|Ellen G. White|
The Beginning of My Disappointment
I was raised a Seventh-day Adventist. We attended the church in Carson City, Nevada. Our little church of a hundred or more people was subject to the struggles of many small churches: politics, favoritism, desire for power and control over others. It was a source of irritation in my youth that my father, a hard working and honest man, was at times treated so poorly by those who wished to be in control of the little church. But I was young, and soon went away to California to complete my higher education. After completing college and dental school in Seventh-day Adventist schools, I returned to Carson City to live and begin a dental practice. I attended the same small church that my parents did. The petty politics and practices were still the order of the day, but I did believe the religion I was raised in, so I tried to endure the negative aspects of small church life.
Dentistry is a detail-oriented occupation. Accuracy, attention to small detail, and perseverance are necessary qualities to achieve good dental work. These qualities spilled over into my religious life, and I began to notice that the foundational beliefs of my faith were not always prevalent in our local church or even at the statewide or national level. With the help of a defrocked Seventh-day Adventist minister, I began to agitate for reform. I dug into the history and foundational beliefs of our church. It seemed to me that we had strayed quite a ways from the ideas and beliefs that ignited our church in the 1840's.
Ellen G. White, along with her husband and a few friends, were the pioneers that began the Advent Movement. Ellen claimed to have visions from God. Eventually, in those visions she claimed to receive instruction from God about Saturday (7th-day) sabbath observance, and many, many more ideas. She claimed to receive visions describing in detail the history of God's people from her day all the way down to the Second Coming of Christ and the end of the world as we know it.
I was detail oriented, and I studied her writings and the Bible with close attention.
The first year in Carson City took off with a boom. My dental practice succeeded quickly and within five years my wife and I were able to leave the rental in which we were living and build a new home of our design in Jack's Valley, just south of Carson City where the mountains that surround Lake Tahoe drop down to the Carson Valley. In this beautiful setting we started our family and by 1980 had two sons, Jacob and Zachary. It was a beautiful place to live, and now, thirty-seven years later, was the only home we have ever built. Our dreams were within our grasp.
Keep in mind that although were were succeeding in our dental practice, building a home and starting a family in Jack's Valley, we were also studying our church's foundational beliefs and agitating for reform.
Many people outside of Seventh-day Adventism do not realize that SDAs teach that the keeping of the seventh day (Saturday) as a Sabbath of rest will be the final test upon which men and women will be judged just prior to the Second Coming of Jesus to this earth. They believe that laws will be enacted that will eventually prohibit the keeping of Saturday as a Sabbath. Those laws, though mild at first will merely honor Sunday as a day of worship. But they believe that laws will eventually be enacted forcing all to worship on Sunday, and failure to do so they believe will be punishable by death.
If I am anything, I am a lover of my family. My wife and I, filled with the recent study of our church's foundational beliefs, made the difficult decision to sell our new home and successful dental practice and move to the remote and more difficult life on 18 acres of sagebrush sixty miles further east near the small town of Fallon, Nevada.
In my book, Surrender of Sovereignty, which explains why I do not believe the Bible to be God's word, I chronicle our spiritual journey. Eventually we moved from Fallon to Idaho. We've lived here 28 years. We have studied and re-evaluated our beliefs in depth many times. We gave up Seventh-day Adventism, then moved to a Bible-based Word of Faith church, and finally, after much soul searching, gave up Christianity altogether and became Agnostic.
My greatest disappointment is that I was so fervently and honestly blinded by the ridiculous teachings of a lady that I now believe to be delusional; and by the Bible, which I believe to be more of the same: fervent and delusional men writing on paper what eventually comes to be held as canon and holy writ.
Here is what we gave up: home, business, a beautiful valley and our dreams. The airplane flying over Jack's Valley was ours, and I was the pilot. Things aren't what make you happy. I know that. And I have a wonderful family and life still. But honestly giving up our dreams for a lie that we believed, held on to, and acted upon is our greatest disappointment.
|Our house in Jack's Valley looking up toward Lake Tahoe|
|My Dental Building in Carson City (Red roof part added after I sold it)|
|Flying over Jack's Valley with our new home (center right)|
looking across a beautiful valley to the foothills of the Sierras