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: Perhaps the SDA means something different by prophet..

[Edited: Corrected the story about Nathan and added additional thoughts]

Reply to: Perhaps the SDA means something different by prophet...
Submitted by michael_legna on Thu, 2011-08-25 18:17.
LInk: http://www.ccel.org/node/13210/50426#comment-50426

DanFugett said -
From the official web site at ...adventist.org/beliefs/other-documents/other-doc4.html is the section on Methods of Bible Study

Seventh-day Adventists believe that God inspired Ellen G. White. Therefore, her expositions on any given Bible passage offer an inspired guide to the meaning of texts without exhausting their meaning or preempting the task of exegesis (for example, see Evangelism, 256; The Great Controversy, 193, 595; Testi­monies, vol. 5, pp. 665, 682, 707-708; Counsels to Writers and Editors, 33-35).

Does this establish the inseparable relationship of EG White and SDA?

Jeff writes:
Dan, this is point "L." in a list of points A-Q which describe methods of Bible Study. The method which follows this states:

m. After studying as outlined above, turn to various commentaries and secondary helps such as scholarly works to see how others have dealt with the passage. Then carefully evaluate the different viewpoints expressed from the standpoint of Scripture as a whole.

ML writes: This is precisely the kind of denial I suggested in my post which unfortunately comes after yours (you posted faster than I could) but it leads to another question. Is it possible that the SDA uses a different definition of Prophecy than traditional Christian Churches do? For many Christian denominations a Prophet cannot error. In other words if it is true prophecy from God it cannot be wrong and if it is not from God then the speaker is a false prophet. Perhaps the use of the term prophet in identifying EGW is where the misunderstanding arises. The same issue goes with the word inspired, which is used to express the source of inerrancy in scripture, which the SDA may or may not mean to imply with regard to EGW's interpretation. I myself wondered when I first read section M how one could have inspired interpretation and not put a limit on exegesis.

Jeff responds:
Just a couple of thoughts. Nathan was a prophet of God yet he erroneously told David to go ahead and build a house for the Lord because the Lord was with him. Later, after the Lord corrected him, he had to tell David that he could not build the Lord's house but that his son would. [See 2 Sam. 7] So I think that at times a prophet may speak on his own believing he is speaking for God. So, is a prophet infallible in all respects? No. In another case, the Bible calls Caiaphas, the High Priest who tried Jesus, a prophet, sort of. It states he prophesied about Christ's death.

So the proper application here is to test her words by the Bible. If her words disagree then reject them. But I don't think that means to reject her writing all together. However, I would tend to think that if errors were found in her writings it might tend to discredit her other work. But we need to be careful not to reject messages from God. But her writings do not trump the Bible. Her writings are to be judged by scripture. And, btw, the Bible is not without errors. Yet, we call it the infallible word of God and understand it to be the inspired word of God. Is there denial or contradiction in this? No. We simply understand that while God inspired men with thought, men wrote according to their knowledge of language and their recollection of facts. And, some errors may have been introduced by the copy process. But we don't throw out the whole Bible. The understanding comes to us through the Holy Spirit who inspired the writers.

I know this isn't exhaustive but I hope it answers your question.

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