Why I Love Being a Seventh-day Adventist

Why I Love Being a Seventh-day Adventist

To quote Pastor Myron Edmonds, “Adventism is not my identity. Christianity is my identity. Adventism is my mission.”

Is it a perfect church?

Definitely, not.

I mean, how could we ever expect it to be, given its composition of sinners (myself included)? No matter where you go on this earth, you will not be able to find a perfect church. If you do decide to attend church, you choose the church that is the least imperfect and one in which you can grow, despite its glaring imperfections.

…but I’ll always stay in this church and I love this church because its virtues and its premises far outweigh its perceived, expected and unsurprising faults.

The following is why I love being a Seventh-day Adventist.

Sound Theology

I find the doctrine and theology and hermeneutics of the Adventist church to be sound. It just makes sense — to me at least. The premises on which the church has been founded and its twenty-eight fundamental beliefs line up with what I read in my Bible (I know that surely many people would disagree). Adventists can explain — using Scripture alone — why the Sabbath is on Saturday and why it still needs to be kept. We can explain — again, using Scripture — that the second coming of Christ is imminent. Sure there are things I don’t understand in the Bible, but these are things that many people struggle with regardless of denomination. I’m an Adventist because when I read the Bible, the church that most closely reflects its teachings is the Seventh-day Adventist church. I love being an Adventist because I can back up any one of my beliefs with biblically sound arguments. I haven’t been able to say the same for many other religious groups…

Youth Ministry

I love that the Seventh-day Adventist church has a strong youth arm. We do youth ministry. I know of no other denomination with such a robust youth ministry. From One Project to GYC to Just Claim It to Adventist Christian Fellowship and public campus ministry to the Pathfinder ministry to Sabbath school…the Adventist church has well-rounded, spiritually edifying programs for its young people from ages 0 to 35ish. What other churches call “youth group” we lovingly call AY (or Adventist Youth Society). Back in my parent’s day, it used to be called Missionary Volunteers (or MV) and had, as its focus, going out into the community and doing community service. The Pathfinder ministry is probably one of the main reasons why I am still a part of this church. No question in my mind — the Adventist church does youth ministry and does it well.

Many churches have even begun ordaining youth elders and having youth serve as deacons and deaconesses. I’m happy that my church (by and large, though not enough) involves its young people, recognizing that the church began with young people and that young people will most likely finish the work. Youths are the present and the future of the church.

Educational Emphasis

I love that the Adventist church is such a proponent of education, and not just education but higher education for all of its members. I love that conferences often help sponsor aspiring pastors to attend our seminaries. I love that our churches help support those families that want to send their children to our schools. I love that the Adventist church has the second largest parochial educational system in the world — second only to the Catholic Church.

Health Message

I love our focus on healthy living. I love that we don’t only focus on spiritual development but we focus on the health of the whole person. I love that vegetarian food is served in our schools and hospitals. I love that, as a vegan, I have a supportive community and I don’t have to wonder about what I will eat at church potluck no matter which church I go to in this world. I love that an Adventist — John Harvey Kellogg — founded Kellogg Cereals. I love the sodium-filled Worthington/Loma Linda and Morning Star meats (dinner roast!! Swiss steak and Fri Chik are okay I guess…).

Adventist Culture and Community

Because Adventists are often separated from the world in terms of time (Sabbath-keeping), diet (vegetarianism), and social activities (no going to movies, no dancing, no card playing — only some Adventists adhere to this though), Adventists tend to stick together. This has created a tangible subculture that would be interesting to study. I find that where nationality, ethnicity, or race would so easily be a divisive factor outside of the church, (often, but not always) inside of the church, the Adventist subculture overrides any cultural or ethnic differences. You can literally spend your whole life within an Adventist world or “bubble” if you will (which is not always a good thing). The culture is supported and solidified by our youth programs, schools, bookstores, food stores, publishing houses, hospitals, retirement homes, and rampant use of our own abbreviations and jargon (SDA, GC, AY, GYC, MV, Sevvy, Sabbath, vespers…). You can spend your whole life interacting with only Adventists (I don’t know why you would want to). But the Adventist culture is alive and well and definitely keeps many of us from leaving. I like being a part of this culture and community.

I love that the church is so international and diverse. I love that, especially in Toronto or Montreal, I can find a church and worship in English, French, Romanian, Spanish, and Portuguese (just to name a few) and still feel at home (most of the time).

I’ve never been to General Conference, but I have been to a couple of Pathfinder Camporees. I’d love meeting Pathfinders from all over the world — from France and Papua New Guinea and Singapore and Mongolia etcetera — and I love knowing that no matter how diverse we are, we all share the same beliefs and, as Pathfinders, we sing the same song. I love that despite our origins or nationalities, we are automatically linked in a fundamental way. To sing the Pathfinder song with 30,000 Pathfinders from around the world is a moment no one will ever forget. I love that no matter where I go in the world, my family is just a drive or a bus ride away. All I need is to locate my nearest Adventist church and I have found myself a temporary home base.

Media

I love that the Advent message to all the world in this generation is taken to heart by Adventists. I love that we have Hope Channel and 3ABN — the second-largest Christian network in North America. I love that we have Amazing Facts and It is Written (and Il est écrit and Escrito Está). I love that we have AWR (Adventist World Radio), VOAR (Voice of Adventist Radio) and other programs. I love that they are available to the general public. I love that the church is becoming less and less insular and more and more well-known.

Diversity of Opinion and Thought

In some Adventist circles, you may hear talk of progressive Adventists or liberal Adventists or conservative Adventists. While the main focus should be that we are all Adventists, and we should pay less attention to “brands” of Adventism, I’m happy that our church allows a diversity of thought. I don’t believe in groupthink and I think unity does not necessitate conformity. I’m proud to belong to a church that encourages thought, because, at least for me, there’s an intellectual appeal to faith that we don’t often talk about.

Many divisions, unions, and conferences, but the General Conference and North American Division most notably, commissioned their best and brightest theologians and Biblical scholars to study, over a period of years, the theology of ordination, especially in light of women’s ordination. I’m glad I belong to a church that was (is?) willing to have that discussion. I’m glad my church honestly and assiduously studied ordination and still studies other doctrinal issues (I love that we have a Biblical Research Institute). I’m glad that, for the most part, my church allows for discussion (and dissension).

Conclusion

I have often wondered if I will always be a Seventh-day Adventist. I’m not saying I won’t leave the church and I’m not saying I will. I’m just saying I don’t know. I’d like to think though that I will remain in this church, since, at the present moment, I have no reason to do otherwise. But I also know that life is funny and life is long and life is complicated, and I have surprised myself on numerous occasions as my understanding of myself continues to evolve.

At the end of the day, Christ loves the church. Christ loves this church. We are homeward-bound. As long as Christ is the captain, I don’t think I’ll ever have reason to jump ship.

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