Going through the motions

Eliezer Roque Cisneros


It's easy to do things out of habit. That is, until someone questions us.

Sure, the response “because it’s part of my religion” may work for some people, but eventually someone is going to realize that such reason is no better than the reason for not doing so. Going through the motions results in not thinking of personal convictions and Bible truth.  

Let’s take a relatively neutral aspect of Christian nuance: Why do we pray for our meals? There’s no command for it in the Bible. And the conviction changes from person to person. Some pray before a can of soda while others might only pray over big meals with a group of friends. If we go back far enough in church history we even find people praying after their meals rather than before.

And this detail can be easily resolved. We at least have examples in the New Testament where Jesus "gives thanks" to God for food.

What about the way we should treat the writings of Ellen G. White? When have we ever gotten a straight answer for that one?

This reality doesn't diminish the importance of said details, yet it calls into question how much of what we do is out of habit rather than out of conviction or even Bible truth. Though not detrimental for salvation, all these details add up to reinforce aspects of how we look at our religious experience.

Maybe we should have answers. In the fifties, the Adventist church was still categorized as a cult by the evangelical world. As a result, Adventism responded with the book “Questions on Doctrine” (QOD).

The publication of “QOD” was meant to give official statement of beliefs. Major theologians got together and settled on what the doctrines were. The problem was that not everyone was on board with everything stated. The book went out of print in 1963, but to this day we are still healing from a massive rift between opposing viewpoints.

The church strutted into a decade of comfort and left with a limp.

From this experience comes a painful lesson. When we lose curiosity in what makes up our religious experience, we lose ownership of it. And that is called losing identity.

Is saying grace fundamental to the Seventh-day Adventist Church? No. And this article isn’t meant to tell you so.

I think today we tend to avoid making any religion a part of our identity because it's too risky. We shouldn’t have to be prompted by the curiosity of a passerby. We, ourselves, should be curious on our own about what we believe.

After all, it takes honest interpretation on a believer’s part to go from simply “going to church” to “being the church.”

Eliezer Roque Cisneros is a junior theology major.