A friend at the conference said he was surprised to see that Dallas Theological Seminary had published an article by an SDA pastor in the July-December 2021 issue of its journal. I checked, and an article on the warning passages in Hebrews is by an SDA pastor. BibSac has a footnote on page one of the article: “Jonathan A. Campbell is pastor of Shoreline and Lynnwood SDA Churches, Washington Conference of Seventh-day Adventists” (p. 332).
I then wondered if SDA is still considered a cult. I knew it was considered a cult by many at least up until the 1950s.
Here’s a brief history. In the 1840s, SDA emerged after the “Great Disappointment.” Baptist pastor William Miller had predicted that Jesus’ second advent would occur between March 21, 1843, and March 21, 1844. When that failed, Hiram Edson said that Jesus had returned, but not to Earth; He had returned to “the heavenly sanctuary.” Edson’s teaching led to the founding of SDA by Joseph Bates and James and Ellen White.
Ellen White claimed she received 2,000 visions and dreams. She published over 40 books and 5,000 articles. Much of what she published was later shown to have been plagiarized.
To the SDA, White’s writings are on par with Scripture. Even this official statement by the SDA, called the “27 Fundamental Beliefs,” states: “Her writings speak with prophetic authority and provide comfort, guidance, instruction, and correction to the church. They also make clear that the Bible is the standard by which all teaching and experience must be tested.”
While some might construe that to be a denial that White’s writings are additional Scripture, it is reasonable to conclude that her writings are indeed considered inspired by SDAs.
An article on SDA at the Gospel Coalition website says, “As Nathan Busenitz says, ‘In spite of the ecumenical spirit that has pervaded evangelicalism over the last few decades, there are still major deficiencies within official SDA theology that ought to give evangelical Christians serious pause’” (see here).
The Gospel Coalition article adds:
“Kenneth R. Samples identifies five positions commonly held by Traditional Adventists:
- Righteousness by faith: Righteousness by faith included both justification and sanctification. Our standing before God rests both in the imputed and imparted righteousness of Christ (God’s work for me and in me). Justification is for sins committed in the past only.
- The human nature of Christ: Jesus Christ possessed a human nature that not only was weakened by sin, but had propensities toward sin itself. His nature was like that of Adam after the fall. Because of his success in overcoming sin, Jesus is primarily our example.
- The events of 1844: Jesus entered into the second compartment of the heavenly sanctuary for the first time on October 22, 1844, and began an investigative judgment. This judgment is the fulfillment of the second phase of Christ’s atoning work.
- Assurance of salvation: Our standing before God rests in both the imputed and imparted righteousness of Christ; assurance of salvation before the judgment is presumptuous. As Jesus, our example, showed us, perfect commandment keeping is possible.
- The authority of Ellen G. White: The spirit of prophecy was manifest in the ministry of Ellen White as a sign of the remnant church. Her writings are inspired counsel from the Lord and authoritative in doctrinal matters.”
Those points demonstrate that:
SDA does not believe in everlasting life as a secure possession apart from perseverance in faith and good works.
SDA believes in works salvation.
SDA does not believe we can be sure of our salvation prior to death.
SDA elevates the writings of Ellen White to the status of Scripture.
SDA has an unhealthy obsession with knowing the timing of Christ’s return.
Clearly, SDA teaches a false gospel and has many of the hallmarks of a cult.