9. Are Seventh-day Adventists subject to some sort of authoritarian centralised control over their beliefs and actions, as is often found in modern-day cults?
No. This is another oft-cite 'proof' raised by critics that the SDA is supposedly a cult. However, as observed by non-Adventist theologian Kenneth Samples, of the Christian Research Institute:
“As an interested outsider with my nose pressed to the window, I see quite a bit of theological diversity within Seventh-day Adventism. In some ways it reminds me of present-day evangelicalism. One strand of Adventism appears quite traditional, another very liberal, and still another distinctly evangelical. There also seems to be a segment that is atheological in nature and reflects what I would call a cultural Adventism.” (emphasis added)
In fact, some outside Christian commentators have even criticised this lack of centralised control, as it has arguably prevented the
from stating ‘the official position’ on a range of subjects: SDA Church
“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)
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