This was a huge problem. If God is all that is good, then to define what is bad — in other words, sin — is to define the very boundaries of God Himself. It was nonsensical to suggest that His religion would be confused on that issue. It was time to move on. He suggested that Jesus founded just one Church before He left the earth, and that He instilled it with supernatural power so that it would accurately articulate the truth about what is good — and therefore about what is God — for all times and places.
Joe and I both balked. Besides, this idea of supernaturally-empowered people was just silly. However, I did notice something: In fact, the more I paid attention, the more I saw that the Catholic intellectual tradition was one of the greatest in the world. I began reading books by Catholic authors; not that I was really interested in Catholicism, I told myself — I was just looking for something good to read. They had the same solid grasp on science and the material world as the atheists, but also possessed a knowledge of the movements of the human soul that resonated as true down to the core of my being.
But I had to admit that the more I read about Catholic theology, the more sane it seemed. But why, then, had I had no experience of Him? Not that this was a requirement for me to believe, but it just seemed like if there were a God out there and He cared about me, I would sense His presence in some way. But now it was getting old. It was hurtful to think that God might be out there but just withholding comfort from me.
I was tired of pressing forward in this pursuit with no sense of His presence. My feelings of frustration and resentment toward God reached a head. And then, just at the right time, I happened to come across a quote from C. Lewis in which he pointed out:. I realized that, if I were serious about figuring out if God exists or not, it could not be an entirely intellectual exercise. I had to be willing to change. I committed to go a month living according to the Catholic moral code. My goal with the experiment had been to discover the presence of God; instead, I discovered myself — the real me.
I had thought that cynicism, judgmentalness, and irritability were just parts of who I was, but I realized that there was a purer, better version of me buried underneath all that filth — what the Church would call sins — that I had never before encountered. I found that the rules of the Church, that I had once perceived to be a set of confining laws, were rules of love; they defined the boundaries between what is love and what is not.
It had changed me, my life, and my marriage for the better. I may not have experienced God, but by following the teachings of the Church that was supposedly founded by Him, I had experienced real love. And, to my great surprise, I discovered that the Church had incredibly reasonable defenses of its points. He had been doing his own investigation into Catholicism, and this was the final issue that had been troubling him too. We looked at each other, and for the first time dared to ask: Are we going to become Catholic?!
Only two weeks after we had that thought, that pain in my leg got so bad that I ended up in the ER. I was seven months pregnant with our second child, and it turned out that I had a deep vein thrombosis, a life-threatening blood clot in a major vein. If the clot had broken free, I likely would have died. After some testing, the doctors delivered worse news: I have a genetic clotting disorder that means that my blood clots easily — and I inherited it from both parents, which makes it worse.
On top of that, it is exacerbated by pregnancy, which makes pregnancy dangerous for me. I had a lot of time to mull over this turn of events: So I spent most of my days lying in bed, wondering what to do now. They told me that my clotting disorder means I should not have any more children, because of the risk that pregnancy poses to my health. Someone with my condition had to use contraception, they said. There was no choice. Fatigued by the constant pain, overwhelmed by medical bills that were piling up by the thousands, I began to slide back away from this religion, tumbling down a slope that ended back in atheism.
To stick with the Church now would be to lose my life as I knew it, and to set out down an unfamiliar, frightening path. For weeks now, I had known on an intellectual level that I believed what the Church taught. What stalled me had not been a hesitation of whether or not it was true; it had been a hesitation of not wanting to sacrifice too much.
I had no idea how things would work out. I thought there was a fair chance that this step would lead us to financial ruin, and may even take a serious toll on my health. But I decided, for the first time in a long time, to choose what was true instead of what was comfortable. Open Preview See a Problem? Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. Many people have asked me why a fourth-generation Seventh-day Adventist pastor would leave the Adventist denomination. This is why I am continually being accused of leaving because I wanted to live in open sin.
When I respond t Many people have asked me why a fourth-generation Seventh-day Adventist pastor would leave the Adventist denomination. When I respond that I left because of thorough Bible study and a desire to be true to my conscience, I am often met with a blank, questioning stare. For many this is simply incomprehensible.
Reinventing the Adventist Wheel: "Truth Led Me Out"
I have written this book for three main reasons. First, Truth Led Me Out, is my life story—well, at least a good part of it. I know that after I am no longer here the Adventist church will—if it follows its historical pattern—try to rewrite my history. For this reason, I have included the events, discoveries, conversations, names and places that played a factor in my decision. By listing the actual names of people with whom I interacted in this journey, it is not my intent to assign blame or imply evil motive. Many acted out of their own understanding of truth or assigned administrative responsibility.
Rather, I list these facts for the sake of history. Second, because I have authored several other books and have written dozens of articles on Adventist issues, many people have asked me about the details of my exodus. Rather than answer the hundreds of emails and letters in a very cursory way, I felt writing out my experience would give these inquiries a more complete picture, and also save me a lot of time. Third, there may be some who read this book in order to discover truth or discern error.
It is my settled conviction that truth needs no other foundation than honest investiga-tion under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and a willingness to follow truth when it is revealed. Paperback , pages. Published by Life Assurance Ministries first published April 2nd To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.
To ask other readers questions about Truth Led Me Out , please sign up. Lists with This Book. This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Nov 06, Gary Land rated it really liked it. I read this book as part of a research project I am working on. Although I don't think I ever met Dale Ratzlaff, I had his mother as a teacher for grades and corresponded with her at Christmas toward the end of her life.
Thus I feel that I have a connection with the family. I have been out of Adventism for 25 years having been raised and educated through graduate school in SDA schools. Ratzlaff played no role in my decision. He also suffers from acute conspiracy theory syndrome, as evidenced by the title of his diatribe. He has no credibility. Hi everyone I thought I would respond to multiple comments in one post quotes in italics!
I don't see where it would benefit the average member or one struggling I think there is enormous benefit in hearing the experience of someone courageously following the evidence where it leads them -- in pursuing truth rather than conformity. Many Adventists struggle with doubt about certain Adventist doctrines. Ratzlaff is an example of someone who openly dealt with them. Not sure what resentments you speak of. Ratzlaff doesn't come across to me as someone who harbours any resentment about his experience.
The book is a straightforward recounting of events. To equate a denomination with a family is, I believe, unhealthy. Ratzlaff does not attack a family. He attacks certain doctrines, unethical behaviours, and power structures. Denominations are not families. They are institutional structures that do very little to encourage actual Christian family life in the sense of spiritual family. If we were to generalise this criticism of Ratzlaff to other areas, we should also criticise ex-Jehovah's Witnesses, ex-Moonies, or any other ex- from saying anything against their particular ex-organisations.
I have read every single issue of Proclamation since it began. To say it is "full" of the things you have said is an exaggeration. There is some twisted thinking whatever that means but there is some very good thinking, too. There is some anger expressed, but most of that comes from people who are still Adventist and express incredibly unChristian attitudes towards Ratzlaff.
In the actual articles, I see little anger expressed unless you are interpreting something as anger when I don't. There is some judgmentalism, but mostly from conservative ex-Adventists. There are certainly judgments being made about what they believe is error, but that is no more judgmental than the millions of pages Adventists have written against what we see as error.
There is some absolute thinking, but no more than the absolutist thinking of any system of belief -- the 28 Fundamentals are asbsolute thinking. There may or may not be false witness -- if by that you mean that some things are said that are not accurate. But even Adventist denominational literature suffers from that on many occasions. Isn't that the same for most of us? All of our thinking is influenced by prejudice, stereotyping, and flaws. Human thinking is like that which is why we need to think critically about what we read. I wasn't surprised the book was not balanced -- just pointing out that it wasn't.
I would say the same about most Adventist literature -- including the current Sabbath School Quarterly! It might be worth reading the book -- I don't think he would ever see the need to come back when he believes what he has now is better. You misunderstand Ratzlaff if you think he has left the church over wrongs that were committed. He has left because he believes that Adventist theology is unbiblical.
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Maybe it is we who need the humility and forgiveness. I can't believe you actually said that It may be that Ratzlaff et al understand the gospel, compassion, and acceptance better than we do. You speak against Ratzlaff's judgmentalism -- isn't what you have said about him bordering on that? You must be reading a different magazine to me If you read his books, you will know that the big doctrinal change was his realisation that the Investigative Judgment doctrine is unbiblical. I have read various postive statements about the people within Adventism from Ratzlaff.
Experientially, many SDAs believe this to be the case. What they do is equate the 28 Fundamentals with the truth and say you cannot be saved without believing the truth. Therefore, you cannot be saved without believing all of the 28 Fundamentals. I personally know someone who says this -- so I know it is true.
We may not officially proclaim it, but plenty of Adventists experience their relationship to the denomination in that way. I see many things in Dale Ratzlaff Have you read the book? I appreciate your comments, Richard. Have you actually read the book? Concluding that he suffers from a particular syndrome on the basis of the title of the book alone is very poor thinking. Just because truth led him out doesn't logically imply that lies are the reason everyone else stays. But he most certainly is saying that Adventists are not being told everything -- once again, if you know anything about Adventist history, you will know that not being told everything is one of the patterns of our denomination -- check out the Bible Conference minutes for exammple.
Don't get me wrong I am not saying Ratzlaff has everything right I don't agree with everything he says. But I have no difficulty believing his motivation is good. He is proclaiming what he believes is truth and that is something we need to respect.
It is nothing more or less than what we do. One think I love about the Adventism is that I feel it is a thinking religion. Now, don't get me wrong. Our establishment may not be a perfect picturesque open forum of new ideas and exceptional transparency. But we're also not aligning ourselves with oxymoronic philosophies that have inexplicably taken hold like a disease on so much of the evangelical community like taking a hard-line pro-life stance towards abortion and reproduction, but swinging completely the other way on war, capital punishment, and self-defense.
I am saddened to see that this group seems to have actually gone backwards after leaving Adventism, becoming far more judgemental and antagonistic towards Adventism than Adventism has been towards Catholicism. The lack of feeling in the Adventist church is one of my deep frustrations. My conceit would be that we may not be given enough information cognitively to solve the "great mystery" as Einstein hypothesized in "The Evolution of Physics".
Instead of being given this information through the brain, we are given it through the heart, in love, which the Bible purports God is. So it is through feeling or love or whatever connecting to "Other" is called that we begin to follow truth, not by eschatology or lack of it. This is generally emphasis on generally in my experience what the more Pentecostal branches of Christendom believe. To label this path right or wrong is, in my opinion, about the same as my labeling Adventist theology as right or wrong.
BTW, I was friends with your sister in school, and I followed and helped fundraise for the band you had with Pedro.
Truth Led Me Out
Good luck to you. Michelle I like your post. Faith comes from an experience with God or what some call a "heart" religion that over time reveals the fruits of the Spirit. We can't really know the truth for or against doctrines--they are mysteries. I reject doctrines that deny God's love. That is my basis for belief and why I reject the Protestant fundamentalist doctrine of such things as hell and limited salvation.
Steve, Now let's be honest--most people who are desperate, angry, or frustrated work mostly from emotions. They are not going to find help from a subjective diatribe against their current religion which seems to be disappointing them. People looking for "truth" in an objective manner will not find it in subjective material. I don't know Ratzlaff's story, but years ago I thought I heard he left or was fired from the denomination.
If true, he would have bad feelings about it and unable to be very objective. I get this from the image he projects. Any one so angry that he starts a magazine targetted at SDAs it came to me unsolicited has to have a lot of baggage. No, even if I left the JW I would not want to bash them. I would only respond if asked. I think one can be saved as a JW if they have a relationship with God, and I think it's possible. God is not limited by labels. Sorry, but I personally have a difficult time seeing R's search as honest as you do. Maybe consciously he thinks so.
You speak of conformity and other put-downs for those staying in the family, but I don't think any of us are conformed--we are all individuals. I even think nasty, old legalists will be saved if they believe in Jesus! They jus won't be very happy here. Yes, I think church is a family, perhaps seen more on the local level.
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I have an experience about this but won't go into it here. The infrastructure has a lot of problems and is too political and not very progressive, but there are some wonderful Christian people in it. God loves them too! I know I worked there for years. You say Adventists think you have to be one of them to be saved?
Are you still living in the 50's a lot of religions then thought that you needed their brand of religion to be saved and thought SDAs were lost? In all my years I have not come across that attitude in the heirarchy or academic world. They are always sad when people leave but come short of thinking they are lost. Of course, one can always find some unthinking Pharisee type who might say that. I have seen a few good articles in Proclamation that could be in the Review, but they are usually ruined when I turn the page.
Ratzlaff perhaps need to forgive, I don't know. As for Truth we have it in Jesus, but as for "truth" we will never know enough in this world to claim it--only parts of it.
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I have found those in my SDA study, and they point to Jesus as love. As for IJ, I don't know what the commotion is about other than a misunderstanding and terminology. Don't you think Jesus will know who is saved and who isn't before he gets here? There is so much symbolism in the Bible, and I find it exciting to read about. I've written enough in this dialogue--I enjoy hearing your responses. Whether we agree or not I think this helps us see our own subjectivity better and at the same time get another perspective.
You're actually promoting the book of a guy who is doing his utmost to destroy God's remnant church? I say he can keep his insights to himself. Sorry for the second post, but I wanted to reply to another phrase in your post I hope you don't mind. If Dale Ratzliff is "someone courageously following the evidence where it leads them -- in pursuing truth rather than conformity. Dale Ratzliff was lead into error, not truth.
To me, there is nothing "courageous" about it. Hi Ellamae You said Now let's be honest I thought we had been ;- --most people who are desperate, angry, or frustrated work mostly from emotions. That's a tautology -- anger, desperatino, and frustration are emotions. So if people work from those, then the, by definition, are working from emotions.
You are using very emotive language here -- and it sounds like you haven't read the book. Ratzlaff's book is subjective in the sense that it is his perspective on his own experience. But it most certainly is not a diatribe unless you are using the term in a sense I am not familiar with. The American Heritage Dictionary defines a diatribe as 'a bitter, abusive denunciation'.
Ratzlaff's book, by any standard, is not that. He calmly describes the events around his leaving Adventism. I don't feel any obligation to defend Ratzlaff. He can do that himself, I am sure. But we only bring ourselves into disrepute by emotively labelling what we don't actually know about.
I am happy to have my review of the book disagreed with. But I would be much happier if the disagreement was informed. This is actually a false dichotomoy. The discovery of truth is not about choosing between the subjective and the objective. An holistic examination of truth will incorporate both.
In fact, to believe that one can arrive at truth by purely objective means goes against all we know about human nature and the way humans think. I don't know Ratzlaff's story, Precisely. So how can you label it a subjective diatribe? Sounds like you need to ask Ratzlaff for the truth about this -- or read the book ;- If true, he would have bad feelings about it and unable to be very objective.
Why should leaving something necessarily entail bad feelings or lack of objectivity? And I'm not sure what you mean by "the image he projects". What makes you think that he started the magazine out of anger? Maybe it was out of genuine concern for those he believes are being misguided The word "bash" is an emotive term.
Plenty of people have left the Watchtower and many other sects and written books articulating what they believe is error in those organisations. That doesn't mean they are "bashing". Not sure how we got on to this theme. If you are suggesting that Ratzlaff claims that an Adventist can't be saved then you misunderstand his view. He doesn't say that at all as far as I know. But how can you make that judgment unless you've actually read his arguments? It would seem that you should suspend judgment until you have. I have read almost everything that Ratzlaff has written and one thing I would say is that he is honest.
Unless you can identify a specific case of Ratzlaff being dishonest, do you think it is appropriate to question his character like that? Maybe you have been lucky enough to be someone whose beliefs and behaviour have always coincided with the culture you live in. I can assure you that is not the experience of everyone.
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