I recently received an unsolicited email from somebody touting a new website, adventplanet.com. This is supposed to be a social networking site in the like of Facebook and MySpace, aimed at only Seventh-day Adventists. On the face of it a good idea, but the more I read about it, the worse the taste in my mouth got.
The footer of the website states: “Adventplanet.com is the only website exclusively for Seventh-day Adventists.” Ok—another attempt at isolating ourselves from the world. When is that strategy ever going to win people for Christ? Haven’t we learned anything yet?
The website goes on to shout (using CAPITALS) a midnight cry against other websites, promoting itself as the only safe and reliable site for Adventists. Playing on fear always works.
“THESE ARE THE THINGS YOU SHOULD CHECK BEFORE JOINING A WEBSITE THAT SAYS ITS FOR ADVENTISTS!” Which roughly translates to: “These are our hobby-horses.” There are five points—I will comment on them individually.
1. Is The Website I Am Applying For Run Or Owned By Adventists?
Fair enough. A clear statement of ownership is good on any website.
2. Does The Site List The Site List The 28 Fundamentals Of The Seventh-Day Adventist Church
Why on earth should it? They are listed on www.adventist.org, if anyone is interested, and already receive way more attention than what is healthy, and (I believe) was intended when they were introduced in 1980.
3. Does The Website Mention The Lords Tithe
Again: why exactly should one minor belief be singled out as important in this regard? Makes no sense.
4. Does The Website Check That It’s Members Are Really Adventist?
“Adventplanet.com asks you for a one off $50 US Dollar membership sign up fee. Part of the fee is used to contact your Adventist church to confirm not just your membership but that you are in good and regular standing.”
This is outrageous. The whole concept ‘good and regular standing’ is a thing that should be kept in the past. The church is a place for sinners, not perfect people. Oh, you disagree? I take it, then, that you’re perfect? Try reading John 8.
5. Does The Website Include Smoking And Drinking In Its Search?
Again a disproportionate focus on a single issue. It is well-established that a large proportion of Seventh-day Adventists have a more accepting view of alcohol than the official party line. But it is still, sadly, a taboo in most circles (read my earlier post on this).
As long as I can remember people I know have been fighting (successfully) to change the conception that the Seventh-day Adventist is exclusive and secterian. Which I still hope and believe it is not. But some of its members sadly often do demonstrate such traits. I believe that Christians are called to be a force of good in this world, building bridges, not walls.
Of course, people may build whatever websites they want, as long as it’s legal. But adventplanet.com also states that it is their aim to “be the first Seventh-Day Adventist community website to be endorsed by the General Conference.” I certainly hope it will not come to this.