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A Response to the Video:
Seventh-day Adventism, the Spirit Behind the Church

by Bob Pickle

Answers to Questions Raised by:
Mark Martin, Sydney Cleveland
Dale Ratzlaff, The White Lie
. . . and

Discern Fact from Fiction

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Appendix: An Attempt at Dialogue

Why give such a public response to the video? Would it not be better to speak privately with the parties involved and resolve the matter that way? Such was attempted, and what follows is a description of that attempt.

I first made contact with Jeremiah Films about my concerns regarding their video on October 13 and 14, 1999. The lady that took my call was pleasant. She informed me that Jeremiah Films really couldn't help me, since they had not done the research for the video, but had only done the filming. She told me to call MacGregor Ministries, since Lorri MacGregor did the research and wrote the script.

The morning of October 14, I called Lorri's Canadian Office and found her quite irate. She was kind enough, amidst her irritation, to offer to send me the documentation package offered at the end of the video, free of charge. For this I am grateful.

I then called Jeremiah Films back and asked if there was anyone else I could speak with. The lady there gave me the number of Mark Martin's church, which I then called that day and the next. Someone other than Mr. Martin returned my call.

This gentleman acknowledged that he was not an expert on Adventist beliefs. We discussed a number of subjects, and he assured me that he would do some research and then get back with me.

One point he kind of attacked me on was the Adventist position on Michael. I shared with him from Daniel, John, 1 Thessalonians, and Jude, after which he was a bit subdued. He said, "I wouldn't have come up with that by reading on my own," but he could see, it seemed to me, that we just might have a biblical case for our belief.

Though he said he would get back with me, I never heard from him again.

After returning in December from an evangelistic campaign in Hungary, I took a look at the documentation package that had arrived. Topics I had raised questions about in the phone calls thus far included the alleged threatened lawsuit over Sketches from the Life of Paul, and the quotations from Solemn Appeal seemingly attributed to Mrs. White but which were never written by her. The documentation package failed to address these points. Furthermore, its use of a description of Almira Pierce's depression in 1852 to prove that Mrs. White was in despair in 1844 was disturbing.

So I called MacGregor Ministries again on January 4. There was no yelling this time, so the conversation was much more pleasant. Lorri was helpful, offering me the names of a few people who might be able to answer my questions.

However, she said she didn't want any more phone calls, which was troubling. If a Christian ministry is going to put out information against someone's faith, and some of that information is incorrect, a ministry which is really Christian will want to investigate and correct the matter. However, as she explained, she really did not know a lot about Adventism. She had never been a Seventh-day Adventist, and was not an expert on Mrs. White's writings.

On January 3 and 4 I also called Mark Martin's church again. I got a return call from someone around the following Thursday, the 6th. He listened to my list of questions, and assured me that he would try to call the first part of the following week. I never heard from him again.

Lorri had said that maybe Dale Ratzlaff could help me. He would respond by email, but did not want any phone calls. I sent my first email on January 4. In reply to my question about his quotation of a non-existent statement, he said:

Have you read my book, The Cultic Doctrine of SDA's? I am now beginning to think that you have not studied the early writings of EGW. Have you read Ford's 1844 book? This is well documented in both.

This of course did not answer my question, so I asked it again on January 6. He replied, "Just read the intro to Early Writings. She left out the section that shows she believed in a shut door of mercy for the whole world." This again dodged the issue of his false charge that Mrs. White had said there was no [p. 154] change in idea or sentiment in the 1851 reprinting of her first vision, when she actually said that she had left out a portion.

He closed his reply with: "I can tell you have not read Cultic Doctrine, Sabbath in Crisis or Ford's book on 1844. Read these and then let's talk." I took this as being another kind of run around and put off, similar to what I had already been experiencing. So on January 7 I responded:

As far as the books you mentioned, I've been over similar material time and again. . . . I feel no burden to read these books and see no point in it. Hope you don't mind. If in dialoguing about a particular point, you asked me what I thought about the reasons given in a particular part of one of them, then I would consider looking at it.

The same day came a reply with only these words: "Sorry, but I don't have time to dialog with those who are closed to reading anything that does not agree with their paradigm of truth."

On the 10th I sent this clarification:

You must have misunderstood what I wrote. I didn't say I was closed to reading anything that disagreed with my paradigm of truth. I don't have time to read multiple books before talking to someone, especially when I've already read and discussed similar material many times before. However, if in dialoguing you want me to look at a particular section of one of your books that makes a particular point, as I said before, I'm open to that.

Sometimes I've felt that asking me to read a book before talking further is a diversion tactic. You may not have meant it that way, but that is how I have felt a number of times in the past. . . .

I am in no way closed to reading just about anything, if there is a definite point to it.

To this his only reply came on the 11th: "Good answer!"

Two days later I called Jeremiah Films again. This time I talked with Brian. My wife and I were going out to California to visit her ailing grandmother, who just happened to live about 20 miles from Hemet, headquarters for Jeremiah Films. I thought maybe I could sit down with someone and show them my material questioning the points in the video.

Brian avoided the idea. After all, they didn't do the research, and they really couldn't help me. The best one to help me was Lorri MacGregor.

When he found out that I was coming from Colorado, he highly recommended that I sit down with Mark Martin in Phoenix, who was supposed to be able to help me.

Even though Phoenix is no way near the route between Loveland, Colorado, and Cherry Valley, California, I called Mr. Martin's church to set up an appointment. "May I speak to Mark Martin?" Up to this point I had never been permitted to talk to him. Would I get to now?

"He is busy. May I take a message?"

"Jeremiah Films told me that I should sit down and talk to him on my way out to California next week. I wanted to set up an appointment."

"Just a minute."

I had not suggested a day or told her anything about my itinerary. After a while she returned and said, "Pastor Martin's schedule is really busy. He cannot visit with you. But if you write a letter, he will respond in that way." Perhaps if I had said that I was thinking about leaving the Adventist Church, he would have talked to me.

So I called Jeremiah Films back. Brian said he could understand why I would feel frustrated when getting answers like that. He told me to write up what I had and fax it to them, and they would fax it to those who put the video together to get a response. I offered to drop it by when I was out in California, but he said faxing it was better.

So I wrote out twenty-nine points on ten pages, all the time thinking, Why is this so hard? Why am I getting the run around? It's not my video. Why am I having to do all this work?

I finished it at 12:30 am the morning we were to leave, the 16th or 17th. Since we left at 6:30 am, I didn't get it faxed. So Thursday, January 20, I drove down to Hemet to find Jeremiah Films. I decided I wouldn't take up their time by staying awhile, but would just drop it by.

Going into a mobile home parts store, I borrowed a phone book. To my surprise, there was only a P.O. Box listed. I asked the man there, "Do you know where Jeremiah Films is?" He didn't, so he gave them a call to ask for their street address, saying only that someone was trying to locate them. They wouldn't give it to him, for their address is a secret.

So I called. I explained that I just wanted to drop my ten pages by. The lady said that it was company policy: no visitors for any reason under any circumstances. If I wanted my material to arrive, it had to be mailed.

That was it for me. I went to the post office and mailed it, adding a handwritten note saying that I was through with this dialoging, unless they showed some interest themselves in pursuing it further. I also stated that I would not rest until every error was exposed.

To date I have received no reply whatsoever from Jeremiah Films. When this response was first published on the internet, I notified them via email, but still received no reply. [p. 155]

On January 28 I did receive from Lorri the 1919 Bible Conference Minutes from the journal Spectrum as alleged documentation for the threatened-lawsuit myth. Attached to the minutes was a form letter from MacGregor Ministries, dated January 17 and signed by both Lorri and her husband Keith. This form letter informed me that I was not to contact them again. They must have to tell a lot of people this if they've made a form letter for it.

At the bottom was a handwritten note that included the statement, "Regarding your statements on Solemn Appeal—the video is correct. Sorry for you—no retractions." No proof to back this up was offered.

Having researched the inaccuracies of the Minutes previously, I immediately phoned MacGregor Ministries again. What else could I do? Here my faith was being slandered, and I knew it was all groundless.

Lorri was irate once more. She said she might respond if I sent her one page of email, but I could only send one page. If I remember right, she hung up on me.

Statements made to me in my three phone calls with Lorri include: "Get a life!" "You're in denial!" "You're being picky!" "No one has had a problem with the information but you." "It's all fully documented." "The Adventist Church hasn't been able to find any problems with it."

The last statement is interesting in light of the fact that the White Estate has a document dated June 1999 on their web site outlining thirty-nine problems or concerns about points raised in the video. Their document predates my first phone call by about four months.

I got the impression from Lorri that she felt that since Adventism really is a cult, it doesn't matter if the evidence used to prove it is bogus.

Maybe one day someone else will have better success at persuading these parties to right the wrongs that have been done. And if not, the Lord will take care of it all in His own good time.

There was one additional series of communications with MacGregor Ministries, this time with Keith. On March 20, 2000, I sent an email to Lorri, since she said I could send her one page of email. In that message I referred her to my critique that had just been posted on the internet. Keith was the one to reply on the 25th, ending it with the following:

By the way, can you find me ONE person anywhere at any time who ever became a JW, Mormon, WWCG, Moonie, SDA, by reading the Bible only and none of their prophets' other writings?

You don't have to respond to this, I haven't time to get into endless email debates. Will be praying for you in the meantime.

To this I replied:

A brief reply you don't have to reply to.

Many, many people have become Seventh-day Adventists from studying the Bible alone.

Out of a sense of Christian integrity, I respectfully request that you admit publicly that the video does in fact present factual errors, like the idea that William Miller predicted or even accepted the date of October 22, which he never did (unless it was after October 22).

I would definitely admit my error if I had made inaccurate statements about anyone I disagreed with. I couldn't sleep at night if I had publicly falsely accused Bill Clinton of something until I had tried to make it right in some way.

Will be praying for you in the meantime.

Keith couldn't help but respond, but only to the first part of the message:

How about names and addresses of these people. Where and who are they? How can they come up with "doctrines" that are not in the Bible like the investigative judgment, soul sleep etc. and the like? How come only SDA's can see these things and no other Bible scholars will give them any credibility?

I replied, showing how various scholars who were not Adventists have come up with soul sleep and much of the investigative judgment doctrine just from the Bible. After referring him to a paper I had written on the investigative judgment, I also stated:

If you feel my reasoning is weak in an area in my investigative judgment paper, I don't mind at all your correcting me. You are my senior in age, and I will respect whatever points you raise regarding an incorrect understanding of what the Bible is saying. I appreciate the position of Luther and try to follow it: "Convince me from the Holy Scriptures and I will retract."

He chose not to reply until I sent names and addresses on April 6. My message included the following, as well as other similar data:

I just talked with my good friend Judy Aitken in Berrien Springs, Michigan. She runs a ministry to reach Laos, Cambodia, and Viet Nam for Jesus.

She tells me that from 1986 to 1993, between 2000 and 3000 Cambodians were baptized into the Seventh-day Adventist Church without having read Ellen White's writings. They just didn't have any to read, so all they studied was the Bible. Judy was personally involved in this. [p. 156]

Keith's reply said: "Bob, these people were all influenced and led by your Adventist friend. I want people with NO contact with any SDA person or publications. The Bible only."

Such a position is not reasonable. It's like saying, "I will not believe until you show me ONE person that became a Christian just from reading the Old Testament. I want people with NO contact with any Christian person or publication." How dare we put such constraints on the way God chooses to work?

God told Cornelius to go get Peter and have him explain to him Bible truths that he couldn't find on his own (Acts 10). That being so, certainly it is possible for God to do the same today. Perhaps He just might even use an Adventist in the process.

A Response to the Video

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