18. Why is there a perception that the SDA Church is a cult?
It is again impossible to say, but one might speculate that it is actually due to a range of reasons, including:
is often wrongly confused with Jehovah’s Witnesses, Adventist offshoots and other groups. For example, Adventists are often confused with Jehovah’s Witnesses about refusing blood transfusions. SDA Church
· Despite operating one of the biggest Christian education, health and humanitarian relief systems in the world, the SDA ‘brand’ is not that well known. However, similar problems exist for other groups, such as the Salvation Army, who are also often mistaken for a charity rather than a Christian denomination. Both denominations might argue that because they do such good works without much recognition (Matt 6:1-4), this is an indicator of a true Christian Church bearing ‘good fruit’ (Matt 7:15-17).
· Critics often misrepresent what Adventists apparently believe, much of which is just wrong or taken out of context. Usually these critics tell readers what the
SDA Church supposedly teaches, rather than direct readers to what the actually and officially says about itself. SDA Church
· Critics often imply Adventism is one cookie-cut set of beliefs rather than the theological spectrum that it is. The
is unique in having no official creed other than the Bible, together with upholding the importance of progressive revelation and present truth, with a high tolerance for divergent views. SDA Church
· Critics often quote from old and unendorsed statements made by individuals (relating to the previous statement about a high tolerance for divergent views), which do not always reflect the majority or official views of the
. For example, those who say Adventists deny the Trinity often quote statements made some 150-years ago, which were not accepted by many Adventist leaders then (including Ellen White) and certainly not be accepted today. SDA Church
· Critics often ‘proof text’ Adventist sources, by taking isolated statements out of context, especially the quotes of Ellen White. Any person can selectively quote someone to make him or her sound bizarre.
does admittedly have distinctive beliefs that may appear unusual to other Christians. However, many of these beliefs, such as the Trinity, Sabbath, adult baptism by full immersion and Soul Sleep, are held by many other accepted Christian groups. Furthermore, many distinctive Adventist beliefs are no more unusual than those of other ‘mainstream’ Christian groups – e.g. the Immaculate Conception of Mary (Roman Catholics), Double Predestination (Presbyterians-Calvinists-Reformed), Sacramental Union (Lutherans) or Antinomianism (Evangelical-Dispensationalists) to name a few. SDA Church
· There is an understandable tendency by critics to focus on SDA beliefs that appear more unusual and thus are exciting for readers, even where such beliefs hold little importance to Adventists themselves. For example, critics have written extensively about SDA views on Michael the
Archangel, even though the teaching is rather obscure, not an Adventist fundamental, and rarely if ever mentioned in SDA Churches. Therefore, critics wrongly give the impression that such beliefs are major Adventist doctrines, even though many Adventists have probably never ever heard of them.
· Finally, Adventists themselves often do not fully understand, misrepresent or grossly oversimplify their distinctive beliefs. For example, it is probably fair to say many Adventists believe and tell others they do not eat pork because Leviticus 11 says such food is ‘unclean’; however, this wrongly implies Adventists uphold the Mosaic Law. The official and historic view as formulated by the SDA pioneers is much more complex, noting clean animals were on Noah’s Ark (i.e. 800 years before the Jewish People and Mosaic Law existed), and because some sundry Mosaic laws include universal and timeless principles of health.
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