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Sunday, February 12, 2012

Inoculation against truth

Most people know just enough of the "other side" to inoculate them against it, but not enough to really understand it. I would guess most religions do this, but I know from experience that Adventism does this a lot. For example, the Adventist church knows there are problems with EGW (afterall, their own church-sponsored study revealed that she "borrowed" material while denying to do so), but instead of dealing with the real issues they tell their members just enough of the story to inoculate them against the truth. They reveal that yes she did in fact use other sources, but then they brush it off by saying she was only human and that it was a common practice at the time and that she wasn't legally culpable. And with any unusual or contradictory statement they sweep under the rug by saying it was taken out of context. Oh - and every prediction she made that didn't come true was a "conditional" prophecy. So with those explanations, just about everything you can bring up about EGW can be disregarded.

So Adventists are taught that people say bad things about EGW, and they may hear a couple of the issues, but they are given these explanations. Without further study, they sincerely believe that people saying anything negative about EGW are just trying to destroy God's remnant church because they believe they understand the evidence against her. And while they probably haven't gone to any of the sites put out by those saying EGW was a false prophet, if they are at all concerned about the subject they at least have seen what the SDA church and the White Estate has said about these "issues." They see great explanations for the issues that the church and the White Estate raise, and think that the matter is totally settled, therefore they won't listen to any more evidence against her because we're just "bashing" and "those accusations have been around for years".
The same with the Sabbath. Adventism presents the matter as Sabbath-worship vs. Sunday-keeping. They prove why Sunday-keeping isn't Biblical, so the only conclusion to be reached is that God requires all His followers to worship on Sabbath (and specifically NOT on Sunday). So Adventists, however sincere, believe that the Bible is crystal clear on the Sabbath and most won't even consider any Biblical evidence against it. They know that the Bible doesn't teach that God requires believers to worship on Sunday, therefore they know the "other side" of Adventism is wrong.
There are so many problems with this method (one being that there are many explanations outside of Adventism, so just because you disagree with one doesn't mean Adventism is automatically right), but to me the worst is that it inoculates them against ever searching out the truth - because they believe they understand the issues and those issues are settled in their mind. It doesn't matter how many times we say, "No, I don't believe that it's ok to murder, commit adultery, steal... just because we are not under the old covenant/10 Commandments." They "know" that is the only conclusion if you throw out the Sabbath, and since killing, stealing, etc. is obviously wrong, then we clearly must still be under the 10 Commandments.
I've said it many times, but I believe that the explanations given by the Adventist Church and the White Estate provide just enough information to convince Adventists that the issues are settled, but they don't actually answer the questions that most or all of us have asked. They start the book or article by saying these accusations are nothing new and have been settled years ago. They provide enough assurance to SDA's so that they will believe everything is fine and ignore future questions. It is only when you start asking the questions for yourself (and not just hearing other people ask you the questions) that you realize their explanations don't settle anything!
Sadly, I believe it would be easier to reach our Adventist friends and relatives if they had never been exposed to the issues to start with because it would come as a surprise to them (like it did to me) and more people would be challenged to study it out for themselves. They would have the chance to understand the issues first, before they heard the explanations - so they would be able to see if the answers actually addressed the questions, instead of hearing the answers first and assuming they understand the questions being asked...

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