Here's the bottom line: I was a Seventh-day Adventist for 10 years; now I am not.
Here's the story: I had been a Christian for a long time before I joined the SDA church. I attended a Revelation Seminar late in 1984 and was impressed by what I saw and heard there about the SDA church. Until that time I had understood from my studies of cults that the SDAs did indeed fit into the 'cult' mode because of some of their teachings. What I heard in the Revelation Seminar convinced me that perhaps I had been wrong. I joined the church and was baptized in April, 1985. Since then I have been very active in evangelism, especially on the Internet.
SO WHAT HAPPENED? Well, three things really.
1) I've been reading my Bible. That may sound strange since I've always read my Bible, but this time it was different. I began reading the Bible for what it said. I bought a brand new, unmarked, un-highlighted Bible and it's a different version than I am used to. I also didn't want to keep looking at all of my old notes written in the margins, or my previous highlighting. I wanted to see what the Bible actually said for a change since I had just spent the past 10 years listening to the SDA church explain their spin on it to me. What a difference! It felt as though a veil had been torn from my eyes! It has been amazing! The Lord meets me every morning as I read the Bible. The more I read, the more I see too many disparities in our church. When I joined the church 10 years ago I had a good idea of what I was joining based on my Bible studies with the Pastor and the Revelation Seminar. But things look a bit different once you're on the inside. I understand from some former Pastors that it is carefully planned that way. Can't give the newcomers any Mrs. White for a while or they will run; can't give the new members too much Mrs. White at first or they will run. This is wrong. I can't believe I went along with it! The more I look at what my fellow believers truly hold dear, I realize that this is not the church I thought I was joining. These are not a "people of the Bible" as they claim.
2) I have noticed a few cracks in the armor of Adventism for a long time now and up until then I ignored them, and even defended them on occasion. But, when the evidence really began to pile up, I couldn't do this any longer and still remain honest with myself because the Lord had opened my eyes to many problems in the church. The errors where sticking out all over.
3) Adventism makes our redemption dependent upon our good works. Of course, I didn't believe it when I joined the church, but I can't help but believe it now. It's all over Mrs. White's writings and it's not Biblical. I don't know why I couldn't see it before. Our redemption is an accomplished fact through Christ's once-for-all offering of Himself. In God's view, we're already seated with Christ in the heavenlies (Ephesians 2:6). Those who have believed in Him "shall not come into condemnation but have passed from death to life" (John 5:24). I know that I am saved. "Investigative judgment" suggests Catholicism's purgatory. Yes, we must all appear before the Judgment Seat of Christ so that our works can be tried in fire (1 Cor. 3). That has nothing to do with one's salvation, however, but with one's reward.
In May of 1994 I began gently pulling apart all of my SDA beliefs to see if anything needed to be repaired or restored or dusted or polished, checking the foundation, etc. This is the important part: What I had in mind was to be able to know and understand every aspect of my beliefs in the Lord Jesus Christ and our church. I wanted to know them so well that I would be able to answer anyone who asked about it and I might be able to share the good news of the gospel with them. I was not looking for errors. Yet that's what I kept finding. This was also a time to settle any questions I had about the SDA church, one way or the other. This was also a time to check my growth rate, so to speak. I think that as Christians we all need to take a look back and see if we have grown and matured at all in our walk with the Lord. We all need to take a careful look at what we have accumulated along the way and see if it stands the test of time or not, is it built on rock or not. As we mature in Christ we will probably have occasion to look back and see that what we once believed might have had no real basis in Scripture, even though we thought it did at the time. We then need to rearrange our thinking.
Let me give you an simple example: When I was a child I used to believe that Santa Claus brought gifts to our house every Christmas. As I grew I began to learn more about Christmas. My research showed me that my parents had supplied these gifts, not Santa. In fact, Santa didn't even exist although there is still plenty of 'evidence' to the contrary. I then had to rearrange my thinking in this area. I could have chosen to go in either direction here: I could have insisted that Santa was indeed real and I could have pointed to all of the 'evidence' of books, movies, songs, people dressed up as Santa, etc. He must exist! Or I could have chosen the more mature route, based on the new information that I could only understand as an adult, and move on from there.
I never knew about the Sanctuary and the Investigative Judgment until I attended the Revelation Seminar. I had been a Christian for years but never heard it taught, nor did I ever see it in the Bible, but I was willing to admit that I didn't know everything. (If you know everything, there is nothing left to learn.) And I was learning lots of wonderful things about the Lord at this seminar, so I just began to juggle this info with all of the other new things I was learning. I accepted it as a fact and concluded that when I understood more, this would fall into place with all of the other pieces. This piece never quite landed anywhere, not for me anyway, not even after all these years. Acts 17:11 says, talking about the Bereans: "These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so." I can only assume that if the Bereans found something that they didn't believe was correct after searching the Scriptures, they dropped it. Until such time as more evidence comes to light for me I have no other choice than to drop this doctrine. Especially since Adventism's leading scholars have also dismissed it. (See 1844 --- Is It Prophetic?)
It's too bad the church membership is unaware of this. It seems dishonest to me. My meager research shows me that theory of the 'investigative judgment' came about from the shambles of the Millerite movement and the faulty prediction that Christ's Second Coming would be on Oct 22, 1844. The 'investigative judgment' makes no sense biblically and yet Ellen G. White is often quoted as saying "The correct understanding of the ministration in the heavenly sanctuary is the foundation of our faith." (EV 221:2) I wish someone had read that particular statement to me before I joined!
It is MY firm belief that Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, is now and has always been, the foundation of our faith! Anything else is not Christian.
I have no wish to insult the intelligence or sincerity of my brothers and sisters in the Seventh-day Adventist church who hold this doctrine very dear. This argument is pretty simple for me: there is no basis in Scripture for this idea/belief and I do not hold it to be true. This is how we are supposed to judge all of our beliefs; by the Bible, not Mrs. White.
I know from reading the Word of God the you cannot believe in "Righteousness by Faith" and the "Sanctuary Doctrine & Investigative Judgment" at the same time. And if you don't believe in "Righteousness by Faith" then you are not believing what the Lord said all over the Old and New Testament. So which side does this leave you on?
Another thing you must understand is that no one put these ideas into my head. What I mean is, I wasn't listening to any 'heretics'. It has been my own research to strengthen my bond to my Lord and to my church that has led me to see that all is not right with the Seventh-day Adventist church. I believe that the Lord has had a purpose for this. It has only been after I came to my serious conclusions that I began to take another look at what some 'heretics' (former SDA's and other Christians) were saying. It is most interesting. (All of this info is available on my site.)
When we believe we know it all we cannot grow. This is the problem I was constantly running into in the SDA church. They firmly believe that they and only they have all the bible truth. Logically, if they already have all of the truth, why would they bother to look at any other teachings? They even refer to the SDA church and it's teachings as "The Truth". With so much intentional deception and corruption throughout it's history to the present day, how they can honestly refer to SDA church as "The Truth" is beyond me, but it seems that most members are unaware of, or ignore, any problems and the hierarchy likes it that way.
During Mrs. White's lifetime she knowingly "borrowed" from many other authors while writing her "Conflict of the Ages" series, especially The Great Controversy. I understand that after looking at all of her writings, the church is going to be hard-pressed to prove that Mrs. White wrote even 20% of what she says God told her to write. She then copyrighted what she 'borrowed' from other authors and then demanded royalties for herself and her children. And then she said that what she wrote came directly from God and had to be obeyed. This is not a new issue. This has been a complaint within the church since Mrs. White was alive and yet today's church hierarchy pretends that this has never been a problem.
Mrs. White was not a prophetess to the leaders of the SDA movement. They knew too much about her and the way she operated to believe that she was a prophet. And if anyone disagreed with her or brought to her attention the 'illegality' of what she was doing, they came to a bad end. They were censured or suddenly Mrs. White would receive a word from God about how this person was an enemy to the work. A 'testimony' would be written about this and sent to all of the pastors to read to the flock. You can read most of these testimonies today. I believe both sides of this issue need to be looked at, not just the side you like best. Here is something you should see:
The following was written by W.W. Prescott, one of Adventism's great educators; biblical scholar; "Review" editor; founder of two colleges and president of three; former General Conference Vice President. He helped in amending and contributing to Ellen White's book material. Here is a portion of a letter he wrote to W.C. [Willie] White (son of Ellen White):
"It seems to me that a large responsibility rests upon those of us who know that there are serious errors in our authorized books and yet make no special effort to correct them. The people and our average ministers trust us to furnish them with reliable statements, and they use our books as sufficient authority in their sermons, but we let them go on year after year asserting things which we know to be untrue. It seems to me that we are betraying our trust and deceiving the ministers and people. It appears to me that there is much more anxiety to prevent a possible shock to some trustful people than to correct error.
Your letter indicates a desire on your part to help me but I fear that it is a little late. The experience of the last six or eight years and especially the things concerning which I talked with you have had their effect on me in several ways. I have had some hard shocks to get over, and after giving the best of my life to this movement I have little peace and satisfaction in connection with it, and I am driven to the conclusion that the only thing for me to do is to do quietly what I can do conscientiously, and leave the others to go on without me. Of course this [is] far from a happy ending to my life-work, but this seems to be the best adjustment that I am able to make. The way your mother's writings have been handled and the false impression concerning them which is still fostered among the people have brought great perplexity and trial to me. It seems to me that what amounts to deception, though probably not intentional, has been practiced in making some of her books, and that no serious effort has been made to disabuse the minds of the people of what was known to be their wrong view concerning her writings. But it is no use to go into these matters. I have talked with you for years about them, but it brings no change. I think however that we are drifting toward a crisis which will come sooner or later and perhaps sooner. A very strong feeling of reaction has already set in."
W.W. Prescott to W.C. White [son of EGW] April 6, 1915
A fraud has been perpetrated by the hierarchy of the SDA church using her name and this fraud continues to this day.
I know that the church maintains that no doctrine ever originated with Ellen White. However, this is really only lip service. In practice Mrs. White is the final authority in everything! She is one who had 'visions from God' that confirmed all of the SDA doctrine. Have you ever read any Adventist publications that did not quote her? Have you read the SDA church manual? So much of the SDA church is intertwined with Mrs. White and her writings that there is no real separation.
Now, I know that you might be thinking that if I can come up with quotes that support one side, you can certainly come up with quotes to support your side. Fine. I've done the same thing in the past when I was an SDA. It makes for a very amusing picture. I'm sorry, but it's true. When the SDA leaders are asked [as in the past] whether or not they believe Mrs. White's writings to be equal to Scripture, they have NEVER said Yes or No. They make conflicting statements such as these which can be taken to mean several things:
Taken from the Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary: "Seventh-day Adventists do not consider the writings of Ellen G. White as either a substitute for or an addition to the Holy Bible. For Adventists, the Bible stands unique and supreme as the test of Christian faith and practice, while the writings of Ellen G. White serve, in her own words, as "a lesser light to lead men and woman to the greater light". Her writings do not present a new way of salvation, but are designed to lead men to understand and appreciate the Bible, and to avail themselves of the fount of salvation therein revealed."
But then we have this:
"Some have speculated that there are degrees of inspiration. Accordingly, they consider such prophets, for example as Deborah, Nathan, and Agabus, as possessing a lower, or inferior, kind of inspiration then the canonical writers. On the same premise they would consider Ellen G. White as possessing a lower, or inferior, kind of inspiration. But the Bible says nothing about degrees of inspiration, nor does it lend any support to the idea. Adventists believe that all such speculation is not only idle but dangerous. How can finite minds hope to understand the mystery of how God, through the Spirit, uniquely illumines the minds of His chosen spokesman?"
"The Bible writers refer to more than 20 of their contemporaries who exercised the gift of prophecy, though their messages were not incorporated into the canon. Such were Nathan, Gad, Iddo, Agabus, and others (2Sam 7:2, 1 Chron 29:29, Acts 11:27,28;21:10). It is evident, furthermore, that the gift of prophecy was not limited to men, either in OT or in NT times, for there were prophetesses such as Deborah (Judges 4:4), Huldah (2 Chron 34:22), and the four daughters of Philip (Acts 21:9).
So, it would seem that the SDA church is trying to say that Ellen G. White's writings are not to be taken for, or added to, Scripture, but on the other hand she is indeed a prophet and could rightfully be included with the others mentioned in Scripture. This is a mixed message. Why couldn't someone have just said Yes or No? It would have been a much easier message for the world to understand. But there never was a Yes or a No, and it has been this way since the beginning of the SDA church.
Mrs. White herself says she never claimed to be a prophet, and she didn't. She claimed to be much more! (See EGW: More than a Prophet?) Please read these next few statements carefully and see exactly what Mrs. White and the SDA church claimed:
"That we reaffirm our abiding confidence in the Testimonies of Sister White to the church, as the teaching of the Spirit of God" (SDA Year Book for 1914, p. 253).
"Our position on the Testimonies is like the keystone to the arch. Take that out, and there is no logical stopping place till all the special truths of the message are gone. . . Nothing is surer than this, that the message and the visions [of Mrs. White] belong together, and stand or fall together" (Review and Herald Supplement, Aug. 14, 1883).
"The Spirit of Prophecy [Mrs. White's writings] is a fundamental part of this message. . . Since the rise of this message, this denomination has believed in the Spirit of Prophecy. We have preached it as widely as we have the Sabbath and other kindred truths, and believe it as thoroughly. . . To us it makes a vast difference whether one whom we have regarded from the rise of this message as being endowed with the prophetic gift is a prophet of God, or whether she is not" (A Statement [by the General Conference Committee], May, 1906, pp. 10, 86).
"It is from the standpoint of the light that has come through the Spirit of Prophecy [Mrs. White's writings] that the question will be considered, believing as we do that the Spirit of Prophecy is the only infallible interpreter of Bible principles, since it is Christ through this agency giving the real meaning of his words." (G.A. Irwin, [many years president of the General Conference] Page 1 of a tract entitled "The Mark of the Beast")
Those who at first do not accept her visions, Mrs. White says, "must not be set aside, but long patience and brotherly love should be exercised toward then until they find their position and become established for or against." But, "if they fight against the visions," then, she says, "the church may know that they are not right" ("Testimonies," Vol. I., p. 328).
This shows that in the end, according to Mrs. White's own writings, faith in her writings is made a test of faith and fellowship in this church. This has never changed!
This is not THE BIBLE, AND THE BIBLE ALONE! What do you say?
We will be judged by all works - either our own or Christ's