Quotes from the sites you have provided will be in blue -
Is the Seventh Day Adventist church a cult? This is a hard question to answer but I will say this; there is a very real segment of that church that is very destructive and oppressive. I will present to you why I believe the church is destructive and oppressive, and let you make your choice on this question, as the term “cult” is problematic.
Every church is filled with all kinds of people, some destructive or oppressive by nature. The wheat and the tares grow up together and God will do the separating when He returns. Of course this applies to those only whose actions are not blatantly bad enough to have them kicked out of the church while still here on earth before God returns and sets all records straight.
To prove this or that denomination a cult, or oppressive, one must address doctrine or teaching from the same which is oppressive or cultic. All churches are filled with sinners in the process of recovery. To address their individual actions, or even the actions of some of the clicks that may form within the same, does not address a denomination as a whole. Again, the doctrines and teachings of a denomination define what they are and hope to represent, not the actions of the sinners which belong to it.
Please note, this article will merely discusses church culture and will not debate the theological merits of the teachings. I would also like to note that article this does not apply to all SDA churches. The culture described here is mostly seen in the “traditional” churches and in some “progressive” churches. This article has been compiled from experiences from ex-Adventists around the globe who came from conservative circles. Please keep in mind everyones experience will be different! If you are looking to escape/leave an oppressive segment of the church, I highly recommend you read this article on how to leave it. Please also note, that from now on when this article refers to “Adventists” that are “oppressive” it is in reference to the segment that is and is not referencing the whole church.
The above is an admission of what I just related. The whole site is therefore dedicated to the testimony of ex-disgruntled SDA’s, who for all we know, were themselves the unbalanced destructive or oppressive elements within their perspective churches. Perhaps they demanded that the churches they were in abandon their teachings or they would leave. Which they did. Now, all who read this article are to believe their testimony regarding what? Not the teachings of the SDA church, but the actions of some of the members towards them, suggesting a hidden destructive, oppressive, cultish agenda of the SDA church. Hogwash! I don’t even say this to suggest their are no destructive, oppressive, or cultish elements among the various individuals or clicks within the church, I know there are. Just as there are in all denominations.
This is why one must address official doctrines and teachings of a church, and not individuals or clicks within the same in concluding denominational purpose. We can’t just kick out everyone who isn’t perfect yet, there would be no one left but those who were sure they were perfect. Which of course would be a cult.
I enjoyed the video. Of course the problem in the video is not so much that many SDA’s, and members of all denominations I might add, find themselves being judged by others within their denominations. The problem is being afraid of the same. If you believe what your church teaches regarding any issue which you struggle with, don’t worry about what other people in your denomination may think of your struggle, freely admit your faults, and enlist their aid and prayers when confronted or caught in the act so to speak. If you don’t believe what your church teaches, then leave it, why be a hypocrite? I struggle with many an issue. I don’t care who knows it, I could always use, and am in no doubt in need of their prayers for me. If they have any other attitude toward me for the same, that is their problem, not mine. On the other hand, if we allow ourselves to be controlled and manipulated by peer pressure, there is no one to blame but ourselves.
16 Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. 17 Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months. 18 And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit. 19 Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him; 20 Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins. James 5:16-20 (KJV)
Every SDA knows and has agreed that certain foods and drink are not healthy and should be abstained from. If they no longer believe the same, they are always free to remove their membership. If they still believe but are struggling with issues, don’t worry about anyone’s judgments but God’s alone. Don’t hide from like believers or worry about what they think, enlist their aid. If they hate you, or talk about you behind your back because you struggle, then they are far more guilty before God than you are for struggling. Grow up! Work out your own salvation with God, and worry about what He thinks which is all that matters, and not what people think, who are here today and gone tomorrow.
The Seventh Day Adventist church is extremely controlling
In Lifton’s criteria for deciding whether a church is a cult or not, he looks at whether the church has a charismatic leader that controls, interrogates and bullies its members. The Seventh Day Adventist church has no such leader. Instead, it has an interesting phenomena about it; instead of a leader doing this, the members fulfill this function themselves. If a church member is caught breaking one of the many rules, they face social retribution for their sin. To get a small glimpse into this, take a look at the video below:
The existence of the video itself created by SDA’s, denies the credibility of the above accusation. Of course there are control freaks in the SDA church, just as there are in every denomination. There is no secret agenda among members to accomplish cultish control above beyond and over the top of our elected leaders. Control freaks are not really a problem in and of themselves, it is those who allow themselves to be controlled by the same, that pose the real problem. All denominations that actually have standards will have to deal with the control freaks within the same.
I’ve been an SDA for over thirty years now. I worked for a while in a self supporting SDA institution, which I believe crossed the line in the control issue we are discussing. I spoke my mind on the issue, and left the organization when asked to because of our differences regarding the same. I didn’t leave the church or reject the truth simply because some were to controlling regarding certain issues. I moved on.
I did not demand that an institution change everything according to my views. Nor do I or did I waste my time leaving and attacking the SDA church as a whole, because of what this one institution within the same practiced. I know what the denomination teaches as a whole, and will not leave the same because this or that click are not living up to it, or are being to controlling or manipulative in regards to the same. These things are unavoidable in any institution that will actually have and seek to maintain standards. What are the disgruntled SDA’s on this or any other board, but those who either no longer agreed with SDA teaching and should have left the church probably before they did, or those who demanded and still do demand though now outside of the church, that the church as a whole conform to their personal standards which conflict with the denominations. Thus they and this site do not address official SDA doctrine or teachings, but the supposed rampant cultish control exercised by it’s members without the consent or approval of the leadership. I am sorry if these individuals were actually controlled by the same, that however is their own problem.
I have not attended an SDA church in over a year. I have strong disagreements with the leadership of those closest to me, and will not support what I see as their apostate tendencies by attending them. I could search for a church not involved in the same and drive a long distance to attend one, but this would not satisfy my convictions, and add financial burden to an already delicate situation. I feel a greater conviction to share the truth with as many as possible outside of my denomination via the internet, than to find a church preaching to my particular brand of quire. I know what I believe and why I believe it. I am not an SDA for any social reasons, and am not a part of this or that click within the same. The official doctrines and teachings of the church are the truth, therefore I remain. If or when that changes, so will my status as an SDA. All the rest is trifling with the truth and our personal responsibility in relation to the same.
This is a funny video, and Adventists would generally find it very funny. In fact, it was created by a (liberal) church. Unfortunately, this is not an accurate representation of what actually occurs, even within liberal circles. Lets take the very first example, where the poor man is caught having a meat lovers pizza. In the SDA church, it is a sin to eat any meat that comes from a pig, as this violates the SDA health laws. In the video, the man gets a disappointed look from his friend who looks very unimpressed, while he looks very embarrassed. But is this it? No, it isn’t. Unfortunately, its just the beginning.
In the video, it shows what would have happened if he had the ‘Adventist Alert App’. He see’s his friend is nearby, and he quickly changes his order to a vegan pizza, so that he can be a good Adventist. You know why he is so eager to do this? Because being caught actually choosing bacon/pepperoni would be socially shunned by his SDA peers. His friend would tell his friends, who would then tell their friends
More trifling hogwash. Get a stinking grip. Grow up, and get on with life. If you are so easily controlled by peer pressure then you are the problem, not the ones who may express their disappointment wrongly when they stumble upon you partaking of that which you yourself acknowledge as bad for you by being a member of a denomination which believes it so. If you disagree, leave the denomination. If you don’t, admit your faults and move on. Quit crying and whining about a situation you are in due to your own beliefs and actions.
These people would then look at him differently and treat him differently. They might “jokingly” reference his transgression in conversation, in front of other people. They might confront him and ask him why he was eating unclean flesh. They might even give him some “helpful suggestions” on how to avoid temptation. The tone in which this is done socially shames the man, as the Adventist feels the need to pull their peer “into line”, so-to-speak. They would never forget the incident, and would see the person as “not a real Adventist” since they purposely broke the rules of God. They would then, consciously or subconsciously, spend less time around them and avoid them because they are a bad influence. The more transgressions you make, the worse it gets.
This is a very high punishment to pay. For one thing, it isn’t just you that would become ostracized, but your family would suffer too. For another, being ostracized by church members is especially devastating when you consider that, due to the fact that Adventists usually only interact seriously with Adventists (since they live in an exclusive Adventist world/bubble) having these people ice you out is devastating as they are your only social network. It isn’t just church members that would ice you out; your family/friends would always have your transgression in the back of their mind, and would begin to treat you differently. Too many transgressions and your friends will start to ice you out. All because a church member caught you ordering a pepperoni pizza slice. I am not joking.
Another load of hogwash! Whether the one relating such is joking or not, I find the entire testimony to be a joke and laughable. Again, the problem in that above is those being controlled, not those who are supposedly trying to control or manipulate them. The same kind of junk goes on everywhere I know. Attempts of control and manipulation go on at home, in the work place, at leisure, in church, and wherever one finds themselves in life. It is part of the sin problem, and it exists everywhere in the world and in every facet of life and is then found of course in every denomination also. If anyone is a member of any denomination because of manipulation, or carrying on a tradition, or peer pressure, or whatever other than believing it to be the truth in God, they are wasting there time. They should leave. They themselves and the denomination will no doubt be better off.
Is this different from other churches/denominations?
This is hard to say; the reality is within conservative Christianity a lot of harsh judging goes on and a lot of people get hurt. Are Adventists different in this regard? Most conservative Christians look at SDA’s and see them as extreme, as while other churches will judge you for much bigger choices, SDA’s will judge each other harshly for seemingly small, random and arbitrary “rules”.
Another interesting thing about the church is there is no room to dissent. If you chose to keep all of the Adventist rules except you chose to continue to eat ham, then most conservative SDA’s would have to declare you sinful, your actions worldly, and your blatant disregard for God’s health laws mean that God would not save you and you would die the eternal death. All of this because you choose to eat ham, is very harsh and SDA’s are unique in how black-and-white they are over such seemingly small rules that have very little impact on ones day-to-day life that don’t hurt other people. This harsh attitude towards people over such arbitrary things makes the church very toxic and oppressive, and one reason it could be seen as a cult.
As an SDA for over thirty years now, I can testify that the above statement is a blatant lie. To the contrary, the above and far worse are looked over and allowed without ever being addressed. Of course there are exceptions to every generality. All one need do, is look at the range which exists within the SDA church between so called liberals and conservatives, and it is clear that there is plenty of wiggle room to the left or right within the same. Each church being more or less conservative according to the accepted leadership of the same. Again though, every SDA baptized into the church has acknowledged and accepted that there are certain foods which God does not want us to eat. If they could not accept this, they need not have been baptized into the church. If they have been but still partake of the same, why should they be surprised when confronted with what they themselves have claimed to believe? Either a church will put forth some effort to maintain it’s standards, or it will not. If it will not, then why even have them?
Add to this the fact that conservative churches don’t leave a lot of room for interpretation of the scriptures; you are rigidly expected to obey all the 28 Fundementals. Most other denominations, even conservative denominations, have a lot more room for movement. Add to this that within the 28 Fundemental beliefs you then have additional sub-rules within those rules that you need to keep. Take rule #20, the Sabbath – general consensus is that wading in water on Sabbath is OK, but swimming is not. These are unlisted rules and are things you need to pick up from experience/reading. This makes it extremely difficult to keep them all, which means a lot of members live in fear of breaking rules and live in a constant state of guilt.
Wow, how terrible, you mean they actually expect you to continue believing what you said you believed when you were baptized? How cruel and inhumane. Duh, if you no longer believe these things, then leave the denomination, no one is forcing you to stay. Why would you expect the entire denomination to change for you, when you are free to leave it any time you wish? As far as the sub-rules mentioned above, just more hogwash, I’ve never heard of them. I would totally ignore anyone trying to micromanage my observance of the Sabbath in that manner. So should anyone else. This is what the scribes and Pharisees of Jesus day did, which He reprimanded constantly.
What really sets it apart though, and what might lead people to consider it a cult, is the insular culture. More so than almost any other denomination, Seventh Day Adventists encourage its members to only be friends with other Adventists, and it has designed its institution to limit the opportunity of SDA’s to make meaningful relationships with non-SDA’s. So when a SDA sins and gets judged by their church family, it is a much worse fate than what most other conservative-Christians face, as SDA’s are their only friends/family. Stakes are high.
Hogwash is getting old, so baloney! Birds of a feather naturally flock together of course, but I have never heard any SDA discourage any other from having non SDA friends in my thirty some odd years as one. While I am sure some of the things this internet site is claiming have happened, have happened, none of it has been my experience in the last thirty some odd years as one. What is to be expected of course, if the only testimony to be heard is that of ex-disgruntled SDA’s, or those pretending to be.
I don’t guess I’m going to waste my time going through all these internet sites addressing all this rubbish, or even finish examining this one, since thus far its all a bunch of rubbish. This will be way to time consuming for me, I have forgotten how time consuming it is. I’ve done it plenty in the past regarding false accusations actually addressing our doctrines and teachings, to which there is no end. Now if I were to start addressing the experiences or supposed experiences of every individual disgruntled SDA, there would surely be no end to it. If there is something in particular about SDA’s you would like addressed, bring it here, and I will address it. I often have only part of this one day, the Sabbath to address issues.