The word for this article is turbid.
Turbid describes America during the 1960’s. There were riots, protests, headbands, cheap volkswagens, expensive drugs, loud music, and unwashed hippies. And those were just the good parts.
In 1969, I encountered my first hippie in the local grocery store. He smelled like he had spent the entire summer harvesting dung beetles in the African Interior while clothed in lukewarm walrus membrane. The man had presence! In fact, I could still smell the aroma long after he flashed me the ‘peace sign’ and mercifully walked away.
Those days were marked by anti-American sentiments sweeping through college campuses, and “free-spirit” activists pushing back against the “establishment.” People not even alive in the 60s may have that orientation today because much of it has been built into contemporary society. But those days are over now, right? Nope. Our world is just as confused and turbid today as it was back then—perhaps even more so.
The Activist World
To understand liberalism, you need to remember that it does not care about most of the things it claims to care about. Name a leftist cause and then find a Communist country that actually practiced it. Labor unions? Outlawed. Environmentalism? Chernobyl.
The left does not care about Bruce Jenner. It does not care about gay rights, equal pay, police brutality or even slavery. Its activists 'care' about those things a great deal right now, but they could easily be persuaded tomorrow to be outraged by fence posts, Cheese Whiz or people in green sweaters. They care mainly about emotional venting and exercising power over others. It's the same fervor witnessed during the Salem Witch Trials, the French Revolution or any other mob scene, except the individual elements of the mob today are on social media and have a hashtag. The outraged social justice warrior was laughing at transvestite jokes a few years ago. Now he's ready to kill over minor verbal missteps. A few years from now he'll be laughing at them again. But the church is supposed to be different from that.
The Adventist faith took shape around the central proposition that the same Jesus who made us and saved us, is coming back soon. Our task was to warn and call forth the remnant before the Second Coming of Jesus. Thus a global vision, and a mission emerged. Each generation conceived of our task as preparing a people to meet Jesus who shortly would appear.
Sociologists of religion would see the doctrine of a soon Return as an asset near its beginning, but increasingly as an albatross — for the passage of time makes it ever less defensible. Peter foresaw a generation of believers saying “Much time has passed, why should we continue to believe any longer?” (2 Peter 3:4). That time is now upon us.
So how do we confront this kind of delay? In honesty we must acknowledge that this issue is creating substantial strains within our church. Very substantial conflicting currents now run through our church. The former zeal for sharing Bible truths, of working together in close community, of a world-encompassing vision of a great task to be done in preparation for Christ’s return, is diminishing today.
A large body of believers continues to think of itself in these terms: To give sacrificially of time & funds; to rejoice over every new field entered with the gospel, to share the message with their neighbors. But increasingly, another group is turning to the social aspects of our faith. They find themselves embarrassed by direct evangelism, and they prefer humanitarian outreach to direct soul-winning. They are uncomfortable with church organization, distrust leadership, and prefer to give from their abundance — rather than sacrificially — to projects where they can control the use of their gift. Our premiere expectation of Christ's soon return is thus being replaced by leftist social justice causes, and committed Adventists are slowly being replaced by social justice warriors. That isn't the church I joined in 1989. How about you?
Social Justice Subtexts
- Gender justice – the advancement of a feminist agenda.
- Sexual justice – the advancement of homosexuality.
- Eco-Justice – The promotion of a radical environmentalist worldview.
- Reproductive Justice – the advancement and protection of abortion rights.
Adventist Peace Fellowship
The Adventist Peace Fellowship is a collection of church members united by their sympathy for progressive political causes. Think Adventist Berkeley. Motivated by Social Justice ideology, these individuals formally organized in 2001 and received non-profit status in 2003. Some of their stated passions include, gender justice (LGBT rights), racial justice, environmental justice (Green Church Movement), demonstrations, animal rights, abolishing the death penalty, reduced military spending, non-combatancy, and economic justice (socialist redistributions of wealth). It may interest you to know that the Adventist Peace Fellowship is a sponsor of the Hollywood Adventist church, which boasts a transgender elder.
Some of the guiding thinkers of Adventist Peace Fellowship are: Jeff Boyd, Lisa Diller, Todd Leonard, Ryan Bell, Nicholas (Nick) Miller, Bonnie Dwyer, Chris Blake, Trisha Famisaran, Chuck Scriven, Monte Sahlin, and Paul Mikov.
Under the direction of these individuals (and others), the Adventist Peace Fellowship (APF) has blended Adventism with activism, thus re-branding our pioneers as social justice warriors. Rather turbid.
Some APF quotes:
"The Adventist church emerged at the height of slavery in the United States and was led by a group of young people from New England who embraced the most radical social reforms of their day, including: abolitionism, elimination of class distinctions based upon birth rights, and women's suffrage. The Adventist pioneers were led by a young woman, Ellen White, who was accepted by the fledgling denomination as possessing a unique prophetic ministry and authority.
Despite these radical beginnings, the Adventist church over time became increasingly socially cautious and disengaged from pressing human rights issues. After an early period in which numerous Adventist women held important leadership roles, male officials increasingly came to marginalize women from leadership positions in the church that was originally led by a woman. Today, many gay and lesbian Adventists are unable to find Adventist congregations where they know they will be treated with full dignity and humanity as persons made in the image of God.
Billions of tons of plastic waste are now floating in our oceans. Greenhouse gas emissions have contributed to global warming and, by overwhelming scientific consensus, to catastrophic climate change. To their shame, Christians have not been at the forefront of efforts to halt this ongoing destruction of our planet or to prevent cruel and needless violence toward other creatures. “It is hardly too much to say that most Christian organizations are as happily indifferent as most industrial organizations to the ecological, cultural, and religious implications of industrial economics,” writes farmer and environmentalist Wendell Berry. “The certified Christian seems just as likely as anyone else to join the military-industrial conspiracy to murder Creation.”
Early Adventists and Green Concerns. We are able to find the seeds of environmentalism in their [Adventist pioneers] thought. “He who will abuse animals because he has them in his power is both a coward and a tyrant,” Adventist co-founder Ellen White declared with prophetic fire in 1890.
APF Blog posts:
You can't have Seventh-day Activism without protest marches and demonstrations.
APF Blog quotes
1. APF Affirms the dignity and fundamental human rights of all persons regardless of their race, religion, gender or sexual orientation;
2. In the radical spirit of the Hebrew Bible, the New Testament, and earlier generations of Adventists, the APF supports campaigns and actions that we believe are creative and prophetic expressions of what Sabbath economics might look like in our world today. We encourage APF members to explore concrete actions for economic justice in partnership with others from diverse backgrounds who hold similar values and concerns.
3. God’s Laws Were Designed To Promote Social Equality
4. Adventists Against Prop 8
5. We reject all political projects aimed at creating or restoring a mythically lost “Christian nation.” We encourage all Adventists, together with others of good will, to explore campaigns, actions, and organizations whose work reflects core values of the Adventist pioneers where matters of individual conscience and religious liberty are concerned.
6. I’m frustrated when American Adventists accept the view that American Christians are being greatly persecuted today. Allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry is not persecuting Christians; Christians are still free to worship however we like (Jeff Boyd).
7. We reject any anti-social “Gospel” that claims we can know the meaning of Christ’s life without engaging with matters of peace and social justice in our communities.
Some of the books promoted by the Adventist Peace Fellowship are:
- Death before the Fall (Ron Osborn)
- The Religious Roots of the First Amendment (Nick Miller).
- It’s Really All About God (Samir Selmanovic)
- The Promise of Peace (Charles Scriven)
Some of the movies promoted by APF:
- "Faith House Reflection" (Samir Selmanovic)
- "Seventh-Gay Adventist" (Stephen and Daneen Eyer)
- "Changing Times" (Todd Leonard, pastor—Glendale SDA)
- "Party for The Animals" (Marianne Thieme)
- Anaheim SDA
- Glendale City Church (open support for homosexual members & church officers).
- Hollywood SDA Church (home of transgender "elder" Rhonda Dinwiddie).
- The Well
- Church of the Advent Hope
Yes, this is the kind of turbid life that we have entered into. There are some who hold reservations about parts of our message and our way of life. They read minimally in the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy and they seek feelings that lie beyond objective truth. Into this resulting vacuum came a new emphasis on political leftism as an ark of safety against a future wave of conservative moral tyranny. Such sentiments were buttressed by three decades of religious liberty speculators who insisted that any call to moral reform in society was a potential enemy of freedom, threatening to wrack and ruin the world. Some of these Religious Liberty 'experts' went so far to as to recommend that Adventists align themselves with political liberalism as some sort of safe zone (John V. Stevens for one). Dear friend, can't we hang on to our eschatological expectations regarding the Law of God without aligning ourselves with moral evils that transgress the Law of God? At a minimum, these people should recommend no politics at all.
True to this liberal paradigm, Adventists activists are ok with the state imposing immoral tyranny over our lives (as in pro-LGBT legislations, but deathly afraid of any kind of moral reform in our culture (Romans 13:4). These well-meaning (but mostly confused) Adventists are adopting political and cultural leftism as a warm fur coat to protect them from the frozen devastation of a religious ice age, in the process deconstructing the Law of God down to one commandment--not two, or ten. This led to a slow but steady importation of moral lawlessness into our church where multiple thousands of Adventist children are slain by moral cancer. This intertwining of political liberalism with our end-time prophecy, I have given the name “Messchatology.” And it is a mess. It is found in abundance in our colleges and among certain faculty.
Many of our readers have written to us in the last two years asking about an uprising of political-left sentiment coming into the Adventist church. "Where is this coming from?" they ask. From the world? From the Bible? From the enemy?
There are various reasons for it. First, let me say that hyper-conservatism is just as bad as hyper liberalism and hyper libertine-ism.
For some individuals, any politician who supports the Christian worldview is actually working toward establishing a "Christian" theocracy, so all Adventists should support/vote the anti-Christian, anti-God political platform. This naturally leads them to favor political liberalism.
That said, it should be restated that the solution to our human condition is not politics of any stripe--conservative or liberal. The only solution is the Lord Jesus Christ.
Still others, like Israel of old, are symbolically turning to Egypt for spiritual direction (Jeremiah 42:19) resulting in kind of political slavery.
The slavery of politics is a more subtle thing. It grips the mind more tightly than the body. It still remembers that men enslave themselves best. It knows also that true power comes from making all complicit in its crimes so that they are also complicit in their own degradation. The utopian mindset only asks that each man enslave himself. And once he has done that, he will only feel it right to demand that everyone else do likewise (progressive tyranny). Do it for the environment, for social justice, for the Pharaoh of every age and his ideology. Enslave your mind. Kill your children (through abortion).
This is the slavery of the liberal paradigm. It requires few whips and many words. It nudges men to be their own taskmasters and to reach out their hands to the Pharaoh of Social Justice in the hope that he will save them. On the hyper-conservative end, it leads to making the military your god.
Today we face a rapidly-growing ingress of political activism flowing into our church. This activism has a particular and peculiar impact on Adventist millennials (individuals born between 1980 and 2000), and upon multi-generational Adventists. There is also a curious but predictable phenomenon. The process that I am describing exerts a particular and peculiar impact on those reared on the internal culture of our church. It has been often observed that the Adventists most likely to be involved and disturbed by the unrest of the 1980’s — centering around the work of Walter Rea, the Brinsmead brothers, and Desmond Ford — were multiple generation members. They were seldom first or even second-generation Adventists. Evidently, having a generational heritage subjects believers to certain hazards of faith.
Seventh-day Activists have promoted and participated in the redefinition of almost every doctrine of the Seventh-day Adventist church. Should their social justice proposals prevail, the character of the church would be almost entirely redefined, leaving little beyond a lingering sentiment to tie us to the work of the pioneers. And they are just as dangerous as those who make the military their god.
Dear ones, we need Seventh-day Adventists, and God is calling them to be part of this worldwide movement. There are plenty of activists in the world, we don't any need more of those.
I close with something upbeat. We are living in turbid times, and that presents us with an unprecedented opportunity. Send Fulcrum7 a story or a testimony of how a relationship with Jesus turned you away from activist agitation, and from politics to the Remnant Message.
"Looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells" (2 Peter 3:12,13).