From the beginning of the time many people have asked the same questions: Who am I. Why do you exist. Is there someone or something above us that created everything? Humankind has wondered about God or a supernatural higher authority thru ought history. And since that time cultures and countries have developed their own beliefs and opinions on what is religion and God. From ancient sacred indigenous religions to provide day modern practices, many religions contain similar basic traditions and beliefs, yet somehow there are so many sects of the religion and many different followings. From polytheistic beliefs to monotheistic views people have chosen their path based to what best suites their personal self. When concentrating on a certain popular worldwide religion such as Christianity you may get lost in all the countless diverse teachings and sects. In all these so called Christian denominations you will get teaching from the scripture "The Holy Bible" being translated in many different perspective views. From theology to soteriology to theodicy and bibliology each denominations chooses its teachings. You can find multiple examples to list, one being many Christian sects that believe in God, Holy Spirit, Jesus Christ, but check out all those parts of spirituality differently. They add the very conservative to so called liberal denominations. Even though all Christians read and follow the teachings from the same sacred text "The Holy Bible" everything comes down to how their bibliology is translated.
The theology of the Seventh-day Adventist is comparable to Protestant Christian teachings like the infallibility of Scripture. Typical teachings are the unconscious state of the dead and the doctrine of explanatory judgment. The church is also known because of its stress on diet and health, its encouragement of religious liberty, and its conservative principles and lifestyle. (Wilson 4)
Seventh Day Adventists were founded by several leaders William Miller, S. S. Snow, Joseph Bates, James White, Mrs. Ellen G. White. Ellen G. White has written some books that the Seventh Day Adventists follow up on. Adventists recognize her as the Lord's messenger. Her writings are a continuing source of truth which give the church comfort, guidance, instruction, and correction that are listed in the "28 Fundamental Beliefs". Some of the 28 fundamental beliefs will be the following; belief in Trinity, Life death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, Experience of salvation, Unity in the body of Christ, Baptism in full water submersion, lords supper, Spiritual Gifts and ministries, And most important keeping the Sabbath. ( Wilson 1)
The sacred scripture that the Seventh Day Adventists use is Holy Bible. They give attention to the Old Testament mainly for his or her doctrinal laws, and use New Testament to follow up those scriptures. Unlike many other Christian denominations the Seventh Day Adventists are extremely strict on what they believe in.
When it involves salvation the Seventh day Adventist think that one has to believe by faith that Jesus Christ Is lord and savior and that he paid the penalty on the cross from remission of most sins. "That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth god, the father Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is manufactured unto salvation. " (Romans 10:9-10)
There are two strong doctrines that the Seventh Day Adventist stress on wich is the returning of the messiah, and keeping the Sabbath holy. Through the entire history of their religion there were many attempts of individual leaders who proclaimed the day of the revival of god, the father. Trial after trial they may have failed, but still to this day have hope in the day of the return of the savoir Jesus. When it comes to keeping the Sabbath, they believe Saturday is a holy day and no labor is to be done from Fri night to Saturday. Due to the Old Testament scriptures when God said he rested on the 7th day after creation.
Like most Christian denominations the Seventh Day Adventists believe in final judgment day, where every individual will be judged how they lived their life upon this earth. Then the outcome with their judgment will decide where they will prolong their eternal life in hell or in heaven.
My journey starts at the Slavic Seventh Day Adventists in Fort Myers. The church service was on Friday evening and it was located in Ft. Myers Florida where my co staff friend lives and attends service regularly. WHEN I soon discovered there are various rules that apply to dress codes as well as codes of behavior, and even though in a way this specific division or sect of Christianity has the same basics as the church I grew up in there are many marked differences.
The first rule i was introduced to was, that after sunset on Friday night through sunset of Saturday night, no work is to be done, there is nothing cooked or cleaned and there is merely limited driving is allowed. The Seventh Day Adventist take notice of the Sabbath and treat it with respect as your day God "rested" which is a time for worship and prayer as a family group as well as the attending of church services on Friday night and Saturday morning.
The family that opened their home for me personally took me to a Friday night prayer and worship service at their local church, and in fact it was close to the home therefore the family and I walked to service. The females in the family were necessary to wear long skirts as this is the proper attire for the ladies of this religion, lots of the women never wear pants and shorts for recreational purposes. Now this I thought really was weird and out of date. The no pants rule was actually just a little odd for me personally seeing as I never knew that there was an integral part of the Bible that disagreed with women wearing pants, but the father of the family described to me that in the bible there is in fact a statement about women wearing men's clothing "A woman must not wear men's clothing, nor a man wear women's clothing, for god, the father your God detests anyone would you this. (KJV, Deuteronomy 22:5). ). I always thought the Deuteronomy verse was actually discussing women taking on the roles of men and vice versa, nevertheless the Adventists think that this is an obvious cut rule about dress code. This is merely one of the numerous strict rules they follow.
The other requirement which i had trouble understanding was when the females were required to wear head covering, since most women who are married or have children are asked to wear a head covering as an indicator of respect to God or their spouse. Thank God we men don't have to wear covering on the head, it looked very uncomfortable. Although Personally, i assume that the wife's "submission" to a husband is a necessary but no to a part of religion on closeness with God, but although its odd and uncomfortable for me to see this, it seemed disrespectful to disregard their sense of tradition and faith, because they believe it is sinful for a women to have her head uncovered.
Once we entered the sanctuary it was evident that there were a couple variations there as well. To my surprise the men and the women were sitting on separate sides of the church, even though the majority of them were married couples. THEREFORE I was expected to sit on the "male" side of the church. This again was a little off-putting if you ask me since I was not brought up to see a spiritual difference in the sex of an individual, and I was always taught that we are "all" created equal in the eyes of god, the father. I got unsure of why exactly the men and the ladies were separated. But then one individual told me that was to keep the sanctity of the church also to not tempt people. I still don't realize what the "temptation" is, but perhaps it is to keep people centered on the message rather than on who's sitting next to them.
The service itself was very peaceful and mellow. It was a bit more serious than what I expected it to be. When it came time for the congregation to sing, I got expecting some loud jamming praise of what I am used to. But to my surprise the congregation stood up and began to sing old, traditional hymns. Now I have not heard such songs in my own life before, their lyrics were true and really inspiring. They brought peace to my soul and had tremendous meaning. To my surprise I actually enjoyed their melodious sonnets.
Now when it came to the final sermon I used to be preparing myself for an uplifting prosperity sermon. But once more as the preacher walked up to the pulpit and his face seemed to have humble serious look. His facial emotion made me feel very awkward and curious on what he was going to say. And then he started to preach. Wow was I in for a surprise! His topic was on the lackness of spiritual foundation is our lives. And he went on convicting individuals on their sins. I felt as though he was preaching "Fire and Brimstone" like a "dooms" day kind of sermons as if the whole congregation would hell. Now when i was intensely hearing the sermon, I started to realize that he's been preaching for nearly one hour. This I am not used to at all, most sermons I've listened to were for the most part 20 minutes long. In the end it was a crazy new experience for me. This made me question a lot of other sermons that are being preached in allot of modern liberal churches today.
The worship and sermon was then accompanied by several long prayers. Now when prayer involves my mind, I picture taking a stand or sitting down praying easy short right to the point prayers. Well not in this case. Many of the elders and pastors each had a minute to offer their own prayer out loud. I kneeling their on my knees praying to God to have them finish faster because my knees where going numb. The prayers were interesting in the sense that people were weeping aloud, something I am not used to since the worship and prayer services I have already been exposed to, were always happy and excited. During prayer every member of the congregation was likely to be kneeled on their knees, which remarkable was very interesting to me, to see the united front they presented in prayer, there were young and old from babies to grandmas, kneeling in prayer together. Now this set a whole new idea of prayer in my own mind. The prayer went on for probably fifteen minutes, which felt just like a whole day. Now to get rid of the service the complete congregation chanted the Lord's Prayer. "Our father in heaven ect. " This I found interesting due to the fact that I never really had the knowledge of praying the prayer in a church with all the current members out loud.
After service there is a little bit of conversation between the folks of the congregation, and most of them were very happy to provide me with additional information, and answer my questions in regards to their religion.
One of the biggest questions I put was why they choose to follow the "old testament" more than the newer testament as much of the other churches do. Which of the elder brothers replied "If God wanted only the New Testament to be viewed he'd have found a way to eliminate the Old Testament first, but as it is there are both there for you cannot understand the energy of one without the other. The Old Testament was given by God himself to the people and it was expected to be viewed and respected, which without this beginning there would be no New Testament to check out. "(Brother Vasily). This is very interesting to me since in all honesty I had not been one to pay much focus on that part of the Bible, however in a sense it was understandable where he was coming from. The Old Testament gives people one clear cut way of doing things, whether staying away from unclean foods, to following certain dress codes, it is a spelled out way to follow God. It is unquestionably not the same as what I was taught, but it was interesting to see this belief system span generations with little regard to what other folks may think or say. It was amazing to be able to ask people that follow these set of beliefs.
My questions regarding the globe around them even simple things such as diet. They believe in "Kosher" to check out the decryption of clean versus unclean animals.
Even this issue of family and children was interesting to discuss since in this day and age most churches do not control or even necessarily disregard smaller families or family planning. However in the religious view points of the Adventists there should be no control from the peoples end and that each child is a blessing that needs to be welcomed and accepted as a surprise from God. In other words they don't have confidence in use of protection in sex. Some individuals go as far as saying that through the birth of children the women is saved or blessed from her past transgressions, this statement kind of made me wonder about the true belief in the forgiveness and life through Christ.
The other topic of religious difference which i was considering is communion and baptism, since in the church I grew up in we were holding traditional parts that involved everyone considered "born again". This of course was different as well since the church community I had been part of strongly believes that children under the age of eighteen should not participate in the water baptism and communion since they are not truly adults and are in a sense still under the covering with their parents.
This religious experience was incredibly different from what I grew up with and what I am accustomed to. The church I grew up in was considered Non-Denominational, where I had been also taught about the Holy Trinity and about being saved through Jesus. However the church I used to be brought up in centered it's teaching on the New Testament, therefore the Sabbath had not been a much more important day than any other. Instead Sunday was the "holy" day. The other large difference was that there have been no rules so far as worship was concerned; there was no solemn prayer or a serious undertone which is what I experienced in the Friday service at the Adventist church. Worship in the church was subjected to be a happy occasion with clapping, dancing, laughter and banner waving, we were holding all considered to be typed of worship and ways to appreciate and come closer to God. In the Adventist perspective however, this show isn't only unnecessary but inappropriate in the "House Of God", it was considered disrespectful if someone were to laugh aloud or shout, and instead quiet and poised respect was encouraged, almost like a respect for the bigger authority. The other big difference for me personally was that in the church I was raised in it was considered a person's choice to be baptized or take part in communion when they were able to distinguish being "born again" and what "sin" is.
This experience was a good one for me personally to come out of my comfort zone and recognize that although church and religion my coo employees friend followed is considered in a sense a kind of Christianity it was as though I stepped into a different world. There's a lot of tradition and strict sense of family, God and respect, in the Adventist church, and perhaps this was an atypical experience since it was at a Slavic division. Nonetheless it was interesting to see how people who in a way believe in the same "God" as the Baptists, Lutherans, Methodist, Pentecostals and a great many other Protestants have confidence in, have a completely different interpretation of what this "God" so expecting ad even desiring from him followers. And even though this isn't the religion I could make a personal connection with, the people of the church I visited were very gracious and even enthusiastic showing me their ways and views of God and religion. They were very welcoming to discussion as well as questions that I had towards them. It had been amazing to note that within one large band of religion such as Christianity, there are so many subgroups with dissimilarities that go from mild to drastic.
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