23. Do Adventists claim they have ‘the truth’ and that the SDA Church is the one true and exclusive Church?

No and No. This is another commonly cited ‘proof’ that the Seventh-day Adventist Church is a cult.  Again, with many of these issues, the application of Christian jargon can be slight but very important.  This commonly leads to confusion over terminology rather than substance.  The Seventh-day Adventist position is actually similar to those held by other ‘orthodox’ denominations, including the Roman Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox Churches and even the Assemblies of God (the largest Evangelical-Protestant denomination).  Therefore, critics should be careful to judge Adventists by those same standards and not by imagined, inconsistent and arbitrarily applied criteria.
As outlined in SDA fundamental belief #13:
“13. The Remnant and Its Mission:
The universal church is composed of all who truly believe in Christ, but in the last days, a time of widespread apostasy, a remnant has been called out to keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus. This remnant announces the arrival of the judgment hour, proclaims salvation through Christ, and heralds the approach of His second advent. This proclamation is symbolized by the three angels of Revelation 14; it coincides with the work of judgment in heaven and results in a work of repentance and reform on earth. Every believer is called to have a personal part in this worldwide witness. (Rev. 12:17; 14:6-12; 18:1-4; 2 Cor. 5:10; Jude 3, 14; 1 Peter 1:16-19; 2 Peter 3:10-14; Rev. 21:1-14.)”
Regarding the first part of the question, Adventists might say they are a unique remnant people with a special message, having the most truth as found in the Bible, but probably not the truth. As with most Christian traditions, the SDA Church has not officially or historically ever held that it possesses all ‘the truth’, in the sense of a final and complete knowledge of God.  As further stated in the preamble to the 28 SDA Fundamentals:
“Seventh-day Adventists accept the Bible as their only creed and hold certain fundamental beliefs to be the teaching of the Holy Scriptures. These beliefs, as set forth here, constitute the church's understanding and expression of the teaching of Scripture. Revision of these statements may be expected at a General Conference session when the church is led by the Holy Spirit to a fuller understanding of Bible truth or finds better language in which to express the teachings of God's Holy Word.”
Thus, the SDA Church almost uniquely amongst Christendom has no formal creed other than the Bible (2 Tim 3:16), and recognises the principle of present and progressive scriptural truth (2 Pet 1:12).  As stated by SDA pioneer Ellen White:
“And the years of eternity, as they roll, will bring richer and still more glorious revelations of God and of Christ. As knowledge is progressive, so will love, reverence, and happiness increase. The more men learn of God, the greater will be their admiration of His character.” (Ellen White, Mar 373.2, emphasis added).
Much like the Early Church, Adventists have a long history of openness and evolution of theological thought, recognising that on earth we at best now see only a reflection as in a mirror” (1 Cor 13:12).  Even within Adventism, there is a wide spectrum of different positions, from conservative ‘Historical Adventists’ to liberal ‘Evangelical Adventists’:
In fact, some outside Christian commentators have even criticised this commitment to progressive scriptural understanding and tolerance of divergent views, as it has arguably prevented the SDA Church from communicating to outsiders what ‘the official position’ of Adventism is on a range of subjects:
“Because of Adventism's strong emphasis on progressive scriptural understanding, they have been reluctant to adopt any formal creed. Even their doctrinal statement known as the "27 Fundamental Beliefs" allows for change and revision. Historically, this lack of a formal creed and emphasis on progressive biblical understanding has given place to a wide spectrum of doctrinal interpretation among Adventists. In the 1950s, as today, this tolerance of divergent and sometimes heretical views has hurt the unity and doctrinal soundness of their denomination. This was a critical issue for the evangelicals, who could not hope to accurately represent the position of Adventism to the evangelical world if the Adventists themselves lacked consensus as to those positions.” (emphasis added)
In relation to the second part of the question regarding the one and exclusive Church, Adventists make the slight but important distinction between the Church at Large, comprising all individual believers found a multiple of Christian denominations, compared with the remnant role of the Seventh-day Adventist movement.  This is a position found in many other ‘mainstream’ Christian groups, who no doubt each believe their denomination has a special mission.
For example, the Roman Catholic Church teaches in the Second Vatican Council Dogmatic Constitution Lumen gentium, that there is only one Church, where certain non-Catholic communities can on some level form part of the body of Christ.  However, the only one Church is said to ‘subsist’ in the Catholic Church alone:
"Christ “established here on earth” only one Church and instituted it as a “visible and spiritual community… This Church, constituted and organised in this world as a society, subsists in the Catholic Church, governed by the successor of Peter and the Bishops in communion with him…It is possible, according to Catholic doctrine, to affirm correctly that the Church of Christ is present and operative in the churches and ecclesial Communities not yet fully in communion with the Catholic Church, on account of the elements of sanctification and truth that are present in them. Nevertheless, the word 'subsists' can only be attributed to the Catholic Church alone precisely because it refers to the mark of unity that we profess in the symbols of the faith (I believe... in the 'one' Church); and this 'one' Church subsists in the Catholic Church." (emphasis added)
Moreover, the Eastern Orthodox Church also considers itself the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, founded by Jesus Christ and His apostles”.
Even the official statement from the North American Assemblies of God (the largest Evangelical-Protestant denomination) likewise makes the distinction between spiritual unity of the Church at Large, compared with its institutional separation from other denominations:
“The New Testament is clear in its teaching that there is only one Church, which is described as the body of Christ (Eph. 1:22,23; 2:16; 4:4; Col. 1:13-21; Rom. 12:4,5; 1 Cor. 12:12-20). That one Church includes all who have accepted Jesus Christ as Savior and are serving Him as the Lord of their lives. It is also clear that Jesus’ desire for the Church is that all believers be one, even as He and the Father are one (John 17:11). The unity for which Jesus prayed comes obviously from His redemptive work on the cross (Eph. 2:16). It is a spiritual unity rather than an institutional unity.
...Unity in the body of Christ does not require accepting the beliefs and practices of any group that offers membership to enhance cooperation on social and legislative matters. The Assemblies of God has historically been cautious in making alliances with church groups that do not hold the same biblical priorities, but rather emphasize social concerns over the importance of changing lives through a genuine salvation experience.” (emphasis added)
Finally, one of the main reasons the SDA Church is perhaps wrongly accused of being exclusive, is that unlike many other protestant churches (which are often merely national churches), but similar to the Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox and Evangelical-Pentecostal Churches described above, the Seventh-day Adventist Church holds itself to be a universal Church (i.e. literally ‘Catholic’).  As outlined in fundamental belief #14:
“14. Unity in the Body of Christ:
The church is one body with many members, called from every nation, kindred, tongue, and people. In Christ we are a new creation; distinctions of race, culture, learning, and nationality, and differences between high and low, rich and poor, male and female, must not be divisive among us. We are all equal in Christ, who by one Spirit has bonded us into one fellowship with Him and with one another; we are to serve and be served without partiality or reservation. Through the revelation of Jesus Christ in the Scriptures we share the same faith and hope, and reach out in one witness to all. This unity has its source in the oneness of the triune God, who has adopted us as His children. (Rom. 12:4, 5; 1 Cor. 12:12-14; Matt. 28:19, 20; Ps. 133:1; 2 Cor. 5:16, 17; Acts 17:26, 27; Gal. 3:27, 29; Col. 3:10-15; Eph. 4:14-16; 4:1-6; John 17:20-23.)” (emphasis added)
In conclusion, the Seventh-day Adventist Church is no more exclusive or cult-like than many other ‘mainstream’ and ‘orthodox’ Christian denominations.  To the extent that Adventists believe they belong to a universal Church commissioned with a special and remnant truth for the whole world, they are undeniably unapologetic.  This does not, however, make them a cult.  


  1. Good try. I have been an adventist for 50 years and I can tell you without a shadow of a doubt that many people (most) that make up the different churches I have been a part of, do believe they are above other denominations. They feel a condescending sadness and concern for those, who for example love and serve the Lord but happen to attend church on Sundays. Don't believe me? Try telling a devout adventist that you enjoy attending a sunday church every now and then, or that you have your kid enrolled in a catholic parochial school. You will be treated as a pariah. Adventism is an exclusive club where your destiny is in your hands based on how well YOU keep all ten commandments. Never mind what Christ did on the cross. It's what you do that determines your spiritual destiny.

    1. Just because many Adventists hold a certain prejudice doesn't make it the official or historic position on a subject. I take it from the tone of your comment you are no longer an Adventist? If you are still an Adventist, then that is proof not all Adventists they have that attitude.

      Again, every person in denomination no doubt thinks it has the most truth - otherwise they wouldn't be there. Yes, there are many Adventists who adopt an exclusive attitude to religion - the same as many religions. I think Mitt Romney could probably argue that most Evangelical Christians in the US think they have 'the truth' are a pretty exclusive about it, ostracising anyone who doesn't fit in their exclusive club.

    2. Yes, what you say is true, but therefore what? It doesn't change any of the realities of what I mentioned before. I am not addressing what other churches also do. I am focusing on my lengthy experience within the Adventist church. And I am not alone in these observations. I am still a part of my SDA church but my hope and prayer is that my friends and I can lovingly influence and change the myopic vision of "our way or no way" attitudes that dominate certain SDA churches. If we can get them to see that salvation is assured for those who follow Christ and remove the fear of uncertainty from their hearts; if we can get them to see that God uses people from many different protestant denominations to further His cause, then we (with God's leading) will have accomplished much! My church once REFUSED to make an announcement on behalf of several of us to invite the church members who were interested, to meet later in the afternoon to caravan over to a Billy Graham crusade. Refused! So yes, the "official" position of the church is one of tolerance, but reality is quite different (IN MY EXPERIENCE)

    3. If you are still an Adventist you would know then that the SDA Church is not homogenious but represents a wide spectrum of beliefs. It sounds to me that you have long been involved in rather conservative SDA Churches - maybe it is relevant to the part of the world you live in. My own local Church (including others in our conference) regularly are involved officially and unofficially in ministries with others denominations and other individuals in other Churches.

      Also, given you Billy Graham reference, I suspect this 'incident' happened some years ago? Perhaps you are a 'senior citizen' and your experience is one of a previous generation in previous decades? I can only speak of my own 'younger' generation, and the general openness I have always experienced in my own Church. A local Church where people wear jeans and flip-flops with T-shirts to Church, a Church where we sing Hillsong music, a Church where a large number of our attendees are not Adventists, and a Church that regularly does community-outreach programmes with other Christians in other denominations. That is MY EXPERIENCE.

      My concern is that you might be purporting to tell non-Adventists that YOUR EXPERIENCE is the official and only experience within the SDA Church worldwide, which is certainly not the case based on our official teachings and MY OWN EXPERIENCE.

      If you want to find like-minded Adventists, check our websites such as Adventist Today and Spectrum Magazine. There you will soon discover there is a very find spectrum of beliefs within Adventism, ranging in very strong and different opinions on: women ordination, homosexuality, evolution, ecumenicalism, Ellen White, investigative judgment and a whole range of other issues.

    4. I am nearly 50. You seem quite a bit younger so I suppose I would sound like a senior citizen to you! I do belong to a conservative church, but frequently visit my home church which is near a large sda university and therfore younger and hipper. But what I am revealing is reality: there are conservative churches (like any other denom) who have members in it who believe they do represent the church as a whole and they are doing a disservice to the new believers and to the young and to the seekers. You understandibly want to paint the sda church in a positive light and I commend you for it. My point is not to argue with you, for I am greatful for many aspects of my sda upbringing. But what I cannot abide is the insidious doubt and fear instilled in me regarding my salvation that took place during my sda church attendance and education from grade school to four years of college. If the church is changing or has changed its ways in this regard, then praise God!

    5. I have no problems at all with what you are saying. Thanks for your contribution.