Monday, November 28, 2011

The Seventh-Day Adventists

For my write-up today on Stephen King’s Needful Things, I’ll use as my starting-point a statement on page 608:

“Babs and her husband were, after all, Seventh-Day Adventists, and as far as she was concerned, the Catholics and the Baptists deserved just what they got…”

The context of this passage is the feud between the Catholics and the Baptists over a Casino Night that the Catholic church is hosting, and yet I must note that the Baptist minister has other issues with Catholicism as well, such as Mariology (which many Catholics would say that he misunderstands). Babs is doing a prank that will exasperate that conflict because that is part of her payment to Leland Gaunt for a “needful thing” that he is selling her. And she does not care that she is exasperating the conflict, for she, as a Seventh-Day Adventist, does not like Baptists or Catholics.

I must emphasize that this is the character Babs’ particular Seventh-Day Adventist view, and it does not reflect how all or even most Seventh-Day Adventists see the world. In my own experience of Seventh-Day Adventism, the general belief is that the Roman Catholic Church is the Antichrist, that Sunday-observance is the mark of the Beast, and that the evil second beast in Revelation 13 represents the United States imposing a National Sunday Law. The upside to this view is that Seventh-Day Adventism opposes legal attempts to shove religion down people’s throats, plus it firmly supports freedom of religion. The downside to the view is that it influences some Seventh-Day Adventists to look down on Catholics and Sunday-observing Protestants, as if they are some sort of threat. I remember when I told a Catholic priest that I attend a Seventh-Day Adventist church, and he replied, “Oh, well, I’m surprised you’re even shaking my hand!”

Even here, however, I can’t speak in absolutes. There are many Adventists who believe that they as Christians should love everybody, regardless of what they believe. Ellen White acknowledged that there could be true Christians even in the Catholic church (which is rather condescending, but it’s a step up from saying no Catholic is saved). And I’m not sure if every single Adventist takes Adventist eschatology seriously. I went to places where that eschatology was taken seriously, but I wonder if that is the case with every Adventist church.

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