A scholarly self-help book for those who feel trapped in the Seventh-Day Adventist (SDA) church, a booming Protestant denomination with roughly 15 million members worldwide.
Think Y2K was anticlimactic? Consider the year 1844, when tens of thousands of believers in prophet William Miller’s prediction that the Second Coming of Christ was imminent on October 22 witnessed that date come and go without so much as a peep from Jesus. After wonderfully capturing this frenzied historical context and end-times hysteria, the Beems introduce prophetess Ellen White, a key figure in the founding of the SDA church in 1863 and an eccentric visionary who believed that Miller wasn’t necessarily wrong in his end-times calculations, he just didn’t realize that Jesus was starting His judgment in heaven instead of on earth. Nice spin. The authors pick apart White’s life and writings to destabilize the historical, scriptural and doctrinal pillars of the SDA organization. Exposure to mercury vapors and a violent head injury as a schoolgirl, for instance, are posited as possible causes of White’s visions. And White’s recommended diet, including the prohibition of alcoholic beverages and tobacco, are unveiled as unoriginal ideas. The Beems continue to shake the other pillars of the church, specifically the Three Angels’ Message in the book of Revelations and the near obsession of honoring the Sabbath on the seventh day, Saturday; the closing chapter, a step-by-step exit guide for SDAs, rounds out the book nicely. On the whole, the Beems put forth a strong argument that White and the SDA church can’t see the forest for the trees, focusing intently on despair-inducing, doom-and-gloom scenarios instead of rejoicing in the good news that one need only believe in Jesus to be saved. But the evidence is laid on thick–perhaps too thick at times–and one can’t help but wonder if the Beems would have benefited more from publishing a pared-down manifesto and softening their criticisms with a little more subtlety to avoid inevitable accusations of the book being a retaliatory strike at their former church.
A well-researched undermining of SDA belief that should stir interest and outrage in the SDA fold.