Adventist Media Response and Conversation

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Breakaway - Traditional SDA Letter

There is a letter posted on the Abundant Rest blog which is interesting in the way it presents the way some Traditional SDA’s feel about the church today.

The letter begins:
Dear Friends,

I have been S.D.A. for some thirty years. During this time, not once have I contacted the Conference by phone or letter to complain or criticize - nor is this my wish now.

May I say that I believe:

1. The 25 fundamentals as taught by our early pioneers

2. The ministry of Ellen White

3. Health reform

4. Dress Reform

5. Sabbath reform

6. Christian recreation

7. True Christian education, etc.

And it is my desire and determination to teach these principles to others, and practice them by God's grace, and His indwelling Holy Spirit.

What is my concern?

1. Changes in our fundamental beliefs

2. Pastors and teachers who do not believe in the Spirit of Prophecy or our doctrines

3. Leaders and lay members alike who do not believe in health reform, dress reform, Sabbath reform, Christian recreation, or true Christian education, etc.

What is interesting is that this person believes in the 25 Fundamental Beliefs. This appears to be a reference to list produced in 1872 which includes the Semi-Arian view of Christ and even goes into the 1844 disappointment and the specifics about the Investigative Judgment.

What is equally interesting is that nowhere in those 25 beliefs is there any reference to Ellen G. White as a prophet or as the Spirit of Prophecy. Yet in the letter writer’s mind Ellen White is clearly something he is bothered by, saying that Pastors and Teachers do not believe in her as the Spirit of Prophecy. The Spirit of prophecy was not mentioned in the 1872 list but was in the 1931 list as well as that of 1980 and today.

As you read the letter you will see most of his examples are related to concerns he sees based upon his understanding of Ellen White such as “Drama and mime in church, seeking worldly education, or accreditation for our schools, earning or conferring Degrees and use of, or prescribing drugs.”

In a book review of George Knight’s and Rolf Poehler’s books Alden Thompson in 2001 entitled "Gored by Every Sharp Tongue?". Thompson makes the following statement.

The next paragraph cites the evidence, noting that several of the pioneers would not have accepted belief #2 on the Trinity. Quoting Knight: "For Joseph Bates the Trinity was an unscriptural doctrine..., for James White it was that `old Trinitarian absurdity'..., and for M. E. Cornell it was a fruit of the great apostasy, along with such false doctrines as Sundaykeeping and the immortality of the soul."(9)

Standard Adventist sources typically have admitted that certain pioneers rejected the Trinity (e.g. Joseph Bates, James White, Uriah Smith). But they also tend to minimize the significance of this fact. The article on "Christology" in the most recent edition of the SDA Encyclopedia (1996), for example, notes that some non-Trinitarians retained this belief when they became Adventists:...

Both Knight and Poehler cite the vivid anti-Trinitarian language of J. S. Washburn, a retired Adventist minister. In 1920, for example, Washburn accused W. W. Prescott of introducing the "deadly heresy" of the Trinity into Adventism.(12) As late as 1940, this same Washburn denounced the Trinity as "a cruel heathen monstrosity,... an impossible absurd invention,... a blasphemous burlesque,... a bungling, absurd, irreverent caricature."(13) Knight quotes Washburn from the same source as calling the Trinity a "monstrous doctrine transplanted from heathenism into the Roman Papal Church."(14)

Quite remarkable how Ellen White is now a fundamental belief and the Semi-Arian view of Christ is no longer a fundamental belief. Clearly the Traditional SDA is not complaining about Ellen White’s incorporation into fundamental beliefs, as the writer above uses her views far more then the Bible. So their desire is clearly to move back to particular SDA beliefs. If not then as the letter writer says: “The denomination is no longer Seventh-day Adventist.”

So who should decide the future of the SDA church?


al said...

So who should decide the future of the SDA church? Answer: Every member by just living their lives are determining what the future church will look like. Those who can remember or even care about 25 fundamental beliefs are departing everyday and their replacements have other things on their minds.

Anonymous said...

"So who should decide the future of the SDA church?"

That question was permanently answered decades ago.

Michael said...

I wonder what some of the other things we have our minds on today include? The latest theatrical production? The latest model of car or clothing? Perhaps we are interested in the latest way to bring in the 'seeker' to the mega-church?

And exactly who was it that decided who would decide the future of the church 'decades ago'? Oddly enough, I must have missed the memo. Would you be so kind as to enlighten me? I thought GOD would choose the ultimate outcome of His people...

The Historic Adventist

Grumpet said...

Historic Adventist,

Ellen White stated that your private judgment must submit to that of the general conference of SDA’s because it’s the highest authority God has placed on the earth.

This means that despite how sincere you are in your heresy your interpretation of the Bible is only correct provided it agrees with that of the General Conference.


Anonymous said...

i'm due for a program in my church on why the youth should stay out of sex before marriage and i want bible quotations and facts on this issue.please my email is and my name is Jonathan Sackey thank you.