• View from the Pew: Dispatches of a Church-going Atheist–Seventh Day Adventist

Fourth in an ongoing series of dispatches from the pew (Week 1–Mormon Church, Week 2–Jehovah’s Witnesses, Week 3–Christian Science).

Part 1 is a catalog of my live tweets from a Seventh Day Adventist Sabbath service. Keep an eye out for the Sabbath surprise…!

Part 2 is my impressions of a conversation with a former Adventist deacon about the church’s finances and evidence for its claims.

Part 1

After the service:

Please forgive the superfluous “n”:

Please forgive the typo–I was deliriously happy on account of the lamb in my arms:

Part 2

After the service I was fortunate enough to briefly greet the friendly and effusive pastor (a master of his craft, if ever there was one–he was truly moving as a speaker). He made certain that I had his contact information should I have any questions for him. He didn’t have time to speak with me but introduced me to B., a former Adventist deacon.

I asked B. why he is a member of the Adventist church and not some other. He explained that certain life circumstances brought him into the church in his teens.

“But is there something you can show me or point to as a reason? That’s why I’m here–to see if your reason to be an Adventist is compelling or not.” I said.

“When you think about Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane you think about how He suffered for everyone. I just want to be able to preach His word and this is a good place to do that.” he replied. “Maybe that doesn’t answer your question, but that’s how it is.”

“I see,” I said, even if I didn’t. On this occasion I was trying to avoid the use of the word evidence to see what kind of response I could elicit by asking for it in some other way. We went back and forth for a bit and I decided to drop it and move on so I could ask him about finances before I had to leave.

“What about church finances?” I asked. “Are they transparent? Do you know where your money is going with specificity?”

In response B. gave me the Sunday bulletin. “On the back of this bulletin it describes our financial position as a congregation.”

Sure enough it did–the bulletin showed detailed financial information about the state of the congregation including budget surpluses and shortfalls.

“During the meeting there were two occasions when they requested money,” I continued, “what is the difference between when children collected the ‘love offerings’ and when the adult deacons collected additional offerings?”

B. explained that ‘love offerings’ go exclusively to the Sabbath School for the children. The second collection is for the church itself to cover its immediate costs (power, water, etc.). A portion of these funds also go to the global church organization.

“Is there some way to know that your money is being used wisely and for charitable purposes by the worldwide church?” I asked.

“Yes,” B. replied, “when I give my tithe to God I trust Him so I know that it won’t be used for any other purposes than His own. Once it’s out of my hands it is in God’s hands.”

I found this unconvincing but so it goes. I thanked B. for his time and then headed out to my car. That’s when I saw the lamb in the parking lot. I’m a sucker for baby animals so I stopped for a few minutes, held the lamb, and took some pictures. Enjoy!

Benny the Lamb.

Benny the Lamb.

Until next time, dear reader. Stay rational!

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13 thoughts on “• View from the Pew: Dispatches of a Church-going Atheist–Seventh Day Adventist

    • I’m not sure that was priority #1 for too many people in those days, homeless or no. It is amusing that he would specifically speculate about this.

      Honestly the pastor was very nice, seemed very sincere, and was enormously skilled as an orator. He belongs on Broadway–his talents are being wasted in church, I’m afraid. The man can speak, act, and emote. This was the first week that I actually enjoyed the sermon and felt genuinely moved by it (even if I didn’t believe a word of it).

      Thanks for reading it, Laura!

      Cheers!

    • Thank you, Carrie! I’m really glad to hear that. Sadly most churches do not have mid-sermon barnyard surprises 🙂

    • Good question. That church is true whose beliefs proceed from replicable, peer-reviewed empirical evidence and have superior explanatory, predictive, and applied utility and power. I’m not going to hold my breath…

    • Cole–thank you very much for your feedback. I’m really glad you like the series. I’m having a lot of fun with it. Cheers!

  1. Pingback: • View from the Pew: Dispatches of a Church-going Atheist–Roman Catholic | DIYThinking

  2. Pingback: • View from the Pew: Dispatches of a Church-going Atheist–Church-That-Must-Not-Be-Named | DIYThinking

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