I have a friend you is in many ways a traditional Adventist. However he has come to the conclusion that the evidence is too massive to accept the idea that the earth is 6000-7000 years old. Of course many of us have gone through this transformation of thought long ago, but it is a transformation that is of critical importance because it means that the Christian has entered a new age of reasoning. It is of course only the beginning but an important beginning none the less.
The reason it starts this new age of reason may not be totally due to the evidence of science but a reaction to those who will deny the evidence of science. Soon if my friend has not encountered it already he will hear comments from traditional Adventist such as those made by Robert Pierson in his final address to the general conference On October 15, 1978 in his speech entitled An Earnest Appeal from the Retiring President of the General Conference presented to Annual Council Pierson states:
Already, brethren and sisters, there are subtle forces that are beginning to stir. Regrettably there are those in the church who belittle the inspiration of the Bible, who scorn the first 11 chapters of Genesis, who question the Spirit of Prophecy’s short chronology of the earth, and who subtly and not so subtly attack the Spirit of Prophecy. There are some who point to the reformers and contemporary theologians as a source and the norm for Seventh-day Adventist doctrine. There are those who allegedly are tired of the hackneyed phrases of Adventism. There are those who wish to forget the standards of the church we love. There are those who covet and would court the favor of the evangelicals; those who would throw off the mantle of a peculiar people; and those who would go the way of the secular, materialistic world.
Unfortunately my friend will now have to endure the accusations of fundamentalists, not quite the fundamentalist of orthodox Christianity but near enough they just have to add the Spirit of Prophecy to their fundamentalism. He is about to learn just how certain the traditional Adventist is and if you don’t agree with their form of fundamentalism you belittle inspiration and forget the old time standards; you deny inspiration and are immoral.
How will he deal with that? There are a few main options:
- Cave in and recant his heresy.
- Leave Christianity altogether.
- Learn alternative ways of interpreting the Bible and/or Ellen White’s writings.
Learning other ways of interpreting the Bible is the primary method used when Christians find that what they have traditionally believed doesn’t necessarily work. The traditionalist will of course say that this is the first step to leaving Christianity. It may be turn out to be the first step in the exodus or it may not be. In some ways it will depend upon the reaction of those traditionalists in the local church. As Pierson continues:
Fellow leaders, beloved brethren and sisters—don’t let it happen! I appeal to you as earnestly as I know how this morning—don’t let it happen! I appeal to
You are the men and women, the leaders, whom God is counting on to keep the
Pierson sets out the way to drive Adventists out of the church if they don’t hold to the traditionalism of certain Adventists. We are God’s remnant church because we say we are we are a peculiar people because we hold beliefs which nobody else holds. Is that what God really meant by a peculiar people? Not if you read what the Bible describes as a peculiar people see: (Deu 14:2 KJV) For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God, and the LORD hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto himself, above all the nations that are upon the earth. [(Deu 26:18 KJV) is kind of hard to apply to people other then the Hebrews] (Titus KJV) Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. (1 Pet 2:9 KJV) But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light:
You just can’t take all those texts particularly the New Testament ones and say they are about your particular denomination to the exclusion of all the other Christian believers. But that is a view that you don’t get to until you have the experience of questioning the traditional beliefs and learning how to really study the Bible and develop real methods of interpretation rather then interpretation based upon what tradition teaches.