Not everyone who claims to serve God is actually doing so. Robert Dear felt called to carry out "God's work" when he took a semiautomatic rifle and became "a warrior for the babies," killing three and wounding nine in an attack on a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs last November. Almost 25 years ago David Koresh, a Branch Davidian and self-proclaimed Messiah, led an anti-government standoff in Waco, Texas 1993, which resulted in the death of 84 people.
In a world increasingly plagued by chaos at the hands of extremists and fanatics, Christian extremism is a term seldom mentioned. It thrives, regardless, in many forms and in varying degrees. Fortunately, it doesn't always end in death though it makes life almost unbearable for its victims.
Pacific Press® recently released Born Yesterday, a book by Andrews University professor Rachel Williams-Smith who was six years old when her parents began to develop extreme views on the Bible and the writings of Ellen G. White. A few years later they withdrew from society and lived in an old school bus, hiding from authorities in Alabama after being warned against illegally home schooling their children. With no electricity or running water life became increasingly difficult. Recalling those years Rachel says, "Two principles shaped every detail of our lives: separation from the world and preparation for the Time of Trouble." When the pantry was bare, Rachel and her two brothers were sent to forage for food in the woods so they would learn how to survive until the Lord's return.
The impact of her extremist upbringing left her poorly prepared to deal with many life challenges. Rachel writes with disarming honesty about some of the poor choices she made and the consequences that resulted, but the overarching theme of God's faithfulness is the golden thread that holds Rachel's story together.
Jerry D. Thomas, vice president for product development at Pacific Press® says, "Born Yesterday is more than just the inspiring story of how a young woman's desire to follow God led her out of a backwoods survivalist, preparing-for-the-end-time, trap and on to serving as a well-respected university professor. Rachel's story is a reminder to us all that God never loses track of his children and that the prayer of a sincere heart is always heard."
Born Yesterday is a brave, hope-filled true story written with humor, grace, and compassion, and it clearly demonstrates that no matter what dysfunction, or even extremism, life may bring, our Heavenly Father never abandons His own.
Extremism arises in every religion and in every sphere of human endeavor. It reduces the importance of love and kindness to the level of things like wearing certain kinds of clothes or eating certain things. We are wise to contemplate the nature of extremism. We are wise to look at our own hearts and religious beliefs, and to take an honest inventory of our self-worth, priorities, and regard for others. I highly recommend this book.
-- Shandelle M. Henson,
Chair, Department of