Straight Talk on the Dangers of Seventh-day Adventism
Hello friend, this is Brother Anderson, and I want to personally welcome you to the final study on SDA Truth versus Bible Truth! This study is a little different, because I am going to share with you from my own personal experience of 33 years in the SDA Church why I believe that Seventh-day Adventism may be dangerous to your spiritual life.
No Church is Above Criticism
Before beginning, I want to emphasize that the SDA Church has done a lot of good in this world and there is much to be applauded for their efforts. Their medical system is second-to-none in the Christian world, and the work they have done for the blind is exceptional. The SDA Church also endeavors to follow the Bible closer than some churches, and this is to be praised. However no church is above constructive criticism. The point of constructive criticism is not to slander or destroy, but to bring about reform. It is also important to warn those who are not aware of the pitfalls before they become entrapped. Below you will find eight points that you should seriously consider before joining this sect or while contemplating whether or not to leave it.
1. Seventh-day Adventists have institutionalized deception
When Seventh-day Adventists hold a crusade or evangelistic campaign, they generally attempt to hide who they are from the general public. Often they hold the meetings in a neutral public venue, such as a meeting hall, and they do not mention who they are or what church they are representing. Often, the evangelist will bill himself as an "interdenominational" figure--an "historian" or "prophecy expert" or "Bible history expert." What other religion does this?
When I was a young man I was actively involved in the evangelistic crusades of Adventist minister John Carter. Elder Carter loved to hold crusades, and he would rent out public halls and advertise himself as an expert lecturer on archeology. He would never mention anything about Ellen White in his crusades, even though she was mentioned regularly in Sabbath School and church services at his church. He would never mention Adventism until near the end of the crusade. He even instructed us to give intentionally vague and non-committal answers to attendees who asked us what church we represented. (For more recent examples of evangelistic deception, click here)
On December 11, 2007, I received a book in the mail entitled "The Path to Peace." It had no identification as to which religious organization published it. I immediately suspected it was an SDA publication. Inside I found advertisements for "Discovery Bible Studies" and "Keys to Happiness Studies" but the words "Adventist," "SDA," or "Seventh-day" did not appear anywhere in the book. On a tiny footnote on the bottom of the first page, in text so small it was barely legible, I found the words "Text by E.G. White." Even if someone managed to read the fine print, it is still obscure--we cannot tell if it was Edward White, or Earl White, or Ellen White! Why don't they just put it on the cover of the book "Written by Ellen G. White, Prophetess of the Seventh-day Adventist Church?" There is only one reason: they know that some people have a negative awareness of the SDA Church. So, the publishers of the book attempt to cleverly disguise it in order to deceive and perhaps ensnare those who might otherwise reject the book without reading it.
This is not a recent development. In 1932, the complaint appeared in an SDA book, Answers to Objections:
"When Seventh-day Adventist ministers go into a community to hold a series of lectures, they conceal, at first, their denominational connection. They thus hope to draw into the audience people who would never have come if they knew that Seventh-day Adventists were conducting the meetings. This is a form of deception. There is something the matter with a religious body that is afraid to identify itself as soon as it begins to carry on any activity in a community."1
One thing I have frequently observed among Adventists is the philosophy that the "ends justifies the means" when it comes to using deception. The reasoning is this: "If we tell them up front we are Adventists, they will not come to our meetings or read our books. Therefore, we will use deception to trick them into thinking we are generic Christians." Was this tactic ever used by Jesus or the Apostles? Did they ever pretend like they were not Christians so that they could get more people to come to their meetings? On Pentecost did Peter and John stand up and pretend like they were non-Christians in order to gain the people's confidence? Notice how this philosophy of secretiveness and disguise is contrary to the openness and transparency of the Apostles:
But we have turned away from secret and shameful ways. We use no trickery, and we do not change the teaching of God. We teach the truth plainly showing everyone who we are. ... (2 Cor. 4:2 NLT)
The Seventh-day Adventist sect has a long and sordid history of practicing deception. In the early 1850s, church co-founder James White removed portions of Ellen White's visions and then republished them with 19% of the original writings missing. The portions removed contained teachings that Adventist leaders decided were no longer "truth." People who read the "revised" versions of the visions had no idea that what they were reading had been altered, and key damaging passages had been removed.
Behind closed doors, such as at the 1919 Bible Conference, church leaders expressed personal doubts about Ellen White, but publicly the church continues to make positive statements regarding her inspiration. I have personally talked to SDA evangelists and professors who privately expressed grave doubts about Ellen White, but publicly quoted her and acted as though they actually believed her to be the "spirit of prophecy." College president W.W. Prescott complained in a letter:
"...we let them go on year after year asserting things which we know to be untrue. I cannot feel that this is right. It seems to me that we are betraying our trust and deceiving the ministers and people. It appears to me that there is much more anxiety to prevent a possible shock to some trustful people than to correct error. ... The way your mother's [Ellen White's] writings have been handled and the false impressions concerning them, which is still fostered among the people, have brought great perplexity and trial to me. It seems to me that what amounts to deception, though probably not intentional, has been practiced in making some of her books, and that no serious effort has been made to disabuse the minds of the people of what was known to be their wrong view concerning her writings."2
When Walter Rea discovered the extent of Mrs. White's plagiarism and brought it to the attention of church leaders, instead of facing up to the problem and working with him to expose it, they turned against Elder Rea, fired him, and tried to counteract his findings (Click to read "Who Lied - Them or Me?").
As reported by Walter Rea, in his book Pirates of Privilege, the first resort of SDA Church leaders when caught in the financial corruption of the Davenport scandal was to engage in deceit.
Satan is a liar and the father of lies (John 8:44). When the leaders of a church organization practice deception, then deception becomes institutionalized, and the members eventually come to consider deception as less sinful than it really is. This is the first danger of being associated with the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
2. Adventists are exclusive
Some unknown soul described it this way:
"We walked into the New Jerusalem and soon we noticed a small area that had large, thick walls surrounding it. We asked our angel to tell us who was living in that section. The angel replied, 'Shhhh...the Seventh-day Adventists are in there. They think they are the only ones in the city.'"
Seventh-day Adventism is a very exclusive religion. They see themselves as the "remnant," the one and only group of Christians who have remained loyal to God, His Fourth Commandment, and His prophet Ellen White. Adventists have the "truth" and all other Christian churches are "apostate" and under "strong delusion."
When I was growing up, I was advised not to associate with people of other religions because I should not be around their contaminating influence. Later in life, after I left the SDA Church, all my SDA friends distanced themselves from me to the point where we rarely talked.
Seventh-day Adventists tend to congregate together in "Adventist ghettos." A good example of such is Keene, Texas, a city whose businesses close on Saturday, and whose supermarket carries a wide variety of vege-meats. Adventists tend to associate with one another and do business with each other. Here is the idealistic Adventist life-cycle:
Why is that? Seventh-day Adventists are taught that Sunday-keepers are "Babylon" or the "daughters of Babylon." They are taught that Sunday-keepers are going to receive the Mark of the Beast, and that the Sabbath is the great separating wall between God's true remnant people and the deceived, lost world.
Perhaps Ellen White stated it best when she wrote:
"...Satan has taken full possession of the [non-Adventist] Churches" and even their prayers are an "abomination" to God.3
"Let those who would be the children of God take heed to the command, 'Come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing.' Association with worldly-minded men and women dims the spiritual perception; for it is in direct disobedience to the plain injunctions of the word of God. In worldly society an earthly influence is at work, an atmosphere of poisonous miasma is there which is disastrous to personal piety."4
What a scary thought! Who would want to be infected with "poisonous miasma" by associating with the lost? After all, it might damage my "character perfection" if I were to associate with non-Adventists!
When you start withdrawing from others Christians because you view them as "lost" or "apostates," that is a dangerous sign. This "holier-than-thou" attitude is the earmark of pharisiacal hypocrisy and is the antithesis of Christ's attitude toward others. Christ was known as a friend of sinners.
Since Seventh-day Adventists regard all other religions, including Christian ones, as being in the possession of Satan, they endeavor to win converts from other religions. In fact, most of their converts come from other Christian religions. SDA evangelist Dan O'Ffill, in a book endorsed by the SDA North American Division president, shares how Seventh-day Adventists have an exclusive hold upon the truth:
"The entire world is deceived today. Truth has been covered up with error. The Protestant churches have accepted the teaching of the antichrist... And so most [non-SDA] church members are in mortal danger, but don't know it. ...the Seventh-day Adventist Church is the world's last hope for rescue..."5
O'Ffill goes on in his 126-page book to describe methods of witnessing to bring "born-again Christians" into the SDA sect, including "special ways to reach Catholics" and methods to "appeal to members of all Protestant denominations."6 Hence, Adventists teach that they alone have the truth and it is their mission to share their truth with all those poor non-Adventist Christians who are "deceived" having "accepted the teaching of antichrist."
I have a book called Studying Together, written by SDA tele-evangelist Mark Finley (a wonderful man whom I've met) and his book spends some 86 pages teaching Seventh-day Adventists how to reach other religions, primarily Christian ones. The introduction explains that this large section was written so that SDAs can "share Jesus and His truth" with non-Adventists7. This implies that other Christians do not know Jesus nor His "truth." Here are the groups Elder Finley believes Adventists need to be sharing "Jesus and His truth" with:
You will notice that most of the groups mentioned above are other Christian denominations, and a couple are even Sabbath-keeping ones. The SDA Church has a big missionary effort and their evangelists and missionaries are active in many nations around the world, but unlike many Christian churches, a large part of the SDA effort is directed not so much at the unsaved, but rather at other Christians.
3. Seventh-day Adventists have a persecution complex
The entire philosophy of SDA teachings regarding end-time prophecy is that the wicked are going to join forces to persecute Seventh-day Adventists. Catholicism is supposedly going to join hands with apostate Protestantism and Spiritualism, and this three-fold union is going to pass laws restricting the liberty of SDAs to worship on Saturday. Eventually, a death penalty will be passed for all who do not honor Sunday.
This frightening end-time scenario has no basis in the Bible or in fact, but it is taught to children and new converts as if it were "gospel truth." As a result, SDAs operate in a constant state of mistrust and suspicion of other religions. Any positive statement made by a Sunday-keeping church leader regarding worship on Sunday is regarded as a "sign" of the end.
This delusional end-time scenario is referred to as the National Sunday Law. I remember vividly when SDA minister Jan Marcussen, author of a book on the subject, came to our church with a pile of newspaper clippings purporting to show the imminence of a national Sunday law. He solemnly held up his hand and declared to the congregation that it would happen so soon that a child could count the number of months. That was 30 years ago. Over 360 months, and still counting! I have now been a Christian for over 35 years, and have met thousands of people from a multitude of denominations. To this day, I have yet to meet a single person who is even the least bit interested in persecuting Seventh-day Adventists for not honoring Sunday.
The primary danger of this delusional end-time scenario is that it will cause SDAs to mis-read the true signs of the end. It dupes SDAs into thinking that certain events must transpire prior to the return of Christ. For example, an Adventist would expect Sunday laws to be passed prior to Christ's return. Therefore, an Adventist may delay getting his heart ready for the return of Christ because he thinks he has plenty of time to make that decision because there are not yet any signs of imminent Sunday laws. Secondly, it feeds the "exclusive" mindset discussed above by creating an "us" versus "them" scenario. Finally, this impending conflict generates feelings of stress, and perhaps fear, in some people. The purpose and intent of Christianity is not to coerce people to join a religion out of fear. It is to share love, joy, and peace with people.
4. Seventh-day Adventism tends towards perfectionism
There is an emphasis in Adventism on character perfection. While not all of Ellen White's writings stress perfection, at times she made very strong statements regarding perfection:
"Those only who through faith in Christ obey all of God's commandments will reach the condition of sinlessness in which Adam lived before his transgression."
"Everyone who surrenders fully to God is given the privilege of living without sin."
"We need not retain one sinful propensity."
"Christ died to make it possible for you to cease to sin."
"To be redeemed means to cease from sin."
"...Those who are living on the earth when the intercession of Christ shall cease in the sanctuary above are to stand in the sight of a holy God without a mediator. Their robes must be spotless, their characters must be purified from sin by the blood of sprinkling. Through the grace of God and their own diligent effort they must be conquerors in the battle with evil..."8
Ellen White's teachings about perfectionism could lead some into a performance-based Christianity. It is important to keep in mind what Scripture says:
All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way. (Isa. 53:6)
All have turned away from God; all have gone wrong. No one does good, not even one. (Rom. 3:12 NLT)
Perfectionism is a one-way road to spiritual derailment. Either a person will realize he is failing miserably to attain perfection and will give up his faith in utter despair, or else he will delude himself into thinking he is spiritually better than others and develop a hypocritical attitude.
5. Adventism tends towards legalism
SDAs place a lot of emphasis on obeying the Ten Commandments, particularly the Fourth Commandment. Their whole end-time eschatology is built upon a great, cosmic conflict that is being played out before the entire universe, and the battle lines have been drawn over the Sabbath Commandment. The conflict over the Sabbath is the final conflict between good and evil, and it is the separating wall that divides "loyal" Christians from "disloyal" Christians. With all this emphasis being placed upon the law, it is no wonder that SDAs have a tendency to get bogged down in legalism.
Mrs. White adds to the problem with some of her legalistic statements such as these:
"...The terms of salvation for every son and daughter of Adam are here outlined. It is plainly stated that the condition of gaining eternal life is obedience to the commandments of God".
"To obey the commandments of God is the only way to obtain His favor."
"He [man] must be reconciled to God through obedience to His law."9
Scripture teaches that our "dilligent efforts" have no part in earning God's favor or His reconciliation:
Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified. ...for if righteousness [come] by the law, then Christ is dead in vain. (Gal. 2:16,21)
For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: [it is] the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. (Eph. 2:8,9)
There is a danger in any religious philosophy that depends on the dilligent efforts of the believer to obtain or earn their salvation.
6. Adventism is burdensome
The SDA religion adds a whole host of rules and regulations that make life tedious and burdensome. I remember as a child being told it was okay to wade in the water on hot Sabbath afternoons, but I could not swim. Most of the rules followed by SDAs come from the pen of Ellen White. Here are a few of them:10
Believe it or not, there are SDAs who actually endeavor to keep these rules and regulations of Ellen White. For a while, I attempted to follow all the various health teachings of Ellen White, but instead of attaining a feeling of greater spiritual perfection, I lost weight down to 130 pounds and felt weak.
The danger in adding a multitude of needless restrictions to a religion is that it makes religion seem tiring and burdensome, especially for the youth. This over-bearing and overly restrictive environment drives the youth out of the church, which is perhaps one of the reasons that it has been reported that 70% of Seventh-day Adventist youth leave the church.
7. Seventh-day Adventists use high-pressure tactics
Because of the exclusive nature of the SDA Church, and because they are the faithful and true "remnant," when one leaves the church, they are leaving the "truth" and choosing to be "apostates." For many SDAs , it us unfathomable that someone could leave the true church. SDA evangelist O'Fill explains why people leave the SDA Church:
"People give many reasons for falling away from the church: hypocrites in the church, unfair treatment, heresy, lack of love, boredom. But these are only excuses. The real reason they fell away is that they did not understand why they were SDAs in the first place."11
O'Fill assures us the massive exodus of people from the SDA Church is because they did not understand what they believed. That is probably true. If they understood the SDA doctrines, they probably never would have joined the SDA Church in the first place.
When I left the SDA Church in 1998, I was met with all sorts of comments, such as I was "lost," an "apostate," following "Satan," an "enemy of the truth," and so forth. This is unique to cultic religions. When a person changes from the Methodist Church to the Baptist Church, he is not derided as "lost" or a "heretic." However, when a person leaves the SDA Church for the Baptist Church, it is a whole different story. It is said, he is going "back to Babylon" or returning to "Apostate Protestantism."
If someone dares to question the authority of Ellen White, they are told they are fulfilling Ellen White's prophecy that in the last days some SDAs would be part of the final deception of Satan, which is to destroy confidence in the "spirit of prophecy." This puts a lot of pressure on a person, because after all, who wants to be a part of Satan's final deception?
Leaving the SDA Church is often a very difficult proposition for an SDA because it could easily involve the loss of friends, loved ones, and perhaps even family. In some cases it could mean the loss of a job or career with an SDA institution. When an Adventist is contemplating leaving the church, he may be pressured by other SDAs to "stay in the fold" and keep his objections to himself.
When I told one SDA professor of my findings regarding how Ellen White failed the Biblical tests of a prophet, I was surprised to find him to be quite sympathetic. He shared with me how he had discovered many similar things when he was studying for the ministry at the SDA Seminary. That man, who taught and ministered to thousands of SDA students over the decades, recommended I follow his example and stay quiet and "do not rock the boat." In other words, I was being pressured to live a double-life, pretending on the surface that I agreed with what the SDA Church taught, while keeping my real feelings to myself.
It is spiritually unhealthy to be put in the position of having to pretend to be something you are not in order to hold onto your job, your family, or your friends.
8. Adventists are Pro-Choice according to SDA leaders
When the SDA Church started out, SDAs were staunchly pro-life. The Whites, J.N. Andrews, Dr. Kellogg, and other SDA pioneers all denounced abortion in the strongest words. The SDA Church did not even permit abortions until 1970.
Everything changed in 1970, when an SDA hospital in Hawaii (Castle Memorial Hospital) began permitting abortions reportedly BECAUSE THEY WERE AFRAID OF LOSING PATIENTS WHO WOULD GO TO OTHER HOSPITALS TO GET ABORTIONS!
In the early 1970s, the SDA Church developed two pairs of "guidelines" about abortion. One contained strict guidelines, and was for the PUBLIC to see. The other was much more liberal, and it was released privately to the hospitals. The PRIVATE version allowed physicians to perform ANY type of abortion-on-demand. Again, as noted earlier, we find the SDA Church engaging in deceptive practices.
Wrapped in secrecy, it is difficult obtaining exact figures on who is performing abortions, but there is some evidence to indicate SDAs are one of the largest performers of abortions in the USA (that includes both official SDA institutions and those operated independently by Seventh-day Adventist individuals). Here are some facts:
While giving lip service to respecting life, the SDA Corporate leadership continues to permit abortions in its institutions and by its physicians. The SDA Church insists their followers abstain from eating pork, having a glass of wine, or engaging in "secret vice" because the "body is a temple of the Holy Spirt....therefore honor God with your body" (1 Cor. 6:19), yet they seemingly have no qualms whatsoever about allowing a murder to take place within that same temple, even going so far as to employ SDA physicians working at SDA institutions "of healing" to perform those temple killings! For a people so focused on the Ten Commandments, it is ironic to find them allowing their institutions and members to break the Sixth: "Thou shalt not kill."
Should I leave the SDA Church?
The attributes and tactics of the Seventh-day Adventist Church discussed above are not the ways or methods of Christ. Before you join the SDA Church, please think long and hard about the ramifications that decision may have upon your long-term spiritual health.
If you are already a member of the SDA Church, you need to consider if this is truly God's highest will for your life. Over the last 20 years I have often had people ask me, "Should I leave the SDA Church?" The answer is not simple, but let me share with you four cases where you should stay in the SDA Church:
For the rest of you, if you can find another Christian Church where you can grow spiritually and serve and honor God, then you should take the matter to the Lord in prayer and follow His leading. I cannot tell you which church is the "true" church. Personally, I am a member of the Church of God (seventh day). There are different "flavors" of Christianity and the Holy Spirit will lead you to where you need to be. I strongly encourage you to continue to grow in your Christian faith and join an evangelical, Bible-believing church teaching the true gospel message of Jesus Christ.
God bless you,
1. F. D. Nichol, Answers to Objections (1932, 1954).
2. W.W. Prescott letter to W.C. White, April 6, 1915.
3. Ellen White, Spiritual Gifts, Vol. 1, p.190.
4. Ellen White, The Review and Herald, November 27, 1894, paragraph 4, Article Title: Be Separate.
5. Daniel W. O'Ffill with Carol Johnson Shewmake, What to Say in a Whole New Way, (1994, Review and Herald Publishing Assn.), pp. 16, 18.
6. Ibid., pp. 22, 78.
7. Mark Finley, Studying Together, p. xi.
8. Ellen White, SDA Commentary, Vol. VI, p. 1118. Review and Herald, Sept. 27, 1906. SDA Commentary, Vol. V, p.1128; ibid, Vol 7, p. 943. Review and Herald, Aug. 28, 1894. Review and Herald, Sept. 25, 1900. The Great Controversy, p. 425.
9. Ellen White, Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, Oct. 26, 1897. Testimonies, vol. 4, p. 28; 294-295.
11. Daniel W. O'Ffill, p. 63.
12. Christian Newswire, Mar. 24, 2009.
13. Richard Fredericks, Ph.D., Proclamation, Jan/Feb 2003.
14. Teresa Beem, http://arthurandteresabeem.blogspot.com/2009/05/ten-commandments-and-abortion.html.
Category: SDA Truth versus Bible Truth
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