Periodical Reviews -- By: James F. Rand
BSac 114:454 (Apr 57) p. 189
About Seventh-Day Adventism.
Since its founding this cult has always been on the fringe of orthodox Christianity. Admittedly more orthodox than such cults as Jehovah’s Witnesses, Unity, Mormonism, and Theosophy, it has nevertheless been suspect because of its soteriological concepts of the heavenly sanctuary and the scapegoat, as well as its adherence to conditional immortality and annihilationism and the seventh-day Sabbath. Well justified charges of legalism have also been made against the system.
In recent months a sustained attempt has been made to push aside the peculiar doctrines of this cult and to admit the group to the true family of evangelical churches. Leaders in this effort have been Donald Grey Barnhouse, E. Schuyler English, and Walter R. Martin, the latter a well-known authority on cults who has authored a series of articles appearing in Eternity (October, November, 1956; January, 1957) and Our Hope (November, 1956) who promises to “vigorously contend for the rights of Adventists to be called Christians, and the obligation on the part of other Christians to recognize them as such in fellowship as brothers in Christ.” Behind Martin’s articles lie months of conferences with Barnhouse and English and with contemporary leaders in Seventh-Day Adventism, as well as seven years of research in both Adventist and anti-Adventist literature. Wide controversy has been stirred by these articles, for many do not feel that the situation regarding this cult has been changed at all.
This reviewer feels that a number of comments must be made on this attempt to bring Seventh-Day Adventists into the fellowship of evangelicals. (1) Despite the supposed change of heart on the part of the group’s leaders, not one of their peculiar doctrines which has stamped them as heterodox in past years has been abandoned. In this connection, it must be insisted that changes of heart on the part of leaders take a long time to percolate down to the laity, if they ever do. (2) The literature which has been used to propagate these doctrines in the past, such as Ellen G. White’s The Great Controversy, is still being distributed by the headquarters of the group. (3) Although the leaders are giving assurances of their adherence to evangelical truth and their belief in salvation by grace, these same assurances have been given down through the years, even by Ellen G. White. Nevertheless, the law has been set forth as necessary to salvation, Satan carried away the guilt of our sins, an investigative judgment of Christians is being carried on by Christ in the heavenly sanctuary, and the Sabbath is being observed. (4) Perhaps the most serious effect of these articles is the hindrance to the
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