Are Adventists Christians? Exploring our 28 Fundamental Beliefs (Conclusion)

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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.

Comments

  1. Thank you for a highly informative and educational series reviewing SDA doctrine and comparing it to mainline Christian theology and doctrine. A lot of dis-information about the SDA church, misunderstanding and blatant fabrication and mis-representation of the church, her founder, practices, teachings, etc., makes this series invaluable as a quick reference for discussion. I grew up Dutch Reformed (in South Africa, currently still here), and to be honest, the view of the SDA Church is generally to be a cult. I studied theology but was never ordained in the Dutch Reformed Church as I had to face the fact that I was not entirely convinced the Church taught truly orthodox doctrine - something didn't 'gel' for me. In addition, predestination from my point of view, which was initially 'intuitive' from the moment I first encountered the doctrine in Sunday school, was closer to blasphemy than Gospel Truth. The horrible application of this doctrine in our politics and socio-economical setup for instance, was a clear example of the typical fruits, such an invention would manifest. Having studied theology, (being relatively competent in Greek and Hebrew, having a good knowledge of church history, dogma, etc.), it was easy for me stand back and objectively consider the full spectrum of Western Christian theology. I just had to get to the TRUTH, because what I saw was thousands of truths, all contradicting each other, but still considered to be the truth by those who support the universal orthodoxy heresy (ecumenism). It was a shocking realisation - even more so when I discovered that sola scriptura is also heresy, and that I had very little to guide me in my search for THE TRUTH! But I was determined to get as close to It as I possible could, vainly trusting my own intellectual capability, which caused a massive crisis of faith for years to come. Long story short: it was easy to eliminate every possible church, movement, society, association and brotherhood that developed from the time of the Reformation up to the present day - one invention after the other - it was clearly not the unity that Jesus prayed for in John 17:22 - The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one. And then the biggest shock of all: I was left with Roman Catholicism! I've, even as a toddler, been intrigued and drawn to something in the Roman church that was hard to explain, and this combined with the fact that I remained intellectually honest throughout my search for THE TRUTH confirmed that I had found it and I converted, in my final year of theological study, despite the fact that it was all too much Mary and to little Jesus. This was an issue, and not the only one: the Mass and papal infallibility kept me slightly uneasy in an otherwise totally comfortable spiritual/religious setup for the next 25 years. Up until 2012 when I accidentally stumbled upon an article about Eastern Orthodoxy, and I was astounded!

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  2. Me again - I ran out of characters!

    I had vainly assumed that I would be able to arrive at the Truth by tracing the long forgotten path to the Original Truth with the intellectual tools at my disposal, but never considered that path extended another 1000 years beyond Rome. It leads right to Jerusalem, and ends on the day when Holy Spirit desended during Pentecost, when the Holy Apostolic Catholic Church was founded by Jesus Himself - today collectively referred to as the Eastern Orthodox Church. I can really carry on from here on to provide reasons why I think the Eastern Orthodoxy is the one true church - but I won't. I don't need to. .But I need to state one thing which you may wish to research for yourself to find out why I can claim the following: if a Christian from the 2nd century was resurrected today and walked into ANY western church service (Catholic, Protestant, Pentecostal, Charismatic, SDA, etc) they would not have an idea that it is a Christian church. And even if the found out that it is, they would refuse to even have communion with that group.

    The Western Church had moved so far from the original message, and I say this with the greatest love and it fills me with sadness. I need to point out, once again with the greatest love, that you compare SDA doctrine to other mainline western churches, and easily declare a doctrine as Christian based on the fact that it is taught by many, some and one or two fringe groups. Two heresies do not make an orthodoxy! Intellectual honesty requires that we compare dogmas and teaching to Orthodoxy (i.e. the Bible, Patristics, the Ecumenical Councils and tradition). Your excellent series has opened my eyes to the fact that the SDA Church is not a cult. It would be even better if you were not heterodox (unorthodox, heretical, dissenting, dissident, blasphemous, nonconformist, apostate, freethinking, iconoclastic, schismatic, rebellious, renegade, separatist, sectarian, revisionist).

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  3. Lastly, my manners have failed me - but it is 2h00 on this side of the globe, but I want to thank you again for the series, which I have added to my favorites.

    May God our Father bless you and lead you in all Truth and Light, through Jesus our Lord.

    Stephan

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    Replies
    1. Hello Stephan! Thank you so much for sharing your testimony. I enjoyed reading it! Allow to to say that this series of blogs (Are Adventist Christians) has a single purpose in mind and that is to show that Adventists are not some anti-Christian cult. The points you bring up deal more with whether Adventism is biblical. In this series I did not attempt to prove that Adventism was biblical. That was not my burden. My burden was to show that Adventism is Christian and part of my defense was the many doctrines we share with Christians in general. But you are right in suggesting that just because Adventism is Christian does not prove it is 100% biblical. That would be another discussion altogether.

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    2. I'd love to dialogue with you about this and learn more about the Eastern Orthodox Church. I am extremely busy these days as I prepare for graduation, but lets stay in touch.

      Blessings,
      Marcos

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