McMinnville Seventh-day Adventist Church



What does it mean to be a Seventh-day Adventist Christian? We understand from Bible prophecy that there will be an end-time movement or remnant who will be characterized by those who keep the commandments of God and adhere to their faith in Jesus (Revelation 14:12). They view themselves as an apocalyptic movement, meaning one that will exist at the end of this world’s history, and will witness God’s bringing about the end of the reign of sin and suffering by destroying those who have refused to accept God’s gracious offer of mercy and forgiveness, and have hardened themselves against God’s reign and opposed His Kingdom (1 Thessalonians 1:6-9 & 2 Thessalonians 2:8).

This concept of an approaching apocalypse is not limited to Adventism or even Christianity. It has recently been taking center stage in world news in the rise of fundamentalism in the Islamic faith, through El Qaeda, and now the so-called Islamic State (ISIS). In an article by Graeme Wood in The Atlantic of March 2015, he writes an insightful article entitled, “What ISIS Really Wants – The Islamic State is no mere collection of psychopaths. It is a religious group with carefully considered beliefs, among them that it is a key agent of the coming apocalypse.” 1

Do you hear what I hear? It sounds like he is saying that there is another claim to remnant status. ISIS, according to this author, views itself as a “key agent” or remnant, a special movement, if you please, of God (or Allah), to bring about the end-time apocalypse, meaning victory over evil. The author, Wood, seems to make the point that ISIS is not just a modern political movement, but a religious power motivated by a religious end-time goal.

Wood writes, “There is a temptation to rehearse this observation – that jihadists are modern secular people, with modern political concerns, wearing medieval religious disguise – and make it fit the Islamic State. In fact, much of what the group does looks nonsensical except in light of a sincere, carefully considered commitment to returning civilization to a seventh-century legal environment, and ultimately to bringing about the apocalypse.”

Is there a correlation in the Bible to this phenomenon of zealous extremism? One of the Bible’s most influential and prolific prophets, Paul, refers to his own experience with zealous extremism, when he says, “I was so zealous that I harshly persecuted the church. And as for righteousness, I obeyed the law without fault” (Philippians 3:6 NLT). Was Paul religious? Yes. Was he zealous? Yes. Was he right? No! He explains what motivated him, by saying, “For you have heard of my former way of life in Judaism, how I was savagely persecuting the church of God and trying to destroy it. I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries in my nation, and was extremely zealous for the traditions of my ancestors (Galatians 1:13-14 NET).

Do you see similarities between Saul and ISIS? Both are zealous, extreme, religious, legitimating force and killing. Both believe in what they are doing as right and blessed by God. They see themselves like ancient Israel commanded by God to be His instrument of punishment to conquer the Canaanites (Deuteronomy 31:3). God intervened in Saul’s life on the road to Damascus and sent him in another direction, still zealous, but without the command to kill and destroy. He was to be an instrument in the hand of God to save and call to salvation (Acts 9:15).

What lessons can we as the Bible remnant people of God learn from Saul and ISIS? Should we be zealous? Yes. Should we use extreme forms of coercion, forcing people to convert? Does the end justify the means? No. The devil doesn’t mind which stream you take, as long as it’s the extreme. He is happy to keep you in Laodicean lukewarmness or in the fires of extremism. If ISIS extremism wants all the world to regress back to a “seventh-century legal environment,” does God want Adventists to regress back to a 19th century, pre-1888, Amish style lifestyle?

I have found the following wise counsel from Ellen White valuable, and worthy of a reminder. Read it through carefully and ask yourself the question: What is the difference between zeal and fanaticism?

Diseased With Fanaticism and Extremism – As the natural eyesight of persons becomes so impaired as to be almost useless, so in the case of religious fanaticism and extremists, the eye of the soul through which good and evil may be discerned, becomes so perverted that nothing is distinguished clearly. A healthful discernment is ruined, so the spirit of truth and righteousness cannot be distinguished from the spirit of error and fanaticism. {Ev 610.5}

There is a disease of the spiritual faculties when a man or woman fancies that he sees things which do not exist. He is intoxicated with an illusion as verily as the liquor drinker becomes intoxicated by using strong drink. There is an inspiration, but not of God. The mental faculties are perverted. Let every soul make God his trust and obtain an experience that is wholesome and healthy. – Manuscript 41, 1900. {Ev 611.1}

In the Fire or in the Water – There is a class of people who are always ready to go off on some tangent, who want to catch up something strange and wonderful and new; but God desires us all to move calmly, considerately, choosing our words in harmony with the solid truth for this time. The truth should be presented to the mind as free as possible from that which is emotional, while still bearing the intensity and solemnity befitting its character. We must guard against encouraging extremists, those who would be either in the fire or in the water.{Ev 611.2}

I beseech you to weed out of your teachings every extravagant expression, everything that unbalanced minds and those who are inexperienced will catch up and which will lead them to make wild, immature movements. It is necessary for you to cultivate caution in every statement, lest you start some on a wrong track, and make confusion that will require much sorrowful labor to set in order, thus diverting the strength of the laborers into lines which God does not design shall be entered. One manifestation of fanaticism among us will close many doors against the soundest principles of truth. – Undated Manuscript 111. {Ev 611.3}

- Pastor Jerry Joubert