Loren Seibold attended Walla Walla College, Andrews University Theological Seminary, and in 1999 earned a D.Min. from the San Francisco Theological Seminary. He has served churches in North Dakota, South Dakota, California, and Ohio and is currently senior pastor of the Worthington Adventist Church. He has written for several magazines, including Signs of the Times, Ministry and the Adventist Review, and is also the editor of Best Practices for Adventist Ministry - a resource newsletter for pastors.
"We are all sufferers from history, but the paranoid is a double sufferer, since he is afflicted not only by the real world, with the rest of us, but by his fantasies as well."
-Richard Hofstadter, "The Paranoid Style in American Politics"
A few months ago a piece I wrote called "Letting Roman Catholics Off the Hook" was published in Adventist Today. In it, I argued that inasmuch as over a hundred years has passed since Ellen White first identified Roman Catholics as the end-of-time enemy, and that many other enemies (communism, fascism, radical Islam, to name a few) have done a lot more damage to Christians in that time than Roman Catholics have, we might consider applying the principles that define the beast of Revelation 13--a power that usurps religious freedom through persecution--to all tyrannical powers, rather than focusing only on the papacy. Perhaps, I suggested, that would thrust us into a prophetic stance against all tyrants, rather than spending our energy micro-analyzing just one possible enemy. My interest wasn't in embracing Roman Catholicism, affirming its doctrine, or denying the evils in that massive organization (as there are in all organizations) but in refocusing Adventists on a broader present truth.
Many understood what I was trying to get across. But a few of those who disagreed with me saw something far more sinister: a Jesuit plot.
There's a long history of demonizing the Jesuits, starting centuries before Seventh-day Adventists appeared. The imputation that they are manipulative has a basis in fact: they are a wealthy order of intelligent, sophisticated scholars, highly motivated, who have moved among the powerful as agents for the Pope through their five-century history. (Though the order is now, along with most orders, floundering, with almost twice as many dying or leaving than entering, and a median age of 57 and climbing.)
But the accusations go far beyond reality. Take, for example, the oft-referenced Jesuit Oath, which we are told is authentic because it was once entered into the U.S. Congressional Record:
"I do further promise and declare that I will, when opportunity presents, make and wage relentless war, secretly and openly, against all heretics, Protestants and Masons, as I am directed to do, to extirpate them from the face of the whole earth; and that I will spare neither age, sex nor condition, and that I will hang, burn, waste, boil, flay, strangle, and bury alive these infamous heretics; rip up the stomachs and wombs of their women, and crush their infants' heads against the walls in order to annihilate their execrable race..."
It goes on in the same abattoirial tone for several more paragraphs.
This work of fiction goes back to the 16th century, to an anti-Catholic forger named Robert Ware. It got thrown around during an early 20th century US House of Representatives election in which one of the candidates was Roman Catholic (at the time it was said to be the Knights of Columbus oath). It was disavowed by both parties, and was entered into the Congressional record only to identify it as false. Yet it is still cited, usually by the same people who believe The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion is the real thing.
One couple wrote me, "WW ONE, WW TWO, Korea, Vietnam, and a host of other wars and revolutions are all the work of the Jesuit Papal New World Order! Iraq, Afghanistan, are part of Rome's ‘FINAL CRUSADE' and soon Iran and other Moslem countries will be attacked; see Daniel 11:40-45. Rome has not given up torture, at this very moment thousands are in the prisons and convent and monastery dungeons, being tortured in the most horrible Satanic cruelty!"
To them, God bless you, I believe you believe this, but I'd be surprised if you could show me even the tiniest bit of real evidence that thousands are being tortured by Roman Catholic religious orders, or that the Jesuits have masterminded all major wars. I think you would, by way of answer, refer me to other people who have written these things, who don't have any proof either. Your belief in this is based on faith. I prefer to spend my faith on believing in the power of God to see us through to the end.
Another wrote via a Facebook comment, "Loren Seibold must be the Pope's favorite Jesuit!"
My wife and my family were surprised to hear it. They're amazed at how well I've hidden it, since they know me as a 4th generation Adventist who's worked for the church for 30 years, without any extended absence to become indoctrinated in a faith I know little about and whose distinctive beliefs they've always heard me preach the opposite of.
And one more wrote by e-mail to ask me, "Are you a secret Jesuit?"
It can't have been much of a secret if you've figured it out. But for the record, the answer is no, I'm not a Jesuit, secretly or otherwise.
This email from a Michelle was titled, "YOU ARE A JESUIT AND NOT AN ADVENTIST - PULL OFF THE MASK."
Years ago, when we were at the seminary, someone passed around writings by a woman who claimed to be a successor to Ellen White. Among her messages (most of which were typical Adventist jeremiads) she wrote that our General Conference leaders had been poisoned at church potlucks and when taken to the hospital were replaced with surgically-sculpted Jesuit doubles.
(I particularly remember that detail about being poisoned at church potlucks. I think I've been to some of those potlucks.)
Still, it seemed unlikely. Why would Jesuits go to the trouble? Just as most of the sins that will keep people out of heaven will result from common temptations rather than spectacular demonic manifestations, so Satan can trip up our denomination without going to the trouble of some priest having permanently to wear the face of (at the time, GC president) Neil Wilson.
I don't know how I could convince Michelle, though, short of letting her examine my face for herself. However, I present this evidence against it: if I had had to wear a mask of someone else's face, I would have chosen a better looking one.
I am throwing out a challenge to some of you dear brothers and sisters in this denomination. For years I have heard about Jesuit infiltrators in the highest echelons of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. All I ask is that you produce one actual, verifiable case. Just one. If you are so certain of this that you can endlessly repeat the accusation, then surely you've got (or can get) the goods on at least one contemporary church leader who you can expose publicly, and so provide clear, irrefutable evidence that someone in a critical position in our denomination has been placed there by the Jesuit order and is operating on behalf of the Vatican.
I don't mean people whose actions in leadership or whose interpretations of Adventist doctrine you don't agree with, and so you fling this accusation at them like a handful of mud. We can't accept as evidence Jack Chick's comic book stories about "Father" Alberto Rivera, which have been thoroughly debunked. Nor is it enough to quote Colin Standish. He doesn't have any proof, either. Nor "I heard this from the friend of a nephew of the second cousin of the grandfather of a guy I used to work with whose name I can't remember" or "I heard that this happened in 1951." Put current, rock-hard, stand-up-in-court proof before our General Conference leaders.
And if you can't, then follow the counsel of Exodus 23:1 "Thou shall not utter a false report." These accusations are not strengthening our work, but making our message of hope about the return of Jesus into something to scorn.
 Richard Hofstadter wrote, "Very often the fantasies of true believers reveal strong sadomasochistic outlets, vividly expressed..." "The Paranoid Style in American Politics," Harper's Magazine, November 1964, pp. 77-86.
 H.R. Rep. No. 62-1523 (1913), reprinted in the Congressional Record, February 15, 1913, pp. 3215-3220
 Further, my wife wonders why, if I am indeed B16's favorite, I've put up with some of the stuff that pastors have to put up with when I could presumably at any time slip away to the Vatican's country villa somewhere in Tuscany. She thinks that for having put up with it with me, they would let her come along.
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