels he needs no evidence to support, he states his erroneous belief as if it were a fact. He then moves on to a rather narrow definition of sanctification. Is sanctification the process of progressive development of a God-like mind and lifestyle? Well not if we use any theological definition of sanctification, the subject of Sanctification is found in an article which summarizes well by saying:
To summarize, sanctification is the same Greek word as holiness, “hagios,” meaning a separation. First, a once-for-all positional separation unto Christ at our salvation. Second, a practical progressive holiness in a believer’s life while awaiting the return of Christ. Third, we will be changed into His perfect likeness—holy, sanctified, and completely separated from the presence of evil.
Many Christians have incorporated these various aspects of the Christian life in the term “Now and Not Yet”. We are saved now with our acceptance of God’s gift but we have still not fully realized the gift because it cannot be realized till it is manifested at the second coming.
A person is raised with the guilt trip of legalism hanging around their neck in the name of sanctification. It robbed them of peace of mind and made religion an intolerable burden to bear. But they are more enlightened now, and have simply accepted the free gift of salvation provided through the death and resurrection of Jesus. In general, they hope to become more like Him in thought and lifestyle, but any worry about specifics simply destroys their peace of mind. So if it is important, God will bring it to mind — otherwise, they practice sanctification only in general terms.
Total acceptance of the traditional Adventist understanding of sanctification is ZERO.
Amazingly Mostert does not even refute the idea that the Adventist view of sanctification has incorporated legalism which robs most everyone of their peace of mind. In fact to believe in the legalism concept destroys the threefold definition of sanctification. The legalism makes it impossible to accept that we have been set apart for God at our point of belief in God’s offer of salvation. I am encouraged that there are people in the SDA church who are becoming more enlightened and find their rest in Christ rather then worry about how they are failures who do not measure up to the standards presented by Christ on the Sermon on the Mount. Read Romans chapter 7 to realize how important it is to acknowledge the salvation over our own wretched condition.
Someone decides they will believe in general healthful living, but not worry about the details. Since various studies show the benefits of red wine, and they like the taste and relaxation qualities of it anyway, it is incorporated into their diet — in moderation, of course! Likewise with coffee. After all, what is a modern lifestyle without a caffeine kick?
When the list is finished, the incorporation of the traditional Adventist health message in their lifestyle is ZERO.
Sanctification is now interpreted to be a quality developed from the incorporation of traditional Adventist health message. So now Mostert has moved passed the narrow view of traditional Adventist sanctification to expand upon what one must do to be sanctified by accepting particular 19th century health reform movement conceptions. Even though the Bible does not condemn the use of Wine or other drinks like Coffee, since traditional Adventist health messages do then they become a part of Adventist sanctification.
Church leaders have attempted to get people involved in various witnessing activities. But they don't like the pressure to participate, and strangers always scare them. So they say to themselves, "Why go through the pain and discomfort of activities which bring limited results? I'll settle for saying something positive for God when someone asks me a direct religious question. That leaves it to God to bring me the person, and spares me the time and energy necessary for an unpleasant activity. Anyway, I am so busy with job and family it is impossible to find the time."
Intentional sharing of the Adventist faith with others? ZERO.
I have no idea what this is referring to other then a sheep like willingness to do whatever church leaders want. Surely we could develop methods of witnessing for different types of people. What I have found is most traditional Adventist witnessing activities are ineffective and based upon ideas which lead to such a restricted understanding of the Gospel that I as well as others hate to be involved. What is more important Christians faith sharing or Adventist faith sharing? As it appears in order for the above issues of sanctification to be added and they are developed from traditional Adventist messages, the gospel is not enough for sanctification. As such we are at a point where traditional Adventism conflicts with general Biblical Christianity.
Where once it seemed important to have a modern day prophet to warn and instruct us as we prepare for the second coming of Jesus, it is now inconvenient to accept Ellen White's pointed counsel about personal changes. My, the list is endless! So we look for reasons not to read her: some say she might have simply copied large portions of the material in her books; the church was so legalistic in the past, she probably just flowed with the times. Now our emphasis is on salvation through Jesus, full and complete.
Total serious consideration of the prophetic messages from Ellen White = ZERO.
Mostert could have simply said that in order to be sanctified people must accept Ellen G. White as a modern day prophet. Being that this issue and the health message are both from Ellen White. I do find it curious that a supposed prophet who died in 1915 is considered a modern day prophet. I have a college aged daughter who has no remembrance of a rotary dial telephone, so just how relevant is the instructions given to a people before there was mass media communication radio, television, movies or most anything we think of as modern today. Not really anymore relevant then Reformation era information or Early Christianity. A person can draw relevance from all types of historical information whether story or sermon or commentary but to claim it is modern day is like saying that World War I describes modern warfare.
It is not that some say she borrowed large portions of material in her books that is widely know as Fred Veltman’s study reveals and can be read on the archives at Adventistarchives.org. specifically the Life of Christ Research Project
But that in itself should not necessarily persuade or dissuade one from reading her work. However Mostert does not try to persuade anyone to read Ellen White but takes it as a given that one must read her and hold to her as a modern day prophet. Indicating further that unless one agrees with her as a prophet as opposed to any other Christian author they are not seriously considering her prophetic messages. Which returns us back to the fundamentalist viewpoint which began Mostert’s editorial. Because the fundamentalist begins with their presupposition and looks no further. This might not be so bad if they did not then accuse nearly everyone else of being unsanctified if they came to different conclusions. But then again the traditional Adventist as the name implies is only seeking to confirm their traditions. Thus they are antithetical to Progressive Adventism and the attitude that created the Seventh-day Adventist church in the first place.
What Do You Have Left?
These are but a few examples of a long list of thought patterns developing in members' lives. You could add belief in absolutes, the unique mission of the
, and faithfulness in tithing. In the end each area equals ZERO. Adventist Church
A church whose distinctive truths have been zeroed out is left with nothing different from the community church down the street. The unique Seventh-day Adventist message and mission is reduced to ZERO.
Sincerely your friend ,Tom Mostert, President Pacific Union Conference