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

DanFugett's picture

Once for all ... 2nd phase ... last phase

Thank you Jeff and Elderdad. In my review of Martin on SDA I skipped the soul sleep part, and forgot about it.

Did you address my question re this quote of yours: "Also, the atonement was completed on the cross. However, Jesus still applies His blood today to those who come to Him as their Savior. And so, in a sense, the work continues. But the work of providing the blood for the pardon of sins was completed on the cross"?

Your belief 24 mentions "the benefits of His atoning sacrifice offered once for all on the cross". But then turns around and says "He entered the second and last phase of His atoning ministry." Did you answer the question how do you know this alleged 2nd phase is the last phase, and is the idea of a completed atonement with a 2nd phase to be done 1800+ years later not logically contradictory? That is, if Jesus had to do a 2nd phase of atonement in Heaven then He obviously didn't finish the work God gave Him to do. Also if He had to do a last phase then Calvary wasnt complete. Jesus says He finished the work (of salvation) God gave Him to do, and sins are purged/cleansed at Calvary. Jesus mission was cosmic not just limited to earth in scope so when He says in Jn 17:4 that He "finished the work which thou gavest me to do" there is no indication that the scope of either the work or its completion was earth only. From scripture His current mission is preparing a place for us, being the central point to which the souls of His saints fly when they die (absent ... present), standing to receive those who die in Christ (Stephen) and interceding or advocating for us.

His advocacy (1 Jn 1-2) points to the blood already spilled which is sufficient to cleanse those walking in the light who, yes, confess according to their light. Scripture mentions no additional high priestly service Jesus needed to begin in 1844 or any time to augment His atoning ministry. The language of additional phases is indicative of an uncomplete work. I build my deck in phases, but it is not complete until the last phase is done. I cannot say it is complete when the foundation is complete. The High priest presented the Lamb once so Christ cannot need to present the blood of the Lamb to cleanse the temple from sin's stain. The figure falls apart because it presumes Jesus had to enter the temple a 2nd time since the earthly high priest had to enter the holy of holies at the end of the year. 1 Jn 1 says in verse 7 that His blood cleanses from all sin those who walk in the Light. Yet verses 8 and 9 say God cleanses those who confess and that no one can say they are without sin. At the moment of death you and I are not going to be without sin in an experiential sense. That is, we all enter heaven unworthy except through Christ our parakletos and ilasmos (advocate/comforter and forgiver/cleanser). None of us will be in heaven because we walked worthy of the heavenly call but only because we answered the heavenly call, and let Him change us from the inside out over a lifetime work in our lives that isnt complete when we breath our last breath. Salvation isnt incomplete simply because sins still exist in our life experience.

To repeat and expand, there is nothing in scripture that supports the necessity of a 2nd or 3rd or 100th phase of Jesus atoning ministry. Jesus came to purge us from our sins, He either completed that mission or He failed; and I believe He truly completed that mission at Calvary. The stake in the ground (figuratively) drew a line whereby those who identify with Jesus avail themselves of the merits of Calvary and through faith ARE cleansed here and now. Cleansed by position IN Christ doesnt mean we are cleansed experientially which John 1 says doesnt ever happen; and that cleansing of sanctification is a lifelong process here in us that is begun in faith and continued in faith (Gal 3).

Finally, who decided God's justice in saving those who believe needs to be vindicated? God is God. You have mentioned catholicism a couple times so far and this whole investigative judgment sounds very purgatorial to me. Was their a definitive influence of catholicism on SDA theology?

Submitted as a poster,

In Christ,

Dan Fugett, Sr Moderator