Editor’s Note: This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Waco Siege that occurred from February 28 to April 19, 1993. Throughout the weeks, we have been sharing on the website the articles that appeared in the May 1993 edition (vol. 23, no. 1) of Spectrum concerning this tragedy.
I have been a Seventh-day Adventist for less than four years. I love the church and am thankful for the difference it has made in my life. Because of my love for the church, the tragic events in Waco, Texas, and the church's response have raised painful questions for me.
In the conversations around Sligo church, my spiritual home, I have sensed a fatalism and resignation, as well as a desire for distance from the entire situation. I find it quite disturbing. More than once I have heard the comment, "It's hard to see how it could've ended another way." I realize my response is quite different. Why wasn't the Seventh-day Adventist Church searching for another way? Most of the people who perished in the compound were former Adventists. Steven Schneider, who was described as David Koresh's top lieutenant, attended Andrews University for several years. Wayne Martin, one of Koresh's most trusted advisors, came from a kind and loving Adventist family and, as a respected lawyer with a degree from Harvard, could only be described as one of our best and brightest. Most of the 24 Britons believed lost were raised as Adventists. A number of them attended Newbold College.
The Adventist Church may have been in a unique position to understand the torn psychology of some of the cult members. Where was the church in the negotiations? Could we not have found the courage to say, "Some of these are ours. What can we do to help?" Instead, the church seems to have sought the safety of a public-relations campaign in the media and in local churches in an effort to have people believe that this situation had nothing to do with Adventism. Of course this is not true. This is an Adventist tragedy.
Another disturbing comment that I have heard can be paraphrased, "If only those people had read the Bible correctly and understood the truth, they would never have fallen in with a cult." Unfortunately, as well-intended as it is, this kind of allegiance to a received truth is exactly the appeal David Koresh used with such deadly effectiveness. If some of our people are being conditioned to simply follow the truth of Adventism without being given tools for searching out their own truth, is it really surprising that they would simply follow the truth presented by a very charismatic personality?
It is time that we, as a church, prayerfully consider what there may be in our teachings and our teaching methods that would allow some of us—including those who have attended some of our finest institutions—to be so tragically misled by the ravings of a madman. It is certainly time, in their time of need, that we stopped distancing ourselves from our brothers and sisters who survived the Waco experience.
Further reading on the Waco tragedy:
Kissing Cousins or Kindred Spirits?, April 18, 2018
Did David Koresh Die for Our Sins?, April 17, 2018
Apocalyptic—Who Needs It?, April 10, 2018
Fundamentalism Is a Disease, a Demonic Perversion, April 8, 2018
Futuristic Highs at Mt. Carmel, April 4, 2018
One of David’s Mighty Men, March 28, 2018
The British Connection, March 14, 2018
Apocalypse at Diamond Head, March 7, 2018
God, Guns, and Rock ‘n’ Roll, February 14, 2018
The Making of David Koresh, February 7, 2018
Paradise Lost in Waco, February 5, 2018
We Didn't Start the Fire but the Tinder was Ours, January 31, 2018
New TV Series Premieres for 25th Anniversary of the Waco Tragedy, January 24, 2018
Beware of Wolves Disguised as Sheep, June 8, 2017
Death of a Branch Davidian Friend and Other Memories, April 19, 2014
Branch Davidians (and Adventists) Revisited in The New Yorker, March 30, 2014
My Trip to Waco, December 27, 2012
This article was written by Ron Warren for the May 1993 issue of Spectrum.
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