Posts tagged Gods Love
Ellen G. White and Conspiracy Narratives

I recently shared an article titled The End Times and Conspiracy Narratives. In it I shared some thoughts regarding the relationship between Christians in general and the ever increasing popularity of conspiracy narratives. In this post, I would like to focus more on Seventh-day Adventists and their relationship to conspiracy narratives/theories by sharing some thoughts from the life of church co-founder and prophetess Ellen G. White.

The first thing to point out is that Ellen White didn’t really deal with the issue of conspiracy theories. Conspiracy theories, while growing in her day, where not as widespread as they are today. However, she certainly lived in a time when indulgence in conspiracy theories was growing. The Illuminati and Free Masons were already on the scene, and strange narratives regarding their agenda, power, and political control were spreading. In an article in Publiceye.org titled “The Illuminati Freemason Conspiracy” the author states that “[t]he idea of a widespread freemason conspiracy originated in the late 1700's and flourished in the US in the 1800's.”[i] Nevertheless, Ellen White herself never engaged in such activity. 

For example, the Illuminati was founded in 1776, just fifty-one years before Ellen White was born. If knowledge of the Illuminati and their inner workings were necessary then apparently God didn’t see fit to tell Ellen White about it. In all of her writings there is not one syllable devoted to the Illuminati. The Free Masons were also born late in the 16th or early 17th century. During Ellen Whites day, Free Mason conspiracy theories abounded. Yet once again, Ellen Whites writings are void of such conspiracy theories.

Ellen White did talk about the Free Masons. Nevertheless, when dealing with the Free Masons it’s important to note what she said and what she didn’t say. Ellen White counseled, under Gods direction, that Christians stay away from the Free Mason society for practical and obvious reasons. She even worked personally with an Adventist who was involved in the fraternity and God gave her special knowledge of their inner workings in order to impress upon the mind of this man that he was indeed speaking through her. However, not only did Ellen White never go on to share the inside knowledge God gave her in any of her work, but even the reasons she gave in opposition to joining the fraternity were simply practical and void of any promulgation of conspiracy narratives.

So far we have seen that Ellen White, though certainly having had opportunities, never engaged in conspiracy theory talk. This should in and of itself cause those of us who value her prophetic example and are nevertheless fascinated with such things to wonder if perhaps we are wasting our time with pointless investigations. However, I would also like to point out some quotations from Ellen White (with personal comments in brackets) that give us principles to keep in mind when dealing with this issue.

“We need far less controversy [a characteristic of conspiracy theories], and far more presentation of Christ. Our Redeemer is the center of all our faith and hope” (EV, 172).

“Our work is not to make a raid on the Government but to prepare a people to stand in the great day of the Lord. The fewer attacks we make on authorities and powers, the more work will we do for God....[Conspiracy theories do exactly what we are told not to do in this quote] Do all in your power to reflect the light, but do not speak words that will irritate or provoke” (EV, 173).

“You should have a clear apprehension of the gospel. The religious life is not one of gloom and of sadness but of peace and joy coupled with Christlike dignity and holy solemnity [Those fascinated with conspiracy theories often exemplify a doom and gloom version of Christianity and not the peace and joy that should be had]. We are not encouraged by our Saviour to cherish doubts and fears and distressing forebodings; these bring no relief to the soul and should be rebuked rather than praised [Conspiracy theories nourish doubts, fears, and distressing forebodings. Rather than praise these things by our focus on them we should rebuke them by ignoring them]. We may have joy unspeakable and full of glory. Let us put away our indolence and study God’s Word more constantly” (EV, 180).

“I have been shown that it is the device of the enemy to divert men’s minds to some obscure or unimportant point, something that is not fully revealed or is not essential to salvation [a classic description of conspiracy theories]. This is made the absorbing theme, the “present truth,” when all the investigations and suppositions only serve to make matters more obscure and to confuse the minds of some who ought to be seeking for oneness through sanctification of the truth” (EV, 182).

“A noble, devoted, spiritual worker will see in the great testing truths that constitute the solemn message to be given to the world, sufficient reason for keeping all minor differences concealed, rather than to bring them forth to become subjects of contention. Let the mind dwell upon the great work of redemption, the soon coming of Christ, and the commandments of God; and it will be found that there is enough food for thought in these subjects to take up the entire attention [If we spent more time getting to know Jesus we wouldn’t have time for speculations. Conspiracy theorists often have much knowledge of many things but they are lacking in the preciousness of Jesus. Rather than allure they repel those around them]” (EV, 183).

“Satan is pleased when we magnify his power [This is the nature of conspiracy theories]. Why not talk of Jesus? Why not magnify His power and His love” (MHH, 43)?

While these statements may not be directly dealing with the issue of conspiracy theories I don’t see how one can engage in entertaining such things without violating the principles they advocate. With this in mind, it is clear that Ellen White did not see conspiracy theorizing as a necessary element of preparing for last day deceptions.

However, Ellen White is not our example – Jesus Christ is. In Jesus we find our pattern, one that focused on showing mercy, love, and empathy to the suffering and whom wasted no time engaging in such fruitless things as conspiracy narratives. Ellen White wrote,

Millions upon millions of human beings, in sickness and ignorance and sin, have never so much as heard of Christ’s love for them. If our condition and theirs were to be reversed, what would we want them to do for us? All this, so far as lies in our power, we are to do for them. Christ’s rule of life by which every one of us must stand or fall in the judgment is, “‘Whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them.’” Matthew 7:12[ii]

In conclusion I ask, what would you want a Christian to do for you if you were lost? Would you want him/her to share with you how the shirt you are wearing has masonic symbols, a DVD on how the Bush administration plotted 911, or how the music you like has satanic lyrics recorded backwards? Or would you like her to tell you of Jesus love for you? What would you want him to say? When your heart is bleeding, when your debt is overwhelming, when your marriage is ending, when your guilt is so strong its crushing you, sitting there in your living room with your world falling to pieces around you – what would you want to hear? I don’t know about you, but I would want to hear that there is a Savior who “regards with infinite tenderness the souls whom He has purchased with His own blood. They are the claim of His love. He looks upon them with unutterable longing.”[iii] I would want to know that there is one whose name is Jesus who can save the worst of the worst. When my heart is broken, speak to me of His love! When sin has me bound in iron chains, tell me of His power! When I am lost, nowhere left to go, talk to me of the “One who can calm the raging seas, give sight to the blind, pull the lame up to their feet”.[iv] Tell me “God loves you Marcos," "[w]ith a love so strong he'll never let you go... you [are] not alone”.[v]

Seventh-day Adventist, I appeal to you – speak of Jesus. Tell of His love. Tell of His grace. Tell of His power. Tell of His soon return! Talk of how He longs for us to be with Him. Talk of how He can save the worst of sinners. Let Him be your theme and song. Let Him be your every breath. If you and I would do this, if we would choose daily to lift Him up we would never go wrong. Never.

______________

[i] http://www.publiceye.org/tooclose/masons.html
[ii] White, Ellen G. The Ministry of Health and Healing, p 48.
[iii] ibid, p 20.
[iv] Wickham, Phil. Safe. http://www.elyricsworld.com/safe_lyrics_phil_wickham.html
[v] ibid.
Unutterable
Weird. That was the word that flashed through my mind as I ordered my Veggie Burger from a local restaurant last Sunday. My wife and I were at the Chattanooga Market enjoying the peach festival and I was hungry. So I did the only logical thing one should do in such a scenario. I went and got a burger. A good burger I might add.

The guy who served me was odd and so was everyone else working at his booth. They were hippie, and while I have had many hippie-like friends I have never actually interacted with an all-out hippie. The experience was, well, interesting. Or should I simply say - weird. There was an aura of peculiarity that surrounded not only the vendors hair-due and fashion but also his social link. By social link I mean that connection you automatically establish with everyone you interact with. The connection is always there silently building a bridge between yourself and the other person. Sometimes the connection is good. You know straight away that you click with this person. At other times its terrible and you know straight away that its best to walk away. And then there are the times when its just plain weird.


As I stood there waiting for my sandwich a quote from the book Ministry of Health and Healing by SDA pioneer Ellen White entered my mind. It says:

The savior regards with infinite tenderness the souls whom He has purchased with His blood…. He looks upon them with unutterable longing.
I had just spoken with a weird guy. I looked to my right and saw an old short lady who was out of style. A man in his 50's with a mustache. Then another older gentleman wearing a bikers shirt. I looked at them, and others, and asked myself, "do I long for each of them with unutterable longing?" The answer was no. Truth be told, I would be perfectly content with never having a relationship with any of those people. And yet, Jesus longs for each of them. He longs for the weird hippie guy, the old out-of-style lady, the homeless, the poor, the addicts, the criminals and every other human being on planet earth. But not only does he long for them, he actually does so with a longing that is unutterable. In other words, it cannot be described, expressed, or defined. The longing that Jesus has for all of us is beyond human poetry and prose. That longing doesn't change depending on who you are and what you are like. It doesn't change if you sin a lot or of you sin a little. The love of Jesus doesn't depend on you. He doesn't love us if we love him. He loves us regardless. Genuinely.  Without condition. So while society may ignore you, you friends may betray you, and the world may seem against you there is always one who is for you, who loves you, and who longs for you with "unutterable longing." Jesus. 
Why Am I A Seventh-day Adventist?
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A friend of mine recently told me that a preacher came to his church and asked the youth why they were Adventists. One of the youth replied, "Because I love Jesus," to which the preacher replied "Yeah, well the Pentecostals love Jesus too. Next!" Some where undoubtedly impressed by the preachers candid approach. Frankly, I was disappointed. However, this experience was certainly good for one thing: It encouraged me to ask myself the question, "Why am I an Adventist?" 

I know why I am a Christian. It is because I love Jesus. And I "love him because he fist loved [me]" (1 John 4:19). But all sincere Christians, regardless of denomination, love Jesus - so is this a good enough reason to also be an Adventist? Or am I supposed to have a more profound and eloquent response? Is the cross not good enough grounds to be an Adventist? As I thought about this I was reminded that the only element that separates one denomination from another is their understanding of the story of scripture which I call their God-story. So if I am an Adventist it must be because I find our understanding of the God-story to be the most logical and rational of any other denomination. However, the problem I have with that statement are the following nouns: understanding, logical, and rational. All of these nouns describe an intellectual and factual reason for being Adventist. And while I believe in the intellectual aspect of spirituality I also believe in the emotional and experiential. So why am I an Adventist?

First, allow me to say why I am not an Adventist. My journey has led me to one very simple conclusion. This conclusion will be a blessing to some and an offence to others. I cant help it. That's just the way it is. As Winston Churchill once said, "“You have enemies? Good. That means you've stood up for something, sometime in your life.” So why am I an Adventist? Well, its certainly not the people. From time to time I find myself having to get away from Adventists because more often than not they get on my nerves. Is it the church structure? Not at all. I have never been much for politics. Is it our church culture? If there's one thing that erks my nerves more than anything its Adventist culture. I have tried to divorce myself from it as much as possible though some elements linger on. What about our history as a denomination? Its interesting for sure, but full of chapters I wish weren't there (1888 anyone?). And speaking of 1888 I find the Adventist church's adulterous affair with mistress legalisma to be one of the most appalling attributes of our history and culture. While I am personally witnessing the Adventist battleship making a U-turn back to the true gospel we have a long ways to go and the journey there is not always a pleasant experience. 

So why am I an Adventist? One reason and one reason only: Our God-story. This conclusion will be likewise offensive to some and exhilarating to others. Once again, I can't help it. I began by stating that I am a Christian because I love Jesus. But is that a good enough reason to be an Adventist? Yes. It is. I am an Adventist because I love Jesus as well. I love Jesus for one reason only: He loved me first. It is that love for me that prompts me to tell others about Jesus. I want the whole world to know how loving God is and have not found a God-story that shows me the love of God quite like the Adventist church understands it. Not only that but I have not found a God-story that is more emotional than this one. Though the theological lens of Adventists theology I have come to see God in such a loving way that it never ceases to amaze me. Time and time again I have found myself weeping at the revelation of his love and mesmerized at deeper revelations of his grace. To this day I continue to experience newer and richer insights into the love of God I never thought were there. I have tried to look at God through the lens of other theological glasses but all of them fall short of lifting up Jesus in the same way that true Adventism does. 

So why am I an Adventist? I'm an Adventist because I am a Christian. I am a Christian because I love Jesus and I am an Adventist because I love Jesus. His love has so captured my heart that I want to tell others about it, and the God-story of Adventism captures that love closer than any other theological system I have found. Is our God-story perfect? Do we have a flawless theology with no room for improvement? Not at all. We have much to discover. But I do believe, in the most politically incorrect way, that Adventism approximates the biblical story of Gods love, grace, and work for mankind in a much finer way than any other theological system around.