Monday, January 24, 2011

She's a...Prophet?

My friend “Libby” and I have known one another since we were kids. Our parents were friends, we attended the same Seventh-Day-Adventist church and the same Adventist school. Neither one of us are Adventists today.

For those of you who might be unfamiliar with the Adventist faith, let me give you an overview. Adventists are sabbatarians, that is, they (like the Jews) believe that Saturday is the Sabbath of the Bible and are legalistic about keeping it. Sabbath begins each week on Friday night at sundown, and ends when the sun sets on Saturday.

The Seventh-Day-Adventist church has its roots in a religious movement that began in 1833 when a Baptist layman named William Miller prophesied Jesus’ return (which he believed would happened in or about 1843). Among the “Millerites” was a woman named Ellen G. White. It wasn’t long before her visions and prophecies had more believers and followers than Mr. Miller’s, and a group broke away and formed a new church. The S.D.A. church was formally established in 1863.

Okay, back to my friend Libby. We were chatting the other day about some of our high school memories—teachers, friends, etc… We both remember being in a Bible class where we rarely opened the Bible. Rather, we studied the extensive catalog of books and writings by Ellen G. White—the church’s prophet.

In 1982 a man named William Rea published a book titled, “The White Lie”, in which he outed Mrs. White as a fraud. When she was a teen, Libby read Mr. Rea’s book. She recollects sitting in Bible class and having many questions about Ellen White and her writings. She wanted (and needed) answers, so she raised her hand and made her queries. The teacher called my outspoken friend out of class.

“Libby”, said Mr. M., “your questions are confusing the other kids in the class and you need to keep your mouth shut.” Mr. M. didn’t stop there. “Also, I am dumbfounded as to how exactly to deal with you as you are neither male or female.”

Why would a teacher say such a thing to a high school girl?

My friend was embarrassed, ashamed, and confused. From that moment on she didn’t speak out in class, and she kept her questions to herself. Rather than deal with the questions and allow personal opinions and debate, that teacher dismissed my friend.

Hey, I know how the situation could easily have been resolved. It was “Bible” class, right? Here’s an idea…TEACH THE BIBLE! It’s no wonder the Adventist church is seen by many as a cult. The writings of the “prophet” contradict the Bible in plenty of ways, and yet more emphasis has often been put on Mrs. White’s word, than the Word of God.

I wonder if Mr. M. is still a Seventh-Day-Adventist today. I wonder how many other students he shut up because he wasn’t able to explain away the holes Libby saw in the Adventist theology.

To all you who teach, lead, or in some way influence young people, let me encourage you. Please, please let kids ask questions. Encourage them to think outside the box and look for answers. If you don’t know the answers to their questions, don’t shut them up. Rather, help them find the solutions to their puzzles. You could even learn a thing or two along the way. You might have to get off the pew to discover and discern, but you’ll be glad you did. Get off the pew.

1 comment:

  1. I too was raised a Seventh-Day-Adventist. I totally relate!