I remember growing up that Seventh-Day Adventism was regarded as a demanding religion. It wanted one-tenth of your money (tithe) and one-seventh of your time (the Sabbath).
Then this righteousness by faith movement swept through Adventism in the 1970s and a lot of people felt tremendous relief that they now had heavenly salvation from sin solely through their faith in Christ. There was no longer anything they had to do to be saved.
This made them very happy.
But the only people it made very happy were those who had grown up with the lash of the law. Those who grew up with righteousness by faith, well, it left religion a pretty empty matter for them.
And for some of them who were excited for years by righteousness by faith, well, that excitement started to dissipate because the doctrine left them with little purpose in this life.
I remember when my family moved out of the Seventh-Day Adventist church in 1980, my father soon after said to an interviewer that we belonged to the “invisible church of Jesus Christ.”
That didn’t make for much practical community.
People need a real community. They need purpose. They need things to do. And they need the guidance of religious law. That’s why I went from a religion of ten basic commandments to one with thousands.
And I keep every one perfectly.
Why am I writing so much these days about my Adventist upbringing? Because of my trip back to Loma Linda University ten days ago. And because of Facebook. I’m friending a lot of people I knew in the church. And there’s just something about their FB profiles and pictures, they’re just so darn nice.
In a 1990 lecture series on how to be a good person, talk radio host and Jewish theologian Dennis Prager said: