Saturday, January 31, 2009

Are Adventists fundamentalists?

Milton Hook has written an interesting article on the relationship between fundamentalism and Adventism in the December 2008 edition of Good News for Adventists. You can read the article here. I'd be interested in your thoughts about it.


  1. I thought the article was poorly written, with an "us against them" mentality that is at once immature and counterproductive. Even more troubling is the notion that someone would heed that kind of advice and still claim to be in a more "progressive-ex-adventist" spiritual realm.

    I don't have a problem admitting that there may be a smattering of truth in that analysis but the approach was most ineffective. I doubt any Adventist would be touched by it since it's preaching to their own ex-adventist choir.

    If on the other hand, the article expresses the essence of thought of those who left Adventism, than, boy, am I glad I've never left...

    (Particularly distasteful was the pseudo-poetic ending utilizing the imagery of "milk" of the gospel being digested with "meat" of Scriptures... yuck!)

    "The truth will set you free."

  2. I wouldn't call Adventists fundamentalists today even though there are still very fundamentalist members that hold some influence. I think Adventism is headed toward a Seventh Day Adventist version of liberal protestantism. Graham Maxwell probably started this trend in his series of studies that asked "What does this tell us about God?" as a means to address some of the most difficult OT stories in the Bible.

    I think many of these former Adventist movements are fundamentalist in their own beliefs and simply exchanged one for the other. They have as much "in house" talk as Adventists do.

    I tend to believe that the whole thing has been made up from the beginning and that the most honest answer about the meaning of life and the God's presence is "I don't know."

    I have yet to see any evidence for all the certainty that Christians tend to claim about their knowledge of God and His wishes.

  3. Hi Richard

    I'm not so sure that Adventism is headed for the liberal end of Protestantism. The Sabbath School Quarterlies, for example, seem to be increasingly conservative.


  4. Who are the "they's" this guy is talking about? It's so broad and general. You can't put all Adventists in this negative category or condemn all on the experience of a few. I've only experienced love from these "fundamentalists", and I've only had good experiences with those who stick to the Bible like glue. What's wrong with that anyways? The world is always changing, but God's word doesn't.

    I agree with Richard that Adventism is heading towards that liberal protestant attitude. I'm afraid of what it's going to look like after all the "old faithfuls" die off. I see some of the younger pastor's afraid to point out transgression and instead adopt the feel-good seminar way of doing things. The people who make the quarterlies more conservative are probably doing so in reaction to seeing where the church is headed.

  5. I wish the author had defined Fundamentalism better. When I looked up a definition on Wikipedia it said "Fundamentalism refers to a belief in, and strict adherence to a set of basic principles (often religious in nature).

    Now, I have no problem whatsoever with fundamentalism of this type. There is one way to God and that is through Jesus Christ and His atoning work, Period. I will not apologize for strictly adhering to that principle.

    To address the piece directly. The SDA church HAS to incorporate these "fundamentalists" because the basic tenants of the church and Ellen White are so works based. While professing "by Grace" in reality they are trusting in "works" It's in the name, "Seventh-day". To everyone associated with the SDA church that means we "keep" the sabbath, even as Jesus did.

    Jesus was a Jew, living under the old covenant. You cannot find anywhere that the old covenant applies to the church this side of the cross.

    Christ paid the price for ALL of our sins. Past, present and future! His atoning work is complete. Sin is NOT a problem between us and God. Unbelief is the only thing we need to worry about. Repent(change your mind) and BELIEVE the Good News! That is all that is required to be saved and be assured of eternal salvation.

  6. If I just believe that I'm 125 lbs. does that make it so? How many child molesters believe they are saved while still doing their evil deeds? It doesn't make sense does it? Jesus said, "If you love me, keep my commandments." While talking to the rich, young ruler He reiterated the 10 commandments, which is different from the sacrificial law that WAS nailed to the cross. "Here is the patience of the saints, here are those who keep the commandments of God and have the faith of Jesus." Rev. 14:12. No one ever has a problem with the 10 until it comes to the 4th. "Not all who say 'Lord,Lord' will enter the kingdom, but those who do the will of my Father." "Faith without works is dead." Without being born again we can't even begin to keep the commandments, but when we love Him and desire to please Him then they are not a burden.

  7. I guess my question is: Which covenant are you under? Law or Grace? The bible CLEARLY establishes a difference and CLEARLY states you can't be under both?

    Upon repenting and believing that God is that good. He forgave all sin at the cross. Believing that, God gives us Christ's righteousness. It is a gift of grace without conditions, lest any man should boast. Seek His righteousness, not yours. No amount of works will "keep" you saved. If you don't believe in what Christ did you aren't saved in the first place. And that means believe the Good News. All Grace not works. God is not Judging you looking at you, He is judging you assessing you (if you are a believer) by looking at His Son. Don't ask am I accepted by God, ask is Jesus accepted by God. In ancient Israel God accepted or rejected the whole nation based on the works of the high priest. In the New Covenant Jesus is our High Priest with the power of an endless life. He will always be accepted by the father and He lives to ALWAYS make intercession for you.

    Man and religion states differently. But the bible clearly says these things. You cannot read the OT correctly unless you look at it through the lens of the NT.

    Man separates law. To God the whole thing is the Law. No where in the bible does God separate it. In 1 Corinthians the bible calls the law written on tables of stones the Ministry of Death. In Galatians it clearly says that the law given on Mt. Sinai is to be thrown out. Please read it and take it for what it says. Not what your prophet says. You alone are accountable for what you do with the word.

    He has already blessed us in His Son, Jesus.

  8. Steven, after reading the article I can hardly say more than to pronounce it as a complete load of twaddle. Rather a non-academic comment I suppose; but beside the article being poorly written it is inaccurate on so many points. But I shall leave others to sort that mess out.

    In all humility I believe I stand at a rather unique vantage point when it comes to judging the Seventh-day Adventist church. I left thirteen years ago, but have great memories of a people who were very open to the world – and very active in it. In fact I found the SDA church to be the very salt of the earth.

    I certainly must admit that I can no longer accept the Adventist view on scripture; which is quite similar to their friends the Baptists, Methodists, Anglicans and numerous other churches. I cannot now accept the evangelical view on Jesus; and of course the whole house falls where the evangelical view on prophecy is concerned – and that is quite wide and rather disparate, but nevertheless seems to be based on a belief in the Bible as being ‘the word of God’.

    But may I address one point. The writer of the article asserts that “. . . Adventist fundamentalists . . . cloister themselves. Their rejection of the world drastically reduces their usefulness in the world.” What nonsense is this? Even the most fundamental of Adventists – those I often visited when passing through Zambia - found near the Kafue River at Riverside mission station are intent to a most remarkable degree in doing good for the world at large – and especially for the people of Zambia. And now that rather fundamentalist branch of Adventism has mission stations and health spas in various parts of the world and they are such a blessing to mankind at large. They devote their lives to helping others to maintain a decent living standard and embrace a healthy lifestyle. They enter into the world in the most lively and helpful manner possible.

    And outside of fundamentalist Adventists I think of the wonderful work which Doctor Gilbert Burnham (now at Johns Hopkins University) and other Adventist doctors performed at Malamulo Hospital in Malawi. I think of the wonderful literature work which I headed at Malamulo Press and helped run in Cape Town at Southern Publishing Association. Year after year I witnessed the lifestyles of people radically changed by the literature we produced there.

    I have been associated with conference presidents who did not care much for the Adventist view on the judgment so there is lively debate within the church; perhaps not as lively as we would have it be, but nevertheless it is there. I see it in Professor Julius Nam’s musings and I know it is elsewhere.
    Adventists cloister themselves? How about their 7200 schools scattered throughout the world; their many universities, hospitals and publishing houses – their remarkable ADRA work, which is supported by world governments because of the commitment to serve others and their deep integrity?

    In truth, I find the article to be a mere bleat; hardly worth commenting upon.

  9. Steve Parker posted I'm not so sure that Adventism is headed for the liberal end of Protestantism. The Sabbath School Quarterlies, for example, seem to be increasingly conservative.

    I think the quarterly is a reaction rather than a movement. I may be wrong and Adventism could head deep into a conservative reform of sorts. This would probably further alienate moderates on the edge.

    I have found that as many Adventists become more informed, their commitment to truth moves them toward either liberal protestantism or agnostic. I am probably one of the vocal few because most former Adventists that take these paths simply leave and go on with their lives and even become embarrassed to be associated with anything that looks like fundamentalism.

    I continue to dialog in spurts to see if Adventism will shift. It is a curious culture that I still like to study since that is where I came from. I still find some rather clever apologetics that are unique to Adventism from time to time.

    I agree that there are many compassionate people that work within the meaning that Adventism brings. For me, I couldn't continue to maintain the suspended disbelief. I came to know too much. I still advocate the compassion, but from a different source of meaning that, for me, is far more believable.

    Compassion and well meaning don't really prove whether a belief is right or wrong. It only tells us that those individuals have compassion.

    Like I said before, I believe we all make it up as we go. That would explain the wide variety of belief even among fundamentalists.

  10. I don't believe the Bible teaches that the Israelites were accepted or rejected based on the works of the high priest alone. They were a type or shadow pointing to Christ, but I just don't believe it's Biblical or in harmony with what the Bible teaches. God was constantly saying, "oh that they had such a heart in them that they would keep my commandments that it may be well with them forever." Which by the way shows love and obedience as hand in hand, just like the Law and Grace go hand in hand. You would have to throw out thousands of texts in the Bible to go along with what you said about grace only and not works. Don't confuse the works of righteousness with the works of the pharisees. Anything righteous we do is the work of Christ in us.

    I've had this conversation before, and the people I've had it with were always people living with some type of sin in their life that they were trying to justify. Have you ever had a convo with a Christian stoner? Or an angry homosexual? A correctional officer friend of mine used to say that you always knew who the child molesters were because they came into the prison with a Bible under their arm. How many could use the argument to throw away the law as an license to sin? You are going to have to convince me with scripture, friend. Cuz I've read it cover to cover several times way before I ever knew what an Adventist was.

  11. @Haldog
    Based on reading Christy VanOrder's first post, she is right.I simply ask you to read and take a deep 'Holy spirit guided' study of Romans chapter 4-8. Ask Jesus for a humbled understanding and He will open your eyes as he has mine.

  12. Thanks for the very sincere advice Anonymous. Really means a lot to me knowing you are afraid to sign your name. Shalom.