How to analyze whether one is a jerk Adventist or a true Adventist

By Koot van Wyk


In the following writing, two essays are placed side by side in order to guide the reader how to analyze whether a person is a jerk Adventist or a true Adventist.

The first essay is that by C. Thompson who is from Florida and a Conference person. He tries to rationalize from his experiential setting what a true Adventist is, and anyone other than himself and his set of values, are jerk Adventists.

On Terminology one can say that it has been already discussed in the past that a cultural Adventist is actually a liberal Adventist that just goes to church, be vegetarian etc. to socialize, to work for the Adventist church but who is actually void of spiritual depth. Thompson did not say it, they are speaking with two tongues and are opportunists in a humanitarian way. The overriding thrust for them is not what the Bible or EGW says but how humanly kind it is. They are quietist-Adventists as far as lifestyle is concerned, basically because he/she is living almost just like the “Canaanites out there”.

The second essay is a reworked essay by myself, but originally it was written by someone else. Adaptation was also necessary. It does not take one long to see where C. Thompson actually fit in. Does it?

“Two men sat behind bars, the one saw mud, the other one stars” (Ian Hartley in Philosophy class, Helderberg College, 1978)


Essay One

Christopher Thompson, “On Being Adventist and Not Being a Jerk”

You’re probably not going to like what I’m about to say, but I’ve thought long and hard about this and I’m convinced it’s true. I hope you’re sitting down. Here it goes.

Cultural Adventists are jerks.

I’m not sure where I first heard the term Cultural Adventist, but I think it encapsulates the persona of the kinds of people who fit the bill here. Adventists are those who are awaiting the coming of the Christ. A Cultural Adventist on the other hand, has been encultured in the behaviors and lifestyle of Adventism, yet they lack the Spirit of Christ.

So here’s a qualifier. Christians aren’t jerks. But you do know that you can be a Cultural Adventist and not be a Christian. I’m sure that concept is disturbing, but if you think carefully you’ll agree that Cultural Adventists are quite capable of being what Merriam-Webster defines as “cruel, rude, or small-minded.”

I’ll give you three reasons why I think Cultural Adventists are jerks.

Cultural Adventists constantly inform you about their holiness and restraint.

If they are fasting, you will know. If there’s an unacceptable TV program or movie, they’ll be sure to let you know that they haven’t seen it. They never fail to tell people what they never eat. They are professionals at letting you know all of the noble things they do and how careful they are to abstain from all things that are harmful. They are closely akin to the ancient Ascetics who believed pleasure to be evil. Cultural Adventists are pale-faced drones and they’re proud to tell you why God prefers pallor.

Cultural Adventists constantly remind you about your unacceptable behavior.

This is obviously the adverse of the previous one. Thus, they are closely related. We all know that our body is the temple of the living God and that living a healthy lifestyle is a sign of good stewardship. However, we can do without the incessant Sabbath dinner plate patrolling, with continual reminders of the evils of cheese and sugar. I’ll never forget (though I probably should) how a fellow freshman student told me that I wasn’t “college material” because I didn’t dress, talk and act to his liking. It didn’t matter that my GPA was and remained higher than his. He’s a multi-generational, Cultural Adventist, and so he made sure I knew it.

Cultural Adventists are unyielding, intolerant and insufferable hardliners.

If the pastor leads a Baptist church, he can’t possibly have anything valuable to say. If they sell drugs, use drugs, live an alternative lifestyle, then they’re reprobate. If you have fun on the Sabbath, you’re worldly. They do not care. They do not listen. And they show no mercy. They love to “reason together;” which in their minds means that you blindly accept the trite, overused and misinterpreted E.G. White quote about “a bedlam of noise” that they roll out whenever someone mentions drums. They see the world in black or white, and if you see shades of grey it must be because you’re into deviant behavior.

To be fair, Adventism is a complex and multifaceted system of belief and it’s unsafe to paint any one person or any group of people with such broad strokes. But I’ll bet my next paycheck that you just saw a good number of people you know in those descriptors.

The Cultural Adventist just got upset that I offered to bet. But try to understand the point here: If you’re an Adventist, try not to be a jerk.

The fact is, we all struggle with pride at some point and in some way. We struggle to see ourselves as we truly are. And we struggle in our expressions of pleasure and pain. We don’t want to embrace pleasure for fear of appearing worldly, and we don’t express pain because it makes us appear weak and faithless. Yet, Jesus told us just that; without him, we’re useless (see John 15:5). So with that in mind, here are three keys to not being a jerk.

Remember you’ve been forgiven.

I’m always mindful of Paul’s counsel in 2 Cor. 10:12. It is unwise to compare ourselves to ourselves. When we compare ourselves to ourselves we tend to rank ourselves. Yet, when God is our central focus we constantly see our need for him. And when we see our need we are reminded that we “have an Advocate with the Father” (1 John 2:1). It is then that we are reminded that we are made right with God; not because we’ve done what’s right, but rather because we’ve been forgiven for what we’ve done wrong. Whenever I think about all the reasons I need God’s grace, it makes me a lot more tolerant of others. And that brings me to my next point.

Be patient with people.

I’m often tempted to behave as if I’ve always been this way. The fact is I haven’t. There’s a long line of folks who knew me before I knew God. And they will tell you: I’ve come a long way. It didn’t happen overnight. It didn’t happen in an instant. I’ve been seeking God and following him for some time. And every…single…day…I’m reminded that I’ve got a long way to go. I’m glad God is patient with me. Therefore, I’m reminded of my need to be patient with others–especially those who have never heard of God, who haven’t had the amazing privileges I’ve been afforded and who have had a much harder road than I. We need more patience and tolerance for others. You never know what a person has to contend with. This brings me to my last point.

Be kind to people.

Jesus said that we are the salt of the earth and the light of the world. I really love those images. Salt brings flavor. Light dispels darkness. I’m enthralled with the idea that everyday I have many opportunities to brighten someone’s day. I embrace the challenge to bring just a pinch more joy and enjoyment to a person’s day. I want the waitress to smile when she sees the tip I left her. I want the store clerk to laugh a bit to make it through his shift. I want the police officer to know that I’m praying for her. I want the people that I touch on a daily basis to get an extra glimpse of the love and grace of God when they interact with me.

Now time for a transparent moment. I’m a bit of a jerk myself. I too can be quite snobbish and self-absorbed at times. I pray that God makes me always sensitive of my need for him and mindful of how much I’ve been forgiven. I pray that he makes me patient with myself and with others. I pray that he will cause me to be kind and gracious to everyone I meet. Here’s to trusting God to make us righteous instead of parading our own filthy rags for public praise.

Here’s to being Adventist and not being a jerk.

(Christopher C. Thompson is beginning a new job in the Orlando, FL area, as Communication Director of the Southeastern Conference). For those who do not know, FL means Florida and Florida is in the Southern part of the United States.



Essay Two

Koot van Wyk, Duet in Eschatology: Comparing Van Wyk and La Rondelle (2014): 2-3. Unpublished.

“Eschatology Stereotypes in Adventism”


Originally placed online by NightEternal (


Grading: Van Wyk grades each group with either an Eschatology minus (E-) or an Eschatology plus (E+)


Me: E-         You? E…     “LIBERAL ADVENTISTS: This group is mostly centralized in southern California, but they can be found almost anywhere in the world. These are Adventists who have accepted the liberal Christian concepts where just about anything goes. Do not hold to literal interpretations of Scripture from Genesis through the Gospels as well as the remainder of the New Testament. Scripture is regarded as a collection of myths or stories and historical exaggerations used to teach moral lessons. Some may hold other Gnostic ancient books as on the same level of importance as the Bible. They do not believe in the literal creation account, world-wide flood, or miracles, including the resurrection of Jesus. Many have accepted evolution in some form into their belief systems. Beliefs can range from no after-life to Universalism. Homosexuality is accepted as another lifestyle alternative and impulse that God created people with. Ellen White means nothing to them and they have all but discarded most of the distinctive fundamentals as well as orthodox Christian fundamentals. They are often ‘cultural’ Adventists who still enjoy the opportunity to discuss with others philosophical ideas concerning the Sabbath. They may enjoy church services of various kinds or none at all, from high church to celebration services. Will often call themselves Christian Agnostics or Agnostic Christians. In fact, the only SDA feature many liberal Adventists have retained is the Sabbath. Almost all attend movies of any sort, wear jewelry, eat meat, drink coffee and caffeinated pops, some partake of unclean foods, many drink alcoholic wine, especially in the areas of California where vineyards are found. Women’s ordination has never been a question and the SCC implemented it years ago against the official stand of the conference.

Key [Adventist] Figures: Steve Daily


Me: E-         You? E… PROGRESSIVE ADVENTISTS: Highly regard science, logic, reason and the historical-critical method. Will adopt any modern means of Biblical interpretation available. Want to do away with many of the fundamentals, especially the IJ/1844/Heavenly sanctuary doctrines. Believe Ellen White is a woman of her times whose works may contain inspirational material that may be used in a pastoral way. Do not believe she has doctrinal authority. Some hold to a literal creation account, world-wide flood and miracles. Others see the Genesis story as non-literal and consider other methods of creation possible. The post-modern movement can also be traced to this group. In understanding post-modern philosophy, they desire to have the church be relevant in the present time and do not regard the history and legacy of the Adventist pioneers as the embodiment of religious truth. Some have adopted the views of the moral influence/larger view Adventists and rejected penal, legal atonement. Others hold to such atonement theories as Christus Victor, Federal Head and Recapitulation. There may be an amalgam of several atonement theories. A credo would probably be reason over tradition. Spreading like wildfire in many European countries.

Key [Adventist] Figures: Riendeer Bruinsma, Alden Thompson, Richard Rice, Fritz Guy, John McLarty (Adventist Today), Spectrum Magazine


Me: E-         You? E…   MORAL INFLUENCE/LARGER VIEW ADVENTISTS: Also found mostly in Southern California/Loma Linda area, this group denies that God will destroy the wicked in the end. They believe that sin itself will consume them without any intervention on God’s part. Absolutely deny legal/forensic/penal atonement. Heavy emphasis on the love and mercy of Christ to the exclusion of His anger and justice. Revere Ellen White, but they only pick and choose that which reflects their unique views. Heavily influenced by the views of Peter Abelard. You can find many of them on the website: Heavenly Sanctuary.

Key Figures: Graham Maxwell (Pine Knoll), Dan Smith, Ty Gibson (Light Bearers), Michael Klute.


Me: E+        You? E…   EVANGELICAL ADVENTISTS: Champions of Reformation justification by faith and the closest segment to the positions of Luther and the reformers. Bitterly fight against sinless perfection/final generation theology and the belief in the sinful nature of Christ. Consider both full-blown heresy. The most user-friendly Adventism and the one subgroup that presents the most acceptable Adventist face to mainline Protestantism. Believe the atonement was completed at the cross. Stand firmly behind Questions On Doctrine as representative of balanced Adventist thought. Have realistic views of inspiration and completely reject verbal inspiration for both the Bible and Ellen White. Ardent holders to thought inspiration. Ellen White highly regarded, but do not believe she has doctrinal authority and believe she is subject to the New Testament apostles. Some Evangelical Adventists have abandoned EGW, but not all. Completely reject traditional understanding of the IJ as detrimental to assurance of salvation. Hold to pre-Advent judgment where the salvation of God’s people is not under question. Very firm and uncompromising in their opposition to Rome. Worship services are predominately contemporary with CCM as well as heavily influenced by Willow Creek seeker-services.

Key Figures: George Knight, Graeme Bradford, Hans LaRondelle, H.M.S. Richards Sr. (Voice Of Prophecy), Raymond Cottrell, Desmond Ford (Good News Unlimited), Edward Heppenstall, Frank Phillips


Me: E+        You? E…   MODERATE ADVENTISTS: The largest subgroup by far, this constitutes the majority in the pews. Standard Adventist beliefs, hold to the fundamentals. Avoids either extreme and tries to be balanced. High regard for Ellen White but do not hold to verbal inspiration nor elevate her above the Bible. Mainline believers who support official church mission ardently. Stay very close to official GC policy, mandate and standard Adventist worldview.

Key Figures: Mark Finley, Dwight Nelson, Keavin Hayden, Marvin Moore, Roy Adams, Ed Christian, Morris Venden, Jack Sequeira (Vineyard Ministries), Shawn Boonstra (It Is Written), Steven Mosley, Steve Wohlberg, Lonnie Melashenko (Voice Of Prophecy), George Vandeman (Voice Of Prophecy)


Me: E+        You? E…   CONSERVATIVE/TRADITIONAL ADVENTISTS: Close to moderate Adventists, but with a little more lean to the right. Bitterly oppose women’s ordination, CCM, meat-eating, justification by faith as taught by Luther. Very high regard for Ellen White, borderline verbal inspirationists. Revere the law and the Ten Commandments and have sinless perfection tendencies. Many are heavily involved in Jesuit/Catholic/Masonic conspiracy theories. Staunch defenders of the 28 fundamentals and lovers of pioneer, 1800’s style Adventism. Major representation in third world countries such as Africa and South America.

Key Figures: William Johnson, Cifford Goldstein, Doug Batchelor (Amazing Facts), Sam Bacchiocchi (Biblical Perspectives), Sam Koranteng Pipim, Herbert Douglass, Ed Reid, Kenneth Cox, Richard O’Ffill (Revival Sermons), Danny Shelton (3 ABN), Walter Veith (Amazing Discoveries), Jan Marcussen, David Asscherick, Leo Schriven, Bill Tucker (The Quiet Hour), Robert Wieland and Donald Short (The 1888 Message Committee), C.D. Brooks


Me: E+        You? E…   ULTRA-CONSERVATIVE/TRADITIONAL ADVENTISTS: Historical Adventists who represent the far right. Believe in the sinful nature of Christ, righteousness by works, have a hatred for the Reformation gospel. Sinless perfectionists who believe Christ merely set the example we can follow until we reach the condition of Adam before the fall-all before glorification, which they believe only changes the physical and nothing else. Bitterly oppose Questions On Doctrine, consider it the most hated book ever published in Adventism. Heavy emphasis on IJ, traditional style and making oneself worthy to pass inspection by Jesus. Strict diet reform emphasis. All are vegetarian, most are vegan. Borderline deification of Ellen White, verbal inspirationist leanings. Most regard EGW as equal to the Bible in authority and the final say in all matters not addressed in Scripture. Many can be found on such websites as Revival Sermons, Great Controversy, Adventist Affirm, SDA Defend, Temcat’s House

Key Figures: M.L. Andreasen, Kevin Paulson, Larry Kirkpatrick, Joe Crews, Vance Farrell, Dennis Priebe, Stephen Lewis


Me: E+        You? E…   EXTREMIST ULTRA-CONSERVATIVE TRADITIONAL ADVENTISTS/OFFSHOOTS/INDEPENDENT MINISTRIES: About as far right you can go in Adventism. The most disturbing, frightening Adventism available. Ultra-strict, unyielding dress reform, diet reform, mind reform, any reform you can think of. Hyper-vegan, believe diet is a salvation issue and meat-eaters are lost. Heavy, extreme emphasis on historic Adventism and the pioneers. Agenda to purify the Adventist church and get back to 1800 style Adventism. Shepherd’s Rod believe they will be the instruments of destruction God will use to cleanse the camp of modern-day Adventism at some point in the future. Have their own communes, schools, churches, camp meetings, etc. Deify Ellen White, all but have included her in the Biblical canon. Fringe groups who believe that only a literal 144,000 are going through to the end. Hatred for corporate Adventism and conference structure. Believe the GC is the seat of the beast, riddled with Jesuit infiltrators. Hatred for any modern expressions of Adventism, believe they are the only true Adventists and the rest are lost. All believe the mainline church is in apostasy and is fallen Babylon, and so a call for as many as possible to come out is needed. Many use cultish fear-tactics and brainwashing to recruit and retain their followers.

Key Groups/Figures: Shepherd’s Rod (Victor Houteff), Branch Davidians, SDA Reform, Remnant Of The Remnant, Our Firm Foundation/Hope International (Ralph Larson), Hartland Institute (Colin and Russell Standish)”

Some observations:

1.       Not all key players in each group can be contained watertight within their stereotype.

2.       Sometimes, a key player within a stereotype has major differences with other key players listed here.

3.       Key players can change their position in future.

4.       Many are following a multi-facetted approach depending on the issue at stake.

5.       No matter how one wears the garment of Christ’s righteousness, inside out; upside down; unironed or well-ironed; frontside backwards; when He comes, He will take all with garments of His righteousness. That is the requirement.

6.     We have two major clusters of views here of the identity of Adventism:

a)  some scholars who count statistics and externals to calculate and compute and graph what they misperceive to be the identity of Adventism, but which is actually phenomenology, which are responses of worshippers to the identity, not the identity itself.

b)  the view of this researcher that identity cannot be measured but only discovered in the confines of Biblical doctrine and people's adherence to it.

 (see K. van Wyk, “Adventist identity: without transformation, development. Towards a definition” 24th of December 2008 at at VAN WYK NOTES no. 766).