The authors of a new book entitled It's Ok Not to be a Seventh-Day Adventist by Teresa and Arthur Beem asked me to review their book. They were kind enough to send me a copy, which is kind of a prerequisite for me as I don’t buy a lot of books and certainly I don’t buy them to review. After reading this you may realize why I don’t review a lot of books. In fact I am going to have to review this book in sections because I have several things to say about it and instead of waiting to finish the book I am going to start while things are fresh in my mind.
Right now my opinion is that this could be an important book after it is revised. I would probably think up a new title also.
To begin with there is such clear animosity against Adventism in the Preface that the book is going to be difficult for any Adventist to read further. On the cover above the title the book says “the untold history”, surely the authors don’t want only non Adventists or Ex-Adventists to hear the untold history, so why make the book’s Preface so antagonistic? On page xii of the preface the book states:
The Seventh-day Adventist church is becoming more than just an inconsequential heterodox group. Adventism is quietly cutting a wide swath across believers, causing many people to fall prey to its false teachings.
In Seventh-day Adventism evangelism, the church seeks mainstream status yet its doctrine is not mainstream. The overall thrust of their mission is aimed at people who are already Christians and their ministry is not simply gospel-oriented but focuses on obscure biblical prophecy. Adventism can be confusing because the people can be generous and charitable, so their dogma is assumed to be benign. Unfortunately, the kindness of the members does not reflect the kindness of the doctrines. This church has an eccentric history and culture based in strange, even disturbing doctrines.
So Adventism is not mainstream, ok that is fine but is there something that set’s mainstream apart, does the designation mainstream mean that mainstream churches have no false teachings, no disturbing doctrines or strange beginnings, no personality cults? In the front of the book the authors thank an Assemblies of God Pastor for his inspiration. Their beginning is about as fanatical as the Adventist church, from Brief History of the Assemblies of God:
If you don’t think
So the preface sets up an “us against them” perspective that carries over in the book. Not really a wise method in my opinion. If you are going to deal with something as emotional as religion you had better write as objectively as possible, if you object to a position as you go through the subject objectively deal with it and present what and why you think something is wrong. Some portions of the book do this within the context of reporting the history and that is good.
The book is heavily footnoted which is incredibly important again when dealing with religion, you have to know who said what and be able to check the context since it is so easy to distort statements on religion. The problem here is the book is not footnoted sufficiently. One of the really big problems with this book is that they confusingly use “ibid”. “Ibid. all by itself means that the footnote comes from the same source and the same page as the footnote that precedes it.” The authors use of ibid while technically correct for a small document does not work for a book for example they have a work cited by author and title and page number and then the next footnote says, ibid Knight p. 190-1, the previous footnote is not to Knight, and if you look back you have to go back chapters to find what they are referring to. I still don’t know as I don’t want to waste that much time reading every footnote to find where that book is fully cited. It would be better to cite fully once in each chapter.
Another footnote problem is found with the following quote on Chapter 3 Pillar 1 Ellen G. White pages 81-2:
“Royalties from the sale of Mrs. White’s books began to rise; in fact, she became, as the White estate puts it, “quite prosperous. In terms of today’s money Mrs. White’s income would have been measured in the millions of dollars.” The books footnote then says: “Ellen G. White Published Writings Website”. Just to test that out I Googled “been measured in the millions of dollars” White – and the first citation is an anti Ellen White website entitled. Ellen White Exposed.com . No other citation from any official Ellen White or Adventist site. That is a pretty major error in citation it is also a violation of the statement that began the chapter on Ellen White.
The book introduces the history of Ellen White by saying on page 69:
“The following biographical history comes almost exclusively from the Seventh-day Adventist sources, which you can find the information online as the official Ellen White Estate website…” By beginning with such a statement and then quoting from an anti Ellen White site and attributing it to a SDA supported site is pretty sloppy.
In my next post I will continue will some comments about the section of the book on William Miller. I promise to say some more good things about the book before I rip apart some other statements. I am doing this because I want to see this book revised so that it can be effective for the benefit of both Adventists and non Adventists. I think it has potential and communicating with one of the authors, I found they live only