The SDA Church in South Africa IIMay 11, 2006
One of the SDA Church's biggest problems has been its willingness to compromise its Christian teachings in exchange for societal approval. This might seem an odd statement in view of the SDA Church's perceived separation from society–its insistence on keeping the seventh day (Saturday) Sabbath, its lifestyle distinctives (no pork, no alcohol etc.), its belief in the separation of Church and State etc.–but in the important areas of race relations and gender equality (to name but two), the SDA Church has been anything but a prophetic voice in the wilderness. Rather, the Church has allowed the inequalities and injustices present in society to determine its attitudes and actions.
In the the same letter quoted previously, Pieter Wessels stated:
"So there is the colour line drawn which is very distinctly drawn here in society. For my part I do not care. [Of course he cares! See the previous post on Pieter's refusal to allow his children to mix with non-Whites socially.] I can shake hands with the coloured people and so forth. But our association with them is going to spoil our influence with others who are accustomed to these things…to have any influence with the higher class of people, we must respect these differences."
P. J. D. Wessels to Ellen G. White, January 14, 1893.
Thus for Wessels, it was more important to retain the values of his surrounding culture than to take a moral stand on the issue of racial equality. Ironically, his aim in doing so was in order that members of society with racist attitudes could be reached with the gospel. One has to ask though–is a racist gospel really the gospel of Jesus Christ?