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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
Others

Discern Fact from Fiction


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Introduction

It all began one pleasant Saturday afternoon in the foothills of the Colorado Rockies. This writer and his family were driving up the Big Thompson River Canyon in October 1999, inviting residents to a lecture series on Bible prophecy. Pulling up to a gentleman working outside his home, we handed an invitation to him. He handed it back saying, "Not interested."

"How do you know? You don't know what it's about, do you?"

He then enquired what church was conducting the lecture series, and after finding out, repeated his first reply.

"What church do you fellowship at?" we then asked. That question began a lovely, hour-long conversation. Turned out that he had sent his kids to an Adventist school, and had appreciated the experience.

But something was bothering him, and he was having a hard time saying what it was. Finally he opened up. His church's Bible study group that very week was going to show a video critical of the Adventist Church. This prompted the question, "May I come?"

Before we left his house he declared that it was no accident that we had come by that day. Providence was at work.

So this writer went to see Seventh-day Adventism: The Spirit Behind the Church, copyright 1999 by Jeremiah Films. What an incredible production it was! Fifty minutes of video tape packed with information about Mrs. White and the Adventist Church, facts about their history and teachings. It was all the more convincing since the facts were being propounded by six former Adventist pastors, and five other former Adventists. If anyone should know the real scoop, they should, shouldn't they?

Yet as this writer heard the charges and accusations being leveled by Dale Ratzlaff, Sydney Cleveland, Mark Martin, and the others, something didn't quite ring true. It cannot be denied that this writer's bias is quite different from theirs, yet some of the "facts" presented were indisputably proven false decades ago. Why then was this video still making an issue of such things in 1999?

Then commenced three months of dialoguing with some of the principal folk behind the video, which didn't really accomplish much (see Appendix). At the end of that period, this writer promised Jeremiah Films that he would not rest until every error in their video was exposed. That promise resulted in the work you now hold in your hands. It first appeared on the internet in March 2000, and now resides at pickle-publishing.com. After undergoing a bit of revision, it now appears in this printed form.

The video, Seventh-day Adventism: The Spirit Behind the Church, endeavors to prove that the Adventist Church is a cult, or nearly so. But it only presents one side, and unless a person has both sides to consider, an objective evaluation is impossible. Yet the average viewer cannot conduct the horrendous amount of research required to determine the accuracy of the video's claims. How then can someone decide for himself whether Adventism really is a cult? This book solves that dilemma. It puts within everyone's grasp the other side of the question.

The following factors should be considered when objectively evaluating each of the video's accusations:

  1. Is the charge being made really factual?
  2. If so, is it relevant to the question of whether Adventism is a cult?
  3. Are the quotations and pictures used by the video to make its case accurate?
  4. Is the charge biblical, or does it undermine the authority of Scripture?
  5. Does the charge attack prominent Christian leaders as well as Adventists?
  6. Has the charge been oversimplified? Would greater detail change the conclusion?
  7. Does the logic or support used in one charge contradict that of another charge? [p. v]
  8. Do some statements beg the question, assume to be true what must first be proven?

This book examines, in the light of these eight questions, each claim made by each speaker on the video. Each speaker one by one is quoted, and then his or her comments are analyzed.

Rather than topically, this book is arranged in the order that the statements appear in the video. While this format reproduces to some extent the video's repetitiveness, it makes it as easy as possible to compare the two sides.

Such a format also necessitates frequent cross-referencing, that the entire case for a topic might not be made multiple times throughout the book. Thus under #1 can be seen the note, "see #10."

Another consequence of this type of format is that a large portion of this book ends up vindicating a single individual, the "spirit" or ghost the video claims is behind Adventism. Yet in writing such a response, what else can one do when so much of the video represents attacks on that single individual?

All Scriptures quoted by this writer are from the King James Version. Feel free to compare the wording to that of other translations, if you wish.

At the very end of the video is advertised "a documentation package substantiating the information contained in this program." Since it is supposed to prove the video's case, this response frequently refers to it, critiquing it along with the video.

If you've never seen the video before, that's no problem. Since it covers most of the same old criticisms that have been leveled at Adventism over the last 150 years or so, you'll probably find answers here to questions you've seen raised elsewhere. For as Walter Martin wrote, who thought Adventism was not a cult, practically no critic since the days of D. M. Canright has been able to come up with anything new:

. . . careful research has confirmed the impression that nearly all subsequent similar publications are little more than repetitions of the destructive areas of Canright's writings . . . .—Kingdom of the Cults, p. 443; cf. p. 409.

Even so, the recycling of old criticisms has reached incredible proportions today. Books and web sites seem on the rise. And if Mrs. White was right at all, such things will increase in the days ahead.

Dear reader, you have the opportunity to sort through some of the claims being made. While this book can't cover all the criticisms out there, it can provide you with some tools for investigating further. You'll learn some of the counter-questions to ask, and some of the primary sources to read.

Then you can decide for yourself the answer to the following questions, instead of having someone else do your deciding for you: Is Adventism a Christian religion? Or is it a cult?

A Response to the Video

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