Where I spray-paint my thoughts…

Searching Sabbath 11: The Church


This was supposed to be posted last week but I was having problems with YouTube (which are still ongoing). It was meant to be a companion piece to my blog from last Friday about the dismissal of Pastor Ryan Bell from Hollywood Adventist Church. Events such as this really colour my view of what it means to be in “a church,” because while I think Christian community is absolutely essential — I don’t believe in individualistic religion — the hard fact is that it’s nearly impossible to form a community without drawing boundary lines. Who’s in; who’s out. Who can lead; who has to follow. And how do we deal with those who disagree with some of our core beliefs yet still want to be included in our community? How, in fact, do we even define our core beliefs?

These are the questions that drive me, not just in today’s video but, in a way, throughout this whole video series. I want to examine my church’s core beliefs and where I stand in relation to them but at the same time I feel the need to question this whole concept of having “fundamental beliefs” and how that relates to the lines we draw, and how we treat people who stand on the opposite side of these lines. And, as always, I look forward to discussion.

Note: I added this after I posted … if you watch this video in the context of last Friday’s post, you might also want to watch this farewell sermon from Ryan Bell … I’ve linked to it starting at the point where he talks about the Adventist church. Everything he says here is everything I believe about the church, what it is and what it ought to be. It’s just sad that that commentary is coming from someone who’s been told he’s no longer welcome as an Adventist pastor.


5 thoughts on “Searching Sabbath 11: The Church

  1. So what do you do, where do you stand when Church leadership has publicly stated, “you are not one of us?” Not in the sense of disfellowship but as in here is the circle and you are outside.

    • If it’s not in the sense of disfellowship, I’d have to say that I question the right of the leadership to draw those lines. The church is more than the leadership; it’s the people. All the people, even those who don’t fit in or who hold unpopular views.

      That said, any organization retains the right to decide who’s on its membership list based on what you “signed up for” when you joined it, so I guess the church does have a right to disfellowship, but if my name were removed from the church books I would still BE a Seventh-day Adventist.

      • I guess it is also a question of which “leadership”? The GC might, as in my case, say “you are not an SDA.” However, the local church controls the “books” and has decided that I am. The GC has decided not to ordain women. Several Unions in the U.S. have decided they can. As for “what you signed up for” I have a lawyer friend who says, “Hey, when I was baptized, there were only 11 doctrines on the baptismal vow. That ‘s all I signed up for!” Anyway, I lean towards the idea that the church does not have the right of disfellowship. Why should anyone who wants to belong be told “No, you’re out.” If they don’t want to maintain the connection, then the church should say, “we regretfully accept. . .” but I’m having a hard time thinking of a justified unilateral decision on the church’s part.

      • Good distinctions to make, Evert. One of the things I like about my local congregation is that they disfellowship people very rarely, and even when a person asks to be taken off the church books the decision is made with great regret and usually after long thought and prayer.

  2. I see the SDA chruch tightening the cricle so that more and more people are being pushed out (or not let in). Don’t believe in a recent 6-day creation? You’re out. Wear jewelry? You’re out. Eat bacon? You’re out. Don’t take every word written by EGW as binding doctine? You’re out. I could go on.

    I loved the point Ryan Bell made in his sermon that we never seem to simplify our doctrines, we just keep adding more. Granted, I’m simplistic (or perhaps the correct word is simpleton), but I question the need for 28 fundamental beliefs, especially if we have to have a 400+ page book to explain them.

    Not that I question the need for doctrines. I think any church ought to have a simple Biblically supported statement of beliefs. For example, if you’re going to be a SDA, you should probably believe in the seventh-day Sabbath and the second coming of Christ. But I think some of our doctrines (especially as presented in the Seventh-day Adventist Believe book) are too restrictive. For example, I could technically be disfellowshiped for going to the movies, listenig to rock music and reading fiction as these things go against the standards of Christian Behaviour as stated by the SDA church.

    I want to stay in the Adventist church, but they are making it increasingly difficult for me to remain in good conscience. At least I can take comfort in knowing that “the Chruch” isn’t just limited to one denomination.

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