Adventist Media Response and Conversation

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Adventist Mission Statement Gospel Restricted to SDA Doctrines

You have probably noticed that I am not putting up blog posts as often as I used to. Part of this is a reflection of the deep disappointment I feel in Adventism. See Addendum below for some examples.

One of the recent article on Adventist Today's website is entitled Have We Lost Sight of Our Mission? By Preston Foster. I will sum up the article by using some of the comments after the article. In response to a comment by John McClarty (in red) where he quotes Preston's original article (in bold) Preston explains his intent.
I'm not saying that our message isn't Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.  It is.  I'm not saying that the most important thing that anyone could ever discover isn't the love of Christ and the gift of salvation thru His sacrifice.  It is.
But those fundamental truths are not our mission."

Do you really mean to argue that our mission and message are separate from "the most important thing that anyone could ever discover"? Our mission is to help people discover the  second most important thing? The third most important thing?
Yes, that is exactly what I am positing.  The point is to differentiate between our message as Christians and our mission as a denomination.  Our message, like that of all Christian churches is Christ, and Him crucified.  That is the most important thing that any Christian can communicate to another human.  However, that is not the reason that this denomination exists.
(skip one paragraph)
As, perhaps, some of our brethren of other denominations were given light to see was was written about grace, we Adventists have been given a mission in regard to what has been written in Scripture about the Sabbath and its connection to identifying truth in the last days before the Second Advent.  Delivering that message is, in my view, the mission of this denomination, in the context of the body of Christ.
The problem here is not only with Preston's view of things. It is in fact the problem with the Adventist church that we create our doctrines as the official interpreter of the gospel. Let me explain the reason I say that lest I simply make unsupportable statements like the bloggers I have mentioned in the addendum. Adventists have a mission statement that is very peculiar. Until I was spurred by Preston's blog to examine our mission statement I did not realize the cryptic nature of our statement. The Adventist mission statement reads:
Our Mission
The mission of the Seventh-day Adventist Church is to make disciples of all people, communicating the everlasting gospel in the context of the three angels' messages of Revelation 14:6-12, leading them to accept Jesus as personal Savior and unite with His remnant Church, discipling them to serve Him as Lord and preparing them for His soon return.

Our mission statement which is given by the leaders to inform the organization how to carry out their mission includes the code language of Adventism namely the three angels' messages. If you read Revelation 14 you will not understand how it explains the everlasting gospel. It does not provide the context of the everlasting gospel. For that you would be better off reading the context of the Gospels, or even Paul then Revelation 14. But the three angels messages is code language for the distinctive Adventist doctrines. Even Wikipedia understands the code method of using the three angels' message to mean the SDA church. As their article quotes the SDA church manual:
"In accordance with God’s uniform dealing with mankind, warning them of coming events that will vitally affect their destiny, He has sent forth a proclamation of the approaching return of Christ. This preparatory message is symbolized by the three angels’ messages of Revelation 14, and meets its fulfillment in the great Second Advent Movement today. This has brought forth the remnant, or Seventh-day Adventist Church, keeping the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus." Seventh-day Adventist Church Manual[2]
In short The Adventist church is the Remnant and it is her doctrines that the remnant must proclaim, the Adventist church sees itself in the book of Revelation and in Revelation 14 as being those who keep the commandments of God and have the Faith of Jesus. As Hans K. LaRondelle states in his article The Remnant and the Three Angels’ Messages
Three key teachings, each developed independently, merged into one message that began to characterize the movement of the Sabbatarian Adventists: Christ’s final ministry in the sanctuary, the Sabbath as a sign of obedience to God’s commandments, and the application of the phrase “testimony of Jesus” to a new manifestation of the prophetic gift through Ellen G. White (1827– 1915) in the “remnant” church (Rev. 12:17; 14:12; 19:10). These distinctive concepts began to be integrated into a unified body of belief during six Bible conferences held in the northeastern United States in 1848. The participants held in common a belief that in the post-1844 period all biblical truth had to be restored among God’s remnant people before the Second Advent would take place. They agreed on seven principal points, which came to be called the “landmarks” or fundamentals. These formed the “firm platform” of present truth on which the emerging Seventhday Adventist Church was built. Specifically, they were (1) the imminent Second Advent, (2) the continuous historical interpretation of the major time prophecies of Daniel and Revelation, (3) the conditional immortality of human beings, (4) Christ’s beginning of His final ministry in the heavenly sanctuary in 1844, (5) the seventh-day Sabbath, (6) the renewed manifestation of the Spirit of Prophecy, and (7) the historical fulfillment of the three angels’ messages of Revelation.
What this all allows is that our mission becomes less about the Gospel and more about Adventist Doctrinal interpretations, the gospel according to Adventist doctrines. We see how important this is in the mission statement if we omit the part about remnant and three angels. Removed the statement would look like this:
The mission of the Seventh-day Adventist Church is to make disciples of all people, communicating the everlasting gospel , leading them to accept Jesus as personal Savior and unite with His Church, discipling them to serve Him as Lord and preparing them for His soon return

That would be a pretty good mission statement. Who would have a problem with that? But of course that is not our mission statement. Remember the purpose of a mission statement is primarily internal, for the organization:
A Mission Statement defines the organization's purpose and primary objectives. Its prime function is internal – to define the key measure or measures of the organization's success – and its prime audience is the leadership team and stockholders.

This shows that the Adventist church goal is to define and spread a gospel of it's own particular formulation. Preston on February 17 commented the following on the blog:
The filter that separates those who, in the last days, are listening to (and obeying) the authentic voice of God are, per Revelation 14:12.  That is, those "keep the commandments of God" as given in Exodus 20, "and have the testimony of Jesus."  It seems many Christians, by definition, "have the testimony of Jesus."  The differentiator, for many, will be "keeping the commandments of God," as opposed to the traditions of men.  The seventh-day Sabbath is the point of differentiation between the two.
For now I will ignore the misuse of Exodus 20 as the meaning of commandments rather then the New Testament meaning of the instructions of God and the fact that really no one is keeping all the commandments of God individually or as a denomination. We see that Preston defines the gospel along narrow Adventist remnant theology. Which is what the mission statement requires.

It does make me wonder, with a mission statement so self centered how will the Adventist church ever actually present the gospel?

Addendum: Edited 9:21 Pacific Time
Adventism appears to very quickly be moving into such a narrow cult-like religion that it seems somewhat pointless to point out the foolishness that is afflicting the church from the top down. All one has to do is read the Adventist Today Blog and see they have installed various bloggers with so little sense that it is appalling. A couple of cases as examples. Originally I cited this section as a preamble to my above article, but they are really separate issues and the importance of the mission statement should be seen without the personally feeling I have regarding the quality of material from the Adventist Today bloggers.

Stephen Foster Adventist Today blogger in the comments section of Ervin Taylors Blog says:
However, regarding the Godhead and The Plan of Salvation, I will quote/paraphrase the great Dr. Calvin B. Rock,to wit: if we try to understand it,we will lose our minds; but if we don’t believe it,we will lose our souls.
Later he will say that “try to understand it” is the same as totally or fully comprehend it. It is the technique of arguing by changing the meaning of the words after he said them. You can read the conversation at the blog. It is considerably frustrating to deal with people that are that completely illogical. It is rather like the person who just peed on you leg telling you that the liquid is not from them and that it is good for you and the ground also but it was not pee and you simply cannot understand that they never peed at all. Most all of Stephen Foster's blogs are like that as well, another example is the first paragraph of his most recent blog:
Yes, it is the undeniable fact that the God of the Bible does set before us life and death, and never changes those options, that has forced those who don't like that type of God, or don't think that type of God is worthy of worship, to reinvent Him in their own image. This is what all the postmodern, emergent, cross-over-Christian psychobabble is largely about, no doubt.
As if that opening tells us anything of the kind; that if one does not accept that God sets before us life and death then everything from postmodern, emergent Christianity is reinventing God in people's image. You will not find him logically setting forth his reasoning in any of his blogs on the subject just his presuppositions as fact and they are not intelligent presuppositions or anything close to facts. But he is not alone in this type of writing style. In Cindy Tutch's article last month also supposedly on emergent churches her beginning sentence is as follows: 
In the Adventist sanctuary doctrine, which is unique to our movement, we find a visual merger of relationship (Christ our High Priest), ancient roots (the Judaic Sanctuary rituals) and a common history (unfolding dialogue between the people and God). Satan targets this highly symbolic yet relational motif because it is the very heart of God's will and instructions regarding redemption, mission, spirituality, and even worship.
You know doubt wonder how it is that Satan targets this highly symbolic yet relational motif? Well you can keep wondering because as with the old “Satan made me do it claim” the claim is all that is necessary because they can't show how Satan made them do it nor can Cindy say how Satan targets the Adventist sanctuary doctrine which is highly symbolic yet relational. If you are a critical thinking person you can probably see another problem there in something being called highly symbolic yet relational. You might like to see that little idea delved into a bit...well you will have to wait for that and I would not suggest you hold your breath to find out about that little theory.


herman d maldonado said...

i have read both there (adventist today) and here and what comes to mind above all is the rock'em sock'em robots. if you are not familiar, let me explain. it's a kids toy from the 60's (i grew up with). they fought in a boxing ring, (controlled by us kids) to the point where one's head would fly up indicating you lost. my point: there is a whole lot of pointless punching going on to see which kid is better than the other ("nyah, nyah...i knocked your block off!). maybe that is the way you should all end your articles from now on..."nyah, nyah...take that" (with , of course, the rasberry sound [i hope i don't have to explain what a rasberry sound is])

another little tidbit of info: statistics showed that 65-75% of the time the red robot (maybe satan/devil/lucifer official color??) lost over the blue robot (i think we can safely say blue = good guys...maybe God and his crew??) but if you guys fight long enough, you WILL equal (50/50) each other in stupidity. oh wait...50/50 does not dictate a clear winner bad, oh well..."nyah, nyah (rasberry)!"

Ron Corson said...

Herman gives us the viewpoint of those who can't articulate an argument. These are the kinds of people that think that "trying to understand" is the equivalent to "fully comprehend". When people can't even understand the conversation they typically think it is meaningless. These kind of people look to others to tell them what to think because they fail to think for themselves. They in an establishment religion will choose the traditional form of the religion as their authority. Rather like the claim that statistically red wins 65-75% of the time. They simply believe what someone told them once and it dictates all of their understanding thereafter.

The problem here is you have the opportunity to grow and learn, I suggest you take it.

Elaine Nelson said...

Typical of most of the writers of articles for AToday is the same: they haven't a clue about what they profess to believe, but circumnavigate all of the water hoping to find a port where someone will say "amen.

Meanwhile, those who prefer logical explanations, especially to complex ideas, are buried in a torrent of words, often codes for whatever the writer chooses them to mean. Frustration!