Is Seventh-Day Adventism Christianity or is SDA Cultism?
Ellen G. White, Leader of the Seventh-Day Adventist Movement claimed to have the “spirit of prophecy” but spoke many words which contradicted Scripture.
Seventh-Day Adventism (SDA) arose from the aftermath of the Adventist movement of the mid-1800s. “Seventh-day” refers to the focus on Sabbath, or Saturday worship. “Adventist” refers to the Seventh Day Adventist’s belief that they are the fulfillment of prophecies pertaining to the latter days’ remnant and the return of Christ – the Second Advent. The world was predicted to end in 1844 with the Second Coming of Christ, by William Miller, a New England Baptist itinerant preacher. Miller’s followers condemned all the churches of the day as apostate and “Babylon,” and warned Christians to come out of them. A great many did, and the “Adventist” movement was born and grew rapidly.
Christ did not appear in 1844. After this “Great Disappointment,” one “little flock” still insisted the date of their original predictions had been correct. They decided the event marked by 1844 was not the Second Coming, but the entrance of Christ into the Holy of Holies in the Heavenly Sanctuary. There, they said, He began the “Investigative Judgment.”
The Investigative Judgment – According to SDA theology, beginning on October 22, 1844, Christ entered upon the “judgment phase” of His ministry, whereby He blots out sin: [The SDA doctrine of the “Investigative Judgment” rests on Ellen G. White’s claimed revelation that Christ entered the heavenly Holy of Holies, not at His ascension, but in 1844, wherein He then began to investigate the records of human works] “When Christ, by virtue of His own blood, removes the sins of His people from the heavenly sanctuary at the close of His ministration, He will place them upon Satan, who, in the execution of the judgment, must bear the final penalty.” Satan, thereby, becomes the scapegoat of Leviticus 16.
This lack of clear distinction between the forgiveness of sins and the blotting out of sins, makes it impossible for anyone to know, even in the hour of his death, whether he is saved or not. (SDAs are not “allowed” to experience assurance of salvation, because then there would be no pressure on them to keep the Old Testament law, as interpreted by Ellen G. White, and especially no pressure to pay the tithe.) Moreover, the concept that the sins of all men are to be laid on Satan, assigns to Satan an indispensable role in the blotting out of sin, thus nullifying the all-sufficiency of the finished work of Christ. When Jesus said on the cross, “It is finished,” (completed, paid in full), it cannot be that there is yet another salvation event more than 1,800 years later, just as essential to salvation as Christ’s death on the cross, in which one must believe in order to be saved. This is clearly “another gospel” (Galatians. 1:6–9).
The “Investigative Judgment” and the “Scapegoat Theory of the Atonement” are, by themselves, so non-Biblical as to contradict Galatians 1:8-9. It is “another gospel,” about which the Apostle Paul wrote, “let such be anathema” (i.e., cursed/condemned). Yet according to Ellen White, one must believe this doctrine to be saved:
“Those who would share the benefits of the Savior’s mediation should permit nothing to interfere with their duty to perfect holiness in the fear of God … The subject of the sanctuary and the Investigative Judgment should be clearly understood by the people of God. All need a knowledge for themselves of the position [in the Holy of Holies] and work [Investigative Judgment] of their great High Priest. Otherwise it will be impossible for them to exercise the faith which is essential at this time or to occupy the position which God designs for them to fill. Every individual has a soul to save or to lose. Each has a case pending at the bar of God … All who have received the light on these subjects are to bear testimony of the great truths which God has committed to them. The sanctuary in heaven is the very center of Christ’s work in behalf of men … It is of the utmost importance that all should thoroughly investigate these subjects … The intercession of Christ in man’s behalf in the sanctuary above is as essential to the plan of salvation as was His death upon a cross. By His death He began that work which after his resurrection He ascended to complete in Heaven.” Ellen G. White clearly taught that Christ’s work was not finished on the cross and that her followers are saved by a gospel of works.
Significant is the fact that the entire concept of “Investigative Judgment” is unbiblical and contrary to the true Gospel as revealed in the New Testament. Jesus entered the Holy of Holies in Heaven immediately after his ascension and not in 1844 according to Hebrews 1:3, 6:19-20, 8:1, 9:6-12, 24 and 12:2. His atoning work is not continuing in Heaven. It was finished on the cross (John 19:30 and Romans 3:24-26). Jesus is currently serving as our High Priest before the Father’s throne (Hebrews 8:1-2).
From 1844 to 1851, the group taught the “shut door” doctrine, based on Jesus’ parable of the ten virgins. Anyone who had not accepted the Adventist message by the time Jesus entered the Holy of Holies was to be shut out permanently, as were the five foolish virgins. Cut off from the Bridegroom, they could not join the Adventists or have any hope of eternal life. Ellen White not only approved and taught this doctrine, but her first vision experience (she claimed over 2,000 visions) was largely responsible for its being received by the Adventist group.
By 1846, the group had adopted the Seventh-Day Baptists’ view that the Saturday Sabbath must be observed by Christians. A highly elevated form of this doctrine, together with the doctrine of the Investigative Judgment, became the hallmarks of Seventh-Day Adventism. In 1850, James and Ellen White began publishing a magazine, The Review & Herald, to disseminate Adventist and Sabbatarian doctrines. This helped many of the remaining “Millerites” to coalesce into a distinctive body, which adopted the name of Seventh-Day Adventist Church in 1860, and formally incorporated in 1863, with approximately 3,500 members in 125 congregations.
Ellen G. White (1827-1915) never held official title as the head of the SDA church, but was one of its founders and acknowledged spiritual leader. She rather disingenuously declined to claim the title of “prophet,” calling herself a “messenger” instead. But she claimed to have the “spirit of prophecy,” and that her messages were direct from God for the guidance and instruction of the church. With her knowledge and consent, others called her a prophet and an inspired commentator of Scripture , and even “the Spirit of Prophecy.” Having only a third grade education, Ellen White said for years she was unable to read, bolstering the claim that her beautiful prose was inspired by God. However, it has been discovered that she not only read, but plagiarized other Christian authors throughout virtually all her writings.
How could a true prophet of God speak words which clearly are in contradiction with Scripture? The Bible says that we are saved by grace through faith and not by works (Ephesians 2:8-9). Ellen White declares that salvation is by grace plus own “diligent effort.” The Bible says that Jesus will never cease being a believer’s mediator (Hebrews 7:25). Ellen G. White claims that when believers stand before God to be judged, they will be “without a mediator.”
Doctrine of Sabbath Keeping – According to Ellen G. White: “In the last days, the Sabbath test will be made plain. When this time comes, anyone who does not keep the Sabbath will receive the mark of the beast and will be kept from heaven”… The divine institution of the Sabbath is to be restored … The delivering of this message will precipitate a conflict that will involve the whole world. The central issue will be obedience to God’s law and the observance of the Sabbath. … Those who reject it will eventually receive the mark of the beast.”
In one of her most revered works, Ellen White wrote that Sabbath observance would be the “line of distinction” in the “final test” that will separate God’s end-time people who “receive the seal of God” and are saved, from those who “receive the mark of the beast.” Describing a supposed vision direct from God, Ellen White wrote, “I saw that the Holy Sabbath is, and will be, the separating wall between the true Israel of God and unbelievers.” She also wrote of some Adventists failing to understand that “Sabbath … observance was of sufficient importance to draw a line between the people of God and unbelievers.”
Seventh Day Adventists have, thereby, made Sabbath-keeping a criterion for a personal relationship with the Lord — even to the extent of one’s salvation! Why? Because, according to Seventh Day Adventists, we are all to be under strict adherence to Old Testament Law, including the Ten Commandments, of which the fourth one says, “Keep the Sabbath.” (This Sabbath-keeping requirement was supposedly confirmed in a vision received by Ellen G. White.)
SDAs believe that “Sunday-keeping” will be the mark of the beast in the future. Again a works salvation is emphasized by Ellen G. White according to her statement in the Advent Review and Sabbath Herald of October 26, 1897: “The terms of salvation for every son and daughter of Adam are here outlined. It is plainly stated that the condition of gaining eternal life is obedience to the commandments of God.” Ellen White stated in her writings that observance of the Sabbath is the “greatest” of all the Ten Commandments. This statement is in direct contradiction to the words of Jesus. When Jesus was asked, which was the greatest of the commandments? He said, “Love the LORD your God with all of your heart and with all of your soul, and with all of your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment” (Matthew 22:37-38).
Seventh Day Adventists claim that they are God’s only true, end-time “Remnant Church.” They adhere to Replacement Theology claiming to be the new Israelites. Other distinctive SDA teachings include vegetarianism, a belief that death results in unconsciousness, the doctrine of “soul sleep” – the belief that between death and resurrection one is essentially non-existent except in the memory of God and the annihilation of the wicked (as opposed to conscious torment for eternity).
Is Hell a place of annihilation or a place of eternal torment? In Old Testament times, the Hebrew term “Sheol” (the abode of the dead) contained two compartments separated by an impassable gulf. The righteous awaited resurrection in the “Bosom of Abraham” (Paradise), while the unrighteous awaited resurrection in “Gehenna” (Hebrew) or “Hades” (Greek) a place of torment.
“There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores.
The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. In hell, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’
“But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.’” Luke 16:19-26
After the Cross, Jesus freed the captives (the righteous who were in Sheol) and brought the disembodied spirits to the Third Heaven (God’s abode). Paradise is now with Jesus and Sheol now only contains Gehenna/Hades – called Hell in English.
At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook and the rocks split. The tombs broke open and the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. They came out of the tombs, and after Jesus’ resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many people. Matthew 27:51-53
But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. This is why it says: “When he ascended on high, he led captives in his train and gave gifts to men Ephesians 4:7-8
Isaiah 66:22-24 speaks of the everlasting Kingdom to come (the enduring new heavens and new earth) and of the eternal punishment of the wicked (their worm will not die, nor will their fire be quenched):
“As the new heavens and the new earth that I make will endure before me,” declares the LORD, “so will your name and descendants endure. From one New Moon to another and from one Sabbath to another, all mankind will come and bow down before me,” says the LORD, “And they will go out and look upon the dead bodies of those who rebelled against me; their worm will not die, nor will their fire be quenched, and they will be loathsome to all mankind.” Isaiah 66:22-24
But at that time your people-everyone whose name is found written in the book-will be delivered. Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt. Daniel 12:1b-2
Satan is a deceiver and a liar. Two of his greatest deceptions are to have people believe that he does not exist and that there is no place of eternal torment.
Seventh-Day Adventism, a denomination which was formed by a charismatic leader whose visions formulated doctrines that contradict Scripture including espousing a gospel of salvation by works, and denying the finished work of Christ on the cross would certainly qualify as a Christian cult.