10 Dec 2022

My adventures with Adventism

I am inclined to think that I am a naturally religious person. Billy Graham once said tha there is a God-shaped hole in everyone's mind and I think there is some truth in that. My parents were not religious but religion has always fascinated me. I was sent to Presbyterian Sunday School as a kid and I was very fundamentalist in my teens. But it is now around 60 years since I was a regular churchgoer.

I no longer believe in much but am fairly convinced of the existence of the Devil. Whether you conceive of him as a gent with horns and tail, as Freud's Thanatos or as a force of evil in the world, something like him clearly exists. He is a not-unreasonable explanation for the insane Ukraine war.

And I do still find much wisdom in the Bible. Its life lessons have stood me in good stead. I am still a Christian in that I try to live a Christian life. And it is amazing how well that works. When I do the Christian thing, I always get a reward -- sometimes pretty immediately and sometimes after years. Many would see the hand of God in it. Jews judge you as a Jew not according to your beliefs but according to whether you keep Halacha -- Jewish law. And I think I have some claim on being a Christian by that sort of criterion

And I have often over the years gone to church on the High Holy Days of Christmas and Easter -- either to the Cathedral or to my old Ann Street Presbyterian church. Both Christmas and Easter are co-opted pagan celebrations but I enjoy the church versions of them anyway.

So in my 80th year I have come to feel that sitting in a church service is something I would like to do again. There are umpteen churches in my neighbourhood. Woolloongabba would rival the city as the church centre of Brisbane. There are Russian, Serbian and Ukrainian Orthodox churches, a Ukrainian Catholic chuch, a Lutheran church and an Anglican church. And the Seventh Day Adventist church is only a 5-minute drive from where I live. So which should I go to?

The Orthodox churches were a write-off of couse. Too much standing up and I don't understand their languages. And I didn't consider the Anglicans. They are only pseudo Christians in my view. Their secularism annoys me. I went to the Lutherans once but there were things about the service that I didn't like. They sing hymns sitting down!

So it came down to the Seventh Day Adventist church -- Acts chapter 15 and Romans chapter 14 not withstanding. And I like it that they keep the real Sabbath. I do keep a Saturday Sabbath in my own life. Celebrating the pagan day of the Sun as your holy day is very dubious to my mind. It's the ultimate adoption of paganism.

So a couple of weeks ago, Anne and I attended the service at the O'Keefe St. church.

Anne is an old Presbo like me and enjoys a service. She likes a good sermon. I liked the service in general though I could have done without the testimonials and the lack of Bible readings surprised me. I was also surprised by the lack of socializing afterwards. You can normally rely on a cup of tea and a biscuit after a Presbyteran service. Anyway, in the best church tradition, Anne and I discussed the sermon afterwards. We found it good.

My experience there did encourage me to explore further so I decided to attend the Bible study as well. I enjoy exegesis. I went last night. It was a disappointment. I had hoped for a dicussion but what I got was basically a lecture. I will not go to that again but I may go to another service, time permitting.