December 7, 2006

Is the SDA Church Christian?

Some people suppose that the SDA (Seventh-Day Adventist) Church is just another protestant denomination, while others regard it as a cult due to their reliance on the writings of one of their 'founding mothers,' Ellen G. White. The truth is more surprising--the SDA Church, while believing itself to be ' the 'remnant church' of God, is instead, an anti-Christian organization. That may sound outrageous, but will make sense after an explanation. And why do I pick on the SDAs, out of the babble of self-proclaimed, official voices of the faith of Christ? That too, I will clarify below.

The crux of the problem lies in the errant 'gospel' espoused by this Sabbath-based church. (Sabbath is the 24-hour period from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday, and was cited in Moses' Ten Commandments). Any church that lays claim to the title of Christian must have, at minimum, a proper understanding of the basis of Christianity, the 'good news' of Jesus Christ. Of course, Adventists think they alone have the true gospel... the majority of members blissfully unaware that it is actually opposed to the message that Jesus came to bring. For the skeptical or curious, let me outline what they hold as the 'gospel,' and where that reasoning leads.

Like all their teachings, the SDA version of the gospel is marvellously complex, and requires considerable study and time to define and absorb. They talk about a two-phase process of salvation that some of them call 'the objective gospel' and 'the subjective gospel,' which refer to the more familiar theological concepts of 'justification,' and 'sanctification.' They say that Jesus' death paid the penalty for our sins, thereby providing the justification that gives us the legal right to eternal life. However-- before he or she can breath easily, there's the second little matter for the converted Christian to deal with. 'Sanctification is the work of a lifetime,' is a phrase familiar to Adventists-- meaning that the new convert must spend the rest of his/her natural life working on 'character perfection,' another buzz-phrase of Adventism, which refers to how one gains sanctification, the second mandatory requirement of salvation.

Now, to get around the obvious argument that this is a 'works-based' salvation, and therefore, unChristian, recent SDA theology brings in the Holy Spirit: it's the Holy Spirit working in me and thru me, who perfects my character, not really 'me.' It sounds credible, especially to new, unstudied Christians. The trouble is, the Bible simply doesn't speak anywhere about this kind of bilateral gospel. Scripture tells us that the work of Christ was all-sufficient, and needs no assistance from the human spirit or the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 1:30; Heb 10:10, 10:14, among many others). Okay, the Christian may agree; that's an un-biblical gospel... But, does that make it anti-Christian? The answer is yes.

Any gospel that requires a person to do some 'work,' to take an active role in his/her own salvation, is by definition, anti-Christian. If we have any part to play in our salvation, it makes the life and sacrifice of Christ of no account; it renders the grace of God not a gift but a wage. Second, one has to follow this theology to its logical conclusion to really see how demonic it is. For the Adventist, the outcome of this thinking is that s/he must be able to develop a sinless character over time... and that those who fail to do so must have weak moral fiber. It follows for them that the 'losers' of life are there by choice; they haven't allowed the Holy Spirit to work in their lives. The attitude that we can achieve perfection of character (i.e. sinlessness) hardens the heart towards those we judge as spiritual laggards, and can create envy towards those we perceive as 'high achievers' (or perhaps as just fakes). Legalism always entails judgementalism; one who hasn't accepted unconditional grace can hardly extend it to his fellow sinners.

In conclusion, any gospel that negates, or adds requirements to, the grace of God--the free gift of eternal life--is a pagan philosophy, anti-Christian. And the illustration above shows how adhering to this belief leads directly to anti-Christian behavior. In short, the Seventh Day Adventist Church is an anti-Christ organization posing as 'the remnant church' (their catch-phrase) with the message for the end of this age. And, incidentally, that claim puts them into the same category as such other self-proclaimed oracles as The Watchtower Society (Jehovah Witnesses), the 'Latter Day Saints' (Mormons), and even Baha'i.

Now, why did I select the SDA church for this analysis? Because they epitomize the same problem that affects virtually the whole panoply of churches calling themselves by the name of Christ! To give them credit, at least the SDAs follow their false gospel to its logical conclusion. And in doing so, they illustrate the error of the mainstream denominations. You see, almost all the churches proclaim a warped, hybrid version of the gospel that tries to graft the heart of the Old Testament (also called the Sinai, or Mosaic Covenant) into the body of the New Testament proclaimed by Jesus Christ. In his brief ministry, Jesus warned his followers against this very mistake (Matt 9:16-17). How do the churches do it? (And they've been doing it for almost 2000 years!). They do it by carrying the Ten Commandment law of Moses from the Old Covenant, and making it an essential feature of the Covenant of Christ (which it most certainly is not; study Hebrews, ch. 7-10, for ex.). Hence, the false gospel proclaimed by mainstream church spokesmen goes along the lines that 'You are saved by believing in Christ... and you maintain that salvation by obeying the Ten Commandments.'

Now I realize that most people who read the last statement will scratch their heads and say, 'So-- isn't that right?' No! It isn't right. That's not why the Son of God lowered himself to become a human, live a sinless life, and die ignominiously for our sins. The 'good news' is much better than that official party line from the organized churches! The true gospel is that Jesus has liberated us from all reference to the code of Moses, from behavior-based religion (and, not insignificantly, from hierarchical, patriarchal religious organizations). If the mainline churches really believe we have to obey the old, Ten Commandments, then they should do as the Adventists-- they should observe the Mosaic Sabbath, and not Sunday as the 'day of rest.' All the churches have fallen into the 'Judeo-Christian' trap of keeping old wine (the Ten C's) in new skins (the message of Jesus); and they've been doing it for so long that few people, no matter how sincere, are able to see outside the paradigm (the 'strong delusion'). In attempting to base a Christian theology on this error, the SDAs have been more consistent than other churches, and thus make the issue more apparent. Whether observing Sabbath or Sunday, the result is equally futile! As Paul labors at length to teach, believers are not under the Old Covenant, and the Commandments are a moot point-- a holdover from a specific tribe, from a long bygone era.

No comments:

Post a Comment