Last year, I wrote Creepy Compromise detailing the shenanigans of General Conference Annual Council. This year’s annual council had a lot less drama but I believe the effects of it will last forever.
While the Adventist Civil War on women’s ordination continues, the events of last Sunday will become known as one of if not the deciding battle in this fight. That obsession with uniformity and compliance I talked about last year? It has turned into a full fledge document complete with five compliance committees who now have the authority to punish anyone deemed “noncompliant” with church policy.
I’m sorry but that is insane.
I’m also glaringly noncompliant. I mean, I eat bacon.
But y’all knew that already.
The Adventist church has embraced force and is now committed to asking people to go against and violate their conscience so they can be in alignment with someone else’s. We have also created our own gestapo in the make of the Catholic Inquisition- the same church Adventists love to decry.
Leaders and delegates were instructed to come to annual council sporting full beards and post-civil war attire. During a sermon, there were some insensitive- one could argue racist- comments made about social justice and [black] worship styles. Overemphasizing the past- to the point of dressing up in 19th century clothing- while in the same breath, decrying modern social justice movements is simply not a good look for a church that struggles to be relevant.
Preaching multiculturalism but having a once size fits all approach to worship, methods, and practice is problematic for a global institution. Why would one of the most diverse denominations in the world do everything in their power to hide and suppress that diversity?
When you add all this up, you’ve got a great slogan for the upcoming 2020 General Conference- MAGA: Make Adventism Great Again.
Adventist Facebook and Twitter have been on fire this past week. Just search #GCAC18 and you’ll see hundreds if not thousands of posts, tweets, and comments. At first I was just around for the jokes. I mean, a bunch of old white men grew beards, dressed up like it was 1844, and sat under a tent. The jokes practically made themselves. But after the compliance document was passed, the jokes were over and I started witnessing a true crisis of faith.
“My country has failed me and now my church has too. What do we do?” #GCAC18
Whew. Y’all. My heart broke when I saw that post on Facebook. I’ve spent the past several days reading in shock and with sadness as people have expressed their hurt, anger, frustration, and confusion. So many have asked how they can be a part of an organization that will gladly take their money but will also silence their voice and dismiss their concerns and the things they care about.
But I’ve also seen many people ask this question, “If I wasn’t Adventist, what else would I be?”
It signaled to me that so many have put their spiritual identity in a title- Seventh-day Adventist. Now that their confidence in the organization has been shaken, their faith has been rattled to its core.
I’ve been there. And that is a scary place to be.
But it’s also a very good place to be. That is where you can begin to build an authentic faith. One that grows with you. A faith where you can freely express doubt, ask questions, and explore scripture. It is that faith that will inspire service to others and ultimately change the world.
If you follow my blog, you know that I too have struggled with defining my Christian identity over the past few years. It’s been quite the journey but that phase of my spiritual walk is ending. I’ve come to a decision that I’m comfortable with. I hope those Adventists who are struggling with this new world of compliance will eventually get to that place too.
It’s scary to watch the church you grew up in and once loved become ruled by the same political tricks and games as American politics. It’s terrifying to know that your acts of conscience can now be used against you. But maybe this needed to happen. Perhaps this was the wake up call young (and not so young) Adventists needed. One day we’ll learn that force and compliance committees aren’t the answer to unity. Maybe then we will understand that love, grace, and compassion are.