Waco and My Family

In spite of many differences, Koresh’s free-wheeling use of proof-texts from the Bible, interspersed with quotations from Ellen White, mean he was a bit more Adventist than most Adventists would like. The Branch Davidians kept the Sabbath, were vegetarians, abstained from tobacco, alcohol and most drugs, were constantly talking about Bible prophecy, and believed that the King James Bible was the only true and authoritative version. The Branch Davidians were culturally very similar to the most conservative of Adventists.

This came home powerfully to me when my family and I spent two weeks in New York City in 1999. As a family we stayed in a small apartment behind and above my childhood church, now called Church of the Advent Hope, in Manhattan. One evening the kids (12, 14 and 17 at the time) got a little bored, so I went down the street and rented the documentary “Waco: Rules of Engagement.” I had seen it at a scholarly conference (where I met James Tabor) some time before and thought they would find it interesting. The documentary includes footage of both federal attacks and also video from inside the compound between the two attacks (February 28 and April 19).

My children were not easily frightened by videos, but this documentary completely traumatized them. They couldn’t sleep the whole night afterward. When I questioned them about it later, they emphasized several things. The Davidians inside the compound talked and acted so “Adventist.” As children in Sabbath School they had been taught that the end-time persecution was coming, and it would affect them personally. To them the video was evidence that what they had been taught was beginning to happen. So when my children saw the charred bodies of Davidian children, they identified very strongly with them and feared that the end-time persecution was about to happen. Koresh in many ways deviated strongly from Adventism, but the similarities are troubling. While commitment and faithfulness are important things, in an end-time context they can be carried too far.

7 thoughts on “Waco and My Family

  1. isaias moraes

    “The Branch Davidians kept the Sabbath, were vegetarians, abstained from tobacco, alcohol and most drugs, were constantly talking about Bible prophecy,”

    This is a portrait of the SDA perfectionists nowadays.

    1. Doris

      Isaias – However, they had a despotic cult leader who claimed to be the Messiah. David had the same character attributes at Satan, deceit, force, and accusations. The author of this blog is always mixing apples with oranges. Anytime you have a supreme leader running the show – they will always turn out to be just like Satan. Perfection, as in Christ Jesus, is our only head. Your comment is full of bias and prejudice. SDAs are in no way similar to the Branch Davidians – no matter how conservative or perfectionistic they are..

  2. Wyman

    Anyone professing the faith of Jesus and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit the God of love and then bears arms is not in the Truth or filled with love of God.
    Even Nero comments on the peace of the Christians whom he accused falsely.
    Religion without love is a lie and bearing a weapon of any kind is not completely surrended to Christ.
    The Lord is our shield, today the 15th day of Nisan we remember our Saviour whos only weapon was love.


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