This is my first post in a series on the Fundamental Beliefs and traditions of the Seventh Day Adventists. Specifically I will be critically analyzing many of the stated and historic beliefs that SDA claim to hold to.
Unlike the confessions and creeds found in thinking Christianity, what we have in Adventism is a series of political statements, that in my opinion are carefully crafted lies to those within and without Adventism. Too harsh? I don’t come to this conclusion in a vacuum. Keep reading as this series grows and make up your own mind.
The Holy Scriptures
“The Holy Scriptures, Old and New Testaments, are the written Word of God, given by divine inspiration. The inspired authors spoke and wrote as they were moved by the Holy Spirit. In this Word, God has committed to humanity the knowledge necessary for salvation. The Holy Scriptures are the supreme, authoritative, and the infallible revelation of His will. They are the standard of character, the test of experience, the definitive revealer of doctrines, and the trustworthy record of God’s acts in history.”
“Old and New Testaments, are the written Word of God“
My first question here is “which old testament?” and “which new testament?”. Are we talking about those found in the Clear Word? Are we talking about the King James Only? What about the original manuscripts? Textus Receptus or Critical Text? The Message Paraphrase? It doesn’t say.
If they simply mean a general confession of the teachings that doesn’t recognize the words as inspired, or something of that nature, then say so. But instead it leaves this open and I see no reason how educated doctors of theology could have done this by accident. Other denominations have confessions much more specific than this and they could have copied and pasted if they didn’t want to expend the energy typing it out.
“spoke and wrote as they were moved by the Holy Spirit”
This is a fair quote of scripture that has a wide range of interpretation when isolated from context. Thus, it begs the question what do they mean by this? Is every word inspired or did God just give the writers an emotional impression that they were free to relay as they saw fit?
In my opinion this is worded so that the reader can bring to it whatever it is they want to see. On the one hand a liberal or conservative Adventist can read it as they prefer. On the other hand, a concerned evangelist might get the impression that SDA believe in the Bible as they read their own understanding into the statement. In doing this the SDA have lied to their own people and to those outside of their bubble.
Following this you have a bunch of law statements. You are going to receive the “knowledge” you need for salvation and the example of God’s character etc. It’s not that I object to these statements on face value, it’s what they are leaving out that I object to. In the Bible we receive Law and Gospel. Both are true and they speak a different message. The law sets the standard you must personally achieve to be saved:
Of course, we all fail to meet that standard so praise God for the Gospel, which is also taught in scripture and should not be left out. Jesus has fulfilled these things and we need only faith given by God to rest in his completed work.
The Biblical teachings of law and gospel are pervasive throughout the entire canon. It’s in the narrative, it’s in the prophecy, it’s in the teachings, it’s in everything. Furthermore a distinction has to be made between them because they are oil and water. You can’t be saved by the law because you cannot be perfect, all have sinned.
Also, the Gospel has no meaning without the law. Why do you need to be saved by Jesus if there is nothing to be saved from? If you only confess one half of this dichotomy then you lose both.
In this confession of scripture the SDA have failed to clearly define what exactly is inspired and what exactly inspiration means to them. To fill the gaps one is logically going to have to turn to another source. Furthermore, they have only given the reader half of a view of scripture. They are only seeing the law and in this confession the gospel is not communicated. Even when it mentions salvation it only conveys it in a context of law.
This is very sad, and at the end of the day you are left with a political statement meant to be interpreted as the reader wills rather than a confessional statement of clarity and faith. Political statements are appropriate for politicians and institutions of the flesh. It is shameful that an organization claiming to represent Christ’s Church, and calls it’s conference the highest authority on planet earth, has failed so miserably in proclaiming a truthful confession of faith to its own flock. Instead we are left with a lie intended to mislead both those within to keep them in and those without to keep them from looking closer.
I very much appreciate your personal work, Anthony. You are a theologian of your own kind which clarifies the finer points of what the Bible is all about. God bless you for your noble endeavor.
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Hey thank you so much!