Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Against the Adventists

The following is a (slightly edited) copy of a letter I sent to a friend who just started attending a Seventh Day Adventist church:


I hear you're looking for a new church, and that you're currently attending a Seventh Day Adventist church.

I want to at least put out the invitation to join me in the Catholic Church, the Church I believe history shows to be the original Christian Church, the one most likely founded by Jesus Christ himself. Trust me, I know such claims sound arrogant and frankly obnoxious. They sounded that way to me when I heard people say them in the past. But I gradually came to believe the claims were true, and I can provide historical and Biblical citations to back them up.

Invitation concluded, I don't expect you to actually take me up on the offer... for a few reasons:

1. I was married to a Catholic girl for about 5 years before I even considered that her centuries old church might have something valid to say in its defense.

2. Catholic parishes don't tend to have the sense of community common to Protestant churches. This is for a variety of reasons, primarily though it is because they are large and because they don't have adult Sunday School.

3. Americans are thoroughly educated in a mixed secular/Protestant culture, and taught secular/Protestant versions of history, in which the Catholic Church has an exaggerated role as "bad guy."

4. Following from #3, the media, while generally having a liberal slant, also has a strong history of having an anti-Catholic anti-hierarchical slant (consider the absurd number of stories on 20-year-passed accounts of priests involved in sexual abuse compared to the number of stories about school teachers involved in similar situations, despite the fact that public schools are far more dangerous for children than Catholic churches).

These things make it hard for most people to really even give a thought to the Catholic Church. But just pause for a moment and wonder if there might be something to the Church which produced the monks who hand-copied the Bible for over a thousand years before the printing press. If there might be something to the Church that evangelized Europe, much of Asia, and the Americas. There is hardly a Christian country in the world which was not first evangelized by the Catholic Church. Just something to think about.

That said, I still expect you to end up in a Protestant church, if only for the ever-important support of the community.

So, I just ask that you look for a more orthodox branch of Protestantism. I am sure your Adventist church is full of loving and wonderful people. But you should try to find a group of wonderful people who are backed by a better history, better worldview, and better theology. Seventh Day Adventism (SDA) is characterized by a sort of paranoid conspiracy theory, and it was founded during the Prophesy craze of the 1800s that also brought us the Mormons and Christian Science.

They believe that the Catholic Church is the "Whore of Babylon," and that the Pope is the Antichrist. These ideas are not uncommon in Protestantism, but SDA takes it a step further. Some believe that every secret society from the Masons to the KKK is really controlled by the Catholic Church (which is funny since both those organizations are virulently anti-Catholic). Their official teaching even goes further in believing that all the other Protestant denominations are really just pawns of the Catholic Church, bearing the "Mark of the Beast." What is this great evil that Catholics and Protestants are all conspiring together on? Eating babies? No, gathering for worship on Sunday! The horror. We dare to fulfill God's commandment to "honor the Sabbath" on the day of the resurrection instead of on the Jewish sabbath (Please note that these are not just accusations, most of my info on SDA is based on direct quotes from the religion's founder Ellen G. White and from SDA books I own).

I would like to add that Christ gave his apostles the power to "bind and loose," and using this authority the Church began Sunday worship before the New Testament was finished (see Acts 20:7, 1 Corinthians 16:2, Colossians 2:16-17, and Revelation 1:10). You can read more about the Sabbath vs. Sunday controversy here:

Read a Catholic overview of Seventh Day Adventism here:

In the end, you have to consider the two very different views of salvation history which the Catholic Church and the Adventists present.

Catholic View: Jesus established His Church as a "pillar of Truth"(1 Tim. 3:15), and though it has faced many difficulties from within (bad laity, bad Bishops, bad Popes) and persecutions from without (Nero, Stalin, etc.), it has persisted in preserving the truth and sharing the Gospel throughout the ages.

Adventist View: Christ's original Church was overcome by Satan and more-or-less disappeared, leaving behind a false Church (which for some reason persisted in spreading the Gospel, and reproducing the Bible). After 1,800 years of darkness, God sent Prophet E. G. White to lead his people back into the light.

Honestly, I cannot see the Adventist view as corresponding at all with a God who wants his people to know him, nor can I see Jesus as being so abysmal at establishing a Church.

I hope to hear from you. Please ask me any questions about Catholicism that you might have. I will be more than happy to answer you. I can give you citations for any claims I have made. And I would delight in telling you about the Early Church Fathers, successors of the Apostles, who as early as 100 AD were teaching clearly Catholic doctrines.

I have always viewed you as a part of my extended family, and it would be great if you would join my Church family, but I'd be happy to hear from you either way.

God Bless,
Nathan Cushman


Anonymous said...

Dear Nathan, beloved of christ, and owner of an awesome name (my middle name). I expect this comment will probably be deleted but Id like to think not. Corinthians 16:2 the text you yourself gave as evidence of the sunday being observed as sabbath by the early church, instructs us upon how to spend the first day of the week, im quoting kjv (king james version) "upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come". Basically sit at home count your blessings, and of those blessings, dont wait for them to be collected, but give. I am 18 years old & an adventist. I haven't read all of the E.g white books, but have read some and appreciate her prose (manner of speaking) can seem a little hard, however God demands his people arm themselves with the sword of truth, which though metaphorical, is two edged & supposed to be sharp & will for some, be unbearable. However I must say, the adventists have nothing against the catholics, we merely ask your congregations to be obedient to God & God alone, ask yourselves if I had never known christ, lived on a desert island and found a bible, would I worship on the first day instead of the seventh, would I baptise with a sprinkle or fully emerse, symbolically burying their old self and emerging as part of Gods family, may God richly bless you and all others seeking the truth, in Gods holy book the Bible.

Nathan Cushman said...

Dear Anonymous, I'm sorry I took so long to post your comment. I only delete offensive comments, and while we disagree, you do not offend me. You're right that some of those verses referred to The Lord's Day in a pretty unclear way. I'd say Acts 20:7 was the best of the bunch. Corinthians 16:2... you will understand this verse better if you read a more clear translation using more current English. Paul is saying that he wants everyone to store up their donations on the first day of the week, so he doesn't have to go gather them up when he comes to Corinth. This means the must actually be meeting on the first day of the week, or they wouldn't have the donations all in one place, and he'd still have to go collect them.

Anyway, you'll see much more clear examples if you study the writings of the Early Church right after the Apostolic times, when the Jewish and Christian faiths were more completely distinct.