HERE ARE PEOPLE, A FRIEND ONCE REMARKED, WHO HAVE MADE the agonizing, personal decision to leave the Seventh-day Adventist Church, “but they just can’t leave the church alone.”
Today many of these detractors have Web sites, all too available via Google and other search engines. Now Seventh-day Adventists have one to answer their charges. It’s www.sdaforme.com, and I believe it is well worth your time and support.
Why answer the critics at all? Since the beginning of our movement, or pretty close to its beginning, we’ve had naysayers who have attacked just about every aspect of Adventism’s beliefs and practices, starting, of course, with the Bible Sabbath. (God’s unambiguous statement in Exodus 20 isn’t sufficient, it seems, for some people.)
But it isn’t only the Sabbath. It’s also the pre-Advent judgment, our health message, and the Spirit of Prophecy writings; even the very role of Ellen G. White as a messenger of the Lord. All these things give some people fits. For those inquiring about the Seventh-day Adventist Church and considering membership, the availability of such online attacks can be a daunting issue. Think about it: would you join a movement that so many people, including former members, seem to argue against?
The General Conference and its ministries offer plenty to debunk and rebut critics: www.adventist.org, the official denominational Web site, lists our fundamental beliefs and our official positions. We’re proven to be Trinitarian, mainstream Protestants; the view of Ellen G. White’s work as pointing to the Bible alone as “the standard by which all teaching and experience must be tested” is plainly stated.1 The Ellen G. White Estate (www.whiteestate.org) also has sections where controversial issues are discussed and critics answered.
But a doubter or dissident might expect the church to offer an apologetic for its beliefs. It’s encouraging, therefore, to see Martin Weber, a veteran Adventist pastor and author, team up with church members Chris and Candice McConnell to create a Web site answering many dissenters’ claims. They offer a direct challenge to critics such as Life Assurance Ministries, a group of ex-Seventh-day Adventists that agitates against the church via seminars, where live questions from the floor are prohibited.2
Weber is the communication director for the Mid-America Union Conference and the author of many books on Adventism. The McConnells operate C McConnell Design, “a Web, print, and brand design studio” with Adventist and other clients. Together they assembled sdaforme.com, which suggests that Adventism is a positive choice for many, many people.
Martin wrote in an e-mail message: “During its first month of full operation, sdaforme.com . . . has attracted 32,630 page views from 8,208 visitors. We’ve had many expressions of gratitude from present and even former [Adventists], a number of whom have expressed recommitment or renewed appreciation for Seventh-day Adventist beliefs.” He also noted that visitors have logged in from six continents.
While I doubt many convinced critics will be led to reassess their convictions on the basis of a single Web site, the positive focus of sdaforme.com, its emphasis on presenting reasoned (and reasonable) answers to many of the assertions our critics make, and the mere fact lay members are involved in the site along with a respected pastor and church leader are all positive factors.
While Jesus promised that “the gates of hell” would not prevail against His church, the ubiquity of the Internet and the power of search engines suggest that being ready with an answer is more of an imperative today than ever before.
Such an initiative deserves, I believe, to be supported and encouraged by every means possible. If sdaforme.com helps just one person deal with doubts and misleading Internet statements about our Christian Adventist faith, it will be well worth the effort.