Monday, May 17, 2010

Evangelicals and Seventh-day Adventists

My denomination, the Seventh Day Baptist, is often confused with the more recent, much larger and thus better known, Seventh-day Adventist. When someone asks my affiliation, if I say "Seventh Day Baptist" they often hear "Seventh-day Adventist," so I have fallen into the habit of saying that "I belong to one of the smaller Baptist denominations, the Seventh Day Baptists." That isn't always enough, either. Seventh Day Baptists differ with other Baptists only with respect to the Sabbath. Adventists are sufficiently heterodox that whether they fall within the boundaries of Evangelicalism has been — and may remain — an open question.

This morning I came across a 1988 article, originally published in the Christian Research Journal, "From Controversy to Crisis: An Updated Assessment of Seventh-day Adventism," by Kenneth R. Samples. It is an account of the relationship of Seventh-day Adventists with Evangelicalism, and the controversies within Adventism related to it, from the 1950s to the 1980s. I found it informative about Adventism and am curious about whether Adventists and ex-Adventists think it accurate.

The only reference to Seventh Day Baptists occurs in a summary of a '50s era description of the Seventh-day Adventist understanding of the significance of the Sabbath:
.... Sabbatarianism. SDA teaches that the keeping of the Seventh-day Sabbath, as a perpetual memorial to creation, is obligatory for all Christians as a mark of "true obedience" to the Lord. Unlike some extreme Adventists, however, the Adventist scholars at the conference asserted that the keeping of the Sabbath did not procure salvation, and that non-Adventist Christians who observed Sunday in good conscience were not excluded from the body of Christ.

Though Sabbath-keeping has never been the official position of historic Christianity, the evangelicals concluded that to keep, or not keep, a Sabbath was permissible within the context of Romans 14:5-6. Other Christian denominations, such as the Seventh-Day Baptists, had taken this position as well. The evangelicals vigorously disagreed with the Adventists' conclusion regarding the Sabbath, but they did not see this as an issue which should divide them. .... [more]
Bible Life to the World: "From Controversy to Crisis: An Updated Assessment of Seventh-day Adventism"