The Dangerous Doctrines of Seventh-day Adventism
Anti-Catholicism Based on Ellen White’s Writings Characterize the Group
Seventh-day Adventists agree with many Catholic doctrines, including the Trinity, Christ’s divinity, the virgin birth, the atonement, a physical resurrection of the dead, and Christ’s Second Coming.
They use a valid form of baptism. They believe in original sin and reject the Evangelical teaching that one can never lose one’s salvation no matter what one does (i.e., they correctly reject “once saved, always saved”).
Unfortunately, they also hold many false and strange doctrines.
Among these are the following:
- The Catholic Church is the Whore of Babylon;
- The pope is the Antichrist;
- In the last days, Sunday worship will be “the mark of the beast”;
- There is a future millennium in which the devil will roam the earth while Christians are with Christ in heaven;
- The soul sleeps between death and resurrection; and
- On the last day, after a limited period of punishment in hell, the wicked will be annihilated and cease to exist rather than be eternally damned.
Adventists also subscribe to the two Protestant shibboleths, sola scriptura (the Bible is the sole rule of faith) and sola fide (justification is by faith alone).
Other Protestants, especially conservative Evangelicals and Fundamentalists, often attack Adventists on these points, claiming they do not really hold them, which is often used as “proof” that they are “a cult.” However, along the spectrum of Protestantism (from high-church Lutherans and Anglicans to low-church Pentecostals and Baptists), there is little agreement about the meaning of these two phrases or about the doctrines they are supposed to represent.
Catholics may suppose that anti-Catholicism is part of Adventism’s radical fringe.
Unfortunately, this is untrue.
Adventists who are moderate on Catholicism are a minority. Anti-Catholicism characterizes the denomination because it is embraced in White’s “divinely inspired” writings.
A few illustrations help indicate the scope of the problem:
“Babylon the Great, the mother of harlots . . . is further declared to be ‘that great city, which reigneth over the kings of the earth.’ Revelation 17:4–6, 18. The power that for so many centuries maintained despotic sway over the monarchs of Christendom is Rome.” (The Great Controversy, 338).
“It is one of the leading doctrines of Romanism that the pope is the visible head of the universal Church of Christ . . . and has been declared infallible. He demands the homage of all men. The same claim urged by Satan in the wilderness of temptation is still urged by him [Satan] through the Church of Rome, and vast numbers are ready to yield him homage” (ibid., 48).
“Marvelous in her shrewdness and cunning is the Roman Church. She can read what is to be. She bides her time, seeing that the Protestant churches are paying her homage in their acceptance of the false Sabbath. . . . And let it be remembered, it is the boast of Rome that she never changes. The principles of Gregory VII and Innocent III are still the principles of the Roman Catholic Church. And has she but the power, she would put them in practice with as much vigor now as in past centuries” (ibid., 507–8).
“God’s word has given warning of the impending danger; let this be unheeded, and the Protestant world will learn what the purposes of Rome really are, only when it is too late to escape the snare. She is silently growing into power. Her doctrines are exerting their influence in legislative halls, in the churches, and in the hearts of men. She is piling up her lofty and massive structures, in the secret recesses of which her former persecutions will be repeated. Stealthily and unsuspectedly she is strengthening her forces to further her own ends when the time shall come for her to strike. All that she desires is vantage ground, and this is already being given her. We shall soon see and shall feel what the purpose of the Roman element is. Whoever believe and obey the word of God will thereby incur reproach and persecution” ( ibid., 508–9).
Bear in mind that these quotes are not taken from an obscure work of White’s that nobody ever reads. They are from what is probably her single most popular volume, The Great Controversy.”