Adventist Media Response and Conversation

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Time to take back the Adventist Church

A while ago the following article was submitted to Adventist Today who appear to have rejected the article for publication so in fairness I thought I would publish it here as it almost seems prophetic when we consider the events of the recent General Conference selection of President and his sermon this last week.

Time to take back the Adventist Church

We have all noticed it, the diverse opinions, views and beliefs that have found there way into the Seventh-day Adventist church. People calling themselves “progressive” or “liberal” or “moderates” or “evangelical” Adventists. Why there are even “cultural” Adventists and a few “agnostic” Adventists, don’t ask what that one means. It is all actually just an abundance of terms for “apostate” Adventists. The time has come for us to admit the fact that inside our church are vast numbers of confused Adventists who are in need of conversion and who have become stumbling blocks to real Adventists.

Because of this abundance of confusion within Adventism real Adventists have had to term themselves as “Traditional” Adventists (some may say “historic,” substantially the same, however, unless you get to talking about the Trinity). Traditional Adventists are the only Adventists that still hold to the pillars of our church. The Pillars that Ellen White warned us to never leave behind[1]. Traditionals are the Adventists who hold to the 28 Fundamental beliefs[2] (formerly 27 but with time more fundamental ideas occurred to us). Let’s be clear as President Obama is found of saying; “Traditional” Adventists are the only real Adventists and it is time we took our church back from the Adventists in name only.

Does that sound radical? It should not; traditional (real) Adventism remains normative in all official areas of the church.  The church in its formal, duly constituted General Conference Session established the 28 Fundamental beliefs and refers to them in both short and long forms of our baptismal vows. Under the term fundamental Bible principles or fundamental beliefs the vow will include all additional fundamental beliefs we may find or devise in the future as well. The long form:

11. Do you know and understand the fundamental Bible principles as taught by the Seventh-day Adventist Church? Do you purpose, by the grace of God, to fulfill His will by ordering your life in harmony with these principles?[3]

The short (alternate) form:

2. Do you accept the teachings of the Bible as expressed in the Statement of Fundamental Beliefs of the Seventh-day Adventist Church and do you pledge by God’s grace to live your life in harmony with these teachings?[4] (2005 SDA church manual page 33)

Notice that there is no proviso in either of these vows for the exercise of ones individual interpretation of, or understanding of the Bible. The vow is to understand and to live your life in harmony with the Adventist statement of Fundamental Beliefs. Fundamental Beliefs established by the General Conference in session, God’s highest authority on earth.[5]

One of those Fundamental Beliefs is that Ellen White is; “the Lord's messenger, and her writings are a continuing and authoritative source of truth which provide for the church comfort, guidance, instruction, and correction.” If Ellen White whose writings are a continuing and authoritative source of truth tells us not to abandon the historic pillars of the Adventist church we are left with no choice but to follow the traditional form of Adventism as the only group which adheres to those historic pillars as she taught them. The only group of Adventists who willing maintain that “private independence and private judgment must not be maintained” against the highest authority of the Lord on earth.[6]

It is a small sacrifice to give up one’s individual beliefs when there is a God given institution proclaiming the truth. It would be both folly and arrogance of the highest order to doubt either the church’s organizational structure or its decisions, Traditional Adventist have always allowed the questioning of the churches belief however they insist the members acknowledge the answers that Traditional Adventism supplies as truth.  To that end God has blest our church with publications which officially represent His chosen movement on earth for these times. With such resources at hand there is little excuse to go to the apostate Christian world for additional insight, and no reason to ignore the answers which the church leadership has supplied. “Doubt, and even disbelief of the testimonies of the Spirit of God, is leavening our churches everywhere.”[7]

Some might suggest that there were indeed times past when the individual was right and perhaps even had a duty to question the established mother church. Martin Luther rightly questioned the Roman Catholic Church.  Our own Adventist Pioneers questioned their respective churches and were often cast out from their apostate protestant denominations.  But, those times are past. Today the apostates have taken up residence inside our own denomination.

We cannot allow individual interpretations or application of present truth because the Adventist church unlike every other denomination is a prophetic movement of God -- the last true Remnant church of Revelation.[8] As

Those three defining characteristics describe Adventists as the only people who find their:

1. prophetic roots, or history, predicted in Revelation 10. 
2. prophetic identity defined in Revelation 12. 
3. prophetic message and mission given in Revelation 14.”[9]

That fact that we see ourselves as the fulfillment of certain passages of the book of Revelation is incontrovertible proof of the Adventist prophetic movement. It is evident then that when those in the Adventist church question our interpretation of the book of Revelation they are questioning our whole reason for existence.[10] They are questioning every doctrine we hold as true because they question our unique and distinctive nature. Thus, they are stumbling blocks, in the way of every truly believing Adventist because they deny the Fundamental beliefs which the Adventist leadership holds as being what the Bible teaches.

Individuals who question any of our fundamental beliefs of necessity end up questioning every one of our beliefs.  For instance, challenging the Substitutionary nature of the atonement whereby  Jesus had to pay a blood price to his Father for our sins would lead to the denial that God killed the first animal in Eden to give us the symbol of that Substitutionary future death. That might lead them to question the literal nature of the Genesis story and the weekly cycle on which the Sabbath rests and also open the door to the vast age of the earth as taught by worldly science with its death and predation before the fall of man. 

The Adventist church stands upon a precious if somewhat precarious chain of truth. The links in that chain dare not be disturbed.   They can never be doubted.  They must be accepted as they were first hammered out for us by those young people, led by the Spirit, 200 years ago in the farm houses of New England.  Or codified 30 years ago by the General Conference session in Dallas Texas.

To abandon a reliance on those truths as once delivered to those founders, as we stand on the verge of the Lord’s return would be to risk pushing Adventism into a whole new age of serious individual Bible study, to risk original individual interpretations or applications. Especially dangerous is the non traditional thinking among the young and inexperienced, the problems of excess enthusiasm are well known; Particularly among the young and inexperienced, people similar to those who founded our church.

Clearly our only protection is found in a universal commitment to our current traditional Adventist understanding – in thought and in action.  Those incapable of such commitment should flee their apostasy or flee their connection with the Adventist church.  As a stop gap measure it is now necessary for the organized church in each congregation to form boards of inquiry to lovingly investigate and seek to educate and motivate change in those who may have become confused as to their loyalties to God’s one true remnant church.  If necessary such guilty individuals who remain unrepentant would be remanded to similar bodies at the local Conference level for final review and disposition.  The time has come to develop an oath of allegiance to the Adventist church so that ultimately the board of inquiries could be dissolved and replaced by annual oath days filled with powerful sermons that recount our churches establishment as God’s remnant church and repeat our Fundamental beliefs. Oath Day services to be concluded with the solemn and moving recitation of the oath of allegiance and the signing of the written oath of allegiance.

It is well past time that the Seventh-day Adventist church prepare herself, pure and spotless, to be the bride of her Lord.  It is time we take up this issue this summer in Atlanta. Even so, Come Lord Jesus.  

[1]  Vol.4 Testimonies For the Church page 211 1875
[4] Ibid
[5] Vol.4 Testimonies For the Church page 492 1875
[6] Ibid
[7] Vol. 5 Testimonies For the Church page 217 1889
[10] The Remnant and the Adventist Church Ángel Manuel Rodríguez


Anonymous said...

I like this article, but don't think it is any more prophetic than predicting a train wreck when you see truck broken down on a track at night and know that the midnight express is headed that way.

I think we have a disaster on our hands. But the truth is, "they" are the majority and "we" will probably just get pushed out as you say. Or leave on our own accord (most of us). Sad. And it won't solve their problems at all.

Ted McMillan said...

You belong out. You have ideas all the other churches always had and all Adventists used to have before they received the special light. You then remark about how great all the other Christians are. There must be one reason then, why you people want to stay here, rant and babble and take up all avenues of knowledge to intercept: It must be BECAUSE YOU WANT TO FIGHT! If you want to fight, then it must be clear that you know how to fight.

What happened to the "Good O'l days" just before you guys became so prominent when you were schooling us in all this fictitious CLASSES business in the Adventist Church? What happened to the time when you were reproved for your heretical ideas that undercut the special unsealed truths and you then looked at us and relentlessly and relentlessly babbled that you were just a different CLASS of Adventists and that no one from any other CLASS should think himself DOGMATIC and uppity enough to denigrate any member of another class? You guys forget real quickly, for just the other day I saw an article castigating the "Traditional Adventists" for "Jesuit Hunting" instead of Ellen White hunting.

If your "Traditional Adventists" like to Jesuit-hunt, and you naturally feel threatened, why would you feel dogmatic and uppity enough to waste your time attacking them and focusing on them instead of Ellen White--I mean Christ?

I mean Ellen White?

They're just a different class! Those words don't sound familiar? Why can't you remember your own words? If you have that kind of amnesia, you might never remember that you're Jesuits.

You want to hunt for Ellen White, just calm down and keep quiet as we hunt down you Jesuits! I mean, Ellen White is dead 100 years! We can tell you where her remains are. What would upset you about us being able to detect the singular source of all the problems in the Adventist Church by detecting creatures that are still yet alive, still active, still causing trouble and still teaching other classes how to think like how they do in their "CLASS?"