Discussing The Various Beliefs of Seventh-Day Adventists

JeffLogan's picture

We have, in the past, involved ourselves many times in the discussion of Catholic doctrines. I thought it might be of interest to some here to open a discussion around the Fundamental Beliefs of the Seventh-Day Adventist church.

The Seventh-Day Adventist church does not have a typical creed but rather has chosen to call their doctrines "Fundamental Beliefs." The idea is that if we are to follow the Bible and the Bible only as our authority then we must not put down roots so deeply that we cannot change them should Christ chose to correct our understanding. This position gives us the latitude to come into line with scripture without the embarrassment that would normally arise had we taken a dogmatic approach. It allows us, as a people, to be ready to follow Christ onward and upward as we progress toward a fuller understanding of the plan of salvation as God strips away the error which has taken such a stronghold upon our minds.

But just as sure as I post these to the world-wide-web they become somewhat etched in stone. So I will offer this disclaimer, that these are the church's Fundamental Beliefs as of August 2011, and provide this statement from the official church website.

    Seventh-day Adventists accept the Bible as their only creed and hold certain fundamental beliefs to be the teaching of the Holy Scriptures. These beliefs, as set forth here, constitute the church's understanding and expression of the teaching of Scripture. Revision of these statements may be expected at a General Conference session when the church is led by the Holy Spirit to a fuller understanding of Bible truth or finds better language in which to express the teachings of God's Holy Word.

    --Captured from Adventist.org, August 2011.

To some minds the SDA church is not a true Christian church because it is said that their doctrines do not conform entirely to the established religious mindset prevalent today. And, there are indeed some beliefs which seem to be unique which we will address, if you like, and as time allows. But consider that the following churches also held as truth doctrines which were new in their day.

  1. The Lutherans taught Justification by Faith alone
  2. The Baptists taught baptism by full emersion and religious freedom
  3. John Calvin taught that salvation comes directly from God, not the church
  4. The Methodist taught discipline and accountability
  5. The Charismatics taught joyful worship--our dependence upon God's spirit
  6. and we mustn't forget...

  7. The Catholics for defending foundational truths against err and protecting the sanctity of life

...and on and on. Martin Luther brought out one prominent truth which had been hidden from view but he lacked understanding in other areas. So God sent John Calvin. Then John Wesley to balance out Martin Luther and John Calvin. But it was difficult for those earlier churches who laid down creeds to keep pace by embracing new theology so other denominations sprang up and moved the ball down the field a bit further, so to speak. So is it a strange thing for God to continue in this course as time moves on. But in order to validate that it is God's work moving us forward we must look to see if we embrace God's earlier revealed truth. Do we hold to Justification by Faith Alone? What about religious freedom and baptism by immersion? What about Jesus as a personal Savior? What about true sanctification? What about joyful worship and dependence upon God's spirit to fulfill His purposes in our lives? The battery of truths must accumulate and not fall away. We must not drop important truths as we progress else we must go back into the wilderness and retrieve them. So with that said, let's get started. Let's see if the Adventist church retains all of these truths and investigate any new truths they bring to the equation.

I thought I would start by stating some doctrines we do hold in common with the larger community of faith to establish that perhaps the SDA church is not a cult. Because they are deemed not to be controversial I will post several of them at a time. However, as we get to those which are more controversial I will slow down. But I post these in the event they too may be controversial by their wording or scriptural reference.

So if you're ready to begin, let's start!

(I would request that you wait until I open a particular topic before you post a related question. We'll see how that works. But if you raise a question please give me ample time to address it. I can not always participate every day. And, let's make this enjoyable and a learning experience. But please ask what is on your mind.)

Jeff Logan

JeffLogan's picture

Reply to: What role is EG White given as THE Spirit of prophecy

Reply to: What role is EG White given as THE Spirit of prophecy
Submitted by DanFugett on Mon, 2011-08-15 15:52.

Dan asked 3 question which I will answer in my own words to the best of my understanding.

Q1) more important what impact or influence do EGW's teachings have on the current SDA view of scripture?

A1) Like many others like Luther, Calvin, Wesley, and the ECF, the writings of EGW have had a great impact and influence on SDA theology and eschatology and soteriology. But perhaps in a unique way. She was there as the founding fathers of the church searched the scriptures for truth and as they became stuck or confused or tangled in contentions she would often be taken off into vision and a clearer understanding would be given to her which she would then relate to the brethren. But often they would simply part ways to search the matter for themselves for a season. But she herself admits that she did not understand many things which they were discussing at the time.

Q2) To what extent are her writings accepted by the current leadership of SDA, as an authority on par with scripture: Scripture + EGW?

A2) There are areas where her writings are more specific than scripture such as in the area of health, hygiene, and raising children and in these matters her words are regarded with great respect and used for instructional purposes. And there are other areas where her visions help connect things from scripture making the details presented in scripture clearer. But she herself said her writings were never on a par with scripture and should not be used to formulate doctrine nor used from the pulpit in the same way as scripture. I believe that for the most part this has been practiced by the church. The funny thing is that the critics of the church lean on her writings to condemn the church in regard to them leaning on her writings. I find it odd that they would accuse the church of using her writings on a par with scripture when they themselves are placing it above scripture in order to condemn the church. Hmmmm? Something's wrong with that reasoning.

Q3) Is it true the unofficial Bible of the SDA is a mix of scripture with EGW's teachings interspersed.

A3) I think you refer to The Clear Word. There really is no SDA Bible. A pastor had a collection of his commentaries that someone requested he publish. Instead of doing a parallel Bible or an interlinear style Bible the publishers simply wrote out his commentary in a verse-wise fashion and in the same order and style that the Bible is laid out in. So this commentary looks and feels like a Bible. But it is neither a translation nor a paraphrase of scripture. It is simply one Adventists pastors collection of commentaries on his study of scripture over the years. It is interwoven with Adventists theology drawn either directly from EGW or his own understanding. I don't know for sure. I've seen one but I do not personally know of anyone who has one and I can't recall it ever being used in our lessons or from the pulpit. I think it's simply an enjoyable read. Not fiction, but a commentary. If anyone has access to one of these book I would enjoy seeing the preface. That might explain a lot.


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