As they turn 150, Adventists still pray for the apocalypse [Excerpts]
Over the past 150 years, Seventh-day Adventists have built one of Christianity’s most inventive and prosperous churches, all the while praying for the world to end as soon as possible.
You might expect Adventists to celebrate their success while marking their church’s 150th anniversary this May. There’s just one problem: the church wasn’t supposed to last this long.
Back in the 1860s, the founders of Seventh-day Adventism preached that Jesus would return – and soon. That’s why they called themselves “Adventists.” By [these] standards, the church’s long life could be considered a dismal sign of failure.
“If you took a time machine and visited our founders in May 1863, they’d be disconcerted, to say the least, that we’re still here,” said David Trim, the church’s director of archives and research.
Current Adventists aren’t exactly excited about the anniversary, either.
“It’s almost an embarrassment to be celebrating 150 years,” said Lisa Beardsley-Hardy, the church’s director of education. “But it’s also an affirmation of faith in Christ’s return.”
Adventist leaders have slated May 18 – the Saturday before the 150th anniversary – as “a day of prayer, remembrance and recommitment to mission.” On May 21, Adventists will hold a small ceremony at church headquarters in Silver Spring, Md. Don’t expect balloons or birthday cake.
[TBC: Setting dates has been the failure of many a professing “prophet.” "But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only" (Matthew:24:36). Nevertheless, SDAs have other doctrines such as the “Investigative Judgment” which are of great concern. SDA prophetess Ellen G. White wrote, "At the time appointed for the judgment—the close of the 2300 days, in 1844—began the work of investigation and blotting out of sins. All who have ever taken upon themselves the name of Christ must pass its searching scrutiny. Both the living and the dead are judged ‘out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works’” (The Great Controversy, 1950 edition, p. 486). This certainly adds to what the Bible says about the judgment of believers.
White certainly had no idea that there would be unintended consequences for pursuing this unbiblical doctrine. Perhaps the most glaring (and threatening to true believers) example of unintended consequences is denying the witness the Holy Spirit (The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God” – Romans:8:16). Instead, most SDAs can have no assurance of salvation when they take upon themselves the name of Christ. There is no certainty that they are saved until the "investigative judgment" in the "sanctuary" is completed. It is an irony that a group which so rightly criticizes Catholicism should parallel their denial of the witness of the Holy Spirit. But, Paul had certainty.
“For I am in a strait between two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better” (Philippians:1:23).
Not just Paul, but “we” who truly know the Lord, “We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord” (2 Corinthians:5:8). Paul was writing to Corinthian believers, the “we” in view.]