What they DON’T Tell You about the Seventh Day Adventist Church in Sabbath School…

As most of you know, I’m a writer with a background in communications and public relations. However, one lesser known aspect of my career is that I used to teach English to Hispanics in Jamaica.

Recently, a Dominican requested that I revisit that old tutoring life, to teach him English. After agreeing, I returned home to see whether or not I still had all the old assessments, homework, and teaching notes I had written up all those years before.

While searching for those notes, I came across a copy of an old article I wrote about the Seventh Day Adventist church 6 years ago.

Context

While it’s always fascinating to come across a writers’ old work, let’s keep context in mind. I was raised in a strict Seventh Day Adventist household, but believed that the faith failed to answer some of the most basic and fundamental questions I posed about religion.

My quest for answers, from the young age of about three years old, took me further down a path of disbelief. The more I looked for credibility to bolster the SDA faith my family espoused, the more I found the opposite.

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Once I accepted that the SDA faith did not hold a solid enough foundation to attract my belief, Christianity as a whole became questionable to me. I touched on this before in Revisiting Religion: Refusing to be an Arawak

The blog post I’m about to share was written much earlier, in 2012; between the aftermath of Harold Camping’s failed prediction of The Rapture and the doomsday prediction made for December 21st 2012, as per interpretations of the Mayan Calendar.

The blog post addresses end-of-world predictions, my familiarity with one faith that sprung from a doomsday prediction, and why I believe that just like the Rapture and the Mayan’s End of Days prediction, this faith is groundless.

Do keep in mind that this was just a Tumblr rant, so not all sources were cited. I have, however, included a list of sources at the end of the article for those of you who want to look up some of the claims, for yourself.

The Tumblr Rant

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The Rapture

Last year (2011), Harold Camping predicted that “the Rapture” and Judgement Day would occur on May 21st 2011, and that the world would end on October 21st 2011.

Most of the world watched and waited anxiously to see what would happen, but some of us weren’t content with just watching, so we chose to act. How did we act? Well, for starters, quite a few non-believers suddenly converted to Christianity.

Some of us RE-converted. Pastors and priests worldwide reported an increase in the number of baptisms performed in the week leading up to the Rapture. And still, of course, there were some of us who didn’t give a crap.

But nothing compares to the Christians on my Twitter timeline, who took it upon themselves to bash these Rapturists for their beliefs. I mean, I can forgive the Catholics, Anglicans, and other old denominations when they think the formation and beliefs of a new extremist-Protestant group is ridiculous.

But my goodness… along came the Seventh Day Adventists O_O …

The Hypocrisy

I was shocked! Seventh Day Adventists (SDAs) are the last people on Earth who should so much as snicker at the Rapturists! So when the shock wore off, I did laugh. I laughed so hard, I was almost ashamed of myself – but only almost.

Now, for those of you who don’t understand why this is so funny, don’t worry. I promise you: I am getting to a point, and a good one.

We’ll begin here:

One SDA follower (let’s call her “Trina”) was brave enough to begin quoting the Bible to prove her point that the Rapturists were stupid. She called them “false prophets” (Revelations), and tweeted of Jesus’ return, “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. (Matthew 24:36).”

Now let’s rewind a century and some change back to 1843 and follow the religious journey of William Miller, and the resulting Millerite Movement. Miller was a farmer and a Baptist preacher, who after reading the Bible for himself, concluded that Jesus Christ was returning to Earth on October 22nd, 1844. As we all know, no such thing occurred on that fateful day.

The Breakup

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So what happened? Well, all of 14 things happened, actually. Firstly, some Millerites became disillusioned, and so quit the cult/movement altogether. Secondly, the remaining Millerites became divided as to what should be the resulting truth (aka Plan B), since Plan A, most certainly had not turned out as planned.

This led to the other 12 things that happened i.e. the formation of the following churches:

  • Advent Christian Church
  • Christadelphians
  • Church of God (Seventh-Day)
  • Church of God General Conference
  • Church of the Blessed Hope
  • Seventh Day Adventist Reform Mov’t
  • Davidian SDA (Shepherd’s Rod)
  • United Seventh-Day Brethren
  • Branch Davidians
  • Primitive Advent Christian Church
  • Sabbath Rest Advent Church
  • (and of course) the Seventh-day Adventist Church

NOW, do you see why I was laughing? These Seventh Day Adventists were ridiculing a group of people for doing the very thing that had led to the birth of their own faith. As we say in Jamaica:

Pot calling the kettle black.

The Secrecy 

Of course, they don’t always tell you these things in church. I would know. I was born and raised in a strict Seventh Day Adventist family for the first seventeen miserable years of my life, and attended about 8 different Seventh Day Adventist Churches throughout that time- 1 in Maryland (USA), 1 in New York City (USA), 1 in Eastern Jamaica, and 5 in Western Jamaica.

I was taught that Seventh Day Adventists were around longer than the Catholic Church, and that the doctrines of the Seventh Day Adventist church were the real doctrines passed down from Jesus Christ to his disciples. Ask almost any Seventh Day Adventist and, they will likely tell you the same thing. 

See? I told you I was getting to a good point.

So if you ever wondered where the “Adventists” got their name, it’s from the word “Advent”, meaning “the coming or return of Jesus Christ”- which they, like the Rapturists, failed to predict.

But Wait – There’s More!

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I’m not about to stop here, though. Not when there are still a few other things they don’t tell you in the Seventh Day Adventist Church that I thoroughly intend to. We only just covered lesson number one.

Lesson No. 2

Now, I didn’t hear this in the American SDA churches I attended, but in every Jamaican SDA church I went to, we were reminded that America was 666 – the mark of the beast. What they conveniently neglected to tell people in church though, was how their religion (denomination) began in America, and was founded by an American man i.e. William Miller.

Did I mention that our Quarterlies (the materials we used for Bible Study in Sabbath School) also came from the United States? And if you go on the Seventh Day Adventists’ Official Website, you will see that the Headquarters’ Address is:

12501 Old Columbia Pike,
Silver Spring,
MD 20904, USA

Funny – isn’t it?

Lesson No. 3

As I stated earlier, William Miller was a Baptist!- i.e. a Sunday worshipper. I don’t know if all SDA people tell their children this, but my biological father called Sunday worshippers “devil-worshippers”. Milder versions I heard in church was that Sunday worshippers worshipped the Sun, and were not true believers or true Christians.

Imagine my wonderful surprise when I found out that the father of the Seventh Day Adventist faith was a Sunday pastor, himself. Unfortunately for my parents, that was not all I discovered.

Lesson No. 4

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My mother’s side of the family is Anglican and Catholic, and I was a child who read any and everything I could get my hands on – including an enormous Anglican book on the history of Christianity (censoring out the things they don’t tell you in Anglican Churches either, of course).

In that book, I learned that the Bible was put together by Catholic monks and priests – i.e. even more SUNDAY WORSHIPPERS! Aside from the claims made by SDAs against  the legitimacy of Sunday-worshippers, why is this relevant?

One of the SDA’s strongest beliefs is the “the infallibility of the Bible”. In other words, Seventh Day Adventists do not question the Bible’s origins and believe that it is entirely true and wholesome as is.

When I asked about this, my father was too furious that I was reading Anglican material to even bother giving me a proper answer. He might as well have given me one, because the search for a real answer followed me into my adult years, and led me to discover the Arian Heresy.

(You can look that one up on your own, though. It would take a whole other blog post for me to explain it.)

Lesson No. 5

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Another principle I was taught in the Seventh Day Adventist Church was not to wear jewellery. Once, a pastor told my mother she could not wear her broach to church, and another one tried to convince her not to wear her wedding ring. (I kid thee not!)

When I asked my family about it, I was told that God banned the wearing of jewellery because the Israelites, in distress, during the Exodus (the journey out of Egypt and to the promised land), melted their gold and built idols to worship; which was a great insult to God.

I took this as a good answer… until I read about King Solomon, who was made King long after the Exodus. King Solomon was the wisest man in the world, and loved by God, and he wore jewellery – gold at that. I asked my family about that, too. They had no answers for me, so I decided I would start wearing jewellery.

Why? Because surely, King Solomon was wiser than my parents, my church members, and the Pastor.

Conclusion

There are a lot of other things I could tell you that they don’t tell you in Seventh Day Adventist Churches. I could tell you about being dragged to the final Seventh Day Adventist Church I ever attended – at 17- to discover that a History Lecturer from my College was the church leader, and the pastor.

I could tell you how he stood there and lied to the congregation about the evolution theory – this College History Lecturer who knew better, stood in the House of his Lord and lied to his people to get an “Amen”.

Then, of course, he trotted off to college Monday morning, to teach us all about ancient civilisations. But if I told you these things, this blog post would never end. And I daresay, I’ve told you all enough already.

There is a big lesson to be learned here, though:

Do not accept “truths” simply because it is easier to believe, and more difficult to question. Find and learn the real truth and origins of your beliefs, or lack thereof. Do not be so quick to simply accept the interpretations of others.

Whoever said an atheist (or agnostic) is thus because they have not read the Bible and know little of religion, surely has never met me… 

Alexis Chateau Black Cat

_________________________________________

Additional Sources:

  1. Andrews University Press. The Second Advent [Excerpt]. Retrieved from: http://universitypress.andrews.edu/Second%20Advent%20Excerpt.pdf
  2. Everett, N. Dick. The Millerite Movement (1830-1845).  Retrieved from: http://universitypress.andrews.edu/content/Adventism%20in%20America%20Excerpt.pdf
  3. Kaleem, Jaweed (2011). May 21 ‘Judgment Day’ Believers React To Being Alive On May 22. Retrieved from: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/05/22/may-21-judgment-day-may-22_n_865298.html
  4. Lechleitner, Elizabeth (2013). Seventh-day Adventist Church emerged from religious fervor of 19th Century. Retrieved from: Seventh-day Adventist Church emerged from religious fervor of 19th Century
  5. Pappas, Stephanie (2011). Harold Camping predicts the end of the world. Again. Retrieved from: https://www.csmonitor.com/Science/2011/1019/Harold-Camping-predicts-the-end-of-the-world.-Again.
  6. Taylor, Andrew. The Origins of Millerite Separatism. Retrieved from: https://aurora.edu/documents/library-archives/origins-of-millerite-separatism-andrew-taylor.pdf
  7. The Seventh Day Adventist Church (2012). Retrieved from http://www.adventist.org/
  8. *Wikipedia (2012), “2011 End Times Prediction”. Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2011_end_times_prediction
  9. *Wikipedia (2012). “Millerism”. Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Millerites
  10. *Wikipedia (2012), “Seventh-Day Adventist Church”. Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seventh-day_Adventist_Church

Wikipedia articles were included, because it was snooping around Wikipedia and reading the listed articles that originally pointed me in the right direction. If you question the credibility of the Wiki articles, then focus on the other sources.

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52 Comments Add yours

  1. Delali says:

    I grew up SDA as well. I can relate to so much of this, it just took me a little longer than you to leave. I haven’t seen a single religion that doesn’t contradict itself. I’ve come to believe that religion for most people beings comfort and an explanation for why things happen. They then conflate faith and knowledge.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My doubts started early, so that might have triggered an earlier leaving for me. My mom raised me to be curious and ask questions, and I don’t think she realised the full repercussions that would have until it was too late 😂

      At the end of the day though, it seems like we’ve come to the same conclusion! How old were you when you left the SDA?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Delali says:

        Mid twenties, I can’t say exactly. I think the last time I read the Bible was when I asked God to guide me as I read his word, and when I opened up the Bible randomly, it was something about dashing babies against stone, or one of many such verses. I asked myself if I always made excuses for the religion because it was mine. I was certainly critical of violence in other religions. I started to think about prayer and how there were rational reasons for why things worked out or didn’t. I started to feel okay with not being in the church echo chamber. It was just a gradual chipping away at the shell for a long time.
        And I saw how fervently everyone believed in their own god. A Muslim guy posted on Facebook, “Just read the Quran and you’ll discover the truth.” A Mormon told me I’d go to hell if I didn’t “read the Book of Mormon and discover the truth” for myself. Catholics know they have the truth because the pope tells them so. Adventists have Ellen White and believe they’re the remnant. 🤷🏽‍♀️ Meh.
        I can say that my parents were strict but not oppressive. And while I was in my bubble I was quite happy and comforted that I knew the truth. For some people religion is a terrible experience. It wasn’t for me.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Delali says:

        And I hate that I spelled Quran wrong.

        Liked by 2 people

      3. I fixed it for you! 😄

        Like

      4. Well, it’s fascinating that even though it wasn’t a terrible experience for you, you left it behind all the same. There is an incorrect perception that gets thrown around a lot that people leave the church (esp young folks) to escape rules, regulations and structure. While I don’t doubt that it happens, critical thinkers have far bigger problems with religion.

        I had 4 main contention points with the Bible and God’s superior judgement. The first was how Moses was severely punished for one silly little mistake, after all he’d sacrificed to do God’s bidding. All that work and then he had to watch the ungrateful Israelites stroll into the Promised Land without him.

        The second was in Jeremiah, when God punished the Israelites because they didn’t want to go to war. Basically took away their riches and drove them mad until they fought his war.

        The 3rd was the whole deal with Noah and the banished son who was cursed for life, along with all his descendants.

        The 4th was when Tamar was raped by Amnon, and Absalom avenged her. All along God was striking people dead for things like pulling out during sex, but rape and live. When King David does nothing about it either, Absalom rebels against his father. What I hated was how Absalom, famed as the most handsome in the kingdom, was treated as some kind of rebellious and vain son, because he avenged his sister’s rape. Even the fact that his long hair was the cause of his demise was used as a lesson to show the results of vanity. But umm… what about the rape?? Amnon had pretended he was ill, requested his sister take care of him, and then raped her. No condemnation for that..?

        Of course, there were many things I disagreed with overall, but these 4 things struck me as serious injustices that I could not rationalise as the actions of a just and benevolent god. Nor could I justify the faith that supported it.

        Like

      5. Delali says:

        I wonder if your mom wishes she’d done things differently 🤣

        Liked by 1 person

      6. Haha, she does not. I think she harbours the same doubts that I do. She just finds it easier to cling to her faith.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Delali says:

    Yes, rape rape rape, all over the Bible. When people say they want a Biblical marriage, I don’t understand that. It’s not just Adam and Eve. It’s victims of rape being forced to marry their attackers, after the fathers receive payment; it’s polygamy; it’s men marrying their wives’ slaves…

    You brought up good examples. The Moses one always seemed a bit unfair to me. How about when Aaron and Miriam were both talking about Moses’ wife and God comes down in a cloud and surrounds them and the only person who ends up with leprosy and is banished for days as a punishment is… Miriam! 😂 I’ll add just one more because this could go on forever .

    The story that really started to change my view of the Bible was the one about Jephthah’s daughter. Jephthah goes to war and vows to God that if he has victory, he will offer to God (as a burnt offering) the first thing to come out of his house. Surprise, surprise, his only daughter runs out to greet him when he returns and he’s devastated. God stopped Abraham from sacrificing his only son Isaac but Jephthah’s only daughter? She’s burnt to death as a sacrifice. Bible Gateway talks about this story, and it sounds like they’re in the Dark Ages instead of modern times. They say the daughter was “commendable”, “heroic” because she didn’t rebel or show resentment. She allowed her father to burn her to death. Isn’t that beautiful? 😐 I wonder if the same people who find anything good in this story would accept their spouse doing the same thing today. Or would they send their spouse to a mental health professional. The Bible was written by men, most if not all were chauvinists. Most people don’t read the Bible honestly because they approach it already believing what’s inside is true and there has to be justification for the bad stuff. But they tear down any other religion that has similar texts. If you can accept the violence in the Bible, you can accept honor killings and other violent acts in the name of God.🤔 All based on FAITH.

    Okay, that’s my rant. 🤗

    Liked by 2 people

    1. One of the first things I noticed as a kid was that there was no value placed on women in the Bible, especially in the old testament.

      So one day, maybe around 5 or so, I asked my mom why in the Bible, they only ever listed the name of boys. Why not the girls, too? We were only ever mentioned when being conned by snakes, sacrificed, raped, banished, being stone to death, betraying men, seducing men, etc etc etc

      I don’t remember what answer my mom gave, but my own conclusion was that God and his believers were not big fans of women as equals and human beings. So as I got older, I used that to my advantage. Key example: whenever it was my time of my month, I would stay home. When they asked why I wasn’t dressed for church, I told them I was unclean and shouldn’t be in the House of God, showed them where it said so in the Bible, and went right back to sleep 😂

      I forgot about the Jephthah story! I remember asking my mom about that, too. Why wasn’t she spared?? And you’re right. If that happened now, you would hear it was a cult. It’s amazing how people can contextualize and compartmentalize things so well that they don’t apply these things to reality.

      Like

      1. Delali says:

        Exactly. Cognitive dissonance.
        I never thought to say I was unclean 😂😂😂 very smart

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Worked like a charm. I looked forward to those days every month!

        Liked by 1 person

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