Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Dating Sabadista ngayo'y kaanib na ng Iglesia ni Cristo - Kwento ni Jason Liske

Si Felix Manalo po, ang nagtatag ng kanyang sariling Iglesia (INC) na minsa'y naging pastor ng mga Sabadista ay maraming mga patotoong hango kay Ellen G. White, ang tagapagtatag ng The Seventh-Day Adventists o mas kilala sa pangalang "Sabadista".

Narito po ang kwento ni Jason Liske mula sa Ascent of Carmel blog kung saan inilalahad niya ang lasong sumira sa kanyang tiwala sa tunay na Iglesia ni Cristo-- ang Iglesia Katolika!

My Journey From Seventh-Day Adventism to the Catholic Church

Ellen G. White
I've been told that to go from being a Seventh-Day Adventist to a Catholic Christian is quite the leap. It really is - the Adventist movement is so very Protestant that it even views Protestants as in error.

If you're unfamiliar with Adventism, let me give you a brief primer: it has essentially morphed into an evangelical movement, but it originally began as a restorationist-style outgrowth of its time. Its chief distinguishing marks are the observance of the Jewish Sabbath (Saturday), vegetarianism and healthy living, a heavy focus on the Second Coming of Christ and apocalyptic eschatology, and a peculiar prophetess named Ellen G. White. All of these aspects of the tradition one can search out for themselves.

But what is highly bizarre when I look back on it is the fact an Adventist would become a Catholic. A quick investigation into the history and doctrines of Adventism reveals it at once to be extremely antagonistic towards the Catholic Church. In fact, it is so very much so, that it refers to the Church in all manner of malicious terms - the Beast, the harlot, Babylon, the antichrist, and the like. Moreover, I remember being taught that the Catholic Church would enact Sunday laws that would force Adventists to worship on Sunday.

This is the faith that I grew up in. Over time, the Catholic Church turned into a terrifying and dark force in my view. The imagery of it all I viewed as garish and gorey, guilt-inducing and meant to frighten. As a child, I viewed the Mass as a place of bizarre repetitious chanting where the laity wore white robes and understood very little of what was going on. Catholics drank and smoked, and for an Adventist like myself, this I viewed as shocking for Christians to do. To top it all off, there was the Pope, sitting on his evil throne in Rome, just biding his time before launching some kind of world-wide new world order of persecution.

I make none of this up - this was my view. Not all of it was bad of course - a priest I know once said to me, as I lamented my upbringing in it, that I should be thankful that I was nonetheless introduced to Jesus through Adventism regardless - in fact, I do remember a few younger people from California introducing me to God's grace as a free gift, and this event always stuck with me. And with a great fondness, I remember the delicious vegetarian foods such as Fri-Chik and Vegi-Links that I still eat from time to time. I can still picture the hanging pictures of all the progenitors behind the movement - famous names like Joseph Bates, James White, William Miller, and John Andrews. I reminisce on the fun times I had at the youth groups I was a part of, the potlucks with their well-meaning but truly awful casseroles, the taste of veggie burgers, and how special we all felt at being a part of God's remnant church - the one that actually got it all, despite centuries of darkness and error supposedly promulgated by the Catholic Church.

Indeed, I learned much from my Adventist friends, who were often very zealous in their love of God and life of virtue. But I began to suffer under the weight of the inherent legalism of the movement - I remember one particular conversation amongst my Adventist friends concerning how the letters on stop signs were actually pagan Roman letters (not sure where they were going with this...). I remember one person delivering a sermon on how "Jesus only knocks once, and after that, that's it". I remember too being asked what one item we would take with us when the great persecution of Sabbath worshippers began. It was frightening, oppressive, and sometimes, bizarre. And frankly, a lot of the wierdness always seemed to go back to the figure of Ellen White, whose reputation as a visionary in Adventism has set her writings almost on par with the Scriptures (though, as they are swift to admit, is not actually the case - here I talk more about "in practice").

For the most part, all of Adventism's paranoia concerning other Christian denominations and in particular, their demonizing of the Catholic Church, made for an unsettling religious childhood. By the end of it all, in my mid to late teens, I came to reject it all and embraced a life of anti-Christianity and dabbling in Satanism. I wore an inverted cross, played in a black metal band, and would fall into tirades anytime Jesus was mentioned by anybody. Christ was the ultimate evil to me, and ironically, it was the Christ of Catholicism and the Catholic Church in general that frightened me most; no doubt this was due to my being fueled by all manner of anti-Catholic legends and ideas growing up. I pictured Christ as suffering and dying on the cross, not out of love and mercy, but as an excuse to punish the human race for not returning the favor. A strange worldview, I know.

But why did I choose Catholicism when I was raised in such an anti-Catholic denomination like Seventh-Day Adventism? Simply put, I had always had a fascination, for good or for bad, with Catholicism ever since I was little. When I began to really return to my Christian roots and study the history of Christianity, I discovered that what I had been raised with was nothing like how Christianity was in its early centuries. All the conspiracy theories about Constantine, all the anti-Catholic "visions" of Ellen White, all the fear of the little cloud in the sky coming to whisk the faithful away and leave the rest for annihilation by hell-fire (a distinctive doctrine of the SDA movement) all melted into nothing in the face of my searching out what Christianity always was and remains to this day.

It turned out that I could no longer ignore what authentic Christianity was and is - either I accepted it, or rejected it; but I would not accept only some and leave the rest. I had to take it or leave it.

Given that I already believed in Christ, even when I was involved in the most anti-Christian of worldviews, I found it was only a question of getting to know what real Christianity, or rather, authentic Christianity actually was. I found a history of terrible and sinful people, popes, and all the rest - absolutely. But I also found the ancient faith, the current faith, the faith that had been promulgated by the Church through centuries of sin and darkness, despite all the best efforts of people both within and without to tear it down. I studied the lives of the saints, and was inspired beyond reason. I began to pray, with a trust I had never had before, but also with a reverence that I had never had before. In days past, Jesus had been a buddy, then a persecutor. Now, I saw Him finally as Lord, the captain of the Church as a ship sailing home, a God of love and mercy who gives us every single opportunity in the world to repent and to come home.

I am living proof that God doesn't give up on us - I was baptized and was received into the mystical Bride of Christ on April 7th, 2012, and I have never looked back.

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