November 17, 2015

10 Questions about Adventism

by Nathan Busenitz

10_Questions_2Last week, I posted an article (with an embedded video) about Seventh-day Adventism. As might be expected, not everyone was pleased with my perspective, and some of the responses were quite heated.

In the comments on Facebook, I was called a “counterfeit preacher,” a “Jesuit infiltrator,” an “antichrist,” “one of Satan’s forerunners,” and a “liar and the truth of God is not in him.”

While unfounded name-calling doesn’t bother me, especially on Facebook, a few of the critics complained that I had misrepresented Seventh-day Adventist beliefs. Some accused me of violating the ninth commandment, and intentionally bearing false witness about what Seventh-day Adventists believe.

Since my desire is not to bear false witness, I decided to write one more article regarding SDA doctrine. While I doubt it will appease my critics, I hope it will bring additional clarity to my previous post.

With that in mind, I would like to revisit ten miscellaneous points I made in my previous article. I will do so in the form of ten questions, with corresponding explanation and citation from various sources.

1. Did Seventh-day Adventism arise out of Millerism?

Yes. According to the Adventist author Francis D. Nichol: “We admit freely, and without the slightest embarrassment, that we grew out of the soil of Millerism” (Answers to Objections [reprint, 2014], 266–67).

2. Did early twentieth-century evangelical theologians view Seventh-day Adventism as a cult?

Yes. For example, evangelical scholars like Louis Talbot, J. K. van Baalen, Harold Lindsell, and Anthony Hoekema viewed the SDA movement as either a cult or a heretical sect. The first prominent evangelical to argue that the SDA movement was not a cult was Walter Martin (though he was highly critical of certain SDA doctrinal distinctives).

3. Do Seventh-day Adventists teach that Christ is performing a second work of atonement in heaven?

In contending that SDA is not a cult, Walter Martin argued that Seventh-day Adventists believe Christ’s atonement was fully completed at the cross, and that His current work in heaven simply involves making an application of the benefits of His atonement to individual believers. To support this assertion, Martin primarily relied on an Adventist document entitled Seventh-day Adventists Answer Questions on Doctrine, which was published in 1957.

Yet, even after Questions on Doctrine was published, not all Adventists agreed with the explanation of the atonement that it articulated. Two of the more vocal opponents were twin brothers, Russell and Colin Standish, who insisted that Ellen White actually taught that Christ’s atoning work was not completed at the cross. In their words:

Speaking of 1844, Sister White stated: “So when Christ entered the holy of holies to perform the closing work of the atonement, He ceased His ministration in the first apartment.” (GC 428) It can be seen perfectly well from this statement that Sister White does not close the atonement at the cross. She is referring, of course, to Christ’s entry into the holy of holies in 1844, to complete the work of the investigative judgment and to make atonement for the sins of His people. As we have seen, the book, Questions on Doctrine, is a most unsafe guide to Adventist doctrine, for it was written in order to please a group of Evangelicals who had no faith in the full doctrine of the atonement. (The Storm Bursts [reprint 2000], 359)

While the Standish brothers may not represent the mainline Adventist position, they do illustrate the confusion over this issue that has existed within Adventist circles—going back to Ellen White herself.

Additional statements from Mrs. White can be cited that seem to depict a second work of atonement by Christ in heaven. Here are just a few:

Today He [Christ] is making an atonement for us before the Father (Manuscript 21, 1895)

Now, while our great High Priest is making the atonement for us, we should seek to become perfect in Christ. (The Great Controversy, 623)

Attended by heavenly angels, our great High Priest enters the holy of holies, and there appears in the presence of God, to engage in the last acts of His ministration in behalf of man, —to perform the work of investigative judgment, and to make an atonement for all who are shown to be entitled to its benefits. (The Great Controversy, 480)

Such statements suggest that Christ’s work of atonement was not completed at the cross (cf. The Four Major Cults, 116–117).

The SDA’s official doctrinal statement, Fundamental Beliefs, describes the heavenly aspect of Christ’s work as “the second and last phase of His atoning ministry” which He began on October 22, 1844. Though described as a second phase rather than a second work, such an explanation still places an eighteen century gap between Christ’s death on the cross and the culmination of His atoning ministry. Such is problematic for reasons I noted in my previous article.

4. Does the SDA doctrine of Christ’s Investigative Judgment mitigate against the doctrine of justification through faith alone?

The SDA movement insists that it teaches salvation by grace alone through faith alone. However, evangelicals like Hoekema have questioned whether or not the doctrine of Investigative Judgment is consistent with the Reformation principles of sola gratia and sola fide. Hoekema quotes Adventist author William Henry Branson to illustrate his concern. Branson writes:

A Christian who through faith in Jesus Christ has faithfully kept the law’s requirements will be acquitted [in the investigative judgment]; there is no condemnation, for the law finds no fault in him. If, on the other hand, it is found that one has broken even a single precept, and this transgression is unconfessed, he will be dealt with just as if he had broken all ten. (Drama of the Ages, 351)

Branson’s assertion—that salvation can be lost by even one unconfessed sin—is clearly at odds with the biblical doctrine of salvation by grace alone.

Those who do not view the SDA movement as a cult (such as Walter Martin) have suggested that this emphasis on works is similar to an Arminian soteriology—in which salvation is received by grace but can be forfeited by disobedience. Yet, such explanations do not fully account for some of the legalistic emphases inherent in SDA theology (see #7 below).

5. Do Seventh-day Adventists elevate Ellen G. White as an authoritative prophetess?

Yes. Ellen White is regarded as both an inspired and authoritative prophetess. In fact, in Adventist literature she is compared to the biblical prophets. Here are several examples:

The Review and Herald, October 4, 1928: “Seventh-Day Adventists hold that Ellen G. White performed the work of a true prophet during the seventy years of her public ministry. As Samuel was a prophet, as Jeremiah was a prophet, as John the Baptist was also a prophet, so we believe that Mrs. White was a prophet to the church of Christ today.”

George R. Knight, Reading Ellen White, 20: “Ellen White was acutely aware of her prophetic call and of her commission to guide Gods people through her speaking and writing. She firmly believed that God spoke through her voice and pen in the tradition of the biblical prophets.”

John J. Robertson, The White Truth, 61: “The influence of the spirit of prophecy is woven into the warp and woof of Adventist faith, life and organization . . . . What we are as a church is a reflection of our faith in the divine authority evident in the writings of Ellen G. White.”

SDA Fundamental Belief #18: “The Scriptures testify that one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit is prophecy. This gift is an identifying mark of the remnant church and we believe it was manifested in the ministry of Ellen G. White. Her writings speak with prophetic authority and provide comfort, guidance, instruction, and correction to the church.”

6. Do Seventh-day Adventists say that Ellen G. White is an authority equal to or greater than Scripture?

Seventh-day Adventists insist that the Bible is their only creed.

But that claim is difficult to reconcile with their simultaneous commitment to Ellen White’s prophecies as being both inspired and authoritative. After all, she is regarded as a prophet like Samuel or Jeremiah.

That is why, in practice, some Seventh-day Adventists place White’s prophecies over the Bible because they use her as an authoritative lens through which to interpret the Bible.

Though he views it negatively, Seventh-day Adventist historian George R. Knight recognizes that this reality exists in SDA circles:

Some Adventists have seen Ellen White as an infallible Bible commentator in the sense that we should use her writings to settle the meaning of Scripture. Thus one of the denomination’s leading editors could write in the Review and Herald in 1946 that “the writings of Ellen G. White constitute a great commentary on the Scriptures.” He went on to point out that they were unlike other commentaries in that they were “inspired commentaries, motivated by the promptings of the Holy Spirit, and this places them in a separate and distinct class, far above all other commentaries” (RH, June 9, 1946). (Reading Ellen White, 25)

Elsewhere, Knight adds:

Too many Adventists have tended to put Ellen White in the place of Jesus. He, not Ellen White, is our example. To shove Ellen White’s example to the forefront of our religion is cultic rather than Christian. (Ibid., 52)

Former Seventh-day Adventists similarly testify to the elevated devotion to Ellen G. White they observed when they were part of the SDA movement. Here is just one example:

Henry E. Neufeld, When People Speak for God (2007), 109: Because I grew up in the Seventh-day Adventist (SDA) Church, I have had a lifelong interest even in modern prophetic writings and their authority in particular communities. SDAs have Ellen G. White whose voluminous writings are regarded as authoritative by the vast majority of church members. They would not call this an addition to the canon of Scripture, though with many it is hard to tell the difference. After I was no longer an SDA myself, I recall getting involved in the peripheries of an argument. One person peppered me with Ellen White quotations even though she knew I was no longer a church member. She then offered to send me a compilation of even more such statements. She treated Ellen White as part of the canon, not only authoritative for her personally, but also for me.

Accounts like that have led some evangelical observers to note that the Adventist commitment to Ellen White’s prophecies represents a departure from the Reformation principle of sola Scriptura. To cite Anthony Hoekema again:

Though Seventh-day Adventists claim to test Mrs. White’s writings by the Bible, they insist that the gift of prophecy which she possessed, and with which she therefore enriched their group, is a mark of the “remnant church.” This means that this gift sets the Seventh-day Adventists apart from all other groups. But other Christian groups also have the Bible. What, therefore, sets the Seventh-day Adventists apart is what they have in addition to the Bible, namely, the gift of prophecy as manifested in Mrs. White. But if they test Mrs. White’s writings by the Bible, as they say, and if the Bible is really their final authority, what do they really have which sets them apart from other groups? It is quite clear at this point that Seventh-day Adventists do not really test Mrs. White’s writings by Scripture, but use them alongside of Scripture, and find in their use a mark of distinction that sets them apart from other groups. (Four Major Cults, 104)

7. Do Seventh-day Adventists insist on the necessity of Saturday (Sabbath) worship?

Yes. They teach that the Fourth Commandment is binding on Christians today. Fundamental Belief #20 states:

The fourth commandment of God’s unchangeable law requires the observance of this seventh-day Sabbath as the day of rest, worship, and ministry in harmony with the teaching and practice of Jesus, the Lord of the Sabbath.

For Seventh-day Adventists, worshiping on Saturday is not a matter of Christian liberty (cf. Rom. 14:5; Col. 2:17). It is seen as a binding requirement on all believers.

On the one hand, Seventh-day Adventists deny that keeping the Sabbath is a way of earning salvation. At the same time, however, they teach that knowingly breaking the Sabbath (as with any of the Ten Commandments) will prevent one’s entrance into heaven. As Adventist author Francis Nichol explains: “[We] conclude that although Sabbathkeepping cannot secure us admission into heaven, Sabbathbreaking will certainly prevent our entrance” (Answers to Objections, 248).

From the perspective of many evangelicals, the SDA position constitutes an unbiblical form of legalism, in which Sabbath-keeping is seen as necessary for maintaining one’s salvation. In the words of Harold Lindsell:

If men now or later must keep the Sabbath to demonstrate their salvation or to prevent their being lost, then grace is no more grace. Rather, we are saved by grace and kept by works. (“What of Seventh-day Adventism,” 15; cf. Hoekema, Four Major Cults, 126)

8. Did Ellen G. White teach that Sunday worship is the mark of the beast?

Yes. However, I did have to edit my earlier article on that point. White’s teaching was that the mark of the beast would be received by those in the end times who worshiped on Sunday. In the meantime, those who worship on Sunday now are not condemned (at least not until they come to understand the obligation to observe the Sabbath on Saturday).

To cite Ellen White:

No one has yet received the mark of the beast. The testing time has not yet come. There are true Christians in every church, not excepting the Roman Catholic communion. None are condemned until they have had the light and have seen the obligation of the fourth commandment. But when the decree shall go forth enforcing the counterfeit sabbath, and the loud cry of the third angel shall warn men against the worship of the beast and his image, the line will be clearly drawn between the false and the true. Then those who still continue in transgression will receive the mark of the beast. (Evangelism, 234–235; Cf. The Great Controversy, 449)

In The Great Controversy, White further underscores the importance of Sabbath from the SDA perspective:

The enemies of God’s law, from the ministers down to the least among them, have a new conception of truth and duty. Too late they see that the Sabbath of the fourth commandment is the seal of the living God. Too late they see the true nature of their spurious sabbath and the sandy foundation upon which they have been building. They find that they have been fighting against God. Religious teachers have led souls to perdition while professing to guide them to the gates of Paradise. Not until the day of final accounts will it be known how great is the responsibility of men in holy office and how terrible are the results of their unfaithfulness. Only in eternity can we rightly estimate the loss of a single soul. Fearful will be the doom of him to whom God shall say: Depart, thou wicked servant. (The Great Controversy, 640)

9. Do Seventh-day Adventists teach the doctrines of soul sleep and annihilationism?

One Facebook commentator, who self-identified as a Seventh-day Adventist, offered this retort to my video: “Doctrine of annihilation and soul sleep? Where did he pull that out of ? Never heard of it. I can tell he never step[ped] foot in a seventh day Adventist church lol.”

Since the objection was raised, I thought it might be worth noting that both of those doctrines are taught in the official Seventh-day Adventist doctrinal statement (though using different terminology). Regarding soul sleep (the unconscious state of the dead prior to the resurrection), Fundamental Belief #27 states, “Until that day death is an unconscious state for all people.”

Regarding the annihilation of the wicked and conditional immortality (that punishment in hell will be temporary because immortality is conditional and given only to believers), Fundamental Belief #28 states, “The unrighteous dead will then be resurrected, and with Satan and his angels will surround the city; but fire from God will consume them and cleanse the earth. The universe will thus be freed of sin and sinners forever.” (See also Fundamental Belief #9.)

10. Is Seventh-day Adventism a cult?

As noted above, there is disagreement among evangelicals as to what label ought to be used to describe the SDA movement. Those looking for both sides of the issue may be interested to read Kingdom of the Cults by Walter Martin (which argues that SDA is not a cult) and The Four Major Cults by Anthony Hoekema (which argues that it is).

As for me, my view of Seventh-day Adventist doctrine is more negative than positive. Consequently, I stand by my conclusion in last week’s article:

The primary issues that separate Seventh-day Adventists from biblical Christianity are (1) their unorthodox view of Christ’s work of atonement; (2) their illegitimate elevation of Ellen G. White’s prophecies; and (3) their legalistic insistence that believers are bound to observe the Sabbath and Mosaic dietary laws.

All three of these issues touch fundamental doctrines of the Christian faith. It is for that reason that evangelicals ought to view SDA theology with great caution. Upon examination, its doctrinal distinctives fall short of biblical orthodoxy.

This article was simultaneously posted on Preachers & Preaching.

Nathan Busenitz

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Nathan serves on the pastoral staff of Grace Church and teaches theology at The Master's Seminary in Los Angeles.
  • 4Commencefiring4

    Perhaps a fundamental question which affects all issues of doctrine is this: Can it be asserted that anyone who is truly saved, who has been “born from above”, who is one of His sheep who hears His voice, is thus insulated from all error and misunderstanding of truth? Do we all know what is true in all areas just because we know Him? Peter, you’ll recall, was confronted by Paul over his error regarding the Jews and OT law in the age of the New Covenant. So salvation doesn’t confer All Proper Knowledge.

    There are people whose salvation we would not doubt for a minute, yet who believe things we don’t about baptism, church leadership, eschatology, the Holy Spirit, faith and practice, etc. But then the further question is: What can one misunderstand and wrongly follow, yet still be a child of God who is heaven bound? Or alternatively, what wrong beliefs are a dead giveaway that one is actually NOT saved?

    I don’t know the answer. It’s easy to say that we just “follow the Bible.” But lots of us say we do, while others–who say the same–wonder if we’re off our nut regarding this or that.

    • Archepoimen follower

      Yes, you are correct that there is much disagreement among believers in many areas. The issue is not absolute agreement on all issues but unity in the essentials, yes, I know even what is essential is disagreed about! Yet, some issues are so vital to our faith that to deviate on them is tantamount to a different faith. Of the 3 issues that Nathan identifies in his conclusion, there can be no legitimate disagreement that Christ’s atoning sacrifice and it’s completion on the cross defines Orthodoxy.
      Those who deny our Saviour’s proclamation from the cross, ” that it is finished” regardless of other sound beliefs are heretical and any group who professes so is religiously a Cult!
      Are there Christians in Adventism, yes, but only where they acknowledge the Truth in spite of Adventism teaching.


    • Jane Hildebrand

      Ellen White was a prophetess who claimed to have direct visions from God. Yet, despite her predictions failing and her teachings contradicting scripture, her followers remain. Therefore, this is more than just having wrong beliefs, it’s about who they are placing their faith in to hear from God.

      So to me the question is not so much can people be saved despite this error, but more so would God not be faithful to lead His own away from it? I personally believe He would.

    • Perhaps a fundamental question which affects all issues of doctrine is this: Can it be asserted that anyone who is truly saved, who has been “born from above”, who is one of His sheep who hears His voice, is thus insulated from all error and misunderstanding of truth?

      Not from all error and misunderstanding of truth, no. But certainly from some error and misunderstanding of truth. All error is not equally damaging. We know that there are some errors that, if believed, are damning, and indicate that one is not truly saved, because the Apostle Paul wrote Galatians 1:8-10.

      And he wrote it about the error of the Judaizers, which, if you think about it, by some evaluations was quite a fine point of doctrinal disagreement. Think about everything the Judaizers shared in common with the faith once for all delivered to the saints. They believed in one God, eternally existing in three Persons, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. They believed in the deity and humanity of Christ. They believed that He was Israel’s Messiah in fulfillment of the Old Testament. They believed in penal substitutionary atonement — that Christ was crucified for His people’s sins such that they might be free from them. They believed that He was buried and rose on the third day. And they believed that repentance and faith in Christ was absolutely necessary for forgiveness of sins and fellowship with God in heaven. Their one issue boiled down, basically, to whether good works were the cause or the result of salvation. Was lawkeeping the ground or merely the evidence of saving faith. Are we saved by faith alone, or by faith in Christ plus our religious observance?

      Now, that’s a lot to get right! And the point of disagreement is an admittedly fine distinction! And yet Paul still employs the harshest language of condemnation for their error. “A different gospel.” “No true gospel at all.” “Let him be anathema” — condemned to hell. “Severed from Christ.” “I wish they would emasculate themselves.” “They will bear their judgment.”

      So, at the very least, we have to admit that there certain things, which, if believed, preclude someone from having salvation, because to believe those things is to believe a different gospel, which is really no true gospel at all, and therefore which cannot save but can only condemn.

      That brings us to your follow-up question:

      What can one misunderstand and wrongly follow, yet still be a child of God who is heaven bound? Or alternatively, what wrong beliefs are a dead giveaway that one is actually NOT saved?

      Why did Paul speak so damningly of the Judaizers’ doctrine? It’s because there was something fundamental to that teaching that denied — was mutually exclusive to — the Gospel of grace. I think that’s how we answer your question. The wrong beliefs that indicate someone is not saved are those things, which believed, are necessarily denials of the Gospel of salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone apart from works. So we have to ask ourselves, “Does this teaching undermine the Gospel in any way?” And we can ask any number of questions at that point.

      (1) Soteriological: Does it teach us to trust in ourselves to contribute to our righteousness before God, even in part? Does this teaching encourage us to trust in anything else other than Christ alone for righteousness? Does this teaching teach us that salvation is something other than our redemption and deliverance from sin through the work of God in Christ?

      (2) Theology Proper: Does this teaching affirm something about God that is so false, so antithetical to His nature that to believe it is to truly believe in a different God, and not the God of Scripture?

      (3) Christological: Does this teaching affirm something about the person of Christ that is so false, so antithetical to His nature that to believe it is to truly believe in a different Jesus?

      (4) Pneumatological: Does this teaching affirm something about the person of the Holy Spirit that is so false, so antithetical to His nature that to believe it is to truly believe in a different God?

      (5) Trinitarian: Does this teaching so distort the doctrines of either (a) the trinity or (b) the unity of the Godhead, that to believe it is to undermine God’s triunity, and thus to cause us to believe in a different God?

      (6) Bibliological: Does this teaching so distort the doctrine of Scripture that it undermines biblical authority? The basis for all theological discussion is the authority of Scripture. Does this teaching deny that authority in such a way as to invest that authority in oneself, another man, or a tribunal of men?

      If you answer yes to any one of these questions, I think it earns the same kind of response that Paul gives in Galatians 1:8-10.
      I wanted to address one other comment you made because I found it interesting.

      There are people whose salvation we would not doubt for a minute, yet who believe things we don’t about baptism, church leadership, eschatology, the Holy Spirit, faith and practice….
      That struck me as intriguing. Whoever these people are, why wouldn’t we doubt their salvation for a minute? I’m assuming it’s because of things they say or do that seem to testify to some sort of genuine love for God. But the point I want to make is: we are saved by faith in Christ. The fundamental issue of salvation is what we believe, not any kind of sincerity that we may manifest in our speech or behavior. If our instinct to not doubt one’s salvation stems from something other than what they believe, I think we’ve already departed from the implications of a sound, biblical soteriology.
      Now, I agree that certain disagreements on the mode or proper recipients of baptism, church government structures, eschatology, and issues of spiritual gifts may not be the kinds of disagreements as outlined in the six points above. But that doesn’t mean the determining factor in trying to discern whether one is a brother or not isn’t one’s doctrinal beliefs. It must be. Because we are saved by faith. And as soon as we ask, “Faith in what?” we are discussing doctrine. We are not saved by believing in sound doctrine, but the faith by which we are saved is of necessity doctrinally sound.
      Hope that helps.

      • Jane Hildebrand

        This is why I love the C-gate. My online seminary. 🙂

      • Reagan

        Excellent response. This comment deserves its own blog post.

      • chrisleduc1

        I finally found a video of what it looks like when of Pastor Mike responds to comments:

      • Archepoimen follower

        This issue of “faith in what” that you say leads to discussing doctrine seems to be a major source of confusion! First, as I stated in my earlier response to 4cf4, I am convinced that there are doctrines that are essential. However, my answer to “faith in what” is to reply “faith in Christ’s faithfulness!” This is where saving faith lies, not in any doctrine per se. His righteousness is imputed to us as a result of His faithfulness, obedience even to death on a cross. This separates the Object of our faith from our quantity of faith or ability to believe and is why we can disagree about some areas of doctrine and still be brothers & sisters in Christ.


        • You do realize that after saying this: “This is where saving faith lies, not in any doctrine per se,” you go on to discuss the… ahem… doctrine of imputation. 🙂

          See, as soon as you say, “Faith in Christ’s faithfulness,” you have to ask, “What is that faithfulness?” or “What does faith mean?” or “Who is this Christ who was faithful?” The answers to all of those questions are doctrines — doctrines which define the proper object of our faith.

          • Archepoimen follower

            Of course! My point was not to denigrate doctrine, we can not defend or identify our beliefs without it! Yet, doctrine does not save, Jesus does! Not our faith but His faithfulness saves us! Proper doctrine is necessary but not sufficient!


  • Machel

    #6 is very similar to the Catholic view of the Magisterium as the authoritative interpreter of scripture. Scripture means what the pope or Ellen White says it means. These groups can say scripture is their authority, but ultimate authority lies with the authoritative interpreter. So in practice scripture is subservient to the diktats of Rome, or the ‘prophecies’ of Ellen White.

    To the Christian, this is a wee bit problematic.

    • Rachel

      Yes, cults are like that sadly. The average Catholic believes what they believe “Because the Church says so” that same church also says they are the one true church…So they are basing truth upon an establishment and not God Himself and His unchanging written Word. It is a spiritual blindness as much as it is manipulation, because at the same time these lost folks desire to bring God the works of their own hands (like Cain) in rejection of Christ as Savior all by himself, the Roman system just happens to be the system that allows them to hang on to what they want to do: create a standard of righteousness for themselves because they refuse to submit to God’s, like the Jews did and like everyone does who practices works-based false religion, which is all Except Biblical Christianity that takes Jesus at His word when He said “It is Finished” & “I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do.” knowing that the plan of God was to send Christ to redeem a particular people by His death, burial and resurrection and He accomplished all 3 on behalf of His people, which was why He was raised from the dead. If the Roman Church said tomorrow everyone goes to heaven if they simply do good but do not have to repent & acknowledge the Lordship of Christ (as Francis has said) they would believe that because that is their final authority and because the Bible is a sub authority and not even that in practice they have nowhere to go to test anything they are taught, and quite frankly they aren’t that interested in testing, but more interested in defending.

    • BruceS

      Was it problematic to Athanasius?

  • fundamentals

    “But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed.” Galatians 1:8

    To the Adventists reading this: REPENT and forsake man-made religion.

  • Interesting to be quoted from a relatively low distribution book, which was in turn seen by a friend.

    I have two concerns: First that we not judge individuals on the basis of the group. I’m a member of a United Methodist congregation, and from the glass house that is United Methodism, I fear to throw stones. Second, that we may fall into a sort of justification by correct doctrine in place of by works.

    Doubtless it is important to TEACH good doctrine, but God’s grace does not depend on our efforts even in this.

    Thus I see the finished work of Christ as the most important issue raised. The commonly taught SDA doctrine of the investigative judgment, in my view, is contradictory to a completed atonement and thus leads to other problems. That, combined with another frequent SDA view, that SDAs are the remnant, faithful to God, identified by the sign of Sabbath keeping, makes for a fellowship and ministry problem. Yet many SDAs don’t hold either of these views.

    So just as I can’t be certain when I enter a UM congregation that teaches the gospel (I know even pastors who would barely call THEMSELVES Christian) I must choose those SDAs with whom I can share fruitfully in ministry. And there are a number of those.

    And all things considered, I would guess that some statements in the book cited (When People Speak for God) would cause people to question MY orthodoxy as well.

    • fundamentals

      God is not the author of confusion……

  • Doug Evans

    The legalism alone should alert a Christian to the cultishness of this group. Salvation through works (Investigative Judgement), Salvation through baptism (Seventh-day Adventists Believe, pp. 182, 184, 187) and legalism right down to diet (“The time is near when, because of the iniquity of the fallen race, the whole animal creation will groan under the diseases that curse the earth” – Testimonies to the Church, Vol. 7, p. 135)

    The Seventh Day Adventists trace their roots back to the Burned Over District of Western New York. The burned-over district refers to Western New York in the early 19th century where religious revivals and the formation of new religions took place. A lot of strangeness came out of this area. Keep in mind that in the early 19th century, Western New York was the “wild west” (think backwoods Kentucky with a Chicago accent). Folks were hard working, self taught, and clergy were rare.

    Evangelists that ventured into the hinterlands of Western New York achieved many converts to Protestant denominations, such as Congregationalists, Baptists, and Methodists. However due to thelack of clergy the people of the remote regions were easy prey for religious charlatans, heretics, and spiritual con-men. Western New York is the birth place of Mormonism, the Millerites, the Shakers, the Oneida Community (a polygamous cult), Spiritualism, the “Social Gospel”, and the Ouija board.

    The SDA evolved from the failed doomsday cult, the Millerites, and justified Miller’s failed End Times prophesy with Ellen G. White’s claim that on the day that Miller claimed Christ would return, October 22, 1844, instead of instead of returning, Christ Jesus just moved from his holy place to a Most Holy Place. The SDA brought us teaching like that and the Clear Word Bible (think “the Message” but not as horrific). The SDA claims it’s not their book but it was written by an SDA elder and distributed by the Pacific Press Publishing Association which is owned and operated by the Seventh-day Adventist Church

    • Jane Hildebrand

      If I remember right, the Jehovah’s Witnesses were also born out of the Millerites. Interesting how they too predicted Christ’s return in 1914 and when that failed they redefined that date as when Christ began his invisible kingdom reign over earth. White washed tombs.

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  • Jason

    Why would people deny placing the messages of Ellen White on par with the prophecies recorded in scripture if they believe them to be inspired by God?

    This is a question more broad than just the SDA too. Prophecy is someone speaking a message from God. If the person is not a false prophet, than why can’t we take the messages they deliver as true and authoritative? Does God tend to get things more right when he takes the time to write his thoughts out?

    If they are presuming to speak on the authority of God they either have that authority (and you had better treat it as the Word of God) or they don’t and they are a false prophet and disciplinary steps should be taken.

    This just seems like an attempt to straddle the fence. On one hand they can defend against outside scrutiny by claiming that the Bible is their ultimate authority so discerning the validity of their “prophet” is pointless, and on the other they get to keep claiming that people should listen because their “prophet” is speaking for God.

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  • tovlogos

    “While unfounded name-calling doesn’t bother me…”

    I’m glad to hear that — devils are experts at accusing, denouncing, discouraging, and oppressing (as you know) particularly believers, sometimes to the point of suicide.

  • JohnBoy

    Thank you for showing me how to spell Hoekema – I didn’t realize that there were TWO people of a very similar name. Anthony Hoekema is NOT to be confused with Hypercalvinist and Forbidder of Marriage (to the irremediably divorced), Hermann Hoeksema!

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  • Lakhram Gopaul

    Im a Seventh Day Adventist christian. I observe the Sabbath with great joy, not from a sense of obligation, but with the conviction that it is one of God’s commandments. Just like not committing adultery and all the rest…I sincerely think that christians who disregard the Lord’s Sabbath are in error. May God open our eyes that all of us may see clearly.

  • Lakhram Gopaul

    why dont sunday christians become monday or tuesday christians? just a question to provoke a thought. doctrines of churches can be debated, but not the ten commandments. the investigative judgement can be questioned. whether it is happening or not is of no consequence if we disobey God wilfully.Rev 22:14,15.

  • Lakhram Gopaul

    Mat_5:19 Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

    • Jane Hildebrand

      Lakhram, the Sabbath was a foreshadowing of the rest we would enter when we would cease from our works and rest in Christ’s finished work on the cross through faith. Read Hebrews chapter 4 to better understand this beautiful symbolism.

      • Archepoimen follower

        This is indeed a common error. We Christians rightly affirm the inspiration of the OT, yet fail to realize that it’s (OT) true purpose was fulfilled in Jesus. Hebrews is written with just this purpose in mind, to remind Jewish Christians that to return to their OT beliefs was now insufficient since Jesus was both the author and completion of their Faith.

        Do I celebrate Hanukkah, yes, because Jesus as the Light of the world is proclaimed in it! What a difference this makes as we view how God revealed Yeshua Moshiach even to our fathers as they were rescued from Egypt! This is why Peter can say that even the Prophets probed into the Who and when of the Messiah they wrote about!


      • Lakhram Gopaul

        Jane, I read Hebrews 3 and 4.

        Heb 4:9 There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God.

        Heb 4:10 For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his.

        As I enter into His rest, I demonstrate that I cease from my own works and trust in the completed work of Jesus.

        Also the Sabbath was given to man before the entrance of sin.

        Also the Sabbath will be observed in the earth made new.

        Isa 66:22 For as the new heavens and the new earth, which I will make, shall remain before me, saith the LORD, so shall your seed and your name remain.

        Isa 66:23 And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another, and from one sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith the LORD.

        As a child of God, I obey not to be saved, but because I am saved.

        Rev 14:12 Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.

        • chrisleduc1


          In your effort to prove that Christians are to observe the 4th commandment, you quoted both Rev 14:12 and Matt 5:19. Does this mean that you believe that every time the english word “commandments” is used in the New Testament that it refers to the 10 commandment, and only the 10 commandments?

          • Lakhram Gopaul

            im not much learned in exact meaning of words as in greek and hebrew meanings, but this i know…He who set me free from the bondage of sin said ” if you love Me keep my commandments”

          • chrisleduc1

            That’s why I asked you about the English translation. Again you’ve quoted from a verse that uses the English word “commandments” to show why you feel the 4th commandment must be kept. So again I ask, when Jesus, a Jew speaking to other Jews used the word “commandment(s)” was He referring to only to the entire 10 commandments and nothing else in the Old Testament? Or did He and/other Jews use that word to refer to more of the Old Testament law than just the 10 commandments? I ask because it seems that you’ve reduced the meaning of that word down to nothing more than just the 10 commandments and so I want to make sure I understand what you are saying since you’ve made so many assertive posts and continue to quote Scripture that mentions commandments to show us what you think the Bible says we are supposed to do.

          • Lakhram Gopaul

            Am I not allowed to quote scripture? I thought this forum was for edifying each other.

            2Ti_3:16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.

            Heb_4:12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart

            My only sure foundation is the word of God. Not the opinion of the multitude.

            I live as a christian by the grace of God. God’s word is final for me. as i think it should be for any christian. If God’s word tells me my face is black, then my face is black. I only do that for God’s word because I trust Him. He died for me.

          • chrisleduc1

            I’m not sure why this is such a hard question… It’s pretty simple really.

            I love it that you’re quoting Scripture. But it’s the actual meaning that’s important.

            Simply quoting every time the New Testament mentions keeping the commandments does not prove that “commandments ” means the 10 commandments and only the 10 commandments.

            What I am simply asking you is if you think those verses you are refining to mean nothing but the entire 10 commandment, nothing more nothing less. It’s not a trick question and unless you have something to hide you should be able to explain what Jesus meant.

          • Lakhram Gopaul

            whether “commandments” means the 10 commandments only or not is irrelevant. if the Lord says go someplace or do something that’s a commandment also. we should obey whatever the Lord asks us to do.

            a simple man like me understands that God desires us to live according to his will as expressed in the 10 commandments. It is the law of liberty.

            for the life of me I cant see how He would rip out the fourth commandment and leave all the others.

            we have been taught in the seventh day Adventist church that the mark of the beast is enforced Sunday worship.

            the importance of the Sabbath becomes apparent when we read revelation 14: 6 – 12.

            i believe that. with all my heart.

            narrow is the way that leads to life and few there be that finds it.

            if I am in error God who died for me is sure to let me know. I also know that He will now work contrary to His words.

            Isa_8:20 To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.

          • chrisleduc1

            “whether “commandments” means the 10 commandments only or not is irrelevant.”

            Thats one of the oddest comments I have read in a long time. What Jesus means be keeping his commandments is irrelevant? Surely you just?

            “the importance of the Sabbath becomes apparent when we read revelation 14: 6 – 12.”

            Again, you care a verse that talks about “keeping the commandments” and yet you think what Jesus actually means is irrelevant? Is that really how you love God – by saying “what you mean Jesus is really irrelevant” because that is what you are saying….

          • Archepoimen follower

            Yes, it is indeed the One who set us free who also said keep my commandments. The question is what are those commandments, which is the question Chris asked. I would ask you to read John 14 and answer this question based on the context within which Jesus is speaking.


          • Lakhram Gopaul


            I read John 14 and am of the same opinion still,even more sure as I checked the word for commandment..its entole, the same word in rev 12:17 and rev 22:14 . It means an authoritative unjuction…..

            also I found this..

            Mat 5:17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.

            Mat 5:18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.

            Mat 5:19 Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

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