Adventist Media Response and Conversation

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Is Adventist Great Controversy Unique?

There is a fairly persistent idea that I hear Adventists say. It is about how unique Adventist's Great Controversy theme is. Here are a couple examples:

From a poster on Heavenly

One doctrine that is unique to the SDA faith is the great controversy theme (fundamental belief #8).

From the book MORE THAN A PROPHET ... by Graeme Bradford

The Great Controversy theme. An understanding of this theme is unique to Adventists.

What I had not really noticed before was that in our fundamental belief #8 we have defined this supposedly unique Adventist idea. But strangely enough there is nothing really unique in it.

8. Great Controversy:

All humanity is now involved in a great controversy between Christ and Satan regarding the character of God, His law, and His sovereignty over the universe. This conflict originated in heaven when a created being, endowed with freedom of choice, in self-exaltation became Satan, God's adversary, and led into rebellion a portion of the angels. He introduced the spirit of rebellion into this world when he led Adam and Eve into sin. This human sin resulted in the distortion of the image of God in humanity, the disordering of the created world, and its eventual devastation at the time of the worldwide flood. Observed by the whole creation, this world became the arena of the universal conflict, out of which the God of love will ultimately be vindicated. To assist His people in this controversy, Christ sends the Holy Spirit and the loyal angels to guide, protect, and sustain them in the way of salvation. (Rev. 12:4-9; Isa. 14:12-14; Eze. 28:12-18; Gen. 3; Rom. 1:19-32; 5:12-21; 8:19-22; Gen. 6-8; 2 Peter 3:6; 1 Cor. 4:9; Heb. 1:14.)

It begins with the standard Christian Lucifer myth which began with Origen and Tertullian about 300 AD and is widely accepted throughout Christianity. About the only thing that is unique to Adventism is the line which says: “Observed by the whole creation, this world became the arena of the universal conflict,” which implies that there are unfallen worlds watching the conflict here. At least it is implied in the fundamental belief we know that the concept of unfallen worlds watching is provided in the writings of Ellen White. The idea that we are a spectacle to men and angels is however related in the Bible and again widely accepted in Christianity.

Some examples of other Christians writing depicting the same things as the major portions of Fundamental belief 8.

Charles Spurgen Christ the Conqueror of Satan

World Wide Church of God Satan: God’s Defeated Adversary

A Journal of Reformed Fellowship Inc. Looking Above

John Milton Paradise Lost

Spiritual Warfare: A Biblical Study on the Raging War Between Light and Darkness

Catachism of the Catholic church ARTICLE I "I BELIEVE IN GOD THE FATHER ALMIGHTY, CREATOR OF HEAVEN AND EARTH" Paragraph 7. The Fall

Latter day Saints The War in Heaven on Earth Today

I could go on an on with this but the point is that if this is really what Adventists believe about the great controversy then there is very little that is unique to the idea. In my opinion what most Adventists mean by the phrase Great Controversy theme is all the extra material that Ellen White adds about Lucifer before the fall, the Adam and Eve story, the story of Job and the crucifixion of Christ. Because it is only her additions that make anything unique and those things are not even included in the Fundamental belief.

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