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Seventh-day Adventist Overview

Discussion in 'Seventh-day Adventist Church DIR' started by Green Gaia, Aug 26, 2005.

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  1. Green Gaia

    Green Gaia Veteran Member

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    The Seventh-day Adventist Church, or SDA for short, is an evangelical Christian denomination that grew out of the prophetic Millerite movement in the United States during the middle part of the 19th century.

    Origins

    According to historians of the movement, this group gained its more recent name from the teaching that the expected return of Jesus on October 22, 1844 had been fulfilled in a way that had not previously been understood. This was termed "the Great Disappointment." Further Bible study led to the belief that Jesus in that year had entered into the Most Holy Place of the heavenly sanctuary, and began an "investigative judgment" of the world: a process through which there is an examination of the heavenly records to "determine who, through repentance of sin and faith in Christ, are entitled to the benefits of His atonement"¹ after which Jesus will return to earth. According to the church's teaching, the return of Christ may occur very soon, though nobody knows the exact date of that event (Matthew 24:36).

    Early Seventh-day Adventist leaders, including Ellen G. White, taught that those who did not accept the Adventist message prior to October 22, 1844, would not be saved. This was called the "shut-door" doctrine. The doctrine was later rejected by Seventh-day Adventists. Ellen G. White would later claim that she only believed this doctrine for a few months in 1844, until a "vision" told her to reject it. However, critics argue that she and other early Adventist leaders continued to teach it as late as 1851. Among other things, they point to the Camden Vision, a document recounting a vision received by Ellen G. White which teaches the shut door doctrine and is dated to 1851. The Adventist church leadership, however, insists the Camden Vision is fraudulent. See "The Camden Vision Genuine" – a revision of the 1979 essay by Gilbert Valentine – for some discussions of the Adventist leadership claims (from an anti-Adventist perspective).

    For about 20 years, the Adventist movement was a rather unorganized group of people who held to this message. Among its greatest supporters were James White, Ellen G. White and Joseph Bates.

    Later, a formally organized church called the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists was established in Battle Creek, Michigan, in May 1863, with a membership of 3,500. Through the evangelism and inspiration of Ellen G. White, the church quickly grew and established a presence beyond North America during the later part of the 1800s. In 1903, the denominational headquarters were moved from Battle Creek to Washington D.C. (and the immediately neighboring community of Takoma Park, Maryland). In 1989, the headquarters was moved again, this time to Silver Spring, Maryland.

    Doctrine

    Seventh-day Adventist doctrine is based on the Anabaptist protestant tradition. Adventist doctrine resembles mainstream orthodox trinitarian Protestant theology, with the exception of several areas.

    * Saturday as Sabbath. Seventh-day Adventists observe a 24-hour sunset-to-sunset Sabbath commencing Friday evening. Justification for this belief is garnered from the creation account in Genesis in which God rested on the seventh-day, an approach later immortalised in the Ten Commandments. Seventh-day Adventists maintain that there is no biblical mandate for the change from the "true Sabbath" to Sunday observance, which is to say that Sunday-keeping is merely a "tradition of men."
    * State of the Dead. Seventh-day Adventists believe that death is a sleep during which the "dead know nothing" (Ecclesiastes 9:5). This view maintains that the person has no form of existence until the resurrection, either at the second coming of Jesus (in the case of the righteous) or after the millennium of Revelation 20 (in the case of the wicked). Because of this view, Seventh-day Adventists do not believe hell currently exists and believe further that the wicked will be destroyed at the end of time.
    * Baptism. Seventh-day Adventists practice adult baptism by full immersion in a similar manner to the Baptists. Infants are dedicated rather than baptized, as it is argued that baptism requires knowing consent and moral responsibility.
    * Belief in an imminent, pre-millennial, second advent, preceded by a time of trouble when the righteous will be persecuted and a false second coming where Satan impersonates the Messiah.
    * Teaching that the "Spirit of Prophecy," an identifying mark of the remnant church, was manifested in the ministry of Ellen G. White, whom Adventists recognize as the Lord's messenger. Her "writings are a continuing and authoritative source of truth which provide for the church comfort, guidance, instruction, and correction" (28 Fundamental Beliefs).
    * Avoidance of unclean meat such as pork.

    Seventh-day Adventists oppose the formulation of credal statements. Seventh-day Adventists prefer to view the fundamental beliefs as descriptors rather than prescriptors. However divergence from the published position is frowned upon. Missionary outreach of the Seventh-day Adventist Church is aimed on both unbelievers and other Christian Churches.

    Seventh-day Adventist religious practices

    Seventh-day Adventist religious practise consists primarily of weekly Sabbath school and church. Church follows a evangelical format, with emphasis placed on the sermon. During the week prayer meetings may be conducted.

    Seventh-day Adventists practise communion four times a year, reflecting their Methodist roots. The communion is an open service (available to members and non-members) and includes a foot-washing ceremony and consumption of the Lord's Supper.

    Seventh-day Adventists have three levels of ordination: deacons, elders, and pastors. Women are elegible to be ordained to the position of an Elder. Males are eligible for ordination as ministers and are allowed to marry and have families.

    Many Seventh-day Adventists avoid meat for health reasons though Vegetarianism is not a requirement. Adventists do avoid unclean meat as identified in the book of Leviticus.

    From Wikipedia.
     
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