Christianity, a monotheistic religion that is built upon the life and teachings of Jesus (Slick, Matt). It is derived from a subgroup of Judaists before the common era. The ideology of Christianity is that Jesus was crucified on a cross and was resurrected from the dead (Hopfe, Lewis & Mark). After that, a group called the Gospels begun to write about his life and miracles. Christians believe that God is a Trinity whereas God can appear as the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The religion teaches its followers that God judges and punishes those who sin and that following the work of Jesus will bring salvation (Wiener, Noah). Today, we can find many sects of Christianity. However, the essay is based on exploring Seventh-day Adventism, a religion different from mine; which is Islam. Although the followers of Islam and Christianity believe in One God, there many differences in beliefs, rituals, and symbols. William Miller created Adventism from the interpretation of the Old Testament during the 18th century. Adventists believe that God is a trinity, God is the Father, Jesus, and the holy spirit. Adventism is based on Christ or Jesus returning between March 21st, 1843 and March 21st, 1844 (Busenitz, Nathan). However, Miller`s prophecy failed, and his followers predicted that Christ`s second advent would be on October 22nd ,1844. Again, the Christ has not returned in the second advent and Miller`s followers known as Millerites began to believe that his predictions were a mistake. Some other followers believed that his calculations were correct and that his expectation was wrong. Instead, the Millerites concluded that something unique occurred on the second advent date. On the other hand, Islam is based on the belief of one God or in Arabic; Allah. Muslims believe that Angel Gabriel delivered the word of God or Allah to Muhammed, a messenger. The religion is based on the Day of Judgement and the individual`s actions. Muslims also believe that Allah has, “complete authority over human destiny and in life after death” (“Understanding Islam And Muslims – Islamicity”). The field investigation took place in Greater Harvest Miami. The church was founded on October 13th, 2012. Furthermore, the people in the church are welcoming and friendly. They are friendly because when I sat down, they shook my hand and they knew that I was new. It is similar in Islam to shake hands. The Adventists shake to greet while in Islam, handshaking represents that all the humanity is of “one blood.” Adventists pray to God by kneeling, clasping the hands and closing their eyes. One of the Adventists in the church, pray with his hands open to his chest which is like Islam. One of the prayers I remembered was,” Thank you, Jesus, for dying for our sins and forgive me of my sins and grant me eternal life.” It is quite like Islam through forgiveness, but Muslims believe that Jesus is a prophet. Additionally, Adventism is developing in South Florida because Adventists believe in helping those in their communities by teaching others how to connect with God and in spreading the ideology of heaven and hell. According to Beeks, “Christianity is the same as Adventism, but, it is different in dietary means and worship days” (appendix a). Adventists go to church on Saturdays, and they do not worship God on Sunday like ordinary Christians. The worship starts from Friday night until Saturday night. Also, they do not eat pork, crab, and shellfish (appendix a). Furthermore, a story session was attended at the Adventist church. The story of Job impacted me significantly. Job was a man of integrity, and he is devoting his life to serving God. Satan asked God for permission to curse him, to test his faith and to remove the protection from Job. God allowed it happened. Job was also a wealthy man with farms animals, money and children. He lost everything including his children, but Job remained righteous, and he continued praying to God. It shows that no matter how hard the situation is; you must always have hope. In a general meeting, the Adventists read scriptures. It provides clarity and hope. Take John 3:16 for example, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (“Bible Gateway Passage”). It was observed that the Adventists worship God by praying, praising and singing. They would also give testimonies during worship. According to Beeks, he got in a car accident, and he survived. He said that he devotes his life to God and that it was a shocking experience (appendix a). It is the near-death experience that brings fear and a sense of a supreme divine. Fear would cause someone to turn towards God. One sacred ceremony called the revival ceremony will be on October 12th, 13th, and 14th, 2017. It consists of three days of praying and fasting. Also, while fasting, an Adventist cannot eat or drink anything for three days. However, Islam is different from the dietary means and worship days. In Islam, there five pillars and one of the pillars is to pray every day, five times a day. These prayers are at, “Dawn, noon, mid-afternoon, sunset and nightfall” (“Understanding Islam And Muslims”). Meanwhile, the Adventism worship ceremony is on Saturday while in Islam, the main worship ceremony is on Friday at midday or “dhuhr.” In Islam, it is permissible or “halaal” to eat shellfish while in Adventism it is not permissible. Another similarity among both religions is to avoid eating pork. Further, the story of Job dictates that Satan asks for permission to curse someone while in Islam, Satan does not ask for permission. Allah or God wants to test humanity; to see how strong is one`s faith. Muslims pray and worship God, they do not sing about God in a Mosque. Both religions fast and pray, to revive one`s faith. It is interesting how both religions believe that fasting is a spiritual medicine that renews one`s faith. The sacred fasting month known as Ramadan consists of avoiding food and liquids from sunrise until sunset. The followers of religions fear and are loyal to the supreme God because of the ideology of a heaven and a hell. Moreover, the church did not contain art paintings or decorations because it is wrong to display a false image of Jesus (appendix a). For example, no one knows his actual skin color. In the Greater Harvest Church, the people wore casual and formal clothing. About forty believers attended the church during the investigation. The male to female ratio was balanced and equal. I learned that the pastors, ushers, the choirs can be a male or female. However, the bishop must be a male and the evangelist, a female. The church only had one symbol, and that symbol represents the values of an Adventist. The symbol can be located on the front cover of the Bible. The symbol means that one should practice and read the Word of God. The figure contains a burning flame above the cross and open Bible. The burning flame symbolizes the Holy Spirit and its message. Nonetheless, a mosque does not have images of human beings or animals because Muslims believe that no man should imitate the creation of Allah or God. Sometimes, a mosque would have abstract, landscape and architectural art paintings. The dress code is the same as Adventism; however, men tend to wear a “Thobe” or a long robe while the women wear a hijab. Another dissimilarity is that the men and women are separated in a mosque. Further, the priest or “Imam” can only be a male. Lastly, one of the symbols of Islam is called, “The Kaaba,” which means “cube.” It represents the pilgrimage called Hajj which is also one of the pillars and the prayer pillar of praying five times a day.
In conclusion, Adventism is based on Jesus returning to Earth and the teachings of Jesus. Meanwhile, in Islam, Muslims believe in worshipping one God (Allah) and following the pillars of Islam. Another dissimilarity is that Adventists pray to Jesus by kneeling, clasping the hands, and closing their eyes, while in Islam; Jesus is known as a prophet rather than a God. Lastly, both are religions are different through prayer times, dress code and the use of art within the house of worship. However, both religions serve a God and have the ideology of heaven and hell. Overall, I did not feel like I was worshiping during the investigation; however, I felt the energy through the hymns we sang. I found that the Adventists did not take the dress code seriously in the Greater Harvest Church because I expected that they would dress utterly formal on the worship day. The most positive thing I experienced in the investigation is that Adventism has a few similarities with Islam.
A) Interview with a Greater Harvest Member; David Beeks on October 17th, 2017.
1) What is the foundation for your religion?
“In my religion, there are many laws that we are required to keep however, no one is perfect and no man can keep all the laws. This is why God died for our sins and gave us grace. We go to church every Saturday; which is considered Friday night until Saturday night. It is like Christianity in the sense of the same God but it is different in dietary means and we don’t worship on Sundays. We don’t eat pork, crabs, and shellfish.”
2) How did you become an Adventist?
“I was born into it and I like it. It`s a way of life.”
3) Why does the church contain no symbols or art?
“Other churches, would have a picture of Jesus. We do not have art painting because we don’t know if Jesus is black or white.”
4) Do you frequently attend the church services?
“Yes, I do now. But in the past, I did not go frequently. I got in a car accident, I survived with no broken bones, unharmed, I looked at it as a sign from God. I changed my ways and I began to attend most of the church services.”
“Bible Gateway Passage: John 3:16 – New International Version.” Bible Gateway, 2017, https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=John+3%3A16&version=NIV.
“The Church Symbol – Identity Guideline System.” Identity Guideline System, 2017, https://identity.adventist.org/global-elements/the-church-symbol/.
“Understanding Islam And Muslims – Islamicity.” Islamicity.Org, 2017, http://www.islamicity.org/8304/understanding-islam-and-muslims/.
Busenitz, Nathan. “Evaluating Seventh-Day Adventism – The Master’s Seminary.” The Master’s Seminary, 2017, https://www.tms.edu/preachersandpreaching/evaluating-seventh-day-adventism/.
Hopfe, Lewis M, and Mark R. Woodward. Religions of the World. Boston: Pearson, 2012. Print.
Slick, Matt. “What Is Christianity? | Christian Apologetics & Research Ministry.” Carm.Org, 2017, https://carm.org/what-is-christianity.
Wiener, Noah. “The Origin Of Christianity – Biblical Archaeology Society.” Biblical Archaeology Society, 2017, https://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/biblical-topics/new-testament/the-origin-of-christianity/.