Friday, August 21, 2015

Why Do Adventists Not Know "How to Feel" About Ben Carson?

Carson post currently going around Facebook
The greatest want of the world, according to Ellen White, is the want of men who will stand for the right though the heavens fall. Increasingly, as the presidential candidacy of Ben Carson looks more and more like the real deal, I hear Adventists saying things like "I don't know how to feel about that!"
Well why not?

I'm confused quite frankly by all the waffling by Adventist on the subject of Carson. I know Carson is a conservative and for years now SDAs have had this vague impression that it was the right wing fundamentalist Republicans that were going to be the ones to "pass the Sunday Laws" and bring on the time o' trouble.  When I grew up, I was terrified of Baptists and Church of Christ folk. I was being led to believe that hey were out to get us, by the people who liked to tell scary stories about the end of time. But do we really think Carson is going to do something like that if elected even if he is a Republican?  Remember, after all, that it was Democrats who passed the Sunday Laws, Jim Crow laws and fought to maintain segregation. Yet we fear a good Adventist man entering the race for president? Does that make any kind of sense?  Do any of us believe that Scripture really forbids government service for all believers, despite the examples of Daniel, his three friends, Joseph, David and other Patriarchs of the Bible? I'll tell you how we got here, and we did so without ever really thinking it through.

You see, in the olden days when I was a kid in church and camp meeting, the "time of trouble" was used like a kind of vege-Hell to frighten the local sinners and get them to church where they could be instructed about the tithe. The hellfire and brimstone preachers in the "worldly churches" could use the very useful belief in eternal fiery torment to scare sinners into the pews. Adventists had no such coercive tool at hand, so, some amateur and professional Adventist evangelists, apparently keenly feeling the lack of such a useful tool, turned to the "time of trouble" as a convenient terror weapon for whipping the troops into line. 

Satan uses any tool he can to frighten people. He gets as much gratification from the trembling "vegan waiting for the coming of the Lord", as he does from the most unrepentant blasphemous militant atheist. Both can cause quite as much damage among the flock with the militant pointy-fingered vegan perhaps able to do just a little more.

Remember the first words that virtually every angel who presented himself to a human believer said in the Bible - "Fear not!" I kind of believe that anyone claiming to represent God who first sets out to terrify you is probably not representing who he or she claims to represent.

Some SDAs openly fear what Ben Carson might do if elected president. One friend says she fears lest a Carson candidacy collapse the "wide barrier between church and state" that she prefers. So, having a barrier between church and state means what, then? Are you saying that we should only elect unbelievers - nice atheists and greedy politicians - to serve in the White House because they will keep religion out of government. I'm sorry, but that's utterly ridiculous! It's like electing the devil because we think he'll be fair to everybody who is religious.

Carson isn't running for pope. He's running for president and he has some great ideas for turning this country around. How would it be a bad thing to have a president who worships on the Sabbath? How would it be bad for our country to have leaders who believe in Christ and who are being transformed by the power of a relationship with Jesus. Carson is a brilliant man who also happens to be a man of faith - Adventist faith no less. He shares with us, the Adventist view on religious liberty. Are you expecting Carson to start passing Saturday laws when he becomes president? That's absurd. This isn't Ted Wilson running for president. Carson doesn't work for the church. He understands the prophecies as well as any of us. He knows what is ahead. Should we dismiss a warrior who is willing to stand in the breech at this critical moment in history simply because he is one of us? Are we as Adventists afraid to see our brethren take their place in history because it may draw attention to the 3 angels message and suddenly make things difficult for us?

We are in a war, people. It's time we realized that, rolled up our sleeves and took up arms against the forces of evil that threaten at any moment to overwhelm us. At a time when honest, clear-spoken SDA pastors are being criticized for being "too polarizing", perhaps it's time for those men to stand up who will be "as true as the needle is to the pole" that Ellen White spoke about. 

If brave Christian men and women don't stand up to be counted; don't speak the truth to power as Daniel did; then we in effect surrender the field to the forces of darkness. By his own account Ben Carson didn't ask for this. He's clearly a meek and humble man, thrust into the spotlight for speaking the truth to power at that memorable National Prayer Breakfast. Carson says he did not seek the public stage, but was pulled into it. He believes God had a hand in it all and who are we to dismiss the hand of God in it? His rise to prominence has been almost miraculous. While wealthy, famous men have scratched and clawed their way to the center of the great debate of our time, Ben Carson has seemingly been lifted up by powers outside himself, at times polling first or second place in presidential polling. Incredible for a man who has never sought public office in his life.

I'm sure there were Jews during the Babylonian captivity, who had mixed feelings about Daniel taking the Prime Minister's job for Nebuchadnezzar too. In looking back at history, though, we can clearly see that instead of criticizing Daniel, they, like us, should have been praying for the man (or woman - remember Esther) whom God has placed in the breech to defend us in these perilous times.

Yours in Christ,

Tom King
© 2015