Tue | Sep 26, 2017

Why I walked away from Adventism - Part 1

Published:Saturday | August 27, 2016 | 8:00 AMTamara Bailey

MANDEVILLE, Manchester:

He wouldn't be the first person to make a decision to leave a denomination, but Elce 'Thunder' Lauriston has said he has come under fire for leaving the Adventist Church but has no regrets for the decision he has made.

"I was drawn to the Adventist faith by a good friend of mine in grade 11, while living in the Bahamas. I was a truant and trouble-maker as a teen. I was expelled from two of the government high schools in Freeport, Grand Bahama, where I lived. Through the intervention of one of my big sisters, I was allowed back in school, with the hope and promise that I would reform. As time went on, I became attracted to the good behaviour of a classmate, Gary Russell, who later became a very good friend of mine," Lauriston told Family and Religion.

He added: "I admired that he seemed so peaceful, mature and stayed out of trouble. He became my 'ticket' to also staying out of trouble and graduating high school. I later found out that he was a Seventh-day Adventist and I attended church with him a few times. I kept returning, albeit for ulterior purposes, and eventually started reading the Bible, letting go of immoral activities, and eventually got baptised. It was a 'big' turnaround for me. I was a Seventh-day Adventist for about 10 years," he told Family and Religion.

Ultimate life's goal

Lauriston became very active in church; singing in the youth choir and joining the youth ministry that ministered in children's homes, senior citizens' homes and concerts.

"When I moved to Jamaica, I was equally active in the church. I was a Bible counsellor, Sabbath school teacher, evangelist, and lay preacher. I suppose that most, if not all, bad boys, having given their lives to God, often feel the urge or calling to become a gospel minister. I love gospel ministry and see it as my ultimate life's goal and purpose. I take that very serious," he said.

But after much research, Lauriston found the teachings of the church to be extremely flawed.

"I began to see that Adventism is not what it purports to be ... around September of 2015, while studying at NCU (Northern Caribbean University) my giftedness in and quick apprehension of New Testament Greek, understanding of biblical hermeneutics, the science of Bible interpretation, along with exposure to countless of other research materials destroyed my myopic and faulty Adventist world view and preconceptions. Having researched widely and scrutinised Adventism and its doctrines in-depth, I disagree with the doctrines it purports," Lauriston explained.

What made it worse for Lauriston was the fact he could get no answers for the countless questions he had from ministers of the church.

"As I began to delve deeper into these gruesome and perplexing discoveries about Adventism, I questioned my lecturers about these things and raised concerns, but they could not provide sound, honest and legitimate answers. Their constant chorus was 'preach what the church teaches' and that is what I will be paid to do," he added.

"This conniving answer and approach added to my consternation and distress. As I began to come under fire and my character was being besmirched by classmates and others who were involved, I knew that I could no longer adhere to or promote Adventism. I withdrew from NCU... . To date, I continue to undergo heavy backlash, defamation and assassination of character, and shunning. But I expected that, as I know that is the modus operandi of Adventism and similar cults with dissidents," said Lauriston.

Next week we look at the shocking findings which led Lauriston away from the church.

familyandreligion@gleanerjm.com