Monday, December 10, 2012

Are Adventists Christians?

This has been a hard question for me to think about and answer. Former Adventists discuss this often. Are Adventists Christians?

From outside their church, Adventists are looked at in a fairly wide spectrum. The vast majority of people (who have heard of them) don't know anything about them except for some vague idea that they are something like Jehovah's Witness or Mormons. They are casually lumped into the cults label. Most people don't think badly of Adventists, they just don't think about them at all.

When I speak to people who live near an Adventism mecca such as Loma Linda, TX or Keene, TX people have a somewhat more favorable opinion of them, but they still look at them with skepticism. They may believe that some Adventists are Christians even if as a whole they are either placed outside of Christianity or hanging on by a thread. They see them as weird but wholesome.

However, I have yet to find any church that will accept the baptism of an Adventist. I was told by several churches where I attended (even though I was not seeking membership) that I would have to be re-baptized into their denomination in order to join. And the fact that several of these denominations did not allow but for one baptism in one's lifetime, this is a very distinctive rejection of Adventism as Christian. They don't even believe the SDA triune baptismal rite is authentic. The Adventists version of, "In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit" in their opinions does not adequately reflect a genuine understanding of the Trinity. So, you have to be baptized for the first time, according to them.

Also, what I have found is that because of political correctness and Christians wanting to open up evangelistic dialogue to Adventists, often they will find the things Adventists have in common with mainstream Christianity and pursue doctrines we agree on. While at the same time not saying what they really believe about Adventism.

Which is all very weird to me because, having a ministry for former Adventists, I find myself having to defend Adventism all the time to those who don't know anything about Adventists and have a radically wrong opinion of their church.

Okay, maybe a few of their doctrines are cultish. I think we are all in agreement on that, even a lot of Adventists. However, Adventists are slowly shedding the thought that Ellen White is a prophetess or even messenger. Her writings are evolving to a place of general "inspiration" like a Beth Moore book and not of absolute truth. That is good! The SDA church is promoting the kinder, gentler Ellen with a softening of her writings and promoting a more biblically and historically founded version of her writings, while burying the rest.

There is a polarizing of the liberal and traditional Adventists, but the liberal is winning and soon I think the doctrine of the Investigative Judgement will be jettisoned, as well as the radical forms of the "health message" and the end-times scenarios that are so shamefully anti-Catholic and anti-Protestant. Christ is getting the true gospel in through the cracks of Adventist doctrine. And many, many Adventists get it and many SDA pastors preach the true gospel of Christ.

I see God working within Adventism to bring her around when, hopefully someday during my lifetime, she will unify with the rest of the Body of Christ. That is my hope and prayer.

It's a weird battle of condemning unbiblical doctrines to Adventists who are looking to leave and those who have essentially already left and defending Adventists to non-Adventists. I always come out looking like the bad guy!

In the meantime, I will probably not try and figure out if the Adventist Church is a Christian church. I hear both sides and agree... and I agree that you can't agree that both sides can be true. That question, at this time, seems above my pay grade. Let me see.... any more excuses I can come up with? (Smile.)