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Testimonials of Former Adventists

[Sophia's testimony was first posted on the forum at Christian Apologetics and Research Ministries. She gave us permission to also post it here.]

I think this may be the first time that I've spelled all of this out here so comprehensively, but I'll share my experience because I want you to understand why I left the church. Whether you agree with anything that I say or not, I want you to know the reasons for my decisions.

When I came to CARM in March of this year, I was already questioning Adventist doctrine and had been for several months. I came here to talk to people who could understand what we were going through. My husband and I were trying to decide whether or not to leave our ministry. We didn't want to. We had devoted 10 years to it. We had committed ourselves to serving the Lord in that way for as long as He wanted us to. We had been looking for answers that would reconcile the sanctuary doctrine with the Bible because that was where most of our questions began. By the time I came here, I had already made up my mind on a few things, but I was still an Adventist.

It was around a year and a half ago that I first started really doubting the IJ/1844 teaching. I had recently read Clifford Goldstein's book Graffiti in the Holy of Holies, and I wasn't impressed with his defense of the doctrine although at that point I still accepted it. Then as I was reading Daniel 8 one day, suddenly the thought struck me for the first time that the Adventist view of it didn't fit the context. As a result, I began spending almost all of my free time for many months studying sanctuary-related issues. I had to find out if what I had been taught was the truth. I was obsessed with studying, and my husband had to remind me to take breaks. I didn't want to see what I was seeing because I knew how much it would disrupt our life.

I didn't go to anti-SDA or anti-EGW websites until much, much later, after I had thoroughly studied the teaching and its development throughout Adventist history, because I wanted to give the defenders of Adventist doctrine the benefit of the doubt as much as I could. I wanted them to convince me so that we could save our ministry. So I read them first, including the DARCOM series, and I found these supposedly "definitive" volumes for the most part sadly lacking in relevance because they focused so much on issues that had nothing to do with my questions. When they did actually get to the point, their arguments were also sadly lacking. I kept thinking, These are supposed to be Adventism's brightest experts on the subject. How can they not have better answers than this?

It's the same with the current scholars. My husband went up to Andrews recently to talk to Davidson and a couple of other guys. They assigned him thousands of pages' worth of dissertations to read. They gave him their articles. I read some of their articles myself. They all dance around the real issues. Davidson's a smart guy. He's aware of the problems. He considered leaving the church himself once upon a time, but he found a way to continue to believe in the Adventist message. However, his view of Jesus' limited entrance into the MHP at the ascension but only for inauguration purposes contradicts both the Bible and EGW. My husband was corresponding with him by email for a while and brought up many of the points that he has posted here lately. Davidson never responded to his last email. Our conference leaders were hoping that he could help us, but if he has good answers, where are they?

Back to my story, though, after looking at as much evidence as I could find from several different perspectives, I finally came to the point where I realized that I wasn't going to be able to agree with the Adventist sanctuary teaching anymore because it wasn't supported by the Bible. My doubts about that doctrine had naturally led me to question whether EGW was really inspired, so I was studying that as well. I read some of the books and explanations on the White Estate site. I read Graeme Bradford and Alden Thompson to see if they had anything better to offer, but I found some of their answers even more unconvincing than the White Estate's. Finally, I did read some stuff on some of the anti-EGW sites, but I made sure to look up the things that they quoted in the original sources, as much as possible. I found that sometimes they had inaccuracies, and sometimes they took things out of context, and sometimes they focused on what I would consider tangential issues. But many of their arguments highlighted real problems, and the White Estate didn't give me satisfactory answers.

Through all of this, I was wondering if I could still be an Adventist. I didn't want to leave the church at the time, and I didn't know where I would go if I did leave. All I knew for sure was that we wouldn't be able to continue in our ministry while disagreeing with these foundational doctrines of Adventism. But we kept studying for many months still. My husband wanted to explore every possible avenue before making a decision. It was not a hasty process.

In August we talked to our conference administrators and told them that we couldn't agree with these teachings anymore. They didn't want us to resign, so they gave us a three-month paid sabbatical and arranged for my husband's trip to Andrews. We packed up all of our stuff in about a week, said goodbye to our parishioners, and moved 700 miles away with no home to go to other than my in-laws’, where we’ve been temporarily staying. The sabbatical is over now, and my husband has sent in his official resignation letter.

If the only disagreements that I had with Adventist doctrine were the IJ and EGW, I might have considered remaining in the church. However, the sanctuary message was the foundational doctrine of Adventism. Once that crumbles, the integrity of the rest of the structure is compromised as well. The more I studied the Bible and prayed, the more doubtful I became about other distinctive Adventist teachings as well, including the Sabbath. That’s what I’ve focused most of my attention on during the past three months since we left our ministry. I thought it was important to resolve it before making a final decision about leaving the Adventist Church. I’m still studying it in case there’s anything that I’ve missed (and maybe that's where talking to you and the other Adventists here could be helpful), but I’m under conviction now that the Sabbath as a commandment is not binding on Gentile Christians under the new covenant. Even before I came to that conclusion, I had stopped believing in the Adventist Church as the remnant church of Bible prophecy and in the Sabbath as the final end-time test of loyalty. Honestly, I think it can be a good thing for Christians to set apart the Sabbath for spending time with God and ministering to others, as long as they don’t think that they can gain or maintain salvation by doing it (which I never thought) and as long as they don’t condemn other Christians who are convicted differently. My change of belief on the Sabbath was what really cemented my decision to leave the Adventist Church. I wondered for so long how many beliefs I could disagree with and still call myself an Adventist, but I knew for sure that the Sabbath teaching couldn’t be one of them.

Two years ago, I would have never expected to be in the place where I am now. I still have a lot of uncertainty about the immediate future, and I don’t know where God will take us next. However, I truly believe that my husband and I are following the leading of the Holy Spirit.

Sophia

 
 
Unless otherwise noted, all original material on this ExposingAdventism.com website is 2007-2008 by Gilbert Jorgensen. Careful effort has been made to give credit as clearly as possible to any specific material quoted or ideas extensively adapted from any one resource. Corrections and clarifications regarding citations for any source material are welcome, and will be promptly added to any sections which are found to be inadequately documented as to source.