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: Scripture and fundamental doctrine

Reply to: Scripture and fundamental doctrine
Submitted by DanFugett on Tue, 2011-08-16 13:26.

Dan asked:

Q1) Is it true then that EG White changed her mind and transitioned from antitrinitarian to belief in the trinity?

A1) I don't know. She started life in a Methodist church. What are their views? And, I am not even sure myself what a trinitarian view involves. What I do know is that she believed in three distinct, yet equal, persons of the Godhead rather than the manifestation of God the Father in three forms.

Q2) Also i have heard that there is wide diversity even among the SDA leadership as to whether EG White's views are to be considered on par with scripture or not.

A2) This could be true. I would never know unless they used her writings to overthrow a concrete doctrine of the Bible and I haven't any example of that. It's usually quite the opposite where some pastors seem to reject her writings as having any value at all.

Q3) Finally, I am not sure saying doctrine can change through a general council answers or sidesteps the question whether scripture is interpreted thorugh EG White lenses.

A3) I am persuaded that SDA theology is very sound scripturally so it may be difficult for me to recognize when someone is interpreting things through an EGW lens. I would only be able to tell if they used her writings to prove something that the Bible doesn't teach. And, believe me, many things have supposedly been proven from her writings which are unbiblical. But other works have been abused in this manner as well where things are taken out of context.

Q4) Are the opinions of EG White officially considered on par with scripture and if so how do you handle her transition from antitrinitarian to trinitarian (if that is accurate and I don't know that it is)?

A4) Not to my knowledge. I think I addressed this better in a previous post. As far as the transition, I've not encountered that. Can you explain to me what a trinitarian view is as opposed to an anti-trinitarian view? I am not sure I believe in the "trinity" as it has been defined elsewhere. Do you have an official definition? This statement from EGW may help: "The unity that exists between Christ and His disciples does not destroy the personality of either. They are one in purpose, in mind, in character, but not in person. It is thus that God and Christ are one." {Ministry of Healing 422.1} Also, see post 18.

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