Error, indeed, is never set forth in its naked deformity, lest, being thus exposed, it should at once be detected. But it is craftily decked out in an attractive dress, so as, by its outward form, to make it appear to the inexperienced (ridiculous as the expression may seem) more true than the truth itself. - Irenaeus

Monday, August 31, 2009

Seventh-Day Adventists


Degrees of Deception
 by Dale Brown

In essentials unity, in opinions liberty, in all things charity

Many scholars disagree on how to classify the Seventh-day Adventists with regards to their doctrinal peculiarities. Though they do not appear on the surface to attack the essential doctrines of the Christian faith as do the more obvious non-Christian cults like the Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormonism, Unitarians, Christian Science, etc., who reject the Trinity or redefine who Jesus is, they do however hold to a number of theological views that are, to say the least, legalistic and questionable. In talking to Adventists today one might find a variety of different views. Some continue to be hardcore followers of their founder Ellen G. White, whom they claim had the "Spirit of Prophecy", almost to the degree that Mormons follow their prophet Joseph Smith. Their study materials are full of Whites commentary, much of which she plagiarized from earlier writers, yet claiming she got it as revelation from God. Their 1994 "Clear Word Bible" by Jack J. Blanco (former dean of Southern Adventist University, near Chattanooga, Tennessee) has added (and deleted) numerous words to the original text in order to support Adventist doctrines.  It is a clear picture of Adventist theology.  It is published by an Adventist publisher.   Other followers, though recognizing White as the founder of their denomination, are eager to go forward in effort to fit in with mainline Christian views. Some of their doctrinal issues that continue to cause many to stumble are: the Seventh-day Sabbath, the doctrine of soul sleep, the final and utter destruction of the wicked, the "Spirit of Prophecy", and their dietary laws.

Adventism is an offshoot of a movement that polarized around William Miller, and others, who back in the 1840s, with the help of the Jewish calendar and mathematical wizardry, felt they had nailed down the exact time of the return of Christ. Then came the "Great Disappointment of 1844" when all involved scrambled to readjust their Bible notes. Apparently they had ignored the words of Christ when he remarked to his disciples, "But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son but the Father alone." Because of some of this embarrassing history it is common for Adventists to hold public last-days and prophecy lectures for the sake of proselytizing while concealing their identity.

While most Christians worship on Sunday in celebration of when Christ rose from the dead, the Adventists hang on to a legalistic Saturday doctrine as the proper Sabbath and tend toward Old Testament dietary laws. Apostle Paul writing to the Colossians said, "See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ." "Therefore let no one act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day – which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ." Then, in his epistle to the Romans, he addresses both dietary rules and the Sabbath as well, "One man has faith that he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats vegetables only." "One man regards one day above another, another regards every day alike. Let each man be fully convinced in his own mind. He who observes the day, observes it for the Lord . . ." While there is certainly nothing wrong with desiring a healthy diet, to make it part of ones religion flies in the face of New Testament teaching. "For everything created by God is good and nothing is to be rejected, if it is received with gratitude; for it is sanctified by means of the word of God and prayer." Jesus was certainly not a vegetarian, he ate the Passover lamb. In the spirit of love however Paul wrote, "All things indeed are clean, but they are evil for the man who eats and gives offense. It is good not to eat meat or to drink wine, or to do anything by which your brother stumbles."

Ain’t no Hell Below Ya

In their 1957 volume entitled Questions on Doctrine, Adventists reject the doctrine of eternal judgment, "Because in our thinking, it would detract from the attributes of love as seen in the character of God, and postulates the concept of a wrath which is never appeased." The Bible clearly teaches that there is a conscience existence of torment for the ungodly where there will be "weeping and gnashing of teeth" which is called "the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels." Jesus taught that the ungodly "will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life." To reject this is to reject the teaching of Christ.
Like Jehovah’s Witnesses who came from common roots, Adventists also teach that Jesus is Michael the archangel. This attacks the deity of Christ making Jesus a created being rather than the creator as the Bible teaches. The Bible clearly teaches us not to worship angels, which creates another problem for the Adventists.

Some of the other questionable Adventist doctrines are more peripheral, such as their idea that after death we enter a time of soul sleep, or a state of unconsciousness until the final judgment. This stems from their idea that Jesus work was not complete and one’s salvation is not secure until after what they call an "investigative judgment." This does not harmonize with Jesus words when He told the man on the cross next to him, "Truly I say to you. Today you shall be with Me in Paradise." Apostle Paul wrote, "For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I am to live on in the flesh, this will mean fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which to choose. But I am hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better." This does not seem to be a picture of someone going to sleep. Though it is true that death is sometimes referred to as sleep as a grammatical metaphor it is dishonest to build a doctrine around what was clearly meant to be a figure of speech. When Jesus said, "Let the dead bury their dead," we have little doubt what He was talking about. Yet, when He said that Lazarus was asleep, his follower misunderstood Him until he finally said, "Lazarus is dead." Context is very important.
Without studying the history and early teaching of Ellen G. White these debates might appear to be pointless and fill the cup of the contentious as those "blind guides" whom Jesus said, "who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel."

When Danny Shelton, founder of Three Angels Broadcasting Network (3ABN), coauthored the book "Ten Commandments Twice Removed" with Shelley Quinn we are left wondering if he ever reads much of the New Testament. The intent is obviously to coerce us back under the law of Sabbath keeping, which has apparently not helped his sanctification process much. After his divorce of wife Linda, then a much younger wife Brandy, we are left wondering what he thinks of the Old Testament which claims God hates divorce. Apostle Paul wrote his letter to the Galatians to address folks like the Adventists.

Though it is true the Bible records Paul meeting with Jews on the Sabbath many times this in no way detracts from the reason Christians gather on Sunday for worship. To win Jews Paul appealed to Jewish tradition to the point of even having Timothy circumcised (which flies in the face of the gospel of grace), but he also held meetings on the first day of the week as can be seen in Acts 20:7 and 1 Corinthians 16:2. This tradition has carried on to the present day. It is often blamed on the Catholic church or Constantine however it is clear that it was a common custom long before either of these two were of any influence in the world.

Justin Martyr (A.D. 110-165)
Regarding the day of worship for early Christians Justin wrote in his first apology, “And on the day call Sunday, all who live in cities or in the country gather together to one place and the memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, as long as time permits...”. “But Sunday is the day on which we all hold our common assembly, because it is the first day on which God, having wrought a change in the darkness and matter, made the world; and Jesus Christ our Savior on that same day rose from the dead. For He was crucified on the day before that of Saturn (Saturday); and on the day after the Saturn, which is the day of the Sun, having appeared to His apostles and disciples He taught them these things, which we have submitted to you for your consideration.” (Mark 15:42-16:2)

Paul wrote much in defense of our liberties of grace and in fact rather mocked those who were trying to pressure gentiles back under the Law of Moses. He rebuked Peter in Galatians 2:11-16, and went on to write, “You foolish Galatians...did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?” (Gal. 3:1-3)

As Christians our hope is in the promise given to Abraham some 430 years before Moses. And the Law of Moses does not invalidate this promise. The Law, as Paul writes was a tutor to lead us to Christ, that we may be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor. We are heirs of the promise given to Abraham not Moses. Notice there is no mention of Sabbath worship until the Book of Exodus.
The Clear Word Bible, Jude 1:9 (shown here) makes Jesus out to be a created being Michael (see also 1 Thess. 4:16, Rev.10:1,5&9, 12:7).  The Clear Word takes great liberties from Genesis to Revelation in order to promote Ellen G. White's views of Christ which are very similar to the Jehovah's Witnesses in their Arian heresy.

No comments:

Post a Comment