Tag Archives: seventh day adventism

The Peculiarity of Seventh-Day Adventism #3

William Miller's prophecy chart, identifying the Second Coming of Christ in 1843 (credit: Wikapedia, click on for more detail).

William Miller’s prophecy chart, identifying the Second Coming of Christ in 1843. It has as much detail, if not more, than a dispensationalist chart!! (credit: Wikapedia, click on for more detail).

From a Great Disappointment to ecstatic visions, from corn-flakes to flaky fanatics in Waco, Texas, the Seventh-Day Adventists, and their associated spinoffs, have shown themselves to be a peculiar movement, as we have discussed in the previous posts in this series (#1 and #2). In a less peculiar sense, Seventh-Day Adventists have championed the cause of religious liberty, the promotion of good diet and health reform, and a growing network of schools, hospitals, and other humanitarian missions, themes that have permeated the wider culture around them. Yet, in many ways, there are dramatic shifts going on within Seventh-Day Adventism that raise questions about the future.

Some Seventh-Day Adventists today are basically like any other Protestant evangelical Christians, except that they go to church on Saturdays. Others are very much into the whole Seventh-Day Adventist package of beliefs and practices, that have set the movement apart from the rest of Christianity. It really depends on the congregation, and even within congregations. That being the case, how should other Christians view the Seventh-Day Adventist movement, and where it is headed?

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The Peculiarity of Seventh-Day Adventism #2

Ellen Gould Harmon White (1827-1915). Spiritual visionary who has given shape to the contemporary Seventh-Day Adventist movement.

Ellen Gould Harmon White (1827-1915). Spiritual visionary who has given shape to the contemporary Seventh-Day Adventist movement (credit: Seventh-Day Adventist literature)

As alluded to in the previous post in this series, Seventh-Day Adventism is sort of like a round peg that does not quite exactly fit in the square hole of groups that make up evangelical Christianity. Consider, for example, the most influential founder of Seventh-Day Adventism, Ellen G. White.

Ellen G. White was considered to be the prophetess who held together the fledgling Adventist/Millerite movement that nearly collapsed after the Great Disappointment of 1844, when William Miller’s prediction of the Second Coming of Christ failed to materialize. But among evangelical Christians, she is viewed anywhere from being an outright false teacher, such as in this Tim Challies blog post, to an eccentric visionary, who has since had her excesses corrected by reforming elements within contemporary Seventh-Day Adventism.

So, who is Ellen G. White, and how did she help define what would become Seventh-Day Adventism? Moreover, what type of movement did she and other early leaders help create?

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The Peculiarity of Seventh-Day Adventism #1

Ben Carson, former Director of Pediatric Neurosurgery at John Hopkins Hospital, and the subject of the film Gifted Hands, is running as a Republican candidate for the 2016 Presidential race. Carson credits his Seventh-Day Adventist upbringing, guided by his single mother, as one of main factors in his success as a brain surgeon and bringing his family out of poverty (photo credit: cnn.com)

Ben Carson, former Director of Pediatric Neurosurgery at John Hopkins Hospital, and the subject of the film Gifted Hands, is running as a Republican candidate for the 2016 Presidential race. Carson credits his Seventh-Day Adventist upbringing, guided by his single mother, as one of the main factors in his success as a brain surgeon and bringing his family out of poverty (photo credit: cnn.com)

What is a Seventh-Day Adventist? To most people who know anything about them, Seventh-Day Adventists are those who go to church on Saturdays, instead of Sundays, and who have a pretty strict diet. Until recently, evangelical and mainline Christians have tended to view Seventh-Day Adventism as some type of strange sect or “cult.” But attitudes have been changing over the years.

I have not followed the political race for President much this fall.  But what I have noticed is a large number of evangelical Christians have come out as strong supporters of Republican candidate Ben Carson. What is surprising about the Ben Carson phenomenon among evangelicals is that he is a Seventh-Day Adventist.

It was primarily through the influence of Baptist theologian and cult expert, Walter Martin, that evangelical Christians started to rethink attitudes towards Seventh-Day Adventism, as far back as the 1950s. In The Kingdom of the Cults, Walter Martin observes that there have been signs of change within the movement (p. 535):

It should be carefully remembered that the Adventism of today is different in not a few places from the Adventism of 1844, and with that change the necessity of new evaluation comes naturally…It is my conviction that one cannot be a true Jehovah’s Witness, Mormon, Christian Scientist, etc., and be a Christian in the biblical sense of the term; but it is perfectly possible to be a Seventh-Day Adventist and be a true follower of Jesus Christ despite certain heterodox concepts.

Not everyone agrees with Walter Martin’s assessment. Some still view Seventh-Day Adventists to be “outside of the camp.” But the general trend appears to be that Seventh-Day Adventists are “within the camp” of evangelicalism, even though they do possess some quirky beliefs.

So, how did Seventh-Day Adventism start, how did it get branded as being heretical, and then how has the movement become cautiously accepted today by other Christians as being relatively OKAY? No matter where you come down on Seventh-Day Adventism, the story of it all is quite peculiar.
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