Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Back to Basics: My Adventist Roots

I recently stumbled upon a USA Today article heralding Seventh-Day Adventists as the fastest growing Christian denomination in America. Although the article did state that the vegetarian lifestyle and it's "clear" message on Christian life are a couple of the reasons people are flocking to SDA, I found the article too vague in answering WHY this particular denomination is growing so quickly. I remember going to seminars, camp meetings, and week long outreach events all the time growing up as a kid. It seemed like every other week we held an outreach event explaining, in vast detail I might add, what WILL happen during the second coming. I'm sure this frequent reminder reassured the aging population of our church but such details on a future event puzzled me as a child. How were they so sure these events would take place in this manner?

A lot of my friends and family members comment on how they feel it's the end of the world with everything that's been happening. I remind them, without trying to step on their religious convictions, that anytime the world has experienced a catastrophic event throughout history there have been those heralding the end of the world. The SDAs were born out of the Millerite movement which continue the strong emphasis of the second coming of Christ. I understand why people look towards the second coming, they want to leave this chaotic world behind along with all of the pain and misery. [On a sidenote, did you know Muslims are also awaiting the second coming of Jesus?] When chaos strikes they also run towards that which makes them feel safe and secure, and for many people security is found under the protection of an all knowing God. They (SDAs) believe that by going back to the basics and following some (not all, though) of the Old Testament observances that they will be following God's Will more closely thereby also receiving God's divine protection.

I understand the draw to a "back to basics" faith but all the faith in the world will not protect you from the chaos created by either nature or man. What faith should do during turbulent times is to give one the strength to pull through the chaos and even help to bring some order back into the world instead of a hope for escape. Faith should not be the person saying "thank you God for protecting me", faith should be "give me the strength and the compassion to help the suffering". Although, I personally don't believe religion is necessary to inspire compassion in our fellow man there are many who do. Much of Christianity tends to lean towards an escape from being our brother's keeper, whereas it should be an inspiration to watch and care for them.


Don said...

Wow! I posted something this morning about the "escapist" mentality. We must be on the same wavelength right now. Nice Post!

Sammy said...

It really bothers me how obsessed some Christians are with the end of the world. It seems like a cop-out. Why bother caring about problems like global warming, pollution, human rights violations in China, or starving children in Africa when it's all going to be over soon anyway?

What a terrible mindset to have!

These end of the world beliefs promote nothing but escapism. People desire to get to heaven so badly they don't even perceive the hell we've created here. Instead of focusing on making it to heaven, we should be working towards creating our own heaven here on Earth. We might never fully succeed, but that would not make the effort worthless.

Personally, I do not believe God put us here for us to do nothing more than await the end of the world. Our job is to help those less fortunate than us, and to practice compassion, forgiveness, and mercy. Doing nothing while waiting for the end of the world seems rather selfish.

captron52 said...

Everybody wants to go to Heaven but noone wants to die! Another great post Sam!

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