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Part IV: Q & A with Prologue

May 18, 2010

Prologue: Changes.  They are inevitable.  Sometimes looked forward to, other times accompanied with anxiety, and often a combination of these emotions.

This past week I was reminded of changes.  A dear woman I have had the privilege of working with for only a year shared that she had been called by God to venture out into a new ministry.  She is leaving behind a ministry that she loved and was exceptionally gifted in.  In only one short year I was impacted by her steadiness, faith,  and her reliance on the Lord.  My heart is grieving that I will not be working with her next year when the ministry starts up again.  Yet, I applaud her love for God and desire to be obedient to Him and His call.

Changes … Thankfully, God does not change His promises, nor is He fickle … He is solid like a rock, and a strong tower to run to.

17Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. 18He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created. (James 1:17-18; NIV)

Question 7:  In what ways are you helping people who are questioning or transitioning out of Adventism?

Let me just share a pet peeve of mine first.  It seems I am often accused of being angry or bitter by Adventists and that is why I left Adventism.  The question by staunch Adventists is, “Who hurt you?”   Adventists can’t seem to understand that I grappled with Adventist “truth” by reading scripture alone and found Adventist “truth” unsubstantiated.  That is why I left.  To a staunch Adventist it seems impossible to leave what is so “clearly” taught in scripture … Therefore, in their thinking, I must have been wronged and that is why I left. Wrong!  I found Adventist “truth” was unable to hold up under a long and deep scrutiny of scripture.

Adventists read scripture out of context by reading here a little and there a little and stringing together texts (out of context) to substantiate their predetermined thinking.  A staunch Adventist emailed me recently with this scripture as a reason for taking texts out of context, Isaiah 28:10 says, “For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little:”  They wrote, “You can actually get the understanding on a topic by getting a little from here and a bit from there.”  What this staunch Adventist didn’t realize was the Is. quote they used was a curse by God placed on the Israelites for taking a little here and a little there …

So what am I doing to help questioning and transitioning Adventists … I am teaching them how to study the Bible “in context”.  I hold a weekly Bible study and currently we are going through the book of Galatians.  I also am committed to writing in this blog.  I am a resource of support to transitioning Adventists in my area … I do a lot of listening, praying, and encouraging from God’s word.

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. Phil Harris permalink
    May 19, 2010 3:02 am

    Well Keri, since it has been awhile since I have studied Isaiah, you forced me to open to this chapter and acquire the context. First, I noticed this chapter is directed, verse one, to “the proud crown of the drunkards of Ephraim”. Then verse eight left me gaging a little (smile). I think I see the curse you refered to in verse thirteen and onward.

    I am really loving ‘tough text’ because, like what you just shared, the context reveals so much more.

    One of my favorite is I Cor. 3:16,17 when used to support the ‘health message’. I cover this for the upcoming Quarterly Week Twelve, June 18th commentary. Constantly, Adventist lesson authors unknowingly give me the best topics to cover by their poorly thought out ‘proof texts’.

  2. Dana Kendall permalink
    May 19, 2010 12:11 pm

    Great post, Carolyn!

    Improper hermeneutics is far from solely an SDA problem. Evangelicals also use the Isaiah text wrongly. Read more about it here:

    http://www.acts17-11.com/cows_precept.html

    Christian apologist Greg Koukl speaks to the broad hermeneutics problem in current evangelicalism in his latest edition of Solid Ground. Here’s a note I p0sted on my FB page the other day with his analysis:

    My intro: An interesting analysis of how many Christians use incorrect biblical hermeneutics that undermine the perceived veracity of Christianity in society at large. (Author: Greg Koukl, Christian apologist).

    Dear Friend,

    “Do you take the Bible literally”, is a question frequently asked about biblical interpretation. I answer that I take the Bible with the precision the particular biblical writer intended. I take the words at their plain meaning unless the writer has signaled me to do otherwise. When you think about it, this is the basic rule we apply to everything we read, whether novels, newspapers, periodicals, or poems.

    Ironically, evangelicals who pride themselves on “taking the Bible literally” often feel comfortable fleeing the plain, literal sense of a passage whenever “the Spirit leads”. I’m talking about the habit of isolating verses or phrases from Scripture and, under the Spirit’s influence (allegedly), finding in them personal messages unrelated to the original circumstances of the text.

    For example, at a meeting in Simi Valley, CA, a woman told me someone in her fellowship claimed God “gave her” a verse while seeking guidance for an adulterous relationship she was involved in (I’m not making this up). The verse said, “Put on the new man,” which she did.

    At another church a young man understood “Grace be with you” in 1 Timothy 6:21 to be God’s “leading” to date a worship leader who caught his eye. Her name was Grace.

    When I relate these two stories to audiences, I get two different responses.

    The combined laughter and groaning in the first case is appropriate; the abuse of the Bible in this case is so extreme, it’s simultaneously funny and tragic. In the second case, I get chuckles; but it’s clear to me some are not convinced anything is amiss.

    While the woman’s attempt to validate a sinful relationship is obviously misguided, there is nothing morally questionable about the young man’s designs on Grace. Maybe God was speaking to him through his verse. Who’s to say otherwise?

    The ambivalence here is telling. The objection in the first case was to the application of the method (justifying adultery and divorce), but not to the method itself. But the method was the same in both cases, and therein lies the problem.

    According to this “spirit led” approach, meaning in some circumstances is not based on a careful analysis of the passage in its context. Context is irrelevant. On this view, the important thing is not learning what the Spirit was originally saying in the inspired writings. Rather, the key is determining what the Holy Spirit is allegedly “speaking” in the unique personal circumstances of particular readers.

    Christians use this method all the time, as do pastors from the pulpit, even though they should know better (they never learned this in seminary). When the “Spirit begins to move”, all standards used to discover the objective truth of God’s Word go out the window, and the subjective reigns.

    When verses can have different meanings for different people based on Holy Spirit “promptings”, it begins to undermine the truth of the “faith, which was once delivered to all the saints” (Jude 3). There are as many “truths” as there are readers.

    That’s why I’ve devoted this issue of Solid Ground (http://www.str.org/site/DocServer/DigitalSG_0510_final.pdf?docID=4661) to offering a biblical argument against this practice. I hope you give careful attention to the scriptural case I present. If I’m right on this, lots of quiet-time theologizing—not to mention a host of devotional writings—is seriously misguided. For many Christians, their moments of “truth” turn out to be moments of emotion-filled fiction…

    Greg Koukl
    President of Stand to Reason (www.str.org)
    Appeared in letter accompanying the May/June, 2010 issue of Solid Ground

  3. May 19, 2010 2:04 pm

    Phil,
    Thank you for your post! I always value your thoughts!

    For those reading this blog … you may not be aware of what Phil is referring to. Here is a link to what Phil has mentioned that takes the SDA lesson quarterly and breaks it down Biblically. Phil is a writer for some of the lessons.

    Here is the link: http://www.biblestudiesforadventists.com/

    Thanks again, Phil!
    Keri

  4. May 19, 2010 5:36 pm

    Keri,
    I share your pet peeve…
    When Adventists read our story they always say “I’m so sorry you were hurt.”
    When never-been-Adventists read our story they always say “Praise God you found freedom in Him!”
    What a completely different outlook.

    ~Judy
    http://www.ConnectingRelationships.org/TakingOffAdventistSunglasses.pdf

  5. May 21, 2010 1:38 am

    Keri, great post! It’s not popular, in this post-modern age, to say that there is absolute truth. In fact, even in Christian circles people have wandered from the core of truth into the “emergent” movement and other variations of biblical compromise.

    Yet ultimately existence boils down to the question: what is our authority? Is it the word of the sovereign, almighty, omniscient God, or is it our own logic and cognitive ability?

    Adventism is in a category that differs even from “emergent” Christianity or Christianity with a “morphing” gospel. Christian churches that wander from biblical truth and reality are still founded on orthodox biblical beliefs. They still have their foundation in orthodox statements of the Trinity, the nature of man, the position and work of the cross, and the nature of Jesus and the Holy Spirit and so on. When a church is founded on such biblical truth, it is possible for it to reform.

    Adventism, however, did not spring from the apostolic gospel. It sprang from heresy. It originated in the belief that Jesus was not eternal God; it originated with the belief that the cross was not all that is needed for salvation; Jesus must “complete” the atonement by “applying His blood” ongoingly since 1844. It originated with the belief that Satan is the scapegoat who ultimately bears the punishment for the sins of the saved.

    Adventism cannot “reform”. It is not a branch of the true church based on the apostolic gospel. It is a tree that grew out of a “weed” that sprang up next to the church, and as it matured, its leaves and branches mimicked the church and became almost indistinguishable from it. It is necessary to trace those branches back to their root to determine what source nourishes the plant.

    Adventism uses the Bible to appear Christian–but it misuses the words of Scripture to do so. It is a counterfeit; it is not a branch of biblical Christianity.

    I totally resonate with your reactions you describe! I consider you brave and an example of trusting God by faith. He is our great reward. He will not leave us nor forsake us. He is our Everlasting Father, Counselor, Prince of Peace, and Mighty God!

    He is enough.

    Colleen

  6. May 22, 2010 7:17 pm

    Dana,
    I don’t think this is what you are implying, but I did want to say something, because this is an open blog.

    The Word should be taken in context … especially if a person is building doctrine.

    Yet, there is another use of scripture, beyond doctrine building. I have heard believers refer to the encouragement they have received from reading God’s Word. That encouragement could be deemed “subjective”. Yet, it is non-the-less real. The encouragement “strengthens” the believer in their trust and faith in God’s sufficiency for their life. Also, God’s Word has been used in certain circumstances to convict the reader of sin in their life. Again, I believe that is the work of the Holy Spirit – which could be deemed “subjective”. Since, it is directly associated with the believer’s life.

    Furthermore, I know some believers that do turn to scripture when making a decision for their life. Yet, scripture is not the only avenue they use. They use several different avenues when making a decision … prayer, scripture, talking with mature born-again believers, speaking with their pastor, etc. Some have found scripture to encourage a decision or direction they are heading … The examples in the link you posted are clearly sin … scripture does not encourage sin, nor never should be taken subjectively to encourage immorality.

    I have heard other examples from born-again believers, such as: They might be reading in a certain book of the Bible, a life circumstance happens, and that day they read something that encourages them in that life circumstance or issue. Again, one might see this as subjective, but I believe the the Holy Spirit works in the life of the believer to equip, teach, and train in righteousness and point the believer back to the sufficiency of Jesus, God Almighty to work in the life of the believer and their circumstance – even though it is not a 1st century circumstance.

    2 Tim. 3:16,17 (ESV) says, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.”

    I am not advocating taking scripture out of context – especially when considering doctrine! Nor am I saying scripture should be twisted in some way to justify sin. Yet, I am saying the Holy Spirit does work through scripture in the life of the believer (John 14 and John 16) to bring about conviction of sin, or to point them to Christ, or to comfort them, or direct a life course that will be used to glorify God.

    I just wanted to clarify further …

    Keri

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