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:
·    The SDA Church 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.
·     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 SDA Church actually and officially says about itself.
·    Critics often imply Adventism is one cookie-cut set of beliefs rather than the theological spectrum that it is.  The SDA Church 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.  
·    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 SDA Church.  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.
·    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.
·    The SDA Church 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.
·    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.


  1. Agree, especially re unclean meat. I think the vast majority of Adventists wrongly believe eating pork is a sin, and don’t eat it because it is described as ‘unclean’ in Leviticus. This is not what we officially teach or our pioneers believed. No wonder critics make an easy go of us. SDA

  2. I wish you would have addressed the doctrines of investigative judgement, sanctuary, etc. Those doctrines are what make other protestants view Adventists with suspect. Some of these doctrines have their origin from the miscalculations of Christ's second coming (the great disappointment) To save face, the leaders went "back to the drawing board" to figure out where they went wrong and lo and behold, came up with an answer to what "REALLY" happened back in 1844. I reject these teachings outright, and no amount of scripture twisting and rationalization will make these doctrines palatable. You know, one can come up with many Bible texts to support any number of ideas, but doing so does not make it TRUTH. And this from someone who considers herself Christian first, and an adventist second {adventist in the sense that I look forward to to the second coming of Christ; that Christ is the son of God; and I love the sabbath rest. Although my primary Sabbath rest is in Christ Himself, more so than a physical day}

    1. I suggest you check out Post #46, which specifically addresses the issue of the investigative judgment in some detail. But briefly, I appreciate your comments and they are very illustrative of some important point:

      1. Not all Seventh-day Adventists believe in the Investigative Judgment doctrine. I would suspect at least 50%, if not more in Western countries, reject the doctrine, at least as historically taught and understood. That is not a question of merit (i.e. I am not arguing whether that is a good or bad thing, just a statement of fact).

      2. The fact that you are an SDA and openly admit you do not believe in 1844 is very important in demonstrating that the SDA Church is a 'broad Church' with a wide spectrum of theological opinions. It demonstrates there is hardly some sort of authoritarian thought-police that controls everyone. If you went to an independent SDA-offiliated website such as Adventist Today or Spectrum Magazine, you would soon learn that there are a huge variety of views within the SDA Church on a range of subjects, including: women ordination, homosexuality, Sabbath-keeping, war, health, education, Church structures and hierarchy etc etc.

      3. Of those who do believe in the fundamental belief of the Investigative Judgment, there is a wide spectrum of beliefs re how it exactly should be viewed. Technically, even Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox Christians believe in an 'Investigative Judgment', which they call the 'Particular Judgment' of each individual. This Particular Judgment is before and distinguishable from what they call the 'General Judgment', but which most Christians call the Second Coming, Second Advent, Eschaton etc etc.

      4. When people (including Adventists) say they don't believe in the Investigative Judgment, they usually don't mean they reject the notion of a phased judgment process, including an investigative judgment phased, because as noted in (2) even Roman Catholics believe in that. What they really mean is they reject the notion that the Investigative Judgment (or Particular Judgment to adopt RC language) began in 1844. RCs believe the Particular Judgment has been ocuring ever since mankind started dying (i.e. since Adam died), because it is 'courtroom scene' they claim each person experiences at the moment of death.

      5. Within Adventism, most people who say they reject the Investigative Judgment really mean they believe the Investigative Judgment started in A.D. 33, when Jesus ascended to heaven, and not in 1844.

      6. The 1844 aspect is actually a minor aspect of the Fundamental Belief if you study it carefully. It was only important to the first generation of people who became the SDA pioneers, as arguably they had to find a way to justify their very silly decision to follow William Miller in the Great Disappointment.