Modern Day Holy Flesh?

 We Seventh-day Adventists have a unique message to give to the world. It’s a unique message—one that has been lost and ignored by so many S.D.A. Church members today.

When I travel and view online church services I sometimes wonder, have we forgotten the past, only to continually repeat the same mistakes over and over again?

While we believe it is our privilege to spread Gods Message, there are certain things that get sidetracked and ignored. The last 20 years we have seen a changing of the guard in which many youth are now taking leadership roles in our churches. And while things can change with every generation we do know that God never changes and neither does His message. So the question I have is, “Is every method a biblical one?”

How do we choose what is a proper method and what is not? It seems today that many in charge—both at a local level, and at a division level here in the U.S.—have taken a direction to enhance our methods of reaching others, especially the youth.

In 2006, I made my commitment to God by entering the waters of baptism and joining the Seventh-day Adventist church. And for the next four years I immersed myself in studying the Scriptures. I also studied the writings of sister White, because I wanted—for myself—to learn who she was. Was she a real prophet? While it took some time, my conclusion of the matter was yes she is our prophet and I believe her writings were inspired. Now the realization came upon me as I took account of everything I had read. I said “Man I got some changes to do!” Even today I’m still making changes.

I soon noticed that there were some in our churches who were teaching contrary to Scripture and her writings. Now let me affirm, I agree with the position of EGW that the Bible is to be studied first and if properly studied there would be no need for her writings. She said this. And I also note that when Scripture is not studied like it should be, Sister White’s writings are there for a simpler more straight forward understanding. I say this so the EGW naysayers cannot say I am an EGW follower. But I am a firm believer of Sister White’s writings, nobody can convince me otherwise.

 So as I read her writings to prove her for myself, I was invited to a variety of churches. I spoke at some and others I just attended. And what I noticed is that many SDA churches sounded and acted just like Sunday churches. The messages were watered down, not much Bible but more stories and comedy. The music enhanced your feelings rather than appealing to your mind to worship a holy God. There was no dancing at that time, as there is now in some cases, but it seemed as though a trance was put on those in the service—especially the young kids.

I remember giving a lecture once at a church about music. It was a simplistic understanding, as I don’t have any degree in music theory like some of those in Sunday churches. My lecture was primarily things I learned from Sister White’s writings. Many in that Church understood that we—as God’s people—should be singing and giving praises to God through music. I believe they were grateful for the message. But not long after, two men entered that fellowship, and brought in a guitar and a box drum. Let’s just say I believe that the message was lost when they started playing. These two men were not members but visitors from Sunday church that day.

Music will probably be debated till Jesus comes, especially when it comes to worship style. But I find it amazing that we as Seventh-day Adventists are different from the other nominal protestant Christians in doctrine & practice but yet I see Adventist amalgamating beliefs and practices with Sunday keepers and bringing it into the church. They say, “It’s the moving of the Holy Spirit and a new way of keeping our kids in the church.”

The Indiana Thing

Well there was a time when music was used incorrectly in worship service. It was taught by a Conference evangelist in Indiana named Elder S.S. Davis in 1898, 1899. He began a movement know as “The cleansing Movement” later to be termed “the holy flesh movement”.  It was a teaching of the devil that we needed to have the same experience as Jesus did in the garden of Gethsemane. It was also said that Jesus experienced holy flesh in His Gethsemane and if we followed in the same footsteps we could gain holy flesh too, and have “translation faith”. By obtaining this holy flesh you would not see any more corruption than Jesus did, and by having this translation faith you would be like Enoch and Elijah. Those that did not have this experience would have to pass through death in order to obtain your reward. Motivation!

In order to achieve this holy flesh and translation faith, the people would gather at many meetings where there were long prayers, loud music and excitement and hysterical preaching. They were led to experience a physical demonstration of their faith through the music. As the emotion grew, many fell prostrate on the ground and were carried off to the pulpit where shouting would be given to the person who was passed out. Through that experience it was taught that one gained their “spiritual flesh.”

An Illustration From Albuquerque

Now I will admit we don’t currently see so much of this type of fanaticism in the SDA church, but is there a similar situation happening.

I was at a youth rally in Albuquerque, NM where a popular youth speaker was brought in. This speaker was over the top, hysterical, used many worldy examples to make everyone laugh or cry. And night after night this continued with messages that hardly had any biblical meaning other than the opening Scripture. There was about 20 minutes of singing popular Christian contemporary music, which usually honors the singer more than God. The music also contains a variety of repetitive words, which can kind of put people in an emotional trance.

For a whole week this happened, and the leaders loved this speaker and the messages. Many from around the state came to hear this person speak. And at the end, many youth made a decision for baptism and were baptized that last day on Sabbath. Now every night there were some interesting things.

1. Dynamic speaker who told stories and made references to worldly things in a hysterical way.

2. The music was loud and enchanting (no band instruments were at this event but have been in others).

3. Every night during an altar call people came up for a blessing from this speaker after the speaker ended with a sad story that made everyone cry (emotionally driven).

4. Those who answered the altar call and were blessed by the speaker were the ones who got baptized during the Sabbath service.

Now while I’m all for baptizing, none of these people who got baptized learned anything about Scripture or following Jesus. They were led to baptism because of the speaker and the emotion they felt during the week of prayer.

Let me say there are many speakers and events similar to this happening everywhere. I have witnessed many. And they have increased and many have been baptized into our churches without any knowledge of God or any leading of the spirit but a leading from something else. And many of those people eventually leave or if they stay then have an emotional experience which needs to be nurtured—not through biblical study—but through music or emotional type preaching or experience.

What happened in Indiana is still affecting us today—not only amongst Sunday churches, but amongst Catholics and Seventh-day Adventists. Don’t believe me? Just watch some youth events online, or those put on by the NAD like Just Claim It. They all look just like a Sunday church service, or worse, a mini rock concert.

Now what does EGW writings have to say with all of this? If you read the 5th biography Chapter 7 under the subtitle Meeting the “Holy Flesh’ Fanaticism you will find what exactly was happening in Indiana camp meeting. And what’s interesting is when Sister White found out about it she had this to say,

 The things you have described as taking place in Indiana, [THESE COMMENTS WERE MADE IN CONNECTION WITH THE "HOLY FLESH" MOVEMENT AT THE INDIANA CAMP MEETING OF 1900. FOR FURTHER DETAILS, SEE SELECTED MESSAGES, BOOK 2, PP. 31-39.] the Lord has shown me would take place just before the close of probation. Every uncouth thing will be demonstrated. There will be shouting, with drums, music, and dancing. The senses of rational beings will become so confused that they cannot be trusted to make right decisions. . . .  {LDE 159.1}

A bedlam of noise shocks the senses and perverts that which if conducted aright might be a blessing. The powers of satanic agencies blend with the din and noise to have a carnival, and this is termed the Holy Spirit's working. . . . Those things which have been in the past will be in the future. Satan will make music a snare by the way in which it is conducted.--2SM 36, 38 (1900).  {LDE 159.2} 

     Let us give no place to strange exercisings, which really take the mind away from the deep movings of the Holy Spirit. God's work is ever characterized by calmness and dignity.--2SM 42 (1908).  {LDE 159.3} 

 

I’m curious. Are we seeing this in our churches? Are we seeing these types of events taking place in our youth rallies? The question I have is why? Do Leaders in our church not believe in the SOP anymore? If we say we are Seventh-day Adventists and we truly have God’s last day Message then why are we not listening? Why are people teaching error to our youth, and why is the seasoned Adventist allowing this to happen?

 I have many questions. Ultimately the only answer I can come up with is many are deceived into believing a lie because they do not love the truth (2 Thessalonians 2:11, 12).

Lets us pray for these people that their eyes may be opened, and come back to the word of God. Let us pray that they do not fall for Satan’s lies. Let us pray that each of us will heed our Bibles and not cast Scripture or the SOP away—like so many Adventist have because they simply don’t want to change to more like Jesus. They want to be like everyone else. May God help each and every one of us.

We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost (2 Peter 1:19-21).

 

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Rey Chavez is an AFCOE graduate and elder of his church in Albuquerque, NM.  He is happily married to Jessica and they currently have one awesome daughter.