Seventh Day Adventists
Headquarters in Washington, D.C. Organized
as representative democracy. Lower echelons elect representatives to higher
units; determination and administration of policy, enforcement of doctrinal
orthodoxy, imposed from top down. President,
and Executive Committee of General Conference are standing chief
administrative office. Lower administrative units are the General
Conference, Divisions (over continents), Union Conferences, local Conferences,
and congregations. Several small Universities and Colleges and numerous well
respected hospitals, are maintained worldwide.
Investigative Judgment," "Spirit of Prophecy," "Coming
into the Truth" (believing and living the full SDA message and
lifestyle), "Remnant Church."
world was predicted to end in 1844 with the Second Coming of Christ, by
William Miller, a New England Baptist itinerant preacher. Miller's followers condemned all the churches of the day as
apostate and "Babylon," and warned Christians to come out of them.
A great many did, and the "Adventist movement was born and grew
rapidly (Melton, J.Gordon, Encyclopaedia of American Religions, Vol. 2, pp. 21-22).
Christ did not appear in 1844. After
this "Great Disappointment," one "little flock" which
still insisted the date of their original predictions had been correct decided
the event marked by 1844, rather than the Second Coming, was the entrance of
Christ into the Holy of Holies in the Heavenly Sanctuary, where He began the
"Investigative Judgment." This
doctrine was received and endorsed by Ellen G. White (Ibid., p. 680). From
1844 to 1851 the group taught the "shut door" doctrine, based on
Jesus' parable of the ten virgins. Anyone
who had not accepted the Adventist message by the time Jesus entered the Holy
of Holies was to be shut out permanently, as were the five foolish virgins.
Cut off from the Bridegroom, they could not join the Adventists or have
any hope of eternal life. Ellen White not only approved and taught this doctrine, her
first vision experience was largely responsible for its being received by the
Adventist group (Brinsmead, Robert, D., Judged by the Gospel: A Review of
Adventism, pp. 130-33).
1846 the group adopted the Seventh‑day Baptists' view that the Saturday
Sabbath must be observed by Christians. A
highly elevated form of this doctrine, together with the doctrine of the
Investigative Judgment, became the hallmarks of Seventh day Adventism. In
1850 James and Ellen White began publishing a magazine, the Review &
Herald, to disseminate Adventist and Sabbatarian doctrines. This helped many
of the remaining "Millerite" to coalesce into a distinctive body
which adopted the name of Seventh day Adventist Church in 1860, and formally
incorporated in 1863, with approximately 3,500 members in 125 congregations (Encyclopedia
of American Religion, Vol. 2, p. 681).
White never held official title as the head of the church, but was one of its
founders and acknowledged spiritual leader. She rather disingenuously declined
to claim the title of "prophet," calling herself a
"messenger" instead (Damsteegt, P.G., et. al., Seventh‑day
Adventists Believe. . .,p. 224). But
she claimed to have the "spirit of prophecy," and that her messages
were direct from God for the guidance and instruction of the church.
With her knowledge and consent others called her a prophet, and even
"the Spirit of Prophecy" (Barnett, Maurice, Ellen G. White &
Inspiration, pp. 5‑17). Having
only a third grade education, Ellen White said for years she was unable to
read, bolstering the claim that her beautiful prose was inspired by God.
However, it has been discovered that she not only ready but plagiarized
other Christian authors through virtually all her writings. The sad facts of
this matter have been thoroughly and indisputably established in several
books. (e.g., see; Rea, Walter,
The White Lie; and, Judged by the Gospel, pp. 361-383).
Ellen White died in 1915 at age eighty eight.
Christians have had difficulty defining and categorizing SDA. Much SDA
doctrine is biblically orthodox. Within its ranks are many true Christians,
some even in positions of prominence. At various points in its history, most
notably in the 1888 General Conference, the SDA church has been shaken by the
biblical gospel. In the 1970's this became quite intense (Se: Paxton,
Geoffrey, J., The Shaking of Adventism). Unfortunately, it produced a
polarization. The church administrators generally became more entrenched in
the unorthodox positions of traditional SDA, while some pastors and even whole
congregations left or were asked to leave the SDA church ("From
Controversy to Crisis," CRI Journal, Vol. 11, No. 1, pp. 9‑14).
In official publications in the SDA church continues to defend Ellen
White legends, maintain there was no difference in the degree of inspiration
she received from that received by Bible writers (Review & Herald, 4
October 1928, p. 11; "Source of Final Appeal," Adventist Review, 3
June 1971, pp. 4‑6; G. A. Irwin, Mark of the Beast, p. 1; "The
Inspiration and Authority of the Ellen G. White Writings," Adventist
Review, 15 July 1982, p. 3; Ministry, October 1981, p. 8; see also, Judged by
the Gospel, pp. 125-30) and teach a number of doctrines clearly irreconcilable
with the biblical gospel (see "Doctrine," below). So long as this
continues, Christians must persist in questioning the status of the SDA church
organization in Christianity, and much more, her claim to be God's only true,
end‑time "Remnant Church."
teachings most clearly contrary to the gospel and unorthodox in nature are its
insistence on water baptism as an essential prerequisite to salvation, its
teaching about the end time significance of Sabbath observance to
identification of true believers, and its doctrine of the Investigative Judgment.
". . .Christ made it clear that He required baptism of those who wished
to become part of his church, His spiritual kingdom."
"In baptism believers enter into the passion experience of our
Lord." ". . .[Baptism
also marks a person's entrance into Christ's spiritual kingdom. . .it unites
the new believer to Christ. . .Through baptism the Lord adds the new disciples
to the body of believers His body, the church. . .then they are members of
God's family" (SDA's Believe. . ., pp. 182, 184, 187).
Sabbath:". . .[The divine institution of the Sabbath is to be restored. .
.The delivering of this message will precipitate a conflict that will involve
the whole world. The central issue will be obedience to God's law and the
observance of the Sabbath. . .Those who reject it will eventually receive the
mark of the beast" (Ibid., pp. 262-63).
one of her most revered works, Ellen White wrote that Sabbath observance would
be the "line of distinction" in the "final test" that will
separate God's end‑time people who "receive the seal of God"
and are saved, from those who "receive the mark of the beast" (The
Great Controversy Between Christ and Satan, p. 605).
a supposed vision direct from God, Ellen White wrote, "I saw that the
Holy Sabbath is, and will be, the separating wall between the true Israel of
God and unbelievers" (Early Writings, p. 33). She also wrote of some
Adventists failing to understand that "Sabbath. . .observance was of
sufficient importance to draw a line between the people of God and
unbelievers" (Ibid., p. 85).
Investigative Judgment:" In 1844 Christ entered the second and last
phase of His atoning ministry. It is a work of investigative judgment which is
part of the ultimate disposition of all sin. . .It also makes manifest who
among the living are abiding in Christ, keeping the commandments of God and
the faith of Jesus, and in Him, therefore, are ready for translation into His
everlasting kingdom. This judgment
vindicates the justice of God in saving those who believe in Jesus.
It declares that those who have remained loyal to God shall receive the
kingdom" (SDA's Believe p. 312). "Our High Priest entered the
holy of holies in 1844 to perform the work of investigative judgment and to
make an atonement for all who are shown to be entitled to its benefits.
Every man's work passes in review before God and is registered for
faithfulness or unfaithfulness. The law of God is the standard by which the
characters and the lives of men will be tested in the judgment. As the books
of record are opened in the judgment, the lives of all those who have believed
on Jesus come in review before God. Names
are accepted, names rejected as they have become partakers of the
righteousness of Christ, and their characters are found to be in harmony with
the law of God, their sins will be blotted out, and they themselves will be
accounted worthy of eternal life. Jesus does not excuse their sins, but shows
their penitence and faith, and, claiming for them forgiveness, He lifts His
wounded hands before the Father. Sins that have not been repented of and
forsaken will not be pardoned and blotted out of the books of record, but will
stand to witness against the sinner. Christ
had kept His Father's commandments, and there was no sin in Him. This is the
condition in which those must be found who shall stand in the time of trouble"
(Great Controversy, pp. 480ff).
to Ellen White one must believe this doctrine to be saved.
"Those who would share the benefits of the Savior's mediation
should permit nothing to interfere with their duty to perfect holiness in the
fear of God. The subject of the sanctuary and the investigative judgment
should be clearly understood by the people of God.
All need a knowledge for themselves of the position in the Holy of
Holies and work in investigative judgment of their great High Priest.
Otherwise it will be impossible for them to exercise the faith which is
essential at this time or to occupy the position which God designs for them to
fill. Every individual has a soul to save or to lose. Each has a case pending
at the bar of God. All who have received the light on these subjects are to
bear testimony of the great truths which God has committed to them. The
sanctuary in heaven is the very center of Christ's work in behalf of men. It
is of the utmost importance that all should thoroughly investigate these
subjects. The intercession of Christ in man's behalf in the sanctuary above is
as essential to the plan of salvation as was His death upon a cross.
By His death He began that work which after his resurrection He
ascended to complete in Heaven" (Ibid., pp. 488-89).
distinctive SDA teachings include vegetarianism and other "health"
issues, and the doctrine of "soul sleep," a misnomer for the belief
that between death and resurrection one is essentially non‑existent
except in the memory of God. This is definitely aberrant from the Bible, but
does not conflict the gospel. Much of the SDA health message may actually be
helpful. But when, as is often the case, spiritual stigma is attached to non
observance of its asceticism, then the gospel is compromised (Gal. 2:11-16).
Rom. 3:21‑26, 28; 4:4‑6, 23‑24; 5:1; Gal. 2:16; 3:26; 5:1-6;
Eph. 2:4-10; Col. 1:13-14; 2:13-14. These
passages make it clear that salvation alone is entirely by God's grace alone,
apart from any works, and laid hold of by faith alone. Note baptism mentioned in
close proximity to some of these passages. This need not be confusing if it is
kept in mind that there are various usages of the word baptism in the New
Testament. The "one
baptism" (Eph. 4:4‑5) that really counts is the baptism of the
Spirit. If a passage makes baptism
essential to salvation it an only refer to the baptism of the Spirit, or it
would conflict with other Scriptures which plainly teach salvation apart from
any human work.
Sabbath: The quoted statements, particularly Ellen White's, are crystal
clear. Sabbath observance, not
trust in Christ alone for complete forgiveness of sins and eternal life, is to
be the dividing line between the saved and the lost in the end time. This is
certainly antithetical to the gospel defined by the passages above.
See also, Rom. 14:5-6; Col. 2:16-17.
The Old Testament Sabbath was never anything more than a shadow of the
substance, the reality of the New Testament Sabbath rest of God, which Paul and
the writer of Hebrews make clear is Christ Himself, and the rest one experiences
from one's own works when one enters into Christ (Heb. 4:1-10).
Investigative Judgement: The whole concept of the investigative judgment is antithetical to the
gospel, and ignores the entire book of Hebrews.
Jesus did not wait until 1844 to enter the Holy of Holies in heaven (Heb.
1:3; 6:19-20; 8:1; 9:6-12, 24; 12:2), He did, the book of Hebrews was written in
82-84 ad, not 1844!. Neither is he
still making an atonement in heaven (Heb. 9:25-26; 10:11-14).
The investigative judgment proposes to "vindicate the justice of God
in saving those who believe in Jesus," by showing they were
"loyal," "penitent," and "faithful" commandment
keepers. This is unscriptural, and denies Christ=s
finished work on the cross. God's justice in saving sinners is vindicated by
Christ's death on the cross (Rom. 3:24-26).
when speaking of being saved by the righteousness of Christ, Adventist writers
refer to imparted righteousness, seldom to the biblical concept of imputed
righteousness. Calling it
"Christ's righteousness," while insisting on the believer's perfection
of character as a prerequisite to salvation, is at worst a thinly veiled works
salvation, or at best an attempt to mix grace and works, something the Bible
says is impossible to do (Rom. 11:6). Mrs. White's words are crystal clear one
will not be forgiven till all sins are eradicated from one's life and one's
character is perfected. Precisely the same heresy is found (besides many others)
in Mormonism. It is not the salvation by grace through faith alone offered in
error is compounded by the teaching that this latter day 1844 event must be
believed in to exercise the proper faith necessary to be saved. When Jesus said
on the cross, "It is finished, " i.e. completed, paid in full, it
cannot be that there is yet another salvation event more than 1800 years later,
just as essential to salvation as Christ's death on the cross, in which one must
believe in order to be saved. This is clearly "another gospel" (Gal.
Dale, The Sabbath in Crisis. An excellent book by a former SDA pastor, covers
virtually every aspect of the Sabbath question. 345 pages, includes. scripture
Dr. Russell, K., Sunday Facts and Sabbath.
Presents "25 Reasons Why the Christian Church Worships on
Sunday." .Hokema, A: The Four
Major Cults. An excellent detailed examination of the SDA doctrines, (as well as
three other groups Jehovah=s
Witnesses Mormons & Christian Science)
to the Cult Encyclopedia
to our Website