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.
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.
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
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 …
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.
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
- 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.
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!
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,
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
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
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.
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…
- Andrews University Press. The Second Advent [Excerpt]. Retrieved from: http://universitypress.andrews.edu/Second%20Advent%20Excerpt.pdf
- Everett, N. Dick. The Millerite Movement (1830-1845). Retrieved from: http://universitypress.andrews.edu/content/Adventism%20in%20America%20Excerpt.pdf
- 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
- 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
- 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.
- Taylor, Andrew. The Origins of Millerite Separatism. Retrieved from: https://aurora.edu/documents/library-archives/origins-of-millerite-separatism-andrew-taylor.pdf
- The Seventh Day Adventist Church (2012). Retrieved from http://www.adventist.org/
- *Wikipedia (2012), “2011 End Times Prediction”. Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2011_end_times_prediction
- *Wikipedia (2012). “Millerism”. Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Millerites
- *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.