Are Seventh Day Adventists (SDA) a Cult?
Most people recognize adventists as being very adamant about observing the Sabbath, from sundown Friday through sundown on Saturday. Many are also typically vegetarian, engage is foot washing, and other traits common to a “works based” view of salvation.
These things are neither forbidden nor supported by scripture as requirements for salvation. While these activities may seem strange to some, these activities by themselves do not necessarily make them a cult.
A quick synopsis from watchman.org:
Adventism: Widespread trans-denominational movement inspired by William Miller’s prediction that Jesus’ “advent” (return) would take place in 1844. Even after the Great Disappointment (the date’s failure), many people in the movement continued to believe. Some suggested revised chronologies and new dates, eventually forming groups such as the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society. Others, notably Hiram Edson and Ellen G. White, suggested that the 1844 date was accurate but that a heavenly (thus invisible) event had taken place. Their teachings became the basis of Seventh-day Adventism, which eventually spawned its own offshoots, including Armstrongism and the Branch Davidians.
Seventh Day Adventist Church (SDA), Washington, DC: The largest Adventist church. Ellen G. White, who claimed to have “the spirit of prophecy,” was an important early leader of the movement and taught a number of distinctive SDA doctrines, including the Investigative Judgment and Sabbatarianism. While the church’s official theology now appears to be generally in the tradition of evangelical Christianity, certain SDA claims and unique doctrines continue to raise questions. These doctrines include the SDA belief that Sunday worship will result in the “Mark of the Beast,” imbalanced teachings on keeping the commandments (baptism, Sabbath observance) that often implies a kind of salvation by works, the “Remnant Church” doctrine that implies that the SDA is or will be God’s only true church, and the doctrine of the Investigative Judgment.
To reiterate, our criteria for a cult:
Things that are critical to Biblical Christianity involve a right understanding of the nature of God, the nature of Jesus, and soteriology or salvation (we are sinners, wages of sin is death, Jesus died in our place, we need to repent and receive what Jesus did for us).
A cult is a perversion of any of those critical doctrines and are typically centered around the exclusivist teachings of a single man or organization. Another common trait goes back to Satan’s lie that we can become a god or be like God (Genesis 3:5).
So, to summarize, an examination of a group’s beliefs along these points should lead to a conclusion. The more a group strays from scripture on these points (especially points 3 & 4), the more likely it is to be a cult.
1) Authority of Scripture
2) Understanding of God’s nature
3) Understanding of who Jesus is
4) Understanding of Salvation
5) Position and destiny of man
So, how does SDA rate based on these critieria?
1) Exclusive Authority of Man (or woman) over scripture
They revere their founding prophetess, Ellen G. White. They believe that her writings are equal with scripture. SDA made this statement in their “Ministry” Magazine of Oct. 1981 and have never retracted it:
“We believe the revelation and inspiration of both the Bible and Ellen White’s writings to be of equal quality. The superintendence of the Holy Spirit was just as careful and thorough in one case as in the other”.
They not only revere the writings of Ellen G. White as equal to the Bible, but have also published their own version of the Bible, the “Clear Word Bible” that has her doctrines interspersed throughout the scripture as commentary.
They also practice exclusivity in their belief that all other churches are ruled by satan, and that Sunday keeping is the “mark of the beast”.
2) Nature of God
At the early onset, they denied the Trinity. They have since changed their official public position on this and now affirm the Triune nature of God (Father, Son, Holy Spirit), though it can vary from one fellowship to another.
3) Nature of Jesus
Ellen G. White wrote in Patriarchs and Prophets, page 761, “…He (Jesus) was revealed to them as the Angel of Jehovah, the Captain of the Lord’s Host, Michael the Archangel”.
While they claim to have changed position on the Trinity, they still have yet to deny Ellen White’s belief that Jesus was the angel Michael, a creation of God, rather than God Himself (as one of three members of the Godhead).
– Jesus on the cross was insufficient, so we have to earn salvation
According to SDA, receiving Christ as your Saviour only forgives your past sins, up to that moment are forgiven. From that point forward you must get to work to earn your salvation. Since Ellen G. White saw the fourth commandment glowing in a vision, sabbath keeping became the litmus test for salvation.
They also believe that Jesus is currently conducting “Investigative Judgement” and has angels recording our every thought and deed for the purpose of determining if we have been good enough to earn salvation.
– Satan pays for our sins
According to the SDA, it will be Satan who will eventually bear your sins! Ellen G. White wrote,
“When Christ, by virtue of His own blood, removes the sins of His people from the heavenly sanctuary at the close of His ministration, He will place them upon satan, who, in the execution of the judgment, must bear the final penalty.” (The Great Controversy pg 422)
“…so Christ will place all these sins upon Satan, the originator and instigator of sin…so Satan, bearing the guilt of all the sins which he has caused God’s people to commit, will be for a thousand years confined to the earth, which will then be desolate…”.(The Great Controversy pg 485)
According to the Bible, Christ bore our sins
1 Peter 2:24 says, “Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree…”.
5) Man earns his own salvation
Like any works based religeon, SDA exhalts the works of man above the completed work of Jesus on the Cross.
Other items of note:
Worship on the Sabbath is not a bad thing, but thinking it is something that helps you earn righteousness is. The Bible just says not to forsake gathering ourselves together, it doesn’t say when, how, or how often.
Col 2:16-17 Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holy day, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ
Jesus fulfilled the Law and He is our Sabbath rest.
Ellen indicated that your very salvation could be dependent on giving up meat . She clearly said that no meat-eaters will be “translated” at Christ’s coming (Counsels on Diet and Foods p. 380)
They seem to overlook this verse…
Romans 14:2 “… he who is weak in faith eats vegetables only …”
They say that believers go to soul sleep in the grave until Christ’s return.
Philippians 1:23 “I am in a straight betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ”.
2 Cor. 5:8 “To be absent from the body (death), and to be present with the Lord.” (in heaven).
Ellen G. White was a false Prophetess
— Recognized by SDA as Prophet
— Made over 2000 prophecies, the majority of which have been proven false
— Documented plagiarism of Joseph Smith’s LDS writings (The White Lie by Walter Rea)
— Consulting the Dead (Necromancy): claimed to be in regular communication with dead husband
Seventh Day Adventism is a conflated mishmash of plagarized LDS, Jehovah’s witness, and Puritan doctrines. There are a lot of very nice and well meaning people associated with this group, and the leadership and marketing works very hard to appear as just another Christian denomination. However, if they refuse to deny the writings of Ellen G. White they are complicit in a false religeon.
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