F A L L • 2 0 1 5
VOLUME 16, ISSUE 3
Chris Lee lives in Lincoln, Nebraska with his wife, Carmen, and daughters, Ashlyn and Alyssa. They attend the Lincoln Berean Church. Chris is a self-described "theology junkie" whose mission is to proclaim the unfathomable grace of Christ in a clear, understandable, and Biblical way. Chris is the editor of the Proclamation! Blog at ProclamationMagazine.com. You may contact Chris by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
It’s Saturday morning in the historic Haymarket district. Brick warehouses, some from the 1880s, loom over brick streets and railroad tracks. Shoppers leisurely stroll through the farmer’s market, coffee in hand, steam rising to dissipate in the summer morning air. I see him from across the street. Weathered and worn, he sits on a bench against an equally seasoned brick backdrop. His white beard is long, contrasting with his patched army jacket and cap. The lines on his face tell wordless tales more wrenching than the cardboard sign he is holding. His very presence, here amidst all the affluent gentrification, tells its own story. It’s the kind of shot every street photographer dreams of, art mixed with social commentary.
I raise my camera to my eye. Darkness. Frustrated, I flip the power switch on and attempt to recompose. Still darkness. I’ve left the lens cap on. Now rushing, I slip the cap into my pocket and try once again to acquire the shot. Better, but still dim. My exposure is wrong, requiring me to make some quick adjustments to the camera’s dials. Finally, proper exposure, but the shot is gone. He’s moved. The moment has passed.
Every photographer has had a moment like this. The frustration involved in trying to see through my dark viewfinder brings to mind a particular Bible passage:
For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known (1 Cor. 13:12).
It’s frustrating not being able to see everything clearly. In Adventism, we knew it all. We had an inspired prophetess who had commented authoritatively on nearly every part of Scripture. We didn’t have to guess or speculate on anything because it had all been explained for us. It was comforting and satisfying, to the point of creating a certain smugness when in the company of others who didn’t have divine commentary on which to rely.
The life after Adventism isn’t quite so simplistic. It turns out there are a lot of secondary issues about which God hasn’t deigned to give us all the details. While many things in the Bible are clear, there are some that are less so. Let’s take eschatology for example. The Bible doesn’t give us all the details on end-time events, so naturally there’s a lot of speculation. It can be bewildering and frustrating to sort through the strengths and weaknesses of each end-time theory.
I’ve seen former Adventists respond in a range of ways, with a few gravitating to one of two polar extremes. In one extreme they throw their hands up in despair and declare evangelical Christianity to be too confusing. These folks usually have a hard time fully integrating into a church family. In the other extreme they plant their flag in a particular camp and defend it with the same vigor as they once defended Adventism. These folks can be divisive, sometimes suggesting that Christians with differing views aren’t taking the Bible seriously.
These over-reactions aren’t relegated only to eschatology but cover a number of other secondary issues; such as Arminianism versus Calvinism. But here’s something to ponder: even the great Apostle Paul didn’t know it all. Even he, a writer of Scripture, saw through a glass darkly and only knew a part of the story. We’re not supposed to know it all, not yet. Grappling with these interesting subjects is a normal and healthy part of the Christian experience. Perhaps we all need to just take a deep breath and take these words, sometimes attributed to Augustine, to heart:
“In essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty, in all things charity.”
Now go start living the life after! †
Copyright 2015 Life Assurance Ministries, Inc., Camp Verde, Arizona, USA. All rights reserved. Revised November 10, 2015. Contact email: email@example.com
D E P A R T M E N T S
The life AFTER with Chris Lee