Adventist Media Response and Conversation

Monday, November 30, 2009

Brooks wants his church back

There are some in the Adventist Church who have noted that they wish every Adventist could hear the sermon by C. D. Brooks entitled “I want my church back”. So I will examine some of the statements from that sermon and see where they take us, taken from the text published on Adventist Affirm.

1. We are now facing an unusual time in which those on the inside of our church are questioning our distinctive teachings and doctrines more than those who despise us. Many of us are walking away from the mandate that God gave to us.

You will note that at the beginning of the printed edition of the sermon a theme that will run through the sermon. God has given the Adventist church a mandate…a message, a set of distinctive teachings and doctrines.

That is a powerful argument if it is true. Can we demonstrate that God actually gave the Adventist church a mandate of doctrines? The answer of course is no, we cannot demonstrate that, we can only believe that. Is that belief correct however? If it is correct then there is no point in questioning our distinctive teachings. That is the presupposition that the sermon author and most traditional Adventists begin with. Presuppositions can be dangerous however, what is the basis for the presupposition, that is an important questions and frankly it has to be dealt with as it is never safe to simply have faith in ones presuppositions. The Bible asks us to have faith in God, not our presuppositions or even our interpretations of the Bible. Faith in God is very different than faith in our message, our doctrines or our belief that we have the “truth”.

2. My dear fellow workers, I want to tell you today, that one of the powerful keys to success and power in our churches and our pulpits and in our evangelism is resolute faithfulness to the word of God, and to the message God has given to us to preach!

As is frequently the case with Preachers they act as if the “word of God” carries no elements of interpretation, either culturally, historically or symbolically. They exhort the need to be faithful to the word of God by which they usually mean the Bible (though some Adventists would include Ellen G. White in the word of God category). Yet we know very well that they have no intention of remaining faithful to the instructions of the Bible. The Bible says that Sabbath breakers, and rebellious children and adulterers should be executed. It tells us to not mix seeds in our fields, to not wear garments out of different kinds of cloth, to wear fringes etc. Are those things part of the message God has given us to preach? If not why not, if not how do this proponents of the “word of God” determine what is the message God has given us to preach? It appears he is back to his presupposition again.

3. We must preach our message. All of it! There are forces that seem to be dismantling what was so laboriously put together under the indispensable aid of the Holy Ghost. There is a picture of erudition which we carelessly call scholarship, but which is more scholasticism. Ellen White says its as certain that we have the truth as that God lives. She spoke of a platform of truth. She knew that we’d always be gathering sources and resources, but she said, "Don’t get off the platform." The Holy Spirit is not one to foster confusion, and He does not divide the saints. He may bring separation from the mixed multitude, but not from the saints.

I think within the first few paragraphs we can see where he is going. Ellen White is our message, we have no need for scholarship we have Ellen White. Whatever Ellen White said is the truth that we have, Ellen White acts as the Holy Spirit to us, we as the church should be drawn together by teaching the things that Ellen White revealed. Whether they agree with the Bible or whether they make sense or whether they were based upon the beliefs of her day is unimportant because Ellen White was the agent of the Holy Spirit, clearly he is part of the Ellen White is the word of God crowd. At this point let us define scholasticism. Since I am not a Preacher I can actually help people learn rather than pretend I am simply telling them what God wants. The Wikipedia defines:

Scholasticism is derived from the Latin word scholasticus (Greek: σχολαστικός)[1], which means "that [which] belongs to the school," and was a method of learning taught by the academics (scholastics, school people, or schoolmen) of medieval universities circa 1100–1500. Scholasticism originally began as an attempt to reconcile ancient classical philosophy with medieval Christian theology. Scholasticism was not a philosophy or theology in itself, but rather a tool or method for learning that places emphasis on dialectical reasoning. The primary purpose of scholasticism was to find the answer to questions and resolve contradictions. Scholasticism is most well-known for its application in medieval theology, but was eventually applied to many other fields of study.”

In effect Brooks is telling us don’t question, don’t try to solve contradictions, don’t be involved in the dialog of different ideas. We have the correct ideas from Ellen White, who, because he believes she was simply giving us what the Holy Spirit said all we have to do, is do what she said, believe what she says to believe.

That is what this is really all about. Traditional Adventism has like Brooks reveals in this sermon a cultic view of Ellen White as the voice of the Holy Spirit giving us as he says: “In the writings of Ellen G. White, that inside information which God sent just to us,..” So not only is it insider information it was sent to only Adventists, not to the whole of Christianity just to Adventists. This is a type of Adventist Gnosticism, where Adventists alone have the secret knowledge (gnosis). Again he maintains a presupposition that is based upon Adventist tradition not upon real evidence.

4. Guide. Some of what they’re doing is because they don’t know any better. We’ve got to guide them concerning where they ought to go, what they ought to do, what they ought to wear, what they ought to think. And we ought to do it with the Word of God and the Spirit of Prophecy.

5. A young woman who had always been friendly came to church loaded down with jewelry. When I approached her, ready to speak, she wouldn’t even look at me. She avoided me. She couldn’t be friendly as usual. No wonder our churches are turning cold! It’s because our members remain guilt-ridden and insecure and not sure of what they really stand for. They hear about easy divorce, about moral falls even in the ministry, Sabbaths on the golf course, or on the bicycle trail, or at the beach, theater-going, attacks on Ellen G. White. What’s happening amongst us?

Notice the greater portion of his problem revolves around Ellen White, her Sabbatarian ideas, her recreation ideas her ideas about jewelry and naturally those who question Ellen White.

We need to finally come to the understanding that there is a segment of Adventism who holds a very cultic view of Ellen White, who fails to acknowledge her errors, refuse to acknowledge what the Adventist church does acknowledge about her literary borrowing and acknowledge that much of her work was in fact the teachings of her own Methodist traditions. Those traditions took on new importance because of the assumption that Ellen White was speaking for God. As such ideas which were never Biblically based, such as not wearing jewelry or what one can and cannot do on the Sabbath (Puritan ideas) became incorporated into the Adventist church as if they were really from the Bible, because there were people who applied to Ellen White the idea that her words were the words of God.

Brooks may say that he wants his church back. I say I want the Christian church back. The church based upon a reasoned view of God, a church that is willing to dialog with other ideas within the Christian community. A church that seeks to learn rather than thinks they know it all. A church not build upon the traditions of some 19th century special Adventist prophet. A church that learns how to take the good and leave the bad from other prominent Christian as well as our own prominent Adventists.

My fear is that Brooks will get his church back and it will sink into the type of cultic sectarianism that Dr. Walter Martin saved the SDA church from in the latter part of the 1950’s. After all there is no dialog with the traditional Adventists like Brooks. Those who disagree are agents of the Devil or working in concert with the devil. This by the way is a major part of the sermon, dealing with music, naturally based upon obscure presuppositions where according to Brooks the devil says: “Then let’s talk about Christian jazz and religious gospel rock. They are contradictions of terms, you see.”

I really want to say to him take his church back, but for the damage that he does to the cause of Christ with his view of God and his view of the church. It may be there is a place in the religious world for those who think that they have all the answers and that such a fictional assurance is needed by them and their followers. There are so many different types of people in the world and some probably can’t tolerate rational thought or scholarship etc. So maybe we need to save a section of Adventism for those people. But I would hate to see the whole church organization move in that direction; though today the agitation to do exactly that seems to have once again renewed itself.


Bulworth said...

"...We’ve got to guide them concerning where they ought to go, what they ought to do, what they ought to wear, what they ought to think."

This is what it's really all about--a desire to control other people. Now that fewer people are listening, the old ruling elite is getting angry.

Bulworth said...

"There are FORCES..."

A key feature of Adventist Fundamentalism is the idea that the devil and various "forces" are arrayed in unison against the Adventist church. The devil in particular is uniquely concerned with the Remnant Church and using all his power and wiles to destroy it. It's quite self-absorbed, grandiose and paranoid.

Ted McMillan said...

EXCUSE ME! A certain other group of people who caused all the tumult today told the Adventist world and the whole world THAT THEY LOVE DIFFERENCES OF OPINIONS. Now that is a shame when I don't believe true Adventists are PARANOID and I differ with you.

They believe many prophecies about how your Antichrist, the Papacy, will take over the world and put it under terror never known in the history of the planet. It is quite even comical to see you folks of the New Theology in ABSOLUTES now telling us what is paranoid, mean, cruel, white, black, up and down without regard to debate, diversity and who will disagree, actually laugh at the danger you have even frequently agreed to, but post much concern about sermons and mere Adventists in the Church who oppose your guinea-pigging of the denomination and want their church back.

If I post much about the wars, the escalating limitation of civil liberties, etc., would you know ABSOLUTELY that I am paranoid? What then would you show concern about in your posts on the internet? Concerned Adventists can advise you to start your own churches instead of having True Adventists even wanting to fight to get theirs back? How could they fight you for their church if your eyes are on Jesus? How can you complain and show your concerns in posts if Christ is on your minds?