Seventh-day Adventists believe that the unfolding light of
Bible truth is progressive, and is to shine "more and more unto the
perfect day" (Prov. 4:18). And we have sought to walk in the advancing
light of truth. We have never driven in formal creedal stakes, and said,
"This is the truth; thus far, and no farther." Ellen G. White, one
of our leading writers, wrote in 1892:
New light will ever be revealed on the word of God to him who is in living
connection with the Sun of Righteousness. Let no one come to the conclusion
that there is no more truth to be revealed. The diligent, prayerful seeker for
truth will find precious rays of light yet to shine forth from the word of
God.Counsels on Sabbath School Work, p. 34.
The founding fathers of the Seventh-day Adventist Church over a century ago
came out of various denominational backgrounds. While all were
premillennialists, some were Trinitarian; others were Arian. The majority
were Arminians; a few were Calvinists. Some insisted on immersion; a few were
content with sprinkling. There was diversity on these points. And as with
other religious groups, our early days were characterized by
transition and adjustment. A church was being brought forth. As these men were
already born-again believers, the initial study and emphasis was placed upon
the distinctive teachings of the movement. And they were similarly occupied in
developing an effective organization.
In those early years relatively little attention was paid to the respective
merits of Arminianism in contrast with the Calvinist position. The historic
differences of thought involved had reached back to Augustine and Chrysostom.
They did not concern themselves with "absolute decrees," "divine
sovereignty," "particular election," or "limited
atonement." Nor did they, at first, seek to define the nature of the
Godhead, or the problems of Christology, involving the deity of Christ and His
nature during the incarnation; the personality and deity of the Holy Spirit;
the nature, scope, and completeness of the atonement; the relationship of law
to grace or the fullness of the doctrine of righteousness by faith; and the
But with the passage of years the earlier diversity of view on certain
doctrines gradually gave way to unity of view. Clear and sound positions were
then taken by the great majority on such doctrines as the Godhead, the deity
and eternal pre-existence of Christ, and the personality of the Holy Spirit.
Clear-cut views were established on righteousness by faith, the true
relationship of law and grace, and on the death of Christ as the complete
sacrificial atonement for sin.
A few, however, held to some of their former views, and at times these ideas
got into print. However, for decades now the church has been practically at one
on the basic truths of the Christian faith.
The very fact that our positions were now clarified seemed
to us to be sufficient. Our teachings, we felt, were clear. And no particular
statement of change from those earlier ideas appeared necessary. Today the
primary emphasis of all our leading denominational literature, as well as the
continuous presentation over radio and television, emphasizes the historic
fundamentals of the Christian faith.
But the charges and attacks have persisted. Some continue to gather up
quotations from some of our earlier literature long since out of date, and
print. Certain statements are cited, often wrested out of context, which give a
totally distorted picture of the beliefs and teachings of the Seventh-day
Adventist Church of today.
Another consideration should be taken into account. It is that Seventh-day
Adventists, having no formal creed, do not rigidly bind the thinking of their
ministry. It would be strange indeed if from some Adventist writer there did
not appear an occasional statement that was out of line with the consensus of
Seventh-day Adventist belief. Most religious bodies face this problem and
embarrassment from time to time.
All this has made it desirable and necessary for us to declare our position
anew upon the great fundamental teachings of the Christian faith, and to deny
every statement or implication that Christ, the second person of the Godhead,
was not one with the Father from all eternity, and that His death on the cross
was not a full and complete sacrificial atonement. The belief of Seventh-day
Adventists on these great truths is clear and
emphatic. And we feel that we should not be identified with,
or stigmatized for, certain limited and faulty concepts held by some,
particularly in our formative years.
This statement should therefore nullify the stock "quotations" that
have been circulated against us. We are one with our fellow Christians of
denominational groups in the great fundamentals of the faith once delivered to
the saints. Our hope is in a crucified, risen, ministering, and soon-returning