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: Can someone be Roman Catholic and SDA at the *edited*

[Edited 10/2 11:25 EDT to correct some typos, change tenses, and add a sentence. Jeff]

Reply to: Can someone be Roman Catholic and SDA at the same time?
Submitted by michael_legna on Thu, 2011-09-29 17:21.

Jeff had said, "I do not see that it is the church's right nor duty to use any means but persuasion to convict men of the truth and that no man should be put out of the church simply because they don't embrace all that we accept as truth because of a lack of conviction."

To which ML wrote, "Does that mean that you can consider me part of the SDA church regardless of what I beleive?"

I think what you are asking is whether or not I believe a church ought to stand for something and if that something should be well defined. My answer is yes. In my comments you quoted I did not suggest an 'anything goes' scenario at all.

"...I mean can I refuse to believe that EW was a prophet, or can I refuse to believe she was inspired,"

Yes. The statement regarding the gift of prophecy in the candidate's commitment reads: "I accept the biblical teaching of spiritual gifts and believe that the gift of prophecy is one of the identifying marks of the remnant church." All of which is drawn from the teachings of the Bible on the subject of gifts. Yet, this seems to disagree with the Fundamental Belief concerning the gift of prophecy which reads:

    18. The Gift of Prophecy:
    One of the gifts of the Holy Spirit is prophecy. This gift is an identifying mark of the remnant church and was manifested in the ministry of Ellen. G. White . As the Lord's messenger, her writings are a continuing and authoritative source of truth which provide for the church comfort, guidance, instruction, and correction. They also make clear that the Bible is the standard by which all teaching and experience must be tested. (Joel 2:28, 29; Acts 2:14-21; Heb. 1:1-3; Rev. 12:17; 19:10.)

However, the first is a profession of a candidate for baptism and the later is a confession of the church at large. On this subject of which you inquire Francis M. Wilcox [F. M. Wilcox was editor of the Review and Herald and might be considered a “church statesman.” He was one of the five men appointed by Ellen White as trustees to care for her writings.] writes, "As we consider the subject of spiritual gifts and their manifestation in the Church, the question naturally arises, should faith in this doctrine be made a test of church fellowship?" He makes three observations: [1]"... Inasmuch as the labors of Mrs. E. G. White have entered so largely into the development of the second advent movement, candidates for church membership should be made acquainted with the divine ministry to which she was called, and the influence of her labors and writings through the years. Opportunity should be afforded them to read her published books. When this instruction has been given candidates, but little question ever will be raised as to faith in the doctrine of spiritual gifts being made a test of Church Fellowship. [2] If, as the result of this investigation, the one contemplating church membership arrives at settled convictions in opposition to this doctrine, he naturally will not wish to unite his interests with a church that holds it as a part of its religious faith. In any event he should be encouraged to wait until he has had time and opportunity for more mature study of the question. [3] If, on the other hand, while in full sympathy with his adventist brethren regarding their faith and objectives and their church polity and organization, he still feels doubts over the doctrine of spiritual gifts and their exercise in the Church, but has no opposition to the fullest and freest exercise of faith in these gifts on the part of his brethren, and to the free use of the instruction which has come to the Church from the gift of prophecy, he need not necessarily be excluded from church membership. {2BIO 492.3}

"...or could I refuse to believe that we must observe the religious celebration of the Sabbath exclusively on Saturday,"

Yes. But I think you meant to give greater force to this question by asking if you could continue to embrace Sunday as the Sabbath and Deny that the 7th Day is the day God intends to be remembered and hallowed above every other day. In that case you would not be a Seventh-day Adventist but perhaps a First-day Adventist. The baptismal candidate's profession of commitment reads thus:

    "I accept the Ten Commandments as a transcript of the character of God and a revelation of His will. It is my purpose by the power of the indwelling Christ to keep this law, including the fourth commandment, which requires the observance of the seventh day of the week as the Sabbath of the Lord and the memorial of Creation."

"...or worse yet can I continue to believe all the teachings of the RCC and still be part of the SDA?"

If our beliefs define who we are spiritually then you would still be RCC by choice and there would be no Adventist question here.

"...I doubt any one within the SDA church would say this was possible and I suspect they would be willing to enforce my disfellowship were I to insist on attending church gatherings and expressing my beliefs in such a gathering."

[edited]Most people choose not to associate with those with whom they disagree. I suspect that is why you are RCC and not SDA. Yet, a great number of Catholics have converted to Adventism and not a few still have some old doctrines lying around. But where is the best place for them to learn Adventism? Out on the streets or in the church? And how are they to learn if they don't question? I think the church is more tolerant of those who are learning and as long as you desire to learn and are not simply there causing disruption or trying to promote RCC doctrines I think you would be fine. I am not saying there is never a time to take disciplinary action. We have had to expel some members. It's a decision that is made by the church where the membership resides but it follows a process. Mrs. White writes, "In dealing with erring church members, God’s people are carefully to follow the instruction given by the Saviour in the eighteenth chapter of Matthew.”—Testimonies, vol. 7, p. 260. "Do not suffer sin upon your brother; but do not expose him, and thus increase the difficulty, making the reproof seem like a revenge. Correct him in the way outlined in the word of God.”—Testimonies, vol. 7, pp. 260, 261. "Shall a few persons in a board meeting take upon themselves the responsibility of disfellowshiping the erring one? ‘If he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church.’ Verse 17. Let the church take action in regard to its members.”—Testimonies, vol. 7, p. 262.

    “ ‘Verily I say unto you,’ Christ continued, ‘whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.’ Verse 18. “This statement holds its force in all ages. On the church has been conferred the power to act in Christ’s stead. It is God’s instrumentality for the preservation of order and discipline among His people. To it the Lord has delegated the power to settle all questions respecting its prosperity, purity, and order. Upon it rests the responsibility of excluding from its fellowship those who are unworthy, who by their un-Christlike conduct would bring dishonor on the truth. Whatever the church does that is in accordance with the directions given in God’s word will be ratified in heaven.”—Testimonies, vol. 7, pp. 262, 263. (Italics supplied.)

Here are the reasons given which warrant discipline:

    1. Denial of faith in the fundamentals of the gospel and in the cardinal doctrines of the church* or teaching doctrines contrary to the same.
    2. Violation of the law of God, such as worship of idols, murder, stealing, profanity, gambling, Sabbathbreaking, and willful and habitual falsehood.
    3. Violation of the seventh commandment of the law of God as it relates to the marriage institution, the Christian home, and biblical standards of moral conduct.
    4. Such violations as fornication, promiscuity, incest, homosexual practice, sexual abuse of children and vulnerable adults, and other sexual perversions, and the remarriage of a divorced person, except of the spouse who has remained faithful to the marriage vow in a divorce for adultery or for sexual perversions.
    5. Physical violence, including violence within the family.
    6. Fraud or willful misrepresentation in business.
    7. Disorderly conduct which brings reproach upon the church.
    8. Adhering to or taking part in a divisive or disloyal movement or organization. (See p. 190.)
    9. Persistent refusal to recognize properly constituted church authority or to submit to the order and discipline of the church.
    10. The use, manufacture, or sale of alcoholic beverages.
    11. The use, manufacture, or sale of tobacco in any of its forms for human consumption.
    12. The misuse of, or trafficking in, narcotics or other drugs.
    [* Seems to apply mostly to pastors and teachers.]

From the church manual:

    The Seventh-day Adventist Church recognizes the need of exercising great care to protect the highest spiritual interests of its members, to ensure fair treatment, and to safeguard the name of the church.
    In a case of transgression of the commandments of God where there is deep repentance and full and free confession, giving evidence that genuine conversion has taken place, the church may administer discipline by placing the transgressor under censure for a stated period of time.
    However, in a case of flagrant violations of the law of God which have brought public reproach upon the church, the church may deem it necessary, even though a sincere confession has been made, to remove an individual from church membership to protect its name and its Christian standards. Later, when it is evident that the individual’s life is consistent with church standards, the offender may be received back into the church after rebaptism. The church cannot afford to deal lightly with such sins nor permit personal considerations to affect its actions. It must register its decisive and emphatic disapproval of the sins of fornication, adultery, all acts of moral indiscretion, and other grievous sins; at the same time it must do everything to restore and reclaim the erring ones.

"...Now don't get me wrong I think they would be well within their rights to do just that, but that freedom I am willing to admit them is something you seem to deny them, by your stand on no enforcement and no dogmas and absolute freedom of conscience for the individual."

Freedom is a two-way street. Have you considered that before Vatican II and "Dignitatis Humanae" most of the American Catholic world would have been expelled for embracing the American culture concerning liberty of conscience. But their tenacity won the day.

Oh, BTW, the simple answer is, No. But I think you already knew that.

_______ _______ ______ ______ ______

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you."