This is a series of e-mails I got from a lady who converted from Anglican to Adventist, spent 20 years as an Adventist, realised how wrong it was, went back to the Anglican church for a while, and then finally converted to the Catholic faith. This is shared with permission, but certain details have been removed.
I have only recently discovered your Catholic help webpage on the net and wish to thank you for your courage in sharing your faith, plus the extensive biblical/Early Church Fathers debunking of SDA teachings re Catholic Christianity, salvation, the role of Jesus Christ etc. that you have made available.
A little of myself:
At 13 years of age, my mother and I came across Adventism seriously through a series of meetings run by the prominent late 20th century Adventist evangelist John Carter. Naturally, they drew folk in with fascinating subject matter – Egyptology on night one, with astronomy on night two etc. For those of us that didn’t drop out after the first week, the serious indoctrination began (Revelation seminar) wherein we were given Bibles and an exhaustive study series covering virtually everything one needed to know about the faith (it all made sense – Daniel, Revelation, the Gospels, Genesis etc). This was back in the 1980s.
Prior to this fateful occasion, my mother and I attended our local Anglican church; indeed, we had been raised thus, the faith of my mother and uncle re-invigorated during the famous Billy Graham crusade in Sydney during 1959. Nonetheless, shattering family breakup and ill health etc. plus the arrival of this seminar series drew us in (my brother never wished to have a bar of it).
Even earlier, I, at the age of 10, was drawn into SDA camps, so the seeds were sewn (the church back in the early 80s liaised with the local department of education thus making us aware of these camps). This, coupled with SDA exegesis and the development of the teen mind, one does not need to employ much guesswork to know what happened next.
SDA’ism was also going through a very interesting phase back then. We were soon drawn into the SDA church where the likes of [removed] regularly spoke. So headlong into limited atonement, vegan health message (given salvific import), the usual misery re the Catholic Church, persecution, Sunday laws etc., perfectionism, full on Investigative Judgement and ‘Last Generation’ theology I hurtled.
The one-upmanship, grandstanding over who knew by heart more relevant scripture and EGW than anyone else, who had become perfect, stopped eating all flesh and dairy foods, foreswore their wedding bands, rose at 5am every morning for hours of prayer etc. was flabbergasting and quite disconcerting. This was a cold, austere, emotionless, terrifying type of faith. I never thought I would see my eighteenth birthday because we would have been in the Holy City by then having been taken up by Jesus at His second Advent. Independent ministries and Historic Adventism shaped my life from my teens to the age of 35, with various attempts to leave only to be compelled back in. It was hard being the only Christian in my family – the only SDA. I had a friend with a disability who was shunned; (the man who brought her into the faith hounded her to go to [removed] lifestyle facility. She declined, and got out of this crowd; is still an SDA but with a healthier ‘liberal SDA’ crowd now, was married when I last saw her. Did I meet fantastic Christians in the Church?? Yes, I did; several magnificent pastors (whom I still deeply respect to this day for their Christ- centeredness). But they were very few and far between.
Finally moving city and marrying in 2005, I escaped the SDA church, through a fellow community college student who had just transitioned out of Mormonism, spent the next 5.5 years detoxing within Anglicanism once again only to finally follow my dream of entering into theological studies in 2008; at, yes, a Catholic university. I made the mistake of assuring the Anglican pastor at the time that ‘not to worry, I’ll not become Catholic’…famous last words!!
Last year, I took a unit on the sacraments in which the big questions re Transubstantiation, Confession, Confirmation etc. were answered. The textbook was written from a neutral standpoint but had plenty of scriptural and Early Church Fathers backups for everything. To top it off, we were necessitated to take part in participatory observational exercises within Catholic church services; our group had Maronites in it, so we went off to the local Maronite Catholic Church – and I was blown away, awestruck, shaken to the core!! I cried the whole way through!! to hear ancient liturgy in Aramaic, the language of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, for me, was breathtaking!! A ‘heard icon’ if one will. Then, after prayer, resisting the Holy Spirit’s quiet leading, and trying to block out ‘the still small voice’, I went of my own accord last October and as of February this year, began attending RCIA to be received into the Maronite Rite of the Catholic Church (they accept humble Anglos married to ‘lapsed’ Irish Catholics).
Still the old tapes play, but God’s hand upon this whole enterprise is unmistakable!
Perhaps I am being called to be there for another who exits out of SDA’ism.
SDA’s have EGW, as I had her, I now have Jesus’ mother, Mary. Big difference.
This is a mere nutshell of my journey, skimming over the detail, but I find myself constrained to send it to you.
I would also like to thank the amazing workers at [removed]. For confirmation, in Maronite Catholicism, the adults wear white; to be thus consecrated fully, anew, into Christ’s service will be incredible!
Of interest, my love of early medieval music and chant, history and even early reading of the lives of the Saints (secretly on Sabbaths from eight years ago onward; despite my SDA programming, I am not surprised now, looking back, that God was able to lead me into the fullness of the Faith.
As Card. John Henry Newman once said; one cannot study history and not become Catholic.
May you, your family, ministry and witness be richly and wonderfully blessed,
My journey continues – due to family and financial reasons, my husband and I shall be moving to [removed] where there is no Maronite presence, so, as Maronites do in rural or regional areas, I shall be attending the local Roman Rite parish. Please pray that this works out, and that SDA presence does not turn up like a bad penny. I’ve been reading through the Acts lately, and the Council of Jerusalem clearly sets out four (4) rules only for those who are not Jewish but seek to become Christian. 1. Abstain from sexual immorality, 2. abstain from meat sacrificed to idols, 3. abstain from consuming what has been strangled, and 4. abstain from blood (e.g. in our modern context, black pudding, lamb blood sausage etc.). Nothing expressly in this council pointed to day of week, dietary laws or anything else of this nature. Where ‘Sabbath Day’ is mentioned in the evangelism to the non-Jewish nations, it is in context of Paul and friends meeting with Jewish diaspora and not ‘non-Jewish’ pagans. In the Lydia account, when the text was written, ‘Sabbath day’ was a delineator of time for the community, not a ‘worship on Saturday’ ruling on high from God, and when Paul did meet with Lydia and the others at the river (presumably washing and engaging in purple dying), he didn’t command them to keep Saturday, but keep to the commandments given at the Council of Jerusalem given by James and Peter. Paul was praying that day, not the women doing their laundry and fabric tinting.
And the ‘Peter vision’ wherein the Lord lowered a sheet covered in four footed animals re ministry to Cornelius, this served to allay Peter’s fears about entering into this man’s house yes, but it did not command peter to command them to abstain from these either.
One big thing; SDA’s differentiate between the Moral (Decalogue) law and ceremonial law. If this is the case, why do they for all intents and purposes keep kosher???
Of interest, I attended The Assumption of Mary Mass two days ago wherein the passage from Rev 12 was read. This was a beloved SDA passage one in which the Catholic Church was pictured as the dragon awaiting to consume the born baby (God’s true church down through the ages). to hear it read in Catholic context for the first time was illuminating to say the least; EGW wrote of ‘end times’ persecution by Catholics. However, Catholic approved Private Revelation firmly suggests that the boot is on the other foot; we are the ones to wind up under the pump, so to speak (as is beginning to happen with us around the world and Evangelical Anglicans also re gay rights laws etc., recent abortion laws in Ireland etc.).
Even a cursory study of early Church history during the first two centuries after Christ’s resurrection, even in light of shoddy documentary hypothesis, Historical Critical Analysis, Gospel community theory etc. (e.g. Lucan community, Mattean community etc.) there was no mad conspiracy to pollute God’s own Church by satan, driving ‘Saturday’ Christians underground etc. The divisions happened, but they were concerned with the person of Christ, the evolution of trinitarian theology and the like. And, at any rate, the Holy Spirit IS the seal of God according to the NT, not the conveyor of the seal of God. the seal of God is the Holy Spirit, not a day. And if SDA’s teachings on final judgement are correct, I’d rather live a Catholic Christian with all its richness and amazing wonderful truths than under the iron yoke of the brothers [removed] and even EGW herself…after all, if SDA is right, I’ll merely wink out of existence in a whip of plasma as opposed to longer-term Biblically supportable ends of life e.g. four last things, in Catholic Christian theology, even if Von Balthasar ends up being correct.
Your ongoing prayers for my Catholic Christian faith and the conversion of my (militant atheist) family would be appreciated. They have seen the journey in and out of SDA then finally to Evangelical Anglicanism and to Catholic Christianity as evidence of fad-following, instability and signs of the existence of no universal Faith truth. Please pray for them.
God’s blessings and encouragement to you and your family on your amazing journey of faith and ministry to those like me.
Oh, and did I mention, soon after re-entering Anglicanism, a dear, elderly bible Study leader ran a back to back study on Daniel and Revelation; to hear it expounded without the bias of SDA’ism was fascinating, and just what I needed to hear. Also blogs like Catholic In The Ozarks, your web ministry, and the work of the amazing former Baptist/AOG pastor now Catholic evangelist Tim Staples have helped incredibly. Oh, and my campus chaplain with his question ‘why can’t you become Catholic?’ this contributed also. My Confirmation was incredible!! The peeling back of layer after layer of pain, hurt, sin and bad behaviour through the merciful and beautiful sacrament of confession and penance with amazing, gentle, yet straight-talking confessors has also been a blessing the enactment in Catholic Christianity of ‘ye shall loose in heaven what you loose on Earth and bind in heaven what ye shall bind on Earth’ not to mention ‘Confess your sins to one another…and…’bear one another’s burdens’ is liberating!! Though I won’t say it hasn’t been difficult. the Catholic world has its own versions of [removed] on the fringes and out in the SSPX (the equivalent in Catholic terms, in my thinking, of the SDA reform Church)…but Christ is merciful!!