When Pigs Fly…

On the Fourth of July I posted on my FaceBook page this picture of Richard standing beside our flag. Soon after, my friend Ane asked, “That pig beside the flag—does it have wings?”

Yes. The pig has wings. As Richard said, “Our house is all about ‘when pigs fly’: I’ll eat meat when pigs fly. I’ll go to church on Sunday when pigs fly; I’ll leave Adventism when pigs fly…”

Ane understood. The term “when pigs fly” is old and has related phrases in many languages. Our English sentence was made popular by Lewis Carroll in his classic, Alice In Wonderland, and it’s used when people want to emphasize that some hypothetical event is completely unlikely. 

Who of us ever thought we would leave Adventism? Did you ever imagine you would eat ham on Easter—or that you would consider Easter the most impacting of all holidays? What about your vocabulary? Could you have imagined that the word “obedience” would NOT evoke images of punishment for failure to keep the Sabbath properly? Who of us expected that we would lose most of our friends and identities and move into a completely new subculture—all for the sake of Jesus?

I recently participated in an online discussion about whether or not the Jesus of Adventism is a “different Jesus”. There were many and varied responses, some of which were insightful and penetrating, for example, the responses by our Procalmation! bloggers Delina McPhaull, Nicole Stevenson, and Rick Barker. I confess, however, that the comments by some of the posters were pretty inflammatory. 

One person said that our position that the Jesus within Adventism is a different Jesus than the one in Scripture was so annoying to her that this very position is the reason that she has never visited our weekly Former Adventist Fellowship Bible study.

As unbelievable as it might seem, I understand this person’s reaction. I would have been incensed a few years ago with the notion that I had believed in a “different Jesus”. Even after I came to know the wonder of being born again and was ushered into the confidence of knowing Jesus’ atonement has already been completed on my behalf, I would have bristled if someone had said I had worshiped a “different Jesus”.

The truth, however, is that, no matter what “brand” of Adventism we look at, the Jesus Adventists understand could have sinned, could have failed, and was successful primarily because He persisted in prayer and dependence on the outside help of the Holy Spirit. Adventism does not teach that Jesus was Almighty God who came on a rescue mission that could not fail. Moreover, they do not teach that Jesus absorbed all the wrath of God toward sin.

The Adventist Jesus is “just like us”—a biblical phrase which means, to them, that He had no immaterial spirit, and therefore they do not know that He was conceived alive and had no need of being born again. Rather, the Adventist Jesus showed us how to live so that we, too, might avoid sin.

The truth, however, is that the Lord Jesus WAS sinless, and He came as a substitute for me. He became my sin so I can become the righteousness of God in Him (2 Cor. 5:21). 

The Adventist Jesus is Michael the Archangel; he ceased to exist while he was in the tomb, and when he rose from death, angels summoned him: “Your Father calls you.” The Adventist Jesus is still embroiled in an unfinished controversy with Satan. 

The Lord Jesus, however, defeated Satan at the tomb (Col. 2:14-15). He is already seated at the right hand of God (Eph. 2:4-6), His work complete. He has ushered me into a new covenant as a minister, “not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life” (2 Cor. 3:6). The Lord Jesus is God the Son, and He has never at any time ceased to hold all things together in Him (Col. 1:17). 

Because of Jesus—the real, biblical Jesus—I can eat bacon with pleasure. I can worship with my true brothers and sisters in Christ who also know what it means to be born again and to live for Jesus alone standing on His word alone. Because of the real Jesus, I know I am saved and have already crossed from death to life. Because of Jesus I know that not even death will separate me from Him, but that I will dwell “in the house of the Lord forever” for all eternity. 

Independence Day now memorializes two things for me: the national heritage into which God brought my family, and the eternal inheritance He has given me as His born again, adopted daughter in Jesus. 

I have a new identity, new liberty, new power, new potential, and a new future. I have hope, and Jesus Himself is my joy and peace.

Pigs are flying!

(This post is copied from the July, 2012, Life Assurance Ministries Family News which accompanies the monthly receipts.)

Colleen Tinker

Colleen Tinker

Colleen Tinker, the editor of Proclamation! magazine, and her husband Richard left Adventism in 1998 with their two sons, Roy and Nathanael, who were in grades six and ten. They have co-led the Former Adventist Fellowship since 1999. Colleen, a graduate of Walla Walla University, is a former high school English teacher and also the former managing editor of Adventist Today magazine. Colleen became the stepmother of Roy and Nathanael in 1989, and in 2008 she adopted them. Romans 8:15-17 has assumed new depth and significance for her and Richard since she and her sons chose to claim each other legally and permanently. She and Richard share an office and a commitment to sharing the gospel of the true Jesus with all of those seeking a way out of the bondage of the false gospel of Adventism.
Colleen Tinker

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  1. Cincinnati is famous for its flying pigs. They are prominent in the old architecture. Even the local marathon is the “Flying Pig”. I guess we should see even more Formers coming out in the city where pigs fly.

  2. So funny, Rick! Rider, that’s a really good question. I’m quite sure that a great many Adventists don’t really think about Jesus as being “limited” or flawed because the assumptions embedded in Adventist theology are often implied or explained indirectly instead of overtly.

    I think probably most Adventists, at least most Adventists who grew up Adventist, perceive Jesus to have been “just like them”, but that “package” has never been unpacked because their vocabulary has been shaped by their great controversy worldview.

    It took some time for me to realize how different Jesus was as He’s presented in Scripture from the way He was taught to me in Adventism. Under the hood Adventists do believe He could have failed, that his sinlessness was not about having a living spirit but about his somehow having a clear mind that could be obedient enough to avoid sin. They do believe He ceased to exist during His hours in the tomb, and they do believe the Trinity was theoretically threatened by His death. They do not believe that His shed blood covers even our future sins when we are in Him…His atonement is only useful as far as we cooperate with it.

    I remember the impossible-to-explain discomfort with saying His name. Jesus was sorta for children; it was so much more mature and socially acceptable to refer to “God”.

    I will never forget the even, early in our history of Former Adventist Fellowship Bible studies, when we had our pastor Gary Inrig come in and teach us about some topic that former’s struggle to understand. I don’t even remember the topic now; what I remember is that Gary sat in a circle with us, talking about whatever it was, and as he explained, he naturally and automatically referred to “the Lord Jesus” in his sentence. He was not making a statement about Jesus; he was explaining a biblical point by referring to Him.

    I was stunned. I had never heard an Adventist–especially an Adventist man–refer naturally to Jesus as “the Lord Jesus”. He didn’t shy away from His name or his title–both of which meant that Gary was living the reality that he is in submission to God the Son! As I sat there, I realized I couldn’t even remember hearing an Adventist man (and perhaps not even a woman) refer to Jesus in a casual conversation with adults.

    The honor and respect and intimacy that Gary reflected for the Lord Jesus at that moment impacted me in a way I will never forget. And it was an entirely unconscious thing. He wasn’t making a point and had no idea his reference to the Lord Jesus would surprise us. It was natural for him…and it expressed Gary’s acceptance of His sovereign lordship and authority.

  3. Actually it was these and similar questions about the nature of Christ that started me on the path out of SDAism 27 years ago. I had converted into SDAism as an adult, and had accepted the idea that Questions on Doctrine was an accurate and definitive description of what “real” SDAs believed. I went to Andrews to study theology.

    I have always had a voracious apetite for books, and I read everything SDAs wrote on theology that I could get my hands on (classwork wasn’t enough). And I started coming across some of these ideas about Christ. That He could have failed. That He shared our fallen nature. That He came to be our example, not our substitute. And the authors were quoting Ellen White. All I had read from EGW at that time was Steps to Christ, Desire of Ages, and tiny bits of the Great Controversy. (I have never been sure with all my reading why her books were never higher on my list.) But I was certain that these authors must be misquoting EGW or taking the quotes out of context because these statements were so heretical sounding (keep in mind that I was a Christian before I “converted” and I had some idea about basic teachings.

    So I looked up every EGW quote they referenced. And I wasn’t content with that. As I studied these topics I learned that nearly everything that eventually made it into one of her books wa written somewhere else before. Sometimes several places. She wrote it in an article for the Review. Before that it was in a letter to someone. I tracked the quotes back to the first instance of writing them. They weren’t out of context. She wasn’t misquoted. And other things she said in these same documents were just as heretical.

    This was my first indication that something was wrong at the very core of SDAism. My comment at the time was something like “how can someone by wrong about the nature of Christ, and right about anything else regarding Christianity?”

  4. So interesting, Rick. I have observed that those who are “converted” into Adventism from Christianity often have a sense of discernment that leads them to see the real issues. I’ve come to realize that when a person has been born of the Spirit, even if that person is deceived and led into an organization like Adventism, the Spirit never leaves them alone but continues to push them toward seeing reality.

    Your questions and searching are very instructive.

  5. Great blog! I agree with the post. The SDA Jesus is not the one from the Bible, is more like a made up Jesus customized to fit their own doctrine. The true Jesus is God Almighty

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