Sunday, 19 July 2015

"For the advanced believer..."

Every week The Post, a local weekly newspaper, runs a column from a religious group with ties to the Adventist church. In the July 7 edition it begins with the words "For the advanced believer..."

Advanced believer? What does that mean?

Well, reading through the column it's pretty clear "advanced believers" should be wary of coercive governments and a coming "instant total Dictatorial vice grip control of everything."

Says who? The Bible proof texts give it away. The anonymous writer has been mainlining Daniel and Revelation, with an occasional puff on Matthew 24.

So "advanced believer" basically means you're plugged into the apocalyptic speculations of Uriah Smith and the SDA church. Not belief informed by compassion, or belief informed by education. No, it's belief informed by 19th century proof texting.

Lord save us from advanced belief!

Apparently there are at least three grades of believer in this gentleman's mind. First there are the simple believers. These dummies don't understand about the 2300 days of Daniel 8, and consequently the poor suckers are likely to lose their tenuous hold on salvation when the Pope makes Sunday worship compulsory - which is due any day now.

Then there are the advanced believers who read Adventist literature (such as his column and Smith's Daniel and the Revelation) naively.

Finally there are the super-duper genius believers - who are out there loudly muttering about the Third Angel's Message and ready to tell the Pope where to stick his communion wafers. Their overwhelming confidence is based on the work of 19th century dilettantes like good ol' Uriah.

Now I know there are some smart Adventists out there; people who would be genuinely embarrassed by this sort of moronic drivel. But you have to wonder all the same. While Uriah Smith may have some few detractors within the fold, he's still the Big Cheese over at
Written more than a century ago, this classic book has had an unrivaled influence on the understanding of prophecy. Originally distributed as a series of articles, and then as separate books about Daniel and Revelation, these writings were combined into one book in the late 19th century and sold door-to-door. Remarkably, Uriah Smith's interpretation of prophecy has borne the test of time and is as highly regarded and relevant today as it was years ago. With wisdom and clarity Smith explores the symbols, meaning, and significance of the biblical prophecies and causes readers to trust the sure Word of God. Join the long line of believers who have studied this work, discovered God's leading in earth's story, and look forward to the triumphant finale of the prophecies of Daniel and the Revelation.


  1. Actually, to an unbeliever "advanced" seems like a pretty good word for it. Just as we have "advanced muscular distrophy" or "advanced dementia", we can also have "advanced belief". No belief is clearly the ideal state, a little belief is not too bad, but when belief gets to the advanced stages it means a person is pretty far gone.

  2. So The Skeptic doesn't believe in anything? Do you believe that religion has no value? Do you believe that science can help us to understand the world around us? Do you believe in love? Friendship? Do you believe in the value of hard work? Honesty? "No belief is clearly the ideal state" - Really? Please explain to me what the complete absence of belief looks like.

  3. Well, whaddayaknow! There's an advance believer now!

    Well, Miller, I know you can't comprehend this at this time, but perhaps I can nudge you a little in a positive direction. It seems you're using the word "belief" in many different ways. Of course, my reference implies the "belief" of a true believer - a belief based on faith. Take for example your belief the the Bible, which presently is extremely imperfect, was perfect when first written but has since become imperfect. Do you have any idea how unsupportable such a belief is? How ridiculous it sounds?

    I believe religion has some value but overall the negatives far outweigh the positives. Of course science helps us understand the world around us. Love, friendship, hard work and honesty are all positives that I value and I practice. My point is that a life based on truth (determined by facts, evidence and logical reasoning) is much more fulfilling than one based on "belief".

    And I believe that.

  4. Dear Skeptic, since my powers of comprehension are so weak, you may want to reserve the title of advanced believer for yourself. My use of the word "belief" is consistent with the definitions provided by Google and Merriam-Webster. Also, you appear to be misinformed about my beliefs regarding the Bible. I don't believe that the book was ever perfect (including when it was originally written). Moreover, as you appear to acknowledge in your comments, beliefs can be based on facts, evidence and logical reasoning. I would agree that beliefs based on those things have more value than those based on whimsical, wishful or fanciful thinking, and it appears that we also agree that love, friendship, hard work and honesty are positive values and practices.

  5. You can mince words and quibble over definitions all you want, my friend. You are still an advanced believer and that is still a problem. However, the fact that you acknowledge that "we also agree that love, friendship, hard work and honesty are positive values and practices" speaks very highly in your favor. The fact that you can find positive things to say about an unbeliever shows that you are not as closed-minded as most advanced believers. The very fact that you read this blog also attests to that! I believe there is hope for you yet!