The Seventh-day Adventists (SDAs) form a denomination of the Christian religion. They are often confused with Mormons, Jehova's Witnesses, Christian Scientists, and other smaller religious groups that people confuse with one another and, perhaps, regard unfavorably.
As an Adventist myself, I am willing that you would correctly understand Seventh-day Adventists. This is intended to clear up confusion about SDAs, not arouse doctrinal controversy. Please let me share with you the following points:
1. The Godhead
We believe that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are each Persons of the eternal Godhead.
2. Seventh-day Sabbath
Our most prominent feature is our obervance of the Sabbath on Saturday rather than Sunday. The Sabbath is observed not only by attending church, but also by abstaining from work and some other everyday activities. We do this to follow the biblical model of the Sabbath, which we believe is important.
3. Health Message
We have a health message that encourages a vegetarian diet, among other things.
4. Ellen White
We believe that the Holy Spirit's gift of prophecy was not cut off for some reason at the close of Bible times. Furthermore, we specifically name Ellen White, who died in 1915, as one to whom we believe the gift of prophecy had been given. Due to the nature of her ministry, Ellen White preferred to call herself a "messenger" rather than a prophet. Her work was much more of producing counsel and insight than of future-telling. SDAs do not worship Ellen White, and they do make her writings subordinate to the Bible as she intended.
There are plenty of arguments for and against the notion that Ellen White was a true prophet. The official Seventh-day Adventist website on Ellen White addresses the concerns of those who argue that Ellen White was a false prophet. The URL is "http://www.whiteestate.org". To gain a complete picture of Ellen White, also read from parts of her writings that are not in debate and study some of the the facts of her life that are also available.
Because of its differences from other denominations, especially the general acceptance of Ellen White's messages, the Seventh-day Adventist Church has often been labeled a cult by other groups. Cult seems to be a word that people use freely to describe smaller groups. Although unusual, the fact of acceptance of a prophet should not automatically signal false doctrine as there is biblical criteria for it.
5. Not Legalism
Because Ellen White gave so much insight about Christian living, and because the SDA Church has so thoroughly defined its position on many biblical doctrines, the culture of Seventh-day Adventists has been susceptable to outbreaks of legalism; however, this is evidence of human weakness and doesn't itself reflect a part of the church's teaching. Although we believe that God requires obedience from us, our merrit cannot pay the price for sin that only Jesus can pay (and already has).
6. Destruction of the Wicked
Unlike many Christians, the SDA Church does not believe in an eternally burning Hell but in something some call "annihilationism" in which the wicked are completely destroyed by fire.
7. The Second Coming of Christ
The name Seventh-day Adventist signifies two of our major beliefs: first, our Seventh-day Sabbath that has already been mentioned; second, the looking forward to the second advent of Christ to the earth, more commonly called "the Second Coming."
This is a major theme of the Seventh-day Adventist Church and helps fuel evangelistic efforts. In Adventist beliefs, the Second Coming of Christ is a clear, literal, and physical event which stops all human persuits on Earth. The Seventh-day Adventist Church does not set specific dates regarding the time of Christ's return, but believes that the past fulfillment of several Bible prophecies indicates that it will occur "soon" in the scale of prophetic time.
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