My Personal Testimony

by Rolaant L. McKenzie

My Story | Resignation Letter and Response | Departure from SDAnet

Departure from SDAnet

This last post to sdanet, an Internet forum for discussion on matters pertaining to Seventh-day Adventism, represents my final break with that church. After experiencing the saving grace of Jesus Christ, after knowing in my heart that I did not have to work to be saved (which is impossible), but that salvation is a gift that belongs to the believer the moment he turns to Christ, I could no longer in good conscience remain a Seventh-day Adventist.

Rolaant McKenzie

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Fri, 30 Aug 1996 10:07:09 -0400 (EDT)
From: rlm@alumni.sils.umich.edu
To: sdatalk <sdatalk@sdanet.org>
Cc: sdanet <sdanet@sdanet.org>
Subject: So Long, Farewell, auf Wiedersehen, Adieu!

Greetings sdaneters! It is finally time for me to take leave of you. The last 4 years with you have been very interesting and enlightening. There has been so much that I learned that I may have never learned, or would have taken long years to learn. My dialogues with many of you have often prompted me to go back and study my Bible more than ever before. And I am very grateful for that. For had I not done so I surely would not have learned what the Gospel is, and I would be as lost today as I was most of my life. And this notwithstanding the fact that I was an SDA from birth and attended SDA schools from kindergarten straight through university, even getting a theology degree. I have often berated myself for not understanding the Gospel a lot sooner. But a veil lay over my heart and I was blinded. All that knowledge brought me no closer to really understanding. Throughout my life the theology of the Seventh-day Adventist Church helped in preventing me from seeing.

Some of the distinctive teachings of SDAism, some of which are called pillar doctrines, caused me not to see. And the promotion of Ellen White as equal to or even above Scripture only compounded the problem. But as I started to research the claims that she plagiarized most of her works that she said came to her from God, that some of the doctrines she endorsed were indeed unbiblical, and that what I was taught all my life wasn't "the truth" after all, but often were attempts to prop up Ellen White's prophetic status and the SDA denomination as the "remnant church", the veil started dropping and the light of Bible began shining brighter. When I thoroughly researched the Sabbath issue with much prayer, soul-searching, and intense Bible study, the veil was ripped away completely and I was finally able to see the true Gospel of Scripture. I cannot describe the joy I felt as I began to finally understand that salvation wasn't about what church one belonged to, diet, or what day one worshiped on, or getting through some investigative judgment. It was completely on what Jesus had already accomplished for me through His life, death on the cross, and resurrection. Period! I finally realized that by having faith in what Jesus had done for me assured my salvation.

As an SDA I was never assured of salvation. If someone asked me, I would say that I hoped I would make it. I used to pray to God asking Him to burn me quickly if I didn't make it! Now what kind of prayer is that for a Christian? But after basking in the light of the Gospel, I can say with faith, conviction, and joy that I AM SAVED! Not maybe, not I hope to be, but for sure! I am a sinner saved only by grace. No amount of works, Sabbath keeping, or anything else will save me. Only Jesus, my Substitute. And He has done it for an unworthy sinner like me. Incredible and humbling!

Even today I am amazed that the Lord would even bother to help me see. Why should he help me? What have I done to merit His special attention? Nothing! But God loved even me so much that He sent His Son to save me. Such a love I cannot understand. It is too incredible! But it is true nonetheless. He was patient with me and kind, and I am very grateful. Finally understanding that salvation was already mine by faith totally transformed my life. Whatever good I do I cannot take even the least bit credit for it. It is all the doing of Christ. He saved me, past tense, and with that realization I cannot help but want to live for Him. While I am still a sinner and I stumble and fall occasionally, my salvation is not based on how I perform or progress. It is based solely on complete faith in Christ. And I can rest in His salvation and let Him make me as good as He can. I do not have to be afraid anymore.

I have noticed in the past 18-24 months that often when someone places faith in Ellen White's writings, even in instances where she contradicts the Bible, it is apparently condoned (even encouraged). But as soon as someone promotes the Gospel of Christ, a chorus of protest goes up, especially in areas that disagree with EGW. I have seen people in other Christian net groups more receptive to the Gospel in general. Yes, even in the Catholic net group! This is the only net group I know of that rails against it so much. What I have observed in many on sdanet is that the Gospel equals Sabbath keeping, belief in the investigative judgment, and faith in Ellen White's writings. And woe upon anyone who contradicts these "truths"! As soon as someone quotes Ellen White saying something contrary to the Gospel someone says, "Yes, but...look at this other more accurate EGW statement!" As though this would excuse the previous erroneous statement. Even in some of her "visions" that were later proven false I have heard the excuse that she only had a "symbolic" vision. Well, I really don't know what is symbolic about a vision where real people are depicted and definite fates are predicted for them. Of course, it didn't come to pass since all the people in her vision, including herself, have been dead for many decades. And that is just one example. I think Deuteronomy 18:20-22 applies here. After all, if Joseph Smith, Mary Baker Eddy, or Charles Taze Russell did something like this, I am very certain most SDAs would not hesitate to call them false prophets. But when it comes to Ellen White it appears the rules no longer apply. Someone once told me that one should defend the family (in the context of defending EGW). But I asked whether it was fair to hold everyone else to one standard yet excuse one's "prophet" when that standard is broken by that "prophet". I couldn't get a straight answer. In terms of some of the things that she has written that went against Scripture, I was once told that perhaps the publishing house printing press made errors in the typeset so that what Ellen White wrote came out incorrectly. Even with whole passages that were inconsistent even with her previous writings? I was told yes! I am sorry, but this sounds like a little boy who failed to do his homework on time saying the dog ate it! This excuse was so ridiculous to me that I was surprised it was even spoken! But this illustrates the fact that many SDAs cannot bring themselves to the point where they can say Ellen White was wrong on some things. She has such a hold on the SDA Church that it cannot really move forward. It is, in some ways, still stuck in the 19th century. Especially in light of some of the articles current GC President Folkenberg has written placing Ellen White's writings on par with the Bible. It is little wonder to me, now that I am outside the SDA Church, that very many consider the SDA Church to be a cult. Many Christians outside the SDA Church view SDAism in a cultic light because of its views regarding Ellen White and some of the unbiblical doctrines she endorsed. While she may have been a strong leader for the SDA Church, she was far from being a prophet in the Biblical sense. I believe that if the church is to survive in the 21st century, it is going to have to honestly re-evaluate Ellen White's role, drop whatever unbiblical doctrines or concepts she endorsed, and accept and teach the Gospel of Scripture.

So after all this, do I think I somehow know more than anyone else on the Gospel or what accurate Christian doctrine is? No way! I am learning things about living under the Gospel that other sincere Christians have known all or most of their lives. I am way behind and playing "catch up"! I have so much more to learn. But as long as I place my trust in the Lord, He will teach me what I need to know.

With all that said, I take my leave of you. While some of you might be glad to see me go, I still am happy that I had the opportunity to discuss some of SDAism's key issues and doctrines with you. I enjoyed the exchange of ideas. The time was very well spent and I do not regret it for a moment. Farewell!

Rolaant McKenzie

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