Jeff Barron Testimonial
By his personal request, near the end of 2005 I was truly honored to accept Brother Anderson's offer to volunteer as editor, while he focuses on expanding other ministry projects and engages in research for the site. His vision, and his courage to continue forward in face of adversity, has directly resulted in a multitude of people from across the globe being blessed. I am one of the fortunate people that has been very blessed by his hard work. I would like to share with you my journey of how I chose to become a member of the SDA church. It is a church that cannot help but touch your soul and give you hope. Before I was introduced to the Church, I did not have hope in anything. I was overjoyed when I found it, only to eventually find myself deeply saddened when I realized that I must not be involved with the Church for conscience sake, as I will explain.
Raised a Catholic
My religious background from birth until about age fourteen was Roman Catholic. When I say that I was Catholic, I was not "just Catholic." I was not like the seeming majority of the registered American Catholics today who mainly just go to "mass" once in a while, especially on Easter or Christmas. I was part of a very dedicated and active Catholic family that went to every Sunday "mass," along with my "nana and papa," and some of my aunts and uncles that also lived in the area. I even went to Church during my elementary school week! The Church was given permission by my school to pick me up at selected times to take me to its "catechism classes" in my hometown, a village with a population around 700. Even back then, the beginnings of a discerning and inquisitive nature began to blossom as I asked many questions and reflected upon what I witnessed within the church. When the time came for me to be "confirmed" into the Church, I chose to decline even though EVERYONE on my Dad's side of the family was actively Catholic, and I had attended all the classes.
Not long after, my family moved within the state to a college town where we became Episcopalian. The Episcopal style worked out well since it was essentially watered-down Catholicism. Even though I was active within the youth program of this church as well, and went to many church functions and retreats, internally I was separating from it since it did not seem much different or meaningful to me. During a youth retreat one year, I respectfully turned down a nomination to be "youth president" for the region because of these growing convictions. I liked the fun interaction of the youth groups, but it was not enough for me to continue attending, and I no longer saw myself as a Christian.
By age eighteen I had become fascinated in New Age writings and practices, and even experimented with "astral traveling." New Age seemed a bit more sensible and honest to me, and I had always been a fan of mystical things. Often I would verbally blast Christians as rampant hypocrites, and weak. Someone even warned me about the dangers of being "damned eternally" if I delved into New Age and witchcraft-related subjects. My sharp response to them was to curse Christ. I truly despised a God that would torture somebody by burning them forever in hell for one lifetime of mistakes, or for having some "good fun," especially in our "day and age." At that point, I had never really read the Bible much. (I was later attracted to the SDA view on eternal punishment. I presently still agree with and believe that annihilation is strongly biblically supported, and, more importantly, coincides with God's character of love.)
Eventually I ended up full-time partying, complete with alcoholic and illegal drug-using friends. I even made friends with people who would steal, and that led to even more mistakes that got me into a lot of trouble. Eventually I found myself vowing to a person who called me on my mistakes that I would take his advice and start to read the Bible. I kept my promise and started reading Genesis here and there for a few months, but not much more than that since I continued partying nearly every night with my friends. My family can vouch that I was pretty much a mess, and I did not really care either. I was not seeking God, but I desperately needed God's intervention to completely change my sinful ways.
Seventh-day Adventist Church to the Rescue!
After an ad in the local newspaper caught my eye, I went to the Amazing Facts satellite Bible seminar in 1997, hosted by Doug Batchelor, mainly because of my deep interest in prophecy. Right when I walked into the door I was greeted warmly by the members, and I was extremely impressed with Elder Batchelor's inspiring PowerPoint presentations. I admit I loathed the church hymns and music, save his own singing, but I found that I related to him in many ways, and I was hooked! I was soaking up all the material and felt for the first time (from what I could remember) the leading of God's Spirit. Nostrodamus quickly fell away as my favorite futuristic prophet, replaced by Daniel and Christ's beloved disciple John. Their amazing fulfilled prophecies took my breath away. I frequently studied three hours nonstop during the day. As I read and studied the Bible from Genesis to Revelation thoroughly within a matter of a couple months I began developing a realization that I had been wrong about true Christianity. I also read not only Amazing Facts seminar materials, but any other SDA materials, including some of Ellen White (Steps to Christ), although I always preferred the Scriptures themselves. The SDA Church felt right to me in every fiber of my being, in stark contrast to all of the other religions and ideologies I had practiced before. For the first time in my life God seemed so real, and I was getting filled with so much hope by knowing Him and His plans for my life. Not too long after, I became a baptized and dedicated SDA member. I was overjoyed!
I'd like to think that preferring the scriptures over Ellen White from the beginning of my true Christian experience helped me get out of the SDA Church in the long run, as I have seen the dire consequences of the strong psychological influence of upholding, or in many cases even adoring her writings (i.e. - a closed mind to any real critique of her writings). I have to thank Doug Batchelor for my preference of "the Bible and the Bible only" as he repeatedly preached that phrase boldly. From what it seemed, other SDA members I met within the Church "family" did too. I was getting even more convinced that the SDA church upheld this motto because it clearly states this word for word in the preface of the denomination's book, 27 Fundamental Beliefs. Unfortunately, after a time, I realized this is not the case, though I believe it has been used for baiting people into the church. It is almost a guarantee that Ellen White's writings will be introduced along with their propagandized significance to someone who becomes a member as I did. It was not unexpected, as it is a baptismal vow to publicly assent to support the value of Ellen's "Spirit of Prophecy" writings.
Bible Only? Or Bible + Ellen White?
It made perfect sense for me to base my beginning understanding of who God really was from directly studying the Bible, its doctrines, and everything else related to the character of God. Again, it truly seemed at first that I found a group of people who practiced this as well, but month after month there was a blatant push from church leaders and members to read Ellen White's writings. I began to notice that most members admired her, quoted her, and some read her writings frequently, even from the pulpit! I remember that during the powerful 1998 satellite Bible seminar hosted by Elder Dwight Nelson that it was even stated that people in a survey who read her writings felt they had a "more intimate" relationship with Christ. That is surely a manipulative selling point for her works to those who are seeking that kind of a relationship with God, especially for new members with little real knowledge of the Bible.
I remember a few months after my baptism the surprised look of a church leader after I told him that I was still focusing on the Scriptures before I was ready to dedicate more time to fully read Ellen White's works. I told him this was in order for me to understand and appreciate them more. I was being sincere! I thought that since she was "God's end-time messenger," that she would be quoting Scripture frequently, and I needed to comprehend more of what the Bible actually said first so I could follow her instructions and warnings. To me, that made sense as I considered her on the same level, if not higher, than John the Baptist. The Church leader said, "I was missing out on something special," and I needed to start reading the "Spirit of Prophecy" as the time was short in order to prepare for Christ's Second Coming. Not long afterwards, I followed his advice. I started reading her while attending an Adventist retreat called "The Festival of Faith," when we all were given a set of her Conflict of the Ages books. At that retreat someone asked, "What are the main purposes of her writings?" Our instructor replied, "They are like glasses you put on in order to see the Bible more clearly. With the books now in my hands, I had no excuse not to read them.
After I read the Great Controversy, I had a strong grasp of pretty much all the beliefs and practices of the SDA Church. I recognized that many of the teachings within that book were presented not only in the seminars, but in many of the doctrines of the Church as well. I was a little surprised, but it made sense at the time because Mrs. White was "God's messenger," and I felt we should know and evangelize those doctrines, which I zealously did in order to save as many people as possible. I loved the church, and if she was the prophet of our time, as I had frequently heard being proclaimed from the pulpit, from conversations with members, and from the vast amounts of Church writings, then I didn't see any real harm (at the time).
An "Historic" Adventist
I was fully convinced that I was a member of God's end-time remnant Church, but over the next several months, I began to notice some problems with doctrines and a negative spirit in the Church. Fully embracing Adventism, I automatically pushed away the impulse to pursue nagging questions that naturally came into my mind "for another time," when I was more confident of Ellen White's writings and teachings. In fact, I got to a point that I was comfortable enough with the Adventist message that I thought it made sense that I should defend the church against it being termed a cult, false church, or anything else negative in order to help restore further understanding among "Babylon," and unbelievers. Although a big aspiration, I thought it made sense to break down the barriers between "US and THEM." Ellen White's mission for SDA members was for them to partake in the important role of messengers to proclaim the three angels' messages to the world before Christ came back. I began to transform into what is called a "historical Adventist"--someone who is a reformer in the Church who wants to get back to the teachings and goals of the Church pioneers. I felt strongly that this was truly the way to save the church from all the problems I saw within, and its outside image. Noble as that was, dedicated as I was to this cause, as much as I was head over heels for the Church, it did not quite work out that way. I discovered there was a problem within the Church, that it was cultic in relation to Ellen White, her role, and the importance of her writings. I feared that those nagging questions in my mind were possibly Satanic influences, but in actuality they were God's way of opening my eyes to the truth behind the masquerade. They were questions that pointed out falsehood, and extreme behavior which is opposite of the Gospel's message of love, and more importantly, the BALANCE found throughout the scriptures.
I struggled with feelings that I was in danger of being deceived if I continued to question Mrs. White and the Church. I was constantly being reminded of this fear from the warnings of leadership, EGW writings, and members. It STILL did not make sense to me that I was being deceived or "sipping from the cup of Babylon's lies" since I was searching for truth in the exact manner in which I came to realize the SDA teachings and Bible were authentic. My method was the extensive study and testing of Scriptures through prayer. Part of that process was to question myself harshly to make sure I did not have other motives for leaving the Church (i.e. justifications for selfish reasons, making my Christian walk of service "easier," etc.). I say this only because it is a cultic psychological manipulation technique used by Adventists to warn the family and friends of those leaving the church that it is just a way for someone to basically "justify sinning."
Based on what I was finding in her original writings, it was becoming so clear to me that I needed a life change in order to move forward in my maturity as a growing Christian. I switched back to completely reading Scripture alone. Any other books or articles were few and far between. Eventually I discovered a book that for the first time held up against some of my arguments that I would usually use to defend the SDA church. MANY arguments before had bounced off my SDA armor of knowledge. It was Walter Martin's Kingdom of the Cults. It helped confirm my understanding of what some basic principles of Scripture were, without the SDA twists. It also helped me reevaluate everything because I started to realize the overall significance of the aforementioned "SDA twists." I then searched for works comparable to Martin's book since it got me to ask more serious questions about my SDA faith.
I started to search the Internet and came across Gospel Outreach. It was much better at putting my observations and studies into words, probably because the contributors were former Adventists who at one time believed the doctrines. The editor, Rolaant McKenzie, was kind enough to email me a few times as he answered my questions, which was the first time I actually corresponded with someone who transitioned out of Adventism. He did not seem that ungodly of a person, or terribly "confused" as some of the people I met when I had gone out visiting inactive and former members with the pastor, with the ultimate goal to somehow get them back into the Church. More importantly, he did not seem to be a minion of Babylon obsessed on destroying the SDA church as I had been warned for those types of "fallen Adventists." Even though a lot of the research on Gospel Outreach was extremely helpful to me, I still was not totally convinced that Ellen White was false.
I then found ellenwhite.org, and it helped change my life completely!!! I finally found someone else, the site creator Dirk Anderson, who actually went through the same thing I did! I realized from his powerful testimony that he had been in the church for 33 years and was much more involved with the SDA church then I had been! Not only was there someone who I could now relate to, but the majority of the articles helped me remove Ellen White's masquerade of her role as "God's Messenger." I made sure to research them to be true or not, and again, a majority of them TOTALLY confirmed my suspicions of Mrs. White's contradictions, her dominant influence on leadership, members, and everything else false that is taught and practiced within the Church. I began to realize that the root of problematic behavior and mindset within the SDA church was from Ellen White's writings and her role--NOT just members causing trouble by their own misunderstanding of Scripture and Ellen White's writings as I previously supposed!!
The "final straw" was in November 2002, a short while after I witnessed a meeting between the new pastor and one of my very best friends that I had brought into the church. I saw firsthand how some SDA pastors manipulate people. I reflected as to why, and the puzzle piece fit quite nicely that it was in order for the Church to ultimately have a form of control over an individual's life. I am confident that the pastor was being sincere (as the majority of Adventists are), and I honestly believe he was well-intentioned, although I am not sure if he realized he was being manipulative. Nonetheless, I saw the negative spiritual and psychological effects it had on my friend. My friend, soon after that meeting, told me of other instances that he felt manipulated and how the pastor personally shared with him his methods of "reaching out to others," which seemed awfully manipulative to me (this is another story altogether). While I was listening to his anguish, it hit me like an empowering bolt of energy that I finally had enough! The veil was fully raised up for me to see that the motives of the Church are more designed to control its members rather than actually helping people. I finally realized that the Church, under the catalyst of Mrs. White, was one of conversion to their ideals of essentially controlling its members to conform to their standards of living. At first I thought this standard was God's standard, but gradually I saw the reality that Ellen White's false teachings lead to a life of constantly judging others, psychological and social burdens, potentially dangerous dietary restrictions, and living in a state of internal fear. This equals a cultic system by all means. All the pieces of the "Puzzle of Adventism" can be put together by researching Ellen White's writings and her influence that she either straightforwardly or subtly advances on the minds of unaware readers (Matthew 24:11). I truly think the pastor's behavior is a common characteristic within SDA Church leadership and members, as I have experienced it first hand throughout my entire interaction within the Church. So, in 2002 I submitted a testimony to this site, and for me that was when I left the Church in my heart.
I believe God led me into the SDA Church, and then right out of it! God led me to the SDA Church, and then THROUGH it, for a purpose. I also believe that there are MANY true and sincere Christians within the SDA church. I also truly believe that it is a progressive option for these true Christians to move on to maturity out of the Church, and pretty much for anyone out of any false church environment! There are positive apsecpts of the SDA Church. It is great for those who need to learn Martin Luther's motto "the Bible and the Bible only." It emphasizes Bible prophecy and some other good Protestant doctrines (with the state of the dead being among the most important in my opinion). It stresses the importance of having church family, and provides other methods to evoke trust in God's Word in order to start a meaningful relationship with Him. However, there is a catch. I can say with confidence that any honest convert will begin to see the spiritual attachment that members, and especially the leadership, have for "God's lesser light", Ellen G. White. This is why many Christians consider it a dangerous denomination for a person to stay in for too long! I can say in many cases respectfully and boldly, that it is very comparable to a drug addiction. I should know, as I spent a part of my life around people who were addicted to drugs with their senseless justifications for continuing to keep the drug's grasping power in their lives.
I believe this web site is crucial in helping people to start to get the real facts of Ellen White's role and influence on the SDA church, and how their spiritual life is directly affected by that influence. Some Adventists seem to have such faith in the Church as "the remnant," with Ellen White as the "Spirit of Prophecy," that they push away constructive criticism, appeals, and honest warnings. I am here to help as editor, and I assure you that I'll strive to uphold these pure intentions of helping people understand that. The contributors of this site have dealt with the same disappointment and heartache, and are at peace with The Creator. I assure you that this site is certainly not aimed as an outlet for vengeance. We look forward to helping you understand the role of Ellen White, and her dangerous negative spiritual and psychological effects on people.
There are so many religious experiences that impacted my life, both positive and negative over the years, that make me who I am today. I feel it is all interrelated in God's plan for my life and in final conclusion, as it is written in Revelation 14:4, I sincerely feel that I have followed the Lamb into a deeper understanding and relationship with Him. I personally believe our God leads us into all truth, and He has a plan for each and every one of us. I have seen the doors opened for me, and with faith and trust in Christ I went through those doors. I do not regret that I went forward, and I am eternally grateful that I did as I have been abundantly blessed in so many ways that I am in awe, and often times feel unworthy. I am not unique though, as anyone can experience the same things that I did, and reap the blessings as well. We serve a living God that loves us, and is there to help us through anything in our lives. I truly hope this testimony has served its purpose, and has encouraged you.
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