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

michael_legna's picture

Thanks for your answers

First let me thank you for your answers. I appreciate the way you directly addressed each one and then amplified on that answer to make your position clear. Now let me spend a little time clarifying one of the Catholic positions I think you might misunderstand, and I do this not to change the direction of the thread but to make a point about dogma once more.

Jeff said -
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.

Freedom is a two way street but only on those issues where the question still is under consideration and no specific decision has been made by the Church. In that sense the American culture of liberty of conscience has still not won the day (as you put it) within the RCC. To be a faithful member of the Catholic Church one must believe in the infallible teachings of the Holy Roman Pontiff. This includes as well the declarations of the Church Councils. So while there is some freedom (on those issues not yet declared dogmatically) there is clear areas where the faithful are not left to their personal conscience on a matter. That does not mean they cannot decide contrary to the RCC, just that if they do they have chosen to ex communicate themselves. This position is not as lenient as the one you graciously tried to apply to the Church, but I wanted to be clear on this even though in your eyes this might put the RCC in a worse light.

Now that I have clarified that I want to make the point that this type of enforcement of dogmas is similar in every way to the section of the SDA Church manual which you stated above as -

"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."

These are the same reasons the RCC declares and enforces dogmas. The concern in such cases always goes beyond the good of the individual (who might learn to correct their errors given enough chances to discuss and reconsider) to the good of the flock (who might be led astray by the open and public discussion and exchanged reproaches between the individual and the Church). It is this standard which both the SDA and the RCC see as applicable in some cases which is the real characteristic which constitutes a dogma.