Martin Bredenkamp has recently shared with us how he and his wife Charmaine have been disillusioned with some of the doctrines of the Adventist Church and how they have started on a personal search for the essence of Biblical truth. In this blog Martin shares some of his introspective reflections on the journey that they have started on. Self-analysis does not always come easily, neither does an honest sharing of one’s conclusions. We laud Martin for sharing with us and pray that he will continue to walk humbly with his Lord and will find peace in the path that the Lords leads him in. Editors.
I read through the testimony of Evert Potgieter before I went to South Africa, and it got me thinking deeply about the essence and meaning of our respective religious experiences. I pondered his experience and that of other genuine and serious seekers after truth, children of God, and wondered how it is that we arrive at such diverse outcomes. I mention him because of his reaction to my blog on the Soap Box. I also want to mention Brian Neumann, and Ps. Marthinus Pretorius.
I was in grade 10 at Sedaven high school when Evert Potgieter was our boys’ preceptor. He held that position the year before Dr. Paul Coetser arrived (1971). The essence of Evert’s ministry as preceptor was that he really cared about us boys. One of his peculiarities was that he had us run before dawn every morning to keep us healthy. He gave sincere talks at our worship times. He then moved out of my life and I lost contact with him for many years. I was unaware of his struggle with God a few years after he started his pastoral ministry. When I read his blog a few weeks ago I was touched by the deep conflict that he went through when he doubted the church and its doctrines. After a period of doubt and uncertainty, he chose to accept the church and E.G. White, while rejecting the teachings of one of his respected university mentors.
Evert’s story made me rethink where I am right now, in the process of rejecting some of the Adventist doctrines. Am I correct in rejecting these doctrines, or have I been misled? I revisited my stance on these doctrines, and concluded again that what I have found is not error, but truth. Truth, that I believe is supported by the Bible, by the history of doctrines, and in places by my understanding of science as well. Does that mean that my childhood mentor and friend has been misled in his beliefs?
I know Brian Neumann from my Helderberg College student days. I was in college at the time and Brian in the high school. Brian came from a strong Adventist background, but was a devotee of the popular music industry of that time. God called him out of that, and he then committed himself with his whole heart to evangelism. While being very active in the ministry, he started doubting the Adventist interpretation of the Spirit of Prophecy. He came to opposing conclusions relative to Evert Potgieter.
Is he right and Evert wrong? Which of them were “led” by the Spirit of God, and which was “misled?” This is the essence of some of my thoughts during my vacation.
Then there is Marthinus Pretorius. I know him personally too since he studied theology at Helderberg College while I was studying Science there. I know he is genuine and a seeker after truth. He recently wrestled with the essence of Brian Neumann’s book, “The White Elephant,” and after much soul searching he opted to remain loyal to the church and its doctrines. Was he “Spirit-led” in his decision, or “misled?”
I grappled with the outcomes of the soul-searching of these three friends, others too, and my own. If we are all seekers after truth, why such diverse outcomes? Did the Spirit of God bring us to these opposing conclusions? Did God lead some of us, and not the others? What is the essence of the matter?
A new thought came to my heart and mind: Is the outcome of our searches important to God, or is it what searching does to us that God is concerned about? Have we learned to know God better as a result of our search? Is our personal relationship with God in place? Are we part of the elect? God loves us too dearly to reject us when we make mistakes or wrong decisions. I believe that the essence of true religion is that God reveals Himself to those who diligently seek Him. I believe that those that seek Him in all sincerity and submission are already saved, and when our walk of life comes to and end on this earth, He will take us to Himself when this dispensation ends at the Second Advent.
The essence and final implication of all of this is that doctrine is not the most important issue in salvation, but rather,
whether we really know God, and
how we relate to our fellow men?
The essence of God’s Kingdom
Christ told a number of parables to teach people about the essence of the Kingdom of God. The parable of the sheep and the goats is one of these parables. In this parable I read nothing about doctrine. I do, however see Jesus placing the emphasis on love for our fellow man. From this parable I learn that the citizens of God’s Kingdom are those that care for the needy. Their care for others are so automatic that they do not even know they are doing it. The goats, on the other hand, believe they are serving God, but neglect their neighbors. They are lost!
Buddhists in the Kingdom of God
I am amazed when I look around me in Thailand, and see how caring the Buddhists are to each other, and to strangers! I believe there are many sheep here that have not even heard of Christ yet. However, at the end of time, God will reveal His will clearly and unambiguously. I also believe that denominations will have little to do with the saved or the lost when that time comes. In fact, God is going to call his children out of all denominations into His fold. Christ Himself will lead His Church then, and not some human leader. The essence of our work, to prepare for this time, is to seek God sincerely, and be prepared to give Him whatever He requires of us. God, in His love for us, will make sure that none of us will be lost if we seek Him and belong to Him. The elect will not be deceived in the time of great deception.
Blessings to all of you, and may you find great joy in God’s love while you seek Him.
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