|photo credit: the|G|™ via photopin cc|
Over the last few posts I have presented the 28 fundamental beliefs of the Seventh-day Adventist church and shown how none of these beliefs are anti-Christ, cultish, or even entirely unique to Adventism. While many may disagree with our fundamental doctrines, I hope we can all agree that Adventists are Christians. After all, Protestantism is lathed with differing doctrines such as Calvinism, Armininanism, Lutherans, Reformed, Wesleyans and so on. While all of these schools of thought may disagree heavily on many doctrinal issues they still regard one another as brothers and sisters in Christ. Adventisms message is not an anti-Christ message at all. The foundational doctrines of salvation by grace alone through faith, sola scriptura, Jesus as the only way to heaven, and his soon return are all imperative to SDA theology. Without these foundations SDA theology would fall apart. With them SDA theology is born.
While there are many who will continue to attack the SDA church as being a cult, such charges amount to no more than straw man arguments and ad-hominem tactics that do not even represent true Adventism. Such critics often quote SDA pioneers, especially Ellen White, out of context and appeal to bizarre exaggerations of our doctrines in order to make their cases heard. However, not a single cult characteristic is present in the SDA church. They are:
1. Looking to a human being for salvation.
2. Placing the teachings of a human being above or equal to the Bible.
3. The use of force, coercion, or manipulation to gain converts.
4. Separation of members from outside influences including family.
5. Rejection of theological influences from outside ones specific denomination.
While some may have experienced something like this in an SDA church at some point, the reality is that many non-SDA churches all across America do the same thing. Where I grew up the most cultish people I knew were the Pentecostals. They were not allowed to visit other churches or study the doctrine of another denomination. They had to do whatever the pastor said without question or else be removed from the fellowship of the church. This is cultish. However, should I conclude that Pentecostals are a cult? Of course not. These groups I am familiar with represent an extreme fringe within Pentecostalism and it would be disingenuous for me to say that all Pentecostals are a cult. Likewise, to accuse Baptists of hating American soldiers because of the actions of the Westboro Baptist church would be just as ridiculous. In like manner, accusing the SDA church of legalism or of being a cult because of ones experience with a local extreme SDA church is just as misleading. So in conclusion, while there are many people who will continue to attack the SDA church (x-Adventists are the most vocal ones) I for one am fully convinced that the SDA church is a wonderful church (though not perfect of course) that preaches the message of Gods love, grace, and soon return with the passion of the apostles and reformers who paved the way for us.
Further Reading: Is Adventism a Non-Christian Cult?
For an accurate and thorough understanding of SDA theology I recommend the book Seventh-day Adventists Believe.