Until recently, I possessed a fairly extensive library of books, the majority being classic Adventist books written by Ellen White. Among that prized collection was a flawless set of the Testimonies donated to me in, 2007. When I was in college, I read the entire Spirit of Prophecy books including the manuscript releases on my computer while waiting for opponents to move on chess games and listening to music on Napster! Since that time, I think I have read most of her books at least 5 or 6 times and have been blessed by new insights each time I’ve read them.
God has blessed me with very good recall abilities. I can remember whole passages from the Spirit of Prophecy and I also remember what position the quotation or passage is on the page in the book. This allows me to quickly find the appropriate quotation and use it in a discussion. This wonderful skill has some definite drawbacks as well.
I’ve noticed in my discussions with people of other faiths (especially Christians) my mind brings up quotations of the Spirit of Prophecy faster than it does the Bible. I find myself arguing from an Adventist position rather than from the Bible.
Let me pause here to explain what I mean.
Some of you might wonder, isn’t being biblical distinctly adventist? Yes, and no. Every ‘faith community’ has its own frame of reference. For example, when discussing the heavenly sanctuary in Hebrews, I remember Hiram Edison’s view of Christ in the Sanctuary in heaven. Or when talking about the antediluvians I cannot but help remember passages about Enoch’s life that are very dear to me but are not in the Bible. I find that my reading of the Spirit of Prophecy sometimes becomes a convenient crutch for me. Worse, my evangelical friends are unable to understand my line of reasoning because it is intermixed with the Spirit of Prophecy. Now some hardliners among us will insist that I should introduce Ellen White to my friends so that they can see ‘light’ and understand the Bible more fully. I firmly believe that we sometimes (at least me for sure) forget that Mrs. White is the lesser light and the Bible is the Greater Light. The Bible informs us of God’s Supreme Will and His workings on our behalf. Mrs. White always pointed to the Bible. Later in her life she deplored the use of her writings when discussing Biblical points of view. I resolved to rid myself of this self-made crutch and rely on the Bible alone for my knowledge of God.
Don’t get me wrong. I love Mrs. White’s writings. When I compare her work to the Bible, I find her emphasis, and use of the Bible, to not only be masterful but inspired. I still hold them in the highest regard and believe everything written in them. But my reliance should always be on the Word of God in times of need. My existence should depend solely on every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.
So I gave away my entire Spirit of Prophecy collection to a friend.
Since then I’ve read the Bible by itself.
One of the things, I resolved to take up after chemotherapy was learning how to write clearly. I am painfully aware that my writing is not as precise and clear as it should be. I enjoy reading the Bible all the more now, because I can see the literary resonance of the passages. I have newfound appreciation for the rhythm in biblical sentences such as these:
And Samuel said, As thy sword hath made women childless, so shall thy mother be childless among women. And Samuel hewed Agag in pieces before the LORD in Gilgal (1 Sam. 15:33).
But let judgment run down as waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream. Amos 5:8
And he shall judge between the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. Is. 2:4
I find my reasoning has become sharper. I have resolved to memorize the entire New Testament in the next three years using trained memory techniques that I’ve used to great success in college and business. I hope someday to memorize the entire Bible like Pastor Randy Skeete. I dream of being able to effortlessly recall text upon text and understand the context of whole passages in the Old Testament and their proper bearing in the New.
Now, when I discuss biblical topics with my evangelical friends, I find myself arguing from the text rather than from Adventist tradition and in the highest sense I know that I’m fulfilling our high calling to be people of the Book.
- This post was originally written by Adrian Zahid on his website www.adrianzahid.com.