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The Seventh-day Adventist™ Church

Church controversies

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Church Controversies:

bulletThe role of women: In common with many conservative Christian churches, the question of ordination of women is actively debated within the Seventh-day Adventist church. The special role of their founder, Ellen White, is proof that women are able to contribute to church life. However, although they have been allowed to be ordained as elders for many years, none are eligible to become pastors. This decision was based largely on the text of 1 Corinthians 14:34-37 when St. Paul presented as a command of God that women should keep quiet in church, and remain subordinate. In 1 Timothy 2:12A, he said that no woman was to teach or have authority over a man; she is to remain silent. As in other denominations, the debate concentrates on whether:
bulletThese were commands for the first century church, or for all eras
bulletThese were commands for the Mediterranean region, or for all cultures.
bulletWhether these passages were written by St. Paul or were forgeries written by others and attributed to Paul.

The North American Division (NAD) of the Seventh-day Adventist Church proposed to the 1995 General Conference in Utrecht, Netherlands that each World Division be allowed to decide independently whether to ordain women to the pastorate. The proposal was defeated by a vote of 1481 to 673. A few congregations in North America rejected sexism in the denomination and proceeded to ordain women as pastors in spite of the decision.
 

bulletHomosexuality: The church's stand is identical to that seen throughout the conservative Christian communities. They interpret the Bible's six "clobber passages" in a way that consistently condemns homosexualit behavior as a sin. Gay candidates are not permitted to be ordained as pastors. Gay and lesbian Adventists are expected to live a celibate life. More information.

Seventh-day Adventist Kinship International is an organization "devoted to the spiritual, emotional, social and physical well-being of current and former Seventh-day Adventists who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender."
 

bulletCult Status: Several prominent theologians in the Counter Cult Movement, including ex-members of the Seventh-day Adventists, have stated in the past that the church is a cult. In doing this, they do not imply that the church is a mind control cult or a doomsday cult, but simply that some of their beliefs deviate from those of traditional, conservative Christianity. Some attackers have quoted isolated writings of some members of the church and incorrectly asserted that the thoughts represented official church doctrine. Some of the criticisms include:
bulletThat the writings of Mrs. White are considered on a par with those of the Bible: inspired by God and infallible.
bulletThat the church bases some of its doctrine on the writings of Mrs. White.
bulletThat the atonement of Christ was not finished at crucifixion.

None of the above criticisms appear to be valid. Most Christians and Christian organizations now regard the Seventh Day Adventist church simply as a non-cultic denomination with some unique beliefs and practices. 1
 

bulletLawsuit: The Creation Seventh Day Adventist Church (CSDA) was founded in 1991 and created its website in late 1996. There does not seem to be any reliable information on the size of the group. However, it is believed to be miniscule because their school in Guys, TN had only three students during the 2004/5 and 2007/8 school years.

They were sued  by the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventist Church for trademark infringement. The CSDA writes:

"In the year 1981 the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists enacted a civil law with the United States government, trademarking its name. From that time it has gone forward, taking faithful individuals and ministries to court who could not, in good conscience, either submit to the Conference's strategies or surrender the name 'Seventh Day Adventist,' believing it to be a mark of their faith. Where coercion and threats have failed, force has been employed by the leaders of denominational Adventism to accomplish their aims and 'protect the church' from those it perceives as its enemies.

During 2006-AUG, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Arbitration and Mediation Center ruled that the CSDA must turn over control of four of its domain names to the General Conference.

During 2006-OCT, the General Conference asked that the CSDA turn over control of a domain name in Canada. 2,3

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bulletConscientious objectors: Many Seventh-day Adventists have refused to enlist in the army as combatants. Instead, they participate as medics, ambulance drivers, etc.

In 1864, during the Civil War, they declared their belief that the Bible was contrary to the spirit and practice of war. The fourth of the Ten Commandments required them to cease labor on Saturday. The sixth commandment prohibits the taking of life. In 1865, the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists stated:

"... we are compelled to decline all participation in acts of war and bloodshed as being inconsistent with the duties enjoined upon us by our divine Master toward our enemies and toward all mankind."

However, during World War I, the Seventh-day Adventist church leaders in Germany abandoned the church's historic position and stated:

"In all that we have said we have shown that the Bible teaches, firstly, that taking part in the war is no transgression of the sixth commandment, likewise, that war service on the Sabbath is not a transgression of the fourth commandment."

They declared:

"At the beginning of the war our organization was split into two parties. As ninety-eight percent of our membership, by searching the Bible, came to the conviction that they are duty-bound, by conscience, to defend the country with weapons, also on Saturdays, this position, unanimously endorsed by the leadership, was immediately announced to the War Ministry. Two percent, however, did not submit to this resolution, and therefore had to be disfellowshipped because of their unchristian conduct."

The disfellowshipped minority organized The Seventh Day Adventist Reform Movement General Conference. They first operated from Isernhagen, Germany. They later moved to Basel, Switzerland and finally to the U.S. By 2006, the Reform Movement has reached 114 countries and territories. 4

During World War II in Nazi Germany, many conscientious objectors were sent to concentration camps or mental institutions; some were executed along with Jews, Jehovah's Witnesses, Roma, and others.

Some Seventh-day Adventists volunteered for the US Army's Operation Whitecoat. The Church preferred to call them "conscientious participants", because they were willing to risk their lives as test subjects in potentially life-threatening research. Over 2,200 Seventh-day Adventists volunteered in experiments involving various infectious agents during the 1950's through the 1970's in Fort Detrick, MD. 5

Desmond T. Doss Sr. was raised in the Seventh-day Adventist Church and became the first conscientious objector in history -- and the only one serving in World War II -- to receive the Medal of Honor. While an Army medic on Okinawa he saved the lives of more than 75 wounded soldiers at great personal peril. He carried each wounded soldier to the edge of a cliff and helped lower them by a rope to safety. His citation read:

"Through his outstanding bravery and unflinching determination in the face of desperately dangerous conditions Pfc. Doss saved the lives of many soldiers. His name became a symbol throughout the 77th Infantry Division for outstanding gallantry far above and beyond the call of duty." 6

He died in 2006-MAR at the age of 87.

References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Walter Martin, "The Kingdom of the Cults", Bethany House Pub, (1985), P. 409-500.
  2. "The Creation Seventh Day Adventist Church," at: http://csda.us/
  3. "Creation Seventh Day Adventist Church," Wikipedia, updated 2009-AUG-22, at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/
  4. "Origin of the Seventh Day Adventist Reform Movement, Seventh Day Adventist Reform Movement General Conference, (2006), at: http://www.sdarm.org/
  5. Allen R. Steele, "Loud Let It Ring : Adventist World Radio: Twenty-Five Years of Miracles, Pacific Pr. Pub. Assn., (1996)
  6. Adam Bernstein, "Lauded Conscientious Objector Desmond T. Doss Sr.," Washington Post, 2009-MAR-26, at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/

Copyright © 1997 to 2009 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2009-NOV-10
Author: B.A. Robinson

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