Return to Which Historic Adventism?

I’m always curious when I hear older members longing for the way things used to be in the church–longing for a return to ‘historic’ Adventism. I wonder which part of our history they want to return to.

Do they want to return to Oct 1, 1844, so they can go through the great disappointment? I doubt it. And remember, that group of Adventists didn’t share our understanding of the Sanctuary. Or how about the Adventism of 1845, when we still didn’t keep the Sabbath? How about 1859, when James White announced in the Review that his family had just slaughtered a pig for consumption?

Maybe they want to return to a time when there were no Adventist schools. Or when, as a denomination, we lost sight of righteousness by fsith. Who wants to revisit the divisive 1888 General Conference in Minneapolis?

Usually, it turns out that those longing for a return of some kind, want a return to an idealized church of their childhood or youth. But nostaligia is not what it used to be. When you look at the real history of the Adventist Church, it has been a history of continual conflict, growth, and change. And that encourages me. It’s when an organization calcifies and stops changing, when it tries to stifle all debate and conflict, that it becomes irrelevant and dies. And this longing for an imaginery past is a bad sign, as is the fact the GC hasn’t reorganized since 1903.

But there are good signs as well. One encouraging sign is the existence of these blogs. Presiden Roscoe Howard and Communications Director Martin Weber are taking a considerable risk, allowing so many people unfiltered opportunities to sound off on church issues. But that willingness to take some risks, the willingness to allow–no, empower–debate and discussion is an indication of vigor and health.

Even though, unless I live to be 119, my time in this present life is more than half over, I don’t want to go back. The Advent Movement, the movement of Present Truth, must always be In the Present Tense (Hence the name of my blog). Now is the hour of salvation; now is the only time any of us has. And the God whose name (Yahweh) means, “I am that I am” is the God of the present tense. He is always in the present, and to be in His Presence is to transcend time. That’s where I want to be, today and every day.


Return to Which Historic Adventism? — 3 Comments

  1. Interesting post. I agree with your underlying philosophy that truth is progressive. Some years ago there was a book published entitled “The Good Old Days, They Sure Were Terrible.” There is a phenomenon of the human psyche that idealizes the past and forgets some of the struggles along the way (the same reason my wife had a second child despite all of the trauma of childbirth the first time round!). The only thing I would note (as a historian) is that the church structure has basically stayed the same since the church organized into divisions in 1918 (not 1903 as you state). 🙂

  2. I appreciate so much your affirmation–and even more, your participation in this blog. Your insights are a blessing, Ed, not only to the Mid-America Union but to the world church.

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